Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Overdosing on Eggplant (Part 2)

So since I mentioned we are eggplant lovers in this house, my 11 year old son requested ratatouille for dinner last night. Much to his delight, and my own I said yes because I had everything necessary for the dish. Really you can play with this one, and experiment. There are specific ingredients that I personally prefer to use with it though.

I was quite proud of my son too because he helped me with dinner. It's not a rare occurrence in my house, in fact almost every morning he makes breakfast for everyone, eggs, french toast, pancakes...yep, sure does. He sliced the onion, sauteed the veggies, and took complete control of the chicken. He seasoned it, and sauteed it on his own. He will not starve when he is on his own. Okay so I'm bragging, yeah I know, oh well, ya know what it's my blog :)

In case you have not seen the Disney flick, or are not familiar with the dish, ratatouille is a traditional French meal. It was typically served among peasants, and the lesser affluent. Let me let you guys in on something, the peasants had a sweet dish in their hands, and were definitely not going with out anything when they ate this wonderful meal.

Here was my Ratatouille last night:

1 Average sized eggplant (cubed)
1 large tomatoes (diced)
2 Green bell peppers (sliced)
1 Medium red onion (sliced or diced)
1 Medium zucchini (diced)
1 Medium yellow squash (sliced and then cut in half once)
3 garlic cloves (minced or sliced)
Sea Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Garlic Powder to taste
Coconut oil
1 large tomato roughly cut up (reserve this for food processor)
1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, the soaked in oil kind not dry (reserve this for food processor)

In my large cast iron skillet I heated some coconut oil along with the garlic and onions.
After the onions softened I placed everything else in the skillet to cook down a bit (about 8 minutes or so)
While all is cooking in the skillet, take the other tomato and sun dried tomatoes and put them in the food processor to make a sauce
Next add the sauce to the skillet, let every marinate in the skillet on low for about 10 minutes

Serve in its own in a bowl, on top of quinoa like we did (was great BTW), or on anything else. I also had garlic chicken tenders on the table, and kale salad.

Overdosing on Eggplant (Part 1)

Let me tell you a secret...shhhhh....I love eggplant. Yes, it's true, I admit it, I'm head over heals for the aubergine as it is known or the official plant name Solanum Melongena. It is a cousin of the tomato and potato. I'm not sure how its related to the potato, tomato I get, but anyway, I'm no botanist.

So its a native food to India, and many times they use it as a replacement for meat. It's a great source of folic acid and potassium. I've just gone through the vitamin and mineral modules for my courses at school on my I-Touch and I am super charged about their importance. I always have been, but I understand more now than I did about what is good or important for what, and what is necessary. Sorry for the side note ;)

Back to eggplant, we really enjoy it in my house. I like it grilled, baked, fried, and sauteed. The next time I purchase it I want to make eggplant parmesan with it using almond meal for the breading. I haven't used almond meal as a breading yet, but I am looking forward to the experience. If it works as suggested by other gluten free cooks it will be a great option for my family.

So over the weekend I prepared what I call eggplant pizzas. I suppose its not accurate since there is not crust involved, and the eggplant is the base for everything. This time I used white and light purple eggplants. In the past I've prepared a tomato sauce for them, but I turned the tables this time and just used some sun dried tomatoes. Oh my goodness, it was success! You could add anything to them you really want that would fit on top. Meat eaters could add some chicken sausage on them. I bet you could makes these and place them on top of a bison or lamb burger and they would be a delicious addition.

Here is what I did for the eggplant pizzas:

2 Regular size eggplant or more if they are smaller
Sundried tomatoes that have soaked in olive oil (I've used ones that I have soaked myself and ones bought from the store already in the olive oil, if you go that route Trader Joes brand are good)
Coconut oil
Soft crumbled goat cheese (the log is fine too, just crumble it yourself)
Garlic powder
Sea Salt
Ground Pepper


Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F
Put coconut oil on a round or square flat piece of stoneware ( you can use a regular aluminum cookie tray, I just avoid cooking with aluminum when I can)
Slice the eggplant so you have medium, not too thick, round slices
Put a little coconut oil on the side of the eggplant that is up
Dust with garlic powder, a little sea salt, and ground pepper
Bake for 15 minutes
Take out and flip when the time goes off
Dust the other side of the eggplant with garlic powder, a little sea salt, and ground pepper
Place a few pieces of sun dried tomatoes on top
Be generous with the goat cheese
Bake for another 5-8 minutes
Enjoy! Serve with a raw kale salad or a side of chicken breast.

I hope that you enjoy these. Tell me if you make them, and how you like them. I literally ate these Saturday, Sunday, and on Monday.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Experimenting with Quinoa and Pesto

So anybody who knows me fairly well knows I am bonkers over the grain quinoa. Quinoa pronounced KEEN-WAH, is a South American grain, used a lot in Chile. It's a nutritional powerhouse. It is gluten free, low glycemic, which means it won't send your blood sugar level through the roof, an excellent source of protein and calcium, while also being very versatile. You can use it like a porridge for breakfast or use it like rice for dinner.

Last night I attended my home fellowship group. It's a bit of a potluck, so everyone brings a little something. I try to change things up when I go as not to get boring and bring the same old thing every time. Coming up with new recipes last minute can be challenging sometimes, and other times it can come right to you. Initially I was leaning towards bringing polenta, but last minute I decided I wanted something else.

It occurred to me that I have all of this fabulous basil in my garden. So a light bulb went off to make some pesto. I didn't have a bunch of brown rice noodles left though so I was thinking what else can I put the pesto on that would be yum. I looked down and thought, oh what about quinoa? I keep it in a large mason jar on the floor of my pantry. I'm always trying to think of new ways that I can serve this wonderful grain.

So I whipped up some pesto in the food processor while cooking some quinoa on the stove. Can not express how my food processor has changed my life enough, oh how I am so thankful for it! I diced some tomatoes to put in there for extra flavor and pretty red color. I just mixed it all up in a bowl. To top it off I made some goat cheese available in case anyone wanted some with it. I was very pleased to get shining reviews, and I will serve it again. A girlfriend there said it would go great with some chicken, so meat eaters, there ya go!

When you cook quinoa you want to rinse it first. Quinoa, like some other grains, has a component called saponins. Saponins are chemical compounds found in many plant species that can cause digestion and intestinal issues, like an upset stomach or diarrhea (I know this a food post, and that's gross, but thought you might want to know). I have to confess, as Miss Health Nut herself, I don't always rinse my quinoa, but I am going to get better about it. I've never had issues, but I'd rather not start. I personally buy my quinoa from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and I hear there distributor pre-rinses the quinoa, so that could be why I'm okay. Thought I'd inform you anyway.

Here is my pesto recipe:

1 Cup of fresh basil
1 Cup of fresh baby spinach
3-4 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
1/2 Cup soaked and rinsed raw walnuts (pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but they cost too much)
3 Large cloves of garlic
Sea salt to taste

Above you probably noticed that I said soaked and rinsed walnuts. Yes, ideally you want to soak any nut that you use for a couple of reasons. First of all is the health factor. Now you get to learn some more things that you didn't want to know, yay! Many plants, including walnuts, contain something called tannins. Tannins are organic chemical compounds that cause a lot of the plant foods we eat to have a slightly bitter taste.

A large intake of tannins may cause bowel irritation, kidney irritation, liver damage, irritation of the stomach and gastrointestinal pain. In extreme cases cancer can occur. So I say cut down on the tannins if you can. Don't be scared about it, or get weird. If that was the case you'd never eat again because so many of our foods have tannins. Soaking and rinsing releases many of the tannins. Just take precautions, soak and rinse your food well when you can.

Almost forgot, the second reason to soak them is it softens them up, and makes for smoother consistencies. A third reason is it increases nutritional value by bringing out more enzymes in the food, which aides in digestion. It's ideal to soak nuts in the fridge, in a glass container, with a lid. Soaking times vary depending on the nut type. Walnuts, since we're using them in this recipe, can be soaked in as short of an amount of time as 10-20 minutes. Harder nuts like almonds do better being soaked over night.

Just adjust the recipe to your taste, and to how much you need. What I am finding is you can use almost any nut and green to make pesto. These are just my preferred choices. I saw a recipe for asparagus pesto, and will try that one next. I like pesto because it is healthy, delicious, easy, and fast.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Smoothies to Get You Going

I firmly intend to try all of these this week. Wish I could take credit for the recipes. They are all similar with a few changes. That is what food is all about, tweaking, and making things your own to suit your nutritional needs and tastes. Recipes courtesy of Nicki Rubin from Garden of Life.

Creamsicle Smoothie
Serves 2

6 ounces of organic, probiotic-rich yogurt or kefir
4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon of flaxseed oil or hemp seed oil
1–2 Tablespoons unheated raw honey
1 Tablespoon of RAW Protein powder
1–2 fresh or frozen bananas
vanilla extract (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a high–speed blender. Serve.

Banana Peach Smoothie
Serves 2

10 ounces of organic, whole, probiotic-rich yogurt, kefir or coconut milk/cream
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon of flaxseed oil or hemp seed oil
1-2 Tablespoons unheated raw honey
1 Tablespoon of RAW Protein powder
½-1 cup fresh or frozen peaches
1 fresh or frozen banana
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serve.

Mocha Swiss Almond Smoothie
Serves 2

10 ounces of organic, whole, probiotic-rich yogurt, kefir or coconut milk/cream
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon of flaxseed oil or hemp seed oil
1-2 Tablespoons unheated honey
1 Tablespoon of RAW Protein powder
2 Tablespoons cocoa or carob powder and 2 Tablespoons raw almond butter or 4 Tablespoons chocolate almond spread
1-2 fresh or frozen bananas
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serve.

*Hey everyone if you don't have hemp oil or protein powder on hand, and happen to have some hemp seeds on hand like me throw 3 tbsp of those in there instead and that's a great source of protein for you.

*Try vanilla powder instead of vanilla extract if you can get some. You'll avoid the alcohol by doing so. Not that you're taking in that much alcohol with the extract, but if its something you want to totally avoid, then by using the powder you can still have that great vanilla flavor.

*I also don't have any flaxseed oil, but I do have flaxseeds. So what you can do if have some of these is to grind them up, and put the ground flaxseed meal into your smoothie as well. I use a small coffee grinder to grind my flaxseeds. It is reserved just for this purpose.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive...Yumminess 2

Since I went ahead yesterday and posted how I make hummus I thought I'd also throw up here what I do for guacamole considering I mentioned it yesterday. Truly it is one of the easiest things to make under the sun. What continues to mystify me are those little dry mix packets for guacamole. Let me tell you a little secret, you are damaging one the healthiest, most delicious foods on the planet by adding one of those packets. It's not necessary, and it's not yummy.

The key to guacamole is keeping it simple. I've had numerous people say how good my guacamole is, well, I can't take all of the credit really, I was taught by my sons' grandma. In fact I didn't like guacamole until she showed me how to do this. The sad part is I am not alone in that regard. So many people are deceived into thinking that what most restaurants turn out, being just some mushy avocado, is in fact guacamole. Oh that couldn't be farther from the truth. You can eat it on almost anything, I say almost, not everything, but close.

While guacamole is simple, it's more than just the avocado. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy just eating avocado. I consider it to be a perfect food. I eat it on salads, sandwiches, eggs, and even in desserts. I may post a pudding I use it in later in the week. Women should by the way eat one everyday for female health, I'll leave it at that for those of my readers that are men ;)It is a fruit, not a vegetable. It has healthy saturated fat, yes I said healthy and saturated fat in the same sentence. Most of the fat is mono-unsaturated though. It provides potassium, 60% more than a banana, as well as being rich in vitamins B, E, and K.

So here's how I make guacamole:

3-4 Hass Avocados (Has to be ripe, so when you you pick it up it should be semi-firm to the touch, but should give a little if you push on it. If your fingers or thumbs go through it, forget it. Color isn't always a true ripeness indicator, but usually if it's black it's ready, or is about to be with in a day or two.)

1-2 diced tomatoes (depends on how large your maters are)

1/2 medium red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves

Fresh lime or lemon juice (from what I gather the consensus prefers lime juice, but both are great, use what you have, and just keep squeezing it in there until it tastes right)

Sea salt to taste

Fresh cilantro (optional, I don't personally like it very much)


You can increase or decrease the ingredients as necessary. Your best bet to opening an avocado is using a butter knife. The Pampered Chef company actually has an avocado knife, which is great, I have one that I acquired for free, but don't add the expense if you don't have one. Like I said, a butter knife works fine.

Start at the top where the little nub is where the stem used to be, and just take the knife all the way around until it meets back where you started. Twist it gently, and it should open fairly easily. To get out the pit you can use your fingers like me, a spoon to scoop it out, or some people like to use a sharp knife, and stab right into the pit, and pull it out. Don't hurt yourself, and just take it out however.

If your avocados are a little firmer than preferred, a trick is to scoop them into a food processor. It will help make them creamier and smoother. I considered doing this on Saturday, but I had already used the food processor for the hummus at my friend's house, didn't feel like taking it out of the dishwasher and hand washing it. Also the party had commenced, so I didn't want to turn the loud thing on with everyone there. Probably more than you wanted to know, oh well, it's my blog and I'll bunnytrail if I want to, right ;)

If the avocados are ok, scoop out the flesh into the serving bowl before anything else. Mash them up really well. Add a little lime or lemon juice now, this will help smooth it out. Generally guacamole is not chunky. Mine was a bit on Saturday, but didn't have any complaints.

Next put in the rest of the ingredients in the bowl, and mix with a spoon. Just keep adding and tasting until it's perfect. You really can't go wrong with that method unless of course you eat it all in the process. Maybe buy a few extra of everything just in case ;)

My recommendation is to serve the guacamole with Trader Joes Organic Blue Corn Chips. They are my favorite! For you raw foodies flaxseed chips from the dehydrator would be tasty too. I also love dipping raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, snap peas, and bell peppers in it. If you are a meat eater, add some on top of grilled or baked chicken. Throwing some in your turkey sandwich or on a burger is lovely too. I adore it on top of my scrambled eggs. Just can't say enough good things about guacamole!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive...Yumminess

So over the weekend the kids and I celebrated with best friends their one year old's birthday. They had a wonderful party for him at their home. Requested by another close friend for the party were a few of my typical munch on type foods, guacamole, hummus, and quinoa salad.

It never ceases to amaze me how yummy the foods are that the Lord has given us, and why other than the almighty dollar we are so driven to concoct and eat scary things in boxes with 18-25 ingredients with things I cannot pronounce or that I use to clean my toilet...just saying.

Anyhoo thought I'd post here what I typically do for hummus.


2 cups of dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans-same thing)
3 large garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (not the stuff in the bottle)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp of evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
Fresh parsley sprigs

Soak the chickpeas in filtered water over night. Strain them in a colander. Next cook them for about 2 hours. Place everything into the food processor. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients above to make it how ya like it. Place into glass bowl, dig small well in the middle, and add some extra evoo to the well. Dust the hummus with paprika. Stick a few parsley sprigs in it for a garnish. Dip fresh raw veggies in it like carrots, celery, bell peppers and cucumbers, yum!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Raw Tomato Sauce

So a girlfriend of mine and I were talking just the other day about how to make tomato sauce. My recommendation to her was to make raw tomato sauce because you'll keep those nutrients in tact. Also as long as you use it while it's room temperature, and you pour it on something that is warm/hot like noodles, veggies, quinoa, potatoes or anything else your heart desires you really don't need to heat the sauce too. The other food should provide plenty of heat.

So here is what I put in mine, and what I do:

Any tomatoes will do really, we'll say 6-8 romas (preferably local and organic)
Slice open, remove the seeds, cut into quarters
5-6 fresh basil leaves
1-2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 cup diced red onion
3 garlic cloves
2-3 sundried tomatoes that have been soaked
As much salt and pepper as you like

Place it all in the food processor or high speed blender. Taste it and make it your own. Pour it on whatever you like. If you want it thicker or must heat it, go ahead, but as you can see, sauce is not complicated.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Snapshot of a Yummy Dinner

So I absolutely had to share my dinner with you. On Saturday morning I went with a close friend and her husband to the local farmers market. I cannot express to you my excitement over going there in the summer. It is a cook's or raw foodie's playground!

That day I perused and found some yummy bell peppers. I bought a purple and a white one. Never did I try this before, and I quite like both. I also picked up a spaghetti squash, which is what I am sharing here. Along with it I had a spinach salad.If you've never had one, it's called a spaghetti squash because it actually looks like spaghetti noodles inside.

Preheat your over to 400 degrees. To cook your spaghetti squash you slice it in half. You'll need a good knife. Then scoop out the inside. Then put a little coconut oil on each side. Cook it open face up on a baking sheet for 45 minutes. I put it on my pizza stone.

When you take it out take a fork and fluff up the middle. To dress it up you can put some raw or cooked tomato sauce on it, and even add some goat cheese like I did in the picture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Awesome New Recipe

I cannot wait to try this one. It's from Kristen Suzanne.

Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Prep time: Less than 10 minutes

1/3 cup water
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1 cup hemp seeds
2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp chili powder*
2sps tamari, wheat-free or again Coconut Aminos by Coconut Secret
1/2 tsp Himalayan crystal salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric powder

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

*My favorite brand for this is Simply Organic.
Serving suggestions:

Use this for dipping fresh veggies, big heart of romaine lettuce leaves, or corn chips (raw or not – it’s up to you!)
For those eating cooked vegan foods, this is an awesome sauce on top of veggie burgers.
This also makes a delicious raw vegan dressing on a hearty salad with romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and cucumbers. You could even sprinkle on some raw vegan taco meat.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wow-Welcome to August

Can't believe August is here. Summer is almost over. That is so sad to me. I love this season with the sun shining so bright. It makes me want to be outdoors all of the time. I enjoy the heat!

So I found this yummy sounding recipe on the sunfood.com website this morning. Had to share it. I'll be purchasing my raw nori sheets from Renegade Health. Be sure to go through my link on the right.

Avo Olive Nori Rolls


1 large ripe avocado
1 small tomato
3/4 cup pitted olives
1 tsp Nama Shoyu or Coconut Aminos by Coconut Secret
Wedge of lemon
Sunflower sprouts (grow your own to save!)
4 nori sheets


Chop the tomato and olives. Combine avocado, tomato and olives in a bowl. Add Nama Shoyu and squeeze on a bit of lemon. Stir ingredients for about 10 seconds, just to mix up. Add a large scoop (about a half cup) of the mix to the center of a nori roll. Spread the scoop across the nori so that you will have an even amount throughout the length of your roll. Add a handful of sprouts and roll up your nori sheet. Slice and enjoy!

If you have sushi mats it can make the rolling up portion more simplified. I purchased mine at the local Asian market. Health food store carry them, but they cost too much.