avocado

"Psychedelic" Salad

Maintaining a food blog is a lot like working out; if you take a break, it's hard to start again. I know a lot about both. I love cooking and photography; both allow me to explore my creative side. It was that enjoyment and my desire to share healthy recipes that got me to start this food blog. This past summer was really exciting. We started a small garden, started raising our own chickens and I found myself training for my first 5k! Despite my best intentions of sharing more recipes throughout the summer, as you can tell. It just didn't happen. Without trying to explain myself, or make excuses, I'm simply going to say that there is a lot of work that goes into pulling a post together after the dish is prepare, and frankly, I didn't make that a priority.

But, I'm back and resolved to start sharing recipes again! No surprise, with the start of the New Year, I'm refocusing on my health. I started the year off detoxing and eating completely clean. I haven't even had a drink since New Years Eve! I got back to a fitness regiment and signed up for a 15 class January yoga challenge. Last Saturday, after my 8am Vinyasa class I stopped by for the opening day of a Winter Farmer's Market hosted by a local garden center.

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This was exactly what I needed to start getting inspired again. I arrived about a half hour early, while the vendors were still setting up. It was a smart move because I got to scout out who was going to be there that week, and give myself enough time to line up for Red Fire Farm's stand, who sells amazing produce. Within a few minutes I scored some brussel sprouts, mixed lettuce, purple kale and butternut squash. I then quickly got in line to get some root vegetables from Winter Moon Roots.

I don't like to pick favorites, but of all the vendors that I've seen at the market since I started going two years ago, Winter Moon Roots has one of the most alluring set-ups. Their root vegetables range the full color spectrum, and the bright colors of the beets and carrots pull you in. Not only do they have a wide array of roots themselves (from parsnips to potatoes to turnips to radishes and more), they carry several varieties of each.

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Cleverly they slice open the produce to reveal the beauty inside. This week I couldn't help but pick up some cool looking "Psychedelic" or Chioggia beets. Inspiration for this winter salad instantly came after seeing the name and colors. I couldn't wait to go home and whip up my lunch. It's worth noting that the only thing "psychedelic" about these beets are their cool colors; they are not going to make you "trip"!

Salads are usually easy dishes to pull together, but when making a beet salad, you do have to account for the time it takes to roast your beets.  As soon as I returned home, I got my oven preheated, washed the beet I was going to use for the recipe, splashed it with some oil, wrapped it in foil and threw it in the oven. Cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of your beet, but I knew mine would need to roast for about 40 mins. Rather than wait around, that gave me plenty of time to unload my groceries, wash and prep my other produce for that week, and tidy up around the kitchen.

Around the 40 min mark , I checked the doneness of the beet with a knife. It should be easy to puncture, as if you were checking on a baked potato. Pull it out of the oven and let it cool slightly before handling. With a pairing knife, gently scrape the outside skin. It will peel away easily. Discard. Slice or chop your beet however you choose. My beet was large enough that I saved half of it for other salads later in week. As it finished cooling I started assembling the salad.

I started with super fresh mixed greens from the market - I especially like how there were varying shades of greens and some pops of reddish purple from the red leaf lettuce. To add another punch of color to play with the ruby colored beets, I shaved some red cabbage. I've talked a lot about beets, and while they inspired this salad, I didn't want them to be the star. No, they'd share the stage (or plate) with bright segments of orange.

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Oranges are one of those fruits that make getting through the winter a lot easier. They are a great reminder of warmer months ahead and packs a heavy punch of Vitamin-C, not to mention they taste delicious!  You'll have to feel comfortable with your knife skills to segment out your orange, but after watching a quick video, I realized how easy it was.

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Greens, beets, citrus.... I needed some fat! Yes, all salads need, no, deserve a healthy fat. Avocado was going to be the perfect healthy fat for this salad. It was going to have the perfect creaminess to pair with the citrus notes from the orange segments and the vinaigrette (besides, I am partial to avocado). Seeds are also a great source of healthy fat for salads, and since I also wanted some crunch, I sprinkled on some unsalted pumpkin seeds I had on hand.

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And lastly, the dressing; a bright citrus vinaigrette to bring all the flavors together. Dressing is way to easy to make, so if you are still looking for a resolution this year, try to start making homemade dressing. Classic vinaigrette use equal parts oil to vinegar or something else acidic. My dressings usually use more vinegar and citrus juices, which pack big flavor without a lot of calories, than oil making mine 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar. But there is really no way to mess it up. I took some extra virgin olive oil and added it to a small mason jar. Then I squeezed the leftover orange juice, plus juice of a lemon to give it a rounded citrus flavor. Finally I added a splash of white wine vinegar and a touch of salt and pepper. I covered the jar and gave it a shake to emulsify the dressing.

When I make dressings, I'll make them in small batches. I only needed about 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving of my salad, leaving me with extra for other salads throughout the week.

So there you have it! A beautifully bright and balanced salad with earthy beets, sweet oranges and creamy avocado to put a smile on your face in the dead of winter!

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Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium to large size Chioggia beet, roasted and sliced
  • 2 organic navel oranges, segmented
  • 1 cup shaved red cabbage
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cups of mixed organic greens of your choice

Citrus Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice from orange (after being segmented)
  • 1-2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Beets

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Clean beets, leaving skin on, wrap in foil.
  • Bake for 30-50 mins depending on size of beet until tender.
  • Remove and let cool. Once you can easily handle the beet, use a pairing knife to scrape of the skin.
  • Slice or chop to desired size.

Citrus Dressing

  • In a small mason jar, add all the ingredients for the dressing and shake vigorously to emulsify. Use the dressing throughout the week for future meals.

Assembling the salad

  • Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add 3-4 tbs of the dressing* and toss.
  • *If you are saving half of the salad for a meal later in the week, store without the dressing. Just use 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving.

Radish Avocado & Farro Salad

After a long winter, and unseasonably cold Spring, I am so grateful for the weather to be improving. I could have done without the deluge today, but I am sure my garden loved it.

I've been on a bit of a "hiatus" with the blog, but there has been plenty going on at, what now I refer to as, the "Turner Homestead". Most of our weekends have been spent in our backyard, on some exciting projects.

The Garden:

In late March I ordered seeds from Johnny's Seeds, which had a great organic selection. Things were looking promising, with kale, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and peppers sprouting fast.

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In April we "broke grown" and built a raised garden bed to start growing some of our own produce this summer. We have tried to grow tomato plants in pots before, but before we ever had a chance to enjoy their fruit, a pesky squirrel or chipmunk would ravage the juicy ripe tomatoes.

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I was really excited to be growing produce from seed, but once we translanted the little sprouts into the garden bed, many stopped suspended in an infant state. We suspect it was because of the weather, but I'm sure it also had something to do with our little experience in growing vegetables.

With such a short growing season in New England, we purhcased some addtional plants, that were more mature so we'd at least get something out of it. However, in the last week or so, some of what I started from seeds have started growing like crazy. Our kale and boston lettuce is going through a growth spurt and the Rudolph Radishes I planted are ready to pick!

This week for lunch I enjoyed a delicious salad served in a pita pocket using fresh radish straight from my own garden. There is truely something special about eating food your grow yourself. Thats what I love about having a dedicated vegetable garden. I can grow what I want, how I want it, organically, without pesticides and enjoy it FRESH. I am the only one who is handling it before it gets on the plate.

Backyard Chickens:

Speaking of fresh, it doesnt stop at the garden. This year we got chickens. Yup! You heard right, we are raising our own flock of egg

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laying hens. Most of our time the last month or so has been dedicated to builidng a coop for the girls. They've just officially moved out of the brooder we had inside, to the custom coop at the end of May and are LOVING their new home.

You probably have a few questions:

Are you crazy? Maybe, but I'm okay with being a crazy chicken lady. I'll have the freshest eggs on the block!

Are you getting eggs yet? No. They are still too young. And sorry they do not still look like this (warning: the next image may be too cute to handle):

You'd be amazed in just how fast these things grow! I swear, the first couple weeks, I'd come home from work and they'd look totally different than they had that same morning. They are 9 weeks now and resemble mini-chickens. Here is the same girl, all black.

8 week backyard chickens
8 week backyard chickens

If you want to see more pictures of the chicks, you can head to the Mindful Glutton Facebook page. You can expect I will have some amazing recipes using the freshest eggs you can imagine come August. But lets get back to those RADISHES.

A Delicious Radish Recipe:

If you haven't tried radishes, or are looking for ways to use them, salads are perfect. They are slighly peppery, crisp like an apple, and add a great crunch (not to mention packed with awesome vitamins and nutriets).

Ever wonder what makes a perfect salad? For me, its about fresh mixed greens, something crunchy, a creamy fat, and a tasty vinegrette. Chances are, at anytime, I will have all those "essentials" at home. For this healthy lunch option, I employ organic mixed greens, avocado (radish's best friend), some leftover farro I had from earlier in the week, and a tangy soy ginger vinegrette I picked up a few weeks ago.

This lunch comes together so quickly. After warming up the farro in the microwave, I squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, and toss it, with the rest of my salad ingredients into a bowl. Sometimes I will make my own simply vinegrette with a flavored vinegar and olive oil, but I've come to love this store bought dressing,

Tessemae's Soy Ginger Dressing

. I tried a sample at Whole Foods and loved it. They keep their ingredients simple, which I appreciate, and stay away from icky articifial ingredients. I cant speak to all their products, but this one has no preservatives and I can pronounce and know all the indredients listed. I suppose I could make my own, but love this as a quick go-to.

The salad itself is small, so I serve it in pita pocket. My favorite right now is

Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat

version, thats low in calories, but filling. You can certainly opt out, or use half a pita, and eat the rest of the salad as a side.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of organic mixed greens
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 2 small radishes, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup of cooked farro
  • squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • 1 tbs of your favorite vinegrette
  • 1 pita pockets

Instructions

  • Mix salad, radishes, avocado, farro, vinaigrette, and squeeze of lemon into bowl and toss. Serve as a salad, or stuff inside of a pita pocket and enjoy.

Fudgey Flourless Avocado Brownies

If you made it this far then congratulations! I know the idea of avocados in baked goods sounds crazy but trust me you may never go back to your old brownie recipe! The avocado makes these super moist and fudgey, and I promise you cannot taste the avocado.

There are several substitute ingredients in this recipe. I try to eat as well as I can, but every once and a while you need to indulge. Even when I indulge I like to try to be somewhat "healthy". You know, have your cake and eat it too (a foodies favorite cliche).

The first obvious substitute is avocado. Most brownie recipes call for canola oil or butter. This recipe uses avocado as the fat...but it's a healthy fat! Seriously though, over the last few months I've found myself removing canola and vegetable oil from my kitchen. I also use a lot less butter. We are so used to using ingredients because of the flavor it gives food, but you won't miss it here.

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The next substitute is almond flour for regular white wheat. Almond flour is used in many gluten free recipes. I'm not gluten free, but I thought it would be good to add a few gluten free recipes to my repertoire. I don't have anything against regular all purpose flour, but it also doesn't have any nutritional value.

Nut flour on the contrary, has healthy fats and plenty of Vitamin E. It also has a low glycemic index as it is high in protein and low in carbs and sugar.

Just so you are aware, almond flour is very calorie dense, so just because there are some healthy benefits with this alternative, doesn't mean you should eat a half a sheet of brownies in one sitting.

The last substitute I used was coconut sugar. I had seen this in the baking aisle of one of my favorite stores and it sparked my curiosity. With further research I've found there a few notable benefits of swapping out your standard sugar for coconut sugar. First, coconut sugar has a low glycemic index (35) and doesn't cause blood sugar levels to spike as would traditional sugar. Secondly, regular sugar doesn't contain any vital nutrients and therefore is consider empty calories. Coconut sugar, on the other hand, retains quite a bit of nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium.

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Now, calorie for calorie coconut sugar is the same as regular sugar. Although I find it to be a better choice, on a day to day basis I keep added sugars out of my diet - regardless of the type of sweetener. Now to get these brownies started!

First you need to melt your chocolate chips. You can either do so in a microwave or over a double boiler. Pay close attention so that the chocolate doesn't seize. If you use the microwave method, heat for 20-30 seconds at a time, and stir. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Next, crack your 4 eggs into a mixing bowl along with the coconut sugar. Use a hand mixer or whisk to beat the eggs and sugar together. I'd let the hand mixer go for about a minute to help incorporate air into the eggs and sugar.

To the egg and sugar mixture add the flesh of two ripe avocados. Use the hand mixer again to make sure the avocado gets really incorporated into the mix. Once you know the avocado is blended in, slowly add in the melted chocolate.

Once combined, stir in the almond flour and cocoa powder. When I made mine I also added a tbs of instant espresso powder. Its a trick I use whenever I bake anything chocolate - it adds a really nice depth to the chocolate flavor. Unlike most baking recipes, you won't need to worry about over mixing since the almond flour is gluten free.

The avocado brownie batter is ready to be poured in the pan. One last thing before I put my batch in the oven was to stud the top with a small handful of chocolate chips.

The original recipe said to bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees but I found I needed 30-35 minutes. I'd check at the 25 minute mark and keep a close eye on it.

When they are ready they will fill your kitchen with the aroma of chocolate. It's hard to keep your hands off these but it's EXTREMELY important to let them cool completely (at least 20 minutes). The longer the better. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers. To be honest, I thought they tasted better the next day being chilled.

I took the batch into work the next day because I knew I'd eat them all if I left them at home. People LOVED them!

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Sweet Potato Soup

This week is all about the avocado. So far we've seen it in a pesto, a topping for your breakfast and today you'll see it as a garnish for a beautiful and delicious Sweet Pototo Soup. When it comes to food I know I throw around the words "favorite" and "love" a lot, but sweet potatoes and avocados are some of my favorite foods. They are definitely things I have to have year round regardless of when they are in season.

I haven't had a chance to visit the local Winter Farmers Market has just opened this weekend, but I did get to get some great organic sweet potatoes from Trader Joes. There are so many great ways to enjoy them, but this past weekend I decided to make soup. Whenever I'm in doubt of what to do with fresh veggies, I usually opt for a soup.

Like most of my soups, I start off by throwing the veggies in the oven. I just through the oven on 350, wrapped 3 sweet potatoes in tin foil, and let bake until tender. If you were trying to save time you could always microwave them but I prefer the oven. Often I'll add olive oil to whatever I'm roasting but because I would be discarding the skins, I didn't bother.

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Let the potatoes to cool slightly before touching. Slice open and scoop the flesh into a pot. Set to medium heat and add 2 cups of vegetable stock. Use a potato masher to break down to large pieces of potato. Next use your immersion blender to start blending the soup. You'll likely need more liquid, the size of the potatoes will determine how much. I ended up adding another cup of vegetable stock and a cup of coconut milk (because I had it on hand). You can stick to vegetable/chicken stock or just water depending on how thick you like your soup.

When the soup got to a simmer I turned the heat down to low. That's when I added pepper, sea salt, paprika, and a dash of cumin to taste.

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The soup itself is very simple, but it's the garnishes that make it special. Serve with cubed avocado and crushed blue tortilla chips on top and a wedge of lime on the side.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of low fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 avocado for garnish for serving

Instructions

  • Set oven to 350. Clean sweet potatoes and dry them off.
  • Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake in oven about 40 mins or until fork tender.
  • Let cool slightly, and when they can be easily handled, cut open sweet potatoes and scoop out insides.
  • Begin to heat a medium to large size pot to medium low.
  • Add sweet potatoes, spices and 1 cup of coconut milk to pot. Use a masher to begin to break up sweet potato.
  • Begin to add some of the vegetable broth, about 1/2 cup at a time. Begin to puree soup with immersion blender. Continue to slowly add vegetable broth until you get to the desired thickness of soup. For thicker soup you will probably only need about 1 cup... for thinner soup, use up to 2 cups*.
  • Turn heat up until the soup starts to bubble and then return to a slow simmer and let cook for another 10 mins.
  • Serve with diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips and a squeeze of lime.
  • * The amount of vegetable stock needed varies greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes and preference.

Egg White & Avocado on Quinoa Toast

Avocados aren't just for salads, they are smart anything of day; breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love adding some avocado to my breakfast to create a well rounded meal.

Avocados are a fantastic super food. They are high in fat, but don't let that scare you; monounsaturated fatty acids are known to lower heart disease. They also contain another healthy fat called oleic acid that helps with the absorption and digestion of nutrients such as beta-carotenoids.

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Although classified as a fruit, the are low in fructose and a great source of fiber, potassium, b-vitamins, beta carotenoids and folic acid to name a few.

While I like to buy local and organic, avocados are not something you will find in New England. However, they are one of the safest conventionally-grown produce. Their thick skin protects the flesh from pesticides.

So many things to love about avocado which is why one of my go-to breakfasts aside from a smoothie is Egg Whites and Avocado over Quinoa Toast.

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This breakfast comes together really quickly.

First I start toasting a slice of Trader Joe's Quinoa bread. It's a great alternative to your standard wheat toast and I really like its nutty flavor.

While that's going I start preparing my egg. I don't like waste, so often I cook up a whole egg, with yolk.

In this case, I had a recipe that that needed yolks so I reserved the whites. You can store them in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. Much better than store bought egg white.

Prepare the egg however you like. Then top the toast with the egg. I then add my favorite salsa, Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar, which add a ton of extra flavor without many calories. Finally just a 1/4 of an avocado sliced. If you like things extra spicy - add a few dashes of hot sauce.

Turkey with Avocado Pesto Wrap

As much as I can, I like to buy and eat seasonal produce. But one of my absolute favorite health foods is avocado. I suppose you can consider it "in season" thanks to Mexico, which makes it available year round. Anyway, I probably eat avocado everyday, incorporating it as a healthy fat. I love them so much I decided to dedicate a week of posts to this beautiful vibrant fruit! There are many uses for avocado, but have you ever considered using it in pesto? Pesto itself is extremely versatile so you could use this as a sauce over pasta, a spread, or in wrap like this recipe!

You only need a few ingredients and a food processor.

I make this is small batches since the avocados oxidize, turning the pesto a brownish color over the course of the next few days. The added citrus helps with that, but we eat with our eyes too, so the more vibrant the better!

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First, start off by pulsing 1/4 cup of raw, unsalted cashews in the food processor to break up slightly. Traditional pestos use pinenuts, which are fine to use but I had a jar of cashews (which I had recently used in a Kale Pesto) and wanted to use again.

Next, I add the flesh of one ripe avocado, 2-3 peeled cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) cheese, a packed cup or more of fresh basil, juice from half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt and pepper. * you can adjust the amount of basil you'd like depending on your taste - I usually use one package worth if I buy from a grocery store.

Blend the ingredients. As they start to incorporate, slowly drizzle in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. There is already plenty of (healthy) fat, in the avocado, so you want to use discretion with the olive oil. Its simply to help smooth everything out.

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Now all you have to do is decide what you want to use the pesto on! The first time I made it I ate with spaghetti squash and it was absolutely delicious. I would have done the same the other night when I made this batch but didn't want to wait for the squash to roast.

Instead, I heated up some turkey breast I had roasted the night before and tossed with a few tablespoons of the avocado pesto. I added it to a wheat flour wrap with baby arugula and crunchy sliced red pepper. Simple. Delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Add cashews to food processor and lightly pulse to break up
  • Add all other remaining ingredients (besides olive oil) and blend until smooth.
  • While blending, slowly add olive oil

Nutritional Facts

Calories: 223, Carbs: 5g, Fat: 22g, Protien: 4g