Friday, January 30, 2009

Recipe: Butternut Squash Quinoa Cranberry Salad

Sometimes you just don't want to spend time in the kitchen. That's how I felt yesterday. Still one needs to eat. And in just about the time it would have taken for me to grab something to eat, I was able to make this delicious seasonal recipe.

I love the combination of butternut squash and cranberries with the quinoa. The apple cider vinegar at the end, brings up the sweetness a bit. I am kicking myself for not adding some Brussels sprouts to this dish, as I had some on hand.

Perhaps you can add some at home and let me know how it turns out?

Serves 3-4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth and/or water
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 sprig of rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook quinoa in pot with vegetable broth over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Leave on stove for about 25 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, throw squash, red onion, dried cranberries, and rosemary into a rectangular baking pan. Coat with olive oil. Toss in sea salt and butter. Mix ingredients together. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from oven. Add apple cider vinegar. Serve with quinoa.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recipe: Potato Celery Root Pancakes

Potato Celery Root LatkasI've always been fan of potatoes. Maybe a little too fond. My mom credits it for my weight gain when in high school. She was probably right about that.

I gave up the potatoes for a couple years, but I couldn't give them up for long. They are one of my favorite foods. And this time of year there is nothing wrong with a little bit of added weight (think of it as nature's way of providing a little bit of insulation).

Originally, I was prepared to make my usual recipe for potato pancakes (latkas). I decided to add celery root to the mix after my friend Ella (The Regan Vegan) suggested it. If you'd rather try the traditional method, the celery root can easily be substituted for another potato. I think you'll enjoy them either way.

Also, note this recipe calls for gluten-free breadcrumbs. Instead of creating another item to purchase, I prefer to grind up whatever crackers I have on hand. For this recipe, I used some Brown Rice Sea Salt Crisps sold by Trader Joe's.

I recommend serving the latkas with applesauce and labne (a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese similar to sour cream). Enjoy!

Serves 4

2 large Russet or Yukon potatoes, peeled
1 medium celery root, peeled
1 large onion
1 egg (maybe 2)
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs from crackers
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Grate potatoes, celery root, and onion in food processor or by hand. Place in large bowl with one egg, gluten-free breadcrumbs, and sea salt. Mix well and let sit for five minutes.

With clean hands, roll dough into a ball and flatten into a pancake. Add an additional egg, if the batter does not hold together. Set aside until you've used up all the dough.

Heat a large skillet (cast iron recommended) over medium high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook four pancakes at a time, a minute or two on each side. Should be golden brown in color. Remove from skillet and place on a large plate. Repeat process, making sure to add some additional olive oil to the pan.

Serve hot with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Organ meats = Health Food?

If it seems like a crazy idea, you have probably not read the teachings of Sally Fallon and the Weston Price Foundation.

When I was a student at Integrative Nutrition several years ago, we had been given her book, Nourishing Traditions, which promotes consuming more nutrient-dense animal foods.

I doubt Fallon was trying to make friends when she spoke at our school, when the majority of students, like myself were practicing a version of the vegetarian or vegan diet. In fact, the subtitle of her book reads, "The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats."

Red meat, duck fat, lard - these are some of the foods recommended by Fallon. She is also a strong advocate of raw milk and dairy products, which she believes has been robbed of many essential vitamins and minerals through the pasteurization process.

The research of the institute began with the travels of its founder and dentist, Weston Price. He traveled to cultures untouched by modern nutrition and diet. To his surprise these populations enjoyed remarkably perfect teeth - with little/no decay despite going their whole lives without seeing a dentist. Absent were the white flour and sugar that have become such a staple in our modern diet. And high in their diet were animal fats and protein. These populations also enjoyed a long lifespan and had low incidents of cancer and other diseases.

It's been three years since Fallon's talk at school, and I finally cracked her book this weekend. My friend Angela put together a book group to discuss its principles, and I think I was finally ready to learn more. Without knowing it, I've been eating a traditional diet that is in line with the principles of the book.

So how did I become a closeted meat-eater?

It all started about a year ago when I discovered I had a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat. No more white or wheat flour. I felt so much better after cutting these out. At the same time I was losing weight at a rapid clip - and this was weight I was not looking to lose! So I decided to introduce more animal foods into my diet.

But fret not meatless readers, I still love me a good veggie. I only eat meat at high quality dining establishments (at least for now).

Anyone out there interested in cooking with more lard or duck fat? Or how about consuming some raw dairy products? Unfortunately, the later are not widely available commercially. Unless, you got a hookup.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Recipe: Spiced Chickpeas and Greens with Quinoa Pilaf

When I came up with this dish last week, I was in search of flavor. My basic rice and quinoa was beginning to get a little boring.

So I decided to source some inspiration overseas and make a pilaf using vegetable stock, raisins, and cashew nuts. It is a combination used in many parts of the world (from India, Afghanistan and North Africa). I am not sure where it originated, but it is a tasty idea that deserves to be copied.

I served alongside a simple saute of chickpeas, swiss chard, onions, and my favorite spices - turmeric, cumin, paprika, and coriander. The result is a colorful assortment of spices and flavors that I think you will enjoy.

Serves 2-3

1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/2 small red onion, diced
6 leaves swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt

In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add turmeric to oil to release flavor.

Add the red onion and cook for a couple minutes, until yellow and translucent. Add chard stems and cook for another 2 minutes. Add chickpeas and remaining spices. Cook for another 10 minutes, allowing flavors to merge. Throw in chard leaves at the end along with sea salt. Cook for another two minutes until greens are cooked down.

Adjust salt, flavoring as necessary. Serve over quinoa pilaf (instructions below).

Quinoa Pilaf
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/3 cup raisins
12 cashews halves, toasted

Cook quinoa with water or stock in a small pot for 20-30 minutes. Throw in raisins while cooking. When all water has evaporated, add cashews. Mix together.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new day

Despite the frigid temperatures and large crowds, I decided to put aside my better judgment to take part in one of the proudest moments in our nation's history - the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Local restaurants and bars had enticing offers to watch the coverage indoors on their big screen televisions. Yet nothing would turn me away, not even the loss of feeling in my limbs, from being a part of the moment in Washington DC. And there were a million more just like me.

I'd like to thank my body for holding up, going many hours without a proper meal, even eating some foods I thought I'd never eat again. Like Obama said in his Inaguration speech, this was a time to put stale ideologies aside. I gave in to the corned beef sandwich - and am pleased to report things are great.

What Obama said to me that day nourished my being in a way that food never can. And as I listen to his speech again from my warmer confines, I can't help but get re-inspired. I feel the desire to serve. To put aside my inner skeptic, and share his infectious message of hope and possibility.

Favorite line of the speech: "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Love it. Idealism is back, baby!

I've posted more photos from the weekend on flickr.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To blog or to cookbook? How about both.

my favorite cookbooksI may soon be joining the industry I was suppose to destroy.

On Monday, I took part in a Cookbook Proposal Workshop hosted by MediaBistro in New York City. It was an opportunity to pitch and workshop an idea for a cookbook with Harriet Bell, a former VP at HarperCollins who has helped published some of my favorite authors including Deborah Madison.

I got some great feedback and learned about the industry from a certified 'player.' And while I'd like to stay silent on my idea for now, I think it's got a shot. True, times are tough in the industry, but they still need good ideas. And I'm pretty sure that you, dear reader, will love it!

There is something very appealing about seeing one's name in print and knowing that your book is being used in kitchens across America. I will still continue to find and try recipes over the Internet, as will I refer to Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone when I encounter a vegetable in my CSA share that I'm unfamiliar with. There will always be a place for cookbooks, just as there is for newspapers - hopefully for more than just a collector's item.

Now I must get centered and starting writing my proposal. I find it good to set deadlines for these kinds of things. So let's say by the end of February.

Other insightful tidbits from class -
  • The proper style for writing recipes is to list ingredients in order in which they are used. Am I the only one who didn't know this?
  • There are no intellectual property rights for recipes. Still it's probably good that you write your own.
  • '1/2 cup chopped parsley' means something different than '1/2 cup parsley, chopped.' Can you tell the difference?
Special thanks to Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks), author of Super Natural Cooking, and Clotilde Dusoulier (Chocolate and Zucchini), author of Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, for blazing a path for us food blogger-writers. I never thought it was possible until you did it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recipe: Potato Fennel Soup with Dill

Last week I was in the mood to use a new ingredient. And so I selected fennel. It is one of those things I love, but I rarely cook with.

So I bought a big ole bulb of the stuff and used it in two separate meals. The first half was used in this recipe, along with potatoes and dill to make a really amazing soup. I braised the other half with some olive oil and white wine and served on top of some trout later in the week.

I developed a taste for fennel after consuming its seeds at the end of meals to stimulate digestion. Especially at Indian restaurants that serve food using a lot of cream or dairy. I love its anise-y taste. I think you will too. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings

2 potatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, diced
1/2 bulb fennel, diced, sprigs removed
2 sprigs celery, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 sprigs dill, chopped (for garnish)

In a large soup pot, saute leeks with butter or olive oil over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add carrot, celery, fennel, and thyme, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.

Next, add water to pot. Immerse vegetables in water with an additional inch or so of water. Increase heat to high. When reaches a boil, reduce to simmer. Leave for 20-30 minutes or so until potatoes are soft. Add sea salt. Blend using immersion blender or transfer to food processor.

Add chopped dill and serve.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Photo essay: My class at Whole Foods

This Wednesday, a group of amino acid-craving New Yorkers stormed the Bowery Whole Foods and shook me up for some information on protein. Fortunately, I was prepared.

We went over both vegetable and animal sources of protein. Here I am sharing some of my favorite products that can be found at Whole Foods, including tempeh.

Each participant received a sample of three protein-rich options from the Whole Foods salad bar - a quinoa salad with goji berries and cashew nuts, a marinated chickpea salad, and some edamame pods.

I think I am making a joke here - probably about people who eat too much chicken.

The class was really a lot of fun. I look forward to hosting some more in the future. If you know of any places in the New York area that are looking for someone to host a talk on food or health, please let me know! Or if you want to be on my mailing list for future classes, you may sign up here.

Special thanks to the editors of Time Out New York who featured my class in its New Years Feel Better 09 Issue.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting the most from your leftovers

veggie burger with plum chutney, wild rice, sauteed kale, potatoesIt reads like an upscale menu: Garden Sunshine Burger with Plum Chutney, Wild Rice, Sauteed Kale and Skillet Potatoes. You'd never guess this meal would be made from leftovers. And better yet, put together in 15 minutes.

Often in those situations when I don't feel like cooking, I look to my Tupperware containers for guidance. This week I found a container of wild rice looking for a new home, as well as some potatoes from a weekend brunch.

Yet rice and potatoes hardly make a complete meal. So I began my search for protein, and found some Sunshine Burgers in my freezer - made entirely from brown rice, sunflower seeds, carrots and herbs. For the vegetable, I cooked up some kale. A simple preparation which I've made countless times - sauteing garlic and chili flakes in olive oil, with kale and sea salt.

Almost done. My lunch was just missing some flavor. And so I turned to my trusty condiments, where I found a great homemade plum chutney I purchased from a sweet Indian lady at my local farmers market. I could now enjoy my lunch.

Want to make the most of your leftovers? Here are a few tips:

Tip 1: Make twice as much rice as you need. Why? Cause it can be used in all sorts of dishes. For ideas check out my recipes for Coconut milk rice pudding, Japanese breakfast, and Mexican rice and beans.

Tip 2: Keep plenty of condiments on hand. There is no better way to make leftovers more exciting. Personal favorites include Hampton Chutney Cilantro Chutney, Sriracha hot sauce, and Green Mountain Gringo's salsa.

Tip 3: Always serve something fresh with something old.
Even if just making a simple salad or vegetable saute, it helps bring more excitement and aliveness to your meal.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Celebrating '08, Looking to '09

I'm naturally a rather private person, but entering the blogosphere makes one change all that. So I thought it might be fun to share my resolutions for 2009. As well as some of my personal victories for 2008.

2008 Highlights
  • January: My year started off with a bang when I was invited by my student client, Simone, to attend a taping of The Martha Stewart Show. Little did I know it would be the biggest prize giveaway day in the show's history! All guests (including myself) went home with a new Tempurpedic mattress and a three-night stay at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires.
  • April: My shared living days are over. I signed the lease to my first apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
  • April: I took my trip to Canyon Ranch. I got to experience what being extremely rich must feel like at this $800/night holistic spa - three days of hiking, massages, yoga classes, and spa cuisine. Among the guests, Ivana Trump and her newly-wed (now divorced) husband.
  • May: I'm engaged! Condensed version: I popped the question in Prospect Park after some three bean salad. She said yes.
  • June: Rice of Life is born. And with it my rekindled love and outlet for photography and writing.
  • July: I celebrated my 30th birthday. Although I still get carded and have been even asked if I am old enough to vote. Compliment?
  • August: Left the city for Costa Rica for two weeks. Island time and good food. What's not to love?
  • November: Obama day - what a night! It feels nice, you know, to have a deep love of your country. No moment more special than watching my home state, Virginia, go blue. All those weekends knocking on doors for the campaign was worth it.
  • December: My girlfriend goes domestic. In this month, I've received a homemade scarf, yoga bag, lavender eye pillow, apron, and pot holders. Being supportive pays dividends. Check out her blog The Novice Seamstress and see some of her work.

2009 Resolutions
  • Get published: Whether it be a cookbook or articles, it would be nice to see my name in print. As well as get paid for my writing. [Or you could just click on my Google ads. :)]
  • Pull off this wedding: Bring together six people with very different tastes and strong opinions to create a beautiful, spiritual event.
  • More weekend vacations: Whether it be staying at a B&B in New England or taking a hiking trip out West, I want to get out of the city and see more of this country's natural beauty.
  • Get out more: Meet new friends, business partners, clients.

So there you have it. My resolutions. But honestly, if 2009 turned out like 2008 it wouldn't be all that bad.

Do you have any resolutions? I'd love to hear them!

Integrative Nutrition