Take the Challenge!

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wacky Wild Rice


Something about this combination of flavors that I cannot get enough of. Call me wacky, call me Mediterranean, but try this easy-to-make dish before you decide!

3 cups water or vegetable broth
8oz wild rice
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked and chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can artichoke hearts in water, chopped OR frozen artichoke hearts thawed

Soak sundried tomatoes until soft (may take several hours...but well-worth the wait)

Boil water or broth in medium pot
Add rice
Let simmer on low-medium heat  until rice is soft and water/broth is absorbed (usually about 45-50 min)
Let rice sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb remaining liquid and to cool

Chop tomatoes
Rinse garbanzo beans very well
Rinse canned artichokes really well and chop them (or take them out from the thawed freezer bag)

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rainbow Roots-An Experiment in Creativity

Every week, I look forward to retrieving my CSA box from the local elementary school cafeteria. I never know what I will receive in my crate filled with one day-old organic farm-fresh veggies. I view it as a challenge...what will I make with all of these items? Do I know what they are? Can I really live with myself if I am throwing fresh produce in the garbage week after week if it is not my favorite variety or something I am clearly unfamiliar with? Do I really have time to wash and prepare ALL of those veggies in one sitting?

So, after weeks of throwing away the huge radishes which I had no idea what to do with even though I had already invested the time washing, chopping and preparing them...AND after ultimately throwing out the beets even though those were peeled, chopped and ready to be tossed in the oven as well (to be honest, my favorite part of the beet is its greens...YUM!)...I decided to do an experiment!

Step 1: I took all of the root veggies in my crate (rainbow colored carrots, daikon radish, beets, a purple potato, yellow potato and some yams I had bought at the Farmer's Market on Sunday and I washed and chopped them all into disks and moons.

Step 2: I split them in half amongst two baking sheets. Look at this array of color! This is the ultimate way to get all your antioxidants and phytochemical. I love to tell people to try and get the entire rainbow into their diet everyday to most effectively fight disease and promote health.

Step 3: Decide how to prep the trays for their journey towards roasting in the oven. This meant I called my Mother-in-law to get her recipe for sweet root veggies and then modify it to nutrify according to my health standards. In other words, I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar.

On Tray 1, I used maple syrup, back pepper, ground ginger and a tiny sprinkle of celtic sea salt.
On Tray 2, fresh Italian parsley from the garden, a bit of fresh basil from the CSA box, black pepper, a tiny sprinkle of celtic sea salt.

Here is what they looked like pre-roasting:

After roasting them for about 30 minutes, they were ready for the taste-test.

What was interesting is that they were both delicious and equally sweet. The ginger gave Tray 1 a pungent zest-iness that was truly decadent. It was like eating dessert! I couldn't decide which recipe I preferred until I ended up throwing all of the leftovers into a large bowl and allowed their juices and flavors to combine and unify. Funny enough, this combination was my favorite. What a great way to use up all the nutritious and phytochemical-rich items in my weekly CSA box.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whole Health Makeover Program- Part One

This past Saturday, May 8th, marked the first official Whole Health Makeover Program, Part One. We had a full house and the program ran incredibly smoothly, fortunately. We spent the day alternating between lectures by myself,  Dr. Matthew Lederman, and Dr. Alona Pulde of Exsalus Health and Wellness Center, and cooking demonstrations by the brilliantly talented and hilarious Chef AJ.

Here is the schedule that we followed:

8:00-8:30 Registration and Welcome

8:30-8:45 It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie Demo – Chef AJ

8:45-9:45 The state of disease in America & our current health crisis: A review of some of the most common health concerns and what we can do about them (i.e. heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis) - Drs. Pulde/Lederman

9:45-11:00 Nutrition lecture Part 1: myths debunked dairy, calcium, protein, meat, & iron – Julieanna Hever

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:30  Cooking Demo: Baked Tortilla Chips and Pea Guacamole; Green Goodness Dressing; Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, and Canellini Bean Soup; Peanut and Chocolate Peanut Bites  – Chef AJ

12:30-1:00 Lunch Break

1:00-2:00 Food Addiction: What it is and how to manage it; How to deal with deprivation – Drs. Pulde/Lederman

2:00-3:00 Nutrition Lecture Part 2: myths debunked fats, oils, omega 3 fatty acids, and carbsJulieanna Hever

3:00-3:15 Caramel Fakkiatto smoothie food demo – Chef AJ

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-5:00 Strategies for success and navigating obstacles – Drs. Pulde/Lederman

Overall, it was a wonderful seminar and the attendees had great feedback and they enjoyed the cuisine and took home tons of information.

Part Two is Saturday, May 22nd. Sign up now for talks about exercise, stress management, supplements and more of Chef AJ's decadent healthy magic.

Chef AJ's 30 Day Challenge Ball-Off Results and Recipes

I had the honor of being a Guest Judge at the 30 Day Challenge Ball-Off. If you hadn't heard of a ball-off before (neither had I), it is a competition where all participants are challenged to create the most perfect healthy "ball". Because the challenge is based on eating a whole food, plant-centered diet depleted of processed foods (specifically sugar, oil, salt and flour), these balls mostly consisted of dried fruits, nuts, coconut, cacao, flax and hemp seeds.

Luckily, many people were up for the challenge and there ended up being 19 different samples to judge that evening. Mind you, these balls are rich in flavor, calories, fat, sweetness. And I have completely lost my palate for this type of food product, so this was rather challenging for me, as a judge. But, along with 5 other brave and fine-palated judges, I had an incredibly fun time participating! The balls were all very different, ranging in texture, density, and flavor. The criteria for judgement included creativity, taste and appearance.

And the winners were (drum roll, please)....

1st place: Michelle Wolf with a creatively named, and perfectly textured concoction called Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles, a truly inspired creation with a surprise in the middle.

2nd place: Brenda Cohen with her Almond Overjoy Balls

3rd place: Deborah Snider with Nanna Balls (which was actually both my favorite as well as the audiences)

And now for the recipes:
Michelle Wolf's Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles

Background Story:
At the age of sixteen, I had the unique opportunity to take a student trip to Europe. While the museums and architecture were feasts for the eyes, the cuisine was a feast for the taste buds. During our stay in Rome, my friends and I discovered a new love, named gelato, and proceeded to dine on this rich Italian ice cream six times per day! One of my favorite flavors was Gianduia (pronounced: zhahn-DOO-yuh) which was a blend of chocolate and hazelnut. The memory of this delicious flavor was my inspiration for the “Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles” that I created for Chef AJ’s Ball-off competition.

(Pronunciation: zhahn-DOO-yuh)

Yield: 25 truffles

1-1/2 cups raw hazelnuts, divided
18 (or more for added sweetness) Deglet Noor pitted dates soaked overnight in unsweetened chocolate almond milk.
2 Tablespoons Ultimate brand Raw Cacao Powder (for dark chocolate flavor)
Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract (optional)
Alcohol-free Almond Extract (optional)

1. Place 1/2 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder. Place into a bowl and set aside. (To be used later to coat the outside of the truffles.)
2. Place remaining 1 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder.
3. Add cacao powder and the soaked dates (without excess soaking liquid). To enhance the subtle flavor blend, you can try adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Process until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
4. Remove by rounded teaspoon and place a whole hazelnut into the center of the chocolate nut mixture. Roll in palm of hands to form small round balls approximately 1-inch in diameter. (To avoid sticking, slightly wet palms of hands before rolling each ball.)
5. Roll each ball in bowl of ground hazelnuts until outside is even coated.
6. Place into container and store in freezer until ready to serve.

Definition (provided by the Nut Gourmet, Zel Allen, a fellow judge and co-publisher of Vegetarians in Paradise, a monthly online magazine that everyone must subscribe to):
Gianduia is the name given to a European style of chocolate made from chocolate and nut paste. Hazelnut paste is most common, but gianduia can also be made with almond paste. It comes in milk or dark chocolate varieties. Alternate Spelling: Gianduja

2nd Prize Recipe: Brenda Cohen's Almond Overjoy Balls

Background Story:

Well I used to love candy and I was trying to make something similar to an old favorite and that would appeal to a lot of people. I thought about putting an almond in the middle, but didn’t. Just like the commercial used to say……”sometimes you feel like a nut”


2 cups raw almonds
¼ cup raw cacao powder
2 cups pitted deglet noor dates
¼ cup raw shredded coconut (macaroon cut)
½ cup golden raisins
1 Tbsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract (or to taste)
Equal parts cacao and shredded coconut for rolling

In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, process the almonds until they are almost nut butter consistency. Add cacao powder and process again until fully incorporated. Add dates and process again until mixture almost comes together. Add coconut and process again until thoroughly combined. Add raisins and extracts until the mixture will stick together and form a ball if rolled (clumped) in your hand. Roll into balls, and then roll in cacao & coconut mixture. Enjoy!

3rd Prize Recipe: Deborah Snider's Nanna Balls

Background Story:

When I am in the mood for something sweet with a creamy texture these nutritious frozen treats really satisfy. Delicious as any fatty ice cream bon-bon, the ingredients are all whole and good for me.

Sliced bananas (frozen solid on cookie trays)
chopped pistachios - placed on wide dinner plate or cookie sheet

Chocolate coating:
AJ's FUNdue
1 cup peanut butter (no salt or sugar)
1 cup date paste
1/2 cup raw cacao powder (1/4 cup more for less sweet dip)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (less liquid for thicker mixture)
1 T alcohol-free vanilla extract
1/4 t caramel extract

Blend all ingredient in food processor with S-blade until completely smooth
When bananas are completely frozen, roll them in AJ's FUNdue - it is easier to coat bananas right out of the freezer, so just remove a few at a time to coat. ( If they start to melt they get slick and are hard to coat.) Immediately roll the coated bananas in chopped pistachio and return to freezer for complete freezing.

Thank you so much to the contestants for sharing their recipes. These are all great choices when you are entertaining and want to offer individual-sized desserts. They are also healthy options for kids' lunchboxes, adult lunches, and for an on-the-go treat. They are filled with nutrition that will also keep you satisfied and curb any sugar cravings. Keep them frozen for last minute, ready-to-go bites of heaven!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vindaloo Veggies with Wild Rice - Jon and Julieanna in the kitchen


Easy, delicious, fast!


Bag frozen organic veggie mix
Basu's Homestyle Vegan Vindaloo Sauce

Saute in a pan together for a few minutes...

Add about 2 cups cooked rice (we used a mix of wild and brown rice)

By the way..did you know that wild rice is not rice? It is a grass! And SOOO delicious! My favorite whole grain!

Let simmer for a few more minutes...

Voila! Presto! Dinner is served...could it be any easier???

Enjoy! Cheers!