Monday, May 8, 2017

Pea Soup with Mint--Good for the Tummy

I'm always thinking about gut health and whenever I can add prebiotics and probiotics to a recipe, I feel like I've done my work well for the day.  Here's a recipe that supplies both.  Extra bonus points!

Prebiotics-- You can think of prebiotics as food that feeds the friendly bacteria that like to live in our gut.  The more we can help them thrive, by feeding them the food they like to eat, the healthier we will be.  In this recipe, the prebiotics are the oligosacharides provided by the leeks and onions. Lactobacillis (very beneficial) love to feed on oligosacharides.

A pair of gorgeous leeks loaded up in the trunk of the olive oil vendor's car at the Foothill Farmer's Market in Auburn, California.
Probiotics--  As for the probiotics in this soup, these are found in the fermented kefir, yogurt or live-cultured sour cream that I've dolloped on as a topping just before serving.  Homemade kefir has been shown to contain up to 50 different strains of beneficial bacteria that help promote superior gut health. These beneficial bacteria help us to digest our food properly, reduce inflammation, support our immune systems, influence hormone function and metabolism, break down vitamins and minerals and perform a myriad of essential functions that contribute to our good health.  The more we can cultivate a wide diversity of beneficial bacteria the more we will enjoy good health.

Homemade Kefir-- I like to make my own kefir from raw milk* (I live in California where raw milk is available for purchase), and I always encourage everyone to make their own kefir (it's easy, here's a link).  However, if you choose to buy store-bought yogurt or sour cream, make sure you buy a brand that says "live cultures".  Unfortunately, commercial brands supply only a handful of bacteria strains.  Bacteria are killed by high heat, so add the yogurt or sour cream to the bowls of soup at the very last minute and gently float it on top.

Bone Broth-- By the way, homemade bone broth is another food that is excellent for healing the gut and reducing inflammation of the intestinal lining.  (By the way, it takes only about 5 minutes of effort to toss the ingredients for homemade bone broth in a pot and after that, you just let it simmer.  For directions, see here.)

Fresh Peas laid out for sale at the Auburn, California Saturday Farmer's Market, May 2017.
Fresh or Frozen?  It's springtime and fresh peas are at the Farmer's Markets.  You can use fresh peas for this recipe, or if the shelling is simply too much work, use a package of frozen organic peas, as I did.

Pea Soup with Mint

2 Tablespoons coconut oil (I like butter flavored)
1 leek, cleaned, dark green sections discarded and chopped into 1/2" dice
1 onion, chopped into 1/2" dice
1 bag frozen organic peas, or fresh spring peas shelled
4 cups chicken broth (homemade, or store-bought from pasture-raised chickens)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh mint, rough chopped
Homemade kefir or yogurt, or store-bought live culture sour cream
Additional fresh mint or chives, fine chopped

Saute the onions-- In a soup pot, melt the coconut oil and add the leeks and onions.  Saute over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the peas, chicken broth, salt, pepper and mint.  Simmer over medium-low heat for at least another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

Puree--When all vegetables are softened, puree the mixture using a food processor, blender or blending stick.

To serve, top with a generous dollop of homemade kefir or yogurt (preferably made from raw milk, if available in your state) and bits of chopped fresh mint or dill, as desired.

More on gut health. 

*Raw milk contains many live probiotic strains, whereas the pasteurization process that most milk goes through in this country kills off the beneficial bacteria, which mostly can't survive above about 110-120 degrees.  Fermenting raw milk, which occurs in the process of making kefir and yogurt, cultivates and multiplies these beneficial raw milk strains and adds other strains, as well.

Friday, April 28, 2017

10 Minute Lunches--Wild Salmon Salad

Paleo, Low Carb, Anti-Inflammation, Gut Supportive, Gluten-free

There are three things I require from lunch.  One that it be healthy, two that it be quick to prepare and three that it tastes good.

This wild salmon salad features salmon which supplies valuable omega-3 fats, several healing vegetables, greens, fiber and a little raw sauerkraut for that essential daily hit of gut healing probiotics.

Simple to prepare and healthy to eat, this healthy salad starts with canned wild salmon and a quick raiding of the fridge veggie drawer.
The key to quick prep with this salad is to used canned wild salmon.  After I open the can, I comb through the contents quickly to remove any skin and bones.  I then add a nice big scoop of mayonnaise (I always look for a soy and canola oil free brand, such as Primal Kitchen, or I use homemade if I have some on-hand in the fridge). I then add sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dill and fresh lemon juice.  Next, I fine chop and stir in some fresh veggies.  In this case I used green onions, celery and red bell pepper.

For this salad, I placed some arugula and Napa cabbage on a plate (but use whatever greens you happen to have on hand), dribbled it with a little store bought Paleo salad dressing, added a sliced radish and a small forkful of sauerkraut to the side and topped it with the salmon mixture.

Be sure that you don't skip the sauerkraut (or any other fermented raw vegetables will do), they're critical for healing and maintaining a healthy gut, which, since almost all diseases start in the gut, is just about the most important thing you can do for your health.

And there you have it.  Fresh. Nutrient-dense. Delicious.  All in less than 10 minutes.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Adventure Bread goes Grain Free

If you've tried Josey Baker's gluten-free Adventure Bread, you'll know that it's brilliant with the first bite. Packed full of nuts and seeds, it has delicious flavor and texture, a rich dark color and it slices beautifully for sandwiches.  Although it is extremely tasty with savory flavors as in sandwiches, the nutty sweetness is just right for sweet snacking with jams and nut-butters, too.

The original Adventure Bread recipe is gluten-free and calls for rolled oats.  Really, it is sooooo tasty! But I wondered if it could be adapted to become entirely grain-free by taking out the oats and making some substitutions. Good news--the recipe works just as well with almond flour.

If, like me, you've made a lot of grain-free breads, you may have grown tired of their coconut flour taste and egg-y textures.  I know that I surely am.  After all, they're not really very bread-like, and they don't really taste like much.  The best thing you can say about them is that their slice-ability makes them a suitable platform to load on the good stuff.

But...lucky us!  Here's a grain-free recipe that is new, entirely different and that tastes more like an old world bread you might purchase in some charming European country town. It's not a light and airy "white bread", but it is definitely something you'll be happy to nosh on in its own right.  And loading it up with toppings or your favorite sandwich goodies only makes it that much better.

If you prefer the original Josey Baker Adventure Bread gluten-free recipe with oats, here's the link: adventure bread.   Or you can show up at his fabulous San Francisco bakery and buy a loaf for yourself! For the grain-free version, see below.

Before you start cooking, however, here's a note on psyllium seeds.  If you've never used them, you can find them at natural food stores and online.  Do not leave them out as they are the binding agent that replaces the gluten in traditional flour.  In fact, part of the brilliance of this recipe is the inclusion of a number of ingredients (psyllium, xantham, flaxmeal, chia) that create that "sticky" factor allowing this bread to hold together without the eggs required for other grain-free breads.

Grain-free Adventure Bread

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 cup sunflower seeds, hulled
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, hulled
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup flax seed meal
1/3 cup psyllium seed husks
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
3 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 tablespoons maple syrup (be sure to use real maple syrup)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups filtered water

Prepare the pan and oven--  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9" x 4" loaf pan (I sprayed mine with coconut oil spray.)

Toast seeds and nuts-- Spread the sunflower, pumpkin seed and almonds on a baking sheet and toast until they start to brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway during baking. The seeds may take less time to toast, so keep an eye on them. (You can skip this stage is you purchase pre-roasted seeds and nuts.) Remove from oven and increase the heat to 400 degrees.

Mix together--In a mixing bowl, add together the dry ingredients and stir.  Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients.  Stir together until everything is well combined.  Scoop mixture into the oiled pan and gently mash down to remove large air gaps.

Bake at 400 degrees on the middle rack for an hour or so.  Remove from the oven and, importantly, let the bread cool for 2 hours before cutting.

Josey recommends that to increase the flavor and texture, you serve this bread toasted and sliced thin (around 1/2"), but it's certainly plenty good served without toasting and anyway you want to slice it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Morning Lemonade Gut Tea

For some months now I've been starting my day with this anti-inflammatory tea that revs up the digestive processes.  What's in it?  Turmeric, ginger, black pepper and lemon.  It's a quite pleasant way to start the day and I find myself looking forward to my morning cuppa!

Improving gut health and function is one of the single most important things we can do for our health. After all, most diseases and conditions are triggered when things go wrong in the gut.  This tea is healing for the gut in two ways:

  1. It helps your stomach produce the acid that is essential for digestion (most people wrongly believe that the stomach produces too much acid, but when things go wrong in the stomach, it is often due to too little stomach acid and rarely too much. 
  2. The anti-inflammation herbs help soothe and heal the intestinal lining.

First thing in the morning-- It's important to drink this tea first thing in the morning and about 20 minutes before consuming any food. That allow the freshly squeezed lemon juice to stimulate the digestive acids in the stomach so that you are ready and able to efficiently digest your breakfast.

Don't forget the peppercorns-- Of course, turmeric and ginger are known inflammation reducers. Did you know, though, that black peppercorns enhance the absorption of the turmeric?  By the way, black peppercorns are the most effective.

Get the right temperature-- When steeping herbs, roots and flowers for tea, it's important to get the temperature at around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.  Water that is too hot can bring out acrid or acidic flavors in herbs and spices and water that is too cool will not be as efficient in coaxing the healing properties out.  Luckily, a traditional teapot that whistles, will alert you at the perfect moment.  Just fill the kettle with water and bring to a boil.  When you hear the whistle, turn off the burner immediately and toss in your herbs to steep.

The finer the dice, the better the steep-- Grating the ginger and turmeric roots will help them release more anti-inflammation micro-nutrients into the tea.  A micro-planer is the kitchen tool for the job. However, to be perfectly honest, if I am in a hurry, I simply slice the roots as thinly as I can and toss them directly into my teapot to steep.

Make enough to store for a few days in the fridge-- Rather than just making 1 cup, I make enough to last for almost a week.  That way I can just grab a cup of tea each morning, squeeze in my fresh lemon juice, guzzle it down and get on with my morning.  In the summer, a cooling cup right out of the fridge tastes refreshing, but in the winter time, I like to heat the tea in a small saucepan on my stove.

Sweet Tea?-- You can sweeten this tea with a little honey or stevia, if you prefer.  However, if you are avoiding all sweeteners, or if you are strictly into the healing and don't care about the pleasure, you can leave them out. I often have my tea without the honey or stevia, and I kind of like it that way.  The sour and peppery taste sort of shocks the body into gear, which I find helpful in the morning.

Good Morning Lemonade Gut Tea

8 cups of filtered or pure spring water
3/4" fresh ginger root, grated
1/2" fresh turmeric root, grated
5 whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving
1/8 teaspoon raw local honey per serving (or a bit of stevia), optional

Bring a teapot full of water to a boil.  While you're waiting for the pot to boil, grate a 3/4" piece of fresh ginger root with a micro-planer.  Then grate a 1/2 piece of fresh turmeric root.  Crush the five black peppercorns.  Pack a tea ball with the ginger, turmeric and peppercorns.  When the pot comes to a boil, turn off the heat immediately. Optimal temperature for steeping root teas is at 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water is the appropriate temperature, place the tea ball into the pot and let the roots and peppercorns steep for at least 10-20 minutes.  To serve, pour a cup full of tea, squeeze in the fresh lemon juice and stir in the honey or stevia, if desired.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Gorgeous French-style Einkorn Bread

As many of you know, I've been baking bread with low-gluten Einkorn flour for almost two years now.  When I first started, the recipes for Einkorn bread that I was able to find were rather crude and I combined a number of techniques to make a loaf that was, although very little effort to make, rather dense and heavy.

The Einkorn loaf I used to make--a bit of a hockey puck.. but little effort to make and better tasting than any other gluten-free bread I've found.

Oddly, that crude Einkorn loaf had a way of growing on people.  The strong sour dough flavors were almost addictive and despite the fact that it practically had to be cut with a table saw to be sliced, we liked it.  The recipe for this pretty much no-effort loaf is here.

Lately, I've been baking my Einkorn loaves according to Carla Bartolucci's recipe for "Classic French Boule" and I have to say that the texture and appearance of my bread has improved by leaps and bounds.  Bartolucci is the owner of the Jovial company in Italy.  Jovial markets biodynamic Einkorn flour here in the US and this is the flour that I use to make my bread.

Bartolucci first began experimenting with Einkorn flour after her young daughter developed a significant intolerance to gluten.  As you may know by now, if you've been following Eat Thrive Heal, Einkorn is an ancient grain with a very low gluten content.  Importantly, when you use Einkorn with a sour dough culture, the culture consumes much of whatever gluten remains.  Although we would not recommend Einkorn to people with Celiac disease, almost anyone with a gluten sensitivity or allergy can tolerate Einkorn.  I've done quite a bit of writing about Einkorn.  If you'd like to learn more, see here.

As I've worked with Einkorn flour, I've learned a few things:

1)  Einkorn flour does not like to be handled as much as modern wheat so very little kneading is required.  I usually only knead it for a minute or so, just 60 easy pushes and no more.

2)  Einkorn dough is much wetter and stickier than dough made from modern wheat.  Also, it's best if you give it a little resting time after combining it so that the flour can soak up the moisture.  (This is partly what was missing in my previous recipe for Einkorn bread.)  This creates some extra steps with frequent short rest periods in between, adding more prep time into the overall baking cycle.

3)  There are two things that give Einkorn bread good flavor.  The first is the sour dough culture, so be sure to allow your loaf plenty of time for the sour dough to develop in the rise. The second is the salt.  Use a high quality sea salt and be generous with it.  Bartolucci's recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, but I have been using 2 teaspoons of coarse Celtic sea salt and think even more would be better.  (No need to worry about sea salt causing health problems (see here).  

4)  Water temperature is very important.  Whether you are feeding your sour dough culture or adding water to your Einkorn dough recipe, making sure that your water is around 100 degrees is very important in getting good culture development or an efficient rise...too hot and it will kill your starter, or too cold and you won't get enough action quickly.

5)  You can boost your rise with your oven light.  I live in a snowy climate and our summers are cool.  My kitchen is often 65 degrees.  I've found that I can put my sour dough cultures or bread dough into my unheated oven and turn on only the oven light.  The light bulb in the oven creates enough heat to bring the temperature up just enough to become a perfect friendly environment for bread rising.  

Old Hocky Puck Recipe vs. New French-style Rustic Loaf

Don't chicken out--  My original recipe was simple.  I have to warn you that this will seem like a lot of extra needed steps and special equipment.  Getting a proper sour dough starter may feel overwhelming in itself.  I encourage you to persevere through all this, however.  The results are worth it.  And importantly, once you get the hang of all this, it's really surprisingly simple.

My old loaf on the left and Carla Bartolucci's on the right.  Which loaf looks best to you?

Stuff you'll need--  Making the Classic French Boule requires some special equipment.  Here's what you'll want to have on hand:

1)  Dutch Oven--  You'll need a Dutch oven or pyrex casserole dish with a lid.  I love baking my loaves in a small Le Crueset Dutch oven I've had for many years.  They come out perfectly, but I've also used a covered pyrex casserole dish with equal success. 

2)  Touch thermometer--  It's essential that the water you add be about 100 degrees.  You'll need a touch thermometer to be accurate.   

3)  Rattan rising baskets--  These aren't necessary but are really nice if you want to get the classic ribbed texture on the top of your loaves.  You can find these from a number of online resources.  Just look up bread baking proofing basket.  If you are using a round baking casserole dish, get a round proofing basket.  Since I bake in an oval Dutch oven, I use a 9" oval that I paid about $15 for.  

4)  A special bread slashing razor blade tool or poultry shears--  Getting the best rise requires slashing the bread dough right before baking.  You can use a specialty razor tool or you can just cut it with your poultry shears.  

5)  Sour dough Levain--  For directions on how to obtain or make a sour dough starter, see here.   Early the morning of, or the day before baking your bread, you'll want to feed your starter and create a Levain.  To do this, you'll add together 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of 100 degree water, 1 cup of all-purpose Einkorn flour plus 2 tablespoons of sour dough starter.  Bartolucci recommends that you let your Levain stand at room temperature for 6-10 hours but I find my levain is ready to go in just 2-3 hours.  The Levain is ready when the top is bubbly.  

6) Baking Timer--  You'll want to set your oven timer for a series of 15 minute rest periods.  

7)  Time--  Although there's not really all that much active prep time required in baking Einkorn bread, you'll need a full day of at-home time to do so.  There are several inactive periods in which you can run an errand or two, but you'll want to bake bread on a day when your schedule is flexible enough that your activities can be dictated by your bread's needs.  

Classic Einkorn French Boule 

5 cups Einkorn flour (plus more for dusting)
2 teaspoons (or more) high quality sea salt
1 batch sour dough Levain (as explained above)
1 1/3 cups warm water at 100 degrees

Combine--  In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients together and stir lightly until just barely combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Knead--  Lightly flour a kneading surface and knead the dough for a minute or two, about 60 gentle pushes.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic and let rest 15 minutes.  

Fold--  Put the dough back on your lightly floured kneading surface and gently but firmly press it into a rectangle about 12"wide x 9" high.  Fold it in thirds, folding the left side in and then the right side so that you have a long thin strip about 3-4" wide x 9" high. Press gently after each fold.  Turn the dough so that the 9" is now the width in front of you.  Fold the strip into thirds one more time, folding in the left and then the right sides, creating a nice square pillow shape.   Put the dough pillow into your bowl, cover with plastic and let rest 15 minutes. 

Fold again, rest, and fold again-- Repeat the folding sequence two more times, resting in between.  

The big rise--  After you've folded the dough three times, place the dough back in the plastic bowl and let it rise for 3-5 hours.  

The "punch" down--  Scrape the dough from the bowl and gently knead it a few times to "punch" it down.  Shape the loaf into an oval or round (depending on the shape of your proofing basket and Dutch oven). Generously flour your proofing basket and place your dough into it to rise again for 60-90 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees--  Place your Dutch oven or pyrex casserole dish into the oven until it reaches 500 degrees.  

Transfer and slash--  Remove the now hot Dutch oven or casserole dish from the oven and close the oven door to retain the heat.  Carefully turn your proofing basket upside down with one hand supporting the bread dough.  When the dough comes loose, gently place it into the hot Dutch oven or casserole dish.  Using a slashing razor or poultry shears, cut into the loaf on the top side about 1/2" deep, creating an attractive pattern.  I like to create a wide square within the oval shape of my loaf.  Slashing is important because it allows the loaf to rise even more once it hits the hot oven and this creates a lighter airier.  Put the lid on and place the Dutch oven or casserole dish into the oven to bake.  

Turn the oven down to 450 degrees--  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for 5 more minutes to brown the top.  

Remove and cool--  Using oven mitts, remove the loaf and place on a rack to cool for 2 hours before slicing.  

Keep-- You can wrap your loaf in a clean cotton towel and keep it out on your counter for up to 3 days.  Your loaf will keep for several weeks in your refrigerator, or you can freeze it in a sealed plastic bag.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creative Cranberries

Oops!  In a rush shopping job, I bought my cranberries at Costco and when it came time to unpack my groceries at home I realized that the bags was a giant 2 pounds!  That's a lot of cranberries.

In case you also have a few cranberries too many, here are a few delightful holiday recipes for cranberries.

For all you persimmon lovers out there, here is a pretty cranberry relish sauce made with our favorite autumn fruit, Fuyu persimmons...

Cranberry Sauce with Fuyu Persimmons

3 ½ cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons juice from mandarin or clementine
Zest from one mandarin or clementine
½ cup Sucanat or coconut sugar
3 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Bring cranberries, wine, juice, zest, sugar, salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add more sugar, to taste (up to about 2 1/2 tablespoons). Stir in persimmons.
Refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Make cranberries up to four days in advance. Add persimmons before serving.

And if you want to try a delicious twist, why not play on the sharp flavors in cranberries by adding sour cream and horseradish?  Not only great with Thanksgiving dinner, this version makes a fantastic accompaniment to leftover turkey sandwiches.  

Cranberry Sour Cream Sauce

2 cups raw cranberries
1 small or ½ large onion
½ cup coconut nectar
¾ cup sour cream with live cultures (buy at your local health food store or Whole Foods) or Homemade Sour Cream  
2 tablespoons horseradish

Blender— Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until just combined. 
Freeze— Put the mixture in a freezer-proof container and freeze overnight.
Thaw and serve--  Thaw the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator and serve.  

And finally, here's a healing adaptation for Cranberry Nut Bread that we think you're going to love...

Cranberry Einkorn Nut Bread

2 cups Einkorn flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut sugar (also known as palm sugar or coconut crystals)
Grated rind from 1 orange
2 tablespoons melted butter from pasture-raised cows
1/3 cup coconut nectar
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg, well beaten
1 ¾ cup chopped cranberries
¾ cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spary a 9 x 5 loaf pan with coconut oil.

Dry ingredients—In a mixing bowl, combine together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, coconut sugar and grated rind. 
Wet ingredients--  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the butter, coconut nectar, orange juice and egg.  Stir ingredients together until just combined.   
Nuts and fruits--  Stir in cranberries and pecans. 
Bake—Pour ingredients into baking pan and bake in the oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool and serve.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kale for the holidays.

Here's a pretty salad you can serve to guests this holiday season.  It's brimming with health and packed with healing phytonutrients.  Plus a salad like this is full of the prebiotics that the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system love to munch on.  Keeping your gut microbiome happy and healthy helps control obesity and diabetes, protects against auto-immune diseases and supports the immune system (to name only a few of the many benefits).

It just so happens that kale is one of the best prebiotic foods around.   Your gut bacteria loves kale.  And here's the good news, when it's served up in a delicious, seasonal and colorful salad like this, so does everybody else!

Holiday Salad with Kale and Persimmons 

¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches Dino Kale
12 ounces Brussels sprouts
½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (optional)
1 pomegranate
2 Fuyu persimmons

Combine lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend and set aside to allow flavors to combine.

Remove center stem from kale leaves and thinly slice the leaves. Trim the Brussels sprouts to remove the base and any discolored outer leaves, and grate or thinly slice the sprouts. Mix kale and Brussels sprouts in a large serving bowl.

To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, score 4 lines from top to bottom to quarter the pomegranate and tear it open into quarters. Hold each quarter over a bowl, seeds facing down and tap the skin with a wooden spoon, squeezing a little to release the seeds. Slice the Fuyu persimmons into bite-sized pieces.

Toast almonds in ½ cup of the oil in a skillet on medium high heat, stirring frequently until golden about two minutes. Remove from heat, transfer nuts to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

Slowly whisk the remaining olive oil into the lemon juice mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add dressing and cheese (optional) to the salad and toss to coat.  Add fruit and toss lightly. Garnish with the almonds.  (Or for a more festive individual salad, plate the greens and then garnish with the fruit and almonds.)