“Pretty Beet Salad”

Several years ago a friend took me to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in San Francisco called Postrio. They offered a tasting menu with a simply stated “beet salad” as the second course.  I went ahead and ordered it no real expectations.

When it came to my table, I almost gasped.  There were small little yellow and purple beets interspersed with edible flowers, little colorful smears of still unidentified “deliciousness” of all shapes and colors, along with little pieces of cheese.

“The plate honestly looked like some kind of masterpiece.”

Postrio did such an amazing job, it is still the most impressive food plating I’ve seen anytime, anywhere!

Here is my amateur attempt at trying to recreate this Postrio beet plate:

I love beet salad, but for years I was completely intimidated to even think of cooking them.  I only started incorporating beets into my recipes a few years ago but now they’re a part of my favorite “make ahead” salads to keep in the fridge.

The bright purple hue of the beets should alert you to the fact these things are filled with anti-oxidants and lots of good things for the body. By serving the salad with a delicious orange-olive oil dressing you totally “power up” the nutritional value and profile as well. 

My version of the “Pretty Beet Salad” is really easy, super healthy,  stores in the fridge well, and can be thrown together in a very short period of time.  If you haven’t worked with beets before I highly recommend using latex gloves with a good apron, because they are messy and can turn your hand and clothes purple real fast. I used purple beets but you can use golden beets as well.  Mix it up and play around with this dish. Have some fun calibrating it to your own tastes.

This recipe  is small and only for 2 people because I typically just cook for my boyfriend and I.  Plus, due to the mess, I prefer working only with a few beets at a time!


“I LOVED beet salad when I was going through chemo therapy. The beets with the bright orange flavors from the dressing and the zest, really knocked out the yucky chemo taste.”

Ingredients:

  • 4 beets
  • 1/4 of a red onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 ounce goat cheese, zest of 1 half of an orange, edible flowers
  • Orange vinaigrette recipe, recipe follows

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wash and dry the beets and trim off the ends
  3. Take a large sheet of aluminum foil, fold in half and use to line a baking dish
  4. Put the beets in the middle, drizzle with the olive oil, water and season with salt and pepper
  5. Bake in the oven until beets are tender and you can easily pierce with a knife, approx. 1 hour or so
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool
  7. When cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin and slice into julienne pieces (or to your preference)
  8. Chill in fridge until you are ready to make the salad!
  9. When ready to serve, lightly toss the beets with 2 tablespoons of the bright orange vinaigrette or just plain olive oil and diced red onions
  10. Plate one serving of the beets  and sprinkle with optional goat cheese, orange zest or edible flowers
  11. Drizzle with any additional dressing, serve and enjoy!


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Bright Citrus Vinaigrette with Orange Zest

I recently attended a dinner series at the Stillheart Institute in Woodside California. With chefs from Bauman College in Berkeley preparing food. Our second course was a beautiful simple green salad with blackberries and a light vinaigrette – I fell in love with it.After asking about the ingredients, I learned it was just a simple olive oil, fresh orange and white vinegar dressing.

Yesterday when I was making my “Pretty Beet Salad” I knew this vinaigrette was  exactly what it needed. The flavors mixed with the beets were delicious! I am excited about it’s simplicity and versatility.

This recipe is for a 2 person serving, but can be doubled or tripled depending on what your needs are. As always, have fun playing with the different flavors and ingredients, make it your own! Try varying the amount of olive oil or adding some fresh herbs!

This can be served with the “Pretty Beet Salad” or with your own favorite dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 half orange juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
  • Optional:  Zest of orange, red onions, shallots

Directions:

  • Whisk together
  • Drizzle over salad

 

 



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Raw Coconut Banana Chai Spiced “Shake” (Vegan, Raw)

I love healthy smoothies. and I’ve been tooling around for years coming up with all different flavors and ingredients.  I thought I would share my new favorite.

My two favorite thickeners are coconut “cubes” (just coconut milk frozen in an ice cube tray) and frozen banana slices.   I also like to have the following items in my freezer at all times, frozen pureed fruit, almond milk, coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato purees, and wine (yes I even freeze leftover wine to make cubes for sautes).

The frozen coconut cubes and the bananas both give a really creamy depth that can make almost any  smoothie taste like a “real” shake made with ice cream.  When I am craving something sweet like soft serve ice cream I pop  a bunch of frozen and unfrozen banana slices with cinnamon and nutmeg into the high speed blender to make a bowl of  creamy goodness, which you would swear is made with real cream.

So imagine my “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this” moment a couple of weeks ago when “The Diva Dish”  blogger posted a recipe for a “Coconut Vanilla Chai Milkshake” , containing lots of ingredients I usually use in smoothies.  I embedded the link to “The Diva Dish”  recipe as well, but posted my own version with a few alterations here.  Thanks Diva!

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk (regular or low calorie… I used low calorie)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 6 coconut milk ices cubes
  • 1 tsp ginger (fresh or powdered)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp allspice or pumpkin pie spice

Optional Add Ins or Exchanges:

  • For a much richer and creamier shake use 1 cup coconut milk instead of almond milk
  • For a healthier drink with protein add in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder. I use Tera’s Whey from Whole Foods
  • For more  Omega 3’s and antioxidants 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds or White Chia Seeds
  • To make a little sweeter add some  liquid stevia, powdered stevia or certified organic agave nectar
  • Reduce  coconut/almond milk or add more bananas for a thicker shake, or add more coconut/almond milk for a less thick shake

Directions:

  • Blend all ingredients in a blender or Vita Mix until creamy.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon and Enjoy




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Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Vegetables


I had been wanting to try out some new coconut green curry recipes and found a version of this recipe posted on the “Epicurious” FB page last week. (Click here for Epicurious Recipe)  This particular recipe had all the flavors I loved, seemed fairly quick and easy. This made it a perfect base for a “Chicken Green Curry” or a “Vegetarian Green Curry” to come up with of my own.

So over this past weekend I tried out the recipe three ways.  With chicken, with shrimp, and then, a “Super Veggie” version. I found the vegetarian version, on this particular occasion, to be my favorite of the three, and was still eating the delicious leftovers from it, 2 days later.

This is one of those recipes that you can definitely play around with all the flavors and ingredients to suit your own liking. For a healthier version, I cut down on  the “unnecessary” calories  by using light coconut milk. less oil and omitting the noodles. (However, having tried this recipe, I can vouch it would taste pretty awesome with noodles)  I really amped up the flavor and the heat by using a bit more lemon grass, cilantro, ginger, and curry paste. If you prefer a more “tame” dish, perhaps stick to the measurements from the original Epicurious recipe tagged above.

As a little side note for anyone going through chemotherapy, or if your cooking for someone who is.  One of my absolute favorite things to eat during the 2 years I was having chemo was Asian curries.  This is a really great curry base with the kind of powerful flavors that really help neutralize that yucky chemo taste in the mouth one gets.   The tasty flavor profile and the aromatics like the ginger, lemongrass and cilantro have great healing properties and health and healing properties for the oncology patient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 medium sized shallots)
  • 2 or 3 fresh lemongrass stalks, with the outer 1 or 2 leaves discarded and the lower 6 inches of the stalks thinly sliced * note: if you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass, use a tablespoon of lemongrass paste from the fresh produce section of your grocery store (or you can bypass this ingredient all together since there is a little bit of lemongrass in the green curry paste)
  • 4 large garlic clove, chopped (you can use less if your not a fan of garlic)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 3 tablespoons bottled Asian green curry paste (click here for example)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 cup of water (preferably filtered)
  • 2  to 3 tablespoons of grape-seed oil or coconut oil (or any neutral oil for high heat cooking)
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups of non fat chicken broth or chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp ( If making chicken curry 1 lb chicken breast;  if making vegetarian curry, use 3 to 4 cups of chopped veggies (i.e.  broccoli,  onion, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced Shitake mushrooms (or white mushrooms is OK)
  • 2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion chopped

Directions:

  • Puree shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender or a food processor with the curry paste, salt, turmeric and water until as smooth as possible.  About 1 minute
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan over moderate heat and stir fry veggies until just cooked or al dente.  Start with onions, cook for 3 minutes until soft, add carrots and, and mushrooms.  If doing the vegetarian curry, cook all the veggies until just barely cooked.  Do not over cook or they will be too mushy after going in the curry. Removed veggies and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil in a large pot or dutch oven over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook the curry paste mix mixture, stirring frequently, until it just begins to stick to the bottoms of the pot, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not let it brown – than it’s starting to burn.
  • Add coconut milk  and chicken broth to the curry past mixture stir and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Depending on which type of curry you made add in shrimp or chicken and stir until protein is cooked. 2 to 3 minutes  for shrimp and a few extra minutes for chicken.  Take a shrimp or chicken out and cut through checking to make sure its cooked all the way through.

  • Stir in veggies and stir in fish sauce, salt and pepper.

 

Serve and enjoy



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Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf

I first made this pilaf with chef Rebecca Katz , author of the “Cancer Fighting Kitchen”, during a cooking class  of hers I attended last February at the Draegers Cooking School.  The photo above  was taken at that class. The pilaf was served with orange citrus chicken and kale with sweet potato.

I was only recently introduced to quinoa a few years ago,  and this is my favorite  recipe.  Quinoa is a really great source of protein, as that  it is a “complete” protein, containing all the essential amino acids we need to get through our diet.

I love Middle Eastern and Northern Africa flavor profiles, and they  work especially well with quinoa. This dish would be a great side to my North African Lamb Chops recipe.  The cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric spices take me back to the first time I ever tried Moroccan food when I was young.

I make this all the time, because its fast, easy, and a great snack to make ahead and keep in the fridge. I used carrots, fennel and yellow crook neck squash in this particular preparation, as that those were the veggies I had on hand today, but this recipe tastes especially good with toasted almond slices, onions and raisins.  To really brighten up the final product, I squeezed half a lemon on it and sprinkled a little fresh mint. Chef Rebecca was kind enough to give me permission to to reprint this recipe in full.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thanks Rebecca!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots finely diced
  • 1 medium size fennel bulb
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1 cup dry organic quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups of filtered water or vegetable stock
  • sea salt to taste
  • Optional: 1 yellow crook neck squash
  • Optional: 1/4 cup of fresh chopped mint or parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and then add the shallot, fennel, carrot, and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally with a spoon for about 3 minutes until the vegetables start to sweat.
  2. Stir in the quinoa, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and cardamom, then stir in vegetable stock or filtered water, a pinch of salt and bring to a boil
  3. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  4. If you decided on using the crook neck squash: saute the squash in olive oil over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes until tender.  Set aside until quinoa is done cooking
  5. Remove quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork, then add the optional squash and parsley or mint
  6. Do a quick taste and if you want, add a quick squeeze of lemon juice to add some acid or “amp” up the flavor
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Will stay fresh stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days
  • Nutrition Per Serving:  Calories: 270; Fat: 10 grams; Carbohydrates: 39 grams, Protein: 8 grams


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Fresh Fruit Cubes for Beverages and “Granitas”

I hate wasting food of any kind.  Lots of times I’ll go to the Farmer’s Market and see gorgeous fruit or produce and grab it, only to find I don’t have any use for it right away.  As far a fruit goes, to make sure you get the full nutrients out of them, you are are supposed to eat it within 2 to 3 day of purchase. If its organic, fruit starts to go bad sooner than the modified non organic produce you get in the chain grocery stores.

I started freezing my fruit, whole, before it went bad a few years ago and found its stays good in the freezer for at least a month. Then I read a  couple of recipes in Chef Rebecca Katz’s “Cancer Fighting Kitchen” cookbook, where she would make “granitas” with pureed melons and watermelon, mint, lime and agave, for patients going through chemotherapy.  They were delicious!

Now I always keep a variety of melon and strawberry cubes in my freezer for beverages, or on hand to make “mock” sorbets and granitas. These cubes also taste great with the alcoholic and non alcoholic version of Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Champagne Sake Mojitos. Or, for a quick sweet and sour frozen treat, take a few of the strawberry cubes, carbonated or filtered water, mint and a fresh squeeze of lime, puree in the blender and serve in a chilled glass with straw. Yum!

Directions:

  1. Take any fruit, and puree in blender.  Optional add ins are lime, mint, basil, certified organic agave  or liquid stevia.  Be creative!
  2. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze
  3. When frozen after about 3 hours, remove from trays, and store in airtight containers.  Can be stored up to 3 weeks.


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Vietnamese Spicy Beef

When I was going through chemotherapy I ate a lot of Vietnamese food because the heat and the distinct acidic, salty, sweet flavor profiles would neutralize the chemo taste in my mouth. Recipes like this one were just the trick to add some flavor to my palate. I wouldn’t say this is a super “disease fighting” dish, but I did make sure it was as healthy as possible by cutting out as much fat and calories as I could.  And, I made sure to use grass fed certified organic raised beef from Stemple Creek Ranch that I personally picked up from the ranch myself.

At the local farmer’s market this past Sunday, I found myself craving all these Vietnamese flavors like lime, lemongrass, basil, garlic, and mint found in many traditional dishes. One of the my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is a Vietnamese restaurant called “The Slanted Door”, with one of their signature dishes being “Shaking Beef”.  I looked online and found several recipes for “Shaking Beef” and other random Vietnamese beef dishes that sounded really tasty.

I came up with my own version of “Shaking Beef” by utilizing the online recipes I found as a guideline.  The marinade I made is different from the standard “Shaking Beef” marinade, but I stuck with the original cooking method, a similar vinaigrette, and dipping sauce.  My boyfriend absolutely loved the pickled red onions and days later, still is talking about them.

Marinade:

  • 1 lb Top Sirloin, fat trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • juice of one average sized lime
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce (see in photo above)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracaha sauce (see in photo above) or hot chili garlic sauce
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons grape-seed oil (or any neutral oil that can tolerate high heat)

 

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Dipping Sauce:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch watercress, long stems trimmed
  • 1 small tomato thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Whisk together marinade ingredients and set aside
  2. place beef and marinade into a plastic bag and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight
  3. Thinly slice the red onion and use a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to pickle. Cover and set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  4. Prepare the bed of watercress and tomatoes on a serving plate and set aside
  5. Turn on vent fan and heat a large pan or wok over medium high  heat and add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  6. Add 1/2 of the beef on an even layer in the pan and allow to sear a minute or so, and then “shake” to sear the opposite side.  Transfer to serving plate on the bed of watercress and tomatoes  Do not overcook, you want the beef to be browned on the outside and then medium rare and tender on the inside.Repeat with second half of beef.
  7. Drizzle another tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the beef and and greens and then top with the pickled onions.
  8. Squeeze juice of one lime in a small ramekin and add the salt and pepper
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from San Francisco Gourmet, July 2005

*Notes: I don’t have the specific nutritional breakdown of this dish at this time, but a 4  oz. serving is around 300 calories, and depending on the cut of beef you use, can be very low in fat.  If you use grass fed beef you have significantly cut down on the “bad fat” and increased the CLA and Omega’s.

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