Broccoli Sprout Pesto

Fresh broccoli sprouts are a staple food in my kitchen, especially in the winter when it’s the main home-grown vegetable crop we’ve managed to keep in season. Sprouting is one of the simplest ways to grow your own fresh food, especially for people limited by their climate, space constraints, or urban captivity. You don’t need access to the outdoors or even a sunny windowsill, because seeds are designed by nature to push their own way through dirt and set sail with their first leaves before they can start catching solar energy to power their growth. 

By the time they reach that point, these tiny plants are brimming with glucosinolates, the precursors to isothiocyanates, which are plant defense compounds known for their hormetic anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic impact on the humans who eat them. This story mirrors the one about garlic and allicin – again, tissue damage (the plant’s sense that it is being eaten!) is a trigger for the conversion of a stable storage molecule into a reactive defense molecule. In the case of broccoli sprouts, myrosinase is the enzyme that converts glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. For the same reason we chop garlic before cooking to maximize its potency, it is also optimal to break down broccoli sprouts. My favorite way is pesto.

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Maca Mocha Cocoa Mix

My pantry is never without a stash of this homemade DIY dark cocoa mix. Warm, cozy drinks are an important staple for this Florida Girl adapting to life in northern Washington, you know? I mix it up in bulk, and I’ve been known to pack it up into jars for a simple handmade-with-love holiday gift. This year, I wanted to share the recipe with you in time to give you a chance to do the same!

My not-so-secret ingredient is maca – Lepidium meyenii – a plant in the brassica family (cousin to broccoli and all its cruciferous brethren) native to high altitudes of Peru. In the Andes, it’s long been eaten as a staple food and regarded for traditional medicinal uses. The dried root is thought to enhance endurance, and is known to contain glucosinolates and other compounds that can contribute to antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects. It has a nutty flavor and aroma reminiscent of butterscotch that I really adore in my cocoa mix.

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Pistachio Fro-Yo Pops

Calling all pistachio lovers! These perky pops are my new favorite summer treat. This simple recipe features none of the artificial flavors or colors that too often taint that old-school neon-green ice cream at the supermarket – just lightly sweetened whole-milk yogurt and plenty of roasted, salted pistachios.

Nuts and seeds are designed to fuel a baby plant through germination until they can develop enough roots and leaves to fend for themselves, which makes them very nutrient-dense foods. An ounce of roasted pistachios has about 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, and 8 grams of carbohydrates (including 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of natural sugars). Their biochemical profile supports antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and clinical studies have demonstrated favorable effects on blood lipids, glycemic control and vascular function associated with pistachio consumption.

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California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

Over the past week, Seattle has found itself in the middle of both a record-setting heat wave and a thick haze of smoke. Naturally, these conditions make me nostalgic for my days in southern California. (zing!)

In all seriousness though, I really have been doing some California Dreaming. With summertime in full swing, I’m craving sunshine and avocados, and generally feeling inspired by left coast vibes (the Cowabunga Lifestyle, you know?)

Given this set and setting, I got into the kitchen and combined two beloved regional socal desserts:

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Steel-Cut Bircher Muesli

I’ve been charmed by overnight oats before, but until recently I had never tried what you might call the “original recipe” – bircher muesli. This dish was popularized in the late 1800s by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who served it daily to the high-profile guests of his Alpine wellness retreat. The doctor’s intention behind this humble and wholesome “little mush” was to find a palatable way to get more raw fruit into his patients’ diets. Homeboy was driven by some puzzling proto-raw-foodism beliefs, but I’ll cut him some slack… You can’t blame the guy for living in what was essentially the dawn of nutrition science (people often forget that nutrition is such a young field; for perspective, realize that humans had no concept of vitamins until 1912). I have to give him credit for being ahead of his time in many ways, especially in making connections between health and harmony with nature. And, of course, for inventing my latest summertime breakfast obsession.

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Avocado Fudge Brigadeiros {Brazilian-style dark chocolate truffles, for your Olympic viewing pleasure}

This may be the most festive snack you can enjoy while watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Not only is the brigadeiro the hosting country’s most beloved dessert… there’s also something delightfully ironic about admiring world-class athletic prowess, while eating bonbons on the couch.

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Sweet Corn, Peach & Basil Salad

Today, let’s practice a summertime exercise in keeping it simple. It’s what the universe beckons us to do in this season of plenty, when the sun’s peak puts nature on overdrive, and the plants we cultivate positively vibrate with vital energy. It’s a magical time to love fruits and vegetables.

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Golden Greens

With exotic Indian flavors and a wealth of nutritious benefits, I’ve really struck gold with these dark leafy greens. In this deceptively simple recipe, fresh kale is gently wilted in a savory base of onions, garlic, and garam masala, brightened with a golden turmeric-ginger broth, and studded with plump golden raisins.

I’ve mentioned before that I like my greens a little sweet and sour; so when my food brain started cooking up the idea for an Indian-inspired recipe, I immediately craved chutney. I understand that in India, “chutney” can refer to any number of different condiments in different regions, but what I had in mind was the anglo-influenced variety: a flavorful preserve contrasting savory onions and spices with sweet fruit, made tart with vinegar. This recipe doesn’t require you to have a jar on hand, but echoes the same flavors with a combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples.

So, what makes these simple greens such a nutritional goldmine? Not only is this dish full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients like any old bowl of kale; it’s also enhanced with a powerful arsenal of culinary herbal medicine. Garlic, ginger, and turmeric don’t just bring bold flavors to the dish – they’re also rich in a wide range of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-fighting compounds.

The photo above features green curly kale, but any of your favorite hearty greens can be substituted: collards, Swiss chard, even beet greens.

Eat it over brown rice or quinoa for a light meal, or complement it with a protein like tandoori chicken or tofu. This dish is also a good accompaniment for fans of the frozen Indian food section at Trader Joe’s! Their frozen curries and naan can make a decent meal on a busy night, but you can really upgrade your dinner with just a touch of home cooking – adding a quick fresh vegetable like this will bring the plate to life.

Golden Greens

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a main dish

Golden Greens

1 tsp. coconut or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 bunch of leafy greens (kale, chard, collards, etc.); tough stems removed and roughly chopped
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften and turn translucent. Stir in the garlic, golden raisins and garam masala, and cook for another minute until fragrant. Mix the ginger and turmeric into the broth, and add it to the pan along with the greens. Toss to combine, and allow to cook until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and apple cider vinegar before serving.

https://flavorrd.com/2016/02/golden-greens/

Hemp-Crusted Tofu Nuggets

Sadly, the latest release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is not going to tell you to eat less meat. I, on the other hand, am less worried about profits in the meat industry than I am about a collapsing climate and the brutal reality that at current consumption rates, our children will be facing food and water shortages in the alarmingly near future. So, let me take it from here, America: let’s think about eating a little less meat!

I already try to work a lot of meatless meals into my routine, but following the politics around these guidelines has gotten me riled up and feeling motivated to put more effort into to upping my diet’s sustainability factor. Which brings us to today’s recipe: when it comes to planet-friendly eating, these nuggets are gold.

I happen to love tofu. If you don’t, believe me, I get it. It’s not a mandatory ingredient for plant-based eating, but if you just haven’t developed a taste for it yet, maybe it’s time to give this powerful protein a chance.

Today’s recipe features a crispy coating that commemorates our environmentally friendly efforts with the superstar sustainable wonder crop: hemp! Hemp is a resilient, fast-growing crop that doesn’t require much land or water. It’s also a source of complete protein and healthy omega-3 fats, and its seeds happen to be the perfect toasty/nutty ingredient to mix together with cornstarch for a simple crunchy (gluten free) breading for your tofu nuggets.

Hot out of the saute pan, these tofu fingers are addictive. The breading is neutrally seasoned, so they pair equally well with the full spectrum of dipping sauces. My choice? Hot honey mustard. It’s a 3-ingredient, 30-second recipe (ie. an instant classic).

Hemp-Crusted Tofu Nuggets

Through the lens of crispy tofu, I hope I was able to share a few nuggets of inspiration to look at the big picture and consider sustainability when feeding ourselves. It’s not always easy, but our choices matter. If you’re interested in more practical tips for sustainable eating, let me know in the comments – I’m hoping to make time to write another post on this topic soon.

Finally, if the disappointing results of the Dietary Guidelines have gotten you riled up too, let me share this way to take action: help set things straight and call the document what it really is: “Food Policy Guidelines for America.” Dr. David Katz has set up a petition on change.org calling upon the USDA and HHS to clarify that the Guidelines are not intended as expert dietary health guidance, but rather, as Katz puts it, “what politicians think should be done with the best, expert advice in an effort to balance public health against corporate profits.” Right now it has about 75% of the signatures needed, so it needs your support!

Hemp-Crusted Tofu Nuggets

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 nuggets

Hemp-Crusted Tofu Nuggets

For the Tofu:
1 14-16 oz. block tofu
1 egg
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 pinch salt + pepper
oil to saute
For the Hot Honey Mustard:
1-2 tsp. your favorite hot sauce
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp. grainy mustard

Press the tofu by placing it between two plates with a heavy object on top to drain excess liquid. Prepare two shallow bowls for breading stations: in the first, whisk together the egg and soy sauce; in the second, combine the hemp seeds, cornstarch and salt/pepper.

After the tofu has pressed for 10 minutes, slice it into 8 equal planks and heat a tablespoon or two of oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat each tofu nugget with the egg wash, dredge in the hemp seed breading, and add to the skillet to pan fry. Cook the tofu in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan, and when both sides are golden brown, transfer the nuggets to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (for hot honey mustard: combine hot sauce, honey and mustard... enjoy!)

https://flavorrd.com/2016/01/hemp-crusted-tofu-nuggets/

Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie

Hungry for more hemp? Chill out with my favorite Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie!

Sweet Chili Baked Tofu

Need a go-to tofu? This is mine: Sweet Chili Baked Tofu, even simpler than today’s recipe and its versatility makes it an excellent meal prep item.

Chimichurri in a Hurry

Flavor. We definitely consider it an essential part of the diet around here, but it’s not often that we talk about its direct relevance to nutrition. After reading a great article by Mark Schatzker last week, I was inspired to take a moment to highlight this underappreciated piece of the human nutrition puzzle.

Shatzker describes flavor as an “ancient chemical language,” which is such a beautifully fitting depiction of the science. “Flavor is the body’s way of identifying important nutrients and remembering what foods they come from.” We have evolved to seek out our favorite flavors, but we’re facing a problem because this synergy between us and our diet has been disrupted by our modern food supply. Factory farming and other questionable contemporary food production techniques yield lackluster products, in both nutrition and flavor. On top of that, a highly profitable industry of food scientists and flavor chemists have stepped in to fill the flavor void, adulterating products with enticing extracts and additives that tempt our senses but that provide none of the benefits that our bodies are craving. Shatzker’s new book, The Dorito Effect, is definitely going on my reading list. The message, which is very consistent with the way we do things around here, is to get your flavor from real food, because it’s what your body really wants.

So how can we put this theory into practice? Today, let’s remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated to craft big flavors from natural ingredients. Serving as a prime example: Chimichurri in a Hurry. Just a handful of the highly flavorful and nutritious compounds in this classic Argentine condiment include antioxidant myristicin from parsley, antimicrobial allicin from garlic, and anti-inflammatory capsaicin from chili peppers. And we get to enjoy all of those whole-food benefits in just a matter of moments thanks to my favorite blender-hack.

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