{Supper} Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagus is the ideal side item when you’re craving a crunchy green veggie. I used to saute these green stems in olive oil, but that left them too oily for my liking. I roasted them once, and haven’t looked back. Super easy. Super delicious.

*TIP* For a long time I was uncertain about just where to cut off the purple, woody end of the stem. I’ve since learned that if you hold the asparagus close to the end and bend, it will snap at the weak point just beyond the tough woody part. This is the most fool-proof way I’ve found to make sure I’m not chewing a tough sprout during dinner. Not all asparagus will break at the same point, so it’s okay if they turn out different lengths.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Snap tough ends off asparagus and wash in warm water. Pat dry.
  3. Lay asparagus on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Season with paprika, mustard, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.
  5. Bake 7-10 minutes.

{FMF: Peaches} Basil-Peach Chicken with Brown Rice

Good morning, everyone! I am super excited to share this recipe with you today. I just met it (yes, sometimes I personify food), but it is already one of my very favorites. I love when ingredients come together that I didn’t expect would compliment each other, and that’s exactly what happened in this dish.

I’m always looking for creative ways to use my peaches before they spoil, and since peach cobbler is not really a whole food (or rather I haven’t adapted my old recipe yet), this is an unexpected way to use up a couple.

I adapted this recipe from the June 2012 edition of Southern Living magazine. They featured several other peach recipes, too; but I knew as soon as I laid eyes on this one I would have to try it. It immediately grabbed my attention because one of the main ingredients is basil. Basil! Basil is my favorite herb, and it just so happens that the few sprigs I planted back in the spring are flourishing. Basil and peaches together sounded simply divine! I’m so pleased to say that this recipe did not disappoint me. It is so good.

Place the chicken on a bed of brown rice, add a fresh green salad with homemade dressing, bake 1/2 a sweet potato, and voila! You’ve got a delicious summer meal.

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs (read about my meat choice here.)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine (or organic chicken broth)
  • 4 large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat coconut oil in iron skillet (or oven safe pan) over medium high heat.
  4. Place chicken in skillet and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan, reserving drippings.
  5. In drippings, brown shallot and garlic until fragrant and tender, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add wine, de-glazing the bottom of the pan by scraping up all brown bits.
  7. Add basil, peaches, and chicken. Turn chicken to coat.
  8. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Serve over a bed of brown rice. Don’t forget to spoon the liquid over the chicken and rice! That’s where the good flavor comes from.

{Supper} Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions and Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise

One of Michael’s favorite meals is the classic American hamburger. The only problem is this particular food can be a recipe for disaster. A white bun made with refined flour and lots of additives, meat that contains numerous growth hormones and antibiotics, and the high fructose corn syrup condiments are all potentially harmful to our bodies. I’m not talking high calorie count here (believe me, my recipe is still rather fattening), I’m talking about  the potential harmful qualities of what has been put into our food before we consume it, or even buy it. Just the thought of all the extra additives makes me never want to eat a burger again.

However, there is good news! With just a few simple changes, burgers can be back on the menu! Build your burger from local beef, whole wheat bread made with organic, sprouted grains, fresh tomatoes and lettuce from the farmer’s market, and carefully selected condiments. These choices make it possible to eat hamburgers again. This meal can go from catastrophe back to classic in no time. Oh, and don’t forget about those Cajun Roasted French Fries!

Ingredients for the patty:

  • 1 lb. local beef
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Brush grill pan with olive oil and heat until smoking.
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl until well mixed.
  3. Shape meat into desired burger size.
  4. Place two at a time on grill pan. Grill each side 4-5 minutes.

(I should note that I usually add an organic egg to my hamburger meat to keep the patties from falling apart. I was out of eggs this time, so I just left it out. The patties did just fine and did not crumble like I expected them to.)

Ingredients for the onions:

  • 1 1/2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp organic butter
  • 1 tbsp local honey
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat butter in saute pan until hot.
  2. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and let sweat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add honey to onions. Continue stirring while letting the onions get tender and brown around the edges, about 20 minutes total.

Ingredients for the mayo:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (find the brand with the least possible amount of ingredients, mine only has 8 and sugar is not one of them)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp local honey
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro
  1. Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Shmear the inside of each bun.

(all recipes my own)

{FMF: Peaches} Cinnamon Peach Oatmeal

Although I’ve never been much for oatmeal (it always reminds me of Goldilocks eating porridge just before the three bears come home), rolled oats happen to be a very convenient, economical option for a quick breakfast without filling up on a bellyful of preservatives. In a grocery store filled with sugary cereals, highly processed breakfast bars, chocolate milk, and “imitation” pancake syrup in which the main ingredient is, well, high fructose corn syrup, it can be daunting to think of easy breakfast options. Even toasted “whole wheat bread” (check out the amount of ingredients here… seriously?) with “butter” can be questionable. Thankfully, there is but one ingredient in a 16 oz. tub of whole wheat quick oats, and that is 100% whole grain rolled oats. Whew! Highly processed breakfast catastrophe avoided! Not only that, but 11 servings of rolled oats is several dollars cheaper and will last a lot longer than those breakfast bars that come six in a box. And let’s face it, those bars never fill us up anyway.

I do want to issue a word of caution. When buying oatmeal, make sure that you’re not lured by those cute little individual packages of flavored instant oatmeal. Not all oatmeal is considered equal on the whole food spectrum. Let’s take a look at a very popular brand of flavored oatmeal. There are many flavors to choose from, but for comparison’s sake I’ve chosen to highlight the peaches and cream flavor. Seems innocent enough, right? Hardly.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Peaches & Cream Ingredients:  WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, SUGAR, CREAMING AGENT (MALTODEXTRIN, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL**, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, WHEY, SODIUM CASEINATE, SUGAR, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), FLAVORED AND COLORED FRUIT PIECES (DEHYDRATED APPLES [TREATED WITH SODIUM SULFITE TO PROMOTE COLOR RETENTION], ARTIFICIAL PEACH FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, ANNATTO COLOR), SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, OAT FLOUR, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, NIACINAMIDE*, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, RIBOFLAVIN*, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, FOLIC ACID*. (emphasis my own)

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how many artificial ingredients and the amount of sugar that are in this oatmeal. The worst part? It’s marketed as a healthy choice for breakfast! I’m sorry, it might just be me, but I don’t think the fact it’s “made with heart healthy 100% whole grain Quaker Oats” and is a “good source of iron, calcium, and 7 other essential vitamins and minerals” outweighs the potential health risks the other ingredients are likely to cause. Especially when as a trade-off you can make your own peach flavored oatmeal from whole, unprocessed ingredients in under 5 minutes flat. All without subjecting yourself to potentially harmful additives. I promise you, making oatmeal yourself is super easy and very quick, even when you’re trying to get out the door for work.

So, here’s how you do it!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup 100% whole grain quick oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1 tsp organic butter
  • Cinnamon
  1. Bring water to simmer in small saucepan.
  2. Stir in oats.
  3. Cook about 1 minute over medium high heat, stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. I like my oatmeal thick, so I tend to let it cook a little longer than one minute. The longer it cooks the thicker it gets.
  4. Add butter, peaches, and a dash of cinnamon oatmeal. Stir.

(recipe my own)

The peaches were sweet enough for me that I didn’t need to add any honey for extra sweetness. You could certainly do so, but I wouldn’t add much. Maybe half a teaspoon. The cinnamon and butter blend to give it that warm, comforting flavor that I simply love.

I had some extra figs this time from the farmer’s market, so I tossed a few in as a variation. Oatmeal is a blank slate, so feel free to add your favorite fruit or spices! When you’re craving something else to go along with your Cinnamon Peach Oatmeal, be sure to stop by my Breakfast section for more whole food options.

Foodistas, what do you like to add to your oatmeal? Leave your ideas in the comment box below. I love hearing from you!

{Farmer’s Market Find} Peaches

In the region where I live peaches are king. They flourish in our area, and when peach season comes around in June, people come in droves from all over to buy them. The season is drawing to a close now. In fact, when I bought these at the market this weekend, the vendor said she was selling her last batch of the season. I was thankful I’d nabbed some before they were all gone.

Call me partial, but there is something about a peach that is unlike any other fruit. I love the juxtaposition of the fuzzy skin with the silky smooth flesh. The color is fantastic, a mix between red, gold, orange, yellow, a warm coral; the flesh of the peach is golden orange with a blood-red center around the pit. The fruit is tender, the juice succulent. There’s such a richness in the texture, flavor, and color.

I can’t wait to post some peach recipes this week. Expect some play with the flavor of the fruit; I plan to combine its sweetness with more savory dishes. I might even add some spice… who knows! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

{FMF: Red Potatoes} Cajun Roasted French Fries

French fries are such a classic American staple. To be honest, that was one of the hardest things for us to give up from fast food restaurants. Not the burgers, not the milkshakes, but the warm, salty french fries. One look on McDonald’s website (while you’re there, peek at some of their other lists of ingredients….yikes!) at the nutrition info of their fries, however, and our mind was made up pretty quickly. Here’s a look:

McDonald’s World Famous Fries Ingredients: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

After seeing that I became pretty sure I could make our own French fries without the dextrose, dimethylpolysiloxane, and sodium acid pyrophosphate. Oh, and I decided I wasn’t even going to FRY our French fries (gasp!). It’s so simple it barely deserves a recipe, but I decided to post one anyway. Here’s how effortless it is.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. red potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Cajun seasoning to taste. I use about 2 teaspoons.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash potatoes thoroughly in warm water until all dirt is removed.
  3. Slice potatoes until they resemble the size and shape of your preferred French fries.
  4. Spread the sliced potatoes on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The French “fries” will be warm, salty with a little kick from the spice, and have none of the refined oils from frying. Leaving the skin on maintains that crisp outer layer.
  7. Serve warm.

That’s it! It literally takes no time at all, and is a healthy alternative to regular fries. These are especially great with hamburgers. I’ll be posting a recipe for my specialty hamburgers soon. But for now I’ll leave you with a sneak peek to whet your appetite :)

Have a great Saturday everyone! I hope it’s filled with laughter around a table of whole, healthy food.

{Dessert} Honey Fruit Cookies

I’m always searching for desserts that qualify as whole food. They can be pretty hard to find! I’ve discovered that I have better luck adapting recipes with which I’m already familiar than finding a dessert that’s made with unrefined ingredients. Usually I can “create” a whole food dessert by taking an original recipe and substituting whole wheat flour for white, using honey or applesauce rather than sugar, and using organic butter instead of vegetable oil.

This recipe though, is an absolute treasure, because there was very little I had to change! My grandmother recently let me borrow an older cookbook published in 1977. It’s called The Wonderful World of Honey by Joe Parkhill, who was an expert on beekeeping. He served three terms as president of the Southern States Beekeeping Federation and taught classes on beekeeping throughout the country. One of his accomplishments was publishing this outstanding cookbook filled with recipes that use no refined sugar, only honey. It’s also chock-full of interesting tips and facts about the nature and uses of honey. I’m telling you, it’s a gold mine for me! I’m not sure if he’s still living, but if he is, I’d love to meet him and soak in his wisdom. Thank you, Mr. Parkhill, for this cookie recipe (and for others to come).

One of the things I love most about these cookies is the fruit inside. It makes the cookie sweet with natural sugar. I didn’t even add the entire amount of honey that was recommended. After these come from the oven, the fruit is warm and slightly chewy. So good!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup room temperature organic butter (the original recipe called for shortening)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 egg (local or cage free/free range or organic)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (original called for sour cream)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (rather than white)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup each dried raisins and dates (make sure there is no added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted (The original called for 3/4 cups of each fruit, but I found that to be way to much fruit for the amount of cookie batter.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and honey.
  3. Sift flour with baking soda and salt.
  4. Add sifted flour, egg, and yogurt to the butter/honey mixture. Stir until the batter is moist and all the flour has been absorbed. It will be a rather thick, sticky batter.
  5. Fold in fruit.
  6. Drop on parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes.

These cookies don’t get crisp, I think due to the whole wheat flour, not really sure. If you like moist, soft cookies, then you will love these. Perfect with a tall glass of cold milk, whole, organic milk, of course :)