Summer Cooking!

Summer is whizzing by so quickly- lazy days, swimming, making fresh foods.
It’s been a pretty tolerable summer so far, but, when the humidity really creeps in and things get sweltering, I find that I lose my umph to do anything- cooking and eating included!During the summer I find myself eating much more fresh, cooling foods and raw foods, and much less cooked foods. The proteins I favor are lighter- fresh fish, sprouted beans and lots and lots of vegetables!

I love going to farmers markets to get the best of the produce that we are not growing ourselves. Fresh greens, fragrant herbs and ripe fruits!

When I get home, I find it easiest to begin to process these foods immediately: for 2 reasons really:
1. So that they get used and don’t go bad
2. To help ease mealtime preparation.

When the foods are cleaned and packaged and ready to go, it makes meal preparation a breeze!

If you love to shop at a farmers market or if you belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) here are some tips for processing your foods:

1. Fresh herbs: If you have things like cilantro, parsley, mint, you can wrap them in a damp cotton dish towel and store them in the drawer of your refrigerator. Check the towel every 2 days or so to make sure it hasn’t dried out!

2. Woodier herbs like rosemary and thyme do better wrapped in something a bit less moist so that they don’t mold.

3. If  you don’t think you’ll use your herbs right away, you can freeze them. Herbs like rosemary and thyme can be rinsed, placed in a baggie and frozen. Herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint, can be chopped and placed in ice cube trays filled with water. Let them freeze, pop them out of the tray, bag them and label them. When it’s time to cook, pop the ice cube into the dish that you are preparing!

4. Make vinegar! I also like to infuse my herbs in apple cider vinegar. To do so, fill a clean jar with the herbs, pour in apple cider vinegar and cap the jar- leaving it to infuse for about 3 weeks out of direct sun light. Strain the herbs and use the vinegar to flavor any dressing! (Be sure that you do not use a metal cap, as the vinegar will rust it- if you only have metal, place parchment between the jar and the cap to keep it from corroding!)

5. Fresh greens- I like to wash these and wrap them in damp towels as well. If you’d like to do a little extra work at the get go, you can prepare these greens by cutting them and placing them in bags. When you are ready to saute them, etc., you have them ready to go!

6. Preserve by fermenting! Fermenting your produce is an exceptional way to preserve it for the season- with the right conditions of time, temperature and salt, an amazing alchemy takes place which transforms your vegetables into nutritional power houses!

What are your favorite things to make in the summer?

Here is a quick and easy summer recipe:

Quinoa Spinach and Herb Salad .                     


2 cups quinoa (soaked overnight)*

1 bunch fresh spinach, washed well, dried and chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)

1/4 cup soaked and toasted pine nuts **

1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

1/4 White Balsamic Vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt

*** Grains, nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors and compounds (phytic acid) that prevent us from fully absorbing the nutrition present and can lead to certain mineral deficiencies when consumed without proper preparation. It is my recommendation that the nuts and quinoa in this recipe be prepared in order to deactivate the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid (by soaking).

See below for instructions.

*To soak Quinoa, place 2 cups quinoa in a bowl and rinse well with water and drain. When the quinoa is clean , cover the quinoa with water. Add 4 TBSP of lemon juice or whey (the liquid run off from yogurt) and cover the quinoa (with a cloth, etc.) and let sit out at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, drain quinoa and cook as directed.

** To soak pine nuts, cover nuts with water in a small bowl. Add 1 TBSP sea salt and let nuts soak for 6 hours. Drain well and dry nuts in a dehydrator (At 118 degrees to keep the enzymes in tact or dry them in the oven at the lowest setting (most electric ovens go down to 170). To toast nuts once dry, either raise oven temperature to 250 and watch the nuts carefully to make sure they don’t burn, or place them in a fry pan over low heat (Again, taking care not to burn!!)

***For this recipe, we will be cooking the quinoa like pasta.- In a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In the meantime, toast pine nuts and set aside.

When water boils, add quinoa and let boil for about 12 minutes. Drain well.

Add quinoa to a bowl with onion, spinach, feta, pine nuts and basil to taste.

In  a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Pour over quinoa .

Season with salt. Serve room temperature or cold.

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