Monday, April 23, 2007

Asparagus Pesto

I think everyone has that vegetable that they hated as a kid but started to love as they grew up. For me, it was asparagus. I can remember sitting at the table, making "gag eyes" and forcing down bites of it. But somewhere between then and now, it grew into one of my favorite vegetables.

I've been toying with the idea of doing a completely raw diet for about 2 years now, ever since I read about the amazing health benefits. But unfortunately, I just haven't brought myself to that level of dedication yet. I have decided, however, to incorporate as much raw and fresh produce into my diet as possible. Eating raw ensures you get all of the nutrients and minerals, losing nothing to the cooking process.

This is a great "raw" recipe and just in time for quick warm weather dinners. Raw asparagus is loaded with vitamin A and a large percentage of folic acid. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to make, from start to finish, and is perfectly versatile. It can be used as a dip for fresh vegetables or tortilla chips, or toss with your favorite pasta and served hot or cold. It would also make a great spread for a tasty veggie wrap or sandwich. No matter how you eat it, I'm sure you'll love it.

Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

3 cloves garlic
1 1/4 c fresh asparagus, diced
1/2 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt

In food processor, pulse garlic until well minced. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I'm sure most of you have been doing this for years, but this is the first time I discovered it. And let me tell you, as soon as I figured it out, I made about 10 batches of this stuff, trying out different combinations of seasonings and sauces.

Did you know that you can make your own microwave popcorn? And not only can you make it flavorful and tasty, but you can also make it fairly healthy. All you have to do is take a small amount of oil, some seasonings, and some unpopped corn, throw it in a lunch bag, and microwave it. It comes out just as good, if not better, than the commercial stuff, but a lot healthier.

Micro-popcorn II

Micro-Popcorn, Cajun style
Makes about 5 cups popped

1/4 c popcorn kernels
1 tsp oil
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt or seasoning blend

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold over the top twice and staple shut with 2 staples. (As a note - the metal staples will be fine in the microwave) Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.

Some other great ideas: use soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, or minced garlic in place of the hot sauce. For the salt, try Old Bay, Adobo, Garlic salt, or any other fun seasoning salt.

Looking for more great snack ideas? Check these out:

Microtato Chips
After the salsa, this is the second most requested recipe from 28 Cooks. Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they are completely fat-free potato chips. I promise you - give them a try and you won't be disappointed.

Microtato Chips

Spiced Soynuts
Here's another good salty yet nutritious snack. Not only are they easy to make, but you can season them however you like. Great for packing into lunch bags for an afternoon snack.

Spiced Soynuts

Lentil Crunchies
These are a great high-in-protein snack. Perfect for those times you want something salty without the guilt.

Lentil Crunchies

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pineapple Cilantro Salsa

It's that end-of-semester time again where I feel my head is going to explode from all the work that is due. For example, last week, I had about 30 pages of papers due within 2 days. So when I'm feeling stressed, but know I need to post something new, I often turn to some sort of dip or sauce, especially one that is super quick to make.

After the success of the chutney last week, I wanted to use cilantro again, but add a touch of sweetness. The crushed pineapple stepped in wonderfully, and adds a great balance to the spice of the salsa. This would be perfect for those upcoming summer days, and is great with tortilla chips. It's also wonderful over a lightly seasoned broiled fish as shown here.

On the 28 Cooks' hot-o-meter, this is about 4 out of 5. If you're heat sensitive, cut the number of serranos down to 1 or 2.

Pineapple Cilantro Salsa I

Pineapple Cilantro Salsa
1 c vidalia onion, roughly chopped
4 serrano peppers, stems cut off
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 c cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Combine onion, peppers, cilantro, garlic, and pineapple juice in food processor, and process until well minced. Add remaining ingredients and puree until a smooth texture is obtained. Refrigerate at least an hour for flavors to mix well.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Green Chile and Coconut Chutney

As I've said before, I grew up eating spicy foods. And although I like the super-hot, I'm also a fan of the not-just-burn-your-face-off sauces that have good flavor to them.

This chutney fits the bill perfectly. I saw this recipe on and this is my variation of it. The coconut and lime juice are perfect for the serrano chiles, and it's got a great spiciness to it. On the 28 Cooks hot-o-meter, it probably ranks a 4 out of 5 peppers. If you're heat sensitive, I'd recommend cutting the number of serrano peppers down to about 1 or 2.

I love the ideas they suggest for using it. They recommend stuffing a whole fish with it and roasting it, althouth I'm sure you could take a nice meaty piece of fish and stuff it with a healthy portion. But to be honest, it's quite fantastic on tortilla chips.

Green Chile and Coconut Chutney II

Green Chile and Coconut Chutney
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
4 green serrano peppers, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1 c sweetened flake coconut
1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
3 tbsp fresh lime juice

In a food processor, process cilantro, peppers, garlic, and ginger until finely chopped. Add coconut, crushed toasted cumin seeds, and lime juice, and pulse until well combined. Do not overprocess. Serve right away, or allow flavors to make friends in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring Greens with Asian Pear Dressing

As a non-meat eater, I often eat a lot of salads, especially when I'm eating out at places that aren't herbivore friendly. After the 15th salad in a week, I get sick of eating the same salad dressings. That's where this recipe comes in.

Not only did it take 5 minutes to whip up in the blender, but it's absolutely delicious. The pear nectar is the perfect base for the sesame oil and soy sauce, and the fresh ginger gives it a nice little Zing!

Although this dressing would be excellent on any salad greens, try it over spring mix, tossed with mandarin orange slices and sliced almonds.

Asian Pear Dressing II

Asian Pear Dressing
3/4 c pear nectar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
Freshly cracked pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Season to taste with pepper.