Friday, October 26, 2012

Reasons to Love Fall

Here’s what I love about fall, this year.

Getting to spend a few days with my sweet business partner and best friend at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, laying in our hotel room talking and giggling in the dark, rising early (5:30 am early!) each morning for a brisk walk around the city, and sneaking bites of a delicious roasted vegetable focaccia we discovered at Metropolitan Bakery in the Reading Terminal Market during the gluten-free symposium.  He he.

Now that Nourish is officially in its second year, we don’t get to spend nearly enough time together.  What happened to road trips?

The reason I always love fall:  new boots.

And escaping the gray skies and rain for sunny Sonoma.  The first week of November, I’ll be riding through wine country, picnicking and exploring the biodynamic wineries by bike.

Shorter days also mean more time for snuggling in bed with a good book, like Gabrielle Hamilton’s raw and elegant Blood, Bones and Butter Anyone who has romantic dreams of running a restaurant should read this book.

And finally, comfort food Like this recreation of Mexican baked eggs I enjoyed earlier this year in Tulum, Mexico

I think it tastes even better by the fire, with the wind whistling outside.

It's very easy.  You start by soaking black beans overnight.  Then gather together the rest of the ingredients.

Toast some cumin seeds.

Saute together the peppers, onions and garlic with some tomatoes and fresh herbs. 

Cover everything with water and let it cook low and slow until thick and delicious.

Add eggs to the pot and bake until set.  This isn't the greatest picture, but it tasted delicious!    

Mexican Baked Eggs

Serves 6

2 cups black beans, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced thin
2 poblano peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, sliced
1 dried ancho chile pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
cilantro stems, tied together with kitchen twine or wrapped in cheese cloth
a few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
Water, to cover
Salt, to taste
6 eggs

Drain and rinse the beans.  Set aside.

In a large pot, sauté the onion, poblano peppers, garlic and red pepper in the grapeseed oil, until onions are translucent and vegetables are beginning to soften.  Add dried pepper, cherry tomatoes, thyme, cilantro stems and bay leaves.  Add black beans.  Cover with water by 2 – 3 inches.  Add about 1 teaspoon of salt, to start. 

Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook, uncovered, about 3 hours, or until beans are very soft and the liquid is reduced to a thick soup.  Add more water, if necessary, to keep the beans ‘soupy.’  Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Crack eggs and place on the top of the beans.  Bake about 15 minutes, or until whites are set but yolk is still runny.  Stir in some fresh cilantro.

Serve with corn tortillas, and enjoy, preferably with someone you love!    

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Sweetness of Fall

An Okinawan proverb states, “One cannot live in this world without the support of others.”

The Okinawa Centenarian Study is a well-documented report examining the elderly population in Okinawa, Japan. What’s so interesting about this population in particular is that they have the lowest rates of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer in the world – which are in fact, the three leading causes of death in the U.S. While research indicates that their longevity and well-being is linked to genetics and other healthy habits such a physical activity and healthful dietary choices, their personal relationships – such as strong family ties and community belonging – have seemed to play a key factor in maintaining such good physical health and longevity.

That’s why our best (non)diet advice continues to be:

Eat real food and share it with those you love.”

With the holiday season now in full swing, spending time with friends and family will inevitably play a role in your eating patterns and food choices. While this time of year can be stressful for many families, sharing a meal with the ones you love can help balance holiday stress. So, we encourage you to enjoy the season, particularly with the company of those around you. And why not also enjoy all the delicious in-season fruits and veggies? It certainly can’t hurt!

They include:

apples, artichokes, Asian pears, Brussels sprouts, grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatillos.

A pear isn’t really just a pear, or a body shape. Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckell—each has their own flavor and texture.

And that sticks true for apples, too. Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Macintosh – the options are far from few.

And the variety doesn’t stop there. Pears and apples can also be enjoyed in an assortment of ways. These high fiber fruits make for perfectly convenient snacks when eaten fresh or dried by themselves; but when sliced, they are also great additions to salads and other savory dishes.

 Of course, let’s not forget about the sweet stuff either.

Substituting pears for apples in your favorite dessert recipes, such as a fruit crisp or crumble is an easy way to change-up an old recipe. And don’t discount poached pears and baked apples. While cooked fruit may sound like a boring dessert, it’s anything but bland. Heat intensifies the sweetness of apples and pears, while also softening the texture to result in a completely delectable, crowd-pleasing sweet course.
Sweet potatoes not only score high on taste, they also are leader in the pack when it comes to nutritional content. A medium-sized sweet potato contains three grams of fiber, is just 160 calories, and contains a rich amount of Vitamin A, C, beta-carotene, and potassium making it a good nutritional choice any time of year.

A few of my favorite ways to enjoy this delicious & nutritious seasonal veggie are to:

·         Bake and top with a hefty serving of nonfat Greek yogurt or a little bit of feta cheese.

·         Cut into strips and bake to make sweet potato “fries.”

·         Mash and combine with a touch of brown sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.

·         Mash and use in a variety of baked goods, such as cookies, muffins, or breads.

And now, for a recipe.
Baked Apples
This recipe is not only the perfect go-to as a last minute dessert idea, these apples also look adorable and are a guaranteed winner when it comes to both nutrition and taste.

4 large Fuji apples
¼ cup dried fruit such as raisins, dried tart cherries, cranberries, or currants
¼ cup chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ - ¾ cup apple juice
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 400 F. 
Wash apples. Remove the core with a small paring knife and spoon, leaving the skin on and a hole through the middle and the bottom intact. Peel off the apple skin around the top next to the core to prevent apples from bursting when baking. Place apples in a baking pan.

 In a small bowl, combine dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until spices are well distributed. Stuff each apple with dried fruit and nut mixture, and fill with apple juice. Top each apple with a dab of butter.

Bake for 30 for 40 minutes until apples are tender.

Enjoy, preferably with those you love.

These seasonal tips & recipe were featured in last month’s
Health & Family Guide for The Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
For more “In Season” tips & recipes, pick up the next issue of
The Health & Family Guide on November 16th.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Strapped for time? This is your no-recipe recipe!

McKenzie and I both give workshops, teach cooking classes and see clients for private nutrition counseling appointments.  Our most-asked client question is this:  How do I make healthy lunches and dinners when I don’t like (or have time) to cook?  I’m out of ideas.

Our answer:  keep a variety of ingredients on hand so you can easily assemble beautiful, balanced meals in no time.

Here’s what you do: 

1.   At the beginning of the week (or whenever you have time), make a big pot of your favorite whole grain, like brown rice, wild rice, farro, barley or quinoa.  If you can boil water, you can do it.  It will keep in the refrigerator for about four to five days.

2.   Buy a variety of your favorite vegetables, and then cook the ones you like cooked Think about broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potatoes…  Cut them up, put them on a roasting pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees until caramelized and tender.  Or steam or saute them.  That's okay too.  Let cool and then store in the refrigerator.  These will keep for three to five days and be used for snacking, dipping, salads, pilafs and sides of vegetables for dinners.  Just reheat as needed.

3.   For the vegetables you like to eat raw, cut them up and store them in the refrigerator Think about carrots, celery, bell peppers, lettuce…  If they are washed, cut and ready to go, you’re more likely to eat them.

4.   Stock up on a few pantry ingredients, like a variety of nuts and seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, corn tortillas, whole grain pasta, cans of beans, chicken or vegetable stock, and cheese, especially parmesan, goat cheese or feta.

If you have these ingredients on hand, you have instant meals in minutes.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes based on this concept—a roasted vegetable and farro salad with toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries.  But the options for this idea are limitless, based on what’s in your refrigerator.  It could be…

wild rice and roasted butternut squash salad, with toasted almonds and currants, or

quinoa salad with roasted brussels sprouts, toasted pecans and dried cherries, or

brown rice & black bean salad with roasted red peppers and cilantro over a bed of cabbage, or

barley salad with massaged kale, toasted walnuts and raisins

See what we mean?

And for those who really like detailed instructions, here you go. 

Make a pot of your favorite grain, like farro.

Roast your favorite vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and onions.

Make a basic vinaigrette with lemon juice and grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil.  Be sure and include the zest of the lemon for a pop of flavor.

Toss the cooled grain with your favorite nuts, dried fruit, herbs and the vinaigrette.

And enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner, preferably with someone you love!

Please share your favorite combinations with us.  We love to hear from you!

Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad

Serves 12 - 15

3 cups farro or other whole grain
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 onions, peeled and cut in wedges
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 lemons
apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place farro in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.   Cook for about 50 minutes or until farro is tender.  Drain off excess water.  Set aside farro to cool.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss cauliflower, broccoli and onion wedges in extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the vinaigrette, zest and juice both lemons.  Add lemon zest and juice to a glass measuring cup.  Add additional apple cider vinegar to bring amount of juice and vinegar to ½ cup total.  Season with sea salt.  Add ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and whisk to combine. 

To cooled farro add roasted vegetables, hazelnuts, cranberries, parsley and vinaigrette.  Toss gently and serve cold or at room temperature.  Farro salad will keep about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator, covered.