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NOTE: You can make this recipe with grape leaves, cabbage, or swiss chard leaves.
Larry and I live in Sonoma County, California—the “Sonoma” of the internationally famous Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine region—so we live surrounded by miles of vineyards growing grapes. We watch them through the year as we drive past, going through their lifecycle from bare branches to green leaves, grapes, yellow leaves, and bare branches again.
The green leaves start appearing in April and by now, in early May, the leaves are big enough to make stuffed grape leaves, a tradition from my Armenian grandmother. This is the best time of year to make this popular appetizer because the leaves are fresh and tender. You can continue to make this throughout the summer until the leaves begin to give way to grapes. But you can continue to stuff other leaves that come into season when there are no longer grape leaves. Stuffed swiss chard leaves are my favorite after grape leaves.
Larry’s family has a grape vine that now has grape leaves too, so I couldn’t resist picking leaves to make stuffed grape leaves.
We live in a climate known as “coastal” where it’s pretty termperate most of the year. We often wake up to foggy skies or the fog comes in late in the afternoon, but in the spring days are cool even during the sunny part of the day.
Last week suddenly it was HOT and I was unprepared for the dehydration. But I should have been ready. It was right at the change of season from Spring to Late Spring/Early Summer.
I really wanted to drink something cold and sweet but I didn’t want a soda or iced tea with any kind of sweetener.
What came to me was what I am calling “frozen fruit water.”
Larry and I just had to share this sandwich with you because we were enjoying it sooooo much!
All the ingredients except the mustard are from our own Sonoma County and even the mustard is from our home state California.
The bread is from an amazing local bakery called Revolution Bread which does not have a retail store but appears at two of the local farmer’s markets on the weekend. So I can get this bread on a Saturday or a Sunday. I am hoping the baker will allow me to come visit soon and write a post. He uses many ancient and unusual grains and mills the grain himself to make flour for bread. This baguette in the photo is made of purple barley (!)—oh-so-good and slightly lavender. We also had a molasses spice cookie made from this same purple barley and two other unusual grains, plus about ten spicy spices that gave this cookie such a depth of flavor. We love these cookies seem to be able to split one between us with no effect on blood sugar.
You probably have heard of, if not eaten, Pasta Primavera, primavera being borrowed from the Italian alla primavera which means “in the style of springtime.” Going back even further, prima is italian for prime or first, and vera comes from the Latin verus, which means “of spring.
Pasta Primavera is generally pasta, of course, with a mixture of vegetables in a light sauce, or simply sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Looking at recipes I see that today’s recipes call for vegetables that are not particularly “the first of spring,” so…
Here is my take on a primavera made with chickpeas (a nod to the italian) and actual vegetables of spring.
I subscribe to a number of newsletters about food for ideas but also to keep my eye on what’s going on in the food industry.
Just now when I saw an email come in with a subject line that said, “This Winter Citrus Salad Shines Like a Thousand Suns” I had to open it. And even though I don’t have time to make it because I’m packing up to be away for two weeks, I had to send it to you right away.
This is a recipe from Saveur magazine, which is one of my favorite magazines of all time. I have been devouring it from the first issue, but even if you don’t want to subscribe with a paid subscription, do sign up for their newsletter.
The whole objective of Saveur is to explore the authentic cuisines of the world and support their continuance by encouraging readers to cook these recipes. Originally all these foods were made from whole, local, and naturally organic (pre-pesticide) foods—though they also showcase recipes made with refined ingredients, such as breads and desserts—and authentic-type dishes creates by contemporary chefs. I have been inspired and educated by Saveur over the years. It is truly one of the foundations of my wholefood cuisine philosophy.
This is a perfect dish for this time of year when winter is departing and spring is arriving.
The depth of flavor from winter mushrooms pair perfectly with new shoots of spring asparagus.
In this dish, I’ve used the long green ends of green onions, as the Chinese do. I learned this from a lifetime of eating many meals in San Francisco’s Chinatown. At one time I walked through Chinatown to come home from work, so I had ample opportunity to stop for dinner.
Because I go to at least two farmer’s markets every weekend, right now I can get green onions with the whole length of the dark green shoot, instead of chopped off as they do in the supermarket. I enjoy including all of the shoots down to the pointed tips—every inch—and they have a flavor all their own.
This is quick and easy to make.
My friend Linda gave me this recipe for black bean brownies about ten years ago. I made them, loved them, and lost the recipe.
About five years ago I was going through old recipes, removing recipes for foods I no longer eat and found this recipe.
Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day I have to share it with you as a chocolate treat, and also because when I couldn’t find this recipe, I tried other black bean brownie recipes and none of them were as good as this one. THIS IS THE ONE TO MAKE if you want brownies!
In this post, I’m giving you more details about my process of making the dish and you’ll see more of the creativity at work instead of following a recipe.
Last week I was in a beautiful store and found a cookbook. I opened to a page at random and it was a recipe for a vegetable—I think it was eggplant—that had an amazing “salsa” over the top. Immediately I was intrigued because it contained pomegranates and green olives and walnuts and garlic—four of my favorite foods that also happen to be winter foods. And I had all four of these foods in my kitchen.
What I do when I see a recipe like this is I don’t try to remember the whole recipe or write it down or take a picture of the page, what I do is remember the key ingredients and the impression I have when I see it, and then I come home and create something of my own.
I know that the holidays are a time when we have many food temptations that are not so whole. While they taste good and may be associated with traditions and feelings of love, they are probably not so good for our bodies.
Some years ago I began to examine holiday foods in my own life and find healthier versions.
Here I’d like to offer you my strategies for having satisfying sweets to eat for the holidays that are also whole and good for you.
On Friday Larry and I had an amazing experience. [We found live clams just lying on a local beach after a storm!] Usually you would have to dig these up out of the sand with great effort.
Larry wanted to bring them home and make clam chowder, so we did. The end result was spectacular. It was so delicious and fresh, not at all like canned clam chowder or even restaurant clam chowder, which I don’t like at all. But this was delicious!
Here’s the process we went through, from live clam to chowder.
OK, this really is unexpectedly amazing. It really tastes like pumpkin pie, only better.
I had the inspiration to make this dessert for Thanksgiving Dinner while Larry and I were driving through a redwood forest.
I wanted something that would be reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but something easy and light.
Suddenly I thought of Delicata squash that I bake in crescents and I could see them in my mind brushed with butter and sprinkled with whole sugar and pumpkin pie spices.
This is so simple it doesn’t need a recipe.
For a 10 ounce box of baby spinach (serves 2)…
Raita is a traditional condiment of South Asian cuisine that is eaten with spicy dishes to cool the palate.
Having eaten raita many times in Indian restaurants alongside spicy entrees, I decided it would be the perfect complement to my Turkey Tikka Masala for my Thanksgiving Dinner.
I was wondering what to make for Thanksgiving dinner, then a recipe for Turkey Tikka Masala arrived in my email.
I have to say, in the end this turned out to be a pretty spectacular dish.
It has layers of flavor with a spicy tomato cream sauce over marinated turkey. You could just make the marinated turkey part and in the bits of turkey and you would love it.
Earlier this month I wrote we were going to have A Different Thanksgiving Dinner this year and it certainly was! Wow! It was a total surprise!
We are away from home up in the Lost Coast of Northern California, in a very tiny town right on the ocean. The beach is actually right down the street. In fact I can hear the waves crashing as I write this. We can walk to the beach. The problem is to walk back up the very very steep hill.
We thought there would be a farmer’s market, as usual, on Tuesday and we would put together our Thanksgiving dinner from what we found there, but it was closed now for the year due to the weather.
I didn’t know what to do.
But then, as I was working, suddenly a recipe for Turkey Tikka Masala arrived in my email inbox, as way to use leftover turkey. Turkey Tikka Masala! We love chicken tikka masala, so I thought, why not? Here’s a recipe. The recipe came right to me.
We set out on the 30-minute drive to the nearest food shopping, and as we were driving I considered what to serve with it that would be in the style of Indian food…
Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I thought I would share with you my favorite Thanksgiving recipe.
This is my #1 favorite childhood family recipe. It’s mashed potatoes with ingredients you would add to potato salad: hard-boiled eggs, raw onions, fresh parsley, and vinegar. So it eats like mashed potatoes, but tastes like potato salad. I just looked this up online for the first time and I see there are other recipes for mashed potato salad that use mayonnaise and mustard and pickles, but my recipe is simpler. And it’s authentic to my family.
I never liked hard-boiled eggs when I was a child. The whites were rubbery and the yolks green in the middle. I just couldn’t eat them unless my father made our family recipe for deviled eggs.
But then, about ten years ago I was on vacation in Nantucket, and we had lunch in a little restaurant. It was just a salad with hard-cooked egg, and it was so delicious I looked at it with wonder. The yolk was yellow, the white was soft. Where had this egg been all my life? It tasted divine.
And so began my search for how to make a hard-cooked egg.
It’s only mid-November, but in Nature, it’s already winter. Though our calendar says Winter Solstice, December 21, is “the first day of winter,” Actually, winter began last Sunday on 8 November and Winter Solstice is the middle of winter, the very darkest days of the year.
And I see this in my farmer’s market. No more fresh figs until next summer, and the pomegranates are coming in.
So a made a salad to celebrate the change of season…
Back in 2013 I was doing a blog that focused on natural sweeteners.
So at Thanksg
iving I tested eight sweeteners against the flavor of cranberry and reported the results.
And then I deve
loped seven sauces and relishes using fresh cranberries and natural sweeteners.
The format is old but the recipes and information are still up to date.
I say this pumpkin pie is for everyone because the ingredients are so simple, practically everyone can eat it. There’s no crust (though you could add one if you want) so there are no grains, and there is no sweetener of any kind (though it tastes remarkably sweet!). And it’s so delicious you won’t miss the usually-soggy crust or the sugar. It’s my favorite pumpkin pie ever!
A thoroughly satisfying dessert for any day of autumn or winter!
I got the idea for this pie from watching Paula Deen on the Food Network. It’s pumpkin pie made with apple butter! I love the way this pie combines the two most popular foods of the season to make a filling that tastes like both apple and pumpkin. My husband loves apples and he loved this pie!
I’d like to thank Natural Lifestyles for sending me some of their all-apple organic apple butter to use when I tested this recipe. It is delicious!
These wholefood, gluten-free muffins are moist, delicious, and easy to make. Almond flour instead of wheat flour gives them extra protein.
These pancakes are amazing because you only need TWO ingredients to make a real pancake! Just eggs and pureed pumpkin, plus pumpkin pie spices of your choice. But just the eggs and pumpkin themselves make a real pancake that looks like a pancake, tastes like a pancake, and has the texture of a pancake. Totally gluten-free. And you can make them in a minute. And this little recipe gives you a whole tall stack of pancakes!
Hummus is an ancient Middle Eastern mash, traditionally made with garbanzo beans, ground sesame seeds and olive oil.
Today many other ingredients are added to hummus to give a variety of flavors to this staple food.
The other day I made some roast carnival squash and had some cooked garbanzo beans, and thought I would try the two together. Delicious! Autumn in a bowl.
When I was a child, one of the things that made me decide not to ever eat fish was the standard 1960 tunafish sandwich on white bread. This was before the days of tuna packed in water, so it was oily fish with mayo that didn’t appeal to me very much.
What makes this the BEST tuna sandwich is not the recipe for everything you add to the tuna salad, it’s the best because of the quality of the tuna itself.
Over the summer I was noticing that I now have a preference for eating fresh, raw fruits and vegetables over cooked.
And now here I am again wanting to give you a recipe for applesauce and not even wanting to make the usual cooked variety.
Raw applesauce is so much more delicious (and nutritious) than the cooked kind. Easy and quick too. Tastes very fresh and sweet and is remarkably “saucy” like cooked applesauce.
Over the past few years I’ve tried a lot of gluten-free recipes. Many of them were just not worth eating.
But these muffins are sweet without any sweetener, soft and fluffy, and have the texture of a wheat muffin with no wheat. You could put a plate of these on a table for people who eat wheat-and-white-sugar and all they would say is, “These are the BEST muffins! Wow! Where did you get these.?!?!!?”
And they are made of wholefood ingredients.
If you’ve peeled apples to make something that requires peeled apples, you might as well do something delicious and nutritious with the apple peels. The baking time is the same, so just put both in the same oven at once.
A little treat just for the baker.
Apple crisp is an old favorite with many variations. Here’s how I make apple crisp using wholefood ingredients.
I make apple crisp in ramakins for portion control, ease of serving, and ease of storing and reheating.
This is my favorite recipe for the classic Waldorf Salad. This salad was created in 1896 at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York by the maitre d’. The original version contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise, but, of course, chefs and home cooks have been creating their own individual versions ever since.
I created this version many years ago. I used to eat it for lunch or dinner, as the whole meal. In fact, I would make a big bowl and eat it for several days. Instead of mayonnaise, I use yogurt, as its micro-organisms aid in digestion instead of just adding fat. Tastes good too.
I originally found this in a pancake recipe as the topping, but these apples are so delicious prepared this way you can just eat them alone or put them with or on anything.
Larry and I love to eat this on cold winter mornings.
To make the morning preparation go faster, you can make a big pot of as many apples as you want in advance and just warm up the apples and rice in the morning.
This is like hot cereal but the brown rice is completely whole grain.
I cannot tell you how much more delicious homemade applesauce is than applesauce from a can or jar. It is like night and day.
No sweetener is needed, but if you want, you can add any sweetener you like to taste. In particular, try apple syrup, which gives more sweetness and additional apple flavor. A sprinkle of cinnamon is also delicious!
This is very sweet syrup, which can be used as a liquid sweetener in recipes or on pancakes or other foods on which you would use honey or maple syrup.
Here is a salad I put together last week. Every ingredient is from the farmer’s market
I first met these beans three years ago when I first came to Sonoma County and they are one of my very favorite beans of all time. Big and very creamy, they are delicious and versatile. I’ll be showing you some tricks with these in future posts.
A local farm was selling just-harvested dried marrowfat beans at my local farmer’s market. I had never eaten an heirloom bean before, so I bought a bag of each of the six varieties they grow.
Morrowfats were my favorite.
One day, a few weeks ago, Larry and I needed to escape the horrible air quality that was the result of local wildfires. So we drove over to the Pacific Ocean and drove up very scenic Highway 1 to the famous Timbercove Resort for lunch.
We ordered the cheese board which is full of local cheeses, breads, and various condiments that change according to the available ingredients and the chef’s creativity.
On our board that day were an amazing little sweet pickle relish made from grapes. Sweet pickled grapes!
When I used to drink soda (a long time ago!) I used to always put a squeeze of lime in my ginger ale.
But once I started looking for ways to eliminate refined sugar, I was very happy to discover I could get that ginger-lime combination without using sweetener.
Fresh fruit juice can make a cool summer drink on its own, or be used to sweeten lemonade or iced tea.
One of the most refreshing drinks I’ve ever had was on a hot summer day at a New York restaurant, sitting at a sidewalk table. The waiter brought fresh lemonade sweetened only with plum juice. Heaven!
Another memorable sweet fruit drink was a tall glass of strawberry juice mixed with ice water with a sprig of fresh basil. Amazing!
If you are going to use juice as a sweetener…
As a longtime fan of drinking iced tea, I have always been aware of the fact that white sugar does not dissolve well in cold drinks.
Some years ago, I ordered iced tea in a fancy little French bistro in San Francisco, and instead of bringing out packets of sugar, the glass of tea came with a small carafe of clear sweet liquid. That was my introduction to what is known as simple syrup–a classic technique for adding sweetener into a medium in which it will not easily dissolve.
Making simple syrup is easy…
Last week there were perfectly ripe pineapples at our local produce stand so we bought two.
Pineapple is not a food local to California (though it was local to us when we lived in Florida—we even grew them in our backyard by planting the tops we cut off from the pineapples we ate).
So we made this impromptu rice salad…
I first made this plum sauce back in 2009 when I was writing a blog about natural sweeteners called Sweet Savvy.
It was so delicious that it got picked up and published in a cookbook called Locally Delicious.
I made it again this week because plums are in season. I love eating foods that you can only eat at a certain time of year, and now is the time for plum sauce. This year I also added some wild plums that were falling off trees down the street. I love that I made it the very week when the wild plums were ripe, even though I also used organic plums from the farm stand.
I love this salad! It’s cool and refreshing, yet light and full of Asian flavors. You can make it hot or mild to suit your taste. And there’s no fish sauce (unless you want to add it yourself).
It tastes very very fresh on a hot day.
When we start having potlucks again, this would be a great salad to bring.
I have to admit that Larry and I are eating this salad almost every day. Our favorite dinner now is a huge bowl of organic brown rice and mixed lettuces with this cucumber salad all over the top of both. Yum!
I made this granita last week when I brought some strawberries home from the farmer’s market that were not quite as sweet as I expected. And it was just the right thing to do. It was so delicious I had to make another batch the very next day.
I’m calling this “super” strawberry granita because it is actually better than just plain strawberries in two ways.
In the heat of summer, there is nothing more refreshing than the juicy fruits of the season—except frosty *cold* fruits. Use the ripest fruits as they reach their peak, and you’ll get their maximum sweetness.
Of course, all fruits are wonderful eaten simply whole or sliced. Here are some easy ways to turn fruits into frozen treats.
Chili is one of those basic dishes that you can make a million different ways and they all taste good. It is basically cooked beans with a lot of vegetables, spices, and often meat,
This chili I only make during the summer because it gets its gentle spice from ripe red bell peppers that are in season now and at the peak of their flavor.
I was astonished the first time I made this. I was just using up red bell peppers that happened to be in the refrigerator.
We eat rice every day at our house, so we are cooking rice every day or two, depending on how many meals we eat rice on any given day.
We often eat cold rice, but long ago started a ritual of eating the first bowl from every pot hot, because it is so delicious. Yes, we could heat up the cold rice, but we don’t mind eating it cold as well, especially in the summer.
I first ate this years ago at a restaurant in San Francisco and then was reminded of it again because they regularly had it in the salad bar at my local gourmet market (when we used to have salad bars).
But this version is better because it is held together with organic whole milk Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, which has much less fat.
This is what I eat almost every morning for breakfast:
- 1 cup cold organic brown rice
- 2 cups fresh fruit
I learned this when I started doing The Rice Diet to come after losing my left eye to diabetic retinopathy. And it’s working. My right eye is doing great.
I had to smile the other day when I passed by a rack of magazines and one of them—I think a special interest magazine from Newsweek—had a similar photo on the cover of oatmeal with fresh fruit.
This IS the breakfast as far as I am concerned. It’s filling, delicious, and inexpensive.
So Larry made up this recipe a couple of years ago when we first started The Rice Diet and it’s still one of our favorite dinners.
It’s really, really, really, really good. And really satisfies for italian comfort food.
Whenever we want italian food or even a pizza, this is what we eat.
And even if you are not on The Rice Diet, it’s great for anyone to eat because it gives you two servings of whole grains, some protein, some greens, and a lot of italian flavor.
I just finished making this delicious bean salad for lunch with Larry.
I had cooked heirloom coco beans this morning (we got them from a local farmer), so I made this salad a bean-salad-with-rice instead of a rice-salad-with-beans, to celebrate these wonderful beans and make them the star of the salad.
Then I a smaller amount of rice, chopped celery, chopped red onion and chopped green onion.
The fat-free dressing is made of …
I’ve had my attention on making these pickles this week and was wondering when pickling cucumbers would appear. And, lo-and-behold, found the first pickling cucumbers at one of my local farmer’s market. And fresh dill! And new crop garlic. So these are completely a homemade product of the farmer’s market.
These pickles are very simple to make, and very fresh because they are completely raw. Most pickles nowadays are made with hot vinegar poured over the vegetables—which cooks them—but brine pickles are made the old slow way with fermentation breaking down and preserving the vegetables.
Fermented brine pickles are also supercharged with enzymes that aid digestion. They contain the natural full spectrum probiotics of the place where you live and make your pickles.
I had already had some dill from making Garlic Dill Brine Pickles and the very next morning there were half-price Persian cucumbers at my favorite produce stand, so I had to make a cucumber salad with fresh dill. I love the smell of fresh dill.
I also added chopped early torpedo onion from the farmer’s market and Strauss Organic Whole Milk Greek Yogurt.