Thursday, August 29, 2013

0 Edamame & Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

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Looking for a fun new way to prepare edamame? Then try this colorful Mediterranean-style salad. It's a bit more unexpected than some other preparations you may've seen.

Edamame & Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Salad Ingredients:
3 c. (frozen or fresh) edamame beans (in their pods) (makes about 3/4 c. cooked, shelled edamame)
1/2 c. (frozen or fresh) corn kernels
1 c. canned garbanzo beans (pre-cooked), drained and well-rinsed
1 c. red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8"-thick crescents
3/4 c. Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 c. scallions, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds
1/4 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced and densely packed
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) fresh mint leaves, finely minced and densely packed (optional)

Tahini-Lemon Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 c. tahini
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large cloves)

Directions: Make the dressing first: Before you use the tahini, be sure to stir it first to combine, since there's usually a layer of oil on top. (The oil tends to separate from the rest of the tahini after it's been sitting in the can for a while.) Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside to allow flavors to meld while you prepare the salad. Prepare the salad ingredients: Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a rolling boil (on high heat), then add edamame. Boil frozen edamame pods for 2-3 minutes, or if you're using fresh instead, 7-10 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook edamame, or it will be mushy and inedible. Properly cooked edamame should be tender but still have some give.) Drain into a colander and then rinse under cold tap water to cool. When cool to the touch, shell edamame and place them into a large salad bowl. Next boil the corn: Pour water into the same medium-sized pot you just used to boil the edamame, and bring it to a rolling boil. Add corn kernels and boil: Boil frozen corn for 4-5 minutes, or if using fresh instead, 5-10 minutes (i.e., cook fresh corn just until it starts changing color). Drain into a colander and rinse under cold tap water to cool. Assemble the salad: Place cooled corn into the same salad bowl containing the edamame. Add all other salad ingredients to the bowl, then pour the dressing on top and toss thoroughly until ingredients are fully coated with dressing. Marinate in the refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: About 4-5 c.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

0 Creamy Coconut Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

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As you can see, black rice pudding is incredibly difficult to photograph. I promise that there are loads of almonds 
and pistachios in there, even though you can't see them. Black rice "dyes" pretty much everything it touches. :)

I created this recipe specifically for The Athlete's Cookbook, so of course, it has a great number of sports performance benefits for athletes. It also just so happens to be vegan, although that wasn't the impetus for creating it. ;)

Kheer is a wonderfully fragrant Indian rice pudding that's commonly served in many Indian restaurants. Most kheer recipes typically call for several gallons of cream or whole milk. OK, that's only a slight exaggeration (Hahaha!), but of course this recipe is a healthy version, so it doesn't contain either. Instead, I've used coconut milk, which, most notably, contains healthy fats that increase the rate of fat oxidation to provide an immediately available source of energy for athletes. :)

Traditionally, kheer is made with basmati rice (and sometimes also short-grain varieties). However, this recipe calls for black rice, a superfood that’s naturally sweet and unusually high in antioxidants, fiber, and protein, and as a result, is much healthier for you than most other varieties of rice. In fact, it's higher in protein than either white or brown rice, and at the same time, it's also lower in calories and carbs. Black rice contains a significant amount of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, which may fight cancer and heart disease. It's also good for your immune system, blood circulation, eyes, stomach, kidneys, and spleen. Black rice has a much thicker outer hull than many other types of rice, so it that means it takes longer to cook. However, it's worth the wait, as it's very nutritious. :) Its hardy outer hull (the bran) is what makes it high in fiber, plus it's also got a ton of vitamins (especially vitamin E) and minerals (like iron, potassium, and magnesium) and is unusually rich in amino acids, the building blocks of lean muscle mass, so it's an athlete's dream. :-D

Black rice is sometimes also called "Forbidden Rice" because only the royalty of ancient China (i.e., emperors and nobles) had been permitted to eat it. Black rice has a nutty flavor with chocolate-like undertones, so as you can imagine, it tastes great in puddings like kheer, which already contain nuts (usually pistachios &/or almonds, but sometimes also cashews). Simply put, it not only complements this type of pudding, but also enhances what's already there.

This dish also contains a plethora of fragrant ingredients -- cardamom, saffron, and rose water -- a wonderful, heady combination that'll make your kitchen smell divine. Get ready for a rich, complex, and intensely flavorful experience for your taste buds. This all natural, no-sugar added pudding is, quite literally, as sweet as pie. So, if you’re a sweet tooth but still want to eat healthfully, this recipe’s for you.

Creamy Coconut Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1 c. water (for boiling rice)
1/2 c. black rice, washed, soaked for 30 minutes, and then drained
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, soaked in 2 Tbsp. of hot water for 30 minutes (or ideally for 2 hours, if there's time)
1 1/2 c. honey
1/2 tsp. rose water (omit if unavailable)
2 Tbsp. almonds, slivered
2 Tbsp. unsalted shelled pistachios, plus more for garnish
1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste

Directions: Crush almonds and pistachios coarsely using a mortar and pestle (or place onto a clean surface, cover with plastic wrap, and smash with the side of a knife), and set aside. Pour coconut milk and water into a large pot, cover, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Uncover, add rice, including reserved liquid, saffron, cardamom, cover again, and bring to a boil once more. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes, or until rice is tender and almost all of the water has been absorbed. Rice is done when it starts to crack open slightly and develop at least 2 or more beads. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add honey, rose water, almonds, pistachios, and salt and stir until honey is fully dissolved, then add almonds and pistachios. (Be careful not to overcook the rice or it'll be mushy and unpalatable.) Remove from heat, let rest for at least 10 minutes, and then gently fluff with a fork. Remove from heat. Spoon the rice pudding into small ramekins (or custard dishes) and top each portion with crushed pistachios. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Servings: Makes 2-4 servings.

Chef's Notes: Please note, this pudding has a short shelf-life, and will last for only about a day.

If you can't find unsalted pistachios, use the shelled salted ones but then omit the salt.

Saffron can be soaked for much longer, anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, so you can also soak the saffron overnight. The longer it steeps, the more intense the saffron flavor will be.

Be sure to use Chinese sticky black rice and not wild rice. (Wild rice is a dark color, but trust me, it's not what you want to use for this pudding. The taste of wild rice is woody and savory, and totally wrong for a dish like this. Furthermore, wild rice isn't even technically considered to be rice.) Also, since this pudding is very sweet, it's a good idea to balance the sweetness by serving it with something plain or mild tasting, like a cup of (herbal) tea or a glass of milk.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

0 Recipe #366: Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

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Pitas are the perfect size for making your own personal-sized pizzas. These colorful and easy-to-make pizzas are packed full of fiber, protein, and healthy carbs, which makes them deceptively filling. The vegetable toppings and freshly made pizza sauce, with its vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh herbs, are what give this recipe its vibrant flavors. (This is yet another recipe from The Athlete's Cookbook.)

Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

Pizza Ingredients:
4 large (7 1/2”) whole wheat pitas
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 c. soft crumbled goat cheese (chèvre), divided
1 c. orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips, divided (3/4 large pepper)
1/2 c. Greek olives, pitted and sliced, divided (about 12-14 olives)
2 Tbsp. fresh julienned basil leaves, divided

Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ c. shallots, peeled and finely minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 2 cloves)
1 large bay leaf
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ c. fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about ½ small tomato)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
½ c. water
1 tsp. fresh, finely minced oregano leaves
1/4 c. fresh, julienned basil leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium-sized sauce pot, heat olive oil on high heat until glistening, then reduce heat to low, add shallots, garlic, and bay leaf, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add water, crushed tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, and tomato paste, and stir until tomato paste has been fully incorporated. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, add fresh herbs, cover again, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool, discard bay leaf, and set aside. Place pitas onto a large metal baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon, spread sauce onto each pizza, then sprinkle with equal amounts of mozzarella cheese, followed by equal amounts of goat cheese, orange bell pepper, and greek olives. Place into oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until pizza has reached desired level of crispness. Top with fresh julienned basil leaves and serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings.

Chef’s Notes: To save time, make the pizza sauce a few days in advance of when you plan to serve it. If stored in a tightly sealed container, the sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Alternate Topping Ideas: Try substituting one of the vegetable toppings with 1/2 c. sliced wild mushrooms (a mix of cremini, portobello, shiitake, etc.). Note that I say "substituting," and not "adding." Since these personal-sized pizzas are small, they can only hold so many toppings before they start falling off as you're eating them. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

0 Recipe #365: Hot Quinoa Cereal with Nuts, Cinnamon, & Nectarines

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Due to another impending book deadline, there's zero time today to wax effusive, so I'll just cut straight to the chase. Below is a dish I cooked up for breakfast this morning, which will also be appearing in The Athlete's Cookbook, in a modified form.

Hot Quinoa Cereal with Nuts, Cinnamon, & Nectarines

4 c. water (for cooking quinoa)
1 c. quinoa + 1 c. water (for soaking)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. organic soy or coconut milk (or skim milk, if you prefer)

2 Tbsp. honey, or to taste
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. walnuts, halved or crushed
1 c. nectarines, pitted, peeled, and diced

Directions: Bring a large covered pot of water to a rolling boil, about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, soak quinoa for 5-10 minutes until it starts to puff up a bit. (This is a very important step as quinoa needs to be soaked in order to release its saponin, which creates a bitter taste unless removed.) When quinoa is ready, transfer into a fine mesh sieve, rinse under running water, and then drain and set aside. Reduce heat to low, then add rinsed and drained quinoa into the pot, stir, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover, add vanilla extract, stir, cover again with lid, and cook for a final 5 minutes. While the cereal is cooking, place nuts onto an aluminum-foil covered toaster pan and toast on 350°F for 2-3 minutes, or until light golden brown. Watch nuts carefully, as they will burn very easily. When finished, set tray aside to allow nuts to cool for 5-10 minutes. When cereal is ready, uncover, and then stir in honey, cinnamon, and salt. Fluff, then let stand another 5 minutes to cool slightly. Pour in milk, then stir in fruit and nuts. Place into bowls, serve, and enjoy.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Chef's Notes: Another great idea is to add raisins &/or other types of dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, etc.) to your hot cereal, which can either be incorporated separately or mixed together with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand. Or, add fresh coconut slivers or unsweetened shredded coconut, either in addition to or as a replacement for, the almonds and walnuts.

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