Refreshing Flavors for Spring

Organic
Frozen strawberry yogurt made from homemade organic Greek yogurt, organic strawberries, and coconut sugar

There is certainly something to the stimulation of eating pretty colors. A general rule to self-orchestrated wellness is to eat the colors you see around you. At least, the ones that grow in and around the plant kingdom of which you dwell.

However, the term “eat the colors you see”, is suggesting plants of local flavor. This time of year is such a tease. We smell spring and get antzy for strawberries, asparagus, and tomatoes. Asparagus, absolutely. Tomatoes, don’t do it. Stay the course and resist buying out of season franken-food especially from far away, non-organic farmers. I get through this time of year best with three ingredients that bring the taste of spring to anything you eat them with.

  1. Yogurt
  2. Lemons
  3. Fresh Herbs

All three of these ingredients are multi-purpose, AND loaded with health benefits.

Organic Plain  Yogurt

What it offers: Probiotic cultures

How to use it: Sweeten with honey and fresh fruit to control your sugar. Use it as a base for creamy sauces, dips, dressings, dessert fillings, and marinades with a tang. Can easily be substituted in any recipe for buttermilk, and sour cream. Make yogurt cheese, and use it as a healthier substitute for cream cheese in any recipe.

Lemons

What they offer: Vitamin C, antioxidants, and a pH that can significantly alkalize blood levels.

How to use them: Everywhere! Every dish gets brighter with a finish of fresh lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice is an excellent substitute for vinegar in salad dressings. Use in marinades, soups, light sauces, etc. Zest freshens baked goods, condiments, sweets, you name it. My early spring time favorite is preserved Meyer lemons! Cured lemons are mild in flavor and soft in texture, which make them perfect on pizza, in antipasti, wraps, or chopped and tossed in pasta and grain dishes.

Fresh Herbs

What they offer: Herbs are superfoods with concentrated sources of chlorophyll, minerals, and many vitamins. Gram for gram parsley has over two times more vitamin C than an orange and also freshens breath better than mint. But mint is a great one too! Chives, parsley, mint, cilantro, and even arugula are bright flavors that are easily accessible right now.

So, recipes using all of these……

Yogurt Cheese (or Greek Yogurt)

1 quart organic plain yogurt (I only use full fat)

1 small colander

1 small bowl to support the colander

Paper towels or cheese cloth

Line a small colander with a paper towel or cheese cloth and set over a bowl. The bowl should be big enough to support the colander but small to leave enough room between the bottom of the colander and the bowl in order to catch the draining whey. You will want to keep any reserved whey and store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Poor yogurt into the lined colander. Cover the top of the yogurt with more cheesecloth or paper towel. Leave at room temperature or store in the fridge and allow the yogurt to drain for up to 4 hours for Greek style yogurt. For yogurt cheese, drain for 6 hours or leave overnight. Reserve whey in a glass container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use yogurt cheese in place of cream cheese.

Preserved Lemons

4lbs of lemons (Meyer are the best)

Preserved Eureka Lemons and Preserved Meyer Lemons.
Click on this photo to watch me make them.

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons of whey

Filtered water

Kosher salt

Combine whey with lemon juice and set aside. Wash lemons well with produce spray or white vinegar to remove any wax. Slice lemons in wedges or use a  mandolin to cut beautiful wheels. Pour a good amount of salt onto a plate. Form an assembly line dipping lemon pieces into salt on each side and fitting inside a glass jar. When lemons are tightly packed in the jar, pour whey mixture over lemons. Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water leaving one inch from the top. Seal jar tightly and set in a cool, dark place for at least 6 days. Every once in a while give the jar a shake, crack the lid to release any gas. Do not refrigerate until ready to eat (about 6 days). When ready to use rinse for several minutes under cool running water before consuming or incorporating into a dish.

While working on this blog, I found another blog about using whey. I loved it. If you are interested in more ways to use whey, then you will find this very informative.

18 Ways to Use Whey

Herb Pesto

1 cup fresh parsley

1 cup fresh mint

1 cup fresh cilantro, arugula, or chives

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of fresh garlic

1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup hemp-seed, walnuts, pistachios, or pinenuts

salt and pepper to taste

Toast nuts if using. Use hemp-seed raw. Combine all ingredients together in a food processor and process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, allow to rest for 30 minutes before chilling. Toss with pasta or grains, use as a spread on pizza, wraps or sandwiches, thin with more olive oil to make a salad dressing.

Use them all with this recipe!

Lemon Herb Spread

Preserved lemons and yogurt both offer probiotic cultures in this versatile spread that can be good with just about anything.

1 cup prepared yogurt cheese

Herb  pesto to taste

Preserved lemons, chopped, to taste

Start with about 1/4 cup herb pesto sauce and combine more with yogurt cheese until you have reached your preference. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped preserved lemons at a time until you have added enough to your liking.  Serve as a dip, or cracker spread, or toss with couscous or pasta. Delicious!


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