I just love peaches, and its not only because they are ripe and ready to eat and growing in my own backyard. It started when I was a kid in my family home. My dear neighbor had an amazing white peach tree and he would give my family peaches every summer. From those peaches we would make the most fabulous peach milk shakes. A peach milk shake is peaches and vanilla ice cream and that is it. The simplicity, the flavor, the texture of the little bits of skin-It is just beyond amazing!
I have grown up a bit beyond the milk shakes and today would additionally like to share a recipe for a Peach Tomato Salad. Peaches and tomatoes complement each other so well. You will need to try them together this summer. Combining them with Burrata cheese is just cheating, but also a must try. Enjoy the season!
- 2 cups baby arugula or spring mix
- 2 large heirloom or slicing tomatoes, sliced into wedges
- 2 large peaches (I prefer yellow for this recipe), sliced into wedges
- 1 round of Burrata cheese, drained
- Balsamic glaze*
- 1 sprig of basil
- Salt and Pepper
- Arrange arugula on a platter and top with alternating wedges of tomatoes and peaches. Pull apart the Burrata cheese carefully and nestle chunks in between the fruit. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and finish with a sprinkle of torn basil leaves, salt and fresh ground pepper.
- If your not already a fan of Burrata cheese don't sub-in mozzarella find the real thing get it and use it. Burrata is a creamier mozzarella and well worth it.
- *I purchase my balsamic glaze from Trader Joes. It comes in a convenient squeeze bottle and is ready when you need it. Anyone who has reduced balsamic vinaigrette with all its pungent aroma s will embrace this product and not miss the lingering stink.
- 1 Peach, sliced
- 2 large scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
- Add peach slices to blender and mash with a wood spoon. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream and again mash with the wood spoon. Blend until smooth and share with the one you love.
- The peaches supply all the liquid you need to blend these up. If you want a thicker shake drain off some of the peach juice and save for a cocktail before adding ice cream.
So It is officially summer and what that means in my kitchen are fresh no fuss meals and tomato season. When you put those two together you get the BLT for lunch, dinner and really for whenever. These days I might even eat one as a snack!
I must admit that I am bit of traditionalist when it comes to the BLT. I enjoy mine the best on lightly toasted sourdough bread. I start with my favorite sourdough battard sliced from Tin Roof Bakery here in Chico. To it I add only real mayonnaise-let me make this clear-REAL MAYONAISE. I don’t mess with this step. You are making a bacon sandwich for crying out loud, but you are going to put non-fat mayo on it. Mind blowing! A crisp slice of romaine lettuce, the freshest preferably homegrown tomatoes, topped with a grind of pepper and pinch of salt. To that add the perfectly crisp bacon and then the other slice of bread-in that order please.
But for those of you who just cant help but try to take the BLT to the next level this list is for you:
BLT and beyond…
- Lets start off easy for my sake. HOMEMADE MAYO: Mayo is made from whole eggs, vinegar, oil and seasonings. It is a simple emulsion recipe-ya ok its a little food science and maybe some food safety so who better to learn from then Alton Brown.
- FLAVORED MAYO: I can really see this working. My inspirations would be: Feta Mayo, Basil Mayo, Dilled Mayo, Lemon Garlic Mayo, and Siriacha Mayo. I would use fresh ingredients; herbs, cheese, chopped garlic and just mix and mash it into the mayo and add according to the classic recipe.
- ADD SHRIMP: There is something very special about a shrimp sandwich. It has a delicate sweet flavor and wonderful texture. I might even pair it with the dilled mayo and really get into it. Poached grilled or sautéed-just keep them fresh and add them to your BLT.
- This is almost a classic addition here in California, but go BLTA whenever possible. The “A” is for avocado of course. As a nutrition minded person and a food lover it doesn’t get better than an avocado. A few slices can really elevate the BLT, provide a hearty mouthfeel and some good fats.
- ADD MORE VEGGIES: Of course I said that! How about topping that basil mayo with thin slices of cucumbers and red onions. Add bulk to the greens with any micro green or my favorite arugula. With that we are getting really close to making this sandwich cover all the colors of the rainbow. With the fabulous heirloom tomatoes out their we may indeed need to rename this to the RAINBOW BLT.
- Lets make breakfast to go-ADD AN EGG. I suggest a lovely over medium egg with some yolk to run over that bacon and down your chin. Ok so put a napkin in your lap if your driving to work-but it will be worth it. Egg has such an amazing texture and taste it really makes for a hearty, fresh and lasting breakfast sandwich.
- Add CHEESE…CHEESE?…Really? Ok this is beginning to stretch my BLT boundaries big time. The only cheese that may be soft mild and non competing enough to handle the marriage of flavors in a BLT would be a creamy mozzarella or burrata. Careful they can come with a lot of moisture and ruin your sandwich. So really we are draining it and spreading it on one side of the bread, then adding the tomato, bacon, lettuce and mayo on the opposing bread slice. Ok I could do this.
Ok so its official the farmers market is full of just about everything you can imagine including the stone fruits. My favorite thing this week are the plums. So many varieties, the sweet and tart flavor are the perfect combination. We also have a lot of pluots or plumcots. They look like plums and are plum apricot crosses, but they are mostly plum. They herald from Modesto California and they are delicious and not to be missed. Read more about pluots and all the varieties you might see here. This plum dessert was a little something special for my Italian sweetie as it had good bit of almond extract and went great with morning coffee. I used Elephant heart plums which are larger, heart shaped, dark purple on the outside with dark red purple flesh-look for them they are amazing! Read more about plum varieties descriptions from UC Davis here.
There is just something about baking anything in my cast iron pan that I just love. This pan is such a work horse if you don’t have one get one and get to know them. I will admit right out that I am not a baker, but I do bake. As a cook, when I bake I follow a recipe to the “T” the first time and then tweak from then on out. So this was not my first inspiration from the amazing Farm House Rules show recipes. That Nancy Fuller is hilarious and grounded and the other day she made a rustic plum tart with ginger that looked amazing. Her show calms me and soothes my hungry soul-not going to lie I am loving the super mom and grandma focus these days.
One of the recent shows I caught talked about not catering menus to children every day. Keeping birthdays special but exposing children to a variety of foods. This is a hot topic and as a child nutritionist something I talk about everyday. I like to call it food training and I speak of it as a job. A job to transmit the joy and love of food-all foods to our children. Creating the love of food starts at our own table. So keep on keeping on with the great foods, sitting and connecting, and exploring the seasons and the markets together families!
This cake recipe actually came from a google image search and led me to Serious Eats and a recipe from Maria Del Mar Sacasa; 30-Minute Skillet Plum Cake. This cake was a cinch to make, quick and delicious. It is heavy on the almond extract but with plums that is really nice because they have a subtle taste. This cake is perfect alone, but pairs nicely with a butter pecan or vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Next time I will try it with peaches and vanilla extract-should be amazing!
A special thanks to “mother nature” my farm girl friend soon to be family for sharing her plums with me. As a side note for the home orchardist, pluots are a great backyard orchard tree and you can read more about having them here.
I am so sorry for the long absence, but I was busy riding out my first trimester of pregnancy. I am going to be a mom in October!! Never in my life have I disliked food or the subject of food more than during this time. I could barely get through the grocery store-so unlike me. I subsisted on mostly bland white foods; cold cereal, potatoes-all ways, and noodles. I am so happy to be on the other side of that now and with more energy and food love. Just in time for all the great foods of summer!
Like many of you, I have been hitting the farmers market pretty much weekly. I look forward to what is new and in season. Lately, I have been crazy for apricots-just cant get enough and I know that one Saturday I am going to show up and they will be gone. Gone the way of the cherries. I gave up on cherries a few weeks ago one bland bag later and I knew it was time to say good bye.
I am thrilled to let you all know that I like to think of myself as a canner lady. What this really means is that once or twice a year I haul out that big black calderon and my jars and pickle or put up some of the best of summer.
Today was one of those days! Well before the Saturday market I had decided that if there were good looking green beans I would pickle some this weekend. I not only found amazingly plump, firm and fresh green beans, but also pickling cukes or cucumbers and fresh dill. It was a canner weekend home run. So I decided to put up a little of both. It really is important with canning to use the best and freshest ingredients and at the Saturday farmer’s market that was an easy order to fill. I always hand pick every single bean.
The recipe I use for green beans is the classic Dilly Beans. The beans are trimmed and cold packed into hot jars, topped with a hot apple cider vinegar solution and processed. For those of you who are also canners or long to be, I highly suggest a visit to the foodinjars.com canning blog with an awesome recipe list. She lists a dilly bean recipe but you can also find one in most other canning books.
The pickle recipe is very similar to the bean recipe and this time I used the foodinjars.com recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles for the proportions of the apple cider vinegar solution.
So there are rules to canning and sanitation is very important. It is advised to follow the processing rules for clean canning as far as sanitizing jars before you use them and processing foods long enough to be shelf stable. Canning is not quite like cooking especially for beginners or every now and then canner ladies like myself. So I don’t mess with the vinegar/water/salt solution, however, I do play with the spices! The fun in these recipes for me is the spice combinations.
My favorite thing to add to dilly beans is lemon zest and a really good pinch of red pepper flakes. My beans come out with tang and a kick! They are great alongside a sandwich or in a Bloody Mary! I also really like to use fresh dill heads in my pickles and fresh dill weed in my dilly beans. Other fun items to add to pickles include mustard seeds, dill seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick pieces, whole allspice and peeled whole garlic.
Note: Vinegar based pickling is safe to use on vegetables and there is little risk of bacterial contamination due to the high acid preparation (4-6pH) and when recipes are followed. If you want to put up veggies sans vinegar, that is a different story and should involve a pressure cooker. It is something that many people do but I have not explored that yet.
This Canner Lady’s must have supplies:
The Cauldron: Large porcelain enameled canning pot with rack
Magnetic lid lifter: A hygienic helper for catching lids and rings in the hot water.
Wide mouth funnel: I appreciate the help keeping my jar rims clean and ready to make good seals.
Wooden chopstick: Or a plastic spatula for removing air bubbles.
Fun Labels: Ok so this may not be a necessity, but I it makes everything more fun and beautiful!
Jars: You will collect a variety but I love the 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars. They are super tall and perfect for beans or asparagus.
Stay tuned for some summer stone fruit canning as I love to pull out a good jar of peach preservers and serve them over waffles on a cold winter morning.
Easy dinner salad with amazing spring greens from the farmers market. Today this is my sanity! Head out to your local farmers market the spring greens are ready. Don’t forget to grab some snap peas-their sweet goodness saved my lunch today!
Feed yourselves well friends some days that’s all we’ve got!
Crazy busy days…crazy life..crazy life…love my crazy life!!
Do you-like me-have Room for improvement?… A Quick Check List
Are you eating out more than 2-3 times a week?
Eating out is health sabotage and with very few exceptions I don’t care where you do it or how good you think you are at ordering, it is near impossible to maintain your health eating out. Check out the sodium for starters-you may not have to look much farther to see that you are getting way too much (2000mg a day and even less if you a have high blood pressure). Just an example: 1320 mg sodium in a Southwest Grilled Chicken salad with low-fat balsamic dressing –McDonalds. Doesn’t matter if you are paying more for it-trust me the salt is in there.
Are you really eating enough vegetables? Could you do better?
If you are eating 5-7 servings a day of fruit and vegetables you are amazing and keep going. If you like me are closer to 3 a day then there is room for improvement. Mix them into your eggs at breakfast, add them in at snacks with your cheese stick or hummus, and make sure two servings are showing up at dinner. Pre chop those veggies and pack them into servings sizes if it make it easy for you. Having bagged spinach makes me use it more and a fat pinch on top of an egg sandwich as I run out the door becomes extra veggies that are very doable. Many people enjoy a weekend breakfast casserole and this is a great place to add extra vegetables-see pic. This one has green and yellow zucchini mushrooms and onions!
Are you replacing high fat proteins with lean proteins choices like fish, chicken, turkey and beans?
Lean proteins are a healthful alternative to high fat meats. We are all still dying of cardiovascular disease and need to reduce saturated fats in our diet. Is anyone cooking fish? Eating beans? Try to add in fish once a week and some beans twice a week-I like beans they are cheaper. Fish not only is lean but also has heart healthy fats-all of them-some more than others. Beans are a true super food not only are they a lean protein, they are fiber rich and filled with antioxidants! Beans don’t have to be served up as chili in a steaming hot bowl, you can add them to salads and pasta dishes-delicious!
Are you drinking soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, juice, lemonade, blended coffees, iced coffees*…liquids with Sugar!!
These are the sweet things we love to drink that come in pretty large container- these days, usually greater than 16oz and with a straw. This is a ton of calories and a load of sugar and our bodies are not made to handle it-Period end of story. Just cut them out-they are a treat if anything and should be consumed 1x weekly to monthly. Try replacing them with plain iced tea, plain iced coffee, sparkling water, water with real fruit added to it-think lemons, oranges, limes or just plain water. As long as you are consuming these items every day you are sabotaging your health and paving the way to obesity and possibly to type 2 diabetes.
* This is of course assuming that you are not taking your iced tea or coffee plain-meaning without sugar!
Ok so the nutritionist snuck out full force on this one but with the love of food sometimes you just have to give a hard look at what your doing and tweak things here and there.
I have some exciting news to share; starting March 1st I am entering into my dietetic internship and beginning a year immersed in nutrition with new people, places, skills, services, deadlines, and assignments.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this process…In order to become a Registered Dietitian or RD or RDN (a licensed expert in the field of nutrition) you must first complete an approved educational program in dietetics. Secondly you must also compete for and earn and spend the next 6 months to a year in an unpaid (often you pay) residency like internship. Internships can be full-time or part-time and are designed to provide hands on experience in community, clinical and food service nutrition rotations.
My internship is part time so I can continue to work and participate in my internship. I must say that this sounded like a good idea, but I may need to be reminded of that later-when I am crazy busy over the next year! I will have rotations in government nutrition programs, community nutrition programs, school food service, hospital food service, skilled nursing facilities, sub-acute care/rehab in hospital, acute care in hospital, research and dialysis clinic. Additionally, I will have some community choice hours, where I can gain exposure in environments that I am interested in…Perhaps food, local food, restaurant nutrition, employee wellness…just some thoughts for now. In addition to my rotations I will have ongoing coursework and case studies to complete and will be attending professional meetings and conferences. Needless to say it is going to be a busy, exciting and productive year and I will log 1260 hours for my rotations alone. I am just preparing to start and have developed a really unnatural relationship with my calendar and email!!
At the end of the year I will study for my RD exam and when I pass it I will earn my little letters…RD to go with my other little letters MS (Not Ms-although I am single-I also have my master’s in nutrition)…
Don’t worry you can call me Sydney MS RD;)
Here is a shout out to my best girlfriend Lisa who accompanied me down to San Diego for my internship orientation. There I met the fabulous group of women who are my internship family, had my first experience with large scale food production in a prison- which was amazing and happen to fit in a little fun as well. Thank you Lisa you are the best!!
Lisa and I in Del Mar enjoying some amazing weather…in the 80’s!! It was shocking we had to borrow tank tops.
There are amazing sunsets in San Diego and Taco Tuesday!!!
A visit to SD is not complete without a visit to old town…oh yes with chips, salsa, guac and cold beverages!!
Ok we are so ready to be back home now.
Good Eats SD:
Pacifica Breeze Café-Del Mar-Great view and fish tacos!
Agave Del Mar-Taco Tuesday and an amazing view.
Davanti Enoteca-Tasty little pizzas, great girls nigh location with small shareable dishes-delicious!
Casa de Reyes: For the right in the middle of everything tropical outdoor atmosphere, live music, tasty margaritas and guacamole.
Thanks friends for pardoning the dirty little iPhone pics!
Now it really is time to dig in the dirt!
I just returned home from a big trip to San Diego, CA full of new adventures-way more about that soon. As I drove back to the sanctuary that is the country and into the tip of the central valley that is home, all of a sudden, there they were. Rows and rows of almond trees in bloom. Before I left the trees had tight buds and the weather was cool, but a few warm days later they were in full bloom. For those of you with similar reminders of spring-through nature; the trees or the bulbs-enjoy and take notice. Bring some into your home or sit near and be awed. Even if the nature part doesn’t come easy in your area, look for the blooms at your markets and treat yourself to some early signs of spring.
So the sun finally came out over the weekend and even though it was not warm I was getting outside. Besides the usual stacking wood…stacking wood…and stacking wood. We worked on the fruit trees and I ventured into the vegetable garden. I must admit I have not paid the garden much attention this winter. I usually plant some greens in fall and then quickly lose interest.
I did not expect to find much, but to my surprise there was a bounty of Swiss chard! Rainbow chard actually it was just beautiful. I was going to have to plan a dish and it was perfect timing for my favorite Single gal Pasta.
I have to admit that in my house Swiss chard is a bit of a hard sell as far as the greens go. I’ve tried it in; sauces, an amazing quiche, eggs and other dishes-but they always seem to notice it. I however love it and this week with the house to myself-that is all that matters.
This dish is full of my guys not so loved ingredients; onions, goat cheese and of course the chard. Does anyone else out there sneak in their faves when they have the house to themselves? Feels pretty right on to me!
I hope you give this simple pasta a try and I like it with a glass of red wine, alone and parked in front of a new episode of rehab addict. Get out into the garden or pick up some winter greens and enjoy!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, thin sliced
- 1/2 box pasta, cooked according to package directions (suggest: capanella, rigatoni or bow tie)
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard (trim large pieces of stem and chop leaves)
- 1/4 cup Chicken broth
- 6 tablespoons goat cheese
- salt & pepper
- In a large frying pan add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add red onion slices, salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute on medium and turn heat to low. Continue to sauté until soft and cooked through. Turn heat to medium and add chopped Swiss chard, broth and pepper. Sauté until wilted 3-5 minutes. Add in cooked and drained pasta. Toss to coat and add in goat cheese a teaspoon hunk at a time. Stir in cheese to coat the noodles.
- The goat cheese and caramelized onion combination with the Swiss chard really is amazing. The goat cheese acts likes a sauce and coats every noodle. Use a noodle that you love that is hearty and will catch all the good bits.
I don’t know about you , but after a month of what feels like to many desserts, chocolates, cheese and aged meats-I was not feeling like my best self. A cleanse can be a good way to bring you back to food awareness and to good eating habits that make you feel good.
Let me be clear-I did not fast! I am advocating a weekend of laying low eating healthfully and drinking water frequently while removing heavy foods, stimulants and intoxicants from your diet. Ideally this would be a weekend of rest and relaxation. If you cant lay low than you can just do a few of these things mindfully. Otherwise embrace it and enjoy a weekend that is just about you.
Our cleanse story:
Our cleanse started out great on a Saturday morning with glasses of water with a good squeeze of lemon. Surprisingly my guy who-I have to say was not to excited about the idea of cleansing and really thought I was finally going all “nutritionist” on him- was on board.
There was no coffee and no yummy usual Saturday morning breakfast with bacon and sausage. Instead there was oatmeal for him and kale eggs and whole grain toast for me.
We did relax a bit for the morning- but we were couch shopping this weekend and super excited to do so-so we were off to town. Sitting in couches seemed like an ok activity for this weekend. During our errands we did pick up a couple iced green teas without sweetener from Starbucks-delicious detox! We only went to two stores and the last errand was to the grocery store for healthy salad and soup fixings. I found myself alone at the cart which isn’t new but soon turned the corner by the deli to discover my guy snacking on three chicken fingers. I reminded him that fried…greasy…meats…were not cleansing! Of course he explained that he was near death and was not going to make it to our salads, apparently. So-there was that. This is a good reminder that healthy snacks should also be included in your cleanse in order to keep the energy/calories up-and avoid grabbing inappropriate foods. We returned home and did make those healthy salads. My favorite salad from the weekend was the fennel, orange, butter lettuce and parsley salad-it was so refreshing with the soup.
We had a very relaxing afternoon. Later that afternoon I made up our HerbPharm Liver Support milk thistle blend extract in water in shot glasses and we toasted to our health. My guy said it was the worse thing he has ever had in a shot glass. We made a white bean kale soup for dinner and another big salad and it was delicious. We really embraced the relaxing vibe for the evening. There was soaking in the bath, lounging by the fire and ended the evening with a movie without devices.
Things were going great But then…we got an invitation from friends to a new food place in town that we could not turn down. So we-mostly me-made a healthy eating plan. It is a wine and small plates kind of place so I got on line and checked their menu. Roasted Brussels sprouts and rice paper veggie rolls-check. If we could go and order those and only have one glass of red wine I would still be feeling great. So we toasted with a round of milk thistle shots and headed out to enjoy some good company. I ended up ordering a salad with my brussls sprouts which were delicious and had a single rice paper veggie roll half. I did stick with my one glass of cabernet. I will not mention the pot pie my partner had…oops.
So I may have adjusted this plan to fit my life but I was inspired and spent the entire next work week starting my day with the lemon water before my workouts, packing healthy complex beautiful salads with lunches, including healthful fruit and nuts for snacks, keeping my portions smaller, avoiding sweets, candy and chocolate and even tossing some from the holiday, taking my milk thistle shot and drinking my warm zen green teas at work. And I feel great and my body feels more balanced and regular again.
If you want to try this for yourself I wish you the best of luck and advise you to take on only what feels right for you and what you can achieve. I hope you feel as great as I did!
Tips for your Winter Cleanse
- Have a glass of water with lemon first thing every morning.
- Include a salad with lunch and dinner with powerful detoxifying ingredients:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Garlic & Onion
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
- Enjoy Soups full of vegetables, greens, beans/lentils, herbs and spices.
- Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. You can take this as far as comfortable full caffeine detox is very achievable, but will take some support. So if your a 3 cup a day person maybe try 1-2 cups and a green tea and make sure and not put to many demands on yourself over the weekend.
- Take a break from meat and use beans, peas and lentils instead.
- Avoid greasy, cheesy, fried, preserved, and salty foods.
- Try some detox herbs in teas or extract form to support your liver: Milk thistle or Dandelion Root. (Note: Those of you allergic to ragweed and plants like it should avoid Milk thistle & Dandelion. Additionally if taking pharmaceuticals or if you are in a disease state please check with your pharmaisist or doctor before adding anything to your routines to avoid drug interactions. If pregnant or breastfeeding-don’t cleanse without the help of a practitioner.)
- Use detox spices in your cooking and cut back on the salt:
- Soak in warm baths or even better sauna if available. Remember to hydrate well, cool down gradually and follow all health precautions at your sauna.
- Drink 7-8 glasses of pure delicious water a day.
- Drink a couple of mugs of green tea or iced green tea (no sweetener)-a powerful antioxidant!
- Rest and stay warm. Sit by the fire or under a blanket, read and relax. Take a media fast=no bad news, no ipad, no over stimulation.
- Include light movement, walk or stretch, try some light gentle yoga poses.
- If you are spiritual sit, pray, meditate.
- Shock your system with short burst of cold=Hydrotherapy! Hydrotherapy is healing it basically increases circulation. My favorite way to do this is to walk outside with bare feet for a few minutes then right back in to warm up. You can get a more effective and more thrilling effect by changing the shower water to cold and let it hit your core for 10 seconds then back to warm. You can do this two or three times during your shower, but end on warm. The most important thing to remember is that you quickly come back to a warm and cozy temperature.
DONT CLEANSE if your sick, working, pregnant, post-partum, competing in sports or training-these are all special nutrition needs situations so just take care of yourself first.
Note: When I use the word Detox I am referring to processes already occurring in your body. The foods herbs and lifestyle tips above help support those ongoing attempts by your body to create health.
I do not advocate juice cleanses or fasting or any other extreme calorie restricted cleansing for the average person. I do like juices and smoothies but winter is not the best time for these foods. Cleansing in today’s busy world should not involve fasting. I recommended fasting only in special circumstances and always working with a practitioner. We need calories and energy for all that we do and we do a lot. A better approach is to fuel yourself through your cleanse and be really pure about your food and beverage choices and activities.