Carrot, Orange and Olive Salad

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I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this salad combination when I first read the recipe.  I don’t think I’ve had a salad that incorporates carrots, oranges, raisins and olives before but now that I’ve tasted it, I think the combination will be a staple at my house.  This simple and easy-to-make salad has a delicate salty-sweetness that’s really unexpected!  The toasted cashews give a nice crunch and flavors like cumin and maple syrup pull everything together.

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French lentil salad with walnuts

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There are few dishes I’ve made or enjoyed recently that are this healthy and also this satisfying!  I know many of you are still on your New Year’s resolution kick to eat more healthfully, lose weight, etc., and this dish will give you both health and pure eating pleasure.  These French lentils are truly easy to make and are great warm, or cold the next day for lunch over a salad, or on their own.

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The recipe, from David Lebovitz’s “My Paris Kitchen,” calls for simple and earthy winter flavors — bay leaf, celery and toasted walnuts are the subtle standouts but the bright dressing has complex flavors that will keep you coming back for more.

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Butternut-Miso Soup with Coconut

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Butternut is such a stereotypical Fall food, but sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason.  Am I right?  Butternut is amazing.  I love it mixed into creamy risotto, embedded in delicate ravioli, roasted with herbs like rosemary or sage, but mostly, I love it in soup.  This recipe is different from the traditional butternut squash soups you see this time of year.  It is made with miso broth, fresh ginger, cayenne and coconut milk.

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The hardest part about making butternut squash soup of any kind is prepping the butternut.  It’s worth it though, I promise.  Get smallish butternuts so you’re not left wrangling a large one, which is more difficult in my experience.  A smaller one will make it easier to slice off both ends, peel, then halve the squash before removing the seeds and cubing the butternut.  It’s a little messy…

P1050201But that’s OK because everything else about this dish is simple.  White miso has a delicate, salty flavor and when you put the paste into simmering water, you’ll instantly think you’re about to make miso soup, which I might do another time.  However, adding the butternut with sauteed onions and fresh spices makes this soup rich and unique.

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Kale pesto for everything

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Someone asked me the other day if I thought pesto was a condiment.  I say it is!  I put pesto on pretty much anything, which to me makes it a condiment, and the Huffington Post seems to agree.  I put pesto on sandwiches, eggs, avocado, pasta, pizza, plus you can use it as a dip for veggies or pita bread.  The options truly are endless.  Because I so enjoy pesto, I have developed my own that uses some traditional pesto flavors like pine nuts and garlic, but I omit the cheese and add the kale.  #teamkale

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Pesto’s amazing flavor comes from basil.  Basil is such a wonderful herb with a subtle sweetness and elements of anise that give it an interesting bite.  Basil is packed with vitamins K and A so it’s a terrific thing to add to your diet.  We’re just incredibly lucky someone thought of pesto!

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Carrots love raisins

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I think I was in eighth grade when I had my first carrot-raisin salad.  My mom made it one night when I had a friend over for dinner.  This friend was a “picky eater.”  For some reason, a carrot-raisin salad just sounds unappealing to an eighth grader.  Even now, I don’t know if it would be what I order on a menu, but I can tell you, I crave this easy and delicious salad that is filling and full of healing nutrients like beta-carotene!  And, as my mom said years ago, “Do you like carrots?  Do you like raisins?  Well, they’re mixed together!”  This salad is almost that easy.

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Simple summer sides for the win

The summer months are slow and easy, especially in my new home in the South.  The days are long and hot, which zaps my energy and leaves me with little motivation to spend a ton of time in a hot kitchen, unless I have wine, of course!  Lately, I’ve been picking up whatever vegetables and fruits are freshest and making meals with just that.  I figure many of you may be doing the same or want ideas about how to make a meal quickly and easily.  This was my dinner tonight: Brussels sprouts with lemon and parsley, a summer veggie salad with basil, smoked salmon and half an avocado.  So simple and I prepared it all in under thirty minutes.

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I washed and thinly sliced the Brussels, roasted them in a 350 degree oven with olive oil, sea salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.  Then, I dressed them with a mixture of lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and a generous amount of fresh chopped parsley.  There’s never enough parsley!

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While the Brussels roasted, I sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, a medium raw zucchini, one yellow bell pepper, chickpeas and torn basil.  I drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper on top and let it marinate, then added raw pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.  It’s divine and took ten minutes, plus it is gorgeous!

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With my two all-star veggie sides, I felt I had a meal, but I added smoked salmon and avocado to jazz it up a bit then sat outside and enjoyed it while the sun went down.  Talk about summer perfection.  Bon appétit!

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Burmese chicken & rice with green bean salad

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Even without traveling, food can teach us about different parts of the world. That’s something I love most about reading about food, and of course, eating food. My parents went to Burma last year (see photo above) and loved the scenery, the history, and the food. I didn’t get to go to Burma, but I got this cookbook, and love reading through the recipes, history and seeing the pictures of the people there and their food.

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My mom always raves about the long-bean salad with roasted peanuts recipe. What makes this dish is the fried shallots, and shallot oil that remains from the frying. I made a big batch and have since topped practically every salad with fried shallots. Salads will never be the same!

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The book, and Burmese cooking in general, calls for peanut oil quite often. I read in the book that the middle part of Burma, Mandalay and Bagan, provide ideal climates for growing peanuts. If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can substitute sesame oil. I will say, the shallots fry beautifully in the peanut oil!

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How I prepare for the week ahead

A lot of my friends ask me what I do on weeknights when we are all too tired to cook a meal. There is also the issue of what to do with leftovers if you don’t want to eat the same thing day after day. While my method isn’t perfect, it works for me and I hope it gives you some ideas for what may work for you!

On Sundays I spend the morning reading the New York Times and browsing recipes, looking for something that strikes me as a good “base meal” for the week. I love quinoa, bean-based dishes, and vegetable dishes that last a while. I don’t eat a ton of meat so I usually look for a meat-free dish.

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This week, I picked this curried quinoa salad and reserved a portion of the quinoa to keep plain, in case I want to mix it up with different flavors one night this week. The curried quinoa is delicious! I added green peas instead of edamame and omitted the meat.

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I like to have fresh, steamed or roasted veggies that add a different element to some of my meals, or just something extra to serve on the side. This week, I picked organic sweet potatoes, roasted in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes. I drizzled the diced potatoes with olive oil and sea salt before roasting.

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Green Pea and Ham Soup

I am home in California, visiting my parents for the holidays.  Today in the San Francisco Bay Area it is bitterly cold.  Unusual for this area, it was a mere 38 degrees when I woke up today.  But, it’s beautiful, and the most perfect day for soup.

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My mom and I went to the farmers’ market this morning and nearly froze our hands off selecting local carrots for this split pea soup.

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Split pea is extremely satisfying – a comfort soup without a lot of guilt.  It’s dairy free, gluten free, and except for the flavorful ham hock the soup cooks in, it could be vegetarian, too.  But, the ham is necessary for a full-bodied, flavorful soup.  Chop your medley of vegetables: carrots, a yellow onion, celery and garlic.  Cook it all together in a nice olive oil and fresh rosemary.

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White Bean Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula

 

It is the end of summer and it is starting to (finally!) feel Fall-ish.  In Arizona, you don’t see colors change, but the air feels different and the sun is setting earlier.  I like it.  But, I will miss summer tomatoes.  This bean dish feels like a Welcome to Fall dish.

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It uses heavy, flavorful vegetables like fennel, carrots and onions — but we get a subtle sweetness from tomatoes, and a heartiness from the beans.

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I used great northern beans, which taste and look similar to cannelini beans, but these are a bit smaller.

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