organicglory

simple nibbles of natural goodness

Pickled Watermelon

Just in time for the holiday weekend!! Let’s bust out the watermelons and swing into summer at last:) The flesh of the watermelon provides a sweet topper for spicy arugula salad, and the pickled rinds make an unexpected side to grilled burgers, dogs, potato salad and a cold bottle of beer. Just like actual pickles, only cuter and niftier! 

pickled watermelon

I suggest trying those miniature melons you see at the supermarket starting this time of year. Buy a couple pounds at least; this recipe doubles easily from there.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 (about) pounds of watermelons (use small ones to make cutting easier)
  • 2 TBPS red wine vinegar (or whatever kind you have/like)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water

DIRECTIONS

Halve the watermelons then slice into wedges. Cut off and set aside the pulp (the pink part) for use however you choose — particularly large-diced on a salad — leaving just the rind.

Using a knife, cut off the dark green outer layer and then slice the remaining rind into two-inch pieces.

In a small pot, combine the rinds, vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Heat on the stove on high until boiling; once it boils, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 7-10 minutes or until the rinds are translucent and softened (test with a fork). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. When they are at room temp, serve them without the extra liquid.

IF YOU ARE making a salad, whip up a nice vinaigrette from the leftover pickling liquid plus equal parts olive oil and mustard. Feta is also a worthy addition to a watermelon-arugula salad  :)

YUM! Enjoy!!

**  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, everyone **

Carrot Cake Smoothie

After a month of staring down my new Vitamix in intimidation and fear, I finally asked Georgia to help me figure out how to use the darn thing this weekend. We were trapped at the house while Mark jetted down to New York for new headshots, and we had some pretty random things in the fridge to use up. I remembered seeing a recipe for a smoothie using carrots this winter, and going on memory, I tried to make something refreshing for all seasons. I swear, I’ve never had a smoothie come out this, well, SMOOTH before — I’m about to go get married to this Vitamix so I can keep it forever. It’s that good. Best combo birthday/Mother’s Day gift EVER.

Since it’s summer, you could definitely tone down the warming spices in the recipe to keep it tasting lighter and fruity.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond milk (soy also works well)
  • 1 plain low/no-fat yogurt (about 5 oz.)
  • 2 TBSP rolled oats
  • 1 TBSP dry chai tea mix, such as Trader Joe’s*
  • 1 frozen chopped banana (or 1 fresh, plus two ice cubes)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (or at least 1 cup shredded/packaged)

* To approximate chai tea seasoning, use a dash of cinnamon, vanilla and 1 or 2 cloves. You can also omit the cloves, or use 1 TBSP pumpkin pie mix instead.

DIRECTIONS

Add the ingredients in order of liquidity: first the almond milk, then the yogurt, then the grains and spices, and finally the fruits and vegetables. If using a high-powered machine like a Vitamix, blend for less than one minute on low and increasing up to high. Makes enough for two days, or to share with a friend (like my G!) Enjoy:)

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

This past weekend, we went to a potluck with a loose Mexican food theme. Our friend Terri (hi, Terri!) made the most delicious and simple enchiladas, and our friend Seth brought an amazing guacamole with chopped mangoes (!) in it. We also had margaritas, chili, rice, and corn bread. I could eat a meal like that every day of the week!! I’d volunteered to do dessert, but as the day drew closer I realized I didn’t have enough rhubarb handy to make the crumble I’d envisioned for the 10-12 people expected, so I had to go to plan B. I racked my brain trying to think of something festive but light that could feed a good-sized crowd, including many toddlers. Then I remembered how well this orange creamsicle cake turned out a couple years ago, and in that vein made an even EASIER dessert with crushed pineapple and angel food cake. It has just two ingredients, not including any whipped cream you might want to add, and it came out so delicious! Perfect for summer and so easy, it’s definitely something I’m going to make again and again.

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package angel food cake mix
  • 1 large (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple
  • whipped cream if you want it for topping!

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter or Pam-spray a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used glass).

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry cake mix with the crushed pineapple, juice included. (Don’t add water per the box instructions!) Stir until evenly combined. Pour into your baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes (mine took closer to 30 — make sure it doesn’t burn!) It’s done for sure when a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean. Let cool and serve!

Notes: I could only find pineapple chunks, so I buzzed them through the food processor quickly to pulverize them. The consistency you see there in my photos is what you want. I didn’t serve this with ice cream, but I think it would go well together! Because I was taking this to a potluck, I just bought a can of whipped cream, though I usually prefer to just make my own (especially ever since Mark got me a stand mixer). You could also make this in a cupcake tin with liners instead of a glass baking dish. Just be sure to cross-reference the cooking time on the side of the cake mix box if you drastically alter the pan size.

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Enjoy! And have a wonderful weekend!

Can’t wait to make this tasty Broccoli Toss!

What a week!! I had a crazy, crazy time at work, and I’m ready for some easy food. I was reading Parents Magazine on the train in this morning and saw this Crunchy Broccoli Toss, and I just know Georgia would love it. She loves beans, edamame and “trees!” (as she calls broccoli — which is funny because so did my little brother when he was a tot). Anyway, I can’t wait to make this and I just wanted to share it with you, too. Happy Weekend!

broccoli toss

Cabbage-Arugula Salad with Sliced Beets, Grapes & Feta

Good Tuesday morning everyone! Hope you all had a restful Mother’s Day. We didn’t really do much — took Georgia for lunch and ice cream with both her grammies & her favorite Uncle Brent — and I’m already focused on the week ahead and the DAMN SUN COMING BACK OUT. Am I the only one losing their mind over last week’s seven-day stretch of rain? Weather that seemed charming and curious on my visit to the Pacific Northwest became alarming and anxiety-inducing when it overtook what’s supposed to be a sunny and mild season in New England. Thankfully, the nice weather seems to be back for this week (finally), and nothing says spring like a light, fresh salad. I created this one a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to share with you! I’m a sucker for any salad with beets in it, especially when they are set off with a flavorful cheese, and this one really hits the mark with a salty feta alongside grapes and beets. Plus, scroll to the end for an easy knockoff recipe for the Cosi Signature Salad — a weakness of mine when I buy lunch out! 

Cabbage-Arugula Salad with Sliced Beets, Grapes & Feta

INGREDIENTS

  • Greens: I used Napa Cabbage, Purple Cabbage and Arugula.
  • Toppings: Feta, crumbled; grapes, sliced in half; baby beets, sliced.
  • Optional Add-On: chicken for a little protein boost.
  • Dressing: Fig vinaigrette. Stonewall Kitchen makes an amazing one!


DIRECTIONS

Chop and toss salad together in a large bowl and serve. That’s it!

Don’t like feta? Try goat cheese, which always pairs awesomely with beets. Beets are actually not that difficult to peel and slice at home, as long as you use a plastic cutting board and wash it immediately afterward, and be careful not to touch anything with your hands covered in beet juice because it stains! Or, you can buy the canned/jarred kind, or snag some at a salad bar if you’re making this on the go.

Personally, I made this for the first time at a salad bar, and then recreated it at home later with great results. Now, it’s one of my new favorites! You can only order so much chicken Caesar for lunch before you want a change of pace.

What are your favorite salads? My other go-to orders for lunch and dinner are Panera’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, and the Cosi Signature Salad, which is easy to recreate at home with grapes, pears, pistachios (sold shelled at Trader Joe’s), dried cranberries, mixed greens, Gorgonzola and sherry shallot vinaigrette.

Sherry Vinegar is a specialty item, but lots of food bloggers have spent time trying to mimic its flavor with a copycat recipe, and I think Real Mom Nutrition has it down pat: you just need to whisk minced shallot, red wine vinegar, mustard, honey, and olive oil together until thoroughly combined, then add salt and pepper to taste, to recreate Cosi’s awesome house salad. The ratio is 1/2 a shallot, peeled & minced; 2 TBSP red wine vinegar; 1 TBSP each of honey and Dijon mustard; and a 1/2 cup of olive oil, finished with salt and pepper to taste.

The best part of the Panera salad is those crispy apple slices, if you ask me. I’m going to try my hand at drying apple rings into chips soon so that I can make a knock-off version of this awesome salad at home. These takeout salads run you almost $10 a pop, which is CRAY if you can easily make them at home! If I have any luck making dried apple rings, I’ll definitely post about it for you!

Well, that’s all for me today. I hope everyone has a great week!

Updating a Classic: Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

Back in the early days of my blog, I made this Spinach and Chickpea spaghetti dish that quickly became a favorite and a regular in our rotation. It’s healthy, hearty and easy. Well, I recently updated it a bit and loved the results, so I’m doing a quick post to share! The new version uses orechiette instead of spaghetti and kale instead of spinach, and I roasted the chickpeas in advance to give them some crunch and an extra pump of zest thanks to a sprinkling of paprika when they’re fresh out of the oven. Such simple switches, but they made all the difference! And there was so much flavor that I was able to cut way back on the dairy used for the creamy sauce. 


Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • Half of a one-pound box of orechiette
  • 1½ Cups Chickpeas
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion
  • one pat of butter (about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 TBSP Capers (I keep a jar in the fridge)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Grated Parmesan (or Pecorino) Cheese, amount to taste (approx. 1/4 cup)

DIRECTIONS

First, roast the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas, then dry thoroughly between paper towels (laying on a flat surface and rolling sometimes works well). Discard any loose skins that come off. Arrange on the baking sheet in an even layer, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper,  and toss to coat, then roast — stirring halfway through — for about 25 minutes, or until crispy and browned (but not burnt!) After removing from the oven, season the chickpeas with the smoked paprika, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside.

While the chickpeas roast, wash and dry the kale. Prep the produce: peel and dice the onion and garlic, roughly chop the kale leaves (or tear by hand), discarding the stems, and roughly  chop the capers. Quarter and de-seed the lemon. Finally, put a pot of water on to boil the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, reserving half a cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil over medium-hot in a large pan. Add the diced onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the kale and 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens have wilted and the water has cooked off.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan of kale and then throw in the capers, butter, juice of three lemon wedges and the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook for a few minutes, stirring thoroughly to combine, and season again with salt and pepper after removing from heat. Once off the stove, top the dish with the roasted chickpeas and stir to combine. Top with cheese and squeeze the remaining lemon wedge over the dish before eating.

Voila!

Without the cream cheese, this actually felt light enough to be in contention as an early spring dish, instead of a heavy “load up for hibernation” winter dinner. Georgia really loves roasted chickpeas as a snack, so she mostly kinda ate this, picking the onion and kale out and setting it off to the side. Cooked greens = bad, but cold fresh greens in a salad = OK by her. Pasta, of course, is always a toddler win.

I live by toddler logic.

That’s all from me today everyone! I hope you try this and like it as much as we did, and that you stay dry in the soggy northeast this week. Happy Tuesday!

My baby isn’t a baby anymore…

…She’s a gardener!! And a pretty tall one at that. Daddy and G spent their day off together yesterday planting “Georgia’s patch,” the raised-bed garden Mark has been cultivating along the sunny side of our house for the past five years. This year, for the first time, Georgia picked out all the plants, including strawberries, hula berries, tomatoes, basil, peppers, lettuce and zucchini, and helped daddy replace the soil, dig holes, label the chalkboard stakes and mulch it all over. I can’t wait to taste everything they grow together!!

One thing we don’t usually grow but which I love to buy and bake with this time of year is Rhubarb. It should be hitting the farmer’s markets soon!! Every year, I make a tangy/sweet Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, and this year I am dying to try Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Breakfast Bars, which sound delectable.

And speaking of breakfast and yummy baked goods: there’s a new bakery at the Boston Public Market that I can’t wait to check out. Started by a 22-year-old (!) entrepreneur whose commercial kitchen is based in my ‘hood, Malden, Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery started as a short-term pop-up vendor whose bites were so popular she became the first vendor to convert to a permanent, full-time stall. She sells gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free breads, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and donuts, and locally sources ingredients such as jam, maple syrup, apple cider syrup, fruit, and veggies from farms like Carr’s Ciderhouse in Hadley, Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth, Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Russell’s Orchards in Ipswich. Check her out!

photo credit: courtesy // #BostonPublicMarket

 Have a great week everyone:)

The New Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

If you don’t already shop with this list of the most important produce items to buy organic, now you no longer have an excuse! In honor of Earth Day, here’s a handy dandy printable from the Environmental Working Group, just released last week. You can click the link below the image to download your own PDF to print and cut along the dotted line for your wallet, or just pin this picture for later:)  

The biggest news this year is probably the fact that strawberries skyrocketed to the top of the list, displacing apples as the #1 most pesticide-contaminated fresh produce item even after being rinsed in the field and washed again before eating.

I don’t know about you, but my family eats A LOT of strawberries, and buying these organic is a priority for us. The cost difference is usually $1 or $2 per 1-pound container, shopping at Target, Aldi or Trader Joe’s. And don’t forget that Costco has a large and impressive selection of organic produce, pantry, dairy and frozen items, if you have enough mouths to feed and enough storage to accommodate their package sizes (which we do, even with just a 1,100 sq. ft. house and a 20-year-old refrigerator. It might be more doable than you think!)

I’m also relieved to see that some items — namely avocado, mangoes and onions — are solidly on the clean 15 list, because those can get pricey when you buy organic, and there may not be a reason to. Studies have shown that the nutrition in organic- and non-organic foods is the same, so the real reason to invest in organic produce is to avoid pesticides, many of which can disrupt hormones and cause cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, and neurological problems.

red strawberries organic

Beyond following this list, the best way to avoid pesticide exposure is to buy in-season produce from local vendors such as the farmer’s market or a farm share/subscription box, especially those that are certified organic.

  • Looking for a Boston-area farmer’s market? Click here for an interactive map. You can sort by organic, you-pick, geographic location, you name it!
  • Don’t forget the Boston Public Market is open 7 days a week starting July 18! The new hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Here’s a vendor list.

***

If you aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they are worth getting to know.  In addition to their produce guide, I rely on their Skin Deep cosmetic grading database and their annual sunscreen guide when I’m out in stores. Now, they’ve released an app that consolidates those consumer resources so you can simply scan items as you shop to evaluate their ingredients and effectiveness. I’ve already downloaded it! And that’s saying a lot, because I have 8,000 Georgia photos on my phone, so nobody gets new real estate without REALLY being worth it. ;) 

unnamed

Have a wonderful weekend and happy (non-toxic) shopping!!

Monday Musings

OK fine, it’s Wednesday! But I wrote this on Monday, which is a holiday in Massachusetts. I think it has something to do with Redcoats running ~26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston in search of brunch on their day off.

In all seriousness, Marathon Monday is second only to Christmas in my world when it comes to excitement and anticipation. (I can even overlook that confounding apostrophe after the “s” in Patriots’ Day for long enough to enjoy myself). We’ve taken Georgia to watch the Marathon since she was in utero, but this year was the first time in her life that it wasn’t freezing out and when she could really enjoy it and cheer for the runners. She kept offering them her snacks — “runners, do you need some Pirate Booty?” — and skipping alongside them, asking for high-fives. And she got a few, too! It was an awesome day, the sun was shining, and Mark had the day off to boot. That’s all I need.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, including ways to stop having so much trouble digesting food so that I can cook and eat normally again, a.k.a. the basis of this blog. I want to thank you all for your kind words after my last post! It helps to know others struggle with mystery tummy ailments, too. I’ll be sharing a longer post about some of the ways I’m trying to get my stomach back on track, but in the meantime, here’s what I’m contemplating, doing and buying these days.

What I’m coveting

Every year when it gets warm, I start to want an everyday (non-road) bike again. I can’t wait to see the new Ikea City Bike which is only available in Europe so far, and I’m highly intrigued by the relaunch of Columbia Bicycles.

What I’m hoping to cook when I’m back in sorts

This Creamy Lemon Pasta from the New York Times.

What I’m listening to

The “Quiet” podcast about being — and parenting — an introvert (that would be me, obviously, not Georgia).

What I’m streaming

Kimmie Schmidt (meh so far) and Cooked (next on my list are these food documentary ideas).

How I’m relaxing

With this essential oil & this diffuser

How I’m moving

This after-work Zumba class and these 10-minute workouts at home (which are killer!)

What I’m gifting myself for my birthday

I’m turning 34 Saturday (eek!) and I have a tradition of treating myself. I always pick out one fun new makeup item and one new book, I always schedule a Stitch Fix to arrive the week of my birthday. And, I always get a mani or a pedi. Those are my favorite things to do for myself, and the older I get the more I’ve found that celebrating myself is the best way to feel special! Ever since we got married, Mark renews my New Yorker subscription for my birthday, since that’s what I read on the train every day. I made the mistake of mentioning that I’d love to seriously upgrade our on-its-last-legs blender soon, and as a result I’ve spent the last week reminding him that we can’t afford to spend over a week’s worth of daycare tuition on a Vitamix, much as I’d love to! Though I’m flattered he wants to spoil me :/. And I’ll probably repay him by dragging him for Mexican food on my birthday, too. Poor guy!!

Have a great week everyone and enjoy the wicked warm weather we’re supposed to get in Boston tomorrow:) Summer is around the bend! xoxo

Pizza Bolognese

Hi all! It’s almost Friday! Can I get an AMEN? I’m going to to get real with you briefly, because I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been blogging less frequently lately. If you’re my mom, this is the part where you’re hoping I ‘fess up to having morning all-day sickness again, but the sad truth is that I’ve been in the grips of a tremendously bad flare-up of my old stomach problem for weeks now — something I’d thought was permanently behind me since having Georgia. I’ve had to go into crisis mode with food, and that has meant eating (and cooking) much less while I try to get this under control. Happily, I did try out one new winning recipe this week that Mark and Georgia deemed a success, so I’m here to share that with you, even if I can’t eat it myself!

I only pulled this together because some ingredients were going to go bad otherwise, what with me not eating them as planned, but I’ll be keeping it in our regular rotation (and hoping I can partake) because it’s so easy and filling. This is a recipe you can shop for all at Trader Joe’s if you like, but it’s simple to swap out TJ’s ingredients for regular supermarket stuff, too. As with all pizza recipes, you can make your own dough, buy it at a pizza shop for a buck or two, or go with the pre-made brand of your choice. I normally use Target’s thin-crust two pack, but wanted a thicker, doughier option this time to hold up against the pillow-y mozzarella and chunky meat sauce.

Pizza Bolognese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pizza crust (I like the thicker style of Boboli for this one!)
  • handful of shredded cheese, any kind, as a base layer
  • ~3/4 cup meat sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Bolognese); adjust quantity to taste
  • one fresh mozzarella ball, torn into chunks by hand
  • handful of basil leaves, shredded by hand
  • optional: Italian seasoning on top (I used Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Blend)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450F and place the pizza crust on your baking tray. I use a non-stick pizza pan since we make homemade pies so often, but you could use a rectangular or square baking sheet and stretch the dough to fit it, or buy a non-round pre-made crust to accommodate your pan.

Layer some shredded cheese on the crust in a light layer. (I had packaged cheddar on hand that I wanted to use up). Follow with the sauce, spreading it out evenly and to your desired thickness. Too heavy will slip right off the pie after cooking; a little goes a long way!

Continue by breaking up the mozzarella by hand and dropping it on the pizza, distributing as evenly as you can or to your desired level.

Follow by ripping some basil leaves over the top, quantity to your taste.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until browned on the edges of the crust, and allow plenty of cooling time after so the ingredients stay together. If you try to eat it too quickly it’ll be too heavy and might fall apart. 10 minutes cooling should do it! Enjoy!


I’ll be back soon with a few thoughts on how I’ve tried to get my digestion back on track, in the hopes it can help someone else. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for young women (see what I did there?) to have chronic stomach ailments that baffle doctors, and while it’s frustrating to have them tick possible reasons off the list — celiac? colitis? preservatives? obstruction? — without finding any answers, it’s helped me develop a few tools of my own to combat the symptoms, and so far my approach IS working. This is the reason I became a vegetarian in the first place, so the first thing I do is eliminate what little meat I DO eat these days as soon as symptoms re-emerge. I’ll be back this weekend to share my other tips and lessons learned. Hope all of you are well and feeling excited about Spring! Pretty soon it’ll be Marathon Monday and we can all start planting our gardens and opening the windows for some fresh air! XOXO.

 

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