Entries from blogs tagged with “Sarah Henning”
It's officially salad season, my friends! Sure, we've been getting greens for weeks, but we're really rolling now. And, if you've been following this space for a few years, you know I couldn't be happier.
So you've been warned: We'll have a lot of salad posts in the coming weeks.
But now to this week. At our last CSA pickup, we received: Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
As you can imagine, we had steamed asparagus and lots of salad with our box of goodies. We saved the whole-wheat flour for more pizza. Meanwhile, I’m sad to say that we still haven’t used the mustard greens. They’re still healthy-looking, I just haven’t found a home for them as of this writing.
One of the best things we did with the salad mix was combine it with a local Mediterranean treat: Lebanese beans.
A mix of garbanzos, fava beans, herbs and spices, it’s a nice salad topper and pita filler. Mixed with CSA salad mix, avocado, olives and a little something sweet, it makes for a fantastic salad.
Mediterranean Flair Salad
2 large handfuls local salad mix
Half an avocado, cubed
10 to 15 kalamata and/or garlic-filled green olives, cut in half
1/2 cup Lebanese Flower Lebanese beans or other mixed beans
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
Divide salad mix among two salad bowls. Add 1/4 avocado to each bowl. Divide the olives, beans and cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
This week we received: Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.
It is FINALLY 80 degrees. And mid-May. And sunny.
And all those things mean summer is right around the corner — as underlined by the fact that I bought a dozen or so herb starters this weekend for my container garden. Including three kinds of basil, aka summer in a leaf.
But before the basil and those delightful tomatoes that go with it, we're in the thick of greens season. Both at the CSA and the Lawrence Farmers' Market.
In last week's CSA bag, we received red lettuce, green onions, garlic chives, carrots, spinach and pesto. A very good, very green mix.
At this point in the local growing season, my hubby begins dreaming of anything that isn't green (the carrots made him so happy), so we have to get a bit creative in how we use our veggies.
So, I made some green juice using some of our spinach.
Admittedly that isn't very creative when we're talking about my wheelhouse. To that end, I also made a salad that I totally forgot to document (food writer fail).
But we used most of our veggies and several of our Farmers' Market veggies in a chef's choice egg version of the Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble featured in week 2.
The hubby and head chef mixed four eggs with several handfuls of veggies, including CSA spinach, carrots, garlic chives and green onions and then added in store-bought extras like red pepper. Then he topped it off with CSA pesto or salsa and some cheese.
What'd we get this week? Asparagus(!), spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
Last week in our CSA, we received whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
You might look at that list and think it looks like one giant salad after another. And you might be right. We did use the salad greens for its intended purpose, while the spinach and pea greens went into smoothies.
But when I saw our pickup choices, one of the first things I thought was, “pizza.”
The local heritage winter wheat is just perfect for cutting with some regular old white/bread flour to make a heartier pizza crust. Add in the benefit of throwing leftover CSA goodies willy-nilly on top (green onions, spinach and chives were perfect for this) and you’ve got yourself a really useful medium for polishing off some of your CSA ingredients.
Later in the summer, pizza dough is even more helpful when we’re up to our ears in peppers, eggplant, zucchini and basil. If you think it’ll go well together, you can put it on top of your pizza. The whole dinner is super easy, especially if you make your dough ahead of time, freeze it and actually remember to pull out the frozen dough before you leave for work in the morning. (Sometimes I forget, and it makes me crazy sad.)
If you’ve never made homemade pizza before, you’re really missing out. It’s totally customizable, delicious, easy and incredibly cheap.
We have two favorite pizza crust recipes. Both are fabulous and have turned out well for us. So, pick whichever one you like and go for it!
And, if like us you get your hands on some local wheat through your CSA or the Farmers’ Market, try cutting it in. You don’t want to make a whole pie out of it (that would be a bit too dense) but try cutting it with half regular flour or two-thirds regular flour.
Note: You can use the first recipe with a pizza stone or a cookie sheet, while the second one, we only used with a cookie sheet.
Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.markbittman.com)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.
Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, one to two hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.)
When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into two or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.
Roll out, top and bake at 500 degrees until cooked through. We usually make two pies plus a little one for the kiddo with this recipe, baking each pizza for about 10 minutes. Note: To make pizza dough by hand or with a standing mixer, follow the directions, but use a bowl and a heavy wooden spoon or the mixer’s bowl and the paddle attachment instead of the food processor. When the dough becomes too heavy to stir, use your hands or exchange the mixer’s paddle for the dough hook and proceed with the recipe.
Chloe Coscarelli’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.chefchloe.com)
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour), plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oil, salt, sugar and the yeast mixture. Using lightly floured hands or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until a stiff dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle extra flour 1 teaspoon at a time as needed. Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough so it is completely covered with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen until it has doubled in volume (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, shape into a disc, and knead for five minutes. Use dough immediately or cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for a later use. Thaw to room temperature before using.
When ready to use: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet (approximately 9-by-13 inches) with oil.
Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle and fit it into the prepared baking sheet. Spread sauce and toppings on oiled dough. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating midway, until the crust is slightly browned or golden.
Note: If crust is thick, you may need to leave it in for 30 minutes or more.
What’d we get at our CSA pickup this week? Red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots.
I've written a lot of smoothies over the years to this space. A LOT. And the majority of them have had some green element to them. They might not have actually been green, like the smoothie I wrote about last week, but they are green on the inside, even if another ingredient like blueberries or cocoa powder is covering up the evidence.
If this sounds disgusting to you, I'm sorry. If it doesn't, there's a chance you've already joined the green smoothie movement, which has been going on for years (I think I've been making them for at least five years). And if you haven't ever made one? I have news for you: now is the perfect time to start.
Here's the deal: Even if you don't have access to your CSA yet, or haven't joined one, you have an abundance of local greens available to you right now. The farmers markets and many of Lawrence's grocery stores are overflowing with local greens. From spinach, to kale to arugula to chard — you have a ton of greens to choose from. They're inexpensive, they're local and they're plentiful because they're in season.
So, if you haven't joined the green smoothie train, or did awhile back and eased off, I urge you to give it a go. It's a fabulous way to get your greens without being a total salad freak (like me) and if you are part of a CSA, it'll help you get through the giant bag of spinach you may acquire.
Now, you don't need a specific recipe to create a tasty green smoothie. Mine are probably different every morning, which is a good thing. To get as many nutrients as possible, it's great to alter your smoothies slightly, based on what you have on hand. This week, I had pea greens and spinach, and I used both in smoothies. I'm guessing there aren't that many smoothie recipes with pea greens out there, and that's exactly where you adapt.
The basic recipe I use is very simple. Take what you will from it, add in the extras if you like, and give it a try. Believe me, if I can get my kid to drink these (and he started at about 15 months), you can get anyone to drink them.
Basic Green Smoothie
2 large handfuls greens — spinach (great for beginners), tatsoi, de-stemmed kale, etc.
2 bananas or 1 mango
1 cup berries — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. (optional)
1-2 scoops protein powder (I use vanilla or chocolate by Sun Warrior)
1.5 to 2 cups water
Additions: 1-3 tablespoons of hemp, chia or flaxseed; local bee pollen; maca; 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder; pinch tumeric; pinch apple pie or pumpkin pie spice; splash of vanilla or almond extracts; one frozen packet acai juice
All you do is blend it up. That amount usually makes two servings (one large one for me, one smaller one for the kiddo), and is a great start to the day.
Now, what'd we get this week in our CSA? Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
Last week, in our very first CSA pickup of the year from Rolling Prairie, we received spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu). It was a great and versatile mix of items we could’ve used in a number of ways.
Because it’s a total habit, I used most of the spinach and all of the salad mix in green smoothies during the week, though one turned out a bit brown (cocoa powder was a must that morning).
But the majority of our CSA went into an epic scramble that fed us for days. We had it both over spinach, wrapped in a tortilla and just plain.
And what’s great about this recipe, besides the major leftovers, is the fact that you can pretty much throw anything into it and be set. We used a bunch of half bags of leftover frozen vegetables, plus a bunch of our CSA goodies, including the spinach that didn’t make it into a smoothie. It really was the perfect way to clean out our fridge without even really trying. Plus, it tasted good.
Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble
1 package Central Soy tofu
2 cups of spinach, separated
1/2 cup chickpeas (or other beans)
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (not reconstituted)
Green onions, sliced thinly, to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Avocado and salsa for serving
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and vegetables. Add spices — tumeric, cumin and salt — and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.
Crumble in tofu and mix well, but leave it chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that it is sticking. Add 1 cup of the spinach and the garbanzo beans and mix. Add nutritional yeast and mix it up. If it seems too dry add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it.
Serve over a bed of spinach with salsa and slices of avocado. Serves 4-6.
This week, we got another great mix of items: parsley, green onions, pea greens, spinach and pesto.
Two blessed food events occurred within the past few days.
One: The Lawrence Farmers’ Market opened on Saturday.
Two: My first CSA pickup of the year was Monday.
Yes, local food is upon us. All winter I look forward to this week. To me, it means the start of many things: great local produce, warmer weather, sunshine and homegrown garden greens.
For those of you who are new to my blog, know that during the CSA season, the format changes slightly.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically a subscription service to a farm or a collective of farms. For the price of your subscription, you will get a weekly share (bag) of farm-produced foods. My particular CSA, Rolling Prairie, provides some choice in items (for example, picking between turnips and radishes), though not every CSA does this and because of availability, even the ones that do might not have a lot to choose from weekly.
I’ve written many stories about CSAs in Lawrence, including this one, which is somewhat of a who’s who of the major CSAs in and around Lawrence. If you’re interested in signing up, please visit the websites of the CSAs on that list and they’ll let you know if they’re still open to subscribers this season. Most don’t start deliveries until May (I’m participating in the “early bag” of my CSA), but you’ll need to sign up soon to get a spot.
Each week, I’ll tell you exactly what I made with my CSA bounty and then show you what I got in my bag and plan to use for the week ahead.
I do this because I’ve heard from several readers (and from personal experience) that finishing all the produce received in a weekly CSA can be difficult. The reasons for this are all over the map. Some of the more popular ones include: unfamiliarity with certain vegetables (kohlrabi, purslane), dislike of certain foods (turnips, radishes, mushrooms, certain greens), difficulty planning meals, not able to cook every night or new to cooking, feeling like you’ve got too much in your share, etc.
I’m hoping that in this space you’ll find ideas and inspiration so that you never have to throw out or compost a single item you pick up at your CSA this year, or at the farmers market (hey, we all overbuy sometimes). If you’d like to see what kind of posts you’ll get over the next 26 to 28 weeks, check out the end-of-season round-up I did of last year’s CSA action.
So, without further ado, here’s what I got in my first bag this week. If your CSA starts later, or you aren’t signed up for one, this is pretty good example of what you’d find at the Farmers' Market right now with one exception: spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu).
Now, for those of you who don’t care about all this CSA stuff and just want to know what that delicious-looking stuff next to the steamed asparagus is at the top of the page, I’ve got the recipe below. It’s a very simple and healthy recipe that uses lentils, onion and bell pepper to re-create the sloppy Joes of your youth (adulthood?). You’ll find it satisfying and easy and yummy on a roll if that’s what you like. I had some Wheatfield ciabatta on the side (not pictured).
Snobby Joes (from www.theppk.com)
1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small (we used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounce-can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional — for serving)
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about why I garden. Basically, the takeaway is this: I do it because it's important to be connected to our food.
And though the last two growing seasons have been horrible for farmers and home gardeners alike, I still believe it's crucial to try if you can.
This weekend, I put my time and effort where my mouth is and worked in the garden with the kiddo to plant for the first time this season. We'd readied our three garden beds the week before, giving me the perfect canvas to plant my two garden workhorses: potatoes and onions.
Last year, I didn't get a chance to do potatoes or onions because of some scheduling issues with my time and Mother Nature, and we really felt it. Because of the heat, almost all of our other crops barely yielded a thing and because of timing, we didn't have either of our high producers to fall back on. Not cool at all.
This year I wanted to have a potato crop, even if I was going to be out of town on St. Patrick's Day. Though old farmers' tales say you should plant potatoes on St. Paddy's, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. But I really do believe you can be late with potatoes and be perfectly fine. I've had two great potato crops — one planted right around St. Paddy's and one planted late, and they've both been terrific.
And by "terrific," I mean not only in the sense that you get a lot for very little time and effort. You also are growing one of the most no-nonsense plants available and if you have kids, they will love digging for the final product.
If you're up for it, I'll share my method for growing them. It will take you about two hours the whole week and you'll be good until late summer.
First, I grow mine in a raised 4x8 bed, under straw. I believe this method works if you're tilling straight into the ground, but you might want to check around to make sure there's not a better method for you.
What you'll need are some seed potatoes (available at pretty much any farm or garden store, plus some grocery stores). Look for ones that have several eyes. Take them home and cut them into smaller chunks, 1 to 2 inches across. Each chunk needs to have a couple of good-looking eyes.
Next, let them "cure" by placing them on cookie cooling racks for a day or two (up to a week).
When you're ready to plant, buy a bail of hay/straw, get out your gloves and trowel and get to work. I like to keep my potatoes in a single bed because it's easiest. You will want to dig holes at least six inches deep, and about a foot apart. Place the potatoes, eyes up, in each hole.
If you think you have more potato chunks than holes, just get picky about which ones you put in first. Ones with eyes that are already sprouting are the best, so they should get top priority.
Next, cover the potatoes with dirt, and then cover with as much hay as you can mound on. You're going to want to go for eight to 12 inches, on top.
Then, water them a bit (not too much!) and let them be. The only thing I do is add a bit more straw once it starts to get matted down, because you want to make sure your potatoes are completely hidden from the sun at all times.
Other than the straw, your only job is to watch the vines poke up. They'll grow, get tall and flowery and then they'll start to wilt and die. When the vines are dead, you can start digging for treasure right around the base of each dead vine. You should have a bunch of potatoes of varying sizes with each vine.
It really is that easy.
I'm not a garden expert by any means, but this is what works for me. You might Google around and find people who do something similar, or people who don't do it this way at all.
No matter how you do it, it's worth a shot. High yield for low investment. Plus you grew it.
Well, spring is almost here. Maybe. After such a wonderful weekend, I feel like there’s a light at the end of this cold snap. Again, maybe.
I’m still not going to be convinced until possibly May, but this sort of looks promising. So promising, in fact, that I went a little hog wild and bought fresh strawberries.
Crazy, I know.
But I don’t regret a thing. Because the ones I could steal away from our resident strawberry monster/child, I made into a post-workout smoothie that was mine, all mine.
And it tasted like Neapolitan-ice-cream summery goodness.
Sure, I could’ve used frozen strawberries, but there was something really nice about using fresh strawberries (that were much more tasty than those expensive/anemic winter ones), especially on a day that would hover near 70 degrees.
We’re getting there, folks. So, just get out your blender, whip up this smoothie and then sit tight and wait for Mother Nature to bring the warmer temps for good.
Strawberry-Chocolate Power Smoothie
1 cup strawberries
2 large handfuls baby spinach
2 servings protein powder (I use Sun Warrior chocolate)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (or chia or ground flax seeds)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch turmeric (optional but good for post-workout inflammation)
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes one large serving or two smaller servings.
I thought I was done with winter. You know, get out the gardening supplies, put the sweaters and boots away.
But, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast,” snow is on the ground, a chill is still in the air and that whole “out like a lamb” thing belongs in the same shaming hole as that groundhog.
Not really, but what else can we do but throw the calendar out the window, grab a sweater and make soup? That’s exactly what we did this weekend, and, for a change, we made soup with dried beans.
Normally, we’re a tad too impatient to do the soaking routine, even though we know it’s better for us and cheaper, too. But, in an effort to spice things up, we decided to give it a go (we normally only manage to soak garbanzos), choosing a recipe we’d never made before that starts with dried beans so they’re a blank canvas.
And you know what? Soup made this way really did taste different than all the other soups we make with canned black beans. And by taste, I don’t mean “salt level” (I buy salt-free canned beans). The texture was different — sturdier, almost.
Now, I know this recipe looks long, but it really isn’t much of a hassle. Also of note: Make sure to include one or two of garnishes at the bottom, they really kick this soup up a notch or two.
Black Bean-Vegetable Soup (Recipe from “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
Pinch of baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size onions, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely (we used 1 cup of a frozen mix of red, yellow and green peppers)
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups vegetable stock
Garnishes for serving:
Minced fresh cilantro
Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.
During the last 30 minutes of the beans’ cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft, then add the jalapeño, celery and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.
When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.
Garnish each serving of soup with chopped cilantro and chopped avocado. Serve with lime wedges.
I might not get to celebrate spring break, you know, being old and all, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about it.
Not only does it mean the unofficial start of warm weather (hear that, snow!?) and March Madness but also means that spring is here. Or almost here. Or close enough that we can all start thinking about gardening.
For months, I’ve been talking with a part-time farmer friend who is growing several types of kale this year. With each little update on this process (picking seeds, ordering seeds, starting seeds indoors), I’ve gotten more excited about the coming growing season. I’ve had a garden for three years — three raised beds plus a pretty good-sized container garden on my deck — and it’s been fun, though not necessarily highly productive.
If I’m being honest, the last two summers have been a kick in the teeth as a gardener. Plants bolted. The bugs hit. Blossom end rot did in many tomatoes. Poor planning left some plants gasping for nutrients. My blueberries and raspberries were crushed by the heat, as were many of my container herbs — I’ve been able to kill three “unkillable” mint plants every single year (yes, the body count is at nine). Melons have never, ever thrived for me. Oh, and it turns out I hate weeding.
That entire paragraph probably makes you wonder if I have a black thumb or why I’d ever want a garden in the first place, especially since I apparently suck at it.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think I suck at it (the weather had a lot to do with my kill rate) and I actually do find it fun.
There’s something downright enjoyable about being able to go out and harvest what you put into the ground/raised bed/pot. And 100-degree temps, a hatred of weeding and bad luck aren’t going to change that.
Because, here’s the thing: I think it’s incredibly important to get reconnected with where our food comes from.
Growing up, we had a garden, but I only really remember harvesting tomatoes. And at the time, I don’t think I totally “got” how good a fresh tomato was. It was just a tomato that appeared in our backyard after way too frickin’ long.
In fact, not only do I think I didn’t get it but I also think I didn’t really appreciate that homegrown food at all. It was a novelty, and the big, smooth vegetables sans imperfections from the grocery store seemed more like “actual” food to me.
It’s silly to think about now, but I don’t know how I could’ve been so disconnected. And I don’t want my son to ever feel that out of touch with what he puts in his mouth.
It’s not that my parents didn’t try to interest me in our family garden, it’s more that the food culture was very different back then. We were in the middle of a shift from agricultural awareness to total blindness and back again — at least in my opinion and experience as a child of the ’80s.
Today, we have the advantage of a resurgence in restoring some awareness of our food chain, not only where we buy it from, but where food comes from in general.
And I want to keep that earth-to-table connection as plain as possible in my own kitchen, for my benefit and my family’s.
My son knows more about how foods grow and come to be than I ever did at his age, and I’d like to make sure that knowledge stays with him. Because he helps in the garden, he tends to try new things just because he helped pick them. He doesn’t like everything, but there’s a better chance he’ll try something if he gets to harvest it himself than if he helps me pick it out at the store.
So, I’m planning my three-season garden for a fourth straight year. I’ve learned I grow some foods rather well (potatoes, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes) and some plants rather poorly (see my litany of murdered plants above), but I grow them, and that’s what matters.
My planned plants for spring, summer and fall are as follows. As for which will survive, your guess is as good as mine.
Potatoes (several types)
Onion sets (white, yellow, red)
Bush and pole beans
Strawberries (on their third year)
Blackberries (to replace my murdered berries)
Kale (black and curly)
Tomatoes (black krim, Cherokee purple, sungold and sun sugar)
Peppers (Italian and various bell)
Herbs: basil (various), mint (various), sage (various), rosemary (various), thyme, parsley, marjoram, dill, garlic chives, cilantro (which I hate, but comes in handy)
And anything else that ends up looking intriguing (which always happens)
OK, I might be health nut, but I'm not crazy. I know some of you are going to roll your eyes at my upcoming suggestion to try to include as many green foods in your diet as possible on St. Patrick’s Day.
Yeah, I know it’s all about green beer, and that’s that. But you can’t just have green beer all day. Well, maybe you can, but you’ll feel a bit green if you do.
Here’s my suggestion: Try to fit in a few extra green things on Sunday.
Even if you do OD on green beer, you can at least feel like you didn’t lose a whole day’s worth of healthy eating. It’s all about balance, people. Balance your green beer (or pancakes, cupcakes, cookies, and whatever the heck else green dye ends up in) with some things that are naturally the right hue, and you might not feel half bad coming Monday.
Your head still might pound if you went overboard on the green beverages, but at least you’ll know you made an effort.
If green beer isn’t your thing and/or you have kids, maybe make a game out of eating as many green things as you can on Sunday. That’ll probably work with kids and adults, and maybe start a habit or two.
The following are just a few suggestions of pretty green things to try out Sunday (or anytime). They’re mean, they’re green and they’re super good for you.
Brussels’ sprouts: It’s pretty obvious from both this column and my space in Delicious/Nutritious that I’ve been crushing pretty hard on these little guys. They’re just so wonderful roasted with a hint of salt, pepper and garlic and a little crisp on them (which is saying a lot because I hate my food blackened). If you haven’t tried these little guys, give them a go. If you don’t like them, just do a green beer chaser and you’ll be just fine.
Spinach: I buy a giant tub of baby spinach every week. It’s so perfect for adding “something” green to nearly any meal because it’s so mild and forgiving. Throw it in your morning smoothie (only the color will change, it’ll taste the same — promise), use it as a bed for roasted veggies, beans, meat or other more “dense” foods, add it to the top of a homemade pizza (seriously), and you can even juice it, should be so inclined.
Avocado: This green, unsweet fruit is full of fabulous monounsaturated fats, plus vitamin C and 9 grams of fiber (for a whole avocado). Use a quarter or half of an avocado to jazz up a smoothie, salad, sandwich or pretty much whatever. I probably don’t have to tell you what an awesome fruit it is.
Kale: Everyone knows kale is my food BFF. It’s nutritional profile is excellent, and though it’s an acquired taste, once you’ve acquired it, you’re golden. The tough leaves need a little aid, so saute them, make kale chips, or “massage” ripped up leaves with avocado, salt, pepper and lemon juice to use as the base of a salad. If you’ve already discovered the joy of kale and are used to the taste, try it in your next smoothie or juice. It’s not nearly as mild as spinach, but it’s a good nutritional kick in the pants.
Green kombucha: This is kind of a cheat. There’s only one or two kinds of kombucha that are green, so it’s OK if you try one that isn’t green. What you’ll find in kombucha of any color are strains of bacteria similar to those in yogurt (aka the good bacteria that makes your gut happy), plus copious amounts of B vitamins and folate. So, what’s in the green version? Super food water-loving plants blue-green algae, spirulina and chlorella. Sounds fishy, tastes good.
You may have noticed from reading this blog, but I really, really like Brussels sprouts.
And though I usually like to roast or steam them, I thought it was about time to try them a new way (rather than just pairing them with new foods when I get bored).
I was feeling a bit daring last week, and decided to pair a heavy summer favorite with this winter favorite of mine. The results were spectacular and super yummy.
Everyone, I'd like you to meet the my special winter fajitas: Spiced Pepper and Brussels' Sprout Fajitas.
Sounds weird, tastes great. If you're not a Brussels sprout fan (and I know probably half of you aren't), you can try it with fresh broccoli or cauliflower. You'd get nutrients from the same family, and a slightly more mild flavor.
Spiced Pepper and Brussels Sprout Fajitas
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
8 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
Fajita Seasoning Mix (below)
Guacamole or avocado (optional)
Fajita-sized flour tortillas
Fajita Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Mix seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Throw your peppers, onion and Brussels into a saucepan or large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Saute until the veggies are soft.
Next, add all the seasoning mix and add about a 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan. Continue to saute until the sauce thickens and coats the veggies (this should take a few minutes).
Once the veggies are cool enough to eat, layer them into flour tortillas with black beans, avocado (or guac), salsa and other optional toppings. Enjoy!
I’m not even going to pretend any of us are about to make something new for dinner tonight. We’ve all been cooped up far too long, we’ve eaten the same things for days and we’re all probably going for our well-known comfort foods.
But once the snow melts enough so that driving isn’t treacherous (let’s hope that’s soon), please run out and get the ingredients for this recipe. It’s creamy, healthy, comforting. Fact is, it’s so creamy that you don’t even need bread to dip into it. Seriously, and we’re huge “bread with soup” people. You can have it, but you won’t miss it if you neglect to grab a baguette.
Some tips: Start soaking the cashews before you leave for work, and if you have have a stick (immersion) blender, use that for the cashew cream instead of blender. Heed the directions at the bottom about adding water when reheating. We reheated it on the stovetop instead of the microwave and that seemed to work well.
Chickpea and Rice Soup With A Little Kale
3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for two hours or overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium, yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup rice, rinsed
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, diced chunky
5 cups vegetable broth
1 24 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
4 cups chopped kale
Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish
Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of water. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could take one to five minutes depending on the strength of your blender. Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about five minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and saute a minute more.
Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 15 more minutes, until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.
Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, three to five more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry. Serve topped with green onions.
It thickens as it cools, so if you have leftovers, just thin with a little water when you reheat.
— Recipe from www.theppk.com
We all know that it can be expensive to just suddenly try something new in the kitchen. Maybe you found a kick-butt, dinner-party-friendly entree but you have nothing in your pantry for it. So, you have to go to the store, hunt down each aisle for a long list of ingredients and come home with $70 worth of spices, canned goods and ingredients you’ve never used and may never use again.
Yes, that’s expensive. Especially if you end up with a total dinner fail and have to put your tail between your legs and order pizza for a full dining room.
Double dinner fail.
But here’s the thing: If you’re new to healthy cooking or new to cooking in general, you’re going to have to buy stuff. You’re probably going to try new recipes, and those recipes will call for things you don’t have and it’ll get expensive. Or it’ll at least seem a bit daunting and like it’s expensive, even if it’s not.
And there are ways to make this sort of transition less painful. A few of the best (which you’ve probably heard before from me or someone else):
Buy spices in bulk. Buy only a little, or exactly what you need (this goes for other dry goods like grains, nuts and seeds, too). That way you save yourself some dough, rather than buying a full bottle or box/bag of an ingredient.
Buy vegetables from the freezer section. Fresh vegetables are very expensive, yes, especially this time of year. To offset some of the cost (and make it impossible for you to have it wilt and die in your crisper), buy some of your vegetables in the frozen foods section. Unlike canned vegetables, frozen veggies don’t have any added ingredients (aka salt) and they’re comparable in nutritional value to their fresh counterparts. You can’t buy everything frozen, and you wouldn't want to depending on what you’re making, but this trick should help you a bit in the beginning (and next winter).
Make simple food. This is the biggest way to keep eating healthy from being expensive, in my humble opinion. If you make a dinner that has five ingredients, it might be inherently cheaper and easier than if you made a dinner with 18 ingredients. This isn’t always the case because five ingredients can be super pricey if they happen to be the right ones (grass-fed beef, high-quality cheese, medjool dates, anyone?). When browsing recipes, try to take into account not only flavor and health but also what you already have on hand and what you might need to buy to complete it.
Now that we’ve got that down, I’ll get to the real goal of this post: To help you get free resources besides this blog to help you eat better. And what’s better than resources on the Web? Nothing. There are so many free recipes and sites that it’s almost TOO much, if you know what I mean. So I figured I’d share some of my favorite blogs/easy, low-cost/healthy Web-based recipes. I’ll link to the recipes specifically, but I urge you to check out the whole site for some good advice and a chance to join a community.
I’ve scoured my resources to try to find the simplest (and hopefully cheapest) recipes from my favorite sites in hopes that they’ll be of help and inspiration. So, without further ado, five of the best:
Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie - http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/ggs/
Kimberly is a celebrity nutritionist, which might turn some of you off, but if you just can’t get into the whole green smoothie crazy, you really should give her recipe a go before giving up all together.
Gena Hamshaw’s Sweet Potato Breakfast Salad with Almond Butter Protein Dressing - http://www.choosingraw.com/sweet-potato-breakfast-salad-with-almond-butter-protein-dressing/
Gena is a med school student and her blog is a fabulous resource for those who want to eat whole foods on a budget. She’s very good at explaining the nutrition in her recipes and the benefits of particular ingredients. And because she’s a student — with little money or time — she doesn’t ever really go crazy with outrageous or time-eating ingredients.
Chloe Coscarelli’s Pad Thai Noodles - http://chefchloe.com/entrees/pad-thai-noodles.html
Chloe has a really great cookbook and a resume that includes winning “Cupcake Wars” with a vegan cupcake (against non-vegans). She doesn’t have a ton of recipes on her site (though she’s got hundreds in her two cookbooks), but this version of pad thai hits all the requirements above. Plus, it’s probably the very simplest recipe for pad thai I’ve ever personally made this side of a pre-prepared box.
Terry Walters’ Crispy Roasted Chickpeas - http://terrywalters.net/2011/03/crispy-roasted-chickpeas/
I have two of Terry’s cookbooks and I love them. That said, my husband calls them “elitist” cookbooks because they tend to call for ingredients we never have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suffered through a giant shopping list just to make one of her recipes. That said, her basic recipes like this one are totally awesome. And I think her cookbooks are great for when you’ve been eating healthy for awhile and want to try something new and maybe a bit more challenging.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Ancho Lentil Tacos - http://www.theppk.com/2011/05/ancho-lentil-tacos/
It’s no secret that Isa is my very favorite recipe source. There’s a good reason for that: Her food tastes great and my husband will try any of her recipes at least once. She’s really great at making vegetable-centric food pop and her dishes are often amazing (I don’t think we’ve ever been disappointed). But many of her recipes do involve several ingredients, though most of the time that’s because her recipes often contain a lot of different spices or herbs. If you have a good spice cabinet (or are willing to use that buying in bulk trick I mentioned above), you’ll be good to try any of her recipes without any sweat off your brow.
Good luck and I hope you try the recipes listed and maybe get other good ideas at those sites.
I’m probably jinxing myself by writing this column, but: So far, I’ve avoided the flu that has claimed so many of my friends and family this year.
Of course, the second after this appears in front of other eyeballs, I’ll probably come down with the dreaded illness, but until that happens, I’ll share my secret. Of course, I’m careful to wash my hands and not touch my face, and I’ve probably just gotten lucky, too, but I really do think I have a kitchen remedy that’s helped me stay in the clear.
Any night I’ve come home not feeling 100 percent, or just whenever I’ve had the time, I’ve made this green juice and chugged it down. It contains several illness-fighting ingredients: kale for vitamin A and overall leafy green awesomeness, cucumber and celery for extra special hydration, garlic (aka the inflammation killer also known as Italian penicillin), lemon for a bit of vitamin C, and the added benefit of a probiotic to keep the gut flora healthy.
Now, it’s not the tastiest juice ever (you might have guessed that already), but it’s actually kind of addictive. The garlic, lemon and sour probiotic help cut the “green” flavor and leave you with a savory drink that hits the right notes. You may want to add extra lemon or probiotic at first, or juice in some carrots or an apple or two to help with the flavor, but if you can go with the original, do. I actually like to savor it over 10 minutes or so, but there’s nothing wrong with splitting this serving in two, giving the other half to your significant other and seeing who can down it the fastest.
Don’t have a juicer? You can try chopping up and adding the same ingredients (though maybe not the full amount) to your blender with enough water to get it going and make an unsweetened green smoothie. You’ll get the added benefit of fiber, even if you can’t get in a full head of kale or celery in a single serving.
If I do end up with the flu just for having the audacity to say this juice helped me through the season, I’ll take the punishment fate deals out, just so that you all my have another secret weapon in your arsenals. Clearly, I'll do anything for you people. Now, bottoms up!
Flu Shot Green Juice
1 head celery, base removed
1 head kale
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, rind removed
1 tablespoon (or more) liquid probiotic (I use coconut kefir)
Run all ingredients except the probiotic through a juicer. Stir in the probiotic. Chug it down (serves 1 to 2)
Alternatives: use 1-inch piece of fresh, peeled ginger instead of garlic. Add an apple or a couple of carrots for sweetness.
Honestly, folks, this is going to be a pretty short post this week. I'm sorry about that, but when I tell you the reason why I think you'll understand.
My grandmother passed away this week. It feels strange typing this, not only because it's still such a foreign idea in my mind, but also because I didn't think I'd be telling anybody in this fashion.
I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, though it's appreciated. Honestly, the only reason I'm sharing this at all is because my grandmother was a fabulous cook and taught me so much of what I know about food. She left a giant, flour-coated impression on me and colors my food writing whether she knew it or not.
I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in her kitchen, watching her work her magic. She made the best desserts known to man, and I've told many, many, many people that if she'd ever opened a bakery it would've become a sweets-lover's destination, a national chain, or both. Chocolate pie, strawberry shortcake, peanut brittle, chip chocolate cookies (NOT chocolate chip, mind you), muffins ... the woman could do it all. And it was all so very good.
So, in her memory this week — we're working very hard to celebrate her life and how fantastic she was, rather than dwell on the sadness we all feel — I thought I'd share my favorite recipe of hers: peanut clusters.
They're simple — there are only three ingredients — but they're out of this world.
I've made them many, many times and they've been loved by people all over the country — I've made them in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Florida, and my mother has whipped up a batch or 20 in Alabama.
Honestly, I've probably known the recipe by heart since I was 10 or so, but when I got married, my mother's best friend asked for everyone in attendance to provide a recipe, hand-written on a recipe card. My grandmother wrote out the recipe in her beautiful handwriting and, now almost 10 years later, I still have it, as clean as the day she wrote it out.
So, in her memory, I'm going to share it with all of you. Honestly, it's not as healthy as most of the recipes I share in this space, but it's fantastic, and I hope you all enjoy it. The day she died, my husband insisted we make some as a little tribute. I even had one even though they're not vegan (or "funny" as my grandma would've said), and I'm glad I did.
Grandma Jeanne's Famous Peanut Clusters
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate morsels
1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch morsels
1 (12-ounce) package salted Spanish peanuts
Combine chocolate and butterscotch morsels in a double broilers (or microwave) until melted, being careful not to burn them, and stirring often.
Stir in the peanuts. Drop by the teaspoon onto waxed paper. Let set until firm either in the freezer or fridge. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer.
If you started 2013 with the goal of eating better/more vegetables/more fruits/less junk/less processed food/less food in general, chances are that by now you've either settled in or seen your resolve take a nosedive.
It's impossible to tell on Jan. 1 which way the proverbial cookie might crumble (i.e. into the trash, or into your mouth), but you can always improve on what you've already done, even if all that qualifies is scampering backward into your old habits after a brief foray into "healthy eating."
And if you've survived this month with your healthy goals going strong, you may still have nagging thoughts about how you can keep it up. Maybe you've had a hard time converting your family, and thus, have been eating totally separate meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or maybe you're just fine at home, but when you're out on the town or at a party, your resolve crumbles (like said cookie). Or maybe you just can't get through the day without feeling hungry and wonder if it has to be that way forever.
Nope, no it doesn't. See, the thing is, no matter where you are in your journey to health, you should be in it for the long run. You've got this body and you need to take care of it, not abuse it with food or with suffering while feeling hungry/leftover/stressed over the vat of chips and salsa on the table.
We're talking about a lifestyle here. Like, for life. If you do it right, it should become second nature, not total torture.
And, being a lifestyle, it's probably good to know some tips and tricks, no?
Okay, so here's one that I've used the past few years and has saved me a lot of grief: I have a salad every day for lunch.
Yes, pretty much every single day. It's very rare for me to have something other than a salad and it usually means I'm not in control of the menu.
And, no, I'm not starving an hour later. And I'm not looking longingly at my co-workers' lunches. And I'm not eating the same old thing over and over again like some sad little animatron.
There's actually an art to making a salad that will fill you up and leave you feeling good about your work day: It's all about HEFT.
If you started your healthy eating regime at the beginning of January wondering how the heck anybody eats only salad for a meal, chances are the salad you're picturing is one of those tiny "dinner" salads made from iceberg lettuce, a sad tomato and croutons.
Let me tell you, that is not a dinner salad. And it's certainly not a lunch salad either. And, yes, if you eat something that small and lacking in nutrients, you will be hungry. For sure. And you'll probably wreck your good intentions with an especially expensive trip to the vending machine.
So, here's exactly how I have a salad every day without going hungry or crazy or succumbing to the vending machine:
Step 1: Store salad greens in the work fridge.
On Mondays, I will usually bring a 5-ounce tub of mixed greens or baby spinach, put my initials on the outside and keep it in the fridge at work. That way, I always have my salad base right there and waiting. I don't put anything else in there with them, so that they stay fresher longer. Just the greens, by themselves. And the 5-ounce tub is a good size not to be too obtrusive in a normal-size fridge. (If you only have a mini-fridge in the office, you might have to adjust these recommendations.)
Step 2: Make sure to have hearty toppings
Either brought from home or store-bought, make sure to have a large amount (as is almost as big a container as your salad greens) of salad toppings to use during the week. To keep your salads from being weak, make sure to include one of each of the following items:
Protein: I usually pick one type of bean (garbanzo, black or kidney) and then maybe a bit of tofu to supplement. On the salad at the top of the page, you can see I've used curried tofu as my protein of choice. If you eat meat, you could buy some shredded chicken, tuna or turkey for your salad.
Vegetables: This time of year, I usually either make or buy roasted vegetables to include in my daily salads. I like to mix up a variety, so it's not like I feel like I'm eating the same thing all the time. Top favorites right now: roasted squash, roasted yams, roasted carrots, roasted zucchini or yellow squash. I also like to always add red onion to my salads, and often peas or beets.
Something savory and something sweet: To get by without a lot of added flavor from dressing, I like to always include a few items with a lot of flavor to my salads. Often this means adding kalamata olives (savory) and pickled red onions (sweet). I'll also usually add black pepper, maybe nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy flavor) and raisins or apple juice-sweetened cranberries for some extra kick. Oh, and I've also really loved marinated mushrooms on my salads these days. They add a lot of flavor with little effort.
Step 3: Pick your dressing
Here's where you can easily change the flavor of your salad from day to day. Depending on my mood, I like to use hummus, salsa (pineapple/mango salsa fresca is especially good) or guac as my salad toppers. If I have enough roasted veggies on there, I can just kind of mash everything together and get a lot of texture for very little "dressing." If this isn't your cup of tea, you could just keep one or two salad dressings in the work fridge and alternate them, depending on your mood. The point is: Have something ready, and have an alternate so you aren't sick of it by day three.
Tips to make this easier:
Store a large salad bowl and fork in your desk at work. (You may want to bring this along with your salad greens the first time you try this method, naturally.) I say "large" because, remember, this is a meal. It's not supposed to be a puny salad. You want it to fill you up.
Buy some or all of the ingredients on Mondays. I take a trip to the store on my lunchbreak during my first workday of the week and stock up on items from the salad bar/hot bar. It's expensive, but if you break it down over five meals, it's actually not too bad.
Don't beat yourself up if you don't have salad for lunch. Honestly, I make sure to have salad for lunch not only because I like salad, but because that way I'm not as pressured to make sure I have one at dinner. I usually do, but sometimes I can't, or it's too cold, or I just want something else. And I don't feel guilty, because I've already gotten in a large serving of vegetables in the middle of the day.
So, there you have it. It's really not hard to make a salad for lunch every day. You can make it hearty, healthy and different, every day, just by varying toppings and doing a little planning at the beginning of the week.
It’s no secret that if you follow this blog, you know that this winter I’ve been digging the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts combination. Steamed or roasted, I love putting them on salads or veggie burgers or just eating them as is. Those two foods are basically “winter” to me right now.
So, I was excited to find a new way to eat them. A very unexpected way, for me, for sure: chili. Yes, the thought of Brussels sprouts in chili sounds strange (maybe not sweet potatoes, so much), but, I assure you that even if you hate Brussels, chances are you might like this recipe.
As Example A as to why this is, I give you my husband, who, though he HATES Brussels, actually chose to make this recipe. He knew we had pretty much everything on hand and that I’d probably like it and thought he’d take one for the team. But, as it turned out, he liked it. And I’ll tell you why: This chili is so saucy, you can’t even taste the Brussels. I’m serious. Everything is so spicy and smoky and delicious because of the adobo peppers, that we could’ve thrown cardboard in there and been none the wiser.
This description probably doesn’t make this chili sound appealing, but it is. Really. And I think that if you have someone in the house who isn’t the biggest yam/Brussels fan (including yourself), but you want to push them because you know they have awesome nutrient value, then try this recipe.
Also, a word of caution: The adobo sauce and peppers are what makes this recipe really work, but you might want to be careful if you aren’t too keen on spice. We only used two of the three peppers, and it was still nearly too hot for us. We’re not total wusses, but still.
Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped (we only used 2 and it was plenty spicy for us)
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 average-size), peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 ½ cups)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Freshly squeezed lime juice
In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 to 7 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, coriander seeds, and oregano, and saute for a minute more. Add the remaining ingredients (except the lime juice). Mix well. The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts will be peeking out of the tomato sauce, but don’t worry, they will cook down.
Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for about half an hour, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste and adjust any other seasonings. Let the chili sit uncovered for at least 10 minutes before eating.
(Recipes from “Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
Dang, it’s cold out there. It’s just so classic “Kansas” that we went from 60 degrees one day (Friday) to hovering around freezing the next. Boo.
By the time we’d been through that horrible temperature swing, we were all for breaking out the slow cooker on Sunday morning. We adapted a recipe that was supposed to be made on the stovetop by just dumping everything in the slow cooker and crossing our fingers that it turned out right.
It did and it was delicious. I totally recommend making this soup when you feel like you want some chili to ward off the chill. Enjoy!
Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small (We used an orange bell pepper)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced small
1 pound zucchini, cut into medium dice
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen (thaw first if frozen)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (We didn’t use it)
2 teaspoons agave nectar (We used honey)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Put everything except the agave nectar and lime juice into a slow cooker. Cook, stirring occasionally, on high for five to six hours. When ready to serve, stir in agave/honey and lime. Serves six.
(Recipe adapted from “Appetite for Reduction,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
I often get asked why I use the ingredients I do in the original recipes you see in this space. Readers want to know if they really need coconut oil, goji berries, cacao nibs, etc., and other things that most folks don’t have on hand, to truly execute a specific recipe.
You don’t really need these special items to enjoy any of my recipes. Substitutions are totally fine and work well. Olive oil can go in for the coconut oil, dried cranberries or raisins for the goji berries and chocolate chips for the cacao nibs.
But, you might be wondering, if substitutions work so well, why the heck don’t I use the easier-to-find ingredients in the first place? Why even bother to use these specialty items at all?
The answer, my friends, is nutritional diversity.
If we don’t seek out new foods, they almost never find us. And when they do they’re unwelcome, something usually barging in on us when we least want them, but when some well-meaning foodie is eager for you to give it a taste. (Sorry to my friends and family who’ve had me do this to them.)
We Americans are pretty darn predictable. Ask anybody what staples they buy each week, the answers can be pretty standard: Apples, bananas, carrots, bread, milk, cheese, etc. Occasionally, you’ll run into someone who might buy avocados every week, or kefir, or hummus. And, of course, there are those of us with special diets, who might deviate, too.
But the point is, that if you go into almost any freshly stocked kitchen in Lawrence and you’ll see the same sorts of foods over and over. We probably all have about 10 to 20 staples we buy week-in and week-out, no matter if we need them or not.
Which is both good for us and bad for us. Yes, it’s good that every week we buy bananas, because, hey, we all need potassium, but could we benefit from having a different fruit each morning with breakfast? Yes. Instead, you could have an Asian pear, pluot, black raspberries, persimmon, pomegranate seeds — the list goes on and on.
Each of those foods, while maybe not as high in potassium as your daily banana, are high in a variety of nutrients and have an untold number of antioxidants and phytochemicals that our bodies are just dying to absorb.
Add variety — even if it’s just one new food to your cart per week — and gain benefits without doing a major diet overhaul. You might even find a new food you really love.
So, I thought I might occasionally discuss the benefits of the more unusual ingredients that often show up in my recipes. I can talk about what you can sub out for them, but also what their individual benefits are and why you might want to add them to your pantry, counter or fridge.
The first ingredient to get this treatment is one that’s probably pretty misunderstood: Hemp seed.
Yes, it’s hemp as in that hemp. But it’s worth your time for a boatload of reasons.
Why would I want to use it? Hemp seeds are king when it comes to essential fatty acids. These little guys have both a copious amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are highly anti-inflammatory and usually missing from the standard American diet, and a special omega-6 fatty acid called GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) that is also highly anti-inflammatory. These fats are called “essential” because our bodies can’t manufacture them. We need to ingest them, and the way we currently eat, we’re horribly out of whack. It’s much easier to get omega-6 fatty acids in our diets (most nuts have them), but it’s much more difficult to get omega-3s. Our ratio should be something like 1 to 3, omega-3s to omega-6s, whereas most of us can be so poorly imbalanced that our ratios are more like 1 to 20.
Other benefits: While the good fats in hemp seed are a big reason to add them to your meals and smoothies, they’ve got many other positive characteristics. The seeds are also high in vitamin K and vitamin E, both of which are important for healthy blood. Plus, three tablespoons of hemp seeds gets you 11 grams of protein, 50 percent of your daily magnesium and phosphorus, 25 percent of your daily zinc, and 15 percent of your daily iron.
Uses: Sprinkle on salads, hot cereal or scoop into smoothies. The seeds have a nutty flavor that pairs well with sweet dried or fresh fruit.
Buying it: These days, you can find hemp seeds at many health food stores. Usually, you’ll find them vacuum-packed on a shelf or in the refrigerated section. It’s good to store them in the fridge or the freezer because essential fatty acids are more likely to go bad quickly. I tend to buy my hemp seeds in large three-pound bags online and then keep only a small amount in the fridge for daily use. The rest goes into the freezer, just to make sure I get my money’s worth. If you want to buy just a small amount to see if hemp seed’s for you, check out The Merc, 901 S. Iowa St., which has little tubs of hemp seed for sale in plastic containers in the refrigerated section.
Substitutions: Ground flaxseed, chia seed
Bonus question: Do the seeds contain THC? No. Reputable sellers of the seeds (Nutiva, Manitoba Harvest) test their seeds and hemp oil to make sure they don’t register any THC. Nor can you grow hemp with the seeds. To be sold in the United States, they can no longer be viable.
Now, a little recipe for you to use with your hemp seeds, should you choose to buy some.
Hempy Winter Salad
1 tablespoon hemp seed
Baby spinach or mixed greens
½ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ avocado, chopped
4 Brussels sprouts, de-stemmed and halved
5 garlic-stuffed (or plain) green olives, halved
¼ cup prepared quinoa (or brown rice, millet, couscous, etc.)
Coconut oil or olive oil, for roasting
Minced garlic to taste (I used ½ a teaspoon)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Rub the cut side of the Brussels sprouts with coconut or olive oil and roast on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping about halfway through.
When the Brussels sprouts are done, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash together. Serves 1.