when local really means local

Do you ever wonder how “local” and “natural” your locally grown food really is? Yesterday I attended a street event in my neighborhood called El Mercado. It was planned around the opening of a new neighborhood city park, and it consisted of local community groups, and a lot of local vendors, craftspeople, food artisans, and other creative folks. I was delighted to come across a booth promoting a new store in the neighborhood called Arroyo General, a boutique-ish general store no larger than a shoe repair shop. arroyo generalThey sell really cool stuff sourced from the local Northeast Los Angeles area, including locally-grown produce and eggs. I couldn’t get my wallet out fast enough when I saw that they had duck eggs from a small urban farm about two miles from my house. So I ceased the opportunity to enjoy some animal based nutrition the way nature intended. This surprise encounter with local duck eggs, combined with the rainy weather outside, led to a morning fire in the fireplace and this yummy, healthy brunch dish.

basted duck egg with savory tomato basil oatmeal

serves 4 brunch entrees
4 duck eggs
2 Tbsp. chopped leeks
2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, with all the juices (or canned diced tomatoes)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup tomato sauce Read More

chili with a healthy secret

Let’s be honest. There is no replacement for the taste and experience of good old fashioned meat chili, with sour cream, onions, and shredded cheese. But that doesn’t stop me from having fun with the basic chili concept and seeing where it goes with healthier ingredients. One of the “secret” ingredients in traditional chili that makes it thick, and gives it an extra depth of flavor, is the use of cornmeal or polenta. In this recipe, amaranth or teff is used instead, both ancient grains that offer a cleaner, far more nutritious layer of pleasant thickness and texture to your chili. Without this, it would be a mere bowl of vegetable soup! The rest is left to the rainbow of healthy vegetables, herbs, and spices that make this, in my opinion, an awesome and easy regular for your dinner table. It saves well, even tastier the next day!

black & white bean calabaza chili

Makes 4-5 servings
1 small-medium onion
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (about 8-10 oz.) raw, peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2-1 inch squares
1 tsp. ground cumin
 (grind from seeds if possible for better flavor)
1 tsp. chile powder
1 jalapeño, finely chopped Read More

the greener side of comfort

I think at least a few of my friends are scratching their heads at my new obsession with vegan cooking. Here is the truth; it isn’t exactly the vegan I am obsessed about, but more just having an in-depth go at figuring out how much essential nutrition I can get from a vegan meal; the kind of nutrition that one would normally think can only be obtained from an animal. And then there is another fascination that comes with vegan cooking- to see where you can find the essential “comfort” ingredients. That brings me to my current dating spree with nuts, especially the rich, oily ones.  I am about a recipe away from being convinced that nuts take the healthy lead in providing the comfort essentials we all love and our tastebuds count on. Move over butter, cheese, and cream, because I just made an entree that takes the “comfort” of creamy mushroom ravioli filling, and turns it on its gluten free, dairy free, vegan ear.

roasted zucchini with “creamy” mushroom stuffing

Makes 4 entrees
1 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped white onion
¼ teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup chopped leek, white and pale green parts
½ pound crimini, morel, chanterelle or other wild mushroom, chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
Paprika for garnish

Read More

when blini meets korean pancake…but healthier

Ah! The classic blini! That delicious, plump, buttery vessel for caviar, smoked salmon, and other nostalgic cocktail party fare. And then there is the Korean pancake, slightly crisp with tender Asian veggies and flavors on the inside! I was recently craving a Korean pancake, so I took a quinoa breakfast pancake recipe I knew and did some adaptations…and voila! Your new go-to east-meets-west hors d’oeuvre base that will keep them coming back!

asian quinoa blini

makes 8-10 blini
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup toasted nori flakes, strips, or small broken up pieces of nori
1 scallion, sliced on the bias
1/3 cups julienned bok choy, Chinese broccoli or other green vegetable
NOTE: diced red bell pepper, sliced asparagus, and other vegetables can be substituted or incorporated
Coconut oil for cooking

Preheat a griddle to medium high heat. Mix all the ingredients but the coconut oil in a mixing bowl. Lubricate the griddle with a generous coat of coconut oil and cook the blini immediately by using a teaspoon to spoon mini pancakes onto the griddle. Cook as you would a pancake, flipping after one side is cooked enough to flip it over without breaking it. The mixture will want to separate a little bit so you might need to mix it a little before each spoonful on the griddle. Serve topped with smoked salmon or trout, sautéed mushroom, caramelized onion, kimchi, roasted pepper compote, tuna sashimi, or other detox friendly topping. It is pictured here with a slice of avocado and a caramelized shiitake mushroom…yum!