31 May 2014

Maple-Chipotle Tempeh and Asparagus with Coconut-Lime Sauce

For all of you tempeh fans, this one is for you. Tempeh slices are roasted with asparagus in a sweet and smoky maple-chipotle marinade and then topped with a coconut milk-based sauce flavored with lime , cilantro, and chili. The flavors of this dish are bright and bold and the coconut sauce is way more than a mere garnish so be liberal when serving, as it helps bring the whole dish together.

If you are not familiar with tempeh, it is made from whole fermented soybeans and is minimally processed. This fermentation process allows the beans to bind together in cake form and retain much more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than that of other more processed soy products. Fermenting soybeans also makes the beans more digestible and may provide beneficial bacteria for our gut health, depending on the starter culture used. Tempeh is sweet and nutty when roasted, has a nice bite, and stays together well when sliced, making it suitable for roasting or grilling.

This is an appropriate recipe to share now, as we have just begun a long-awaited tropical vacation where we'll be enjoying lots of coconut and tempeh. I plan to take a little break from posting for a week or two, but I miss being away from you guys for too long so I will look forward to returning to share new inspiration!

Maple-Chipotle Tempeh and Asparagus with Coconut-Lime Sauce

1 package tempeh, preferably organic (~ 7 oz or 200 gr)
Maple-Chipotle Marinade (recipe below)
1 bunch asparagus
Coconut-Lime Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

Slice tempeh and place in a medium baking dish.  Pour over half of the maple-chipotle marinade and turn tempeh over to coat both sides with sauce. Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes.

In the meantime prep asparagus. Remove woody ends, and cut on a diagonal into 2" slices.  Add to remaining marinade and toss to coat.

Remove tempeh after 10 minutes, add asparagus and marinade to the baking dish, evenly distributing asparagus around the tempeh. Return to oven and bake another 8-12 minutes (depending on how thin your asparagus are).

Serve tempeh and asparagus over your choice of grains and/or beans*, and top with very generous spoonfuls of coconut-lime sauce. The coconut-lime sauce is not an accessory, it's a main flavor component and helps create a sauce in the bowl, so be liberal when serving.

* I used leftover brown rice and mung beans. Quinoa, black, rice, or couscous would also be nice options.

Maple-Chipotle Marinade
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Few splashes tamari (or soy sauce)
3 tsp. maple syrup
Heaping 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder (or smoked paprika + few pinches cayenne)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, taste, and adjust to your liking.

Coconut-Lime Sauce

1 cup coconut milk (225 ml carton)
Handful cilantro, with tender stems
1 thin green onion (white + green parts), roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic
Zest + juice from 1/2 juicy lime
1 red chili (or jalapeno, to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients to a mini food processor (or use an immersion/hand blender) and blend until smooth. 

24 May 2014

Just the Goods Snacking Granola

Last weekend I snuck away to New York to attend a conference for my holistic health coach training. It was an energetic and inspiring two days worth of learning from some of the top leaders in the health and wellness field. A few of the highlights were Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Lissa Rankin, Marie Forleo, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Daphne Miller, among many others. I wish I could share with you everything they spoke about, but the one thing they all have in common in their life's work is, in their own way, they each operate from a mindset that wellness is achieved through the dynamic interplay of all facets of life; of course our diet and exercise but also our relationships, careers, emotional well-being, thoughts and attitudes, and spirituality. This is the model from which we are also trained at IIN. I love the way Lissa Rankin presents this idea.

The other highlight of the weekend was being surrounded by like-minded individuals on the same mission: to share our passion as wellness warriors for helping others create small, positive, and sustainable changes for more health and happiness in their diet and lifestyle. On that note, I must briefly put in a plug for the movie Fed Up, released in the U.S. earlier this month. It's a documentary exposing the truth about the food and sugar industries in America. Check out the article and trailer.

Now onto this snack mix. I have several work and play trips coming up in the next few months, and this mix is one of several options I choose between to take when I am traveling. Yes, it is basically a glorified trail mix, but here's the backstory. When I make granola I find myself picking out the roasted nuts, coconut flakes, and dried fruit pieces, the good stuff. I cherry pick (quite literally, if dried cherries are in the mix), and that's how Snacking Granola came about. "Just the Goods" was coined by my friend, Milena, for her all-natural skin care line name, and it is fitting for this as well.

But if I'm going to go to the trouble of making my own trail mix, I might as well make it special and interesting. I know it's not always practical, but why don't we take more time with our food, time to contemplate what we really like and really want to have? It makes the whole experience of preparing and eating it that much more enjoyable. Plus when we engage more with our food and use all of our senses, including our desires to guide our decision and the anticipation of it all coming together, don't you think we will feel content with less because we are satiated on a deeper level? This to me is what mindful eating is all about.

I have been making versions of this mix for a while, but after reading this post I decided to add some spice. If you don’t have five-spice just use cinnamon, or no spice at all is fine too. The key is to decide what flavors, dried fruits, and nuts you really enjoy. Or if you're up for an adventure, play around with some unusual combinations, or new-to-you ingredients. What about brazil nuts or dried strawberries, pineapple, or nectarine? Get creative, treat yourself to the bulk bins at a natural food store and find something exciting to you. It's the intentions we carry into our days and the small moments and pleasures that bring joy to our life.

Just the Goods Snacking Granola
Notes: Nut allergies? No problem, pumpkin and sunflower seeds would be great. No five-spice? Just use cinnamon, or no spice at all.

1 scant Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 tsp. maple syrup or honey (optional)
Small pinch salt
1 1/2 cups (200 gr) almonds
Several large handfuls flaked coconut
Several large handfuls dried mango, chopped
Quality dark chocolate bar (70% cacao or higher), cut into chunks (~50 gr)

Turn oven on to 350 F (176 C). Place coconut oil on a small baking sheet and place in oven while oven is preheating. Remove baking sheet once coconut oil has melted. Skip this step if your coconut oil is liquid at room temperature.

Pour maple syrup over oil on baking sheet, if using. Sprinkle five spice powder and salt evenly over oil, and add almonds. Toss with a wooden spoon until almonds are fully coated in oil and spices. Return to oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until almonds smell nutty and are golden brown. Toss half-way through and stir in coconut at this point, if you'd prefer it to be toasted also.

Remove from oven, and let cool completely. Add coconut (if it wasn't added earlier), mango, and chocolate. Toss to combine and store in airtight jars or plastic bags.

10 May 2014

Beet Nachos

Beet season is wrapping up here in Switzerland, but I could not in good conscience make these nachos without sharing the recipe with you. The beets, when roasted until crisp, are nutty and sweet and provide the perfect contrast to the tang and spice of the black bean salsa. If you are a local reader and cannot find beets (because I probably bought the very last one - don't ask how I know that!), then sweet potato chips would be the perfect substitute. In fact, I wish I had thought of this while I was at the store.

My husband declared this black bean salsa the best of three worlds. When we can't decide on guacamole, salsa, or black bean salad, we'll combine the three and have everything in one. This is the result and it's super tasty. And leftovers (if you have any) make the perfect lunch the next day; wrap up in a tortilla or flatbread, spoon over brown rice or quinoa, or eat as a black bean salad with spinach or kale.

Beet Nachos
Serves 4-6 as small bites/appetizer (2 as main)

Notes: If you cannot find beets, use sweet potato chips instead. 

1 large beet (or several small ones)
Coconut oil (or ghee/butter)
Sea salt
Black Bean and Avocado Salsa

Heat oven to 325 F (162 C).

Wash and, if organic, scrub beet with a vegetable scrubber. Otherwise peel skin if not organic. Thinly slice beet using the thin blade of a mandolin. Alternatively, slice as thinly as possible with a sharp knife, keeping in mind the slices will inevitably be thicker/uneven and need to cook longer.

Place beet rounds on a large parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet (you may need to cook in two batches), brush with melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until beets turn light brown, ends curl up, and begin to dry out. Remove from oven and immediately transfer beets to a wired cooling rack. They will crisp up as they cool.

Just before serving, top beets with salsa, and enjoy!

Black Bean and Avocado Salsa

Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 small red onion, finely diced (or spring onions for a milder flavor)
1 red chili, thinly sliced (or jalapeno)
1 ripe but firm avocado, diced
Handful cilantro, chopped
Feta, crumbled (to taste)

Add lime juice and next  four ingredients (through salt) to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine.

*Beet chips inspired by Dishing Up The Dirt

05 May 2014

Bulgur and Shrimp Skillet

I made this dish on a recent cold and rainy weekday evening after work ran over an hour later than usual. It's rare to find a recipe that is elegant enough for a dinner party but just as practical to make for a fast weeknight dinner. I nominate this meal, as you can serve it as rustically (straight from the pan) or elegantly as you'd like and can count on it coming together in less than 25 minutes, creating next to nothing to clean up later. I didn't even use a cutting board. The secret is that the whole meal cooks in one pan, the ingredients are quick-cooking, and the only prep work required before starting the cooking process is to push some garlic through a garlic press. This is a great pantry meal to have on file, assuming you keep a few lemons and garlic in your fridge. And you can pick up the shrimp the day of or keep some in the freezer for times like these.

When we eat fish, I have three rules of thumb that generally guide my decision on what to buy: sustainability, mercury level, and a preference for wild-caught versus farmed. Look for this certified sustainable sealor something similar, next to the fish if buying fresh, or directly on the package if buying frozen. If the fish is wild-caught, it should also say on the label. Additionally use this and this reference if you're curious to read about mercury levels in fish.   

Bulgur and Shrimp Skillet
Inspired by A Couple Cooks
Serves 4

Notes: You want medium or course grade bulgur for this recipe. If the package says it will cook in approximately 15 minutes, you have the right grade. You don't want fine bulgur that steams in just a few minutes. I use passata here but crushed tomatoes would also be great or diced tomatoes, quickly crushed/pureed using a hand blender or food processor.

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced with garlic press
2 tsp. dried thyme (or Herbs de Provence)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups bulgur
1 680 g (~30 oz or 2 3/4 cups) jar passata
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. salt
200 grams medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Basil, to finish
Parmesan shavings, to finish

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan with sides over medium-low heat. Add garlic, thyme, lemon, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat in oil and cook gently for a minute, until fragrant.

Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar. It should simmer and reduce after just a few seconds. Then add bulgur and stir around to coat in flavored oil and vinegar. Toast for a minute until it starts to smell nutty, then add passata, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally so bottom does not stick, until bulgur is almost cooked through. If it's dry or the bottom is starting to stick, add another 1/2 cup water. You want a loose risotto-like sauce. Taste mixture at this point and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.

Place shrimp on top of bulgur, season shrimp with salt and pepper, cover and cook for another 7-8 minutes, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Squeeze lemon over shrimp, tear basil and scatter around, and serve. Pass parmesan to shave at the table.