What's better than a delicious dinner that only dirties one dish? Make this one dish baked spinach parmesan sorghum risotto with salmon, using Hodgson Mills new sorghum sides! All you do is mix the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake topped with salmon fillets. You'll get a creamy whole grain risotto and perfectly cooked salmon!Read More
Enjoy omega 3 rich walnuts in this Mediterranean spinach, feta and walnut phyllo pie!
“I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
California knows how to party...at least when it comes to food!
All my favorite foods come from California. If the movie 2012 came to life and California suck back under the sea, I would be quite distraught (and hungry). What would I do without my favorite Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam cheese? How could I celebrate without a bottle of Sonoma County pinot noir? And avocados?? NOOOOO! Not the avocados!
I would also have to mourn the loss of one of my favorite pantry staples, walnuts. Did you know 99% of the US supply of walnuts comes from California? I actually didn't until preparing for this post!
One thing I love about walnuts is that they're one of those foods you can judge by it's cover. It's appearance gives you a hint to it's health benefits. Think heart healthy strawberries, which kinda look like little hearts. And avocados, with their wrinkly skin, helps prevent wrinkly skin! Then there's walnuts, which kind of look like brains, and are my favorite nut for cognitive health.
Walnuts are the richest nut source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids with 2.5 grams in just one snack sized ounce. We've talked about omega 3s and brain health before, a type of fat that's powerfully anti-inflammatory and helps improve blood flow in the brain. That's one of the reasons walnuts seem to play a role in maintaining cognitive health. Walnuts are no one trick pony - there's also been research suggesting a diet rich in walnuts protects against certain types of cancer, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, promotes satiety, and may help prevent diabetes. Oh, and they're delicious too!
When I saw the newest campaign for walnuts, I knew I wanted to make something inspired by my travels. Despite being very much a California food, walnuts are a huge part of many different cultures cuisines. My first thought was a take on baklava, which I enjoyed in every shape and form when we visited Turkey a few years ago. But, my tastes were leaning more savory that day, so I decided to work walnuts into the spinach and feta phyllo pies I ate almost as often as baklava when in Turkey. Walnuts add a yummy crunch and break up the salty feta and herb infused filling. Plus, it packs about 4 grams more protein and 2 grams of fiber in each serving in for a more balanced and filling vegetarian main.
One thing I'll warn you, this is a pretty time consuming dish so save it for a showstopper on a special occasion. Phyllo dough is a bit finicky, so make sure you cover it with a just barely damp towel to prevent it from drying out while you're working with it. Traditional phyllo pie recipes call for brushing the dough with a whole lot of butter, which is tasty, but I find using a smaller amount of olive oil yields a similar flakiness.
Here's a few more recipes from the blog using walnuts:
Spinach, Feta and Walnut Phyllo Pie
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 2 lbs frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 egg
- To assemble:
- 1 lb phyllo dough, defrosted
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
- Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add smoked paprika and chili flakes and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add spinach, scallions and dill and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Scoop spinach mixture into a large bowl. Let cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Add walnuts, feta and an egg and stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees when ready to bake. Spray pie pan lightly with olive oil. Open phyllo dough and cover stack with a damp paper towel when not working with it so it doesn't dry out. Pour olive oil in a small bowl. Take one sheet of phyllo and brush very lightly with olive oil. Top with another sheet and again brush lightly with oil. Repeat until you have a stack of 4 oil brushed phyllo dough sheets.
- Scoop spinach mixture in a line along the short end of the phyllo dough stack (about 2/3 cup total). Tightly roll the phyllo to form a "snake." Press the phyllo dough around the outside rim of the pie plate. Repeat with remaining dough and spinach mixture, creating a coil in the pie pan, stopping when the pan is full.
- Mix egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts. Place in the oven and bake 35 minutes until golden.
- Depending on how big your pie pan is, you may have leftover phyllo and spinach. If so, Wrap into another snake or triangles and bake on a separate baking sheet.
Make this penne with spinach, white beans and garlic oil! It's made by tossing whole grain penne with white beans, spinach and the most delicious garlic oil that's made with anchovies as a secret ingredient, which packs a ton of flavor and a boost of omega 3 fats! Packed with fiber and protein so it's super filling!Read More
Eggs in a nest, a dish of brown rice sautéed with vegetables and eggs baked in, is SO simple, you won't believe how tasty it is! Meet your new favorite weeknight dinner!
Every year for Valentine's Day, I give my husband a very special and thoughtful gift - the gift of not having to bother getting me any gifts.
Yep, I'm one of those people who thinks Valentine's Day is kind of silly. I'm not vehemently anti-Valentine's Day, I just rather not get a box of chalky tasting chocolates or go out to dinner at 8:45 because that's the only time we could get a reservation. I much prefer a cozy meal at home with the hubs, my pups and Netflix.
I used to prepare a special meal for Valentine's day. When we first moved into our house (we closed on it a few weeks earlier) I prepared a beef roast with this Madeira wine and tomato jam with crispy potatoes and this super fancy French bistro salad. The meal was pretty incredible, but I think we ate at 10 pm because it took so long and I had to work late that day. So basically my Valentine's Day was spent running around the kitchen as a harried, frazzled mess. Braving the crowds on Valentine's Day was starting to make a lot more sense.
A couple years ago, I gave Scott an even better present for Valentine's Day - food poisoning. I thought I pulled off this incredible meal of mussels in dijon cream sauce with pommes frites (you know, the really thin, crispy kind) followed by the most incredible chili chocolate brownies studded with caramel. It wasn't until the next day when we both didn't feel so hot that I realized we had food poisoning from the mussels.
No more fancy Valentine's Day meals for us.
I now like to keep things simple, making something with sentimental value rather than flare. Things like this egg in a nest, which I used to make all the time when we were semi-long distance dating. As basic as this recipe is, just pan fried veggies and brown rice with eggs baked in, it's soooo crazy good. In fact, I used to use the fact that I was making it to lure my now hubs into driving almost 2 hours from his work just to see me for the night by telling him I was making this dish!
This works best when you use cold or room temperature cooked rice, which gives it a nice, crispy texture and keeps it from getting sticky or mushy in the pan. It also helps it form a nice crust on the bottom, which is kind of the best part. Or maybe it's the runny yolk? Mmmm.
It probably goes without saying, because everything goes well with sriracha, but this is REALLY good with sriracha.
Eggs in a Nest
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 ounces spinach, roughly chopped (half a bag)
- 6 eggs
- Sriracha and chopped fresh parsley, optional for garnish
- Bring brown rice and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 40-50 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature, or refrigerate.
- Head olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add carrots and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add brown rice and cook until vegetables are tender and rice is starting to get crispy. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Make 6 wells in the rice and crack an egg into each. Cook until whites are starting to set, then transfer to the broiler. Cook until whites are set and eggs are still runny, which should take just a few minutes.
For those of you who actually like to do Valentine's Day like a normal person:
Celebrate potatoes with these vegetarian potato, corn and goat cheese empanadas with avocado chimichurri dipping sauce! These empanadas are made with a whole grain crust for extra fiber and a yummy flavor! And you'll be obsessed with the creamy avocado chimichurri, which you can make extras of to enjoy over all sorts of different foods.Read More
These recipes for mason jar soups are perfect for packing for lunch! Batch cook on the weekends, store in the fridge, just add hot water, give it a good shake, and you're good to go! Try Italian zoodle with white beans and tomato broth, red lentil coconut curry and miso noodle.Read More
This classic green smoothie is naturally sweetened with mango, watermelon and strawberries. Easily digestible and packed with nutrients to jump start your day!
Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook. I was not compensated to write this review.
Remember back in the day when your facebook news feed was filled with pictures from going out the night before and slightly un-PC status updates (which have since been deleted because OMG WHAT DO YOU MEAN FACEBOOK ISN'T PRIVATE?!?!?). Sigh. Those were the days...
Now it's babies. Baby announcements, babies being born, babies in oversized onesies, babies growing into toddlers, toddlers throwing tantrums, toddlers making a mess, toddlers growing into kids, kids throwing tantrums, kids saying totally inappropriate yet hilarious things (my personal favorite of the bunch). Yup, at 31, we're at that age.
Babies just aren't in the cards for the hubs and I (so if that's where you thought this was going, sorry to disappoint). While we love our friends and families kids with all our heart (because we love our friends and families with all our heart), we are just not baby people. I can't think of two people who know less about babies than the two of us. Recently, when Scott saw our friends 2 1/2 year old walking and talking, he exclaimed, "I didn't realize they were already functional at that age!" I made fun of him, but secretly, I was surprised as well.
Except for the basics on how it starts, there's just one thing I know about pregnancy. It's scary. Apparently, there are all these awful people who drown pregnant women with unsolicited advice, especially about diet, leaving them feeling completely overwhelmed and fearful that everything they eat will cause their baby to come out with two heads. And then they judge you if you do not accept said advice.
My pregnant or trying to become pregnant friends frequently come to me for nutrition tips or with questions about dubious advice they were given. Being honest, I'm not the expert when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy. There's a lot I learned for the test then promptly forgot!
So when my friend Dr. Sonali Ruder of The Foodie Physician reached out to see if I'd like to check out her new cookbook, The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook, I happily accepted. Clearly my personal knowledge ain't cuttin' it!
The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook is more than a cookbook. It's as comprehensive a resource on nutrition for pregnancy as you can get without being overwhelming. It discusses everything from healthy weight gain, food safety, nutrients of concern, pregnancy cravings and side effects. And of course, there are tasty recipes for pregnancy that are simple enough to make after the little one comes along. I've got my eye on her salmon oreganata, miso roasted brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash salad with maple dijon vinaigrette ;)
One other thing I know about pregnancy: morning sickness is awful. I shared an office with someone through two pregnancies. I remember the retching. Consider me traumatized.
It can be difficult to get the much needed nutrients in when you're feeling nauseous. Cold and easily digestible smoothies can be helpful since they don't have a strong scent, which can trigger nausea. Throwing some greens in your smoothie is always a good idea, but especially so during pregnancy. Greens are an excellent source of folate and iron, two critical nutrients during pregnancy.
This green smoothie from The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook is pretty fantastic as a basic smoothie recipe. It's nice and light, but you could always dress it up with a scoop of nut butter or even a little plain protein powder. The recipe calls for watermelon which is out of season right now, but luckily I had some frozen cubes leftover from making my Hawaiian fruit freezes. If you can't get your hands on any, just use extra strawberry. If you're feeling nauseous, throw some ginger in this. Not only is it delicious, but it's been shown to be an effective treatment for morning sickness.
Also, totally unrelated but I wanted to share pictures from a fun photoshoot I did recently with the lovely Celia of Celia G Photographie. I've been wanting to get professional pictures done for the blog and media work, and I am so so happy with how they turned out! She perfectly captured the joy and easy going attitude I want to convey with my brand. Celia is an absolutely fabulous person and super talented - trust me, I'm much more awkward in real life ;) These pictures are even more special now after the flood. The riverwalk, one of my favorite spots in Columbia where we took most of the pictures, was completely devastated.
Classic Green Smoothie
Feel free to use all spinach or kale if you don't feel like purchasing both.
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup kale
- 1 1/2 cups frozen mango
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cubed watermelon
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably organic
- 1/2 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Divide into two glasses and serve.
More smoothie recipes from the archives:
Give your immune system a boost to fight off that cold with a warm bowl of gingery green soup, packed with immune supporting ingredients like ginger, turmeric, green leafy veggies and garlic!
Does it seem like everyone is sick right now? We hosted supper club this Sunday and about half the people there were just getting over something, myself included. Of course, now the other half are probably currently sick from being in my germ infested house. Sorry guys. Hope the coq au vin was worth it!
Whenever I catch a cold, it usually runs it's course in a couple days, but this one has lingered almost a week. Yesterday morning I was fed up after I woke up feeling congested and groggy yet again. So, I decided to whip up a soup with all the immune supporting ingredients!
Although I do still believe in the curative powers of chicken noodle soup, I wanted to take this recipe in a different direction. I chose this recipe from 101 Cookbooks as a base, which I've had stashed in a binder for years only to stumble across it again last week. Perfect timing, no?
This soup basically has every food known to enhance immune function packed into each bowl. Okay, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it's definitely has it's fair share of cold and flu fighters! Here's a look at what's inside:
Green leafy veggies // Citrus fruit is probably what comes to mind when you think of vitamin C, but green leafies are a pretty good source too. Green leafy vegetables have also been shown to help lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, function properly.
Ginger // Ginger tea is one of my favorite tricks for a sore throat. I'm actually drinking it as I type! This gingery broth helps soothe a sore throat. Plus, ginger is an effective way to reduce nausea, so this light, brothy soup would be perfect if you've got a stomach flu.
Garlic // Garlic has been used medicinally for years to treat everything from gangrene to the plague. However, there's actual scientific evidence showing garlic's benefits for colds. One study found people who take garlic supplements were less likely to catch a cold, and those who did recovered faster.
Turmeric // Powerfully anti-inflammatory turmeric is fantastic for immune system support. It helps to boost a protein called CAMP, which helps the immune system fight bacteria and viruses.
Yogurt // Did you know the majority of your immune system is located in your gut? Beneficial probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt are a critical part of that system.
So, how do I feel now? My fingers may be permanently stained yellow from turmeric, but I feel much better! If you're feeling under the weather, I'm sending healing thoughts your way and a warm bowl of this soup!
Cure a Cold Gingery Green Soup
For a vegan version, simply mix the turmeric into the broth at the end of cooking. It will turn the broth quite yellow, but it will be delicious. Or, you could substitute a plain coconut milk yogurt, which I think would taste pretty great with the Asian flavors in this soup. Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.
- 1 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped small
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 1 large leek, white and pale green parts chopped
- 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup plain, organic yogurt
- 1 small nub of fresh turmeric or
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional for color)
- First, make the turmeric yogurt. Using a microplane grater, grate the turmeric into the yogurt or whisk in turmeric powder. Season with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a medium skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion, a pinch of salt and saute until lightly browned and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute 25 minutes until caramelized.
- Place sweet potato, kale, leek, ginger, and garlic in a pot with water, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes until tender. Add spinach, cover and simmer another 5 minutes until wilted. Add lemon and soy sauce to taste.
- Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt.
You’ll love the spicy sauce in this sriracha-lime tofu cauliflower rice bowl! The sauce gets soaked up by a bed of garlicky cauliflower rice! This easy dinner takes no time at all with pre-riced cauliflower. Packed with protein, veggies and filling fats! Just add brown rice or quinoa to the cauliflower rice for more carbohydrate!Read More
This gluten free millet and quinoa crust pizza is made with soaked whole grains and topped with pesto, spinach, grilled squash and scallions.
For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.
It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.
Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :)
I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .
When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way.
This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!
Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash
Makes 2 small-medium pizzas, serves 2-4
Adapted from The First Mess
- 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
- 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lightly packed basil
- Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
- 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- Fresh basil to garnish
- First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
- Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.
A quiche for my gluten free friends. This spinach and goat cheese quiche is made with slices of sweet potato for a crust. Best served with plenty of hot sauce!
Earlier this year, I challenged myself to go gluten free for a month. As you regular readers know, I'm not one who feels gluten is the root cause of our ills, nor do I think it's bad for most people. I don't have any major signs of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So why would I voluntarily subject myself to a month without pizza?
A couple of reasons. As a dietitian who works with many people diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, I wanted to gain a better understanding of what it's like to live gluten free. Also, I was curious. Would I feel different? Maybe...or maybe not. I would never know without trying.
But mainly I did it because I thought it would be easy. After all, eating such a varied diet, more than half the meals we eat just happen to be gluten free, so it wouldn't be that difficult, right??
I've told clients a million times that gluten is everywhere, so I have no idea why it came as such a surprise to me. I suppose I thought because we purchase mostly unprocessed foods, it wouldn't be difficult to avoid...but it was.
Also, beer contains gluten. Should have thought that one through.
So what were my results? I didn’t notice a difference in my energy, mental clarity, digestion or really anything at all that month.
But, it did give me a chance to experiment with a few new foods, including this gluten free quiche made with thinly sliced sweet potatoes as a crust!
The trick here is thinly and evenly slicing the potatoes, which allows them to cook evenly without burning and helps them get a little bit crispy. If you don't have a mandoline slicer, I suggest you add one to your kitchen arsenal. Mine is fairly large, so if you don't have much storage space, they make plenty of smaller ones that will fit into any overstuffed drawer. I love them for slicing vegetables evenly, a skill I have not yet developed and for quickly julienning vegetables without a headache.
Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook
- 8 eggs
- 1/2 cup organic, whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 small sweet potatoes or 1 large, thinly sliced with a mandoline
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 6 ounce bag baby spinach
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Place the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Whisk in the cumin and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the coconut oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Cook, flipping occasionally, until cooked through, browned and a little bit crispy, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the green onions over the potatoes, then top with the spinach. Cover with the lid or a cookie sheet to wilt the spinach, about 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium and pour the eggs over the spinach and potatoes. Cook until mostly set around the edges. Sprinkle the goat cheese evenly over the top. Place the quiche in the oven to finish cooking for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven when the eggs are set. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro and hot sauce and slice into sixths.
By now, you hopefully know the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. But what does the real Mediterranean diet look like? Learn all about it in today's post, as well as a recipe for giant beans stewed with tomatoes, spinach and olives.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Diets just ain’t my thang.
As the saying goes, rules are meant to be broken.If you decide to follow a diet with strict guidelines, more than likely, you’ll do a better job finding the loopholes than following the actual diet. On your fat free diet, you pass on French fries, only to binge on fat free cookies and jelly beans. You decide to take the Atkins approach, until your portions of meat start to look like Fred Flintstones. Okay, so it wasn’t the carbs, but rather the gluten. Pretty soon, you're spending your life savings to fuel your addiction to gluten-free pretzels and gluten-free cookies, all made with refined gluten-free flour of course.
Instead, I like to think about patterns of eating vs diets. One of the patterns of eating that has a lot of science to back it is the Mediterranean diet. It received quite a bit of press recently when a large study reinforced its heart healthy benefits over other mainstream diets. Earlier studies on the traditional Mediterranean diet have shown benefits for heart disease, cancer, diabete prevention and longevity.
Most importantly, the food is delicious!
Please know the real Mediterranean diet is not the same thing as our Americanized, or the Olive Garden version, as I like to call it. The Mediterranean diet encompasses the traditional diets of countries located on the Mediterranean coast. Not just Italy and Greece but Spain, France, North Africa, Turkey, and Israel among others. Their native dishes vary, but the one thing they have in common is a minimally processed diet with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, olive oil, nuts & seeds. Herbs and spices are frequently used for flavoring. Dairy is typically consumed from cheese and yogurt, and in smaller amounts. Sweets, red meats, and processed foods are rarely eaten, at the most a couple times a week.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t just about food – there is also an emphasis on the pleasure of eating and savoring meals with family and friends. Can you see why I’m such a fan?
Giant Beans with Spinach, Tomatoes and Olives
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side dish
I found giant lima beans at Whole Foods in the bulk section. In the past, I've had a difficult time finding them. You could substitute regular lima beans or even cannelini beans, but the cooking times will change. Adapted from The New York Times.
1/2 lb (a rounded cup) dried giant lima beans or gigantes beans
1 onion, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 16-ounce bag frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess water
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 leek, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 28-ounce can tomato puree
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
Optional: Soak beans in enough water to cover overnight. If you do not soak the beans, add 30-60 minutes cooking time to the beans.
Combine the beans, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a pot and cover with salted water by about two inches. Bring beans to a simmer and cook until al dente, about 2 hours for gigante beans or giant limas, 1 1/2 hours for cannellini beans. Using tongs, remove the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Drain the beans, collecting the bean broth in a bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add the leek, scallions, and a pinch of salt, and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in spinach, parsley, dill, half the tomato puree, 1 cup bean broth, 1 tablespoon olive oil and half of the olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the tomato-spinach mixture in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread the remaining tomato puree over the top, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle on the remaining olives. Cover with a lid or aluminum oil and place in the oven. Bake for an hour, uncover, then bake for about an hour more until beans are creamy, but intact, casserole is bubbly but not soupy. If it looks dried out, you can add more bean broth.
Let casserole sit for 15 minutes to cool before serving.
Cook tofu with a little bit of turmeric and you'll never know it's not eggs! Try my vegan hack in this Indian tofu and cauliflower scramble with spinach.
Consider this post a big hug for whoever invented the concept of breakfast for dinner. Without them, I would have starved this week. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this week has been crazy! At least it's been all fun stuff - evening yoga classes, private practice appointments, pumpkin carving parties, and shopping with friends. Still, I haven't had much time to spend in the kitchen, so most our dinners have been some combination of eggs, potatoes, leftover vegetables and avocado. Throw in some salsa, fresh herbs and feta cheese and you've got yourself a fancy schmancy (and mighty tasty) meal.
Tofu scrambles are a fun little vegan take on scrambled eggs. I started making tofu scrambles after discovering them at a vegan cafe in California. Tofu has a similar texture to eggs and when you add garlic, onions and other aromatics, it tastes quite similar too. A pinch of turmeric and you can't even tell the difference!
Speaking of turmeric, if it's not on regular rotation in your kitchen, it needs to be. Turmeric is a bright yellow spice with a light flavor reminiscent of ginger. Studies examining the health benefits of turmeric and it's main active compound, cucurmin, have shown a multitude of benefits.
- Turmeric may reduce blood glucose
- India has a dramatically lower rate of Alzheimer disease and turmeric heavy curries might be the reason why. Turmeric is incredibly beneficial for brain health, reducing the formation of the type of plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients
- Due to it's anti-inflammatory effects, tumeric has been researched as a treatment for both rheumatiod arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- In lab studies, cucumin has been shown to kill cancer cells. Evidence for an anticancer benefit is especially strong for breast cancer and melanoma.
- There are few medical treatments for liver disease, so the fact that turmeric may prevent liver scarring in chronic liver disease is especially exciting.
- The production of heterocyclic amines, a cancer causing compound formed by cooking foods at high temperatures, may be inhibited by turmeric.
If you've never cooked with turmeric before, there are many ways to incorporate it into your diet. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine, so curry is a good start. You could also sneak turmeric into smoothies or use it to make tea. I often cook brown basmati rice with turmeric to for a pretty yellow color or stir a few pinches into scrambled eggs or sauteed potatoes and onions. However you use it, make sure your meal has a little fat and black pepper in it, which helps your body absorb all the good stuff!
Tofu and Cauliflower Scramble with Spinach
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
- 1 lb firm tofu, drained
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 bunch of spinach
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 100% whole grain naan or pita, warmed
- Harissa or sriracha
- Wrap the tofu with a clean dishtowel or paper towels, place on a plate and cover with a heavy skillet or can. Let sit for 30-60 minutes to drain, then crumble.
- Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add tofu and and cook until both cauliflower and tofu are browned, another 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 30 seconds, then add cumin, coriander and tumeric and cook another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in spinach and scallions and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve with naan and harissa or sriracha.
This black pepper and lemon sauteed vegetables with farro was a perfect, easy to prepare dinner after a long day! Gotta love anything this simple that's still packed with flavor! Just saute peppers, onions and mushrooms with lemon juice and pepper and serve over farro. You could serve it over any whole grain you like - quinoa, wheat berries, or whole grain couscous would soak up the sauce equally well.Read More