The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook. (Photo: Rizzoli)
Food and exercise is the magic bullet of beauty. I’ve learned that no amount of makeup in the world will help if you don’t take care of yourself, so I’m always on a quest to learn more about health and nutrition. I recently did a wellness retreat at the Ranch at Live Oak Malibu. The spa just put out their first cookbook, The Ranch at Live Oak Cookbook, featuring the ultimate beauty food with ”nutrient-dense, seasonal gourmet meals that detoxify their guest’s bodies while sustaining them.” Here are my three favorite recipes from the book that prove eating healthy can also be delicious.
Warm Brussels Sprout Caesar
Warm brussels sprout caesar. (Photo: Rizzoli)
The classic Caesar tosses Romaine lettuce with a dressing that includes anchovies, egg, and Worcestershire sauce. Here a vegan variation uses capers and organic soy sauce to reach the same umami—the fifth, “meaty-savory” taste—when tossed with thinly sliced and lightly sautéed Brussels sprouts.
Makes 4 servings
For the Vegan Caesar Dressing
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
For the Brussels Sprouts
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves,
- for garnish (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper, for serving
Make the Vegan Caesar dressing: In a blender, combine the oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mustard, and soy sauce and blend until the garlic is finely minced. Add the capers and pulse until the capers are chopped. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (The dressing can be made up to 4 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Make the Brussels sprouts: Cut the Brussels sprouts in half from the top to the stem end, then thinly slice them crosswise. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts and sauté until heated through and just beginning to wilt, about 4 minutes. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a large bowl. Add about 4 tablespoons dressing, and toss well. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and finish with freshly ground black pepper.
Each serving 130 calories (kcal) • 10 g fat • 0 mg cholesterol
10 g carbohydrates • 4 g dietary fiber • 4 g protein • 112 mg sodium
771 IU vitamin A • 89 mg vitamin C • 45 mg calcium • 2 mg iron
Watermelon, Lime, and Hibiscus Ice Pops
Watermelon, lime, and hibiscus ice pops. (Photo: Rizzoli)
Dried hibiscus flowers produce a lovely crimson-colored tea that makes an amazing refresher poured over ice on a summer day. It’s super tart (and packed with vitamin C). Here we mellowed it with watermelon and turned it into ice pops that are fun for kids and adults.
Makes about 6 ice pops
- ¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers (see Note)
- 2½ cups watermelon chunks (from about 1¼ pounds watermelon or ½ mini watermelon)
- ¼ cup raw agave nectar
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup water and the dried hibiscus flowers to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let stand until cool. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
In a food processor, blend the watermelon chunks until liquefied. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with muslin into a pitcher; discard any solids. (You should have about 1½ cups watermelon juice.)
Stir the hibiscus water, agave nectar, and lime zest and juice into the watermelon juice. Pour the juice mixture into ice pop molds and freeze until firm, about 7 hours.
Each ice pop 64 calories (kcal) • 0 g fat • 0 mg cholesterol • 16 g carbohydrates
0 g dietary fiber • 0 g protein • 1 mg sodium • 308 IU vitamin A
11 mg vitamin C • 4 mg calcium • 2 mg iron
Ingredient Note: You can buy dried hibiscus flowers (also known as sorrel) in Indian, Latin, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern markets.
Buckwheat-Flax Pancakes with Walnuts and Maple Syrup
Buckwheat-flax pancakes with walnuts and maple syrup. (Photo: Rizzoli)
These gluten-free pancakes are a Sunday favorite at The Ranch—especially after an early morning hike. Walnut oil lends rich, nutty flavor, light texture, and omega-3 fatty acids to the flapjacks. A short stack is also delicious with a sliced banana in place of the strawberries.
Makes about 24 (4-inch) pancakes
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons roasted flaxseeds
- ¾ cup buckwheat flour
- 1¼ cups almond milk, homemade
- (page 44) or unsweetened store-bought
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Scant 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup,
- plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil,
- plus more for brushing
- ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
Combine the oats and flaxseeds in a blender and pulse until ground into a coarsely textured flour. Add the buckwheat flour, almond milk, egg, egg white, baking powder, and salt and blend until the batter is well mixed. Blend in the maple syrup and walnut oil.
Brush a griddle or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with walnut oil and heat over medium-high heat. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the griddle, creating a 4-inch pancake. Repeat with more batter, evenly spacing the pancakes so they don’t crowd the griddle. Sprinkle the top of the pancakes with the chopped walnuts, about ½ teaspoon per pancake. Cook the pancakes until a few holes appear on the surface and the bottoms are browned, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the pancakes over and cook until the second sides are golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the pancakes to serving plates and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup and the strawberries.
Each serving (2 pancakes) 96 calories (kcal) • 4 g fat • 16 mg cholesterol
11 g carbohydrates • 2 g dietary fiber • 4 g protein • 267 mg sodium
75 IU vitamin A • 0 mg vitamin C • 75 mg calcium • 1 mg iron