Banish The Winter Blues With Something Green

broccoli soup

It’s snowing again in Denver.  Apparently nobody told Mother Nature that it is almost summer. But mothers are notoriously busy people, so maybe she missed the message?

Weather like this screams for comfort food, but the calendar doesn’t lie and summer is creeping in fast. So while a gigantic pot of spaghetti and meatballs accompanied by a loaf of buttery garlic bread and two huge glasses of Cabernet sounds delicious, the aftermath wouldn’t be worth it. Yes, yes, we know the Epicurean meatballs are amazing. We ate them ALL WINTER with abandon. They are now on the FBI’s most wanted list. They are that good.

Instead, how about a decadent little soup today? This soup was published in the recent issue of Whole Living magazine and it is phenomenal for a variety of reasons. It is delicious. It is easy to make. It is super-duper healthy. It doesn’t require changing into loose-fitting clothing prior to eating. Bonus! Whip up a batch of this today (we double it) and banish those blues with this green soup.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour | Makes: approximately 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups Cleansing Broth (Whole Living suggests making your own broth but we substituted with an organic vegetable broth)
  • 1 head broccoli, trimmed and chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add broth and bring to a boil.
  • Add broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat, stir in spinach, and let cool slightly.
  • Transfer soup to blend and puree with avocado.
  • Adjust seasoning. Garnish with avocado and a drizzle of olive oil.
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This Super Salad Makes You Feel Like A Superhero. We Swear on Our Cape.

kale salad

You are what you eat, or so they say. Does that mean incorporating the “superfoods” into your diet guarantees a cool name, a shiny suit and some sort of fantastic power? Like making whiny children, trying clients or persistent phone solicitors (“No I do not have time for a survey because I am busy being a SUPERHERO for God’s sake!”) disappear with a blink of an eye. Imagine!

Sadly, what’s happening in the food industry is not so super. Word on the street is that manufacturers are actually creating items that are truly addictive. And you thought it was just lack of will power. Milk producers are lobbying the FDA to allow fake sugars as an ingredient in their product. And the kicker is they don’t want us to know about it.

Obviously, the best bet is to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed – um – stuff. Epicurean has been doing this since day one. We’ve always felt that real food tastes so much better than manipulated food. Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes. Our newest fave is a kale salad. Larry and Jill DiPasquale love this salad so much, they’ve added it to the specials menu at Mangia Bevi Café. They must be on to something – they’ve been married and in business for over 30 years and are still smiling. Talk about super. Here’s one take on this recipe  – but get creative. And get some of your powers back.

Epicurean’s Super Foods Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes |  Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1  bunch kale
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 cup radicchio, sliced thin
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries

Directions:

  • Wash and dry the kale.
  • Cut out and discard the tough stems, cut into strips and add to bowl
  • Core and cut apples into strips, add to bowl
  • Slice the radishes, cabbage, and radicchio, add to bowl
  • Wash and slice baby tomatoes, add to blow
  • Dice avocado, add to bowl
  • Add pumpkin seeds and cranberries
  • Toss, dress and devour

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons agave
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion

Directions:

  • Place the vinegar, agave, mustard, poppy seeds,  salt and pepper in a large bowl
  • Whisk to combine
  • While whisking add the oil slowly until all of it is incorporated

Let’s Do Lunch- Six Tips for Lunch Box Success

Laptop-lunch-option-2-lg

We recently posted our “Oh, Happy Day” blog highlighting some breakfast options for the morning rush hour. Soon, we were inundated with requests for lunch ideas that are healthy, quick and appealing to the short set who are the leaders of tomorrow. For real. Tell them that-it makes them feel good. Anyway, we enlisted the help of Yvette Garfield, author of the Handstand Kids cookbooks, to come up with some ideas. She gets an “A+” in our book:

6 quick tips for back to school lunches

1) Get a fun new lunch box/bento box that has compartments. This helps with giving variety and portion size.
2) Make lunch colorful. Challenge yourself to get 3 different colors of fruits and veggies.
3) Have your child involved in the lunch process-from farmer’s market shopping to making a dish for the lunch box.
4) Don’t be afraid of soup for lunch. Kids love soup and it’s a great way to sneak some veggies. There are lots of great thermos options that keep soup hot till lunch time.
5) Dessert is ok, just try to avoid preservatives and processed items (see the recipe for Popcorn Balls below).
6) Read your labels! Make sure your peanut butter is made with JUST peanut butter, not sugar and hydrogenated oils. Fruit juices should not include artificial sugar; simple ingredients are always best.

Three recipes from Handstand Kids!

Apple-licious Taquitos

Ingredients:

  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 apples, red or green (manzana)
  • 1 jar applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (canela)
  • Vegetable oil (aceite)

Tools:

  • Instructor knife
  • Apple corer
  • Paint brushes
  • Spatula
  • Large spoon

Instructions:

1. Dice 3 slices of manzana on the cutting board. Mix the diced manzana with the applesauce.
2. Add a few dashes of canela in the bowl. Stir.
3. Use the pastry brush to lightly coat both sides of the tortillas with aceite.
4. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the manzana mixture in the center of each tortilla.
5. Roll the tortillas to make a flute shape then carefully place them on the griddle, seam-side down.
6. Cook for 5 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the tortillas become crispy. Then remove them from the heat and let cool.

Popcorn Ball Treats!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup agave or honey
  • 6 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 handful of dried fruit (cranberries or blueberries)

Tools:

  • Large bowl
  • Oven mitts
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Plastic wrap
  • Ribbon

Instructions:

1. Pop the popcorn kernels in a popcorn machine, microwave or over the stove and put into large bowl.
2. Pour the oil over the popped corn and gently mix through with wooden spoon.
3. Drizzle the agave or honey over the mixture. Carefully stir with the wooden spoon and pour in the dried fruit.
4. Grease hands with a light coat of oil and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before they cool.
5. Cover them with the plastic wrap and add to any lunch for a delicious treat.

Fiesta Corn

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned or fresh corn kernels
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup button mushrooms
  • 1 lima (lima), halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (aceite)
  • Salt and pepper

Tools:

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Large skillet
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions:

1. Dice the peppers and set aside.
2. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
3. Chop the cilantro and set aside.
4. In the large skillet, heat the aceite over medium heat.
5. Add the peppers and mushrooms, stirring them in with the wooden spoon. Cook for 4 minutes.
6. Add the corn and cook for another 3 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Squeeze the lima over the vegetables.
9. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

-Ciao
Stephanie Blackford
Communications Director, Epicurean Culinary Group
sblackford@epicureanCG.com