Sauteed Sweet Plantains

sweet plantains recipe

Sauteed Sweet Plantains recipe
serves 2

Inspired by Cuban-style sweet plantains called maduros, these sauteed sweet plantains make a perfect side dish to salty or savory dishes like black beans and rice or roasted meat. Unlike maduros, they are not deep-fried, only lightly sauteed in coconut oil so the end result is a bit lighter. You’ll want to find the ripest plantains you can: yellow plantains that have turned black on the outside. Yellow plantains with black spots can also be used, just know that your final dish will be slightly starchier and less sweet. Green plantains are very starchy and not sweet and should not be used here.

2 very ripe plantains (blackened on the outside)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch of salt

  1. Peel plantains by slicing off the very ends and making a long, shallow slice down the side of the plantain through the skin only. Then peel off the skin like a jacket. Slice the plantains on a bias into 1/4” thick coins.

  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium and add coconut oil. Saute plantains (in batches if necessary) for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Then add the maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and stir to coat evenly. Let the maple syrup cook down until each plantain has a very thin, sweet, sticky coating on the outside. Remove to a plate and let cool slightly before serving.

Turmeric Latte

turmeric latte recipe

Turmeric Spice Latte recipe
serves 1

Make reducing inflammation a calming part of your daily routine with this Turmeric Spice Latte. Turmeric teas and milks have been popular for centuries in places like India and Japan and they are just starting to pop up in coffee shops around the U.S. The presence of fat (coconut oil) and black pepper in this recipe actually increase the bioavailability of the turmeric, so don’t skip them. You can play around with how you serve this, either blending like I do here or straining out any solids for a more gently flavored brew. Feel free to sub in 1/2 teaspoon of powdered, dried turmeric and/or ginger as well if you don’t have fresh.

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (my homemade recipe is below)
1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric (peeled)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of black pepper
pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon coconut sugar or honey (optional)

1. In small pot, gently simmer almond milk, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cardamom for 5-10 minutes.

2. Transfer mixture to blender and add coconut oil and coconut sugar if using. Blend until smooth and frothy. Serve garnished with more black pepper.

*Homemade Almond Milk recipe
makes 3 cups

1 cup raw almonds
3 cups filtered water
optional flavorings: pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon maple syrup

1. Soak almonds in plenty of cold, fresh water for 12-24 hours.

2. Drain off water. In a high powered blender, combine almonds and 3 cups filtered water and blend for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Strain through a nut milk bag or a few layers of cheesecloth and add sea salt and maple syrup if using. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Fig and Arugula Salad with Shiitake Bacon

fig and arugula salad with shiitake bacon

Fig and Arugula Salad with Shiitake Bacon
serves 4

Figs provide an interesting sweetness to this balsamic dressing. This salad can be modified for a lot of diets: Add white beans or chickpeas for a vegan lunch, seared halloumi or feta for vegetarian, or seared steak or roasted chicken for a paleo or paleo AIP meal. (Skip the smoked paprika for AIP and try smoked salt instead with less coconut aminos.) And before you get on my case, no this shiitake isn’t really at all like bacon, but it is smoky, salty, crispy and a little sweet and provides a similar potent bite to a salad.

salad:
generous drizzles of avocado oil
3.5 ounce shiitakes, stemmed and sliced into 1/4” slices
4 teaspoons coconut aminos
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/4” half-moons
12 misson figs, thinly sliced
5 ounces baby arugula
salt

fig vinaigrette:
2 mission figs, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Toss shiitakes with 2 teaspoons of avocado oil plus the coconut aminos, and smoked paprika. Bake shiitakes on a parchment lined sheet tray for 30-35 minutes until dark, glazed, and slightly crispy. Remove to cool and they will crisp up a little more. (I actually made these in my toaster oven so I could cook my sweet potatoes at the same time.)

  2. Preheat oven to 425. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast on a parchment0lined sheet tray for 30 minutes.

  3. Make vinaigrette: in a blender combine figs, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and blend until smooth.

  4. Assemble salads: combine arugula, roasted sweet potatoes, sliced figs and shiitake bacon. Toss with vinaigrette.

Butternut Squash N'oatmeal

butternut squash noatmeal recipe

Butternut Squash N’oatmeal recipe
serves 4

Trying to get more veggies into your breakfast? Try pureed starchy veggies instead of oatmeal. For this recipe, I used frozen squash and cooked it up in the Instant Pot, but you could easily make this on the stovetop too. Butternut squash is a good source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Keep it simple by just adding spices and a banana for sweetness or add fat and protein to make it more filling with coconut milk and almond butter. Use my coconut cube trick to save leftover coconut milk.

2 lbs frozen cubed butternut squash
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup almond butter
1 banana
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

  1. Cook frozen squash, coconut milk, cinnamon, and ginger in the Instant Pot on high for 3 minutes and quick pressure release. (Or cook on stovetop until defrosted and combined, about 15-20 minutes. You may need to add a splash or two of water.)

  2. Add almond butter and banana and blend with an immersion blender. (You could also use a potato masher or food processor.) Stir in desiccated coconut and serve. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated or even frozen.

One-bowl Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

vegan and paleo gingerbread cookies

One-bowl Vegan Gingerbread Cookies recipe
makes 2 dozen

Spice cookies like chewy molasses cookies and gingerbread are all-time favorite holiday treat. I love that they aren’t quite as sugary as most sweets and that they take well to natural sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut sugar, or molasses. For the past few years, I’ve been making different spice cookies from various blogs and combining them and adjusting them, and this recipe here is my own version that I’ve landed on. A couple tips: any rolled and cut-out cookie needs to have the dough chilled, otherwise they will be a mess. Also don’t skip the arrowroot—it gives the cookies a little snap, plus you’ll want extra for rolling out the dough.

3 cups blanched almond flour (find it here*)
1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup arrowroot (find it here*) plus extra for rolling
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsulphured blackstrap molasses

  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, black pepper, sea salt, baking soda and arrowroot. Stir together with a fork or a whisk so that there are no large clumps remaining.

  2. With a rubber spatula, stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and molasses. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 4 half sheet trays with parchment paper. Once dough has chilled, cut it in half and press into a flat disk. Using arrowroot like flour, roll out dough until it’s 1/4” thick, continuously flipping and dusting with arrowroot so that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies and then peel away the excess. Transfer cookies to the sheet trays and bake in batches for 12-14 minutes. Continue with the rest of the dough and re-roll any excess to make more cookies.

  4. Let cookies cool on racks completely and then transfer to an airtight container if not serving immediately.

Note: To make a quick icing for these, combine about 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and just enough water to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over cookies and let dry overnight if you want to stack them.

*affiliate link

Apple Cider Sangria

apple cider sangria recipe

Apple Cider Sangria recipe
makes 8 cups

Mulled apple cider and sangria might sound like an odd pair but they are actually a perfect mashup. My favorite sangria when I lived in Spain was steeped in cinnamon sticks so the fall spices seem like a natural pairing to me. Plus the sweet fruity cider takes the place of plain white sugar giving you more dimension and seasonality plus making it overall much less sweet. Typically sangria is spiked with brandy or cognac, but I added Koval Ginger Liqueur instead to add a little more sweetness and spice.

4 cups unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves
3 black peppercorns
1 star anise
1 750 ml bottle of Spanish red wine (I used a Rioja tempranillo)
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (I used a Pink Lady)
1/4 cup ginger liqueur (optional)
1 cup club soda
for garnishing: coconut sugar or brown sugar for rims of glasses, ice, extra cinnamon sticks and star anise

  1. In a medium pot, simmer apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and star anise for 15 minutes or until reduced by 1/2. Strain and let cool. (Use an ice bath to cool down quickly.)

  2. To a pitcher, add mulled, cooled cider, red wine, sliced apple, ginger liqueur, and club soda. Add ice and extra cinnamon sticks and star anise to serve.

Millet and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash

millet and kale stuffed squash

Millet and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe
Serves 8

I decided to do a twist on my favorite holiday vegan main dish (my Quinoa, Cranberry and Squash Bake) and instead make a stuffed squash version. I subbed millet (a gluten-free grain that cooks up similar to couscous) for the quinoa and used currants instead of the cranberries, and folded in some kale because I can’t help myself. I love the flavor of sage in holiday dishes, but feel free to sub rosemary or your favorite combination of wintry herbs.

4 acorn squashes
Drizzle of grapeseed oil
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red onion or 2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mixed mushrooms, stemmed and chopped into 1/4” cubes
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely minced
2 cups lacinato kale, shredded
1/2 cup dried currants
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Cut acorn squashes in half and scoop out seeds (if they are very large, cut into quarters).  Drizzle with grapeseed oil and roast for 30 minutes cut side down. Flip over and roast for 20 minutes cut side up.  

  2. In a small pot, heat drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add millet, stirring for 3 minutes or until toasty.  Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

  3. In a large skillet, heat another drizzle of olive oil and and saute onion/shallots and garlic for 3 minutes.  Then add mushrooms and sage and cook until liquid is released and evaporated, about 10 minutes. Wilt in kale and season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir in dried currants and cooked millet.

  4. Assemble stuffed squashes: Take a scoop of millet filling and place into center of each squash.  You may have 1-2 cups of leftover filling depending on your squash size.





Homemade Elderberry Syrup

homemade elderberry syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup recipe

During cold and flu season, I’m constantly making trips to Walgreens and Whole Foods to pick up my beloved elderberry syrup. So this year, I decided to make my own with some added chai spices like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. Find dried elderberries online (I bought these ones). You’ll need sugar or honey to make the syrup longer lasting (I’ll be keeping these in my fridge for a few weeks.) As will all herbs and herbal supplements, consult a doctor before consuming.

1 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons grated ginger
5 cloves
5 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup raw honey

  1. Add all the ingredients except for honey to a small pot and simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and push the solids with a wooden spoon against the mesh to extract all the juice. You should have 1 cup of liquid.

  2. Let cool for 10 minutes then stir in honey to dissolve. Transfer to small bottles and store in the fridge.

Sheet Pan Salmon and Broccolini

sheet pan salmon and broccolini

Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccolini recipe
Serves 2

Sheet pan dinners are perfect for beginners in the kitchen or anyone who wants a night off from dishes. If you are creating your own sheet pan recipes, you have to be conscious that all your ingredients take the same amount of time to cook. For this recipe you can sub broccoli or cauliflower for the broccolini. If you use cauliflower, just cut it a bit smaller. Cauliflower is denser than broccoli so typically takes longer to cook.

2 6-ounce salmon portions, skin on
1 tablespoon tamari (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 bunches broccolini (1 lb)
Grapeseed oil, salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a half sheet tray with parchment paper.

  2. Place salmon in center of sheet tray and season with salt and pepper.  

  3. In a small bowl, mix tamari, dijon, garlic and 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil.  Spoon mixture over filets and let marinate 10 minutes.

  4. Slice any large broccolinis vertically to make them all a uniform thickness.  Then toss with more grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and arrange around salmon.

  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked (thinner fish will cook more quickly and thicker fish will take longer) and broccolini is crispy.


Wild Salmon Poke Bowl

poke bowl recipe

Wild Salmon Poke Bowl recipe
serves 2

I loved the poke bowl idea ever since I was introduced to it a few years ago. Derived from the Hawaiian grocery store staple poke (a raw fish salad usually made with ahi tuna), poke bowls combine the fish with all sorts of colorful vegetables, rice, and seasonings. I love bowl meals like this because they are flexible and allow me to create different meals on weeknights with a lot of the same ingredients. Be sure to use sushi grade fish that’s been properly handled (i.e. defrosted in the fridge and not on the counter). I used King salmon from my fish CSA, Sitka Salmon Shares, so the instructions are written assuming you have a sushi-grade frozen fish but fresh fish would obviously be great too.

for poke:
8 ounces of Sitka King salmon
1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari
1/2 teaspoon of kelp flakes (can sub nori flakes or furikake)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

for bowls:
1 cup cooked sushi rice or short grain white rice
Cabbage Slaw (see recipe below)
Roasted Maple Squash (see recipe below)
optional garnishes: microgreens, sliced avocado, sesame seeds, chopped nuts

1. Prepare salmon by defrosting for 24 hours in the refrigerator in the vacuum packaging.  (Since the poke is served raw, you shouldn’t defrost on the counter or using hot water.)  Before slicing, place salmon in packaging back in the freezer for 10 minutes—this will help it slice more cleanly.  Then using tweezers, remove any pin bones and using a sharp knife, cut skin off salmon.  Cut salmon into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a glass bowl. 

2. Toss with shoyu/tamari, kelp flakes, honey, scallion, and toasted sesame oil and chill in fridge for 10 minutes while you assemble the rest of your poke bowl with rice, slaw, squash, and garnishes. 

*Cabbage Slaw recipe
serves 2 

3 cups sliced purple cabbage
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
salt to taste

1.  In a large bowl, combine cabbage, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and salt and massage lightly with your hands to break down cabbage.  Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.   

*Roasted Maple Squash recipe
serves 2

1 kabocha squash (or butternut, acorn, red kuri), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1. Preheat oven to 425.  On a parchment-lined sheet tray, toss squash cubes with maple, oil and salt and roast until tender and golden, 25-35 minutes.

Vegan and Gluten-free Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

vegan mac and cheese with broccoli

Vegan and Gluten-free Mac and Cheese recipe
Serves 4

Yes I know this shouldn’t be called Mac and Cheese since there is no cheese and not even real pasta. BUT this creamy pasta recipe really hits the spot when you are craving something cozy and gooey, plus it’s a meal in a bowl that we never mind having leftovers of. One tip: don’t skip the tomato paste. Cashew sauces tend to skew very sweet, so you need to add plenty of salt plus something acidic (like tomatoes) to get a sauce more similar to cheese.

12 oz fusili rice pasta
1 head of broccoli cut into florets (stems saved for curry)
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup teaspoon nutritional yeast
Sriracha to taste (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Cook pasta a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.  In last 1 minute of cooking, add broccoli florets. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool down.

2. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil and saute chopped onion until it softens, about 5 minutes.  Add minced garlic, granulated garlic, onion powder, turmeric and tomato paste and stir. Add chopped potatoes, cashews, and 2 cups of water.  Simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes.

3. Add ingredients from skillet to a blender along with nutritional yeast and sriracha if using.  Blend until smooth adding water to get desired sauce consistency. (I used 1/2 cup.) Taste sauce and season with salt to taste--you’ll probably need more than you expect because real cheese is salty!

4. Return pasta and broccoli to pot and add enough sauce to coat.  You may have some extra sauce. Save for topping veggies, for tacos, or for vegan nachos.

Raspberry Campari Spritz

raspberry campari spritz

Raspberry Campari Spritz recipe
makes 1 spritz

It's not summer without a Spritz!  Here's my new favorite variation on this classic Italian aperitivo.  I use Campari instead of Aperol for a stronger bitter flavor and then a dash of kombucha for fizz and a little probiotic punch.  I used GT's Trilogy flavor (raspberry, lemon, ginger) but you could try plain or another citrusy or fruity flavor that you like.  Raspberries and oranges make the perfect festive garnish.

1 ounce Campari
2 ounces kombucha (I used GT's Trilogy Kombucha)
3 ounces prosecco
ice
raspberries and orange slices

1. In your largest/most ridiculous wine glass, combine Campari, kombucha, and prosecco.  Top with ice, raspberries, and orange slices then head outside and sit on a patio.

Scallion Sardine Cakes

sardine cakes recipe

In my Omega 3 Fish class, I sing the praises of canned sardines because they hit the gold standards for sustainable seafood, affordability, low mercury content, and of course, high Omega 3 content.  The only issue is that they are really fishy tasting.  (Actually all high Omega 3 fish will be because the high fat/oil content is also what keeps that fishy taste.)  Plus most of the sardine recipes out there combine them with toast, pasta, or breadcrumbs which is fine, but not necessarily the best option if you want to include more anti-inflammatory ingredients in your diet.  These cakes (a play on crab cakes) have been my go-to pantry way to make a sardine dinner.  I find the Asian seasonings help fight the fishiness but you can also try them with Mediterranean seasonings like garlic and parsley instead.  Serve with a big side of veggies like roasted broccoli or sauteed kale.

Scallion Sardine Cakes recipe
serves 2

for cakes:
2 4.4-ounce cans of sardines (in oil or water; with bones or without)
1 egg
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon tamari
1/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
salt and pepper
drizzle of grapeseed oil

for dipping sauce:
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 tablespoons mayo

1. Drain sardines and lightly mash in a small mixing bowl with a fork.  Add egg, scallions, ginger, garlic, tamari and arrowroot.  Combine into an even mixture with a fork.  (Sardines will continue to break up which is great.)  The mixture may look a little wet but it will still hold together because of the egg.  If it looks super wet or isn't holding together you can add more arrowroot.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet and drizzle a little grapeseed oil.  Form tablespoon-sized patties and fry lightly until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.  You should have 10 patties.

3. Combine Sriracha and mayo for dipping sauce and serve immediate with cakes.  They make good leftovers too!

Veggie Breakfast Bowl

veggie breakfast bowl recipe

Veggie bowls like this one have become morning staples for me.  I prep a big container full of chopped up cooked veggies on Sunday and then have them ready to go to just reheat on weekday mornings.  Typically I top with an egg, but take a look at my suggestions below on how to modify for your diet and dietary needs.  This has been my go-to for the mystery veggies in my CSA box that I don't know quite what to do with.  You can really make this with any veggies--this is just what I had on hand this week!

Veggie Breakfast Bowl recipe
serves 3-4

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 portabello mushrooms caps, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 lb green beans, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems chopped into 1/2" pieces
salt and pepper
topping of choice (see below)

1. In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil and add minced garlic.  Stir for 30 seconds until garlic is aromatic but not brown.  Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes until they release their juices.  Add chopped green beans and Swiss chard stems and saute for 5 minutes more.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to help sauteing process if it seems to dry.  Finish by wilting in chard leaves and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Top as desired and store extras.

Topping suggestions for each serving portion:
protein: 1-2 fried or scrambled eggs; 1/2 cup black beans; 1/2 cup chickpeas; 3 oz seared tofu; 1/4 lb ground meat
fat: 1/4-1/2 avocado; 2 tablespoons tahini; 1/4 cup sesame seeds or cashews; guacamole
probiotic: 2 tablespoons naturally fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi; 1/4 cup plain goat, cow, or nondairy yogurt seasoned with lemon and salt
flavor: crumbly cheese like feta or queso fresco; quick pickled onions or veggies; squeeze of lemon; Sriracha or other hot sauce; salsa; dulse flakes

Other veggie combo ideas:
These veggies may have different cooking times or methods, so cook as you would normally, but you can still saute or combine them together as a breakfast bowl.

sweet potatoes + spinach + cauliflower
beets + kale + summer squash
brocoli + squash + scallions
red onion + shiitake mushrooms + collard greens
asparagus + zucchini + potatoes

Zafrani Chai

zafrani chai recipe

There are certain comfort foods from childhood that you just can't replace.  For me, South Asian-style masala chai is one of them.  Here, I'm sharing how to make authentic masala tea with one unique twist: the addition of saffron.  I got the idea when I met with the founder of Heray Spice and we did a taste test with saffron from his family's farm in Afghanistan.  I'd seen YouTube videos of saffron masala tea (or zafrani chai) from Pakistan and put it together with the way that I typically make masala chai.  Here I use coconut sugar instead of white sugar because I like its caramel taste and it reminds me of the less processed sugar varieties (like jaggery) that you'll find in India and Pakistan.  I have masala chai all the time with nondairy milk, and it's good, but it's almost a totally different beverage.  So here I've given you the traditional whole milk preparation as well as suggestions for going dairy-free. 

Zafrani Chai recipe
makes 2 small servings

1 cup water
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
2 cloves
3 black peppercorns
pinch of saffron
2 black tea bags (or 4 teaspoons loose leaf black tea)
1 cup whole milk (see directions below to sub nondairy milk)
2-3 teaspoons coconut sugar

1. In a small pot heat water with cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and saffron.  Let simmer on low for 10 minutes.

2. Add black tea and milk and let simmer on low an additional 10 minutes.  Strain and serve in two small tea cups or glasses garnished with additional saffron threads.

Note: Typically masala chai is made with dairy milk that is simmered along with the spices and tea.  However, when I've tried this method with nondairy alternatives, I find they tend to get a weird consistency and separate.  If you want to make this dairy-free, simmer the spices, tea and sugar with water only and then add your non-dairy milk of choice and let it heat up but not boil.  My favorite kind is actually soy milk (creamier) but you can also try almond or coconut milk.

Watermelon Chaat

watermelon fruit chaat

Watermelon Chaat
serves 8

Chaat is a blanket term in Indian and Pakistani cuisine that refers to all kinds of street food and snacks.  Fruit chaat is often simply cut fruit, sometimes with a sweetened syrup and even sometimes with hot and savory spices.  For this chaat, I skipped the savory spices to make it more Americanized and topped with lime, honey, and black sesame seeds.  Fruit salads can be bland or have too many mismatched fruits so this salad uses a few of my favorite decadent fruits like cherries and blackberries along with more affordable watermelon.  

6 cups cubed watermelon
2 cups pitted cherries, cut in half
2 cups blackberries
1 tablespoon honey
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1. Assemble a platter with the watermelon, cherries, and blackberries.  Whisk together honey and lime juice and drizzle over fruit.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Spinach Gomae

spinach gomae recipe

Spinach Gomae recipe
serves 6

This Japanese-style preparation of greens has become one of my go-to ways to cook up a batch of greens for the week.  This recipe is traditionally made with spinach, I use all kinds of greens, especially the tops of veggies like beets, turnips, and radishes that come in my CSA. I'll cook thin stems like spinach but skip woodier ones like kale or collards. Although boiling seems to have gone out of fashion in the health-sphere, this method tenderizes the greens while removing their bitterness and perhaps increasing the bioavailability of some nutrients.  If you don't have a suribachi or mortar and pestle.  You can buzz up the sesame seeds in a spice grinder or blender or simply leave them whole.

2 lbs spinach or leafy greens, washed
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a pan
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil.  Add spinach/greens, pushing down and let cook for 2 minutes only.  Strain and run under cold water.  Squeeze out extra liquid and place on a cutting board.  Run your knife through it a few times and place on a platter.

2. Take toasted sesame seeds in a suribachi or mortar and pestle.  Grind sesame seeds until they crumble but you still have a little texture.  Add maple, mirin, tamari and sesame oil and mix together.  Drizzle over spinach to taste.

Ingredient notes:

*Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine.  I buy Eden Foods brand at Whole Foods.  Many cheaper brands are often filled with corn syrup.  If you can't find it, I'd add an extra teapsoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of rice vinegar.

*Tamari is a Japanese-style soy sauce that's gluten-free.  Use any kind of soy sauce you like.  If you are watching your sodium, simply use less or try a low-sodium version or Coconut Aminos.  

Grilled Fingerling Potato Salad

grilled fingerling potato salad recipe

Grilled Fingerling Potato Salad recipe
serves 4-6 as a side dish

Grilling potatoes is a great way to modernize the potluck classic of potato salad.  Instead of a cold, creamy dish, we’ll serve this warm and amp up the smokiness of grilled potatoes and the brightness of the vinaigrette. Try using a grill pan or roasting the potatoes at 425 for 25 minutes if you are cooking indoors.

1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb haricots verts or green beans
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil.  Add fingerlings and cook until just barely cooked through—you actually want them slightly undercooked.  Use a fine mesh strainer or tongs to remove potatoes so you still have simmering water.  Rinse potatoes quickly in cold water to cool down until you can handle them and cut them in half vertically.

2. Whisk together vinaigrette: combine grapeseed oil, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, oregano, mustard and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Toss about 1/3 of the dressing.

3. To simmering water, add haricots verts or green beans and let cook for 2-3 minutes until just tender.  Drain and rinse under cold water, shake off all excess and put in a serving bowl.

4. Grill marinated potatoes cut side down until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.  Remove to serving bowl and toss with haricots verts and about 1/2 of the remaining dressing.  Taste and season for more salt and add more dressing as desired.  Save any extra for salads or other items for the grill.

This recipe is part of the Here's to Your Health event series sponsored by Here and presented at Mariano's in Summer 2018.  Find more details here

Oat Milk

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Oat Milk recipe
makes 3 cups

Oat milk is a more sustainable and affordable alternative to almond milk that's been popping up at a lot of coffee shops lately.  Oats require less water to grow than almonds and are a Midwestern crop, which means I can source them locally if I like.  You can use either steel cut oats or rolled oats to make oat milk--I chose steel cut oats here because you are less likely to overprocess them in the blender (and make a slimy milk) and the remaining oat pulp is easy to fold into any kind of oatmeal for the next few days.  The oat milk and pulp will taste best if consumed within 3 days--store both in the fridge.  Soaking the oats for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight also helps make sure the final product is not slimy.

1 cup steel cut oats, soaked for 30 minutes in water
3 cups filtered water

helpful tool: a nut milk bag (I use this one*)
optional flavorings: pinch of sea salt, 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Strain and rinse soaked steel cut oats in a fine mesh strainer.  Combine in the blender with 3 cups filtered water and blend on medium for 10-15 seconds.  (Don't worry about it being totally smooth; overprocessing can make it slimy.)

2. Strain mixture through the fine mesh strainer into a bowl and remove and store oat pulp.  Pass oat milk through the nut milk bag into a quart mason jar (or whatever you'd like to store in it) to get the finer pieces of pulp out.  Store in the fridge for 3 days.

*affiliate link

DIY Flavored Sparkling Water

DIY flavored sparkling water recipe

DIY Flavored Sparkling Water recipes

Save yourself the effort of hauling a case of LaCroix up the stairs and start making your own naturally infused sparkling waters!  Fresh juices or even pureed fruit makes a great base and I also like to used brewed herbal teas like mint, peach rooibos, or hibiscus.  Fresh berries, citrus and fresh herbs all make great garnishes.  Typically 1 ounce of mixer to 4 ounces of club soda or sparkling water is a good ratio--use about 1/2 ounce for super tart ingredients like lemon and lime.  Here are a few recipes:

Grapefruit Sparkling Water
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
4 ounces club soda
slice of grapefruit

1. Mix in a glass and top with ice.

Lemongrass Lemon Sparkling Water
1 ounce brewed lemongrass tea
4 ounces club soda
slice of lemon

1. Mix in a glass and top with ice.

Mint Mojito Sparkling Water
1/2 ounce lime juice
4 ounces club soda
1 sprig of mint

1. Mix in a glass at top with ice.  Tear or muddle the mint to get more of the flavor infused.