Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fig Butter & Arugula Salad

It is believed that figs were one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. In fact, they may have been cultivated 1,000 years before the ancient grain, wheat! This timeless classic is gaining popularity in recent years as figs are seen either fresh or dried in salads, sandwiches, tarts, and cakes.

 I first fell in love with fresh figs at the Santa Monica farmers market. A local farmer was distributing samples – some plain, some honeyed…all delicious. The unique flavor of figs  – soft and sweet with a bit of a crunch  – adds a delightful surprise to a variety of dishes.

 One large fig comes packed with approximately three grams of dietary fiber. And, in case you haven’t noticed, nutrition experts love talking about fiber.

 Adequate fiber plays an important role in digestive health, it helps to keep our blood sugar steady, and can even help to keep our weight at a happy, healthy place.  Studies also suggest fruits rich in fiber may decrease risk of certain chronic diseases such as, cancer and heart disease. Essentially, figs play a key role in maintaining a healthy diet. During my weekly shopping trip to Trader Joe’s in New York, I came across fig butter which turned my ordinary salad into extraordinary – and immediately took me back to that wonderful day at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Arugula + Fig Butter Salad

For Salad:
3 cups arugula
1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, sliced
½ large cucumber, sliced
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 sprig fresh parsley, chopped

For Dressing:
4 teaspoon fig butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon  red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Lay arugula out on a platter.

2. Layer tomatoes, cucumbers, and walnuts on top of arugula.

3. In a small bowl, combine fig butter, olive oil, and vinegar. Mix well.  Add salt and pepper to the dressing.

5. Garnish salad with fresh parsley. Serve


Makes 4 servings.


Enjoy, preferably with those you love.

By our wonderful contributing blogger, Jaime Ruisi!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meatless Monday: Avocado Egg Pizza

The pressures and demands that accompany our busy schedules from Monday through Friday, can often leave us scrambling to find any quick breakfast item to grab as we're heading out the door. Leisurely breakfasts are usually reserved for the weekends when the extra free time in the mornings allows for us to enjoy a meal while still in our pajamas.

But, there are always exceptions.

The recipe below – for a simplified breakfast pizza – proves that a leisurely breakfast can be enjoyed any day of the week as long as a few simple ingredients are on hand. The creamy and crispy balance of textures present in this breakfast pizza offers a delicious alternative to the standard breakfast cereal or granola bar we often gobble down before a busy day.

As we are told time and time again, breakfast is essential to getting our day off to a great start; it kick-starts our metabolism for the rest of our day and allows us to power through those early morning hours.


Our Avocado Egg Breakfast Pizza demonstrates the power of simplicity in satisfying our hunger and time-dependent needs! The whole-grain pita provides a hefty serving of fiber and the mashed avocado spread provides a healthy boost of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A drizzle of both lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil brightens up the flavors of the pizza, drawing out the mild flavors of the avocado and adding a boost of Vitamin C to the dish. And finally, a small dash of cumin provides a final subtle, spicy kick.


While traditional breakfast protein such as sausage or ham may be also be added to this pizza, the organic egg provides a yummy, meatless alternative to these options, while still offering a solid serving of protein. 


And now, for the recipe.


Avocado Egg Breakfast Pizza
This delicious recipe for a breakfast pizza packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein provides an example of a great option that is simple enough to be whipped up any day of the week. It provides all the nutritional components you need to start the work week with a full belly and a smile!



1 6-inch whole grain or whole-wheat pita
1 medium avocado, mashed
1 large organic egg, cooked over-easy or over-hard
1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons
Cumin, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste


1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees in order to toast the pita until crispy.

2.      While the pita is toasting, remove the skin and core from the avocado. Mash the avocado with a dash of salt and pepper until the consistency is chunky.

3.      Spread the avocado on top of the crisp pita. Drizzle the pita with lemon juice and olive oil and a dash of cumin. Top with the egg.

 Serves 2.


Enjoy, preferably with those you love!


By our wonderful contributing Blogger, Georgia Rounder!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recipe Redux: Raw Apple Pie

As part of LUNA’s nutrition team, Lisa and I have been hosting webinars over the past few weeks to empower individuals to feed their strength and trust their nutrition intuition. We're all about ditching diets; instead, we focus on eating habits that are sustainable and maintainable long term.  

Last week, Lisa and I addressed the importance of fulfilling our cravings with the foods we eat by listening to our bodies and choosing foods that are truly worthy of our taste buds. Not only is food meant to satisfy our hunger and meet our nutritional needs, it’s also meant to be enjoyable!

What’s more, food can also deliver a sense of style. As funny as it may sound, apples are one of those foods that give me a sense of identity – they satisfy both my nutrient needs and my palate. In fact, it's a rare day when I do not eat an apple.  So, I have to admit that I get a little excited when apple season is in full swing – Honeycrisp, Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji, Granny Smith, Red Delicious – the options are endless.

This Recipe Redux below was inspired by our love of apples. One reason we love no-cook desserts is because they can be made in a cinch. And let’s face it, a dietary pattern that is sustainable and maintainable long-term is one that includes dessert from time to time. As someone with a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I love turning to nature’s natural sweetener, fruit as an ingredient for my go-to desserts.

This recipe & photos were developed by our wonderful contributing blogger, Jaime – who also has a love and appreciation of apples (and dessert!).

Raw Apple Pie

There’s no better way to welcome fall than with this dessert. Quick to make, nutrient dense, and simply fun to eat – this dessert is dietitian’s dream.


1 large apple
1 graham cracker sheet
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt


1.      Wash and peel apple. Cut into quarters.

2.      Combine sliced apple, walnuts, raisins, and apple sauce. Put mixture into a food processor. Process until well mixed and apples are at a fine dice.

3.      Pour syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt into apple mixture. Stir well.

4.      Crush the graham cracker sheet. Scoop a tablespoon into a cupcake foil. Fill the foil with apple mix and top off with another scoop of graham cracker. Serve.

Makes 3 mini apple pies

Enjoy, preferably with those you love.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Day at Tutti Frutti Farms

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of peeling fresh peas from the garden, pulling warm carrots from the soil, and plucking plump, juicing tomatoes straight from the vine.

My love of real food has only grown stronger since those childhood days.

So when I was invited to the Vons Fresh and Local Produce Tour at Tutti Frutti Farms in Santa Barbara county, I was so excited to have the opportunity to explore a local Californian farm that supplies fresh produce to its neighborhood markets. The farm is beyond beautiful – stretching over nearly 300 acres of sunny California landscape – placed half-way between San Luis Obispo (my old stomping ground) and quaint Santa Barbara.

It was truly a pleasure to meet Chris Caldwell, farmer and owner of Tutti Frutti Farms – a farm given its name by Chris’ wife, Cornelia meaning “all fruits.” Certified organic crops including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and my personal favorite, pumpkins, are nourished to growth at Tutti Frutti Farms and later shipped to local Vons supermarkets where consumers are able to reap the benefits from Chris’ labor of love.
Lisa and I have touched on the topic of sustainable food practices a few times, including our preference for choosing grass-fed animal protein and also cooking affordable organic meals . Yet, my most comprehensive take on the organic food movement is featured here. 
Not only has organic food production gained tremendous momentum within recent years, the local food movement is also gaining ground. A press release from Vons states “Nearly 67 percent of Northern California shoppers believe fresh produce is synonymous with being locally farmed, according to a recent survey by Safeway.”
I’ve touched on the benefits of purchasing locally grown food before too, but here is a brief recap:
Since locally grown produce is often within a day’s drive of its final destination, it can be picked at the peak of growing season. The result? Fruits and vegetables that are nutritionally dense and also packed full of flavor.
Have you ever had the pleasure of pulling a carrot straight from the soil, or biting into a green pepper pulled from the vine moments earlier? The taste and smell is deliciously incomparable.
Not only that, but food tastes simply better when it has a story; and connecting with the hard working farmers that grow our food is the very best way to appreciate the meals that nourish us.
The day at Tutti Fruitti Farms also involved a delicious organic heirloom tomato tasting, in which I came to one simple conclusion. Don’t walk, but run, to your nearest Vons and pick up a Pink Brandywine – a tomato so sweet you think you’re eating tropical fruit.
The tour wrapped up with a farm-to-table lunch my taste buds are still fantasizing about...
 A dish we enjoyed at lunch -- an heirloom tomato salad.
If you would like to receive more information on Tutti Frutti Farms, you can visit their website here.
Photos courtesy of Vons.