Thursday, July 27, 2017

When To Pick Pears
Some Favorite Pear Recipes

Is it time to pick pears?

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When are Pears Ripe to Pick?
For years we've had a small espalier pear tree. It's more for decoration but it yields a dozen or so pears each year. And each year, by the time I pick them, they are too mushy to eat. 

Like many people I assumed this fruit ripens on the vine so I'd go up and squeeze the pears and see if they have ripened. Since they were always hard as a rock I let them go a bit longer.

Well it turns out that pears don't ripen on the vine which makes it a bit more tricky to know when you should pick them. But here's what to do.

Put the pear in the palm of your hand and pull it towards you until it's completely horizontal. If the pear comes off the branch easily, it's ready to pick. If it holds on the to branch, it's not ready.

Holding it horizontally, give it a little tug.
A mature pear will come off easily.

So now you have a bunch of hard pears - what to do next? If you have a lot of them, put them in the fruit bin in your refrigerator. They will store for months (at least that has been my experience and the experience of my friend Ray who has way more pears than I do.) When you want a few ripe pears, take them out and let them sit for a week or less at room temperature. 

Some say that you can tell a pear is ripe when the neck softens. But I think the best way is to smell it. When it smells like a ripe pear, it's ready to eat.

Here are some of my favorite pear recipes:

Strawberry and Pear Crisp with Nutty Hemp Seed Topping

Black Bean and Pear Taco Sliders

Pomegranate, Pear and Orange Salad

Raw Vegan Pear and Apple Crisp with Raisins

Organic Apple and Pear Bundt Cake with White Whole Wheat Flour

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Instant Pot Coconut Curry Zucchini Soup
Vegan And Gluten Free

A good way to use your garden zucchini!

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It's Zucchini Time
There have been years when I've planted so many zucchini that I was ready to set the garden on fire.  This year I promised myself I would scale back and only planted a single zucchini. However, it's so prolific that I'm still having a hard time keeping up with it. So you may be seeing more zucchini recipes this summer.

My one and only zucchini plant.
Today's recipe also uses potatoes since we just harvested over 50 pounds of new potatoes a few days ago. They are so easy to grow and what's better than a freshly harvested new potato?

Our potato harvest.
Although I cook this in my Instant Pot, you can easily make this on the stovetop. I include notes on stovetop directions below.

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Coconut Curry Zucchini Soup
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[Makes 9 Cups]


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (~1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sweet curry
1/2 teaspoon hot curry, or to taste
2 pounds zucchini, sliced
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Heat the oil in the Instant Pot using the SAUTE function. Add the onions and ginger and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the Instant Pot and stir in the sweet and hot curry. (To make on the stovetop, do this step in a large saucepan.)

Stir the curry into the onions.

Add the zucchini, potatoes, broth, coconut milk and salt.

Sliced zucchini and diced potatoes.
Lite coconut milk has plenty of flavor and
creaminess but far fewer fat and calories.

Secure the lid, press the MANUAL button, and set for 5 minutes under high pressure. When done, press the OFF button and quickly release the pressure. (To make this on the stovetop, simmer in the large sauce, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Continue with recipe.)

When complete, open the cover and tilt so that the steam comes out the back and away from your face. 

Using a hand immersion blender, blend the soup until fairly smooth but leaving some small chunks of zucchini and potatoes.

You still want to see the specs of zucchini.
Stir in the lime juice and adjust salt if necessary and serve.

(Per cup): 112 calories, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, and 276 mg sodium.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Vegan Green Tea Latte
Delicious With Lots Of Health Benefits

Packed with the powerful catechin, EGCG.

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How I Start my Day
I need a little help getting started in the morning - who doesn't? I had to give up coffee years ago because it triggers my reflux. I still occasionally treat myself to a decaf almond cappuccino but I always start my day with a high quality Sencha green tea from Japan.

Green tea has been enjoyed as a health-promoting beverage since ancient times. Many of its health benefits are attributed to its most abundant catechin polyphenol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate.) It has clear cognitive benefits and since I turned 69 this week, keeping my brain working is pretty important to me! It also has very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, stabilize blood sugar, and boosts your immune system.  
I usually just drink a cup of Den's Sencha tea (using their pyramid tea bags) or make a cup of Matcha Green Tea. But for an easy treat, I make myself a green tea latte.

Compare to Starbucks Latte Macchiato

A Starbucks Grande whole milk latte provides:
230 calories
12 g total fat
7 g saturated fat
35 mg cholesterol
19 g carbohydrates
18 g sugar
12 g protein
160 mg sodium

A Sencha Green Tea Almond milk Latte provides
7.5 calories
1 g total fat
0 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
0 g carbohydrates
0 g sugar
0 g protein
40 mg sodium
If you substituted a green tea latte made with unsweetened almond milk and stevia for a Starbucks whole milk latte every day, you'd lose 23 pounds in one year!

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Green Tea Latte
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 1 serving]

Espresso Aeroccino Plus or other milk froth maker
Mesh strainer (optional for topping)

1 cup of green tea
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Stevia drops or 1/2 packet stevia, to taste 
Pinch of matcha powdered tea (optional topping)

Prepare a cup of green tea by pouring boiling water into a cup leaving room at the top for the milk. Let the water cool to 140 to 160 degrees F. You don't need a thermometer. Do this.

Make your froth by adding milk and stevia to your froth maker. 

Spoon into your tea.

You can top the froth with a touch of powdered matcha but put it through a fine mesh strainer so that it doesn't clump.

Latte with optional matcha topping

At less than 8 calories a cup, enjoy as many as you'd like!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad
Vegan And Gluten Free

Here's a great dish for your 4th of July celebration!

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Perfect for Guests
If you are going to a potluck, picnic, or entertaining at home this 4th of July, this salad is sure to please your guests. Besides being delicious, it's gluten and dairy free. It's also served at room temperature so no worries about making it at the last minute or heating it up. I know the dressing has a lot of ingredients, but it really is quite easy to put together. You can also make the dressing ahead of time.

Buckwheat is rich in high quality protein.It's also high in dietary fiber and is a good source of iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and potassium. It also provides a good amount of B vitamins.

If you are gluten intolerant, make sure the package says 100% buckwheat as some brands mix buckwheat with wheat.

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Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]

For the dressing:
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon sesame tahini
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon gluten-free Tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions plus some for garnish
1/4 cup chopped herbs (parsley and cilantro)
For the salad
8 ounces 100% buckwheat noodles
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds

To make the dressing, mix the ginger, garlic, and tahini into a paste and slowly mix in the oils, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Add the pepper flakes, scallions, and parsley and stir until well combined. Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Do not overcook and rinse well with cold water.

Drain the noodles well and place in a salad bowl. Add the grated carrot and seeds, saving some black sesame seeds for garnish. Toss with the dressing, garnish with a few sliced scallions and black sesame seeds and serve.