Fresh Strawberry Popsicles – 2 ways

Fresh Strawberry Popsicles - 2 ways

I’ve been wanting to experiment with making my own popsicles for long time now but never had proper molds, until my birthday a few months ago.  Not only was I gifted 18 popsicle molds but also an amazing book on how to make them using fresh seasonal produce, called People’s Pops.

To jump right in I decided to start with 2 different strawberry flavors.  Yes, mainly because I love fresh strawberries, but also because I’ve found that while you can find strawberries at the farmers’ markets in LA most of the year, they really peak in the spring and early summer.

I was particularly inspired to feature strawberries when I laid my eyes on some beautiful rhubarb from Jimenez Family Farm at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market this past Sunday.  Rhubarb is a strawberry’s best friend, most likely because of their famous combination in strawberry rhubarb pie.  The tartness of the rhubarb and delicate texture goes so nicely with the subtle acid of the strawberries.

I cannot tell you how hard it is to find rhubarb at the markets here in southern California.  Having worked at markets for over 3 years I would get countless customers pleading with me to tell them where they could find it, or more often, confidently confusing red Swiss chard for the fresh rhubarb they wish it was.

The other famous combination I wanted to toy with was strawberries with balsamic vinegar.  It’s classic in Italian cuisine and a combo I became particularly obsessed with last summer when I tried Heidi Swanson’s Roasted Strawberries recipe, which pairs the two along with some maple syrup, olive oil, sea salt, and port wine.

It saves heaps of prep and clean up time when you make these recipes together and would work great for a big group of people – maybe a pool party or a barbeque?  But they are also a nice simple dessert to be enjoyed outside while it’s still a bit sunny after dinner.  Mix up a batch of your own and let me know how it goes!  I’ll be trying out new pop recipes all summer long…

 People's Pops

 

[Making Simple Syrup: the basic recipe for simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water, if you add 2/3rd cup water with 2/3rd cup sugar that should make about 1 cup of simple syprup.  Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan and heat very gently just to dissolve the sugar, not to boil or cook down.  It’s a good idea to make a big batch to have on hand if you’re making several popsicles, but keep any unused simple syrup in the fridge.  The book recommends using organic cane sugar (aka: dehydrated cane syrup,) so that’s what I used.  But I do plan on experimenting with honey, maple syrup and maybe even coconut sugar in the future.]

 Rhubarb

Strawberry & Rhubarb Popsicles
1/2 pound of rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces (2 and 1/2 cups) strawberries, hulled
1 cup simple syrup (see above)
2 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice

 

Once the rhubarb is prepped, add about 1/2 inch of water into a heavy non-reactive pan (I used my ceramic coated Le Creuset) and heat up on high.  Add in the rhubarb and let cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until some of the liquid has cooked off and the rhubarb has become soft.  With the spoon, break up any larger pieces of rhubarb and remove any that seem to be too tough or stringy.  Once done cooking this should yield 1 cup of rhubarb puree.

 Rhubarb and Strawberry Puree

The strawberries on the other hand do not get cooked, as it breaks them down too much and makes them lose their fresh flavor.  Once hulled they are simply pureed in a food processor.  The same technique is used for the second recipe, so I pureed a big batch of strawberries all at once.  You’ll need 1 cup of strawberry puree for this recipe.

Mix together the rhubarb puree, strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl with a pouring spout.  Portion the mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze.

The final flavor of these pops just scream springtime to me, so fresh, light and the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  Who needs a pie when you can have a pop!

Makes 10 pops

 Fresh Strawberries

Strawberry & Balsamic Vinegar Popsicles
Juice over 1 pound (4 cups) strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup simple syrup (see above)
1 tablespoon freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, roughly
 

Even simpler than the above recipe, this one only requires pureeing the strawberries, then mixing all the ingredients together.  For the amount of strawberries called for in this recipe it should make about 2 cups of puree.  As I said above, you can make the strawberry puree for both recipes all at once.

Once the strawberry puree is ready, mix it together with the simple syrup and lemon juice.  The balsamic vinegar should be added in slowly while you continually taste the mixture, this is because each vinegar isn’t equally as pungent.  I found I preferred just a bit more vinegar than suggested.

Pour the mixture into your molds and freeze well.

I just love the final result of this recipe.  While it’s a very simple strawberry recipe, the balsamic vinegar brings out such complex flavors with almost a savoriness.

Makes 10 pops

 Popsicle Molds

3 Healthy Summertime Mocktails – Guest Post at MamaFloat

3 Healthy Summertime Mocktail Recipes

If you are enjoying a Memorial Day BBQ today but can’t drink alcohol then be sure to check out my latest post over at MamaFloat for some tasty summertime mocktail recipes!  I show you how to make your own vinegar-based syrup known as shrub, as well as healthy takes on a mojito and piña colada.

Enjoy with friends and happy Memorial Day everyone!

Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

When it comes to weeknight dinners I tend to keep it pretty simple.  Especially during the winter and early spring when seasonal veggies can get a bit monotonous this often means roasting whatever I have on hand.  Tossed with some coconut oil and flavored with garlic powder and aleppo pepper is one of my favorite ways to do it.

You can really use this technique for almost any vegetable you have on hand – carrot, sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkin, potato, apple, you name it!  And play around with the flavors too.  I’ve roasted broccoli with sweet flavors as well as curry powder and I’ve found it’s really hard to mess up.  Try your own combination and let me know how it goes!

 

Ingredients
Top of a 2-3 lb butternut squash
1 large head of broccoli
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp real sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp aleppo pepper (or sub smoked paprika)
A sprinkle of Maldon’s finishing salt or some Parmesan for topping
 
Butternut SquashPreheat your oven to 375F.

If you have a 2-3 lb butternut squash then it is easy to cut off the neck of it (the skinny end) and use that for cubing and roasting. The bulb is harder to peel so I like to save it for later when I usually half, seed, brush with oil and roast until tender. The soft butternut is great for soups, stews, or sauces.

Butternut Squash

With the neck of the butternut you want to remove the stem and then the peel. I’ve done with with a peeler as well as a sharp knife and I prefer a knife.  Just be careful because the butternut skin if very tough and hard to get off.

Butternut Squash

Then cube the butternut into about 1/2 inch cubes.

BroccoliBroccoli

Rinse your head of broccoli and shake dry. Cut all the florets off and cut the larger ones in half. Save the broccoli stem and cut that up as well, roughly as large as the butternut cubes.

You can toss all your veggies with the oil in a separate bowl and transfer to a roasting pan, I did that for years, but recently I’ve just started doing it all on the roasting pan. This saves me from washing an extra bowl and I haven’t noticed any difference.

I like to roast my vegetables with coconut oil because it is one of the most stable oils at high temperatures.  I used olive oil for a long time before learning that most of its beneficial qualities are destroyed at high temperatures. Now I use olive oil cold in things like dressings, sauces and a light drizzle over salads.  I use coconut oil for high heat cooking like frying and roasting. The flavor of the coconut oil is subtle so I don’t mind it.

Aleppo

Melt your coconut oil if it’s not already liquid. You can do this by setting it on top of a warm oven or putting it in a double boiler. If the container your coconut oil is in is plastic then transfer to a ceramic or glass dish for melting as plastic gives off toxic chemical when heated.  Add your spices into the coconut oil while warm so they incorporate their flavors.  You don’t have to use garlic powder and aleppo, I also like ground cumin seeds or something spicier like dash of cayenne with veggies like this.

Roast for 40 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during the cooking process so all the veggies cook evenly.

Before and After Roasting

Once everything’s cooked enjoy as a side with dinner.  I ate this paired with a beautiful hanger steak grilled rare and I topped the veggies with just a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese but you can leave it out to keep this dish vegan and paleo if you’d like.

Roasted Butternut and Broccoli

Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

I find that holiday foods are often overly indulgent and rich, and with good reason, we’re celebrating!  But it’s nice to get a break when holidays feature traditional foods that don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy.

My maternal grandmother was Irish so my mom used to make corned beef and cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day growing up.  It was one of the few ways I would actually eat carrots, which I hated growing up but loved when they were soft and beef-flavored.  For the first few years of my young adult life I was vegetarian and vegan, so I skipped a few years corned beef, but ever since I went back to being an omnivore I don’t think I’ve missed one year, it doesn’t feel like St. Patrick’s Day without it!

I’ll openly admit that I don’t go to the lengths of brining my own brisket, I save myself the stress of that step considering I do have to cook the thing all day.  But besides the time it takes to cook it, the whole process is surprisingly easy.  Give it a try if you’re looking for a real food way to celebrate everyone’s favorite Irish holiday.

 

Ingredients
Beef brisket (pre-brined with corned beef seasonings)
Baby potatoes
Carrots
Cabbage
 

Cabbage

Carrots

Potatoes

I try to get the most natural meat I can, so I look for products that are antibiotic and hormone-free and made with natural ingredients.  As you can see this cut is between 1 3/4 and 2 lbs, it shrinks a bit when cooked so the finished product fed 3 hungry adults.

Brisket

The instructions are for stove top and say you can simmer it for 2-3 hours, but I prefer to use my slow cooked and cook it for longer.  I simply cover the brisket in liquid, which could be water or I used a mixture of homemade bone broth and water.  Then I cooked it for 8 hours to give it plenty of time to get nice and tender, but you can cook it even a few hours longer if you’d like.

Chopped Potatoes

Towards the end of cooking it’s time to prep the veggies.  I used baby potatoes, carrots and a head of cabbage, each of which were roughly 1 lb.  Just rinse clean the potatoes and carrots, trim them and cut in half.  These should be added in 2 hours before the end of cooking.

Chopped Cabbage

The cabbage should be cut into small thin strips, also be sure to cut around the core so there aren’t any thick tough pieces.  Add the cabbage about an hour before the end of cooking, it doesn’t need long.

Cooked Brisket

Shredded Brisket

Shredded Brisket

Once everything’s cooked take the brisket out and either slice or pull apart with a fork.  Spoon the veggies out with a slotted spoon and serve up immediately, I especially like mine with some brown mustard!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Home Remedy for Dry Cough

Home Remedy for a Dry Cough

This time of year it seems like most people are over the hump of cold and flu season but many people still have coughs that linger for weeks on end.  Dry coughs especially can be hard to recover from without the proper support.  There are herbs you can take and acupuncture is important too, but whenever a patient is trying to kick a dry cough I always recommend adding steamed pear to their diet until the cough subsides.

Pears and apples in Chinese Medicine are considered natural tonics for moistening the lungs, Asian pears in particular are prized for this quality.  If you’ve never had an Asian pear, they have a similar flavor to other varieties but a crunchier texture.  I love enjoying them as a regular part of my diet in the fall and winter during the most important time of year for lung health.

Raw fruit is cold and damp in nature which can make it hard for the body to digest and assimilate, so warming it up by lightly steaming helps the body to get all the healing benefits from the pear.  The recipe below is one of the simplest ways to cook pear, by simply steaming it.  But you can really get creative with how you introduce pears into your diet, they can be part of breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

 

Ingredients
Asian pear (or any pear variety you can find – organic)
Water
Cinnamon (optional)
 

Peel and core your pear, then slice up into thin slices.  I don’t like the texture of the thick skin when the rest of the pear is tender, that’s why I remove it before steaming but you can leave it on if you prefer.  A small pear is enough for 1 serving, if you have a bigger one and don’t want to eat it all you can cut off a portion and save the rest in a sealed container in the fridge.

You can steam your pear in a bamboo or basket steamer until tender, or you can also just toss it in a pan with a splash of water, cover and cook over medium heat.  It should only take about 5 minutes or so.

In the picture above I served the steamed pear over oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon, just don’t add too much cinnamon as it is warming and in excess can further dry your cough.  You can also top with a touch of honey or maple syrup if you’d like, it makes a great addition to breakfast.  As I mentioned above you can use it however you’d like.  How about on top of a warm winter salad, blended into a soup or enjoyed as a low sugar dessert?

Home Remedy for a Dry Cough