Feeding Friends: Healthy Trail Mix with Chia Seeds, Almonds, and Cranberries

Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks

Last year around Labor Day, you may remember a smattering of instagram pictures that included homemade friendship bracelets, temporary peace sign tattoos, sweaty neon crop tops, and a lot of bug juice in the woods. Well, I decided to double down again this year and attend what is now an official entity: Camp No Counselors.

Here’s a little taste of what happened at camp last time. Unfortunately, I’m currently sitting in the woods trying to live down either the shame or awesomeness of last night’s talent show performance, so I can’t give you the full details just yet on what transpired over this holiday weekend.

Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks

But I can tell you that trail mix was involved. Because in addition to a few bottles of rose, and a Sam’s Club sized container of Airheads, I also managed to pack my new favorite healthy snack food, designed specifically for the CNC festivities.

The camp food last year contained a lot of American cheese and nostalgia packed into every sesame hamburger bun and hard taco shell. The kitchen staff were total champs about accommodating my gluten-allergy and made sure to have specially wrapped sausage egg and cheese sandwiches in the morning with my name on them (literally). But after 5 meals in a row of booze and meat sweats, I was ready for some serious detox fiber-rich fare.

Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks Healthy Trail Mix Recipe with Chia and Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Cranberries and Dark Chocolate | Gluten-Free Snacks

As you know, I get extremely anxious when I don’t know where my next meal is coming from, so I always travel with some gluten-free snacks. This year I was prepared with something especially healthy. The inspiration for this healthy trail mix recipe came from these cashews and this tropical snack. I used raw honey, a hint of cinnamon, and just a handful of dark chocolate chips for my naughty bunkmates (i.e. Charlie) who like to pick out the candy from the mix of nuts and seeds. Continue reading

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Gluten-Free is Me: Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions

Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip

I’m all for high-low dishes (after all, Ina Garten turned me onto the magic of potato chips and caviar at a young age). But I’ve always thought that hot crab dip seemed like a foolish use of a $30 a pound protein. It’s the same kind of philosophical problem I have with putting Foie Gras on burgers and lobster in tacos. I’ll admit that I do enjoy these things at restaurants from time to time, otherwise I’d have to figure out a foot-in-mouth emoji and post it on this image.

At restaurants when someone else is doing the work and partially amortizing expensive ingredients across other menu items, that’s one thing. But at home, I’m not going to hide my luxury splurges underneath a dousing of ketchup, cream cheese or sour cream.

scallions and jalapenos Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip lump crab Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip Easy Hot Crab Dip Recipe with Jalapenos and Scallions | Gluten-Free Warm Dip

But a few weeks ago on the vineyard I got a craving for crab. I was having a few friends over for dinner—friends who had wined and dined me on several occasions and I had yet to return the favor. So I wanted to do something special for them. Standing over the stove frying crab cakes while everyone else drinks rose and watches the sunset is my idea of a hosting nightmare. The next thing that popped into my head at the seafood shop was the idea for a spicy warm crab dip. And like the taste of Cape Cod potato chips scooping up caviar, I just couldn’t shake it. Continue reading

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Metro New York: One Switch For a Healthier Dish

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I was so excited to see my mug on page 32 of Metro New York today talking about simple ingredient swaps for healthier cooking. The spread is based on the class I did a few weeks ago for Vitamin Shoppe, and highlights some of the benefits and uses of the products I discussed. If you’re interested in trying out the Aloe Juice, you can grab the recipe for my mango lassi here! For the full issue online, click here.

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On the Job: Mango Lassi with Kefir and Aloe Water

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

Earlier this summer, I began working on a project with the Vitamin Shoppe to find easy ways to incorporate some of their healthy pantry products into everyday recipes. It was my first time working with some of these items, including the specialty ingredient in this mango lassi recipe: aloe juice.

I have vague memories of seeing bottles of aloe water in my mom’s fridge growing up, so I was not surprised to find out that it primarily benefits your digestive health. Alone in the glass, it’s pungent and intense. But diluted with some water, you get that great aloe fragrance on the tongue and your every day agua becomes all the more refreshing. It’s probably a good thing that the taste is so concentrated, because a little goes a long way with this stuff and you don’t want to overdue it, especially if your day includes activities that take you far away from the porcelain princess.

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

When I was thinking of ways to incorporate aloe juice, this traditional Indian smoothie made with yogurt came to mind. I made a peach version last year on the site, but the most popular fruit combination is straight up mango. I added a few of the other pantry ingredients to the mix—coconut oil and raw honey—along with lactose-free kefir to make the smoothie more enjoyable for those who have dairy sensitivities.

Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free Mango Lassi Recipe with Kefir and Aloe Water | Indian Smoothie | Healthy, Dairy-Free

The aloe gives the mango lassi a very subtle, slightly medicinal background flavor. If I didn’t know better, I might have mistaken the cooling quality for cucumber. Continue reading

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Feeding Friends: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Lebanese Fresh Tomato Salsa

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

While most food items tend to look prettier in food magazines than they ever do when prepared in my kitchen, there are a few dishes that take the cake (expertly styled with self-tanning spray, of course). I’ve intimately come to realize that skewers and kebabs are at the top of this list.

Usually on Martha’s Vineyard, my mother and I cave to my dad’s pescatarian ways and put our cravings for Kobe hot dogs and roast chicken on the back burner…at least until lunch the next day. But since Charlie was coming to visit, I figured it was as good a time as any to indulge in our carne cravings. And thus, a meal of surf and turf kebabs (with a 1:3 ratio of surf to turf) was born.

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Zucchini ribbons Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

I came across this beautiful image of kebabs with zucchini thinly sliced and threaded onto the skewers like an elegant accordion. I thought this would be the perfect compliment to some lamb marinated in lemon, garlic, and Middle Eastern spices like ground cumin and ginger. I soon discovered that without a mandolin to cut the squash paper thin, this idea was much more beautiful in theory (i.e. in a magazine) than in practice.

Not only did 75 percent of my zucchini planks snap in half as I tried to thread them on the skewers, but even after a good soak, the bamboo still managed to catch on fire. The end result, though delicious, looked like a hot charred mess. At least, in comparison to the original inspiration.

Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe Grilled Marinated Lamb Kebabs with Zucchini and Lebonese Fresh Tomato Salsa | Easy Healthy Recipe

Luckily, the second half of the dish, which was also inspired by a food magazine (for non-aesthetic reasons), turned out to be more of a success. Continue reading

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Meatless Monday: Penne Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Chickpeas and Olives

Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Despite having spent every summer on Martha’s Vineyard for as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a whole lobster with my parents. I bring this up because earlier this week on the island, we were invited over to a friend’s house for a classic lobster dinner and asked to bring a pasta salad, something my family is a lot more comfortable preparing. The whole occasion was a treat for me. I love masquerading as a traditional American family, and I especially love doing so when wearing a bib is involved.

So before I tell you more about this Mediterranean penne pasta salad that I whipped up as our contribution, I want to talk a little bit about the magical display of lobster preparation and consumption that I witnessed on Monday. The table setting, complete with lobster themed plates, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, and other miscellaneous tchotchkes, was as close as I could come to the wholesome family lobster massacre of my dreams. But the cooking of the lobster, on the charcoal grill and basted in Cholula butter, was anything but ordinary.

squash zucchini Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Grilling the lobsters took a bit longer than the usual boil. But the slow high-heat cooking process allowed for all the excess liquid in the lobsters to evaporate, leaving our plates pleasantly puddle-free when it finally came time to crack them open. The meat also tasted faintly smoky, though I was too busy fisting a bowl of Cholula butter to waste time dissecting the flavor nuance.

The highlight of the meal though was watching my parents squirming in their seats, unsure of how to eat their dinner.

I could have easily ended up this confused had it not been for college. Every year on the Sunday of Spring Weekend my school’s whitest, wealthiest frat would flaunt their dues money for all to see in the form of lobster and rib eyes. Since this happened on one of the main quads, the rest of us mere pedestrians were forced to watch with envy as each brother collected their surf and turf and ate it with glee. Or tried to.

Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free Easy Summer Cold Penne Pasta Salad Recipe with Zucchini, Olives, Chickpeas and Parsley | Greek | Gluten Free

Freshman year my friend Swathi and I noticed that the majority of the frat boys would be too drunk at this point to want to bother with dissecting small scraps of meat from a mollusk. So we began a casual tag-teamed competition to see how many lobsters we could finagle for ourselves if we batted our eyelashes and asked nicely, or just took them while the unsuspecting brother was up searching for steak sauce. Under her tutelage I became a varsity level scavenger (one year we made it to 5!) and an equally proficient lobster cracker. And I was happy that I could at least pass down the latter skill to my parents this past week at the dinner table.

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