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Szechwan Eggplant

Sczhewan Eggplant

  Ooohh, I’m excited about dinner tonight: Szechwan Eggplant, Spicy Green Beans and Tofu, Gingered Fish for the boys, with steamed short grain brown rice on the side. I can honestly live on food like this for the rest of my life. Not only does it take minutes to prepare, but it’s so satisfying for a veggie like me. Eggplant is one of those vegetables that’s so filling and meat-like. If you’re making the change from a meat eater to a veggie, or just looking to add more vegetable dishes to your diet, this one’s a keeper. A dedicated meat eater when we first met, my husband Toby has slowly incorporated more organic vegetables to his diet. Never in a million years would he have eaten green beans and tofu or Asian style eggplant back in the day. Spotlight on myself, I shudder to think of the days when I ate Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and sliced Hostess bread. Snap! Thankfully, in our own time we can all make a change for the better. I’m constantly amazed by our son Jake asking for almond milk with oatmeal and banana for breakfast, Mochi (puffed brown rice treats that you bake), and yams [...]

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Simple and Sweet Sauteed Carrots with Thyme

Cooking doesn’t get much simpler than this, I tell ya. I make Simple and Sweet Sauteed Carrots for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it goes down a treat. The secret to sweet carrots is cooking them nice and slow, on low heat, letting the juices melt out of the onions, garlic, and carrots. The dried thyme gives the dish a wonderful earthy flavor. Enjoy! Simple and Sweet Sauteed Carrots with Thyme  3 cups carrots (about 4-5 medium size carrots) 4 tablespoons olive oil half a red onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced tablespoon dried thyme 1. Rinse and dry the carrots and slice into matchsticks. Set aside.  2. In a large frying pan, fry the onion on medium heat for a minute, then add the garlic. Stir in the thyme, cover, and cook for a minute or two until soft.  2. Add the carrots, stir, lower the heat and cover, cooking for 15 minutes, or until tender.

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Spinach Mushroom and Cranberry Quinoa

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving hanging out with your family and friends! We’re having another magical mystical morning today. The sun is shining through the trees, giving the canyon a warm backlit pinkish glow. It’s been a quiet weekend. During the holidays L.A. takes on a small town feel: quiet streets and a chilled out vibe. Every year I ask myself, “why can’t L.A. always be like this?”Ah, the price you pay for living in Southern California. Los Angeles has everything: the magestic Pacific Ocean, the crystal snow of Big Bear and Lake Arowhead, to the dry, flat heat of Palms Springs and the Mohave Desert. Amid so much natural beauty, you have to smile, share the love, and pass it on. When it comes to holiday eating, I like to carve out my own path. In my own humble opinion, the surprise of something new on the table is just that much more interesting. By following my nose, nature nudges me into what flows to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love the usual pumpkin pie, stuffing, gravy, green beans, and the like, but it can be refreshing to try something new.  Spinach Mushroom Cranberry Quinoa [...]

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Caramelized Butternut Squash with Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel, and Garlic

All I have to say about this recipe is WOW WOW WOW! We’ve all savored the natural sweetness of butternut squash, right? Smack dab in the middle of Fall, it’s pumpkin, sweet potato, and squash central. I’m not a mystic, but the universe says you know what I’m talking about. Question: Have you ever roasted a squash with a mixture of coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil? Hoooo weeee! Lawd a mercy! The caramelized, sweet, mildly spiced gorgeousness of butternut squash awaits you. No one will believe it’s not sweetened with a little somethin’ somethin’. Just tell ‘em it’s sweetened with love, baby!  Caramelized Butternut Squash with Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, and Garlic 1 large butternut squash, washed, seeded, and thickly sliced 2 cloves of garlic, minced tablespoon coriander seeds tablespoon cumin seeds tablespoon fennel seeds  teaspoon red pepper flakes teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 1. Preheat the over to 400 F 2. Wash, seed, and slice the butternut squash. Set aside. 3. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes into a coarse powder. Add the garlic and grind the mixture into a [...]

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Spicy Rice with Black Eyed Peas

I will set the scene: Garlicky Collard Greens, Buddha’s Coleslaw, Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Spicy Rice with Black Eyed Peas. Needless to say, we threw down.  You might be thinking, “whoa, what’s up with rice and sweet potato? Isn’t that a lot of carbs?” My answer: Not if you have a little of both…HELLO! Just to give you a visual, my plate looks like this: A large portion of greens and coleslaw (and I mean large), a small sweet potato (no butter thank you), and a small portion of rice and peas. If you are a veggie like me, don’t scrimp too much on the rice and black eyed peas. The beans give you a nice serving of protein. Garlicky Greens Buddha’s Coleslaw If you are serving the rice to children, please skip the red pepper flakes. Basmati cooks quickly, so I make two batches (one spicy, one not) and save some for the next day. For the grown folk, rock the red pepper flakes, you will not be disappointed. The garlic and tomato paste give the rice a zesty, tangy edge that you will love. If you are hankering for a bit of meat, throw in some fried catfish [...]

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Curried Chickpeas

I would like to start off this week by thanking Genie Gratto, the Food Editor of BlogHer, for featuring Food For Vitality. Genie, you have no idea how grateful I am for your support! I cook, write, and take photos for the pure love of it all, but heck, it’s nice to be noticed once in a while. As a new food blogger, I often wonder, “will anyone find me out there in the vast world of cyberspace?” I absolutely cherish each new Facebook “like” and am thankful for any comments that come through. Thanks again to Genie and the team at BlogHer for being so helpful and making me feel welcome. I simply cannot wait to meet you all at BlogHer 2012 in New York City. It’s going to be amazing! Hankering for a quick and easy Indian dish that is so authentic your friends will think you ordered a take away? Look no further. Whizz up the spices of India: Black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, and cumin seeds into a powder, then quickly fry them with the chickpeas along with fresh ginger, red chili pepper, and turmeric. Serve this with steamed Basmati rice and salad, lime pickle [...]

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Bhindi Bhaji (Curried Okra)

For years, I have ordered Bhindi Bhaji in Indian restaurants, thinking, “I wish I could make this at home.”  When I finally dared to face my fear, it took me all of 25 minutes to make it. Isn’t that always the way? Seriously, all you have to do is trot over to your local Indian market and buy six spices. If I have to be completely honest, this was more a “duh” than an “ah ha” moment. Push the fear and procrastination aside and be adventurous. A little commitment can go a long way.  Bhindi Bhaji (Curried Okra) 1 lb of fresh okra, washed and dried 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic minced thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (a tsp powdered ginger also works) tsp chili flakes (optional) 2 tbls ghee of cooking oil 1 tsp turmeric powder 1 tsp coriander powder 1 tsp cumin powder 1 tsp black mustard seeds 1/2 tsp dry mango powder pinch of gram masala sea salt to taste 1. Make sure the okra is washed, and dried throughly with a paper towel. Top, tail, and slice the okra, then set aside. 2. Heat the oil on medium heat in a wok or large [...]

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Healthy Mac and Cheese

As a child, Macaroni and Cheese was the side to serve with Fried Chicken and Kool Aid. When I made the life change to a healthier diet, all of this went out the window. I haven’t eaten a hamburger in twenty five years, or had Mac and Cheese in at least fifteen. It may seem strange, but when you start eating a clean diet, you just stop craving the bad stuff.  Even when I was pregnant, I surprised myself by having one junky craving, french fries, and that was only for a week.  In the last year, Mac and Cheese has become my son’s favorite side dish at preschool. I wondered if I could find a healthier version, so I tried rice pasta, white cheddar, and vegan options. Every time, Jake would take one bite and say, “Yuck, Mommy. Maria’s Macaroni and Cheese is much better.” You  know what happened next: I rolled up my sleeves and made my own from scratch.  Out with the old, in with the new: Organic brown rice flour and potato flour are new ingredients to me, but they turned out to be amazing substitutes for white flour. Surprisingly, they taste great, are healthier, not to [...]

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries with a Coconut Glaze

I made these fries as a kid’s snack for a play date, and they flew off the baking tray. Talk about easy: Wash the potatoes, slice them up, and brush on some melted coconut oil. Sling them onto a baking tray, and roast for 30-40 minutes. The only difficult bit: Once you start eating them, it can be quite difficult to stop. The gentle sweetness of the coconut gives the potatoes a subtle and delicious twist. A baker’s bonus: While they’re in the oven, the house is scented with a honeyed aroma wafting from the kitchen (oh yeah). I made them today with a bunch of side dishes to snack on while watching the Oscars, and they are the bomb! Addictive, but in the healthiest way. Baked Sweet Potato Fries in a Coconut Glaze 8 medium sized sweet potatoes 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (small tubs are available at most health food store) 1. Preheat the oven to 350* 2. Wash and slice the potatoes into “fries” shapes. 3. Put the slices onto a baking sheet. On low heat, melt the coconut oil, then brush on to the slices using a pastry brush.  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and [...]

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Spicy Green Beans and Tofu in Red Chili

How is it that before we’ve even celebrated Thanksgiving, they’re erecting skyscraper-sized Christmas trees and pumping holiday music all around town? I’ve had enough of this corporate prescription of blind shopping panic to find the right gift, “before the rush.” What rush? The five minute glowed rush of buying a delightfully wrapped present (and in the frenzy, they’re hoping you buy a few too many for yourself), quickly followed by, “damn there goes my credit card bill.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love hunting for special gifts for friends, but in my own time. This mindless manipulation by the media really stinks. Pumpkin Spiced Latte anyone?  As you can see, I am feeling a bit rebellious today. It’s true, we are entering the holiday season, but in other parts of the world, no one gives a monkeys about the Pilgrims sitting down together for a meal with the Native Americans. We all know what a rip roaring relationship that turned out to be. Today, I haven’t the newest twist on Pumpkin Pie, nor a recipe for Deluxe Stuffing a la Stove Top. Of course, I will be Womanning the kitchen on the day, and kicking some bootay, but I am almost [...]

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