Food trends come and go, but one food trend is here to stay, making juice out of fruits and vegetables. Who would have thought banana and kale tastes great together in a drink? They do, and it is a very popular combination in a variety of smoothies and juices. I do not usually juice my vegetables, but now and then I enjoy a juice made with bright vegetables or fruits for an invigorating snack.
Surprisingly, one juice I really enjoy is made with an unusual ingredient, parsley. Parsley is such an under-rated herb because it is over used as a garnish. As a result, parsley is often overlooked as a valuable and fresh tasting herb. I believe parsley has a bright taste that perks up rich foods, like stews. Also, it is the perfect foundation for many fresh herb blends. Despite the unassuming appearance, parsley also has some important nutritional benefits.
This recipe is from Seamus Mullen’s cookbook Hero Food. In his cookbook Seamus talks about growing up in Vermont, becoming a chef and being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. His recipes focus on different foods he calls “hero foods” for their nutritional benefits and how they changed his life. Seamus discovered the most effective means for combating his illness and living without pain is through exercise and diet. Parsley is one of his hero foods and has a whole chapter all to itself.
According to Seamus, and additional studies, eating parsley can reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (see link below about parsley). He knows firsthand the nutritional and health benefits of parsley, and drinks smoothies and juices made with parsley whenever he is not feeling well. There are studies showing eating parsley benefits people with rheumatoid arthritis, but there is some debate if it’s helpful for osteoarthritis.
I do not have rheumatoid arthritis, so I cannot speak about his claims, but I do believe one’s diet has an impact on how we feel. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat”. This juice drink is just one part of a larger group of foods with nutritional and healing benefits. It is not a cure-all, though I can honestly say I feel peppy after I drink it.
Parsley, an apple and fresh ginger blend into a drink providing lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and easy on the digestion. The apple makes this a thick juice with some texture, but it still goes down smooth. My version has less honey than the original, and I also like to add some mint. The apple and ginger soften the parsley making a well-balanced and delicious juice. Drink this juice snack when you are craving something fresh and light.
Sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms has lots of ginger in this vegetable side dish. Add some extra parsley for some extra fresh flavor.
Health Benefits for Parsley Juice
Parsley Juice with Ginger and Apple
- 2 oz / 59 g fresh Italian parsley stems and all
- 1 medium green apple 7 oz / 95 g
- 1 TB honey
- 1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
- A few mint leaves optional
Wash the parsley very carefully to make sure there is no sand and dirt clinging to the leaves. Set aside on a clean kitchen towel, (there is no need to spin it to dry). Core the apple and cut into wedges. (If you are using an immersion blender grate the apples, skin and all, and chop the parsley.)
Add all the ingredients into a blender or the bowl of a food processor with 1/4 cup of cold water and 2 ice cubes, (smash the ice cubes if you are using an immersion blender.) Process all the ingredients until it becomes a liquid and you reach your desired consistency. Because of the apple this juice will seem thick and pulpy. You can add a little more water if you want to thin it out but careful not to make it too runny. Drink immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
The blender is the best tool for making vegetable juices. I have good results using a food processor and an immersion blender. It takes a little longer, but you still get good results. If you use an immersion blender, blend all the ingredients in the container the immersion blender comes with or a quart size soup take out container. It is helpful to grate the apple and chop the parsley before mixing in a food processor or an immersion blender.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Is there such a thing as a healthy snack”? I am not talking about fruit and vegetables, more like a granola bar type of snack. They are so convenient to have for traveling, or just when you are on the go. Recently, I set out on a mission to discover recipes for homemade snack bars that taste great, are nutritious, and low in refined sugar. Not a snack bar that is as heavy as a door stop and tastes like cardboard, (the vegetarian baked goods of the early 70’s still haunt me), but something lighter for a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon.
This all started because I made a pledge several years ago. I promised to myself that if there was a dessert or treat I really wanted to eat, like cookies, I would make it and not buy it. Store bought cookies are not allowed in the house. I do this to control my snacking binges and it really works. Phase two, of my pledge is to add more items on my list, like snack bars. Honestly, I haven’t bought them since I made the pledge, so I am not eating them. However, we need a better stock of snacks in our pantry, so I don’t binge on crackers or chips.
Over the past two weeks I have scoured the internet looking for solid recipes in the granola bar category. Each one had large amounts of sugar and they were all in “soft” snack bar variety. Don’t people want crunchy snack bars? Don’t people crave that crunchy texture and is one of the reasons why chips are so damn good? I like crunchy granola bars so I will table this quest for another day.
One recipe caught my attention from the cookbook “Life In Balance”, by Donna Hay. The cookbook features several snack recipes all made with whole foods and good health in mind. It is not a crunchy granola bar, but all the ingredients are nutritious and foods I enjoy. I choose the Cacao, Banana, Date, and Cashew Bars recipe to test today, because it meets all my requirements, except being crunchy. Another bonus, I had all the ingredients except the cashews. However, I did have a bag of walnuts for an easy substitution. Also, this recipe allowed me to use up some bananas that were getting too ripe.
What I like about this snack bar is there is no refined sugar, no flour, and no dairy. It is filled with natural cocoa powder, bananas, fresh dates, walnuts, and a little vegetable oil. The 4 wholesome ingredients get puréed in a food processor then baked until firm. They taste like a bittersweet fudgy chocolate brownie. The cocoa flavor stands out, but it is not as bitter because of the dates, bananas, and walnuts. I would like them to be a little denser with more variation in texture, but the taste is very pleasing. If you crave a sweet fix for your snacks and love dark chocolate, this is the snack for you.
More snack foods for a light meal or picnic
All the ingredients are nutritious in their own right, but mixed together they make a nutritious snack bar that won’t weight you down with extra fat and sugar. According to My Calorie Counter from Fitness Pal, each snack bar has 228 calories, 21 g carbs, 17 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 3 g protein, 4 mg sodium, 14 g sugar, and 4 g fiber.
Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar
- 1/3 cup 35 g natural unsweetened cocoa
- 3/4 cup 180 g firmly packed chopped pitted fresh dates (9-10 dates)
- 1/4 cup 60 ml vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cup 200 g chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup 200 g mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
- coconut flakes for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven for 325°F (160°C). Line an 8 x 8 inch pan (20 cm x 20 cm) pan with parchment paper. Use two strips wide enough to cover the bottom of the pan and long enough to extend up and over the sides of the pan. One strip will crisscross the other, so all the sides of the pan are covered. This is so you can easily lift out the snack bars and cut them.
Place all the ingredients, expect the coconut flakes, in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Plop the cocoa, fruit and nut mixture into the parchment lined pan, then spread evenly across the bottom.
Sprinkle with the coconut flakes.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until firm to touch. Set the timer for 35 minutes to check and gauge the progress. Continue baking as needed.
Cool completely in the pan. Remove the cocoa banana nut snack bar out of the pan by lifting the sides of the parchment paper and placing it on a cutting board. Make one slice across the middle, then six even slices across each half making 12 snack bars. Store the snack bars in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Will last for to one week.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
I have a few recipes that stand the test of time, is always there when I need it, and never fails me. This pumpkin bread recipe is one of them. It is always a crowd pleaser and it is so easy to make. If this recipe could talk, it would tell many tales of my children’s’ preschool snack time, their school bake sales, our weekends away visiting friends, homemade gifts, learning how to bake, swim meets, college care packages, and easy mornings at home.
Some foods and recipes are like that. They exist as part of our collective experience spanning a family’s history and time well spent with friends, teachers, colleagues, neighbors and family. They are treasured artifacts in the family archives. For me, I have a couple symbolic recipes that mark my parent’s heritage, but very few. Hopefully, I generated a selection of treasured recipes for my children to remember their childhood by, and create new ones that hold a special place in our growing family’s future.
My pumpkin bread is a throwback recipe from the 70’s when I was in high school. A dear friend gave me the recipe. I cannot remember what initiated this gift, but I believe she just wanted to share it. Harriot and her family loved to cook and were always generous with recipes and information about food. Whenever I was at their house, someone was in the kitchen making something. If I remember correctly, Harriot and I had a few cooking adventures of our own.
Besides the delicious taste, this pumpkin bread recipe has a couple of great features. One, it is easy to make and second, it makes two loaves. After all these years, I still can’t believe one small can of pumpkin purée makes two loaves of pumpkin bread. There is no need to measure out a cup of pumpkin mash and worry about what to make with the rest. That is a real pet peeve of mine. It is not the case for this pumpkin bread. One recipe, one can of pumpkin purée, two loaves of spicy pumpkin bread. A practical quick bread recipe.
Because it is so easy to make, it is perfect for a baking project with young children, or anyone who wants to learn how to bake. This recipe rarely fails. However, if it has been a while since you used baking powder or baking soda, make sure the leaveners are fresh. There was only one time this pumpkin bread did bake properly. Once, after I gave this recipe to a friend who said she couldn’t bake, she made it and came over to share it with me. She was so proud of her accomplishment I did not have the heart to tell her the bread did not rise. When that happens it usually means the baking powder and baking soda lost their leavening powers. Still, it tasted great and hopefully she kept on baking.
More family favorite recipes:
The spices are a mixture of cinnamon, allspice and a generous amount of ground clove. Not all pumpkin bread recipes include ground cloves, and I believe they fall flat. There is twice as much cinnamon and allspice to cloves in each loaf, yet the ground cloves gently stand out. I like that the cinnamon does not dominate the spicy favor. Often, after I serve pumpkin bread to friends I get a delighted question, “Oh nice. What spice am I tasting? ” My anser is always received with a surprised and happy expression, “It’s clove.”
Over the years I have made a few variations of this pumpkin bread, but I keep coming back to the original. I made it with canned pumpkin purée and fresh pumpkin purée. With orange zest, crumble topping, candied ginger, and different flours. Each variation slightly changes the texture of the bread. I discovered, the fresh pumpkin makes an airier bread. Also, I noticed the crust is crispier with the fresh pumpkin.
If you want to use fresh pumpkin, roast wedges of sugar pumpkin in a 400°F (200°C) oven until very tender. Scrape the roasted pumpkin from its’ peel and purée in a food processor, or blender until smooth. Cool and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Best Pumpkins to bake with.
I should call this Friendship Bread, because the recipe is enjoying a life span of over 40 plus years and growing. I never thought twice about sharing it with friends and family. The name Friendship Bread is already taken, so Family Favorite Pumpkin Bread it stays. A treasured heirloom for sharing over the years to come.
Family Favorite Pumpkin Bread
- 4 cups (574 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3 cups (613 g) granulated sugar
- 1 15 oz can (425 g) pumpkin purée or 1 lb (453 g) fresh pumpkin purée
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable or canola oil
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) cold water
- 4 large eggs
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (175° C / Gas Mark 4)
Prepare 2- 9 x 5 inch (24 x 13.5 cm) loaf pans. Lightly grease with butter or oil spray, then line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, cinnamon allspice, and clove into a large mixing bowl. Then whisk the ingredients in the bowl until you see all the spices are evenly mixed in the flour. Add the sugar and whisk together until combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then add the pumpkin purée, oil, and water. Stir until just combined. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, scrape along the bottom and sides of the bowl to get everything thoroughly mixed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly with each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, about 3/4 full.
Place the bread pans in the oven and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then remove the pumpkin bread from their pans.
Cool on the cooling rack before serving.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Each year as my garden matures, the herb garden expands as well. Slowly, the herb bed has inched deeper into the precious sunny real-estate and has started replacing my lawn. I add one or two more herb plants a year and build my dream herb garden. One herb plant that is thriving is my chive plant. Fortunately, it is not growing out of control, but remains nicely contained in a tall spiky mound.
The plant grows without a lot of disturbance because I rarely use fresh chives in my cooking. However, it needed a thinning and removal of all the spent flowers before they spread their seeds. Afterwards, I was left with a large bundle of chives and a new challenge, how to use up all the chives before they go bad. This is the type of challenge I enjoy, and inspires me to look for new ideas.
I wanted to make something different, yet easily prepared and quick to finish. What I dreamed of was a recipe from Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show, Ian’s quick bread with wild garlic. While watching the episode, the smell of the wild garlic and bread traveled across the ocean and through my television, and I have craved it ever since. Unfortunately, I could not find his recipe. Rather, I came upon a recipe, which although is not British in nature, has that oniony-bready fix I was looking for.
This recipe is a savory bread with chives and cheddar cheese by Dorie Greenspan on the website, Serious Eats. It was exactly what I was craving, a savory quick bread to unload my bundle of chives, and give me some immediate satisfaction. I slightly adapted her recipe, and used Gruyère cheese, chives, garlic chives, lemon thyme and nixed the walnuts.
Dorie explains in her recipe; the French refer to just about everything made in a pan as a cake. A loaf such as this, is called, “cake salé” (meaning, salty or savory cake). This is a very light and cake-like bread that is perfect as a snack or appetizer paired with wine, beer or any cocktail. Like cake, it is light and airy in texture, but it is rich in flavor from the cheese and herbs. I also enjoyed this herb bread for lunch as avocado toast with lemon thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.
As Dorie recommends, this is a bread recipe to play around with. Use the dough as your foundation and switch up the cheese and herbs as you wish. A traditional cake salé recipe from France uses Emmentaller, Gruyère, or a mixture with Parmesan. She made her recipe with cheddar cheese and chives for a local US inspired loaf. She also recommends other add-in substitutes like nuts, diced ham, olives, pesto and cooked vegetables.
More appetizer ideas:
Making this cheese and chive herb bread is an amazing sensory treat. Every time I snipped, spread and stirred the chives, their scent came forward like an herbal wave engulfing the dough. Once in the oven, the smell of the baking herb bread filled my house with comforting aromas of melting cheese, bright onions and baking bread.
I love it when I discover something new and it turns out to be a smash hit. This recipe is so easy, I am sure to make it several times and continue to personalize it. I know something is delicious when every 5 minutes my husband and son kept repeating, “Oh, this is soo good. This is really good”. This is no exaggeration. It was all I could do to keep them from eating the whole loaf.
Cheesy Herb Bread
- 1 3/4 cup 268 g All-purpose flour
- 1 TB Baking powder
- 1/2 to 1 tsp Kosher salt amount of salt depends on the cheese and other add ins
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground white pepper
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup 75 ml whole milk, room temperature
- 1/3 cup 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3 oz 75 g coarsely grated cheese like Gruyere or cheddar
- 2 oz 50 g diced cheese like Gruyere or cheddar
- 1/2 cup 125 ml minced chives or other herbs
- 1 - 2 TB chopped lemon thyme
Set the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 375˚F / 190˚C / Gas Mark 5, and generously butter a loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper until evenly combined.
In a medium mixing bowl add the eggs, then whisk until well combined and somewhat frothy. Add the milk and olive oil and whisk together.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Mix until everything is just combined. You do not want to over work the dough and there is no need for the dough to be thoroughly mixed together. Stir until everything is just mixed, it won't be smooth.
Stir in all the cheese, herbs and any other add ins you have, like chopped walnuts. The dough is thick, but carefully work in the cheese and herbs until evenly distributed. Don't overwork the dough.
Scrape into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The bread is done when it has a golden brown crust, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of your pan and remove the bread from the pan. Cool the loaf on the rack until it is at room temperature.
Best eaten the day it is made, but it will keep for a day, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored on the counter.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Day 3 of Super Bowl dip recipe frenzy. What do you get when you combine two all-time favorite classic American dips? You get the ultimate onion dip and the ultimate blue cheese dip. I guess whatever camp you belong to, will determine your name for this wonderful double classic dip recipe. I call it, Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots.
Both onion dip and blue cheese dip have been around for decades, at least my lifetime and probably longer. So, bringing the two dips together seems inevitable. I love blue cheese dip and onion dip equally. To be honest, French Onion Dip made from the spice packets is a guilty pleasure of mine. I pounce on it whenever it is served.
Also, Onion dip opens my childhood memory treasure chest. One potato chip scoop of onion dip and the summer days of my childhood materializes. With each bite I am rewarded with welcomed memories of my family picnicking on our sailboat in the San Francisco Bay, dipping into onion dip, eating burgers, and drinking 7-Up. I can hear my parents voices clearly, Mom exclaiming, “Oh Dunny….,” and my dad standing at the stern on top of the deck, responding, “Whaaat?!” with a huge grin. I can feel the warmth or the welcome sun while the wind blows beyond our sheltered cove. Wind. There is always wind. Oh, what sweet memories get stirred up as I dig in.
Despite my confessed love of French Onion dip spice packet, I am going to ask you to put it down and walk away. I did. You do not need to add extra salt, onion powder, and artificial flavor to make appetizers with delicious onion flavor. Nothing more than adding caramelized onions are needed to develop that rich and sweet onion flavor. Because shallots are so small, it will take about 20 minutes to caramelize. Once the shallots of caramelized and cooled, it takes an additional 5 minutes to mix all the ingredients together. So there you have it, delicious blue cheese dip with caramelized shallots ready to dig into. It is that easy and tastes better the longer you let it rest before serving. A perfect party dip recipe.
Classic appetizer recipes are ageless and this recipe proves to be no exception. This recipe dates back to March of 2001 from Bon Appetit Magazine. The recipe is a feature by Rick Rodgers. He presented a collection of easy and delicious dip recipes, but his recipe for blue cheese dip with and caramelized shallots stood out to me. In his article, Rick Rogers says you can make this recipe three days in advance. Well you can, but the color of the caramelized shallots will bleed into the sour cream and get darker with every day. It tastes fine, but the look is not as fresh as one might want to present to a party. I would make the dip at most 24 hours in advanced and it will still look bright and creamy.
Easy Super Bowl Appetizer Dips
Additional ideas for Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots
All that talk about burgers made me hungry for one, and I thought how delicious the Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots would taste as a topping for a juicy hamburger. This is an easy adaptation for a hamburger with blue cheese and caramelized onions. I am craving one now.
Food memories and food dreams, who knew how powerful a simple dip could be.
Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots
- 1 Tb vegetable oil
- 1 ¼ cup / 4oz thinly sliced shallots 2-3 large shallots
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup full fat sour cream
- 4 oz blue cheese room temperature (I used French Bleu D’Auvergne)
Place a large skillet on the stove and turn on the heat to medium high. Add the vegetable oil and shallots. Once the skillet is hot and the shallots begin to cook, turn the heat down to medium low. Continue to cook the shallots until they are golden to dark brown. You will need to stir the shallots on occasion so that they do not burn. The process of caramelizing shallots takes some time, at least 20 minutes, and you should pay attention to them. I often need to adjust my heat either up or down to prevent them cooking too fast and burning. Once done, set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl add the sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir until evenly combined. Add the room temperature blue cheese and use the side of your spoon or rubber spatula to stir and smash the blue cheese into the sour cream mixture. You want to have different size chunks of blue cheese blended into the sour cream.
Stir in the caramelized shallots and taste for seasoning. It is a good idea to taste with the chip or vegetable you are serving the dip with, before you add more salt.
Cover the dip with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours for the flavors to meld together.
Serve cold or at room temperature in a decorative small dish with potato chips or crudité. This dip will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.