Category: Savor Page 3 of 5

HEX Ferments: The Difference, The Flavor & The Future

This is the second part in a two-part series. Did you miss the first post? To learn about the start, the art and the heart of HEX Ferments, click here. 

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore. I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Difference

So, what makes HEX Ferments different than other fermented foods and drink companies? Meaghan had a lot to say about that and was passionate about the quality of what they create.

We source and ferment for peak flavor. [
] We work with layering flavor. Our staff are all trained in the culinary field. We’ve hired people that know how to work with flavor. We don’t use a lot of dried spices. We use a lot of fresh herbs and spices and we source from local farms for about 90% of our produce. That helps us to get the foods that are the freshest and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional profile.

The health benefits of HEX’s products vary greatly from most products on the market, especially in the case of something like pickles. Most pickles on the market are made with vinegar, which acts as a preservative to make them more shelf stable. It’s used as an instant acidifier.

hex-picklesUnfortunately, most vinegars are denatured or killed, so the nutritional benefits of fermented food are lost; there’s no probiotic component to vinegar pickles. The way HEX produces their products preserves the nutritional integrity and gives us the host of benefits we expect.

HEX naturally ferments their products through the process of lactic acid fermentation, which creates the beneficial microbes that characterize pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. The next time you’re in the market for a jar of pickles or sauerkraut, make sure you read the label. You want it to be a “living food” with live cultures, no heat and no vinegar.

Not only does HEX prioritize using high quality ingredients and best in class fermentation practices, but they are also particular about the vessels in which they make their products. Unlike most large companies, they don’t use plastic barrels lined with plastic to ferment. When you’re creating a food that acidifies itself, you’re creating a lot of microbes that are really powerful that can eat away at plastic. Because of that concern, the team at HEX ferments in stainless steel, which also helps to keep their products tasting the same as well. That is considered the gold standard for how to ferment.

What I was surprised to learn next gave me another reason to take pride in having HEX Ferments as one of our own. They are the only fermented food company in the U.S. that makes and sells everything at their storefront. This gives their customers a unique experience and the ability to taste and smell everything and talk to the people who have a hand in making the food.

The Flavor

People often come up to the stand and aren’t shy about their feelings toward fermented foods, “I hate sauerkraut.”

Instead of being flustered or offended, Meaghan responds gently, “I’m sorry to hear that. That just means you haven’t had really good sauerkraut. You can learn to like sour.”

If you’re new to fermented foods, it can take a little while to adapt to their naturally sour taste, but Meaghan gave me some suggestions that could help.

  • Pickles are a great way to start because most of us are already familiar with them and have tried them before. Try some cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  • Try kombucha. It’s an easy entry point because it often has a bit of sweetness to balance the sour, and people tend to like its fizziness.
  • Their carrot confetti made with pickled carrots is a good starter and converted a former sauerkraut hater into a weekly customer.
  • Mix and eat things like sauerkraut with food. If you eat salad, instead of adding dressing, take a few tablespoons of the kraut, chop it up, mix it into your salad and add some olive oil.
A few bottles of HEX's brightly colored kombucha

A few bottles of HEX’s brightly colored kombucha

So, how much sauerkraut should you eat? What amount of kombucha is best to drink?

Start small. Keep in mind it is a living food and you’re introducing billions of bacteria into your system.

Meaghan suggests starting with one tablespoon of kraut or kimchi a day with food (i.e,. chopped up on a salad, as a condiment, mixed in with grains and beans, on a sandwich, etc.) and see how your body reacts. Her stepmother swears by breakfast consisting of an English muffin with peanut butter and HEXs juniper caraway sauerkraut. I can’t say it appealed to me, but Meaghan’s enthusiasm about it might get me to try it!

fullsizerender-1

Sauerkraut pairs nicely with tacos in this dish with Clavel’s tacos and watermelon radish pickles

For kombucha, Meaghan recommends starting with four to six ounces on an empty stomach in the morning. This has helped her and others with chronic constipation.

As with any food, slow down and pay attention to how your body responds and then increase the amount you’re eating or drinking or stay where you are. Over time, it’s likely you will be able to eat more.

The Shop (Where to Find It!)

To learn more about HEX Ferments and their upcoming events and for locations where you can find their products, check out their website at www.HexFerments.com.

Locally, you can find their products at MOMs Organic Market, Whole Foods, Graul’s, and Eddies Market as well as at the Waverly Farmer’s Market in Baltimore on Saturday mornings.

fullsizerenderIf you’re in the DC area, swing by Each Peach Yes! Organic Market at Capitol Hill, or the Arlington MOMs Organic Market for a jar of their famous kraut or kimchi. Hex also has a presence at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market and Bethesda Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.

If you’d rather skip the trip to the store or market and order online, you can order their products through Washington Green Grocer, Relay Foods, Hungry Harvest, and Hometown Harvest.

The Future

HEX Ferments is experiencing a ton of growth and will be expanding to a larger production space just down the road from Belvedere Square, where their storefront will remain. They will gain over 1,000 square feet of space.

A sneak peek at the new space

A sneak peek at the new space

They have plans to teach a few workshops in the fall and look forward to introducing more people to the art of fermentation. I’ll be sure to keep you updated about those events through my Facebook page and this blog.

Over the years, Meaghan and Shane have grown to appreciate and embrace all that Baltimore has to offer. They look forward to continuing to build community through HEX Ferments, as they invite us to connect with our food, how it makes us feel and where it comes from; appreciate food as beauty and art; and nourish our bodies with living, healing food that will leave us looking and feeling our best.

Have you tried HEX Ferments products? Do you have a favorite? Feel free to share below!

HEX Ferments: The Start, The Art & The Heart

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore.

I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Start

What is this place?

Aside from what she had seen in John Waters’ movies, Meaghan Carpenter knew little about Baltimore when she moved here on a whim 12 years ago. The heat and humidity of Charm City in August and her cockroach-infested apartment weren’t the welcome she had anticipated when she picked up her life and relocated. Getting rid of cockroaches can be a pain, but luckily there are sites out there like https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/local/wisconsin/greenleaf/ that can make the process of getting rid of them easier. Still, it’s not something that you want to worry about when you are starting a life over in a different location. She says “a boy” brought her here, but she stayed for a different boy, Shane, who’s now her husband.

hex-ferments06

Over the years, Meaghan’s initial impression of Baltimore has faded, as she has grown to appreciate and embrace her new home.

I feel like Baltimore is this really incredible city that is this melting pot that never seems to fully merge. People come from all over the place. But everybody has a pretty strong identity here. It doesn’t feel like a homogenous city at all.

Meaghan always loved food, grew up spending time in the kitchen with her parents, and worked in restaurant kitchens for years but never considered food for a career.  Both she and Shane have been connected to fermented food since childhood. They grew up eating the harvest from their parents’ vegetable gardens and learned the art of canning at a young age (“You can only eat so many cucumbers, zucchini and carrots” Meaghan confessed.).

They were raised eating sour foods, a taste most Americans have not developed. It was their early introduction to sour, fermented foods that would eventually influence the business they formed together nearly four years ago, a fermented food and drink company called HEX Ferments.

When Meaghan was in college, she was part of a natural foods store co-op and learned how to make simple kimchi and sauerkraut. She noticed it helped the digestive issues she had in college that stemmed from her very poor diet. When she started sharing simple meals of rice, beans, steamed veggies and sauerkraut with the co-op staff, she noticed by how much better she felt. She carried that with her and it would come in handy years later.

schlossmanhex0422It would take two transatlantic trips to the U.K. before Meaghan and Shane would delve more deeply into the art of fermentation. Both she and Shane spent some time separately in Ireland, where Shane worked on organic farms in Wales and saw a different side of fermentation – wines, meads and preserved foods – the side most of us are more familiar with here in the States.

It was in Ireland that Meaghan first learned about the sour, tingly, fermented drink called kombucha. She fell in love with it, and as soon as she got back to U.S., she put out a flyer asking who had the culture needed to brew kombucha. Meaghan was in luck. She learned the simple instructions for how to do it and has been making kombucha for the past 15 years, well before the recent kombucha craze started.

Years after Meaghan’s introduction to komFbucha, she and Shane quickly realized that when they got together, they loved playing with flavors and having food experiments. They had a garden and had an overabundance of cabbage and decided to make sauerkraut. So Meaghan dug out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, a book she first learned about through the co-op, and they got to work. Since then, they’ve visited Sandor’s farm in Tennessee and have been mentored by him along with another husband-wife fermentation team from the Cultured Pickle in Berkeley, California.

hexplusculturedI loved what Meaghan had to say about what happened once they embarked on the journey to come together and explore the art of fermentation:

We instantly got rehooked into it all. Once you make fermented foods and you learn about it, there is the potential to get bitten by its mystery and magic, and there’s no turning back. Once you’re hooked into it, that’s it. It’s an obsession. We became totally and immensely obsessed.

Their friends loved what they made and suggested they open a business, but Meaghan and Shane were hesitant. They were enjoying their hobby and didn’t think they wanted to have a business doing it, even though Shane had been in business for himself since the age of 17.

But sometimes your calling finds you, and if you’re meant to do something with your life, it can be nearly impossible to escape. Meaghan was working at a desk job where she was “totally bored”. She was also teaching and making art, but she was not satisfied and found herself researching how to start a fermented foods business. Fueled by their newfound obsession and bolstered by Shane’s entrepreneurial skills, they decided to go for it and start HEX Ferments. It’s been nonstop ever since.

The Art

Meaghan designed the HEX Ferments logo and partnered with a fellow MICA alum to render the logo and set the vision for their brand. The inspiration for the name comes from Hexology folklore, which uses signs and symbols to protect relationships, secure the harvest, and ward off the unwelcome. In the same way, fermented foods protect and support our body, digestion, immune system and overall health and well-being.

hex-logo-web-01

Through her work, Meaghan has the opportunity to combine her two loves – food and art. She doesn’t see a separation between the two and credits her art education at MICA with her visual, creative problem-solving skills, which have served her well in business.

I see what we do as art. We get to play with flavors, and textures, and colors and beautiful objects and we get to put them together and let them slow cook, also known as ‘ferment’.

The inspiration behind unique flavor combinations, like Juniper Caraway Kraut, Carrot Confetti, Lover’s Truce Kimchi, and Butterfly Lime kombucha, often stems from whatever is in season.

The HEX team scours articles, recipes, and books for inspirations as well and considers their experiments a form of play. Meaghan said naming them is like naming a child and she and the team come up with names together.

hex-kraut hex-kraut-jarsFor Valentine’s Day, an abundance of local beets inspired the creation of a complex kimchi called Lover’s Truce. And when Meaghan was given green tea and saffron tea from Afghanistan by her brother-in-law, it wasn’t long before Saffron kombucha was born.

Meaghan flavor preferences vary seasonally, so she didn’t have a go-to kraut or kombucha. If she had to pick, the plain sauerkraut that is currently at the peak of its ripeness and the Carrot Juniper kombucha were at the top of her list.

Customer buying habits are more particular. Some customers shop by color (i.e., “I only buy things that are red.”) while others have their standby flavors like Garlic Oregano and never waver from them. At times, Meaghan and Shane will come up with make something that’s “super crazy” in a small batch, and people will eat it up and come back months later looking for it. They like to keep things fresh, fun and seasonal.

The Heart

When I have the opportunity to talk to people about food and hear their story, what I gravitate toward most is their food philosophy and the language they use around food.

My approach toward food is to invite people to be curious about eating – to connect with why we eat, how it makes us feel and where our foods comes from; to savor food and make eating a joyful experience; and to nourish our bodies with energizing, life-giving, real food, so we can look and feel our best.

When I asked Meaghan about her philosophy around food, I discovered that we share a similar approach and both prioritize being connected to our food along with nourishment:

I see food in different levels. I see food as culture. I see food as commodity and food as nourishment. The level that we operate in is all three. HEX sees food and our food system in a holistic approach. We need to address the entire system of what brings food, nourishment and culture to our plate.

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s a privilege to have a company right here in my hometown that is so committed to upholding the integrity of their food and nourishing people every day.

Stay tuned for the second post in this series to learn more about what makes HEX’s products different from everything else on the market, get some tips for how to incorporate these foods into your diet, and get a sneak peek at some plans for HEX’s future.

Sundried Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad {Gluten-Free}

We’ve been making the most of the last days of summer and have spent just about every weekend and multiple nights a week hanging out with friends and family.

We also went to the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night with thousands of other people, and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend seeing one of their shows if you get a chance. Their music is fun, upbeat, and makes you want to dance!

Zac Brown band

Because of all of this, I’ve really felt like a little social butterfly lately…and I’m loving it!

As someone who used to prefer being alone over being with people, I’m enjoying all of the socializing we’ve been doing. One of the commitments my husband, Bill, and I made at the beginning of the year was to be more intentional about spending time with friends and other couples, even during what is often a busy week.

Why the focus on so much more social time?

In his book Wellbeing, Tom Rath writes about the importance of social time in reducing our stress and worry and boosting our wellbeing. To have a thriving day, we need 6 HOURS of social time.  That includes time at work, home, with friends, talking on the phone, and even sending email (scrolling through Facebook doesn’t count) – anything that gives us an opportunity to directly connect with another human being. If six hours sounds kind of daunting, even three hours of social time cuts your chances of having a bad day to 10%. That’s reason enough for me to be more social!

We had a socially-packed day this past Sunday and easily hit the 6-hour mark by spending a few hours at church in the morning, going to a friend’s party in the afternoon, and visiting my in-laws that evening.

The party we went to on Sunday afternoon was a potluck-style party, so I decided to bring a new recipe that I had first taste-tested with my friend, Jeanne, on Friday night.

I was inspired to make this recipe when I was munching on the Tomato Basil version of Chickpeatos, one of my favorite snacks and a great substitute for croutons.

“Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great to combine those flavors into a salad?”

tomato-basil-bowl IMG_7572IMG_7573

So, off I went to experiment with a combo of sundried tomatoes (oh my gosh, so good!), fresh basil and a base of quinoa.

This recipe looks like Christmas in a bowl with its red and green accents, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate the transition from summer to cooler weather. You’re going to love it!

IMG_7570

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (I use these)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or oil from sundried tomatoes jar)
1/2 cup Watusee Foods Tomato Basil Chickpeatos

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic together, then whisk in oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss quinoa with sundried tomatoes, beans, and basil with dressing and top with Chickpeatos.

Tropical Mango Lime Coconut Balls {Vegan, Paleo}

Of all the recipes I create, this kale salad, this sweet potato and egg casserole and these no-bake bites and balls are the most popular.

I love the no-bake bites because they’re packed with an energy-boosting combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats, and the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless! I’ve made about a dozen different versions of these little bites, but I wanted to try something different with this recipe.

mango-bite-ingredients

Because of the warm weather, I’d been enjoying this Caribbean Island Breeze smoothie with frozen mango and was inspired to make a no-bake bite using some of the same ingredients.

I’ve taste-tested these little gems with over a dozen people, and they’ve been a hit each time! With sweet mango, tart lime, creamy coconut, and a zing of ginger, these bites are full of flavor and fun to eat.

You’re going to love them 🙂 

mango-bites-platedmango-bite-closeup

Tropical Mango Lime Coconut Balls

Yield: 32-36 balls

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews
2 cups + 1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 tsp + pinch fine grain sea salt
1/2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 cup dried mango, softened slightly in warm water for about 10 minutes, patted dry with a paper towel, then coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lime

Directions

  1. Put cashews, 2 cups shredded coconut, hemp seeds and sea salt in the food processor and process (about 30 seconds) until it reaches a coarse meal.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and process until evenly combined. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls and roll in shredded coconut. Freeze or refrigerate in a glass container.

Basil Pesto Hummus {Vegan}

Summer is full of vibrant colors and bold flavors. I just love this time of year! Today’s recipe highlights one of my favorite summer herbs that is in season right now and seems to be in everything.

Basil.

basil

I had some basil leftover from making this Basil Walnut Pesto and wanted to try something new and simple, so I decided to add it in to a basic hummus recipe.

We served it to our friends Lisa and Brody, and their son Beckett, at a recent dinner at our house…and everyone loved it! Bill brought it to school this week for a back-to-school potluck, and it went over well there, too.

The recipe starts with the basic hummus ingredients – chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil – and upgrades it by adding in an underrated but super potent herb packed with health-promoting benefits.

Just a few of the body-boosting properties of basil are listed below:

  • Its flavonoids protect our cells from damage and help protect our DNA
  • The oils in basil leaves have strong antibacterial properties, naturally reducing the likelihood of contracting a food-borne illness
  • Contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can provide relief for anyone with inflammatory conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions
  • Rich in Vitamins K and A, which act as powerful antioxidants that protect our heart

basil-hummus-aerial basil-hummus-closeup

Basil Pesto Hummus

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Put garlic, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, and sea salt in the food processor and process until evenly combined. You may need to scrape down the sides. Add basil leaves and process again.
  2. Stream in olive oil through hole at the top of the food processor and run for about 60 seconds until smooth. It may seem a little loose, but if you put it in the fridge to set, it will thicken. If needed, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin it out.
  3. Store in the fridge in a glass container and serve with raw veggies or chips.

Easy Apple Pie Bites

I’m SO happy to be back in my kitchen!

After spending two weeks in upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest for vacation, Bill and I were both looking forward to being home.

We hadn’t been home for 48 hours before I was busy experimenting with new recipes. This one turned out to be a big hit with my husband’s men’s softball team (and their fans!).

apple-pie-bites

I’ve made about dozen different recipes for no-bake energy bites, so I was trying to come up with a flavor combo I hadn’t tried before.

Sooo, I tried apple pie in August…why not? 🙂

Our friend, Matt, said these were the best things I’ve ever made, so I knew I had to share the recipe with all of you…and the quick video for how to make it. My husband, Bill, has been a BIG help making techie things like this happen.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1/2 cup apple, peeled and chopped (Granny Smith works best)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted (DON’T use deglet dates…they’re not as chewy!)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Directions

  1. Add oats, walnuts, almonds, spices, and salt to the food processor and process for about 20-25 seconds or until it reaches a coarse meal.
  2. Add the vanilla, apples, raisins, and dates, and process until it forms a ball. You may have to stop the processor, break apart the dough chunks and process again a few times to blend it all together.
  3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in shredded coconut. Store in fridge or freezer.

Simple Beauty-Boosting Salad with Pesto Dressing

One of my favorite parts of my job is spending time with employees and showing them how delicious and doable it is to eat well. I love the look of surprise on their faces and the comments they make when they try something they assumed wouldn’t taste good.

(Like this chocolate avocado mousse!)

For a recent cooking demonstration with a client in DC, we focused on beauty-boosting foods – food packed with colors, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other anti-aging nutrients and benefits.

We started with this Tropical Breeze Smoothie and then made the salad below for our main course, followed by my 5-minute chocolate avocado mousse topped with blackberries for dessert. Everyone had a great time and raved about the recipes.

To be totally honest, I came up with this salad the day before the class when I was in DC and eating my lunch from Chop’t, a salad place at the train station. I was admiring their seasonal Greenmarket Grain Bowl made with radishes, cucumbers, a mix of lettuces and a lemon basil vinaigrette.

Since the focus of the demo I was teaching the next day was about anti-aging, beauty-boosting foods, I knew that was the inspiration I needed to come up with this recipe. The good news is that you don’t HAVE to use these exact ingredients – just use a variety of vegetables that are in season and serve them with a yummy dressing, like the pesto one we made.

This particular recipe would be the perfect pairing for an ionic foot detox. Want to learn more about the potential health-boosting benefits of this unique detox treatment? Take a look at this guide to foods to help detox with ion cleanse. As with any health-related matter, always do your research before embarking on any detox plan.

Here are the health benefits of some of the ingredients we used according to nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder, in her book, The Beauty Detox Foods.

salad-ingredients

Cucumbers: This is one of the top beauty-boosting foods we can eat. Cukes are packed with enzyme-charged water, B-vitamins and electrolytes to help us flush out the kidneys, reduce bloating and build radiant skin from within.

Radishes: Help cut and dissolve mucus in the digestive tract, so nutrients can flow freely throughout the body. They are in the mustard family and act as cleansers and detoxifiers in our body.

Scallions: Onions contain compounds that stimulate the production of the most important antioxidants the liver uses for detoxification (glutathione). They also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that counters the effects of premature aging.

Zucchini: Rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compound, vitamins and minerals, this summer squash is not only good for our bodies but it’s also fun to prepare when you use a spiralizer.

To make things a little more exciting than usual, we spiralized the zucchini and diced and sliced everything else. (This is the spiralizer I have). We topped it off with a pesto sauce that I usually serve with pasta or as a topping for cucumber slices as an appetizer. You can thin it out a bit by adding a little more oil or water and use it as a dressing. We just took it straight from the food processor and mixed it in.

The finishing touch was a sprinkling of Tomato Basil Chickpeatos (my FAVE roasted chickpeas). The bag was gone in a matter of minutes. I use them instead of croutons, and the rest of the crew is on board with that idea now, too, which is awesome to see!

salad-covr

Ingredients

1/2 pound mixed greens
2 zucchini, spiralized (or cut into thin strips)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 cucumbers, chopped
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1 package of sprouted beans (we used lentil sprouts from MOMs)
1 cup Tomato Basil Chickpeatos
1/2 cup basil walnut pesto

Directions

  1. Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add dressing and toss to combine.
  3. Top with Chickpeatos and enjoy!

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato & Sesame Tahini Cookies

Did you know that the same foods that support our heart and help it heal can also boost our mood? Foods that help one part of the body tend to be good for others as well.

During a recent Heart Healthy Happy Hour hosted by the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Miller, preventive cardiologist, speak about the importance of taking care of our heart, so we can feel good, be well and live longer. For a recap of the top three tips he shared (and a video that will make you laugh until you cry), check out the last blog post here.

To enhance the presentation and bring it to life, his wife, Dr. Lisa Miller, a podiatrist and chief recipe creator, showed everyone how to make the two recipes I’m sharing with you in today’s post. They are perfect for summer, refreshing, colorful and delicious!

millers-tiih

During his presentation, Dr. Miller highlighted some of the top 50 heart-healing, mood-boosting foods, and the recipes prepared highlighted nearly a dozen of those ingredients. For the health benefits of these ingredients, check out my last blog post.

As with all of the recipes on my blog, both of these recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free. The first is raw and both are vegan. Enjoy 🙂

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato

blueberry-gelato

Ingredients
1/4 cup raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight in salted water)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Drain cashews (if soaked) and discard soaking liquid.
  2. Place all ingredients in blender as listed and blend until smooth and uniform resembling gelato/ice cream. A high-powered blender works best for this. Add a tablespoon spoon or so of almond milk if it isn’t blending easily enough but keep it minimal so the dessert stays thick.
  3. Pour into pretty cups and serve immediately.
  4. Top with your favorite granola or a sesame tahini cookie, if desired.

Sesame Tahini Cookies

sesame-cookies-miller

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tahini
1 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, blend tahini, maple syrup, almond extract and oil.
  4. Blend dry and wet ingredients together.
  5. Add in sesame seeds.
  6. Form dough into 1” balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes until lightly brown.

Once cool, you can can dip 1/2 of the cookie in melted dark chocolate and place in the fridge to harden. Otherwise, serve them as a side to the raw blueberry cashew ice cream!

8 Great Healthy Date Ideas for Summer

Making time to connect with each other is one of the keys to being well and feeling nourished (in every sense of the word!). As adults, it can be easy for us to stick with what we know and do the same activities over and over again, especially in the summertime.

I love hanging out poolside as much as the next person, but if you’re looking for fun and nourishing things to do in the summer to change up the typical routine, I have some great ideas for you, your friends and your family.

Spending the past weekend with my friend, Jessica Yeager, a fellow culinary nutrition alum and blogger, inspired me to write this post. We don’t see each other that often, so I planned some healthy and fun activities for us to do when she came to visit me in my hometown of Baltimore.

If you live in or near Baltimore or plan to visit at some point, these are places and things I highly recommend checking out and trying. If you live elsewhere, use these ideas as inspiration and the links I provide within each tip as resources for fun things to do where you live!

date-ideas-cover

#1 Visit a Local Restaurant that Serves Nourishing Food

Where We Went: One of my favorite places to have lunch, dinner or brunch just outside of Baltimore is Great Sage restaurant. They specialize in plant-powered vegan dishes and offer lots of gluten-free options, so I know I can go there and eat a delicious meal without any concern that my body will feel unwell afterwards. I had just been the week before to celebrate my birthday but knew we had to go back when Jessica came to town.

We met up with our friend and fellow culinary nutrition alum, Katie Hussong, for dinner and were greeted by the friendliest and most hospitable restaurant manager I’ve ever met, Scott Carberry. My husband, Bill, had taken me there the week before for my birthday dinner, a tradition we started last year.

great-sage-collage

We started our meal with refreshing ginger-ades and a rich and creamy spinach artichoke dip that you’d forget didn’t contain cream or dairy. The Avocado Pink Peppercorn salad with roasted beets and sliced watermelon radishes on a bed of Bibb lettuce was the highlight of my meal and one of their most popular summer salads. The bean and lentil burger and hearts of palm crabcake rounded out our meals, and we had to order dessert. Great Sage’s carrot cake is to die for and is gluten-free and dairy-free.

You Can Do It, Too! If you’re looking for healthy places to eat in and around Baltimore, check out this post on the subject. If you’re not local to the area, use these tips to find healthy places to eat near you. The Happy Cow website/app are my go to resources for finding healthy eateries and the app Food Tripping is worth checking out, too.

#2 Pick Your Own Fruits or Veggies at a Nearby Farm

Where We Went: Just outside of Baltimore lies one of the best kept secrets where you can pick your own organic berries – Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm. I found out about a few years ago from friends at church, who love to take their kids there, and it is worth the trip every time!

From blueberries to black raspberries and blackberries, this beautiful farm is the place to come for Baltimore’s best berries. They also harvest bunches of lavender, which you can purchase as well.

Grab a bucket and get picking! You pay by the pound and may end up with more than you intended. If that is the case, I just lay them out on a baking sheet in the freezer WITHOUT washing them, wait until they freeze and then put them in a freezer-safe bag or container to use for smoothies, fruit crisps, pancakes and other goodies later.

hybridoma

You Can Do It, Too! Want to learn more about Hybridoma? Click here to visit their website. To find a pick-your-own farm near you, check out LocalHarvet.org and search by zip code.

#3 Grab a Quick & Healthy Lunch {& Try Something New!}

Where We Went: There are so many places to find a healthy lunch in Baltimore, but one of my favorite places is the Naked Lunch cafe inside of MOMs Organic Market (my favorite grocery store) in Hampden. MOMs and Whole Foods Market both have great options for a quick, affordable and nourishing lunch when you’re on the go, but the Naked Lunch wins out for me.

Jessica tried the jackfruit BBQ (one of the trendiest foods on the scene these days!) with a side of the cauliflower steak. I had the cauliflower steak bowl, which was served on a bed of brown rice, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach tossed in a chimichurri sauce. Talk about flavor!

cauliflower-steak-moms

You Can Do It, Too! The MOMs in Hampden, DC, Rockville and Bryn Mawr (PA) all have Naked Lunch cafes, so if you are near any of those areas, check one out. If you’re outside of those areas, use Happy Cow, Food Tripping or Yelp! to find a healthy lunch near you.

#4 Hit Up a Local Festival or Event

What We Did: Each year in the summer, Baltimore hosts Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival that attracts over 350,000 people over three days. There are dozens of artists, musicians and food vendors to visit, including quite a few that are health promoting. Rhythm Superfoods was there giving away free bags of kale chips and considering how hot it was, we knew we had to grab one of the frozen fruit pops made with local and organic ingredients from Pop Couture. Jessica tried the Banana Coconut and I had the Mint Lemonade. So refreshing and delicious!

We made sure to stop by the tent with what I think is the most beautiful art on the planet – watercolor food art done by Marcella Kriebel from nearby DC. Her artwork is stunning and is hanging in several areas in my house, including my new kitchen. Check out Marcella’s work on Etsy. I snagged a picture with her at her booth at Artscape, and I’m going to interview her for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

artscape-2016

You Can Do It, Too! Check out websites like Everfest, Eventbrite and Eventful to find local festivals, concerts, and events near you. These websites are great to check out if you’re going on vacation and want to know some fun things to do where you’re staying.

#5 Go Where the Locals Go

What We Did: My #1 favorite place to spend time in Baltimore is Belvedere Square Market. I grew up going there on Saturday mornings with my mom and now go to see “my people” and eat some of my favorite foods. We stopped by Plantbar, a juice and smoothie bar with other grab-and-go meals and treats, that specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free options. My friend, Daniela, opened it a few years ago after the success of her other restaurant with the same vibe, Zia’s Cafe, in Towson. We had a Daily Greens juice with some ginger added. It was refreshing and energizing, perfect for a pick-me-up after walking around in the heat at Artscape.

From there we stopped by Hex Ferments, a fermented food shop that uses local, organic ingredients to make create fermented food combinations, including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. The Butterfly Lime kombucha was our favorite that day…probably because it was purple! We each grabbed a pickle and sat down to enjoy a snack before our last stop at my absolute favorite chocolate place in the world – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

belvedere

I wrote about her story and her chocolates here, but all you need to know about this place is that you have to try it. She specializes in making incredibly decadent, beautiful and creative combinations of chocolate treats that happen to be raw, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Every person I’ve ever taken there raves about it, and it is a highlight of living in Baltimore. We had the peanut butter stuffed Turkish figs, peanut butter and jelly fudge, and the blueberry tobacco (quite unique!) and lemon cranberry Pucker truffles.

You Can Do It, Too! To learn more about Belvedere Square, visit their website here. They also have a summer concert series on Friday nights that is a lot of fun, too! To find where the locals eat near you, check out the LocalEats website.

#6 Shop Local and Make Dinner At Home

What We Did: It would have been easy to find another place to go out to eat, but we were ready to relax a bit and keep dinner simple. We stopped by MOMs Organic Market again and grabbed some fennel, leeks, and Cappello’s paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookie dough.

We came home and started chopping up our veggies, adding in some garlic and broccoli. We roasted the fennel, broccoli, and onions in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes total, taking the broccoli out halfway. We sautéed the leeks and garlic on the stovetop, adding in a can of cannellini beans just before we were ready to eat. We tossed the roasted and sautéed veggies and beans together in the pan and topped it with a few squeezes of lemon juice and salt and pepper and had ourselves a locally grown, quick and tasty meal. And with the summer nights being so fine, why not invest in one of these hanging daybeds so you can enjoy your meal outside?

dinner-jess

We finished off the night with some of THE best gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookies from Cappello’s. You can eat the dough raw (we may have done this) and/or bake it into cookies!

You Can Do It, Too! Hit up the farmer’s market or grocery store near you to grab some foods that are in season. Roast, steam or sautĂ© them and then toss everything together with a plant- or animal-based protein and top with a vinaigrette or simple homemade sauce. Keep it simple 🙂

There were two things we didn’t get to do that we’ll plan to do the next time we hang out, so here are two more ideas for you…

#7 Take a Hike!

What You Can Do: There are so many peaceful and beautiful hiking and walking trails nearby, and you can find some where you live by visiting AllTrails.com. I’m stoked for the hiking I’ll be doing during my upcoming trips to Upstate NY and Portland, Oregon! It’s a great way to move more, talk and enjoy the beauty around you, as well as the both of you being able to reap the benefits of walking.

#8 Go on a Groupon Date

What You Can Do: My husband and I and our friends have used ideas on Groupon to explore fun activities we might not think of on our own. From cooking lessons and paint nights to yoga classes and sporting events, you can find some fun ideas for things to do on Groupon…and save money at the same time!

So, there you have it! Those are a just a few ideas for how to upgrade your summer plans to include health, community and wellbeing and have fun at the same time.

Now, I’ve got a question for YOU! 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy activities to do or places to go in the summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Mason Jar Meals: Carrot & Chickpea Salad {Video}

Are you looking for some ideas to make meal prep during the week quicker, easier and more nourishing?

I’ve been teaching my Meal Planning Made Easy workshop to a bunch of different companies lately. One of the recipe demos I like to show is how to make mason jar salads. They’ve easy, versatile, and convenient. You can prep a few of them at a time, so you can literally just grab, go, and shake your lunch during the week.

Below is a visual of a mason jar salad how-to.

If you want to add crunch from nuts or seeds or add some creaminess with avocado, it’s best to add them just before serving so the nuts and seeds don’t get soft and the avocado doesn’t turn brown. I also wait to add things like the veggie burger that goes on top of this particular salad, so it doesn’t get soggy.

I love this mason jar salad how-to illustration from Real Simple.

This particular recipe for a Carrot Slaw and Chickpea Salad is from Relay Foods, an online grocery store service we’ve been using for the past few months to make meal planning less expensive, more convenient…and a little more exciting!

My husband, Bill, and I LOVED this salad! 

It’s packed with flavor, textures and colors. The only ingredient that might not be familiar is watercress, which is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery taste. It’s packed with antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. It’s often in a clear bag or box in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and you may have to go to a health food store to find it. An easy substitute would be arugula, a leafy green with a similar peppery taste. To learn more about the health benefits of watercress, click here.

This recipe also happens to include our FAVORITE veggie burger  – the Hemp & Greens burger by Hilary’s Eat Well. They’re allergen-friendly veggie burgers made from real food…no fake stuff here! Crunchy, flavorful, and delicious when baked, you can crumble them into a salad. We’ve tried every flavor and always have a package of them in our freezer. We buy them at MOMs Organic Market, but you can find where they sell them near you using this store locator.carrot-slaw-ingredients

I decided to take a stab at making one of those Buzzfeed Tasty-type videos, showing the how to of this recipe, so you can see me make it step-by-step.

My husband, Bill, is WAY more talented with technology than I am, so he did all the editing. I now know some tweaks I’ll make the next time I shoot a video (which will be for the easiest kale salad ever!), but I think this one is a good start!

I made a few modifications to the recipe in the video to simplify it, so you can either use the original recipe from Relay Foods for this Carrot Slaw Salad with Watercress and Chickpeas Mason Jar Salad OR try the simpler version below that’s made with a quick lemon vinaigrette.

Carrot & Chickpea Mason Jar Salad with Arugula

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 pound shredded carrots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 5-ounce package arugula (or spinach)
  • 2 Hilary's Eat Well veggie burger patties (toasted)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or almonds)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt, oil, and honey. Pour desired amount into the bottom of each quart-size mason jar (about 2 tablespoons).

  2. Prepare each mason jar salad by adding even amounts of the chickpeas, carrots, and greens.

  3. Cook the burger patties according to package directions in a toaster oven. Toast the patties just before serving to enjoy them crispy and warm (rather than soggy) if you’re eating them throughout the week for lunches. Add the patties and nuts to the salad jar, cover with a lid and then shake it up or pour it in a bowl and enjoy!

If you are going to make a few of these ahead of time, toast the burger the day of and put the nuts or seeds on at the last minute, so they stay crunchy.

Page 3 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: