When Life Gives You Lemons #pickingupthepieces

During Portia Joyce Wellness’s Beyond The Resolutions: 11-Day, Winter Clean Eating Program, I probably use about 2 whole lemons in one day. My morning lemon elixir, to get my digestive enzymes started and to release toxins from my liver, alone uses 1 whole lemon for juicing. Then, throughout my day, I can possibly use a lemon or two for a massaged kale salad, to give a pâté some acidity or to season a soup. Thinking ahead, I realized there is a much wasted ingredient every time I juice a lemon and throw it in the trash.



The lemon zest is an essential part of flavoring in modern day cooking. Citrus fruit have the outer layer called a peel. The peel is made up of two parts, the flavedo and the pith. The pith is the white under layer of the peel which gives the citrus fruit its bitter characteristics. The flavedo, which is what the zest comes from, is the outer most layer of the peel. It contains the essential oils in citrus that is key to flavoring dishes without the use of its juice. Using the zest eliminates the addition of liquid and the “sour” and/or “sweet” taste of the fruit. The zest gives us the basic, yet powerful, flavor and smell of the fruit itself.


1. MICROPLANE/GRATER: This ingenious tool is designed to finely grate zest from citrus fruit such as lemons, limes, and oranges (oh, my). However, I have used my microplane to finely grate Parmagianno-Reggiano or hard cheeses, finely mince garlic, top off my coffee with ground nutmeg, or even use it to finely grate dark chocolate to top off a panna cotta. Depending on the size of the microplane or grater, you will get a different coarseness of zest.

  4414ZESTER_07_10_2012__17_55_32_456  microplane-zester-L 

2. ZESTER/CHANNEL KNIFE: This is very useful when trying to remove strips of zest from citrus fruit for garnish or to chop up finely and use as zest. The beginning product comes out a bit larger than if you were to just grate a lemon for zest finely. The channeling knife produces larger and longer ribbons of zest. Usually found on the opposite end of the zester or right beneath it on the same metallic piece. This is a great way to store citrus zest before use. Once ready to use, you can finely chop these ribbons of zest into a finer product.

                                                      brio-bar-zester-largezest1-300x260           citrus-zester


3. PEELER or PAIRING KNIFE: This method produces the largest portions of zest. This is the best way to zest citrus for later use. Whether using a peeler or knife, you just remove the zest, which is the first layer of rind. You never want to remove the white pith part of a citrus fruit. It is the most bitter part of the citrus. Removing these larger pieces can give you the best advantage of more yield. You can then julienne, cutting into long strips, them into a zest size, then finely chop those strips into a fine grated size. This is my favorite way of zesting in bulk to store for later use!


I take the zest and use it in many aspects of my cooking. I add orange zest into coffee to make an orange spiced coffee and some added cinnamon for more flavor. I always use lemon zest in making my homemade vinaigrettes or dressings. This is the best way I know to add the lemony citrus flavor to my recipe without adding additional acidity or liquid. Zest is amazing any way you use it. So please, next time you know you are about to juice lemons for a cleanse, drink, or recipe, ZEST IT FIRST! You never know when you need that extra burst of citrus in your life.

[SMN PLANTicious Recipe] Sunday Chili

I featured this chili recipe at my last Engine 2, 28-Day Challenge cooking class at Whole Foods Market, Henderson. it was a hit with the challengers as well as the “meat-eaters” back in the kitchen. This “Super Bowl Chili” is great for tailgating and for your next family gathering. I’m positive it’ll hold up at your next company Chili-Cookoff but just make sure you give me some kind of credit. ;-D

This particular chili recipe has been transformed three times before it was made into perfection. It started out as a friend’s vegan chili, then into my turkey/meat chili, then into this magnificent creation. This is everything a chili is described to be, hearty, spicy, bold, and comforting but of course built with my own spins and secrets. I promise that once eating this chili you may not go back to that boring crock-pot stew. If anything, take this as a base or guideline and run wild with it.


Ingredients: low sodium vegetable stock, corn, bell peppers, Anaheim chili peppers, red onions, garlic, whole peeled tomatoes, red kidney beans, pinto beans, tamari, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, thyme, ground black pepper, and two secret ingredients! (AS ALWAYS, IF YOU WANT THE FULL RECIPE, SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG AND LEAVE A COMMENT OR YOU CAN EMAIL ME DIRECTLY!)

Remember that this recipe and all of my PLANT-STRONG recipes will always be free of processed oils, meats, dairy, and extremely low to no added sodium!

What I love about this dish is that you get your complete proteins along with plenty of natural sources of vitamins and minerals. It’s also high in fiber and flavor! Like I said, use this as a guideline and add your favorite vegetables to this. Have fun with it and explore the seasoning section of your local all-natural grocer (WHOLE FOODS MARKET) and have at it. Remember that seasonings always count for “free flavor.” what I mean by that is that using dried herbs and seasonings pack your dish full of flavor and absolutely no calories!


If you liked this blog or want the full recipe for this or any other dish, subscribe and leave a comment. You can also email me at servemenowcatering@yahoo.com.

FOLLOW ME on TWITTER: @servmenow or on FACEBOOK: Serve M.E. Now