Turmeric Ginger Salad

Turmeric Ginger Salad_logoOne of my friends had her birthday party on a catamaran this past weekend. The views from the water were breathtaking. Plus the fog didn’t roll in, so we actually had a beautiful sunset too!

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On a quest to introduce more anti-inflammatory foods into my diet, I made this delicious turmeric packed salad dressing to toss in my daily salads this week. Not only was the dressing tasty, but the salad ended up having so many vibrant colors as well. Green, yellow, red, pink, white, and so many shades in between.:)

The recipe below will make a really big bowl of salad, which I have for lunch throughout the week. It would work really well as a dinner dish to share with your friends and family too.

Turmeric Ginger Salad

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbl lemon juice
  • 2 tbl agave syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger

Salad:

  • 2 large heads lettuce (green, romaine, red, etc)
  • 2 barlett pears, chopped
  • 6 deglet dates, finely chopped
  • 5 small beets, thinnly sliced (I used a setting on my food processor to get them really thin)
  • 3 lemon cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, chopped

What to do: 

  • Blend all the dressing ingredients together in a blender until smooth (I use a Vitamix).
  • Combine the salad ingredients together in a big bowl.
  • Drizzle the dressing on top, and toss to ensure everything is nicely coated.

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Snack Attack: Cacao nib bites

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It was a weekend with some incredible nighttime views…

The harbor was spectacularly stunning with sailboats passing by, the lighthouse in the near distance, and setting sun painting the sky a myriad of colors. To top it all off, there was live music and the most refreshing libations.

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The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary hosted an informative First Friday event at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, staying open until 8pm for visitors to peruse displays of wildlife living just across the street in the Monterey Bay. There just wasn’t enough time to see all the center has to offer. Another trip is most certainly in my future.

Most of the time at the event was spent talking to the Whale Entanglement Team (WET), who had a table at the event. It was fascinating to hear about team members going out into the water to rescue whales caught in nets. I learned that the underside of a whale’s tail (the fluke) acts as a critical identifier unique to each whale (much like a human fingerprint).

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Cacao Nib Bites

This recipe was adapted from Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run “Xocolatl Energy Balls”. I swapped out some ingredients I didn’t have, for ones that I did. Personally I think they taste absolutely delicious, with a pleasant crunch from the cacao nibs. These are great for an afternoon snack, dessert, and for hiking (no mess!).
Yield about 10 bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 10 small dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp coconut oil, softened or melted

What to do: 

  • Blend all ingredients in a food processor (except coconut oil) until consistency is fine and will stick together.
  • Add the coconut oil and blend again.
  • Roll the mixture into about 10 balls, and refrigerate. Once chilled for about an hour, enjoy!

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Big Dreaming in California

While coming back from an afternoon run along West Cliff yesterday, I came upon a scene that I still don’t know what to make of. Two firetrucks and several police cars blocked the road, while lifeguards sprang into action toward the ocean.

What was going on here, you may be wondering. My best guess is that someone got a little too close to the edge of the cliffs and fell down into the water, unable to get back out. Why am I writing about this on a food & travel blog? Well I thought it was about time I write about my new life in California. To take a moment and share the observations I’ve made in the environment that now surrounds me.

California is amazing, in every sense of the word and I don’t know if I’ll ever leave. That being said, it isn’t perfect, as no place is. I believe it’s the imperfections and therefore possibilities for improvement which make it so alluring (and of course all the natural beauty:) ).

The people I’ve met, in Santa Cruz particularly, have a true passion for creating positive change. There’s a lot going on here to get involved with, no matter what your passionate about. The community is as environmentally conscious as they come, with a large bike commuting scene, farmers markets in numerous locations throughout the week, and even a compost collection service via. bike. Whoa.

It seems that the community is all on the same page. We need to protect the environment, start reversing climate change, and build healthier communities. Now. I can’t say I’ve ever lived somewhere like this. There are always the naysayers on the other side pushing against change, progress, the good people are trying to do. Perhaps it’s because the community seems so in sync that projects are actually completed in a timely manner. Imagine that!

I think that’s the really inspirational part. Not only can one see the possibility for change, but your community supports you in making that change. It’s realistic to dream big in California. Wilder Ranch Tours17.jpg

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Sunflower Date Energy Balls

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Big Basin Redwood State Park has some amazing microclimates, from open forest with sandstone paths, to dense heavy forest shaded by redwood trees hundreds of feet high. This trip included hiking eleven miles around trip to Berry Creek Falls. The falls are actually three falls (lower, silver, and gold). We stopped for a picnic lunch at the last fall.

Along the way to the falls, our docent pointed out numerous edible plants including California Violet, huckleberry, and more sorrel than you could imagine.

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And a (brief) visit to Castle Rock State Park. If you want to go hiking here…go early! What was planned to be a day of hiking in the park, turned into a short although still pretty 45 minute walk. Due to some serious lack of parking anywhere near the main park entrance, we ended up hopping on another trail a few miles down the road. The Skyline Trail had some nice intermittent views of the south bay, and a nearby overlook gave us a glimpse of the distant ocean.

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Back at home I spent some much needed time in my kitchen, creating some delicious meals and snacks for the week. These no-bake sunflower date balls come together in about 5 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier to create such a tasty snack. I will add that these would be perfect for taking on a hike as well!

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Sunflower Date Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

What to do:

  • Blend ingredients in a food processor until the mixture sticks together. Form the dough into about 10-12 tablespoon size balls.

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A Quick 2-Day Pickled Zucchini Recipe

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Happy belated Fourth of July!

How did you spend your 3 day weekend? I spent mine hiking, picnicking, and watching fireworks.

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AND I made some quick zucchini pickles. Since I’m new to pickling…I started with a quick pickle recipe. I made these on Thursday last week, and was snacking on them Saturday afternoon.

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Quick Zucchini Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups boiling water (for sterilizing jars)
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbl extra virgin olive oil (for pickling)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbl sea salt

Needed Equipment:

  • 2 wide mouth quart mason jars
  • Medium mixing bowl

What to do: 

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and carefully pour 1 cup into each mason jar. Place the lid on the jars and swirl water around (wearing an oven mitt is best, to avoid burning your hand). Allow the jars to rest with the water inside for a minute or so.
  2. While the jars rest, slice the zucchini into thin rounds.
  3. Dump the water out of the jars, and start layering in the zucchini. You’ll want to pack the zucchini in tightly. Add in some fresh chopped dill and garlic powder after every few layers of zucchini.
  4. Once you’ve added all your zucchini to the jars, make your pickling liquid. In a medium bowl mix together 3 cups of boiling water, olive oil, white vinegar, brown sugar, and sea salt. Whisk this mixture together until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  5. Now pour the mixture into your zucchini filled mason jars, dividing it evenly. Tamp down the zucchini to ensure all air bubbles are released. Cover jars with lids and allow them to cool on the counter until room temperature.
  6. Screw the lids on the jars and place in the refrigerator. The pickles will be ready in a day or two.

I’ve read the zucchini should last for around a week, although my pickles might be gone before then.😉 My officemates are excited to taste these pickles, as I’ve been talking about making them for weeks with the promise of bringing some in to share!

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Flowers in Ma Salad: Bachelor Buttons

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Talk about a colorful salad! My bachelor button flowers are finally blooming, just in time for me to add them to some lovely salads. I also acquired the greens, cilantro, and strawberries locally. I bet if I looked a little harder, I could find the other ingredients from a local source as well. Yes, I should do that. 

In an effort to get some more plant-based probiotics in my diet, I’ve made a miso (fermented paste i.e. probiotics) dressing. White miso doesn’t have too strong of a taste, which is good here as I really want to taste all my yummy salad ingredients. The apple cider vinegar also gets you some serious added health points here.

You will have dressing left over from the simple recipe below, to try on a variety of other dishes. Think stirfrys, steamed vegetables, over quinoa, beans, and lentils. Oh the possibilities!

Please note that the pictures on this page are of my lunch….the recipe makes much more than this!

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Bachelor Button & Strawberry Salad with Miso Dressing 

Ingredients: 

Salad

  • 1 medium head each green & red lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked yellow split peas (white beans or chickpeas would also work well here)
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • bachelor button flowers (or other edible flower), for sprinkling on top

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup white miso
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup/agave)

What to do: 

  • Layer all the salad ingredients in a large bowl in the order stated above. This way 1. you’ll have a beautiful bowl to admire before digging in, and 2. you won’t smush the flowers.:)
  • Whisk (or blend) the dressing ingredients together. After portioning out the salad into bowls, drizzle a tablespoon or so of dressing over each bowl. The remaining dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for future salad use or some other dishes mentioned above.

Enjoy my plant-loving friends!

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CSA box inspired Refreshing Red Beet & Quinoa Salad

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This past weekend I got my zen on at the 14th annual Land of Medicine Buddha festival. The festival was a magical experience in the redwoods, filled with Tibetan food, music, a lecture on ancient medicine, buddhist prayer, henna, much more.

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After the festival, I was craving some refreshing food similar to the Tibetan food at the event. With a CSA box’s worth of food in my refrigerator, I was ready to cook!

This refreshing salad combines the best local organic ingredients of beets, cabbage, and parsley, with protein-packed quinoa. It’s served cold, making it the perfect summertime meal for lunch or dinner. The short preparation time and number of ingredients, makes this dish wonderful for beginner chefs as well.

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Refreshing Red Beet and Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Route 1 Farms’ CSA box recipe! Thanks for the inspiration guys.:)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 small head cabbage, shredded
  • 3 medium beets, shredded
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, about 1 cup dry
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

What to do: 

  • Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and allow it to cool completely.
  • In a food processor, shred the cabbage and beets.
  • Chop the parsley.
  • In a large bowl combine the cabbage, beets, parsley, and quinoa, tossing until well mixed.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss once more.
  • Place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to come together. The longer it sits, the more time the vinegar has to soft the cabbage and beets.

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A new bedtime routine: Herbal Tea

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Having a cup of hot tea before bed is a long practiced tradition around the world. Bagged herbal teas found in stores are perfect, as most do not contain any caffeine. Some however do contain actual tea leaves, whether it be white, green, or black. This adds caffeine to your drink and will keep you awake, rather than aiding in sleep. When buying bagged herbal tea in a store, check the label to see if there’s caffeine.

An alternative to buying tea bags, is brewing herbal tea from fresh herbs and flowers you grow yourself.  I’ve started growing a few different herbs  and flowers in my backyard, allowing me to home brew herbal tea daily. Below is a simple oregano tea recipe, to which I add lemon. Any herb you like will work here. Try out different combinations of herbs, edible flowers, and other add-ins such as lemon and ginger. If you’re looking for something to help you fall asleep, try chamomile or lavender.

If you don’t have the space or time to grow herbs yourself, don’t fret. You can find them fresh at the store (or better yet a farmers market). Alternatively, buying dried herbs will also work in colder climates when fresh herbs aren’t available year round.

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Lemon Oregano Herbal Tea

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbl of fresh oregano
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups water

What to do: 

  • Bring the water to a near boil. Boiling the water may crack the teapot (if using a glass one as I am).
  • Place the oregano in a teapot, pouring the water on top.
  • Allow the herbs and the tea to brew for about 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze in the lemon, strain into a cup, and enjoy!

*There are so many ways to make tea. Prepare this however you normally would, subbing the herbs for the tea bag. Other herbs and edible flowers to try include: mint (peppermint, spearmint), thyme, chamomile, lavender, and so many more!

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Vanilla Cashew Milk

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Believe me when I say that once you make your own nut milk, it’s impossible to go back to the store bought version. Yes it is more expensive, however I use milk sparingly anyway so it works for me. Not only does homemade nut milk actually taste like the nut it’s made from (unlike the tasteless watery milk sold in stores), but you get to bypass all those weird additives and binders that come with store-bought milk as well.

Thus far I’ve made cashew, almond, and even peanut milk, all with great success. While it does take a little forethought (you need to soak the nuts for several hours), it’s well worth it. Once you’ve soaked the nuts, it’s incredibly easy to make.

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Vanilla Cashew Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours then drained
  • 4 cups water
  • Pure vanilla extract, cinnamon (both optional)

What to do: 

  • Blend the soaked cashews with 4 cups of water in a high powered blender (such as a Vitamix) until silky smooth.
  • Pour the liquid through a nut bag, straining out any remaining cashew pieces. You can use the strained mixture as a spread on crackers or a dip for fruit and vegetables (depending on if you added the vanilla and cinnamon).
  • Enjoy by the glass, in cereal or oatmeal, in smoothies (see recipe below), and so much more.

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Green smoothie time!!

This smoothie is the perfect breakfast meal, as it’s packed with so many nutrients to help you start your day right.

To name a few…

  1. Vitamin K from the greens
  2. Potassium from the banana
  3. Healthy monounsaturated fat from the cashew milk and avocado
  4. Omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds and flax meal
  5. Protein from the chia seeds
  6. Flavonoid antioxidants from the cocoa powder

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Creamy Green Smoothie with Cashew Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup homemade cashew milk
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup greens of your choice (i.e. kale, swiss chard, spinach)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbl chia seeds
  • 1 tbl flax meal
  • 1 tbl fair-trade cocoa powder

What to do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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Greens & Beans with Radish Top Pesto

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My garden plot is producing ample greens, including kale, chard, tatsoi, mizuna, green lettuce, and arugula. This week I decided to make some pesto using radish greens from the garden and walnuts from the farmers market.

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Greens & Beans with Radish Top Pesto

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 4 cups radish greens, packed
  • 2 cups basil, packed
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 avocado, sliced

What to do: 

To make the pesto: Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-power blend (such as a Vitamix), and blend until smooth.

To make the salad: Combine greens, beans, and carrots in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Top with pesto, vinegar, and sliced avocado.

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