Homemade Salsa Verde

Homemade salsa verde, so fresh and simple, by @cookieandkate

Sometimes I have to remind myself that simple is best. Scratch that—I’m always reminding myself that simple can be better. It’s hard for us analytical perfectionist types to keep things simple. To let them be. To give up control over the outcome and accept that so many variables are outside of our reach.

Let’s take this salsa, for example. It was originally a component in a healthier seven-layer dip concept, but the salsa blew the dip out of the water. One part, on its own, was so much better than the other six combined. Then, I made it a couple more times, with the same ingredients, but each time, it tasted a little different.

Salsa verde ingredients

That’s just what happens with a simple recipe made with natural ingredients. You can pick up each tomatillo, squeeze it to gauge ripeness and peel back the husk to look for bright green skin, but you don’t know how flavorful it really is until you taste it. Add eleven more tomatillos to the mix, plus jalapeño that may or may not be crazy spicy, plus onion and cilantro of varying freshness, and you’ll never make a batch of salsa that tastes quite like another.

It will, however, be delicious, fresh and so much better than the salty jarred varieties. I can guarantee that much. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with fresh, natural ingredients—they’re inevitably awesome. Don’t over think it. Trust the recipe. Adjust to suit your taste buds.

Continue to the recipe…

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My Month of ‘Quitting’ Sugar…

Turmeric Tea-2

Each month I like to choose 1-2 habits to focus on for improving my health. For a very long time, ‘quitting sugar’ has been on my list, but for some reason I kept putting it off.

My main rationale was that I normally only have sugar once or twice a week. Surely I didn’t have a problem with it?

But there was something in my hesitance to give up the white stuff which made me curious. So in April I committed to quitting sugar for a month.

Before I share my experience lets have a look at some of the reasons why sugar has been getting such a bad rap lately…

Why is sugar so bad?

1. It gets stored as fat.
Regular table sugar (sucrose) is made from half fructose and half glucose. Most people in the ‘quitting’ sugar camp are focused on the negative effects of fructose. Basically the concern is that fructose can only be digested by a special pathway in the liver which stores the fructose directly as fat. Without giving us a chance to ‘burn’ it for energy first. Ouch.

2. It gets stored as fat.
Yes, repeating myself here! But you know the glucose that makes up the other half of table sugar? When it gets digested it goes into the blood stream and when the levels get high enough, insulin is released to help bring blood glucose (sugar) levels back to a safe range. Whenever insulin is around the glucose is getting stored as you guessed it… our old nemesis fat.

3. It feeds cancer cells.
I was really interested to learn last year that the only source of fuel that cancer cells use is glucose. Preliminary studies have shown that reducing the amount of glucose in the body reduces the incidence of cancer. For more on this see Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer. It’s fascinating stuff.

So did I manage to quit sugar?

Actually no I didn’t make it through my month sugar-free.

There was one night when we had friends over. I’d asked them to bring dessert and was planning on sitting it out. But when the time came, it felt wrong to not at least taste the lovely apple pie. Which was delicious for the record.

It did surprise me because normally I’m happy to say no to the sweet treats in social settings.

But apart from that, I made it through the month.

How did it make me feel?

To be honest I didn’t really feel any different at the end of the month. But given my regular sugar intake it pretty minimal, I wasn’t surprised.

The only positive I did notice was that normally my weight does up after a weekend of sugary indulgence and returns to normal around Wednesday.

But during my sugar-free weeks I didn’t have any of these spikes.

What I learned

My experience confirmed my suspicion that sugar is a little like alcohol. Definitely not good for you in large quantities. And definitely good fun.

I also think that just as some (unlucky) people are prone to becoming alcoholics, there are some people who are more likely to suffer from sugar addiction.

And that just as there are people who can enjoy 1-2 glasses of wine a day in a healthy way, there are people who can treat sugar in a similar manner.

I feel like I’m not in the ‘sugar-holic’ class. Although wine is a whole other story for another day 😉

—-

Turmeric Tea

Why turmeric? As I mentioned in my post about anti-cancer foods, turmeric is a super powerful anti-inflammatory and has been shown to decrease tumour growth in lab tests.

A hot cup of something spicy and slightly sweet is just the thing to ward off sugar cravings. Or when you feel like a treat that isn’t going to way you down and may actually do some good!

makes: enough for about 12 cups
takes: 5 minutes

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons granulated stevia
1 tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
milk, to serve

1. Make the tea ‘mix’ by combining the cinnamon, turmeric, stevia and ginger (if using) in a jar or other airtight container. Keeps in the pantry for months.

2. To make your ‘tea’ place 1-2 teaspoons of the mix in a cup. Top with hot water and a splash of milk. Relax and enjoy!

Variations

dairy-free – use your favourite nut milk instead.

richer – instead of using boiling water use hot milk.

no stevia? – replace the stevia in the mix with sugar OR skip it and serve the tea with 1-2 teaspoons of honey stirred though after adding the milk.

fresh or dried stevia – skip the granulated stevia and add a few leaves to your cup when making the tea.

What about you?

Is sugar something you struggle with? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with roasted vegetables, a simple and veggie-packed weeknight meal! cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by DeLallo.

I had an all-American weekend full of good friends and food, punctuated by flashes and booms. It was overwhelmingly fun. You know what I mean? Since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d share my three-day holiday weekend recovery plan with you today.

Here it is: organic whole grain pasta, tossed with tons of roasted veggies and homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. It’s fresh, filling and leftovers keep well for lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.

sun-dried tomato pesto pasta ingredients

Sun-dried tomato pesto has been on my list for ages now, so when my friends at DeLallo asked me to create a recipe that highlights their fantastic sun-dried tomatoes, I knew just what to make. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are perfect for pesto, since you can pour all of that delicious, tomato-infused extra-virgin olive oil right into the food processor.

My pesto is a riff on traditional basil pesto, with sun-dried tomatoes in addition to fresh basil. Sun-dried tomatoes are super rich in umami flavor, so they easily fill the place of Parmesan, although you can certainly add some cheese if you’d like.

Continue to the recipe…

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Herbed Red Potato Salad (no mayo!)

This simple, herbed red potato salad recipe will be a hit at your next potluck! cookieandkate.com

This fresh potato salad recipe is for my fellow last-minute potluck planners. When you’re scrambling to make yourself look decent and trying to scrounge together a side worth sharing and letting the dog out all at the same time? Potato salad to the rescue!

I honestly never met a potato salad I loved until I made this one. It’s a riff on classic French potato salads, which contain no mayo and lots of herbs. I opted for lemon juice instead of vinegar for a super fresh-tasting salad.

red potatoes

After some trial and error, I discovered that the key to an amazing mayo-free potato salad is blending the dressing in the food processor with some starchy reserved potato cooking water. You end up with a super creamy, herby emulsification that infuses the potatoes with fresh flavor.

Another trick, which comes from the experts at America’s Test Kitchen, is to slice your potatoes before boiling, rather than afterward. That way, the potatoes don’t break down into mush when you’re tossing the salad later. Plus, your potatoes cook faster that way (five minutes!). This potato salad comes together in a flash.

Hope you all have a marvelous Fourth of July. If you need any more party recipes, click on over to my barbecue salads and sides roundup!

Continue to the recipe…

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What’s in Season? July Produce Guide

Learn what to do with July fruits and vegetables! Find recipes, preparation tips and more. cookieandkate.com

Welcome to July! Ninety degree weather is here and so is all the colorful summer produce that comes with it. This month’s list features quite a few of my favorites, like peaches, raspberries and tomatoes. Scroll through the preparation ideas and recipes below, then hit the farmers’ market!

Thanks again to Becky for letting me base this resource on her “Eat Seasonal” monthly seasonal produce lists. See her July screensaver here. For more seasonal inspiration, follow my boards on Pinterest!

Continue to the recipe…

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