Jewel of India – Restaurant review

Tucked off the intersection of Broad and South Street sits an Indian restaurant cooking up family recipes from scratch.

jewel of india restaurant sign

When you say a restaurant is a hidden gem, it typically means it’s a place not many people know about, whose reputation does not do it’s food justice. In this case all of that remains true, though perhaps even more so in the fact that Jewel of India is not so easy to find. It’s not a restaurant you’d see walking around the streets of downtown. It takes a bit of seeking out. Though I think the journey makes the gem all the more precious, does it not?

We arrived for dinner at Jewel of India, met with an unfussy dining room and comfy booths. A wave of spice hits you as you walk in the door. It’s the kind of smell that makes you go, “This food is going to be GOOD.”

butter chicken
Butter chicken – a popular favorite.

Jewel of India is a family-owned restaurant, cooking up family recipes. When I say everything is made in house — I mean everything. Yogurt, sauces, paneer (a type of cheese), all of the roti (breads), curry and spice blends — it’s all handcrafted according to family recipes. Not only does the time, dedication and care shine through in the food, but it’s atmospheric. This is a homecooked, made-with-love meal that happens to be served in a restaurant.

The meal starts with Papadum, a traditional type of crispy bread dotted with cumin seeds. Enjoy them with the provided sauces, a spiced cilantro sauce and a sweeter sauce tinged with molasses.

Appetizers include Samosas as big as your fist, a platter of Onion Bhaji (a kind of onion fritter), and chicken pakora spiced with ginger and garlic paste. The Samosas are more than generous in size, filled with peas and potatoes. The onion bhaji are fried in sunflower oil, rendering them deliciously crispy without being heavy. No canola oil is used here, and Jewel of India’s emphasis on quality ingredients is a commitment you can taste.

onion bhaji and vegetable samosas
Onion Bhaji (left) and Vegetable Samosas (right)

For entrees the options are extensive, but the menu doesn’t feel overwhelming in size. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, and the cooks are accommodating to any dietary needs you may have. Jewel of India uses a housemade almond, pistachio, and cashew cream base for their cooking so dairy dishes can be easily made dairy-free. Vegan and vegetarian dishes are cooked separately from meat dishes, ensuring utmost purity in every meal.

I enjoyed the Bengan Bhartha entree, fresh eggplant roasted in the tandoor over charcoal and then cooked curry style with fresh tomatoes. The depth of flavor, the layering of spices created in each dish is a cornerstone of great Indian cuisine, one Jewel of India executes with ease.

bengan bhartha and basmati rice
Bengan Bhartha and complimentary Basmati Rice

Now, I must say when we saw the small size of the entree bowls, we both thought, “That’s not very much.” I promise you, neither of us were able to finish our entrees. Don’t doubt their small size, the flavor is mighty and extremely filling! Order a side (or two) of naan to enjoy with your meal. Choose from butter naan, garlic naan, or my personal favorite, jalapeno naan.

jalapeno naan
Jalapeno Naan — Yes it’s as tasty as it sounds

The Pickle Tray is essential with every meal, including a chutney that can vary seasonally (we enjoyed the Sweet Lemon chutney) and a type of pickle relish, finely minced pickled vegetables that are at once bitter, savory and a hint sweet.

pickle tray
Pickle Tray – half eaten because I got carried away and forgot to take a picture sooner 🙂

For dessert, try Kheer, basmati rice cooked with sweet milk, cream, nuts and raisins or Gulab Jamun, freshly made savory cheese balls, deep-fried to a rosy brown in purified butter and gently cooked in light, rose flavored syrup. Only sugar in the raw is used in desserts, no overly processed white sugar.

kheer
Kheer for dessert

Truly, the only negative I have to offer is the fact that I didn’t visit Jewel of India sooner. Since every aspect of your meal is house-made, expect to spend some time at the restaurant. By no means is this a “quick dinner” spot. Instead, it’s a go-slow, try new things, and take time to savor type of restaurant. Serving up perhaps the best Indian food on the Central Coast, I believe Jewel of India is well worth the wait.

For hours of operation, visit the Jewel of India website.

Follow Jewel of India on Instagram!

Easy Kale Chips – Vegan, GF

Satisfyingly crunchy, deliciously cheesy, and ready in about 30 minutes. Can you think of a better way to eat your greens? These Kale Chips are super easy, and vegan & gluten free.

All Kinds of Kale

This recipe uses Tuscan Kale, formally known as Lacinato Kale, which is the dark green, fiborous kale in the super market. It’s also sometimes known as Dinosaur Kale, due to it’s rough bumpy leaves which presumably look like dinosaur skin.

Curly kale is a lighter, less dense, relative of Tuscan Kale. It’s ideal for salads and eating raw, as it’s texture is closer to a hearty green like spinach.

Curly kale or Tuscan kale work for this recipe. I’d recommend using Tuscan kale as it’s heartiness makes a sturdier chip!

You can read more about the difference between Curly, Tuscan and Russian Red Kale here.

Tuscan Kale (Lacinato Kale)
Curly Kale
Russian Red Kale

The Mighty Green

Yes, kale is nutritious — but it’s also delicious! The trick to kale is to treat it differently than other leafy greens. It can be sautéed like spinach with olive oil and spices, but unlike spinach, it won’t release a whole bunch of liquid.

Massage kale in a citrus-based dressing to make it the perfect salad green. The acid in the citrus breaks down the fibrous texture of the kale, making it less dense and chewy when you eat it.

I’ll admit I was skeptical of how good kale chips would actually be. After all, they don’t seem like the best contender for a crunchy delicious chip. Thankfully, these exceeded my expectations.

They aren’t as sturdy as your typical potato chip, but do pack a satisfying crisp. The nutritional yeast gives them an irresistibly cheesy flavor. Yum.

kale chips

Easy Kale Chips – Vegan & GF

Recipe by Edible Ink – http://www.edibleink.org
Satisfyingly crunchy, deliciously cheesy, and ready in less than 30 minutes.
Use your own seasoning blend to spice it up, or make as directed for an easy, nutritious snack!
Vegan & gluten free.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 bunches tuscan kale
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 275° degrees.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove stems from kale. Shred the leaves by hand or cut with knife to make chips.
  • In a bowl mix nutritional yeast, salt and chili powder.
  • Toss kale in the bowl with seasonings.
  • Bake for 15 minutes then toss kale. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until done.
  • Cool and store in an airtight container or enjoy immediately.

Notes

  • Feel free to mix it up by adding any of your favorite seasonings or spices.
  • Though it may be tempting, refrain from adding oil to the chips. Oil adds moisture which will prevent the kale from crisping up.
Keyword gluten free recipe, kale chips, kale recipe, nutritional yeast, vegan recipe

Have you tried these kale chips? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Eat Seasonally: Spring

Hello spring! This marks the beginning of peak fruit season (which runs spring through summer) here in Central California. Leafy green vegetables make an appearance, as well as my personal favorite — the almighty artichoke. Check out this quick guide to spring produce, complete with recipes to get you started.

spring flowers

HOW TO EAT SEASONALLY

While most produce is available at grocery stores year-round, that doesn’t mean it’s best to buy it at any time. Produce that’s in season will be more flavorful (think sweeter fruits, more vibrant lettuce) AND you can source it locally. Most produce in major grocery stores is imported from other countries. That means, typically, the produce is picked before peak ripeness and sprayed with chemicals to mechanically ripen it before it lands on grocery shelves.

For the best produce, look locally. This Eat Seasonally guide is specific to the West Coast of the United States, focusing on produce that is in season in California. What’s locally available may be different in your area depending your local climate.

The easiest way to shop seasonally is to visit your local farmers markets, or farm stands. This ensures the produce is locally sourced, and is most likely picked at peak ripeness. Ideally, there will also be a variety of organic options available.

Spring season runs from Saturday, March 20 to Sunday, June 20.

blooming flowers along a path
So many beautiful flowers! So many allergies!

SEASONAL PRODUCE GUIDES

Here are some online resources to see the full list of seasonal spring produce.

Have a Plant – Full list of spring produce, not broken down by region. Read more here.

Southland Farmers Market Association – Specific to the Southern California region. View the list here.

Pick Your Own – Features a full harvest calendar for all of California. View here.

cherry blossoms
Gorgeous cherry blossoms.

SPRING FRUITS

apricots

Apricots

May to August

cherries

Cherries

Mid-May through June

honeydew

Honeydew

June to October

limes

Limes

May to October

lychee

Lychee

Late spring through early fall

mango

Mango

May through September

pineapple

Pineapple

March through July

oranges

Oranges

December to April

strawberries

Strawberries

April to July

blueberries

Blueberries

May 15 to June 30

nectarines

Nectarines

May 20 – September 15

peaches

Peaches

May 20 – September 5

SPRING VEGETABLES

artichokes

Artichokes

March through May

asparagus

Asparagus

March to April

belgian endive

Belgian Endive

September through May

chives in a garden

Chives

March to June

cucumber

Cucumber

May to August

fennel bulbs

Fennel

March to May

vidalia onions

Vidalia Onions

April to early September

spinach

Spinach

Spring

mustard greens

Mustard Greens

April

rhubarb

Rhubarb

April through July

snow peas

Snow Peas

Spring to Early Summer

7 SPRING PRODUCE RECIPES

  1. Easy Steamed Artichokes – Recipe by Edible Ink

Artichokes are hearty, succulent, and bursting with richness. Look for bigger artichokes, with more green leaves than purple. This will ensure they are mature enough to be tender, and will yield a big heart (the best part!).

Serve artichokes as a side dish, or the main event. Pair with a sundried tomato orzo and Mediterranean chickpea salad for a fresh summery plant-based dinner!

Steamed Artichokes Recipe

2. Roasted Fennel with Garlic and Herbs – Recipe by Every Last Bite

Fennel, a perennial bulb of the carrot family, has a light, sweet taste with a hint of licorice. Enjoy thinly sliced in a spring salad with spinach, toasted pine nuts and an orange vinaigrette. Roasted with savory garlic and fresh herbs, it transforms into a delicious side dish.

This recipe caramelizes the fennel, bringing out its natural sweetness to offset the sharpness of the garlic and earthiness of the herbs. Omit the parmesan to keep it dairy-free & vegan!

roasted fennel
Decadent roasted fennel

3. Mustard Greens Salad – Recipe by Farm Fresh to You

If you like spicy and aren’t afraid of a bitter green, this fresh Mustard Green salad is for you. Mustard greens are comparable to the pepperiness of a fresh beet and the bite of fresh baby arugula. Add some fresh in-season spinach, finely chopped chives, and a handful of plump blueberries to offset the bitterness.

Mustard greens are commonly served cooked, as to eliminate the bite. We think this voracious green adds quite an edge to an otherwise simple salad and is greatly enjoyable eaten with a fresh vinaigrette!

mustard greens
Gorgeous mustard greens.

4. Savory Rhubarb Salsa – Recipe by Sabrina Currie

Rhubarb may most commonly be used as a pie filling so this take on rhubarb as a salsa base is fresh and creative. Macerate the diced rhubarb in sugar and vinegar to cancel out bitterness before building layers of flavor with cilantro, jalapeno and onion.

Try this simple Savory Rhubarb Salsa with a pork tenderloin for your next spring dinner.

rhubarb - whole and chopped
Look at that beautiful rhubarb!

5. Berry Stone Fruit Crisp – Recipe by Edible Ink

This easy delicious dessert uses the best fruits of spring – berries and stone fruit! Select any combination of fruit you’d like. Try a blueberry peach crisp or get adventurous with a cherry nectarine crisp. The options are endless.

For best results, utilize the best and ripest seasonal fruits you can find. This crisp is designed to be easily adapted to whatever fruits you have on hand. Snag a variety and enjoy!

6. Decadent Peach Buckle – Recipe by Edible Ink

Fresh peaches, brown sugar, light fluffy cake. This Decadent Peach Buckle has it all! And never fear — this detailed, easy-to-follow recipe walks you through the whole process of skinning the peaches and preparing the batter.

To assemble the buckle, lay down the light cake batter in the pan first, then add your sliced peaches on top. As it bakes, the juices from the peach will soak into the cake and the batter will rise up around the peaches, creating the perfect peachy bite. Yum.

7. Strawberry Cake – Recipe by Edible Ink

Here’s an ultimate cake hack — use Krusteaz Blueberry Muffin Mix to create this delectable strawberry cake! In this simple recipe, use fresh strawberries to make your own easy strawberry milk to bolster the flavor, and moisture, of this easy cake.

Sure it may sound a little nuts, but trust, it WORKS. The muffin mix holds up well to the dozens of diced strawberries, ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout the cake and that they don’t just all sink to the bottom. Serve it up for your next spring gathering!

Strawberry Cake – Dairy Free

Simple strawberry cake made from a boxed muffin mix? Yup. Comes together in 15 minutes with the help of some homemade strawberry milk for a luxe spring cake.

Jump to Recipe
finished strawberry cake
Look at this gorgeous cake.

Cake Hack

Sure, technically I suppose you could use a white cake mix and simply ~add strawberries~. But that wouldn’t be as good as this cake. I’ll tell you why.

Packed full of one cup of fresh chopped strawberries, this cake can get heavy. All those heavy strawberries in a light, white cake? Not a good balance.

blueberry muffin mix
The base for this Strawberry Cake

This muffin mix provides a much sturdier, much heartier base to support the plethora of fresh strawberries. The strawberries stay put in the batter (not sinking to the bottom, as they’d do in a thinner, lighter batter of a regular cake) and provide fresh jammy strawberry goodness in each bite.

I recommend serving this as is, no frosting, with a side of whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream. Some fresh chopped mint would complement the strawberries well.

a slice of strawberry cake
Strawberry Cake perfection

Special Equipment (Kinda)

To make this strawberry cake, you’ll need a few special pieces of equipment.

  1. Cheesecloth
  2. Blender (or food processor)
  3. Liquid measuring cup
  4. 10″x7″ baking dish – I used this one.

These are all pretty common items. Pick up some cheesecloth at your grocery store if you don’t have any on hand. It’s relatively inexpensive and a versatile tool to have in your kitchen arsenal.

You’ll use the blender, cheesecloth and liquid measuring cup to create the strawberry milk. If you have a fat separator measuring cup (see below), use it! Rest the cheesecloth on the top strainer.

Again, if you don’t have these items, or if you just don’t feel like going through the effort of making the strawberry milk, you don’t have to. HOWEVER, I can’t guarantee the cake will be as tasty. Some things are worth the extra time, and this strawberry milk is one of them.

a fat separator
Fat Separator — Nifty, but not essential

A Note on the Strawberries

I recommend slicing your strawberries for the 1 cup measurement ahead of time. Since strawberries can vary widely in size, it will be easier to measure this first. For the 3-4 strawberries in the strawberry milk, gather your most average-sized, consistent strawberries from the lot and use for this purpose.

Taste your strawberries before using them in the cake. For best results, use the darkest, ripest and sweetest strawberries. If yours are a bit tart, that’s okay too! The sugar in the muffin mix will help compensate for that. Serve the cake with a sweet whipped cream and no one will ever know the difference. *wink*

For reference, these are the giant strawberries we have here at the fruit stands on the Central Coast. They are consistently the size of my palm and typically weigh 3 ounces each.

a giant strawberry
Behold — the king of all strawberries. Courtesy of Okui’s Farm Stand.

Strawberry Milk

Really, this cake gives you two hacks in one. The first, using the muffin mix. And the second — making your own strawberry milk.

See the instructions on the box call for 2/3 cup of water to be added to the batter. No sir. We don’t simply add water here.

Instead, we’re going to make our own fresh strawberry milk. Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it is.

Essentially, we’re going to blend our preferred milk (almond, oat, etc.) with a few strawberries. Then, to ensure the cake isn’t full of too many strawberry seeds, we strain it through cheese cloth. And voila! Strawberry milk.

Set up your cheesecloth directly over your glass measuring cup. That way you can strain and measure at the same time, stopping when you reach the 2/3 cup that the recipe calls for.

Strawberry Cake – Dairy Free

Lauren Harvey
This quick and easy strawberry cake recipe uses blueberry muffin mix as it's base. Comes together in 15 minutes, with the help of some homemade strawberry milk for a super moist, luxe spring cake.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 12 slices

Equipment

  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Cheesecloth
  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix or other boxed muffin mix
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries chopped, plus 3-4 extra whole
  • cup milk of choice almond or oat work great!
  • 2 whole eggs large is best

Instructions
 

Make the strawberry milk

  • Instead of using water like the box suggests, we're going to make a quick strawberry milk, which will help to keep the cake super moist and infuse the strawberry flavor evenly throughout.
    Making the strawberry milk is technically optional, but for best results it's recommended.
  • First, take your 3-4 whole strawberries and remove the tops. Quarter the strawberries and add to a blender (or food processor) with 2/3 cup milk.
  • Blend the berries and milk together well, ensuring there are no chunks.
  • Set up to strain the milk. This step is optional, but makes the cake smoother by removing the extra seeds.
    Place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the liquid measuring cup. You can use a fine strainer or sieve to place the cheesecloth on so it is more secure.
    Slowly pour the strawberry milk over the cheesecloth into the measuring cup, squeezing out extra liquid as necessary. Stop when the milk has reached the 2/3 cup mark on the measuring cup.

Mix the batter

  • Set the oven to 350°F. Line a 10"x7" baking dish with parchment paper. This makes it easier to remove the cake from the pan after baking.
  • Open the box of Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix. Remove the dry mix and the can of blueberries.
    Set the blueberries aside for later use. See recipe notes for ideas.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry muffin mix, vegetable oil, eggs, ⅔ cup strained strawberry milk. Mix well to combine.
  • Gently fold in the 1 cup chopped strawberries, ensuring even distribution throughout the mix.
  • Pour the batter into the pan lined with parchment.
    It may be thick. That's good! We want the batter to be thicker, because the strawberries will release their own juices as the cake cooks.
    Smooth out the batter as best you can to ensure even coverage.
  • Bake at 350° for 48 minutes, checking for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. It should come out clean.
  • Leave in the baking dish for about 20 minutes, then remove from the dish and let cool on a rack or cutting board until ready to serve.

Notes

How to use your extra can of blueberries:
  • Mixed into oatmeal.
  • Blended in a smoothie.
  • On top of ice cream.
  • In a homemade parfait with yogurt and granola.

Have you tried this strawberry cake?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

White Vanilla Buttercream

Here’s my favorite basic buttercream recipe. It’s a great starting point for any cake project, from fully decorated to a simple sheet cake.

Jump to Recipe
A simple sheet cake covered with White Vanilla Buttercream.
Here, I added some lemon zest and blue food coloring.

Patience is Key

Really, the key to a good buttercream is allowing the butter enough time to do its thing. Whipping the butter for a prolonged amount of time (either with a stand mixer or a hand mixer) is called creaming the butter. When making buttercream (this is also a trick for great cookies) it’s imperative to take the time to cream the butter first, then cream the butter with the sugar.

Doing so incorporates air into the butter, making it light and fluffy instead of heavy. Don’t rush this process! It’s crucial to achieve that creamy, light consistency.

So light and fluffy and amazing.

Decorating Tips

You can absolutely make this buttercream ahead of time. Store it in the fridge and let it come to room temperature before attempting to decorate your cake.

For those fine details, I like to make my buttercream, then immediately fill my piping bags. If I’m planning on using different colors, I’ll mix the colors, fill the bags, then store them in the fridge until ready to use.

For more details on cake decorating, checkout my birthday cake post.

I made and decorated this birthday cake for my Nana’s birthday using this buttercream recipe!

Keep it Simple

This recipe is intended to be as simple and streamlined as possible. Pick quality ingredients and you’re sure to have a delicious buttercream base for all of your creative cake creations.

Most importantly, have fun!

A spur of the moment cake I made for Earth Day!

White Vanilla Buttercream

Lauren Harvey
This White Vanilla Buttercream is the perfect base recipe for all of your decorating projects. Whether making a simple sheet cake, or a fully decorated birthday cake, this buttercream is easy to make and holds up well.
Make a few batches and add different colors for easy decorating!
Prep Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lb powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup unsalted butter (3 standard sticks), softened to room temp.
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Beat butter until soft and fluffy.
  • Incorporate powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until combined before adding more.
  • Once all powdered sugar is mixed into butter, add salt and vanilla extract.
  • Add the whipping cream in a slow steady stream with the mixer still on.

Notes

When making buttercream, it is imperative to scrape the sides of the mixer consistently, as this helps to incorporate everything evenly. Particularly if you have a mixer like mine, with a deep bowl, it is important to scrape the bottom to make sure everything is mixed in evenly.
 
Adapted from a Preppy Kitchen recipe.
Keyword buttercream

Spring Harvest Rice | Meal Prep Recipe – Vegan

This large batch rice recipe is veggie-packed, vegan and can make enough to feed you throughout the week. Substitutions included in the recipe notes!

meal prep with spring harvest rice
This recipe is great for meal prep! It makes a large batch and keeps well throughout the week.

Versatile & Meal Prep Friendly

This is a meal prep recipe that can easily be adapted to supplement different proteins and side dishes throughout the week, or to be used as is for a delicious and healthy meal prep lunch!

It’s flavor profile is flexible and truly can be made into a side dish or entrée with anything. Similar to Spanish Rice, Spring Harvest Rice uses fresh tomatoes and a plethora of vegetables and spices.

Make as is and it will yield about 10 cups of rice.

chopped vegetables for spring harvest rice
Make the recipe as written, or substitute ingredients you prefer.

Swap It Out

Not everyone likes peas and bell peppers, and that’s a-okay with me! Here’s a few substitution ideas to suit your tastes.

  • Instead of PEAS try edamame or sliced snap peas
  • Instead of BELL PEPPERS try carrots and celery
  • Instead of RICE try farro, barley, quinoa or couscous. Cook according to package directions and follow the rest of the recipe as written.

When swapping vegetables in this recipe, keep the measurements the same. This will ensure your rice comes out as tasty as possible!

Additionally, I encourage you to use simply whatever you have on hand. Even if it’s a combination of the vegetables in your fridge to match the measurements in the recipe – that’s great! You’ll prep a delicious rice dish and cut down on food waste. Win-win.

See recipe for a full list of substitutions.

Use this spring harvest rice as the base for a delicious burrito! Add roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and cheese of your choosing for an easy meal.

Spring Harvest Rice Meal Ideas

Here’s a few ways you can make Spring Harvest Rice a meal.

Vegan

Eat as is with some fried tofu (thai peanut or teriyaki would go well) and crispy balsamic-glazed roasted brussel sprouts

Vegetarian

Wrap rice with black or refried beans in a flour tortilla topped with shredded cheese for an easy vegetarian burrito.

Omnivores

Serve with rotisserie chicken for an easy weeknight dinner.

spring harvest rice on a plate
Spring Harvest Rice — look at all those veggies!

The Cooking Process

To make this rice the best it can be, the vegetables need time to simmer. Put the pot on while you’re doing other things around the house, and check it periodically. You won’t need to watch it the entire time it cooks, so it’s good to cook when you’re already at home and can peek in on it every once in a while.

Browse through the photos below to see different phases of the cooking process and the final product.

There’s no replacement for time when cooking. Each step of the recipe builds a layer of flavor, toasting the spices, sautéing the aromatics, and then adding the fresh tomatoes and allowing them to cook down. The result is a lightly spiced, flavorful rice packed with vegetables. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish.

Spring Harvest Rice (Meal Prep Recipe – Vegan)

Lauren Harvey
This is a meal prep recipe that can easily be adapted to supplement different proteins and side dishes throughout the week, or to be used as is for a delicious and healthy meal prep lunch!
It's flavor profile is flexible and truly can be made into a side dish or entrée with anything. Similar to Spanish Rice, Spring Harvest Rice uses fresh tomatoes and a plethora of vegetables and spices.
Make as is and this will yield about 10 cups of nutrient-rich rice.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Spanish
Servings 10 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups cooked rice (white or brown) 3 cups uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon each of the following herbs: oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups fresh tomato diced (subsitute canned)
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 lb frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • First, cook your rice.
    I prefer using an Instant Pot, or Rice Cooker, but you are welcome to use any method you'd like, including microwaved steamed rice (no shame in shortcuts).
    Substitute couscous, farro, or barley and cook according to package directions.
    Set aside for now.
  • In a large, heavy bottomed pot, or dutch oven over medium/medium high heat add oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and cumin. Toast briefly (a minute or less) to bolster their flavors.
    Next, add in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, or preferred cooking oil, and heat until shimmering.
  • Add diced onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and simmer uncovered over medium heat about 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked down and there is minimal liquid left in the pot.
    Simply put, it should look less like tomato sauce and more like a big pot of sautéed vegetables.
  • Incorporate the bag of frozen peas and salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and defrost the peas.
    When using frozen peas, it's best to add them at the last minute. If they cook too long, they turn mushy!
  • Add the rice 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well.
    Be sure to break up the chunks of rice to blend with the vegetables. Repeat the process until all of the cooked rice is incorporated.
    Done!

Notes

  • Substitute rice for farro, barley, quinoa, or couscous. Cook according to package directions. 
  • Combine any of your preferred spices for a custom blend. Add some cayenne if you enjoy heat, or swap basil for paprika if you prefer things more mild.
  • Substitute sliced snap peas or edamame for frozen peas, if preferred. 
  • Substitute carrots and celery for bell peppers, maintaining measurements.
Keyword easy meal prep, meal prep recipe, meal prep rice, spring harvest rice, vegan meal prep, vegetarian meal prep

Have you tried this Spring Harvest Rice? What substitutions did you make? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below!

Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian Recipe

A quick and easy recipe for hearty, delicious chickpea salad. Think of it like chicken salad, but with chickpeas and bell peppers instead of chicken and celery! Enjoy on toasted bread, over leafy greens, or on your favorite crackers.

a bowl of chickpeas

Why Chickpeas?

Chickpeas are a great source of protein with a whopping 14 grams in 1 cup. They’re also a substantial source of fiber, with 12 grams per cup. For more on chickpea nutrition, click here.

In addition to their enviable nutritional value, chickpeas are simply delicious! They are (in my humble opinion) the legume of all legumes. Their creamy texture lends itself well to dips like hummus. Alternatively, they make a delicious addition to any dish pan fried with some olive oil and spices, my favorite way to eat them.

Canned chickpeas are affordable and accessible, making them a must have pantry item.

chickpea salad sandwich

Ways to Eat

Enjoy this chickpea salad on some toasted bread with spinach as a sandwich, or spooned over leafy greens for a hearty salad. Or spread over crackers for a quick snack!

This chickpea salad can be made in a large batch ahead of time and enjoyed throughout the week. It’s a great meal prep item because it lasts well in the fridge and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

This recipe was featured in 4 Reasons to Eat More Plant-Based. Read full post here.

chickpea salad on toast
Chickpea salad on toast

Easy Chickpea Salad (Garbanzo Bean)

Lauren Harvey
A quick and easy recipe for hearty, delicious chickpea salad. Think of it like chicken salad, but with chickpeas and bell peppers instead of chicken and celery! Enjoy on toasted bread, over leafy greens, or on your favorite crackers.
Prep Time 15 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed if using canned
  • 3 tablespoons mayo use vegan mayo if preferred
  • 1 tablespoon mustard dijon, spicy brown and whole grain all work well
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions can substitute celery if preferred
  • ¼ cup chopped bell peppers any color you'd like
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of spices – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder substitute your preferred spices as desired
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish optional
  • Drizzle of olive oil optional

Instructions
 

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Chop onions, and bell peppers. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, add the chickpeas. Use a pastry cutter or potato masher to mash the chickpeas in a bowl. Consistency should be a bit chunky, but mashed enough to add easily to a sandwich.
  • Add mayo, mustard, horseradish (optional), salt, pepper, spices, onions, bell peppers and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well to combine.
  • Taste chickpea salad and adjust seasonings if desired.
  • Enjoy!
Keyword chickpea recipe, chickpea salad, garbanzo bean recipe, vegan recipe, vegetarian recipe

Stovetop AppleSauce | Recipe (Sugar Free Option)

This applesauce recipe provides a guideline to make easy, homemade applesauce. Adjust sugar and spices to your own tastes. Cut the apples according to how long you have to cook it, and how chunky (or smooth) you’d like your applesauce. Tastes great, simple to prepare and way better than store bought!

No Water Added

Cook the apples low and slow in a covered sauce pan. This eliminates the need to add water to the applesauce, which dilutes the flavor, and often facilitates the need for more sugar.

apples

As Sweet As You Like It

Feel free to adjust the recipe to your tastes. Add more sugar if you’d like, or eliminate it completely for a delicious sugar-free treat.

Use any apples that you prefer. I prefer a gala or fuji for best flavor and sweetness. Taste a slice of the apples you will use. This will help determine how much sweetness will need to be added to the applesauce.

applesauce

Chunky or Smooth

Just like peanut butter, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to applesauce. Whether you like it smooth or chunky, this recipe has you covered. Slice your apples into large chunks and forgo the mashing for a satisfyingly chunky applesauce. Or dice smaller apple pieces and mash (or blend/food process) well at the end for a silky smooth applesauce treat.

applesauce

So Versatile You Can Eat It At Every Meal

Here’s a few ideas to serve and enjoy your tasty homemade applesauce:

  • Spooned over some oatmeal, topped with sliced almonds
  • Mixed with savory spices and served with pork chop
  • Layered with yogurt and granola for a filling parfait
  • Sealed in puff pastry for easy, flaky hand pies
  • On the side with some hot, fresh potato pancakes
  • Enjoyed straight from the jar as a midnight snack
yogurt, granola, and applesauce parfait
Decadent yogurt, granola, and applesauce parfait.

Stovetop Apple Sauce

Lauren Harvey
This applesauce recipe provides a guideline to make easy, homemade applesauce. Adjust sugar and spices to your own tastes.
Cut the apples according to how long you have to cook it, and how chunky (or smooth) you'd like your applesauce.
Tastes great, simple to prepare and way better than store bought!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 4-6 apples any variety you prefer
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice fresh or bottled
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite sugar granulated, brown or monkfruit (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Peel and core the apples. Slice and dice into medium-sized chunks. The smaller the chunks, the faster the applesauce will cook down.
  • Add apples to a saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon juice. Cover pan with lid and let cook 10-15 minutes.
    The heat will release the apple's natural juices. This eliminates the need to add water to the pan. Just ensure the pan is not too hot so the apples don't burn. Stir occasionally.
  • Once the apples begin to release their juices and start to soften, add in sugar (optional), cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover pan again and let cook down another 10-15 minutes.
  • Test the apple's doneness by poking with a fork. If the fork slides easily, they are ready.
    If not recover and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until ready. The cooking time of the apples depends on the type of apple and how large the pieces were cut.
  • To mash or not to mash. If you prefer a smoother applesauce consistency, you can now mash the applesauce into a smooth paste or use an immersion blender.
    If you prefer chunkier applesauce, no need to mash.
  • Taste the applesauce and adjust spices if desired. If it needs a touch of sweetness, add agave or honey. Feel free to add more spices if desired.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Notes

  • Use a six-section apple slicer to make coring the apples a breeze. Leave slices in their larger size or cut in half for faster cooking time.
  • The smaller the apple slices, the faster they will cook. 
  • Add additional spices like all-spice or ginger if you’d like.
  • Use honey or agave in place of sugar, or go sugar-free!
  • If not using sugar, start with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and increase if desired.
Keyword applesauce, chunky applesauce, gluten free recipe, smooth applesauce, stovetop applesauce, sugar free recipe, vegan recipe

Where do Pine Nuts come from? | Pine Nut Recipes

We all know pine nuts right? Those small, decadent, outrageously expensive nuts that melt like butter on the tongue and give traditional basil pesto it’s signature flavor. But where do they come from? Today, we’ll find out!

What’s in a Name?

Turns out, the answer is closer than we may think. It’s in the name! Pine nuts, in North America, come from pinyon pine trees.

pinyon pine tree in utah desert
Pinyon Pine tree at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA.

The pinyon pine is well-equipped to live in treacherous desert environments — they are compact, slow-growing, and drought tolerant. Since they’re accustomed to hard desert life, the pinyon pine grows primarily in the southwest, with some as far north as Wyoming.

There are quite a few varieties of pinyon pine trees. Most commonly used for harvesting pine nuts are the Colorado pinyon, single-leaf pinyon and Mexican pinyon.

Now, while pine nuts harvested in North America may come from the pinyon pine, what about European pine nuts? Pesto, a staple of Italian cuisine, is made specifically with pine nuts. And these pine nuts come from a different tree.

Stone Pine Tree at Sunset in Tuscany, Italy

Meet the stone pine, which has been cultivated as a pine nut machine for over 5,000 years in Europe. The stone pine is native to the Mediterranean region and Southern Europe.

Getting to the Good Stuff

Now that we know the basics — that pine nuts do indeed come from pinecones — we can get into the good stuff.

Before harvesting, the pine nuts need time to mature. This can take anywhere from 18 months to three years. Yes three years! Apparently good things do come to those who wait.

baby pine cones
Young pine cones, growing in the summer sun.

Typically, pine cones bud in the spring, grow through the summer, remain dormant in the cold months (fall/winter) and mature again through the following spring/summer. Each varietal of tree may have different maturation times. The trees that take three years go through cycles of growth and dormancy until the finally reach peak harvesting stage.

Turns out, harvesting pine nuts is no small feat, which accounts for their significant price tag at the grocery store. Thankfully, the Huffington Post debunked the myth of pine nuts for us:

“Pine nuts are ready to harvest about 10 days before the green cone begins to open.

The cones are dried in a burlap bag in the sun for 20 days, to speed up the process of drying and opening.

The cones are then smashed (as a way to quickly release the seeds) and the seeds are separated by hand from the cone fragments.

The fact that it takes a lot of time and patience is an understatement — and justifies the high price of pine nuts.”

So with the pine nuts finally mature and released from their cone casing, their all ready to use now right? Not quite. The pine nuts themselves have an external shell, which then has to be removed to reveal the sweet golden raindrop-shaped nut inside.

For the ambitious home gardener, you can learn how to harvest pine nuts at home from your very own pinyon pine tree. Read more at Gardening Know How.

pine nuts and pine cones
Mature pine cones, harvested pine nuts, and the final product – deshelled pine nuts ready to enjoy.

Pine Nut Palooza

Now for the fun part! What to do with all these tasty pine nuts. Here’s three recipes to try.

Pine Nuts may be the most buttery of all the nuts. They are full of delicious oils that come out when they are lightly roasted in the oven, or toasted in a frying pan. Sprinkle them on pastas, salads, anywhere that could use a delicious, light buttery crunch.

1. Traditional Pesto Genovese

jarred pesto
Traditional Pesto

For an authentic use of pine nuts, try this Original Pesto Genovese recipe. This recipe uses a traditional mortar and pestle to create a luscious, smooth pesto bursting with fresh basil, parmigiano reggiano, and pine nuts.

2. Italian Pine Nut Cookies

pine nut cookies
They’re just the best.

For those with a sweet tooth, try out one of my personal favorite Italian cookies. While I can’t share my family’s secret recipe, this Food52 recipe is a good replacement. The sweetness of the almond paste (ground sugar and almonds) balances out the buttery pine nuts on top. It’s the perfect nutty cookie, not too sweet.

3. Pine Nuts on Pasta

pasta and pine nuts
Pine Nuts on a beautiful bowl of pasta

Try some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on this nutrient-packed, extra flavorful Pasta with Kale and Garbanzo Beans. Toasted pine nuts go well with pretty much any pasta dish, so I encourage you to make your favorite and add a sprinkle of pine nuts on top. Or, use the pesto recipe above with your favorite pasta and add an extra pinch of pine nuts just before serving!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pine nuts? Let us know in the comments below!

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Simple Sugar-Free Crepes | Recipe

Easy sugar-free crepes make a great base for a delicious breakfast, dinner or side dish! Make them sweet or savory depending on your toppings of choice.

Jump to Recipe

A Crepe for Everyone

This recipe was designed as a blank canvas. No vanilla, sugar or other flavoring is added to the crepes, making them to perfect vessel for any topping. Literally, anything. The sky is the limit!

crepes with whipped cream

A fun way to do crepes is with a crepe bar. Set out a plethora of topping items and everyone gets to make their own. Here are some ideas to set up your own crepe bar at home:

  • Jams, Jellies and Preserves
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cream Cheese
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cherries and Berries
  • Banana
  • Whipped Cream
  • Poached Pears
  • Baked Apples
  • Cheddar, Parmesan, or Mozzarella Cheese
  • Ham
  • Prosciutto
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Lemon Zest
  • Chocolate Syrup

Not your Average Crepe

Originally, I made these crepes as a featured weekend breakfast. I wanted them to be a bit heartier than your average crepe, with a secret sprinkling of protein. That’s where the almond flour comes in.

crepe on a plate

Because of the almond flour, these crepes have more of a bite than your average, tissue-paper-thin crepe. They’re more filling and naturally flavorful as well, without having an overbearing almond flavor.

Make it a Gluten-Free Crepe

To make these crepes gluten-free, swap the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free all-purpose flour.

I wouldn’t recommend making them only with almond flour, as they may come out too heavy to be enjoyable as a flexible crepe.

crepe on a bird plate

Layer it up

Crepes have a tendency to stick together when fresh out of the pan. Stack your finished crepes on a plate with a paper towel between each layer as you cook them. Or, use an empty sheet pan, lay the crepes out flat and use a sheet of wax paper between layers.

layered crepes on a plate

Swirl it Good

The secret to making crepes is all in the swirl. Hold your pan off the heat when you add the batter to the pan, and swirl as soon as you begin pouring in the batter.

Only add more batter to the pan if you absolutely cannot cover the entire surface. Otherwise, use the back of a spoon (preferably a plastic, not metal, spoon) to smooth the batter out and create one even thin layer.

Simple Sugar-Free Crepes

Lauren Harvey
This basic crepe recipe is made with pantry ingredients, ready in 15 minutes and can be topped with anything your heart desires! The crepes are sugar-free, which means they can easily be made sweet or savory depending on your tastes. The almond flour makes these crepes more filling than the average crepe without weighing them down.
See the recipe notes for crepe topping suggestions!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Main Course
Cuisine American, French
Servings 12 crepes

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup milk almond or oat milk works great!
  • ¾ to 1 cup water start with ¾ cup and add more as needed to thin out the batter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted

Instructions
 

  • In the microwave, or on the stovetop, melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, water and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add almond and all-purpose flour, then the butter.
    Ensure the butter has come to room temperature before adding it to the batter.
    Whisk until smooth.
  • The batter should be smooth and runny, not thick. Thinner than pancake batter. Add more water if needed.
  • Heat a 6" frying pan over medium high heat. Add a spot of butter to the pan if it is not nonstick.
  • Holding the pan at a slight angle, pour approximately ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Swirl immediately, coating the entire bottom of the pan.
    Use the bottom of a spoon to gently spread the crepe out if needed. Try to keep the crepe thin by spreading the batter out evenly.
  • Let the crepe cook for about two minutes, until the bottom is a light, golden color. Using a flat spatula, flip the crepe over to cook the other side.
    Typically, the second side cooks in less time than the first side.
  • Stack crepes on a plate with a paper towel in between each.
  • Serve warm.
    To reheat the crepes, Microwave for 30 seconds or warm in a low-heat oven.

Notes

Sweet crepe ideas:
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Peanut Butter
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Berries
  • Banana
  • Whipped Cream
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Lemon
Savory crepe ideas:
  • Ham
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cheese
  • Proscuitto
  • Cream Cheese
Keyword crepe recipe, crepes, easy crepe recipe, sugar free crepe recipe, sugar free recipe