Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bliss Recipe

1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg OR 1/4 cup choice egg substitute
1/2 cup sweetner of choice: brown sugar, maple syrup or honey
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of toasted and chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup of almond flour
1/2 c. of good quality gluten free chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Combine:butter( or coconut oil),egg, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix in baking soda, almond flour and cinnamon.
3. Add in chocolate chips and pecans.
4. On a lightly greased sheet pan place 3/4 inch dough balls.
5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Prepare yourself for chocolate cookie bliss.:)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tales of a Lunch Lady: NOT Your Typical School Lunch.

If I were to tell you that I am a high school lunch lady what image would pop into your head? An overweight, bitter older woman with a hair net, blue eye shadow( with or without a lit Virginia Slim Cigarette hanging out of her mouth) wielding a heaping spoon of Sloppy Joe's made "EXTRA SLOPPY"? This image is what most of my friends and family think when I tell them that I have a new job cooking at a private high school. Why on earth would I sign up for a job doing THAT?! I have worked in and cooked at some of the best restaurants, golf courses and catering companies on the west coast. So what in the world am I doing cooking in a high school? It's simple, I am using my skills to make a difference by educating and investing in the next generation.

I work at Marin Academy High School, which is located in San Rafael, California. I cook the EXACT same food for the kids that I did for my high end restaurant patrons. Paella Tuesdays, Pad Thai Wednesday's, Artisan Pizza Friday's. We use organic meat, milk, and cage free eggs. ALL: stocks, soups, dressings, marinades and sauces are made from SCRATCH. The pasta is whole wheat and organic. The only thing in our freezer is local Strauss Creamery ice cream and frozen hand made veggie burgers. There is no high fructose corn syrup or trans fat allowed in the kitchen EVER- no exceptions. A farmer from Marin Organic brings me fresh produce from County Line and Star Root Farms every week. Some weeks he even brings me bags full of gleaned vegetables for free, 10 pounds of fennel? Aesthetically challenged green beans, chard, kale, beets?! Um... YES, PLEASE! Oh, and if I am missing any ingredient in my recipe, all I have to do is walk across the street to the student garden and get fresh herbs, kale, fava beans and squash. This is not your typical school, and I am not your typical lunch lady.

These kids eat beets faster then I can prepare them. They eat kale by the TRUCKLOAD.They love spinach, arugula and radicchio. They drink my apple balsamic vinaigrette by the gallon- seriously. I was on a roasted brussel sprout kick last year, so out of curiosity I ran it on the menu, turns out, the kids loved BRUSSEL SPROUTS! I am still surprised by that one! Cauliflower, chard, roasted fennel, bock choy, butternut squash, you name it these kids are all over it! One kid told me that he had been craving my stuffed portobello mushrooms all summer, so those will be back on the menu this next week. To me it is thrilling that I cannot clean and cut vegetables fast enough for the demand put on me by these 'veggie monger' kids!

There is great reward in cooking for and educating the next generation. Not only because I am a nutrition geek and a studying Nutritional Therapist, but because my heart honestly gets happy when kids eat nourishing foods. I take pride in NOT taking the shortcuts and actually cooking good, yummy, nourishing food! I am responsible for educating 400 high school kids for the next 26 weeks. Its a great responsibility, and I take it as a challenge to take these kids on a 'culinary adventure', introducing to them as MANY flavors and foods as I possibly can during this next school year. Monday, we are having Korean Beef Tacos with homemade Kimchi or Garden Pesto Pasta with sauteed summer squash and mint infused limeade. This is NOT your typical school lunch.

One can't help but to ask the questions: What would happen if we made it a priority and employed more passionate chefs at our children's schools? Could we actually get kids excited about cooking and eating healthy foods? Could that food experience educate kids to make better choices potentially lessening the childhood obesity epidemic? Could NUTRITION be the missing link to childhood behavioral problems? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kitchen Secrets : How to Slice Grapes, Cherry Tomatoes and Olives Like a Pro.

This is such a fast and fun way to slice olives, grapes and cherry tomatoes, I just had to share it with you.:)

What you will need :
2 matching medium sized plastic lids
A sharp knife ( I find large or serrated knives work the best).

1.Place tomatoes on lid.

2. Place matching lid on top. Place your hand on the lid and apply pressure to keep lid in place. With your knife slice fruit in half. Be CAREFUL not lose fingers in the process.;)

3. Take off lid and ENJOY your perfectly cut tomatoes!!!:)
Simple.Fun.Oh So EASY!!!
Your days of slicing cherry tomatoes one-by-one are O-VER!!
Hooray for you!:)
Happy Slicing!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Summertime Favorite Finds

Dehydrated Kale with cashews, sea salt and lemon! A super delicious and overly addicting snack!:)

Italian sparkling mineral water. Grapefruit Perrier my soda substitute.:)
Farmhouse Culture Saurkraut!:)

Greek yogurt. Plain, or in this case honey flavored. This stuff is so decadent you feel like you are eating ice cream!
Smoked WILD Salmon Lox my favorite snack or addition to a meal. Yummy protein goodness!
The miracle working coconut oil. It is my favorite thing to cook with these days!:)
Candy Cane beets, artstic, delicious and nutritious. **WIN!:)**
Almond Butter, a truly divine yummy snack!
Cooking with pink peppercorns!! One of my favorites= pink peppercorn ice cream!:)
Raw Watermelon and Green Tea Kombucha, yes please!
Saba= a sweet balsamic like wine reduction- DELISH!!!
Apricot+Plum= PLUOTS..... so dreamy!! You have GOT to try them!:)

$2.00 at Trader Joes, a wondeful way to add flavor to your culinary masterpeices!
Dehydrated Heirloom Tomatoes! Fun to cook with or snack on.

My Favorite Kombucha Synergy Flavor: Raspberry, Ginger, Lemon.