field of greens salad with stadium mustard dressing & crackerjack peanuts

field of greens saladEight years in and we finally signed our middle son up for baseball this year. It was something I’d meant to do several years ago, but somehow it’s hard to think baseball when registration is required in the throes of winter.

An avid sports fan, my husband has been looking forward to this from the birth of our first child. And he’s been teaching our boys especially how to root-root-root for the home team even when they often “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” (It’s been decades since they won a World Series.)teamI have my own fond baseball memories…the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series two years in a row (though we’ve moved away, I’ll always quietly root for them too), my years as a pitcher on our high school slow pitch team, and neighborhood boys breaking out the bats and mitts as soon as the air breathed spring.

100_2672So with baseball season in full swing, I thought it would be fun to create a salad inspired by “American’s pastime.”field of greens CollageCucumbers and marinated mushrooms (an homage to a ball and mitt) nestle on a field of kale and Brussel sprouts. “Crackerjack” peanuts are a nod to the classic stadium snack but are coated with dates to keep the sugar “outta there.” Topping it off is a bittersweet stadium mustard dressing.crackerjackpeanutsA note on the peanuts: If saving money is important to you, it’s cheaper to shell them yourself. Seeing as we had a 5 lb. bag hanging around the house, this is the route I’ve taken lately). However, if time is of the essence, go for the pre-shelled and roasted peanuts. If you splurge on Spanish-roasted peanuts (my favorite choice for this salad), be sure to gently rub them in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the field of greens salad recipe

field of greens salad

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4-6 people

 

Ingredients

    for the Salad

    • Brussel sprouts, finely chopped
    • Kale, destemmed and chopped
    • Cucumber, sliced

    for the Marinated Mushrooms

    • 4 large Portabella mushroom caps or 16 oz. baby bellas
    • 1/3-1/2 cup coconut aminos
    • oregano
    • garlic powder
    • freshly ground black pepper

    for the “Crackerjack” peanuts

    • ½ cup shelled peanuts or Spanish peanuts
    • 1 T date paste
    • 2-3 T water

    for the Stadium Mustard dressing

    • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 2 T stadium mustard
    • 2 T tahini
    • 1.5-2 tsp. agave or coconut nectar
    • ½ tsp. regular mustard
    • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
    • few dashes turmeric for color (optional)

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium high heat, combine date paste and water, stirring to combine. Add peanuts and continue to stir over medium high heat until they begin to clump together and the date paste begins to dry out (about 5-7 minutes). You may need to reduce the heat near the end of the cooking time to prevent the date paste from burning.

    Transfer peanuts to a baking pan and place in oven for another 5 minutes. Remove and cool.

    In a frying pan, add ingredients for the Marinated Mushrooms, bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and cook until most of the liquid has reduced. Cool.

    For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.

    Combine kale and Brussel sprouts, then arrange cucumber slices on top followed by the “Crackerjack” peanuts and marinated mushrooms, drizzle with dressing.*

    Recipe Notes

    I like Spanish peanuts best. If using, then gently rub in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins. Add extra prep time if shelling your own peanuts.

    “Crackerjack” peanuts can be stored in an airtight jar for several days and are great for snacking. The date paste coating may soften a little, especially in humid conditions.

    The dressing stores well in the fridge for several days. I like adding the turmeric for eye-pleasing color. A few dashes goes a long way as the color intensifies slightly over time.

    My favorite way to serve salads is to prepare the base and set out toppings and dressing separately. That way, any leftovers will stay fresh.

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    lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

    lemon squaresI think one of the hardest things to do when you change the way you eat is to stop indulging in your memory of the foods you used to enjoy. It’s hard to convince the brain that the sugar/dairy/meat-laden dish once inhaled without second thought will now cause your body to launch a revolt.

    I have a few food memories that are hard to short circuit. One of them is of the lemon squares my husband whipped up one dreary afternoon – made with extra lemon juice. I almost swoon at the memory.

    100_1796Tempting as it is to consider making a conventional batch of lemon squares to satisfy my lemon cravings, the sugar content alone scratches it off the list. You can read a little about my decision to cut back on sugar here.

    Thankfully, the plant-based, low sugar lemon curd recipe I posted earlier this month is an excellent substitute for the traditional lemon square filling. It’s complemented by a gluten free, coconut crust, inspired by this recipe. And the icing sugar? It’s actually a dusting of coconut flour.

    lemon square collageWhat is your favorite lemon dish? What foods do you have a hard time resisting based on the memory alone?

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon squares recipe

    lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 15-17 minutes

    Serves: 16 squares

    Ingredients

      for the Crust & Topping

      • 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
      • 1 c. almond flour
      • ½ tsp. baking soda
      • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia
      • ¼ c. melted coconut oil
      • 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
      • ½ tsp. vanilla
      • Coconut flour (for dusting)

      for the Filling

      • ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • Zest from one organic lemon (optional)
      • ½ c. white grape juice
      • 3 T coconut nectar or agave
      • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
      • 5 T organic cornstarch
      • ¼ tsp. salt
      • 1 T vegan butter
      • Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
      • Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

      Instructions

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

      Using your hands, mix all ingredients for the macaroon crust together in a bowl.

      Pour crust into a greased 8”x8” glass baking dish and press crust firmly to compact it together.

      Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool.

      While crust is baking, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!

      Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.

      Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.

      Cool slightly, then pour over crust.

      Recipe Notes

      The more you press the crust, the better it will hold together after baking.

      Use a pizza cutter to give a nice clean cut to the squares.

      I love this recipe for the lemon curd because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.

      *It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.

      Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.

      Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn.

      I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.

      I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.

      Refrigerate to set, then use a sieve to dust with coconut flour.

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      calico brownies (gluten free, low sugar, vegan) + fair trade

      100_2143Disclaimer: This is a post that starts out seriously but ends in chocolate.

      My husband and I are reading the book, “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” It’s written by an American journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck five years ago. However, it’s also a book which details Haiti’s volatile history, sometimes of their own making, but also from in the influence of foreign powers rocking their boat. With the earthquake that just happened in Nepal and more natural disasters of increasing intensity on their way, it’s a timely book to be reading.

      But what does Haiti have to do with brownies?

      calicobrowniesNot much. At least in the sense that Haiti isn’t a large producer of the world’s chocolate  or coconut oil (it does export some). However, many of the trade practices which adversely affect Haiti on other fronts (which Katz relates in the book), also are in place with countries that do produce the most of the chocolate and coconut oil we consume.

      For those of us living in affluent nations, the sad truth is that certain imported foods we enjoy at low cost to us comes at a high cost to others. (If you are interested in learning more about the importance of fair trade, I’ve included some links at the end of this post following the recipe.)

      But I believe this can change because every time I make a purchase decision, I am casting my vote not only for the product but also for the business practice that brought it to the shelf.

      So when a recipe calls for an ingredient that largely is produced and exported from a developing nation, I cast my vote in favor of fair trade as much as possible.

      (Here’s where the brownies come in!)

      Unlike most brownies which carry a high sugar content, these Calico Brownies, which are adapted from the “Peanut Butter Brownie” recipe found in “Vegan Planet”* on page 508, derive most of their sweetness from dates. They also feature fair trade cocoa power and fair trade coconut oil…which I think makes them taste all the sweeter.

      CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the calico brownies recipe

       calico brownies

      Prep Time: 10 minutes

      Cook Time: 25 minutes

       Serves: 16 brownies

      Ingredients

      • 2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax + 6 T water)
      • ½ cup fair trade coconut oil
      • 1 tsp. vanilla
      • 1/8 cup agave or other liquid sweetener
      • 1 cup date paste
      • 1 cup brown rice flour
      • ¾ cup fair trade unsweetened baking cocoa
      • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia
      • 1 tsp. baking powder
      • ¼-1/3 c. no sugar natural peanut butter

      Instructions

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

      In small bowl, combine the flax seed and water to make the flax eggs. Set aside.

      In a large saucepan, melt oil, add in vanilla and agave, then turn off heat.

      Break date paste into smaller pieces and stir into liquid mixture – using a potato masher works well to further break up the date paste.

      Add in flax eggs and stir.

      Add in dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine (the mixture will appear dense and crumble in large pieces.

      Pour mixture into greased 8×8 glass baking dish and press down firmly with hands.

      Pour peanut butter over batter and use a knife to work it in, then press down batter again (keeping your hands moistened with water helps prevent the batter from sticking to them.

      Bake 20 minutes.

      Let it cool completely before cutting.

      Recipe Notes

      Typically, I’ve purchased Equal Exchange’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa at my local health food store, but recently found Frontier’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa for less at Abe’s Market. (you can get free shipping on orders over $49.) I usually buy Br. Bronner’s brand of fair trade coconut oil.

      Make sure the stevia you use is 100%, otherwise results will vary. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop.

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       *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.