Whether you are having a party, impromptu guests, or watching a ball game at home, almost everyone loves dips and spreads. We use them on bruschetta (grilled or toasted rounds of good rustic bread rubbed with garlic, herbs, and olive oil), crackers, chips, and raw or lightly steamed veggies.
For veggies, we're particularly fond of garlicky Taratour sauce, smooth, Creamy Tofu Herb Dressing, bright green Tahini Herb Dressing, and Zesty Dijon and Herb Tofu Spread.
Crispy Shallot Dip (a whole foods, non-dairy answer to onion dip), Romesco Sauce, and Roasted Pepper and Caper Spread all do double duty with veggies or spread on crackers or bruschetta.
Smoked Trout Salad Spread, creamy White Bean and Herb Spread, cumin scented Lentil Walnut Spread, and Middle Eastern White Bean Dip are excellent on bread, vegetable chips, or crackers.
Mini Goat Brie Pizzette are grown-up French bread "pizzas" that can also be made with prepared pizza dough from your local health food store or pizzeria.
Vinaigrettes are interesting creatures. They are, of course, wonderful on salads, but can be used as quick marinades for grilling or broiling, and can dress up plain steamed vegetables in a heart beat. They're also nice for dipping crudite vegetables instead of more traditional creamy dips.
We like ethnic flavors at my house, so I make sure that amongst the many options for dressing our salads we have something representing the Mediterranean region and Southwestern cuisine now and again. Balsamic Vinaigrette and
Sun Dried Tomato, Chipotle and Cumin Vinaigrette are visitors to my table that are consistent hits with guests and family alike.
Looking towards the East we have Carrot Miso Dressing and Sesame Ginger Dressing. The latter also doubles as a quick marinade for fish, chicken or tofu.
Nori rolls are a great way to use up leftover rice, and have the additional benefit of being exceptionally rich in minerals due to the seaweed. They are easy to make, and your imagination is the only limit on what to fill them with. Rice, Nut and Seed Nori Rolls are a great "endurance snack": they keep well and are great fuel for a hike or other physical activity. They are so tasty you may find yourself cooking extra rice just so you can make them!
As the warm weather steadily advances, our bodies naturally crave lighter, fresher, and more watery foods. Vegetable salads are a great way to eat roots (like carrots and sweet potatoes) when our bodies are craving cool. Sweet Potato and Vegetable Salad is a light side dish that can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold. For a hot day when you crave something really light, juicy and crunchy, try Asparagus and Snap Pea Salad.
I love hummus. I love the classic variety, and I love spicy hummus. I love green hummus (big in California, where avocados and cilantro beg to be used in every kitchen in as many ways as possible). I love how hummus lends itself to experimentation and a wide variety of flavors. The latest incarnation is Roasted Root Vegetable and White Bean Hummus, a recipe with variations that can be used for dip, taco filling, spring rolls, bruschetta, sandwiches, salads and more.
Chia Coconut Pudding is a delicious and healthy, no-guilt, gluten free dessert. Hemp hearts lend a slight crunch and nutty chewiness to this pudding along with a significant nutritional boost: they are rich in protein and unsaturated fatty acids. This dessert is great for kids, as it is healthy and very easy to make.Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
It's been years since I've been able to eat regular yogurt, but sometimes I long for the thick, creamy, tangy taste of it. Homemade is the best way to go when making yogurt in general, but especially when you are dairy free. This recipe for Coconut or Almond Yogurt gives you options, including a combination of the two milks.
Fragrant and delicious, rich with chunks of fresh fennel bulb, leeks and baby greens, this whole foods, gluten free, vegan recipe for red lentil soup with fennel and leeks is another favorite in my kitchen. It's a great soup for spring and fall; it is light and comforting at the same time and perfect for a cool evening.
It's artichoke season in SoCal and one of my very favorite ways to eat this member of the thistle family is as a chunky, herb scented Artichoke Spread. It's great on bread, with crudite, perched atop fish or poultry, or even as a sandwich filling. Unlike the cheese-laden artichoke dip recipes we often see, this one is light, clean, and truly tastes like artichokes. Best of all, it's very easy to make.
I occasionally serve shrimp or lobster and it is always a welcome sight at our table. Shrimp are a low fat, nutrient dense food, and are quite easy to prepare, especially if you buy them already peeled.
Ocean conservationists are very concerned about "bycatch", the millions of pounds of adolescent fish that die during shrimp fishing, and which would otherwise be allowed to grow to maturity as a viable source of food. That said, please buy eco-friendly shrimp whenever possible.
Shrimp are warming and sweet, good for mother's milk production, and strengthening for our qi (vital energy).
Ginger Sautéed Shrimp are easy to prepare and can travel effortlessly from a simple weeknight meal to a festive dinner party.
Photo by Jen Hoy