Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Veggies Than Pasta Salad

When I do pasta salad, I do it garlicky and with plenty of vegetables. There's nothing wrong with whole wheat pasta, but there's so much right with fresh vegetables that I like to skew the grain-veg ratio in favor of the green (and orange!) stuff.

Like all pasta salad, this one is friendly fare in hot weather. Does it seem like I've been preoccupied with the temperature lately? I'm enduring my first full Floridian summer and still adjusting to the sweat sandwich that forms between my shirt and backpack after an innocent ride to the supermarket. Sexy sexy.

On that note, have some pasta salad! I served mine dusted with a little extra Parmesan cheese.

10-Ingredient More Veggies Than Pasta Salad
Total Kitchen Time: 25 minutes. Serves 4.

1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat pasta
2 carrots, diced
4 celery hearts, diced
1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 heaping Tbls. parmesan cheese (milk, cultures, enzymes)
3 cloves garlic, grated

Free Spice Blend
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)

Set pasta to boil. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, cheese, garlic and optional spices.

Blanch and drain broccoli florets and toss with celery and carrots in a large mixing bowl.

Drain pasta and combine with vegetables. Add dressing, stir well and serve.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Spicy Almond Sweet Potato Fries

I know I said I don't turn on the oven in June, but I lied, sort of. I'm definitely not one to plan a long summertime roast, but these fries are cut small enough that they cook through in minutes. Also they're so toasty and satisfying I'm willing to compromise my integrity for a plateful.

My nine-ingredient meal included the spicy fries plus a cold cucumber salad with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Like a couple of Jane Austen protagonists in the final chapter, they made a surprisingly suitable match.

I should mention that these fries are FORK fries. Frankly, I've never been able to get the almond meal to hang on too tight. The upside is, there are usually some perfectly toasted almond bits left behind on the baking tray. Munch munch munch.

3-Ingredient Spicy Almond Sweet Potato Fries
Total Kitchen Time: 20 minutes. Serves 2.

1 large sweet potato, cut into fries
1/3 cup raw almonds
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Free Spice Blend
cayenne pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss sweet potato pieces in olive oil to coat.

Grind almonds into a medium meal and combine with potatoes. Toss to coat and sprinkle with cayenne.

Arrange fries on a tray and bake at 400 degrees ten minutes or until tender and crispy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Curry Kettlecorn

Is anyone besides me terrified of that orange grease that gets pumped into movie theater popcorn? Even the store-bought "butter flavor" variety is adulterated with refined soybean oil, excess salt and other nasties.

On it's own, popcorn is a whole grain, single-ingredient food that's surprisingly high in disease-preventing polyphenols. Adding pure melted butter tastes delicious and saves you from the toxic orange doom-slick.

I eat popcorn a lot more often now that I know that the kernels pop in the microwave without oil. Either this is the popcorn business's best-kept secret, or everyone I know is just pretending they don't believe me so I'll nuke a batch to prove it.

Either way, I'm addicted to the buttery, sweet-curry flavor of this popcorn! It's the only thing I use my microwave for. Enjoy.

3-Ingredient Curry Kettlecorn
Total Kitchen Time: 5 minutes! Serves 2.

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 Tbls. butter
1 tsp. sugar

Free Spice Blend
1/2 tsp. curry powder
sea salt to taste

Pour dry kernels into microwave-safe bowl and cover with a slightly damp paper towel.

Microwave on high 4 minutes or until popping becomes infrequent.

Use potholders to remove the HOT bowl.

Toss kernels with melted butter, sugar, salt and curry powder.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Broiled Summer Vegetables

Who wants to turn on the oven in late June? I believe it's important to respect and honor the hard work of my air conditioner in this most demanding of months by not baking or roasting my food.

That said, I love eating crispy-soft and sweet roasted vegetables, and my taste buds don't know June from December.

To get around preheating and long roasting times, I wanted to try popping some classic summer vegetables under the broiler. I wasn't sure it was going to work, but to my somewhat overblown excitement, the broiler softened the vegetables perfectly (no turning necessary) and barely charred the tops. Best of all, I had the oven off again before the AC had time to contemplate revenge.

I piled the broiled veggies on top of whole wheat couscous with some feta cheese and basil, then sprinkled raw almonds around the plate for extra crunch and protein. Scott skipped the almonds and used his last ingredient on a splash of balsamic vinegar, which was awesome.

9-Ingredient Broiled Summer Vegetables
Total Kitchen Time: 15 minutes. Serves 2.

4 yellow squashes
20ish green beans
6 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry whole wheat couscous
1/3 cup feta cheese* (milk, enzymes, rennet)
5 fresh basil leaves.

Snap ends off beans and cut squashes in thirds lengthwise. Toss both in olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet with halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika if desired.

Place vegetables under the broiler (a low broil if your oven has the option.)

Set couscous to simmer with twice the water.

Check both the couscous and the vegetables often! Remove vegetables when tops are brown but not burnt, about 5 minutes.

Serve vegetables over couscous and top with feta cheese and torn basil leaves.

*I bought block feta for this recipe instead of crumbled feta, because the crumbled kind has anti-caking agents and mold-inhibitors.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dijon Ginger Bok Choy

Bok choy is my dad's favorite green and it's probably my favorite cooked green. Even so I rarely make it, because I get so much raw leafage in my belly at breakfast.

Bok choy for lunch was a nice change of pace, but now I am so full of greens! Will I turn mean like the Hulk? Or benevolent like the Jolly Green Giant? It's too soon to tell, but leaf-hued skin is surely in my future.

The tangy marinade in this recipe gets a kick from garlic and ginger, both powerful anti-inflammatory foods. Combined with the iron- and phytonutrient-rich greens, this bok choy is truly the darling of the dance.

I paired my greens with some purgatory eggs. They've just got a dollop of dijon mustard on top. Get it? A grated carrot with some toasted sesame seeds topped off the meal for a total of ten ingredients. Yum!

The recipe is modified from one I found on VegWeb.

8-Ingredient Dijon Ginger Bok Choy
Total Kitchen Time: 15 minutes. Serves 2

1 lb baby bok choy
1 Tbls. rice vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard (vinegar, spices)
2 tsp. tamari (soybeans, alcohol)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 coin of ginger, grated.
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Roughly chop and rinse bok choy; steam covered until tender, about seven minutes.

Whisk remaining ingredients together.

Toss marinade with cooked greens, top with sesame seeds and serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Global Grocery Haul

I'm one of those people who furtively peers into strangers' shopping carts at the supermarket. Charged with chilling the wine at a dinner party, I linger a bit too long in the cold plume of the open fridge, scanning the shelves. I get a big kick out of seeing what other people buy and eat. Weirdo! I know. But I am what I am.

A section of my own pantry. Starvin' the moths. *uppercut*

So when I stumbled across this NPR piece yesterday about a book called Hungry Planet, I was rapt. In what amounts to a global grocery haul, photographer Peter Menzel documents 30 families around the world posing in their homes with a week's worth of food.

Here's a slide show of some of the photographs, and here's another. If you haven't seen the images already (the book came out in '05), I hope you enjoy this titillating, unembarrassed and thought-provoking gander at global food traditions as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brazilian Black Beans and Rice

Authentic Brazilian black beans (Feijoada) are slow-cooked with pork and beef and served over white rice. I've never tried the real deal, but I was so intrigued to learn that the dish is sometimes cooked with oranges, that I had to try my hand at it, with some TIP modifications. This "Faux Feijoada" turned out great, and helped me whittle away at the foolishly large batch of beans I cooked this week. Score!

I couldn't resist topping the beans with a Baja-style condiment I used to love in SoCal: diced raw onion tossed with cilantro. It's bright and fresh against the heartiness of the beans, and not as scarily pungent as it sounds; just make sure your date has some, too. :)

I used a whole pureed orange in this recipe, and the beans turned out a little pulpy. In the future, I might juice the orange instead.

7-Ingredient Brazilian Black Beans and Rice
Total Kitchen Time: 35 minutes. Serves 2.

2/3 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups cooked black beans
1 orange
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup cilantro

Free Spice Blend
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 bay leaf

Set rice to a simmer in a covered saucepan with double the water.

In a separate saucepan, bring beans to a simmer with 1/3 cup water and spices.

Juice or puree orange and add to the bean pot. Simmer uncovered continuously 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced and beans are very soft.

Add vinegar and garlic, stir and remove from heat.

Top generously with onion, cilantro and sea salt. Serve over brown rice.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Veggie Flax Crackers

If I were stuck on a desert island with my dehydrator, I would die searching for an electrical outlet. Or if I happened to find one under a rock, I would die from eating too many dehydrated foods on a desert island with no fresh water. Go figure!

What I'm trying to say is, I love all things crunchy and chewy that come out of that machine. And these crackers are the best. No one can stop munching on them, and since they're full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and fresh vegetables, who cares? Munch away.

The recipe is from Green Smoothie Girl mastermind Robyn Openshaw, and it's reproduced here with only minor changes. Robyn calls for a tsp. of salt (which I find unnecessary) and a lower, longer drying temperature.

9-Ingredient Veggie Flax Crackers
Total Kitchen Time: 30 minutes. Makes lots of crackers.

1 red bell pepper
3 large or 4 medium tomatoes
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
4 cloves garlic
3 cups flaxseeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup wheat free tamari (soybeans, alcohol)

Free Spice Blend
1 Tbls. chili powder

Soak flax and sunflower seeds in very large bowl with 4 cups water for several hours.

Puree tomatoes, celery, garlic, tamari and chili powder. Combine with seeds.

Grate carrots and dice bell pepper very fine. Combine with seeds and stir well.

Line dehydrator trays with parchment paper and spread "dough" about 1/4 inch thick on each tray. Dry at 125 degrees for about 12 hours, flip crackers and dry an addition six hours or until crackers are crisp.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Five Minute Plate

This week in five minute plate land: a 9-ingredient meal of leftover canned cannelli beans, steamed broccoli, apple wedges, pepper jack cheese and orange bell pepper strips.

It was a race to get everything on the plate before the broccoli finished steaming. But I won.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Bars

"They look like crap but they taste really good!" exclaimed my roommate after sampling these bars.

The success of the banana nut bars I made a few weeks ago combined with a fortuitously discovered bag of cheap, grumpy organic apples at the grocery store inspired me to imitate another one of my favorite Larabar flavors: apple pie.

Without the adhesive power of bananas, the "dough" in this recipe starts out a little looser than would be ideal, resulting in slightly misshapen bars. But they hold their (mis)shape perfectly once dried, and as my roommate established, delicious is delicious even if it looks like a wildlife turd.

5-Ingredient Apple Cinnamon Bars
Total Kitchen Time: 25 min. Makes 10 bars.

4 apples
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pitted deglet noor dates
1/4 cup raisins

Free Spice Blend:
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Process or blend almonds and walnuts into a coarse meal; transfer to large mixing bowl.

Puree apples with 2 Tbls. water. Add apple sauce to nut meal.

Chop dates and raisins thoroughly until the fruit becomes a sticky paste. Combine with apple sauce and nut meal.

Add cinnamon and stir well.

Form "dough" into loosely rectangular shapes on parchment paper and dehydrate at 135 degrees for about 18 hours, turning halfway through.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Quinoa Melt

If it looks like I've been on a quinoa kick lately, maybe I have! But even when I'm not kicking, mild, tender-crunchy, fast-cooking, high-protein quinoa is one of my favorite grains.

Learning that quinoa pairs well with cheese opened up a lot of possibilities for me. I love cheese and I'm not afraid of buying full fat dairy. It's got "whole" right in the name, and I do so swoon for foods in their natural state. When it comes to dairy and eggs, however, I am conscious of the environmental impact of those foods, and try to eat no more than one serving per day.

I don't have a real recipe for this, but I made it from red quinoa, sweet potato chunks, diced onion and cheddar cheese. I had blueberries and cucumber slices on the side for a total of ten ingredients.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Plagued by a burbly stomach this morning, I traded my usual blended greens for a bowl of steel cut oats loaded with antioxidant-rich fruits. The dense, buttery grains and burst of warm berries showed my cranky stomach who's boss.

You can smile if you're trying to cut back on added sugars, because this oatmeal has zero grams.

Speaking of added sugars and antioxidants, I saw some Jelly Belly "Superfruit Mix" jelly beans for sale yesterday and I punched the bag right off the stand. Not really, but how appalling! Jelly beans have never been and will never be a healthy food, no matter how much pomegranate extract manufacturers inject into them. Honk if you'd rather have a real pomegranate.

7-Ingredient Antioxidant Oatmeal
Total Kitchen Time: 15 min. Serves 1.

1/3 cup steel cut oats
1 Tbls. butter or unrefined coconut oil
small handful sliced strawberries
small handful blueberries
small handful blackberries
small handful chopped walnuts
small handful raisins

Free Spice Blend
1/2 tsp cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Simmer oats on med-low heat 10-15 minutes, covered, with two and a half times the water.

Meanwhile combine berries, butter, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg in a serving bowl.

When oats are soft but still slightly chewy, spoon into serving bowl and stir until butter is melted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Curry Lime Quinoa

Sarah in New York sent me this amazing cool and zesty curry recipe. Eight ingredients! I made a few slight alterations to match what I had on hand: mixed red and white quinoa, chopped raw almonds instead of toasted sliced ones, and red instead of golden raisins.

Not uncommonly, I'm slightly allergic to sulfur dioxide, a preservative used in golden raisins to prevent browning. (Ever start coughing after eating dried apricots or golden raisins? You may be too.) Red raisins are a single-ingredient food and they fulfill their role as sweet little chewies in this curry just fine.

I spent my last two ingredients on fresh sliced cucumber and strawberries. What an awesome dinner!

Thanks for the recipe Sarah. As an aside, I love getting TIP reader recipes in my mailbox. Please keep them coming to

8-Ingredient Curry Lime Quinoa
Total Kitchen Time: 30 minutes. Serves 4.

1 cup dry quinoa
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
2-3 scallions, diced
juice from 2-3 limes plus zest from 1 lime
2 grated carrots
3 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil

Free Spice Blend:
1 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger (or 1/2 tsp. grated fresh)

In a medium covered saucepan, bring quinoa to simmer with two cups of water, half the lime juice and all the spices.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Once quinoa has absorbed most water and the grains are translucent (about 15 minutes) add quinoa to bowl of remaining ingredients and stir. Serve slightly warm, room temperature or cold.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brown Rice or White Rice?

Both are single ingredient foods, but white rice is buffed to remove the bran. The fiber, flavor and B vitamins go along for the ride... into the garbage. New research attempts to isolate the effects of brown versus white on insulin resistance and diabetes.

This is a web photo. Keepin' it real.

Like Punching Sandwiches?

Bad food is funny! This is worth watching a couple times to catch the fine print. Thanks to Kate in Gainesville for the link.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Yakisoba is a Japanese festival food made from wheat noodles, cabbage and other vegetables, and sometimes pork. Before I acquired a taste for the nori seaweed in veggie rolls, yakisoba was my go-to menu item in sushi restaurants. There's something about tender cabbage, chewy noodles and that tangy brown sauce that embodies a perfect single-bowl meal.

Had I known it would be so easy to recreate yakisoba at home, I would have done it a long time ago. My ten-ingredient "mockisoba" (oh, god) is a little different from the traditional dish, incorporating whole grains, extra vegetables in place of pork and a homemade sauce (no high fructose corn syrup, thank you). Try it out, noodleheads! You're in for a treat.

10-Ingredient Yakisoba
Total Kitchen Time: 20 min. Serves: 4

1/2 a large head of cabbage
2 carrots
1 yellow onion
1/2 box whole wheat angel hair pasta
2 Tbls. butter

1/4 cup wheat free tamari (soybeans, alcohol)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
juice from 1 1/2 limes

Free Spice Blend:
chili flakes (optional garnish)
toasted sesame seeds (optional garnish)

Slice cabbage into strips, grate carrots and slice onions.

Set pasta to boil.

Transfer all vegetables into a large pot with butter and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook on med-high heat 7-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine cooked, drained pasta with vegetables. Add sauce, toss and serve.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Five Minute Plate

Sometimes I crave clean and simple food: not too spicy, sweet, tangy or salty; not marinated, braised, slow-cooked or caramelized. In fact I crave--and eat--this kind of food a lot, and I think it represents an important swathe of the Ten Ingredient Project mealscape.

Additionally, let's face it: whipping up culinary wonders isn't in the cards every day.

Regardless of how complicated a meal's preparation, vegetables and fruits always deserve to be the main course. Yes! That is the single most important thing I learned about eating right.

I didn't intend to photograph or blog about this humble plate, but in the spirit of honoring not being in the mood to cook and the role that sentiment plays in ten-ingredient eating, I hereby give you...

9-Ingredient 5-Minute Lunch
Total Kitchen Time: dude we covered that. Serves 1.

steamed organic green beans plus extra virgin olive oil
raw grape tomatoes
raw cantaloupe slice
Swiss cheese (milk, enzymes, rennet)
Finn Crisps (whole rye flour, yeast and spices)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Green Smoothie Demo!

There's a new Ten Ingredient Project video on YouTube and it's a green smoothie demo !

Watch me point at leaves, knife a mango and drink swamp on camera. More boob than face! It is Friday, after all.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fruity Lentil Curry

What? This recipe has only four ingredients?! How can something bursting with juicy, exotic flavors be so simple?? Said Terita, fork poised quizzically.

My photo shoot of this recipe degenerated into... well, dinner. The heap of curry began shrinking between shots, and that's when I knew it was time to quit taking pictures and start digging in.

I paired this sweet-hot curry with a cold salad of romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, cucumber and lemon tahini dressing (lemon juice, toasted sesame seeds, & extra virgin olive oil).

4-Ingredient Fruity Lentil Curry
Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 35 min. Serves 3.

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed small*

Free Spice Blend:
2 tsp. curry powder
cilantro garnish (optional, nice flavor)
salt and cracked pepper to taste

Rinse and drain rice and lentils and bring both to boil in one covered saucepan with 2 cups water and curry powder. The brew will look like Tang and pebbles at first.

Simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until most water is absorbed (add a few Tbls. extra water if needed to soften lentils and rice).

Stir in coconut, simmer 5 more minutes and remove from heat.

Stir in pineapple, top with cilantro leaves and serve!

*This is about half the pineapple that I actually used. I think less will be more in this case, but if it's an ultra fruity curry you're after, use just under 2 cups.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jamie Oliver's TED Talk

Essex twang meets cowboy flannel meets hockey-player mullet in Jamie Oliver's TED talk about the perils of processed food.

Despite the reality TV style shock and awe tactics, (wheelbarrow of sugar cubes anyone?) and Jamie's conspicuously inelegant onstage ain't-bombs, there's an important message in this talk delivered by someone who really cares about people and public health.

I support the food revolution!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Southwest Quinoa Salad

I made this salad for my mom last month and she said, "this is the first time I've ever really liked quinoa." There are in fact many tasty quinoa preparations, but I'm not one to turn down a mom-endorsement.

The recipe is substitution-friendly: you can swap in halved grape tomatoes, cucumber chunks, corn kernels, scallions or even dried fruits.

I'm not sure if it's the salty celery crunch or the high protein content of the salad, but something about it reminds me of tuna fish. Maybe that's an unappealing comparison, but it tastes good to me.

I topped off my ten-ingredient meal with half a red delicious apple, whose deeply-hued skin has more antioxidants than that of any other apple. Cool!

9-Ingredient Southwest Quinoa Salad
Total Kitchen time: 25 minutes. Serves 4.

1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
2/3 cup of dry quinoa
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup of diced sweet onion
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
juice from half a lemon
3 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil

Free Spice Blend
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder

Rinse quinoa well, drain and repeat. Bring to boil in a saucepan with double the water on medium heat.

Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients and spices in a large bowl and stir well.

When quinoa has absorbed most of the water and the middles are translucent (15-20 minutes), remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Toss quinoa with vegetable mixture and serve immediately. Also good chilled!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yogurt & Dill Potato Salad

Unlike traditional potato salad that quickly turns gloppy with too much mayonnaise, this yogurt and dill version remains herby and refreshing even when generously dressed.

Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they won't hold their shape in the salad. Also beware of sabotaging your picnic by sneaking excessive spoonfuls of dressing from the mixing bowl.

My meal of potato salad, crisp red grapes and olive oil-drizzled green beans had only nine ingredients. I followed up with some walnuts for extra protein.

6-Ingredient Yogurt Dill Potato Salad
Prep time: 10 min. Cook time: 30 min. Serves 4.

8 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled whole with skins
1 cup Dannon whole plain yogurt (ingredients: cultured milk)
2 Tbls. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbls. minced sweet onion
1 clove grated garlic
juice from half a lemon

Slice cooled potatoes into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gently combine dressing and potatoes; stir to coat.

Serve at room temperature or chill one hour.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

YouTube Grocery Geek-Out!

I just posted my first YouTube video! Watch me nerd out about some of my favorite TIP foods from a recent shopping trip.

Several of the items in the video met their tragic fate this morning in the blender cup. Here they are just moments before I guzzled their pulverized remains. It's not easy being greens.

From the bottom up: 1 red delicious apple, 1 peach, 4 strawberries, parsley, kale, spinach, ginger root and 2 Tbls. hemp seeds. Not shown: 1+ pint water for blending.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Banana Nut Bars

Larabars are tasty and they have good ingredients, but at a buck and a half a bar, they're a splurge. I have a dehydrator, so I decided to try making my own. Holy crap.

Not only did I get a yield of twelve whole bars, but they turned out so fresh and chewy I may never buy a Larabar again. Sorry, Lara.

These bars taste exactly like banana nut bread, but their sweetness comes from whole fruit sugars, and their fat from omega-3 rich nuts and seeds. Plus, making them put a dent in my bargain bin banana bunch. Out-alliterate that, bitches.

4-Ingredient Banana Nut Bars

Total Kitchen Time: 20 minutes. Makes 12 bars

3 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, rinsed and swished
1/2 cup whole pitted deglet noor dates

Mash bananas well in a large mixing bowl.

Chop or process almonds finely and combine with banana. Ditto dates and seeds. You can also leave the seeds whole, as I did.

Form "dough" into bar shapes and arrange on parchment paper at least two inches apart. The dough will be wet and messy, but easily shaped.

Dry at 135 degrees several hours, flip the bars, and dry several hours more.

Consume ravenously.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ode To The Steam Basket

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned about food is that vegetables and fruits deserve to be the main course at every meal. In a culture that often relegates vegetables to a lowly side dish or omits them entirely, this main course mentality represents a pretty serious shift in perspective. But change is good, and these days I can barely imagine a meal any other way. Breakfast included!

Feeding my veggie habit means that the steam basket gets a lot of play in our kitchen. Steaming has a bad rap for blandifying foods, but done right (by not overcooking) it showcases the toothsome array of vegetable flavors and textures. It also happens to be the fastest way to cook many vegetables, and the one that preserves the most nutrients. Triple whammy!

If you don't own one already, you can buy one of those nifty little UFOs for about six dollars. Its sexy metal leaves are your ticket to taming the most formidable vegetables in the produce aisle.

Steaming staples at our house include broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, frozen peas, Brussels sprouts, green beans and asparagus. But there are loads more goodies out there; what are your favorites?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lazy Falafel

One of the tenets of ten-ingredient eating is that real food takes time to prepare-- but not much. These hearty, spiced falafel rounds come together fast in a mixing bowl without the need for tools beyond your hands and a fork. I modified the recipe from one found here.

I'm no expert in middle eastern cuisine, but the flavors in this falafel remind me, humbly, of the delicious middle eastern food I've had in restaurants made by chefs who presumably know what they're doing.

My ten-ingredient meal also included tahini (sesame seeds, extra virgin olive oil), romaine and sliced tomato. So tasty. Also killer with a pickle spear.

7-Ingredient Lazy Falafel
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 10 min. Serves 2.

1 16 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 sweet or yellow onion, chopped small
2 cloves grated garlic
3 Tbls. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls. whole wheat flour

Free Spice Blend:
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
black pepper and salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Rinse and drain chickpeas and transfer into a medium mixing bowl. Think of something frustrating, grab a fork and mash mash mash.

Measure all remaining ingredients and spices into the bowl and stir to combine.

Form into slightly flattened ping pong ball-sized patties. Bake ten minutes, turning halfway through.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tomato Basil Pasta

I don't usually count tomatoes among my favorite produce items because for most of the year I fall prey to the wan hothouse variety in supermarkets. December tomatoes are pinkish, mealy, and fragrant as rocks compared to the juicy little sweets available in Florida right now. My northern friends will have to wait another month or so for peak season tomatoes.

This pasta offers a fresher, lighter summer fare than you'd get with jarred sauce, plus there's a lot less sodium and sugar. Unlike white flour pasta, whole wheat pasta is a single-ingredient food.

I had some broiled summer squash and raw celery on the side for crunch. Total ingredient count: 10.

8-Ingredient Tomato Basil Pasta
Kitchen Time: 15 minutes. Serves 2.

1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 box of whole wheat angel hair pasta
extra virgin olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese (milk, cultures, enzymes)

Set pasta to boil; meanwhile toss tomatoes, garlic and minced basil together in a bowl with olive oil.

Drain pasta and toss with tomato mixture, more olive oil, cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste.