Kale Pesto (It’s a Thing)

One of my favorite parts of summer is fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Especially those which are grown nearby. Our local CSA farm, Sweet Land Farm, is now bursting with goodness from the earth (and the hard work of the farmers).

What I love is walking into the distribution shed every Tuesday afternoon, breathing in the heady, spicy scent of sweet Basil mixed with all the other veggies and the artisan bread that a local bread business sells. Even though I can’t eat “real” bread, I love the aroma! This CSA is where I learned to know so many greens–Kale, Swiss chard, Arugula, Broccoli raab–and, thus, learned to cook with them.

We all know by now how good for you Kale is, (and read here if you don’t) but not everyone gets as happy as I do about eating it. Have you tried making pesto with it? I’ve made delicious pestos with Arugula and Parsley, and, of course, Basil, so I’m not sure why I waited this long to try Kale pesto. You can use it just like any other pesto on pasta, zoodles, added to soups or marinara sauce, to name a few.

My recipe is simple and adjustable–add more garlic, lemon, salt, or olive oil to suit your taste.

Kale Pesto

3-4 cups of Kale leaves, rinsed, stems removed

1/2-1 cup Basil leaves, rinsed

2-4 garlic cloves

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put everything (except the olive oil) in the food processor, place the top on (with veggie chute removed), and turn it on while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop, remove top, scrape with a spatula, and process until smooth. Repeat as necessary. Add more oil if needed and adjust salt, garlic, lemon, and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

How to Make Cashew Milk

I am going to show you how to make the easiest nut milk available! As someone who lives dairy-free, I have attempted to make my own nut milks before. Almond milk is great, but it requires the dreaded nut milk bag to strain the bits of nuts out of the milk. Which requires cleaning said nut milk bag, which is quite tedious and a definite mental hurdle to me making almond milk on a regular basis. 

Enter cashew milk: it requires no nut milk bag and no straining, which makes it a breeze to make. The only equipment necessary is a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Ninja so that you won’t have bits of nuts floating around in your milk.

This makes an amazing coffee creamer, as well as a treat with a gluten free graham cracker or biscotti!

So here is the recipe:

Cashew Milk

(yields approximately 6 cups)

2 cups raw cashews, whole or pieces

4 cups filtered water

2 Medjool dates (optional)

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Place cashews in bowl and cover with water. Place a clean dishcloth over bowl. Let sit on counter for at least 4 hours. (It was more like 10 hours for me because that’s when I got around to making the milk.)

In a colander, strain out the water and rinse cashews. 

Place cashews in blender with 4 cups water, dates and vanilla (if using), and sea salt. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.

Place in clean mason jars or glass pitcher in fridge and drink it up within 4-5 days.

You can always cut the recipe in half if you can’t drink it as fast. And you can always add more water to the recipe to thin it out if it’s too creamy for you.

Let me know what you think! 

 

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup for Spring

Last Friday afternoon, my dear friend Britt came over for lunch and, as I usually do, I served soup and a tossed salad. Soup is a favorite of mine because it’s easy to make and fits in with my lazy cooking preferences. Alan laughed when I called myself a “One Bowl Johnny” last week, but if I could be that minimalist in the kitchen, trust me, I would!

Most of the gluten free, dairy free, from-scratch food I make tends to require many bowls, spoons and pots with plenty of steps. So when I find a recipe that is simple enough to use only one pot, I rejoice. This is why I love soup so much! Well, that and the fact that it’s such comfort food if one is feeling a bit under the weather.

This particular soup was created because, like most other home cooks, I am frugal and wanted to use up the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. And I had a hankering for the combination of sweet potatoes (yams, and yes, I know the difference!) and leeks. Get ready for one of the easiest soup recipes in existence!

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup (serves 6)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 really large yams (or 4-5 smaller ones), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 leeks, trim off the bottom and the tough green stalks. Use the 3 inches of white part, cut in half lengthwise, slice across, and rinse thoroughly before using.

6-8 cups water with vegan bouillon (I use Not Chick’n brand)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 can coconut cream (open a can of coconut milk and use the solid fatty part and save the water for a smoothie)

In a large soup pot, sauté the leeks on low-medium heat for a minute or two. Stir often and watch them–leeks burn quickly!

Add the water with bouillon and the yams. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until yams are tender.

Turn off heat, add coconut cream, and using an immersion blender, purée the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

See, I told you it was easy!


Marinara Sauce for Mondays (or Any Night of the Week)

Here is a reprise of my weeknight mealtime go-to. I’m Italian-American and no matter what diet fads come and go, I’m never giving up pasta. Mine is gluten-free, of course, and drowned in Marinara. (This is my favorite brand.) It is such a fast, easy recipe, there is no need to purchase that sorry excuse for pasta sauce from the market ever again!!!

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This sauce can be made in about 15 minutes, start to finish, which is probably quicker than it’ll take your pasta water to boil. When I’m feeling tired, lazy, or like I need some comfort, I make this recipe. Pasta, salad, vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker (or your favorite store bought version), and dinner is on the table.

It’s also great to dip pieces of gluten-free bread sticks, or vegan meatballs into at a party. I served gluten-free focaccia from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker with a bowl of Marinara at this year’s Super Bowl Party, and all of our meat/dairy/gluten-eating friends couldn’t get enough!!!

Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

Healthy Fudge: A Childhood Recipe, Revamped

Today I’ll be sharing a recipe from my early childhood. When I was small, my mom kept us well with home-cooked meals that included plenty of unprocessed, whole foods, and very little sugar. One of the treats she would make for us included “Healthy Fudge”. The original recipe contained peanut butter, wheat germ, and powdered milk, none of which I can tolerate today. So I revamped it and enjoy it as much, if not more, than the original.

Healthy Fudge

makes about 16 balls

1/2 cup cashew butter (or almond butter or tahini)

1/2 cup molasses, honey or (1/4 cup of each)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra for rolling

1 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins (optional)

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a mixing bowl and stir together with a spoon. Add in chocolate chips if using. Put some coconut into a small bowl.

Form into 1-inch balls, roll in coconut, and place in an air-tight container. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.

A Scone For Tuesday

If you are a person who eats gluten free and dairy free, you know how rare it is to find a cafe or restaurant that offers pastries and baked goods that you can indulge in. So often places may offer a gluten free option, but it contains dairy. Or it’s vegan, but it contains wheat or spelt flour. (I’m looking at you, Greenstar!) I keep hoping things will change, and that chefs everywhere will discover that it is very possible to create interesting and fabulous things to eat without gluten and dairy. Anyway…the next best thing is to make your own and bring it along when you’re meeting a friend for coffee, so you won’t feel left out of Normalville.

Here is an easy and delicious scone recipe, in case you’ve been hankering for one like I was. These are gluten free vegan scones adapted from a recipe found on the blog Sarah Bakes Gluten Free. It’s a great starting point, and I’ve been known to add lemon or orange zest, cinnamon, pumpkin, nuts, dried fruit to make all kinds of scones. Last time I made them, I doubled the recipe and then made half of the dough with blueberries and half with chocolate chunks.

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Gluten Free Vegan Scones

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for scone tops

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter (I use the soy free version)

1/2 cup almond milk plus more for scone tops (or other non-dairy milk of choice)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or chunks or a combination

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in vegan butter using a pastry cutter until the butter is pea-sized. Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Add in the fruit/nuts of choice.

On floured surface and with floured hands, shape dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut dough into 8 triangles and place on lined baking sheet. Dip fingers in almond milk and wet tops of scones. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on rack before eating. Store in airtight container.

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