Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[yerba] mate latte

"Mate isn't just a drink, but a way for the people to gather."

Mate (pronounced "mah-tay") is a type of plant native to South America, particularly Argentina, Southern Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It is dried up and made into a tea. Natives usually drink it through a filtered metal straw (called a "bombilla") and out of a gourd. Traditionally, the natives will carry around the gourd, bombilla, and a thermos and take breaks throughout the day to drink mate with friends. It is a major part of the social culture of Argentina and Paraguay.

The taste itself is slightly bitter and earthy. It contains twice the amount of caffeine as black tea, but still only half as much as coffee. The nice thing about mate is that it really makes you feel energized without the jittery feeling that other caffeine sources tend to give you.

A few months ago I was in Whole Foods buying a pound of loose yerba mate and the girl that was checking me out asked me if I knew about "Mate Lattes". I said I didn't. She said it is half mate, half almond milk. Pretty much my dream beverage. Ever since, I've been frequently enjoying my mate lattes and I notice a significant difference in my energy level and mood. My energy is sustained throughout the day and I feel happy and motivated.

Besides its immediate effects, yerba mate offers many health benefits. It contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties. It can help improve focus, boost the immune system, stimulate the digestive system, and aid in weight loss.

The nice advantage of a mate latte is that you can drink it warm or cold. Yesterday I had mine over ice because it was a hot day and it was so refreshing!

If you don't have a gourd and bombilla, (don't worry, I don't either) you can brew your tea regularly and use a strainer. Typically mate is brewed in hot, but not boiling, water and it brews for about 5 minutes.

This is one of my favorite drinks in the world. You really can't beat the way it changes your day and gives you that necessary boost! Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Farm Fresh Vegetable Curry with Quinoa

Every third Thursday of the month we get fresh produce from a CSA called Farm Fresh To You, which delivers all around Southern California.  The produce comes from local farms, mostly in Temecula, which is very much "local" to Orange, San Diego, and LA counties.  We get a box every month with whatever is in season and are sometimes forced to get creative with what we are given.

Last month we got rhubarb and it was quite the challenge.  I'm not a big pie maker or any kind of baker really, so I looked into savory recipes.  I didn't find even one appealing so I ended up putting it in a breakfast smoothie with frozen bananas and strawberries.  Definitely masked the flavor and I got the nutrients.. win, win.  If anyone has a good rhubarb recipe, please share!

This past Thursday we got carrots, potatoes, baby bok choy, green bell peppers, sweet peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, avocados, and some romaine lettuce.  I decided to make a Thai/Indian-inspired curry dish with most of the veggies.  Here is what I came up with:

  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • baby bok choy
  • green bell pepper
  • sweet peppers
  • yellow onion
  • garlic
  • coconut oil/any oil with high boiling point
  • coconut milk
  • indian spices: turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, garam masala, salt, and pepper
  • fresh basil
I learned from a dear friend of mine (Usha!) that in order to bring out the flavor of spices you should put them in the pot with oil before any other ingredient and wait until they make a popping noise.  The spices infuse the oil with their flavors and it makes the dish that much more savory and delicious.  After heating the spices, I added minced garlic and coarsely chopped onions.  I cooked the onions until they were almost transparent, then added potatoes, carrots, peppers, and then bok choy.  I added about one cup of coconut milk and stirred the pot.  Then I added some salt and pepper and let it simmer.  Finally, I added chopped fresh basil from our garden for even more flavor.

As the curry simmered, I cooked some quinoa to serve with it.  I boiled 2 cups of water and added 1 cup quinoa.  Let simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is light and fluffy.

The freshness of the veggies combined with the incredible Indian spices made this such a flavorful dish!

You can make this type of dish with so many vegetables.  If you have cilantro, that would be a great addition as well!

Blueberry-Coconut-Flax Pancakes

I made these on Saturday morning for a change in my breakfast routine.  I felt like blueberry pancakes but didn't want that lethargic feeling that pancakes usually give me.  So I decided to give them a healthy spin.  There is definitely no shortage of fiber in these pancakes, that's for sure.
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk (or any milk of your choice)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 egg OR 1 Tbsp. flax mixed with 3 Tbsp. boiling water (mix well and wait 5 minutes. Should have consistency of an egg... A great way to make a recipe vegan)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut flakes

Whisk all ingredients together and pour on greased pan. Flip when bubbly on edges. Should make about 4 large pancakes.  Drizzle with honey or maple syrup if you like.

Cedar Plank Salmon with Fresh Summer Salads

Last weekend my friend Tania and I were inspired by Food&Wine magazine (per usual) and decided to invite friends over and make dinner.  We used fresh veggies that she bought at the Farmers Market that day and went to Whole Foods for the rest.

What was on the menu:

Drinks: Moscow Mules and Red Wine (or what was left of them by dinner time)
Main Dish: Cedar Plank Salmon with Lemon and fresh dill
Salads: Orzo salad with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Raw Zucchini & Mixed Green Salad with Raw Asparagus, Corn, and Avocado
Dessert: French Yogurt Cake with Fresh Raspberries (courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine... Out-of-this-world!)

Cedar Plank Salmon
-cedar plank (comes in a pack of two at Whole Foods)
-about a pound and a half of salmon (ideally a nice wild variety)
-fresh dill
-a few lemons (cut in slices)
-2 cups Sake (for marinating)
-soy sauce
-sesame oil
-agave nectar

1. Cut salmon into two inch pieces. I removed skin ahead of time, but you don't need to.
2. Marinate salmon in sake. I placed filets in ziploc bags and poured in Sake. Leave in refrigerator for about an hour.
3. To make glaze: mix two Tbsp. soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 Tbsp. agave in bowl, about 1/2 a cup of chopped dill, and a couple pinches of salt in a bowl.
4. When salmon is ready, place filets on cedar plank. About an inch or two apart. Spoon glaze generously on salmon. Add a couple slices of lemon to each filet and top with a couple sprigs of dill.
5. Place cedar plank in oven at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. It should have a nice golden-brown tint when it is ready.

Orzo Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Raw Zucchini
-1 1/2 cup whole wheat orzo
-about 2 cups cherry tomatoes
-2 medium sized zucchinis
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-balsamic vinegar
-oregano (fresh would be lovely, but we used dried oregano)
- salt&pep

1. Cook orzo, drain, cool.
2. Roast tomatoes on a tray with olive oil in oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.. Or until bubbly and browned. Let cool.
3. For zucchini, I wanted to make ribbons using a vegetable peeler, but unfortunately our tools were a little unsatisfactory so I ended up just cutting them into small pieces. If you have a veggie peeler, try the thin ribbons, its such a nice touch!
4. Add all ingredients to bowl. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, a little balsamic vinegar, and season with oregano, salt, and pepper.

Serve cold.

Mixed Green Salad with Raw Asparagus, Corn, and Avocado
-mesclun greens (any greens, really)
-1 avocado
-can of corn, rinsed and drained (or fresh, raw corn, if you have)
-small bunch asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
-dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Spring Salad

First of all I need to mention that this recipe is very much inspired by one from the blog "Coconut and Quinoa", which I really love.  I made a few adjustments based on my taste preferences, but I definitely give credit to Amy Chaplin of Coconut and Quinoa.  I stumbled upon her blog recently (after starting my blog) and realized that not only are our blog names very similar, but that we have a similar cooking style as well!

This salad epitomizes what it means to "eat the rainbow."  I have an obsession with golden beets and made a special trip to the Farmer's Market to get them for this salad.  They are just so vibrant and don't have as strong of a flavor of beets as the red ones (I love beets, but some people aren't huge fans of theirs.  I know, I don't get it either.  Don't get me started on avocado-haters.)
Golden beets, Red beets, and Sweet Potatoes--so gorgeous!

Even the compost is beautiful!
Serves 6?  Depends on your appetite!  Nothing to feel guilty about in this salad.
  • 3 large golden beets 
  • 4 medium red beets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • Organic arugula (and other mixed greens)
  • Fresh sweet peas (shelled)
  • Small bunch of Basil leaves
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
1.  Wash vegetables well!  You don't have to peel them, but if they have especially tough skin, peel that part off.
2.  Slice beets and sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.  Cut in half.  They should be small enough to fit in a bite.
3.  Grease baking pan with coconut oil.
4.  Spread veggies on pan and lightly season with salt and pepper.
5.  Roast at 400 degrees (or if you have a conventional baking setting, for 375 degrees) for about 20 minutes.
6.  While vegetables are roasting, you can shell fresh peas (I recommend this!), chiffonade basil into thin ribbons, and make dressing.
7.  With about 5 minutes left in the oven, sprinkle walnuts over veggies for a quick toasting.
8.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
9.  Add roasted vegetables, peas, basil, and walnuts on top of a bed of greens.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.
All done!  I added walnuts at the end for some toasting.
Sliced vegetables ready for roasting.
Citrus-Mustard Vinaigrette

Citrus-Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg's)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. Agave Nectar
  • Salt and Pepper
Place all ingredients in jar and shake!

Finished salad.  So colorful!

Don't forget to compost your scraps!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Savory Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Red Quinoa with Spring Onions, Asparagus, Avocado, Basil, and Egg

Quinoa with Asparagus, Cilantro, Basil, Avocado, and Egg

Quinoa with Black Beans, Avocado, Cilantro, Egg, and Salsa Verde

In light of this week's newsletter, "A Better Breakfast," I decided to make some savory quinoa and egg-based breakfasts and avoid gluten and dairy.  If you don't know about, you should check it out and sign up for a weekly newsletter sent to your email.  It is Gwyneth Paltrow's website and she includes a lot of health and lifestyle tips with expert advice.  

I generally eat a pretty allergen-free breakfast--anything from a veggie omelet to a green smoothie, but sometimes I will have some toast with almond butter or a bowl of oatmeal.  I definitely find that I am full for much longer when I avoid gluten and eat a high-protein breakfast.  Also, avoiding cereals and high-sugar breakfasts will allow you to stay focused on work or school and not trick your brain into thinking you are still hungry.

For these quinoa bowls, you can make a large batch of quinoa that will last you a couple of days and reheat it for your breakfasts all week.  (1 part quinoa, 2 parts water for 15-20 minutes)  I added veggies that I got from our CSA and Farmer's Market--whatever is in season or whatever you prefer in taste.  Seriously, go nuts with these bowls.  If you prepare veggies or beans on a Sunday night for example, you can have a delicious breakfast every day of the week.  And no excuses about not having enough time for breakfast--you are the one setting your alarm.  Seven minutes will suffice!  (an over-easy egg doesn't take more than 1.5 minutes to cook!)

-Sauté vegetables with a small amount of coconut oil (unless you prefer fresh/raw veggies)
-Mix in quinoa (in hot sauté pan).  Transfer to bowl.
-In same sauté pan (less dishes to wash!), cook one egg over-easy (I just read about how egg yolks have lecithin which is essential for our brain but can only be utilized when it is uncooked/runny).  I also cook eggs in coconut oil.  (More about that in upcoming posts!)
-Add egg on top of veggie-quinoa mixture.  Top with fresh herbs (basil and cilantro have been great) and season with salt and pepper and if you're like me, lots of Sriracha or salsa.

For more information about Lecithin in Egg Yolks, check out this entry from My New Roots and try her Veggie Egg Tower of Power recipe!  YUM! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower

my version.  not too bad!

Buffalo Cauliflower at Mohawk Bend

A few weeks ago, I was at Mohawk Bend with friends and our amazing server (Lauren!) brought us some Buffalo Cauliflower, which was a new item on the menu ever since they had a new chef.  I was so amazed by this dish and was determined to recreate it.  I don't know about you, but Buffalo wings tend to give me the creeps.  I love spicy food and the idea of them, but sometimes the mystery chicken pieces are just off.  That's what makes this recipe so great.  It is completely Vegan, (although, if you aren't vegan, I would use regular blue cheese) and it is a much healthier alternative, while still having that spicy, savory, bar snack appeal.
  • one head of cauliflower
  • Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce (add to your liking)
  • celery (optional)
-Cut cauliflower into florets and arrange on a slightly oiled large baking tray
-Roast cauliflower for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees (or until edges are brown)
-Toss in Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce 

Vegan "Blue Cheese" (

  • 1/4 block of firm or extra firm tofu
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 cup or more (depends on how much you want to make) of veganaise (I found an Organic one... check the ingredients because some can be a little "dodgey".)
  • 1/4 tsp tahini (sesame seed paste) Can be made without this, but it's better with!
  • dash lemon juice
  • dash apple cider vinegar
Crumble tofu to give you a real blue cheese consistency.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Take on the "Spanglish Sandwich"

If you've seen the movie Spanglish, you know which sandwich I'm referring to.  There's a scene in the movie where Adam Sandler's character makes a fried egg sandwich (inspired by Thomas Keller from French Laundry), slices it in half with the yolk pouring out of it and it makes every foodie watching salivate like no other.  I've recreated that sandwich many times but this morning I did a different take on it:

  • two slices whole grain rustic bread
  • one large egg (over EASY)
  • arugula
  • avocado (about 1/4 of a medium one)
  • one slice Havarti cheese
  • whole grain dijon mustard
  • roasted yellow pepper (comes in a jar)
Toast bread with Havarti cheese.  Spread one slice with mustard.  Add avocado and roasted pepper on top of mustard.  Add arugula on top of Havarti.  Top arugula with egg.  Put sandwich together, cut in half (making sure the yolk is centered!) and voila!  Delightful morning.

the real Spanglish Sandwich recipe

(you can barely see the yolk pouring out, but it's there, I promise!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Whole Living Smoothie App for iPhone/iPad

I just downloaded this app and it is pretty amazing!  So many great smoothie recipes at your fingertips.

Quote That I Love...

"The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Well said, Thomas Edison. 

Grated Raw Beet Salad with Jicama, Avocado, and Cilantro

(this recipe is inspired by a salad from Vegetarian Times- Gluten-free Recipe of the Week)

2 cups grated jicama
2 cups grated raw beets (3 medium beets)
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

My add-ons: grated carrots, raw corn fresh from cob, thinly sliced radishes

3 Tbs. thawed orange juice concentrate
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil

If you have a mandolin with different settings, you can use it to julienne the beets, jicama, and carrots.  Feel free to use a metal grater or to even cut them in any form you like and find easiest.  It ends up being a bright and beautiful salad (see photo!) which will impress you and everyone around you.  Talk about eating the rainbow... yum! Enjoy!

Steamed Broccoli and Squash with Tahini Sauce

(Recipe taken from Whole Living Magazine January 2012... I'm telling you--this 21 day challenge is unreal!)

Serves 4

  • Broccoli, 1/2 head florets
  • Delicata squash, 1 (I think I used a Kabocha or Acorn squash and left skin on for added fiber!)
  • Mixed tender greens, 1 cup (I used baby spinach)
  • Red cabbage, 1/4 small head
Steam 1/2 head broccoli florets until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  Steam one sliced and seeded squash until bright yellow and tender, about 10 minutes.  
In a bowl, toss 1 cup mixed tender greens and red cabbage.  Top with steamed vegetables. Drizzle with 1/4 cup tahini sauce and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds.

Tahini Sauce:

  •  Lemon, 1 
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Tahini, 1/2 cup
  • Cumin, 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika, 1/2 tsp
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp
  •  Coarse salt and pepper
In a food processor, puree 1/2 cup tahini, grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and 3/4 cup water until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Rolls with Carrot-Ginger Dipping Sauce

( May 2007)

·       6 rice-paper wrappers
·       2 cups radish sprouts ( 1/2 ounce)
·       1 red beet, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
·       1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
·       1 cucumber, julienned
·       1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, julienned
·       3/4 cup coarsely grated daikon
Optional add-ons that I used: baked tofu, cilantro (game changer)
Dipping Sauce:
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
·       1 small shallot, quartered
·       2 tablespoons coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
·       1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar (not seasoned)
·       2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free option: use Braggs Liquid Aminos)
·       1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
·       Pinch each of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
·       1/4 cup vegetable oil
·       1/4 cup water

1.     Make the spring rolls: Soak one rice-paper wrapper in a large bowl of hot water until pliable (I also add RICE VINEGAR to the water to soften the rice paper). Transfer to a work surface (a glass cutting board works well). Place one-sixth of the sprouts, beet slices, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, and daikon on the wrapper, towards the bottom. Fold ends in and roll tightly to enclose filling (just like you would a burrito!). Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 5 more rolls.
2.     Make the dipping sauce: Puree carrots, shallot, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. With machine running, add vegetable oil and then water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Serve sauce with spring rolls.

*If this dipping sauce is not for you, try a peanut dressing-- also delicious with these spring rolls!

Chickpea Brown Rice Veggie Burger

(recipe credit: Whole Living Magazine January 2012)
  • Chickpeas, 2 cups (dry or from 1 15-oz can)
  • Brown rice, 1/2 cup
  • Fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp chopped
  • 1 Shallot
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • 2 Large eggs (original recipe calls for one egg, but two makes it extra sturdy)
  • Roasted red pepper, for serving
  • Whole-grain mustard, for serving
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat buns or wrap in green leaf lettuce
  • Optional additions that I used: arugula and avocado.
1. Mash 2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas and 1 cup cooked brown rice until thick paste forms.  Stir in 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, and 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in 2 eggs.  Form into four (I made more than four!  It all depends on your preferred size) 1/2 inch patties.
2. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil on large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add patties and cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes per side).

Grapefruit, Carrot, and Ginger Juice

(Whole Living Magazine January 2012)

-2 chopped grapefruits (peel and pith removed)
-5 chopped carrots
-1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

  • Press grapefruits, carrots, and ginger through a juice extractor (I don't have one so I used a VitaMix blender and then strained it).

Chia Seed Pudding

 (Food&Wine March 2012 Issue)

As chia seeds soak in almond milk, they create a tapioca-like pudding.
  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds (3 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

In a 1-quart jar, combine the almond milk with the agave nectar. Close the jar and shake to combine. Add the chia seeds and lemon zest to the jar, then close and shake well. Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally. Serve the pudding in bowls.

Citrus sections, diced mango, almonds and extra agave nectar.

Toasted Coconut Muesli

Toasted Coconut Muesli (inspired by recipe in Whole Living Magazine, January 2012 issue)
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • apple (grated or finely chopped)
  • slivered almonds (or any nuts)
  • rolled oats
  • cinnamon
  • almond milk
Toast shredded coconut in conventional oven until lightly browned.
Put all ingredients in bowl (quantities are up to your preference) and serve like cold cereal with almond milk or any milk of your choice.
Optional add-ons: ground flax seed, chia seeds, berries, other fruit, raw wheat germ, etc.
Note: This recipe was inspired by one from Whole Living magazine last month and I really recommend looking at their 21-day cleanse recipes and suggestions.  They all look easy (only a few ingredients) and they give you enough recipes for the whole 3-week challenge.  Check it out at

Coconut Kale Shake

(inspired by a shake at Naturewell in LA)
  • 2 cups Lacinato (Dino) kale
  • 1 banana (i forgot to add that this morning, but it is so key!)
  • coconut water (from 1 coconut)
  • coconut meat from half a coconut (this involves smashing a coconut on the ground and scraping its insides… Or store-bought. Whole Foods has frozen coconut meat for $15.. Yikes) I recommend buying a YOUNG COCONUT (pictured), they are much easier to puncture to get juice out and then smash to open.
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (or to your liking)
  • cinnamon
Blend and enjoy! This makes enough for a big glass which is a perfect breakfast.  Total cost: about $2 versus $8 in stores.