Seriously Craveworthy Carrots

IMG_8343I was shooting for a quick, healthy way to cook a bag of organic baby carrots … and, OH did I come up with one! Can’t wait to hear if your family loves this as much as I do!

Grab a bag of baby carrots … and cut each one in half lengthwise (so they stay long, but are just thinner). I hear you groaning, but this takes about 4 minutes and gives you way more surface area, which you’re going to want.

Meanwhile (while you’re chopping the carrots), heat a large cast iron skillet up on medium high to high heat – as high as it can take. When it’s hot, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and let it melt.

When melted, add the sliced carrots (see, that was fast, right?) to the pan and push them around so they are as much in a single layer as possible. Now the important part – DO NOT MOVE them for at least 3-4 minutes, or until you see charred bits developing on some of the bottoms. Really important – it’s the charring that makes a difference. Once the bottoms develop a char, stir them around a bit, let them char some more, and repeat until you’re starting to worry if you’ve cooked these carrots too much (you haven’t). At that point, turn off the heat, sprinkle the carrots with sea salt to taste, and cover. Leave covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until the carrots are fork-tender.

From this point, your choices are:
– Eat them exactly as they are (yeah, I’ve eaten them straight out of the pan, too :-))
– Sprinkle with your favorite vinegar or squeeze of lemon for acidity (my favorite – I LOVE the vinegar – kind of like smoky Salt/Vinegar chips, only clean eating!)
– Toss them in a bit of curry powder, and lime if you like
– Toss in hot sauce and honey

Real Food … the Easy Way to Health

This is one of my favorite bits of real food inspiration … because it has the potential to stop us in our well-worn tracks of thinking of food – particuarly healthy food – as time-consuming and complicated.

Real Food

REAL FOOD

– Real food is a beautiful apple, sliced with love, and eaten one gorgeous slice at a time.

– Real food is a couple of farmer’s market carrots sliced into dimes and sizzled in a bit of olive oil until they caramelize.

– Real food is broccoli roasted until it’s crisp and brown, with simple sprinkle of salt.

– Real food is a half of an avocado, maybe with a squeeze of lime and a twist of black pepper … or not.

– Real food is parsley and mint, tossed with quinoa.

– Real food is a tomato, freshly picked from the vine and eaten while still warm with the summer sun.

– Real food is a mash of warm white beans, with a bit of roasted garlic.

Real food is simple, beautiful, and soul-warming. It can be mixed with other foods, but it is also complete unto itself. It demands to be eaten artfully and with attention, and returns this favor with flavor and health. Big thanks to the great Jamie Oliver for the reminder!

Homemade Tomato Jam Crostini – with Lemon Ricotta

My favorite season? Easy, tomato season. I wait for this all year … and when it hits, I’m the first to the Farmer’s market to buy beautiful slicing heirlooms, and then the last to the Farmer’s Market to buy up the scratched/dented/bruised tomatoes for sauces and jams, at a discount. Actually, I owe a shout out to the nice folks at Crystal Organic Farms who are nice enough to set aside their “seconds” for me each week now!

Last week, I decided to turn the bumper crop of beautiful Black Krims into a homemade tomato jam. I made a few different batches to play around with the ingredients and ratios, and this one produced the hands-down favorite!

Tomato Jam Crostini

Lemon Ricotta and Homemade Tomato Jam Crostini

Fresh bread – whole wheat baguette or sourdough are my favorites – thinly sliced on the bias for 4-6 large slices
Fresh whole-milk ricotta – about 1/2 lb
Fine zest of 1 organic lemon
Homemade tomato jam (see recipe, below)
tiny pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, washed and torn by hand

Zest the lemon into the ricotta, add pinch of salt, and stir. If you can, let sit for 30 minutes or so to let the ricotta come to room temp and to give the lemon a chance to flavor the cheese.

Turn on broiler to start warming. On the stove in a seasoned cast iron pan, grill the thin bread slices on both sides (sure, you can just use a toaster, but grilling is tastier and just as easy!)

Spread the ricotta onto the bread slices and put under the broiler for a few minutes to let it warm and slightly brown. Remove from oven and spread the homemade tomato jam over the ricotta. Top with fresh ground pepper and torn basil to taste, and serve.

Homemade Tomato Jam

About 6 pounds of Black Krim tomatoes, with the cores and seeds removed (NOTES: I do this by coring the tomatoes and then squeezing them – some of the seed are left and I’m OK with that. Also peel them if you’re a purist – I usually just pull the skins out while cooking, and am not bothered if a skin or two is left.)
1 cup cider vinegar
5 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
4 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric (substitute ginger if you don’t have fresh turmeric)
1/4 cup raw sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (be sure to use organic since you’re using the peel)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Put all ingredients into a large pot (do not use uncoated cast iron). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat then reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally (more often as it reduces), until jammy. Depending on how well you squeezed the tomatoes, this can take 3-5 hours.

To can the jam: ladle the jam into 3 hot sterilized canning jars, leaving ½ inch of headroom. Seal with hot lids and process the jars for at least 10 minutes.

To store for <1 month (it doesn't last anywhere near that long in my house): store in a covered glass jar in the fridge. Other usage ideas for jam:

Serve over warmed brie, feta, or pretty much any other cheese
Serve over quick-sauteed spinach, swiss chard, or kale
Serve alongside pretty much any egg dish, like quiche or omelettes
Serve on toast in the morning – delicious!
Stir into pan-sauteed fresh corn
Eat straight out of the jar (seriously)

The Power of the Plate

The Power the PlateResearchers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on medications and other medical interventions for diseases that your body is already fighting every single day. To quote from one of my favorite Ted Talks, William Li, “Can we eat to starve cancer?“:”Autopsy studies from people who died in car accidents have shown that about 40 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 50 actually have microscopic cancers in their breasts, about 50 percent of men in their 50s and 60s have microscopic prostate cancers, and virtually 100 percent of us, by the time we reach our 70s, will have microscopic cancers growing in our thyroid. Yet, without a blood supply, most of these cancers will never become dangerous. Dr. Judah Folkman, who was my mentor and who was the pioneer of the angiogenesis field, once called this ‘cancer without disease.'”

For the most part, our bodies can handle foreign invaders and internal threats, as long as:

1. They are identifiable as an invader – meaning they aren’t some new bacteria/virus/compound that the body can’t identify, or to which it hasn’t developed a response. This is why new chemicals, GMOs, and such have the potential to be so problematic.

2. The body isn’t already so compromised from dealing with known invaders, injuries, etc. that it is too taxed to fight back. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including clean foods, regular exercise, stress management, etc.

Right this very minute, probably the best thing you can do to support – and thank! – the amazing systems that keep your body healthy is to go find the darkest, greenest, leafiest organic vegetable around, and eat it. Then in an hour, do it again – and throw in some cooked tomatoes – and blueberries for dessert. The beautiful thing is that you have 3-4 opportunities to do this every day, and every one can be health-supporting, beautiful, and absolutely delicious!

All of the Fig – None of the Newton – Bars!

All of the Fig, None of the Newton, Bars - Eat Yourself Well

Sometimes you – or your kids – want something sweet, which can wind up being a mess for your healthy, whole-food diet. Recently, Food Babe posted about one sandwich bar that we used to think was healthy, but has a dizzying (sometimes literally) array of unnecessary chemicals in the ingredients.

That inspired me to grab the simple fig paste I’d made yesterday out of the fridge and try an easy, healthy, replacement for my less-healthy childhood treat. It turned out to be even easier than I’d thought – check this out!

Simple, Healthy Fig Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground dried organic figs, ground to a paste (instructions for grinding, below)
  • 1/2 cup organic hemp seed
  • 1/2 cup salted pumpkin seeds, ground – I used sprouted, salted (I used Go Raw brand)
  • Cut the figs into smallish pieces and process by pulsing in a strong food processor. If you do not cut them up into bits, they will gum up in your processor, and possibly burn out the motor – trust me on this one :-). Once the processor is running easily, leave it in the “on” position until the fig bits gather into a ball, about 1 minute.

    Take about 1 cup of the fig paste on put on a large plastic cutting board or silicone baking mat. Press with your hands or a rolling pin into a disk about 1/4 inch thin.

    Sprinkle a mix of the hemp seed and pumpkin seeds over the disk and press in with your hands. Flip the disk and repeat. Do this a few more times until the figs are holding as much of the seed as they can.

    IMG_1463Start cutting the disk into rectangular strips that when folded over (see pic) form a sandwich bar square.

    Store in fridge, if they aren’t all grabbed up right then!

    From Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

    Love those Vibrant Veggies!

    Light and Vibrant Health

    This weekend, when I was walking around my Farmer’s market, and then later around my local Whole Foods, it occurred to me that when I looked at fresh, local, farm produce, it nearly vibrated with light and vibrant health.  Early tomatoes glowed, eggplant shimmered, and cabbage was jumping out of its skin … and I immediately understood that they would have a similar effect on my health, the visible (skin, hair, energy) and the invisible parts (disease-fighting, hormonal balance, etc).

    In contrast, nothing in a package even winked, they just kind of sat there.   Seemed kind of dead and desolate by comparison.

    I know what I’m eating these days!  Check out my Vibrant Health Recipes page for vibrant veggie cooking inspiration!

    Colorful Roast Spring Squash – a great way to celebrate the colors of Spring!

    Colorful Roast Spring SquashThis one takes a little work to assemble (:-) you’ve been forewarned), but is a fun project with kids and is REALLY pretty on the table. I actually like the non-casserole version better when served piping hot, but plenty of people disagree with me (and the casserole is crazy delicious when served cold) so here you go with both versions!

    Ingredients
    4 medium carrots
    Spring zucchini and yellow squash – amount depends on size. I like the smaller spring versions, and buy about 20 of those, but if you have larger ones, the quantity is lower.
    4 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
    3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped, pick your favorite type
    1.5 tbsp fresh thyme (I love lemon thyme in this, if you have it)
    1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Additional for casserole version:
    4 eggs
    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    1/4 cup milk (any type, and optional)
    1/2 cup cheese (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Slice carrots into thick matchsticks or similar small pieces, about 2″ tall. Warm oil in oven-safe casserole dish (about pie-pan size) over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, carrots, and 1 tbsp of the thyme. Cook slowly for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are warmed throughout, then remove carrots and spread them out to cool, leaving the mushrooms and garlic in the pan.

    While the carrots are cooking and cooling, cut the zucchini into similar large matchstick pieces.

    Now, the fun begins. Spread the mushroom mixture across the pan, and begin arranging the matchsticks upright over them. Kids love helping with this, it’s a game. I find it easier to start in the middle and move outward. If you’re feeling creative, make a pattern, like a flower, with the colors. Go all the way to the edges so that the pieces stay upright while baking. If you’re not making the casserole version, sprinkle the remaining thyme over the vegetables, add salt and pepper, and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft but not mushy (use a fork to gauge readiness).

    Casserole variation: before putting the veggies in the oven, whirl the eggs, plus the cheese and milk if you’re using them, in your blender on low, along with pinch of salt. Stir in the parsley, and pour evenly over the vegetables. Grind pepper over all. Bake until the eggs are set, and the vegetables are soft but not mushy – you can tell by using a fork. Let rest about 10 minutes before eating. This dish is also excellent served cold!

    Cabbage-Onion Saute with Marinated Cucumber Salad

    Cabbage-Onion Sauté with Marinated Cucumber SaladCabbage-Onion Sauté with Marinated Cucumber Salad

    Time: 20 minutes

     

     

    This super-simple, idea-to-table-in-20-minutes dinner is great for a night where you’re behind in your veggie 7-a-day, but want something full of flavor!  The bit of Dijon mustard in the cabbage brings out the natural cabbage and onion flavors, but feel free to sub in herbs or veggies you have on hand.  Turmeric is amazing, particularly with coconut oil … or dill, sliced fennel, or finely diced carrot for a sweeter taste.  Let me know if you find a great flavor profile you’d like to share!

    For the Cabbage-Onion Sauté:
    1/3 – 1/2 medium head organic green or Savoy cabbage, sliced (can be thin or thick, your choice)
    1 medium organic onions, sliced
    1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil, or butter
    Salt
    Pepper, freshly ground
    Optional: 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

    For the salad:
    1 organic cucumber, thinly sliced
    4 tbsp rice wine vinegar (with no sugar), or white wine vinegar
    1 tbsp olive oil
    salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1/2 organic red pepper, sliced into strips
    1+ cups arugula

    Optional: 1/2 sliced avocado on the side

    Melt coconut oil or butter over medium-high heat and add the cabbage and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10-15 minutes or until soft (to your taste) and lightly browned. Stir in the dijon mustard and let melt into the vegetable mixture for at least a minute or so before plating.

    After adding the cabbage and onions to the pan, thinly slice the cucumber, sprinkle with the rice vinegar, then the oil, then the salt and pepper, then stir. Let rest until the Cabbage/Onion mixture is ready.

    To plate: serve the cabbage/onion mixture. Beside this, put the arugula, top with the red pepper, then place the cucumber slices over all (the oil and vinegar will fall over the arugula). Slice the avocado (yeah, it’s optional, but really? :-)) and place with the salad, or next to the cabbage. This will all come together on the plate delightfully.