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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Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

As I scramble through my last month living in San Diego, I was lucky enough to take part in one last Healthy Dining Office Potluck. When you work with a team of Culinary Dietitians and other foodie health professionals, potluck celebrations are serious business. Looking back on the 2.5 years that I’ve worked with this team, I’m pleasantly surprised that I had a chance to document several of my contributions online here: there have been polenta-crusted quiches, gluten-free peach cobbler scones, worksgiving goat cheese mashed potatoes, and platters of avocado toast slathered with chimichurri sauce. But to date, my crowning achievement was at a banana-themed bash we held last October, so this week I had go out with a bang and recreate my biggest hit.

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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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[Sourdough] Sticky Honey Buns (No-Knead + Overnight)

I baked up these buns as a special treat for Grant’s birthday brunch, and seriously, they were epic. Pillowy, tender, studded with crunchy toasted almonds, and perfumed with the essence of our heavenly freshly-harvested honey. They have just the right amount of richness without overdoing the butter, and like any sensible breakfast bun recipe, they’re designed to hang out in the fridge for a slow overnight rise after being shaped the day before, so they’re ready to sleepily toss into the oven while you start brewing a pot of your best coffee – special weekend treat-yo-self baking at its best.

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Healing Honey Tonic

How sweet it is, having a supply of beautiful fresh-from-the-hive honey in my pantry. I’ve been enamored with the stuff, gleefully drizzling it over any suitable food that crosses my path (usually Greek yogurt, but I have to say the culinary highlight so far has been its role in an extra special birthday-breakfast baked good that I definitely need to share with you soon).

As much as I’ve enjoyed eating the honey, the real treat has been digging into its sweet science. I was curious just how much researchers have been able to observe about honey’s composition, biochemistry, and dietary effects. So I dove deep, into a literature review so obsessive that it gave me nostalgia for my grad school days. If you’re a hopeless nutrition nerd like me, please enjoy my honey reading list:

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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.

[Sourdough] Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes

The Universe has a way of keeping us humble, doesn’t it? Take for example the time I fell hard for The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and mused contentedly about what an adept contender I could be. Naturally, my next baking session was an epic screw-up. I’m claiming distraction as the reason behind the embarrassing disaster, but seriously: it involved boxed cookie mix, BOTH of my apartment’s smoke alarms, and a full hour spent the next day scrubbing the bottom of my oven. So, right, I was not Star Baker this week.

(Undoubtedly my worst mishap since the Great Kombucha Eruption of 2015.)

Similarly, look what happens when I promise you a newly developed recipe. Here we are nearly a month later, and I’m just now getting back to you because of an extended string of lackluster trials in my test-kitchen. Lucky for you guys, I don’t give up too easily.

Whole Grain Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes

The plan was to cap off my sourdough baking series with a special weekend breakfast combining the flavor/benefits of sourdough with the seasonal charm of pumpkin spice. But I soon realized that this pairing would require a bit of trial and error, as pumpkin puree and sourdough can both complicate efforts to optimize the texture and density of baked goods. After wrestling with a series of adaptations to the basic sourdough pancake formula from King Arthur Flour,  I decided I might be better off seeking insight from my favorite online community of super experienced and skilled bakers at The Fresh Loaf.

Whole Grain Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes

Lo and behold, those good bakers know exactly what to do: I was just one blog post away from a foolproof formula. To create my perfect sourdough pumpkin pancake, I spiked the recipe with buttermilk, brown sugar and a sprinkle of spices; I also swapped in whole wheat pastry flour to take advantage of its delicate crumb. The pancakes are tender, lightly sour, subtly spiced… and we couldn’t have done it without that bubbling, fermenting colony of our favorite friendly microbes.

Nothing like a good recipe success to recover from a streak of kitchen fails… What a relief! Happy cooking, everybody. I’m off to put that sparkling clean oven to good use.

Whole Grain Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes

(No sourdough starter? How about some tasty steel-cut oat pancakes instead?)

Whole Grain Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Approximately 20 5-inch pancakes

Whole Grain Sourdough Pumpkin Pancakes

1/2 cup sourdough starter ("unfed" starter can be used)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt
spices: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon + a hearty sprinkle each of ginger, allspice and nutmeg (or an equal amount of your favorite pumpkin pie spice blend)
1 to 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or substitute mostly milk with a dollop of plain yogurt)

Combine the starter, eggs, brown sugar and pumpkin puree in a medium bowl. Then add the dry ingredients and whisk in just enough buttermilk to create a pourable batter (the amount can vary based on the density of your starter), mixing until just combined..

Let the batter rest at room temperature while you heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat, coated lightly with butter or oil. When the surface is hot, spoon the batter into pancakes of your desired size. When the upper surface is bubbled, and the bottom is golden-brown, flip and continue to cook the second side. Place cooked pancakes in a warmed oven, or on a plate tented with aluminum foil until all pancakes are ready.

https://flavorrd.com/2015/11/sourdough-pumpkin-pancakes/