Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Jamie Oliver calls Tagine “a sort of stew with attitude”… which sums it up pretty well, I think. “Tajine” is actually the Berber word for the earthenware pot this stew is traditionally slow-cooked in, but any heavy-bottomed pot will do the trick. While there are endless varieties, Morrocan Tagine is typically made with lamb, chicken and vegetables, dried fruits, cinnamon and other spices, and served over couscous.  Replacing the meat with chickpeas and eggplant makes for a completely satisfying and delicious stew which in the hot Costa Rica climate, we served over a room temperature barley and toasted almond pilaf.*

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine – Serves 6

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine


  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 8 sundried tomato halves, soaked in 1/2 c water
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 sweet potatoes or purple yams, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in 1” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 red and/or yellow peppers, cut into 1” pieces
  • 3 tablespoons dried currents or chopped raisins
  • 1 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Combine honey and ginger in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Put ginger-honey mix aside. In same blender, blend sun-dried tomatoes with lemon and spices until smooth.
In a deep heavy bottomed casserole or stew pot, heat one tablespoon of oil and add eggplant, stirring quickly to coat. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant cubes begin to sear and tenderize slightly. Remove from pan.
Saute onions in remaining 2 T oil and a pinch of salt until translucent, add garlic and saute for 5 – 10 minutes until mixture begins to caramelize slightly. Deglaze pan with a tablespoon or so of water if needed.

Add sundried tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes. Bring to a boil on medium heat and add sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are just tender.

Add peppers, eggplant, chickpeas, currents and half the honey-ginger mixture. Check for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Simmer gently, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure all the veggies get immersed into the sauce. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ginger mixture and cilantro and serve with cooked couscous, barley or quinoa.

* A Note About Barley: Barley has a wonderful chewy bite which I prefer to couscous, and although there is a small amount of gluten in barley, it is apparently a different type and more easily digestible than wheat gluten so could be a better choice for those who are not celiac or highly gluten sensitive.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment

Raw Pad Thai with Young Coconut “Noodles”

The Farmer's Market in Limon

Like the Raw Lasagna, my Raw Pad Thai recipe is also an adaptation from Russell James’ original recipe. (If you haven’t already – sign up for his email list to get the original emailed to you). This recipe is extremely flexible so use what you have on hand. I made this one with tahini because for some reason that is available here but also have made it with almonds, almond butter, and peanuts and it’s great. I used raw bok choy which I was lucky to find in the farmer’s market in Limon and love the combination of that with the arugula, but napa cabbage is great too, and of course if you can get mung bean sprouts (I can’t) then that would add a more Pad Thai touch to the recipe.

Young coconuts and tamarind are easily available in this part of Costa Rica, but you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to find them in your home town. Look for Tamarind Paste in your local Hispanic market (ask for Tamarindo) and both tamarind paste and young coconuts, or “white coconuts” can often be found in the produce section of Chinese or Southeast Asian markets, and in some high-end markets like Whole Foods.  You can also ask your local health food store to order you a case of young coconuts – they come 9 to a box – and then cut them all open and freeze the meat and juice to have on hand all the time. I love young coconuts! This is just one of the many ways you can use them.

Raw Pad Thai “Noodles” and Vegetables – Serves 4

Young Coconuts

  • 2 – 3 young coconuts
  • 1 ½ cups arugula, torn into 3′ pieces
  • 2 carrots, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 cups young bok choy, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 1 spring onions, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 8 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

Pad Thai Sauce

  • 1 oz tamarind paste (or 2 dried apricots, one date, plus 1 T lemon juice)
  • 3 T palm sugar, or coconut crystals, or sucanat
  • 1 T red miso
  • 1 t sesame oil (leave out if using nuts instead of tahini)
  • 4 sundried tomato halves, soaked
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 t dulse flakes or kelp powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime
  • 1/2 jalepeno, seeded and minced
  • 6 T tahini

Make Sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Prepare Noodles: Cut open the top of the coconuts with a large sturdy cleaver over a large bowl, being careful to capture the juice. (Use juice for another purpose… like drinking!) With the back of a spoon, gently work out large pieces of the white flesh from the inner shell. (If you are new to this, Dr Ralph gives a thorough video intro to coconut whacking here). Slice the meat of the coconut in to long, fettuccine-like pieces.

Assemble Pad Thai: In a large bowl, toss together all vegetables, reserving a pinch of basil and cilantro for garnish. Pour 1/2 sauce over vegetables and massage gently with your hands to coat well and soften vegetables. Add coconut noodles and toss gently, adding some or all of the remaining sauce to taste. Allow to sit for 1/2 – 1 hour to allow flavors to combine and serve with a sprinkle of herbs and a slice of lime.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Pasta, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Salads, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment