The Green Secret

Green Juice ArrayHave you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up and just feel thinner? That sensation that your body is shrinking from the inside out and you know when you get on that scale the numbers are going to be down. This has happened to me two days in a row… and it feels beyond fantastic. After battling with my body for weeks I feel that I finally have it under control and I am finally reaping the benefits of all my hard work. Alleluia!

Now is the perfect time to talk about one of my “secrets” (though it really isn’t a secret) and that is juicing. Green juice to be exact. I know many people cringe at the thought of drinking juiced kale or spinach. And rightfully so – by itself that sh*t is nasty. But when you combine greens with the right blend of fruits and other veggies, it becomes a refreshing, healing elixir that you’ll never want to live without. I have juice for my breakfast pretty much every day – I find I get the most out of it in the morning on an empty stomach. When I’m really feeling ambitious I will also juice for either lunch or dinner. The philosophy behind juicing this is that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients of an entire bushel of fruits and vegetables – an amount you could never eat in one sitting – condensed into a beverage that you can drink down in no time and will be easily absorbed into your body.

If you’re a long time follower of my blog, you may recall a post from many months ago where I spoke of my recipe for the magic green elixir. I have since changed my recipe and I think it’s a winner:

  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 2 or 3 leaves of beet greens (see below)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 beet
  • 2-3 small apples
  • a 1-inch chunk of ginger
  • 1 lemon

When I buy beets they come with huge beautiful greens attached to them. Instead of throwing them away, I juice a few stalks along with the kale. It’s delicious. Also when blueberries are in season I will juice them in here as well for an antioxidant boost – it’s phenomenal. I also have been adding an aloe solution to my juice for an extra cleansing kick. I use Herbalife’s aloe, but I am sure you can find a good one at Whole Foods. It may seem crazy, but I promise this will not only help you lose weight, but it will do wondrous things for your overall health.

If you’re in need of a juicer, I highly recommend this Breville on amazon for $150. Its feed tube is extra wide so you can put in whole apples and cucumbers and carrots without having to cut anything up in advance. Considering it’s a product I use every single day, the price is a super deal.

If you’re still in need of convincing, you can read about some of the benefits here. I also highly recommend checking out a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This film is what turned me on to juicing in the first place and presents a very compelling real-life case for making juicing a part of your life.

Cool Smoked Salmon and Edamame Salad

So I had a bunch of ingredients left over from the salad I made earlier this week. It’s still no-cooking kind of weather, so I wanted to make another salad that could be served cool, but I didn’t want to make the same one – come on, where would be in the fun in that? One of my favorite activities in the kitchen is using leftover ingredients as inspiration for an entirely new dish. I know, I’m a nerd…

The first thing I considered was the fresh dill. Fresh dill makes me think of two things: Tzatziki sauce and salmon. Now I can already hear your chiding, unamused thoughts: how does the starving artist afford smoked salmon? It’s quite simple – I paid a visit to my dear friend Trader Joe. He sells a wonderful Sockeye Salmon in a two-serving pouch for only $4.99. Though I didn’t want or need to make tzatziki, I did have cucumbers in my fridge. One of my favorite combinations is smoked salmon and cream cheese (on a bagel), but I can’t very well toss a salad with cream cheese and retain any kind of self respect. Instead I felt like Greek yogurt would be a good substitute. It gives that same creaminess as cream cheese but with far more nutritional value. Besides, what a perfect match for cucumber and dill. Here’s the full list:

  • 1/2 large cucumber, diced finely
  • 1 cup of cooked and shelled edamame
  • 2 very thin slices of red onion
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 2 scoops of Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Basically I tossed together the cucumber, edamame, onion, and dill, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper. Then I tossed in the yogurt, olive oil, and lemon, and stirred it to combine. Fold in your salmon at the end and voila. A gorgeous and satisfying summer salad.

Now if you happen to be on a pay day (or if you’re not a starving artist), using a fresh grilled filet of salmon would be outstanding. I also thought that topping it with some salmon roe would be really elegant, but let’s not kid ourselves, I will not be in possession of salmon roe for quite some time.

Happy Friday!

Cool Cucumber Dill Salad

Happy Monday, friends! Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. The weather continues to be unbearably hot in LA, so I continue to be unbearably lethargic and uninterested in most aspects of life. I mean, come on, who really has energy for anything in this kind of weather?

As such, my weekend was pretty low key, but I was visited on Saturday night by my friend Katie, who I’ve known since college. I decided I was in no mood to have yet another meal out, nor was I in any mood to really cook anything and heat up my apartment even more than it already is. Assemble, yes. Cook? No. One good thing about this weather is that it continues to inspire me to create things that can be served cool and/or room temperature and don’t require a look of cooking… or effort… Also, with Katie comes an even more interesting challenge: she is allergic to wheat. I know, right? What a mind bender. Anyway, for some reason I found myself in the mood for something involving dill, so I decided I would go with a nice summer salad. Now normally I stay away from meats because they’re expensive and full of unnecessary calories. However, since I couldn’t give Katie any grains, I felt we needed some sort of protein to make this meal substantial. So, I wandered into the cold cuts section of my grocery store and discovered some peppered salami on sale. Perfect.

So here’s what I did. I cut the salami into strips and threw them into a screaming hot, dry cast iron skillet. I stirred them around and let them cook for about 7 minutes until they got some deep crisp and color. I then removed the crispy strips out of the pan onto a paper towel to cool while I prepared the salad.

The salad goes like this:

  • 1 cucumber diced into small cubes
  • About 3/4 lb of mini heirloom tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • 4-5 very thin slices of red onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese (maybe more)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld. Once you’re ready to serve you can either stir in the crisped salami or get yourself a bowl of the salad and just sprinkle as much of the crispy meat as you want over the top. Of course if you’re a vegetarian, you can leave the salami out and still be left with an outstanding summer salad. I would also venture to say that if you’re not allergic to wheat, then you could do very well to add couscous to this recipe. It would stretch it out and make it that much more substantial.

For our dinner I assembled this salad (without couscous) and then we went out to the grill. I grilled us some zucchini spears and corn on the cob and that was all we needed. Delicious.

I gotta say, I’m liking this salad idea, so don’t be surprised if you find a few more variations on this in the days to come.

Super Easy Tzatziki

Looking for something to top those veggie patties I posted earlier? Hell are you just looking for a fresh, healthy dip that you can put on EVERYTHING? Look no further.

One of the first rules of the starving artist is to never buy anything in the store that you can make better and cheaper yourself… unless you don’t feel like making it. BUT, one thing that I never EVER cheat on is tzatziki sauce – Greek dip made with yogurt and cucumber. Not only is it one of the freshest, most delicious, most versatile sauces you will ever make, it takes literally five minutes to whip together with your food processor. Even if you don’t have a food processor and you do all the mincing/chopping yourself, you’ll only be adding an extra 5 minutes to the process. So. Worth. It.

And believe me when I tell you, this can go on anything: turkey burgers, wraps, raw veggies, chili, tacos, roasted vegetables, wraps, sandwiches, steak, chicken, lamb – the list is endless. Use it as a healthy substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream. I seriously eat it by the spoonful. I would not steer you wrong!

Dave’s Tzatziki Sauce (Recipe PDF)

What do you put tzatziki on?