Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh with Beets and Strawberries

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

My friend Danielle and I met for breakfast yesterday morning. It was our first meeting since getting back from Spring Break and it was our time to rehash and catch each other up on what has been going on. She went to Phoenix and had told me about her families favorite eatery called True Food Kitchen. By some strange coincidence I had just made a recipe from True Food's cookbook via a magazine the night before, so I knew exactly what she was talking about. My dinner, a red quinoa tabbouleh packed with golden beets, mint, strawberries, parsley, arugula, scallions and dressed in a bright lemony garlic dressing hit the spot and was just what I was craving after two weeks of vacation food. As luck would have it, Natural Health magazine profiled some of True Food Kitchen's recipes, courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil who is the mastermind behind the restaurant.  I had trouble picking which recipe I should make because every single thing sounded mouth watering, from the buttery Miso-Marinated Black Cod with Baby Bok Choy and Roasted Mushrooms to the Fettuccine with Kale Pesto that I'll be making tonight. Danielle also said that on the day they were at the restaurant there were huge glass containers filled with grapefruit and mint infused water. That is my kind of place. So glad I get to bring a little sampling of it home.

It is so good to be home, but it's always hard leaving all that vacation behind, especially when it looked like this:

The beach. Our favorite family spot is Paradise Cove between Malibu and Zuma
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

In-N-Out, because, obviously.
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Our Austin Rattler Bike Race group
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

I love crewing for my husband during races
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Bananarchy food truck in Austin. Chocolate covered frozen banana rolled in coconut and peanuts. That's all I'm gonna say.
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Dallas with Craig and Sal

We even snuck in a Disneyland trip!

The California coast
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Pool time! Jeremiah learned how to swim!
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Viva Las Vegas. More pool time
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Disclaimer: If you live in Austin, Vegas or LA and I didn't contact you about our stay, please know the last week was completely spontaneous and since my family lives in the LA area we were completely booked up from the time we got in until we left. Plus we couldn't stay at our usual place so we were a bit out of town.

Vacation is awesome, no doubt, but it's good to be home in my own kitchen eating the food I eat regularly again. It wasn't all awful. I had plenty of green juices and smoothies from our beloved Whole Foods, and we tried an awesome raw food restaurant called Cafe Gratitude in the Venice Beach area (if your in the area, check it out, stat! They also have other locations in LA and San Francisco. Order the "I am cool" mint chocolate shake for dessert. It's like magic.) but there was definite indulging in our favorite whole grain pancakes with endless topping choices at CiCi's in Tarzaza, and I may have eaten a churro, a waffle cone filled with mint and chip ice cream and half a hot chocolate in the same day at Disneyland, In-N-Out is mandatory (if you're vegetarian like us, order a grilled cheese animal style), and we topped our trip off with a date to Firefly in Studio City (hipest atmosphere ever) where we stuffed ourselves with the most outrageous mussels (roasted in a cast iron skillet with butter, salt, pepper and lemon, served screaming hot) then keeping with the seafood theme, ordering the tempura fried lobster and fries with orange aioli for good measure. Then two desserts.

Let's just say that when I got home and read the headline

"Kim Kardashian spirals out of control as she gains 6 pounds in one week!"

My reaction may have been a bit defensive. Like, it's totally normal to gain 6 pounds in a week when you're pregnant. Completely and totally normal. Except I was on vacation, Kim. At least I can say that. Actually I wasn't defensive at all. I started laughing and pulled Jeremy aside and was all omigosh, I am on par with Kim Kardashian now and the world thinks this is the stuff that makes up spiraling out of control! Am I spiraling out of control? Did we buy enough kale?

...And then I promptly drove home and made this tabbouleh and felt so much better about myself. The end.

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spring Break

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh with Beets and Strawberries
adapted from True Food Kitchen by Andrew Weil via Natural Health Magazine

serves 4-6

1 pound beets (red or golden)
2 cups red quinoa or tri-color quinoa
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of red pepper flake
1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 ounces arugula, chopped roughly
10-12 strawberries, chopped or 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Roast and peel your beets, then chop into bite sized pieces. Meanwhile, bring four cups of salted water to a boil and add quinoa. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until quinoa is dry and fluffy. Let cool.

In a salad bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add beets, quinoa, parsley, mint, scallions and arugula and toss well; chill until cool.

divide onto serving plates and top with strawberries or pomegranate seeds and almonds (I just tossed these in with the rest of the salad, but if you want real crunch from the nuts just top it like the recipe states). 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Whole Foods Smoothie and Juice Recipes from Austin

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

There are many things which I want to write about here today. Much too much has gone on this past week to be able to consolidate everything into one blog post, so I'll start here, at the beginning because it's a very good place to start.

Last Thursday I woke up in sunny Austin, Texas. It was a cool city they said. Great food they said. Lots of things to do they said. Can we say understatement? I'm here to tell you Austin is a freaking awesome city with amazing food and tons of things to do. I'm ready to become a Texan ya'll!

Upon waking, I learned that our rental house was just blocks away from the original Whole Foods grocery store and that it was a mecca of sorts.

how idealic is this?
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

backyard backs up to a creek. Straight up. Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Um, yes. Mecca is definitely the right word. This place was massive. Upon entering, you kind of just had to stand there for a moment to take it all in. It's what began a daily and sometimes twice daily trip to Whole Foods for our juices and smoothies at their bar.

Whole Foods headquarters is located just above
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Our friend Chad was pumped. He knew what we were about to walk into.
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

The men with their first juices. They each had another (or two!) in the cart.
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

The juice/smoothie bar wasn't the only bar they had, guys. There was a gelato bar, A coffee bar, a charcuterie, etc, etc. And, there was a full on real bar in the middle of the store. Actually I'm pretty sure there were two bars, one for wine and one for beer. I should note I was there at about 8am or these seats would have been packed.


Don't drink? How about a cookie bar?
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Or a gourmet oil and vinegar bar?
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Need some spices or salt? Take your pick!

And I couldn't resist a picture of the flowers. If you look closely, you'll see my favorite flower in the world in the lower left corner. Ranunculus! A whole bouquet of just ranunculus!
Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

This place was off the hook. I wasn't even embarrassed taking my camera into the store because if anyone gave me the stink eye it was kind of like, seriously? Look around you jaded jamoke.

There were quite a few smoothies and juices to choose from, but these were the ones we were most familiar with:

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

Blue Moon Smoothie-
soy milk
coconut water

Mild, creamy and dreamy. The color is the most beautiful shade of bluish lavender and tastes more like a shake than a smoothie. 

Chlorophyll Up Juice-

This one was refreshing, although not the coolest color in the crayon box (think deep, sea green). It was salty and lemony, just the way we like it. The men drank quite a few of these when they weren't drinking straight up beet juice, and also, sometimes while they were.

Pretty In Pink Smoothie-
coconut water
pomegranate juice

Our friend Sabrina just couldn't get on the green juice/smoothies with green stuff in it bandwagon, so the pretty in pink was her go-to choice. She must have enjoyed five of these while we were there. I tasted it once. Pleasantly tart, and the color will slay you.

Banana Nut Smoothie-
soy milk
almond butter

I had my eye on this one the whole time and never ordered it! I had to include it here though since it taunted me so. Doesn't it sound like the most comforting thing ever?

Energize Me Green Juice-

Pretty green color. Go heavy on the lemon or it has the potential to be bland. I got this one twice. Add a dash of sea sea if you make this at home.

***For a complete Austin, TX Wholefoods Smoothie and Juice Menu Click Here.*** 

Endless inspiration awaits.

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

After our Whole Foods extravaganza, our friend and tour guide, Chad, took us around the city. Chad knows whats up about everything.

Here is Lance Armstrongs bike shop, Mellow Johnny's! And here is Lady Bird lake! And here is Lances Bar, Hangers Lounge (we might like Lance), And here are some food trucks! 

And if he doesn't know just give him a hot second on his smartphone and he'll figure it out. He was awesome. Apparently, there is a place where couples take pictures. It's literally a string of words spray painted on the side of Jo's (cafe? restaurant?) in Austin. We all four illegally parked the car and quickly took pictures and ran back as fast as we could giggling like school children at our discombobulated switfness. It's great to be a tourist!

Wholefoods Juices and Smoothie Recipes and Austin Trip

The day after we took this picture we saw a photographer out taking pictures of a couple under this wall. Tripod and the whole deal.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jessica Alba's Go-To Green Drink (do not miss this one!)

Jessica Alba's Go-To Green Drink

There are some posts I get way too excited over. This would be one of them. I recently got Jessica Alba's new book and I think my favorite thing so far has been this recipe for her go-to green drink. We've all heard of green smoothies, but this is something different. I don't know what it is exactly, except that it's packed, and I mean packed with nutrients and antioxidants with plenty of whole food fiber to boot. And it's so delicious! I literally make this 2-3 times a week. It could easily be lunch, but I be 7 months pregnant, so it's a snack for me.

Since I've made this so many times, there are a few things I've learned:

1) Fresh ginger varies a lot in potency. The recipe calls for a teaspoon but I had been putting more until I got a super potent batch. Test your ginger to see what amount is right for you. You can always add in more but you can't take it out!

2) This drink separates as it sits. It just does. It doesn't matter how well you blend. In fact, I prefer mine not too overly smooth. Since we're dealing with lots of whole fruits and veggies this is just something you have to be okay with. I just keep mixing it with my straw and it's fine.

3) You use green fruit to sweeten this drink like cubes of honeydew melon or kiwi, but if you don't have that, watermelon works but keep in mind, it may change the color slightly. If you don't have any fruit, a pinch of stevia will do the trick. That's what both Jessica and I do half the time.

4) Make sure you add ice. This drink is best icy cold.

Jessica Alba's Go-To Green Drink

This drink is refreshing, pleasantly sweet, and you can really taste the green apple which I love. I tell my kids it's a green apple smoothie and they suck it down like champs. Until the end. Sometimes, because of the separation that occurs, the end can get a little thick and since Jeremiah is sensitive to consistency so he doesn't love finishing it. Isabella and I could care less. Truth be told you are supposed to "chew" your smoothies anyway for better digestion.

Feel free to play with this one. I added mint once and it was awesome. I bet a fistful of parsley wouldn't be bad either. You can always sub spinach for the kale, but honestly, you can't taste the kale at all so it's great way to sneak it in. Jessica says she likes to make a double batch and keep some in the refrigerator to sip on all day long. It's how she curbed her appetite while trying to loose baby weight.

Jessica Alba's Go-To Green Drink

Want to take a walk on the wild side? Last year I posted a recipe for my other favorite green drink. Be warned. It's savory, salty and lemony. It's different, but good! If your a sweet person, stay right here.

Jessica Alba's Go-To Green Drink
adapted from The Honest Life, by Jessica Alba

makes 1 large green drink

1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cucumber, skin on, chopped
1 green apple, chopped
a big handful of kale (2-3 large leaves)
Juice from 1 whole lemon
1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger (you can add more to taste)
3-4 cubes of honeydew melon or watermelon, or 1/2 a kiwi, or a pinch of stevia for sweetness 
5-7 ice cubes
enough water to blend

(add a handful of spinach or fresh mint if you'd like!)

Place all ingredients in a blender and add just enough water to get it going. Blend until smooth. Pour and drink right away with a straw. 

Just got back from our trip to Texas! More to come on that!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Healthy" Reeses Chocolate Frosting

Healthy Reeses Pieces Frosting

This post goes with the Healthy Chocolate Cake recipe that I posted yesterday. However, because I often get asked for a healthier frosting recipe when kids birthday's roll around and cupcakes are baked, I decided I should make this its own post.


So what exactly makes this recipe healthy, you may ask? Definitely the fact that it uses peanut butter as its base, for one. This step is only as healthy as you make it. We use organic, all natural peanut butter in this house (meaning very little sugar is added) instead of something like Jif or Skippy which can be very sugary, so I'll let you come to your own conclusions about which you should use. The point is to make this frosting healthier, after all. You can also use almond butter, although it will have a different taste. Secondly, no bad fats are added. Typically frosting starts with large amounts of butter. Here? No added fat. Cocoa powder is added for the chocolate, a smidge of maple syrup is used to sweeten (along with some Stevia, which doesn't count) vanilla extract and unsweetened vanilla almond milk finish it up, and what you are left with tastes like you melted a bunch of Reeses Pieces and frosted it thickly on a cupcake. Except this is less sweet. And I mean that in the very best of ways. You can always add more sweetener.

This frosting is thinned a bit extra with milk. It can be thicker though.
Healthy Reeses Pieces Frosting

Like I said, you can use this frosting for any little thing your heart desires, but I used it on my Healthy Chocolate Cake and am in love. I mentioned this in the other post too, but for whatever reason, the combination of this frosting with my cake tastes a lot like my Cracker Barrel Coca Cola Cake. A healthier version anyway. Try it out! Let me know what you think!

In the rest of my life, I have officially entered into my third trimester of pregnancy. Week 28! Feeling good despite some muscle discomfort and back pain when I move around or stand a lot. I know that sounds pathetic like I'm a beached whale but I promise it's not that bad. I still do everything I normally do. I just can't take up running or anything. Which is fine by me because I would hate to take up running. And because I always state my opinions on this blog and then change them to the complete opposite a few years later, I will probably be a marathon runner come 2015. Check back for updates on that. True story- on one of my earliest blog posts I wrote about how I can't stand vegetarians. Although I have just started eating meat every now and then, I have been a vegetarian and many times eaten like a vegan for three years now. So...I'm not very solid? Or maybe I continue to grow and change? I'd like to think it's the latter. Lets go with that one. And then eat this vegan frosting. Yum!

Healthy Chocolate Cake

Healthy Reeses Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 4-8 tsp pure maple syrup (I used 4 teaspoons, plus a pinch of stevia)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp milk of choice (or more for thinner frosting- I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 
Blend everything together with a fork in a bowl. Best to store uneaten frosting in the fridge, covered.

I'm in Austin, TX this week on vacation (and a bike race for the husband) with new friends this week! Yay for us. NO kids! Also, we get to meet up with some of our favorite people, Craig and Sally in Dallas! I am super excited!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Healthy Chocolate Cake

Healthy Chocolate Cake

I struggled with what to title this post. Originally I was going to go with "guiltless chocolate cake" but that implies that low-fat ingredients are used or it's a low calorie cake. And it is, but it's more than that. "Healthy" chocolate cake implies that this cake is actually good for you, and therefore might taste kind of terrible as far a proper chocolate cake goes. That doesn't adequately describe it either. It's kind of a cross - except for the tasting bad part. It's totally amazing- because while this cake is much lower in calories than regular cake, it also uses very healthful ingredients to get there like Spelt flour, canned pumpkin, unsweetened almond milk and coconut oil. However, because this is a "proper cake" there is still some white sugar and an egg involved. I am sure this is why it bakes up so nicely. You can substitute flax seed for the egg if that bothers you. Just for comparison consider this:

This "healthy" chocolate cake calls for 1/3 cup of sugar

A normal chocolate cake of the same size would typically call for 1- 2 whole cups of sugar

The recipe subs a tiny bit of stevia for making up the sweet flavor. In the end, the cake is only mildly sweet but this is how my family likes it. If you plan to top it with the "healthy" Reeses pieces frosting that I'll be blogging about tomorrow -you lucky ducks, you- it works very well. You can add more stevia if you'd like yours on the sweeter side (or use a sweetened milk instead of unsweetened). This cake, with the frosting, actually tastes a lot like my Cracker Barrel Coca Cola Cake oddly enough. My husband who does not love frosting in general and doesn't appreciate the whole peanut butter chocolate combination that make up this frosting, preferred to eat his naked. -Insert inappropriate comment here about how my husband appreciates most things naked- He seriously loved this cake. And? When my kids come home from school today I won't feel guilty about feeding them squares of this cake (sans frosting) as an after school snack. It's too wholesome.

Healthy Chocolate Cake

I promise, promise, promise you can't taste the pumpkin in here. It just helps keep everything moist while making up a lot of the normal fat called for in cake, like say, a whole stick of butter. This way we only need to add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the whole thing. Another plus? Coconut oil revs up the metabolism like no other. Bonus! And, as if it could get any better, the spelt flour is a whole grain so this cake will make you feel satisfied with a smaller portion. This can be served up in nine servings at 120 calories each (without frosting). Truth be told, I prefer my serving size a tad bigger, but at that rate, I don't really care to know the calorie count. I just know it's good and I shouldn't feel guilty. What the heck are you waiting for anyway?!

Healthy Reeses Pieces Frosting

As you look over the recipe, you'll see lots of options for substitutions. This is just so you can fit this into your own personal definition of "healthy."

Healthy Chocolate Cake
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Makes an 8x8 inch pan

  • 3/4 cup spelt flour or sub white flour (for less healthy) or Arrowhead Mills gf (120g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (20g)
  • 1 egg or 2 tbsp ground flax. You can omit; the cake just won’t rise as much.
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (64g)
  • 1/8 tsp uncut stevia (I use NuNaturals NuStevia) or 3 nunaturals packets (or 1/4 cup more sugar)
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (60-120g) (Do not omit. The recipe just won’t be the same if you do.)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted, or canola oil
Preheat oven to 350F, and grease an 8×8 square baking dish. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix very well. Combine all liquid ingredients and the pumpkin in a mini food processor or mini blender and blend until super-smooth, so there are NO lumps whatsoever. Pour wet into dry, and mix until just combined, then pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes. Let cool completely
I frosted this with a "healthy" Reeses Chocolate Frosting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Best Maple Olive Oil Granola

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

You all. I've made many different granolas in my day and I'm happy to report the search stops here. This recipe is the one. I admit to being a bit thrown off by the olive oil. Not because I worried it might be weird, but wondered if it would even made a difference in taste (I don't think it does. I've made it with both canola and olive oil and each were great). I served this as part of the catering breakfast I did last week and people kept commenting on how good it was. When something like granola takes center stage at breakfast, it's time to pay attention.

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

This recipe comes from Molly Wizenburg of the blog Orangette, which originated from a recipe for Early Bird Food's granola in New York. She thinks the chief appeal is the way it crisps up in the oven and almost shatters on your teeth with it's delicate texture. It's addicting. Another of it's highlights is that it nails the sweet salty thing. Lest you be worried about your granola being salty, know that this is not a bad thing. The salt brings out the sweet and the combination together is pure bliss. This granola is sweet and I like it that way. However, you can always add less brown sugar if you like yours less sweet. I suggest making it the way it's written first though, since I deem it perfection.

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

I'm sort of picky about granola. You won't catch me buying it in bags from the grocery store where the flavor is lackluster and unnaturally sweet and texture is somewhat stale. No, for the amount of times granola is eaten in my lifetime I can make it at home. I love how the combination of nuts and add ins can be adjusted to whatever I have around the house. No almonds? Walnuts will do. No pumpkin seeds? I'll just add in more coconut. I prefer this granola without dried fruit added in, but if your going to do it, cranberries are the way to go. Raisins are too sweet.

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

The Best Maple Olive Oil Granola
adapted from Molly Wizenburg

300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats
125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds
130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds, or whole almonds
50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips
135 grams (1 ¼ cup) raw pecans,or walnuts, whole or chopped
85 grams (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B
120 ml (½ cup) olive oil or canola oil
Dried cherries, optional

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste. Cool completely on a wire rack. If you'd like, stir in some dried cherries (I like mine without). Store in an airtight container.

Note: Will keep at room temperature for up to a month.

Yield: about 7 cups