Blog

Gettin' down with real food.

Pomegranate, Pistachio and Sheep Cheese Salad

I'm bringing this salad to our family's Thanksgiving feast today. I have yet to taste it, but I already see myself making it all winter long. It pops with flavor and color on a bed of tender, locally grown greens and took about ten minutes to throw together. Arugula, baby bok choy and kale, and other unique leaves from Kettle Rock Farm cozy up beneath a salty, smooth sheep cheese and juicy, crunchy pomegranate seeds. The pistachios were a last-minute addition, but they add color and richness and hey, it's Thanksgiving, so why not? I also baked up a helluva pie last night: sweet potato filling topped with whiskey and maple glazed pecans in a gingersnap crust.  I can't wait to dig in. The cooking is done and now it's time to enjoy the holiday, but first a bit on a few of the many things I'm grateful for in this moment:

 
pomegranate, pistachio and sheep cheese salad | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Being alive. Being able to love. Being in love. Being loved. This life. Love you all.
Family - ours are big and loud and loyal, fun, kooky, welcoming, and full of more love than I could have ever hoped to experience in a lifetime. 
Friends - I just don't know what a life would be without them. Some of you I've just met others it feels I've know forever, but despite the length of our walks together, you always lend a listening ear, a word of encouragement, a killer hug.
Mentors - There have been some truly amazing people who've helped me get to where I am today. They've cheered me on, given well-thought advice, written and spoken well of me so I could realize my dreams and be my best self.
Food - Coffee ice cream, creamy blue cheese, champagne, dark chocolate, toasted pecans, guacamole, poached eggs, Reese's peanut butter cups, the best salads, roasted sweet potatoes, rosemary, butternut squash soup, browned butter, french toast, brussels sprouts, homemade chicken broth, raspberry jam, basil & so much more.
My new career - I'm blessed with jobs that allow me connect with people, nourish and be nourished in return, be constantly challenged while being surrounded with coworkers that lift me up and inspire me and make coming to work worth it every day.
A roof and four walls, sweaters, my heated blanket, our bed, a sound mind and an open heart. 
For today, yesterday and every day before it. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Pomegranate, Pistachio and Sheep Cheese Salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz mixed greens, roughly chopped
  • 2 oz arugula, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz crumbly sheep cheese
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate airls
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup each of canola oil and white balsamic vinegar, a pinch each of salt, sage, and black pepper and a generous squirt of Dijon mustard

Method:

Toss all ingredients together and then toss with half the vinaigrette, taste and add more dressing to your liking.

 
 


Raspberry & Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

When I was maybe seven or eight, my dad took my sister and I to the home of one of his tax clients to pick raspberries from her backyard garden.  The woman, who was wrinkled and kind-eyed and lived on her own, gave my sister and I each a basket to gather the fruit.  It was late afternoon, and the deep pink berries were still warm from the day's sun as we plucked and ate and plucked and ate. When the mosquitoes finally chased us inside, we sat down with powdered sugar dusted brownies and cold glasses of milk at her cozy kitchen table. We ate the brownies topped with just-picked raspberries in her cool, homey kitchen in the fading summer light.  

I was not a child who enjoyed mixing flavors, let alone allowing the foods on my plate to touch one another, but that day I fell head over heels for the marriage of raspberries and chocolate: the crunch of the raspberry seeds in the thick of the brownie's soft crumb, the sunny tang of the fruit cutting through dark bittersweet chocolate.  

I only met her once. I can't remember her voice or her name, but I still remember the graciousness with which she let us roam her raspberry bushes and the delight she seemed to take in watching us enjoy the fruits of her labor.  Food is love my friends, food is love. 

 
raspberry chocolate swirled banana bread
 

Raspberry Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

gluten-free, grain-free, low added sugar

Adapted from Deliciously Organic

Makes one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients

  • 4 medium bananas (about 1 pound, peeled)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup coconut flour (now widely available, including at Trader Joe's and online
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the swirl:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raspberries, at room temperature

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan.

2. Combine the bananas, eggs, butter, almond butter and vanilla in a blender or mixing bowl (immersion blender works well here) and blend until mixture is smooth and uniform.

3. Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, mix well to break up any clumps and then add to the banana mixture, stirring until totally combined and no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.

4. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until just smooth.  Add the room-temperature raspberries and mash with a fork into the chocolate.  If the chocolate becomes hard, warm again in the microwave briefly.  Spoon the raspberry-chocolate swirl in little plops on top of the batter and use a butter knife to swirl the mixture throughout the batter.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bread passes the toothpick test. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

 
raspberry chocolate swirled banana bread
 


Tarragon and Lemon Potato Salad with Artichokes and Olives

Mindful eating, or offering full awareness to the food on our plates by bringing all five senses to the table, is a skill we can all sharpen.  Each and every bite won’t suddenly be elevated to some ethereal experience, but you may find that tuning in, especially to those first couple tastes, changes your eating habits in subtle, yet meaningful ways. Taste memories become stronger, smells and textures richer and ultimately you may feel more satisfied, more filled and fulfilled, with the amount of food your body needs.  

Mindful eating is a way to connect with yourself, your body, your needs, and your food. Start small: take three deep, conscious breaths (inhale, exhale) before your next meal or snack. Smell your food as your breath in, ground yourself in the moment as you breathe out. Three breaths. It takes no more than 30 seconds. Give it a try. Oh, and this recipe too.

Salty olives, bright juicy lemon, bittersweet licorice-y tarragon, and tender artichokes join perfectly cooked, creamy yellow potatoes in this refreshing riff on a picnic staple, best enjoyed with the sun on your face and a breeze in your hair.

 
Tarragon and Lemon Potato Salad | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Tarragon and Lemon Potato Salad with Artichokes and Olives

Adapted from Field of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant

Makes about 8 servings as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds small yellow organic potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 cup jarred marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 or more handfuls baby spinach or other tender green, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot, meow!)

Method

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Salt water generously.  Place pot on stove over high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to soften onion and garlic flavors.

3. Check potatoes for doneness every couple of minutes by piercing one with a knife.  Potatoes are done when knife slides in, but potato does not fall apart. Air on the side of slightly hard, as they continue to cook after removing from the heat. Drain potatoes and set aside. Prepare remaining ingredients.

4. Once slightly cooled, cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks and peel if desired (my potatoes’ peels were practically sliding off after boiling).  Combine still-warm potatoes with the dressing in a large serving bowl. Fold in artichokes, olives, and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: This salad tastes best after a little time so the potatoes can take on the flavors of the dressing and the spinach can wilt slightly. A couples hours in the fridge should do the trick.

 
Tarragon and Lemon Potato Salad | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Crumbly Carrot Rhubarb Muffins and Raspberry Chia Jam

I enjoy curating lists. I realize this is not a unique character trait; I know and love many fellow list-makers. Two lists I keep, inspired by the movie Amelie, are my likes and dislikes. The things we embrace and those we shun are windows into who we are, a way of showing rather than telling our life stories. What do you keep close? What do you recoil from?

A recent addition to my "likes" list is "cookbooks organized by season" (showing). Cooking seasonally is important to me (telling). I recently borrowed Sarah Britton's new cookbook My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season from the library and devoured its pages in less than a day. The photos are full of life and light, the recipes sprinkled with highlighted ingredient notes where Sarah shares her holistic nutrition wisdom in a completely accessible voice. I ordered three copies of My New Roots (two for gifts) and have been scheming to cook from it nearly every day. 

Two of my first successes from the Spring chapter were these delightfully chunky yet tender oat-flour-based Carrot Rhubarb Muffins and a riff on her Strawberry Chia Jam (I used raspberries). For the muffins, I swapped eggs and coconut oil in for the applesauce she suggests in her version as  I wanted my muffins a bit more dense and filling, with protein and fat to satiate my voracious morning appetite. My rhubarb supply hailed from my neighbor's backyard (with permission of course), but I suspect there should be plenty coming into markets soon for your baking pleasure. 

 
oat flour carrot rhubarb muffins | funkybeetsblog.com
 


The raspberry chia jam is a breeze to make; all the ingredients are combined in a blender or food processor and refrigerated overnight, no cooking or pectin required. This ruby red, pleasantly seedy jam is amazing on waffles, toast, ice cream or yogurt. I imagine it would be pretty good on carrot rhubarb muffins as well (though I can't say for sure as we gobbled those up before I could locate some berries and whip up the jam).

 
raspberry chia jam | funkybeetsblog.com
 

In other news, I've been published!  My food writing appeared in this Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Check out the link below to find the online version of my story on how to throw a laid-back picnic party complete with light and tasty recipes to impress your friends without turning on the oven!

http://www.jsonline.com/features/parties/pick-fresh-light-dishes-for-perfect-picnic-party-fare-b99498244z1-304605071.html

Recipe note: If you are gluten intolerant, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour as many brands of oats contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross contamination. Also, these muffins are a bit on the crumbly side, I suggest using a plate and fork to catch any stray morsels of goodness.

Crumbly Carrot & Rhubarb Muffins

Adapted from My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season 

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 free range eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 lb carrots, grated
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 thin stalks rhubarb, sliced into thin disks (about 1/4 lb)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin with liners or cooking spray.
  2. Add oat flour, oats, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to a large bowl. Whisk well. 
  3. In a food processor, pulse walnuts until roughly chopped (or chop manually). Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk honey, eggs and melted coconut oil until combined. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened and no dry spots remain.
  5. Fold grated carrots, chopped walnuts, and sliced rhubarb into batter.
  6. Distribute batter evening among 12 muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes, until muffins tops are golden and glistening and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Enjoy warm with jam, butter, or coconut oil. 

Raspberry Chia Jam

Adapted from: My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season 

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

raspberry chia jam | funkybeetsblog.com
  • 1/2 lb fresh raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp honey (I used wildflower)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

Method

  1. Wash raspberries and place in blender or food processor. Add honey, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add chia seeds to blender and blend again until just incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into a jar and refrigerate until thickened, about 20 minutes. 
  4. Keep in fridge for up to a week.

Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Hi friends, I'm feeling a bit like a wrung out sponge. Wrapping up my semester of internship experience, I've started reflecting on how much I've learned much beyond textbooks, how many unique souls I've met, and how many hours I've stayed up wondering what the future holds for me. Two weeks out from graduation, I'm more than ready for a breather, however brief, from this juggling act I've been putting on for the last four months. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air, but quite honestly a few are rolling around on the floor, namely housekeeping and sleep. My cup runneth over with joy though tumbleweeds of dust grace the floors. One thing I can always count on to energize my mind and enliven my soul is creative cooking with fresh and vibrant ingredients.

 
cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Dirty house and sleep deprivation notwithstanding, I can still whip up a breakfast worth rising and shining for. This morning's version of overnight oats combined the comforting scent of cardamom, juicy ripe blackberries, and nutty sunflower seed butter along with chia seeds and a kiss of maple syrup. Power breakfast, no doubt, son. Soaking the oats overnight in a slightly acidic liquid (such as yogurt or milk of choice with a little lemon juice) helps break down some of the harder to digest proteins and totally eliminates the need for cooking.  So easy. So delicious.

In other news, I had an article and recipe about tamale-making published on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' blog Stone Soup check it out here!

 
cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sunbutter (any nut butter works!)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans

Method

  1. Combine oats, milk, lemon juice, chia seeds, and cardamom in a glass jar or bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove oat mixture from fridge and stir in maple syrup and sunbutter.
  3. In two separate jars or bowls, evenly distribute oat mixture, layering with blackberries and pecans to your artistic whims.  Add more milk if desired.
  4. Enjoy anywhere!