Monthly Archives: October 2013

  • Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut
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    Buckwheat Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

Buckwheat Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

A special sneak-peak from next week’s meal plan menu!

I loved smoked salmon well before I knew much about the nutritional benefits of this awesome fish.  It’s smoky, salty, buttery, and wonderfully satisfying.  And, it doesn’t require any preparation on my part!  I just buy the good wild stuff from the grocery store (which, btw, is so much better than farm-raised, I can’t even emphasize it enough).

For a lightning-fast meal you can put smoked salmon on whole grain tortillas or pita pockets, but if you have just a few minutes to whip up a homemade batter, it’s especially delicious on these warm buckwheat pancakes.  The nuttiness of the buckwheat pairs beautifully with the smoky salmon and sweet, refreshing lemon sour cream.  I also love the addition of tangy sauerkraut, which boosts the nutritional value of the meal, but if you’re not a fan you can always leaves this out, or eat it on the side.

As with most pancakes, the real time investment is in the actual cooking – pouring, flipping, repeat, etc.  But here it all works out, because while you’re flipping your pancakes you can mix up the quick lemon sauce, throw together a salad, pour yourself some white wine, or do whatever else you need to do.

If you think smoked salmon on pancakes will make your kids (or husband, or roommate?) look at you like you have lobsters coming out of your ears, never fear: these pancakes are perfect with any number of alternative toppings.  Peanut/almond/sunflower [...]

Improve Your Immunity Naturally

Need natural ways to improve your immunity?  Me too.

Since having kids I’ve become a little obsessed with fending off bugs around this time of year.  About a year ago I wrote a post about 6 steps to boost your immune system.   Well, it’s on my mind again this year, and actually even more relevant, since my oldest started pre-school this September.  She is having a blast and loving school, but there’s been a steady stream of bugs into the house ever since.   And while she’s been remarkably resistant, the rest of us (myself, my 1-year old, and my husband), have been a bit more affected.

When it comes to boosting immunity there are, of course, the pillars of good health: exercise,  a clean and nutritious diet, and enough sleep.  But we all know about those, right?  So what else can you do?  Perhaps, like me, you’re exposure to bugs has increased, or perhaps you’ve been in a rut of feeling unwell for a while, and need to turbo-charge your a efforts.  If you’re already doing the basic stuff and would like a little extra, read on.

Here are 4 cool and effective ways to boost your immune system:

  1. Take a cold shower – This is probably the easiest one on the list.  Takes barely any time at all, is essentially free, and requires no time outside of your current daily schedule.  How does it work?  Research shows that “taking daily cold showers increased the numbers of disease-fighting white blood cells (compared to people who took hot showers)”.  Bonus: they can boost your metabolic rate, help prevent injury, and improve male fertility.  Read more here.  Duration doesn’t need to be long (think a cold rinse – [...]

Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing

Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing

Getting a last-minute, super-nourishing and complete dinner out of pantry staples isn’t necessarily easy.

In my house the need for this kind of meal typically arises at the end of the week.  In a way it’s a good problem to have, because it means that my left-overs from earlier in the week have been eaten.  That always makes me happy.

On the other hand, by the end of the week I’m pretty sick of cooking.  I just want something easy, low effort, low mess.  But still substantial and nourishing.  After all, I’m trying to grow a couple of healthy kids here.  They need high-quality protein, omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, and an array of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients.  So I’ll suck it up and cook, but I want it to be under a 30 min effort.

Enter the canned goods: black beans and salmon – both excellent pantry staples.  While I usually make my beans from dried, I keep a few containers of canned or tetra-packed beans for last-minute recipes like this.

For the salmon, I like Alaskan sockeye salmon, which is wild and contains the highest levels of those beneficial omega-3 fats.  If you can handle it with the bones, it’s actually better for you – the bones add great calcium and they’re soft enough to easily mash up.

Now I’ve made black beans burgers, and I’ve made salmon burgers.  This time I thought, why not mix it up a little and make them together, along with some mutually beneficial seasonings like cumin, [...]

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar Buttercup and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

This is the prettiest lasagna I’ve ever made. Vibrant orange from the squash alternating with deeply green sauteed spinach. All layered with salty pecorino romano and savory cheddar cheeses.

It’s a dish that’s equal parts lovely, nourishing and comforting.

Unlike traditional lasagnas, this dish isn’t drowning in cheese or heavy sauces. Instead it uses sweet and creamy puree of buttercup squash with just enough cheese to provide a savory compliment. Garlic-infused greens round out the flavors and provide a wealth of nutrients.  It’s just as comforting as traditional lasagna, but deceptively light.

To provide a meaty bite you can opt for a little chicken sausage, like I did, or for a vegetarian version some sauteed mushrooms. You can’t go wrong either way.

I used gluten-free lasagna noodles, which I under-cooked by about 3 minutes, resulting in perfect texture once the casserole was baked.

Please try it, you’ll be glad you did.

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

From Eat Happy Meal Plan
Total Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6-8

12 large lasagna noodles, preferably whole grain
1 large winter squash (buttercup, butternut, etc), peel and seeds removed,
then cut roughly into 1-inch cubes – this will be about 5 cups of cut squash
1 lb package frozen chopped spinach, or 16 ounces fresh
1 onion, minced
3 teaspoons minced garlic from about 3 cloves
6 ounces high-quality cheddar cheese, hormone-free, shredded
2 ounces grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, about ½ cup
16 ounces sliced mushrooms OR 12 ounces of [...]

Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Baked Eggs Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Baked Eggs

Me and pizza go way back.  My first job was at a pizza parlor, many of my favorite restaurants have been pizza places, and I’ve traveled fairly extensively in pursuit of amazing pizza.  And now I eat gluten free.  Sometimes there is a small hole in my heart where pizza should be.

I have experimented with gluten free pizza crusts, both my own and store-bought.  Nothing has really filled the void.  I’m still working on it.

Polenta pizza is its own thing.  It’s not trying to be regular chewy-crust pizza.  It’s just plain delicious in its own right, and yet it satisfies that craving for something pizza-like: savory, comforting, cheesy, and with the right ratio of crust to toppings.  And frankly polenta pizza crust is way easier than making your own regular or gluten-free pizza crust, so it’s really a win-win.

Feel free to experiment with whatever toppings you like.  Polenta pairs beautifully with a traditional tomato sauce.

Polenta Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Kale and Mushrooms

Total Prep Time: 50 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Serves:  4

1 cup coarse corn meal (aka polenta)
½ cup whole milk, optional (can sub water)
16 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms (baby bella, shiitake, oyster, etc)
5 large kale leaves, thick stems removed and minced
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (or sub any mild white cheese or vegan cheese)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 eggs, optional
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), sea salt, freshly [...]