Guacamole is one of my favorite dips of all time. There are so many versions of guacamole out there, but regardless of your recipe, the most important thing is that you use perfectly ripe avocados (not too hard, not too soft, and not bruised) so that your dip is creamy, bright green, and fresh tasting. The way I ensure perfect avocados is to buy large avocados when they are mostly green at least a week in advance. Ripen at room temperature until black on the outside and then refrigerate (so they don’t become too ripe) until ready to use.
Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds is my favorite way to serve guacamole during the holiday season, because pomegranates are abundant, the flavors go well together, and the colors are perfect for the holiday table. Take this dip to your next holiday gathering to go with tortilla chips, tamales, or vegetable crudité.
Miso soup, a Japanese tradition, is an integral part of a healthy, modern diet, and can be made with all-American ingredients. My family loves to make this soup for breakfast, as it is light and easy to digest, soothing to the stomach, and chock full of minerals. Miso soup is a great start to any meal, as it stimulates digestion and prepares the stomach to receive food. Miso soup, which contains wakame seaweed, is long known to be good for air travelers because it is alkalizing, hydrating, good for regularity, and mitigates the negative effects of radiation you are exposed to at high altitudes.The good news is that miso soup can be made simply in just 5-10 minutes, after a little bit of practice. Make your soup fresh each time, as it loses its vitality if it sits for a day or longer.
There are just 5 components of this quick and healthy miso soup:
Water or vegetable stock
Wakame sea vegetable
Sliced land vegetable(s)
Wakame is the most common sea vegetable used in miso soup. Although sea vegetables are often associated with Asian diets, there are a number of great sea vegetable compnies on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. I usually buy Atlantic wakame (or Alaria) from Ironbound Island Seaweed (also locally available at Wheatsville Coop) where sea vegetables are hand harvested and sun-dried. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Maine Seaweed are also wonderful companies specializing in sustainably harvested seaweed.
Miso is a high-protein seasoning that offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, and protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It is usually made with soybeans, cultured rice or barley, and salt. I look for miso that is traditionally made, as it is the highest in quality. It should be unpasteurized and produced with organic, non-gmo soybeans (or some other kind of bean), organic rice or barley koji, and sea salt. No alcohol or other preservatives are used in making this kinds of miso. My favorite brands that I can buy locally (or order online if I want a special variety) are South River Miso from Conway, Massachusetts and Miso Master made in North Carolina.
There are many delicious miso varieties to choose from when making miso soup. Some of the ones that I prefer to use in the hot Texas climate are chickpea miso, sweet white or yellow miso, or a combination of red miso and a lighter colored miso (stir together half and half).
Here is a compelling video about the miso making process at New England’s South River Miso Company which produces traditionally made, superior quality misos at their Massachusetts facility. Check out their web site for additional information and videos.
Before adding miso paste to your soup, dissolve it in a small cup with some warm water or soup broth. Whisk it until it is a smooth mixture, then add it into the soup at the point the vegetables are done cooking.
Any vegetables of your choice can be used in miso soup. I like to slice them thinly so that my soup will cook quickly. Some of my favorites include: shiitake mushrooms, celery, daikon radish, sweet potato, carrot, and baby bok choy. I usually choose about two vegetables to put into my soup each time. Including a garnish for miso soup is essential for having a fresh touch to an otherwise cooked soup. I like to use thinly sliced scallions, grated daikon radish, or fresh parsley to top my soup for color, texture, and flavor.
3 cups filtered or spring water or vegetable stock
2 strips wakame sea vegetable or pinch of wakame flakes
1 cup thinly sliced vegetables
1-2 tablespoons unpasteurized miso paste
1 scallion, sliced into very thin rounds
Heat water or stock in small saucepan.
Add wakame strips or flakes. Wakame flakes will instantly rehydrate. Wakame strips take a little longer. If using wakame strips, remove them from the pot and slice into small squares that are bite-sized and return to the soup pot.
Add vegetables and simmer for a minute or two. If vegetables are sliced very thinly, this will only take about one minute.
Whisk together miso and a little of the hot soup broth in a small cup or bowl until smooth. Add miso to soup pot, stir, and turn off the heat. Miso will appear to "bloom" in the pot, which is a sign it is ready to serve.
Ladle a cup or so of the soup into a small soup bowl or cup.
Sprinkle gently with scallion slices for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
Some delicious vegetable combinations include: celery and carrot or daikon, shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy, or sweet potato or winter squash and baby bok choy.
Miso varieties can include any light or dark misos. In warmer weather you may prefer a lighter miso such as chickpea, sweet brown rice, yellow, or sweet white miso. In colder weather you may want a stronger, saltier miso such as 3-year barley, chickpea and barley, red, or hatcho (the darkest variety).
Other garnishes can include: grated daikon radish, pan-toasted mochi cubes, fresh parsley, or other fresh herbs.
This vegan and raw appetizer is inspired by Caribbean flavors– fresh coconut, mango, and lime! You can find Thai Young Coconuts at Whole Foods Market. Ask a produce person to cut it open for you. Drink the coconut water and then scoop out the coconut meat with a spoon.
1 fresno chili pepper, thinly sliced - best to use a mandolin
1 habanero, minced (optional)
1 avocado, sliced
"Leche de Tigre" (Ceviche Liquid)
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon agave nectar
Roughly chop abalone mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and massage until the mushrooms break down and begin to change texture. Double rinse the mushrooms and set aside. Combine the coconut, mango, mint, cucumber and peppers in a bowl and mix until well incorporated.
Whisk together coconut milk, lime juice, salt, and agave nectar to make the "Leche de Tigre."
Add "Leche de Tigre" to salad and toss until it is well incorporated.
For an elegant presentation, press salad gently into a ramekin, invert onto serving plate, and top with sliced avocado.
Mmm… what could be more refreshing on a warm day than a light veggie spring roll with a tasty Almond Butter Dipping Sauce? Spring rolls are best eaten right away, as they can either dry out or tear if refrigerated for more than a few hours. Save extra filling ingredients and store in a glass container in the refrigerator to make more fresh rolls the next day. This particular recipe is dedicated to my friend Lindy who was kind enough to give me an authentic Vietnamese spring roll making lesson many years ago. She likes to make them full of spring mix and fresh herbs, like the ones I made below, rather than the ones you often find at restaurants that are full of noodles and little specs of veggies.
A fresh and light spring roll filled with vegetables. Quick to make, yet filling and delicious. For a variation, try adding a layer of chickpea hummus, pan-fried tofu, a ¼-sheet of toasted nori, or sautéed shiitake mushrooms over the basil and cucumbers for a heartier spring roll.
Author: Chef Rachel Z
Serves: 6 servings
8 ounces rice noodles or mung bean noodles
2 carrots, grated
1 cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
2 cups spring mix
¼ cup organic fresh basil leaves
¼ cup organic fresh mint leaves
¼ cup organic fresh cilantro leaves
1 avocado, cut into thin, wide strips
round rice paper spring roll wrappers
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add noodles to boiling water and turn off heat. Let sit for a few minutes until noodles are soft, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Lay all ingredients out for assembly; noodles, carrots, cucumbers spring mix, herbs, avocado slices, and spring roll wrappers.
Prepare a large bowl or plate with warm water. Water does not need to be hot but warm enough to soften rice paper and the bowl wide enough to fit a sheet of rice paper
Take one sheet of rice paper and soak it in warm water until it is pliable, about 10 seconds. Spread the wrapper on a large plate or other clean surface. Work quickly so rice paper does not fall apart.
Place a large basil leaf vertically with 3 cucumber slices to the right of it (stacked vertically) in the middle of the spring roll wrapper. Place a layer of avocado, noodles, carrots. Sprinkle with spring mix and cilantro and/or mint leaves, making sure that 1 inch of rice paper remains visible on the edge closest to you and on either side of the ingredients. Be sure not to overfill spring roll.
To wrap, bring up the lower lip of the rice wrapper and wrap around the ingredients, tightening slightly as you tuck and roll the wrapper. Fold in the sides to enclose the filling then continue rolling the wrapper. The rice paper will seal itself. Set aside to rest with space in between rolls.
Continue wrapping spring rolls until all ingredients are used up.
Serve with a dipping sauce such as spicy peanut or almond butter sauce or basil pesto.
The inspiration for this salad came from the earth’s bounty in December in the South. The contrasting colors, flavors, and textures from the fruits, nuts, and greens make an irresistible combination. You will need to get the seeds out of a pomegranate for this recipe. My favorite, least technical, and least messy way to do this involves cutting the pomegranate in half, submerging the halves in a bowl of water, and gently opening each half and removing seeds under the water (see method 3 in wikiHow article: http://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-Pomegranate). It is well worth the effort. The extra seeds keep well for later, refrigerated in a glass container. The kumquats are optional in this recipe, but are a fun ingredient to use when they come into season in the wintertime. The entire fruit is edible, and in fact the peel is sweet and the inside is sour (the opposite of an orange). Look for kumquats that are firm, as they should be juicier.
Winter salad with dried figs, pomegranate, avocado, and pecans
This salad is perfect for holiday gatherings or any meal that needs a colorful side dish.
Author: Chef Rachel Z
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6 servings
4 cups mixed field greens or baby arugula
4 dried figs, soaked in warm water
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
1 small avocado, cut into chunks
¼ cup pecan halves, toasted
2 kumquats, thinly sliced (optional)
Maple Balsamic Dressing
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange or tangerine juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small clove fresh garlic, minced (optional)
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Place on large platter or into large salad bowl. Drain figs and slice thinly, removing any tough stems. Decorate greens with fig slices, pomegranate seeds, avocado chunks, and toasted pecan halves. Garnish with kumquat slices, if desired.
Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Gradually whisk in olive oil, one drop at a time, until well incorporated.
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Join the Cook Love Heal Community!
Join the Cook Love Heal Community, and I’ll send you my Natural Health Starter Kit for free and you’ll find out about the online course as soon as it is available. I’ll also keep you updated with amazing recipes, yoga ideas and tips for how to live a balanced life. Look forward to meeting you!