“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fruit Pops

I am an ice cream junkie.  Since starting the new diet, I have been pretty good at regulating my intake of junk food.  But I have two weaknesses: ice cream and potato chips.  While I haven't quite figured out how to kick the potato chip habit, I have found some solace in popsicles when it comes to my ice cream cravings!

Are they like ice cream?  No, not quite.  But they do the trick when I need something sweet and cool on hot summer days.

I used Tovolo popsicle molds and got them at Whole Foods for $12.  Typically, they are only $1 less so it wasn't bad for an impulse buy.  They work great and don't take up too much room in the freezer either.

(This popsicle features from top to bottom: mango/peach, mixed berry, and kiwi flavors.)

To make the popsicles, I use frozen fruit, nonfat yogurt, fresh lime juice, and agave (optional) for extra sweetness.  There is no hard and fast recipe, as I think much of this depends on your personal tastes for sweet vs. tart and creamy vs. icy.

Here are the basic steps:

1) Combine frozen fruit and a small amount of yogurt in a blender or food processor.

2) Taste the mixture and add more fruit, lime, or agave as needed.

3) Once it reaches the desired taste, pour the mixture into the pops molds.

4) For the striped effect (featured in the picture), you will have to make three separate batches of flavors.  Pour the first layer in, freeze for approximately 30 minutes, then repeat with each successive layer.

Tip: When ready to eat, run the frozen molds under some warm water to help loosen the popsicles.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Soba and Tofu Spring Rolls

Last week's heat wave made turning on the stove or oven impossible.  So, faced with more CSA veggies, we set out to make a meal that was both health- and heat-friendly.  Try these Soba and Tofu Spring Rolls.   They are healthy, seasonal, and easy.

I always set out all the fixings, and each guest assembles her/his own.  I always find that this setup makes dinner easy and fun.  When you're on a special diet, it also makes eating with friends a bit easier.  No one questions your food choices, and everyone has fun creating unique roll combinations.  I made mine vegetarian, but traditional Vietnamese rolls feature thin slices of pork belly or shrimp along with rice noodles.  These anti-inflammatory rolls were made with thin slices of browned tofu and soba for extra heartiness.  Cucumbers were perfect for crunch and their anti-inflammatory properties.  Lastly, carrots provided wonderful lutein for eye health.

Soba and Tofu Spring Rolls

(the rolls)
1 block of extra firm tofu
2 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of red leaf lettuce, washed
soba noodles, cooked and cooled
rice paper wrappers

Drain and dry the tofu, squeezing out any excess water.  Divide the block into equally sized rectangles (approximately 8-10).  Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into a hot pan.  Lightly pan fry the tofu slices until sides take on a golden color and a slightly crisp texture.   Transfer the browned slices onto a paper towel and cool until room temperature.  Slice the tofu into thin strips.

Submerge one sheet of rice paper into warm water, and then place the wet sheet onto a plate.  Arrange your roll's contents in the center of the wrapper.  I like to start with a small piece of lettuce, then layer on a small amount of soba noodles, carrots, cucumber, and tofu.  Bring up one edge of the wrapper and fold it over the contents.  Then lift up the right and left sides, one at a time, to the center.  (It should remind you of an open envelope.)  Finally, roll the rest into the final open seam.  With practice, you'll become a master roller.  The key is to keep your contents manageable--otherwise, you will burst the rice paper.  

(soy ginger dipping sauce)

1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Thai chili, thinly sliced into rounds

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  
For extra kick, allow the ginger and chili to steep in the liquid.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Cool Summer Treat

If you're an East Coaster like myself, you are probably sweltering in this persistent heat wave.  It can be hard to enjoy a sweet treat in hot weather especially when faced with ice cream, gelato, and sorbets.  So when I'm craving something cool and sweet, I turn to banana whip!

I have frozen blackberries on hand, but banana whip is really versatile.  Go naked and just stick with bananas.  Or add a dash of cocao powder.  The banana is great on its own but also provides a wonderful canvas for other flavors.  I love banana whip not only because it is delicious but most importantly, it is easy to make and incredibly healthy.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a Vitamix or a Champion Juicer.  I used my Cuisinart food processar/hand blender combo and it worked great.

Berry Banana Whip

1 frozen, very ripe banana
5-8 blackberries
nuts for topping
agave, optional

Slice the banana into small chunks.  
Toss all fruit into the blender and blend until creamy.  
Add agave if desired and blender until incorporated.  
I sprinkled some sliced almonds, 
but any traditional ice cream topping will do.  
I especially love a drizzle of chocolate!