Tuesday, April 30, 2013

La soupe froide à la céleri

This IS the new way to eat celery. It's amazing because it takes 5 minutes to make and it's just a tasty bowl of vegetables in a new configuration. Sometimes I wolf it down plain, sometimes my daughter and I use it as a dip with multigrain chips. The recipe comes from the book Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day by Erica Palmcrantz and Irmela Lilja.   I've tried variations on the amount of each vegetable in this and haven't liked it as much as their recipe, so let us know if you find one!

La soupe froide a la celeri

  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salsa (my favorite is Jack's special salsa from Costco)
  • 1 avocado
  • Bragg's liquid aminos OR tamari OR Nama Shoyu, to taste (I use about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup water
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor until it reaches the desired consistency. I like mine to still have some texture and crunch so I don't leave it long. Add the Bragg's liquid aminos last to taste. If you want a smooth, thinner consistency, add a little more water and let it blend longer. 

Possible variations could include adding cucumber, bell pepper, or other herbs per your preference.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

Just a little twist on the morning smoothie. 


1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3 oranges, peeled
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice 
1 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in a blender in the order listed and blend. For a more tart smoothie, add more limes and cranberries. For more sweetness, add more agave or an apple. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Red Coconut Soup

This soup has a unique taste of mild indian flavors. It's got ginger, garbanzo beans, lime, and coconut. An added dash of salt and spritz of lime over the top complete it. This is one of our favorite go-to dinner recipes.

Red Coconut Soup 

Serves four

2 cups red split lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup fingerling potatoes, whole or diced depending on your preference
2 red bell peppers cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup diced celery
1 fresh jalapeño or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds
1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup tomato paste
7 cups water
1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper, celery and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, potatoes, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.  Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes. Once served in bowl, squeeze lime juice generously over each serving and season with salt and cilantro to taste.

{Adapted from a recipe by Tina Jeffers, author of Scaling Back}

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Green Lemonade

There are days where you feel really motivated to eat clean. This juice will be the spark to your flame. It tastes like lemonade but ain't no kid gonna be selling this for fitty cents on the street corner. They would totally charge $1. It's that good.

Green Lemonade

Serves one

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed
1 bunch kale, rinsed and deviened
1 apple (fuji or green seems to taste best)
1 lemon, peeled

Optional addition:
5-8 blackberries

Run all ingredients through a juicer, lemon last. Drink within 15 minutes of making the juice for the most nutritional value. (After that, the enzymes in the vegetables start to become ineffective).

{Credit for this recipe goes to Natalia Rose, author of The Raw Food Detox Diet}

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nikki's version Vegetable Lasagna

This dish is a great way to eat a heaping serving of vegetables and still get that comfort food feeling. It's a slightly sweet sauce that pairs nicely with the red and yellow peppers. You can't taste the kale, so any sissies afraid to eat kale *my husband* just dive in and then you can say you've tried it. ;)

Vegetable Lasagna
Serves 6
Prep time: about 1 hour start to finish


2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 leaves Kale, de-veined and chopped to 1" pieces
2 cups spinach
2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 8oz. can tomato paste
juice from 1/2 lemon
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T basil (or 1/4c fresh basil, diced)
1 T oregano (or 1/4c fresh oregano)
1 t sea salt
1/2 t fresh ground pepper

9 lasagna noodles
1 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water and cook lasagna noodles until just past al dente- about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. In large pot, add olive oil, garlic, onions, and zucchini. Saute until onions become translucent, about 4 minutes. Add peppers, and kale and saute another 2-3 minutes. Then add spinach, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and spices. Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a 9x13 glass baking dish, pour 1/2 cup of vegetable tomato sauce. Layer with 3 noodles, sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and then pour 1 cup of vegetable tomato sauce. Repeat until all noodles, sauce, and cheese are gone. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Cover with tin foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is light brown and sauce is bubbling on around the edges of the dish. Let stand 10 minutes to cool after removing from oven before serving.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vegetable Enchiladas

This is not your standard beans-rice-cheese kind of enchilada. This is like busting open a piñata full of vegetables...smothered in your dream sauce. Your dinner guests will never know what hit them. The insane amount of spinach also makes your muscles double in size and self-tone overnight. It's always a perk when your food does your workout for you.

Vegetable Enchiladas

Serves four

13 ounce can chicken, shredded
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce kidney beans (or pinto), rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen organic corn
12 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach, uncooked
10 green onions (approximately 1 1/2 bunches), sliced into rounds
2/3 cup cilantro (1 bunch) chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
16 ounces shredded 3 cheese blend
7 whole grain tortillas

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can green chiles 
3 cups chicken broth 
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the sauce: over medium heat, brown the onion until translucent and then add garlic for 30 seconds. Place all ingredients in a blender (including the browned onion and garlic) and blend until smooth. Place back in the pan and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens (10 minutes).

Combine all other ingredients except 10 ounces cheese and tortillas in a mixing bowl. Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with a little enchilada sauce. Generously fill tortillas until bursting, roll, and place them in the pan.  Cover enchiladas with sauce and sprinkle the remaining 10 ounces of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. 

{Adapted from Martha Stewart and The Garden Grazer}

Grilled Red Pepper Panini

The red pepper has to be one of the most versatile vegetables. Each time you cook it a new way, it tastes just a little bit different. This Panini highlights the roasted version of a red bell pepper and is delicious next to the coolness of the other vegetables layered on this warm sandwich. Pictured here on top of whole grain artisan toast, it's also extremely good on a Ciabatta roll.

Grilled Red Pepper Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices Ciabatta or other favorite bread (I like whole grain or rye artisan bread) 
4 zucchini, cut thin and long
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced into rounds
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 roasted red bell peppers (in brine), sliced into rounds
Avocado (optional)

Asparagus Basil Pesto 
2 T olive oil
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup asparagus, boiled for about 3 minutes or until tender enough to blend
1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt to taste

Marinate zucchini, yellow pepper, and purple onion in the balsamic vinegar for 15 minutes. While marinating, blend ingredients for asparagus pesto until smooth.

Layer marinated vegetables along with avocado and roasted red bell peppers on favorite bread (Ciabatta bread is recommended by the Italians, but I choose a whole grain artisan bread -- I especially love rye). On the other slice of bread, spread the pesto. Place the sandwich in 1 teaspoon of olive oil or butter and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. If you do not have a panini maker, you can put a plate with a can on top of the sandwich to weight the bread and press it as the panini maker would. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What is Balanced Palates?

Balanced palates is the brainchild of two friends that don't want to ride the wave of an over-proccessed, stressed out and out of balance world. Great things can be found in going back to the basics, and that is the goal of this blog- to help us all find the balance we need so we can be successful in the avenues life takes us down. Balance between nutrition, exercise, and a healthy dose of soul food can tip the scale in the direction of happiness- and who doesn't need a little more of that with all the pressures we daily face? So here it is- what we hope can be a one stop shop for a little zen moment during your crazy day.

Alyssa Holbrook is the resident chef, rarely making the same recipe the same way twice! Her recipes are always a healthful combination of the necessities you will likely have on hand and the fun stuff that makes you peruse isles of the grocery store you never thought you'd visit. Due to her own experiences searching for the right nutrition for her and her family, she has found many ways to adjust diet that don't sacrifice the tastes we love. Her trademark is an abundant use of fresh herbs and a LOT of vegetables. She is an amateur photographer and a very happy homemaker with a hunger for using her creativity to bless others' lives. The love of her life is Dan, whose understanding and constant joy makes this blog possible. She loves mothering Milah, who is her mom's best friend.

Nikki Zirkle really likes eating Alyssa's food. Sometimes it makes her want to cook too. So when that urge hits, you'll know. Otherwise she provides the soul food that our hungry souls need to find peace smack in the middle of the chaos. She is the wife of superman and the mother of a feisty, tender, very ticklish toddler. She also likes to doodle and does some work for Sarah Perkins Photography and Design based out of Colorado.

We hope you enjoy balanced palates. 

Soupe à la Crème de Citron

Picture your taste buds dancing in mod 70s attire sipping funky colored lemonade and swaying to a groovy beat. That is what this soup makes your mouth feel like. It's got serious tang so if you're not a lime lover, tone down that measurement and it will taste more like a sailboat cruising calm seas. Still dancing tastebuds, just sans funky colored lemonade.

Soupe à la Crème de Citron

Serves six

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
15 small tomatillos
6 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
4 ripe avocados (or 6 small), peeled and pitted
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp sea salt
Sour cream or plain greek yogurt for garnish
Green onions, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)

In a bit of olive oil, cook the onion and garlic until translucent. Prepare tomatillos by removing skins and chop. Add the vegetable stock and tomatillos and simmer for about 5 minutes. Put the whole soup into a blender and blend until smooth. 

Cool for 30 minutes, or until chilled. 

Blend the freshly squeezed lime, avocado, cilantro, and salt in a blender and add the cooled soup base. Return the soup to the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve cold. Garnish with cream, as pictured and green onions sliced into rounds, if desired.  

{Adapted from Heidi Swanson's Supernatural Cooking Crema de Guacamole Recipe}

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Herbs de provence salade

This salad is simple as can be. The unique and lively flavor comes from the fresh herbs. Tasting this you will agree- sometimes vegetables just need to be eaten as God grew them. Notice the lack of lettuce for a base to this salad. For some this will be a daring new step but take the leap- it's worth it!

Herbs de provence salade

Serves four

1/2 red onion 

2 cucumbers (I like English best)
2 tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 T fresh oregano
3T (2 bunches) fresh basil
2 T olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

Thinly slice all vegetables into rounds using a mandoline or knife. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. 

Provencal baked lemon chicken with rosemary and dijon

I think rosemary and lemon are star-crossed lovers. Nature tried to keep them apart- with the lemon flung high up to grow in a tree and the rosemary anchored to the dirt. Alas, fate has brought them together in a combination so powerful, that had Romeo and Juliet eaten this for their last supper they'd have skipped the drama in favor of seconds.

Provencal baked lemon chicken with rosemary and dijon

Serves four

3 large chicken breasts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons stone ground dijon mustard
1/4 cup robust olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey dijon mustard, stone ground dijon mustard, rosemary, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. Cut chicken breasts into 1/2 inch strips and add to dressing. Marinate for 1-2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Brown marinated chicken on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.