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I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, taking advantage of the last round of cool days before the heat of summer really sets in.

When roasting vegetables, I almost always go with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), but roasting cauliflower with coconut oil somehow elevates it to a whole new level. Coconut oil is not as heart healthy as EVOO, but it’s nice to use once in a while. And with this simple side dish you are getting in your cruciferous vegetable, so it all balances out.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small (1-1/2 to 2″) florets

2 tablespoons coconut oil

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.

Spread cauliflower florets on a large cookie sheet in a single layer. Melt coconut oil in small pan then drizzle onto florets. Stir and turn florets gently with a spoon to coat evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pop into oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it; you might want to remove from oven and stir halfway through cooking. You want the cauliflower to be golden brown, with the tips just beginning to char.

Remove from oven when done, let rest for a minute, and enjoy!

Serves 4.

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At the farmer’s market in Michigan, I picked up four perfect candy onions. (I mean, who can resist that name?) This recipe produces insanely delicious sweet, slightly crispy onions that would complement a million things, but I end up just eating them as they are. And of course they are good for you…. onions have anti-inflammatory benefits and protect your body in all sorts of ways, we all know about olive oil, and even maple syrup provides the antioxidant benefits of manganese and zinc.  Note: there is a slight bit of technique involved here, but your patience and attentiveness will be highly rewarded!

4 medium candy, sweet, or Vidalia onions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 good dashes salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Peel outermost layers of onions; trim off stem and root ends; cut in halves, then into thin slices. In large saute pan, warm olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion slices and stir with spatula to coat with oil. Spread the slices evenly in the pan and allow to cook for ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with salt, give it a stir. You may need to adjust the heat to prevent onions from burning or drying out. Feel free to add a bit more oil as well to avoid this. Stir frequently as all slices become softened.

Continue cooking the onions for up to an hour. Keep an eye on them, stirring only when the onions begin to brown but before they begin to burn; this is what helps caramelize them. After 25 minutes or so, you might want to lower the heat and stir and scrape the browned bits more often. Add the maple syrup for flavor and to encourage the caramelizing process. Watch, stir, and scrape until the onions are very soft and nicely browned. Splash with balsamic vinegar, stir well. Let rest for a few minutes and serve.

Serves 4-6 as a topping or side.

This very simple recipe is elevated by the quality of its seasonal ingredients, making beautiful use of all those ripe tomatoes you have in your garden or just picked up at the farmers’ market. It’s super healthy because it really doesn’t need dressing; the ripe tomatoes and all of the flavors just meld into a celebration of summer.

6-8 Ripe summer tomatoes, thinly sliced  (no need to peel or remove seeds)

2 Sweet or Vidalia onions, very thinly sliced

2 Cucumbers, peeled if not organic, very thinly sliced

Salt

Fresh ground pepper

A bit of chopped fresh basil, dill, or parsley if desired

Layer the bottom of a large salad bowl with cucumber slices.  Follow with onion slices, then layer on tomato slices. Generously season with salt, pepper, and herbs if you are using. Continue layering in this order until all ingredients are used. Chill in the refrigerator for about two hours to allow flavors to blend.