Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tropical Green Smoothie with Fresh Young Coconut Meat

Last weekend, we discovered our favorite farmer's market yet in San Diego -- Solana Beach.  Most people would swear by Hillcrest or Little Italy for their weekend bounty, but we vastly preferred the afternoon time span (Hillcrest closes at 2pm??) and how much smaller and quieter it is.  We were able to get all our necessities, discovered a few new treasures (both in the market and surrounding shops), and enjoyed the prepared food (read: tamales).

I adore exposing my daughter to a farmer's market any time, any where.  She gets SO excited about fresh food and begs to try all the samples.  On this day, she absolutely couldn't wait to drink fresh coconut juice straight from the coconut.  I have to admit that the little pink umbrellas that came with the coconut didn't hurt either :)  We slurped down the coconut juice in no time . . . but since I've discovered all the amazing health benefits of the coconut, I just couldn't bear to throw away the rest of the nut.

[I have to stop for a minute here and confess that the last time I tried to open a coconut, I almost cut my hand off.  No joke.  So here is a very helpful video, should you be inspired to reap the benefits of a coconut yourself :) ]

Once we got home, armed with a mountain of fresh produce, we got busy with meal planning . . . and decided a fresh, coconut-themed smoothie was in order.  Inspired also by the bunch of organic spinach, I created the following bit of wholesome smoothie perfection:

Tropical Green Smoothie
1 slice of pineapple (about 1", include the core if you have a Vitamix)
1 banana
2 kiwi, peeled
1/2 c of young coconut meat (or however much your coconut yields)
Several handfuls of spinach
1 c ice

(NOTE: If you substitute shredded coconut for young coconut in this recipe, start with less and adjust to taste as needed.  Young coconut meat is much milder than using shredded coconut -- thus, the young coconut is more appropriate for smoothies.  Shredded coconut is always from a mature coconut and has a more concentrated coconut flavor -- thus, it's better for baking, cooking, etc.)

Add ingredients to your blender in the order listed.  Blend until thoroughly incorporated.  Garnish with a slice of pineapple, just cuz it's pretty :)


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chicken Basil Sausage, Pistachio, and Quinoa

Ok, this is hands down, my most favorite recipe since being gluten free. Thank you Pinterest for the pinspiration! It's become a regular on my weekly dinner menus....

Without further ado, I give you Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with Chicken Basil Sausage, Quinoa, and Pistachios (and lots more yumminess)

2 small acorn squashes, halved and seeds removed
A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa
1lb of basil chicken sausage (found at my local stores butcher counter)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, unsalted
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt + pepper to taste
Sprinkles to taste of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the four halves and season with salt and pepper. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until very tender and edges are nicely caramelized, should be 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

To prepare the quinoa, bring 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil, then add the 1 cup of quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover (ensuring least amount of steam escapes as possible), and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover again and then let sit for 12-15 minutes....this is important! Ensures all grains sprout and the texture is fluffy and moist.

While quinoa is cooking, add 1T of olive oil to a large deep pan (I used my beloved braising pan) over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings (if necessary) and add to pan, sautéing until browned and cooked through.

Transfer quinoa into pan with sausage and mix in parsley, pistachios, red wine vinegar, a few 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chunks of goat cheese. Season with salt + pepper to taste, sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Season squash with salt + pepper before dividing the quinoa mixture among the four halves.
DEEE-LISH!! I promise. :)