Sweet Summer Corn Salad

The first corn of the season has hit our local market! Grilled corn is one of my favorites, it’s easy and very versatile. Here’s a great corn salad that’s easy to make and sure to impress your guests!

Layered Corn Salad
8-10 ears of corn
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch radishes
1 container frozen New Mexico green chilies, defrosted
1/2 purple onion
1/2 small sized jicama

Shuck the corn and drizzle olive oil on it, season it with freshly ground black pepper. Repeat this on all sides to get good coverage. Grill the corn over medium high heat, turning it as needed. I stay at the grill with the corn, it cooks quickly. Remove the corn and let it cool while you clean and chop the onion, radishes, and cilantro. When you can handle to corn, cut it off of the ears. Layer your ingredients in a clear serving bowl, or simply toss them together. Don’t drain too much of the liquid from the chilies, it makes a great sauce in the salad. Peel and grate the jicama, toss it with olive oil, black pepper, and ground cumin, then use it to top the salad.

You can easily make this salad into a meal by adding layers of black beans. Other great additions to consider: salsa, tomatoes, green onions, grated cheddar cheese, crumbled feta, quinoa, or farro.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Stuffed Rainbow

Stuffed Rainbow Peppers
This is one of those recipes that you throw together, based more on what you have, instead of specific measurements. Since all colors of bell peppers were on sale, I decided to stuff them. I cut the tops off of each pepper and scooped out the ribs and seeds. Then I layered (starting at the bottom):
Cooked spaghetti squash
Pasta sauce
A sauteed mixture of tofu sausage, farro, onions, and smoked jalaepños
more Pasta sauce.

I grated a little mozzarella cheese on each one, replaced the top, added a little more cheese and baked them in a glass dish with a little pasta sauce in the bottom.

They were almost to pretty to eat, but they didn’t last long. The farro and tofu sausage made them very filling and super flavorful! So when bell peppers go on sale, don’t be afraid to stuff ’em with whatever you have in the refrigerator!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Snappy Quinoa

This week I was in the mood for the crisp, refreshing texture of sugar snap peas. My grocer only had a very large bag available so I had to come up with a few ways to enjoy them. Before I switched to a plant based diet, I used to enjoy fresh green beans with a sprinkle of bacon. Here’s a vegetarian version of something similar,  but served over quinoa it becomes a complete meal.

Snappy Quinoa
For the Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to the package instructions
1/4 cup chopped New Mexico green chilies
5-6 roasted garlic cloves, chopped
After the quinoa is cooked, add freshly ground black pepper, garlic and the chilies, stir well.

For the sugar snap peas
4 cups of sugar snap peas
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4-5 Tbsp salad dressing (blue cheese, vinaigrette, ranch, etc)
2 slices smokey tempeh, cut into small pieces

Rinse the snap peas and remove the stems. Cut them in halves or thirds, depending on their size. Drop them into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Let them dry in a strainer or on a towel. I like them with a very short blanch, they remain crispy but they don’t quite taste raw. If you prefer them raw then skip this stop. Toss the sugar snap peas with everything else and serve them over the quinoa.

You can serve this as a complete meal at lunch, or serve a smaller portion as a side dish. Both the sugar snap peas and the Quinoa are great on their own, so if you run out of one before the other you won’t be at a loss.

Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Fresh Sauerkraut – Hit or Miss?

It’s another Hit!

The Coatimundi in Costa Rica may not like it but I do! There are several brands and several flavors available. This is a spicy flavor with carrots and jalapeños. We have enjoyed it on rubens with Swiss cheese, smokey tempeh, and homemade 1,000 Island dressing, but it also makes a great addition to packed lunches!

Lacto fermented foods are thought to be a great addition for our diets. They contain probiotics and several vitamins, with a high fiber, low calorie delivery.

Read your labels carefully. Foods fermented this way can be very high in sodium. Also, watch for flavorings, there’s just no reason to add ‘flavor’, natural, or unnatural, to a food that is so perfect in its raw state. Look for theme in the refrigerator section of delis and produce departments. Most food markets have one or two varieties available. We enjoy the Saverne brand, their website contains some information about the farmers and recipes.

Be daring, try some Saverne raw kaut and Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

*no coatimundi were actually exposed to sauerkraut for this posting.

Eggplant Lasagna Fan

Here is an easy, impressive vegetarian dinner, Eggplant Lasagna Fan.

Eggplant Lasagna Fan
1 eggplant
1 container ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated,
4-8 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 jar tomato pasta sauce

Combine the grated cheeses. Slice the eggplant into thin strips without cutting through the top of the stem end, set it aside. Add some freshly ground black pepper, and about a third of the grated cheese to the ricotta and set it aside. Spoon some of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a baking pan. If you want to make your sauce from scratch, check out this great red sauce recipe from Chef Ray. Place the eggplant on top of the sauce and push it down to push the slices apart a bit. Spoon the ricotta mixture between all of the slices. Spoon a little sauce between each layer, then sprinkle grated cheese between each layer. Top the eggplant with the remaining sauce and grated cheese, and s sprinkle of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley, etc) for color. I like to run my finger down the edge of each slice to make sure the eggplant skin will show. Bake it at 350 degrees until it’s heated through and the cheese begins to brown. The duration will depend on the size of your eggplant, mine took about 35 minutes.

To serve the eggplant cut the top off of it to release the layers.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

Kale Sesame!

One of my favorite lunch spots serves a great kale salad. But sometimes I don’t want to wait for the next time I go out to lunch to get my kale fix. Here’s my version of this light and delicious kale salad.

Kale Sesame!
One bunch of kale rinsed and roughly chopped. My favorite is the dino kale or lacianto, but any variety of kale will work. I often mix in other greens like collards or rainbow chard.
Several garlic cloves, minced
Toasted sesame oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame seeds
Red pepper flake

Bring a large pot of water to boil, toss the kale and garlic in when it boils and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Drain the kale and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Continue to drain it until it’s is dry – you can speed this process by draining it on paper towels or squeezing it. Put it in a large bowl, and drizzle the kale with a combination of toasted sesame oil and olive oil. You can use all sesame oil if the flavor isn’t to strong for you. Serve the salad with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and red pepper flake.

Because of kale’s nutritional content, this super light salad will fill you up! Serve it as a side dish to just about anything, or make a meal of it!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Garden Chive Hummus

Here’s a great springtime hummus recipe, especially if you have chives in your garden. Spinach could be substituted for the chives if you’d like a milder version.

Garden Chive Hummus
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or the equivalent quantity of home cooked)
1 cup fresh chives, snipped into 1″ pieces
3-4 Tbs lemon juice
4-8 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
freshly ground black pepper
salt

Put everything but the olive oil and salt in a food processor. With the processor running drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. Stop the processor, scrape down the sides and check the seasoning, add salt and adjust seasoning as desired. Continue processing the hummus until it reaches the desired consistency. Tahini is not a must, if you don’t like it leave it out. You can also reduce the olive oil and increase the lemon or use a little water in its place. If you find raw garlic to pungent, try granulated (dry) garlic or oven roasted garlic cloves for a more mellow flavor.

Serve the hummus room temperate or cold, with a variety of crackers and vegetables. I like to drizzle a little Tenisian olive oil on it and top it with a little freshly ground black pepper and pumpkin seeds. This recipe also makes an excellent sandwich spread! Slather it on bread and try topping it with sliced tomatoes and avocados.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Skinny Pop – Hit or Miss?

HIT!

Skinny Pop Black Pepper and Sea Salt is our #1 go to snack for munching. A packaged popcorn can’t get much cleaner than (non-gmo) popcorn, sunflower oil, sea salt and black pepper. It’s truly a guilt free snack. Black Pepper is our favorite but the other flavors are very tasty too especially, White Cheddar and Jalapeño (not hot). Earlier this year there was a limited edition with Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles, which was pretty good. The Dusted Dark Chocolate flavor is really satisfying sometimes. It has a great chocolate flavor without being very sweet.

You can read more about Skinny Pop (including ingredients for every flavor) on their website, www.skinnypop.com

Pass the Ketchup, hold the Sugar

 

Rye bread, krout, Emmentaler Swiss cheese, pastrami, and 1,000 Island dressing. Is there a better sandwich on the planet? Today there was not, but a few changes needed to be made to this classic. First pastrami doesn’t fit into my plant-based diet, substitution: smoky tempeh slices. Second 1,000 Island dressing is just too sweet for me these days. Solution: make a batch of Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing.

Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing
1 part mayonnaise (I prefer a vegan canola mayo)
1/2 part homemade ketchup (recipe follows)
1/4 part dill relish or finely chopped dill pickle
1/4 part finely chopped onion
2 Tbs sugar (if needed)
1 tsp smoked paprika

Combine, taste, adjust, refrigerate, enjoy. You can also adjust the flavor by adding lemon juice, cayenne, or sweet relish.

When I committed to reading food labels I was disgusted to see just how much sugar is in ketchup, no wonder it just tasted like ‘sweetness’ without any distinction. Originally ketchup was made from fish sauce and didn’t even contain tomatoes! But I didn’t want to give it up completely. There are somethings that just ‘need’ ketchup. So, I starting making my own. And yes, it does have some sugar, but it’s not just a sugar sauce in disguise. I make this in a large batch and freeze it in small jars. Sometimes I add finely chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.

Classic Ketchup
26.5 oz tomatoes – strained/crushed/chopped
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup minced onion
3-6 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp hot chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar – divided
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Add the tomato products and spices, cook while stirring for a few minutes. Add the brown sugar and half of the cider vinegar. Stir well, cover and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to a blender after it cools slightly and blend to your desired consistency, adding the remaining vinegar if needed. Store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freeze it.

Release YOU Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Crunchies Beets – Hit or Miss?

HIT – For Several Reasons

Freeze dried beets area available in several brands. I have enjoyed all that I have sampled. Some are lightly salted, which does play nicely off of the natural sweetness of the beet, and some are plain. I prefer the plain ones. They are seriously crunchy and satisfying. At about 100 calories a bag, I don’t even have to share!

A great food is something you eat because you enjoy it, but at the same time you reap nutritional benefits like: fiber, potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron, and Magnesium. If beets don’t appeal to you then try them with hummus or salsa. These natural ‘chips’ will hold up to even the thickest dips!

I like to keep a bag with me when I have to run errands – they won’t spoil in the car and they don’t crush easily.

Whenever you’re selecting a freeze dried snack, check you label to make sure the only ingredient is beets (there’s no need for preservatives or additions), and to make sure you know how much sodium there is in the salted variety.

Crunchies Freeze Dried Beets a definite HIT!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!