Category Archives: Spring

Hard-Boiled Tip + Devilish Eggs

creamyherbeggsEaster bonnets. Baby boys in bowties. Hunting for eggs. Spring inspired dishes… and Deviled Eggs! These are a few of my favorite things this bright time of year.

With the bunny eager to hide your eggs, let’s start with a hard-boiled tip!

It is a rare person who hasn’t felt the frustration of peeling eggs and the whites refusal to separate. The typical result being a torn up hard-boiled egg. There are endless claims on the interwebs with ways to skirt this problem –trust me I have tried so many– but, I keep going back to two things that have been consistent for me:

1. Old Eggs = Smooth Peeling.
Of course, how does one find an old egg? My strategy is to buy eggs a week or two before Easter, then I label them “Easter Only!” and keep them in the back of the fridge. If you are purchasing from a grocery most likely your eggs are already a couple weeks old, but honestly older is better. (Feel free to get your google on with the regulations on eggs and sell-by dates, it is a fascinating eye opener.) But, I digress… because how do you really know if the eggs will hard boil and peel properly? Next step… test them!

mangochutneyeggs2. Will you please stand up if you are ready to be hard-boiled?
The best way to know if an egg plans to peel smoothly is with an easy float test. Fill your pot with water and the potential eggs, if your eggs start to stand up, they are a tad old and likely to peel perfectly.
If the eggs float– bye, bye! Ick.
If they drop to the bottom heavy and tired, you have fresh eggs. They can still be cooked hard but they may not be smooth to peel. However, the freshies are ideal for hollandaise. 😉

If you have some magical way to get a fresh egg to peel well regardless of its shelf life please comment below! I have certainly had luck with some of the ‘internet claims to peeling fame’ but too often I can always circle back to it was simply an older egg. wasabideviledeggs

Now… let’s flavor them up! While I am happy with most standard variations of Deviled Eggs, I get rather excited to mix them up. After dipping + dying, hiding + hunting, cracking + peeling, cut open your hard-boiled eggs and get creative. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
Wasabi-Avocado (in the picture above!) 
Creamy Goat Cheese + Herb
Mango Chutney

How do you creatively make your eggs devilish!?

Cooking the Season into Asparagus Soup

asparagussoupCook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well.

This has been the slogan for Lilly’s Table since its inception. Honestly, it is a personal mantra for me as well. However, I feel I don’t actually talk about what it really means, why it is important, essential, why I cannot live without it.

‘Healthy eating’ has become this very distorted, confusing, pretty much diluted phrase in my humble opinion. As a personal chef, I interviewed every client prior to cooking for them, I always asked “What is your definition of healthy eating?” It was as unique, beautiful and convoluted as each lovely client. Several of my clients had a balanced sense of what they needed for themselves and their family, even if I struggled to agree. Occasionally, I was jealous of how my clients ate better than me. Sometimes my client’s definition of healthy took both of us on a journey of insanity that looks a bit like the health food industry today– those were exhausting lessons to learn.

It seems, in this information age with it’s plethora of food products, as soon as we are comfortable with one philosophy of eating, the next comes our way. I am specifically referring to the demonizing of macronutrients. The fat-free craze of my teenage years lead to an obsession with white rolls, soda, fat-free yogurts, red vines, and fruit amongst my ballet dancing peers. Today’s fear of carbs has lead to a surge of fat consumption, only the ‘good fats’ mind you. I must say I am happy to be able to indulge in butter & avocados with unleashed abandonment, but what is happening to our bodies as we tip the scales of our plates in these confusing directions.

What are we doing, people!?

We spend so much time considering what we are “supposed” to be eating that we ignore the foods that are truly capable of bringing us joy.

I believe in the philosophy of listening to your inner desires and cravings. This doesn’t mean, as I gleefully subscribed to in college, eating a bag of cheetos just because that sounded yum, not to mention brainlessly easy to grab. But, rather getting a bit quieter with yourself and listening to the place where we all came from, a place that will always nourish us, goodness grown from this beautiful planet.

Recently, I watched this fabulous Netflix series ‘Chef’s Table’. If you are a food geek on any level, I recommend this show. The author of The Third Plate, which was my favorite food book in 2014, is featured in the second episode. Dan Barber’s drive as a chef is to find produce that tastes better & better and that serves the planet as well. Within the search for deliciousness, the nutrients follow. Healthy food can actually be that simple.

In general, I think a lot of people agree that a vine ripened fresh-from-the-garden tomato is just about heaven. And that a store bought version in December is a pale, pathetic impostor. Personally, I have avoided purchasing an out of season tomato for years. There are just too many other plants that taste great when tomatoes are not at their prime… such as dark leafy greens, citrus, avocados and more.

One of my dearest friends and a farmer in Tucson, told me how she has a similar relationship with carrots as I do with tomatoes. She said she has not bought carrots from the store for years. Her husband and her actually grow these carrots that revile candy, so I quickly understood her sentiment as we munched on their goodness and further discussed the possibilities for the leafy carrot tops as well (Pesto? Carrot Top Carrots?). Flavorless baby carrots will never, ever compete.

What if as a collective force we demanded more from our food? What if, instead of looking for out of season shippable year round produce that we proclaim to be so easy on our time & wallets, we demanded vegetables grown closer to home? Vegetables that were breed and selected for their ability to taste as deep and authentically good as their name implies.

Now. That may seem a tall order, but there is an easy way to make this happen.

Simply eat with the seasons. This means waiting for tomatoes. This means gorging on cold weather vegetables in winter. This means coming together to celebrate when food is delicious & abundant, not just shippable & available.

Through Lilly’s Table, we have been committed to the seasonal + follow your taste buds movement for several years. And we are continuing the journey by making it simpler and easier to think about cooking seasonally, eating consciously, and living well.

In the comments below, tell me why you love eating seasonally or where you struggle. It is a balancing act, but the health of our food system, our bodies, our community and our planet collectively depend on the choices we make about what we cook & consume.

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To celebrate the ease & simplicity of cooking seasonally, I want to share a soup with you that is as easy as a smoothie, that I make year round simply by changing the shining star ingredient. Since I am writing this in spring, I am sharing our asparagus version. Asparagus holds a beautiful spring memory for me as my sweet father would forage asparagus on the side of the road when I was a child. He would arrive home with a big bundle wrapped in his burlap bag. More recently I found out that this habit of his started after reading the book Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons.

I have made versions of this soup with cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, carrots and in the summer our favorite is the very similar Zucchini Soup. A dollop of something creamy is always welcome on these simple pureed soups whether that creaminess is a Homemade Creme Fraiche, store-bought sour cream, a whipped nut cream or the scrapped off fat from the top of coconut milk. Play with these soups adding fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, spices or other goodness as you desire.

Asparagus Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 onion, minced
1 pound asparagus
1 lemon
2 cups broth, such as chicken or vegetable
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 pinch black pepper, to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, drizzle in half of the olive oil. As soon as it shimmers, add the minced onions and sauté until just translucent, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, break the tough stems off of the asparagus. Chop into pieces reserving a few of the pretty tips for garnish.

Add in a splash of the olive oil and sauté the asparagus lightly with the onions until it is a brilliant green. Pour in the lemon juice. Transfer to a blender, pour in the broth and blend until smooth. If you want it even smoother, pour through a wire mesh sieve or strainer.

While you blend the soup, lightly saute any asparagus tips in a splash of olive oil, just until bright green.

For hot soup, return the soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer. Taste. Season with the salt and pepper.

For chilled soup, season with salt and pepper. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes, stirring periodically. Alternatively, prepare a large bowl of ice water. Place the smaller bowl with the asparagus soup in the ice bath, stir periodically until chilled. If you are making well in advance it can also chill out in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

What a Mama really wants + Strawberry Almond Lentils

Strawberry Lentil Salad

When you dive into the world of being a mom there is a lot of on the job training. I attempt to keep a routine, but if your children are anything like mine they spend most of their time throwing wild cards your way. Fortunately, their distractions are often cute, sweet + lovable, it is all about balance right? Keeping a schedule is a splendid idea that has helped me in many ways, but I have noticed it must have the flexibility to be completely scratched or overhauled at a moment’s notice.

At home, I have created a few strategies to allow me a bit more peace and sanity. The first is that my husband and I have a completely nerdy weekly meeting. This has lead to some big changes for us. First, we have started to climb our way out of debt as we spend time every week talking about where our money is coming and going. We still have a winding road ahead of us, but for the first time in our relationship we feel in the driver seat of our finances, not the other way around.

With this mini-success, we found ourselves eager to tackle other elements of our life. Simply knowing what is going on with our shared calendar has led to less surprises throughout our week. That all being said, what excites me the most is that we actually talk about our meal plan for the week, too.

Since starting the meal planning service, I usually create new meals + recipes on a regular basis. Because of this, I have often let the creativity of the ingredients and my whimsy lead me on a daily basis. This is my happy place. However, with two children taking turns craving my attention, this has lead to more frustration than not… for all of us. Basically, I have historically been the cliche: the cobbler who’s children have no shoes. I haven’t always meal planned for my family. Yup, kind of embarrassing considering my line of work.

By making my spouse an accountability partner things have changed around here. Our meals are more lovely and coherent. Our children get fired up about dinner (although, let’s be real- not exactly every time, they are wild cards, people!). But, the biggest thing is that I feel more sane and calm. When dinner finally arrives I can actually sit, dine and enjoy my favorite people and munch on some really good food. And one final secret- I don’t always follow the meal plans exactly, (which makes my untamable creative side very happy) but just having a starting point has made our dining experience more realistic, predictable, and enjoyable.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I have been thinking, isn’t that what most of us mamas want? A little calm? A little more sanity? A bit more relaxing- hey, I love you and all of your wild cards- time with our family?

Considering my own motherly cravings, I have started to uncover ways to make Lilly’s Table embrace the mama lifestyle. I have always been excited about what I create on Lilly’s Table, but I have recently been working very hard to create a program that I hope every mom will love up as you enjoy meal plans that work with your schedule that are built around the seasons, veggies and everything you and your family love. I will be sharing a bit more this month, but put June 1st on your calendar for a whole lot of meal planning fun.

Me and my sweet girl who turns five on Mother's Day!

As I get my ducks in a row, I would greatly appreciate hearing from YOU! Whether you support a mom or are a mother yourself, what do YOU need in order to get a beautiful, seasonal meal on the table every night?

Finally, I am giving the first 20 mamas who sign up for service between now and Mother’s Day the first two months for free. Become a member today and you will be the first to hear about the exciting new changes on Lilly’s Table! Simply use this promo code: wmwfmd.

Of course, I do not want to leave you without a recipe to try. I originally made this recipe for my daughter’s first birthday. She is turning five on Mother’s Day and I am thrilled to be sharing this ‘day I became a mama’ with her. I made the Strawberry Almond Lentils again just the other day and was actually surprised by how few steps and ingredients there were. This toss of lentils is perfect for the sad slightly shrinking strawberries that I find myself pulling out of the back of the fridge wondering how such little sweethearts could have been shoved to the back like that. Who would dare do such a thing? (Please note, I am most likely to be blamed, I get a bit wild when the kitchen muse arrives.)

This recent time that I made these Strawberry Almond Lentils I thought quinoa would be a fun substitute for the lentils, although I have yet to try it. I also have substituted chard stalks instead of celery because they were more available at the time. Basically, play with this recipe, it is forgiving… similar to meal planning with Lilly’s Table, which is about to become a much simpler, smoother, and mama-friendly process.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

1 cup dry lentils, french, green or beluga
1 cup almonds, raw + whole
1 1/2 cups strawberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey, optional or your favorite sweetener
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 stalks celery, (or chard stalks, or carrots or sweet peppers)
4 green onions, finely minced

Rinse and pick through the lentils. Bring the lentils up to a boil with at least three times the amount of water. Depending on the size of the lentil (tiny red are faster than the larger brown, green or french variety) boil for 15-45 minutes. When the lentil is tender to the bite it is done. Try not to over cook since this is essentially a salad and you don’t want it to be mushy.

Whisk together the vinegar, honey, salt & pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Add the lentils to the dressing as soon as possible to marinate slightly.

Roughly chop the whole almonds into bits and pieces. Spread on a baking sheet and toast at 375 for about 5-10 minutes. Watch them carefully and stir periodically. They can go from raw to burnt very quickly.

Next, wash the strawberries and chop into small pieces. Mince the celery or any other veggies such as carrots or chard stalks.

Gently toss the lentils with the minced almonds, strawberries, celery and green onions.

Serve warm or cooled as a salad.

Tortilla Egg Wraps for a quick morning

Tortilla Egg WrapPut away your knife & cutting board, pull out a pair of scissors. Grab a small jar with a lid, instead of a bowl & whisk. You need just a few more tools: a spatula, your favorite skillet, and all of the ingredients. Now, set the timer and see how quickly you can whip up this snappy little breakfast from start to finish.

With two tiny ones at home, breakfast is not only mandatory but it is full of challenges and opinions being chanted at me as I try to balance everything on my morning to do list. More and more I require my breakfasts to not need a lot of time, brainpower or my attention. We have our favorites that wax and wan throughout the month: yogurt & granola, eggs & toast, pancakes or waffles with fruit and there are plenty of variations throughout this list.

I started making this tortilla wrap when we lived in Tucson and were shamelessly blessed with the BEST TORTILLAS EVER. This speedy little dish comes together faster than fast. Although, you have no time to multitask. With a bit of focus, just minutes later, the wrap is complete and easy to tuck in a napkin to take on the go.

My other favorite part of this dish is how I can cut it up into little rounds and serve them appetizer style as we all take turns dashing in and out of the kitchen or dining room. When I need an easy, take it on the go breakfast and pronto, this always comes up.

There are a few tricks to make this recipe work. First, soft whole grain tortillas are a very, good idea. Try making these egg wraps for the first time without distractions. Basically, it is a one egg omelette with some goodies and a tortilla smashed on top. Then shimmy the whole hot thing on to a plate and start snipping greens for the next one (if you have a mini crowd as I do). Once the tortilla and filling is cool enough, quickly roll it up and slice (a serrated knife is a good idea for this task!) in small rounds or keep it in tact and just wrap it in a napkin and hand it to whomever is flying out the door.

I have made it countless times, and surprisingly, I have not of done a lot of variations so far. That being said, I am sure finely diced sweet peppers, mushrooms, or shreds of carrots could work well, but I usually just grab a fistful of easy to sauté greens and whatever melt-able cheese is handy in my fridge. And voila- all three macronutrients are tucked into this one on the go dish.

Let me know if you are planning to try this! You can do it! A speedy breakfast is just a few minutes away.

Tortilla Egg Wrap
Serves just one: multiple the ingredients as needed, but always make one at a time for personal sanity.

3 big leaves (kale, collards, spinach, chard, arugula, whatever is green and sauté-able)
1 green onion
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1 pinch of salt & pepper
1/4 cup shredded cheese (monterey jack, cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, etc)
1 whole wheat tortilla

Wash and dry the greens and green onions. Place an 8-9 inch skillet over medium heat. Stack up the leaves and use kitchen shears or scissors to thinly slice into the skillet. Use the scissors for the green onions as well, discarding the hairy tips. Toss periodically as the vegetables start to cook.

Add the butter to the veggies. Place the egg in a bowl or jar with the pinch of salt. Whisk or shake the jar until it is beaten up. Pour the eggs over the veggies. Lift the pan and tilt around until the egg is thinly and evenly distributed.

Sprinkle the cheese across the top. Shake the pan and lift the edges of the eggs up. As soon as it is loosened, place the tortilla on top.

Carefully, place a plate across the skillet with your hand on top. Lift the pan and plate together. Then flip the egg and tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the skillet to warm briefly for just another few seconds.

Slide back on to the plate. Roll up and cut into 2-3 inch slices to be shared or just enjoy the whole wrap yourself.

Let me know below if you made it, are planning to make it or you have any questions!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Miracles… from Surgery to Salad

IMG_9592The past couple of weeks have been full of challenges and in between all of the chaos, it has been a joy to receive the miracles. It all started with my husband heading to a conference, which usually leaves me a bit apprehensive about how my children and I will get through our days solo. Partially, because Xerxes offers additional hands for doing chores and caring for our children, but also because his emotional support and kind nature are critical to my personal sanity.

Of course, maybe to keep my mind off of his absence, my evenings were scheduled full of goodness and busy-ness. Looking at my evenings of to-do’s, without much help to make it all happen, made me very nervous. Fortunately, a few days before the week started my Mom and I found a ticket for her to fly out to be with us during this time to help us: the first miracle.

My baby Zed also had an appointment at the start of the week to determine if he would need surgery for a hernia that kept popping out the last few weeks. Low and behold, he did! And asap! After a phone call to Xerxes, we all agreed Friday would be the day, even though he would still be at his conference. Knowing my Mom would be here to help, I was able to breath relief.

As I wandered in to the hospital cafeteria with my two cuties in tow, feeling an aching sensation of concern for the coming Friday and the low-blood sugar of hunger, I looked up to see the mother of one of Juliette’s preschool classmates. I told my tale, and she brightly suggested Juliette spend Friday afternoon with her and her daughter: the second miracle.

The week went on smoothly. The dance classes I taught were made easier knowing my Mom was watching my children. The next day’s opportunity to share Lilly’s Table with Juliette’s preschool was also easier than expected. Again, all because of the extra hands.

Zed playing in the children’s hospital waiting for surgery

The big day arrived too quickly and I found myself most concerned that my husbands’ family history of hernia operations, (three men had a combination of at least seven hernia surgeries!) would mean Zed would have to go through all of this again for the left side as well. Xerxes and I each swore we felt a second hernia, too, which was seemingly undetected by our medical advisors. It was decided that while he was under, the surgeon would check to see if the left side had anything.

Prepping Zed for Surgery I attempted to stomach another meal at the hospital cafeteria during his surgery, which was briefly interrupted when they called to say that YES in fact Xerxes and I were correct. The left side showed a similarly sized hernia that had managed stay hidden. The surgery was a mere 20 minutes longer and future surgeries suddenly became much less likely: the third miracle.

There are certainly more details to this story, but there was another element that I consider the fourth miracle that kept giving to us all week… our garden! It is overflowing with salad greens that need just a kiss of dressing, some sort of protein and a few slices of my sourdough bread to make a meal. Throughout this trying week, I found myself indebted not just to my Mom, but to this greenery that fed and nourished my family during a time when making another trip to the grocery would have simply pushed me over the edge.

I also have to say that this is the first time I have experienced such lushness in my garden. I have historically lamented about my ‘brown thumb’. Even though I love the process of gardening, luck rarely seemed on my side. Until this year. In honesty, I want to say that not everything planted is abundant… yet (fingers crossed). It certainly helps that Xerxes built a hoop house that has extended our rather short Rocky Mountain growing season, too. Thanks Sweetie! 

We all have weeks that push us a bit more than others. I realize gardening with all of its preparations, patience, and unpredictability seems the last thing that will help when life seems to be testing you, but the rewards bring balance to the challenges. Being outside, moving dirt, watering and harvesting when my mind wanted to be fretful kept my spirit calm. My Mom always talks of gardening’s meditative powers and I am finally starting to believe her. Meanwhile eating the powerhouse of nourishing leaves kept my body and family satisfied.

You and I, we are all still at the start of the growing season this spring. I encourage you to prepare a bit of soil. Tuck seeds down into the cozy bed of dirt. Moisten it and wait…
for the miracles.

I offer you this salad dressing recipe as a mini-miracle. Because you may not have the time or space to garden (although, I would love to argue the contrary! If I can do it, you can, too) the very least you can do is make your own dressing. You will save money. You will save your health. You will save your greens from being abused by the chemical liquid combinations that one calls salad dressing.

Start with your large salad bowl. Place the greens, washed and dried on stand-by.

Dip your whisk into your favorite dijon mustard. Pull out a dollop. Place it in the large bowl. Add about twice the amount of balsamic vinegar. Drizzle in just a slight swirl of honey or maple syrup. Beat the small amount of ingredients together smearing it all over the bowl.

Take a generous pinch of salt. With your hand high above the bowl sprinkle it all over, dusting the tiny base of your dressing.

Grab the olive oil, again high above the bowl, pour it gently in a steady stream that is just a bit more steady than a drip, drip, drip, drip…. As the olive oil trills in slowly, madly beat your whisk to incorporate the fat into the molecules of your dressing. It will start to thicken. The dark balsamic will become lighter in color, or dare I say fluffier in appearance. Stop pouring the olive oil to rest your beating hand and to taste. Does it need more salt?

Sweetness?                    Vinegar?                   Add accordingly.

Too tangy?              More olive oil is needed.

Add olive oil again as you pour with one hand and beat with the other. Taste. Adjust until you are satisfied. Taste. I trust your tastebuds. Just as you should trust your own.

Now, I often pour out about half of my dressing in to a small dish to reserve for later. Next I add the greens and with a spatula fold them lightly into the dressing. I add more dressing to the top as needed. Swirling it above, again high, until each leaf receives a simple kiss of goodness.

Nuts & seeds, shreds of veggies, pieces of fruit, dried, fresh, never frozen, or even bits and pieces of your favorite leftovers can serve to complete your salad, but really…

It is all about the greens and the dressing. May this serve as a simple little miracle for your day.

And for all of you who rather work with measurements, here is the list of ingredients:

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less as desired)
1/4 teaspoon salt & black pepper

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and sweetener. While beating wildly, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is slightly thick and tastes delicious. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live blessed,

Chef Lilly

Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

warmdandelionsweetpotatosalad

It seems my 9-month old puts everything in his mouth lately. As we wrapped up his appointment recently, the physician assistant handed me a Poison Control magnet for our fridge. She must know him! In response, I told her how my daughter had nibbled on an oleander leaf at a similar age, when we were living in Tucson. After a hysterical run to the ER, we ended up calling Poison Control, which we clearly should have done first. Despite oleander’s deadly reputation the one’s grown in Tucson are apparently more benign.

The physician assistant in turn told me the only time she had to call poison control, for her now grown children, was because of Bill Nye. After watching the Science Guy explain that dandelion greens are in fact edible, her son munched on a few that had been recently sprayed with weed killer by his father. Hmm… delicious. I didn’t ask, but was curious as to whether the consequence was to not use weed killer’s in the future? My hunch is that the child was told to never do it again as Bill Nye was clearly being blamed for the Poison Control call.

At our home, we are not necessarily enthusiastic lawn owners. I certainly love to picnic and watch my children play on the patch of grass that is still recovering from years of neglect from the previous owners. However, watering, weeding and tending that big outdoor carpet is not as joyful as gardening flowers and fresh vegetables for me. Especially, since we live in an area that has drought restrictions, but also bans rain water harvesting. I won’t dive into my frustrations with this paradox today.

Also, in our yard, dandelions have been mostly choked out by the gnarlier, deep rooted thistle weed, which we pulled and yanked out of the ground throughout the whole  summer. A tedious job, that we made more joyful in short bursts of time on cozy blankets with hot cups of coffee on dewy mornings before the sun made the task unbearable. We had piles and piles of thistle, morning glories and other culprits. I would have been so happy to have turned them into dinner! But, my pregnant and subsequently postpartum body was too exhausted to go beyond dumping them in the trash.

Now, I hope that I am not the first to point out the edible nature of dandelions to you. But, if I am… welcome to a beautiful blossoming world of scavenging. I hope I do not need to tell you to make sure no one has sprayed them with weed killer, but please do take care! If you are like me and have less dandelions than other pesky plants, you can also purchase long beautiful leaves of dandelions from green markets, health food stores and farmer’s markets, too.

So preparing the infamous weed is another task that requires a bit of attention. It is a strong, bitter, nutrient packed leaf of goodness. All those bitter leaves are so often, so good for you it seems! Especially for salads, if I am starting with bitterness, the best course of action is to add a serious dose of sweetness.

For me, an earthy orange-glazed sweet potato cooked until warm and tossed with bitter dandelion greens turns a salad into comfort food. A bit of your favorite strong cheese such as a crumble of feta or strips of manchego would be a perfect addition for any cheese lovers. Remember, before you run off and dip your leaves in sugar, the goal is to balance your dish. Start with the recipe below and then share your discoveries of the dandelion possibilities below in the comments!

Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

1½ pound sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece ginger, peel and finely mince
½ cup orange juice, divided
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed well
salt and pepper, to taste

Scrub the sweet potatoes and peel if desired.

Cut down the middle and lay flat. Slice on a diagonal in 1/4 inch thick pieces. This will create an angled half moon shape as seen in the photo.

Warm a splash of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized skillet. Spread the sweet potatoes out evenly spacing to avoid overlap. Sear on one side for about 4-6 minutes until golden, flip and sear on the other side.

Add the minced garlic and ginger. Pour in half of the orange juice and all of the water & salt. Bring up to a simmer. Once the juice is reduced down the sweet potatoes should be cooked through. If you would like them to be a bit more tender, simply add more water and continue to simmer until they are your desired tenderness.

Remove the sweet potatoes and add the remaining orange juice, dijon mustard, maple syrup if using, and the remaining olive oil to the hot pan. Whisk to combine and bring up to a slight simmer. As soon as it is hot, it is ready.

Tear the clean dandelion leaves in pieces into a large bowl. Add the sliced sweet potatoes and drizzle on the warm dressing. Toss to combine.

Finish with a dash of salt and black pepper, to taste. Crumble on your favorite strong cheese for an extra element of flavor and protein boost.

 

photo (30)

Please welcome guest blogger, Dr. Kaycie Rosen Grigel of Golden Naturopathic Clinic

“Rhubarb is, as we know, the secret of the good life”–Garrison Keillor

The above picture expresses my feeling about rhubarb: One pie, one fork please.  When I heard that quote above on Prairie Home Companion this weekend it just summed it up for me.  There is something special about this hardy, massive plant that just bursts out of the garden shouting “Welcome back to fresh food!”

 We have been battling the critters and the weather out in the garden this year so the pickings right now are slim, but we have a bumper crop of rhubarb which is just begging to become a tart, delicious dessert.  Crumbles are the perfect mix of really easy, kinda decadent and pretty healthy, so you  can throw it together quickly and don’t have to feel bad about having it with yogurt for breakfast the next morning.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp (Gluten Free)

Serves 1, or 8-10

filling:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp corn starch

Crumble topping:
1 1/2 cups rolled or minute oats
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk of choice
6 Tbsp melted butter or oil

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix filling ingredients together and put into a deep dish pie plate.  Mix crumble ingredients together until they stick together in little, well, crumbles. If it’s too dry you can add a bit more milk.  Apply evenly atop the filling.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the filling bubbles out the top.

For my daughter’s recent birthday I wanted something easy to make ahead that would allow us to have a blissful morning of watching her open gifts and chat with family on the phone. I originally planned for a Baked Oatmeal*, but suddenly wanted something with even more of a coffee cake texture. I simply added a cup of almond flour to my usual recipe and this Oatmeal Loaf was the scrumptious result. Imagine a crumbly flavorful coffee cake or a firmer than average Baked Oatmeal. It is easy to toss together the night before, the oats get a nice soak and as soon as one of us wakes up it goes in the oven. When it finishes baking, I glaze the top with a honey-butter-nutmeg sauce and it is complete. The best part is if you are gluten-free and not sensitive to oats this breakfast is completely gluten-free. And since there aren’t any gluten-free starches and refined flours in it, it is hearty healthy slightly sweet way to start your day.

In celebration of  spring’s bounty, I just had to put the two best friends, Strawberries & Rhubarb in the center of this loaf with a splash of golden honey & almond extract. You can incorporate them in to the batter instead, but I prefer the sweet & tangy layer in the middle. Of course, pears, berries, stone-fruit or apples would all have fun in place of the dynamic duo depending on the season.

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Loaf

serves six

3/4 cup rhubarb, roughly chopped

3/4 cup strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup honey, plus 1 tablespoon for the sauce on top.

1 teaspoon almond extract, divided

3 cups rolled oats, if gluten-free buy oats prepared safely

1 cup almond meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, divided in two pinches

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

Place the rhubarb, strawberries, half of the almond extract and honey in a bowl, reserving a tablespoon of honey for the glaze on top. Toss the fruit and set aside to macerate and become juicier.

Toss together the rolled oats, almond meal, baking power, sugar, half of the nutmeg and salt. Whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt and the remaining almond extract. Fold these two together until the oats are well moistened. It will seem almost “too wet.”

Butter a loaf pan or your preferred baking dish. Plan to adjust the dish according to the number of servings you are planning. Fill with 2/3rds of the batter. Spread the fruit on top and then finish with the remaining batter. Allow at least a 1/2 inch of room, because this will rise slightly when baking.

This is easy to make up until this point and then chill in the fridge overnight. This gives the oats an opportunity to soak in the flavor and become softer.

Whether it is right away or the next morning, place the loaf in an oven and turn on to 375. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until the top is golden and the center feels relatively firm to the touch. It can still have a bit of spring, but it should not jiggle much in the center.

At this point, melt the remaining butter, tablespoon of honey and rest of the nutmeg in a skillet, drizzle across the top of the hot loaf.

Cut in slices and scoop out of the dish. The texture is softer than coffee cake, although firmer than most baked oatmeal.

*Subscribers to Lilly’s Table can access this link to my original Baked Oatmeal recipe.

Here in Colorado we’re not quite ready for harvest!

I was leading a medicinal plant walk today through the woods next to my daughter’s school, and one of the kids asked me “what’s the difference between a food and a medicine?”  Ah, I love it when people ask the right question!  In summary, especially when we’re talking about plants the basic difference is that you’re probably not going to be able to make a salad out of a medicinal plant because the chemical constituents are concentrated enough that if you eat enough of it to get caloric benefit it will be either too strong a taste or not good for you.  Another girl then asked the perfect follow-up question: “but can a plant be a food AND a medicine?”

Well of course.  There would be no use for this website otherwise, now would there?  So let’s talk today about one of my favorite medicinal foods; strawberries.  In my line of work, I get to see a good portion of what’s out there on the natural supplement market, either in my own research or through patients, friends, and acquaintances who share their favorites.  Of all the products I see, especially on the multilevel marketing lines, I most frequently see powders and drinks boasting that they contain “superfoods” that have such high concentrations of bioflavonoids just a shot a day will cure heart disease, prevent cancer, reverse diabetes and keep you endlessly young.

Mostly the superfoods in the products mentioned above are deep red and purple berries and fruits from foreign lands.  They do, no doubt, contain high level of antioxidant flavonoids, and these types of chemicals are extremely important for maintaining healthy artery walls and preventing reversing cellular and DNA damage that can lead to cancers.  However, we have super foods that are fresh and locally grown, often right here in our backyard.

Strawberries are our first berries of the season here in North America, and they contain some of the highest concentration of bioflavonoids of any fruit in the world.  They often top the list of anticancer foods, and the anthocyanadins have been shown to be good at reducing inflammation and pain.  Because they have such high vitamin C content, it is best to eat them fresh and raw to maintain optimal nutritional value.

I do have to point out though, strawberries are one food that I highly recommend eating organic.  Strawberries are highly susceptible to mold and pests, so there are many possible pesticides and fungicides that may be used on strawberries.  Local strawberries are even better, because once they are on the truck, there will be an antifungal “bomb” released in the truck to keep them fresh for transport.  Some good news on this front is that just this March a commonly used pesticide, metlyl iodide, was pulled from the market for use in California.  Methyl iodide is a potent neurotoxin that has been shown to inhibit brain and nerve development for fetuses and young children.  Even so, strawberries are always on the list of the “dirty dozen” because over 60 possible chemicals are used in conventional production.

So, happy late spring to you–enjoy our first fruit of the season!  How lucky for us that we have strawberries as food, as medicine, as our very own superfood.