5 Steps to a Perfect Salad

Detox-Quinoa-Salad

1) Include fresh herbs.
Any and all of them.  Throw in some basil, parsley, cilantro, mint…it will totally take your salad to the next level.

2) Make sure you have something crunchy.
Try toasted pumpkin seeds, raw slivered almonds, kimchee, raw carrots, radish, cucumbers, jicama or cut up kohlrabi (a completely forgotten and super yummy veggie).

3) Season that baby up!
Use quality sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and make sure you really work your dressing into the greens.  Even distribution is key (and that way you won’t need to use as much)!

**Our secret to the perfect dressing is 2 parts good quality oil + 2 parts acid (vinegar or citrus) + 1 part Dijon mustard.  A little S & P and you’re good to go!

4) Always include something unexpected.
Try sliced banana, blueberries, granola, seaweed snacks, scrambled eggs, or any leftovers (like curry or stir fries).

5) Go for a chop-chop.
Put it all on a board and take out your aggression by chopping all of your ingredients into easy, bite size pieces.

For even more salad inspiration check out all the salads from #SaladFest2013

What are your favorite salad ingredients and dressings?  Share the love down below.

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Your Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (and this year it falls on Channukah! Even more holiday fun), so it’s time to start planning your menu or thinking about what show stopping dish you’ll be bringing to your pot luck feast.

To help make this year’s holiday cooking as simple and FUN as possible, we are providing a completely comprehensive, tried and true recipe guide.

Firstly, when it comes to the bird this is all you need to know.

thanksgiving sides

For side dishes & dessert (which are the best parts anyway), follow this fool proof menu…

Gluten Free Quinoa Stuffing

Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower Parsnip & Apple Puree

Cranberry Citrus (Awesome) Sauce

Gluten Free Apple & Pear Crumble

Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes


In our Healthy Basics Cookbook you can find other perfect recipes (for the Holidays or any time) like…

Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Balsamic Collards with Pine Nuts

Roasted Veggies topped with Vanilla Roasted Nuts (uh-mazing)

We’d love to see what you make!  Inspire us, and the rest of the Cooking Camp Crew by posting your pics on our Facebook page.  

turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream

Happy Halloween!!!  This is just the beginning of temptation season!  There’s krackles and candy corn as far as the eye can see, but there’s no reason that you can’t stay relatively healthy.

Last year we posted these amazing Peanut Butter Candied Apples which still totally rock our socks.  But this year we’re pumpkin-ify things.

Our friend, Healthy Hungry Girl posted this amazingly comprehensive list of Healthy Halloween Treats which inspired countless “OMG”s and “I NEED TO TRY THAT”s.

We’d like to add our Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream to the list of halloween treats.

We know what you’re thinking, “there’s no way they’re healthy”.  But we swear, it’s not a trick.  They are remarkably low in sugar and full of good stuff like fiber (that keeps you full) and cinnamon (which helps stabilize blood sugar).

They have about 1/2 the sugar of most comparable recipe so they aren’t too-too sweet, making them the perfect pumpkin cupcakes for someone with a more refined pallate

Optional: Garnish them with some Pecan Candy

pumpkincupcakes4

Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes (or 1 loaf)
Time: 1 hour

  • 1 can of organic pumpkin
  • 2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil  (you could also use butter)
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups All Purpose Baking Mix (Gluten Free Baking Mix works great)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, at least 70% cacao content

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the pumpkin pie mix with the oil (or butter).  Add the sugar and salt, stir to combine.  Then whisk in eggs, one at a time.

Slowly fold in the baking mix using a rubber spatula, making sure not to overwork the batter.  Then gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a spoon place the pumpkin mix into greased/lined cupcake trays and bake for about 30 minutes.  If you choose to bake this as a loaf, cook for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool before frosting with the Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream 
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Time: 5 minutes

  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (use Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk.  This brand is best because the cream separates from the water.  You just want the cream part)
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions 

Put coconut cream (not the water) in a medium bowl then add in the other ingredients and whisk together until fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cupcakes with the Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream and garnish with Pecan Candy

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Amie Valpone’s Summertime Sesame Brown Rice Bowl #SaladFest2013

Amie Valpone‘s culinary creativity is literally off-the charts.  We are recent friends butamie long time fans and admirers of the kitchen concoctions that this woman comes up with!  No one puts unexpected flavors and ingredients together with boldness and verve quick like The Healthy Apple.

It’s not enough that she thinks outside the box coming up with totally original recipes for seasonal veggies, snacks and baked good alike BUT…

Pretty much all of her recipes are Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free & Soy-Free.  The Healthy Apple is literally mecca for foodies with dietary restrictions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, go to her site, look around and you’ll be amazed at what you find!  Amie is endowed with endless inspiration!

Click HERE to spread the word about Amie’s Summertime Sesame Brown Rice bowl with the super special ingredient: Cherries.

amie valpone brown rice salad

Summertime Sesame Brown Rice Bowl
Servings: 2-4
Time: 1 hour
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup organic brown rice
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
Directions

In a medium saucepan, boil water with salt and pepper. Stir in rice; return to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Remove from heat, add spinach and onions; mix well to combine. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl; add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

———

The Healthy Apple was started by Amie Valpone, a Manhattan based Personal Chef, Culinary Marketing Consultant, Whole Living Expert, Professional Recipe Developer and Food Writer specializing in simple Gluten-Free ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook.  For recipes like Amie on Facebook and to join the conversation follow her on Twitter.

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Recipe: Black Bean Pasta with Butternut Squash “Cream” Sauce

This recipe is one of our absolute favorites.  We literally make it all the time. Robyn makes it as a quick week night meal and Quinn even uses it to impress her suitors.  (fyi: it works like a charm)

Not only is it delicious, beautiful and FAST but it it’s mostly made from pantry staples! 

It also employs one of the many Quick Cooking Tips you’ll learn in Rock the Kitchen: throw your greens or veggies into the pasta cooking water for quick cooking and to avoid using yet another pot/pan.

You have to try this recipe and let us know what you think down in the comments!

Black Bean Pasta with Butternut Squash “Cream” Sauce
Servings: 4
Time: 10 minutes
  • 1 can butternut squash puree
  • 1 package of black bean pasta (such as Explore Asia’s black bean spaghetti)
  • 2-4 cups of washed baby spinach
  • 1 large sweet white onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine (can swap for vegetable stock but it adds a nice flavor)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried tarragon (or basil, cilantro, sage or parsley)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Sprinkle of parmesan or vegan cheese such as Daiya or nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions
Cook pasta according to the package instructions.  About 2 minutes before it’s done, throw in a couple handfuls of spinach and allow it to cook down in the water.

To prepare the sauce, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil on medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until soft.   Season with salt and pepper.

After the onions become soft, deglaze the pan with white wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.  This gets up all the good bits of flavor.

Add the vegetable stock, butternut squash and tarragon to pan and season with salt and pepper again, then stir to combine.

Reduce heat and allow the sauce to thicken to desired consistency.  If it’s bubbling you can put a lid on, just leave it slightly ajar.

When the pasta is done drain it in a fine mesh colander and run it under cool water to stop the cooking process.   Top the pasta with sauce and a little bit of cheese, if desired.

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