It’s time to wear cozy socks, cuddle up with a book by the fire and drink / eat pumpkin spice flavored things with joy!
I love seeing all the autumn leaves turn color and am very much looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving (of course my favorite holidays are always food related…).
Recently, I discovered a local farmers market nearby and I didn’t know what I was missing until I went there. My weekly trips there are something that I look forward to on the weekends.
I’ve almost always shopped at grocery stores before, and it is so neat to be able to see all the different kinds of food that are produced in my local area. There are shelves with local honey, dried herbs, lots of different vegetables (I saw a purple bell pepper for the first time here a few weeks ago), and locally produced beef and lamb as well.
I buy fresh eggs often here. They come in a beautiful array of colors, from white, to brown, to pastel blue. The fresh eggs also taste so good, and the hens that produce them are free ranged.
These beautiful carrots were $1.99 / lb, which is more expensive than the $1.29 / lb at the local grocery store, but these were locally grown. I also usually buy kale and lettuce here as well, and they are usually about 50 cents more per bunch. For not very much more, it seems really exciting to be able to support local farmers in my area.
I love seeing all the different kinds of squash that they had at the farmers market. A lady came by with a cart piled high with all kinds of them which she mentioned that she was going to use for decoration.
I can see why, all of them look interesting. These beauties are Cinderella Pumpkins. So cool! I’ve never seen these kinds of pumpkins before.
It was also super cute to see parents taking pictures of their toddlers holding little pumpkins. What a sweet memory.
They also sell lovely herbs (both dried and live plants) there. Here are a variety of mints!
Two squash that kind of look like spaceships…
And more varieties of squash!
Do you have farmers markets where you are? What’s you’re favorite thing to buy there?
These easy cumin lettuce cups are super delicious and budget friendly.
I used lamb and garlic that I had frozen previously. Adding those ingredients to a few spices, a carrot, along with some diced tomato and romaine leaves makes for a quick and healthy meal, perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.
Easy Weeknight Cumin Lettuce Cups
Makes 1 serving
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I used frozen garlic that I had, but fresh works great too)
Sometimes eating vegetables can be a little less than exciting. Eating should be a pleasure. You want to have something that has a lot of flavor and be so delicious that you crave eating it the next day.
For me, this dip is the answer to getting myself to eat a big serving of vegetables, and to do so very happily.
This creamy garlic rosemary dip takes just minutes to put together and makes snacking on everyday vegetables feel like a fun and tasty treat.
I used avocado oil mayo (but you can also use vegan mayo) and olive oil, so this recipe is packed with heart healthy oils and anti-inflammatory ingredients like parsley, garlic and rosemary.
Creamy Garlic + Rosemary Dip
Makes 1 serving
3 tbsp mayo or vegan mayo (I used avocado oil mayo)
Salt to taste (if needed)
Notes – * Thawed frozen garlic has a milder taste than fresh raw garlic and less of a bite to it. If you’re making this dip with fresh garlic, start out with adding 1 clove of garlic and then adding more to taste.
1. Add the mayo and olive oil to a small bowl. Tilt the bowl to that the olive oil pools together and slowly stir it into the mayo until well incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and give it all a good stir.
Serve with any vegetables that you like. This dip is great with sweet potato fries, or I like eating it with 2 carrots (cut into carrot sticks) and a diced tomato for a quick snack.
Finding giant bags of organic peeled garlic at the grocery store (or at Costco) usually seems like a huge win. It’s not very expensive (yay!) and will save you tons of time peeling garlic when you’re cooking.
Cut to a week later and you realize that even though you’ve been eating more garlic than normal (because you don’t have to peel it, throwing extra garlic into dishes is super easy) you’ve barely made a dent in your giant bag of garlic.
Peeled garlic also doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as unpeeled garlic either, so now you’re thinking that it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to eat all of it before it goes bad.
But don’t worry! Here are two ways of storing extra garlic cloves so that you can use them up when you’re ready to.
1. Freeze The Extra Garlic Gloves
This is super simple to do and you can use up all your garlic cloves in your own time.
1. Pour the extra garlic cloves that you want to freeze into a bowl and set aside. Add a folded paper towel or two to the garlic cloves in the original package that they came in that you want to keep fresh in your fridge (the paper towel will absorb any excess moisture and the garlic will keep fresher for longer). Replace the paper towel every couple of days.
2. Give the excess garlic cloves a good rinse. Transfer them into ziploc freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible, and freeze them flat.
3. When you’re ready to use them, take out as many cloves as you need and run them under warm water for a few seconds to defrost. Chop and use as usual.
They will have a softer texture than fresh garlic cloves, and the flavor might be slightly milder, but you can always add another clove or two to your dish to balance that out.
2. Make Fermented Garlic Honey
I love watching the It’s Alive series on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel. It is hilarious. The editing and the host are fun and you learn a lot about fermentation. Here’s the episode about fermenting garlic in honey.
I’ve made garlic honey a few times now. I’ve made a few other fermented things before (red cabbage kimchi kraut and lacto-fermented garlic cloves) but the fermented garlic honey is by far the easiest thing to make if you’re looking to start preserving food using fermentation.
Garlic honey is delicious drizzled onto gluten-free bread, or homemade tortilla chips. I like to eat a few cloves of this when I have a cold. I’m not sure if it does anything to fight off a cold, but it’s a nice treat to have nonetheless.
I’m not a expert in this, so please watch the video above for more info, especially about adding the splash of apple cider and keeping the pH below 4.6 to be on the safe side.
1. Rinse off your garlic cloves with filtered water (chlorine can prevent or slow fermentation). If you use straight tap water, that’s ok too. Just rinse them off with filtered water. Drain off as much water as possible and place them onto plates lined with paper towels to dry.
The next day replace the paper towels with dry ones, and leave the garlic cloves to dry another day until they are completely dry to the touch.
2. Pick out the cloves the look a little rough and trim off any blemishes or dark spots on the cloves. Put the cloves onto a cutting board and bash them with a knife or cut them in half. Add all the garlic into a clean dry wide mouth mason jar and cover them in raw honey (leaving about 2-3 inches of headroom in the jar).
I didn’t leave enough headroom in my jar, and the honey has leaked a little out of the top of the jar while it’s been fermenting (not a big deal, you can just wash it off). Give everything a good stir so that the garlic and honey are well combined.
3. Put the lid on the mason jar and don’t screw the jar completely tight, leave it a little loose so that any gases produced during the fermentation can escape. Set the jar aside in an area without any direct sunlight where it wont be disturbed. I set my jar on a small plate so that it will catch any honey that might leak out from the top of the jar during fermentation, which makes it easy to rinse the honey off of the plate and the outside of the jar every few days.
Every day for the first few days, screw the lid on tightly and turn the jar upside down so that the honey can cover all the garlic cloves. Turn the jar right side up, loosen the lid, and place it back in it’s spot again.
After the first week, you can just do this every few days or so. After a month, you can just leave it alone with the lid a little loose and it should look after itself. Check the pH periodically to make sure that it stays below 4.6.
I’ve never had a jar of garlic honey go bad on me yet, but if you have any mold growing in the jar or if anything looks funny, when in doubt, throw it out.
This is what the garlic will look like after 6 months. The flavor of the garlic mellows out over time, and the cloves become sweet and chewy. The longer the garlic sits in the honey, the mellower the garlic flavor and the chewier they get. If you have a friend who loves garlic, a jar of this garlic honey makes a great gift.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables, and they are super versatile. You can use them to make mini sweet potato pies, or sweet potato muffins (they taste like pumpkin bread), and they also taste great when sautéed with some onions, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil.
The one down side about sweet potatoes is that they can be very difficult to cut. They tend to roll around on the cutting board, and trying to cut them with a chef’s knife (even a very sharp one) can become a pretty risky situation fairly quickly.
Here’s the technique that I use to make cutting sweet potatoes a little easier.
You will need:
– a paring knife
– vegetable brush
– knife sharpener
– cutting board
– clean dish cloth or paper towel
1. Give your sweet potatoes a good scrub with the vegetable brush and dry them off thoroughly with the dish cloth or paper towel. You want your sweet potatoes to be as dry as possible so that they don’t slip around on the cutting board. Set the sweet potatoes aside.
2. Sharpen your paring knife.
I have a little handheld knife sharpener (which isn’t the best, but gets the job done) and I run the paring knife through the carbide blades about 50 times and the ceramic rods about 30 times (if you have a better knife sharpener you probably won’t have to spend as much time sharpening your knife). Wash your knife with a little dish soap and carefully dry off the blade and the handle of the knife. You’ll also want to dry off your hands at this point so that you can get a good grip on the sweet potato while you’re cutting it.
You probably don’t need to sharpen your knife every time you cut a sweet potato, but it is a good idea too if you can. A sharp knife makes everything a little safer.
I also like using a paring knife over a chef’s knife for cutting sweet potatoes because it has a smaller blade, which means that there’s less force acting against your knife when you’re making your cuts.
3. If you want to peel your sweet potatoes, go ahead and do that now, but I usually keep the skin on the sweet potato just as a preference because it makes the sweet potatoes easier to grip when cutting.
Hold the left side of the sweet potato firmly with your left hand and then slice about 1/2 inch off from one end of the sweet potato, turn it 180 degrees, and then slice 1/2 inch off the other end.
From there you can cut up your sweet potato any way you like. I normally make sweet potato fries because they are easy to make, and make a great side for lunch or dinner.
To cut fries – hold the sweet potato firmly on the cutting board with your left hand, then place the blade of the paring knife perpendicular to the sweet potato so that the point of the blade goes straight into the middle of the sweet potato.
Once the blade is about an inch to an inch and a half into the sweet potato, (while still holding the sweet potato firmly against the cutting board with your left hand) with your right hand begin to push on the handle of the paring knife so that while you’re pushing the blade into the sweet potato, the blade also rotates all the way down and eventually becomes parallel to the cutting board, slicing through one half of the sweet potato.
Pull the knife out of the sweet potato and turn the sweet potato 180 degrees, and repeat so that the sweet potato is sliced in half and you have 2 halves of a sweet potato that you can lay flat on the cutting board.
4. Repeat this same motion (press the blade perpendicular into the sweet potato, rotate blade down and slice through), when making the rest of your cuts.
I like to cut my sweet potato fries 1/2 inch thick, and here’s how I cook them so that they get extra sweet without any added sweeteners.
To cut rounds – for if you want to use the sweet potato rounds as bases for veggie pizzas, press the blade about 1 inch into the sweet potato and press down while you rotate the sweet potato with your left hand until you end up with a little round of sweet potato.
I hope that these tips help make cutting sweet potatoes a little easier for you. If you also love eating sweet potatoes, let me know in the comments below how you like to cook them. It would be cool to see how other people like to cook them as well.
Sometimes when you go grocery shopping, you see a gigantic bag of organic baby greens for $5 and think “Hey! That’s a great deal!”
Once you get home though, you realize that there is no way that you’re going to be able to eat that entire bag of baby greens before they go bad. I had the same thought with a big bag of baby kale. But have no fear! There’s a super easy way to get the most out of your purchase.
And it’s ok to do this after your greens have started to look a little worse for wear. You may have to compost a few more leaves of baby greens, but you should still be able to save most of your baby green bounty.
1. Take two large bowls. Pick out the greens that have started to get slimy (you don’t want those) and place them in one bowl, and the still good greens in the other.
Compost the old greens, and then give the fresh greens a few good rinses in cool water. Pour the baby greens with the rinse water into a large strainer and drain off the excess water (it’s ok if there’s still a bit of water on them, you don’t want them to be perfectly dry).
2. Place your greens in a large pot with a few tablespoons of a neutral flavored oil (I like avocado oil). The oil makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients in the greens.
If the greens are really dry, add about 1/2 – 1 cup water to the pot with the greens. Cook over medium to medium high heat (depending on how fast you want the greens to cook down) stirring occasionally until the greens have all wilted down.
3. Wait for the greens to cool to room temperature. Spoon the greens into a freezer ziploc bag (you may need more than one bag depending on how many greens you have) and flatten the bag so that the greens are evenly distributed inside of the freezer bag.
Fold the bag into thirds the way that you would fold a letter before putting it into an envelope (please see top photo for reference). You should be left with a long rectangle, then do your best to fold this long rectangle into thirds and wrap a rubber band around the whole thing, place it into a shallow dish of some sort (just to catch any drips on the off chance that there are any leaks) and pop it into the freezer and freeze until solid.
(They are kind of pretty aren’t they? The one on the left almost looks like vegetable stained glass, or baby kale stained glass.)
Once frozen, you should be left with these squares of baby greens. You can throw them directly into soups, or defrost them and add them to smoothies, or stir fry them with a bit of garlic and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice.
I also sometimes just throw a square of frozen baby greens into a bowl with some cooked leftover rice and sweet potatoes and put it into the rice cooker to steam for about 10-15 minutes, and ta-da! Add a little Thai Peanut Sauce Dressing that’s a simple and delicious dinner.
However you use your frozen baby greens, I hope that this trick helps you to make the most of them.
This is a super speedy and delicious vegetable dish for nights when you want to get dinner on the table as quick as possible. It’s paleo, and vegan and works with most dietary restrictions.
When I was growing up, we ate enoki mushrooms in Hot Pot at Lunar New Year, and for family celebrations. I loved scooping them out of the pot with a slotted spoon (along with lots of baby corn and tofu) and eating them with Taiwanese BBQ Sauce (the BBQ sauce with the cartoon bull on the side of the can is where it’s at, but it’s been a few years since I’ve had it).
The mushrooms come in 7 oz packages from the Asian grocery stores, and while I love button mushrooms too, eating the enoki mushrooms is sometimes a nice way to change up the different vegetables in my diet.
Giving the enoki mushrooms a quick sauté with a little garlic enhances the delicate flavor of the mushrooms. They have a great texture and are a great side dish to have on any table.
Sautéed Enoki Mushrooms with Garlic
Makes 2 small servings
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 package of enoki mushrooms (7.05 oz / 200 g)
1-1.5 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt to taste
Note – I added the green onions in for the picture, but when I tasted it, I found that I actually preferred the mushrooms without the green onion. The enoki mushrooms have a subtle flavor, and that was overpowered slightly by sharpness of the green onions, but if you like green onions, go ahead and add them. It’s all about cooking the food that you enjoy eating.
1. Wash the mushrooms under cool water. Cut the mushrooms about 1 inch above the roots. Give them another good rinse. Place them on a cutting board and cut them lengthwise in half.
2. Add the mushrooms to a sauté pan with the garlic and olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Then turn the heat up to medium high and cook for another 3 minutes until lightly golden brown.
These brownies are the brownies of dreams. They have a rich, deep chocolate flavor, but are not too dark or too sweet, and they taste like the best brownie you’ve ever had.
I came up with this recipe one day when I needed to use up some extra sweet potatoes that I had in the fridge. Somehow this recipe came together so quickly (and I worked perfectly the first time!), and taking the first bite of these brownies made my heart sing. I couldn’t believe how good they were, and they were vegan! And made from leftovers!
The cool thing about this recipe is that you can also make them with adzuki beans (if you have any leftover red bean soup). They actually turn out slightly chewier when made with adzuki beans rather than sweet potatoes, but both kinds of brownies are fantastic.
With brownies, most people fall into two camps – chewy, or fudgy. These brownies are the perfect marriage between the two, because the actual brownies are wonderfully chewy, and the frosting is gloriously fudgy.
They don’t need the frosting, as they taste good enough without it, but a little frosting never hurt a good brownie.
The Best Chewy Sweet Potato (or Adzuki Bean) Brownies
Makes 9 brownies
1 tbsp ground chia seed (5g)
¼ cup + 1/8 cup hot water
1 cup of oat flour (90g)*
5 tbsp + 2 tsp cocoa powder (34g)
½ level tsp baking soda
½ level tsp + 1/8 tsp ground coffee (I used Starbucks Italian Roast Ground Coffee, which is also Fair Trade Certified, which makes it extra cool)
Notes – for best results, please measure the dry ingredients by weight.
* I grind oats into oat flour using a blender. Don’t grind the oats in a food processor because the flour won’t be fine enough.
Any extra oat flour I don’t use in the recipe goes into an airtight container and I use it for another recipe.
If you’re making this recipe for someone who has celiac disease, use certified gluten free oats, as the oats from the bulk bins can sometimes be processed on the same equipment as wheat.
**If you run out of vanilla extract ( and it’s been the kind of day where you really need a brownie) have no fear, these brownies still taste amazing without it. So go forth, and bake with a light heart.
1. Stir together the ground chia seed and hot water. Let sit for 10 minutes until thickened.
2. Add the cocoa, oat flour, salt, coffee and baking soda into the food processor and give it a quick blend so that everything is well combined.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Turn the oven to 350F and let the mixture sit in the food processor for 15 minutes. Then give it one final blend for about 30 seconds and then spoon the mixture into a glass 8×8 inch baking dish that you’ve oiled and floured with coconut oil (or a neutral oil like avocado oil) and a bit of oat flour.
Take a spatula and smooth the brownie batter out so that it’s sitting evenly in the baking dish.
5. Bake the brownies at 350F for 70-75 minutes until the brownies pull ¼ inch away from the pan on all sides.
This vegan Taiwanese / Chinese sausage is easy to make and tastes very similar to the real thing.
Spooned over noodles or a steaming bowl of rice, it’s happiness in a bowl.
Taiwanese and Chinese sausages can be found at Asian supermarkets, but I’ve never seen an organic one that’s free of added nitrates yet (here’s to hoping!). They taste amazing, and even though I’ve watched a YouTube video on how to make the sausages the traditional way, I haven’t actually made them myself yet.
This recipe is an easy way to get a similar flavor and texture without the hassle of making the sausage, or the nitrates from the store bought versions.
I used this recipe instead of real Chinese sausage when I made Turnip Cake for Lunar New Year and it worked great, so you can potentially swap this in for recipes that call for diced Taiwanese of Chinese sausage.
Vegan Taiwanese Sausage (香腸) or Chinese Sausage (臘腸)
Makes 1 serving
6 white or crimini mushrooms – cut into ¼ inch dice (about 1 ½ cups)
2 ½ tbsp. avocado oil (or any neutral flavored high heat oil)
¼ tsp + 1/8 tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp + 1/8 tsp 5 spice powder
½ tsp organic red miso paste
2 – 2 ½ tsp maple syrup*
maybe a pinch of salt to taste (depending on how salty your miso is)
*Taiwanese sausage or “Xiang Chang”(香腸) is usually a little sweeter than the Chinese sausages or “Lap Chong” (臘腸), so if you’re looking for more of a Taiwanese sausage flavor, use the 2 1/2 tsp of maple, and 2 tsp of maple if your looking for more of a Chinese sausage flavor.
1. Stir together the granulated garlic, 5 spice, miso, and maple syrup until smooth.
2. Make your pan non-stick. Add the oil and diced mushrooms to the pan and cook on medium high heat, stirring frequently, for 8-9 minutes until the mushrooms are golden brown around the edges.
3. Add the cooked mushrooms to the spice mix and stir until well combined. Give it a taste, adjust the seasoning to your liking.
You can also spoon this into romaine lettuce leaves (like vegan chicken lettuce wraps), or serve it over steamed rice or noodles.
However you eat it, I hope that you enjoy the recipe!
Note – This isn’t sponsored, but I just wanted to mention that the noodles that I used in the picture were Organic Edamame Spaghetti Noodles made by Explore Asian Authentic Cuisine (it looks like they may have changed the company’s name to “Explore Cuisine” now).
The only ingredients are water and soybeans and the noodles have a lovely flavor and texture and cook up in about 5 minutes are a good non-grain pasta alternative (if that’s something that you’re looking for). I used up the last of the box I had for this recipe (the box I had was from Costco, and they don’t carry the noodles anymore) but you can find the noodles online.