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It's turning out to be a hot, hot, hot summer, and if you're looking to beat the heat, I’ve got just the recipe to cool you down.  Cherry Chocolate Nice-Cream. Need I say more? Well, perhaps I should clarify for those of you who are new to the term "nice-cream", which is a quick DIY dairy-free banana-based ice-cream.  It's essentially the easiest, tastiest and possibly healthiest way to make ice-cream at home. 

I’m super excited to share this recipe for a couple reasons. Firstly, I’ve been making this one a lot at my cooking lessons and sharing photos on my Instagram stories. Needless to say, I had lots of requests and it's about time I share this with those of you who haven't been able to attend the lessons. 

Secondly,  this is the first of many upcoming projects that I'll be doing with my friend Ana Tavares. You might remember seeing her as a guest blogger, or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon her Instagram where she posts stunning food photography. If you speak Portuguese you may have discovered her vegetarian food blog or cookbook (which has been hugely successful in Brazil).  Ana took the photos for this post and we plan to collaborate in the coming months to create more great culinary content in both English and Portuguese.

Scroll down to learn how to make Cherry Chocolate Nice-Cream and stay tuned as we’ll be sharing another recipe collab next week.



CHERRY CHOCOLATE NICE-CREAM

Makes 3 - 4 servings

Ingredients: 

4 overripe bananas
1/3 cup cocoa powder or raw cocao powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Non-dairy milk of your choice, optional
1/4 - 1/3 cup frozen dark sweet cherries or sour cherries depending on your taste
Optional topping: unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions: 

Chop the bananas into small rounds and freeze them overnight on parchment lined baking tray.

Add all ingredients - except cherries and coconut flakes - to a food processor or high-speed blender.   Process until completely smooth (similar to a soft serve consistency). If you find your blender isn’t strong enough to handle the frozen banana you may need to let them thaw a bit and/or add a bit of non-dairy milk to get things going. 

Once you've reached a nice, smooth texture, add the cherries, then pulse for a minute or so or until the cherries are evenly distributed, but still a bit chunky. 

For the best texture you’ll want to enjoy your nice-cream immediately, but you can  freeze leftovers and thaw again before serving.  When serving, top your nice-cream with whole frozen cherries and unsweetened coconut flakes. 

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I've been making tons of Green Power Bowls these days. These have been very well received by my private clients and at cooking lessons.  I have been posting photos of these bowls a lot in my Instagram stories and I figured it was finally time to share the recipe on my blog. 

Although it may seem elaborate, these kinds of bowls are actually quite easy to make.  It requires a little prep, chopping and sautéing of the veggies, putting together the dressing, and making the noodles.  If you are a soba noodle newbie you'll want to pay attention to a few things. Pure buckwheat noodles are gluten free, but you may come across some varieties of soba noodles that are a mix of buckwheat and wheat. The blended variety is much less expensive. If you are celiac or gluten intolerant make sure you seek out the 100% buckwheat noodles. When using buckwheat noodles of any kind, I always cook them according to the package directions (usually for about 5 - 8 minutes on a simmer). When they are fully cooked I transfer them to a colander immediately and give them a very good rinse under cold water. This will remove any excess starch.   By the way, if you don't have soba noodles on hand or if you don't want to use them, you can also swap out the soba noodles for rice noodles, quinoa, or any other grain or noodle of your choice. 

I also wanted to mention that this recipe is really a guideline.  As I said above, you don't need to use soba noodles, you can use something else. Also, feel free to swap in kale for spinach, or maybe some bok choy. You may also decide to add in chickpeas or tofu instead of the edamame.  The sauce is the pièce de résistance and no matter what you put in your bowl, it'll taste good as long as you're using the sauce. 

Scroll down to get the full recipe and if you make it, please tag me on social media. I love seeing your photos! 

GREEN POWER BOWLS WITH SOBA NOODLES

Yields 4 to 6  servings

Sauce: 

1/4 cup natural peanut butter, tahini, or sunflower seed butter
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1 - 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4  - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water, or more, if needed to loosen the sauce

Noodles:

16 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Vegetables:

1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
6 - 8 cups assorted vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, & spinach
1 small bunch basil
2 cups shelled edamame, thawed

Toppings (optional): 

Hemp hearts & sliced green onions

Directions:

Wash and chop cauliflower & broccoli (approximately 6 - 8 cups in total) into bite sized pieces. Wash spinach and pat to dry or use salad spinner. Pick basil leaves off the stems (discard stems), wash leaves, and gently pat to dry.  Set aside. 

In large measuring cup or medium sized mixing bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients, except the water. Stir until well combined (you could also use a blender if you're looking for a very smooth sauce) and add enough water to thin the sauce down so that it’s pourable.  Set aside. 

Cook noodles according to the package. Drain, rinse, and toss with sesame oil. Set aside.

Warm the sesame oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook for a couple minutes, just until they start to soften. Add the heartier vegetables - cauliflower & broccoli - cook until tender. Add the edamame and warm for a minute or two. Add the spinach and basil towards the end of cooking and allow them to wilt (about 2 minutes). 

To create your bowls: add a portion of soba noodles and a big scoop cooked vegetables to a bowl.  Top your bowl with a drizzle the sauce. Alternatively, you can add the sauce to the pan with the vegetables to heat the sauce. Before serving, top with a sprinkling of hemp hearts and any remaining green onions. These bowls can be eaten warm or cold.  

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Seaweed has become more and more popular these days. It has been featured in prominent and well respected blogs, magazines, and media outlets as a top food trend, and chefs around the world are finding new and exciting ways to incorporate seaweed into their menus. It's also been touted for its many health benefits and is a rising star in the world of sustainable foods. 

What exactly is seaweed?   

Seaweed is an umbrella term for an entire group of macroalgae and microalgae that live in salt water, brackish water, or fresh water.

There are three main varieties of seaweed: Green algae, such sea lettuce. Brown algae which includes kombu/kelp,  wakame, arame, and hijiki. Red algae includes well-known varieties such as nori, dulse, and hana tusnomata just to name a few. 

Cultivation

Depending on the variety of seaweed, it may be harvested wild or using various cultivation systems (seaweed farming). Cultivation can occur onshore using large tanks, inshore (close to land), or offshore (in deeper waters). In some cases it may be handpicked, collected using nets, or harvested mechanically.  

When it's harvested seaweed is processed immediately to avoid spoilage. Generally seaweed is rinsed with clean salt water (fresh water is damaging to seaweed) and dried in the sun or using drying equipment or facilities. Once dried, seaweed is vacuum sealed to prolong freshness and quality. 

Seaweed and the Environment

Cultivating sea vegetables in the oceans may offer the environment healthy benefits through reducing ocean acidification and purifying the water around them. Cultivation is also sustainable as it reduces the risk of over-harvesting wild species, and it is a food source that does not require feed, fertilizer, or land to grow.

Nutrient Profile

Seaweed is an extremely nutritious food. It's rich in vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by the body. It also contains antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and contains essential fatty acids and essential amino acids.

Macronutrients:
Depending on the variety, seaweed can contain anywhere form 5 - 45 % protein.  It also contains a significant amount of dietary fibre (anywhere from 30 to 60 % when dry) and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Micronutrients:
Seaweed contains vitamins including A, B1, B3, B6, C, and E. It also contains minerals and trace elements including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, chromium, fluoride, and iodine. 

Health Benefits

Potential health benefits of seaweed: helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels; may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease; helps with weight management; supports thyroid function;  may be protective against some forms of cancer; and more!

How much should you eat to maximize the health benefits? Since seaweed is extremely nutrient dense, you only need to consume small quantities to reap the benefits.  For the average adult the recommended daily intake is 0.2 to 0.35 oz or 5 to 10 g of dried seaweed. If you plan on using seaweed therapeutically, please consult with a medical professional. 

Culinary Uses

Seaweeds are know for their salty, briny and distinctive umami flavour.  Depending on the variety, it can be enjoyed dried or fresh, roasted, cooked, stir-fried, marinated, used in teas, soup stocks or bouillons,  dips and spreads, used as garnish or salt replacement, and as a thickening agent. It's highly uncommon find fresh seaweed in North America. Depending on the type of seaweed you're cooking with you may need to rehydrate it by submerging it in water before use. 

Although the options are endless, here are a few ways you can incorporate seaweed into your diet: wakame in miso soup; kombu in dashi or when cooking beans or grains (to increase digestibility & add nutrients); nori for sushi or toasted to make a crispy snack; agar agar (a gelatinous substance derived from algae) to make jams and jellies; or dulse sprinkled in salads soups, stews or pan fried to create a plant-based alternative to bacon; etc.

Note: dried seaweed expands significantly when rehydrated, with an increase of 8 - 10 times in weight depending on the variety.

Choosing & Sourcing Seaweed

Although it may be tempting, do not harvest wild seaweed yourself. Proper harvesting techniques are essential in maintaining the health of the plant and its surrounding environment.  

You can purchase seaweed in most natural food stores, Asian grocers, and sometimes even in well stocked grocery chains. If possible, choose sustainably sourced and traceable seaweed. 

If you're looking to add more seaweed to your diet, I have a few recipes on my blog that may be of interest to you. Check out my Dulse Sunflower Seed & Walnut PâtéSuperfood Kale Salad (with seaweed), and Kaiso Seaweed Salad (featuring hana tsunomata). 

References:
Ocean Greens: Explore the World of Edible Seaweed & Sea Vegetables, by Lisette Kreisher & Marcel Schuttelaar

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Last month I joined forces with my pals at Pure Kitchen, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant here in Ottawa, to create a delicious dish that would showcase their grab-n-go ranch dressing. I received tons of great feedback from people who've tried the recipe and I'm excited to share it with you! Scroll down to get the full scoop. 

TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATOES

Yields 3 - 4 servings

Ingredients: 

3 small to medium sized sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch swiss chard (red, green, or rainbow), stems & leaves remove, finely chopped
1 red onion, small dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup hemp hearts
1 cup black beans (or other canned/cooked bean of choice)
Sea salt & black pepper
Lacto-fermented sauerkraut, for garnish
Micro greens of your choice, for garnish
Pure Kitchen's ranch dressing or store bought or homemade dressing of your choice  (if you will be DIY'ing, I recommend my Buddha Bowl tahini dressing)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, bake the sweet potatoes, whole, for about 30 minutes, or until soft enough to easily pierce the flesh with a fork. Cut potatoes in half, length-wise, and let cool slightly. 

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the onions, chard stems and a big pinch of sea salt and sauté for a few minutes. When the onions are translucent, stir in the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the chard leaves. Cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until the chard is just softened, but not browned. Set aside in bowl.

Using a spoon, scoop the flesh of the potatoes, leaving enough for the skin to hold its boat-shape. Put the scooped flesh into the bowl with the chard. Add the hemp hearts and mix thoroughly, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Refill the sweet potato skins with the chard mixture. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

To serve: Add two sweet potato halves to a plate, sprinkle with approximately 1/3 cup beans, and garnish with sauerkraut and micro greens.  Add a big drizzle of either the Pure Kitchen ranch dressing or a dressing of your choice. Enjoy! 

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Yesterday I was invited to be part of CBC Radio show "D is for Dinner" here in Ottawa. I was asked to talk about seaweed and my upcoming seaweed workshop happening this Saturday at NU Grocery.  During the show, the host Alan Neal tried dulse (seaweed) on its own and he also tried a Dulse, Sunflower Seed & Walnut Pâté that I made — and he loved both! CLICK HERE to listen to the full recording of the show, or scroll down for the Pâté recipe. 

By the way, if you're in Ottawa, you can buy Mermaid Fare dulse at all Kardish Health Food Centre locations, The Table Vegetarian Restaurant, and NU Grocery. If you're outside of Ottawa, please visit the Mermaid Fare website to order online or find a retail location near you! 

DULSE, SUNFLOWER SEED, WALNUT PÂTÉ

Ingredients: 

1 cup walnuts
1.5 cups cup raw sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1/3 cup whole leaf dulse
1/3 cup celery, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoon freshly chopped dill or 2 tbsp dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Water, if needed, during processing

Directions: 

Start off by soaking the walnuts and sunflower seeds together in warm water for at least 30 minutes.

Dice the red onion very small, about ¼ inch dice, and add to small bowl. Then pour over the red wine vinegar. Set aside.

To prepare the dulse, quickly warm it in a cast iron pan for about 1 minute – do not let it burn! Remove from the heat, let it cool, and crush it into flakes. 

Dice the celery the same size as the onion, and roughly chop parsley, dill, and mix together with the onions, lemon juice,  and dulse flakes in a medium sized bowl. 

Drain and rinse the walnuts and sunflower seeds. Using a food processor or high powered blender, blend the walnuts and sunflower seeds together until the oil starts to show on the bowl and it becomes similar to nut butter consistency; about 2-3 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water, and mix again. 

Combine the walnut and sunflower seed mixture with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy immediately in lettuce wraps or tortillas, with crackers, in sandwiches, or in a salad with vegetables and a dressing of your choice.

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This is one of  my top salads of all time and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you. Since so many of you have tried it and have asked me for the recipe, I figured it was time to share it with the masses.  

Before we get into the recipe, I'm going to address the elephant in the room. I know there's lots of controversy around the word "superfood". Isn't it just hyperbole or marketing used to sell products? Yes, but also no.  Let's take a quick look at the definition...

“superfood/ˈsuːpəfuːd/ : A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”
— Oxford Dictionaries Online

Based on that definition, it's safe to say that most whole plant foods could be considered superfoods! You don't need to travel to remote plains or depths of a tropical rainforest to find the healthiest of health foods. If you're looking to find superfoods, simply head on over to your nearest grocery store and b-line it to the produce section where pretty much everything could qualify as a "nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being"! Simply put, readily available grocery store items like vegetables, fruits, and even nuts, seeds, beans, chickpeas, lentils and so on are, by definition, "superfoods".  How exciting is that?

With that in mind, I created a salad featuring some of the most nutrient-rich foods (both land and sea) that we can find here in Canada, put them together, and topped them with a delicious dressing. If you break it down this salad is just bursting with nutritious properties like antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, probiotics, fatty acids, plant protein, and much much more. Plus, it's also super flavourful!

By the way, if you're a newbie to seaweeds, don't be intimidated. Hana tsunomata is a mild seaweed that can easily be added into any dish. It's not overpowering and doesn't have a strong sea taste or smell like some other varieties. If you're in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Ottawa (Ontario), you can find hana tsnuomata in retail locations. However, if you're outside of these areas you'll need to order it online from Mermaid Fare.  If you don't have seaweed and you'd like to make this salad right away, you can either swap out the hana tsnunomata for other varieties of seaweeds (rehydrated wakame or sliced nori sheets would work), or you can simply omit it altogether and it'll still be tasty.

Ok, let's get this salad party started. Scroll down for the full recipe. 



AMY'S SUPERFOOD KALE SALAD

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Salad Ingredients: 

1 bunch of kale, leaves removed and finely sliced, stems discarded
1/2 of a small red cabbage, finely sliced (by hand or using a food processor) 
1 large carrot, grated (by hand or using a food processor) 
1/4 cup hemp hearts
5 oz dried hana tsunomata (seaweed), rehydrated & dried off (optional)
Sauerkraut (raw/unpasteurized)
+ olive oil, apple cider vinegar & sea salt to massage the kale

Dressing Ingredients: 

5 Tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons, apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons, dijon mustard
2 teaspoons, maple syrup
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: 

For the salad: Add the sliced kale to a large bowl and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sea salt. Using your hands, squeeze and massage the kale leaves. You’ll do this for 2 or 3 minutes until the leaves start to soften. This will make the kale easier to chew and more palatable.  Once the kale is soft, add the cabbage, and carrot to the bowl. 

To make the dressing: Using a fork or a whisk, combine apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in a bowl or medium sized measuring cup.  Slowly pour in 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and whisk, or stir, until thoroughly emulsified, then mix in sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

To assemble the salad: Drizzle the dressing over the kale, cabbage, carrot and hana tsunomata (if using). Mix the salad well to ensure that the vegetables are evenly coated. Add the hemp hearts and toss again. Serve immediately and top with as much sauerkraut as you'd like. 

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It's been my intention for ages and I'm finally getting around to sharing one of my favourite Middle Eastern recipes with you. For the uninitiated, Mujadara is a hearty, protein rich plant-based meal that is known for its humble and simple ingredients, yet is bold and rich in flavours. As the title of this blog post suggests, the base ingredients are lentils, rice, caramelized onions and spices. It's well known throughout the Middle East, and many families have their own version or special family recipe. If you search the web, you'll come across countless versions. 

It was my husband that first introduced me to this dish many years ago. He used to order Mujadara from the Lebanese restaurant in the cafeteria at his office. It became one of his favourite meals at work. Eventually he learned how to make it himself, and then I started making it too. For us, it's become a wintertime staple and below is our take on the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo by Caroline Yung

MUJADARA with CASHEW CREAM

Makes 6 servings. 

Ingredients: 

1 cup brown or green lentils (not red lentils), sorted and picked through for little rocks or other debris
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
Sea salt
3/4 cup brown rice or brown basmati rice
3 1/4 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want it to be spicy) 
Lemon wedges
Pine nuts or hemp seeds, optional, for garnish
Cashew Cream  (from my 4-Layer Dip recipe)

Directions:

Add the lentils to  medium saucepan and cover them by about an inch with cold water, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the lentils to cook until they are tender, but not mushy (about 20 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skill has warmed up, add the whole cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns . Cook the spices and stir them a bit until you start to smell the aromas as the spices "bloom" and start to darken a bit.

Then, add the onions and a few big pinches of salt and cook until they begin to caramelize . Over time the onions will begin to caramelize and they'll start tasting sweeter. If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan,  add a little water.  Once the onions are sweet and a bit crispy you'll know they are done.  This will take an upward of 15 minutes. 

Remove about half of the onions to a dish and set them aside to be used later as a garnish. Then mix in the ground cumin, the cinnamon or cinnamon stick and cayenne.

Next up, mix in the rice and toast the rice in the pan for a few minutes. Add the cooked lentils, 3 1/4 cups of water and 1 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Then cover the saucepan and cook 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done cooking once the water is completely evaporated and the rice is tender.

Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.

Taste the rice for seasoning and adjust the flavour with extra salt, pepper or spices if needed. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, pine nuts or hemp, cashew cream, and a little squeeze of fresh lemon and a side of roasted or sautéed vegetables or salad.  

This recipe is modified from the original recipe by Aarti Sequeira featured on the Food Network blog.

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I was recently featured on the amazing Pursuit of Yoginess podcast and had such a great time speaking with host Rudie J. I talked about the basics for healthy living, how I left a secure government job to pursue my current career, how I built my brand and business, what it’s like traveling for work, and more! To listen, CLICK HERE

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I love leafy greens! If you've been reading my blog, or attending any of my cooking lessons, you probably know this by now. Usually I talk about incorporating greens into soups, smoothies, stews and stir fry, but to be honest, most days I keep it really simple and I'm happy to eat a big ol' bowl of sautéed kale or collards. Is that weird? Maybe. Either way, I've been meaning to share this "recipe" with you for a while. It's very simple and can be used with whatever greens you have on hand. 

Just so you know, the term "greens" generally refers to a broad category of leafy vegetables, including collard greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale, spinach, etc.  Although most of these are readily available and packed with nutrients, they tend to be overlooked. Given the excellent nutritional profile of leafy greens, I encourage you to seek them out and try different varieties.  You can use the recipe below as a starting point. 

I  enjoy sautéed greens as a snack topped with hemp hearts, as a side dish, in a Buddha Bowl, or served with Quinoa Pilaf and chickpeas or beans. My personal favourite is to make open faced sandwiches topped with Hummus  and sautéed greens. It does get a bit messy, so a fork and knife are necessary.

Scroll past the photo of sautéed beet greens and you'll find my simple formula for Sautéed Garlicky Greens. Enjoy! 

SAUTÉED GARLICKY GREENS  

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch greens of your choice (kale, spinach, collards, arugula, chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc.)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves, garlic, minced
  • Fresh lemon juice or vinegar of your choice, to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Directions: 

To prepare the greens, give them a thorough wash, and then chop or rip the leaves into bite sized pieces.  If you are using kale, collards or chard, cut away the stems first. You can use the stems in your sauté as well, just be sure to slice them into small pieces. For less hearty greens like arugula or spinach, there’s no need to separate the stems. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan on medium. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until slightly golden. (If you’re using the stems, add them to the pan at the same time as the garlic.)

Add the greens and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth, if needed, to keep the pan moist. 

For hearty greens, like kale or collards, cook them until they are tender, but still green in colour — this can take about 5 to 7 minutes.  For softer, more delicate greens, like spinach or arugula, cook until they are wilted — this may only take a minute or two. 

Finally, add a big squeeze of lemon juice or a few splashes of vinegar to your greens. I personally love apple cider vinegar, but use whatever you like!  Season with salt and pepper and then serve immediately. 

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