Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ingredients 101...and Lemon Garlic Dressing

After talking to my MIL and a dear friend who were asking about ingredients, I thought up this post. This is part of a series I will be doing on specialty ingredients, what to get when you want to eat more "raw", forgotten fruits and vegetables, different types of sweeteners, etc. Also, if you make it down to the bottom there is my new whole food Salad Dressing recipe.

Today: Fruits, Nuts and Seeds

Nuts & Seeds 101
If you are trying to incorporate more raw into your daily routine, nuts will be your friend :) There are many uses for these babies from making a pie crust to raw whipped cream. Most general grocery stores don't carry huge selections of raw nuts. I usually get mine from a whole food market. If your town does not have one of these you may also try your local Asian or International market (they usually have raw nuts in bulk). Also, Trader Joe's has a good selection of raw nuts. Raw seeds may be even harder for those in rural areas. So try these sites if you live in a remote area:
Local Harvest (support Americas farmers!)
iHerb (shipping is only $4 for orders over $40, so you can keep a running list until you get to $40! iHerb is a great place to get some of the ingredients you will see on this site like Chia and Hemp seeds!)

Side note: a peanut is not a nut! I just found this out a couple weeks ago. It's a legume (more in the bean and pea family)! I'm sure many of you may have known that, but I was surprised...who knew? obviously not me :)

Above you can see almonds, cashews, sprouted sunflower seeds, pistachios, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds (all raw of course :)

Different Types of Nuts and Seeds: below are some nuts and their uses... explore (try going somewhere that has these in bulk so you can try just a few to see how you like them! I believe Whole Foods has a policy of letting customers try any item before they buy it)

- Cashews: can be used (when pre-soaked) for cream base desserts, replacements for sour cream and cream cheese

- Brazil nuts, a lesser known nut, but I just found them raw at Trader Joes! This nut has a meaty sort of taste to it.

- Almonds (actually a seed!... I knew that one :) : whoa baby… you can make cheese (be looking out for an almond feta recipe in the future!), milk, flour, bread, raw almond butter…these things are very versatile

- Pecans: these mixed with dates make yummy raw pie crusts

- Walnuts: this is one of my favorites for just snacking on plain… I love the flavor of a walnut

- Macadamias: also good for creamed items and desserts

- Pine Nuts: pesto… need I say more?

- Pistachios: these actually go really well as a raw topping for Italian dishes, I also use them to make raw ice creams

- Sunflower seeds and Pumpkin seeds: I usually throw these on top of a salad, however I have recently found a use for raw sunflower seeds in Thai influenced dishes… stay tuned!

- Chia seeds and Hemp seeds: These are great for thickening smoothies and shakes and also as a baking additive to hold gluten free recipes together. Some Native Americans used to snack on Chia seeds while hunting for days because the seeds are very nutritious and expand when wet!

- And let’s not forget about snacking. Replacing certain go-to snacks that may not be so good for us is a great way to incorporate nuts and seeds into our diets!

Fruits 101
Our doctor has made the comment to us before, "Americans forget about so many fruits". I hope after I mention some of these "forgotten fruits" you will vary your fruits some and go out and grab something different! Again, if you don't have a store near you that has something you want to try; visit www.iherb.com or www.localharvest.org for more options.

My smattering of fruit in the house right now: bananas, grapefruit, avocados, clementines, manzanilla olives, young coconuts, plums, pineapple, dates, mango, apples, pears, and some lemons

- Berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, lingonberries, boysenberries, black and red currants, grapes, acai berry, and gogi berries

- Melons: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew/ muskmelon, canary melon

- Exotic fruits: pineapples, mangoes, avocadoes, bananas, papayas, passion fruits, durian (can be found at most Asian markets), YOUNG COCONUTS! (I can't get enough of these... and essential if you are going raw! During WWII, soldiers used unopened coconuts for emergency transfusions because it mixes easily with blood and has similar balance of electrolytes to what our bodies need! These also can be found at just about any international market or whole food market)

- Citrus: oranges, lemons, limes, clementines, tangelos, mandarins, grapefruits, pomelos (these are making a rise in the US… I think I saw some at Kroger once )

- Olives: yes, olives are fruits, whether black, green, manzanilla, kalamata... still a fruit :)

- Last, but not least: apples, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, dates, figs, peaches, kiwis, nectarines, pomegranates

Whole Food* Lemon Garlic Dressing: (makes about 2 cups)

My husband, David, just found out he’s highly allergic to mustard. This is good to know since I (and his momma) have made Dijon Vinaigrette for him weekly up until finding out! Now, I am looking for a good replacement. This has become my new favorite dressing. Right now I am eating a strict diet and can’t have vinegar so I found the lemon to be just the ticket! I’m a big fan of it; David, however, is missing the mustard… but he did say “it’s a fair alternative”.

Ingredients & Materials:

- 3 Large Lemons, peeled and seeded (no need for seeding if using a Vitamix or Blendtec)

- 4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled

- ½ tsp. smoked paprika

- Salt and pepper to taste (I use 2 tsp sea salt and a couple dashes of pepper)

- 1 cup olive oil


- In a food processor or blender puree the lemons, garlic, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, on high for about 1 minute until fully pureed (if using a low powered blender only, mince or grate the garlic first and take one lemon out and only use it’s juice)

- Then cut the blender down and slowly drizzle in the olive oil , or if you are using a food processor- pulse in the olive oil until fully emulsified (creamy looking)

- Enjoy, and add to your salad: some Mache, baby greens like Swiss Chard, or some Arugala (don't know what these are... stay tuned for Ingredients 201 :)

* This is why I use the term "whole food". When you use a whole fruit or vegetable (and not just the juice) you are getting the fiber from that veggie/ fruit as well as the sugars. This helps your body absorb the sugars at a slower rate.

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