Just listening to Tess Masters makes me feel healthy. Eating what she cooks makes me feel even healthier.
Tess's latest book, "The Perfect Blend" (Ten Speed Press), is all about gluten-free and vegan food and is packed with nutritional advice.
If you don't follow these trends, you'll like her food anyway, because it tastes so good. I found this out when she gave a cooking demo and signed copies of the book at Melissa's Produce.
There was lots to sample, including this broccoli salad. Although it appears creamy and cheesy, there's no cheese, mayo or cream in the dressing, only olive oil. It's a hearty dish, enriched with seeds and nuts. The recipe, called Raw Broccoli Brilliance, is in a chapter on protein foods.
Then there's Can't Beet This Dip (above), which is so tasty I had three helpings, scooping it up with mini bell pepper dippers. It's so easy that I put it at once on my to-do list. The recipe is in the detox chapter of the book and appears below.
Tess is known as The Blender Girl, and you'll have to have one to make the dishes in the book. She has also written "The Blender Girl" cookbook and "The Blender Girl Smoothies," which is both a book and an app. "I think the blender is the greatest culinary gift ever given since fire and the spoon," she said.
After everyone had eaten, she pulled out two blenders and demonstrated more dishes, including one of my absolute favorites, hummus made with zucchini instead of garbanzo beans. It's rich tasting, and perfect for those who avoid ordinary hummus because they can't digest legumes.
The recipe is called Raw Red Hummus and appears in a chapter on alkaline forming foods. The red comes from red bell pepper and sun-dried tomatoes.
I loved the way Tess sliced zucchini into long thin ribbons and used them as the base for an avocado salad (above). You could do this for other salads too. It looks really clever, yet takes only seconds and requires only a vegetable peeler.
She placed avocado halves on the zucchini and filled them with chimichurri sauce made, of course, in the blender (above), adding diced cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon and sprouted watermelon seeds. It's so easy "a 12-year-old could make this," she said. The recipe is in the chapter on anti-inflammatory foods.
Choc-Mint Mania also contains cashews along with cacao powder, almond milk and peppermint flavoring. This dessert is in the last chapter, feed the soul, in which Tess observes that "healthy food can be fun, decadent, and delicious" and shares recipes for "some of my favorite foods that deliver fabulous flavor with powerful health-promoting benefits."
CAN'T BEET THIS DIP
From "The Perfect Blend" by Tess Masters
4 cups peeled and cubed raw beets
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon natural salt, plus more to taste
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons minced garlic, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons ribbed, seeded and finely chopped green chile, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/3 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
Toss the beets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Arrange the beets on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 1 hour, tossing periodically, until the beets are tender. (You don't want any burnt bits.) You should have about 2 cups.
Heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until they release their fragrance and change color slightly. Be careful not to burn them or they will develop bitterness. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or crush with a mortar and pestle.
Throw the beets into a high-speed blender or food processor and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the toasted and ground seeds, the garlic, chile, lemon juice, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Blast until well combined. Tweak the garlic, chile, lemon juice and salt to taste. Transfer the dip to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.
Makes about 1 cup.