Sunday, September 27, 2015

Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho

I hear that many of my east coast friends and family are dealing with somewhat of a heat wave and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of cool autumn weather. Sorry guys. All I can say is to enjoy the heat while you can! And what better way to use up the end of season tomatoes and melons than to make this yummy gazpacho? I know it's not totally seasonal, but I wrote this recipe almost two months ago when we were in the middle of a heat wave. And I'm just getting around to posting in now. Oops. This whole motherhood thing really gets in the way of my usual scheduled blog posting, I tell ya! Anyway, if you'd rather be making a roasted squash soup and a pumpkin pie at the moment, I totally understand. Just make this gazpacho next year. Happy Fall!

Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Raw Raspberry Crumble Bars

Feeding a toddler is tough. There, I said it. It's messy. Extremely messy. Wasteful. Oh so very wasteful. And, if you're a perfectionist like me, it's time consuming. You see, I have a real issue with processed foods. I hardly ever buy anything processed. Yet the snacks targeted at babies and toddlers are all super processed, even if they are organic. And while sometimes, I do cave and give my daughter a store-bought pouch of pureed organic fruit when we're on the go, I refuse to give into purchasing the onslaught of convenience foods targeted at busy moms and hungry babes. I make Hazel's snacks myself. I've made muffins, healthy cookies, trail mix, smoothies, and these incredible raspberry crumble bars. Or I give her whole foods, such as a piece of fruit, berries, seaweed, veggie sticks, and cheese. I'd rather know exactly what she's consuming instead of relying on a snack company's ingredients.
I still have a lot of improvement to do in regards to planning ahead and trying new snack recipes. Sometimes, Hazel is super hungry and the only easy snack food I have on hand is a banana. And while that's perfectly fine, I'd like to get a bit more creative before she starts getting tired of bananas. She's also still nursing, so I do have the convenience of offering the breast when she wants a snack on the go. Gotta love breastfeeding!
These bars really are incredible, though. We ate them far too quickly. And the chia jam was absolutely perfect on toast with almond butter. I highly recommend making the bars with the whole vanilla bean, pod and all.  You (and your toddler) won't be disappointed!

Raw Raspberry Crumble Bars Recipe

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Farmers Market Haul Number Two

How is it the last week of August? Today, there's a slight coolness in the air and the clouds have an autumn feel to them. The ground is damp from a much needed rainstorm. Instead of welcoming the season change and the temperature drop with open arms, I feel sad. That's my feeling today. Also exhaustion. Intense exhaustion that cannot be put into words. But somehow, I managed to cheer up a bit when I meandered the farmers market this afternoon. I picked up these beauties seen above, plus a whole pastured chicken and a half flat of blueberries. We'll eat well this week. And I'll be happy again.

Pasta with Basil and Carrot Top Pesto- I've made a version of carrot top pesto before and blogged about it here, in case you're interested. This time, I'm leaving out the wild leeks. I'll probably serve this with a simple tomato salad.

Roasted Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes- My body has been craving animal protein lately and I'm listening to it. So I bought the highest quality chicken I could find  and I'm going to use every part of it. I'll serve it with lots of braised kale.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup- The celery and carrots from the market are going to make this soup even better. I'll also throw in a bunch of fresh parsley and use the celery tops for extra greens.

Quiche- I'm thinking a classic spinach and gruyere version with lots of caramelized onions. Served with steamed broccolini.

Herbed Lentils and Roasted Eggplant- This recipe is one of my favorites from Plenty. And I have all the ingredients on hand to make it at the moment, so it's happening.

Zucchini Bread- I'm still on the search for a really good zucchini bread recipe. One that is Hazel approved.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Farmers Market Haul Number One

I think I'm going to start a new weekly post serious on the blog in which I photograph what I bought at the farmers market followed by what I plan to make with it all during the week. I think it will be a good way for me to look back on what I've purchased through the change of seasons and how I've used my bounty in the kitchen. And if it inspires you all, well then, that's just wonderful! I'm not setting out to make anything fancy or complicated, mind you. Simple is the way to go. Here's some of what I have planned for this week...

Zucchini Fritters- My favorite zucchini recipe of all time. How have I not blogged about this recipe before?! Note to self: photograph those fritters!

Gazpacho- The weather has been unseasonably hot in Seattle and I've really dreaded cooking on those steamy hot evenings. Gazpacho is perfect for those.

Eggplant Caponata- I was thinking of experimenting with a vegan eggplant rollatini recipe this week, but that would be a little too time consuming. Caponata is easier. Here's a recipe that I made in Italy that I'll use.

Fried Eggs and Garlicky Sautéed Kale, with Tomato Basil Salad- So simple.

Pasta with Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, and Beans- One of my go-to quick meals. Gluten-free pasta with loads of veggies.

Peach, Berry, and Plum Crisp- I'm thinking a similar version of this recipe.

What about you? What are you making with your farmers market finds? Of if you're super lucky, your own garden's bounty? I'd love to know!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Amazingly Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

You guys. This recipe. Make it now. That is all.

Ok but seriously. You'll never need another brownie recipe again, I promise. Now I know that there are lots of black bean brownies floating around out there and I can't speak for them. But these are the ones you need to make. They're vegan, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and they're friggin incredible.

Amazingly Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Savory Breakfast Bowl

Lately, I've been into savory breakfasts. There's something about starting my day off by eating vegetables that makes me feel better about myself and somehow makes me feel more inclined to eat healthy throughout the day. My little girl loves soft boiled eggs, so I usually cook up a bunch early in the week for her (and me) to eat in a pinch. These eggs in particular from the farmers market had some of the most beautiful orange yolks I've ever seen.  I always have some sort of cooked grain on hand, so this savory bowl comes together in the same amount of time as a bowl of oatmeal. The cherry tomatoes and basil are incredible this season, so all of these things combined with some creamy avocado makes one of my favorite summer breakfasts. Give it a try sometime.

Savory Breakfast Bowl Recipe

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Homemade Lara Bars

I have a thing against convenience foods. Since becoming a health food nut many years ago, I've given up convenience foods. Anything that's processed and packaged just isn't my thing. The exception lies in those super healthy convenience foods, and trust me, it's got to be super healthy if I'm going to eat it. I'm thinking of perhaps a raw organic energy bar. Or some yummy whole grain gluten-free crackers. Or a portable packet of nut butter. The ingredients have to be pure, otherwise I'm not touching it.

We recently traveled to New York to visit family (the reason for my blogging absence lately). Traveling on a plane with a one year old is rough, man. It's exhausting in so many ways. But I was prepared with as many healthy snacks as I could to get me through because for me, if I'm well nourished, then I can pretty much do anything. For our five hour flight, I packed fresh fruit, kale chips, homemade trail mix, some organic dehydrated raspberries (the baby loved those), and these Lara bars. The bars were the first snacks to be eaten. I've made different versions of these 3-ingredient bars and my favorite combo so far is pecans, almonds, medjool dates, and the all-star (not so) secret ingredient; a whole vanilla bean. Yup, put the entire vanilla bean (pod and all) in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients and trust me, your life will be changed forever. Ok, maybe not, but you get the point.

Homemade Lara Bar Recipe

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Healthy Birthday Cake for a Special One Year Old

We celebrated a special little girl's first(!) birthday last week and it was such a happy day. Words can't really describe how I've felt about this first year of motherhood. All I can say is how truly incredible it is to see Hazel grow and change and develop. It's amazing. The night before Hazel's first birthday, as I nursed her to sleep in my arms, I cried. A lot. All the emotions just flooded through me. This year, I felt like I was broken into a million pieces and now slowly I'm being put back together, but in a different way than before. Not sure if that makes sense, but it's how I'm putting it into (inadequate) words at the moment.
I had always wanted to bake a really special cake for Hazel's first birthday. A pretty one. And a healthy one. And I think I succeeded with this one. It's really a vegan version of my popular super moist banana bread recipe with dark chocolate added to it and it's covered in a coconut cream frosting. I topped it with some fresh berries.

Banana Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
I tripled the cake recipe below and doubled the frosting recipe for the party and had enough to make one 8" double layer cake and about 18 cupcakes. 

4 ripe mashed bananas (the riper, the better)
1/2 cup coconut sugar 
2 tablespoons chia seeds + 6 tablespoons water
6 tbs melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub coconut oil in two 8" cake pans. Set aside. Combine the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and stir well. Set aside to gel about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the gia gel and stir until incorporated. 
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir very well. Now is the time to add chopped chocolate and mix to incorporate. Pour the batter in the oiled cake pans. Bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely (preferably overnight) before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Coconut Cream Frosting
2 cans of organic, full fat coconut milk (Thai Kitchen brand is the best for this)
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1. Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk at least 4 hours (overnight is probably best) in order to separate the coconut milk from the water.

2. Once the coconut milk is chilled, gently open the cans and scoop off the coconut cream into a mixing bowl. Reserve the water for smoothies or other recipes, if desired. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds to the bowl with the coconut cream.  With an electric hand mixer, mix until the frosting is fluffy and creamy. It won't get as fluffy as dairy whipped cream, but it should be smooth. 

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coconut Curry Soba Noodle Bowl

I totally get that it's practically summer and I'm writing about a warm and spicy meal that's perfect for a cold winter evening. I get it. But you guys, it's really tasty and so quick to make and I love any chance I can get to eat noodles and red Thai curry paste. So just go with me, ok?
This recipe is a perfect simple curry. A simple weeknight meal. No frills, but so delicious. And it can be made in one pot, reducing the need to wash lots of dishes. And my baby girl loves it. I'm winning on all the levels with this one. Give it a try before it gets too  hot out!

Coconut Curry

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
1 can full fat coconut milk
5 cups chopped mixed vegetables
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
sea salt, to taste
juice of half a lemon
chopped cilantro and scallions, for garnish
1 package soba noodles, cooked

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion. Cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and curry paste and stir to coat the onion. Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Stir well.

2. Add the vegetables to the pot. Cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender. Season with salt to taste and add the lemon juice. Serve over soba noodles and sprinkled with cilantro and scallions.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thai Noodle Salad

I live in a city that boasts some of the best Thai food in the country. However, since having a little one, I barely go out to restaurants anymore, thus greatly reducing my Thai food intake. On the plus side, it has inspired me to make some Thai inspired meals at home. I can make a pretty killer vegetable pad Thai that I should probably blog about at some point or another. It's time consuming though, and my little one would have to take a pretty long nap for me to have the time to make it in peace anytime soon!

This salad is Thai inspired, using lots and lots of fresh Thai basil and cilantro. It's packed with vegetables and uses brown rice noodles, so it's probably way healthier than your average bowl of takeout Thai. The best part? It's super quick and easy to make, which is a major plus in my book nowadays.

Thai Noodle Salad

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Green Detox Soup

Lately, it's been a little hard for me to eat as healthy as I want. Sometimes (ok, like all the time) I'm just so sleep deprived (hello teething babies!) and I really just crave comfort food that's easy to make.  In those moments, I tend to eat more gluten and dairy that I'd like and I always feel pretty crummy afterward. And then I always seem to vow to myself that I'll never eat said gluten or dairy ever again. Of course, I'm just setting myself up for failure by saying that, but I do anyway. To reset my system, I eat tons of greens and it always, and I mean always, makes me feel better. And in doing so, I discover (yet again!) that eating my greens isn't as hard or time consuming as I think that it is while in my sleep-deprived state. 

This soup is one of those easy and quick soups that just make you feel good. Like really good. I think it's because it's so green. And honestly, it tastes pretty awesome for a soup that has so many health benefits. So head on over to your local farmers market and pick up some fresh spring peas and tender spring greens and whip up a bowl of some green detox soup to reset your system!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

If you look through the archives of my blog, you'll see that I have very few dessert recipes. This doesn't mean I don't love dessert. Oh no. I guess it just means that I typically shy away from desserts that have lots of ingredients, are time consuming to make, and that usually have some not-so-healthy ingredients in them. Now I know for a fact that there are many recipes out there for incredibly delicious desserts that also happen to be quite healthy. And this is one of them. And it's a reminder to myself that I need to make more healthy desserts because they are seriously amazing. 

This mousse is probably my favorite dessert. It's right up there with the raw brownies. It's that good. Whenever I have a few extra ripe avocados lying around, I treat myself to this. You should, too!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter Greens and Citrus Salad

I feel so grateful that I live in the Pacific Northwest. Not to rub it in to those who just experienced another snowstorm or anything, but we have had a gloriously mild winter. And right now as I type this, there are already blossoms and leaf buds on trees. There are daffodils in full bloom. The sun is shining brightly and the temperatures are steadily in the 50s each day. It's spring and I am loving it. It's especially special this year because I have little Hazel to share it with!

One of the perks of winter is all the amazing citrus that's in season. It's as if mother nature knew that we needed a little extra sunshine and vitamin C, so she grew us some citrus at the perfect time of the year. I love having all types of citrus on hand throughout the winter. Our fridge is always packed with grapefruits, blood oranges, mandarins, and navels. It's funny because I distinctly remember last winter when I was pregnant, I practically ate two grapefruits a day. I was obsessed with them.

So to all of you lovely readers who are stuck in the grips of winter still, I've created this salad that's the perfect little bit of sunshine to get you through the last of the cold weather. It provides a boost of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, plus it looks gorgeous on a platter. I'm sending warm vibes your way, loves!

Winter Greens and Citrus Salad Recipe

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Beet Hummus

I've always looked forward to introducing solid foods to my daughter. Healthy food is such a passion of mine and feeding my child the healthiest food available is now my new passion. Watching her discover new tastes, textures, and colors is something that I truly enjoy. She is quite an independent eater and doesn't love being spoon-fed, so we have allowed her to use other foods as "dippers". For example, she'll take an easy-to-hold piece of fruit or vegetable (her current faves are broccoli florets and carrot sticks) and dip it into a homemade puree of some sort. It's really fun to watch. I've made a version of this vibrant beet hummus for her and she LOVED it. I hope you will, too.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Hello all my lovely readers! Gosh it has been forever. With the holidays, sleep deprivation, traveling across the country a couple of times, and just plain old busy-ness, I've really neglected this space. Just popping in real quick to tell you to make this yummy mushroom soup to warm you up. Really, it's perfect for this gloomy and cold time of year. In fact, I've got a pot of it simmering away on the stove as I write this! I've got some other exciting recipes up my sleeve that will be posted soon, so be on the lookout! Much love and hugs to all of you.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall Cleanse Kale Salad

There's something about the change of seasons that always seems to have me want to change something about my diet. Whether it's to eat more vegetables, drink more fresh vegetable juice, make more soups, or make more salads, it's usually marked by me wanting to eat healthier. Okay, and maybe on those cold rainy days all I really want to eat is warm homemade cookies or macaroni and cheese. Recently, I've had this strong desire to eat more vegetables and salads, but I'm always worried about not feeling full enough. I mean, I'm a nursing mom who spends her days looking after a wriggly baby. You can be sure that I need plenty of calories! So I created this salad recipe that's loaded with vegetables like kale, beets, squash, and fennel and it's full of nuts, seeds, and a creamy tahini dressing to make it even more filling. Check out the recipe here!

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Blueberry Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding

Life has been a whirlwind lately. A whirlwind of baby smiles, baby cries, baby giggles, dirty diapers, spit-ups, and lots and lots of breastfeeding. Yup. And when I find  myself cooking in the kitchen, all I want to make is something super quick, super satisfying, and super healthy. I'm slowly working my way back into the kitchen with meal planning and such, but man is it hard! It's even hard to find a free minute to put my thoughts into words on this blog and I really truly miss it. I can't beat myself up over it, though, because my sweet baby Hazel will only be a baby for so long and I want to drink all of her sweet baby-ness in, even if it means lots of dirty diapers and interrupted sleep.

I've always seen breakfast as the most important meal of the day for me, and now as a mom, it's even more important! Here's a buckwheat pudding that I really loved making this summer with the pounds of fresh blueberries from the farmers market. It's easy to make (throw it all in the blender and voila!) and makes you feel like you're eating dessert for breakfast. Kind of. Anyway, check out the recipe here.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Greek Bulghur Salad

I've had a thing lately for Greek salads. Ok, so maybe I actually have a thing for feta cheese. Anyways, I'm a huge fan of anything Mediterranean this time of year. We're talking loads of tomatoes, tender lettuces, crisp cucumbers, lots of olives and olive oil, and of course lots of fresh herbs. I could eat a salad like this every single day and not get sick of it. To me, it's the perfect summer meal.

Greek Bulghur Salad Recipe

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick Pickles

 I live in a cute little apartment in Seattle. I love many things about it. It's got a cute kitchen full of natural light, gorgeous hardwood floors throughout, and two big bedrooms. The thing I wish it had? A backyard. Why? Because I want a vegetable garden. Someday.

 I can't complain too much because I also happen to live within walking distance of a great summer farmers market that happens every Friday. It has been a little routine of ours to put baby Hazel in the sling and walk with her to the market every Friday. There, I pick out vegetables and fruit for the week, sometimes even picking up some fresh bread and lacto-fermented pickles from my favorite little booth. I've made lacto-fermented pickles before here, but when I don't feel like making them, I buy them.
I recently tried making quick pickles with some beautiful local veggies and I loved how easy they were to make. And the best part is that they were ready to eat in two days and I didn't have to sterilize any jars. It was a win all around. They're refreshingly crisp and tangy and in my opinion, pickling is the best was to use local produce. I used cucumbers, carrots, green beans, radishes, garlic, and hot  peppers and the results were perfect.

Quick Pickled Vegetables Recipe

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Antioxidant Fruit Salad with Bee Pollen + A BABY!

Wow, has it been ages since I've updated this little blog of mine!? In case you don't follow me on Instagram, I'll have you know that I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl named Hazel June, and if you scroll down a bit, you'll see her gorgeous little face below. She has truly made my life more amazing and wonderful and exhausting. As you can imagine, I spend much of my time taking care of her and not too much time cooking these days. But rest assured, this mama is slowly getting back into the kitchen again and beginning to adjust to this new normal. It's a wild ride, that's for sure!
At this point, I've been obsessed with summer fruit and all the goodness that it provides. I made this pretty little fruit salad with all local produce and topped it with a vanilla bean infused raw honey. Holy crap, it's delicious. Sprinkled with some amazingly powerful bee pollen, it's seriously what I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Finally, here's my little babe at two months old. She's our dream baby and we couldn't be more blessed to have her in our lives. I'm sure she'll make some more appearances here on the blog moving forward. In the meantime, be sure to check out this amazing fruit salad and go make yourself some vanilla bean infused honey! Much Love.

Antioxidant Fruit Salad with Bee Pollen and Vanilla Honey

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Cleansing Spring Salad

Yesterday, it was a beautiful 84 degrees in Seattle. The sun was shining. The air smelled of lilacs and apple blossoms. And I was so incredibly happy. As I walked (okay, waddled) around my neighborhood, I started thinking about how soon I'll be sharing this beauty with my daughter (I just got goosebumps typing that word). How I can't wait to pick lilacs with her and watch her take in their scent for the very first time. Or how she'll grow up with the view of the Olympic mountain range right outside her door. Or how I'll be able to share my love of beautiful colorful food with her. I really can't wait.
This salad was one of those creations inspired by the colors of spring. You already know how much of a fan I am of color in my food, so this comes as no surprise. It's full of cleansing and alkalizing vegetables that our bodies crave during this change of season. Detoxifying golden beets, cooling cucumbers, and chlorophyll-rich pea greens are all combined in a light Asian-inspired dressing that's good on everything. I was even able to find some gorgeous purple amaranth microgreens for garnish! Aren't they just incredible? So do your body some good today and eat some fresh and colorful food. And then go for a walk and pick some flowers. I promise, you'll feel good. Really good.

Click Here for Cleansing Spring Salad Recipe

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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Best Granola Ever

No joke, I have made variations of this granola almost every week for the past month or two. To me, it's the perfect snack to have with fruit or yogurt. And it's also good when I wake up in the middle of the night starving, which happens more often lately than I care to admit (baby has been growing lots in the past few weeks!). I think one of my favorite things about making granola at home is the most incredible aroma that fills my kitchen as it bakes. The toasty coconutty smell just permeates everything and puts me in such a happy mood! I should also mention that every single person who's tasted this granola (trust me, there have been a lot of people...I like to share food) has said that this is the best granola they've ever tasted. It's not too sweet and very easy to adapt. And of course, it only made with the healthiest ingredients. I honestly can't think of any more reasons why you shouldn't make this right. this. minute.

Click Here for The Best Granola Recipe

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Barley, Asparagus, and Broccoli Salad

I really can't believe that April is halfway over. Like really. One minute, time seems to be crawling so slowly and the next minute, I'm wanting it all to slow down. I know it's been quiet here on the blog lately, but trust me when I say that my life has been anything but quiet. And just because I haven't posted many new recipes here doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! It just means that I'm a tired and hungry 8 months pregnant lady who doesn't feel like pulling out a camera whenever she sits down to eat something. So when I made this satisfying salad the other night, I realized that it was too good not to share and got myself to take a picture for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure.

Barley, Asparagus, and Broccoli Salad

1 cup uncooked pearled barley
10-12 asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
1/2 a medium head of broccoli (or broccolini), cut into small trees
small handful of cilantro, chopped
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
3 scallions (white and light green parts), finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grainy mustard (or dijon)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium avocado, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

1. In a saucepan, bring pearled barley plus 5 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked. Add more water to the pot if needs it throughout the cooking process. Drain and rinse the barley. Put the barley in a large bowl

2. While the barley cooks, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot. Add the chopped asparagus and broccoli, stir,  and cook for 15 seconds. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, scallions, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour over the barley and toss well. Add the asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, and almonds. Toss again. Taste to see if it needs more salt.

4. When you're ready to serve the salad, top with crumbled feta cheese and avocado and toss gently.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coconut Split Pea Soup

I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm not counting down the days until it feels like spring. I'm longing for back-to-back days of sunshine and blue skies. After all, I've got some pretty cute vintage sun dresses that I'm dying to wear over my growing baby bump, so warmer weather needs to come soon! I'm also longing for fresh spring produce. Lots of young greens, peas, asparagus, and...strawberries. All of it. I really can't wait. And with each day that passes, I know it's getting closer.
Since the beginning of my pregnancy, I've made a conscious effort to eat lots of quality sources of protein and healthy fat, as these are both critical for a healthy developing baby. I came across this soup recipe full of protein-rich split peas and creamy coconut milk and I thought it sounded like a perfect fit for what I needed at the time. Let me just say, this soup did not disappoint. The bright green color alone is incredible; a color that's a perfect reminder of the new growth and life of spring.

Coconut Split Pea Soup (adapted from this recipe on 101 Cookbooks)

2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 tsp Indian curry powder

1 can (15oz) organic full fat coconut milk) sea salt
, to taste
cilantro, for garnish

For the Curry-Spiced Ghee Garnish:
3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 tablespoon curry powder

1. Combine the 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and one teaspoon curry powder in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and split peas and simmer, covered, until the peas are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.

2. In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to smell fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauté until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the split peas are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. If it's too thick, add some more water.

3. Stir in half of the spiced ghee, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of a salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spiced ghee and sprinkled with cilantro.
Serves 4 to 6

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Miso Vegetable Noodle Soup

I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm looking forward to spring. It seems as if much of the country has been dealing with one of the worst winters ever and everyone is just counting down the days until warmth, sunshine, and flowers. I'm lucky enough to live in Seattle where winter weather isn't quite that extreme, but man am I missing those long days of sunshine! The other day, I was out walking in my neighborhood and saw lots of crocuses and daffodils blooming and I became so giddy with excitement. This year, everything seems so much more exciting for me as the days draw closer to when I meet my baby girl. It's magical.
I want to leave you all with this immune system-boosting soup that's really perfect for this time of year when you may be dealing with cold weather sniffles or just the end of winter blues. It's loaded with vegetables and literally takes ten minutes to make. You'll feel good after eating it. Almost as good as you'll feel finding that first blooming daffodil of spring.

Click Here for the Recipe for Miso Vegetable Noodle Soup

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Tacos

It's funny how I go through phases with my food. Some weeks, all I want is Indian food full of flavor and spice. I'm talking coconut curries and lentil soups. Other weeks, I find myself on a Mediterranean kick, where all I want is olives, cheese, bread, and vegetables braised in garlic and olive oil.  Oh, and I can't forget about those weeks where Asian cuisine is what I'm craving. I'm talking all over Asia here with pad Thai, vegetable sushi, pho, and bibimbap. And of course, there's my strong desire for Mexican food. Especially anything with lots and lots of guacamole on it. I eat that stuff by the bowlful. Yup, I'm all over the globe these days when it comes to food. And I'm loving it.

Of course, knowing me, you can be sure that I'm making most of these dishes at home, using super healthy and organic ingredients. I'm not eating your typical run-of-the-mill greasy pad Thai, nor am I stopping at the taco joint on the corner eating a chalupa. Nope, all of my meals are full of colorful vegetables, bursting with nutrients for me and by growing baby girl in my belly. They're the "healthified" versions of the traditional dishes. But they're not lacking in flavor, that's for sure. And these tacos are a testament to that. You're not gonna find GMO corn in these babies, nor are you going to feel guilty after downing five of them in one sitting. At least I didn't!

Click Here for Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Kale Tacos featured on Life by DailyBurn

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eating for Hormonal Balance: Ravioli with Broccoli and Olives

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today, I'm excited to announce that this little blog post is a part of a fun themed series started by my lovely blogger friend Sophie from Wholehearted Eats. The recipe series is all about foods that promote hormonal health, and of course when she asked me to participate, I couldn't say no! At the bottom of this post, there's a list of all of the other bloggers from around the world participating, so be sure to check out their sites throughout the week, as well.
As many of you know, I'm currently experiencing what is typically seen as the greatest hormonal roller coaster known to women...and that is pregnancy. But you don't have to be pregnant to suffer from the effects of wild hormones. And sadly, a lot of women suffer on a regular basis from hormonal imbalances. Well, here's the thing. What you put into your body affects your hormones. Plain and simple. The right foods can actually help re-balance your hormones to be at levels that they're supposed to be at! This issue is obviously a complicated one (the body's hormonal system, after all, is one of the most complex systems to understand) that depends on each individual woman's body. Treating the issue through food, however, is the single most important first step in rebalancing our precious hormones. Below are two of some excellent types of foods to incorporate into the diet (plus a few to avoid) if you're experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances.

Healthy Fats
The body needs fat. Hormones themselves are actually made of fat, so it is vital that you're getting plenty of high quality fats in the diet to support healthy hormones. Women in particular seem to be afraid of consuming too much fat, but depriving the body of fat is what I feel to be the number one reason for hormonal imbalances. Healthy fats come from both plants and animals. Though strict vegans and vegetarians may disagree, there are just some nutrients that cannot be obtained from plants alone.
Excellent Fats: avocados, olives and olive oil, virgin unrefined coconut oil, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, pasture raised eggs (including the yolks), grass-fed ghee and grass-fed (preferably raw) butter, raw nuts of all types (soak the nuts overnight for optimal nutrient absorption)
Fats to Avoid: trans fats, any refined oils (including soy, vegetable, and canola oil)

Cruciferous Vegetables
Many women suffer from estrogen dominance. I myself have suffered from it, as I had severe estrogen induced cystic acne in my early twenties. There are SO many other symptoms of estrogen dominance. I won't get into the symptoms here (you can easily look them up), but to put it simply, too many estrogen-mimicking chemicals (also called xenoestrogens) in the body can wreak havoc on our entire systems. And we're exposed to xenoestrogens constantly from sources like polluted air and water, plastics, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, birth control pills, and household chemicals. They're unavoidable. So we need ways to naturally detox these xenoestrogens out of our bodies so they don't throw off our good and healthy estrogen. Enter cruciferous vegetables. All cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and mustard greens contain powerful xenoestrogen detoxifying compounds. They actually promote and support the liver in getting rid of these harmful chemicals. Loading up on cruciferous vegetables is one of the safest and easiest ways to ensure your body is combating these chemicals.

There are various other foods that offer therapeutic effects for those who suffer with hormonal imbalances...these are just two that I chose to highlight here. I highly suggest you check out some of these other bloggers who have written more on the topic this week. Their hormone-balancing recipes (and blogs) are all absolutely gorgeous. Remember, in all things, let food be thy medicine!

This recipe is loaded with broccoli to combat those xenoestrogens. It makes up the bulk of the dish. It also has plenty of olives, which remember, are full of healthy fats! I used some organic raviolis made locally here in Seattle, so if you use raviolis, make you're they're of the best quality (or make them yourself!).
Ravioli with Broccoli and Olives (serves 2-3)
1 pound of organic ravioli
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets (also, include the stems...they contain all the good nutrients, too!)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted oil cured-olives or kalamata olives

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer. Add the raviolis and stir. During the last 30 seconds of cooking, add the cut-up broccoli. Only cook the broccoli for 30 seconds. You want to retain nutrients, color, and texture. Drain well and return to the pot.

2. While ravioli and broccoli cooks, in a small frying pan, gently saute the garlic in olive oil over super low heat, just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Set aside.

3. Add the garlicky olive oil to the ravioli and broccoli. Add the olives. Toss gently to combine. Season with crushed red pepper flakes and more olive oil, if desired.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thoughts...and Carrot Soup

(Warning: this post is just a few of my innermost thoughts. It has very little to do with carrot soup. But the soup is good. And if you'd rather not read my ramblings, you can just skip ahead to the recipe below. I don't mind one bit. Okay. We're all good now.)

It's amazing where my mind wanders to when I'm left alone. Thoughts range from what I'm making for dinner tonight (seriously...I'm drawing a blank) to whether or not I should cloth diaper my unborn child kicking around in my belly. I find myself thinking about food often, since that's what my job revolves around, but I've also been thinking about bigger things. Far bigger than what to put in my kale salad or what to do with that bowl of black beans I made yesterday. I think a lot about what the world will look like when my baby grows up and how I can prepare this little one to be the best person that they can possibly be.
I suppose all of this thinking has been good for me during these gloomy days of winter in the Pacific Northwest. It helps keep my mind off the grayness and fog, which can become quite suffocating if I really let it get to me. But really, I've never felt so much hope in my life. Hope that with each day that passes, I'm getting closer and closer to sunshine, cherry blossoms, and  meeting my baby. Of course, I'm terrified at the same time. But I've never done anything this amazing in my life. Creating a life. Nurturing a life. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I can only hope to be the best mother that I can possibly be.

Carrot Soup (serves 4-6)
2 tbs ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil
2 onions, diced
1/2 tsp each of whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, and whole mustard seeds
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds of carrots, or 2 bunches, cut into 1"chunks
4-5 cups of water or stock
pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
sea salt, to taste
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (depending on the sweetness of your carrots)
Juice of one small lime
plain yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche for garnish
fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions in the ghee with the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds until the onions soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, chopped carrots, and water or stock to the pot.

2. Raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it's very smooth and creamy. Add more water or stock if it's too thick.

3. Add the cayenne pepper, sea salt, maple syrup or honey, and lime juice. Taste and add more salt and cayenne, if necessary. Salting this soup enough is key to provide the right balance of flavors, so don't be afraid to salt!

4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche and cilantro.

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