Dipping Into a Healthier New Year

If you’re looking for salt, sugar or fat then our culture is rife with choices and temptations.  You can easily acquire all the salt, sugar and fat you would like most anywhere you go.  But January often brings thoughts of trying to cut back on these tried and true sensations.  I find that it is helpful to me to replace, not simply extinguish behaviors or foods that are problematic.  Exploring fabulous new flavors is a good way to open the palate to alternatives to salt, sugar and fat.  If you can also throw more vegetables into your life in the mix, well, that my friends is a win-win taste and nutrition sensation!

You may recall that I recently shared a GF carrot cake with the notion of shoving more vegetables into a sweet treat.  By the same token (and the same vegetable) I’d like to share a way to shove more vegetables into your dip 🙂  In addition this recipe utilizes an even more simple version of harissa which we introduced in a post several summers ago.  Harissa is a North African spicy condiment that makes mere carrots (and other things) something exotic and exciting.

The carrot dip comes from Vegetarian Times, June 2013.  You will need tabil spice mix to make your own harissa, or if you live in a cosmopolitan place, perhaps you can find harissa in a store.  I make tabil spice mix to use in this dish and others and in fact it made a nice gift for some friends and family this Holiday season.  The tabil recipe is available on our old post here.  Harissa is really easy to make from tabil and chili garlic sauce.

Short cut harissa:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (I use vietnamese)
1 Tbsp tabil

Mix ingredients together

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And here is my very slight variation on the recipe for Carrot Dip with Crushed Walnuts (and Black Olives)

1.5 lbs of carrots washed and chopped (I did not peel)
3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped in half
1 tsp ground coriander (the original recipe has instructions for roasting and grinding fresh seeds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp harissa
1/2 cup chopped / toasted walnuts
the original used black olives as a garnish.  I did not.

Cover the carrots and garlic by 2 inches with salted water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 or 20 minutes or until the carrots are very tender.
Place everything but the walnuts in a food processor and pulse to a smooth consistency.Serve with walnuts on top with crackers / pita bread, other veggies or on a sandwich.

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20150103_175604-001And if you or someone you know is interested in changing the way you eat ….. and improving health or well-being via diet, Little Sis and I have published an e-book that can help!

“Better nutrition is a goal for many people. This book provides sensible, achievable steps that guide families or individuals in the transition to a healthier diet. The authors are 2 sisters who, using their experience as a nurse and a teacher, guided their own families to accept a real food diet. The results they saw in improved health, weight management and behavior, along with the delicious recipes they created (and include in the book) have helped make the changes both welcome and permanent. Humor, encouragement, economy and common sense carry the reader through reflections and actions for sustainable change, one baby step at a time.”

Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals

by the Sis Sisters – and if you’ve been longing to know our real names, they are listed at the link 😉

Even Saucier – shortcut Harissa, North African Delight

I know I talk a lot about sauces, which of course makes me very saucy.  And here’s proof of the familial sauciness which abounded at the beach!

931297_585369751496232_988105993_n  How come Little Sis is taller than me?  She’s wearing high flip flops….  Yeah – that must be it!

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Shoes or no shoes…. and there was a lot of no shoes during our week at the beach, we ate really well.  We didn’t go out to eat.  We took turns cooking and it was so delightful to plan, share and partake of a week of delicious healthy food with my wonderful family.  I wanted to do something special for them (Little Sis made an incredible plant-based, gluten free birthday cake for me- she is so wonderful!!) and so I prepared ahead of time to cut down on prep time.  In so doing, I have discovered a new (to me) spice mix and sauce that promise to dress up many healthy, veggie-heavy meals in the future.

We went North African one night and I want to share the tabil (a spice blend) and the harissa (which I found a great shortcut for – as we are a little short on North African sauce stores in my neck of the woods) that made the dish so special. Continue reading