shaved summer salad

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A simple twist on preparation can make a striking difference in taste and sensory perception. This salad is a prime example. I’ve always favored raw vegetables over cooked, and shaving them is an elegant way to highlight their light, crisp and natural attributes.

A vegetable peeler will do the trick, creating long, thin ribbons of vegetables, but a mandoline will make the job a touch easier. This can be done with an assortment of vegetables. I suggest combining textures and adding firm root vegetables and more tender ones such as zucchini and cucumbers.

The options are vast when it comes to dressing a salad such as this. I choose to add a bit of weight to the vegetables with a creamy yogurt and mint dressing, accentuating the bright flavors of summer.  shaved-3628

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Shaved Summer Salad

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 small yellow beets
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash your vegetables and carefully shave them lengthwise using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. For the dressing, roughly chop the mint and fold it into the yogurt. Squeeze in lemon and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir together and massage into the vegetables with your hands.

The vegetables can be shaved up to one day in advance. Mix with dressing right before serving to maintain the crisp texture of the vegetables.

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orange + coconut milk cream pops

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One of the first things I remember doing each and every time I arrived at my grandma’s house in Honolulu was run out to the large reach-in freezer in the shed outside and dig for boxes of orange creamsicles. Most of the time my hunt was successful, she was always prepared and knew our favorite treats. To this day the sweet, velvety combination of oranges and cream bring me back to hot days spent on her lanai making plumeria leis with my cousins and splashing in the neighbor’s pool.

These cool treats are easy to make and are a refreshing way to cool down on these hot and humid summer days. If you don’t have popsicle molds they can easily be made in little paper cups. They take minutes to mix up, and if you don’t have the patience to create the layers as I did, the flavors will be just a divine if you choose to simply pour both mixtures in the molds and freeze it all at once.

Alcohol adds a little kick and softens the texture of pops. Alcohol doesn’t freeze, so adding a small amount to ice pops and sorbets offers a softer texture. The addition of sugar will also reduce the ice shards in most pops – so if you end up experimenting with recipes this summer be sure to let me know how yours turn out with varying amounts of sugar and alcohol.

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orange + coconut milk cream pops

makes 10-12 pops

  • 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cups (1, 15oz can) whole fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup honey, divided
  • 1/4 cup Chambord, divided (or any sweet fruity liquor)

In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, 1/4 cup honey and 2 T liquor. In a separate bowl whisk together coconut milk, 1/4 cup honey and 2 T liquor.

Pour half of the orange mixture into your molds. Freeze for about one hour or until mostly firm, pour half of your coconut mixture over the frozen orange juice and freeze. Repeat with remaining orange and coconut mixtures until your molds are full. When you add the last layer, insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for an additional 6-8 hours before serving.

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Popped Amaranth Breakfast Pudding

amaranth-3354I’ve had a bag of amaranth in my pantry for some time now. I bought it to test how it pops in comparison to quinoa, and I’ve played with it from time to time in various recipes, both popped and un-popped. We use it at work in muffins and baked goods, soaking it for hours prior to use. Because it is such a hearty seed, there are textural and nutritional benefits of soaking, and if I don’t pop it, I always soak it to soften and hydrate the seeds. Last week, I had an itch to make some breakfast cereal. I had thought about it the night before, but had fallen asleep without soaking my amaranth. I was initially disappointed that I had forgotten to soak it, but then I remembered why I had bought the seeds in the first place – to pop! I’d never actually cooked popped amaranth before, I’d just used it in recipes similar to my quinoa bon bons. I figured I’d give it a try, I toasted and popped the amaranth and simmered it in water and coconut milk. I was pleasantly surprised with the result — the cereal was light and creamy. Because amaranth is a hard seed it maintains a toothsome texture even after being cooked, but popping seemed to soften the seeds much more than soaking.

un-popedPopping amaranth makes the seeds much lighter and softer and significantly decreases the cooking time. The process is similar to popping popcorn, just place it in a dry pan over medium heat and gently swirl the pan around as the little seeds pop away. The final consistency of the cereal was somewhere between chia pudding and oatmeal, with a bit more of a crunch. It’s nearly impossible to pop every grain which results in a pleasant texture and bite.

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Many refer to amaranth as a grain, and although it does have grain like properties and nutritional value, it is actually the seed of a plant that was cultivated by the Aztecs.  As a seed, amaranth is naturally gluten free and nutritionally dense.

It is known for its high manganese content, a one cup serving boasts 105% of your recommended intake. Manganese is a trace mineral that plays important roles in bone and skin health, blood sugar regulation and protects against free radical damage. Amaranth also has higher amounts of minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorous, and carotenoids, than most vegetables. It is a complete protein, meaning it has all of the amino acids that body needs to function, with approximately 26 g of protein per cup. Amaranth is a great source of lysine, an important amino acid with protein content comparable to that of milk. Lysine plays a major role in the absorption of calcium and in muscle growth and recovery, and boosts the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. 

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Popped Amaranth Breakfast Pudding

Serves 2

  • ½ c amaranth
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ c coconut milk
  • 1 t honey
  • pinch of salt
  • berries/dried fruit

In a dry 6-8″ skillet, without oil, toast amaranth until at least 50% of the seeds have popped. To do this, heat your pan on a medium-high flame, add amaranth, and gently swirl your pan to prevent burning. The cooking time will vary depending on how hot your pan is but it should happen within minutes. Be careful not to burn the seeds and quickly transfer them to a bowl to cool if they begin to burn. They should look similar to the photos above. If using a smaller pan, pop amaranth in batches for even popping.

Return all popped amaranth to your pot, and lower heat. Add 1.5 c water and simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until soft, adding more water as needed. (Amaranth absorbs a lot of liquid so you will likely need all 2 cups). Stir in coconut milk, a small pinch of salt, and honey and top with berries or dried fruit.

 

 

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