Making healthy food sexy.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

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For the past several weeks, I’ve been eyeing this three-layered carrot cake. It lives in a store down the street, in a pretty little case, clear and shiny. It whispers my name, loud enough for nobody else to hear but me. This cake has walnuts, raisins, and thick cream cheese frosting. It is handsome and robust, yet sweet and decadent. I thought I had a little crush on it, but the relationship couldn’t go past a little infatuation. Last time I saw him, I said: “Farewell, we are not meant to be together, I am with pancakes: delicious, hearty carrot cake pancakes, drizzles with mouthwatering maple syrup.” We are a match made in heaven.

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I usually don’t indulge for breakfast, but these are worth the splurge. Soft, moist, sweet, and hearty, these carrot cake pancakes beat the hell out of any carrot cake I have ever had. Made with quinoa, oats, and carrots, these pancakes are a powerhouse of goodness. Packed with all the nutrients you want to start your day with, these pancakes are not only delicious, but also good for you. The perfect balance of protein (quinoa), healthy grains (oatmeal) with a hefty dose of vegetable power (carrots) these are a complete meal you could even have for dinner, if you ever did that kind of thing. 

Go ahead, make these. I dare you. You will fall in love over and over again, one bite at a time.  

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Carrot Cake Pancakes

Inspired by this recipe

Serves 2-3 (about 7 3 inch dia. Pancakes)

  • ½ cup oatmeal flour, made by processing ½ cup GF old fashioned oatmeal
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • 2 tbsp. old-fashioned oatmeal, GF if necessary
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup milkof choice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots, from 2 medium carrots
  • 2 tbsp. butter for cooking
  • Good quality maple syrup as needed

 

In a large bowl place oatmeal flour, quinoa flour, oatmeal, salt, spices and sugar. Stir until evenly distributed. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, coconut oil, milk and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry. Add finely grated carrots, and combine ingredients until just well incorporated. Do not over mix. 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a baking sheet in oven where you will keep pancakes warm as you cook batter.

To make pancakes, start by placing a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Scoop about ¼ cup worth of batter per pancakes onto warm skillet. Cook, flipping once, until both sides are golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Unlike traditional pancakes, these don’t bubble as much to indicate they are halfway done. Since the batter is thick, test for doneness after three minutes. If golden brown, turn, then cook flip side. When first batch of pancakes is ready transfer onto baking sheet to keep warm.  Add another tablespoon of butter and cook the second half of the batter. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of good quality maple syrup. 

Enjoy!

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Black Rice Salad with Roasted New Potatoes and Capers

While roaming the sun-drenched streets of this City last weekend, I stumbled upon a box of black rice while shopping for Italian delicacies at Chelsea Market. Having had a relatively unsuccessful trip to the Farmer’s Market and a fairly uninspired week, I knew this ingredient would open doors and take me far.

It does not take much for me to fall in love with an ingredient that is both good for the body and good for the soul. While I associate rice with comfort and home, black rice is exotic and unique. Rice is wholesome, black rice is sophisticated and refined. I like rice, but I think this black variety is trying to conquer my heart.

 

This salad is special.

Black rice serves as a floral and nutty canvas to sweet, creamy, roasted new potatoes, tangy capers, and fresh micro greens. Every bite is chewy, creamy, and fresh, an explosion of amazing flavors, a simile to spring. The addition of capers and a tangy Dijon Mustard dressing keeps things sour and enlivened, balancing the hearty combination of potatoes and rice.

I made this rice dish alongside maple roasted carrots, a green salad, and chicken for our semi-traditional Sunday dinner when we let Luca (our dog) play with Larry (my sister in-law’s dog) for several hours while we catch up with where work and life over food and wine. While these dinners are not at all fancy, I like to dress everything up a bit, just so that it feels special and important, a celebration of a weeks end, and new beginnings. This rice salad fit in just perfectly!

 

 

 

Tangy Dijon Dressing

  • 2 tbsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

 Mix ingredients together and set aside.

Black Rice Salad with Potatoes and Capers

  • 1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours
  • generous drizzle of olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ pound new or fingerling potatoes, washed and sliced into quarters
  • 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • About 2 cups micro greens, or baby greens of choice
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • Tangy Dijon dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place quartered baby potatoes in baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Toss until potatoes are well coated. Place in oven and roast for 30-35 minutes. When ready potatoes should be golden and soft throughout. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Start cooking rice as soon as potatoes go in the oven.

For improved digestion, and quicker cook time, soak rice for at least 8 hours before cooking. When ready to cook, drain and rinse rice thoroughly.  Place in a pot with 2 cups of water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. Reduce temperature to low, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Rice will be ready when chewy with a bite. Remove from heat and let cool for five to ten minutes.  

To assemble salad, place warm rice, potatoes, capers, and dressing in a large bowl. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Add micro greens and cilantro. Toss again and serve immediately.

This salad can be made up to a day ahead, just make sure to add the micro greens and cilantro when ready to serve to preserve freshness and color. 

Brown Rice Congee with Cumin

With a severe lack of amazing vegetables to play with, Tasty Plan has become an experimentation lab of all things Asian. Over the past several grueling winter months I have been testing my limits to discover new cooking techniques that previously seemed unattainable.  Today, I am making congee, a traditional rice porridge eaten throughout Asia, known to be the ultimate comfort food!

After a few days of lingering rain, I needed something that was bold, flavorful, and uplifting, yet equally comforting and easy to make. With an empty fridge, enough time on my hands, and a pantry full of staples, I set out to conquer congee. 

To make congee, rice is cooked slowly in lots of water over an hour and a half. Over this period, the rice will begin to break down into a thick porridge. This variation is infused with sesame oil and cumin, for extra earthy flavor undertones. As toppings, I chose to use cooked green beans, cilantro, cashews, and a soft boiled egg, but feel free to experiment with broccoli, radishes, bok choy, sautéed spinach, or any other leafy green for that matter. The combinations are endless! The key to success here is to drizzle everything with a splash of soy sauce for extra oomph. The soy sauce adds enough umami and salt to make this dish not only nourishing and comforting, but delicious and addictive. 

 

 

Brown Rice Congee with Cumin

Serves 4

Cook time 2 hours 

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. cumin powder

 To serve:

  • Soy sauce, or Tamari
  • String beans, or vegetable or choice
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. cashews or peanuts, per person
  • 1 soft boiled egg, per person

Soak rice in fresh water for thirty minutes. Strain, then place in a large pot with salt and five cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for thirty minutes.  Add sesame oil and cumin powder. Reduce heat to low. Add 3 cups of water over the next hour, stirring occasionally. Congee will be ready when rice breaks down into a thick consistency. (Should resemble rice pudding or risotto.)

To soft boil eggs, place eggs in a small saucepan with enough water to fully cover the eggs. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and cook for exactly five minutes. Remove from saucepan immediately and run eggs under cold water for at least a minute. Crack shells off egg and set aside until ready to serve.  This technique should give you perfect soft-boiled eggs. The whites should have set completely, and the yolk should be runny.

To serve, place about a cup to of congee into a bowl. Garnish with cooked string beans, or any other vegetable of choice, a handful of cilantro, cashews, and a soft-boiled egg, sliced in half. Add a splash of soy sauce over congee, and eat immediately.

Enjoy!

 

 

Citrus and Turmeric Granola with Goji Berries

If you haven’t already noticed, I love making granola.  Granola is easy to make foolproof, versatile, and inexpensive. Like a blank canvas, oats absorb whatever flavor you throw at it flawlessly, making it perfectly adaptable to whichever season and cravings. The key to perfection is balance within difference. I like to add a combination of crunchy ingredients (nuts, seeds, quinoa), sweet ingredients (maple syrup, honey, fruit juice), and soft-chewy ingredients (dried cranberries, golden raisins, coconut) that will make each bite special.  

This recipe is unlike any other granola recipe I have made before. Rather than going the nutty cinnamon-y route, this granola is floral, citrusy, and totally addictive. It is a farewell to winter, and a warm sunny welcome to spring. The use of the bold flavors in grapefruit juice, zest and turmeric, make for a guilt-free (less sugar and oil), healthier granola to enjoy for breakfast or as a snack.

With a beautiful golden hue (thanks turmeric!) and burst of red from goji berries, this granola is pleasing to all senses!

Citrus and Turmeric Granola with Goji Berries

Makes about 3 cups

Cook time: 45 minutes

  • 2 cups GF oats
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. grapefruit or lemon zest
  • Juice of one whole grapefruit
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. raw local honey
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. turmeric

  • ¼ cup roasted flax seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup dried goji berries (can substitute for cranberries or golden raisins)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, place oats, quinoa, and sea salt. Set aside. In a small sauce pan over low heat combine grapefruit zest and juice with maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and turmeric. Stir until everything is well incorporated and coconut oil has completely melted. Mix in wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Transfer granola onto baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once, halfway through. Remove from oven, then add goji berries and flax seeds, if using. Mix and let cool completely. Transfer granola into a sealed container. Serve over yogurt, with milk, or with preferred fruit of choice!

Enjoy! 

 

 

Spring Toast

Nothing screams spring more so than peas. These sweet tiny balls of of deliciousness are the one food item that makes winter bearable. I puree frozen peas and cauliflower into the greenest of soups, sauté them with olive oil and garlic for a quick side dish, and sometimes I mash them together with tahini for the most delicious of all hummus recipes out there.

Today I am sharing a recipe that is perfect for lunch. Spring Toast is the perfect combination of hearty toast, garlicky pea hummus, avocado, and sprouts. Everything is sprinkled with chunky sea salt flakes and drizzled with the grassiest of olive oils. Every bite is just divine: sweet, salty, and creamy. And while it still doesn’t feel like spring, every bite of this will bring you a bit closer!

 

Pea Hummus

Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 cups cooked sweet peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • Handful of cilantro and or mint (optional)

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Set aside. Store covered in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Spring Toast

Serves 1 

  • 2-3 tbsp. Pea Hummus
  • 1 toast (Free Bread or Udi’s if GF)
  • ½ avocado, sliced thin
  • Sprouts of choice
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive oil 

Toast bread. Smear pea hummus, then place sliced avocado on top. Sprinkle with sprouts and sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil and eat immediately. 

Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

Sometimes, we need a little bit of help to get through stuff. You know, when work ends up consuming all your time and winter seems never ending. Well, I got a little something-something to put you in a better mood. A little treat that will help you forget that you’ve been in a plane for six hours, after a crazy less than 24-hour trip to Las Vegas for business purposes, or that you have a deadline in less than a week, and you’ll be even more tired tomorrow. A little treat that will help you get through the fact that this beautiful weather will only last one more day, until May rolls around.

This little treat will put a smile on your face and make you happy.

Made with chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs, these triple chocolate one bowl cookies are the bomb: fudgy, dark, delicious decadence. You’ll be lip smacking asking for just one more after the first bite. But wait, it gets better. A bit a tahini adds just the right amount of earthy nuttiness that take these to the next level, a complex combination of savory and sweet. And… are you ready? Made with oat flour, these cookies are gluten, nut, and dairy free!

You can thank me later, but for now, just make these cookies and rejoice in an overwhelming feeling of bliss.

 

 

Triple Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

Makes 18-20 cookies

Cook time 30-40 minutes

Inspired by this recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups gluten free oats, processed into flour
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • ¾ cup bitter sweet chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup cocoa nibs, Mast Brothers preferred

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Place parchment paper atop a large baking sheet. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk eggs, coconut oil, and tahini until everything is well incorporated. Add sugar, then vanilla, and mix. Using a spoon incorporate baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and oats. Add water if necessary. Incorporate cocoa nibs and chocolate chunks into batter. Scoop 1 ½ tablespoon sized batter ball onto baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each cookie.  Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes, before transferring onto baking rack or counter. Repeat until you have baked all batter. Eat! Devour! And remember to place any extra cookies in tight sealed container.

 

 

Marinated Yuba (Tofu Skin) Bowls

 

Yuba goes by many names. Some people call it dried bean curd, others tofu skin. I like yuba. It sounds exotic, or at least more so than tofu. Considered a delicacy in Japan, yuba is not as popular as tofu is in the West. I find this odd, since yuba is awesome. With the consistency of thin noodles, yuba is high in protein and low in fat. It is inexpensive and versatile, making it a budget friendly ingredient to use in soup, stir-fries, or over rice with lots of soy sauce.  

I rediscovered this ingredient recently. I remember eating a lot of it in college. My favorite sushi then was Inari, tofu skin wrapped sushi rice. When dipped in soy sauce, everything came together seamlessly. Super simple, super delicious.

 

When a friend received a months’ worth supply of tofu skins in the mail, he handed me a bag, with a recipe request in exchange. I immediately dug into research and emerged with this recipe: a bolder, more robust deconstructed version of the Inari I loved so much back in the day.

While it is traditional to dip yuba in soy sauce, I wanted to take it a step further by marinating it for several hours. The perfect combination of soy, honey, and ginger permeates the yuba, transforming it something close to sublime, an umami bomb of flavors. Ginger cuts through keeping everything a light and refreshing notes, the honey adds balance, and the vinegar keeps adds enough acid to make this sauce addictive.

 When assembling the bowls allow the marinade pour over the rice, soaking every grain with the deliciousness. Make each bite a combination of crunchy vegetables, hearty rice, smooth yuba, and lots of marinade. You’ll love it as much as I do. 

 

 

 

Marinated Yuba (Tofu Skins)

 Soy ginger Marinade:

  • ¼ cup apple or rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup tamari (for the GF) or soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp. agave or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Tiny splash sesame oil
  • 3 oz.  yuba (tofu skins)

To make marinade stir together vinegar, soy sauce, and sweetener, with ginger, garlic, and thinly sliced green onion. Add a touch of sesame oil and set aside.

Bring a large pot with water to a boil. Add tofu skin sticks in boiling water. Cook until it becomes soft and pale, about 5-7 minutes. Drain. Place tofu skins in marinade. Let marinade for at least an hour, or overnight. The more the tofu marinated the subtler the ginger taste will be.

Yuba Bowls

Serves 2

  • Marinated Yuba (recipe above)
  • 4 baby bok choy, steamed
  • 1 cup cooked sweet peas
  • ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • Handful of chopped cilantro
  • Brown cooked brown rice or quinoa (1/2- 1 cup per person)

Steam or sauté bok choy and sweet peas until cooked. To assemble Yuba Bowls place brown rice or quinoa at the bottom of a bowl. Add marinated Yuba, with marinate, over the rice, then add the steamed vegetables and chopped cilantro. Eat immediately.

Enjoy !

Kelp Noodle Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

I have been making an effort this winter to post recipes that are as colorful as those I would post during spring, summer, and fall, while still using seasonal ingredients. I have been taking you on exotic journeys to the Middle East, India, Korea and today, somewhere in China. Inspired by the Asian flavors we all love, sesame, citrus and spice, this cold noodle salad recipe is both refreshing and satisfying!

 

The star of this salad is the kelp noodle, a crunchy and raw alternative to traditional noodles. Made using seaweed, sodium alginate, and water, kelp noodles are low in calorie (20 calories per serving!) and high in nutrients, especially iodine and calcium. I am not going to try to convince you these look or taste like pasta or vermicelli. Kelp noodles are unique! Their best attribute? Kelp noodles absorb dressing like a sponge, and become tastier with time. My advice, make this recipe a day in advance! Let the salad marinate in this delicious sesame dressing, and devour the following day. The noodles will be softer and tastier then.

While the cilantro and mint are detrimental to making the flavors on this salad come alive, feel free to use whatever you have at hand. Avocado adds creaminess, and carrots crunch, but sweet peas, radishes, cashews, peanuts, and sprouts would be magnificent additions.

 

 

Creamy Sesame Dressing

  • Juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • Drizzle sesame oil
  • Pinch red chili flakes
  • Pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Cold Kelp Noodle Salad

Serves 2

Active cook time: 10 minutes

Inactive time: 3 hours

  • 6 oz. kelp Noodles (about half a bag)
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Handful mint leaves, chopped
  • Half an avocado
  • 1 tbsp. Flax or sesame seeds
  • Sesame dressing

Additional Ingredients:

Cashews

Peanuts

Sweet peas

Sprouts

Radishes

Zucchini

Place noodles in a bowl with hot water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Let sit for an hour. Rinse under hot water. Place noodles in bowl with dressing and a large pinch of salt. Add cilantro, mint, and vegetables. Place in refrigerator for at least for 2 hours, but preferably over night. When ready to eat, add avocado, and flax or sesame seeds. Devour.  

Turmeric Power Smoothie

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Turmeric is having a moment. It is popping up in soups, teas, and breakfast bowls all around the world. Its bright yellow hue is saturating kitchens everywhere, and for good reason. Turmeric’s aroma is distinctly earthy, peppery, and almost floral. It is versatile enough to work well with both sweet and savory dishes. Though many claim turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer qualities, I use it because I like how it tastes. I cook with it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I sprinkle it over oatmeal, honeyed toast, brown rice, quinoa, and even eggs. I like how it turns everything bright yellow. I am obsessed.

This simple smoothie is a nutritional powerhouse; a sunny start to any day. Made with coconut milk, grapefruit, mango, banana, raw honey, chia seeds, and turmeric, this smoothie is tropical vacation from anything winter. The combination of chia seeds, coconut milk, and fruit should keep you energized and satisfied. 

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Tumeric Power Smoothie

Serves 2 

  • 1 banana
  • Juice of 1 grapefruit
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1-2 tsp. raw local honey
  • ¾-1 cup coconut milk, depending on preferred consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend at high speed until smooth. Serve and drink immediately. 

Enjoy!

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Roasted Vegetable Winter Salad

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I am not going to lie. Finding local ingredients to cook with during this time of year is nearly impossible. It takes a little bit of creativity to make dinner somewhat interesting when the few things available at your farmer’s market involve potatoes, onions, and more potatoes. Unless you find a potato that stands out from its crowd, one that is brightly hued and beautiful.

I discovered Magic Molly, a fingerling potato varietal, during a snow-covered visit to the farmers market several weeks ago. These potatoes are starchy and sweet. Perfect for roasting, these potatoes enliven any meal. Today I am sharing a humble salad I have been enjoying throughout these past couple of months. The broccoli is roasted alongside the potatoes until crisp. Then paired with both raw kale and kale chips. Everything is coated with a tangy, yet sweet grapefruit tahini dressing. All the flavors come together seamlessly, for an effortless dinner that will please a crowd, even during the grayest of days.

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Grapefruit Tahini Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup

Juice of ½ grapefruit

  • 1 tsp. tahini
  • 1 tsp. good Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. raw honey or agave (optional)

Mix grapefruit juice, tahini, mustard and olive oil in a small bowl. Taste. If dressing is too tangy for your taste add honey or agave. Set aside.

Roasted Vegetable Winter Salad

Serves: 2

Cook time: 30-35 minutes

  • 3-4 Magic Molly Fingerling Potatoes
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12-15 french green beans
  • 5-6 kale leaves
  • handful shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash potatoes under running water. Pat dry and cut into ¼” slices. Set aside. Cut broccoli into florets. Place in baking sheet and sprinkle with a large pinch of either Kosher or sea salt coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss until vegetables are well coated. Add a clove of garlic and place in oven.

To cook the French green beans bring a small sauce pan with water to a boil. Add the green beans into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. The beans will turn bright green when ready. Remove from boiling water and place in a bowl with ice and water. After several minutes, drain and set aside.

To prepare kale remove the leafy part from the stems. Cut leaves into 1 inch slices and place in a large bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a small pinch of salt. With clean hands massage kale for 5 minutes. The kale should become fragrant and bright green. Massaging the kale will remove its inherent toughness, softening its fibers for better digestion.

Once the vegetables have been roasting for 20 minutes, and a small handful of the massages kale to the baking sheet. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Once potatoes and broccoli come out of the oven, stir into bowl with massaged kale. Add green beans and pour dressing over. Mix until everything is well coated. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Sprinkle salad with chopped shelled pistachios. Serve immediately!

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