Prune, Tomato and Artichoke Baked ‘Salad’

Last night I got into my Fall cookin’ and bakin’ ritual on Sunday evenings…I just love the cozy feeling of being cooped up in my apartment, cooking up a hearty meal that fills each room with beautiful and delicious harvest aromas…after visiting the farmer’s market yesterday, I decided to make use of my fresh heirloom tomatoes and prunes, which I purchased at the Union Square Farmer’s Market downtown…The weather was beautiful this weekend here in Manhattan and I my little legs are exhausted from walking around all day… soaking up the sun and taking in all the fresh produce glistening on every street corner…I simply couldn’t resist.

Yes, I spend a good portion of my paycheck on food…and yes, it’s worth it because the taste n’ flavor of fresh, local and organic produce from the local farmers is hard to beat…the best part? Well, that’s surely when I sit down to my meal and savor each bite of my scrumptious masterpiece…my evening meal… my time to relax in front of my nonexistant television, hehe … my time to think about my life, my day, my future … my next cooking adventure…

This tasty Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan and Vegetarian Baked ‘Salad’ is incredible and perfect for a crisp Fall evening. I paired this dish with a bowl of white bean soup with toasted almonds to round out a perfect dinner for ‘One’…

And then to laugh, and giggle and smile, because an entire weekend went by with the only form of being ‘hit on’ or compliments were from the farmers at the produce stands, hehe… yes, it seems to have been this way for years, but that’s okay… Mr. Fabulous will come along soon enough … Hey, perhaps he’ll be next to me at the market next weekend, hehe…
Enjoy!

Prune, Tomato and Artichoke Baked ‘Salad’

Ingredients

  • Ten1-inch-thick slices of gluten-free bread, cut into large chunks
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large Heirloom tomatoes, cut into coarse chunks
  • 1 (15 oz.) can artichokes, drained
  • 8 large prunes
  • 1/3  cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. In a roasting pan, toss bread chunks with 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until bread is golden brown.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the tomato chunks, artichokes and prunes with the parsley, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sesame seeds, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Add the tomato mixture to the toasted bread in the roasting pan. Return to the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and serve warm.
  5. Enjoy!
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Get Those Kids Cookin’…

Ever wonder how to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Here are a few tips that I offer to my clients…whether you have young children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, family or friends…these tips are sure to get your little ones active and entertained in the kitchen.


  • Cucumber Caterpillar: Slices of cucumber held together with natural peanut butter. Place the Caterpillar on ‘greens’ to look like grass.
  • Taco or Burrito Bar: Serve brown rice, black beans, onions, hot peppers, sprouted grain or gluten free tortillas, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, guacamole and  salsa.  Add nuts, seeds and spices in tiny serving dishes to jazz up the flavors!
  • Salad Bar: Spin your greens in a salad spinner, then dress dry greens with a lime dressings made by combining sesame oil, fresh lime juice, low-sodium tamari, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar and water.
  • Mashed Potato Parfaits- Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and carrots mixed together…topped with raisins, cinnamon, shredded coconut and agave nectar
  • Individual Pizzas: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Choose gluten free or sprouted whole grain tortillas, caramelized onions, spinach, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichokes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add each ingredient atop each tortilla and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Panini Party: Gluten Free or sprouted whole grain bread, SoyaKaas Gluten Free/Dairy Free cheese, tomato slices, eggplant slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, avocado, zucchini and squash slices.  Add all ingredients to 2 slices of bread.  Place onto a panini maker (sprayed with cooking spray); cook until cheese is melted and veggies are warm and cooked.  Dip into marinara (red) sauce.
  • Stir-Fry: Switch up your usual recipe with unique grains such as millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
  • Fruit Salad: Add exotic fruits to spice up the flavors.  Use a melon baller and serve in a wine glass to add to the allure of this meal.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop each fruit salad serving and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia.
  • Slaw Wraps: Cabbage, celery, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, snap peas, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans and Napa Slaw can easily be combined and wrapped in rice paper.  Liven up this dish by pairing it with a special sauce of grapefruit juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar, lemonade and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower.  Toss with fresh apples or cumin roasted chick peas.  Adding berries such as blackberries, raspberries and cherries add a nice antioxidant punch to these wraps.
  • Peanut Butter Chicken Fajitas: The best way to make a good peanut sauce is by combining organic peanut butter, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar and low-sodium tamari/soy sauce.
  • Frozen Basil and Banana Pops: Blend together 2 cups ice, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 ripe banana, 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup agave nectar in a blender.  Blend well and pour into glasses! This is a wonderful treat for a healthy dessert!

Have fun and experiment with some of my ideas above…Getting the kids active in the kitchen is fun…and who knows, your kids may just start to ‘enjoy’ their veggies!!!

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Are you Confused?

We all have bacteria living in our gut; some of them may make us sick, however, some are actually beneficial ‘healthy’ bacteria, which help keep yeast and bad bacteria from growing in your intestinal tract.  Bacteria is also used to help keep your immune system function properly and produce vitamin K.

Usually we would have a large amount of friendly bacteria, however due to antibiotics, poor diets and stress may cause bacterial imbalance that results in overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria.  Fortunately, prebiotics and probiotics can restore the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract.

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Prebiotics

  • Prebiotics are the food that probiotics thrive on.  They feed the healthy bacteria in your gut; they mostly come from carbohydrate fibers.  We do not digest them, however, they remain in the digestive tract and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.
  • Prebiotics include fruits, legumes and whole grains.  Some of the prebiotics that I recommend to my clients are bananas, artichokes, onions, honey, garlic and whole grains. 

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Probiotics

  • Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, which can be found in various fermented foods, the most common being yogurt and sauerkraut.  When you eat probiotics, the healthy bacteria will be added to your intestinal tract. 
  • Common strains of probiotics are the Lactobacillis and Bifdobacterium families of bacteria.

Since Prebiotics and Probiotics work better together, opt for adding foods rich in pre- and pro- biotics to your daily meals.