Tomato Basil Socca Pizza

A bunch of bloggers whose work I adore have come out with cookbooks lately. One such blogger is Erin Alderson of the blog Naturally Ella. Her brand new book is called The Homemade Flour Cookbook: The Home Cook’s Guide to Milling Nutritious Flours and Creating Delicious Recipes with Every Grain, Legume, Nut, and Seed from A-Z.

The Homemade Flour Cookbook | healthy green kitchen

This book is based on the very cool concept that you can easily make your own fresh and nutritious flours at home. As much as I love to cook and bake, making my own flours isn’t something I’ve delved into much before (apart from blending oats to make oat flour), mostly because I assumed you needed special equipment (like a grain mill). While Erin does recommend investing in a grain mill, it turns out that you can do quite a lot more than make oat flour with a high-powered blender (which I already own). You can also mill some flours in a coffee grinder!

In this book, Erin not only delves into all the different ways you can make your own wholesome flours from different grains (including gluten-free grains), legumes, nuts and seeds, she also shares 100 very yummy-looking recipes that utilize the various fresh flours. The photos in the book, taken by Erin, are beautiful.

The Homemade Flour Cookbook | healthy green kitchen

Because I have a big stash of dried chickpeas, I decided to try my hand at grinding chickpea flour in my blender. I was pretty skeptical about it working at first: chickpeas are so hard! After a minute or two the flour still looked like small rocks, but I played around with a few of the settings on my Blendtec and found that at #3, the chickpeas turned to a fine powder after another few minutes. Hooray!

chickpea flour in blender | healthy green kitchen

I used my chickpea flour to make Erin’s recipe for Tomato Basil Socca Pizza. Socca is a flatbread that’s a specialty of Nice, France. I’ve never had socca but I know it has a reputation for being very tasty. I was happy for the inspiration to make it (I’d been meaning to try it ever since seeing this recipe on David Lebovitz’ blog ages ago).

Socca is so simple to make: all you need is the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt. You soak these together for an hour, then you cook the batter in a hot oiled skillet under a broiler.

chickpea flour soaking | healthy green kitchen

I’ve purchased chickpea flour in the past and used it in gluten-free baking. It always had this odd, very bean-y flavor to me, which I didn’t love. I have to say that my fresh chickpea flour didn’t taste “off” at all: I really loved it in this base for an easy pizza. So while you can definitely use store-bought chickpea flour in this recipe, I recommend trying to make your own if you can because it’s fresher and really does have a different, milder flavor.

socca pizza | healthy green kitchen

Many thanks to Erin for turning me on to making my own flours. I really look forward to seeing what I can do with ancient grains, legumes, nuts, etc. I cannot wait to try out more of the recipes in this book: there are so many incredibly creative and healthy savory and sweet recipes to choose from! And I have one extra copy of the book from the publisher to give away to one of my readers…the directions for entering the giveaway are below the recipe :)

socca pizza from the homemade flour cookbook | healthy green kitchen

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(Hip Girl’s Guide-Inspired) Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

Kate Payne is someone whose work I really admire and her second book just came out. It’s called The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen: A Hit-the-Ground Running Approach to Stocking Up and Cooking Delicious, Nutritious, and Affordable Meals: I absolutely adore it.

The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen is not a typical cookbook. In Kate’s words, it’s more of a “friend, someone sitting with you helping to bust your fears in the kitchen”. From the introduction, I learned that though she always loved the idea of cooking, for much of her life Kate did not feel good about the reality of preparing food for herself and others. Kate was not someone who naturally loved to cook…it stressed her out.

A few years ago, Kate decided to work through her discomfort and take charge of the “sustenance cooking” in her household due to reasons related to food quality, nutrition, and economics. She set out to “master” wholesome, delicious, budget-friendly everyday cooking and along the way, this book was born. I think anyone who is struggling to feel themselves nourishing food on a daily basis will get a ton out of The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen. (But I got a ton out of it and I already consider myself a pretty confident/competent cook.)

As I mentioned above, this isn’t the kind of cookbook you may be accustomed to. There are some recipes, yes, but mostly it is filled with extremely helpful tips and advice, as well as info on techniques for making pretty much anything from scratch. Reading through, I was particularly impressed with how Kate tackles tough issues such as how to eat “real” food when you are on a really tight budget; she also discusses the problem of food waste quite a bit, and I was pleased to see this.

The way Kate writes is incredibly down to earth and funny (ex. Chapter 5 is called “Kitchen Kick-Ass”) and the book is really so inspiring: you can read the whole thing- or just snippets of it- and I am willing to bet money that when you put the book down, you’ll be excited to go create something in your kitchen.

garlic parmesan popcorn | healthy green kitchen

To honor what I love about this book, I chose to make some Garlic Parmesan Popcorn. This isn’t a recipe that’s in the book, but it’s very much inspired by Kate’s words on page 161. Popcorn is so easy to make, and so delicious when it’s homemade, and yet so many of us don’t spend the time to do it…we make microwave popcorn instead.

There are some potential health concerns with microwave popcorn (which Kate does mention in the book), but that’s only part of why I prefer homemade popcorn to the microwave variety. I prefer it mostly because I can flavor it how I like! Some melted real butter and sea salt is always wonderful, but it’s so fun to get creative with popcorn. There are lots of different ways you can season it- from truffle salt to curry (both mentioned by Kate in the book) to other spices, to sweet popcorn…raid your pantry and have fun with it! I certainly had fun coming up with this Garlic Parmesan Popcorn which I’ve never made before (and I’ll definitely be making it again…it’s delicious).

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Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles + A Weck Jars Giveaway

Once a month, I feature a chapter from my book and partner with the folks from MightyNest on a related giveaway. This month, I’m focusing on the health benefits of cultured foods. Read on to learn more about how nutritious these can be, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for beautiful jars in which to make your own delicious versions.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

Naturally cultured foods and drinks are teeming with vitamins, live enzymes, and natural probiotics (bacteria that are helpful for reducing the amount of harmful organisms in the intestines). These were prevalent in the diets of our ancestors, yet they’re not frequently consumed by most people today. Cultured (aka lacto-fermented) foods are good for everyone, but they are particularly useful if your digestion is poor or your immune system is weak (75% of your immune system’s cells reside in your digestive tract!). Cultured foods foster a healthy digestive environment, and contribute to optimal wellness overall.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

How lacto-fermentation works: Bacteria known as lactobacilli convert sugars and starches into lactic acid. The presence of lots of lactic acid results in a food that’s exceptionally nutritious and much less prone to spoilage. Before there was refrigeration and before foods were canned to extend their shelf life, they were naturally preserved in small batches using the lacto-fermentation method. Examples of lacto-fermented foods and drinks include yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, and vegetable preparations such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

I try to include at least one serving of something that’s been lacto-fermented in my diet every day, but I eat more when I have any sort of digestive issue going on or on the rare occasion that I have to take antibiotics. You can purchase high quality versions of cultured foods at natural food stores, but I think knowing how to make your own is a good skill to have (plus you’ll save money). In the photos for this post, you see lacto-fermented asparagus, carrots, and cucumbers. I’ve included the recipe for the cucumbers below, along with some of my favorite fermentation resources.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are a good place to start if you want to begin making your own cultured foods. These are particularly beneficial for you because they contain many nutrients as well as fiber: you can add them to all sorts of dishes as condiments. I’ve been making my own cultured vegetables for years: once you get the hang of the process, you’ll see how easy it is (you don’t need much more than veggies, salt, and a little time), and you’re sure to become hooked. Then you can look forward to always having some cultured veggies on hand to enhance your meals…and your health!

(Text adapted with permission from my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Lifeby Winnie Abramson. Copyright 2013 by Chronicle Books.)

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Pomegranate, Green Olive and Cilantro Relish + How to Keep Herbs Fresh

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Glad in conjunction with their #SAVEITSUNDAY program. With #SAVEITSUNDAY, Glad hopes to educate the public about the consequences of food waste, and I am proud they’ve asked me to be a part of the program. I am being compensated to share my #SAVEITSUNDAY experiences; all opinions are 100% my own.

Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs. I grow my own when the weather is cooperative, but this time of year, I rely on the supermarket for my cilantro stash. Cilantro often comes in such big bunches that I am always disappointed when it tends to wilt long before I get around to using it all. I frequently look for new ways to incorporate cilantro into my meals, but I’ve also long wondered if there was a better way I could be storing it to keep it fresh for longer.

I found a recipe for an Olive, Pomegranate, and Walnut Relish featuring parsley in Alice Water’s new book: The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden. I mentioned this book in a previous post…it’s truly fabulous. Anyway, I swapped out the parsley for cilantro in this recipe and it’s so good!

pom relish 1_text

I like to eat it on snappy rice crackers with sharp cheddar cheese. It’s also great as an accompaniment to roasted meats…I plan to serve it along with this cranberry sauce on my Thanksgiving table this year.

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(How cool is the upcycled bottle holding the crackers?! My friend Jocelyn is an eco-artist and she sells them in her etsy shop!)

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Weelicious’ Fruit and Seed Bars

I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013!

Weelicious is a charming site dedicated to feeding kiddos run by the lovely Catherine McCord. Catherine has also written two Weelicious cookbooks: Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes and Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals. The recipe for Fruit and Seed Bars that I am sharing today was adapted from Weelicious Lunches.

fruit and seed bars 2_text

What I most appreciate about Catherine’s blog and her books is that the recipes are creative yet simple. In addition to these bars, I made her homemade fruit leather and it was terrific! I honestly had no idea it was so easy to make your own fruit leather.

book 1_

These bars are super quick to throw together and they are very yummy. I like them as is, slathered with additional nut or seed butter, and also crumbled into a bowl and splashed with some milk (like granola). Catherine’s recipe in the book calls for sunflower butter so her recipe is 100% nut free and appropriate for those with nut allergies. Note that I substituted cashew butter because that’s what I had on hand (so these are not nut-free).

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