Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Let’s talk through the story of my favorite lentil soup. Years ago, two of my neighbors hosted a soup party. It was an inspiring affair – big pots of simmering soups and stews, house full of chatty, friendly people. Part of what I liked was the simple premise. The hosts (David & Holly) made a number of soups, guests were asked to arrive with their drink of choice and one thing to share – salad, appetizer, or something sweet.
Coconut Red Lentil Soup

The Best Soup:

One of the vegetarian soups was a beautiful shade of yellow-orange. It was a light-bodied, curry-spiced coconut broth thickened with cooked red lentils and structured with yellow split peas. It appeared to be a beautiful take on lentil soup. When I asked Holly to tell me about it, she mentioned it was based on an Ayurvedic dal recipe in the Esalen Cookbook, a favorite of hers.

She happened to have an extra copy of the Esalen book, and sent me home with my belly full, a new cookbook tucked under my arm, and a few suggestions related to the soup. I still make this soup regularly, love it (so much!), and thought it might be fun to revisit it today in video form – enjoy! I’ve also included some notes related to adapting this soup to the Instant Pot.

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Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Other things worth noting related to this soup – the slivered green onions sauteed in butter or coconut oil. The golden raisins that plump up with curry broth. Back notes of ginger. Depth from a good dollop of tomato paste. It all comes together in one amazing bowl of restorative, lentil soup goodness.

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Simple Weeknight Cauliflower

Wayne and I share in the prep work for dinner most nights. Two or three times a week this involves chopping cauliflower into “tiny trees”. Wayne knows the drill, and does a good job cutting the florets into pieces not much larger than a table grape. We then turn the cauliflower into a hot skillet with a bit of salt, olive oil, and whatever spices and seasoning strike our fancy that night.
Simple Cauliflower RecipeCauliflower is endlessly adaptable, and cooking it this way is quick and delicious. After just a few minutes in the pan the cauliflower starts to brown, and then takes on a deep, nutty flavor. I’ll share the version we made the other night – pan-fried cauliflower with garlic, chives, lemon, Parmesan, and flaky sea salt. This handful of ingredients is what hit the pan this time around, but I’ll also list off a few other variations that make frequent appearances in case chives and lemon aren’t your thing.

Simple Cauliflower Variations

Spicy: This is the easiest – olive oil, a bit of Piment d’Esplette, garlic, and lemon zest at the end. Use your favorite red pepper flakes.

Curry: I sometimes use coconut oil here in place of olive oil. Then I add a favorite Indian curry powder, and go from there. Or I’ll take it in an entirely different direction and add a teaspoon (or so) of Thai red curry paste to the coconut oil.

Nutmeg: I use 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 butter, then the cauliflower, and some freshly grated nutmeg toward the end.

Serving Ideas

A couple serving ideas: It might sound a bit weird, but I like to eat this style of cauliflower over an open-faced egg salad sandwich for lunch. Or, I might build a meal off the cauliflower by throwing a bit of tofu or seitan in the pan. It’s also great on top of a curry bowl, or bowl of chili.

Anyhow, people who don’t typically like cauliflower seem to like it cooked this way. But be sure to seek out good, fresh cauliflower with tight florets, no discoloration. If there are leaves they should be bright and intact, not withered and funky.

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Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

This is a noodle salad you’ll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. The dressing(!) – it’s simple but strong, and steps in with an assertive spicy sriracha-lime punch. This is one of those near-perfect one dish meals. You might not want to prep this many ingredients every day, but you’ll forget about that detail the minute you take a bite. And you can see exactly how it comes together in the video below. xx! -h

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Noodle Salad: Make Ahead Components

A couple of tips – you can make the dressing a few days in advance. You can also do much of the chopping and grating a day or two in advance. Cook the noodles to order, though.

Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

Let me know if you try it, and please report back if you land on any seasonal adaptations that you are particularly excited about.

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4 o’clock No-bake Energy Bites

Energy bites aren’t a new thing, but if you’re a person that grabs commercial power bars regularly, and you’re not already on board, give these a try as a DIY alternative. I make them for a 4 o’clock late afternoon snack to reach for when I’m at the studio, but they’re also a great travel option. Kids love them. Adults love them. The best part is that you’re in control of the ingredients, and they’re a breeze to make. That said, I deploy a few, small, but (I’ll argue) significant personal preferences when I set out to make energy bites.
No-bake Energy Bites

Energy Bite Strategy

Most recipes tend to use raw coconut flakes, and raw oats. I find a light toasting of both is worth the slight extra effort. I also like chia seeds here, and tend to use them as my seed of choice, but I first beat them up in a mortar and pestle a bit before adding them to the mix. Also, feel free to swap things up a bit – trade in alternate seeds, use whatever sweetener you prefer, add spices if you like, or an alternative nut butter, or keep things simple, and just go with this version – Enjoy!

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A quick side note, I make these with whatever nut butter I have on hand. Typically peanut or almond butter, but in the video up above you’ll see sunflower seed butter. All great!

No-bake Energy Bites

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13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthy, Feel-Good Food

I’m so excited about this post, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner! I love being able to use my site not only to share the recipes I’m excited about cooking, but to highlight other cooks who inspire me. Many of them have Instagram accounts, so I thought I’d pull together a list of a few favorites. My hope is that they’ll all inspire you to want to jump into the kitchen. They tend to celebrate lots of plants and vegetables, and generally integrate food, cooking, balance, and wellness into their lives in a way that inspires others. I actually have a much longer list, so think of this as the first installment. And, if you’re into it, I’ll share more!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Ellen Fisher / @ellenfisher – I love this family. Watching the kids grow up on Ellen’s You Tube channel has been amazing, their love for good food and nature from the time they were tiny is inspiring to all. One love! :)!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Alaina Sullivan / @alasully – She’s on design over at Bon Appétit Magazine, but she’s actually one of my favorite cooks to watch.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Candice Kumai / @candicekumai/ – Excited for her new book! – Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Heidi Swanson / @heidijswanson – My Instagram, just in case you’re not already following!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– ABCVNYC / @abcvnyc – Top of my list the next time I’m in NYC. I just wish they posted more! 🙂

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Andy Baraghani / @andybaraghani – I met Andy at a dinner at David Tanis’s house a few days days before he started as Senior Food Editor at Bon Appétit Magazine and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d be up to. He’s just got that je ne sais quoi, and his recipes are are, so often, exactly what you want to be eating. Color, texture, flavor – he’s just one of those cooks who has the good spidey sense.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Beatrice Valenzuela / @beatricevalenzuela – Known for her clothing, shoe, and jewelry designs, Beatrice is actually one of my favorite cooks to watch. Catch glimpses through her watch Insta-stories for a peek into her Echo Park kitchen & life.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food– Botanica / @botanicafood – The Instagram feed for Botanica Food & Market in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. If you can’t be there, you can at least see what is coming out of the kitchen ;)…

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Camille Becerra / @camillebecerra – Chef at DeMaria in New York, all around inspiring person. Only wish Camille was West Coast :)!

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – INDAY / @inday_nyc – Energizing Food + Good Karma, wish there was an INDAY in San Francisco.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Nourished Journal / @nourishedjournal – a great wellness gateway with lots of wonderful profiles – for ex: alaalison, allylwalsh, and mynewroots.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Sprouted Kitchen / @sproutedkitchen – Real life, real food. Love Sara.

13 Inspiring Instagrammers to Follow for Healthful, Feel-Good Food – Anna Jones / @we_are_food – One of my favorite U.K. cookbook authors.

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How To Make the Creamy, Toasted Coconut Milk of Your Dreams

Let me start by saying, if you already make your own nut milks at home, you have to try this. I mean – walk to your kitchen, turn the oven dial, and get some coconut in there. You have to trust me here. I started making homemade toasted coconut milk a few months ago, and it has become one of my favorite things. It’s creamy, rich, nutty, and intense. I enjoy it immensely on its own, and as an ingredient in other preparations as well. It’s a real flavor punch. Imagine all the ways you can use it to make some of your favorite preparations even better. It’s great in chai tea, in morning oatmeal, baked oatmeal(!). You can use it in a wild range of sweet preparations, but it’s also good as a way to add a little je ne sais quoi, to broths, soups, and weeknight curries.

You can see how it comes together in a video of the process here, and you can find the recipe down below, as well as a few notes. Let me know if you make it, and if you do, please let me know how you’re using it!

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A couple notes. If you want to totally geek out on this, play around with the toastiness of your coconut. If you toast coconut deeply, you’re going to have a different profile than a more lightly toasted coconut. I tend to ride the dark side of the spectrum, but it’s wild the difference between a milk made with lightly toasted versus dark. Both delicious, just different.

Toasted Coconut Milk

Toasted Coconut Milk

Also, like all pure coconut milk, it will separate. And it solidifies in the refrigerator. Use it as you would canned coconut milk, and expect it to behave similarly (i.e. you might need to warm it up a bit, and give it a good stir before using)…

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