gluten free

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing

Can you feel it? The air is getting slightly cooler, and there are already leaves on the bike path. Even though I love scarves and everything pumpkin, I'm not quite ready to let go of summer. Please Colorado, give me just two more weeks of warm hiking weather and fresh local produce. One of my favorite summer snacks this year has been fresh figs. I love the subtle sweet taste and slight crunch of the seeds.  My latest discovery is how delicious they taste in a fresh salad with goat cheese. After having takeout pizza for lunch yesterday, I was hankering for something more nutritious. So, I whipped up this Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing.

Not only are figs lovely on the taste buds, but also highly nutritious. 

  • Figs are rich in alkalinizing minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. 
  • Because of their high fiber and mineral content, figs are an excellent blood sugar balancer. Balancing blood sugar is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and balanced moods. 
  • 100 grams of figs contains about 3.3 g of protein (Murray, 2005.
  • The high potassium content in figs makes them an excellent support for healthy blood pressure.
  • They taste amazing with dark chocolate! (source: me.)

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients for salad: 

  • 2 cups dark leafy greens (I used a blend of baby spinach and baby kale)
  • 5 Figs, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup cucumbers

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup flaxseed oil or olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Blend the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. It should be a bright yellow color.
  • Mix all the other ingredients and drizzle the dressing on top.

Notes

Even though flax oil offers some fantastic health benefits, not everyone enjoys its slightly bitter taste. Don't be afraid to sub olive oil or go half and half with the oils. IMPORTANT** If you choose to use flax oil, make sure it doesn't heat up in the food processor. Flax is a pretty unstable oil and doesn't do well with heat. Pulse the dressing lightly until blended, and store the extra in the fridge for up to a week.

I highly recommend adding some protein into your salad, such as grilled chicken or garbanzo beans! I happened to have it for breakfast today, hence the side of eggs!

Enjoy these last bits of summer!

Sources:

Michael T.Murray - Joseph E.Pizzorno - Lara Pizzorno - Atria Books - 2005

Thai Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce

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Every Wednesday evening I teach a hip prehab class at the gymnastics gym where I coach. Right after that class is over, I have to haul ass out to Lakewood to teach a yoga class. If I'm lucky, and if my students don't chit chat too much, I have about 15 spare minutes in between classes that I often use for eating dinner. Totally not ideal, I know, but teaching works up a serious appetite. Or maybe it's just that I always have an appetite...

Anyway there is a Vitamin Cottage right next door to the yoga studio, and most Wednesday evenings I end up stopping there on my way. They have these Thai spring rolls with plum sauce that I love, and so that has become my Wednesday night go-to.

As with every good food find, I can't help but wonder if I can make it myself. And can I make it better than the source I found it from? In this case, I firmly believe I blew Vitamin Cottage out of the water. Try for yourself...

Thai Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce

Makes: about 4 rolls

Time: about 30 minutes

You'll Need

For the wraps

  • Rice Paper (I bought mine at Sprouts, Asian section)
  • Protein (I used shrimp on mine. Chicken and tofu are also great options)
  • Sliced veggies (I used carrot, cabbage, and red bell pepper. Other Asian-y veggies include bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, and snap peas)
  • Avocado 
  • Cilantro

For the Sauce:

  • 5 Plums
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Let's start with the sauce. Slice open the plums and remove the pits. Throw the plums with the other sauce ingredients into a blender or processor and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a saucepan and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

If you haven't already, prepare your meats and chop up your veggies. Once that's done, you're ready to assemble your wraps. So, about rice paper. I found that you need two sheets, otherwise they are too thin and fall apart. We don't want that. Two sheets at a time, soak them in warm water for about 5 seconds. They won't feel soft at first, but by the time to get your fillings in there, they will have soaked up more water and should be flexible enough to roll up.

Strategically place your fillings, making sure not to overfill. Fold the edges in and roll it up, just like you would a burrito. The rice paper should be pliable and sticky by now, and should hold together easily.

Dip, devour, and enjoy this fresh combination of spicy, sweet, and sour!

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Crispy Cashew Chicken Tenders (gluten free, paleo)

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There are a few foods from my childhood that I just never grew out of; PB & J, mac n' cheese, CHICKEN TENDERS!! So naturally I've been completely hooked on these little morsels ever since I discovered how to make them.

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These chicken tenders are crispy and delicious, and don't require any bread or egg.  I suggest making a big batch, because they don't last long....

Crispy Cashew Chicken Tenders

Makes about 2 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

You'll need:

  • 1 lb Chicken breast 
  • 1/2 Cup cashews
  • 1/8 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Feel free to play around with the spices. I've made them with just the cashews and yeast, which works great, or you can even make "Italian" ones by using some oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. 

Preheat oven to 350. In a blender or food processor grind the cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices as finely as possible without allowing it to turn sticky like cashew butter.  Slice your chicken into whatever size of strips you'd like. I've been doing about 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pieces. 

Roll the chicken strips around in the "breading" until each one is completely covered.

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Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until they start to get golden brown and crispy on top. I also like to turn the heat up to broil for the last minute or two to make them extra crunchy.

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Now you have a plate full of crispy, healthy chicken tenders. I love them dipped in spicy honey mustard, or on top of a salad!

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Paleo, Vegan)

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Ever since I had my "ah-ha!" moment regarding dressings, (see Spinach Avocado Dressing) I've been playing around with all kinds of new concoctions. I've got a few that I really like so far, and this is one of my faves. This sweet and spicy sauce works great as a dip, on salads, or as a pasta sauce. YUM! Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 Cups 

Prep time: about 20 minutes

You'll Need:

  • 1 Cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper (or enough to fill about 1 Cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregeno
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to BROIL. In the meantime, slice the red pepper into spears.  Place a sheet of tin foil on a cookie sheet and lay the peppers out on the foil, skins face up. 

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Bake the peppers on the top rack for about 5-10 minutes. You want the skins to be brown and bubbly but not burnt, so watch them closely!

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Pull them out of the oven and fold up the tin foil to make a little pouch for the peppers. Let them sit for another 5-10 minutes. This will allow them to steam and soften a bit more.

CYMERA_20131015_144926Now peel off the skins. They should slide off really easily, but be careful as they will be hot! Discard (or eat!) the skins, and toss a cup of the red peppers with the rest of the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smoooooooth.  Super easy, super yummy. 

Tastes delicious with salads....

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and GLORIOUS with spaghetti squash!!

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