I spent much of last weekend visiting with dear friends I haven’t seen in years. We enjoyed lots of great conversation and feasting: it was so much fun! I made this fresh apricot crisp as part of a big breakfast I hosted on Sunday and everyone loved it. If you enjoy fresh apricots, I think you’ll love it, too.

Apricot crisp from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

Very ripe, local apricots are one of my favorite summertime treats. One of the local farm stands I frequent has them right now, and I keep making the trip over there to buy more!

Apricots from Healthy Green Kitchen

If you can’t find fresh apricots, you can certainly make this recipe with a different stone fruit, such as nectarines or peaches or plums. You can also use a combination of different fruits, if you like.

This recipe does not contain all that much sugar compared to other crisp recipes I’ve made in the past. I prefer less sugar because I really want to taste the fruit in recipes like this, even if the fruit is a bit tart; also, as I mentioned above, we had this for breakfast (and I prefer to avoid very sweet things in the morning). Feel free to use a little more sugar if you go for fruits treats like this on the sweeter side, or if you are making this for dessert.

If you don’t eat grains (and therefore oats are out), you could make the crisp topping with ground nuts, such as almonds.

Fresh Apricot Crisp from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

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Do you have a favorite summertime potluck dish? I do and you are looking at it!

Quinoa Salad from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I’ve been making quinoa salad in one form or another for years. I like to play with the beans, veggies, and herbs I add based on what I have in the house/what’s in season. Black beans are definitely my preferred bean, and as soon as fresh local corn starts to make an appearance in markets around here, corn is pretty much a must. I’ve added basil on occasion but cilantro is definitely a better fit with the other elements in this particular salad.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn

If you are as yet unfamiliar with quinoa, it’s a seed that’s native to the Andes region of South America. I ate it several times when I was recently in Peru, cooked in a stew. While it behaves like a grain, quinoa is actually more nutritious than most grains because it is high in protein, iron, and calcium. Quinoa is also gluten-free.

Quinoa seeds are coated with a bitter substance so you need to rinse quinoa very thorough before cooking. Moreover, quinoa benefits from a several hours-long soak in water in order to deactivate the naturally-present enzymes that bind up the nutrients within. For this reason, on days when I am planning to cook quinoa, I like to place it in a large bowl and cover it with water for 2-3 hours. Then I pour off the water, and rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before proceeding to cook it.

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As you can probably imagine, I took a lot of photos when I was in Peru. Rather than share them all in one incredibly unwieldy post, I think I’ll space them out into at least 3 posts. Let’s start with a glimpse of Lima.

Lima courtyard // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima was not all what I expected! A few friends told me it wasn’t worth spending much time in Lima, but I am very happy that we had 2 days there. I found Lima to be a surprisingly lovely and vibrant city.

lima square // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima church // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima police women // Healthy Green Kitchen

My trusty travel companion (my 11 year old daughter Maddie) and I stayed in a neighborhood called Miraflores. It was very easy to get around on foot: we enjoyed strolling around the waterfront and the various parks, as well as shopping and eating there. We also had a guide take us to see many other parts of the city, including the funky Barranco: a bohemian neighborhood set high on a cliff.

Though fog typically covers the city of Lima most days this time of year (it is currently winter in Peru), we lucked into sunny blue skies for part of our visit. And even though the humidity in Lima is crazy high (98%!), I thought the weather during our stay was perfect. It was in the 60′s: a wonderful respite from summer weather here in New York. Maddie and I wore jeans and tee-shirts (but most of the locals were bundled in jackets and scarves!).

Apparently the climate in Lima is also perfect for many types of plants. It rarely rains, but it also doesn’t ever get very cold or very hot. For this reason, we saw many different flowers. Beautiful bougainvillaeas spill off terraces just about everywhere in Lima, and everything from orchids to roses absolutely thrives there.

Lima orchids // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima rose // Healthy Green Kitchen

We visited several museums in Lima. I found the artifacts housed within to be endlessly fascinating.

Lima artifacts // Healthy Green Kitchen

We also got our first peak at pre-Incan ruins.

Lima ruins // Healthy Green Kitchen

Pachacamac // Healthy Green Kitchen

I tasted my first (and second) “Pisco Sour” in Lima. I found them to be tasty, but very strong. I also sampled the local fish and seafood for which Lima (with its cold waters) is famous: ceviche is a specialty there.

Fish at Vivanda market // Healthy Green Kitchen

If you go to Lima with kids, make sure you don’t miss the Parque de la Reserva. There you will find the Magic Water Tour, a series of giant fountains that are brightly lit with all different colors. It’s a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike, and particularly memorable if you go at night. We really loved it.

Magic Water Tour fountain in Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Magic Water Tour fountain Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Reserve Park Water Tour // Healthy Green Kitchen

I booked our trip through a tour company. They did a fantastic job with our accommodations and itinerary in Lima and everywhere else we traveled. If you thinking about going to Peru, I’d be happy to share more details with you…just shoot me an email. In my next post, I will share my photos of the magical city of Cuzco!