Roasted Carrots with Rosemary

I just love admiring carrots at the Farmer’s Markets, and they are one of the veggies that I consistently add to my cart at the grocery store.  They are super versatile and easy to work with.  They also have a long shelf life so even if I can’t use them right away, I know they will still taste great 5 days later.  Carrots are extremley rich  in Vitamin A and beta carotene as well as having natural anti inflammatory benefits.

On a funny note, my boyfriend is kind of obsessive compulsive, and for some reason,  has been currently obsessed with carrots for the past few months.  We live near a muti purpose grocery store with an amazing produce section, and lately he keeps coming home with bushels of carrots.  And when I say “bushels” he comes home with the whole “kit and caboodle” of the carrots: with the 2 foot long stems on them.  I tell him “You can have the long stems cut off buy the check out clerk or I’ll cut them off right now with some shears”.  But “NOoooooo” he does not want the long stems cut off until he eats them.  So basically we have what looks like a spider plant living in our fridge until he (the boyfriend) decides to eat them.  He  just loves eating them as snacks  while watching TV or working on the computer.  Lately when I go to the store,  he is always reminding me  “Don’t forget to get me some carrots, and only the real kind.  The kind with the stems”.  I have no idea why all of a sudden he has just become obsessed with eating raw carrots (with stems on, god forbid we cut them off first) all the time, but he is obsessed.  I’m not complaining since they are healthy, I just think its kind of funny or aka: weird. ( He will probably be very annoyed with me if he reads this.)

A few days ago my boyfriend came home with the above photographed,  multi colored carrots, and I thought they were way too pretty just to snack on raw, so I told him I would cook them.  He tried the cooked ones from this recipe and gave it a big thumbs up.

Ingredients:

  • Small bushel of carrots (Aprox 7 to 10) washed, greens cut to 1 inch from top of carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees
  2. Toss carrots, onion, and rosemary with olive oil.
  3. Lay out on a tin foil rimmed baking pan
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Roast for aprox 40 minutes until carrots are browned and soft enough to pierce through with a fork



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“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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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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Fresh Heirloom Tomato “Carpaccio”

I love Heirloom tomatoes.  Whenever I see them coming back into the Farmer’s markets, I get really excited.  Today I’ll introduce a really easy “Tomato Carpaccio”.

This is  a fun, simple little snack that also has an air of sophistication to it.  It can be whipped up in just minutes. It tastes great, is low in calories, and packs a big punch in nutrition.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 yellow to yellow orange fresh Heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/4 chopped finely red onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Optional  1/4 organic goat cheese or feta
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Organic  Olive Oil oil for drizzling
  • Optional reduced  balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Cut the tomatoes thin with a sharp knife or mandolin and lay out on serving plate
  2. Begin by evenly distributing the red onions over the tops of the tomatoes, followed by the fresh chopped basil.
  3. Sprinkle on the goat or feta cheese crumbles and toasted pine nuts, then drizzle with just a small amount of olive oil.  You can serve like this, or serve with the balsamic reduction.
  4. For the optional balsamic reduction, which I really do recommend. Take 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, and heat it over the stove in a small saucepan and let it cook down to about 1/2 of that, or aprox 1/4 cup.  Then drizzle the reduced balsamic over the entire plate and then serve.



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Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Marin County

I love oysters!  I always have.  I don’t remember when I had my first oyster, but I am pretty sure it was when I was a little girl.  I recall when I was younger, other kids,  thinking it was weird I ate these gray, raw, ugly things.  As I got older, and began studying nutrition in college, I remember being really happy to learn how healthy oysters could be for me as well.  One of my favorite things to do when I was in college, was dare friends (who had never tried oysters) to “just try one”,  so I could crack up watching the funny looks on their faces while they tried to choke these strange looking things down. For many, oysters are an acquired taste.

On a Saturday last July, I had the pleasure of making the short trip north of San Francisco, to meet a group of organic food enthusiasts, for a  tour of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Marin County, and meet the owners.

Our tour started at 11am, which meant I had to leave my house south of San Francisco, at around 930 am, in order to allow myself plenty of time to get there.  The day didn’t start off the greatest.  My attempts to drag my boyfriend out of bed, on an early Saturday morning, to visit some oyster farm with me, (his words “in the middle of nowhere”) were completely thwarted by unusually cold weather, gray skies and rain.  Looking out the bedroom window , from my warm, cozy bed, I was questioning whether it was worth the 3 hours round trip driving time.  My motivating factors for going were:  I actually had never been to an oyster farm before,  knew I wasn’t likely to get another chance to attend an organized educational tour in the near future, and had really been looking forward to this.   I got ready, jumped in the car and began my drive, freezing cold weather, rain and all.

It’s  funny how often (me included) SF  Bay Area residents, forget about the many gorgeous drives we have,  just minutes  from our front doors.  Not only was the drive “by myself” not bad.  I was having a really great time. Even in overcast, drizzly weather, mornings on the northern California coast have kind of  a magical feel to them. I decided to take the slightly more time consuming “coastal” route after the Golden Gate Bridge, along highway 1, instead of 101.  The views were absolutely breathtaking.  I found myself asking, “How had I forgotten how gorgeous this drive was?” and “Why had it been so long since I had come here?”  I stopped several times, taking photos of the ocean crashing up against the rocks, watched the surfers, turned on classical music,  and reminded myself how lucky I was to be living in one of the most beautiful places in the country.  I also remember thinking “I am so lucky to still be alive,  having this extraordinary sensory experience”.

I met my group at Drakes Bay where we met up with the owners who were incredibly nice and  completely dedicated to their business. We were given a wealth of information about oysters, their particular farm, how good oysters were for the local ocean water, their Marin Organic status, ect.  I have listed a link to their website,  which if you want to learn more, has everything you ever wanted to know about Drakes.  The only bad thing about this part of the day, was that it was cold, drizzly, and windy so it was hard to pay attention since we were outdoors right on the water.  The other thing I might add is its incredible how much cheaper oysters are when your at the farm and buying them “un shucked”.  I think that day you could get 80 large oysters “un shucked”  for some insanely low price around $100 bucks.  I’m not sure what they cost today, but that’s what they cost on the day I was there.

It was now 12:30, not having eaten breakfast,  I was starving.  I had remembered seeing some cute cafes just a couple minutes south in Point Reyes on the way up, and decided that seemed like a good idea.  I decided upon a place called Olema Farmhouse because there was a big sign out front screaming “Barbecued Oysters” and the place looked popular.  The sun was coming out and there was a nice little spot for one on the covered back patio next to the “Oyster Barbecue Guy” so I could watch him shucking and cooking.

Farm House Restaurant at Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

For some reason, they don’t have the oysters listed on the website menu, but they had a good selection from local farms, including Drakes Bay!

I started with an order of 6 barbecued oysters.  2 from each farm listed, and tried all 3 toppings:  Spicy Chipolte, Barbecue, and Garlic butter.  They were all insanely tasty, but that day I really felt that the Drakes oysters, were the biggest, and seemed to have the nicest barbecue flavor.  By the time  I was finished, I had eaten 18. I would have ordered more, because they were so good, but I was feeling kind of silly eating so many in one seating

If you live in the Bay Area I highly recommend doing the drive along highway 1, and hitting the multiple oyster farms north of Pt Reyes.  Its really fun, (even by yourself),  the views are amazing,  its super cool learning about the different aspects of oyster farming, and the best part is all the cafes along the way serving up the fresh local fare.

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