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Shrimp Cakes with Spinach Slaw and Coconut Almond Dressing

10 Feb

Shrimp Cakes
Makes 16-18 bite size cakes; 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb raw shrimp, shelled, deveined and roughly chopped
1 C coconut milk
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp minced jalapeno or red chili pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
*Raw Virgin Coconut oil or olive oil for browning cakes

In food processor, pulse shrimp and coconut milk until slightly chunky.  Add cilantro, pepper, and green onion and pulse until mixture is combined (approximately 10-15 pulses).  Heat several tbsp of coconut or olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  For bit-sized shrimp cakes, use a tbsp measurement to scoop shrimp batter and drop it into the pan.  Will yield 16-18 bite size servings.  Cook each side approximately 2-3 minutes, until nicely browned.  Set shrimp cakes aside.

Salad & Coconut Almond Dressing

Salad Ingredients:
4 ounces fresh spinach leaves (2 massive handfuls)
1 C shredded purple cabbage
2 carrots, grated or finely chopped
1 cucumber, finely chopped
1 lb brown bella mushrooms, chopped

Dressing Ingredients: 1 c per serving approx
2 tbsp lime-juice
2 tsp almond butter
1 C coconut milk
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Celtic Sea Salt/Fresh Ground Pepper

Mix limejuice and 2 tsp of warm water with almond butter until almond butter has a slight liquid consistency.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Add salt and fresh ground pepper (and additional red pepper flakes if desired) to taste.

Mix the salad ingredients together in a bowl and toss with coconut almond dressing.  Garnish with shrimp cakes and mint leaf.  Enjoy

Winter Minestrone

11 Jan

Overflowing with vegetables and brimming with nourishing and wholesome fats, this winter Minestrone makes for a nutrient-dense supper during the darkest days of the year.

Ingredients for Winter Minestrone
•    1 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over – optional
•    1 tablespoon cider vinegar
•    1 cup dried brown rice macaroni noodles – optional
•    ¼ cup lard, bacon fat or ghee
•    1 yellow onion, finely chopped
•    3 garlic cloves, minced
•    3 carrots, chopped
•    3 celery stalks, chopped
•    2 tablespoons dried basil
•    1 tablespoon dried oregano
•    1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
•    2 quarts homemade roast chicken stock or homemade beef stock
•    1 cup pureed or crushed tomatoes
•    1 bunch Swiss chard, de-veined and sliced into 1/2 –inch strips
•    Unrefined sea salt to taste
•    Unrefined extra virgin olive oil, Italian flat leaf parsley and parmesan cheese to serve

Method for Winter Minestrone

If you choose to include the cannelloni beans in the soup:

1.    The day before you plan to serve the soup, prepare the cannelloni beans by completely submerging the beans in a mixture of very warm and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.  Cover and place in a warm spot to soak for approximately twenty-four hours.

2.    After the beans have soaked for one day, drain and rinse them. Boil them in water until they’re tender and soft. After they’re thoroughly cooked and tender, about 60 to 90 minutes, remove them from heat drain, rinse and set aside.

If you choose to include the brown rice pasta in the soup:

1.    Boil the brown rice pasta until tender, but somewhat firm and set aside.

Directions:

1.    Heat lard, bacon fat or ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot over a medium-high flame until melted and sizzling.
2.    Add chopped onion and fry until fragrant and translucent.
3.    Add minced garlic, chopped carrots, chopped celery and cubed butternut squash to the onion and fry until fragrant.
4.    Stir the dried basil and oregano into the vegetable mixture .
5.    Pour two quarts chicken or vegetable stock into the pot, taking care to stir and scrape the pot with a metal spatula to dislodge any flavorful bits of vegetables that may be stuck to its bottom.
6.    Stir in crushed or pureed tomatoes.  Freezing retains more nutrients than canning, and avoids the risks associated with BPA, which is a plasticizer with endocrine-disrupting effects.
7.    Simmer the broth, pureed tomatoes and vegetables together for thirty minutes or so.
8.    Remove the minestrone soup from heat.  Stir in the cooked cannellini beans (optional), cooked brown pasta (optional) and sliced Swiss chard.
9.    Season to taste with unrefined sea salt.
10.    Cover the soup allow it to sit (removed from heat) for approximately five to ten minutes, which melds the flavors and allows the Swiss chard to wilt slightly.
11.    Serve with chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, unrefined extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan or Asiago cheese.

YIELD: Approximately 8 to 12 servings
TIME: 24 hours (soaking) plus 2 hours (preparation and cooking time)

NOTES: This recipe is fabulous with or without the brown rice pasta or cannelini beans.  If you choose to include them, brown rice is very low in phytic acid; an antinutrient that binds minerals preventing their full absorption, which is why I’ve included brown rice pasta in this recipe. For this reason, do not substitute whole wheat pasta unless you prepare it yourself using a sprouted flour or a recipe for sourdough noodles. I encourage you to cook the beans separately and add them to the soup later because doing so improves the flavor of the soup.

Recipe adapted from The Nourished Kitchen (www.nourishedkitchen.com)

La tavola. A Family Tradition

6 Dec

La tavola de cucina means the kitchen table in Italian.  La tavola is our family tradition.  I grew up in a family of four girls.  My parents both were both full time teachers on top of us collectively working on our ranch.  Whether it was 6:45am, half asleep shoveling tomatoes and eggs in our mouths, before school, or 8:00pm after everyone’s day was coming to an end, we always sat down to eat together.  The holidays bring a beautiful expansion of this tradition, which runs through all of my family on both sides.  Each holiday brings together a minimum of 20 relatives, spanning 4 generations, multiple families, plus in-laws, college friends, and extended family and friends, which have become staples in our lives over the years.

La tavola is a rustic, 50+ year old, beat up table in a funky oval shape.  It was in my father’s house when he was growing up, and is still in my grandmother’s (Noni) kitchen.  La tavola is always covered with a funky tablecloth, salt and pepper shakers (that we never use), a napkin holder, and fake flowers.  It’s funny that her mini-fake flowers bring me such comfort.  I still take a quick smell just in case she converted to real.

In our family, la tavola is not the largest table in anyone’s house.  However, it is where we all tend to sit, squeeze, and spend the majority of our time together.  Just prior to the meal, as we gather to say grace, we always hold hands and form one massive circle around la tavola, even though we will move into the dining room or outside.  Why?  Because it is a celebration of the process, the work that went into the celebration, and it keeps all of us embedded in the joy that is food and family.

It’s a simple thing.  It’s a table.  But la tavola is more than a big piece of wood with a claw bottom.  It is a place of gathering to laugh, to cry, to comfort and to have difficult conversations.  It holds meals, and games, and has sustained many emotional events.  This holiday season, as you gather with family and friends, look around you and soak in the simple things that bring you comfort and joy, whatever they may be.

Mangiare. Rida. Vive. (Eat. Laugh. Live)

My mama loves to make all types of cookies and breads during the holidays.  There are a few that I’m allowed to share.  Follow this link to Mama Nina’s Zucchini Bread

Mama Nina’s Zucchini Bread

6 Dec

Ingredients:
*3 eggs
*2c sugar (yes – plain white sugar)
*1 tsp vanilla
*1 c olive oil or vegetable oil (personally use Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil)
*3c fresh, grated zucchini
*3c flour (white, unbleached)
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla with wire whisk.  Add oil and mix well.  Stir in dry ingredients with wooden spoon.  Lastly, stir in zucchini (and any other dried fruit/veggies ie. carrots, raisins, cranberries, nuts) that you’d like to include.
3. Bake in greased bundt pan at 325 for approximately 1 hour.  Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 Baby Loaves.

Delicata Squash Soup

6 Nov

Delicata squash, also referred to as Peanut squash or Bohemian squash, has a sweet nutty flavor and is best during late summer/early fall.  It’s nearly fiber-less flesh yields favors of corn and sweet potatoes, and has a creamy texture.  The flavors are more concentrated  when roasted.  When buying a Delicata squash, look for a firm cylindrical shape with elongated ridges and pale-orange or yellow skin with green striations.

Delicata Squash Soup

Serves: 10

Makes: 8 cups                

Hands-on time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 lb delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded (can substitute with butternut squash or sugar pumpkin if not available)

1 lb Granny Smith apples (approximately 2 large), unpeeled, halved lengthwise, cored

1 large clove garlic, halved lengthwise

2 tbsp extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided (homemade stock if you have it)

1/3 cup raw buttermilk or raw cream (can substitute sour cream or greek yogurt if you prefer thicker texture)

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp celtic sea salt

To taste fresh ground white and black pepper

Garnish (optional)

1 1/4 cups air0popped popcorn

1 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh sage

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Brush cut sides of the squash, apples and garlic with olive oil.  Arrange them, cut-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet, tucking garlic beneath squash in hollowed out cavities.  Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes, until squash and applease are tender when pierced with a fork.  Set aside and let cool; approximately 20 minutes.

3. Using a spoon, scoop flesh from squash and apples; discard skins.  Place roasted squash, apples and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process to a smooth puree.  Add 2 cups borth and continue processing until smooth.  Transfer squash mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat and add remaining 2 cups broth, buttermilk or cream, nutmeg and salt.  Bring mixture to a simmer, not a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes, season with pepper and set aside to keep warm.

To serve: Ladle 3/4c into a bowl and top with fresh sage sprig or a couple pieces of popcorn and sage.  Add pepper to taste.

Halloween: To Treat or Too Sweet?

1 Oct

If you are not looking forward to the massive sugar explosion that is often unleashed on both children and parents during Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of  alternative treat suggestions.

At home treats – instead of the bowl of mini-candy bars

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark: Melt 2-3 organic dark chocolate (80%-90%) bars.  Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle raw, organic almonds (or slice/crush if you prefer) across melted chocolate and place in freezer for minimum of 60 minutes.  Break into pieces and enjoy.

Dark Chocolate CocoNut Balls: Mix 1c almonds, 1c pecans, 1/2c walnuts in the food processor and set aside.  Mix 6 pitted dates with 1 tbsp raw, virgin coconut oil, and add to the nut mixture slowly until all is mixed thoroughly in the food processor.  While running food processor, add 1tsp of pure vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Add 2-3 tbsp raw coconut (if desired).  Scoop mixture out of processing bowl and mold into small balls (fitting in your palm) and place in the freezer (in tupperware or on parchment paper) for at least 60 minutes.  Once they are firm, melt 1 dark chocolate bar (80%), and drizzle the melted chocolate over balls, placing back in the freezer for at least 60 minutes.  Enjoy.

Roasted Nuts: In gallon-size ziploc bag, toss 1c each: raw almonds, walnuts, pecans and/or cashews in 2-3 tbsp heated coconut oil (liquid).  When all nuts are covered, place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, celtic sea salt, making sure to cover all nuts.  Roast for up to 15 minutes at 350.  Keep an eye on them as the coconut oil will heat up quickly!  These are great placed in a bowl and left around the house to snack on.

Instead of handing out candy, try:

Raw nuts or dried fruit purchased at the farmers market

Raw apples (they’re in season! yeah!)

Mini bagged carrots (they look like fingers – scary!)

String Cheese

Boxes of raisins

Mini dark chocolate covered raisins

If you choose to go the non-food route, school supplies and fun treat-bags often get a smile and a giggle too!  Think of mini-slinkies, koosh balls, erasers, and kids sunglasses.

If you have suggestions that you’d like to share, please email analisa@focusedtrainers.com .

What’s in Your Brown Bag?

1 Oct

Making a lunch seems to be a lost art in a lot of busy households.  Here are some ways to create a healthy lunch that is fun, creative and interactive!
Instead of a sandwich, let’s get “rollin’”…

  • Roll-Ups (use spinach, sun-dried tomato, or romaine heart to wrap)
  • Roast Beef and Cheese (fresh, raw cheese if possible – NOT PROCESSED)
  • Turkey and Avocado
  • Almond Butter and Orange Marmalade (not on lettuce)
  • B.E.A.T. Salad (Bacon, Egg, Avocado, Tomato)
  • Lettuce Logs (fill lettuce with grilled/stir-fried chicken, tofu, scallions and low-sodium Tamari)

Instead of a salad, get creative with your fruit and veggies!

Kebabs (fun and interactive)

  • Stoplight Peppers (Green, Yellow, and Red Peppers)
  • Very Merry Berries (Strawberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries)
  • Go Greek (Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Kalamatta Olives)
  • Ants on a log – Celery with nut butter or cream cheese topped with raisins
  • Yummy-Mummies (Wrap dates, figs, melon, apples, or pears with proscuitto, ham, or cooked bacon – aim to use pastured, nitrate free pork as often as possible!)

Instead of chips, let’s “crack” up!

  • Almond Crackers (recipe includes almond flour, olive oil, blend of spices – bake and roll out)
  • Pita Crackers (cut up fresh pita, brush with olive oil/walnut oil, bake)

Chip away – chip alternatives

  • Kale/Chard Chips (clean greens, brush with olive oil, bake)
  • Sweet Potato Chips (peeled, sliced thin, brushed with olive oil, seasoned salt, baked)

Instead of buying a mix, make it your own!
Trail Mix – include a blend of raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruit

  • Nuts and Bolts – Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Cranberries, Raisins, Apricots, etc.**Be sure to check to see if your school is nut-free because of allergies

Instead of a sugary treat, try some natural sweet!

  • Greek Yogurt w/Cinnamon and crushed almonds or walnuts
  • Applesauce w/Cinnamon and crushed almonds/walnuts or pecans
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/ Cinnamon

Join us for FITness Fundamentals and Food Crawl in Palo Alto!

1 Sep

During the month of September, come workout in the streets of downtown Palo Alto Wednesday nights from 6:30-7:30pm.  Challenge your strength, endurance, power, flexibility, and speed with a variety of functional, natural movements that can be done anywhere.  The workouts will finish with a hands-on nutrition experience!  The classes will start and end at Lululemon Athletica, Palo Alto beginning Wednesday, September 1st.

This series will be lead by Analisa Naldi, a strength and conditioning coach and real foods educator!

Workouts and food are complimentary.  All we ask is that you arrive ready to move!

Contact: analisa@focusedtrainers.com

Eggplant Caponata

7 Aug

Ingredients:
*4 tbsp lard, ghee, strained bacon fat (or other fat/oil with a high smoke point)
*1 large or 2 small eggplants, cut into ¾ inch cubes
*1/4 c finely chopped pancetta or ½ c finely chopped prosciutto
*1 yellow onion, finely chopped
*6-8 finely chopped, seeded and diced, red tomatoes (preferably fresh off the vine)
*1 c green olives, pitted and sliced
*3 tbsp capers
*1/4 c thinly sliced fennel
*1 c thinly sliced celery
*1/3 c red wine vinegar
*2 tsp raw honey (optional)
*White truffle oil or extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil (for drizzling on top after cooking)

Directions:
*Grilling eggplant: heat oven or grill to 500 degrees F.  Warm 3 tbsp of the fat to make it liquid.  Place the eggplant on a pan in a single layer (maintain single layer to avoid steaming that would occur if you placed them on top of each other).  Drizzle with the warmed fat and sprinkle a few teaspoons of coarse salt on top.  Mix well to spread over eggplant.  Roast eggplant approximately 20 minutes, mix or toss a few times to ensure even roasting.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

*While eggplant is grilling: heat remaining tbsp of fat in a large 12-16 inch skillet.  Add pancetta/prosciutto and bring to a sizzle over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook together until lightly brown (approximately 10 minutes).  Add tomatoes, olive, and capers, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer covered for approximately 15 minutes.  Add eggplant, fennel, and celery, cooking covered for another 8-10 minutes.

*Remove cover, raise heat, and add vinegar and honey.  Cook a few more minutes until excess moisture has evaporated, add salt and pepper to taste.

*Serve at room temperature, hot or cold. Add a drizzle of olive oil or white truffle oil just before serving.
Excellent main dish for a vegetarian meal, as a salad over a bed of fresh greens, or a compliment to grilled chicken or sausages.

Three Easy Ways to Incorporate the Summer’s Plentiful Bounty

7 Aug

1.    Enjoy the thrill of the grill!  Summer provides an opportunity to eat more local fresh foods with an abundance of hearty veggies and stone fruits.  Grilling is a great way to enjoy those summer fruits and vegetables.  Here are some tips for grilling and exploring exotic oils and reductions to compliment your veggies and fruit.

  • Fresh Vegetables: Be sure to grill fresh veggies over medium heat in order to cook evenly and retain some moisture.  Because a lot of the moisture is evaporated during the grilling process, the sugars become more condensed and the flavors become more concentrated.  Add a drizzle of walnut, macadamia nut, or sesame oil to create a more exotic array of tastes.  Top with fresh ground pepper and Celtic sea salt.
  • Fresh Fruit: Grill fresh fruit over indirect heat and remember that a large majority of fruit is water-based, so be sure to let it cool slightly before serving as it’s internal temperature will be quite hot and could burn your mouth!  While grilling, reduce 1/4c of balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat to a syrup-like consistence. Drizzle over fresh grilled fruit for savory-sweet candy-like finish.

2.    Experiment with new greens! Spinach, asparagus, and broccoli are plentiful and pretty common veggies across cultures.  But what do you do with kale? Fennel? Both are excellent additions to grilled, poached, or plank wild salmon or halibut.  Kale is a superfood famous for it’s high content of Vitamin A, which is fat-soluble.  Therefore, Kale requires cooking or finishing in fat in order for the Vit.A to be absorbed.  Fennel is an excellent digestive aid and a natural treatment for anemia.  Here are some tips for cooking Kale and Fennel.

  • Kale is bitter when raw. But once rinsed, stripped of its center spine, and massaged with course sea salt, it is a beautiful base for a salad.  Mix with roasted almonds or pecans, raw goat cheese, dried currants, and raw mushrooms for a nutty summer salad.
  • To enjoy fennel, cut off the frawns and trim the outer layer.  Slice thin, and toss in coconut oil (virgin, unrefined), half-butter/half olive oil, or bacon-fat, with garlic, shallots, carrots, and celery or cabbage and cook over a medium-high heat.  Add salt, pepper, and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar and enjoy the candied flavor of your veggies!

3.    Learn the art of canning.  Take a little time to preserve your extra summer produce for the fall and winter months ahead.  Plan a day with friends and family sharing the labor and the food!  Be sure to separate the various types of foods prior to the day of canning to ensure the equipment and/or food does not get contaminated.  Want to learn how to preserve?  Ask our friends at Happy Girl Kitchens (www.happygirlkitchen.com) .

For more info or to share your own superfood recipes and ideas, please email analisa@focusedtrainers.com.   Look for our selection of exotic oils, fresh canned goods, and hand-made snacks among F.I.T.’s artisanal food products.