Pump up the yams: Dairy or dairy-free crispy sweet potato skins with spinach and shiitake bacon

So if you know me you know that I don’t care about football (cue shock and horror). But I can get behind anything associated with food. I love that watching football requires an array of tasty eats. Tasty not so good for you eats. With the Super Bowl is coming up, some friends on the Whole 30 or just watching what they eat have asked me for ideas. That was all the incentive I needed to post a creation I made for last year’s Super Bowl. Stay away from the tasty but not so gut friendly potato skins and opt instead of crispy sweet potato skins stuffed with spinach and cashew cheese and topped with shiitake bacon. For those of you who want more protein and don’t care about the inclusion of dairy or processed foods – I have a cottage cheese alternative (you would never know it was cottage cheese) that you can top with tempeh/seitan bacon. Crispy, gooey, savory good for you snack food.

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Whoa tell me baby, do you like it like this: Mashed purple potato, beluga lentil and vegetable bake

It’s finally winter in southern California…if you can call a high in the low 60’s winter (The east coaster in me thinks it is summer year round here and can’t tell one year to the next). But it’s all relative and given that it is no longer 90 degrees F outside, I can wear my boots, sweaters and scarves and actually feel like eating the potatoes that make an appearance in my CSA box every so often. In a healthy way – layered with veggies and lentils, garnished with either goat cheese or smoked shiitake “bacon” for an extra boost of flavor.

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Everyone hail to the pumpkin song: Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits

So it is October. But in this 90-100 degree weather and unusual humidity you would never guess it is fall. For me fall in the northeast means leaves turning from green to bright yellow, red and orange. Fall means crisp air, fall fashion, hot apple cider, decorating pumpkins and eating squash. I may be in shorts and a tank, but squash is abundant. And despite the weather, I felt like a fall meal – soup and biscuits…my way. Gluten free, dairy free, spiced and satisfying. Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits. I would eat this any day of the year.

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To dairy or not to dairy: Zucchini ravioli with ricotta cheez and leafy greens in sage “butter” sauce with cashew nut parm and toasted walnuts

Earlier this summer, I had dinner with one of my good friends back home in New York City who loves good food and knows good Italian. He took me to Via Carota where I indulged in the most perfectly cooked tortelli with nettle and ricotta in a simple butter sauce topped with parmigiano-reggiano. It was divine – my mouth still waters thinking about it. I will never be able to make pasta as perfectly fresh and aldente as that – and nor should I. Perfecting such an art would take an unnecessary amount of time and would require me to eat pasta daily (why would I not take advantage of such a talent if I had it). Instead, I can be a connoisseur of pasta and eat it sparingly because finding such exquisitely made pasta is not easy and often expensive unless you are lucky enough to know of a fine Italian home cook. Does it mean that I must be left to salivate over my dreams of such fine cooking until I can experience it again? For me, the answer lies in being able to create something similar that is healthy, nourishing, fulfilling that can be eaten often without guilt or regret. So I made a pasta-less ravioli using a zucchini wrapper and I made this two ways : with and without dairy, because sometimes this girl loves a bite of cheese. I stuffed it with a mix of leafy greens and either real ricotta cheese or one made from cashews, and topped with a sage infused ghee based butter sauce and topped with walnuts and either parm or dairy-free cashew nut parm.

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