Roasted Root Vegetable, Red Rice and Lentil Stew

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March 15th, 2015

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Spring is in the air, I can tell by the volume of the birds outside my window, which gets louder every morning. Daylight savings was a great help – having that extra hour of light in the evenings feels amazing and allows me to be much more productive towards the end of the day. Soon there will be peas, favas, rhubarb and asparagus. For the time being though, while winter produce is on its way out and spring produce is not quite ready, there are root vegetables.

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We’ve been eating variations on this stew for the last couple of weeks, and this version is one of my favorites. It is a hearty one-pot meal that is very simple in preparation.

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This dish speaks of both winter and spring, when the earthiness of roasted carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes is combined with the bright notes of lime juice, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and coconut milk. Red rice and lentils bring substance to the dish, and spinach delivers a good dose of green. Enjoy!

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Roasted Root Vegetable, Red Rice and Lentil Stew

serves 6

3 medium carrots
2 medium parsnips
2 small sweet potatoes or 1/2 small winter squash
3 tablespoons coconut oil – divided
few sprigs thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds – freshly ground
4 green cardamom pods – seeds crushed in mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root
1 small red chili pepper – sliced (optional)
1 large yellow onion – chopped
3/4 cup red rice such as Ruby Red or Bhutan – rinsed under cold water
handful kaffir lime leaves – bruised with the back of a knife (optional)
1/2 cup green lentils – preferably soaked
1 14 oz can Thai coconut milk
1 large or 2 small limes – zest and juice, plus more for serving
4 cups packed chopped spinach leaves or baby spinach

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Peel and chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in a bowl or right on the baking tray with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and thyme leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer for 20-30 minutes, stirring at halftime, until soft and caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add spices, ginger, and chili if using, stir around for about a minute, until fragrant. Add onion and saute for about 7 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add rice, big pinch of salt and kaffir lime leaves, if using, stir to mix. Add 4 cups filtered water. Increase the heat, bring to a boil and decrease to a light simmer. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Drain and rinse lentils and add them to the pot with rice with a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Test lentils for doneness, if you did not soak your lentils, they might need to be cooked a little longer, cover and simmer for another couple of minutes until lentils are cooked. Add roasted vegetables, coconut milk, zest and juice of lime and another pinch of salt. Stir to mix and let simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to mingle.
4. Remove from heat and stir in spinach to wilt. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as needed. Serve immediately with more lime juice squeezed over.

Tags: carrots, coconut milk, lentils, parsnip, red rice, rice, spinach, stew, sweet potato, vegan, vegetarian

Pumpkinseed Butter Goji Cookies

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March 7th, 2015

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I’ve grown very used to making my own nut butters, it’s complete second nature by now. I buy nuts and seeds in bulk, which is cheaper, and blending them up to a buttery stage in my food processor is quick, easy and produces delicious results. 

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The other day I ran out of my homemade tahini and needed it as an emergency for a recipe, deciding to grab a jar at the store. I got a look at my local health food market nut butter shelf for the first time in a long time and was amazed at the variety of different nut and seed butters on display. A beautiful bright green butter caught my eye – it turned out to be sprouted pumpkinseed butter.

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I didn’t buy it that day, but the idea haunted me for a few weeks before I finally gave in and made my own pumpkinseed butter. Mine is not sprouted but toasted, and the color is not as brilliant but still very beautiful. After having it on toast and loving it, I imagined that the butter would be a nice base for baked goods. That’s when these cookies were born.
They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with the pleasant addition of goji berries. If you don’t have goji, replace them with other dried fruit, chocolate pieces or nut of choice. Enjoy!

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Pumpkinseed Butter Goji Cookies
(loosely adapted from here)

makes 16 cookies

for pumpkinseed butter
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

for cookies
1/4 cup oat flour, plus more if needed
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup pumpkinseed butter (see below)
3 tablespoons coconut oil – soft, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup goji berries

to make pumpkinseed butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt in a medium bowl, mix to coat. Spread on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. Place pumpkinseeds in a food processor and grind finely. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil through the funnel with machine still running. Continue to process until a ball of pumpkinseed butter forms. Scrape the walls of the food processor if necessary. Add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue processing until seeds turn into creamy, runny butter. You’ll need 1/2 cup of it for the recipe, keep the rest refrigerated in an air tight container and spread on toast or use in more baking.

to make cookies
1. Keep oven at 375 F. Combine 1/4 cup of oat flour, brown rice flour, oats and soda in a medium bowl.
2. Combine pumpkin butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a separate medium bowl and mix to combine.
3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir to combine. If the batter appears too runny, add more oat flour, about 2 tablespoons should be enough. Add goji berries.
4. Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Using a small (1 1/2″) ice-cream scooper or 2 teaspoons, scoop a cookie at a time and arrange on the sheet 2″ apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Let cool completely to firm up.

Tags: cookies, dessert, goji, pumpkin seeds

Black Rice Salad with Curried Chickpeas, Squash and Swiss Chard

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February 22nd, 2015

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I’ve been on a forbidden black rice kick this winter. I love its pleasant texture, mild flavor and sweet aroma, and it also makes for some very pretty meals. We’ve been living off of variations of this salad for our lunches, but this version, with curried chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, squash or sweet potato and chard is my favorite. This recipe utilizes chard stems as well as leaves – I always think it’s a shame when recipes instruct to discard the stems, especially when they are as beautiful as on this rainbow chard I picked up. The key is to cook the stems a little longer than the leaves, so that they are soft and not too chewy.

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For this recipe, I made my own curry spice mix from Amy Chaplin’s book, and I cannot recommend this enough. Homemade curry tastes worlds better than any store bought curry mix ever will. It’s just a matter of toasting, grinding and mixing fresh spices (a fun process if you ask me) and is completely worth the extra effort.

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I developed this recipe for Natural Vitality, a line of premium quality natural supplements, see the recipe here.

Tags: black rice, chard, chickpeas, curry, pine nuts, salad

Black Sesame Matcha Rolls with Miso Lemon Glaze

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February 10th, 2015

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Call me crazy, but I’ve never been attracted to sticky cinnamon buns. I blame the fact that I didn’t grow up eating them, and that I enjoy cinnamon only in moderation.
The dreamy combination of matcha and black sesame has long been haunting me, and I’ve been searching for the right shape in which to marry them. After seeing yet another beautiful photo of glazed cinnamon rolls somewhere in the social media sea, I was inspired to join my two key ingredients in this green and black treat.

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I went with a spelt dough and a very simple toasted black sesame filling. For the glaze, I utilized miso, following the logic that ingredients from the same part of the world go well together. Turns out that matcha, sesame and miso are the perfect trio from the East. The buns came out to be satisfying on so many levels – soft, moist dough with subtle notes of matcha, followed by a chewy, fragrant filling, and complete with the sweet and sour, slightly salty glaze – it’s a heavenly combination.

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And just for fun, I’ve included a timelapse iPhone video of the whole process, I think that somehow these rolls seem less daunting after you see how they are made.
P.S. I finally made a Pinterest account (late bloomer, I know) – see it here.

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Black Sesame Matcha Rolls with Miso-Lemon Glaze
Note: It’s important to refrigerate full-fat coconut milk the night before for the miso glaze. I found that organic Thai coconut milk is the most reliable type for separating fat from water after overnight refrigeration.

for the matcha dough (adapted from Laura and here)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup unsweetened plant based milk – almond, hemp, coconut, etc.
4 tablespoons coconut oil – divided, plus more for oiling the bowl
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 cups light spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 tablespoons matcha powder

to make the dough
1. Line 8-10 inch baking dish with parchment paper, extending it to the sides (a cast iron pan would work well here).
2. Warm up milk with coconut oil and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until coconut oil is melted and incorporated into the milk and sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be warm to the touch, about 105F. Let it cool if it feels hot. Add yeast and leave it to foam for about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and matcha in a medium mixing bowl. Add foamy milk to the flour and stir to incorporate. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Leave to rise in warm place in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap. The dough should double in size in a about 40 minutes.

for the sesame filling (adapted from Cynthia)

1 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 7 minutes. Place them in a food processor and grind into a paste. Add honey and continue to mix until smooth.

to assemble and bake the rolls
1. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle roughly 11 by 14 inches in size. Brush the entire surface with remaining 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil. Evenly spread sesame filling over the dough.
2. Roll up the dough from the longer side of the rectangle. Seal the sides. Cut into 8-10 even pieces. Arrange them in the prepared parchment covered baking dish/pan. Cover with plastic wrap, let rise for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden. Let cool before glazing.

for the miso-lemon glaze
4 tablespoons coconut fat (see below)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet or light miso paste
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons coconut water from the can – plus or minus (see below)

1. Place a can of full fat Thai coconut milk into the refrigerator the night before. The coconut fat should separate from the water and accumulate on top.
2. Make the glaze right before you’re ready to glaze the rolls, which should be at room temperature. Scoop 4 tablespoons of fat into a small mixing bowl, add miso paste and honey and mix until smooth.
3. Add lemon zest and juice, mix and add coconut water from the same can of coconut milk. The amount of coconut water will differ depending on the types of milk, honey and miso paste, so add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon at a time and watch for consistency. The glaze should be thick but pourable.
4. Pour the glaze over the rolls and enjoy!

Tags: black sesame, dessert, matcha, miso, rolls, spelt