Monday, October 22, 2012

Red Quinoa in a Butternut Squash Bowl

Gather round my vegetarian, vegan and squash loving friends as this one is delish! I love quinoa and up until now I'd only eaten the white variety. Eden is my go to brand and I recently discovered their red quinoaso I decided to give it a try. It seems to hold its shape a bit better once cooked, and it might just be a tad nuttier in flavor. It's also a nice color contrast with the fall squashes. Since I was seriously into making applesauce and had no plans to run to the store, I had to use what was on hand for this meal. I came up with a butternut squash, three sweet red peppers and a Vidalia onion. 

Cut and remove the seeds from the squash, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake them in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about an hour. They're done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Bring two cups of water to a boil, add a cup of red quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed (15-20 minutes).  Slice 3 small sweet red peppers and 1/2 of a sweet onion (cut into thin crescents). Saute both in olive oil until they're soft and just start turning brown.

Place each squash in a shallow bowl and fill the cavity with quinoa. Add the sautéed peppers and onions and toss some rosemary roasted cashews over the top. Sprinkle a little tamari and rice wine vinegar. Serve with a side of lightly dressed greens. I chose arugula  dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The combination of flavors is amazing, and it's a very satisfying meal. I think even a carnivore would enjoy this one.

Oh, and if you have a vegetarian or vegan guest coming for Thanksgiving this might be an option.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pizza Barbone in Hyannis, MA

After a sunny, crisp autumn day paying homage to the delectable bivalve that stands front and center at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival, we stopped at this little gem of a restaurant on Main Street in Hyannis. Following up an afternoon of slurping briny oysters with pizza actually works, and especially when the pizza is really good.

We ordered a white pizza (Bianca Verde) and the meatball pizza, which normally I would shy away from as I make my own and think homemade is better, but I was pleasantly surprised. Their meatballs are delicious, the sauce is freshly made, the crust is chewy and the pizza's not overly salted; allowing you to savor the taste of each ingredient.

We sat at the bar which gives you a bird's-eye view of the pizza creation process. Our young pizza chef could really spin the dough and get a look at that oven. It's impressive!

The wood fired oven was made in Naples, Italy by Stefano Ferrara and shipped to its home here on Cape Cod. We met the owner, Jason O'Toole, whose commitment to quality and service is evident in everything he does. The dining room and kitchen are sparkling clean, he's committed to using fresh local ingredients and the staff is friendly and knowledgable. The menu also features salads, bruschetta, meat and cheese plates and a few daily specials like leg of lamb and freshly made pasta. They serve beer and wine.

It felt like a little slice of Italy to me, so when you're in Hyannis stop in and try it, I think you'll like it.

Pizza Barbone
390 Main Street
Hyannis, MA  02601

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Unprocessed: Making Good Fast Food

There's fast food and there's good fast food and you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to put out a delicious, healthful meal. I've committed to the October Unprocessed food challenge because it's a cause I believe in, and one that I try to live by on a daily basis, but I'm not perfect, so this commitment acts as a gentle reminder of how important real food is to our health and well-being.

Today's supermarkets are stocked with a vast selection of organic veggies, grass-fed meats and wild fish, but there's one finite resource for many of us and it's time. Trying to balance work, family and other responsibilities often leaves us reaching for something quick and easy for dinner, and it's not always the healthiest choice. So when I'm feeling the time crunch I cook up a batch of quinoatake a look at what vegetables I have on hand, or pick a few up at the store, and prepare one of my one bowl wonders. From start to finish it takes about 30 minutes, and even less time if you're using leftover roasted vegetables as I did with this version below.

Start by cooking a batch of quinoa. It's an easy ratio of 2:1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add a cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. It takes about 15-20 minutes. When it's finished remove from the heat and set it aside, covered, while you cook your veggies. For the first one pictured I sautéed peppers, carrots and peas in about a tablespoon of olive oil until tender, then added some chopped collard greens and cooked it for another 3-4 minutes. Serve the veggies over the quinoa, add the roasted nuts and sprinkle with a little tamari sauce and rice vinegar.  

Roasted Nuts with Rosemary
Almonds or Cashew
Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt
Finely chopped rosemary (1 tsp for each 9oz or 225g of nuts)

Lightly coat the nuts of your choice with olive oil. Add the rosemary and salt and mix well. Roast in a 375 degree oven until the nuts begin to brown. Sprinkle a handful over your veggies. They add flavor and a nice crunch to the dish. They're also great as a little nibble at a dinner party.

If you happen to have leftover roasted veggies, or feel like roasting some, use those instead of the sautéed version. This is a good way to use up what's hanging around in your vegetable bin. The other day I roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. I also peeled and sliced the broccoli stems and roasted them, too. They're delicious and so good for you. Get creative, substitute your favorite vegetables and switch up your greens. Bake a sweet potato, mash it and add it to the quinoa.  The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Artichoke Extraordinaire

Why such a grand name? It's all in the sauce actually. I steamed up two beautiful artichokes the other night, which I've done on numerous occasions, but this time I did something a little special with the broth. Using it as a base, I created a pretty delicious, heck let's just say extraordinary, sauce. 

Start by trimming the stem and pointy ends of the leaves so they'll sit nicely in a pan, and you won't get stabbed when you eat them. Add a couple inches of water to a heavy sauce pan, pour in a tablespoon of good olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Add the artichokes and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and turn to low (so they maintain a slow boil) and cook until the leaves pull out easily (approximately 50 minutes). Remove the artichokes and cover to keep them warm.  Remove any leaves that may be floating in the water.  Drain the liquid until there's a 1/2 inch remaining in the bottom of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until this reduces by half. Add another tablespoon of butter and cook it slowly so the sauce just starts to thicken a bit.

Pour  over the steamed artichoke, then give them a good healthy squeeze of fresh lemon and sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese. I used Pecorino Romano. Dive in and enjoy! This butter and lemon sauce is infused with artichoke flavor and would also be great over pasta. You could pour it over cappellini and just plop that artichoke on top. After you've eaten the leaves and cleaned off the artichoke bottom, smash it up and mix it into the pasta.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Morning Mocktail

I haven't taken to having a cocktail at the crack of dawn, but when I poured this morning's smoothie into a glass it looked like one, so here's a peek at my morning mocktail. As we continue to explore fruit and vegetable combinations using the Vitamix, I've found that adding a little avocado produces a rich, creamy consistency. Plus, avocados are a nutrient-dense food that contain many essential vitamins needed to maintain optimum health. Visit to learn more. 

Starting the day with this blast of fresh, wholesome goodness really agrees with us. My daughter requests them every morning, and she's open to whatever combination I put in front of her, but this didn't happen overnight. We started with fruit smoothies and transitioned over to the fruit and vegetable combinations. Ally grew up eating fresh whole foods which definitely gives us an advantage, however, I've met kids who've grown up on a processed food diet that are willing to trying new things. It's takes a little bit of time and some experimentation, but the results are well worth it. Recently I've noticed an awareness developing amongst her friends about the connection between diet and good health, so I'll happily do everything I can to support that interest as our well being depends on it.

My Morning Mocktail
Yields: Approximately 1 Quart/ 1000ml

1 ripe pear, quartered and cored
1 green apple, quartered and cored
4 leaves of kale
3 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 bag Cascadian Harvest Berries
1 small english cucumber or 1/3 of a large one
1 orange, peeled, or 1 cup of orange juice
1 lime, peeled
1 handful of fresh cranberries
1 handful of almonds
1 healthy pinch of sesame seeds
1 healthy pinch of unsweetened coconut
1 cup of water
1 handful of ice

I prefer using all organic fruits and vegetables. Place all ingredients in the Vitamix and begin blending on variable (this is the toggle switch that controls the blending speed) and turn the speed dial to 3 or 4. Once the ingredients come together switch to high speed and increase the speed dial to 7 or 8. Blend until smooth and creamy. If you're using a regular blender start out slowly and once the ingredients come together turn to high, then blend until smooth. Here's to a happy, healthy start to your day. Raise your glass and let's toast to good health!

Note: If you like your smoothie a bit thinner just add another cup of water before mixing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Big Apple Crisp

It's that time of year when my friend shows up with Macoun apples from The Big Apple in Wrentham, MA. For now we just eat them daily, savoring every tart, tangy and crispy bite, but in a few weeks Lee and I will be making our annual boatload of applesauce.

So as is our tradition when the first batch of Macouns arrives, I make an apple crisp. This particular version is on the healthy side and it's gluten-free. So if you're looking for something delicious, but a bit less sweet, then give it a try.

The Big Apple Crisp
Serves 4

4 Macoun apples, peeled and sliced
2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4-5 pats of butter (optional)
1 cup of vanilla almond granola or your favorite brand

Place the apples and pears in a bowl, add the syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, almond extract, and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and distribute the pats of butter on the top. Cover with the granola. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the apples are soft and bubbly. Halfway through the cooking process push the granola into the cooked apples to absorb some of the juice. This will crisp up the topping a bit more.

Allow the crisp to cool a bit before eating so you can enjoy the taste of the almond and vanilla flavorings. Happy Fall!

Note: If you love almonds like I do, then go ahead and throw a handful in with the apples for a bit of extra crunch.