Category Archives: Winter

Twelve Days of Christmas Recipes

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Pull up some cocoa and cue the music maestro!

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For a limited time enjoy the Twelve Days of Christmas at nearly 60% off. Click HERE to grab your copy today!

Through the 12 Days of Christmas, Chef Lilly gives to you…

Twelve Days of Christmas Recipes!

That’s right! Are you ready to sing throughout the holidays with simple, scrumptious real food recipes that will fulfill all of your various food needs for this holiday season?

Let’s face it… the holidays are more than just one big meal on one big day. It is weeks of sparkly, joy-packed fun with plenty of cooking to do’s. In other words, the stress piles on fast for anyone attempting to keep their family organized, healthy and sane through all of the hustle and bustle!
Maybe your Holiday recipe needs look like this… 

For the Book Club party, you need an appetizer that makes the ladies swoon. Oh! And a sassy beverage, too. Right!?

For the kid’s School Party, you want something cute, but wouldn’t it rock if it used a veg or two?

For your Neighborhood Potluck, God love them, but everyone brings a dish laden with grease or sugar. A salad would be lovely, but it must be made ahead, because the party starts at 4pm on a school night.granoladrops

Speaking of sugar, tis’ the season, right? Would love to sit and make sweet treats with the kiddos but it would be fabulous if they were a tiny bit guilt-free. Something that balances the rest of the sugar high of the season. Maybe using unrefined sugars for example? Oh… and simple enough for the kids to actually help, too!

While we are at it, maybe those treats would be fabulous enough to bag up for all of the teachers, friends and sweet people in our lives who need a gift?

After that day of treat making joy, wouldn’t it be nice to sit down to a meal that felt nourishing, rather than the take out pizza which is the only thing you can muster up after the kitchen has been dismantled by the joy of holiday baking?

Of course, there will be traveling to the in-laws this year at some point. A holiday inspired snack that is actually nourishing would be very welcome! Just imagine your sweet ones snacking gleefully on a treat that won’t send them on a sugar crash the moment they see their grandparents.santastrata

Then

 

 

there is Christmas Eve! Just imagine it being crockpot simple with little to no effort. There is so much darn prep required in order to have a relaxing mellow Christmas. How does Santa do it anyways? Oh, that’s right.

I am Santa.

Of course, there has been more than one year when exhausted “Santa” didn’t pull off a Christmas breakfast. In between the madness of unwrapping gifts the kids pretty much survived on treats from their stocking. In your defense, Santa had stuffed an orange in there. What if this year, Christmas Eve dinner is so crockpot easy that making breakfast the night before is also effortless? And… is it too much to ask if it is cute and delightful for my kids also?

Certainly, you can pour over Pinterest investigating and plotting all of the possibilities, but after all that time pinning will you have any time leftover to make any recipes?

My Christmas wish for you is to have more joy in the kitchen and less time agonizing over the pros and cons of each dish. Get INSTANT access to this collection of holiday recipes so that you can take a peek, gather ingredients and get cooking. The eCookbook includes the name semi-famous 3-ingredient Nut Cookies as well! Want the recipe, grab the book! 

The best part is that you can name your own price! With over 28 recipes the suggested price is $28 that is just $1 per recipe, but you are welcome to pay as little as $4 instead. Do what makes sense for you and your budget this time of year!

The more people enjoying these recipes the merrier and brighter it will make me!

Sign up now for the Twelve Days of Christmas Recipes eCookbook! 

 

Comfort + Joy for Winter


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Comfort.
Joy.

These two words are totally synonymous with the holiday season. Specifically that one Christmas song with all its tidings. But as I write this, I am currently weaning myself off of the Figgy Pudding, my view is of snow melting from our White Christmas and I can still smell the pine of our slowly drying + dying Christmas tree. It takes me awhile to let go of this time of year especially when it means diving into a season that is a tad dreary and which the ‘health’ obsessed seem to require we detox off the holiday with chilly veggie beverages and crunchy salads.

But… why?!

I hardly need the carols, sweets, treats, and holiday hoopla, but as we settle into the winter season with the holidays really marking the start of, why do we abruptly end all of that delightful comfort + joy just a few days after the glorious start of the season?Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.32.06 PM

In the last few years, I have been a tad obsessed with the notion of the season of Hygee. It is a time that is revered and celebrated in Denmark with candles, visiting with friends and family, and overall bringing a bit of light into the darkest months. Considering past winters full of my own workaholism that borders on depression, I cringe a bit to start this time of year again. Because apparently in my own life the idea of diving into work and post-holiday food austerity somehow makes me “happy”.

Screw that!

I want some comfort, joy, fluffy blankets and sparkling lights that will last well through the spring of Colorado that is too often coated in snow and mud as I wring my hands overly anticipating the soil warming enough for me to plant anything!

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.30.55 PMAlas, I know very little of this Hygee pronounced Hoo-go, but I love the idea of discovering it. Especially with a few buddies. Want to join my adventure this season as I dive into candle lit family meals, comfort foods, bottomless cups of soups, fires indoors or out, walks in bundled up attire, maybe even some chestnuts on an open fire or even easier- some s’mores that are too often reserved for summer… oh the possibilities!

Even if you live in ‘warmer’ climates as I did not too long ago in Arizona, the days are still shorter, and the hygee would still be a welcome change of pace from the harried winter months where hitting the grindstone seems oddly required in our capitalist world.

Does this glimmer of an idea, this season of hygee inspire you? What do you most look forward to doing this winter season?

Join my hygee adventure!

winterjamsignupbuttonTo start it off with a spark of light, I am doing an Instagram challenge where we will Re-New Our Food to discover the life-giving joy of feeding ourselves. This will not be about stringent cuts to calories and eliminating certain types of food (unless they are joyless– bye bye fake unhappy food), but rather it is a time to embrace the goodness that is abundant during the winter. We will explore new ways to use foods that are currently in our kitchen and turn them into comforting delights that nourish not only our bodies, but hopefully our hearts + souls as well.

Join the fun! As I started my party planning, I asked my 5-year old what she thought of when I said comfort + joy. Without skipping a beat, she said being cozy and playful. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.34.05 PMSo let’s snuggle up with this idea and play with all of the possibilities that are unfolding this crisp + bright season!

It’s FREE, Sign up for the FUN here!

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Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

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Food Gifts from Your Own Hands

granoladropsGet your apron on! These recipes from Lilly’s Table are a unique way to gift the loved ones in your life a treat straight from your heart, made with your hands. Some of them are sweet, some are savory, but none of them require refined sugar, processed foods or crazy unnecessary additives. Give the gift of a treat made sincerely with love and pure, real, wholesome goodness. They all pack up and ship well, too for your buddies who need holiday care packages.

Recently, I been making these Cacao Almond Balls with a base of dates, almonds and occasionally a heavy handed dash of my favorite liquors, which means I have to rename them “Boozy Balls” (mostly so I don’t accidentally use them as a post-workout snack 8-). This also reminds me of Schweddy Balls, because ’tis the season!) This recipe requires a food processor, but beyond that you don’t even need an oven and they are pretty simple to roll together into little balls of charming goodness.cocoaalmondballs

Maybe you would prefer your chocolate smooth + spreadable? This Homemade “Nutella” is blended from scratch with hazelnuts, cocoa, and a drizzle of sweetness making it a spread worth giving to anyone with a sweet tooth who might be trying to eat less sugar. This is even a lovely topping for cookies, crackers and even cupcakes.

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Apple Pecan Granola is this excellent, not-to-sweet base recipe for a simple granola. It is easy to add your own flavors, spices, nuts, seeds + dried fruits to really make this your own. Do it up and add your own personal pizzaz!

Coconut Granola brings together as many layers of coconut as I could muster into one recipe. The white flecks are a perfect snowy reminder of the brisk holiday season we are in.coconutgranola

Either of these granolas could be taken to the next level with these Granola Drops. You can even start this recipe with your favorite store-bought granola if you have a favorite.

Coco-Nutty low-resThe Coco-Nutty Granola is especially perfect for the grain-free, gluten-free, oat-free, I am mostly eating nuts + coconut crowd. This is probably my favorite granola because it is so high in protein it sustains me hours into my busy mornings.

blackpepperparmesangranolaBlack-Pepper + Parmesan Granola. Okay- I admit this one is totally unconventional, but I LOVE savory so I had to share it. It is beautiful sprinkled on salads or sizzling fried up eggs in the morning.
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Jams from your summer harvest are always a good gift to share. Make that simple jar of goodness a bit more spectacular as a  hostess gift with homemade crackers and your favorite cheese. These whole-grain Fennel Crackers can be rolled out and cut into shapes. Meanwhile, these gluten-free Pecan Crackers are hearty and perfect for the holiday season.

These naturally sweetened Coconut Lime Date Bars, find the recipe here: http://www.simpleacresblog.com/health–food/coconut-lime-date-bars are just as lovely throughout the year as they are wrapped up as a gift for the holidays. A shiny label or a favorite washi tape wrapped around these bars make them extra special this time of year. Mix in a bit of dried cranberry towards the end of mixing for a delightful Christmas feel.

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What treats are you planning to make this Holiday Season!?
Don’t forget! Gift your favorite bunch of ladies with Lilly’s Table seasonal meal planning service, too. Pay for four gift certificates, but receive five. Or buy eight gift certificates and receive three gift certificates for free! This deal is special for the holidays, so take advantage of it today!  

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Harvest Lentil Salad

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Recently, I was invited to do a cooking demo and cook for a local Food Bank to celebrate the harvest + World Food Day. It brought back so many memories of when I was the coordinator of Tucson Food Day just a few short years ago.

This event was a beautiful celebration! First, I cooked all day with lovely friends and volunteers, my children were nearby most of the day content + happy (yes, I was stunned, too), and then I did a cooking demo that was light-hearted + well received. But, my favorite part happened a few weeks earlier when I walked into the Food Bank and they showed me all of the foods available to their clients that they were eager for me to cook with and share.

Barely wilting cabbage, banged up winter squash, onions and carrots– the recipe ideas were pouring out of me onto my handy clipboard. But, then they opened a large bag with teeny-tiny black seeds and asked me “What in the world are these?”

“Beautiful beluga lentils” I seriously had to exclaim!

These lentils are unique and they get their name because they look just like beluga caviar. What a treasure to find in the Food Bank! I took some home to test out a new recipe using the other produce and goods available to the Food Bank clients.

The result was this simple salad. Consider this a base recipe. A recipe that would happily enjoy a bit of sparkling up with bits of dried fruit such as minced apricots or cranberries or even the jewels of pomegranates. The crunch of various nuts or seeds, such as toasted almonds, crumbled pecans or last week’s Candied Chipotle Pepitas would settle in nicely with these lentils. Roasted veggies, roots, or shreds of leaves could be folded in as well. A crumble of feta or shavings of parmesan would also do well in this dish. It calls for water, but cooking the beans in broth adds yet another layer of flavor.

This can be a simple weeknight meal or a side dish to an elaborate holiday dish. Let me know how you glam up these simple belugas.

Harvest Lentil Salad
Beluga Lentils can be found in specialty shops, gourmet groceries, co-ops or health food stores. Another lentil such as French, Green, or Brown lentils can work instead. The only lentil I would avoid are the thinner lentils, such as the red, which are better for soups than salads. 

1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, sweet potatoes or winter squash, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup beluga lentils, or french or green
3 cups water, or unsalted broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup sage, washed and finely chopped, or thyme or parsley

Place the onions, lentils, and chopped carrots (or squash/sweet potatoes) in a pot covered with the water and a lid. Bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 40-50 minutes until tender to the bite. Once the lentils are nearly done, add half of the salt. If there is extra water, increase the heat to boil it off quickly or strain off the liquid using a wire mesh strainer.

In a large separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar and honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking rapidly. Add the remaining salt. Fold the cooked lentils into the dressing and then add the apples and fresh herbs. Serve warm or cool and serve chilled.

Sizzling Dukkah Brussels Sprouts

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Shall we agree that February is the perfect month of love? Even with the big V-Day over, there is so much more loving to be done. So…

Let’s talk about my newest recipe love: Dukkah Brussels Sprouts. My Auntie Amy gifted me with a homemade jar of Dukkah for Christmas. Well, not this most recent holiday, but rather the year prior :-/. Despite knowing that I should have used it up within the year, I have been nursing this flavorful-nut blend for a long time; wee bit here, a tiny sprinkle there. But, it still tastes awesome so a few more treats will be enjoyed with the bottom dredges of the jar.

With a bag of brussels sprouts ready to be scrubbed and chopped, I realized the oven was packed and busy with a Saffron Baked Rice and a Whole Roasted Chicken. So, I decided against my typical method of roasting up my favorite little cabbage heads.

Instead, I trimmed them into quarter wedges and then blasted my cast iron pan with high heat. The pieces tumbled into the pan and started to pop with excitement. I covered up all of their fun with a lid. Stifled.

My husband and I chatted over a shared bottle of his home brew (delicious hoppy goodness!) and at one point he suggested he toss the clearly singed brussels sprouts for me, since I was blatantly ignoring the cries from the pan. I told him patience, let them burn a bit. I wanted them to have color, dark and blistered in random spots, just like our faces after a windy day on the slopes.

Finally, I caved and tossed them. After they had all settled into a new position, I let them blaze a bit longer. Covered with the lid, their centers were getting plenty of heat as well. After a few minutes, with cautious fingers I tonged a little brussels sprout, shook my now singed fingers (instant karma?) and blew on it, just as my little toddler does any time he sees steam drifting off a bite I offer him. Finally, I devoured my little b. sprout. I was rather pleased that my patience to let them scorch worked.

But, my job wasn’t done. My original plan was to partner them with the dukkah and honey, a squirt of lemon and a generous glug of olive oil. I was too excited after my initial sample and just tossed in the dukkah. The smell was permeating, so I had to try another bite. Then the floodgate was open as I started to sneak bite after bite. Eventually, I had to sternly reminded myself that I was making dinner for my family… not my own personal snacking pleasure. Two more bites. That’s it! Clearly the other ingredients were no longer necessary. It’s cool though; I like it when I can share minimalist recipes with you.

Dukkah can be found at speciality stores, but I have actually made it before and it is easy, awesomeness. I did it a few years ago and I wrote absolutely nothing down. But, I remember using Heidi Swanson of 101 cookbooks as a base recipe. One of these days I will make it again, but in the meantime I need to find more greens and veggies to coat with my Auntie Amy’s Dukkah first.

Thank you Auntie! xoxoxo

Dukkah Brussels Sprouts

1lb brussels sprouts, washed well
2 tablespoons olive oil, more or less as desired
1 tablespoon dukkah, more to taste if desired
½ teaspoon salt, thicker grain kosher is my preference. Add more salt to taste, if desired

Wash and trim the ends off of the brussels sprouts, removing any dingy looking leaves. Cut into quarters.

Place a skillet (cast-iron is ideal) over high heat. Once it is very hot, add the brussels sprouts to the dry skillet. Allow them to sear briefly, about 20 seconds and then drizzle in half of the olive oil. Shake the pan and cover with a lid. If the pan is smoking, lower the temperature. The brussels sprouts will continue to sear for another 1-2 minutes. At this point, toss them gently with a spatula from the pan and flip over. Add a bit more oil as needed. Cover with the lid and continue to sear. A bit of color should be on at least one side. Bite one brussels sprout. If it is not yet tender, but the color is a nice dark golden, then add a generous splash of water. Cover with the lid and steam until they are tender.

Once they are just about perfect, toss generously with the dukkah and salt. Taste. Add more dukkah if desired. Serve while still piping hot and steamy.

Much brussels sprout love to you! xoxo,

Lilly

Just Beet It Chocolate Cookies

IMG_4222We are in the middle of a sugar-break in my home. I invited you to join me and a few of you did (yay sugar-free buddies!), but considering not ALL of you decided to go on the sugar break with me, I am guessing you are still eating the sweet stuff. Am I right?

Of course, Valentine’s Day is looming and I thought- darn it, I must share a heart-filled treat with you and I absolutely cannot wait until this sugar cleanse is complete (which is thankfully before V-day!) Especially, because you may need to go grocery shopping sometime soon.

Whenever I write recipes or meal plans I have this hard rule: No writing while hungry. Writing about food while hungry is surprisingly much worse than shopping on an empty stomach. We have all done it and it isn’t pretty. For me, it is as if I have entered a shopping time warp and all the food is glowing a bit too brightly and my hands are grabbing and pulling things off the shelves that I don’t even like to eat. If I am smart I will grab a sandwich or snack-y item and then aimlessly nibble while wandering through the store keeping my eyes averted from the bright food products. It is rarely my finest hour. Don’t do it. Friends don’t let friends shop on an empty stomach. 

Nonetheless, when I thought, I must write to my buddies about this perfect little Valentine cookie that one can eat joyfully for breakfast, snack or dessert, suddenly that obnoxious little voice said: How the hell do you plan to write about cookies when you cannot under any circumstance currently consider eating it?
You will not survive this sugar-break.
You will be eating cookies before you are able to edit the post.
You are doomed to fail this sugar-break. 

Trying to stay calm, I told that little voice, I am not missing chocolate nearly as much as I am missing brie cheese slathered across my homemade sourdough with a glass of red wine. So, there! You mean little voice. Yes, did I mention there is no dairy, caffeine, alcohol or grains on this sugar break. But, who am I kidding, it is late, the kids are in bed and these Chocolate Beet Cookies would really, really hit the spot.

We shall see who is correct. Clearly I must hurry and wrap up this post before that little meanie wins this one.

Here are the facts, this recipe is flexible and I have made these cookies up & down the sweet scale. I personally prefer them less-sweet and skip the brown sugar. That way I can better justify them at snack time or even breakfast. But, if you add the brown sugar, maybe coconut sugar or your favorite sweetener, the flavor will become more intense & dessert like. Basically, if you have a sweet tooth– add your favorite sweetener. If you have been on a sugar-break, you won’t need it because quite frankly that is the bonus of not eating sugar: everything tastes crazy sweet after.

And why the beets, you ask?

During the World War II rations, Red Velvet Cake contained beets to give the pink hue, rather than the red food dye. When I heard that I started adding beets and chocolate to my Smoothies and even this Red Velvet Granola. I love the blushing hue, the hint of nutrients and maybe I get a bit excited about the slight shock factor for non-beet lovers: it ain’t food dye folks, it’s beets! 

Just a couple more fun facts and then you can have the recipe: If you use vegan cocoa & chocolate these can be entirely vegan delights. If you are making them gluten-free be sure to purchase oats that specify they are actually gluten-free.

Indulge! Actually, make these for a friend who is coming off a sugar-break and needs a Valentines Day treat, but also needs to ease back in slowly. Make the low-sugar version and your friend will think they are fully loaded.

Chocolate Beet Cookies

¾ lb beet, enough to make 1 cup puree
¾ cup date, if not soft, soak in hot water
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup almond meal, or almond flour
½ cup cocoa, vegan if necessary
½ cup coconut, shredded, unsweetened
½ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar, optional, omit for a less sweet cookie
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup coconut oil, warmed to a liquid or olive oil
½ cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet, or minced vegan chocolate bar

Place the unpeeled beets in a saucepan covered with water. Cut any large beets in half or quarters. Simmer until the beets can be easily stabbed with a fork. Run under cold water until they are cool enough to handle and then peel away the skins. Meanwhile, soak the dates in hot water if they are not already soft.

While the beets are cooking, in a separate bowl, toss together the rolled oats, almond meal, cocoa, coconut flakes, brown sugar (if using), baking powder and salt.

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the beets in a food processor or blender with the dates, vanilla and coconut oil. Blend until it is a thick magenta puree. Fold the beet puree with the dry ingredients and chocolate chips/chunks until well combined. Dollop onto a baking sheet in 2 tablespoon mounds. Press down for a flatter cookie or leave round for a soft-centered delight.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops are dry and bottoms appear dry and have a slight color.

To add this recipe to your weekly meal plan or to have on-going access to the two recipes listed above, simply subscribe to Lilly’s Table and receive a new seasonal meal plan every Thursday.

Happy Valentine’s Day Cutie-Pies!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

PS- I WON! No, cookies were consumed during the writing and editing of this blog post. 😉

Homemade Corned Beef

Corned Beef in Brine2With just a hint of Irish in my blood, I am happy to jump on the bandwagon to enjoy the Irish-American tradition of Corned Beef & Cabbage. While the shelves are packed with all sorts of brined brisket wrapped in plastic and waiting for attention these days, why would one even bother brining their own?

First, always first, it honestly tastes better.

Compared to the pre-made varieties, home cured Corned Beef is deeply spiced and flavorful. Pickling beef is a practice that was employed regularly until refrigeration was possible. Actually the word corn refers to the ‘corns’ of salt. A term that literally means grain. While the process helped to expand the self-life of beef, it also served to make it quite delicious, too. 

Second, it is a simple ‘from scratch’ item to make. 

Home cooking is something that is often categorized as a leisure activity in our quick/fast food world. So, if you are wanting to try to make something more ‘from scratch’ it doesn’t get much easier than tossing this meat in salt and turning it every so often.

Now, why celery juice? 

Here is the deal, call me a lazy cook, busy mom or someone who has just lived in several places where not every random ingredient under the sun is easy to come by and rarely do I want to wait for an ingredient to be shipped. When brining meat or making bacon, curing pink salt is often a required ingredient. It is basically sodium nitrates. In my own personal research, I have yet to find any real health reasons to go out of my way to consume nitrate-free meats, since we consume most of our nitrates in our vegetables anyways. But, I love the idea of just blending up my own nitrate concoction with a few stalks from my farmer or grocery. So, save the time looking for pink curing salt and grab your blender instead!

In the end, the only real tricky part about Corned Beef is starting it. It takes 6-10 days to properly brine, so if you plan to make your own in time for St. Patty’s, get started today or as soon as possible.

Corned Beef in Brine

Corned Beef

3-4 pounds brisket (or a similar cut near the shoulder)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup pickling spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 cups water, or more as needed

Pat the beef dry and pull out a ceramic crock or dish with a lid for brining it. Alternatively, use a large ziploc bag and place in a baking dish or similar for the curing process.

Combine the kosher salt, pickling spice (breaking up any large pieces) and brown sugar. Rub into the beef until it is thickly coated with the salt mixture. Place in the container where you plan to brine it.

Place the celery stalks in a blender. Cover with the water and blend until liquid smooth, some chunks or threads are not a big deal.

Pour over the beef. Add more water until your beef is submerged in liquid. Cover with a lid or seal the bag.

Place in the fridge. If it is in a plastic bag, simply flipped it over about 2-3 times per day. If you are lucky enough to have a better container for curing it, place a weight on the meat, such as a ceramic plate and cover. You will still want to check it periodically to make sure it remains covered with liquid.

After 6-10 days, strain the brining liquid off. Rinse well to remove any excess salt. At this point, it is ready to cook as you might the packaged varieties from the store. We toss ours in a crockpot for about 7 hours until it was falling apart and satisfyingly salty.

Super Bowl Food!

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The Broncos and the Seahawks!?

I didn’t see that coming. I lived in Washington for the first 21 years of my life and the Seahawks were not exactly the team to watch in my house. Admittedly, we are more of a college bowl family. Which is complicated by the fact that most of us attended rival schools: University of Washington (my alma mater), Washington State University (my brother & mom attended), Stanford (my dad), UCLA (brother-in-law), and Berkley (my Opa & Godfather).

With about five+ years of living in Colorado, getting into Bronco fever is certainly easy with all of the orange & blue love around here lately. My nephew announced he was uncertain who to support now as he has family in both states. Since more of my family is from Washington, I gave him permission to root for the Seahawks, if so desired. Continue reading

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When my younger sister and I lived down the street from each other in San Luis Obispo, her and her roommates had figured out a successful way to share all of the food in the house. A feat, that I am not sure I ever managed until living with my husband.

The best part was they all loved big fabulous salads. I would come over for a mid-week brunch of sorts. My favorite days would involve a post-yoga mimosa (it is about balance, right?!) and then containers of chopped or shredded veggies, cooked beans, toasted nuts or seeds, cheese (of course!) and a dressing would come out on to the countertops. Moments later we were each happily munching on salads.

Here are a few of my favorite strategies for my own salad bars at home in the winter months:

  1. Of course, keep with the season. This time of year, florets such as cauliflower and broccoli are perfect to break and crumble into bite size pieces.
  2. Shred up roots: carrots, beets (in lots of colors!), parsnips, salad turnips, radishes, and sweet potatoes (our favorite!)
  3. Thinly slice fennel or onions for extra flavor.
  4. Pomegranate seeds store nicely as well
  5. For apples, it is best to slice these just prior to serving. If you want to keep apples from browning spritz them with a bit of lemon-water.
  6. Avocados are easy enough to find this time of year. Slice them to order just as you would apples.
  7. Grapefruits and oranges of many colors are easy to peel and cut just before tossing the salad, but they can also be cut in advance easily.
  8. Nuts: sliced almonds, crumbled walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia or even hazelnuts
  9. Seeds: toasted pumpkin & sunflower, chia, cooked quinoa, sesames, or ground flax
  10. Beans: Soak & Sprout or Cook- chickpea/garbanzo, lentils, black, red, white, kidney beans and more
  11. Pair the salad with shreds of dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, or chard OR you can also find easy pre-washed baby greens. Lately, we have been eating a lot of baby kale.

Now, for dressings! There are so many possibilities, but you can either make a big batch at the start of the week or whisk the dressing in the salad bowl just before tossing in the ingredients.

Here is my quick & easy Vinaigrette that will serve 2-3 people.

1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar (balsamic, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc.)
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a big salad bowl, whisk together the honey, dijon and vinegar. Once evenly combined, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking wildly. The idea is to emulsify the oil in with the base to create an almost creamy consistency.

Season with salt and pepper. Add your own salad ingredients as desired.

Every once in a while I feel a bit more dressing is needed. At that point, I will just splash the salad with the vinegar and then drizzle on a nice glug of olive oil. A bit more salt and pepper may be needed too.

What are your favorite ways to get salad on the dinner table quickly?

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Warming up, not Detoxing down

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The highs of the holiday season, whether the stress was positive or negative, leaves most of us with a bit of a let down. Or maybe in my case it is really just a sugar crash after I realize my Christmas Cookie tin is empty.

As we commit to a renewed year of health, success or whatever your heart desires, I find this post-holiday time is a bit like climbing a mountain after dancing your way into a deep valley. While the holidays are a whirlwind of fun, I sometimes wish I was starting the trek up to all of my higher goals with the person who I was back in September.

Alas, here I am, my body a little more tired and my mind a bit more relaxed, but dare I say slightly unmotivated. With the enthusiasm of resolutions around me, I enjoy picking up on the excitement. Although, as in last year’s case, I gave myself a bit of grace, let go of my usual intensity and instead simply survived until I surrendered.

I didn’t mention food in that previous post, but it certainly, as always, was a big factor in what did and did not happen in my life. When I consider the meal plans I am sharing in January, I think about how many of you will wonder where the smoothies and juicing recipes are that will help throw you into all of your diet resolutions.

Let me share something I have learned from my dear friend Naturopathic Doctor Kaycie Rosen Grigel. January, despite its post-holiday gluttony, is a terrible time to detox.

I can hear you frantically wondering what I am talking about as you look at advertisements, posts and pins for all of the get-your-body-back diets that promise to help you drink & shrink into pre-holiday figures.

Now, it is not that I am against a good detox. Dr. Grigel has actually helped me with a detox that was an incredible experience and I honestly cannot wait to do it again. (I will even go so far as to say: stay tuned!) The reason to avoid a detox this time of year is actually more reflective of the rhythms of the season.

Even when I lived in mostly sunny & hot Tucson, January and February made me want to curl up, snuggle with a buddy and fill my body with warming, comforting foods. Although, please do not take me for an indoor only soul as I love to ski, snowshoe, read near a fire after sunset and dance outdoors whenever possible, too.

Regardless of my activities, only occasionally do I crave a cold, sweet (or even subtly sweet) liquid during the winter.

I completely respect that a smoothie or fresh juice may be all you want to drink right now and I imagine if you crave them you know exactly what to throw in your blender or juicer. But, I implore you to step outside (as I so often ask my daughter to do on days when she refuses a jacket) and consider your natural place in this world. A chilly participant who needs to refuel for a season of staying inside cozy or playing outside while breathing in the crisp air.

Maybe this new year skipping the detox trend in January and opting for foods that truly refuel will give you the body and spirit you desire for 2014.

Of course, I also want to feel refreshed and rejuvenated after the gluttonous holiday season and my best strategies are with steamy vegetable packed soups, bone-broths and cups of my favorite herbal infusions and teas.

Lilly’s Table meal plans this month are full of plant focused warm-inspiring real food. A beloved recipe that can be made vegan or chicken broth based is the nourishing Hearty Miso Soup. One slurp and your body will be thankful.

I did sneak in a smoothie for this week’s meal plan as I didn’t want to disappoint- since ’tis the smoothie season, but it is a simple Banana Nut Smoothie which is protein packed with any nut butter of your choice. Perfect for those days (chilly or not) when you are craving ice cream! I am clearly still having a few post-Holiday sugar cravings. 😉

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May you find comfort in everything nature has in store for you this month.

In delicious health,

Chef Lilly