Simply put, I’m always trying to eat more veggies. They’re nutrient-dense and incredibly diverse in flavor and texture. I try to eat a balance between raw and cooked veggies every day for variety – and because raw veggies require almost no prep!
This salad is pretty simple to prepare and is a good one for taking to potlucks or parties because it’s hardy and stands up to a couple hours sitting out without getting soggy. To make prepping julienned veggies easier, I have a very inexpensive peeler like this one here.
Ingredients for Crunch Kale Salad
- 1 medium bunch of kale (lacinato / dino kale works very well here), sliced thin
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1/2 cup golden beets, julienned
- Juice of 1-1.5 lemons
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts (for an extra crunch, I used Cavegirl Confections bacon granola)
Directions for Crunch Kale Salad
- Cut the kale leaves thinly. I cut them down the middle along the vein, then stack them and thinly slice them into ribbons. Place into a large bowl.
- Add the julienned carrot and beets, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to the kale. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- For best results, allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. The veggies will soften just a bit.
- Top with chopped nuts for a bit more crunch (or if you’re feeling adventurous, a sprinkle of a Paleo-friendly granola or dried fruit).
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This is a pretty simple side dish that compliments virtually any main. To save cooking time, I sliced the Brussels sprouts thinly, but if you’re crunched you could either buy them pre-sliced (I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s) or halve and steam them, then throw them in the pan. I don’t recommend putting them in whole because they’ll take forever to cook. Adding a splash of coconut aminos at the end of cooking is a nice compliment, but if you don’t have it, salt will do just fine. Just taste before adding depending on how salty the bacon is.
Ingredients for Garlic Ginger Brussels Sprouts
- 4 pieces of bacon, chopped
- 1 lb. (500 g) Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, cut into ribbons with a veggie peeler
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, render the bacon until it’s crispy.
- Add the thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and carrots. Cook on medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes or until the sprouts have begun to brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger in the last 1-2 minutes of cooking and stir to combine (adding the garlic at the end reduces the chance it’ll burn and taste bitter).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Red pepper flakes are also good instead of black pepper.
It’s no secret that I love fermented foods (sauerkraut and kombucha being my favorites) because of their probiotic content, and lately I’ve started to expand my horizons. I went to a farmer’s market recently and saw a jar of fermented ginger carrots selling for something like $8! Off I went to the store to get a pound of carrots and some ginger to make my own.
This fermented ginger carrots recipe uses lacto-fermentation, a different method than is used to make kombucha. Essentially, the brine (salt water solution) that forms around the veggies is enough to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus while at the same time providing just the right conditions for Lactobacillus—the bacteria that cause the tart flavor of lactic acid as a byproduct—to grow.
Lacto-fermentation of ginger carrots—and any veggie really—requires that the veggies be completely submerged under the salty brine to give just the right anaerobic conditions. It’s possible to go whole-hog and buy fancy fermentation jars or huge crocks. (Can you say $$$?) If you’re just getting started, you may want to KISS and stick to this method for fermented ginger carrot which uses mason jars. They’re cheap and relatively easy to find.
This recipe easily doubles, triples, etc. If you don’t like ginger, you can leave it out. You can always thinly slice the carrots, but I prefer to shred them. The generally accepted ratio for vegetables to salt is 5 pounds veggies : 3 Tablespoons sea salt. I’ve adjusted that ratio down for this recipe.
Prep time: 30 min Ferment time: 7–14 days Makes: ~2 pint jars
Ingredients for the Fermented Ginger Carrots
- 1 pound carrots (450 g), shredded
- 1–2″ piece of ginger, peeled and shredded or grated
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
Ingredients for extra brine
- 1 cup water
- 1 rounded teaspoon sea salt
Equipment Needed to Make Fermented Ginger Carrots
Directions to Make Fermented Ginger Carrots (including video!)
- Shred the carrots and ginger in a food processor and dump into a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands, squeezing the carrots as you go. You’re trying to extract a bit of the natural liquid by creating a concentrated salt solution around the carrots (it’s hypertonic…SCIENCE!). Let the carrots sit for 15 min before moving to the next step.
- Divide the carrots evenly between two pint-sized (16 oz) mason jars. Press the carrots down firmly until you’ve removed as much empty space as possible. There may be some natural carrot liquid at this point but not enough to cover the veggies.
- Place the small 4 oz jar on top of the carrots. Fill the remainder of the space with a little bit of the brine solution. The carrots should be completely submerged. Repeat with the other jar. Save extra brine in the fridge because you might need it during the fermentation process…you can always make more but this saves a step later.
- Cover the jars with cheesecloth, a piece of old t-shirt or a kitchen towel and place them in a bowl (I use paper bowl) or on a rimmed plate to catch any bubbling over.
- Place in a dark spot (like a pantry or cupboard) and check daily to make sure the water level has not dropped down to the carrots. If it has, pour a bit more brine on top.
- My carrots were to my sour liking after about a week, but I live in sunny Southern California. Check yours by removing a small sample after 5 days or so and eating it up! If it tastes tangy enough for you, it’s ready. It generally takes 7-14 days but varies with temperature.
- Store tightly covered in the fridge…it will last for a few months!
- My carrots are slimy. Bad bacteria have probably started to grow in your jar. Best to toss it out to be safe.
- My carrots have run out of liquid. If this was recent, within a day or two, top off with more brine solution. If it’s been several days, you may want to throw it out and start again.
- Help! My carrots are foaming! This is normal especially after the first couple days of fermentation because gases are being released by the bacteria and can cause bubbles or foam. You can skim the foam and keep on rockin’.
- I see white stuff at the bottom of the jar. Is this okay? Yes. These are the bacteria. It’s totally normal.
- Um, my carrots have greenish black mold on top. If you’re adventurous, you can skim it and keep going. This is how moldy ferment has been dealt with for ages (and I can tell you lots of stories about what they do with moldy cheese in the grocery store…haha). If you’re totally grossed out, just start over.
- It’s been a couple weeks and the carrots still aren’t sour or tangy. You may have them in too cold of a spot. Try putting them in a warmer location to speed up the process a bit.
This rainbow on a plate was inspired by a ratatouille made by my amazing friend Claudette, the owner of Cavegirl Confections (her granola and nut butters are HIGH quality and made with love…and she ships). We got together for dinner last week – with scallops, crab cakes, pork belly and lamb kofta with lemony herb sauce – and she made this as a side dish. It’s light and colorful and perfect for summer. Claudette’s not a big eggplant fan, so she left it out, but you could certainly add it if you’d like.
Like the creative genius that she is, she slices the peppers and tomato thin and uses a regular ol’ peeler to make the squash, zucchini and carrots into wide noodles.
Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 8-10 min Makes: 2-3 side-dish servings
Ingredients for Ratatouille a la Claudette
- 2 carrots
- 2 zucchini
- 2 yellow summer squash
- 1 large tomato
- 1 bell pepper, any color
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Large spoonful of ghee or your fat of choice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Ratatouille a la Claudette
- Use a regular vegetable peeler to peel the carrots, zucchini and yellow squash into long slices. Seed and thinly slice the tomato and bell pepper. Roughly chop the basil and parsley.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee. Sauté the veggies (save the herbs for later) until they’re tender but not mushy, about 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat, sprinkle in the herbs and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Memorial Day Weekend is almost here. That means it’s time for more BBQs and summer fun, and it also means it’s socially acceptable to wear white. I almost never wear white because I’m the world’s biggest klutz. Truly. Just this morning, I was grading lab reports with a shaker bottle of decaf coffee on my desk. Suddenly, a notebook slid off the top of a stack and – you guessed it – coffee. went. all. over. Luckily, I know myself better than to wear white at any time. My brown shorts perfectly camouflaged the fact that I’d just poured coffee all over my lap. Score!
To make a long story short, with parties and Memorial Day gatherings in the near future, this refreshing slaw is a great side dish to bring with. You could also add shredded cabbage for a more traditional take on slaw.
Prep time: 15 min Cook time: 0 min Makes: ~2 cups
Ingredients for Jicama Carrot Slaw
- 1 cup carrots, shredded
- 1 cup jicama, shredded
- 2 Tablespoons chipotle mayo
- 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Jicama Carrot Slaw
- Use a box grater or a food processor with a shredder blade to shred the carrots and jicama. Bonus tip: buy pre-shredded carrots to save time (though they are usually more expensive).
- Combine the shredded carrots and jicama in a large bowl. Add the chipotle mayo, cilantro, and lime juice.
- Stir until combined well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill for best flavor.
Soup is one of my favorite meals for the cooler days of the fall season, and butternut is one of my favorites. As a kid, we’d eat butternut boiled and mashed (not my favorite preparation) with butter and maple syrup added. Roasting the squash in this preparation intensifies the flavors and natural sugars; the caramelized edges get so yummy and brown that I want to start eating it the minute it comes out of the oven! Honestly, this is so incredibly stupid-easy.
Makes: About 4 cups
Ingredients for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 large butternut squash
- 3 carrots
- 2 to 2-1/2 cups stock (chicken, turkey or veggie…organic and low sodium if possible or make your own)
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (can, not carton), optional
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground sage
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Coconut oil
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Directions for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into approximately 1 inch cubes.
3. Cut carrot into 1 inch chunks.
3. Put squash and carrots onto baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for ~30-45 minutes on until soft and caramelized (honestly this depends on your oven).
4. Remove and allow to cool. If you have a blender or Vitamix, you can probably do the next step in one batch. If using a food pro, you may have to do multiple smaller batches.
5. Place roasted veggies, stock, coconut milk (optional), cinnamon, sage, nutmeg and a little cracked pepper into the Vitamix/blender. Process for 3-4 minutes, adjusting the amount of stock if necessary to thin the soup out a bit. The result should be a smooth consistency.
*I love to serve this with roasted and shredded turkey breast and maybe some avocado. So tasty. I also sometimes freeze the extra and while the consistency changes a bit, it’s every bit as delicious.