Basil, Italian Parsley, Cilantro and Mint Pesto with Pasta

Basil, Italian Parsley, Cilantro and Mint Pesto with Pasta

I was going to make a big batch of marinara sauce yesterday with a bunch of my patio garden tomatoes, but the squirrels beat me to them. They’re crazy over tomatoes, and they’re crafty as hell about getting them, despite my efforts to strategically place decoys (i.e., a bowl, now empty, of sunflower seeds)! I’ll have to work out a Plan B for the rest of the tomato plants.

Anyway, thankfully squirrels aren’t keen on basil, parsley, mint and cilantro; and, I love pesto. So, pesto it was. Instead of using just basil, I mixed it up with all these herbs from my garden. Since it’s vegan and without parmesan, it needed something more to give it a big flavor burst. A lot of vegan pesto recipes include nutritional yeast, but I didn’t have that. Maybe next time I’ll add it, and use just one or two herbs. But this recipe was really delicious, and I’ll definitely make it again.

INGREDIENTS:

2 c fresh basil
1 c fresh Italian parsley
1/2 c each fresh cilantro and mint
1/2 c pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
Himalayan pink salt, to taste

METHOD:

Combine the fresh herbs, nuts, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor or Vitamix and process the mixture until it turns into a coarse meal. (If using a Vitamix, as I did, you’ll have to add some of the olive oil at the beginning, too. Otherwise, it’s too dry.)

Slowly add the remaining olive oil in a steady drizzle, processing until it becomes a smooth, light paste. Season with Himalayan pink salt, to taste.

Mix desired amount into your whole-wheat cooked and drained spaghetti or linguini. Add a little more pesto on top.

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce

With lots of new organic produce for the week, and plenty of herbs in my garden, it was a good time to make a batch of tomato sauce. I only had 16 ounces of cherry tomatoes, though, and none of my garden tomatoes were ready to pick. So, I cheated a little on this one; I added a jar of organic marinara sauce to it. It would have been fine without the extra sauce—just double or triple the recipe and exclude the jar of marinara. That way, you’ll have enough sauce for more than one or two meals (which was all I would’ve had if I hadn’t added the extra sauce).

INGREDIENTS:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
16 oz organic cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 cloves garlic, sliced in half
1/2 c water
handful of fresh basil, finely chopped (and some extra whole basil leaves for garnish)
1/2 c fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Himalayan pink salt
Coarse-grind pepper
Flavor God Everything Seasoning
One jar organic marinara sauce (Optional)

METHOD:

Heat the olive oil over low-medium heat in a large heavy frying pan. Add the cherry tomatoes, stir and cook until they begin to break down and become soft. Add the garlic and stir. Add the water after the garlic becomes aromatic, and simmer partly covered on low for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped basil and parsley and continue simmering for another 15 minutes, or so. Add the (optional) jar of marinara sauce, and then season according to your taste with the salt and pepper and any other seasonings of your choice (dried basil, oregano, Mrs. Dash, Flavor God seasonings). Turn the heat down to allow the sauce to simmer, partially covered until all the flavors have blended. Serve over whole-grain pasta of your choice. Garnish with basil leaves.

Organic Oatmeal, Almond, Date Bars with Chia Seeds

Organic Oatmeal, Almond, Date Bars with Chia Seeds

I’ve been experimenting with variations of protein bar recipes since they’re a great snack after a workout, but most of them use protein or whey powder. I wanted to make one that was moist and chewy. I finally came up with a healthy balance of ingredients that provide protein, carbs and healthy fat. I sweetened them with pure maple syrup, though you could use any sweetener of your choice.

INGREDIENTS:

2 c rolled oats
6 oz almond butter
1 c coconut flakes, unsweetened
12 pitted dates
1/3 c coconut oil
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 c pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt

METHOD:

Mix all ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. I did my mixing by hand because I didn’t want the texture to be too smooth. When well mixed, press into a parchment-lined 8×8 glass dish. Make sure the thickness is even throughout. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Slice into bars and wrap individually. Refrigerate.

My Produce Bounty for the Week

My Produce Bounty for the Week

I’ve discovered the most wonderful roadside fruit and vegetable stand. They’re a one-stop-shop farmers’ market; the local farmers deliver their produce to their stand every day, so there’s a huge variety of vegetables and fruits (as well as dates and nuts) to choose from. Their prices are very low because their overhead is low—directly from the local farmers to the roadside stand keep the prices low, and the freshness high. When I first discovered them, I’d often stop by later in the day and they’d be sold out of most of their produce (clearly, I’m not the only one who’s discovered their low prices and high quality produce!). Now, I go there at least once or twice a week, and I always go early so I get what I want.

Any guesses as to how much I paid for all these fruits and veggies? Here is a list of what I got today:

1 large bunch of broccoli
Half flat of strawberries
10 pickling cucumbers (my absolute favorite)
5 Italian round zucchinis
2 mangos
1 pineapple
3 large onions (with green stems attached)
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 pound string beans
5 _large_ Haas avocados
1 large bunch kale
2 large bunches of radishes
8 oz. dates

Fruit Smoothie

Fruit Smoothie

My son had made this filtered water infused with fresh strawberries, oranges, and lemons. He blended the fruits in the Vitamix, and then added them to a large pitcher of filtered water. This was about three days ago, and it tastes great. I decided to use it in my smoothie today (instead of almond milk).

I used about two cups of fresh frozen strawberries, half of the large papaya (in picture), one apple, one banana, one orange, about one cup fresh chopped pineapple. I added about two cups of the fruit-infused water, then blended all in the Vitamix.

DTLA Night Market

DTLA Night Market

Downtown Los Angeles Night Market tonight (I took this photo around 6pm)—there were over 200 food, crafts and merchandise vendors, as well as entertainment. They said to “bring an empty stomach,” so we did. Ramen Burger was there (http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-ramen-burger-la-first-taste-20130907-story.html). We joined the very long line because I wanted to try their Vegetarian Ramen Burger. After waiting for about 30 minutes (apparently it’s not uncommon to wait in line for up to five hours!), I looked at the menu board only to find they’d sold out of the vegetarian ramen burgers. I was disappointed, but I still ordered the regular ramen burger without meat, and the miso seaweed fries. Definitely worth the wait.

Brown Basmati Rice with Vegetables and Mint Leaves

Brown Basmati Rice with Vegetables and Mint Leaves

The mint in my patio garden is growing like crazy! One of my favorite dishes is steamed peas with fresh mint, and I wanted to make something that would include brown basmati rice that I’d cooled in the fridge. Stocked up on organic tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, and avocado from my local roadside farmer’s stand, I chopped them all up to mix in this salad.

Just cook the brown basmati rice according to the package directions. Let cool, and then refrigerate overnight. Whatever vegetables you like and have on hand can be added to the rice, but the peas and mint are a must. I used about 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh mint, and about a cup of thawed frozen peas, 2 finely chopped pickling cucumbers, 1 finely chopped round zucchini, 2 finely chopped tomatoes, and 2 large chopped green onions. Mix all together and season with Flavor God Lemon & Garlic Seasoning, to taste. Add one sliced avocado on top.