antioxidant acai bowl

03 06 2016.

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Acai Bowls. Spend 15 minutes on almost any social media outlet and you’re likely to find a photo of a bowl filled with a mysterious purple substance topped delicately with fruits and nuts. They’re everywhere.

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For many months now, I’ve become increasingly curious about these beautiful bowls and really wanted to try making my own. At first it seemed like the only solution was to buy a powdered acai and mix it with frozen berries. Then I found out that you can purchase some frozen acai packs. I finally managed to get my hands on some of the frozen packs (wasn’t hard – Whole Foods stocks this brand) and decided that I was going to dedicate this weekend to experimenting with the famous acai bowl.

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It turns out that the trick to the acai bowl is that the desired consistency is thicker than a smoothie. It’s a spoon-fed concoction – hence the bowl as the vessel. Because of the thicker consistency, you want to avoid a) letting the acai sit at room temperature for too long before OR after blending (pop it back in the freezer for 15 minutes), b) diluting the acai mixture with too many non-frozen ingredients and c) blending for too long in a high-speed blender – this will create friction and eventually start to heat up your acai!

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Now, you must be wondering – what on Earth does acai taste like? I was pleasantly surprised. I really expected a strong berry flavor. Given its wild purple color, it looks like a pureed mixture of berries. Acai actually tastes more like…chocolate. Yeah…right? It’s a little bitter with a dark chocolatey taste. Kind of strange, definitely unexpected, but a chocolate-flavored super berry was BORN to be in a smoothie bowl.

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antioxidant acai bowl


yields: 1-2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen acai packet, unsweetened
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/2 banana + 1/2 banana, sliced + divided
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp slivered almonds
  • 1/2 Tbsp. coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/2 Tbsp. goji berries
  • 1 tsp honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice: maple syrup, agave, coconut nectar, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Prepare all of your ingredients and toppings before removing the acai puree from the freezer: slice the banana and kiwi and pit the date.
  2. In a blender, combine the frozen acai puree, date, frozen berries, 1/2 of a banana, and almond milk. You may have to stir the ingredients a few times (or use the blender plunger) to get the entire mixture to soften.
  3. Pour the mixture into a large serving bowl or two small ones and top with your desired ingredients.
  4. Drizzle with honey. Eat with a spoon!

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Hey all! I know it’s been a while. I’ll post soon about what I’ve been up to but for now let’s talk about Thanksgiving. I had a fun (and delicious) Thanksgiving up with my mom’s side of the family. We ate until we couldn’t eat any more and then we had a 2 hour dance party! Jury’s still out on whether that was a smart decision or not – but it was a blast!

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healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dicehealthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

I’m a huge fan of brunch. It’s actually starting to become a regular Sunday thing among my friends. I love returning from my long run, taking a hot shower, and then emerging to a scene of friends, delicious food smells and the sheer joy of creating something special together.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

We go all out during brunch. Everyone contributes something – whether it’s pancakes, home fries, sausage, a fruit salad, or mimosas. One of my favorite breakfasts of all time would have to be a homemade parfait. I often will set out the fixings – I brought them to share at work once as well – but they usually go untouched: no one quite knows what to make of an assortment of yogurt, fruit and granola sitting out on a table. Sure, separately, they’re great. But together, they’re wonderful.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

For Easter this year, I’m going to be bringing mini pre-made parfaits to the table with homemade granola. You can’t really go wrong when you bring something healthy and delicious to Easter brunch.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola


yields: 10 mini parfaits

Ingredients:

Granola

  • 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Parfaits

  • 10 8-ounce mason jars
  • 1 quart of your favorite greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 24 oz. frozen mixed berries
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate

Directions:

Granola

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, add 1/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup pecans. Pulse until roughly ground. Transfer to a bowl. Chop the remaining almonds and pecans into smaller pieces. Combine them with the ground nuts.
  3. Microwave the honey and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds, or until melted. Pour liquid into the bowl of nuts.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, removing once after 6 minutes to stir. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container and use within 3-4 weeks.

Parfaits

  1. Spoon a small layer of greek yogurt into the bottom of each of your jars.
  2. Next, add some frozen berries onto the layer of greek yogurt. Spoon another layer of greek yogurt into the jars, followed by a second layer of berries. End with a final layer of greek yogurt, making sure to leave room on top for granola.
  3. Chop the dark chocolate into tiny pieces. Top each parfait with a little bit of the dark chocolate. If eating right away, top with a few scoops of granola as well.

Granola recipe adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Winter struck hard today. (It snowed and then it rained onto the snow. So now we’ve got about an inch of snow and another inch of ice. The highlight of the day was watching cars attempt to make it to the upper level of the office parking lot.) And when winter strikes, I crave comfort. Comfort food, cozy clothing, my warm apartment, candles, books, tea.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Winter almost always wreaks havoc on my dinner choices. That craving for comfort food can kill an otherwise healthy eating day. Mashed potatoes (yum!), cheesy pasta (please!), and creamy soups (right now!) are classics – but offer so very little nutritionally.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

If it hasn’t become clear quite yet – I turn everything into a salad. (Sometimes, I even put a salad in my food.) I probably put 80% of my dinners on top of a bed of lettuce. It may be strange, but over time I’ve come to believe that almost every meal can be made healthier with a little bit of spinach.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

(Because beets make everything red, you’ll have to take my word that there are a variety of vegetables in there!)

So between my enthusiasm for lettuce and making this coconut curry sauce at least once a week, I’ve come up with a solution to the comfort food dilemma: a winter vegetable salad with a warm dressing that’s got an incredible Indian-spiced twist. Don’t ask me how it came to this, but it just works.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

Though beets almost always steal the show, the real rockstar of this dish is the dressing. This dressing is so good that I ate probably two spoonfuls of it while waiting for the vegetables to be done in the oven. I have so much of the dressing left over, I have a feeling that it’s going to end up on all of my meals for the next few days.

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette  - spice & dice

roasted winter vegetable salad with a tomato vinaigrette


yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Winter Vegetables

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 beets
  • 3 parsnips
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • sea salt & pepper

Salad

  • a bunch of spinach

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash, peel and slice the sweet potatoes, fingerlings, shallots, beets, parsnips and garlic. Toss in melted coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes – or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through, stirring them after 30 minutes.
  2. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed, for roughly 30 seconds. If needed, add more olive oil or basil and tomatoes to reach desired consistency.
  3. Allow the vegetables to cool for 5 minutes before tossing onto the spinach. Top with the vinaigrette.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

When Darren and I moved in together into a bright, sunny apartment in Portland, we discovered that we were very close to a local treasure: Rosemont Market. For those outside of the Portland/Yarmouth area in Maine, it would be hard to describe just how amazing this little store is. Almost everything in the store is local, from the produce, dairy and spices to the meat, coffee and baked goods. (Minus, of course, the vast and unique selection of imported wines.) The space is painted in colorful and bright oranges, greens and yellows.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Sunday afternoon, I took a short stroll – it really only takes me 5 minutes to walk to Rosemont – to pick up some produce. Onions, zucchini, summer squash, rainbow carrots. This is probably the best I’ve ever done “just winging it.” I created this recipe initially because I had an extra package of tofu in the fridge that I hadn’t used for a different recipe and a co-worker mentioned wanting Indian food while at work. That was all I needed. I immediately began planning my dinner for that night. I had curry on my mind.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Before I started baking, I had planned to use a Trader Joe’s curry sauce that I bought months before, (which is delicious, by the way) but I really wanted to try my hand at a homemade curry. So before even beginning to experiment, I typed up my own instructions to follow. Coconut milk, curry powder, flour, olive oil. Simple enough.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

And it was just that. Extremely simple. I’ve also been really into using my mandoline. It’s just a fun instrument and never fails to impress me with its pristine veggie-chopping abilities. My mandoline (a gift that Darren bought for me on our one-year anniversary) is my favorite kitchen appliance! Fries, veggie noodles, chips – you name it. This mandoline can do it!

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

Alright so I have to admit something. Traditional curry sauce usually has fish sauce in it. I created this curry recipe to work with the items that I had in my pantry at the time and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s comprised of four ingredients and this sauce is delicious. It’s just so easy and inexpensive to make. Darren and I both took what was left to work the next day and it tasted even better! Once the sauce has had time to sit for a while, covering the vegetable noodles, the flavor really comes out!

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

I should also mention, for those who are interested, that this dinner is both vegetarian and vegan! If you want to make it gluten-free, all you have to do is substitute the flour in the roux with a gluten-free flour or almond flour.

Tofu Curry over Vegetable Noodles - Spice & Dice

tofu curry over vegetable noodles


yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 3 medium carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Drain liquid from tofu package and pat-dry. Let it sit on paper towels while you prepare your curry sauce and vegetable noodles.
  2. Julienne your zucchini, summer squash and carrots with a peeler, spiralizer or mandoline. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan, create a roux: heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and keep moving until the flour and olive oil are mixed with no clumps. Slowly add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in curry powder and salt.
  4. Slice the tofu into small cubes and transfer to a clean sauce pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the minced garlic. Cook over medium heat, covered, for roughly 8 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable noodles and 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Once warm, remove from heat.
  6. When the tofu is browned, add the curry sauce. Stirring, turn down the heat and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Assemble your meal: put your noodles at the base of your bowl. Top with tofu and spoon curry sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

I’ve had a hankering for chicken parmesan ever since I saw a photo of something similar a few weeks ago. It may sound silly, but every time I thought about moving chicken from the freezer to defrost in the fridge, I mentally prepared for some good ol’ chicken parm.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

Chicken parmesan was a staple growing up. It was something that the whole family could agree upon. Those who disliked marinara sauce could forego it and enjoy the chicken atop some garlic noodles. Those who didn’t like breaded chicken (what!?) could still have a meal of spaghetti. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the whole shebang.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

While hiking yesterday, I decided that I was most definitely going to make some in the next few days. Because I have a tendency to go overboard with pasta, I figured I’d substitute the pasta with something more healthy. Darren brought home a zucchini from the school’s garden and it got me thinking – bingo! I have a mandoline with a spiralizer attachment that I had yet to use.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

The zucchini and mushrooms soak up the delicious garlic flavor, but the real rockstar of this dish is the chicken. If you’re going to make this, whatever you do, don’t leave out the smoked paprika. That smoky flavor is so perfect for the dish and it makes your whole house smell wonderful while it’s cooking!

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Zucchini and Mushrooms - Spice & Dice

chicken parmesan with garlic zucchini and mushrooms


yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 4 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted or 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup marinara

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick (cooking) spray.
  2. Line your chicken up on a cutting board and trim most of the fat off. If you’re using chicken breasts, (carefully!) cut each breast in half, so that each piece is thin. If using the tenders, cover with a bag and towel and pound them flat using a meat tenderizer. Aim to make each piece of chicken no more than 1/3 inch thick.
  3. In a bowl, mix the panko with the basil, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, rosemany, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Brush each side of the chicken with the melted butter or coconut oil, coat with the panko mixture, and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. While the chicken is in the oven, prepare your zucchini “pasta.” In a sauce pan, add the olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Cook on medium low, covered, for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. The garlic should be very aromatic.
  6. Using a mandoline or spiralizer (I use this one), slice the zucchini. Add the zucchini to the sauce pan. Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. In another sauce pan, heat up your favorite marinara sauce.
  8. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven. Top with the mozzarella cheese and put it back into the oven for 1 minute – so that the cheese melts.
  9. Assemble your layers and enjoy immediately!