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Jason’s Favorite Granola

Cinnamon Pecan Granola

A few years ago I visited a yogini friend in Marin and she sent me home with a half a Ball jar of her homemade granola. Suffice it to say, I had guzzled it by the time I was across the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have always been a granola lover – the crunch and the sweetness mixed with the creaminess of yogurt wins me over every time. But most store-bought granola is a giant disappointment: It’s either loaded with sugar and questionable oils, or there’s only three nuts in a whole bag.

Making your own is so easy and it solves all of these problems! It’s also a great activity to do with kids. I’ve been making it with my now three-year-old since she could stand on a stool next to me and stir.

INGREDIENTS
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups pecans
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Pour the oats, pecans, and raisins into a large bowl.
3. Melt the coconut oil until it’s a liquid.
4. Fold in the coconut oil, agave nectar, cinnamon, and sea salt.
5. Stir thoroughly so the whole mixture is evenly coated.
6. Spread evenly on two baking sheets and bake for 15-30 minutes until golden brown. (Granola burns evenly and the timing really depends on your oven. Check your granola after 15 minutes and if it still needs more time, turn the pans.)

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Zucchini Noodles with Perfect Pesto

Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto

I’m gonna take you back to an Italian-American family on the east coast (mine) in the 1980s…those were the days when carbs where king and fat was the enemy. What did we eat back in those days? Do you remember the nation’s obsession with Snackwells and pasta? Well, we ate lots and lots of pasta.

Pasta was such a central part of our diet, it could’ve been its own food group in my family. Pasta with fresh tomato sauce, pasta with pesto, fettucine alfredo – all of these delectable dishes were mainstays and by the time I got to high school I was pretty skillful at making all of them.

Unfortunately, my adult waistline couldn’t abide by the processed carb load of a two-pasta-bowl night—-and my hunger wasn’t satiated by an eight-ounce serving size. But a year ago, I discovered zucchini noodles.

I got the spiralizer and, suddenly, I could make my favorite sauces again. At the top of my list is pesto for two reasons: First, it’s a classic dish that reminds me of my childhood. And second, it’s incredibly flexible. I like to call pine nuts “tiny nuggets gold” because they are so delicious and so expensive. If you’re out of pine nuts (or if you simply don’t want to shell out the $$$ right now), you can make pesto with several different types of nuts–I’ve used walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds and they’ve all been delicious. Just be sure to toast them first. Also, when basil isn’t in season, you can use baby kale or baby spinach.

A few cooking notes: I use pecorino romano, which is a sharp, salty, delicious sheep’s cheese. You can also use parmagiano reggiano. The zucchini really shrinks when you cook it, so never fear if it seems like A LOT at first. This amount of pesto and noodles with give you 3-4 hearty portions.

INGREDIENTS
4-6 zucchini (courgette)
1 1/2 cups of fresh basil (tightly packed)
1/2 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

TO MAKE THE PESTO:
1. Place the pine nuts in a pan and turn on the heat. Toast them for about five minutes, watching them carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Shake the pan around occasionally to be sure they turn light brown on all sides.
2. Place the basil, cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil into a Cuisinart or blender. Pulse the mixture until it’s finely chopped.
3. If you can, drizzle the water in as the pesto is blending. I start with a 1/4 cup and if it’s just not geling, I slowly keep adding more water.
4. Once you get a consistency you like, add the sea salt and lemon juice.
5. The last step is very important: Taste your pesto! I find that I sometimes need to add more cheese or nuts to get it just right.

TO MAKE THE NOODLES:
1. Choose the medium setting on your spiralizer.
2. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and spiralize away.
3. Put a large saucepan on medium-high heat.
4. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and your noodles. Saute for about 3-4 minutes, until your noodles have softened but aren’t soggy — it’s a fine line, so watch them closely.
5. While the noodles are hot, stir in your pesto and mix well. Serve it up in big bowls and enjoy every healthy, delectable bite.

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Minty Watermelon Agua Fresca

Minty Watermelon Agua Fresca
This juicy mocktail is a summer favorite in our family. It’s so easy to make and super thirst-quenching! Plus, you’ll get a dose of antioxidants from the watermelon and the mint. (I’m a mocktail gal myself, but you could add a splash of rum or gin if you’re looking to take your cocktail game up a notch.)

Minty Watermelon Agua Fresca
Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of ice (about 5 ice cubes)
2 cups chopped watermelon (seeds removed)
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
1 teaspoon agave nectar

1. Place the ice, watermelon, lime juice, and mint in a blender and mix until nearly smooth.
2. Garnish with a few coarsely chopped mint leaves and a wedge of lime.

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Minty Green Tea Cooler

Minty Green Tea Cooler

It’s safe to say I’m green-tea obsessed. It hold promise for many different types of health benefits (including cancer prevention and cardiovascular disease prevention) and there are so many varieties and delicious blends that I never grow tired of it. Since reading David Servan-Schreiber’s book Anti-Cancer, I try to drink it regularly, so I’m often experimenting with different recipes. This one is my current favorite summer iced tea. It requires some prep, but you can make a big batch and drink it over the course of a few days.

Minty Green Tea Cooler
Makes 6-8 servings

For optimal health benefits, add a squeeze of lemon to your green tea. Catechins are the uniquely powerful anti-cancer substance in green tea, but they can be difficult for the body to absorb. Adding citrus (or vitamin C) has been shown to boost absorption — one study showed that the rate of absorption was 5 times higher with a bit of lemon juice.

Also, I recommend steeping your green tea for 10 minutes (again, for optimal health benefits). If this makes the taste too strong for you, try steeping for 5 minutes instead or adding a bit more agave nectar.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups of water
4 teaspoons of loose jasmine green tea or 4 tea bags
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
3 teaspoons agave nectar
Sparkling water
Lemon and mint for garnish

1. Bring the water to boil in a saucepan.
2. Turn off the heat and add the green tea, agave, and mint.
3. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
4. Pour the tea mixture through a strainer into a sturdy glass container.
5. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then serve over ice and sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon and few mint sprigs. I like to do half of the tea mixture and half sparkling water.

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Smoothie Bowls

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl and Matcha Smoothie Bowl
The smoothie bowl is a trend that I’ve been loving. They’re hydrating and cooling, making them perfect for summer breakfast or an afternoon snack. They don’t require sugar or sugar substitutes and you still feel like you’re eating a treat. Jason calls them “ice cream.”

A healthy note: For the fruity bowls that don’t have yogurt, toppings are key. The nuts and seeds offer a balance of healthy fats and protein in addition to the carbohydrates from the fruit.

For each recipe, the how-to is the same: add the ingredients together in your blender and whiz away. The consistency will be thicker than a smoothie but not as thick as ice cream. Add your toppings and you’re good to go!

Simple Strawberry Bowl
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup ice
1 pitted date
1/4 cup of rolled oats
1 cup coconut milk

Toppings
1/2 cup strawberry slices
1/2 cup banana slices
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds

Matcha Green Tea Bowl
3 teaspoons of matcha powder
1/2 banana
1/2 cup whole milk organic yogurt
1/4 cup ice
3 pitted dates
1 cup coconut milk

Toppings
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 tablespoon cacao nibs

 

Mango Hempseed Smoothie Bowl
Tropical Mango Smoothie Bowl
3/4 cup of mango
1/4 cup ice
1 pitted date
1/4 cup of rolled oats
1 cup coconut milk

Toppings
1 1/2 tablespoon hemp seeds
1/2 cup blueberries

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