Sweet Summer Keylime Pudding

I spent a much-needed long July 4th weekend in Shelter Island with beautiful views, beautiful food and beautiful friends. On Saturday night we made this incredibly easy, incredibly refreshing and incredibly delicious keylime pudding, which totally blew our minds. Courtesy of The Blender Girl, I HIGHLY recommend you add this to your summer repertoire. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

1/3 cup (80ml) honey or agave
1/2 cup (120ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (120ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled (no bruising or discoloration)
2 cups (285g) chopped bananas (about 2 bananas)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Prepration

Mix all ingredients in a blender, puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth, spoon into ramequins, refrigerate for 3 hours, serve and prepare to be amazed!

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Hard-to-Beet Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit Mag the other week, the gorgeous, vibrant photo of this dish literally jumped off the page at me. I earmarked the page, knowing I'd have to give it a try sometime soon and last weekend our first rooftop BBQ of the season gave me the perfect opportunity. The two-step cooking process makes this a little more time-intensive than your average summer salad, but I guarantee it's well worth the effort. Not only is it supremely delicious and healthy, but it's a real stunner that is sure to provide some eye candy to your spread. The recipe calls for yogurt, which I'm sure would be very tasty, but I had some dairy-free friends in the bunch, so I opted out. I also made this ahead of time and served it cold. 

Recipe via Bon Appetit

Ingredients

2 pounds mixed small or medium beets (such as Chioggia, red, and/or golden), scrubbed
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup (lightly packed) fresh mint leaves, plus more
2 tablespoons torn fresh dill, plus more
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Divide beets between 2 large sheets of foil. Drizzle beets on each sheet with ½ Tbsp. oil; season with kosher salt and pepper and wrap up foil around beets. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, 40–50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then, using a paper towel, rub skins from beets (they should slip off easily). Crush beets with the bottom of a small bowl (it’s alright if they fall apart).

Meanwhile, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; set vinaigrette aside.

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beets, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to bowl with vinaigrette, add ¼ cup mint and 2 Tbsp. dill, and toss to coat.

Top with more herbs, and seasoned with pepper and sea salt.

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DIY Cashew Milk

I've been in the non-dairy camp for a little while now and I'm a big advocate for making the shift to dairy alternatives like almond, flax or soy milk. Nut milks are my favourite and there are so many brands to choose from at my local Whole Foods, but I still cringe a little bit every time I buy a carton, knowing that they contain preservatives and a handful of ingredients that I can't pronounce.

I've been wanting to make my own nut milk for a while but found myself intimidated by the seemingly overwhelming process. But, for whatever reason, I decided that yesterday was the day, so I bought a big bag of cashews, ready to take on this arduous task. After soaking the nuts, I rolled up my sleeves, only to roll them back down five minutes later, delighted with my pitcher-full of creamy, delicious milk. Seriously, folks. Five minutes! Here's how, thanks to a great recipe from Cookie + Kate.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews
4 cups water (divided)
1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Preparation

Soak cashews in water for at least four hours in the fridge. Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear. Blend cashews with two cups of water until completely pulverized. Add the remaining 2 cups of water and the rest of the ingredients and blend.

If your blender doesn't break down the cashews completely (although I have a very average blender and it worked perfectly), strain the milk through a small mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Store in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Popcorn: A romance rekindled

I've rekindled an old love. For popcorn. For some reason this tasty, healthy snack and I took a break from one another for a while. But a cozy Saturday night in with an old friend inspired me to go scouring my Chelsea neighborhood late at night, searching for the closest place to sell straight-up popcorn kernels (i.e. none of that artificial microwave nonsense).

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Not many things could have caused me to pull on my Uggs, bundle up in my puffer and leave my warm apartment and my glass of Cab that night, but, overcome by nostalgia—my friend and I were reminiscing about our early days in NYC, living together in our little Hell's Kitchen apartment, where popcorn was one of our after-dinner staples—I had a sudden yearning that couldn't be ignored. I was on a mission. A mission accomplished, thanks to the Gristedes on the corner of 24th and 9th. And a mission well worth the effort. Our popcorn treat was delicious—a perfect complement to our quiet, girly night at home—and has been serving me well in the days since. I just can't get enough of my new flame.

Popping popcorn is pretty straight forward, so I won't trouble you with the details, but here are a few pointers, in case it's been a while since you've gone back to the basics (i.e. stovetop) with this snack:

  • Use coconut oil instead of butter
  • Place just a few kernels in the pot once the oil has heated and cover. Once the kernels have popped, you know the pot is hot enough and it's time to pour in the rest of the kernels.
  • Don't forget to cover the pot with a lid!
  • When the popping slows down to 2-3 seconds between pops, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl
  • Pour extra (heated) coconut oil over the popcorn for more flavour
  • Season with good quality sea salt or other herbs and spices
  • Enjoy!

Mama's Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Another soup! I'm obsessed. But really, can you think of a better way to keep warm and nourished through this polar vortex of a winter we are having in the northeast? And I'm loving the healthy mileage I'm getting getting out of all the leftovers, which make for a perfect lunch, weeknight dinner, or freezer-friendly meal. 

This one comes from the kitchen of my Mama, who spent the weekend making her own vegetable broth (yay, Mom!) and stocking the fridge full of healthy, beautiful meals like this one. I'm definitely going to give this a go this week. My gluten and dairy-free friends will love this!

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Ingredients

3 lbs. red bell peppers, halved and cleaned (8-10)
5 cloves garlic, in peel
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tb. olive oil
2 large sprigs fresh thyme (1 Tb. leaves)
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. hot sauce
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
1-2 Tb. rice vinegar

Preparation

Half the peppers and remove all seeds and membranes. Press them flat with your hand and lay them on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Place the garlic cloves on the baking sheet.

Set the oven on broil and raise the rack to the upper position. Broil the red peppers and garlic for 15 minutes.

Once the skin has blackened, remove from the oven and place in a large zip bag to steam. (10 minutes)

Preheat a large pot to medium heat. Add the oil, thyme, bay leaves, and onions. Cook for 10 minutes, until onions are soft.

Add the broth, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the peels into the pot.

Then peel the charred skin off each pepper half and place it in the pot.

Reduce the heat, cover and cook another 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Then, using a hand-held immersion blender or standard blender, blend until smooth. *If using a blender, BE SURE TO remove the plug on the lid and cover with a kitchen towel—this with allow the heat to vent without a big mess!

Add the vinegar and salt again if needed.

Serve with extra thyme leaves or parsley

Recipe courtesy of: A Spicy Perspective

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Goals with Soul Soup: Leek, Potato, Parsnip and and Cauliflower

While I love the new year and all of the potential and possibility it brings, I'm not really one for resolutions. I'm more about doing some quiet soul searching, dreaming new dreams and setting heart-centered intentions than making categorical resolutions that imply that something about me or my life needs to be fixed, or solved.

This year I tried something I've never done before. It's called Desire Mapping. Sweet brainchild of the lovely Danielle LaPorte, Desire Mapping is all about uncovering your core desired feelings so that you can live in alignment with these feelings and create, as Laporte puts it, goals with soul. Her theory, and I wholeheartedly agree, is that when we create goals, it's not the goal we're really chasing. It's the feeling that we hope reaching that goal will give us. Yes! Desire Mapping helps you to identify your core desired feelings so that you can focus on enjoying the journey rather than waiting for the destination.

But, back to resolutions.  Many people make them and I get it. It's a chance at a fresh start. A chance to reinvent, redefine, re-engage. That's all very exciting. One of the most popular resolutions of all must be to get healthier, and that I cannot knock.

If one of your resolutions, and by resolutions I mean dreams, intentions, or goals with soul, is to be and to feel healthier this year, then I have just the recipe to get you started. Super easy, super clean, super healthy and super tasty. I made a huge pot on New Year's Day so that I could stash a few extra servings in my freezer to keep me warm and nourished over the next few weeks. Courtesy of Tosca Reno's Eat Clean book, enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp best quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp coconut butter
2 yellow onions, peeled, coarsely chopped
4 leeks, trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise, coarsely chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets
5 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Preparation

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and coconut butter over medium heat. Add onions, leeks, parsnips and cauliflower and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. You may have to add a little extra olive oil.

Add cubed potatoes, garlic and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes or until all vegetables are uniformly tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup. Adjust flavor by adding sea salt and black pepper to taste.

**You can adjust the consistency of your soup by adding more or less stock, according to your preference.

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Cozy Root Veg Soup

One of my favourite things to do in the colder months is to make big pots of delicious, healthy soups. I love the process of making the soup, stirring over a hot pot of goodness on a cold winter afternoon or evening. And leftovers are perfect for the freezer, at-the-ready for a quick dose of healthy healing on a night when you don't have time to cook.

It's fun and easy to experiment with your own ingredients. I love using root vegetables for their grounding, comforting energy. Here's what I cooked up this week:

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Ingredients:

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled, diced
Small handful of fresh  herbs of your choice. I used sage, thyme and rosemary
A few shakes of hot chili flakes
Root vegetables of your choice. I used:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled, chopped
Vegetable broth, enough to cover the vegetables
Dollop of goat cheese and sprig of rosemary for garnish

Preparation:

In large pot, heat coconut oil on high heat. Add onion and sauté for five minutes. Add carrots, celery, herbs and chili flakes and sauté until soft, about five minutes. Add root vegetables and sauté for another few minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until vegetables are very soft. For a chunkier soup, mash vegetables with  potato masher. For a smoother texture, purée with a hand blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve. Let the leftovers cool and then freeze in single or double portion containers.

Optional: Top with a dollop of goat cheese and sprig of rosemary.

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Grateful for pumpkin pie mousse!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in America and as an expat, it's one of my favourite holidays. A whole day in the middle of the week to eat, drink and be merry! I can't think of anything better.

Last night for dessert I added some thanksgiving flair to one of my favourite dessert recipes. I turned my usual chocolate mouse into pumkin pie mousse and it was the perfect end to a gorgeous day of gratitude. Super easy, super festive, super delicious, super dairy and gluten-free. If you're not pumpkined out yet this season, give this a whirl!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled + quartered

  • 1/2 cup 100% pure pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
 (NOTE: If you choose not to eat honey, substitute with your favorite natural vegan sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Chopped pistachios and a dash of cinnamon for garnish

Preparation: 

Put all the ingredients (except pistachios) in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer the pudding to individual ramekins, top with chopped pistachios. Refrigerate for one hour, serve and enjoy!

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