Posts tagged " healthy "

3 ways to eat whole grains this thanksgiving

3 ways to eat whole grains this Thanksgiving

November 21st, 2016 Posted by Food No Comment yet

The holidays are coming! They are loaded with food, friends, family and… did I mention food? Butter, flour, sugar and salt. Cranberries, apples, gravy and carbs. All things I love. I’m just wondering if we can “healthify” it just a little? I love me some white flour, but I also love the nutty chewy of a good whole grain roll. 


Classic Sauteed Kale

April 21st, 2016 Posted by Food, Side Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet

This is a recipe that can be made a thousand different ways. It’s the method I’ve been using to make sautéed greens for the last ten years, and probably the rest of my life.


super ginger kombucha

Super Ginger Kombucha

January 12th, 2016 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Fermentation, Food, Non-alchoholic No Comment yet


Kombucha… it’s so delicious, refreshing and magical. I love pairing new flavors with the tart base of kombucha and the results are usually unexpected and delicious.


butternut squash hummus

Butternut Squash Hummus

December 1st, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Food No Comment yet

Here’s another one of my “go to” recipes… hummus! It’s the easiest thing, and WAY cheaper to make yourself. Of course, you have to have a food processor or I guess a good blender (I’ve never tried it in the blender but I’ve seen other food bloggers do it) and the tahini, but once you have those items, the rest is cheap and easy.


Blackberry Sage Kombucha

September 16th, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Non-alchoholic No Comment yet

Yes. We are in to cooler weather this week and that makes me so happy. This kombucha is also making me extremely happy… it has the last of the summer blackberries in it! Plus a lovely FALL ingredient: fresh sage.


Miso Roasted Baby Eggplants

August 17th, 2015 Posted by Vegetables No Comment yet

miso glazed japanese eggplant - sugarpickles-2 
Have you ever noticed that some food just looks better before you cook it? The cooking process can make some vegetables and fruits look less vibrant. Of course, they are less vibrant, they’ve been steamed, roasted, boiled or cooked. Thank the powers that be, we have more then just sight to go on here. Even if a vegetable looks bland after cooking, we have smell and taste to tell us something different. 

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These little eggplants are one of those things that are breathtaking when raw, but a little bland looking when cooked. We have the bronzed miso side of them to make them appealing. The taste of them will prove to be interesting; salty and meltingly tender. I couldn’t stop eating them when they came out of the oven. 

This recipe is simple if you have a couple of irregular things on hand. I didn’t have sake or mirin, and I improvised for both with excellent results. 

Here’s how to make a “mock sake.” You just need a little dry vermouth and sugar. Mix them together in a small dish. 

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For the mirin, I just substituted whatever opened sweet wine I had, which happened to be rose. 

Then you roast the little babies with sesame oil, cut side down. After they roast, turn them over and let them cool while you make the glaze. The glaze comes together quickly. 

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Brush it on the eggplants. You might have a little extra, but you will definitely want to save it. 

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These get broiled. They smell amazing! Watch them, they go fast under the broiler. 

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These made a fantastic snack, but they would also be delicious alongside roasted salmon or chicken.

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*I saved the extra 3 tablespoons I had and used it to glaze grilled bok choi. A super tasty and quick side dish! 

Adapted slightly from New York Times

Miso Roasted Baby Eggplants
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
  • 6 or 7 small eggplants (about 3/4 pound)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus additional for the baking sheet
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or mirin if you have it
  • 1 tablespoon “mock sake” or regular sake if you have it (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and cut off the stem and calyx. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut an incision down the middle of each half, making sure not to cut through the skin, but cutting down to it. Salt the eggplant lightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with sesame oil.
  3. Blot the eggplants with paper towels to remove the moisture on the surface and place, cut side down, on the baking sheets.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is beginning to shrivel and the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the eggplants over, and preheat the broiler.
  5. To make the glaze, combine the mirin and sake (or wine and mock sake) in the smallest saucepan you have and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 20 seconds, taking care not to boil off much of the liquid, then turn the heat to low and stir in the miso and the sugar. Whisk over medium-low heat without letting the mixture boil, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil.
  6. Brush the eggplants with the miso glaze, using up all of the glaze. Place under the broiler, about 2 inches from the heat, and broil for about 1 minute, until the glaze begins to bubble and looks shiny. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool if desired or serve hot. To serve, cut the eggplant halves on the diagonal into 1- to 1-1/2-inch slices.
  7. To make the “mock sake”:
  8. Mix 1/4 cup dry vermouth with scant tablespoon sugar. Use just 1 tablespoon for this recipe and save the rest for another day you need sake.

Collard Rolls with Tikka Masala Sauce

July 15th, 2015 Posted by Main Dishes, Vegetables No Comment yet


collard wraps

I long to be that super healthy, brown-rice eating, ancient grains making girl that always has kale in her fridge. In reality, I’m over here eating the occasional doughnut, dreaming about blueberry scones (true story) and googling onion rings. I absolutely love to eat healthy and I’m always looking for ways to combine healthy and delicious. I’m just saying that I’m not opposed to pie, but I will also eat seconds of that beet salad. I also have a strange obsession with squash and lentils, so there you have it, this recipe has a bunch of my favorite healthy things in it! Doughnuts, you shall win another day.

These collard green wraps are the perfect “cabbage roll” for the healthy world. I had just made cabbage rolls (this was a few months ago, when the weather was rainy) and I was also craving Indian food, specifically Evergreen buffet in Corvallis. So then I started thinking… what would happen if I made sort of an Indian-style cabbage roll?  They are infused with Indian spices throughout and topped with a Tikka Masala sauce. The Tikka Masala sauce has just a splash of cream, so you don’t go too overboard with the healthy-ness. 

This recipe does take a little planning ahead and “pre-cooking” but you will end up with leftover rice, lentils, squash and sauce to feed you all week (and beyond, if you freeze the leftover lentils like I do). So just keep that in mind and maybe plan ahead. Like on Monday you could cook rice and roast squash, then on Tuesday make the lentils and the sauce and then Wednesday you could assemble everything and make the rolls. Since you’ll have more then enough of everything, your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meals could include some of what you’re cooking ahead anyways. Make sense? Or if you like to weekend-batch cook, cook up everything in one day and store or freeze the leftover bits of components for the collard rolls to use throughout the week. This is my favorite way to cook, because weeknight meals come together so much faster and easier when I’ve already got some things pre-cooked. 

So here we go! I’ll show you how to make this in one shot, but keep in mind that you can break this into steps or just start with the pre-cooked amounts of the ingredients in the “assembly” part of the recipe. 

Make the rice and set aside. Leave the lid on the pot or the rice cooker, so that the rice doesn’t dry out as it cools. 

Roast the squash. You want pieces that will be thin enough to roll into the wrap. My preference was thin but wide, shingle shaped pieces. The squash gets cumin seeds and hot madras curry powder sprinkled on it. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-2

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While the squash is roasting, cook the lentils. I used sprouted green lentils and mixed in some things to flavor them while they were still warm. I learned this trick from the most amazing lentil salad recipe ever. Add a little diced red onion, some golden raisins, more spices and some red wine vinegar.

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-3

Start the sauce and then keep it warm or on low until you are ready to serve. If you are making it ahead of time you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge and then re-heat gently on the stove top before serving. 

Making the sauce is easy. Cook up some onions, ginger and garlic with tomato paste and add some spices and more tomatoes.

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Simmer, puree and then add in some cream. 

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Isn’t food a beautiful thing? 

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The collard leaves need to be softened. We just boil a pot of water and add them in, cook for one minute and then let cool until you can handle them.

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-7

Okay, now it’s just an assembly line. Set a leaf on a work surface and with a short, sharp knife, cut out the thick stem on the bottom. With the bottom of the leave closest to you, add a small pile of rice (no more then 1/4 up per roll) and top that with a smaller pile of lentils (about 1/8 cup) and then a shingle of squash. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-8

Start rolling. 

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And set seam side down in a square baking dish. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-11Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

When you are ready to serve, top with warmed Tikka Masala sauce and dig in! 

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Collard Wraps with Tikka Masala Sauce

2 cups cooked Calrose rice (cooked in a rice cooker)

2 cups cooked lentils, recipe follows (sprouted green or green lentils)

2 cups roasted Indian spiced butternut squash (recipe follows)

8-10 collard green leaves

1 batch Tikka Masala Sauce (recipe follows) 

Roasted butternut squash:

Half of 1 small to medium butternut squash

Olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1-2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Take one half of the squash and use for another use. Slice the other half of the squash into 1/4 inch slices.

Oil a baking sheet (or two, if you are roasting the whole squash, but you will only need one pan of squash for this recipe) and set aside. You don’t want to oil the squash itself, the oil will seal in the moisture and the squash will be get slimy. Arrange the squash with plenty of room on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and the curry powder over the squash and roast for 20 minutes.



4 cups sprouted green lentils 

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook about 4 cups lentils according to package directions. 

Mix the onion, raisins, vinegar and spices into the lentils and set aside 2 cups for another use or freeze in portions. These lentils are excellent in a lentil salad, as is the extra squash you will probably have from this recipe.


For the Tikka Masala Sauce:

Ghee  for cooking

1 onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1” peeled fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 – 28 oz can tomatoes

6 cardamom pods crushed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (garam masala or hot madras curry)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and Pepper

Add the ghee to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautee for a 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cardamom and chili and cook until the tomato paste has darkened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and simmer until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Blend sauce with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

To softened the collard leaves:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove each leaf and rinse. When the water is at a rolling boil, place 5 or 6 leaves in the pot for 1 minute. Remove to a strainer and let cool, and then add the rest of the leaves. Set them aside until you are ready to fill and roll them.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Set an 8×8 pan aside and place the collard greens, lentils, rice and squash nearby.

Lay a leaf down on a counter or cutting board. Cut away the thick part of the stem. Take 1/4 cup rice, gently shape into a small cylinder and put on the lower third of the collard leaf. Add 1/8-1/4 cup lentils to the top of the rice. Top with a piece of squash. Roll up starting with the end that is piled high with rice, lentils and squash (see photos). Tuck in the ends so the filling doesn’t fall out. Place each collard roll in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the next 7-9 wraps, whatever will fit snuggly in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. To serve, put 1 or 2 rolls on each plate, and spoon the sauce over the rolls.

Thanks for hanging in there! That is a long one! But I promise that if you break it up, it’s a tasty and fun recipe for meat eater and vegetarians alike, and you can freeze leftovers or eat them throughout the week. 

indian inspired collard wraps_sugar pickles-19

DIY Chamomile Tea

June 23rd, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Gardening, Non-alchoholic No Comment yet

If you missed my post last week about the different flowers I have in my garden and some ideas of what to do with them, check it out! There is some amazing blooms out there and I really wanted to share them with you. But if you want a way to ease into the world of edible flowers, herbs and gardening, this is a great place to start!

chamomile tea from sugar pickles-5

Here, we have one of the classics. Chamomile. Chamomile is calming, peaceful and promotes contemplation and rest. Chamomile is super easy to grow (you can put it right in your garden bed, or in a container). I put it in the herb garden which is right outside the back door of our house. I love my little herb garden. I had no idea Chamomile grew tall and liked to flop over, so I added a tomato cage around it a few weeks after I planted it. I wish I had done this at the start, because trying to force unwieldily chamomile stems into a cage and breaking them, as well as bruising some flowers and leaves, isn’t exactly a graceful and um…”peaceful” task, but it was done and the plant seems to have bounced back just fine. In fact, just one plant gives me quite a bit of flowers, and I find myself drying a small batch about every week.

The process is easy. I learned about this from this blog out of the UK. You can read the original article here.

  1. Pick your flowers early in the day (anytime before noon is okay). This ensures that they will be fresh, perky and full of flavor. If the picking is done later in the day, the plant may be more tired, taxed or stressed from being in the heat all day. If your life is such that morning picking isn’t for you, then wait until evening or anytime the plant has some shade on it for an hour or two.
  2. Place all the flowers in a bowl of cool water to gently wash off any bugs, dirt, or spider webs. A note about washing: washing does not fully remove pesticides. If you are using pesticides in your yard, you should not spray pesticides on (or near!) herbs or things you plan to consume. I’ve found that a mixture of soap and water takes care of the aphids, and having a well-balanced eco-system in your yard (meaning plenty of bees, butterflies, dragon flies, lady bugs and spiders) helps combat other bugs that are likely to feast on your precious herbs. But I’m learning more about organic gardening everyday, so if you have any thoughts about this, please comment!
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-10
  3. Let the flower buds soak in the cool water for a few minutes, then put them in a salad spinner to dry them, or put them in a single layer on paper towels until dry.
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-11
  4. Preheat the oven (or a toaster oven, which is how I do my smaller batches) to 200 degrees (250 or 300 works better in the toaster oven, it doesn’t seem to run as warm as my full size oven).
  5. Put the flowers on a parchment lined baking sheet, trim off any stems that are a little longer then 1/2 inch.
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-14
  6. Put the tray in the oven and turn the oven off, leaving the door propped open about 2 inches for a full size oven or 1 inch for a toaster oven.
  7. Let them dry in the oven for a couple of hours, about 3 and then check them. You can also heat the oven back up after a few hours (remove the flowers first!) and repeat until all the moisture is gone from the petals and they look dried. Mine took about 6 hours, or basically all day and I re-heated the oven twice. These ones I put back in: 
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-18

When they are all dry they should look something like this: 

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The center yellow part will still have some moisture, that’s okay. Store in a small jar, adding more dried chamomile as you make it.

To make a cup of tea, use 1 tablespoon of flowers per 8-10 oz cup. Boil some water, pour over the flowers and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain or remove the tea ball/sieve and then add honey or lemon as desired. I prefer it without any further adornment… it’s the best chamomile tea I’ve ever had and I don’t want to cover up the flavor.

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Avocado Snack with Chili Sauce and Ak-mak Crackers

June 11th, 2015 Posted by Snacks No Comment yet

avocado snack

With freelancing and working from home, you’d think I have time for lunch. Actually, most days go by too fast, with a to-do list that is longer then I can accomplish and chores stacking up around me faster then I can tackle them. You’ve been there, right? 

I often will launch head first into a day full of food photography shoots, design work, or house projects that are somewhat spontaneous or start innocently enough. “Oh, I’ll just make some almond milk real quick” or “Oooh I should get that bread going before it gets too late in the day” and suddenly it’s 3pm, I haven’t eaten lunch or showered (this real life is not glamorous) and I’m running around with pie dough on my hands and flour on my face. It happens. When the day gets away from me and I need something to eat that takes two seconds to make, I reach for this easy and healthy snack. 

It’s so simple, I can make it in between dough rising and doing the dishes… because there are a lot of those around here too. And usually, let’s be real, I eat it standing up in my kitchen over the sink.

Here’s what it is:

Acovados! I try to keep one or two around in the event of an emergency such as this. Just halve it, remove the pit and slice it into chunks while still in the peel.

avocado snack with crackers and chili paste

Ak-mak crackers. I’ve only really seen these at Trader Joes, and they are usually less then $2.00 a box, but I’m sure they are available other places too. Check the ethnic food section of your grocery store. If you can’t find Ak-mak, try another whole wheat flatbread style cracker. 

avocado snack with crackers and chili paste-2

Sweet chili sauce. This, along with a couple green onions sliced up, is my favorite topping for brown rice. Sriracha would be excellent too if you want more heat and less sweet! I put some in a squeeze bottle here to “control the flow” of the sauce on my avocado. 

avocado snack with crackers and chili paste

Remember those little slices you put in the avocado halves? Here’s where you take a piece of cracker, and with the edge of it, dig into the avocado and scoop it out, getting some sauce on it along the way.

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Now eat up! You’re probably starving!

avocado snack with crackers and chili paste

Avocado Snack with Chili Sauce and Akman Crackers
Recipe Type: Snack
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 snack
  • 1 ripe organic avocado
  • 4-6 Ak-mak crackers, or other similar flatbread cracker
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili paste or sriracha
  1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit, leaving the flesh of the avocado in the peel.
  2. With a pairing knike, slice the avocado into a diamond pattern while it’s still contained in the peel.
  3. Drizzle the sweet chili sauce on the avocado.
  4. With the edge of a cracker, dig in to the avocado where the flesh meets the peel and scoop out a bite using the cracker.
  5. Enjoy over the sink if you are in a hurry.


Almond milk with Dates and Vanilla — plus a bonus variation

April 28th, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Non-alchoholic 2 comments

homemade almond milk

It seems like all the nut milk recipes I’ve tried require an industrial sized blender. I’m in the kitchen, nut milk spilling out over the top of my blender, half of it still in the bowl, trying to add a little maple syrup to the batch and get the sweetness just right. I love, absolutely LOVE homemade almond milk (any nut milk, for that matter). The quality and flavor is far beyond what you can buy, and the homemade version has no carrageenan, which is a potential source of inflammation in the gut and could also cause breast cancer*. 

But I just need this to be easier. Also, I’m the only one in my house of two people and three cats that drinks almond milk, so I’d rather not make a huge batch and risk it going bad. 

Huckleberry Cookbook has my answer! A new almond milk recipe, with dates and a whole vanilla bean! Heaven. Nut milk heaven. Dates make things interesting… I’ve been loving dates lately! They are used in a lot of vegan and raw recipes, and I’m starting to understand why. 

almond milk-2

There are a couple things I love about this recipe over other nut milk recipes: 

1. You soak the almonds in a small amount of water, so you don’t have a large bowl teetering (why does everything in my fridge always seem to be teetering?) all night, it’s just a small bowl that fits in right next to the kefir grains and the jar of freshly grated horseradish (okay I think I just answered my own question.) 

almond milk with dates

2. Dates! I had a chance to use these large, plump and juicy medjool dates. Man, these things look luscious. 

almond milk

3.Vanilla bean. HELLO!? Simply gorgeous. You use the beans from the pod when blending, then you add the whole pod back to the finished nut milk to steep away in the fridge as you use it up. SO smart.
 vanilla bean seeds

4. The quantity is perfect! One batch fits in the blender. One batch also fits in the nut milk bag (how many more times can I say that?), and one batch is perfect just for me. No more blending in shifts, no more adjusting sweetness over and over again, no more standing at the counter straining (because who needs that, really?) Invest in a nut milk bag. It’s way easier then fighting with cheesecloth, and you can reuse them for all kinds of kitchen projects (see Resources section, below the recipe.)

using a nut milk bag

So here we are. A beautiful jar of almond milk that I actually enjoyed making!  

almond milk

It’s the perfect amount of sweetness, and the salt is something I never thought to add before. I think you could do it with or without. The vanilla is technically optional, but I think it adds a richness you just can’t get from a carton. Almond milk? Yes pleeeeease. 

From Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan

Almond milk with Dates and Vanilla
Recipe Type: Drinks, Non-Alcoholic
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 cups
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, whole with the skin on
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine the almonds, dates, and 1 cup cold water. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Strain the mixture, discarding the water.
  3. Split the vanilla bean, lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a blender. Save the bean pod. Add the soaked almonds, dates and salt. Pour in 3 1/2 cups cold water. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag into a large measuring cup. Pour into a canning jar or pitcher, and add the vanilla pod. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it separates, just gently shake to combine it again.


(added 5/25/25)

  • Swap out the almonds for cashew pieces or whole cashews. 
  • Reduce the dates from four to two 
  • Use a vanilla bean paste instead of a spendy whole vanilla bean, using 1 tablespoon of paste to equal 1 vanilla bean. The paste has great flavor and can be a great swap out for certain recipes.
  • add in 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon and a sprinkle of cinnamon (only use a small sprinkle of cinnamon, or even leave it out. Cinnamon will over power the delicate cardamon flavor)
  • Follow method and the rest of the recipe as directed. 


*Source: Dr. Andrew Weil, on The Splendid Table 

Large Canning Jar, Weck, Cost Plus World Market

Nut milk bag, Harold Import Co., Amazon (this bag is polyester, 11″x 9″ and is machine washable. There are tons of nut milk bags, some made with natural fibers which are quite nice. You can also use nut milk bags for making jellies, cheese and preserves.)

For another recipe from Huckleberry, check out these Strawberry Galettes.

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