Julie Green and Keen: seasonal foods
Showing posts with label seasonal foods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seasonal foods. Show all posts
Happy National Watermelon Day! :D

Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family takes National Watermelon Day very seriously.  It is a great day to indulge on watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Watermelons are pretty interesting fruits as well, giving us plenty to talk about.

Here are our family’s favorite fun facts about watermelons-

There are 300 different kinds of watermelons in the US and Mexico
They are the perfect summer snack because they are 92% water making them so refreshing.
The world’s heaviest watermelon weighed 268.6 lbs., now that is a lot of watermelon.
People eat on average 16 lbs. of watermelon annually.
Egyptian hieroglyphics show the first-ever watermelon harvest took place about 5,000 years ago.  They were often sealed into tombs of kings.

Now you can have the same useless trivia as we do.

There are so many recipes with watermelon that are often forgot.  People usually just eat them sliced, although it is wonderful that way, there are so many more possibilities when it comes to a delicious fruit like this.

Watermelon-Peach Salsa with Tomatoes-

Ingredients-

½ cup hot pepper jelly
1 tbsp. lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cups seeded and diced watermelon
1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup chopped chives
3 cups baby tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil springs to garnish

Directions-

Whisk the pepper jelly, lime zest, and lime juice together and then stir in watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives.
Season the baby tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with salsa, and serve with basil if desired.  Enjoy!

Don’t be nervous at the thought of warm watermelon, Grilled Watermelon Slices are delicious-

Ingredients-
Several slices of watermelon
2 limes, juices
½ a limes zest
3 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. water
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
A few pinches of salt



Directions-

Preheat the grill to high.  Cut watermelon into 1 inch thick slices and lightly brush each side with honey and place on grill until browned, about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and drizzle mixture over watermelon slices on place.
Enjoy!

And for a little adult beverage, Frozen Watermelon Margaritas are very tasty-

Ingredients-

1 ½ cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup tequila
½ cup lime juice
½ cup orange liqueur
1-2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 cups ice

Directions-

Puree watermelon, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Divide among glasses and garnish with lime and watermelon slice.
Enjoy!


With your new fun facts and superb watermelon recipes, National Watermelon day is going to be WONDERFUL!

Go green and stay keen!

Julie

National Watermelon Day

by on 8/03/2015
Happy National Watermelon Day! :D Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family ta...
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like dips and sauces.  I am a firm believer that anything smothered in dip or sauces is 10x better than it otherwise.



I went to a BBQ two weekends ago for the fourth and made the best taco dip.  It was the hit of the party and no one believed me when I told them it was vegetarian!



There was quite the variety of dips and surprisingly most of the dips were meat-less.  It made my BBQ a little easier.  I wanted to share with you my favorite vegetarian dip recipes that are not hummus. :D

Vegan Taco Dip

Ingredients-

1, 14 oz. can vegan refried beans
1, 12-16 oz. container of vegan sour cream
1 packet of taco seasoning mix
1 cup black olives, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cup lettuce
1 avocado, chopped
½ cup green onion, chopped

Instructions-

Spread the refried beans of the bottom of a 9x7 inch tray.  Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together, then gently spread it on top of the beans.  Top with olives, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and green onion.

Chill for an hour and enjoy!

Miso-Lime Sweet Potato Dip

Ingredients-

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. white miso paste
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. grated lime zest, more to garnish if desired

Instructions-

Pierce sweet potatoes with a four and microwave for 7-10 minutes until soft.  Let potatoes cool and coarsely chop leaving the skins on.
Place chopped potatoes in a food processer and add the miso paste, lime juice, ginger, and lime zest with 2 tbsp. water and pulse until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with lime zest if desired and enjoy!

Hot Artichoke Dip

Ingredients-

1, 12 oz. package of light silken tofu
2 tbsp. reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. onion powder
1, 15.5 oz. can artichoke quarters in water, drained, rinsed, and chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Dusting of paprika

Instructions-

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Puree tofu, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and onion powder in blender until smooth and then transfer to bowl.

Stir artichokes, spinach, and parmesan cheese into tofu mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes, dust with paprika and enjoy!

I love dips, they make a meal or appetizer even better.

What is your favorite vegetarian dip?


Vegetarian dips, sauces, dressings.


Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky enough to live in a part of the US where we have fresh produce year-round.

California produces about 80% of all fruits and vegetables in the US; so I like to think that we are setting the seasonal standard for the rest of the country.  :)



Spring brings new and exciting flavors to spice up the cooking.  I love the lightness and freshness that spring produce provides to otherwise “heavy” dishes.  I have made of list of fruits and veggies you should begin looking for at farmers markets to “spring into spring” cooking.

•    Artichokes are seasonally harvested in the spring and again in the early fall.

•    Arugula can be found year-round but I believe the taste is richer in the spring and fall.

•    Asparagus is absolutely wonderful in the spring.  The light flavor it brings to dishes is perfect for the season.

•    Fava Beans are sweet and “spring-y” for the season.  They come in soft green pods and are delicious in salads.

•    Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes are harvested and taste best in the spring.  They add a delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes.

•    One of my favorite fruits, Grapefruit is juicy and I believe it is the best in the spring.

•    Green Onions and Scallions are perfect now.  I love combining green onions and garlic into salads in the spring.  It provides the perfect flavor for a light tasting dish.

•    Lettuce is sold year round, but spring brings the best flavor and hearty heads.

•    Mushrooms, especially Morel, are at their peak in the spring.  You know I love mushrooms if you read my post about mushroom month.  http://juliegreenandkeen.blogspot.com/2014/09/national-mushroom-month.html

•    New potatoes are freshly harvested young, small potatoes that are excellent in the spring.  They are easy to peel and are very crisp inside.

•    Peas and Pea Pods are harvested in the spring and early summer.  I love pea soup, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh peas.

•    Radishes are also seasonal.  They are the best spring through fall.

•    Rhubarb has so many recipe possibilities and it is at its prime in the spring.  I love making rhubarb deserts and adding it to just about everything.

•    Who doesn’t love snap peas?  They are the perfect snacks and are seasonally the best now.

•    STRAWBERRIES ARE BACK!! Strawberries taste delicious in anything and they are in season.  I add them to smoothies, salads, and just eat them plain.


I have been anxious to begin spicing up my cooking with new spring flavors.  I think that cooking seasonally with fresh produce from farmers market is a great way to keep cooking exciting and fresh.  I can’t wait to go crazy at the farmers market and come up with some new recipes!  Have fun eating seasonally.

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

Seasonally Spring Foods

by on 3/22/2015
It is about that time of the year again, when I go to the farmers market and start seeing new spring fruits and vegetables.  I am lucky eno...
Wow, I can’t believe that tomorrow is December already.  November has flown by, and for that matter, this year.  I can’t even grasp all the wonderful things that have happened to me and my family this year so far.  With December and winter around the corner it is the perfect time to get a little crafty around the house.  I love winter; even though I live in California I still love the cooler temps and the warm aura the season give off.




Backtracking a little bit, my thanksgiving was so wonderful.  My husband’s parents and my parents, loved their first vegetarian thanksgiving.  They were surprised by how many stereotypical thanksgiving dishes are easily vegetarian.  Needless to say, my menu was a big hit and everyone left with full stomachs.

I didn’t partake in the crazy Black Friday shopping nonsense.  I don’t know how people can do it; I hate going into stores when you can barely walk and have to fight to get something.  Although I didn’t go, one of my friends is a crazy shopper and braved the crowds…when I say she’s crazy I mean she’s crazy for waiting in a line for hours to get a few good deals.  I had her pick up a few things on Hannah and Liam’s Christmas list while she was out.  Now I have to get serious about getting gifts for the rest of the family.

I feel like I just got everything put away from thanksgiving and brought out the Christmas decorations.   I usually try to wait until December 1st but it’s so hard and I figured one day away isn’t that bad… :)  There is something about Christmas decorations that make you feel so warm and want to have a hot chocolate.  I was feeling crafty today and made a little wine bottle vases.  They are super easy to make- paint the wine bottle with two coats of primer, then two coats of your desired color; I chose gold, then spray with tacky spray (glue), and shake lose glister onto the bottle. They turned out great.  I am going to put some twigs with berries in them!





It is such a wonderful time of the year.  Although I am sad to see pumpkin flavored everything go, I am excited for all the peppermint and cranberry flavors.  :)

Happy almost December friends!

Julie

Tomorrow is December?!

by on 11/30/2014
Wow, I can’t believe that tomorrow is December already.  November has flown by, and for that matter, this year.  I can’t even grasp all the...
On Friday I went to a good friend’s house to meet up with the girls.  It was so nice, we all brought little hor d’oeuvres and chatted over wine.  They loved the tropical popcorn balls I brought and were amazed I used agave nectar instead of honey and they tasted so good. (find the recipe below!)



As you know whole foods and farmers markets are my thing.  I am always finding ways to make recipes unique using natural ingredients.  Managing a restaurant has given me so many opportunities to learn and try new things.  Now, when I’m at home I create recipes on the fly and spice it up differently every time depending on my mood.

I use agave nectar all the time at home and in the restaurant.  We use it in a lot of the desserts and even some main courses.  There are many natural ingredients that can be used to substitute common processed ones.

Here are my favorite natural additives and replacements:

•    Agave nectar is the extract from the wild agave plant.  It is low in glycemic levels and is a natural alternative to white sugar and other sugars



•    Cacao butter is the raw pure oil from the cacao bean.  It has a rich chocolate aroma.  I love to use it in smoothies, desserts, and in just about any chocolate creation I am making.  It is easy to use because it is raw, it melts easy and blends into any type of recipe.


•    Coconut oil has become very popular recently with its many health benefits.  It is commonly used as a food product and skin moisturizer.  It has a rich buttery taste that is great for cooking.


•    Miso is a salty flavored paste made from soybeans, rice, or barley.  It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.  I like to use it in soups and adding it to salad dressings and sauces.


•    Tamari is a natural soy sauce made from fermented soybeans and tastes wonderful.



I believe that cooking should be a fun and freeing experience.  I take pride in making food that is good for you and delicious.  Real sustainable food nourishes not only your body but the environment as well.  Try some new substitutes and let me know what you like.

Here is the recipe for the tropical popcorn balls my friends loved.

Ingredients-
•    6 heaping cups of popped popcorn
•    ¼ cup agave nectar
•    ¼ creamy natural almond butter
•    ¼ cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
•    ¼ cup unsweetened coconut

Instructions-
•    Cover a baking sheet with wax paper to put the balls on
•    Mix the agave nectar and almond butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat while constantly stirring.  Keep heating until the mixture lightly bubbles and remove soon after.
•    Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and macadamia nuts and mix until well coated.
•    Quickly press small handfuls of the popcorn and macadamia mixture into balls and roll in shredded coconut until coated then place on baking sheet and let cool and harden.
•    Enjoy!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much as I can!  Mushrooms have such a unique taste and distinctive texture that makes them wonderful to cook with. 

Some people are mushroom “haters” and refuse to give them a try, I say put your hate aside and try some of my favorite recipes that showcase September’s featured veggie, MUSHROOMS! :)


Portobello Red Pepper and Pesto Pizza- very easy!
Serves 6
Ingredients-
•    Your choice of pizza dough, either homemade or premade
•    2-3 Portobello mushrooms with the stems removed
•    5 canned roasted red peppers, sliced
•    ¾ cup of parmesan mozzarella blend
•    ¼ cup pesto, your choice either homemade or store bought
Instructions
•    Prepare the dough according to its specific directions, then place in a pizza pan.
•    Chop the Portobello mushrooms into long thin slices.
•    Spread the pesto on the pizza dough, top with Portobello slices and roasted red peppers then sprinkle the parmesan mozzarella blend on the top.
•    Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes; the time will depend on the dough and your personal crispy taste.



Easy Mushroom Stroganoff
Serves 2
Ingredients-
•    1 tbsp. of oil
•    1 medium onion, diced
•    4 cloves of garlic, minced
•    17 oz. mushrooms, sliced or diced
•    3 tbsp. vegetable stock
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    Black pepper, to taste
•    3 tbsp. sour cream
•    4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
•    Heat oil in a large frying pan, cook the onion, garlic, and mushrooms over medium heat for 5-10 mins until slightly softened.
•    Add vegetable stock and paprika and season to taste with black pepper.
•    Before serving, stir in the sour cream and half the parsley.  Once heated through, serve topped with remaining parsley.


Portobello “Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich”
Serves 4
Ingredients-
•    2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
•    1 medium onion, sliced
•    4 large Portobello mushrooms, steams and gills removed, sliced
•    2 tsp. dried oregano
•    ½ tsp. ground pepper
•    1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
•    ¼ cup vegetable broth
•    1 tbsp. soy sauce
•    3 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
•    4 buns, split and toasted
•    (Optional) ½ medium green pepper, sliced
Instructions
•    Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms, green pepper, oregano, onion and pepper. Stir often and cook until vegetables are soft and wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
•    Reduce heat, sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat.  Add broth and soy sauce and bring to simmer.
•    Remove from heat lay cheese slices on top of vegetables, cover and let stand until melted.
•    Divide mixture into 4 portions in each toasted bun, and serve.





There are so many ways to prepare mushrooms and add them to your favorite recipes, you could spend the entire month finding different ways to savor the taste of mushrooms.

If you are a lover like I am, I suggest following @MushroomChannel on twitter or the Mushroom Channel on Facebook.  They post great recipes and interesting facts about one of the best veggies.  Join me in hashtaging all your wonderful mushroom creations this month, #MushroomMonth, for the Mushroom Council :) As the mushroom council says, “Let your friendly fungi flag fly.”

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

National Mushroom Month

by on 9/04/2014
Happy National Mushroom Month! It is the best time of the year, mushrooms are so abundant and it is my excuse to use them this month as much...



Ready for another great post on farmers markets?  It is hard not to write about it every time I make a visit.  This morning while mingling amongst a few of my farmer friends, I noticed a couple that appeared to be new to the farmer’s market “scene.”  I went over and introduced myself, it turns out this was their first market.  I shared with them about how much I love buying locally and how farmers markets are the best to do so.  After talking with them, they seemed much more at ease and ready start shopping.

After my encounter with new market goers, I thought it would be great to share a few tips on how to shop at farmers markets if you are new to it and how to experience all that makes it what it is.  So here you go!

•    Go early- I always like to be at the market right after it opens.  There is a large selection and you don’t have to worry about your coveted favorite veggies to be sold out.



•    Bring a few reusable bags to carry your yummy purchases in.  Farmers usually don’t supply their own bags.


•    Bring small amounts of cash.  A lot of famers don’t have change for large bills.  Some larger markets have ATM’s nearby and with technology some farmers even have their own credit card readers.

•    Try new things.  Sometimes the most odd looking vegetable or fruit is the best tasting.  Try new weirdly shaped, unfamiliar or interesting veggies and fruits, your taste buds will thank you!  Every once in a while I find strawberries, like this one, in quite unique shapes.  I sometimes feel bad eating them because they are just so neat.


•    Talk to your farmers!  It is not every day that you get to talk to the person who grew your big juicy tomato. The farmers are often keen to talk with you about their harvests and tell you about the land.  And if you’re lucky, they might even share some of their recipes on how to cook it!  After talking, it is easy to make good food choices and personalize exactly what is on your plate.


•    Ask questions and create a community environment.  Get to know those around you, chat about your best finds, and enjoy the experience.


I’m sure you know from all my posts I really love farmers markets, eating seasonally, and buying locally.  I believe that they are a great place to find fresh, affordable, and delicious fruits, and veggies!

Farmers markets are for everyone!  Don’t be discouraged if you are intimidated on your first visit, trust me, I was too.  I encourage everyone to try to get the most out of local farmers markets and learn to love them as much as I do!

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie

 It’s an unfortunate week when your juicer and blender both decide to croak when you really want to use them.  Last week I had such an itch to make a smoothie then when I went to turn the blender on, but it was broken, so I had to settle for some water.  Then yesterday I decided to use my juicer.  Well, It was dead too! What?  After all the nonsense I was on a mission to have a smoothie, so I ran out and picked up a new blender and juicer.  And let me tell you, when I got home, that smoothie tasted incredible.

Going along with my last post about buying seasonal, farmers markets are also a wonderful place to get seasonal fruits and veggies for smoothies and juices.  I have always been a fan of smoothies and juicing fresh fruits and vegetables.  Since I got my new blender and juicer yesterday, I have an urge to blend and juice everything in the house.  I guess it’s not a bad thing.

I know the concept of juice cleanses and juice diets are a bit of a “taboo” topic right now.  So I’m just clarifying, I am not a nutritionist or an expert juicer I just find the juices delicious. I don’t juice to lose weight, I make them to help maintain my healthy lifestyle and help me get all the nutrients my vegetarian body needs.  Juicing provides the body with the most optimum and easy to ingest nutrients with minimal waste from the fruit or vegetable.  And they taste really good!

I love a good green smoothie or juice in the morning to prepare me for the day or a yummy fruit smoothie for an afternoon snack.  I think it is important to understand that juicing can be fun and it doesn’t have to be a diet.  Juicing is a great way that I use to help satisfy hunger and have a yummy snack during the day. 
Here are a few of my favorite juices and smoothies.  I will probably be making all of these really soon! J


Morning Green Smoothie
Total time: 10 mins          Serves 2
Ingredients
·         2 ripe medium bananas
·         1 ripe apple or pear
·         2 cups of chopped kale leaves
·         ½ cup organic orange juice
·         1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
·         A handful of ice cubes
Place bananas, apple (or pear), kale, orange juice, flaxseeds, and ice cubes in blender.  Pulse a few times, then puree until smooth.  Enjoy!



Power Carrot Orange Juice
Total time: 15 mins          Serves 2
Ingredients
·         1 medium orange, peeled and wedged
·         1 medium apple, wedged
·         1 medium yellow tomato, wedged
·         4 large carrots, peeled
First process the tomato, then orange, then apple, and finally the carrots through the juicer.  Pour over ice if desired, serve immediately.



Avo-Berry Smoothie
Total time: 5 mins            Serves 2
Ingredients
·         1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
·         ¾ cup organic orange juice
·         ¾ cup strawberries
·         ½ cup raspberries
·         A handful of ice cubes
Blend the avocado, organic orange juice, strawberries, raspberries, and ice cubes until smooth.  Enjoy!



I hope you liked the recipes and decide to give them a try! Using seasonal goods from the farmers market to make juices and smoothies is a great way to get your fruit and vegetable servings if you aren’t a vegetarian.  If you are, they taste delicious and absorb very useful nutrients into body faster than just eating the fruit or vegetable. 

Go Green and Stay Keen, 

Julie
I love shopping at the farmers market for fresh fruits and vegetables.  It is the perfect place to buy seasonal fresh foods.  The seasons changing set a natural backdrop for what we should be eating.  With fall approaching…well kind of, it’s just my favorite season, I thought I would share how I try to eat seasonally and a few of my fall favorites.  Who is ready for some apple cider and scarfs?


Fall is one of my favorite seasons, the rich trending colors and the unexplainable feeling of warmth makes it my favorite season.  Although San Francisco doesn't have that much of a change from summer to fall, you can still find seasonal foods and cook with the fresh harvests of the season.

It is hard know what foods are in season if you go to a grocery store.  Pesticides, chemicals, and means of transportation allow you to find any fruit or vegetable available the throughout the year.  To truly know what is seasonal I go to the local farmers market.  It is great, you can see what the farmers are growing and harvesting.  CUESA.org is a great website to see what fruits, vegetables, and herbs are in season in the San Francisco area.  CUESA (Center of Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is a great organization that works to cultivate sustainable food systems through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs.
When I go to the farmers market, whether it is for the restaurant or for my personal consumption, I take pride in knowing where my food came from and how it was grown.  I like to ask the farmer questions about the food and how they grow it.  It’s nice getting to know them a little bit before you purchase.  I find it rewarding when I understand the relationship that the food has beyond just filling our stomachs.  When I know where my ingredients came from, I can embrace the passion that went into growing them and express that passion when cooking them.

Fall makes me want to cook warm delicious food nonstop.  When I think of fall I immediately think about apples, pumpkins, and warm spices; coincidentally they are in season too.  One of my favorite desert snacks for fall are Ginger Baked apples.  It is so good, seasonal, and the whole family loves them.  I found the recipe last fall at herbazest.com .  I’m pretty sure I made them at least once a week.  Fall cooking is one of my favorites, check out my Pinterest board for all my favorite recipes.  I promise they are so good; they won’t disappoint you!



What makes eating healthy even more enjoyable is participating in seasonal harvests.  You can appreciate your food and knowing where it came from.  Going to a farmers market isn’t like going to a grocery store, it is an experience like no other.  Check out your local farmers market and share what seasonal fruits and vegetables you find!
Happy almost fall,

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie