Strawberry season in the Mid-Atlantic — although fleeting, it always leaves me with excitement for more of summer’s candy to come: blueberries, wild raspberries, and my most beloved, the peach! So while I do cherish the early red berries, admittedly I get more excited for what’s to follow, and the indication that my favorite season is only just beginning.
garden bouquet: summer lettuces and berries
My go-to recipe to highlight the local strawberries for the past few years has been this: an oat square that reminds me of my good old Nutri-Grain bar, but much more hearty and wholesome with fresh-from-the-fields strawberry jam slathered and baked right on top. They’re also vegan, and interestingly made with chia seeds as a thickener in the jam and as an egg-replacer in the dough. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, omega-3, and pure energy! I also like the seedy texture it gave to the jam — i love jam with chunks of fruit and seeds :)
Fresh-picked strawberries ripen fast and need to be put to use, so if you’re looking for a healthy treat or a sweet and wholesome breakfast to use up those buckets of fruit, give these bars a try. Continue reading
The Caribbean coast of Colombia – a place where the buildings are as colorful and varied as the tropical fruits, and the comida típica (typical food) is, well… starchy and fried.
Colombians sure do love their sugary fruit and jugos naturales (fresh fruit juice blended with water or milk and sugar) and I can see why. Living in the relentless heat of the coast – Cartagena especially – I found myself craving nothing but the hydrating juice and sweet flesh of a peeled-to-order mango on the street for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But when you’re eventually craving something savory and substantial and want to stay on cheap backpacker budget, your options turn to fried street food (tasty, but not sustaining) or the comida típica. This varies by region of course, but generally means ‘el menu del día’ (whatever the day’s menu happens to be), consisting of soup and juice with a plate of rice, french fries or patacones (fried plantains), “salad” (a few pieces of lettuce, maybe a slice of tomato if you’re lucky), sometimes beans, and your choice of chicken, beef, or fish. I surely like to try the typical food everywhere I go, but not many meals go by here before I feel my body thirsting for something green and not simmered in a pot of oil.
Even so, I continue to be in love with Latin American flavors — queso fresco, avocado, plantains, fresh salsas, beans, citrusy ceviche, arepas, tamales and everything else made with corn. Remember the pan de yuca I was so excited to discover the recipe for after I travelled to Ecuador? Yep, found them made fresh every morning in the supermarket I am currently staying 2 blocks from. And these guys are macho-sized – more like croissants – but just as tasty as I remember :)
I’ll miss your fuzzy, sunset-hued skin. Your cheery presence in my morning bowl of muesli and yogurt. And eating you like candy.
Sweet, juicy candy, made from pure sunshine.
No matter what grocery store tries to fool me mid-January, I know no look-alike can compare to your genuine summer sunshine-ripened perfection. But that only makes you sweeter come July, when I take my first blissful bite. I’ll soon be longing for that day, I’m sure.
Before I say goodbye for now, though, let’s look at some of the tasty moments we shared this summer…..
A typical breakfast.. (homemade muesli recipe coming soon)
Golden peach soup with crab ‘ceviche’ – from Cooking Light
This was delicious, but too sweet to eat as a whole meal in my opinion. It would work better as a cute appetizer / hors d’oeuvre served in mini cups.
A breakfast or dessert-worthy Yogurt Peach Tart – from Anja’s Food 4 Thought
This one’s definitely a keeper. So simple to put together, and every ingredient is 100% nutritious! no shame eating a big slice of this for breakfast :)
Peaches & ginger cheesecake – shared on the blog recently…
And last but perhaps best, my spicy peach lassi – recipe below.
As someone who is very careful not to waste (any) food that I buy, I like to keep canned chicken or salmon in my pantry. That way I can use it when the craving arises and not get anxious about it going bad. Thus, chicken salad is a practical meal to make and last for several lunches of the week. It’s versatile and can be enjoyed on whole wheat sandwiches, mixed green salads, on flatbread crackers, lettuce wraps, or straight out of the bowl.
I have come up with my perfected chicken salad, — a mixture of fruity, cool and spicy flavors. Crisp apples, chewy dried apricots, crisp onion and celery, creamy tart yogurt, and warm curry and garam masala. I ate mine for lunch in big lettuce leaf wraps, making for a light and refreshing midday meal.
Fruity curried chicken salad
1 12.5-oz can white chunk chicken (I found Costco’s Kirkland brand to be the best- with big solid chunks of white meat)
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 t spicy mustard
½ t curry powder
¼ t garam masala
½ apple, chopped
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
¼ cup chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
Salt + pepper to taste
These measurements are all estimations; I’m not sure of the exact proportions I used. Just throw everything together in a bowl, adding more of what you like, different fruits or veggies, more spice, less spice, whatever tastes good! Make it your own. Stir together with a fork, season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
It seems that the fruits of Mom’s garden are all or nothing. Blueberry bushes just won’t grow. Last year the tomato plants were completely overflowing; this year we got about 5. The zucchini is always plentiful but the corn wouldn’t even develop a full ear.
This summer Mom planted a watermelon, and we watched for weeks as it grew bigger and rounder, wondering how we’d know the right time to pick. A few times we researched “signs of a ripe watermelon,” and I stood in the garden listing them off the ipad for her to check. But it never seemed like the right time.
So I had about 3 days left before driving back south for school, and we decided to cave in and harvest this giant green monster. The supposed signs of ripeness still weren’t there but we were tired of waiting. It would either be absolutely perfect or entirely unripe……
…We weighed it, sliced through 17 pounds of melon… and what do ya know, it was perfect.
Perfect as in could not have been better and we must be watermelon harvest experts. That perfect. Vibrant red from the core to the rind, firm and JUICY as melon can be.
It certainly goes along with the all-or-nothing, luck or no luck thing we have going in the garden, but this time we were lucky, and I am grateful. It was juicy blissful deliciousness. And I surely savored those last 3 days at home.
In our family, this is summer’s signature dessert. With local peaches and blueberries taking over our kitchen faster than we can handle, fruit crisps are something easy to make and easy to enjoy. Eaten for dessert, breakfast, or a snack, hot or cold, with ice cream, yogurt, or solo… it’s simply the essence of summer in your mouth. Unfortunately, while some people mistake crisps, cobblers, crumbles, etc. for being “healthy” desserts seeing as they contain fruit, many are made with loads of butter, white sugar, white flour, sour cream…everything that may be found in your most decadent chocolate cake. Here I’ve lightened up and perfected our recipe so it can truly be a refreshing and light summery dessert, and double as a delicious breakfast :]
I’ve had this on my list of recipes to try for a long while, and now that I have an overabundance of blueberries and not enough mouths to force them in to, it seemed a good time to give it a go. This light, slightly sweet and wholesome coffee cake turned out lovely— just a touch of sweetness contrasts with the tart berries, the combination of corn meal and whole wheat lends a hearty texture, yet it’s still light and fluffy. I can’t wait to have this tomorrow morning with a big cup of coffee, some yogurt and more blueberries!
adapted from Eggless Cooking
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup stone ground white corn meal
¼ cup + 2 T Sugar (I actually think I could do with less)
3/4 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Baking Soda
¼ t salt
1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 cup soy yogurt (I used regular Greek yogurt, which un-veganed it)
a little soymilk or water
2 T Vegetable Oil Spread, melted (Earth / Smart Balance)
1/2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 t Vanilla Extract
1/4 t Almond Extract
1 cup Blueberries, fresh if possible!!
1/2 cup Sliced Almonds (I omitted)
1 T Brown Sugar
1/4 t Ground Cinnamon