Citrus, Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Sweet, juicy and delicious citrus tossed with creamy black beans and avocado

Sweet, juicy and delicious citrus tossed with creamy black beans and avocado

It’s been a very long, cold and snowy winter here in New York and many other parts of the country and I’m happy to feel Spring poking it’s head out of all the winter white with some 40 degree weather this week!  I also love to get a little taste of sunshine this time of year with a bite of in season citrus fruits.  Oranges, clementines, grapefruits are all in season now and add a nice refreshing twist to this winter salad.   

Citrus Black Bean and Avocado Salad

There’s citrus in the salad along with black beans and creamy avocados and citrus in the dressing with a little extra freshness from chopped cilantro.

sweet and juicy citrus dressing

sweet and juicy citrus dressing

citrus dressing with black beans

citrus dressing with black beans

This bright, colorful, fruity salad is simple and delicious.  I like to eat this atop some crunchy Romaine leaves alongside cheesy quesadillas, or top with your protein of choice for a nice light main dish salad.

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Beans & Greens Soup with White Beans, Red Lentils and Chard

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We’re well into soup season and I can’t believe it took me this long to share with you what I imagine to be the first of many versions of my favorite combo, that I share with you here; beans & greens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it was up to Skyler, soup season would be everyday, all year, no matter the outside temperature, she just loves it and asks me to make it all the time.  This soup is so versatile and can really be adapted to whatever beans you like and whatever greens you have on hand. 

Beans and Greens Soup with red lentils, white beans, wheat berries and rainbow chard, yum!

Beans and Greens Soup with red lentils, white beans, wheat berries and rainbow chard, yum!

Very much like the Italian classic pasta fagoule, but instead of pasta I like to use wheat berries. The wheat berries cook up nice and al dente and hold up well as leftovers unlike pasta which continues to absorb the broth and can get a bit mushy.  I also really like the way the red lentils melt into the broth while the white beans just soften a bit but still hold their integrity.  Greens & Beans Soup

The soup is then finished with a big pile of chopped greens, in this case chopped Swiss or rainbow chard, stems and all.  Lastly a drizzle of good olive oil, a sprinkling of grated cheese if you like, and a nice hunk of bread…soups on! 

 

Beans & Greens Soup with White Beans, Red Lentils and Chard
 Author: SweetGreenKitchen’s Jen Jones

 

Ingredients:

2 large leeks or 4 if they’re skinny – chopped

4-6 cloves garlic – rough chopped

2 stalks celery – diced

2 large carrots – diced

Thyme

Rosemary

Sea salt

½ cup wheat berries – rinsed

½ cup red lentils – rinsed

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans – drained and well rinsed

1 small bunch Swiss or rainbow chard – washed and chopped – leaves & stems

Olive oil

6-8 cups water

Optional: 1 boullion cube – I use Rapunzel vegan boullion

Optional: grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

Heat a large pot.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Add in the chopped leeks and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until softened.  Next add in the garlic, celery and carrots.  Cook a few more minutes and then toss in some thyme, rosemary and sea salt, plus the boullion cube if using, stir around to mix the herbs with the veges and break up the boullion cube.  Add in the wheat berries and stir into the veggies and seasonings.  Next add in the lentils and white beans then 6-8 cups of water.  Partially cover and bring to a low boil, then fully cover, lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes to an hour or a few hours if you have the time.  After the soup has cooked for awhile and the wheat berries are mostly cooked and the lentils have melted into the broth, add in the chopped Swiss chard and cook for another 10-20 minutes.

 To Serve:

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese if you like, plus an extra drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with chunks of crusty fresh bread.  Enjoy!

 

Recipe notes: This recipe makes a nice big pot of soup, easily serving 4-6 for a main dish.  If your crowd is a bit smaller, don’t despair, make the full pot and stock your fridge with leftovers for the week.  Leftovers make a great workday lunch or quick dinner on a busy night, just reheat and serve.  This soup also freezes perfectly, just wait for it to cool down and then pour into individual freezer safe containers.  If you have time, defrost for the day and then warm up in a small pot on the stove.  If you forget to defrost, no worries, just run some luke warm water over the sealed container until it begins to soften a bit, add the partially thawed chunk of soup to a small pot and slowly rewarm over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the soup as you go.  

Wheat berries take awhile to cook, a good hour to one and a half hours.  If you plan ahead, you can soak your wheat berries in a bowl of water overnight to speed up the cooking process.  Otherwise, save this soup for a weekend or one of our many snow days! 

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Double Chocolate Flourless Super Food Brownies

Double Chocolate and Almond Flourless Brownies

Double Chocolate and Almond Flourless Brownies

A flourless, chocolaty, rich, moist and fudgy treat.  But, this is no ordinary brownie, what I have for you here is a big dose of super foods disguised as a delicious decadent treat.  Avocado, almond and cocoa give you antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats, serving up a treat you can feel great eating.  I promise, you will not taste or even see the avocado at all, but it adds moistness and yes, fat, while replacing more traditional and less healthful fats.   Double Chocolate Flourless Brownies

I adapted this recipe from Elana’s Pantry Paleo Brownies, mine are no longer fully paleo as I’ve replaced Elana’s dates with brown sugar, which may actually be better for those following a low FODMAPs diet who have difficulty digesting certain fruits.  I also like that brown sugar is something most of us always have on hand, which makes this a recipe you can throw together easily without much planning, as long as almond flour is one of your pantry items and a ripe avocado is on hand! And speaking of avocado, I’ve swapped that for Elana’s coconut oil, which gives you a healthful fat plus some added fiber. 

Double Chocolate Flourless Superfood Brownies topped with raspberry sorbet

mashed avocado for double chocolate flourless brownies

mashed avocado

Since this recipe was already, gluten free and dairy free, I decided to give it a test drive going completely vegan by swapping out the eggs for flax.  I give you the recipe both ways, so if you have no issue with eggs and like the idea of getting a little extra protein and vitamin D, go with the eggs, otherwise, swap out the eggs for flax and get yourself a little extra Omega 3’s with your chocolaty treat. 

flax eggs

flax “eggs”

eggs, avocado and vanilla

eggs, avocado and vanilla

I’m no stranger to subbing flax for eggs in recipes, but until now I have never made the same recipe side by side, one with eggs and one with flax, and I have to say the results were interesting and a little surprising to me.  The egg version batter mixes up moister and bakes up with a little more rise, while the flax version actually bakes up a little bit moister, even though the batter looks drier before baking.  Either way, both versions are a treat I wouldn’t turn down and I will say there were no complaints from my family of tasters when two pans of brownies came out of the oven!

Side by Side flax eggs and avocado vs. real eggs and avocado

Side by Side
flax eggs and avocado vs.
real eggs and avocado

Since I did end up with two batches, I found they stayed perfectly moist and yummy for several days, just wrapped on the counter.  Although, I didn’t try freezing these, I think they would do well individually wrapped if you’d like to stash a few for a future treat. 

Double Chocolate Flourless SuperFood Brownies

Double Chocolate Flourless Super Food Brownies

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry Paleo Brownies

Makes 16 Brownies

IngredientsDouble Chocolate Flourless Superfood Brownies

1 cup Almond Flour

½ cup Cocoa Powder (I use raw organic Cacao)

½ cup Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ teaspoon Salt – I use a heaping amount of Flaky Sea Salt

2 Eggs – I use Extra Large OR 2 Tablespoons Ground Flax + 5 Tablespoons warm Water

½ Avocado – well mashed

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

½ cup Dark Chocolate Chips or Chunks – Bittersweet or Semi Sweet

Optional: extra Flaky Sea Salt for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish (I use coconut oil for greasing) OR line with parchment.

IF using Flax instead of Eggs, mix together the Flax with the Water in a small bowl and set aside to thicken up.

In a medium bowl, sift in the Almond Flour.  Note: As long as most of the Almond Flour gets through the sifter, it’s fine to dump the remaining bits that stubbornly won’t go through the mesh, right into the bowl.  Sift in the Cocoa Powder.  Next add in the Salt, Baking Soda and Brown Sugar.  Mix well, being sure to break up any of the Brown Sugar clumps.  Stir in the Chocolate chunks or chips.

In a separate bowl, mash the Avocado until it’s really smooth and creamy.  Add to that the Eggs or gelled Flax and the Vanilla Extract.  Mix well.

Add the Avocado mixture to the Almond and Cocoa mix.  Stir to fully combine.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and smooth out so it fits evenly in the pan.

Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes.  Now the hard part: best to let the brownies cool right in the baking pan for about 2 hours before slicing through.  Cut into 16 squares. Enjoy!

 

Recipe notes: 

partially sifted almond flour

partially sifted almond flour

 

I keep my almond flour in the freezer which tends to make it a little lumpy.  So I don’t end up with a brownie filled with unmixed lumps of almond meal, I like to sift it into the bowl. It’s definitely worth the effort even though I never seem to be able to get it completely through the mesh of the sifter, so I just toss in whatever remains behind, which adds a nice bit of nutty texture to the finished brownie.   

 

 

Double Chocolate Almond Flourless Super Food Brownies

Double Chocolate & Almond Flourless Superfood Brownies, yum!

 

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Scones with Blueberry Mascarpone

Blueberry Almond Scones topped with Blueberry Mascarpone

Blueberry Almond Scones topped with Blueberry Mascarpone

It occurs to me that maybe I should have named this blog Lemon & Oats or Oatmeal & Zest, considering how many of my recipes here include both oats and lemon. So, here’s one more for you… Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Scones, and yes they even have lemon zest!  I really do love scones, probably even more than muffins or cookies, they make a tasty little breakfast treat or afternoon snack.  They are delicious on their own or even better topped with a little cream cheese and jam, like the mascarpone cream cheese jam I used here.  blueberry almond oatmeal sconesFor a more substantial breakfast, serve with a side of yogurt and berries OR as a “breakfast dessert” with your eggs.  Some people in my home have even been known to top theirs with a smear of peanut or almond butter, also quite tasty.  If you’re a traditionalist or hail from the British Isles, you may question my use of the term scone here, but to me these are my perfect Americanized interpretation with a nice crumby texture, not too moist and not too dry.  I use a lot less butter than many versions, but the yogurt adds extra moisture and a little tang, plus some protein to boot.  I love scones with all kinds of mix ins and though the rest of my family will almost always opt for chocolate, I prefer a mix of fruit and nuts, which often leads to multiple versions being made all on the same morning! Blueberries and almonds are one of my favorite combinations, they just work well together and lemon zest adds a little bit of extra flair to the flavor.  I use a combo of vanilla and almond extracts here, but you could easily go with all of one or the other if you prefer.  A quick and easy recipe perfect for any lazy weekend morning.  blueberry almond oatmeal scones

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Scones

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

Makes 16 scones

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup all purpose unbleached flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 Tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup natural cane sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Zest of ½ lemon

 

3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter – cut into small cubes

 

1 extra large egg

½ cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular is fine, vanilla would be ok too, just a little sweeter)

¼ cup milk of your choice (I use plain soy milk, but cow, almond, etc should work just fine)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

 

¼ cup slivered almonds

1 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

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White Beans & Cabbage with Leeks and Crispy Potatoes

 

Cabbage & White Beans with Leeks and Crispy Potatoes

Cabbage & White Beans with Leeks and Crispy Potatoes

For most of my life the extent of my cabbage eating came in the form of Chinese egg rolls and deli style mayo drenched cole slaw, oh man was I missing out!  Several years back I started experimenting with Asian style cabbage slaws and even cabbage filled pot stickers, but still it took me a while longer before I discovered a comforting, mildly sweet and delicious bowl of cooked cabbage and I haven’t looked back since.  I actually owned my copy of Heidi Swanson’s fantastic (the name alone is cool enough!) “Super Natural Every Day” for about a year before I finally tried her recipe for White Beans & Cabbage with parmesan, potatoes and cabbage.  The crazy thing is, the cover photo for the book is exactly that and it looks unbelievably delicious, I stared at that cover for a year thinking “yum” “must try”, but every time I decided this would be the day something got in the way, sometimes I had cabbage but no potatoes on hand, other days I had all the ingredients but got lazy and opted for a more familiar option to cook for dinner.  But finally one day, the planets aligned and I finally made it and oh was it gooood.  The cabbage cooks up soft and mildly sweet, but still maintains a little texture, the beans are creamy and the potatoes nice and crisp, top with some melty mozzarella and served with a hunk of crispy toasted baguette drizzled with a little olive oil and you have a perfect bowl of comfort food, yum.

 Cabbage and White Beans with Olive Oil Soaked Bread

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