Healthy

Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed, but with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

 

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a…

Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

 

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexico’s colorful  history, culture, customs and of course its irresistible food that is celebrated around the world on the 5th of May.

So let the celebrations start in your very own kitchen. The first thought that always comes to mind is guacamole that has been part of the Mexican diet since Aztec times and pairs well with any Mexican meal you may be planning. The process is quite simple and the results are sublime if you taste as you go. Avocados and chiles can vary greatly but can be brought together with a balance of heat, lime juice, salt, and an attentive palate. I’ve always find this ritual as comforting as it is ultimately delicious.

Ingredient quantities are approximated and  will vary to suit your own taste preferences.

Above all keep in mind this is an adventure in cooking that will continue to evolve every time you make a guacamole!

Best to prepare guacamole several hours before serving as it is best when chilled.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3  ripe hass avocados, green with lumpy skin or Puebla avocados ,dark with smooth skin
  • a small yellow onion, finely diced, amount to taste 
  • serrano, jalapeno, and or red chiles, seeded and finely diced, amount to taste 
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
  • chopped cilantro leaves to taste
  •  a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil ,optional, but it does add a nice richness and  texture. 

 

Cut  avocados  in half around the seed and and twist to remove the seeds, saving one to use later. Spoon the flesh into a mixing bowl and mash together with a bean or potato masher just until combined. 

Add the diced onions, dced chiles, and salt and mash together bearing down enough to release the liquid in the onions and chiles as you mash away.

Add lime juice and swirl in until combined. Then add the cilantro and mix until well combined.

Taste and add more chile, salt, and lime juice as needed until the guacamole’s flavors dazzle like a chilled  fresh lime juice margarita wit an assertive lingering heat.

Transfer the guacamole to a non reactive container and place the reserved avocado seed in the center. Legend has it that this will help keep the guacamole fresh and green. Press cling film directly onto the surface of the guacamole. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve the guacamole along with margaritas and appetizers, with the main courses or a buffet. And do not be afraid to include guacamole with non Mexican meals as well. I’ll be having guacamole and salsa verde (see recipe here) with my Chinese stir fry tacos later this evening!

Chinese stir fry with guacamole

Buen Provecho!

 

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

 

As uninteresting as a cauliflower soup may sound, here is an easy cauliflower soup that may persuade you otherwise.

With just a hint roosted roasted garlic, a dash of golden turmeric, a flurry of dried marjoram leaves, and a splash of lemon juice is what turns everything around and delivers a delightfully soothing, fresh, and warming winter cauliflower soup. The flavors are subtle but just assertive enough to win over any cauliflower skeptics at your table.

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 medium size head garlic, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, simmering
  • broad leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced, or whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving

 

Place the whole head of garlic in a 325 degree oven and roast just until the flesh is softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle separate the cloves and squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.

Place a stock pot on the stove top set over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted garlic, and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sauté for several minutes while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the turmeric, salt, white pepper, marjoram, and sugar and toss while sautéing for another 5 minutes.

Add about 1 ½ quarts of simmering stock to completely cover all the ingredients. Adjust the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until the soup is thick and very smooth. Then add more stock until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the soup add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice and stir into the soup until combined
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

If you plan to serve the soup later, omit the parsley or cilantro and the lemon juice and set aside to aside to cool. Then transfer the soup to containers and cool on a rack before covering with lids and either refrigerate or freeze.

Be sure to remember to add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice just before serving the soup nonce it has been brought back to a full simmer before serving.

 

Ditty's Hearty and ever so Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Ditty’s Hearty and ever so Healthy Breakfast Muffins

 

My dear sister has been baking various renditions of her ever evolving hearty breakfast muffins for as long as I can remember.

Like so many home cooks these days she has been updating and adapting her muffin recipe to accommodate her extended family’s food intolerance issues. Lactose and gluten intolerance are as common these days as is an awareness for reducing fats and sugar in our everyday

diets.

There is such an abundance of healthy nutritional ingredients baked into these breakfast muffins to fuel even the busiest of mornings!

 

Ditty’s Healthy and ever so Hearty Breakfast Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Equipment: 12 muffin baking tin lightly spritzed with cooking spray

preheat oven to 400 f /180 c with oven rack set in the center position.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup chopped dates, golden raisins, or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup broken pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds, + 12 whole nuts for garnish
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ½ cup applesauce or Greek yogurt, or a combination of both
  • 1cup peeled and diced apples or pears, optional

For the Holidays add the following :

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree to the batter;  omitting the of Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • a pinch  of clove
  • Topping:
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon each of cinnamon and sugar, combined
  • 12 whole nuts for garnish

 

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats all stirred together until well combined. Add the dates, or other dried fruit, and pecans, or other nuts, and the sugar. Using your hands massage all the ingredients together until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs and almond milk and whisk until combined.

Begin adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients while stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue adding the liquid mixture and folding it into the batter until well combined.

Add the applesauce and / or the Greek yogurt and fold in until well combined.

 

Then fold in the diced apples or pears if using.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tin until each cup his fully filled with batter and the batter that is mound up slightly in the center of each muffin.

Whisk the egg white and lightly brush the tops of each muffin. Place a whole nut atop each muffin and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Transfer the muffins into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the center of a muffin. If the skewer comes out clean when withdrawn the muffins are done.

Transfer the muffins in the tin to a cooling rack and set aside to cool.

Best to Serve the muffins while they are sill warm!

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