I first made these muffins three springs ago, as a farewell and a thank you to one of the most compassionate, gentle, poised, and balanced women I have known, who entered my life at such a crucial time. Everything — from the words she said and the voice she spoke in, to the pure grace of her movements — was angelic. And with the impact she made on me I sometimes wonder if she really was an angel sent to help me out…
Gazpacho and I have a thing this summer. How did I never see in it what I do now? I used to compare it to ‘just like drinking a jar of salsa – yuck!’, but now I see it’s so far beyond that. Light, refreshing, complex, pure, and wonderful. Like drinking my summer garden. For breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Topped with herbed croutons, fancy ceviche, or nothing. I love it, and I love that it helps me keep any of my precious garden tomatoes from going to waste.
Working on an organic farm this summer as well as having 6 plants of my own to tend, you could say I’ve picked my fair share of ‘maters this season. And just look at all the varieties! Each has their own flavor, texture and purpose. Many are heirlooms, which are so flavor-packed and meaty they’re just crying out to be part of a mean BLT. I’ll admit some look pretty darn ugly on the outside. But it’s the inside beauty that counts, right?
I’ve made gazpacho (Spanish chilled tomato soup) maybe 6 times in the past few weeks, enjoying it as an on-the-go breakfast, as a cool refresher after working outside, eating bowls-full for lunch & dinner, and taking it to a cookout for friends to enjoy. Each time I make it is a little different, as I don’t follow a strict recipe and always use a mishmash of tomato varieties. But it’s hard to mess up too bad, unless of course you mistake jalapeños for bell peppers. Here’s my top secret recipe, now go put summer’s bounty to good use!
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 :)
I am about to write a post that came about from a trip to Five Guys and Subway. Never in envisioning my ‘healthy cooking blog’ did I think something like this would come up. But inspiration finds you in unexpected places, I suppose.
So here we were, my boyfriend and I waiting out the thunderstorm in a (particularly awesome) tavern before a great night of baseball: the Nationals vs. Orioles at the Nats stadium in DC. I had the thought of maybe grabbing a sandwich at Subway across the street rather than paying $12 for a greasy something-or-other in the stadium. Forrest was in, although he decided to go all in at the Five Guys next door. I admitted to him that I did love their fries—way back when I ate hamburgers—so he promised to share with me all the little fries I desired, as they stuff an entire brown bag full of them. What a treat!
The fries – their cajun seasoned ones which I had never tried – were greasy but delicious, with a much more ‘homemade’ taste than any other fast food fries I’ve had. And the cajun seasoning was just meant to be with them. I knew I’d be cooking up a healthier version as soon as I got home.
And that was that. Inspiration for my next recipe came to me from a greasy burger joint outside a ballpark. Although I love cooking and eating foods that are inherently healthy (kale salads, lentil stew, etc..) there is a great satisfaction that comes from ‘healthifying’ something that’s typically not so great for you. So here are some oven baked fries, smothered in Cajun goodness, thick and tender and crispy enough to rival any fast food joint.
One of my favorite homemade treats to make is granola. I love that the variations are limitless – every spice or flavor combination is feasible. And it’s too easy to ‘healthify’ – using fruit purees in place of oil or butter – or not :) The only problem I have with making my own granola is that it never seems to make it to an actual breakfast bowl of say yogurt, fruit and granola. Why? Well because I start snacking on it… and then it’s so crunchy and sweet and salty and tasty and hey, much better for you than most store-bought granola right? And then before I know it…. an empty jar?! Happens every time, including this batch of triple-ginger fig granola. Luckily my sisters were around to help this time so we can all share the blame ;)
This recipe calls for a triple punch of fresh, dried, and crystallized ginger, plus blackstrap molasses to give a rich, pungent flavor. I added in dried figs, cherries, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) but feel free to throw in whatever you feel like. That’s the beauty of granola!
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.
Sweet summer corn in its raw state is totally under-appreciated.
Chomping down on a freshly husked ear from the field across the street; your teeth bursting a mouthful of crispy kernels into sweet, milky juice that runs down your chin….
There’s something so rich and pure and earthy that I feel is lost when the ears are cooked.
SO. If you have not experienced the sensation that is sweet summer corn, fresh from the field and raw, try out this easy recipe for corn bhel, a sweet and tangy Indian street snack. Give your traditional boiled/baked/grilled corn-on-the-cob a break, and enjoy all the extra nutrients from the raw stuff!
I first had corn bhel at Chai Pani, an amaazing Indian street food-inspired restaurant in Asheville, NC (highly recommend it if you’re in the area!). It was love at first taste… love that quickly turned into addiction. How could such simple ingredients combine to create something so brightly flavorful and complex?
As expected, I’m pretty sure the flavor owes much to the “corn milk,” as I like to call it, which is plentiful and so rich and pure on an uncooked ear. Be sure to slice the kernels off as close to the cob as it allows, and then scrape again and again til you’ve milked the cob for all it’s worth.
MMM mmmm. Then spoon it onto a green salad, grilled fish or chicken, scoop it like salsa onto corn chips, serve it over a fried egg with salsa and black beans, provide as a healthy side dish, or eat it straight out of the serving bowl when you want to snack on something awesome. Did I mention it’s incredibly addicting……
Corn Bhel (sweet raw corn salad), inspired by Chai Pani’s dish
- 2 ears sweet corn, raw + kernels sliced fresh off the cob
- ‘corn milk’ (the juices from the cob, every last drop scraped off :)
- 1 red or white onion, diced
- 4 small-medium tomatoes, diced (this is just an estimate – I used what we had from the garden)
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 t roasted coriander powder
- 1/2 t cumin powder
- salt + pepper to taste
Hold each ear of corn on its end and slice the kernels off with a knife. Then continue scraping the cob ’til you get every last drop of juice. Combine all ingredients together in a pretty bowl and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld into deliciousness. Eat.
enjoy :) –mich