Monthly Archives: August 2010

Kale Krazy

Aarti’s Massaged Kale Salad

I’ve always loved kale and cooked a lot of it when I was receiving the CSA bags of veggies. But for some reason, it was always too chewy. I just didn’t have the knack for doing it right. But I recently watched an episode of Aarti Party, the newest Food Network Star’s program, and she had a fabulous, easy kale recipe I just had to try. This was exactly what I was looking for, a way to make kale tender, tasty and healthy.

Although this recipe called for mangos, I also made a dish without the mangos and added a little Parmesan cheese. This turned out wonderful also and reminded me of the kale from True Food in Phoenix. Wonderful topped over their egg-white omelet. I highly recommend it.

Thanks again to Aarti Sequeira for this massaged kale recipe. With simple ingredients…mango, kale, pumpkin seeds, lemon, olive oil…it’s a cinch to make. The only thing I did differently was to use a little less olive oil and add a little garlic powder to the dressing. Other than that, do what she says, make sure to massage the kale for at least 1.5 minutes to really soften it up and there you have it. While you’re massaging the kale, or basically squeezing it over and over, you’ll lose volume in the kale and that’s expected.

For my second try, I just skipped the mango and sprinkled with a little Parmesan before eating. Either way, this is tremendous and fantastic!

Oh, and make sure you don’t chop the stems of the kale. They’re too hard and fiberous…but they do make an excellent dog bone… my boys love them!

Tucker and his kale bone

Enjoy!

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Ratatouille…It’s Oh So Good!

Ratatouille with cauliflower

I had a strange craving for ratatouille tonight. Why? Who knows…it’s one of those cold-weather dishes I usually reserve for nights when it’s chilly outside and I want a warm, hearty meal. But why not make it in summer? It’s got zucchini, eggplant and yummy tomatoes, what could be better?

Daughter loves cauliflower, and since I had half a head in the fridge (the cauliflower’s, not mine) and since I didn’t have any peppers, the cauliflower went into the dish as an excellent substitute. I didn’t miss the peppers at all and quite honestly, it’s the best ratatouille I’ve ever made and I’ll do it with cauliflower from now on. Can I still call it ratatouille? Hmmm…

The end result is a sweet, crunchy, hearty dish that melts in your mouth. Trust me, this is fabulous and there is a lot left over to share with friends or eat for lunch for a few days. Not only that, it’s GF, vegetarian and vegan if you leave off the shredded Parmesan Daughter sprinkled on top. Serve it over rice or noodles, or rice noodles if that’s something you like, but trust me, this dish stands up all by itself. For a little protein, I’m thinking of throwing in some tofu or Quorn next time, just for a change. Although, this needs no improvement at all.

Hint: chop all the veggies about the same size, It’s easier to cook that way and better to eat when everything is uniform. The pan may look full before you add the tomato sauce, but once the veggies cook down, you’ll have plenty of room.

Ratatouille with cauliflower
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
1 large or 2 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower broken into bite-sized pieces
1 28 oz. can Trader Joe’s Low Fat Tuscano Marinara Sauce (or your favorite)
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp of basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper

1. Use a large saute pan and saute onion until translucent in 1 Tbs. olive oil.
2. Add zucchini and cook another 5 minutes.
3. Add eggplant and cauliflower and toss with salt and pepper and 1 Tbs olive oil
4. Stir and let the veggie simmer until they reduce in size and soften.
5. Add marinara, tomato paste and spices.
6. Simmer for about 15 minutes until all the flavors come together. Test for salt and pepper and serve as is, or over rice.

This is even better the second day once all the flavors have set together overnight. Too good for words… My Daughter loves Parmesan cheese on everything and this was great with a little shredded Parm on top, but not a necessity.

Enjoy!

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A Childhood Treat Revisited, and a Cupcake

Gluten-free Goodness

Remember Suzy Q’s? Yes, those chocolate delights filled with overly sweet, tasty filling? I used to love finding those in the store. I don’t think I ever ate an entire Suzy Q just because it was so sweet, but I sure loved them. I stopped eating them way before I went GF, but on a recent trip to Gluten Free Creations in Scottsdale I came across the treat, newly formulated as a gluten-free treat. The shop makes the chocolate cake nice and moist and fluffy, and the inside filling is just as I remember it…very sweet. But isn’t that what a treat is all about? If I want something mild I’ll eat a carrot!

A sweet treat

The cupcake tower awaits

What a great treat. I would recommend bringing a friend, or taking it home, and share with someone else. It might not be that big, but it packs a sugary punch. Ooohhh, it brought back memories and was so yummy. The shop also had cupcakes that were adorable and I would have tried one if I hadn’t just eaten a faux Suzy Q. Next time…

Enjoy!

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Nourish – Scottsdale’s GF/Veg Dream Come True

Acai Berry Martini

OK, I know I should have put a review in here much sooner, but I’ve been back three times already and I can’t stop. Nourish is my new favorite restaurant in Scottsdale. Not only is it close to home, it’s completely gluten free and more than half the items on the menu are vegetarian! It’s like a dream come true….no actually it is a dream come true. As a gluten-free vegetarian, I don’t know how many times I have said, “I wish there was a completely gluten-free and vegetarian restaurant I could walk into, feel comfortable about the menu and not spend a fortune. Yeah, like that will happen.” Ha! It happened.

I’m also in love with the staff, who are friendly and helpful, and the owner, Kirstin Carey. She’s friendly, funny and so willing to work with customers. Each time I’ve been there, she’s come out to ask how the food is and for suggestions and ideas. She truly wants to create a place for those of us with allergies where we can eat with ease. (OK, she does have meat on the menu, but I’m overlooking that since I can’t have everything, right? This way I can drag my carnivorous husband in for a healthy meal.)

Veggie Pizza

OK, on to the food. Since I’ve been back a few times, I could write a very long review but I’m going to stick with my favorites and recommend you go there yourself and try even more. The first time my husband and I ate at Nourish I had a veggie pizza. Fresh, thick and full of flavor, the best part of the pizza was the sauce. The restaurant uses GF Creations Italian pizza crust so I knew I would like those, but it’s the sauce that makes it all worth it. Kirstin explained how they wanted to make a sauce that stood up to the crust and didn’t soak in. Wow, they achieved that-and more. It’s thick, tangy and tastes like someone’s grandmother has been back there making sauce all day. My daughter has had it and wanted to take some home. The pizza also had fresh spinach, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. The cheese was lightly added on top so it didn’t overpower the pizza. All in all, a great entree that was big enough for Daughter and I to share.

Quiche with spinach and bacon

My husband had a spinach quiche with a quinoa crust that was fabulous. I’ve never had a crust made of quinoa (and I’m not talking about flour but the actual quinoa) and it was very tasty. It’s also black quinoa, which I had never had either. The quiche did have bacon in it, so I just tried a little of the crust. Husband said it was great and devoured the entire piece, which was quite huge along with a side and salad.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cheescake

Dessert was a fabulous lemon cheesecake to die for! I don’t usually go in for dessert when I’m out, but we couldn’t resist. The crust was flaky and light, the cheesecake tasted like something my mom would have made, only better. (sorry Mom!) Being from New Jersey, we take our cheesecakes very seriously and this was one of the best I’ve ever had. No, it’s not dairy free, but who would want that?

Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Apricot Dipping Sauce

I’ll wrap this up with my two favorites…the sweet potato fries are air-fried (how do you air fry? I have no idea) oil-free, crispy and light, not greasy like most sweet potato fries. They come with a sweet yet spicy chipotle apricot dipping sauce that takes them to a new level of fry goodness. I crave these now…

I know I said I would try and keep this short, and I didn’t even mention the red & white quinoa salad, sweet potato and avocado salad or the spicy mango avocado salad. There is so much, I can’t help myself. I’m also looking forward to trying the Crispy Baked Eggplant Parmesan, which is gluten-free and vegetarian. (My stomach is growling right now)

Nourish also has a cute little bar and I’ve become a convert to the acai berry martini (photo above) which is Prairie Organic Vodka, Veev acai berry liquor and a splash of key lime Oogave soda. It’s light, not too sweet and has no bite to it at all. It goes down smoothly and works great with any of the dishes. Light and satisfying. So, what are you waiting for? Get down there before everyone knows about it and you can’t get a table!

Dear Nourish…Thanks for making my dreams come true.

Enjoy!

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Pomegranate Cafe

Phoenix is finally catching up to the rest of the country in options for vegetarian and gluten-free food. One in particular is Pomegranate Cafe in downtown Ahwatukee, just south of Phoenix. In a nondescript strip mall you can find pure vegetarian heaven! What makes it so wonderful is not only the vegetarian choices, but most of them are raw, making just about everything gluten-free.

This adorable little cafe is run by mom and daughter duo, Marlene and Cassie Tolman. I brought my daughter, a friend of hers and my mom on a little trek to Pomegranate on our way to IKEA (another favorite hangout!) We didn’t want to leave the restaurant. Not only is the food wonderful, but the service and atmosphere are relaxed and perfect. The staff are helpful and truly educated on gluten-free options, which is a refreshing change in the area.

Garden Burger

So, on to the food. The girls had the Garden Burger, the cafe’s own tofu veggie burger on gluten-free bread, which is an option along with the spelt bun. The girls split the burger and as you can see there was plenty for both of them. I tried the burger and it was tasty, tangy and firm. Daughter thought it even tasted a little like the veggie chicken patties we’ve had in the past. It had that kind of mild taste to it. I liked it and would definitely order one in the future. The pickle was crisp and tart and the salad was just enough to satisfy both girls. Daughter and her friend have already asked to go back for another. The burger comes with a choice of cheddar or vegan cheese. Kids chose the cheddar.

 Strawberry Fields Salad

Mom ordered the Strawberry Fields Salad, chock full of fresh goat cheese, pistachios and strawberries. Just the right size for lunch with a tangy, tart pomegranate vinaigrette. I love the crunchy sprouts and avocado, giving the salad an added crunch and flavor.

 Arizona Roll

But the most amazing and wonderful dish, shared by all and wowed over by all, was the Arizona Roll, a completely raw treat that I can’t stop thinking about. It starts off with nori seaweed stuffed with a sweet and nutty almond spread and a rainbow of veggies including carrots, peppers, and avocado. There is a shoyu sauce for dipping and I recommend you don’t miss it. It’s also served with a cabbage salad with miso dressing. There was so much that we all had a chance to try it and the kids went back for seconds. I was full from what I had, along with the wonderful miso salad. I highly recommend you try this, and bring a friend. It’s a great experience to try something that is so wonderful and good for you.

But we weren’t done yet. One of Pomegranate’s specialties is the raw pie. I’ve had a the Super Berry pie before, but this time we had the chance to have both the Super Berry and the Pineapple Cheesecake. But don’t let the names fool you, they are both made from completely raw ingredients and have no dairy or gluten in them. The crust is a fantastic combo of just macadamia nuts, coconut and dates. I don’t know how it’s done, but those three ingredients create the most tremendous of tastes. Daughter kept eating the crust and saying, “Why don’t you make this?” Hmmm, why don’t I?

Super Berry Pie

The Super Berry pie is made simply by soaking raw cashews and then blending them to a smooth creamy texture. Add to that acai, blueberries, goji berries, coconut oil, agave, pomegranate juice and orange juice and you have a beautiful, purple berry surprise of a pie. It’s amazing how creamy just cashews can be. No sugar, now high fructose corn syrup, etc. Just berry goodness packed in each tangy bite.

Pineapple Cheesecake

The pineapple cheesecake uses the same base and crust as the pie above, but uses a top layer of pineapple and mango, giving it a wonderful, tart bite to it. Out of both, the girls liked the pineapple better, although I suspect they also liked the fact that it was half frozen and that made it more like ice cream to them. Either way, I think I would choose it also for it’s tart, fresh pineapple flavor.

With True Food, Pomegranate Cafe and now Nourish, Phoenix has finally gotten a blip on the radar of good, healthy food. There are finally a few places for those of us who want to eat out, yet not give up our quest to eat healthy. I’m dining at Nourish tonight and I’ll let you all know how it went. I can’t wait!

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