Zucchini Fritters

I got the craving for zucchini fritters!!

YUM!!

YUM!!

Not long ago, as my work day was nearing it’s end, a resident at one of my buildings visited me and shared she had just discovered a recipe online for zucchini fritters that sounded so amazing.  In her hands was the bi-monthly newsletter I distibute at each of the buildings where I work.  I design and adapt them to the populations in each building.  This one contained health and nutrition information along with an attached recipe for residents to try.  I had focused the recipes in this newletter around zucchini since it was in such abundance at the farmer’s market for a very affordable price.  This resident looks forward to my newsletters and gets particularly excited about the nutrition and recipe section.  It creates a curiosity in her that motivates her to get on the internet and seek out other recipes using the same main ingredients presented in the newsletter.

I am genuinly delighted when I know residents are interested and engaged in the information I offer in newsletters.  For this resident, I see her recipe searching as positive movement to overcome a barrier to success.  She often asserts her fear and intimidation of the internet which makes it quite difficult for her to fill out online applications and look up general information for herself when she is on her own.  Most of my time spent with her is supporting her through filling out paperwork online or searching for resources, addresses and directions.  I now know that because I sit next to her while she uses my laptop and offer words of encouragement as she navigates the internet, that she has developed the courage to do the same on her own.  The proof was with the recipe she found and shared.  It feels really good to know that a small interaction, a few words of encouragement and some focused attention can make such a difference in a persons world.  These moments are why I love my job and it’s what motivates me to continue my service.

So, about those fritters!!  I came home to my own zucchini abundance and got to work creating a fantastic side dish for my dinner.  There are plenty of recipes for these on the internet but I like to do my own thing when I make them so feel free to follow my recipe or find another that fits for you!  Either way, these are a delicious way to get some good green veggies in your body!  Enjoy!

FoodRadical’s Zucchini Fritters

1 medium zucchini, shredded

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 Tablespoons coconut flour

1 Tablespoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly crushed peppercorns

Shred the zucchini and squeeze out the excess liquid.  I just pick up handfuls and squeeze!  This is essential to avoid soggy, drippy fritters! Place the squeezed zucchini in a seperate bowl, add chopped onions, coconut flour and spices, then stir to coat.  Add beaten egg and combine well

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add coconut oil (be generous to avoid sticking) and allow to melt.  When skillet is ready, drop a large spoonful of the fritter mix into the pan and use the back of the spoon to spread it around.  I made mine about 3-4 inches round.  Cook on each side for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned.  Cool on a cooling rack to help them stay firm.

Gettin’ My Spiralizer On!!

I have finally grasped the true use of my spiralizer that I have had for months.  I just could not seem to make that thing work the way I wanted then I realized I was using it incorrectly.  I am left handed so it took me some time to master the skill of right handed spiralizing in a left handed way.  Did you get that?  Hehe….This world was not made for left handed people!

I finally made what I would consider a true success in spiralizing.  In case you don’t know what spiralizing means; it is the art of turning vegetables into noodles.  While I was working at a local kitchen store a while back I took advantage of my discount and purchased a tool that makes spiralizing a breeze.

My farmer’s market haul this past weekend included several zucchini and yellow squash so I made a plan for “zoodles” {aka: zucchini noodles}.  This morning I made them and created a fantastic salad that was my lunch today.

I was so impressed with my creation I swear that made my lunch taste even better!  It was delicious!  I ate well today.  I am feeling great for it tonight!

Spiralizing my veggies will be my new favorite way to prepare my meals!

Spiralized Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

With one medium raw zucchini and using a spiralizing tool, create long, curly threads, resembling spaghetti noodles. Use this as the base for your salad.  Top with cooked (according to package directions) quinoa that has been cooled.  I used about 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa for this salad.  To these add:

1 medium raw carrot, spiralized

2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds (heat raw seeds in skillet until lightly browned)

1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts

Drizzle with this dressing:

2 Tblsp. olive oil

2 Tblsp. balsamic vinaigrette

1/8 tsp crushed fresh peppercorns

1/8 tsp agave syrup

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash of sea salt

Whisk in bowl or shake in jar to incorporate ingredients. (there will be more than is needed for the salad)

Enjoy!!20150720_080131 20150720_082522 20150720_082542

Keeping It Real Farmer’s Market Ratatouille

I rocked out one of the most colorful dishes I have created in a long time.  I was invited to a BBQ this past weekend and brought this dish to share.  I live so close to the city’s largest Farmer’s Market and the season is bountiful with gorgeous produce.  I was up early and filled with energy.  I was excited to head over to the Farmer’s Market for ingredients to prepare my dish. The morning was crisp and temperatures were refreshingly mild.  The walk was lovely.

I plucked the prettiest veggies from my favorite farmers displays with a mission.  I had my list and was prepared!  In the end I switched up what I had intended for this dish because I was drawn in by the beauty of baby yellow tomatoes.  Instead of using a marinade for this dish, I decided to use all fresh tomatoes.  ‘Tis the season for them!   Abundant tomatoes of all colors and varieties were enticing and beautiful.

It is rare that I bring a dish to an event that has ingredients I cannot eat.  However, this BBQ was different.  I would be the only one with dietary restrictions and the hostess, who is also a gracious and considerate friend, had special foods just for me.  Isn’t that so sweet? It was really fun to prepare this dish and I did pick through a bit and eat the vegetables I knew were safe for me.  It was delicious!!

It was a relaxed and enjoyable evening of interesting conversations that ranged from childhood memories of being in the kitchen with family cooking up favorite, traditional dishes to American culture and race relations. Fascinating topics went around the table! We ate, we laughed, we complained of the heat.  We went between the shaded picnic area in the backyard to the air conditioned kitchen intermittently.  It was a fun night and I am happy to say my dish received a lot of compliments so I think it was a success.

One of my favorite phrases of the night was “when we talk, we keep it real”.   As the conversations changed to more sensitive subjects, one person wanted to keep it going safely, so that was his “rule”.  Say what we feel nicely, honestly and keep it real.  I completely enjoyed that preface along with his occasional reminders that this is the best way to communicate with each other.  People must keep it real.  Seems that is becoming the theme in my life these days.  I have to say, it is a refreshing and much more honest way to move through the world when you keep it real.

I had a small container of leftover ratatouille that I took over to my bff’s house so she could enjoy the market fresh deliciousness.  I knew I would not eat it and I certainly did not want this fantastic dish to go to waste.  This dish was truly a farm to table kind of dish.  I am deeply grateful to our local farmers for their hard work in growing this healthful food and bringing it to my neighborhood market for me to enjoy.  Sowing and sharing harvest; now that is about as real as it gets.

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Simply Quinoa

The past two weeks have been quite challenging as my return to work has revealed more than I ever could have imagined in obstacles to success as we approach the new school year in our new building.  I knew I was going to face struggles as our program works out the glitches of a new facility and a kitchen that will now be shared.  I could not have imagined the magnitude of  growing problems (and concerns) that seem insurmountable as I now face the beginning of the real school year; We welcome the children back this week.  This means my early days start, large scale cooking begins and chaos will be unavoidable.  There are so many things wrong in my work kitchen right now that try as I did to get good sleep, I was awake at 3:00 am with my head swirling in panicked thoughts of how to make the best of a really awful situation.

Two hours of  “working for free in my head”, as my wise kitchen assistant likes to remind me not to do, resulted in nothing but more worry.  So, I am done working for free and will share my thoughts about quinoa instead.  This is a much more enjoyable use of my thoughts!

A number of people, including my bff, from whom this post was inspired, say to me they have difficulty making fluffy quinoa.  They say it always turns out mushy.  I have been asked on multiple occasions to write a blog on how to make successful quinoa.  Because I cannot seem to solve any other problems, I decided now would be a good time to tackle the simple task of making perfectly fluffy quinoa.  I can handle that problem and I even have a solution!

I love quinoa for it’s versatile uses and nutty flavor.  In addition, it is a super food that provides mega protein and fiber, as well as high doses of magnesium and iron. It is a staple pantry item in our household.

It is important to rinse the dry quinoa with cold water though a mesh strainer vigorously until the water runs clear.  This removes the outer “husk” that creates a bitter flavor and promotes “mush”.

TO MAKE QUINOA

1 cup dry quinoa

1 3/4 c water (or broth)

After rinsing quinoa, add to 2 quart pot with the liquid and cover with lid.  Turn burner up to high heat and allow it to come to a boil.  You will hear and see when it begins to boil. The key is not to open the lid.  Don’t peek!  Simply turn down the heat to a medium low temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the covered pot sit on the burner for 5 more minutes.  For good measure, I will sometimes then let it sit and steam for 5 more minutes, but it is generally pretty perfectly done by this point.

Remove the lid and use a fork (not a mush producing spoon!) to fluff your quinoa.  Simple. Delicious.  Nutritious.  Problem solved.

Now if I can find equally simple solutions to the many problems I will face in just a few short hours at my shiny new work kitchen,  I will call this a successful day.

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Follower of the Month for August: Cathy Mounts

I was honored to be chosen as a guest blogger by Rogene who writes a blog called Espirational. Check out the post I wrote for her blog!  While your at it, give her site a look as well.  She provides some positive and inspirational reads that are sure to lift your spirits.  I am grateful and incredibly appreciative for the acknowledgement. I love the support and encouragement I receive from my fellow bloggers! Thanks!

Espirational: A 10 Minute Vacation for the Soul

Our August Follower of the Month is Cathy Mounts of Foodradical.wordpress.com with a wonderful healthy cooking idea.
Campfire Pouches

Campfire Pouch Photo Source: Cathy Mounts Campfire Pouch
Photo Source: Cathy Mounts

There is something about being out in the woods that brings me a sense of peace. I can relax, I can be wondrous and thoughtful.  I can find healing and gratitude.  I can come back to the city feeling refreshed and renewed.
I have found tin foil pouches to be my number one favorite way to create delicious campfire meals, just the way I like them!  That smoky, campy taste is undeniably delightful.
Using heavy duty tin foil, pull off a sheet that gives you enough coverage for folding (about 12″x12″), fill with your favorite veggies, layering with the veggies that cook the longest on the bottom.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of spices.  Fold the foil and pinch edges to…

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The Garden Of Good Eating

Our garden is providing well for us this season.  This gives me immense gratification. Gardening has become incredibly therapeutic for me.  It has helped tremendously in reducing my stress and anxiety.  My rewards are tremendous not only in mind and spirit, but in body as well.  My diligence and hard work pays off in the form of healthy, organic whole food that nourishes and heals my body.

I went to check on our strawberries this morning and was delighted to discover quite a few berries ripe and reading for picking.  There are few things that give me as much pleasure as food from the garden.  Literally,  every single time I step outside to pick fresh produce I find myself getting all skippy and jumpy like a child on a playground.  More than once my sweetie giggled with me as I gleefully danced around the kitchen marveling at the miracle food right from our yard.

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It was no different this morning when I discovered the strawberries.  My inspiration was instantaneous as I skipped back into the house. This was our first good pick of strawberries! My mind began swirling with ideas for these beautiful fruits.  I considered eating them for breakfast in some lovely concoction, but I just couldn’t keep these luscious, juicy berries all to myself.  It would be nice for me to share and I know my sweetie would appreciate enjoying these berries as well.  Since hospital work is everyday and never ending, my sweetie is at work today.  I decided whatever I came up with would be for later this evening.

Of course berries means dessert in my mind, however I have been trying to keep grains out of my diet.  It wouldn’t really benefit my body to make a delicious cake or crisp even though that does sound fantastic.  Besides, I wanted to taste these berries in their most natural form so I decided on a salad for dinner.  We could both share in the literal fruits of our labor, the berries are in their pure form and enhanced with even more goodness from the garden by adding green leaf lettuce and cut chives.  This salad is simple, fresh and absolutely beautiful.  Check it out!

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I borrowed some ideas for this salad from one of my favorite websites http://www.nourishingmeals.com/.  You can find the original recipe there.  I made some slight changes by using raw organic agave nectar instead of coconut nectar for the pepitas .  I planned on making the dressing, also using the agave but discovered I was out of red wine vinegar.  A trip to the store revealed a bargain I could not pass up so I abandoned my red wine vinegar and dressing idea for this:

bargain of the day!!!

bargain of the day!!!

It was only $1.20; down from $4.79.  It’s made with some yummy superfruits providing tons of antioxidents.  It has a flavor zing that will make your taste buds dance!  I sprinkled the salad with poppyseeds and drizzled the dressing over the top for a fantastic tasting dish that was a feast for the eyes and belly.  I scaled the entire recipe down to accommodate a nice size dinner salad for two people.  The best part-leftovers for my lunch tomorrow!

Delightful Quinoa Salad and Fancy Fruit

Whenever there is a gathering that requires bringing a dish to share I want to make something that is delicious for everyone yet satisfies my dietary needs.  There is always the “just in case” factor.  If there is no other food available that I can safely eat, I want to make sure my dish serves well as a main meal for myself.

Such was the case for Easter when we all gathered for the dinner my dad was making.  My mom would have been impressed with the foods he prepared and dare I say his turkey rivaled hers.  My mom, bless her heart, always seemed to overcook her meat no matter what cut it was.  My dad’s turkey was amazingly moist and perfectly cooked.

I brought a couple of lovely dishes that were not only pleasantly eye appealing, but quite tasty as well.  They also had to meet my energy level requirement, which currently is pretty darn low most days.

This quinoa dish was a side dish at our Easter dinner, but it could also serve well as a main dish with its high nutrient and protein levels.  In addition to providing 48% of the recommended daily allowance in protein, quinoa provides essential amino acides like lysine as well as a decent amount of calcium.  Furthermore, it boasts high levels of magnesium and iron.  Add in some veggies like I did here and you’ve got a pretty amazing meal in a bowl.

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Quinoa Salad

Here’s what I used to make this dish:

To cooked quinoa add in any amount you desire:  shredded kale, sliced red onions, toasted pecans and dried cherries.  Toss with a dressing made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, a tiny squeeze of agave, a little garlic, salt and pepper.

The kiwi dish I provided was my silly attempt at making a fruit “Easter basket”.  The kiwi served as the grass and the blueberries and raspberries were the eggs.  I thought it was pretty creative.  I got lots of compliments on how pretty it looked on the table.  By the end of the meal all the fruit was gone so that tells me it was a success.

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Easter fruit “basket”

We had a nice time enjoying the impressive spread made mostly by my dad.  Even though we carried on our usual Easter traditions, it was clear by my dad’s sad face and the tears I saw flow from my oldest niece, that my mom was sorely missed on this first Easter since her passing.  Today, I write this while wiping my own tears.  I miss my mom more than words can describe.  This year will be the hardest as we pass all the important firsts without my mom.  As much as I try to hold on to the idea that she is close by and knows what is going on with her family, I cannot help but feel she is missing so much.  That thought made this Easter a very somber one indeed.