Wednesday, June 29, 2016

savory sesame granola

Well, my summer vacation is coming to a close, sigh. I've definitely made the most of these six weeks off. It's been so wonderful having time to be in the kitchen, read novels, run and workout, and not have any homework to do! We even went to Maui for a long and magical weekend. But next week I'll be starting back at school for a summer class. Back to reality, I have a degree to get!

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals and it almost always consists of some sort of homemade granola. Whether it be my chunky chocolate buckwheat granola, cinnamon + tahini granola, or my olive oil + maple granola, it's a staple in my diet, and one of those things that I insist on making because store-bought granola is usually full of added sugar.  When we buy granola from Costco it's known as "cookie granola" in our house because it tastes like dessert! Not that it's bad... but it's more of a treat.

So, to mix things up a bit, and because we were going to Maui and I wanted to bring some traveling snacks, I tried it as a salty snack instead of a sweet one... and it worked.

Granola has just reached another level. It's still good for breakfast but now you can have it all day long! This savory granola is an awesome snack by itself or added to any salad for some extra crunch.

savory sesame granola
  • 3 cups rolled oats (1 cup ground into flour)
  • 1 cup dry millet
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional but highly recommended)

Grind one cup of the oats in a blender or food processor. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: oats, oat flour, millet, seeds, and nutritional yeast. In a smaller bowl whisk together the tahini, oils, honey, salt, and cayenne. Pour this over the dry ingredients and fold until completely coated. Line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola out to the edges. It should be about 1/2" thick. Press and compact it with a spatula to help create a chunkier granola. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes. I turned my tray around about half way to ensure even toasting (my oven is hotter in the back).

Allow the granola to cool completely before breaking it up, this is another step that will result in bigger chunks.

Store in an airtight container, snack liberally, top salads, soups, smoothies, and whatever else you are eating because this stuff is bomb!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

peanut sauced quinoa nori rolls

No need for dipping sauces, these rolls are already sauced! By adding enough flavor to these hand rolls, I've made them super easy to take for lunch. A very convenient way to eat healthy on the go. No excuses now, sorry! I made six rolls with this recipe, some for today, some for tomorrow, and some to share.

peanut sauced quinoa
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water

Cook the quinoa as directed. While it's cooking, whisk together the sauce ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Bragg's amino acids or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp all natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes

When the quinoa is done cooking, immediately remove it from the heat and stir in the sauce. Set this aside to cool while you prepare the veggies. Any veggies will do, just make sure they are sliced thinly or julienne: avocado, green onions, green cabbage, lettuce, sprouts, etc. Be creative! This is what I used: 

  • 1/4 head purple cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • thai basil leaves

I have a rolling mat, which makes rolling sushi a cinch, but it's not necessary. Lay a sheet of nori on the mat with the shiny side down. Arrange about 1/3 cup of the sauced quinoa over 2/3 of the sheet that is closest to you.

Place the veggies evenly across the sheet, don't overload it! Begin rolling from the end closest to you by picking up the mat, tucking in the filling with your fingers, and using your thumbs for pressure to make the roll tight. Tuck the nori end in with your fingers along the entire sheet, roll to within 1/2 inch of the end. Using your fingers, wet along the edge and roll over it to make a seal. Use the mat to shape your roll and secure the seam.

Slice the rolls in half for easy hand rolls or cut into 1" sections for bite sized pieces.

Pack 'em up and don't worry about a leaky sauce in your lunch bag because there's no need for one! 

For more vegan sushi ideas check out my other quinoa nori wraps, vegan brown rice sushi, and sweet potato sushi.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

turmeric sauerkraut

Another fermenting adventure! I have been making some sort of kimchi or sauerkraut regularly now and it's so good to have this source of pro- and pre- biotics on hand at all times. I am really getting into feeding my microbiome. I have been consuming ridiculous amounts of greens and fermented foods as well as trying to live a little dirtier (the 5 second rule has been extended to the one minute rule and rinsing organic veggies has become optional).

Eating fermented foods is a great way to build up and feed your microbiome, the tillions of bacteria that call you, and your gut, home. I just finished reading The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan and let me tell you, I am a believer that bacteria are good for us. In fact, they are essential to our day to day functioning. Gut bacteria do everything from digesting our food to synthesizing hormones and neutralizing cancer causing compounds. Dr. Chutkan recommends eating fermented foods, which are crawling with live bacteria (probiotics) and a good source of fiber (prebiotics), everyday. Yogurt, kefir, and kombucha are also good sources of probiotics but don't include the prebiotic fiber that sustain and nourish the microbiome.

Fermented foods have an acquired taste (and smell!) but they are worth it for your health, so lets get fermenting!

The rule of thumb is about 1 1/2 Tbsp of salt per head of cabbage, but this can depend on the size of the head, so remember to taste it. I used 2 Tbsp in this batch because I had a massive head of cabbage. Salt and cabbage are the only two ingredients that you need to make sauerkraut but experimenting with different flavors is so fun, especially when turmeric is involved. If you are fermenting in a glass jar you can watch your kraut transform from greenish white to yellow-green, to a bright yellow. Purple cabbage also gives a fun color to your kraut, as well as beets or carrots. If you like spicy, try a few chili flakes, or better yet, a fresh fiery chili! The point is to be creative because you're going to be eating a lot of this stuff, trust me! Check out my previous posts on homemade sauerkraut, the amazing karrot kraut, and try my go-to recipe for kimchi from My New Roots.

turmeric sauerkraut
  • 1 head of green cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2" of turmeric root, peeled and grated 

Slice the cabbage, leaving out the core and any outer leaves that don't look very nice. Peel and grate the turmeric on a fine grater. In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the cabbage and turmeric with the salt. Start massaging it with your hands until a small amount of brine starts to form. This is the liquid being drawn out of the cabbage by the salt and the massaging. After a few minutes, it's time for a break. Phew! My hands get tired pretty easily doing this so I like to let time do some of the work too. Basically, once you have done some damage to those rigid cabbage cell walls, you can let the salt do some of the work. Place a tea towel over the bowl and let it set for about an hour.

The cabbage will reduce in size dramatically, to about 1/3 of it's bulk. After letting it set and allowing time for the salt to draw out more moisture, give it another quick massage. Now you should have enough brine for fermenting. Start transferring the cabbage into a large jar or fermenting crock one handful at a time, pressing firmly to compact each time. You want to rid any air pockets and cover all the cabbage with brine. After all the cabbage is in the vessel pour in the remaining brine to submerge it. The brine protects the kraut from any harmful bacteria that are present in the air and allows the lactobacillus, the safe bacteria that is already present on the cabbage, to do it's work.

I won't go into too much detail about the fermentation process here but if you want to learn more check out my first homemade sauerkraut post and the links I posted through there. This batch fermented for 5 days on the counter, out of the sun, and covered with a coffee filter. Make sure you check it and compress it to re-submerge the cabbage in brine everyday if needed. This can stay out on the counter for up to two weeks, it's up to you. Once you put it in the fridge the fermentation slows down dramatically so taste it and see if it's "sour" enough for you. Once refrigerated, sauerkraut will last a few months, if you don't devour it that is, it never lasts very long at my house!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

green papaya salad

Another one for summer! Green papaya salad is fresh, crunchy, and perfect for hot summer evenings. It can be a side dish, a condiment on a veggie or fish burger (highly recommended), or a main dish in itself. I like to serve green papaya salad over brown rice and topped with some fried or baked tofu strips for a complete meal. I love meals that are both light and fresh but filling, and this one fits that bill!

green papaya salad
  • 1 green papaya, shredded or cut julienne (about 2 cups)
  • 1 carrot, shredded or cut julienne
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
the dressing
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce, ponzu, or Bragg's amino acids 
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
serve with
  • chopped peanuts

I am so lucky to have already shredded green papaya available at my local farmer's market. It makes it so easy to whip up one of these refreshing salads. But by preparing it yourself you are just putting more love and attention into your food and essentially your body, so either way is a win! This is about 2 cups of shredded, or julienne cut, green papaya, about the equivalent to one medium papaya. If you have a julienne peeler or a mandolin it's as easy as peel, de-seed, and shred! 

Once you have prepared all of your veggies your bowl should look a little something like this: 

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jelly jar and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over your veggies and toss 'em up! You can serve it immediately or let it marinate for up to 30 minutes in the fridge. Top with chopped peanuts and let the crunching begin!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

spinach millet cakes + carrot salsa

Here is another great way to get whole grains into your diet. Millet is an amazing grain that often gets overlooked and generally classified as birdseed. But it's chock full of nutrients that our bodies need and thrive on such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. The more I read about food and nutrition, the more I realize how important it is to get all of the essential nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements or fortified foods. Although these can be a good way to get nutrients that we don't consume enough of, like vitamin B12 in nutritional yeast, nutrients are the most bio-available to us when we eat them in their natural form: whole foods.

Millet is also super versatile. It can be eaten for breakfast as a cereal, thrown in salads, served as a substitute to rice in any dish, ground and used as a flour, and it can even be munched on raw or toasted such as in muesli bars or homemade granola. It's not a grain I have all the time but it is cheap and easy (I just cook it like rice in the rice cooker) and works really well in veggie burgers or little cakes like these ones. If you like these, give my broccoli millet burgers a try.

spinach millet cakes
  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 2 cups water
    • cook millet in a rice cooker or stove top (bring to boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, all water should be absorbed and millet should be tender)
  • 1/2 cup chives or green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 flax "eggs" (whisk together 2 Tbsp flax meal with 6 Tbsp water and let set for about 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach

Cook millet and allow to cool. Mix flax "eggs" and set aside. Chop chives, garlic and spinach. When the millet is cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to wilt the spinach, add it and all other ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix together with your hands. I think that mixing with your hands is key here because it gives you a chance to really massage all the ingredients together so they stick.

Form mixture into small patties about 2-3 inches in diameter and arrange on a greased or lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.

These little cakes are great as an appetizer with a zesty sauce, pesto, or dressing, or as a hearty topping to a salad.

Here I made a rainbow carrot salsa. Super easy, fresh, and crunchy!

carrot salsa
  • 4 medium/small carrots, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • juice from 1/2 lime
Whisk together dressing ingredients (ACV, honey, cumin, salt, and lime) to dissolve and incorporate the honey. Add to chopped carrots and cilantro and let marinate in the fridge while you make your millet cakes. Enjoy by the forkfull.

To learn more about millet, visit