Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)

chocolate almond butter truffles

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles are one of my favorite desserts for dinner parties and holiday get togethers, as they are vegan and gluten-free, paleo friendly (if you use a very dark chocolate), and they are super cute arranged in little cupcake tins on a colorful platter. You can also box them up in little gift boxes to give for gifts. Just make sure to refrigerate the truffles until it’s time to gift them.

Get creative with coatings for your truffles– I use toasted almonds and cocoa here, but you can try any of the following:

  • chopped toasted pistachios
  • dried lavender flowers (see image below)
  • dried rose petals (make sure they are the edible variety found with bulk teas)
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • chopped roasted peanuts
  • carob powder (the combination of cocoa truffles and carob coating is great!)

truffles with lavender budsIn the recipe instructions, you’ll see that you need to work quickly when forming the truffle balls, using your fingertips, at least until coated with cocoa/almonds. Do not try rolling truffles in the palm of your hand, or they will melt! Otherwise they are really simple to make.

You’ll need to set aside some time for the truffle mixture to set in the refrigerator before forming them into balls, perhaps an hour or so. If you need to leave them longer than that and the mixture gets hard, no worries, just set out at room temperature for 30-45 minutes and they should be ready to roll.

Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (fair trade recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons smooth, roasted almond butter
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • generous pinch unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup blanched almonds, toasted and chopped finely
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted (fair trade recommended)
  • 24 mini baking cups
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler or saucepan with heavy bottom, gently melt chocolate being careful not to burn or introduce any water into the chocolate. Stir with wooden spoon, heat-proof spatula, or whisk until almost melted, then turn off heat and let sit until completely melted.
  2. In pot or separate bowl, add almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Mix until smooth and transfer to a glass or metal bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and firm to the touch.
  3. Meanwhile, set out two bowls— one with almonds and one with cocoa.
  4. Using a melon baller or small rounded metal teaspoon, scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture. Working quickly (without rolling between warm hands), roll 2-3 chocolate balls at a time in either cocoa or almond mixture. You may want to coat half of the balls in each for variety. Once chocolate balls are coated, you can form into neater balls with clean, dry hands if needed.
  5. Place each truffle in a mini baking cup and place on a plate or platter, alternating almond-coated and cocoa-coated truffles around the platter.

Chocolate almond truffles recipe card
Print recipe card for your friends for the holidays!

Check out my upcoming Austin cooking classes here.

Happy holidays!

Mineral-Rich Energy Bars (V, GF)

Creating a nutrient-dense, delicious energy bar

This month I started a new yoga program and realized I needed to make some nutrient-dense snacks to take with me. I remembered Jessica Porter’s classic recipe for Crispy Brown Rice Bars (a healthy, macrobiotic version of Rice Crispy Treats), but wanted to add some extra goodies to make them more hearty, like: 

  -pumpkin seeds or pepitas (high in potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc)

  -unhulled sesame seeds (high in copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and more)

  –dulse flakes (high in iodine, protein, Vitamins B6 & B12, and more)- one of my favorite foods

  -almond butter (high in protein, fat, magnesium, calcium, and potassium)

These mineral-rich energy bars are good for boosting the thyroid, building bone density, or for anyone feeling depleted that needs more minerals.

Choosing the right brand of brown rice syrup makes a difference

Make an effort to find the special brown rice syrup I recommend in the recipe— Suzanne’s Specialties Genmai Rice Nectar. It is available online and in various natural foods stores. (I used to be able to buy it in Austin but now I have to order online.) It is much more clean tasting and delicious than other brown rice syrups (such as the Lundberg brand which is more bitter), as it is made through natural fermentation rather than a chemical process. You could try making this recipe with another sweetener, but you may need to adjust the other ingredients due to viscosity and sweetness (honey is much sweeter, maple syrup may be a little too thin to hold the bar together).

Mineral Rich Energy Bars (V, GF)
 
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These no-bake energy bars are the perfect post-workout or lunchbox snack. They are packed with nutrients including complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, and many trace minerals.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 bars
Ingredients
  • ½ cup organic brown rice syrup (Suzanne’s Specialties Genmai Rice Nectar recommmended)
  • ⅓ cup organic almond butter
  • a few grinds Himalayan sea salt or a large pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (optional)
  • 1½ cups crispy brown rice cereal (One Degree or Erewhon brands recommended)
  • ½ cup organic green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • ¼ cup organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon dulse flakes
  • 1 tablespoon unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 piece parchment paper
Instructions
  1. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat brown rice syrup, almond butter, and salt over low to medium heat until bubbly and well combined. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil if the mixture is too thick (depends on the brand of syrup you use).
  2. Add cereal, pepeitas, raisins, and dulse flakes to the almond butter mixture and fold in until well combined using a heat-proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon coated with a little coconut oil.
  3. Lay piece of parchment paper on a flat surface (large cutting board or countertop).
  4. When mixture has cooled to the point you can handle it without getting burned, and turn mixture onto parchment paper. Moisten fingertips with a little water, and press down into an even layer, about ½-inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and lightly press down.
  5. Using a sharp chef knife, cut into bars or squares.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days or refrigerate if storing more than a few days.

Be creative!

Be creative and try different combinations with what you have on hand. Some other ideas for add-ins to replace pepitas, raisins, dulse, and sesame seeds: sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, candied ginger, or chocolate chips (freeze ahead and make sure mixture is cool before pressing into the bars). You could also try tahini (sesame butter) in place of almond butter. 

Interested in learning more? I’m offering healthy cooking classes in Austin this fall/winter. For class descriptions and registration information, click here.

And please drop me a line to let me know how your bars came out!

 

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)

photo of kabocha squash-red lentil curry in white bowl on purple placemat on the dinner table

Community cookoffs are a delicious way to bring people together!

It’s almost time again for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) Annual Community Cookoff! This year’s theme is “Oodles of Noodles” and will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 2-4 pm at the Brew & Brew. It will be a celebration of carbs and the recipes of many chefs working hard to please your palate!

This year’s cookoff motivated me to post about last year’s AFBA 2017 Collossal Curry Cookoff. As a brand new member of the AFBA, I decided to enter my Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry in the cookoff. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be a good way to meet my fellow AFBA members and showcase the type of food that I cook.

Curries don’t have to be hot to be flavorful, aromatic, and delicious!

I was excited for people to try my vegan curry which was not at all hot and spicy. I wanted to make the curry flavorful (with sweet kabocha squash, fennel, sweet potato, and curry leaves) and spicy rather than hot (with ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon). I also used red lentils to give the curry great body, flavor, and texture. Yum!

fresh ginger and bowl of spices for Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)
 
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Author:
Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 fronds fresh curry leaves, chiffonade or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, small dice
  • 2 cups kabocha or butternut squash, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon tamari, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • lemon or lime wedges, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Rinse red lentils several times and soak in a bowl with water for about an hour.
  2. Heat heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium heat. When hot, add coconut oil, onion, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté on medium heat until soft.
  3. Add the carrot, celery, curry leaves or bay leaf, ginger, and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in powdered spices.
  4. Add the chopped sweet potato, fennel, squash, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain red lentils and add them to the vegetable sauté. Add water, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Season with tamari and ume vinegar (or sea salt). Heat until simmering.
  7. Add fresh herbs and turn off heat.
  8. Serve on top of rice with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

3rd place finish!

After a few hours of curry tasting and ballot casting, I was thrilled to get a 3rd place finish, and went home with various gift cards and goodies from local businesses. It ended up being such a fun day!

I hope you’ll try making this recipe when you are in the mood for something sweet, savory, and nourishing. It is delicious with basmati rice and a crisp green side salad. I also add baby spinach when warming up leftovers to give it some freshness.

Sign up for this year’s cookoff!

And by the way, get your tickets here for the 2018 AFBA Oodles of Noodles cookoff on September 23rd. It will be an experience to remember!

Please let me know if you’d like to chat about cooking lessons, corporate team building, dinner parties, or yoga retreat catering. My public group cooking classes are listed here.

Volunteer Social Media Intern for Natural Foods Chef (Fall 2018)

Chef Rachel Zierzow of Cook Love Heal (Austin- based cooking classes, personal chef, healthy recipe blog) seeks a social media intern for September-December 2018.

What you’ll be doing: documenting cooking classes and personal chef sessions (take photos with camera or iPhone), 3 weekly Instagram and Facebook posts, weekly Pinterest post (following chef’s recipe post), and other duties as agreed upon by chef and intern. Hours are flexible, approximately 5 hours per week.

Benefits include: learning about plant-based, natural foods cooking, helping a female-owned, local business.

How to apply: E-mail resume and cover letter to rachel@cookloveheal.com

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Grilled halibut in cedar wrap with sweet corn and salad

A new and easy way to make halibut– Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps. A big thank you to Fire & Flavor for providing me with cedar wraps to experiment with for Cook Love Heal. This is the first recipe I’ve created using the wraps and I thought it was amazing. Cedar wraps are really easy to use and impart the most delicious flavor.

Here are the steps to making grilled halibut in cedar wraps.

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place halibut on cedar wrap and season with vinaigrette.

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Tie wrap with kitchen twine (provided with cedar wraps).

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place cedar wrapped halibut on grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness.
grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Remove from grill onto a clean plate and garnish with fresh basil.

 

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Seafood
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cedar wraps with kitchen twine (Fire & Flavor brand recommended)
  • 4 4 to 6-ounce halibut fillets
  • unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a few sprigs Thai basil
Instructions
  1. Place cedar wraps in a glass baking dish or bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Preheat grill to about 350 degrees.
  3. Lightly rinse halibut fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Sprinkle fillets generously with sea salt.
  5. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together vinegar and oil with a pinch of salt.
  6. Place cedar wraps on a sheet pan or cutting board and wipe dry with a cloth. Place each fillet on a cedar wrap and drizzle each one with vinaigrette.
  7. Fold wrap over fish and tie closed with kitchen twine.
  8. Place wraps on the grill seam-side down first, and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  9. Immediately transfer to a clean plate to catch the juices, which you can pour over the top after it is served.
Serving suggestions
  1. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and an arugula salad.

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Enjoy!

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

baby arugula salad


I’m in love!

In mid-June, I started teaching kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin, TX and was transported into the world of amazing, high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Europe. A few weeks before my classes started I got a tour of the store and sampled a variety of their products. I fell head over heals with everything I tasted, and was especially taken with the white balsamics which are lighter in color and flavor than the dark varieties (which I also love). It was the Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic that I ended up using in this recipe.

Summer is a great time for salads

In summer, I do a lot less cooking, but still like to eat at home. The simple solution is making more salads and using the grill to avoid heating up the kitchen. This Baby Arugula Salad is great for either lunch or dinner with something like a creamy vegetable soup (try Creamy Broccoli Soup or Creamy Butternut Squash Soup) and some fresh bread with olive oil. Make the soup early one morning before it gets hot, and quickly heat it up for meals later in the day or serve chilled.

How to make arugula taste great

This salad took me by surprise. I made during the first week of kids’ cooking camp at Con’ Olio and EVERYONE liked it– even those children that swore up and down they didn’t like vegetables. The key to this salad is finding a dressing that balances the peppery flavor of the baby arugula and the tartness of the berries. On the recommendation of the manager at Con’ Olio (who is also a chef), I used a combination of a mild olive oil and their lemongrass-mint white balsamic vinegar for the dressing. It is just equal parts of each with a little sea salt and black pepper. It was unbelievably delicious! I look forward to trying some of their dark balsamics (like strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, or fig), maybe when the weather cools down a bit.

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass-Mint Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), shaved
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Dressing
Instructions
  1. In a medium prep bowl, mix together arugula and spinach.
  2. Prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with a few pinches sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup.
  3. Using a pair of tongs, toss salad greens and Pecorino Romano (if using) with dressing until evenly coated.
  4. Divide greens onto 4 salad plates. Top each salad with a variety of berries and sliced almonds.

baby arugula salad
Baby Arugula Salad from Kids’ Cooking Camp at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars- June 2018

Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic

photo of baked wild salmon with rosemary and garlic

Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic is my go-to recipe for dinner parties and weeknight meals, as it is both easy to prepare and kind of gourmet. Make some basmati or jasmine rice, some vegetables and/or a salad to go with the salmon and you’ve got a complete meal! Besides being more flavorful and fresh-tasting than farm-raised varieties, wild salmon has a lot of health benefits because it contains vitamin B12, taurine, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, and is high in protein.

Bake wild salmon at lower temperature to avoid drying out

My favorite way to make wild-caught salmon (like Coho or Sockeye) is to drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then bake it at low temperature (about 320° F) until just barely cooked through (about 10-12 minutes for a 1-lb fillet). Wild salmon is lower in fat than farm-raised salmon (such as Atlantic or Norwegian) and seems to stay moisture by baking at lower temperature rather than roasting or grilling.

Wild salmon keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

Make a little extra wild salmon so that you can use it the next few days to top salads or add to homemade sushi rolls. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator so that it will stay fresh. As long as the fish has been salted, it should stay fresh for up to 2-3 days depending on the temperature of your refrigerator. Just check the salmon before you use it to make sure it still smells fresh (should not be overly fishy or bad smelling).

Use different toppings on wild salmon for variety

This recipe tops the wild salmon with sautéed garlic, rosemary, maple syrup, and sea salt. Get creative and use different toppings the next time you make salmon. Try making a fresh basil pesto (I make mine without cheese) and spread on the wild salmon after it is baked. Another super delicious topping is a “sesame butter” from The New Basics Cookbook which has toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, unsalted butter, tamari or soy sauce, and scallion. What other toppings have you tried?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salmon
  • 1 lb. fillet wild-caught salmon (such as coho or sockeye)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • unrefined sea salt
Topping
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  • a few pinches unrefined sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320° F.
  2. Prepare topping ingredients first so it can be cooked while salmon is baking.
  3. Keep skin on salmon. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place salmon fillet in glass or metal baking dish.
  5. Coat both sides of salmon with a thin layer of olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with sea salt (about a teaspoon).
  6. Bake until white albumin protein show on the outside of the fish, or until cooked almost through when flaked with a fork.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with foil until topping is ready.
  8. While salmon is baking, prepare topping.
  9. Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, small skillet or saucepan until shimmery. Turn to low and add garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. When garlic softens, turn off heat and add maple syrup. Whisk to combine and pour over cooked salmon. Return to the oven, if desired, for a minute or two or serve as is.

Watch this how-to video I made with Dr. Jonathan Shultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) about making Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic:

Baked Salmon Video

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Crusted halibut with caper white wine sauce

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

Italian white bean soup

Soup is hearty, nourishing, and satisfying

Hearty and nourishing, Italian white bean soup is what you need to sustain you through a long work day, when taking care of children or nursing a baby, to refuel after a workout, or frankly anytime you want a satisfying meal. This plant-based soup is chock full of vitamins and minerals that are easy for your body to assimilate because all of the vegetables, beans, and sea salt are cooked together in a broth. Bean soups generally reheat well, so make a double or triple batch so that you can store some in the freezer and thaw it out for last-minute weeknight meals. I always add some fresh greens like baby spinach or kale when reheating my soup on the stove. It adds freshness and color to what would otherwise be a boring leftover meal.


Homemade or canned beans?

You can sub 2 cans of white beans for the homemade beans in this recipe, but it will not be as delicious. Homemade beans are truly wonderful, more digestible (when soaked, drained, and cooked with kombu) and flavorful than canned, but you do have to plan ahead. I usually soak a big batch of beans every week or two, and cook them until soft and season with sea salt. If you use a pressure cooker, it cuts down on the cooking time. I freeze whatever I’m not going to use in the next few days in quart-sized freezer bags. When it comes time to make a soup I thaw out a bag of beans instead of having to start from scratch. More detailed instructions on how to make beans from scratch are in my posts Homemade Black Beans and Macrobiotic-style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans.


Fresh ingredients are the key to a delicious soup

Choose ingredients that are fresh and full of life. If celery or carrots have gone limp, you can perk them up by cutting a little slice off the bottom of each vegetable and stand up in a quart-sized mason jar filled halfway with water. Within 30-60 minutes your vegetables should be rehydrated and ready to use. The last few years I’ve been growing fresh herbs in pots on my back porch. You can even put a little planter in a sunny windowsill if you don’t have a yard or porch to garden in. It’s amazing how much more delicious herbs are when picked right before you use them.


Learn how to prep veggies with skill and ease with my knife skills cooking video

Once you have a few knife skills under your belt it is so easy to whip together a big pot of soup. Check out my latest cooking video on how to slice and dice veggies for this soup here. In the video I show how to dice an onion into perfectly even pieces, how to slice a zucchini into half or quarter moons, how to dice carrots, and how to slice celery on the bias.

 

Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian, Macrobiotic, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Beans
  • 1 cup dried organic white beans (cannellini, navy, or giant white lima)
  • kombu, 1” square
  • spring or filtered water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Soup
  • 1 small yellow onion or sweet onion, diced
  • pinch unrefined sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced in diagonals
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in quarter moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock (Imagine brand no-chicken vegetable stock
  • recommended)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
Instructions
Beans
  1. Sort, rinse, and soak the beans in spring or filtered water overnight. When beans are rehydrated, discard the bean soaking water.
  2. In medium pot, add beans and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches and bring to a boil. Skim foam and add kombu. Cover, turn to low, and simmer until beans are tender. Season with sea salt and set aside. Alternatively, pressure cook white beans instead of boiling after skimming foam and adding kombu. Once beans are up to pressure with lid locked, turn to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Then turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally before opening up pot.
Soup
  1. In medium-sized soup pot, sauté onion with a pinch of sea salt in olive oil until soft.
  2. Add carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, and rosemary, and cook a few minutes more.
  3. Add cooked beans and water or stock. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until flavors are blended.
  4. Add basil and season with more sea salt, if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley or other seasonal herbs and serve warm.
Variations
  1. Garnish with pieces of pan-fried dulse instead of parsley.
  2. When reheating, add a handful of baby spinach or kale.
  3. Make a large batch and freeze half to warm up later.
  4. Use chicken stock or chicken bone broth in place of the vegetable stock.
  5. Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken for a heartier soup.

 

Watch these videos I made with Dr. Jonathan Schultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) on making Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil:

Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Knife skills and veggie prep for Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

Homemade Black Bean

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF, soy-free)

Asian mushroom lettuce wraps are the perfect start to an Asian-themed meal or any plant-based gathering. I brought these to a potluck last week held in honor of a friend visiting from Asheville. By the end of dinner, all that was left was one lonely lettuce leaf!

I wanted to make these lettuce wraps healthier than the restaurant variety, so added more vegetables, and left out the soy, sugar, and gluten! Instead of soy sauce or tamari I used Coco Aminos (I like the Big Tree Farms brand) which is naturally sweet and savory. If you like your filling a little sweeter, you can always add a dash of maple syrup or agave, but you probably won’t need to.

 

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF)
 
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This recipes is a vegan, gluten-free version of Chicken Lettuce Wraps served at Asian restaurants.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian, Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil
  • ½ cup leek, spring onion, or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 cups mushrooms (crimini, shiitake, and/or oyster), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • ½ cup water chestnuts or celery, finely chopped or sliced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (Big Tree Farm brand recommended)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, or Romaine lettuce
Instructions
  1. Heat large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Make sure all ingredients are prepped so they can be added to the pan quickly. Add sesame oil and swirl to coat pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for about a minute. Reduce heat a bit to prevent burning.
  3. Add carrots, zucchini, and another pinch of salt and sauté a few minutes more.
  4. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through.
  5. Add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
  6. Season with brown rice vinegar, coconut aminos, and sea salt (to taste).
  7. Put mushroom filling into a serving bowl in the middle of a large plate or platter. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Place lettuce leaves around the bowl or on a separate plate. To serve, take a lettuce leaf, place a spoonful or two of mushroom filling onto the leaf, and eat like a taco.
Variations
  1. For a heartier appetizer or main dish, add ½ lb. cooked chicken thigh cut into bite-sized pieces. Adjust seasonings.

 

Chef Rachel Zierzow is available for group classes, private dinners, and corporate team building sessions. Contact her below to find out more.

South Austin Pho Restaurant Guide 2018

South Austin Pho Guide • Cook Love Heal

South Austin Phở Restaurant Guide!

Welcome to the South Austin Phở Restaurant Guide! I’m featuring ten restaurants serving pho in South Austin for those of us that live and work south of the river, and for those visiting the city for festivals like ACL or SXSW, as part of the Austin Food Bloggers’ 2018 City Food Guide (#ATXBestEats).

A big fan of homemade soups, I have recently become obsessed with Vietnamese Pho–the perfect quick restaurant meal to enjoy any time of year. Pho is light, refreshing, and hydrating on a hot summer day— just add lots of fresh veggies (an option on every menu) and wait for it to cool a little before digging in! And on a cold, rainy day, pho is warm and comforting— believe me, you’ll have to take off your jacket after a few bites! Another plus to going out for pho is that most restaurants serving pho have a wide variety of other dishes (for those not as obsessed with pho as I am) such as Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, salads, spring rolls, curries, sushi, and/or standard Chinese dishes.

For the uninitiated, pho is a brothy Vietnamese soup typically made with a rich broth, rice noodles, and some kind of meat, that you top with fresh garnishes including cilantro, Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, and lime wedges. Hot chile sauce and hoisin sauce are often offered as condiments to go with the pho. You can dip the meat in some sauce on a side plate or drizzle the soup with a little sauce. Pho is typically made with chicken, beef, or fish broth flavored with various aromatic spices such as ginger, clove, star anise, fennel seed, black cardamom and/or clove. Many restaurants in Austin also serve pho with vegan broth, which I have notated with a (V) next to the restaurant name.

Pho With Us (V)

9900 S IH 35 Frontage Rd #500, Austin, TX 78745 (map)

512-373-3249

Newly opened, this family owned and operated restaurant in Southpark Meadows is a real find. Pho With Us opened its doors in December 2017, and has a clean, bright, and warm atmosphere. They serve various kinds of pho (beef, chicken, or vegan broths– all were exceptional) and the most bright and plentiful veggies we have seen– just ask to add veggies to any bowl for a small charge. We had the opportunity to speak with Chef Chau Ro (who has been cooking professionally for 24 years and also opened Dong Nai on South Lamar) and the manager Paul (her soon-to-be son-in-law) who were both friendly, welcoming, and passionate about their new restaurant and its authentic cuisine. 

Chef Chau Ro and Manager Paul of Pho With Us
Chicken pho with extra veggies at Pho With Us in Southpark Meadows

Me Con Bistro

3421 William Cannon Drive Ste 101, Austin, TX 78745 (map)

512-899-2390

“Me Con” or “Mother and Daughter” Bistro bases its menu on authentic recipes from their mother. One of the closest pho restaurants to our house, we also think it is one of the best in South Austin. The service is always excellent and all the dishes we have tried have been great (pho, daily specials, curry dishes). Their vegetable pho uses chicken broth, so unfortunately no vegan pho, but they do have vegan options for other meals.

Pho with extra veggies at Me Con Bistro

Dong Nai

4211 South Lamar Blvd #E1, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

(512) 444-1593

Owned by the same folks as the new Pho With Us, Dong Nai is located in the strip-mall near Target  and has a loyal following. We went on a cold weekday and it was packed with people busily eating on their lunch hour. Service was friendly and quick. I’ve got an inquiry out to them about vegan options. I wasn’t able to tell from their menu if they have a vegan broth.

Pho with extra veggies at Dong Nai

Pho Please (V)

1920 East Riverside Drive D140, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-354-9779

I took my family here last summer when I was getting over a cold. We were there on a weekday for lunch and it was very busy (but yet no wait) with a mix of families, students, and professionals feasting on pho and other noodle dishes. The atmosphere was lively, clean, and bright. They serve chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegan pho options, and were happy to accommodate my request of chicken broth, no chicken, and lots of vegetables.

Het Say (V)

2121 E. Oltorf St. #12B, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-443-4232

“Het Say” or “Beyond Words” is located in a strip mall on East Oltorf where you are greeted by knowledgeble and friendly staff. They offer seafood (shrimp, fish balls, squid, imitation crab), 100% vegetarian broth (with tofu, broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms, carrots), and various beef and chicken versions of pho.

Chicken pho with extra vegetables at Het Say

Elizabeth Street Cafe (V)

1501 South 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

512-291-2881

Elizabeth Street may be better known for their baked goods, fancy appetizers, and bahn mi, but they also offer unique, less conventional pho  (such as Cauliflower, Bok Choy, White Miso & Toasted Seaweed; Red Snapper; or Pork Belly, Meatballs & Soft Boiled Peeler Farms Egg) with broths made from fish & shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, or just vegetables.

Pho Thaison (V)

3601 W William Cannon Dr, Ste 250, Austin, TX 78749, 512-892-8777 (map)

161 W. Slaughter Ln. #L850, Austin, TX 78748, 512-280-2060 (Southpark Meadows) (map)

These are the two South Austin locations of the Austin-based chain. Their pho comes with either the standard beef and chicken or a vegan broth. In addition to pho, they offer Asian staples such as curry, sushi, and spicy Singaporean dishes. We like to take our daughter and her friends here because they have something that each person will like. Check out AFBA blogger Suzanna Cole’s review of the Southpark Meadows Pho Thaison from a few years ago.

Other Pho Restaurants in South Austin I haven't had a chance to try:

888 Pan Asian Restaurant

2400 E Oltorf St #1A, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-448-4722

Hai Ky

1931 E Oltorf St B, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-693-2464

Kim Phung Restaurant – Riverside

4001 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

512-494-5666

No MSG, hormone-free meats, no vegan broth option.

Simply Pho House (Bee Cave)

12918 Shops Pkwy, Austin, TX 78738 (map)

(512) 263-8889

I haven’t had a chance to try this place, but would be worth a try if you’re out near the Galleria. They have beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetable (with chicken broth) versions of pho– no vegan pho options as of yet. In reviews on the web, someone mentioned that they don’t automatically serve the standard pho garnishes (cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeños, etc.), so would be good to ask for them when you order. They offer a wide variety of Asian dishes besides pho, so good place to take the family or a large group.