greeny greens for days on end
The best part about summer, in my opinion, is the garden bed full of greens outside my kitchen window. I peer down from the second floor and take a glimpse every morning; I can't help but press my lips into a smile as I grind coffee beans for the French-press. After, I walk down the back stairway with scissors in hand to clip a variety of greens for breakfast and, later, lunch.
Never, ever, will I get enough.
I enjoy the complexity of a bowl of mixed greens: arugula, nasturtium, mizuna, broccoli greens, bibb, and curly endive, just to name a few. Each offers something different for the palate.
There are days when I'll eat an entire head of lettuce, or 12 cups of assorted greens (if you don't believe me, ask my partner Adi), and I won't realize it until I'm finished feasting. Whether they're mixed with fresh corn, kohlrabi, radish, chickpeas, za'atar, or raspberries - I'll eat them every which way. My favorite lately has been lightly sautéed greens on a mezze platter with cooked chickpeas and shakshuka-spiced carrots, assorted cucumbers, labneh, sautéed radish (with its greens), Jordanian olives (unpitted), Bulgarian feta, and lavash.
I know I don't have to tell you greens are good for you, but I will anyway: They're full of phytochemicals, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin K, fiber, iron, and folate. Low in calories and high in protein per calorie.
Not so sure you can eat them on a regular basis? I bet I could get you to eat my greens - just ask the participants from this month's cooking class I taught at Blue Cross Blue Shield (see list of up coming FREE classes). On the menu: charred napa cabbage with a miso lime dressing (see below).
Regardless if greens are new to you OR you're trying to get more in your diet, try some of these simple strategies:
and now, a recipe
Charred Napa cabbage with miso lime dressing
1 head Napa cabbage, cut lengthwise
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp miso
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 lime, freshly juiced
1. Heat a large cast iron pan with oil. When hot, add the cabbage, cut side down and cook until it develops char, about 4-5 minutes. Rotate every few minutes until all sides are charred.
2. Meanwhile, mix the miso and butter until well-combined in a small bowl.
3. Apply miso butter to cabbage and bast periodically to the cabbage as it is cooking. The total cook time will vary, depending on the heat and size of cabbage, about 10-15 minutes.
4. When all sides are charred, remove from heat and squeeze fresh lime juice.
berserk for berries
Over the past couple weeks, I have been overwhelmed with the abundance of raspberries from the garden outside my bedroom window. I start my day by wandering to the raspberry bush to harvest a few berries. Carefully, I reach for the ripest of berries. It takes but one delicate pluck of my fingers before it drops into the palm of my hand. One for me, two for yogurt parfaits. One for me, two for Adi's sunflower butter toast...
I simply cannot get enough.
Naturally, I grab one more raspberry and pop it into my mouth before heading back to kitchen to prepare breakfast.
6 oz. Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 cup freshly picked raspberries, rinsed
1/8 cup mixed toasted grains and/or seeds (quinoa, oats, and sesame in equal parts)
2 sprigs fresh mint, torn
In a bowl, layer in order: Greek yogurt, raspberries, mixed grains/nuts, and finally fresh mint.
raspberry nut butter toast
1 slice seeded whole grain bread, toasted
1 tbsp sunflower butter
2/3 cup raspberries, rinsed and drained
Apply sunflower butter to toast and top with raspberries. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt and serve.
can't stop, won't stop
Why let the fun stop there, I thought. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I decided to puree the remaining 3 quarts of berries to make fruit leather. And what perfect timing: Next week I will be venturing west via Amtrak to Glacier National Park with my favorite human in the entire planet, Adi. We'll be backpacking into the park, hiking 10 miles each day, so we'll need plenty of nourishment to keep us going - check back for updates and more backpacking recipes!
Sure, you can buy fruit leather in the store. Once you discover how easy it is to make, however, you'll think twice before reaching for those Fruit Roll-ups or extra-fancy organic brands.
The recipe I'm about to share has only 2 ingredients. No corn syrup, dextrose, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, citric acid, sodium citrate, acetylated monoglycerides, fruit pectin, malic acid, ascorbic acid, natural flavors, or artificial colors.
Now, the recipe:
raspberry roll-ups, a childhood favorite
kid tested, mother approved
Makes 4-5 trays
3 quarts raspberries
2 tbsp agave
Puree ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour onto parchment lined dehydrator trays, about 1/4-1/8" thick. If using a fruit leather tray, you may want to lightly apply a neutral oil to keep from sticking. Use a spatula to smooth out evenly. Turn on dehydrator to 135F and heat for 4-6 hours, depending on thickness of your fruit puree.
When done, peel off tray and roll between parchment to prevent the fruit leather from sticking to one another.
Still hungry? Check out more raspberry inspirations like my raspberry rhubarb galette.
Rhubarb has finally made its way back into my kitchen, and I am super pumped to share with you how I use rhubarb. Yes, it's often used in sweet preparations, but I'm here to share other fun ways to enjoy it in savory dishes.
Before I delve into the recipes, let's begin with rhubarb basics: Rhubarb is a member of the knotweed family, which includes sorrel and buckwheat. Years before you or I were on this planet, rhubarb was found in China, Russia, Mongolia, and other parts of Central Asia. Traded originally as a luxury good, many sought out for its use as a detoxifying agent and curative herb.
Choose firm, red stalks over green ones. The green lends itself to sour notes.
When preparing rhubarb, first remove the large green leaves. They are extremely high in oxalic acid, which is poisonous and toxic to humans and some bugs when eaten in large amounts. The leaves can be used in insecticides, so if you have critters to fend off in the garden, explore its use as a DIY insecticide.
Store in a bag wrapped in a towel inside the refrigerator for up to 1 week to prevent them drying out. Not going to use them within the week? Freeze it! Instead of storing in the refrigerator, simply cut the cleaned rhubarb into small, even pieces. Put in a freezer bag and close. Make sure all air is emptied and freeze for up to one year.
In the kitchen, rhubarb requires balance dues its strong tartness, which is typically with sugar. Apart from the obvious uses like pie, bars, jams, and other desserts, try them pickled, in a porridge or stir-fry, as a compote, braised, or as a savory sauce over meat or fish!
Tartness can vary from stalk to stalk. If possible, start with less sugar and gradually add more along the way.
According to the USDA National Data Base, 1 cup roughly provides:
25 kcal, 1g protein, 5.5 g CHO (2 g fiber), and is high in (5%) calcium, (5%) potassium, (8%) vit C, magnesium, and phosphorous, (22%) vitamin K.
Ramp & Rhubarb Chutney
Makes roughly 1 ½ cups: serve with grilled cheese, use as a side on a cheese plate, or serve along spicy Indian food with naan.
1 Stalk of rhubarb, chopped
6 to 7 stalks of ramps, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
⅓ cup White Wine
1 teaspoon White Distilled Vinegar
Serve alongside split pea croquettes (or any vegetable croquette for that matter) or grilled meat/fish.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 ½ hours (includes chilling time)
Yield: approximately 8 cups
8 cups chopped rhubarb
8 cups onions, thinly sliced
7 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Chop rhubarb into rough dice; set aside.
2. Add onions to separate bowl. Cover with boiling water; let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and discard water.
3. In heavy-bottomed pot, dissolve sugar in cider vinegar on medium heat. Add onions, rhubarb, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Stir well. Cook, stirring often, until it reaches a thick jam-like consistency, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Remove from heat; let cool. Place in jar and refrigerate.
Makes about 1 cup. This goes great in a simple shaved asparagus salad, in a taco, or on a pickle plate with other accoutrements.
2 rhubarb stalks, sliced on a diagonal
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Ras el hanout
Why spend money on a spice blend when you can just make it yourself at a fraction of the cost? You'll never buy blends again - especially the ones that are a challenge to find in the first place.
When I first read about ras el hanout, I had no idea what it was. It started appearing in recipes and conversation, so I turned to Google to learn more. Soon enough, I discovered ras el hanout as a Moroccan sweet, spicy, and savory spice blend. It had me intrigued, and soon I realized how challenging it was to find in my local grocer. Shortly thereafter, I was back on the computer searching for a recipe.
My search showed an endless list of variations. I chose one at random, and ever since I've been concocting my own personal blend. It's now just how I like it, and I use it in many savory dishes with fish, chicken, bean, lentils, grains, and far too many vegetables to count.
Happily, ras el hanout sits, displayed on my spice rack with a permanent presence.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight in a cool, dark place.
If you like this spice blend, you'll love baharat as well. It's a widely used Middle Eastern spice blend, similar to ras el hanout. Get it here.
Dukkah, an Egyptian nut & spice blend, is the perfect topping for salads or grilled fish. I use it weekly to jazz up a simple salad. My current favorite is tossing grilled asparagus spears with fava beans, fresh mint, a generous pinch of dukkah, and olive oil. Serve over rice topped with yogurt, and you have yourself a satisfying pilaf.
But don't take my word for it, taste for yourself:
dukkah, the recipe
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
½ cup toasted hazelnuts
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint leaves
2 teaspoon sea salt
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, caraway, and fennel until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Put spices into a spice grinder or mortar and grind/crush to a powder. Add the sesame seeds, hazelnuts, mint, and sea salt.
Check out other unique spice blends like baharat or ras el hanout. You won't regret making them, I promise.
Crêpe (pronounced with a hard e, as in "ep" like depths of flavor, not "ape" like in paper), is a French staple, resembling a thin pancake, and eaten throughout the day. When people think of crêpes, they often think of the all-purpose sort, made with eggs and dairy, feather-light and thin. However, crêpes did not start out with those ingredients. In fact, it started out using buckwheat flour, water, and salt.
That's it! They were originally gluten and egg - free ;)
The original crêpe was made in Breton, in the Brittany region of France. When used in a savory dish, buckwheat crêpes take on a new name called a galette.
I chose to embrace Breton's tradition and have a go at making three different versions, using buckwheat flour as my base. It's necessary to first try recipes as they were intended, so my first version included the three traditional ingredients: buckwheat, water, and salt. But I also wanted to play with the flavors to enhance and aerate the batter. The second version included 60 g egg and the third version, 60 g kombucha.
(See recipes below and try them for yourself. Try one or all leave a comment saying which you preferred)
The next question is: What do I put inside/on these beautiful buckwheat delicacies?
Answer: I had a home delivery of Jen's Jars (check out the pics below), after getting to know Jen herself, so I knew exactly what I was going to use. She uses (mostly) Minnesota-grown, 100% plant-based ingredients in her products (and no preservatives!). I dove into the Easter basket for the raw cacao dark chocolate spread, first. I then tried a few using the spinach and pine nut pesto.
I kept it simple the first time, using only fresh pear to accompany the raw cacao spread. I added a combination of fresh and dried cherries to the next batch. For a more savory approach, I made a round of galettes with some with the pesto, adding a tomato-and-beet salad, and another topped with gruyère cheese.
The possibilities are endless: It's been nearly a week, and I still have one pint of batter left. Each time it's different, and it's difficult to say which flavors I like best.... But why choose one when I can have them all?
buckwheat crépes, the recipe
Makes ~4 cups batter
250 g buckwheat flour
750 ml water
8 g salt
250 g buckwheat flour
690 ml water
60 g egg (1 whole egg)
8 g salt
250 g buckwheat flour
690 ml water
60 g kombucha
8 g salt
Butter for the coating the pan
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat together until well combined.
2. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
3. Remove from refrigerator for at least 1 hour before making the galettes/crêpes.
4. Use a crêpe pan or non-stick pan and heat until it's hot. Wipe out the pan and add a bit of butter. Pour 2-3 ounces into the pan and use a wooden spreader to swirl the batter. Option to add more butter on top, cooking for roughly one minute. Top with filling of your choice and cook for another minute. Option to apply filling later as I did with some salads. Total cook time is about 3 minutes.
Garlic is incredibly versatile, and a great complement to just about any food. There are hundreds of varieties available, but the type of garlic you use, its age, and how you store it can have a big impact on the final dish.
The good news? It's actually quite difficult to mess up your dish by adding garlic - simply because it will still be delicious.
Roasted garlic is an easy win on flavor, but did you know that the health benefits of garlic are far greater when you slice into it?
How does it work?
When garlic is crushed, grated, chopped, or minced, the enzyme allinase converts alliin into allicin. Through a series of chemical reactions, it releases its' defense mechanism, which is responsible for unleashing those cholesterol and blood pressuring lowering capabilities, along with reducing risk for developing some cancers.
Keep in mind that you'll want to wait about 10-15 minutes before using to maximize on those health properties. You'll also want to bear in mind that too much heat can kill the allicin, which is what you want to retain. If you eat the garlic raw OR wait at least 10-15 minutes before heating -cooking- the garlic, you're good to go.
Interestingly, the health benefits may also hold true with other sulfur containing foods like cruciferous vegetables. You know these guys. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli are just a few of my favorites from this category of vegetables. The link is allicin, which is a general name for a class of sulfoxides.
Now, for some garlic inspiration: Homemade mock duck
Mock duck, the ultimate wheat 'meat'
Mock duck, also known as seitan, is wheat gluten made from gluten, which is the primary protein that makes up wheat. When wheat flour dough is washed in water, all the starch is removed and the gluten remains. When prepared correctly, it looks incredibly similar to meat, which is why it has taken the stage for many meat substitutes. As an added bonus, it's incredibly high in protein and low in fat.
One ounce of vital wheat gluten roughly contains 104 kcal and 21 g protein.
Who said vegans can't eat enough protein? If they're eating this, they are likely meeting their nutritional protein needs.
But how do you make it?
Mock duck, the recipe
Makes 8 servings
2 cups vital wheat
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ginger, grated
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
3 tbsp tamari
2 tsp sesame oil
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup tamari
kombu or other seaweed (optional)
1" knob ginger
In a bowl, combine vital wheat, garlic, and ginger.
In pot, heat vegetable stock with tamari and sesame oil. Just before it comes to a boil, pull from heat and add to bowl of dry ingredients. Knead for 3-5 minutes, rest 10 minutes, then knead another 3-5 minutes. Allow to rest once again and begin heating broth in a large stock pot.
Simply add 4 cups vegetable stock with tamari, seaweed, and ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cut small bite-sized pieces of dough using kitchen shears or a knife. Carefully add the small dough balls into the broth and keep submerged as best as possible. Cook at a simmer for 50-60 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Add to a stir fry, salad, stew, curry, you name it! You can also substitute meat dishes with the mock duck and modify the above recipe with different seasonings. You can also add other aromatics to the broth like lemongrass, curry leaves, or cinnamon sticks.
Try modifying these recipes by replacing the meat/seafood: revivify me salad, Vietnamese shrimp and noodle salad, or lamb kofte.
the truth behind grains
In honor of National Nutrition Month (March), and National Grain Sampling Day (March 27th), I thought I would highlight a basic grouping of food that's recently received a lot of attention, both good and bad: Grains.
We know grains to be good for our bodies. Yet, at the same time, we are told directly and indirectly through diet trends and fads to avoid them - especially those containing gluten. "Keto this, low carb that..."
Well, I'm here to set the record straight.
Before I begin delving into the health benefits and explain why you may want to include them into your diet, however, it's important to first understand the definition and anatomy of a whole grain.
Whole grains are defined by the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA as consisting of, "intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ, and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain." This includes sorghum, wheat, barley, millet, buckwheat, oats, corn, brown rice, etc.
(get a comprehensive list here).
The bran, which is the multi-outer layer of a whole grain, consists of insoluble fiber, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Similarly, the germ or embryo contains fiber and B vitamins, but it also has some protein, minerals, and healthy fats. The endosperm is the germs supply of energy and is the largest portion of the whole grain. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals. Refined grains only contain the endosperm, which means they are inferior to whole grains and contain fewer nutrients. During processing, the bran and germ are removed. Some processed products become enriched with the nutrients that were lost in the processing; however, they still remain low in fiber (1).
Existing evidence indicates that whole grains has proven health benefits, largely from observational studies showing an association with whole grain consumption and disease risk reduction. More specifically, studies have shown that whole grains can lower the risk of chronic diseases like CHD, diabetes, and cancer while aiding in weight management and digestive health (2). Most of these studies findings suggest a minimum of 3 servings a day is necessary to achieve optimum benefits.
It's important to note, that, even while whole grains are healthy for some, most even, they may not be good for everyone i.e. for those with food allergies and/or intolerances, some whole grains may not be suitable. When determining if grains should be included in your diet, speak with a registered dietitian (myself included).
If you are excluding foods - and this goes for all food avoidances - it's wise to know what you may be missing out on nutritionally, which is why I highly suggest you work with an expert.
now on to the fun part: cooking with whole grains
I love eating grains in a variety of clever ways. Sometimes, I'll just take classic recipes and swap out the type of grain used within the recipe. For instance, porridge is often made with oats. But who says you can't make porridge with quinoa or rye flakes instead? Take it one step further and try making your porridge a savory one at that. Add an egg or parmesan cheese for extra protein and/or add roasted peppers to sneak in move veggies. We all know the challenges of getting those vegetables, so why not add them to your porridge? Make it fun.
Here are some of my favorites:
Asian grain bowl -or- any DIY grain bowl
Baharat spiced potato kibbeh
What's your favorite way to eat grains? Or are they something you've been avoiding? Leave a comment and share your favorite recipe, or what you've been using as a substitute.
whole grain Q & A
What's a serving size you may ask?
1 serving of whole grains is equivalent to roughly 1/2 cup cooked grains or 1 slice of bread
How are sprouted grains different from whole grains?
Sprouted grains are grains that straddle the line between a new plant and a seed. When whole grains are sprouted, the amount and bio-availability of some nutrients increases, notably vitamin C, B vitamins, amino acids, and fiber. Interestingly, sprouted grains may also be less allergenic to those with sensitivities.
Which grains are gluten free?
Most! These include, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, sorghum, oats*, rice, quinoa, and teff. Wheat containing grains include varieties like spelt, kamut, farro, durum, bulgur, semolina, barley, rye, triticale, and oats*.
How do you substitute for whole grains in baking?
When making substitutions, you'll need to consider what role the flour plays in the recipe. For instance, modifying a recipe that originally calls for all-purpose may affect the structure when you start adding a whole grain or whole wheat flour. If you're unsure, experiment. I like to start playing with a ratio of 2 parts all purpose to 1 part whole wheat (i.e. for a recipe that calls for one cup all-purpose flour, I will add 1/3 cup whole wheat + 2/3 cup all-purpose). Each recipe may be different from another, and soon enough you'll begin to develop an affinity for whole-wheat.
Hungry for more? Read my latest on the history of cake or modify my carrot, parsnip cake using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.
How to Marie Kondo your sweet side
I'm a dietitian - and I love cake! It sparks joy in my life. And, if it also sparks joy in yours, then there's no reason you shouldn't have some as well.
Food is food. Cake included. But, as the result of the recent war on sugar, there has been an overabundance of cake shaming. I am far too often approached by clients to talk about the "bad" foods (like cake) in our lives, using negative language to describe foods that are less healthy.
Sure. Cake is not the healthiest of food choices. But cake is not in and of itself the problem. It's about portion distortion. It's about a lack of moderation. And it's about people's relationship with food. These are the things that truly need to be addressed.
When enjoyed in moderation, cake can fit easily into most healthy lifestyles. Contact me here to discuss further how you can have your cake and eat it too while trying to adopt a healthier relationship with food in general.
And, importantly, cake is not just dessert: It's a celebration of life, commitments, joy, and special occasions. This is why I've decided to highlight the awesomeness of cake. It is, after all, my birthday month, and I do love a nice slice of cake.
...Not an entire cake, just a slice ?
a cakewalk through time
It's difficult to determine exactly when bread became cake for the first time - especially as, for many years, there wasn't a distinction made between the two. But we do know cake has been in existence for centuries, used in ancient beliefs and rituals, and made as offerings to the gods and spirits.
In the beginning, cakes were made less sweet and leavened with yeast or eggs. Much like bread. In fact, some of the earlier 'cakes' were flat and dense (not nearly as dessert-delicious as the soft and fluffy cakes we have today). Adding yeast and eggs allows for the lightening of dough by adding air - though both were/are time-consuming and require great skill to get just right.
Then: In walks bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Using these two ingredients allowed for a consistently airy, structured cake that is much easier for all of us to make. This, in turn, allowed cakes to become more diverse, creative, and more-or-less foolproof even for novice bakers to put together.
These two ingredients also led to the advent of commercial baking.
In the early 1930's, P. Duff and Sons took home baking to a new level when they out with a cake mix requiring only one added ingredient: eggs! It wasn't a hit until World War II, however, when housewives around the United States were going back to work, spending less time in the kitchen. Betty Crocker was taking over America's home kitchens. It was a simple, and delicious solution to a great change in the country. But food, and cake, was also quickly evolving into something, perhaps, a bit more concerning: As we've grown into convenience as a society, we've risked lowering the value in the traditions we once placed on foods. Including cakes.
But, as is often the case, there are still two sides to this coin (cake): While we might have lowered the quality of foods with increased packaging and commercial ease, we've also increased their accessibility, allowing people to connect to their traditions and making celebrations of life a more simple affair.
As it should be.
It's only when we go beyond these simple joys, indulging even when we have nothing to celebrate, and then indulging again and again to the point where our celebrations blend together with the our daily meals and we forget the importance of balance, that this becomes a problem.
Again: Cake is not the issue. No more blaming cake. It's only our short memories that are to blame.
Again: If you want to have a slice, you should. Go ahead! Just remember to be respectful of your body and cognizant of when enough is enough.
Now, on to the good stuff. Looking to spark joy with a few cakes this weekend? Try these amazing cakes, Marie Kondo style: My half-birthday cake (carrot, parsnip cake), a sweet and spicy honey cake, and tart, sweet raspberry rhubarb galette.
Whether it's a birthday, an anniversary, a longstanding tradition, or just the tired end to a long and successful week you're celebrating, I promise one, or all, of these will surely do the trick.
And, when you're finished baking, read this article next for a few more sweet treats and joyful eats: DIY Food Gifts.
baharat, the spice
Baharat means "spice" in Arabic, and is widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It's a wonderful blend of spices (see recipe below to try it for yourself) that can often be difficult to find in grocery stores throughout the Americas. The blend varies from region to region, but typically contains black peppercorns, allspice, cloves, coriander, paprika, nutmeg, and cumin. A little goes a long way - if you are one to experiment, less is more in this case.
You'll find this spice blend in a variety of traditional eats like kebbeh (see below for recipe as well), sambusak, chicken skewers, or really any type of meat or rice pilaf. It's also used in marinades, pastes, soups, and sauces to add an extra smoky, sweet depth to flavor.
-modified from the featured cookbook club of the month, Together: Our Community Cookbook
Makes roughly 1/4 cup
1 tbsp cinnamon, ground
1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
Combine all spices and mix until well combined. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Lebanese in origin, kebbeh is more commonly a meat dish with ground lamb or beef mixed with bulgur and spices. It can be shaped, stuffed, fried, poached, baked, or eaten raw. Typically, it's accompanied by many other foods as part of a maza, an array of Middle Eastern appetizers.
Inspired by these flavors and looking to warm up a particularly cold Minnesota evening, I originally made the kebbeh as a side for dinner. Delicious. The following morning, I decided to try something a little different: Top it with an egg and serve with a side salad for breakfast. And, due to only having one egg in the house for two people (my boyfriend Adrian was hungry as well - aren't they always? ?), I substituted Greek yogurt for another version.
Both were exceptional choices, but if you're pro egg, then go with the sunny side egg. The rich yolky center seeps into the kebbeh and melds beautifully.
And now, the recipe:
potato kebbeh (vegetarian version)
Serves 8 slices
1 lb potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 shallot, minced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp baharat (see above recipe)
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil (plus more for the pan)
Preheat oven to 425F
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes with plenty of salt.
2. Soak the bulgur in cold water for 10 minutes, drain well (squeeze out moisture), and set aside.
3. Oil a 9" pie pan and set aside.
4. When potatoes are finished cooking, pass through a ricer in a mixing bowl. Combine bulgur, shallot, paprika, baharat, and flour.
5. Press mixture into prepared pan. Score into 8 servings and make a 1/2 inch hole in the center. Fill with olive oil and drizzle remaining on top.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Serve with an egg (or Greek yogurt) and a side salad. I kept the salad simple: shaved radicchio, orange segments, blackberries, and purple radish slices in a red wine vinaigrette.
Hungry for more? Check out my latest post on citrus to add a little extra flair to winter.
citrus for the skin
Food waste is a huge problem. This has been true for years. In fact, we waste 150,000 tons of food per day here in America. But, the good news is, there is plenty we can do, as we cook and create, to help mitigate the effects of food waste, and cut back on the things we throw away.
For example, there are benefits hidden amongst the food scraps you might normally toss in the trash. Today, we're going to focus on one specific ingredient that is especially potent in winter: Citrus. We'll learn not only how to keep those special extra bits from ending up in landfills, but also how they can be turned into delicious treats sure to impress your friends and family.
No need to toss the peels after cooking with citrus, because you can save the peels to make your own skin care line. Vitamin C helps protect your skin while also giving it that glow, renewing damaged skin. Additionally, the citric acid from citrus kills bacteria and pathogens present on the skin, which leaves you feeling fresh and clean.
1. Dry your peel by removing the pith (white part of citrus) from the rind (the colored part) using a knife. Dehydrate for several hours using a dehydrator or oven (150F) for about 8 hours.
2. Grind when completely dry.
3. Combine 1 tbsp with 2 tbsp plain yogurt and 1 tsp honey until thoroughly mixed.
1. Massage into wet, damp skin.
3. Pat dry.
4. Store citrus scrub in refrigerator.
mint, orange skin toner
Makes 12 ounces
This will deep clean your skin and tighten your pores after cleansing, and is especially good for those with oily skin.
3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
Peel of 1 medium orange
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp witch hazel
1. Place mint leaves and peels in a ceramic bowl and pour boiling water over. Allow to steep and cool completely.
2. Strain out mint leaves and peels and stir in the witch hazel. Pour into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid.
Apply toner to your skin after cleansing with a clean cotton pad OR put in a spray bottle to spritz after bathing.
lemon face pack
Great for those with sensitive skin, frequent rashes, and sunburned skin. The yogurt helps reduce inflammation and irritation, while the lemon lightens the sin tone and acts as an astringent.
1 tsp yogurt
1 tsp lemon peel (dried and ground)
2 drops rose water
1 drop sandalwood oil
1. Add all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Apply to skin evenly. Allow to absorb in skin for 10 minutes.
3. Rinse with cold water.
There's more to citrus than just Vitamin C. We don't hear as much about the other health benefits and reasons to celebrate citrus, so, today, I'm going to do my best to redefine everything you thought you knew about citrus, and hopefully increase your appetite for more.
Rich in fiber, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, B6, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and potassium, these nutritional compounds found in citrus can reduce the risk for many chronic diseases. In general, a piece of citrus the size of a baseball is equivalent to one serving of fruit, ranging from 60 - 80 kcal unless its lemon juice. One tablespoon of juice is equivalent to 4 kcal.
These calories come mostly from simple carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, sucrose, and even citric acid to a smaller extent). However, the fiber content, which is complex carbohydrate, is largely from pectin. This is especially important, as fiber allows for increased satiety and delay of gastric emptying (both are good!). Ultimately, promoting a heart healthy diet that keeps you fuller for longer.
The vitamin breakdown
Water-soluble, with an important role in the formation of collagen throughout the body, iron absorption, and antioxidant functions. Contrary to what many believe, vitamin C does not prevent colds; it reduces the length and severity of the symptoms.
Water-soluble that is essential for cell production and growth, specifically in the production of DNA and RNA.
Mineral that works to maintain body's water and acid balance. It is also an electrolyte with a key role in muscle contraction and maintenance of blood pressure.
Monoterpenes, limonoids (triterpenes), flavanoids, carotenoids, and hydroxycinnamic acid are some of more commonly studied phytochemicals. What most of these do for our bodies is still being explored as we continue to perform research. However, we do know these naturally occurring compounds have anticarcinogenic mechanisms, and antioxidant capabilities.
MORE in the work, under review for possible positive influence of citrus:
Examples of citrus
Now that we know it's good for us, what are examples of citrus...other than our trusted orange
How to add citrus to your diet
Citrus provides an amazing burst of flavor and color to break through these gray winter days. Now that you have the knowledge and ideas to get you started, get out there and get cooking!
If you're looking for help to achieve your food and nutrition goals, please reach out to me for a free 15-minute consultation. We can discuss how I can help you with goals, meal planning, and more.
Explore my page to learn more.
Still hungry? Check out my recipes page to get inspired, or to try something new. One of my favorites this time of year is the Brazilian fish stew.
DIY food gifts
Looking for last minute gifts that are extra special and unique? Try making one of the following food gifts that won't break the bank, and yet show you care.
DIY gifts are always a hit!
Make each recipe your own. Choose from a variety of vanilla beans and/or alcohol for the extract recipe & different herbs and syrups for the elixir recipe.
Homemade vanilla extract
It's as easy as pie...
except not, because it's actually easier!
Follow these simple steps to make your own extract and gift to loved ones.
You can use any vanilla bean, but know that each variety will have a different flavor and quality with unique characteristics. Bourbon and Madagascar are common and full bodied while the Tahitian is fruity with floral and Mexican is spicy. Blend different varieties for complexity. And while we're at it, a note about the alcohol. Keep it neutral using vodka OR bourbon, brandy, and rum for a sweeter, caramel flavor. Don't use top-shelf either; inexpensive alcohol works well.
4-6 vanilla beans*
8 ounces alcohol*
Split vanilla beans half lengthwise. You may need to cut into smaller pieces to fit your jar, so cut according to the size of your jar or bottle.
Place vanilla beans in a clean jar or bottle, submerge with alcohol. Cover, shake, and infuse for at least one month. Store in a cool, dry place and shake from time to time.
(option to strain).
Tie a bow around the neck of the bottle and gift away? If you decide to give as a gift, be sure to write the 'use' date.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup mint syrup*
1/2 cup honey
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
Put all ingredients into a saucepan over low heat until all ingredients are well-combined. Pour into clean jars or bottles, and store.
*Mint can be substituted for other syrups as well. Explore your pantry or ethnic stores for other syrup ideas. Mint syrup can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocery store.
When gifting, consider pairing the elixir with gin or another spirit, club soda, citrus, and/or ice molds.
Dorayaki, simple and sweet, best enjoyed with a cup of green tea
Lately, I've been exploring various Japanese foods. Looking for breakfast, one recipe in particular one stood out: Dorayaki. It's appeared in cooking shows, and recently featured in Tasting Table, so I began to grow curious: What was all the hype about? It is just a pancake, after all. Right?
Dorayaki is not just any pancake. It's one of the most popular Japanese confections, filled with anko, a sweet adzuki red bean paste, sandwiched between two pancakes.
You heard me. Two pancakes! But they're small.
Typically, the pancakes are quite sweet, so I cut out a lot of the sugar; I don't do well with things that are overly-sweet, especially at breakfast. But if you're looking for the full-on, sweeter pancake made as intended, add the full amount (using 1/2 cup sugar instead) from the recipe below.
To make things interesting, I chose to make three different fillings. It was too difficult to choose just one: I was initially interested in trying the traditional bean paste version, but couldn't say no to a matcha green tea variation as well. It was around this time that I also noticed the abundance of ripe squash sitting on my kitchen counter, and decided to make a butternut squash filling for a third option.
Before you get off your seat to make some tasty sweet cakes, check out this clip from the popular manga-turned-anime-series Doraemon to get the full sense of what it's like to love dorayaki, below.
... and now the recipe: Dorayaki
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup milk*
1-2 tablespoons butter
8 oz filling
*Can use animal or plant-based milk
1. Mix dry all-purpose flour and baking soda in one bowl with a whisk. In a second bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and milk.
2. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
3. In a nonstick pan, apply a small amount of butter. Ladle in a some of the batter into a circle and repeat. Flip after 2 minutes, or until golden brown, and cook the remaining side for 1-2 minutes. The idea is to make them snack worthy and be consistent in shape and size.
4. Work in batches until the batter is finished.
5. In the middle of one pancake place a dollop of filling in the center. Place another pancake on top and press along the edges to create a seal, enclosing the filling. It's OK if some of the filling seeps out, messy can be good sometimes.
Dorayaki filling recipes
Adzuki bean paste filling:
1 cup adzuki beans
1/8 cup sugar
1. Soak beans overnight or for 8 hours.
2. Drain, rinse, and cover with water. Cook for about 45 minutes or until softened.
3. Puree beans in a food processor.
4. Heat a frying pan and add bean puree with sugar. Cook until all it's dry and there's very little to no moisture.
Matcha cream cheese filling:
1/8 cup honey
2 tbsp matcha green tea
8 oz softened cream cheese
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until well-mixed.
Miso pumpkin filling:
2 cups squash, skinned, seeds and guts removed, roughly chopped
1 tbsp yellow miso
1. In a pot, combine squash with enough water to cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until soft.
2. Puree squash and add miso.
Still hungry? Check out the miso carrot spread (within the napa cabbage wrap recipe) for another alternative filling.
Three days after Thanksgiving.
There wasn’t a morning farmers market like most Saturdays, so we gradually, naturally awoke to the peppermint-infused air from the humidifier. I moved slowly, much like a sloth, without worry from bed. In the kitchen, I turned on the kettle for French pressed coffee on the stovetop. As I waited for the water to boil, I ground Sumatra beans to a coarse grind and prepared the press. Within minutes I had a fresh cup of coffee steaming in hand. I moved to the living room to relax on the dark velvet couch, wrapped in a blanket, yellow light from the lamp in the corner, cozy and warm.
As I softened into my space, sipping coffee and stretching out my arms and legs, I heard noise from the back door of the kitchen. It sounded like Adi was searching for root vegetables: I caught the faintest sound of rustling plastic bags that contained them in our back door “pantry.” Breakfast, I suspected. What will it be? Potatoes? Parsnips? Beets, I hoped…
Soon enough, I was called to the dining table, beckoned by the smell of garlic and butter. There sat mini Greek yogurt parfaits garnished with walnut and Haarlson apple slivers, and a dish of cow’s-milk cheese and a dollop of Dijon on the side. I eagerly took my seat, placed the pink floral print napkin across my lap, and waited for the main course.
“Bon Appetit,” Adi said as he placed my breakfast in front of me. It was a plate of pink and red-shaded vegetables with a poached egg draped over the hash. The eggs were a nice touch, with silky soft yolks seeping through the beets, turnips, carrots, and apple. But wait – an unexpected sweetness? Adi looked at me, puzzled, and said, “It almost tastes like chocolate. What do you think?”
I took a bite, then another, and another. I said, “I don’t get a strong cocoa flavor, but there is something familiar and sweet.” I took another bite and suddenly discovered what the mystery sweetness was: “You’re right,” I said, “It is chocolate. You’re tasting M&M’s!” That’s when I realized he must have used the raisin/M&M mix from Halloween still sitting on our octagon-shaped shelves by the sink.
Adi admitted to using the mix - thinking there were all raisins, with no candy leftover. We had quite the laugh and continued to enjoy our (chocolate) breakfast hash with a different sort of appreciation..
In honor of our somewhat unconventional morning feast, I present to you: My version of a simple, delicious root vegetable hash:
1 large turnip
1 large beet
2 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 brown m&m's (optional) ?
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Use a food processor to shred the turnip, beet, carrots, and apple. Or, use a cheese grater to shred the vegetables. Combine scallions, garlic, and raisins (m&m's too, if you dare) with shredded produce and season with pinch of salt and pepper.
Heat a frying pan and add butter. When hot, add shredded vegetables into the frying pan and fry 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with enough water to reach depth of 3 inches. Add coarse salt and a tablespoon of 1 tsp vinegar; bring to a simmer. Gently create a vortex with a fork in the water and crack eggs into the pot gently. Cook just until whites are set, about 3 minutes depending on desired runniness of the yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and proceed with the remaining eggs. You can do both eggs at once or do them one by one.
On each plate, assemble hash with poached egg over top.
Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Kefir. Tempeh. Yogurt.
What do these foods all have in common? They are fermented foods that may promote good gut health and weight loss, improve immunity and even allergies. In it's most basic sense, As Sandor Katz explains, "Fermentation is the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce." Katz is the expert if you didn't know - He's the author of The Art of Fermentation, and should be on every food enthusiasts bookshelves. It's more informative than recipe-based, designed to introduce and educate one on the variety of fermented foods and beverages.
Coupling Katz with Rene Redzepi and David Zilber's new book, The Noma Guide to Fermentation, will set you up to make a plethora of delicious, nutritious, fermented foods. In Redzepi's book, there's even a how-to guide on building an incubation chamber. I'm still putting together the supplies so that I can make koji. How nerdy is that? Ha! Watch the video below to learn more about koji:
Koji aside, many fermentations do not require you to create or purchase your very own chamber to ferment at home. In fact, you can make the most basic recipes with just about any vegetable -some fruits too- without any special equipment: All you need is a vessel, scale, salt, and the produce of your choice. Simple.
And there's no need to be afraid of getting started for fear of the wrong bacteria growing: Any microbiologist will tell you that "risky" is not a word used to describe the process of a simple vegetable fermentation. The lactic acid bacteria that is found on all plants develops quite quickly when fermenting, and can out-compete the incidental pathogenic bacteria.
Fear not: When you preserve in brine, things like botulism need not be of concern.
Here's how it works: When a plant is harvested, it contains many microorganisms that continue to multiply and diversify. Aerobic bacteria get replaced by anaerobes, which includes many different types of lactic acid bacteria. After the plant becomes submerged, fermentation then begins. Carbon dioxide, alcohol, and acetic acid are also produced.
Enough with the science, let's get to the kitchen and ferment something.
fermentation: getting started
Fermenting foods and beverages is not something new. It's been around for centuries, playing an instrumental role in human evolution.
Fermentation can be summed up with four words: "chop, salt, pack, wait." (Katz).
*salt* means the amount salt = 2% of the total weight of vegetable and liquid.
As you can see from my pictures above, I chose the brine method. Next time, I'll try grating my vegetables. The objective is to expose as much surface area as possible to pull out the juice from within the vegetable. Clearly, if you take a look at the picture, I couldn't help but ferment the carrot in it's original shape, so I kept it whole. Yes, it will take longer to ferment, but the shape was too gnarly to mess with... The beets were sliced into small quarters, and the remaining carrots were cut into large matchsticks.
My advice? Keep it simple the first go around. Taste what happens to the food every few days, and when you think it has reached its ideal taste, refrigerate. You can always make another batch and play with spice and aromatics to add to the flavor.
The point is to get you in your kitchen cooking and experimenting.
The verdict is still out on all the positive health benefits of fermented foods, but it's certainly a hot topic in the nutrition world, and it continues to be studied. If you live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, you too could participate in a gut study involving fermented vegetables. Simply contact Ky from GYST Fermentation Bar to learn more about how to join.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out my Mac 'n' Chi post for more a different way to play with home fermentations.
banana meets sourdough
A coworker recently gave me a sourdough starter, so every week for the past month I've been experimenting with new foods. Every Tuesday, the day we work together, she comes into my office first thing and asks me, "What did you make this week? You should try..."
But these banana muffins have been by far my favorite.
The soft pretzels and cookies I tried turned out Okay: I would have liked to boil the pretzels before baking, but wasn't sure how the sourdough would react. Something to try for the next batch of pretzels, I suppose. And the cookies? Well, they had a softer texture and resembled something more like a scone. Still good, but tasted too, well, healthy. There are times when I want a hearty, grainy cookie, but other times, I want a classic, buttery, sweet cookie that melts in my mouth. This was not that cookie.
This ultimately led to the muffin recipe you'll find below. It is a healthier version of a muffin - one that doesn't weigh you down or add to the 'muffin top' (pun intended). Its soft center and banana goodness are just what your body needs to provide you with proper fuel. Plus, it's loaded with fiber to satiate your hunger, and isn't sweet or oily like many muffins. While it's a healthy version, however, I didn't run into the same problem as with the cookies: This was, in a word, delicious.
Don't take my word for it. Bake them yourself and try one or all. You won't want to share these banana beauties.
Serves 12 medium sized muffins
1 1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. five spice powder
1/4 cup raw sugar*
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 if frozen, then thawed)
1/4 cup safflower oil
*it doesn't have to be raw; use your favorite sugar here
1. At least 12 hours before you with to bake, mix the starter with the flour and allow to rest covered in a warm spot.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine starter blend with oats (except 2 tablespoons), salt, baking soda, baking powder, and five spice.
3. In another small bowl, combine the sugar, bananas, egg, and safflower oil.
4. Gradually add the liquid ingredients into the dry (plus starter) stirring just until combined.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans (I like to spray oil into the paper cups to allow for easy muffin removal) about 3/4 full. Top with remaining oats and a light sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
for the love of tomatoes
Conditions are finally perfect. Not only because the tomatoes are abundantly in season, but also because the weather has turned cool and comfortable - ideal for canning/preserving. Long hours spent over a hot stove in the kitchen is a much more enticing, and bearable, proposition after the sweltering heat of summer has been tamed by the first days of September.
Another pro? This time of year is also when you'll find the the best deals, Your local farmers market should be the first place you visit to purchase tomatoes in bulk. Quarter and half bushels ($15 on average for a quarter) are going to be most affordable and freshest, with a higher nutrient content than what you'll find at the average grocery store.
Each year, I make around a half bushel of tomato preserves in various forms: whole tomatoes, quartered tomatoes, peeled tomatoes. Hot pepper tomato jelly, and tomapple (tomato, apple) jam. And, of course, a few eaten fresh. It can take several hours to process tomatoes, but more than worth your time. Something new I tried this year: dehydrate the tomato skins and, then grind them into a powder. A dash of flaked lycopene (aka tomato skin) is a great addition to garnish soups, stews, grain bowls, even popcorn, or anything else that could use that little extra something.
And, while time-consuming, peeling tomatoes is super easy. It can be somewhat dangerous, however, if you're impatient like myself. The heat from the tomatoes after blanching is boiling hot. Wear gloves, tough it out, or wait until they cool down (can put in an ice bath)
How to peel tomatoes
1. Score the tomatoes by marking an 'x' using a knife on the butt of the tomato.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds.
3. Remove tomatoes from water, allow to rest and cool (optional).
4. Peel tomatoes from scored end towards the crown.
5. Dehydrate skins or toss
6. Process tomatoes
Once you've got those tomatoes peeled, you're ready for canning. It's super easy, but, as I mentioned before, is time consuming. The more often you do it, the quicker and more efficient you will become. There are two methods you can follow: One uses a boiling water method, and the second utilizes pressure canning.
Prepares 2 each 3/4 lb glass jars. Double, triple, multiply accordingly
what you need
This recipe is a modification of an original Ball® Fresh Preserving recipe.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Share pictures and all your stories here. Or have your own favorite way to use tomatoes during this perfect time of year? I'd love to hear about it as well.
And, if you're looking for ideas, check out my pickled watermelon rinds for another unique preservation recipe.
Juicing was all the rage last year. I still have clients who ask about juicing.
What are the benefits? Should I juice? Is it healthy?
My response? When in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet, especially when you juice at home. It's not as nutritious as eating whole fruits or vegetables, though, as you don't benefit from consuming the pulp (fiber, vitamins, minerals) of the fruit and/or vegetable your turning into liquid. However, you can use the pulp, or produce scraps that separate from the juice. You can bake with them by incorporating into crackers (e.g. as I did in the recipe below), breads (e.g. in a banana or zucchini loaf), or pancakes. Making soup stock from your produce scraps is another great idea, and especially useful come cold weather.
One of my favorite homemade juicing recipes is made with carrot, turmeric root, orange, and ginger. It's not something I prepare often, but when I have the craving (and a refrigerator full of carrots), I dust off my juicer to quench my carrot juice thirst.
Note: You can swap out the carrots for just about any vegetable. Beets, zucchini, and squash are some of my favorite substitutes.
recipe: carrot pulp crackers
Makes about 50 thin crackers
2 cups carrot pulp
1/4 cup ground chia seed
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoon black peppercorn
2 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoon sesame seed
Directions: Preheat oven to 325F
In a pan, toast black peppercorn, fennel and sesame until it begins to brown and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I use a dedicated coffee grinder) until it becomes a powder consistency. Mix with carrot pulp, chia, and buckwheat.
Using parchment or two silpats, brush one side of a sheet with coconut oil using a pastry brush. Working in batches, about 3, roll between parchment (or silpat) using a wine bottle or rolling pin. Roll as thin as possible so that it still holds together, brush with more coconut oil, sprinkle lightly with maldon salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
When it's cooled to room temperature, break into pieces and serve with meats and cheese, jam, mustard, pickles, or anything else your heart desires.
Love carrots? Then you MUST try thecarrot, parsnip cake. It's absolutely delicious.
purple, yellow, or green: all snap beans are welcome
This side dish is a fantastic way to use up your green beans, and those spicy, sweet nasturtiums that grow without care for other plants. I used yellow wax beans here, but I've also experimented with young scarlet runner beans, and green string beans as well. No two bean varieties taste the same, but they are quite similar and can easily be substituted here, and in like recipes. And, as long as we are on the subject of substitutions, other edible flowers can take the place of nasturtiums in the same way: I recently discovered the lovely taste of pole bean flowers from turtle beans (soft violet) and scarlet runners (crimson red), and they are amazing. They lack the spicy, peppery punch that nasturtiums have, however, so add a few spicy greens (like arugula or mizuna) to round out the flavor.
Let's brush up on your bean-age, starting with the basics: All beans are legumes, and are further classified according to whether you eat the entire pod (called snap or green beans) or remove the shell to eat the seeds inside (called shell or dried beans). Only when the beans have a fibrous string running down the bean is it called a string bean. Dozens of green bean varieties exist, but the headliners include: green (or multicolored, snap) beans, haricot vert, scarlet runner, and yard-long beans. To be even more confusing, the yellow snap bean variety is also called a wax bean.
Nutrition-wise, all types of beans are good sources of protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron. Try to get in 3 cups a week for optimum health.
Read more about a bean nutrition overview here.
snap bean & nasturtium salad
4 cups, string beans cleaned
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1 cup packed nasturtium, flowers and greens removed from stem
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the string beans and cook (blanche) for 3 minutes. Immediately, remove from heat, drain, and cool down the beans under running water. You can add ice to help lower the temperature faster. When it's cool, add the remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy.
If you like this salad, then check out the salad niçoise. It's a game changer.
cabbage ins and outs
Cabbage varieties: bok choy, cannonball, choy sum, Chinese/Napa, green, Portugal, red, & savoy -to name a few
Season: summer - autumn - winter
Taste: bitter/sweet, pungent and peppery notes with crunchy flavor
Nutrition: 85% CHO, 12% protein, 3% fat
Volume: quiet to moderate
Technique: bake, broil, braise, grate, pickle, raw, steam, stuff [overcooking brings out pungent, sulphuric notes]
cabbage + apple
cabbage + carrots + ginger + mint + rice wine vinegar
cabbage + ginger + lime
cabbage + potatoes + turnips
Cabbage Pairings: build your own recipes by using complimentary flavors from these foods
APPLES, including JUICE & CIDER
OIL, especially OLIVE, sesame, vegetable, walnut
how I cook & eat cabbage
How do antioxidant properties of raw and processed [i.e. fermented] cabbage compare?
The answer to this question is not simple nor clear, and like most nutrition recommendations, results may vary. Factors that influence the nutritional value of cabbage are based on season of harvest, cabbage variety [red vs. green], amount of salt and time spent in brine, & cooking methodology (Martinez et al., 2009; Chun et al., 2004). However, if one were to compare raw cabbage and sauerkraut using nutrition analysis, one would discover that raw has slightly higher, nonsignificant levels of antioxidants.
So, how does this all make sense? The key to understanding why the analysis shows a discrepancy is because they are not considering all the factors mentioned above, which can be time consuming, tedious, and maybe impractical.
Let me sort this out for you.
After a short review of articles, I can say a few things with certainty:
Food trucks trending
Food trucks are all the rage right now: Even in Minnesota, where the we spend half the year covered in snow, we’ve seen an incredible influx of new trucks hitting the streets.
This has not only created a convenient dining experience for consumers, it has also offered a new business opportunity for entrepreneurs (and particularly for those with a more plant-based mindset).
When it comes to ease of opening a food truck, Minneapolis ranks 16th out of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas (according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce): The study ranks cities according to scores based on ease or difficulty of obtaining permits and licenses, compliance to restrictions, and operating a food truck. In other words, it’s a ranking of the favorability of food truck regulations to food truck operators (288 owners in the most recent report). As each city has it’s own regulations, so it should come as no surprise that food trucks often find it difficult to operate in different cities.
MN was in the top five least-friendly food truck cities. This is not to say Minnesota food truckers are unfriendly; the report is saying that it’s more of hurdle and cumbersome for the entrepreneurs to do business and own a food truck. On average, in the city of Minneapolis, a food truck owner must complete four separate government procedures over the course of 37 business days and spend $28,276 on licenses, permits, and ongoing legal requirements within one year. That said, Minneapolis is unique amongst other cities in that there are one-stop-shops to obtain both licenses and permits, which makes it more convenient than other cities.
Click here to see the full report by city
Know where to go
Choosing from one of 116 MN’s food trucks (with more in the works) can be overwhelming, so how does one decide? Well, to make things easier, you can search by neighborhood, specific food truck, or by what you crave. Luckily, the internet offers an easy solution to plan or be spontaneous. Since I’m all about that veg, here are a few of my favorites around the metro offering plenty of delicious, plant-based food options:
Reverie favorites include:
Foxy Falafel favorites include:
Falafels (foxy, beet, & curry)
-you choose entree style, meat/falafel, & sauce-
Hot Indian favorites include:
Hi Flight (you choose 3 fillings, roti or brown basmati)
Spinach Paneer (filling)
Vegan Channa (filling)
Creamy Green (chutney)
Hi Heat (chutney)
-you choose filling, base, & chutney-
a friend's Mexican fiesta
Inspired by Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen, this month's cookbook from my club held at SubText, I gathered some friends for a fiesta of our own. The morning of, I awoke with a taste for smothered chiles and spiced beans between sliced bolillo (Mexican bread), avocado, with that undeniably-satisfying crunch of cabbage. Images of dancing tortas appeared between my eyes as I tried recalling my dreams. That's when I knew what I was going to prepare for the feast. Others told me they would bring Mexican rice, guacamole, cheese dip, homemade hot sauces (including a new method of clarified hot sauce, more on that coming soon), mango salad, and a tomato black bean salad to accompany. Conditions were perfect.
....and, purely for fun because it crossed my mind, and because I'm a fan, I couldn't help but include this Flight of the Concords clip where conditions were also perfect:
Sorry for the random video. It just felt right.
Anyway, back to tortas. Rather than make individual tortas, I prepared all the components separately. Everyone chose their own salsas, protein, and stuffings to build individual, customizable sandwiches.
Here's a look into the creation of my vegetarian version of a torta. It's loaded with fiber, lean protein, and has a wonderful smoky flavor from the homemade adobo sauce with just a touch of brightness from the tomatillo & jalapeño salsa. A nutritious take on a classic Mexican sandwich that will have you begging for seconds. Diner tested, dietitian approved.
vegetarian adobo black bean tortas
Serves 4 large tortas, or 8 (more manageable) halves
1 cup adobo sauce (recipe below or store bought)
2 cups black beans cooked
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 cup cotjia cheese (optional)
salsa jalapeño (see recipe below)
1/2 cup crema*
1 avocado, sliced
4 bolillo (Mexican sandwich rolls) cut in half lengthwise and widthwise
*can substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream
Heat the beans in the adobo sauce and keep warm until ready to use. In a small bowl, combine the cabbage with salt. When ready for assembly, in the following order, layer your sandwich in this order: bread bottom, beans, cotjia cheese, salsa, crema, avocado, bread top.
This recipe makes 1-2 cups, which ultimately depends on your desired consistency.
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cloves garlic
1 white onion, cut into thick wedges
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup parsley with stems
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
In a 2 quarts boiling water, add the chiles, garlic, and onion. Cook for 30 minutes and puree in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Adjust with chile water until you reach desired consistency.
2 jalapeños, stemmed
8 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup white onion
In a blender, combine all ingredients and allow to chill until ready to serve. Sometimes the end result may be bitter. Feel free to experiment here and adjust the flavor using agave or a pinch of sugar to offset the bitter notes.
And be sure to check out my recipe for black beans and burdock for more plant-based protein goodness.
swapping out foods
As a dietitian, I counsel people through food substitutions with every patient. Nearly everyone has foods they either need to avoid, or have foods they should limit in their diet. It's helpful to be guided through options, but sometimes having a list you can periodically check can be handy. You'll see a basic list of suggestions here on TCAgenda to make necessary food substitutions. Comment below if you have any addition suggestions of food swaps or questions you'd like ask.
Let it also be known, I am all about flavor. Never would I tell you OR anyone to get rid of something in their diet...unless it's regular soda :-P. The key is moderation and to have variety in your diet.
Eat the rainbow and in moderation
....and sometimes, if you're like me, you may just not have all the ingredients on hand to make a meal you crave. Perhaps I can inspire you to start creating your own meals, like I did with this new recipe: Pea Pesto & Kale Pasta. I don't often plan my meals, so I'm constantly making food substitutions. In this particular dish, I used brown rice pasta (instead of a wheat-based pasta), pepita seeds for walnuts (I'm allergic), cilantro and mint for basil, and kale from my garden to boost the dish with extra nutrition.
vegetarian & gluten-free: pea pesto & kale pasta
Pea Pesto Ingredients
1 cup shelled peas*
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed cilantro and mint
1 lime, freshly juiced
pinch salt and pepper
2 tablespoons dukkah (optional)
*you can substitute frozen peas as well
Blanch the peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, cool, and pulse in a food processor with remaining ingredients until you reach desired consistency.
Kale Pasta Ingredients:
4 oz brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choosing)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cut into thin strips
pea pesto (see above for recipe)
1 oz Parmesan, grated
Prepare pasta according to package. Drain, add back to pan with kale, and as much pea pesto as you desire. Stir until combined and serve with Parmesan cheese.
things are growing...
Seeds are sown, the seedlings are planted, and every morning I rise to look at my plot of greens growing outside my window as I sip my morning coffee. It's easy to tend. The hardest part is waiting for my prized produce to finally appear.
As for my other garden plot one mile away, well, that's another story. That's where they feast. That's where I fight daily for the crop: Me vs the rabbits.
There's a fence around the perimeter, but that doesn't always keep them out. Can I blame them for wanting to taste the bounty? Truthfully, no, If I tasted those buttery soft leaves of tennis ball greens (lettuce varietal) once, of course I'd keep coming back for more.
And, luckily, I had the forethought to plant the majority of leafy greens at the plot growing outside my window, where less rabbits reside (at least that I know of). This week, I harvested, and indulged in, French breakfast radish and fresh arugula.
No evidence of tampering from neighboring animals noted. Woot woot!
In an earlier newsletter, I highlighted radish and the varietals subtle differences from one another, French breakfast being my favorite: It's got a perfect spicy balance from the first to last bite, and a watery crunch to wash your palate. I enjoy them most on their own with a couple granules of salt crystals and other times over an artisan slice of bread with whipped European butter. Curious? Try it for yourself, recipe as follows:
baguette aux radis
4 tablespoons European butter, unsalted at room temperature (see below)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
10 radish, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup arugula
1 tablespoons herbs like tarragon, chives, basil *optional
Slice baguette lengthwise and then into quarters. Spread the butter on one side of the bread, layer on the radish, sprinkle salt over radish, and then the arugula (option to add herbs at this point). Finish with top slice of baguette. Serve.
I'm a dietitian and diabetic educator, but that doesn't mean I don't like OR don't eat the good stuff. European style butter is made from cultured cream and slight fermentation. This results in a unique flavor with a higher fat content than what you find from most American dairy farmers. There are many to choose from including, Kerrygold, Plugra, President, and Beurre de Baratte. You can order them online or find them at specialty grocers. The object of my desire from these is the Beurre de Baratte. It's made by a young cheese master, Rodolphe Le Meunier, a genuineMeilleur Ouvrier de France making butter the old-fashioned from churning. Everyone raves about this French Normandy butter because of it's unique nutty, umami flavor. It's even wrapped in a gold foil to give you that extra posh at a fancy dinner party. Better yet, it makes an excellent gift to that ultimate foodie friend of yours.
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