Category Archives: wwme

Replacing The Mighty Avocado

A Journey in Taste and Texture

Whether you have a general aversion to avocados or just an aversion to their cost — the price of avocados increased 125 percent in 2017 — you have plenty of healthy ingredient substitutions that not only save you money but diversify the taste and texture of a variety of dishes, guacamole included.


Don’t let an avocado shortage slow down your guac game. For each avocado used in your guacamole recipe, substitute one cup of steamed, blended spring peas, organic edamame or chopped asparagus. Check out our recipe for Sweet Pea Guacamole below.

Sauces, Dips and Spreads

Avocados give sauces and soups a unique, creamy texture few ingredients can replicate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the same consistency without avocados–you just need to apply a little creativity.

  • Create the satisfying freshness of your favorite avocado dressing using Greek yogurt, cilantro, and an optional tablespoon or two of sour cream. For every avocado called for in the dressing recipe, substitute ½ cup Greek yogurt and 1 cup of loosely packed cilantro leaves (minced or processed in).
  • Hummus makes a great substitute for avocado dip on its own, but you can add an avocado-esque touch with a few extra ingredients. To every ½ cup of chickpea hummus, add ½ cup steamed organic edamame, ¼ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, ¼ cup basil or cilantro, 1 teaspoon of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.
  • Avocado toast went from fad to foodie staple almost overnight. Take the concept a step further with a clever, spreadable substitution, such as a chunky cashew spread. Soak cashews for a few hours and blend until coarse with a little water or stock and your secondary ingredients of choice, such as pesto, steamed squash, nutritional yeast, fresh herbs or chipotle peppers.


With their lush consistency and laid-back taste, avocados complement just about any salad. No avocados, no fear! Try sliced peaches (briefly steamed), seared artichoke hearts or farmers cheese (for creaminess) in your next salad for an exciting new texture.

Southwestern Food

Southwestern-style cuisine and avocados go hand-in-hand–they contrast the spiciness and hearty textures of tacos, salsa, corn salads and other rustic dishes beautifully. Next time you need avos in tacos or other Southwestern dishes but come up short, try roasted sweet potatoes, roasted chayote squash, queso fresco, roasted cauliflower or oven-fried plantains instead.



Sweet Pea Guacamole
  1. • 2 cups (1 pound) shelled spring peas, steamed for 2 minutes and cooled to room temperature
  2. • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  3. • ½ cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  4. • ¼ cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  5. • 2 ½ tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  6. • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  7. • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more, if needed
  8. • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded
  9. • ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt, plus more to taste
  10. • Pinch of cumin
  11. • Pinch of crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until nearly smooth.
  2. Adjust the consistency and seasoning as needed with olive oil and kosher salt.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy


Cauliflower In The Garden

I’m very fortunate to live in an area where we have an extended growing season.  While I miss certain crops that need cold weather to grow well (like currants) I’m loving the veggies that come out of my garden.

This lovely picture is the purple cauliflower that is currently growing in the garden.  It’s delicious and tastes just like the white cauliflower that we are all used to.  The purple color comes from anthocyanins, a highly active antioxidant.

As a cruciferous vegetable cauliflower is, of course, high in fiber.  It also provides excellent levels of vitamin C, K, and folate.  It’s delicious steamed, baked, roasted, and can even be eaten raw.

The tastiness doesn’t stop with the florets.  Those lovely leaves are also edible.  I often use them as a green vegetable in stir fry or sauteed with onions and garlic.  A friend of mine recently told me that he used his in place of kale to make cauliflower chips and they were delicious.  I love kale chips and so I’m going to have to try that with this batch of greens.

meatball soup recipe

Meatball Soup

I’m not one of those people who cooks the same recipe every time.  I prefer to tinker with my food.  Sometimes it’s successful, sometimes it’s not so great.  This delicious recipe came out of a combination of ingredients on hand in the fridge:  

  • chicken soup made from the bones of the roasted chicken two days ago
  • the outer leaves set aside from making fermented cabbage
  • the tops of celery
  • an onion
  • the leftover bits of sweet bell pepper

Needing to come up with something for dinner I decided that soup was the order of the day. Quick, easy and versatile soups are always a great way to use up leftovers for a delicious meal. It’s like my own version of a kitchen chef contest, what-can-I-make-with-these-ingredients.  I often joke that instead of the kitchen shows where the chef-contestants have access to a kitchen with every ingredient imaginable, there needs to be a cooking show where you have a refrigerator full of leftovers and a traditionally stocked pantry.

While I’m not sure what anyone else would have made with my ingredients on hand; this is what I came up with.   In this case a meatball soup seemed like a perfect dinner recipe to me.   It was a hit and this recipe will be making a regular appearance at our table.

Meatball Soup
  1. 1 medium onion, diced
  2. 1 clove garlic, minced
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 cup of celery (mostly greens), diced
  5. 8 large cabbage leaves, shredded
  6. 1/2 sweet bell pepper, diced
  7. 4 cups chicken broth
  8. 2 cups water
  9. meatballs (see recipe below)
  10. 1 cup cooked rice
  11. sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot
  2. Saute onion until just starting to wilt
  3. Add garlic and saute one more minute
  4. Add celery and cabbage greens and saute two minutes
  5. Add bell pepper and saute one minute
  6. Add broth and water
  7. Bring to just under boiling then reduce to a simmer
  8. Gently spoon meatballs into soup
  9. Cook 20 minutes or until meatballs are done
  10. Add rice, salt and pepper and serve
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy
  1. 1 pound organic ground meat
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 tablespoon dried onion
  4. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix ingredients together and form into meatballs
  2. Bake in 350F oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy

Mediterranean Rice Salad

Recently I went to a party and I needed to bring a dish to share.  The food theme of the evening was Mediterranean.  Wanting to make something fresh and different (and more than just the typical hummus and pita or a Greek salad) I rummaged around in my pantry and put together this amazingly delicious rice salad.  One of the great things about this dish is that it makes use of fresh vegetables and fresh herbs.  I love salads like this, often preferring them the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld and blend.

It was a big hit at the party and my family was rather disappointed that I didn’t bring home more leftovers. I got two thumbs up from the kids (my personal taste testers) and they told me that I should definitely make it again.

Mediterranean Rice Salad

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red sweet bell pepper seeded and diced
4 spring onions, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 cup assorted olives, diced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 bunch parsley, de-stemmed* and minced
1tablespoon minced basil leaves
4 cups cooked basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, toss well, let sit 2-3 hours for flavors to develop.


*When I de-stem herbs like parsley or cilantro I’ve learned a little trick that makes it very easy:

Leave the herbs bound together, wash well to clean and shake dry
Holding the stems use a chef’s knife and chop at the leaves in a short brisk fashion moving down the stems
Rotate the stems and repeat on another side until all sides have been shaved
Remove band holding the stems together
Throw the stems in your compost bin
Pile chopped leaves together and mince

It probably took longer to write that than it takes to do it.  Once you do this you’ll wonder why you ever de-stemmed leafy herbs any other way.

Indoor Onions

Just a short post today.  I recently found out that a number of my friends didn’t know this super simple trick for growing spring onions (some folks call them green onions) indoors.  So I thought I’d share.

Trim off any wilted or slimy bits from the onion.
Cut the ends so that there is at least 1″ of white bulb above the roots.
Place root end down into a glass with a little water at the bottom.
Place in a window where they will get indirect sunlight.
Watch them grow, cut and use as needed.

Here are a couple of pictures to demonstrate:

freshly cut spring onions
spring onions after one day

Isn’t that cool?  I find it’s best the first time you let them re-grow.  After that it doesn’t always work as well and they’re not as firm.  But it’s a great way to always make sure you have some on hand, especially if you use these onions a lot.  And I do.
So what do I use them for?  Soups, salads, as a garnish, in sauteed greens, in stir fry, they’re very useful, high in vitamin K, and a tasty addition to a lot of dishes.

Note:  Thanks to Mike for the reminder.  I forgot to mention in the instructions that you need to change the water daily.  Otherwise the jar gets rather stinky and the onions won’t continue to grow.

raw nuts are best

It’s National Nut Day

Nuts are a great heart-healthy food.  They shouldn’t need a special day, October 22, for you to consider adding them to your diet.  It’s important to know that raw nuts are best for you. With conventionally roasted nuts, even dry roasting, the roasting process may seem tastier, but the oils are usually not the best quality. The oil can potentially be genetically modified corn, or from highly acidifying peanut oil, neither of which is something that we recommend. In addition to the poor choice of oils, the heat destroys some of the nutrients in the nuts. 

Raw nuts are best

Raw nuts are best but for optimal nutrient density, you can boost the nutrition by soaking them.  This breaks down the phytic acid coating, an enzyme that protects the nuts until they’re ready to sprout but inhibits our ability to absorb nutrients. When soaking or sprouting the nuts you remove this phytic acid coating which makes the nutrients more bioavailable. Soaking/sprouting couldn’t be simpler:

Soaked/Sprouted Nuts
  1. 4 cups of nuts
  2. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  3. water
  1. Place nuts in a quart jar, add salt, and fill with water
  2. Let soak overnight
  3. Drain and then dry in dehydrator or oven set at 175ºF 12-24 hours or until completely dry.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy

Nuts are a healthy choice

Nuts provide a good source of protein. They’re also highly antioxidant, great for cardiovascular health, and a delicious choice for snacking.  There is even some evidence that eating nuts can be healthy for maintaining weight.  They can be added to salads, cooked dishes, eaten as a snack, sprinkled into breakfast cereal. There are many different ways to eat include them in your diet. While they’re great on their own, they can also be a fabulous addition to salads, desserts, and even pilafs or casseroles.

One of my favorite ways to eat nuts is to make my 3-2-1 Trail Mix. This is a great nutrient dense snack (especially if you soak the nuts and seeds ahead of time) and perfect for on-the-go or anytime you need a quick protein boost.

3-2-1 Trail Mix
  1. 3 parts raw nuts (soaked/sprouted preferred)
  2. 2 parts raw seeds (soaked/sprouted preferred)
  3. 1 part dried fruit
  1. Be sure to look for dried fruit that does not have added sugar, sulfites, or other preservatives
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy

Nutrients in nuts

Different nuts have different nutrients making it a good idea to snack on a variety rather than just one or two.  I find that a quick and easy trail mix is 3 parts nuts, 2 parts seeds, 1 part dried fruit.  Mixing different nuts and seeds gives you a tasty treat and a nutritional boost.

For those who really want to know:

Acorns – highest in manganese
Almonds – highest in manganese and vitamin E
Beechnuts – highest in manganese
Brazil nuts – extremely high in selenium, also a great source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium
Cashews – highest in copper, but also a good source of magnesium and tryptophan
Chestnuts – (European) highest in manganese
Hazelnuts – (also called filberts) very high in vitamin E and a good source of B vitamins
Hickory nuts – very high in selenium, also high in magnesium, thiamin, and copper
Macadamia nuts – very high in selenium and thiamin, also high in copper and magnesium
Peanuts – not a nut, they’re actually a legume, a good source of manganese and tryptophan
Pecans – very high in manganese, also high in copper and thiamin
Pistachio – very high in B6, a good source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and thiamin
Walnuts – very high in omega 3 fatty acids and a great source of manganese

Dinner At The Counter

Our family went to dinner at The Counter last night, a new eatery in town.  The concept behind this place is that it is a build-your-own burger joint.

Walking in we were greeted by very friendly people with fantastic music in the background.  My husband and I were amused that somehow the place has managed to hit the exact right blend of music.  Not only did we like it, our teenager liked it and our young server liked it too.  We were given a menu that allowed us to create our perfect burger from four different proteins, the choice of a burger or a bowl, followed by a very wide selection of cheeses, toppings, sauces, and a choice of buns.

My husband ordered a beef burger with gruyere cheese and an assortment of toppings, our daughter choose a veggie burger with her topping preferences and I choose a chicken breast to be served in a bowl.  Several things stood out with our order that I thought were fabulous.  Their beef is humanely raised, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free and they claim it is never frozen.  The veggie burgers are made in-house and are not simply reheated, cardboard tasting, burger-shaped pucks.  My salad was made with organic greens.  All three tasted absolutely delicious.  The beef was tender, juicy and very flavorful.  The veggie burger was, quite frankly, the best veggie burger I have ever had.  I’m not sure how they make it but it was moist and really stood out compared to any other veggie burger.  My chicken salad came on a bed of organic greens with the most amazing pesto.  I loved the fact that my sauce came on the side so I could choose how much I put on my meal.  We also shared some sweet potato fries with a horseradish mayonnaise.  While I’m certainly used to eating mayonnaise with my fries I will confess that I really don’t like horseradish so I was suspicious of why anyone would put it into mayonnaise.  It turned out to be the perfect compliment to the fries.  Not too strong, certainly not overwhelming, just a tiny bit of bite that went very well with the sweetness of the thin cut fries.  We ended the meal by sharing an oversize chocolate chip cookie that was so large we wound up taking half of it home.  And speaking of taking it home, I was really happy to see a wax paper lined box instead of a styrofoam container.

A few things stood out to me that I think would improve the restaurant.  The artwork was great but I felt that otherwise the blue and chrome decor was rather cold and sparse.  I’d love to see it warmed up a bit.  I’m a little disappointed that with all of the wonderful local, organic, humanely raised, etc they still had conventional ketchup on the table.  Sadly that ketchup is made with high fructose corn syrup and not a healthy choice.  I would also have liked sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the table.

Overall I think this restaurant has a lot going for it and I hope that it will be successful and stay in the area.  I love the concept, I really like a lot of their food choices and what they stand for.  I absolutely admire the fact that a number of things, their sauces, the veggie burger, and even their cookies are all made in-house on the premises.  That speaks a lot to the quality that they are going for and it shows in how tasty their food is.

I liked the food so much that as I was walking out the door I was already thinking about ideas for what I will build the next time I go back.

If you haven’t been yet go check it out, they have locations all over the country and even a couple of locations in Ireland.