Happy Wednesday  everyone! Hope summer has been treating you well. It’s been hot and dry, and our poor lawn would love a good shower. On the upside: no bug bites for five whole days!

I’m combining my usual Flavor of the Week I normally post on Mondays with Wednesday’s WIAW sponsored by the wonderful Jenn at Peas and Crayons, so the Flavor of the Week is…PINEAPPLE!

There’s lots of ways to enjoy this bromelian beauty, and not just in fruit salads or pina coladas. Today I’ll be sharing a delicious and refreshing drink that not only helps beat the summer heat, but aids in digestion and supplies your body with lots of nutrients including calcium, protein, and Vitamin C.

Today I had a rather healthy appetite, so after my morning exercise I started the day with a pretty good breakfast:

Coffee, fried egg, toast, and fruit salad with a little chopped tomato sprinkled with a tiny pinch of salt (try it, it’s good!)

Here’s a close-up of the fruit salad, see the tomatoes? And tiny grains of salt on the grapes? Tasty!

Just a few pieces of fruit chopped up makes a great fruit salad. Add some chopped tomato and a teeny pinch of salt and you made it even better!

I was hungry sooner than I thought (2 1/2 hours later.) Lunch was leftover fish with orange-shoyu sauce with green beans and rice:

Fish with orange-shoyu sauce, green beans, rice & apple slices with Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze tea.

Later on I was STILL hungry so snacked on some blue corn chips and a nice, big medjool date (no photo.)

Work has been a bit hectic the past few days, and I didn’t feel like cooking but wanted some good comfort food. My husband and I checked out The Hitchin’ Post Restaurant, just a few miles from where we are. Everything on the menu sounded great, but I decided on their Hitchin’ Post favorite, Seafood Dijon (sp?). It was served hot n’ fresh from the oven with the smell of buttery, garlicky goodness wafting up from the dish:

Seafood in a butter-garlic-wine sauce topped with a Parmesan crust and baked ’till bubbly!

If you can imagine two plump scallops the size of marshmallows, two pieces of succulent shrimp, tender flaky pieces of halibut and chunks of sweet crab meat simmered in a butter-garlic-wine sauce…that is what melted my socks off at dinner! :) It was such a treat, and I savored every bite. But after such a heavy meal, I needed something to help ease my stomach and satisfy my sweet tooth. We didn’t order dessert, but I came home and made something that would be the perfect finish: pineapple lassi.

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, and my Uncle Kenneth (the one who grows coffee) grows white pineapple that is so incredibly sweet, you’d think it was infused with sugar. But no matter what variety you have on hand, all pineapples contain an enzyme, bromelian, that helps with digestion by breaking down proteins in your gut. Pairing that with the beneficial bacteria found in dairy yogurt and you’ve got a delicious digestive aid.

Quick, easy and refreshing Pineapple Lassi.

Pineapple Lassi

Ingredients:

6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with active cultures
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, core removed
1/4 cup fresh chopped orange, about 3-4 segments (optional)
1 teaspoon orange-agave syrup or regular agave syrup or honey
1/4 cup water (optional)

Directions:

Put everything except water in a blender and blend on medium to medium-high until smooth. Add water to thin, if needed. Add more syrup to taste. Garnish with fruit and mint (that one in the middle is pineapple mint!) Makes about 18 ounces.

Tasty and refreshing, this pineapple lassi is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

What’s your favorite drink to beat the summer heat?

I have an interesting story today, and maybe some of you can relate. The other morning I woke up to what I thought was a starling flying into our bedroom, hitting the window, then flying out. A couple seconds later the same thing happens: little creature flies in, hit the window, flies back out. Our cats weren’t around, probably waiting in the kitchen to be fed, otherwise they’d be waiting for that right moment to snatch it out of the air.

I walked out of the bedroom and saw a little creature on the floor at the end of the hall: a BAT! I looked up at the gaping hole in our ceiling so knew it had to come from somewhere. I had to keep this creature from flying away, so I took my shirt and threw it over the little bat. Though it didn’t fly away, it was able to crawl away, so I went looking for a container of some kind and found a plastic bin, emptied it, turned it over on the bat and trapped it that way. Then I went to put on another shirt.

Bats are so tiny, and this one (I read it was a “little brown bat”) is common across the US. Its wingspan would be the length of my forearm and it weighs only as much as a couple of chocolate chip cookies! Despite its small stature as well as its unusual cuteness, these brown bats have a LOT of tiny sharp teeth, perfect for catching and holding onto insects on the fly (pun intended.)

 

NOTE: Below are pictures of bats and I shrunk them down a bit, just in case you don’t like them. But if you do, you can click on them to see a bigger photo:

 

This bat would easily fit in the palm of your hand.

Such shiny, silky hair…what a contrast against it’s wrinkly hairless wings.

This being my first bat encounter, I called my sister up and asked her what I should do with it. She came over (her girls wanted to see it) and we took it to the upper slope of our property where the blueberries are struggling to grow. Wolfie, now having been fed breakfast, followed us in the hopes of chasing whatever it was that made all that scratching noises. My sister suggested to put it somewhere that it would be safe. With Wolfie being securely held back, I put it on a log with some big nooks and crannies for it to crawl into and sleep the day away. The only predators around here would be woodchucks and cats, so the bat had no worries about being attacked again.

And that’s the end of my bat story!

So, now that my story is done, I need to think of a way to segue into my Flavor of the Week recipe, but there’s nothing that comes to mind which can connect bats to oranges. Unless I was talking about a fruit bat, then maybe I would have an opening there.

Anyway, here is a super easy recipe that is extremely versatile, and you have the option of using orange or ginger, as well as agave or honey. I used it in my orange-shoyu sauce to make a nice glaze for chicken, use it as a topping for cake, in your tea, on peanut butter, or even on ribs like my friend Jan did with some ginger agave syrup (olive oil, lemon, syrup…yum!) Any way you have it, you will enjoy it.

The zest will taste like candied orange peel.

Orange Agave Syrup / Ginger Agave Syrup (inspired by veggienook.com)

4 oz light agave syrup or honey (for ginger syrup use dark amber agave)
zest from 1 orange (or 1/2″ piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly)

In a small saucepan combine agave or honey and zest or ginger. Bring to low simmer over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in airtight glass jar.

Orange agave syrup. Compare this to the orange honey syrup below. See the difference?

Orange honey syrup is more cloudy than the orange agave syrup with tiny air bubbles stuck at the surface. The smell reminds me of flavored wheat beers.

Ginger agave syrup: great as a topping for carrot cake or your favorite barbecue ribs.

Has any of you had any “wild animal” encounters in your home? How did you handle it? (only happy endings, please!)

 

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! I hope you all are enjoying your Independence Day, especially you, Jenn, at Peas and Crayons! Thanks again for hosting another fun-filled episode of WIAW. Our theme this month is Fun, Food and Fitness, and I have a nice way to start it off, as well as a delicious dinner recipe to go with this week’s Flavor of the Week, orange!

Last week I was having fun with new food experiments (like raw chocolate chip cookies) but by the time Friday came along I was ready to take a break from the kitchen and take in some new scenery. After a quick breakfast of coffee and orange date cake we headed up to Ithaca and visited Buttermilk Falls State Park. I was looking forward to this trip for a while and even though there wasn’t much water coming down the falls, it was still beautiful:

Beautiful day at Buttermilk Falls State Park.

The trail takes you right by the creek so you can cool off your hot tootsies!

The trails were nice and shady, but going up numerous stairs in the beginning proved to be a good workout (especially with a bunch of noisy teenagers behind you!) After enjoying the numerous waterfalls, pools, and overall scenic splendor of the park, we headed back to town and popped in to The Mate Factor Cafe & Juice Bar in Ithaca. Unfortunately, they had THE worst espresso in the world. It smelled okay and looked okay, but it tasted like they put half a lemon in it.

THE lousiest espresso in the world.

My tofu-avocado wrap wasn’t bad, though they did go heavy on the Kalamata olives, which made it kinda salty:

Tofu avocado wrap, no onions.

Couldn’t finish it, folded it up like a  little purse and took it home.

We got home early so spent a couple hours doing yard work until around 8:30pm (these long days are awesome!) Dinner was leftover lunch for me and  leftover dinner (below) for my husband:

Saturday night special: spelt crust pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and fresh basil

In keeping with this week’s Flavor of the Week theme, I wanted to share this recipe for Fish with Orange-Shoyu* ** Sauce I made for dinner  on Monday. I came across a Teriyaki Orange Fish Filet recipe that sounded pretty good, so I just modified a few things, including the name (I hope it’s okay that I did this.)  The fish is simmered in a light sauce of orange and ginger, perfect for the walleye we were lucky enough to get from my sister (her husband’s a great fisherman!) It’s a quick and easy meal, and of course, healthy!

*shoyu = soy sauce. Won’t sound as good if I called it ‘Orange Soy Sauce Sauce’!

**After moving to NY from HI, there are certain words I have to start using in conversation, like ‘soy sauce’ instead of shoyu, ‘flip flops’ instead of slippers, and ‘creek’ (or ‘crick’) instead of gulch. My husband also referred to the continental US as ‘the mainland’ at work the other day, and people were like, “What are you talking about?”

This light, delicate orange sauce is infused with fresh ginger.

Fish with Orange-Shoyu Sauce (modified from Teriyaki Orange Fish Filets at grouprecipes.com)
serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb fish filets, such as walleye, but use any fish you like
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1″ piece ginger, sliced thinly or grated
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup or 2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
4 stalks green onion, chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
zest of 1 orange
4 cups broccoli florets
2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas

Directions:

Season fish with salt, set aside.

Mix orange juice through agave syrup. Stir in sliced onions and green onion. Add half of orange zest.

In a large frying pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add fish, cook for 1 minute. Spoon half of the orange mixture over fish, letting it simmer before adding more sauce to pan. Cook fish for 2 minutes, turn over and pour remaining orange mixture over fish, adding half of orange zest. Simmer high and cook for a minute then add broccoli and peas. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer for 3 minutes.

Serve with brown rice and garnish with remaining orange zest and green onion. Enjoy!

These large walleye filets are enough for 4 people…looks like we’ll be having leftovers. :)

Have the rice cooked ahead of time for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Low-fat and packed with protein and vitamins, this dish is perfect for a post-workout meal.

What are some of your favorite hiking spots? What’s your favorite post-hike meal? Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t these oranges look delicious? (Image source: http://www.growcitrus.com)

Yes, it’s the old knock-knock joke that could go on and on until you decide to say ‘orange’! One of my favorites to tell, but not to listen to. ;)

It’s been a couple years since I bought oranges, much less ate them. When I started following the Blood Type Diet, there were some fruits that I was supposed to avoid: mango, cantaloupe, papaya, tomatoes, and oranges, for example. I did well on that diet, and some foods I could easily do without…like oranges.

But it wasn’t until last week when I made a batch of  raw Orange Cranberry Oatmeal scones* that I felt like I had to incorporate this fruit into my diet once again. It wasn’t the flavor of these scones that did it (which were awesome, btw) but the fragrant, vibrant, juicyness of the fruit when you slice it, and especially when you zest it. The navel oranges I got were the size of grapefruits, and were incredibly sweet and juicy. Each of these oranges would yield 8 ounces of fresh-squeezed juice, plus some nice bits of pulp that I like to chew on.

Long after eating the scones, the fresh orange taste was still stuck in my head and I needed more of an orange fix. I decided to modify my wheat-free carrot-apple-ginger cake into an orange date cake. This being the first orange cake I made, I think it was a success! After ten minutes in the oven, the kitchen already smelled phenomenal. The taste and aroma from the crazy amount of orange zest made this an incredibly fragrant cake (if our neighbors lived any closer, their noses would be pressing up against my windows!) It’s a moist cake, heavier than a regular wheat flour cake, and I felt that the coconut oil had a more neutral taste than vegetable oil. I used only 1 cup of sugar compared to 2 cups normally called for in a cake recipe, but you won’t miss it. The dates, orange juice and apples give it more than enough sweetness.

*from Judita Wignall’s Going Raw cookbook

This not-too sweet orange date cake is great for breakfast, at home or on the go.

Orange Date Cake
It’s important that you use fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice! 

7 medjool dates, pitted, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice, with pulp
zest from 2 extra-large navel oranges (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup peeled, cored, finely chopped apple
1/4 cup orange zest (from 2 jumbo navel oranges)
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
additional zest for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Soak the dates in orange juice for 15-2o minutes (you can also soak it overnight in the fridge)

In a large mixing bowl (I use my standing mixer bowl,) combine spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & brown sugar. Stir in shredded carrots and orange zest, breaking apart clumps with your fingers.

Make a well in the center of your flour mix. Add eggs and coconut oil, beating well then slowly incorporating flour. Stir in date and orange juice.

Use the following baking times, or bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean

bundt pan: 33-35 minutes
9″ cake pan: 33-35 minutes
paper-lined muffin tins: 18 minutes
mini bundt cake pan (cake pictured below): 25 minutes

Fresh oranges make all the difference.