Tag Archives: olive oil

Omega-3 Lemon Balm, Hemp, & Flax Pesto Spread – Vegan

lemon balm pesto

Winter has been very mild here in central Florida this year. My herbs still look great. After pruning back my basil and lemon balm plants, it appeared that it was time to make pesto again. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces! πŸ™‚

I do have one problem with traditional pesto recipes – not only do they contain a lot of oil, they contain a lot of olive oil. Most people have been led to believe that olive oil is a “health food”, and that just isn’t the case. Most plant based oils have omega fatty acid ratios that favor omega-6 and lead to inflammation. As I have a history of inflammatory disease, I try to eat very little oil, but when I do need to use a little in a recipe, I opt for flaxseed oil, which is very high in omega-3 fatty acid, making it an anti-inflammatory food. Flaxseed oil is a little pricey though, so in order to reduce the total amount required in the recipe, I make a thicker pesto spread instead of a sauce. It is wonderful in sandwiches!

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

Another ingredient in traditional pesto, which is problematic, is pine nuts. Standard variety pine nuts have THREE HUNDRED TIMES more omega-6 than omega-3. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the Mediterranean variety of pine nuts is much better with a 1:30 ratio. It is significantly better (10 times to be exact), but still very high. We can do even better than that be replacing the pine nuts in traditional pesto with hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have a 1:3 ratio – 10 times better than even the Mediterranean pine nuts. They also have a nutty flavor that compliments the flaxseed oil nicely. By replacing pine nuts with hemp seeds, we have literally made the omega fatty acid ratio of the nut/seed component in recipe one hundred times better

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

The last ingredient that I have replaced in this recipe is the cheese. There is a lot of controversy regarding the health benefits of dairy when all factors are considered (whether or not it is from grass fed animals, whether it not it is pasteurized, etc.). Regardless of these things, I’m allergic to it, so dairy is a non-negotiable ingredient exclusion for me. Instead of cheese, I use nutritional yeast in this recipe. It is an inactive yeast that contains all essential amino acids, and multiple B-vitamins. Some brands, like Red Star Nutritional Yeast, are also fortified with B-12. 

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

It’s also REALLY good in sandwiches.

gluten free vegan panini sandwich

Omega-3 Lemon Balm, Hemp, and Flax Pesto
This recipe has just a hint of lemon balm, and a few other key ingredient changes that create a much healthier omega fatty acid ratio than traditional pesto.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups basil (replace up to 1/4 cup with lemon balm, if desired)
  2. 1/4 cup flaxseed oil
  3. 1/4 cup hemp seed
  4. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  5. 3/4 tsp sea salt
  6. 1 TB Trader Joe's "21 Seasoning Salute" (or your favorite garlic or Italian-inspired spice blend)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until an even, but slightly chunky, consistency is achieved.
Notes
  1. I used lemon balm to replace some of the basil because I had it in my garden, but you don't have to do that for this recipe. It adds a nice hint of lemon to the recipe, but is not necessary.
  2. I experimented with the Trader Joe's seasoning mix since I had swapped out a few other ingredients, but you don't have to use it. You can use a garlic powder based seasoning blend or an Italian-inspired spice blend of your choice, and it would probably still taste great.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 9

raw vegan portobello picatta

Advanced Raw Cuisine, Day 9, at Matthew Kenney Culinary is completed!

We got to play with the sous vide machine again today. This thing is so much fun! It makes the texture soft and amazing, just like a cooked food, and all of the moisture is retained, unlike heating in a dehydrator. With precise temperature control, we can keep everything within the range that retains all of the vitamins and minerals, and is therefore still considered “raw”. 

For today’s big project, we put some portobello mushrooms in the sous vide and made a portobello picatta! The dish was served alongside a jicama and cashew mash, topped with a breadcrumb mix of walnut toast, almonds, and fresh herbs, and accented with some smoked herbed olive oil butter and a few leaves of watercress. 

If you’d like to make the components of this dish, the “mashed potatoes” are on page 100 of Everyday Raw, and the “portobello steaks” are on page 102. If you have access to a sous vide, simply prepare the portobellos in a sous vide rather than in the dehydrator, as the book instructs. 

sous vide portobello raw vegan portobello picatta raw vegan portobello picatta raw vegan portobello picatta raw vegan portobello picatta raw vegan portobello picatta

 This was a beautiful and earthy dish. I really enjoyed plating it and seeing all of the elements and textures came together. It has the appearance of “comfort food”, but is elegant at the same time. There is a lot of complexity in the flavor too. The jicama is subtly sweet from the cashew, the mushrooms are savory, the lemon butter is tangy and smoky, and the greens add just a bit of bitterness. 

After enjoying this meal, we prepared some cheese crisps that will be used tomorrow, and then it was time to plate the panna cotta! I chose to pair it with a raspberry sauce, some orange supreme slices, and a cacao cookie crumble which was a variation of the crumble made for the apple/pear sous vide dessert on day 7.

If you’d like to make the panna cotta at home, you can find the recipe on page 73 of Everyday Raw Desserts. To convert it to a white chocolate panna cotta as I did, you can replace the coconut oil with raw cacao butter. 

raw vegan  white chocolate panna cotta raw vegan  white chocolate panna cotta raw vegan  white chocolate panna cotta raw vegan  white chocolate panna cotta

While eating the panna cotta, it was time to review the material for the mid-term quiz on day 10. Big day tomorrow!

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 7

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

Day 7 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary completed!

I’ve had such a fun time working on everything today with many opportunities to exercise my creativity. I’ve learned so much while taking these courses, not only about flavors and techniques, but also about art. My plating skills have improved dramatically, and as an artist, these playful arrangements translate into more lessons for me than just those with culinary applications. They have made me a better photographer, causing me to reconsider placement of the people and objects in my portraits. 

The day was started by adding some sliced apples and pears into a water bath for a little more practice with the sous vide technique. Following that, we learned about and executed two “amuse bouche” dishes. According to Wikipedia, “amuse bouche” literally means, “mouth amuser”. It is a 1-2 bite sized course that is both intense and playful.

We were given the freedom to create two of our own amuse bouche plates. My selections were inspired by the produce and herbs that I’ve been growing in my garden this summer, and by Florida grown produce in general. I tried to include local components in each dish (some as local as my patio).

The first plate includes some of my favorite flavors. It is small sampling of red and yellow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and scallions atop a parsley and dill hemp seed pesto, which acts as both a surprise element in the dish, and a punch of flavor. 

Recipe link: Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto

raw vegan amuse bouche raw vegan amuse bouche

I wanted my second amuse bouche to be plated differently from the first, and I wanted a way to transform a classic non-vegan hors d’oeuvre into a healthful raw vegan version. In this dish, I created my version of “prosciutto and melon” using hami melon (sometimes called “Honey Kiss melon”), marinaded red pepper, and Florida avocados with a basil and ginger cucumber sauce. I was very pleased with the result. 

Recipe link: Bell Pepper ‘Prosciutto’ and Melon

raw vegan melon and prosciutto raw vegan melon and prosciutto

While I was busy snacking on my amuse bouche creations, we learned how to use the dehydrator as a “hot box”, which is very handy for creating a “wilted greens” texture, but leaving them completely raw with all of their precious nutrients and enzymes in tact, as the temperature remains at or below 115. 

The salad we made with this technique was a simple spinach salad tossed with some olive oil and lemon, and included a little bit of our macadamia nut goat cheese, some chopped golden raisins, and some pine nuts. Two thumbs up from the husband on this one! We ate it for dinner. πŸ™‚

raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. With all of the components for the apple pear crumble ready to go, all that was needed was to plate it. I had enough to make a few of them, so I plated it 2 different ways to see how it would look. Which one do you like best? πŸ™‚

This dish is comprised of the apples and pears that were in the sous vide earlier today. We were told to cut them with final plating in mind. I made very thin round slices on the mandolin, sans cores. In one plating, I rolled them up; in the other, I left them them flat. They are topped off with the oat crumble that we put in the dehydrator yesterday, along with the almond gelato that we also made yesterday. I got a little more practice making perfectly shaped quenelles. I think I’m getting the hang of it! The whole thing is topped off with a little bit of star anise syrup that we made today and a pinch of star anise for garnish. I love that stuff!

If you’d like to make this yourself at home, Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw Desserts, from pages 118-129, contains a variety of recipes for crumbles, cobblers, and ice creams that you can mix and match to make any number of similar desserts.

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

We ended the day by starting on an advanced pickling assignment. We are making quick pickles here, so the process includes some vinegar, as well as salt, which helps them to be ready quicker than a traditional salt brine only ferment. The class is only 4 weeks, so this method is understandable. We were allowed to experiment with flavors and ingredients that we thought might go well with our aged cheeses. I love pickling experiments, so I made two different jars – one with fruit and another with vegetables. 

My fruit pickles are: elderberry, lavender, apple, ginger, peeled muscadine grapes, and cinnamon. 

My vegetable pickles are: squash, carrot, shallot, turnip, radish, portobello, chili pepper, peppercorn, dill, and smoked sea salt. 

If after 4-5 days, they turn out well, I’ll share the exact recipes. πŸ™‚

pickled fruit pickled root vegetables

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 6

raw vegan beet carpaccio

Day 6 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary has been completed! This starts the second week of class where the focus is on “advanced equipment”. We’ll be learning how to use the sous vide technique for raw food, how to infuse a smoky flavor into the food via a smoking gun, and how to use the dehydrator as a hot box. I’m very excited about playing with some new kitchen toys!

To start the day, some prep work was required. I made almond milk and processed the strained out pulp into almond flour. I also made some oat flour by soaking raw oat groats, dehydrating them, grinding the grains, and sifting the flour from the bran. 

Next, it was time to harvest some herbs and season the macadamia goat cheese, which had been fermenting over the last 24 hours. I choose lemon balm, parsley, and dill. The lemon balm added a really nice flavor. It is slightly tangy like lemon, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter. It’s one of my favorite tea herbs. The parsley added an earthy quality to the mix, and the dill gave it a rich and savory quality. I love dill so much. I’d put it in everything if I could. 

fresh garden herbs

The macadamia cheese was shaped into a log by rolling it in parchment paper. It was then rolled in the fresh chopped herbs. It had a very herbal and earthy flavor, complimented by the tanginess and saltiness of the nut cheese itself. 

If you’d like to make the macadamia goat cheese, you can fine the recipe on page 48 of Everyday Raw Express: Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Matthew Kenney.

raw vegan macadamia goat cheese raw vegan macadamia goat cheese

Following the cheese flavoring, it was time to experiment with the sous vide technique! I was a little intimidated that our first project was to utilize beets. It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with them. I try to like them, I really do. I know they’re super healthy, but they taste like dirt to me. It’s not my fault though. Science says I’m just overly sensitive to geosmin. I taste it in fresh corn sometimes too. 

Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma produced by a type of Actinobacteria, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets and a contributor to the strong scent (petrichor) that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell of weather or when soil is disturbed.” [Wikipedia]

Another side effect of being a supertaster, I suppose. So there. 

I chose yellow beets for this assignment since they have a milder flavor to me. I also love they are the color of sunshine, and I live in the Sunshine State, after all. I sliced the beets on a mandolin, tossed them in some seasoning, and added some fresh herbs from my garden. They went into a vacuum sealed back, and then into the water bath.

I’m using the Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. It’s pretty awesome. It clips onto any container, so you can use a big stockpot that you might already have and it stores easily since it’s basically just a metal cylinder. It stores easily if you have a small place like I do, and there’s no need to purchase a separate sous vide machine. Best of all, it’s very reasonably priced at less than $200 if you get it through Amazon.

raw vegan sous vide beets raw vegan sous vide beets raw vegan sous vide beets

After this project, we made an oat crumble and put it into the dehydrator and also made an almond gelato, which was put into the freezer to set up. 

Then, it was time for a lesson about agar agar. Agar is a seaweed that has amazing gelling properties. It’s not technically raw, but as a sea vegetable, it is rich in minerals, low in calories, and a good source of fiber. It can be used as a replacement for gelatin, and it can also be re-heated and re-blended if it sets too quickly. It’s a very versatile and it’s benefits outweigh its drawbacks. We used it to make a raw vegan version of tofu, with a base of coconut and cashew. 

It had a really nice flavor and texture. It didn’t have the same weird aftertaste that traditional soy based tofu does, and it is completely soy free. If you’d like to make this recipe, it is on page 66 of Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw.

raw vegan coconut tofu raw vegan coconut tofu

Finally, it was time to plate the beets with the components that we’d been putting together. This dish contains the sous vide beets, the macadamia goat cheese, the lemon butter I made on day 5 and put in the freezer, some crushed pistachio, and a few microgreens or sprouts. 

If you’d like to make this dish, you can find a similar recipe on page 48 of Everyday Raw Express: Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Matthew Kenney.

raw vegan beet carpaccio raw vegan beet carpaccio raw vegan beet carpaccio raw vegan beet carpaccio raw vegan beet carpaccio raw vegan beet carpaccio

What a great and delicious day! I can’t wait to see what we’ll be creating next!

Broccoli Slaw (Raw Vegan)

Broccoli Slaw

Remember the Cream of Broccoli Soup recipe last week, and the suggestion to save any extra broccoli stems that were available? This broccoli slaw recipe is a great way to make use of them and get some good quality plant-based protein in your diet.

It’s also super easy to make. Just run your stems through a food processor or cheese grater along with some carrots, sesame seed, and hemp seed, then mix some heart healthy flaxseed oil and raw ACV in there with a pinch of sea salt (and pepper if you like), and you’re good to go!

Broccoli Nutrition 101

  • Did you know that per calorie, broccoli provides more protein and iron than beef?
  • It also provides a plethora of micronutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, outperforming beef in every way, except of course in fat and cholesterol. 
  • Broccoli sweeps your intestines clean like a broom and all the fiber that it contains helps to lower cholesterol and helps you feel full. 
  • Broccoli contains phytonutrients that aid in detoxing unwanted contaminants from your body. These phytonutrients support activation, neutralization, and elimination. It’s the trifecta!
  • Broccoli contains high amounts of both vitamin A and vitamin K. Together, these help to balance the metabolism of vitamin D, a nutrient most people in our society are deficient in.
  • Broccoli is a rich resource of a flavanoid called kaempferol, which gives broccoli an anti-inflammatory effect for people suffering with allergies.
  • Broccoli is also a great source of vitamin C, something humans cannot manufacture on their own. 1 cup of broccoli (appx. 156g) provides over 100% of the RDI for vitamin C. Bonus for allergy sufferers: vitamin C is also a natural anti-histamine.
  • Broccoli can protect you from heart disease. It promotes the production of enzymes that protect the blood vessels in your heart.
  • Broccoli helps to prevent osteoarthritis. One of the phytonutrients that it contains fights the inflammation mechanism that leads to cartilage destruction.
  • Broccoli protects you from many types of cancer because it is full of antioxidants. These benefits are lost when it is overcooked!
  • You can eat as much broccoli as you want and never have to worry about over-indulging or getting too many calories. When I started eating this way, I stopped counting calories, carbs, and all the other things people are afraid of and I never looked back. Nature has balanced the whole plant foods that it gives us so perfectly that if we eat a varied diet with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, we will get everything we need.
  • Sources:

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds provide a complete plant based source of protein, in that they provide all of the essential amino acids. They also have a delightful nutty flavor! If you don’t have any or don’t like them, that is no problem. By eating a varied whole food plant based diet, we can consume all of the amino acids that we need to stay healthy.

Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw unfiltered ACV is amazing stuff. The Gerson Institute recommends it, and I have a lot of respect for what they do. They have a high success rate healing cancers and serious diseases with their whole foods plant based nutritional protocol. Raw unfiltered ACV that still has pieces of the vinegar mother in it has a great source of digestive enzymes and probiotics that help you to digest your food and balance your gut flora (it also makes amazing ACV fermented garlic). It alkalizes the body and also helps to lower blood sugar levels and may be helpful for diabetics and those struggling to lose weight. This is my go-to vinegar. 

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed is in my opinion the healthiest oil there is. Almost all nuts and plant-based oils except for flaxseed oil have more omega fatty acid 6 than omega fatty acid 3. Flax seed is the exception to that rule. (Chia seed is also heavier on omega-3, but we don’t make oil from it.) It contains more omega 3 than omega 6. This is important because the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet is in the 1:1 to 1:3 range. The standard American diet (SAD) is upwards of 1:16! Omega-6 promotes inflammation, while omega-3 reduces it. That being said, a little inflammation is needed for a healthy immune response; therefore, some omega-6 in the diet is necessary. However, most of us consume the wrong ratios. The work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a heart surgeon, has shown consistently that the consumption of oils and nuts with the wrong balance of omega fatty acids damage the endothelium (lining of the heart’s arteries). His work shows that the right plant based diet not only slows, but STOPS heart disease.

Broccoli Slaw with Flax Seed Vinaigrette
Serves 2
This quick broccoli slaw recipe is a great way to use up leftover stems. Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse that prevents many diseases and provides more protein per calorie than beef!
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups shredded broccoli stems
  2. 1 cup shredded carrots
  3. 2 TB cold pressed flax seed oil
  4. 1 TB raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  5. 1 TB hemp seeds
  6. 1 TB sesame seeds
  7. 1/8 tsp sea salt
  8. Fresh ground pepper to taste (I used appx. 1/2 tsp)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss together until well combined. Split the slaw into two portions and enjoy!
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Zucchini Pasta with Raw Vegan Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Zucchini Pasta with Raw Vegan Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

This is a light and easy zucchini pasta with raw vegan tomato basil marinara is a dish that I have enjoyed preparing in the past for its simplicity and the easy availability of seasonal ingredients. It is great when you would like something quick and healthy without having to think too hard about it. It is literally slicing the zucchini and blending the sauce.

Zucchini Pasta with Raw Vegan Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Now that I have tomato plants which are producing a few newly ripened tomatoes for me every few days and a healthy basil plant that gives me a giant handful of leaves every few weeks, I have really enjoyed putting them to good use. It’s really rewarding to be able to make something with ingredients that I’ve grown myself, and perfectly ripened garden tomatoes are one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. Truth be told, most of them don’t even make it into a tomato basil marinara sauce. I eat them as soon as I pick them. πŸ˜‰

Now that I have tomato plants which are producing a few newly ripened tomatoes for me every few days and a healthy basil plant that gives me a giant handful of leaves every few weeks, I have really enjoyed putting them to good use.

Below is a breakdown of the health benefits for each of the main ingredients.

Zucchini

  • High in fiber, which helps to maintain blood sugar and lower cholesterol. It also helps to keep the colon clean, which puts you at a lower risk for cancer.
  • Good source of vitamins A & C, which prevent cholesterol from oxidizing in the blood vessels. This stops hardening of the arteries and heart disease. 
  • Vitamins A & C, along with the folate in zucchini, act as antioxidants, which additionally help to prevent certain types of cancers and reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Men! The phytonutrients in zucchini can improve prostate problems. πŸ˜‰
  • Ladies! Zucchini is high in magnesium, which helps to stave off chocolate cravings (which are often a sign of magnesium deficiency).
  • Source: http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/8-health-benefits-of-zucchini.html

Tomatoes

  • Tomatoes are good for your heart! They have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, and to prevent your blood platelets from clumping together. Tomatoes are one of the best foods for accomplishing the latter of those. 
  • Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and lycopene (an antioxidant). When tomatoes are cooked, you absorb more lycopene, but the vitamin C is destroyed. As humans cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, eat your tomatoes raw, and with a little fat, you can still boost lycopene absorption! If you eat the yellow and orange tomatoes instead of the red ones, you can actually absorb the lycopene better too. 
  • 1 cup of tomatoes also contains 24% of the DRI (daily recommended intake) of biotin – they are good for your hair!
  • Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44

Basil

  • You might not always think of health benefits with regard to fresh herbs (admittedly, flavor is usually first on my mind), but basil has some great ones. 
  • Basil contains high amounts of compounts which may be useful in treating arthritis and IBS (inflammatory bowel disease). 
  • Likewise, it has also been shown to be beneficial with other types of inflammation and swelling. 
  • It has anti-aging properties, protecting against free radical damage in the liver, brain, and heart. 
  • It’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium (as all leafy greens are).
  • Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.php
Raw Vegan Zucchini Pasta with Tomato Basil Marinara
Serves 2
A light and healthy pasta alternative made with seasonal summer ingredients. Unlike its grain-laden counterpart, these ingredients work together to reduce inflammation, provide you with useful fiber to keep your intestines clean, and give you a boost of vitamin C, which would otherwise be destroyed by cooking.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Noodle Ingredients
  1. 2 zucchinis, sliced or spiral cut into noodles
  2. 1/2 tsp salt
Marinara Ingredients
  1. 1 cup fresh tomatoes
  2. 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  3. 3/4 cups water (for soaking - do not discard)
  4. 1 cup fresh basil leaves (pack loosely or tightly, depending how much you like basil)
  5. 1 TB first cold press extra virgin olive oil
  6. 2 dates
  7. 1 tsp garlic (probiotic upgrade: 1 pickled/fermented garlic clove)
  8. 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  9. 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  10. 1/8 tsp sea salt
Optional Garnish Ingredients
  1. 2 TB hemp seed
  2. 2 TB nutritional yeast (not raw, but non raw family members will find this vegan ingredient pleasant, as it has a cheesy flavor)
  3. Sprig of fresh basil
Preparation Directions
  1. Add the 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, 2 dates, and 3/4 cups water to a bowl and let them sit for about an hour (longer is fine if that is more convenient for you) so that they become soft and plump. Do not discard the water. It goes into the blender with the tomatoes and dates.
Noodle Directions
  1. Cut the zucchini into noodles (I use this tool: Spiralizer Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer. You can also use a julienne peeler.)
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over the zucchini noodles and massage it in for a minute or two. Let it sit about 5 minutes or until they become pliable and more noodle like.
  3. Rinse zucchini noodles.
Sauce Directions
  1. Add all the tomato sauce ingredients to the blender. The sun dried tomatoes and their soaking water both go in. Blend until everything is smooth.
Assembly Directions
  1. Split the zucchini noodles in half and add to two plates.
  2. Top with the marinara.
  3. Add optional garnishes if you desire.
Notes
  1. A high speed blender works best for this recipes. If you have a Vitamix, you can even warm the sauce in the blender, which is a nice treat.
  2. I like the sauce because it is raw, but if you have someone in your house that is not ready for a raw marinara yet, you could serve them a cooked marinara over the zucchini noodles and it would still be a healthier alternative.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Cucumber Mint Salad (Raw Vegan)

cucumber and mint salad with lime and olive oil

The weather is starting to heat up here (Orlando) already! One of my favorite warm weather treats is a chilled cucumber mint salad. I love cucumbers in general though. I have to say, they are one of my favorite foods and I think I could eat them every day. The warm weather just gives me an excuse to eat them more often. They pair wonderfully with mint, another cooling food.

The weather has been so warm lately that I harvested the first tomato from the plants on my porch this afternoon! I’ve lived in Florida my entire life and this seems normal to me, but a friend out in the Pacific Northwest informed me that they are just starting to think about planting this time of year. 

It was a small tomato – only about 1.5″ in diameter. I sliced it into 4 little pieces just so I could savor the first fruit from my porch garden. This is a big deal for me. For as much as I love food and putting together recipes, I have not really done well keeping plants alive in the past. Hopefully, the trend will continue, and I will have some tomato recipes to share soon. πŸ™‚

fresh homegrown tomato

Back to cucumbers… I’ve got some cucumbers started in the “garden” too, which I lovingly refer to as my “porch jungle”, but they aren’t ready just yet. I guess I should get on with the cucumber and mind salad recipe. It’s so easy to prepare as a quick and light appetizer to accompany a summer meal. 

Cucumber and Mint Summer Salad
Serves 4
This is a light and cooling cucumber and mint salad tossed with a refreshing hint of lime. It's very quick to prepare.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 English cucumber - chop it how you like (thinly sliced, cubed, etc.)
  2. 1/4 sweet onion - chop it how you like (thinly sliced, cubed, etc.)
  3. 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  4. 1 lime - cut into quarters
  5. 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. sea salt to taste
  7. fresh ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the cucumber, sweet onion, and mint leaves. Toss them together in a bowl.
  2. Divide into quarters on plates or in bowls. Fancy it up if you'd like!
  3. Sprinkle each plate with a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper.
  4. Squeeze a quarter wedge of lime onto each plate.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil. Use an herb infused olive oil (e.g. basil) for a little something extra.
Omnivore Modification
  1. This salad also pairs well with goat cheese if you have an omnivore in your family that isn't ready to give up dairy.
Dressing Alternative
  1. A simple oil and vinegar will also work well if you do not have limes.
The Cucumber Rose
  1. A cucumber rose (pictured) is a nice artistic touch if you want to make your presentation a little more special.
  2. Slice your cucumbers using a diagonal angle so that the pieces come out longer.
  3. The cucumbers should be paper thin - you can achieve this with a mandolin at 1/16" or 1.5mm.
  4. Roll one slice very tight in the center, and then wrap other pieces around it.
  5. Secure with a toothpick.
  6. If it is too tall, you can slice some off one end. This also helps it to lay flat on the plate.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/