Check out my foodie adventures at Foodspotting and Foodgawker

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Homemade Raw Bars

I have been a big fan of LÄRABARS--the purest form of energy with only unsweetened fruits, nuts, seeds and spices. Raw. Vegan. Kosher. Gluten free. Dairy free. Soy free. Delicious. Now that raw bars have become quite trendy, there are lots of companies that make them! So I started accumulating brands to find a favorite and, while I still stock plenty of LÄRABARS, I am truly in love with Raw Revolution bars because it adds agave nectar as a sweetener, but more importantly, it makes the bars a little wet and stickier (now, who doesn't like that?!). For the record, the Spirulina & Cashew flavor is my favorite... But, like most things, raw bars are even better when they are homemade!

The ingredient lists for these raw energy bars are so simple that I figured I would try to make them myself! I really like food "bars" where you get to mix and match lots of ingredients to make your own creation--from ice cream sundae bars to oatmeal bars to pasta bars to salad bars...So, I gathered lots and lots of different ingredients and laid it all out on the table along with a cutting board, knives, wax paper, mixing spoons, a nut grinder and some mixing bowls...and poof! Homemade Raw Bar Success.

I went by texture and flavor, so I am sorry to report that I don't have a precise recipe other than the ingredients list, but I am positive you won't need one--just trust your instinct and be creative and once you start mixing things, you will know whether more dry ingredients (nuts and nut meal, flax, seeds and spices) or wet items (dried fruits, honey (lots of antioxidants!), agave syrup (vegan option), etc.) are needed, etc. and every bar will be a unique creation!

I probably should mention one ingredient in particular so you aren't completely startled. After eating ground flax seeds regularly, my friend James introduced me to the magic of chia seeds. Yes, it IS from the famous Chia Pet--those little animal shaped pots that grew mini forests! Remember those?! Turns out, those little seeds are rich in omega-3, fiber, antioxidants, minerals and lots of other healthy goodies (they even help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar)! It's kinda like Jack and the Beanstalk and chia seeds are the magic beans! I have to point out they have some funny properties--when a seed gets wet, a gelatinous coating forms around the seed (and after eating them you will sometimes find a stray seed in your mouth an hour after eating...). I highly recommend you get your hands on some--I put them in oatmeal or yogurt and bake with them any way you would use poppy seeds (muffins, pancakes, etc.).

I had so much fun making these--maybe I will host a raw bar "pot-luck" where everyone brings a few ingredients and we all make some and share the bounty...

APRICOT-ALMOND-CARDAMOM: dried apricot, cashew, almond, honey, cardamom, ground clove, cinnamon, almond paste, ground flax.

DATE-PECAN-FENNEL: date, pecan, cashew, poppy seed, chia seed, honey, sesame seed, ground fennel.

SESAME-APRICOT-GINGER: dried apricot, cashew, almond, sesame seed, ginger sugar, flax, honey, cardamom.

PISTACHIO-FIG-POPPY: pistachio, dried mission fig, cashew, chia seed, poppy seed, almond paste, honey.

CHOCOLATE-CHAI-ALMOND: dates, cashews, almond meal, almond butter, honey, chia seed, poppy seed, cocoa powder, chai powder, almond paste.

They were all amaaaaazing, but the general consensus among my gracious testers was that the Pistachio-Fig-Poppy was the belle of the ball...and it was.

Note: These beauties have no preservatives (and stuff like flax seed spoils easily) so you will want to refrigerate them and eat them within 1-3 days or freeze them for longer storage.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Sometimes when I see big bins of grains at a grocery store, I have to really, really restrain the urge to just stuff my hands deep down into the bins. I just imagine what it might feel like to dive into a big pool of rice and then I start to laugh and giggle and then I have to get out of the grocery store immediately before I start to attract attention to myself. You get this same urge too?! No? oh...

I desperately love, cold, room temperature, whatever. It's is ridiculously yummy mixed with some fresh chopped parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and pine nuts and served with some grilled salmon...But orzo is also the perfect pasta for a pasta salad...

Every time there is a BBQ, pool party or picnic, someone always requests (read: demands) that my cousin, Laura, bring this Mediterranean salad...So, I decided I should slumber party at her place and help her make some so I could share the recipe with you too (after all, you have lots of BBQ's and pool parties and picnics to attend and everyone could use an easy, delicious and ever-popular recipe in their recipe arsenal).

You can also tailor the ingredients to add more of what you like and less of what you don't!


* 1 package of Orzo (cooked according to directions on package and drained)
* Olives (Oil cured or kalamata olives)
* Sundried Tomatoes
* 2 or 3 Heirloom Tomatoes (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
* Feta cheese, crumbled
* Artichoke hearts (optional)
* 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* handful of basil leaves, chopped
* salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
* 1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)
* 1 bottle of Red Wine & Olive Oil Vinaigrette (use to taste)

Mix it all up and refrigerate until you are ready to serve...

Thanks, Laura!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ogo Seaweed Salad

Now, a note about the key ingredient: red ogo seaweed. Red ogo is a type of Limu (LEE-moo), which is the Hawaiian word for seaweed. Unfortunately, outside of Hawaii, red ogo may be extremely difficult to find (I purchased mine fresh at a local market in Maui, froze it and hand carried it on a plane with some dry ice back to San Francisco for those moments when you just want that taste of the islands and nothing else will do....). But there are actually many kinds of edible limu and they are all great additions to salads, sandwiches, poke......I have even occasionally seen it in dried form! So, if you can find this gem, use it! And if you can't, the salad will still be yummy without it but you may want to add a little salt to taste (since the seaweed is what adds a naturally salty flavor to the salad).

You can make variations on this salad if you wish--I made the regular recipe with the tomatoes and then a version without tomatoes and I just added in more carrot shreds.


* 1/2 cup white vinegar
* 3 T. soy sauce
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 tsp. sesame oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted


* 1/4 cup red ogo seaweed
* 2 vine-ripened tomatoes (or 5 or 6 smaller campari tomatoes), chopped
* 1/2 cucumber, halved and deseeded (or one thin japanese cucumber)
* 1/2 carrot, shredded or julienne
* 1/4 red onion, minced finely


* Mix all dressing ingredients together.
* In a separate bowl, mix all salad ingredients together.
* Pour dressing over salad mixture, cover and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes to let the veggies soak up the marinade!

Serve chilled.


Channa Saag "Paneer"

Channa Saag "Paneer" = Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), Spinach and Tofu. Paneer is a type of cheese, but in the interest of being healthy, tofu is a perfect substitute...And this dish is delicious!

Every time I go to a new Indian restaurant (which isn't that often because I am *hooked* on Indian Oven and always go there and always order the same thing), I am always intrigued by the Saag...It's not the prettiest dish, but any variation of spinach is alright by me...

I also don't frequently venture into the realm of making Indian food, because it is so much easier to get it at a restaurant and my spice cabinet would need some serious additions before I could even attempt to make most Indian dishes. Still, I thought I would give it a try...


1/2 package of firm tofu (cut into large cubes)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package frozen spinach (16 oz), defrosted
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
3 cardamom pods
1 tsp. garam masala
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 tsp. sea salt (optional)
1 can garbanzo beans


* Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in pan and sautee tofu over medium high heat.
* When lightly browned, remove from heat and set aside.
* Add garlic and onion to pan and cook until onion is transluscent.
* Squeeze all excess moisture out of spinach and add to pan.
* Cook the spinach, onion and garlic for about 3-4 minutes until thoroughly mixed.
* Add spinach mixture, turmeric, cumin, cardamom pods, garam masala and garbanzo beans to a crockpot.
* Cook in crockpot on high for up to 1 hour.
* Add nonfat yogurt and sea salt and continue to cook for another 30-40 minutes.
* Stir through cooked tofu.

This dish does not have to be cooked for so long in a crock pot and you could make it in a pot over the stove, but if you have the time (and the crockpot), I think the ingredients come together nicely when given adequate time to "stew"...

Serve with some basmati rice and/or naan!