Wednesday, August 26, 2015

spirulina popcorn

I recently had something really cool happen to me. Someone I don't know reached out to me after reading my recipe for quinoa + spiri balls. Garrick Dee, from the blog Juicing with G, had just written an article on the health benefits of spirulina and wanted to share the information with me. I love that. I love the connection we can make these days through social media. It's not a popularity contest (well, it is to some people) but a tool for self education. Check out the article here!

I also love realizing that other people out there across the globe have access to my recipes and blog posts. And people are reading them! Not just my mom, sister-in-law, and best friend. It's very cool.

There were two reasons for starting this blog (which has been up and running for over two years now, woo hoo!). One reason was for myself; to document and record all of my recipes so I could come back to them and keep track of them and maybe someday do something with them (cookbook?). And the second reason is for everyone else; I want to encourage, motivate, and inspire health in others. I believe that a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen, and that anyone can do it. I don't want to push or preach the way I live and eat but only to demonstrate how easy it can be to be healthy, and of course how delicious.

So, fall semester is about to begin. This means that 4 days a week I will be riding my bike to campus for classes and 2 days a week I'll be working. Sh#@'s about to get real. I have been thoroughly enjoying my long summer days off with no homework and extra hours to work on recipes in my breezy little kitchen. My absolute favorite past time is listening to podcasts while creating recipes. I don't even mind doing the dishes. Today I made some chili and rice collard wraps, honey + nut buckwheat granola, and popped up some spirulina popcorn while listening to No Meat Athlete interview Chef AJ. Heaven.

My mom was a popcorn addict. We had it all the time as kids. Always with butter, salt, and brewer's yeast. So, needless to say, I have been stove-top popping for a very long time. If you have an air popper, even easier.

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp spirulina

For the stove-top method, heat oil in heavy bottom pan (one with a lid). When the oil is hot, add the kernels and put the lid on the pot. Holding the lid down, give it a little shimmy/shake to coat the kernels in the oil. Once the corn starts popping lift the pot off the heat every few seconds for another shake. When the popping slows way down remove the pot from the heat. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, nutritional yeast, and spirulina. Toss the popcorn with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. If you do this while the popcorn is still warm it will stick to it better, so have your toppings reading for topping!

Snack liberally.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

vanilla + turmeric overnight oats

Another shade of breakfast: yellow.

Ever since my husband tore his meniscus in his knee four years ago, he has been constantly looking for ways to include more anti-inflammatory foods into his diet. Turmeric fits the bill. Because it is loaded with antioxidants it is said to be great for inflammation and immunity. He is now to the point where he eats it raw; about a teaspoon of fresh turmeric grated up and mixed with a little coconut oil and black pepper. Black pepper and fatty acids are said to compliment the bio availability of turmeric; making it more accessible for our bodies to absorb. If you were really crazy here you could add black pepper and coconut oil to your overnight oats, but I'm just not that crazy yet. To learn more, check out turmeric for health.

vanilla + turmeric overnight oats
  • 2-3 inch piece of turmeric root (I used the amount in the picture below)
  • 2 cups of almond milk or milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

  • fresh fruit (bananas)
  • shredded coconut
  • cacao nibs 

Blend the pieces of turmeric root with almond milk and vanilla. I don't even peel the turmeric most of the time because the skin is very thin and delicate and will blend up into nothing (much thinner than the skin on ginger root). I realize that a lot of places don't have access to fresh turmeric root. Living in Hawaii, we are able to buy local turmeric for a very decent price at the local farmers market. If you are trying this with powdered turmeric I have a few pieces of advice. First; powdered turmeric tends to be a little more bitter, it somehow loses the natural sweetness found in the fresh root. I would recommend adding a little sweetener if you are using powdered turmeric-- a tablespoon of maple syrup should do the trick. Second; powdered turmeric is much more concentrated so you don't need nearly as much. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon and go up from there.

Once you have blended the turmeric milk pour over the oats and chia seeds in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Portion out into jars, this makes two larger portions or three small jelly jar portions. Lid the jars and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, transfer oatmeal into a bowl and serve with desired toppings.

Friday, August 14, 2015

creamy corn + zucchini soup

 Summer days aren't really soup days but I just couldn't help it. I had massive zucchinis and Ewa corn from the farmer's market that needed to be concentrated and consumed immediately. I love that you can literally just blend up a ton of veggies, heat it up, and call it a soup. It's kind of like a green smoothie in that you can consume way more veggies if they are blended.

So anyway, there is a little more to it than just blended corn and zucchini, but not much!
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups corn kernels (or 4 ears of corn)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of zucchini (or about 2 zucchinis)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup basil + more for garnish

This soup is quick, easy, and adaptable. Try it with other veggies! Broccoli, peas, carrots, tomatoes, kale, bell peppers, etc.

Cut the corn off the cob and chop the zucchini.  Add all of the zucchini and 1 3/4 cups of the corn kernels to a high speed blender with the coconut milk, salt, cumin, cornstarch, and 1 cup of basil leaves (or any other herb). Blend on high until super smooth.

In a large soup pot heat the coconut oil. Chop the green onions and garlic and lightly cook them in the coconut oil. Add the blended veggie mixture to the soup pot and heat until bubbling. That is literally it. A super easy way to get more veggies from your fridge to your diet!

Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup corn kernels and some more fresh chopped basil.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

brown rice carrot risotto + minty pea pesto

Risotto is one of those meals that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like a comfort food, or a cold weather warm-me-up meal. But not this risotto! It has so many fresh and fantastic flavors that scream "summer!"

I've made brown rice risotto in the traditional stove top "sweat-stir-slave-away" method but it was pretty brutal. I think it took even longer than white aborrio rice takes, which is already too long if you ask me. So, this time I took a massive shortcut and precooked the brown rice in my rice cooker. It turned out fantastic!

The fresh carrot and turmeric in the risotto compliment the minty pea pesto so well. The pesto is packed with fresh herbs, tangy lime juice, and sweet peas. No shortage of flavors in this meal!

I have recently discovered Chef AJ. I have been reading about her diet, recommendations, and her book; Unprocessed. For this reason, I have been playing around with using as little added oil as possible while cooking, and cutting down on my nut and seed consumption. I am realizing that more times than not, added oil isn't even necessary! Feel free to add oil to this recipe if you want to, but I really don't think it's needed in this meal! (To learn more about Chef AJ's story and book try these links.)

Start the brown rice in a small rice cooker or stove top:
  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 4 cups water

While this is cooking, make the pesto:

minty pea pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves 
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional)

Add chopped kale, garlic, salt, and lime juice to a food processor and process until broken down. Add the mint and cilantro and process until finely chopped. The more you process the greens at this stage, the more liquid will be released and the less oil you will need. I used to make pesto with 1/2 cup of olive oil! I thought that lots of oil was the only way to get the consistency that I wanted. But it turns out that blending the herbs with salt and lemon first will help get an ideal pesto consistency without loads of added oil.

Lastly, add the peas and pulse to combine. I like to keep my peas kind of chunky but it is up to you how much you want to blend it.

Transfer pesto into a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Give your food processor a quick rinse because you are going to use it again!

brown rice carrot risotto
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1" piece of turmeric root
  • cooked brown rice (from above)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Roughly chop carrots, onions, and turmeric. Blend in food processor until finely chopped.

Now check on your rice. You don't have to let it cook all the way, just so most of the water is absorbed but it's still kind of wet.

Transfer the carrot/onion/turmeric mixture into a large saucepan over medium heat. This is another time when olive oil is optional, but not necessary.

Cook carrot/onion/turmeric mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine, salt, and pepper and simmer until reduced, another 3-5 minutes

Add all of the brown rice and cook until all liquid is absorbed (if there was any excess). Add the boiling water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each 1/2 cup absorb completely. When all water has cooked down turn  the heat off and add the nutritional yeast. This is the vegan "cheese" part of the dish and what gives it the gooey risotto-like texture.

Serve immediately! Top with a generous portion of minty pea pesto and a glass of white wine and you have yourself a fresh but filling summer meal!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

chunky chocolate buckwheat granola

Getting tired of oaty granola? Try this buckwheat version! This recipe makes chocolatey clusters that are amazing as a cereal, smoothie bowl topper, or even just a healthy snack! I seriously could have eaten the whole pan while I was waiting for it to cool.

  • 3 cups buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup oat flour (or another course flour or meal; coconut flour, almond meal, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • dash of salt

I didn't have any flour at home so I ground up one cup of rolled oats in my nutribullet. Easy peasy. Nut pulps from making nut milk would also work well in this recipe if you had them leftover. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine tahini, coconut oil, maple, cacao, and salt in a small sauce pan and heat just enough to combine. Mix buckwheat and flour or meal of your choice in a mixing bowl. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Spread onto cookie sheet, about a 1/2 in thick. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. This step (the cooling step) is important because this is when it sticks together to form irresistible little clusters.

Now you can break it into clusters and start snacking! Or just put it in an airtight container and save it for breakfast, but I highly suggest testing some out, immediately :)

Breakfast this morning was a mango strawberry and spirulina smoothie bowl with chunky chocolate buckwheat granola, banana slices, and hemp seeds. It's a mouthful! In more ways than one!