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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cranberry Nut Balls

These treats are a healthy alternative to holiday cookies.

Serve them as snacks with a mug of hot apple cider after an afternoon of sledding,
offer them as a host/hostess gift, and keep some in the freezer for unexpected company.

½ cup chopped raw walnuts
½ cup chopped raw cashews
½ cup chopped raw almonds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, roughly ground
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup ground raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup ground raw flax seeds
½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup almond butter
1 tbsp honey
½ cup dried unsweetened coconut

Stir together all nuts and seeds with cranberries, coconut and cinnamon. Add almond butter and honey, mix again. Form 1 tbsp portions into little balls, roll in coconut and chill before serving. Or make in advance, freeze and thaw 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 30 balls.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Sauté


More than the sum of its parts, this simple side dish will leave even the most adamant Brussels sprouts skeptics asking for more. Sautéed until caramelized and golden brown, these sprouts are both savory and slightly sweet.

One secret is slicing them thin, which can be done by hand, but a food processor will make preparation a snap. (In fact, this dish may be what I use my food processor for most often.)

The other secret is waiting until the end of cooking to add salt. If you add it too soon, the osmotic effect will draw water out of the sprouts and stop them from browning. It is helpful to add a little salt if they start to stick before they start to brown, when a bit more moisture is needed, otherwise season them once they have caramelized.

I always slice as many sprouts as will fit into my largest skillet to ensure leftovers, which make a nutritious and delicious lunch or snack. (This morning, they were my breakfast.)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts, or more, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground peppercorn to taste
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Splash of cream or half-and-half

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced sprouts and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. (Don’t stir too often or they won’t have the chance to brown.)

Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground peppercorn and nutmeg. Stir in add a splash of cream or half-and-half, not enough to make a sauce but just enough to coat the leaves. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beet Greens with Walnuts and Cranberries


The beets are beautiful at the farmer’s market this time of year. Buy bunches that have fresh green leaves in good condition and eat the whole plant.

Grated raw into salads, golden beet roots add a brilliant, bright yellow color. For an easy appetizer or salad course, grate raw golden beets, alone or along with carrots and/or radishes, and toss them with chopped fresh parsley and your favorite vinaigrette. (This is probably what I use my food processor for most often.)

Or chop beet roots into wedges (scrub the peel and leave it intact), toss them with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and roast them until they are caramelized and golden brown. Serve roasted beet wedges as a side dish, add them to salads, or stir them into brown rice risottos.

Save the greens for this simple sauté, a colorful and festive side dish or main course. Because raw greens wilt down to a fraction of their original volume, at my table, 1 bunch of greens serves 1 person as a main course, or 2 to 3 people as a side dish. Multiply the recipe below accordingly.

1 bunch golden beet greens
1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, or more, thinly sliced, minced or grated
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
1 lemon
½ cup raw walnuts (or toasted at home slowly over low heat)
¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Remove the stems from the leaves. Finely chop the stems and set aside. Chop the leaves into strips 1 centimeter to 1 inch thick and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium, add the chopped stems and a pinch each of sea salt and pepper. Sauté until the stems are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped beet leaves and cook until wilted and tender, tossing occasionally, about 5 more minutes.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the greens to taste (about half a lemon), catching any seeds. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning, and add more lemon, sea salt or peppercorn if needed. Transfer to a serving plate.

Scatter the walnuts, cranberries and blue cheese over the greens. Serve immediately.

* Tailor this recipe to meet your needs: If you don’t have beet greens or prefer something else, substitute spinach, chard, kale, turnip greens, bok choi, etc. Aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the lemon juice. Instead of walnuts, try pecans, pistachios or almonds. Cherries or golden raisins can be substituted for the cranberries. Goat cheese would be a good alternative to blue cheese.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Flan with Coconut Milk and Fresh Ginger

No one will suspect that this delicious dessert is healthy. But it is, and it’s also gluten-free and dairy-free.

For a flan that is consistently smooth, I use an electric mixer and canned pumpkin puree for this recipe.

If you prefer, start with a whole pumpkin, cook and puree it well, then use a scant 2 cups for this recipe and reserve the rest for future use. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can mix it by hand, but be sure the batter is thoroughly combined and perfectly smooth before baking.

I like to use a fluted round baking dish with a 10-inch diameter for this flan, but you can use another dish if you like. Just adjust the cooking time and bake until the top is lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

- 1 tsp butter or cold-pressed coconut oil
- 6 large eggs
- 1 can coconut milk, 15 oz
- 1 can pumpkin puree, 15 oz
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- ½ tsp fresh grated ginger, or 1 tsp if you love ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use butter or coconut oil to grease a 10-inch round baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat again until smooth. Transfer to the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely to room temperature before serving. Or, once cool, cover and store in the fridge for future use.

Serve alone or with a dollop of fresh cream whipped with a few drops of honey and a dash of cinnamon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spicy Apple Sauce

This sweet and savory sauce is a nice accompaniment to pork, duck, chicken and turkey. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy it with potato pancakes, grilled or smoked tofu, and sautéed tempeh drizzled with tamari.

Use organic unwaxed apples and leave the skin on to make the most of antioxidants found there. Taking the time to puree it in a food processor will make a smooth and silky sauce, but you can skip this step and leave it chunky if you wish. If you do, chop the apples smaller so pieces of the skin will be easy to eat.

- 1½  to 2 pounds Macintosh apples, or other apples
- 2 tbsp organic grass-fed butter or extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch sea salt
- Ground peppercorn to taste
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Pinch allspice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or more to taste
- 5 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced

Quarter, core and dice the apples, leaving the skin intact.

Warm the butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apple chunks and sauté until soft and starting to brown, stirring occasionally. If they start to stick before they start to brown, add the sea salt to draw out some moisture and prevent them from sticking, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

When the apples soften and begin to brown, add the peppercorn, red pepper flakes, allspice, and salt if you haven’t added it already. Stir and continue cooking for another minute.

Turn off the heat and add the apple cider vinegar. Stir to incorporate any brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Cool slightly.

Transfer the apple mixture to a food processor, along with the sage. Puree until smooth, taking caution if the mixture is still hot. Taste for seasoning and spice; adjust if necessary.

Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for future use.

Yield: 1½ to 2 cups

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Golden Granola

A healthy and hearty bowl of granola for breakfast keeps you full all morning long.

Feel free to substitute the fruit or nuts for some of your favorites: raw pistachios, cashews, or Brazil nuts; or dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots or figs (unsulfured, unsweetened and without oil).

- 3 cups raw old-fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 to 2 tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup dried unsweetened golden raisins
- 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add oats to a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, gently heat the coconut oil until it has liquefied. Add the honey or maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine and pour the mixture over the oats. Toss to coat them completely, then spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Roughly chop the almonds and walnuts. Add them to a clean large mixing bowl with the cooled oats, dried fruit, shredded coconut and flax seed. Mix to combine the ingredients well.

Serve dry (as a snack) or with whole milk, hemp milk, rice milk, nut milk. Or spoon generously over a bowl of whole milk yogurt.

Store in an air-tight container.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

During cold and flu season, my patients often ask me what they can eat to support their immune system. Orange foods like butternut squash are on the top of my list because they are good sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene, nutrients that can strengthen the immune system and protect against viral infections. Pregnant women should be careful about taking vitamin A in supplement form but should not worry about getting too much from foods.

Whenever I eat a winter squash or pumpkin, I always save the seeds. Full of nutrients and essential fatty acids, roasted pumpkin and squash seeds are some of my favorite snacks. They can be seasoned with all sorts of spices, but I enjoy these seeds simply dressed. A bit of olive oil and a dash of sea salt is all they need.

Besides being a great snack, these simple seeds also make tasty and decorative garnishes. Use them to finish soups, salads and brown rice risottos. 

- Whole butternut squash, peeled
- Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, first cold pressing
- Sea salt
- Ground peppercorn

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel the squash with a Y-shaped (or regular) vegetable peeler. Cut it in half, or in pieces if it is large, exposing the interior cavity. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and set them aside. Dice the squash into 1-centimeter cubes and transfer them to a baking pan or baking sheet.

Drizzle the squash cubes with enough olive oil to coat, then toss and arrange them in a single layer. Season with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Bake until the cubes are golden brown and the edges start to crisp, 45 minutes or more, stirring every 15 minutes. As soon as they are cool enough, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

While the squash is roasting, rinse the seeds and remove any stringy material. Drain well and transfer to a baking pan or baking sheet. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat, then toss and arrange the seeds in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake, alongside the squash, until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to pop.

Serve the sweet and salty butternut squash cubes alone, as a savory side dish, or incorporate them into other dishes.

1. Butternut Squash Risotto: with butternut squash cubes, sliced leeks, rosemary and crumbled blue cheese (or grated aged Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese)

2. Autumn Spinach Salad: fresh spinach leaves tossed with butternut squash cubes, roasted squash seeds, dried cranberries and red wine vinaigrette

3. Add the squash cubes to a black bean or beef burrito, with fresh tomato and cilantro

4. Use the squash cubes as a filling for nori rolls or summer rolls, along with strips of red bell pepper and tempeh (sauteed in extra virgin olive oil and drizzled with tamari)

5. Use the squash cubes to garnish a bowl of soup: black bean chili, tomato soup, potato leek soup, etc.

6. Add the squash cubes to a bowl of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, with a sprinkle of cinnamon

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Home-Made Chicken Stock

During soup season, I always have stock in my freezer. One pasture-raised stewing hen and a handful of organic vegetables yield 5 quarts of chicken stock. Not only is it cost effective, but this stock tastes much better than anything you could buy in a box or can.

I like to add a handful of dried beans to stocks to enhance their flavor and increase amounts of protein, B vitamins and minerals (including iron, potassium and magnesium). Soak the beans overnight if you can, to make these nutrients more available.

I also like to add dried chili peppers to soup stocks, especially during cold and flu season. I don't think it makes the stock especially spicy, but others may disagree. Leave them out if you wish.

Feel free to substitute other vegetables and herbs, like parsnips or parsley, or whatever you find at the farmers' market or in the fridge.

1 whole stewing hen or pasture-raised chicken, skin intact
1 large onion, cut into wedges
Dark green tops from 1 bunch leeks, roughly chopped (reserve the white and light green parts for another use if you want, otherwise, add them to the pot as well)
2 to 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 to 3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, halved in cross section
¼ cup dried white beans, pre-soaked overnight and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 to 2 dried chili peppers (optional)

If you’ve never worked with a stewing hen before, you may be surprised to find the ovary inside (see photo). If it hasn't been removed already, remove and discard it. Remove any other organs or parts inside the hen.

Cut the hen into several pieces. The more pieces, the better, because it means an increased amount of surface area available to release nutrients and flavor. Place the pieces inside a large stock pot along with the neck and feet, if available.

Add all of the other ingredients to the pot and cover with water. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 hours. Cool to room temperature.

Strain to remove any solids, pressing to extract all liquids. Use immediately or store in air-tight containers in the fridge for use within 48 hours or in the freezer for several months.

Yield: Approximately 5 quarts

Friday, October 16, 2009

Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

This morning at Greenmarket, one of my favorite farmers gave me a good pumpkin-picking tip:

Pumpkins that have the widest stems also have the most flavor.

I've never picked my pumpkin by the size of the stem, until now. But it may be a little while before I savor the flavor for myself - I'm still working my way through some acorn squash from last week.

So, for now, my perfect pumpkin will pose as a festive decoration until I'm ready to make some soup.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Red Plum Sauce

The plums at my local farmers’ market are like candy: sweet and fruity, with a surprise center. Taking a big, juicy bite reveals flesh of an amazing red. It’s like no other color: ruby red, translucent, with a touch of purple.

Fresh, ripe plums are perfect just as they are. But if you want to make something with them, consider this simple sauce. It has a flavor so complex – sweet and sour and spicy – that you would never guess it contains only three ingredients.

Serve this plum sauce with halibut, duck, pork, turkey, grilled tofu triangles, or sautéed tempeh strips. Or drizzle it over dessert: whole milk yogurt, fruit kebobs, or poached pears.

If you have any sauce leftover, whisk in some extra virgin olive oil and brown rice vinegar to make a plum vinaigrette.

- 2 generous cups quartered, pitted red plums, skin intact (about 6 medium plums)
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Puree all ingredients until smooth. Taste for seasoning and if necessary, add additional maple syrup or ginger, or a pinch of salt (optional).

If you have superior plums, stop here and serve a raw sauce. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

If your plums are past their prime, cook the sauce a bit. Warm the plum puree over low heat until the mixture starts to simmer, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook it for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it has reached favorable flavor and consistency. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in the fridge for future use, hot or cold.

Yield: 1½ cups

Monday, October 5, 2009

Healthy Halloween Treats

As Halloween approaches, treats take center stage. But even during Halloween, sweets should be limited.

Overindulgence in refined carbohydrates like white sugar and white flour has been associated with stomachaches, headaches, cavities, mood swings, yeast infections, insulin resistance, and increased levels of triglycerides in the blood. It can also aggravate certain medical conditions, like asthma and arthritis, and increase the risk for others, like obesity, heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer.

Consider giving art supplies, stickers or small games (sold as party favors) as treats instead of food.

If you plan to give edible treats, follow these three rules:

1. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Real foods, even if they are not whole foods, are always better than fake foods.

2. For any recipe, use no more than ¼ cup of a natural sweetener: local unfiltered honey, 100 % maple syrup, or date sugar.

3. Limit children (and adults) to one treat per day.

If you’re going to make your own treats, consider
  • My recipe for Dark Chocolate Cashew Cups. These can be made with other nuts, like pistachios or almonds, or unsweetened dried fruit, like cherries or apricot halves.
  • Make a dark chocolate bark by stirring dried unsweetened cranberries and raw pumpkin seeds into melted chocolate, pouring it into a shallow pan to set in the fridge, and breaking it into pieces to serve.

If you only have time to assemble treats, consider giving out portions of
  • Trail mix made from a combination of raw nuts, raw seeds, dried unsweetened fruit, dried unsweetened coconut, and/or dark chocolate chips
  • Whole wheat pretzels dipped in dark chocolate
  • Whole wheat pretzels dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with chopped raw walnuts or unsweetened dried shredded coconut

If you’re shopping for treats at your farmers’ market or local grocery, consider
  • Pieces of seasonal whole fruit like apples and pears
  • Lara bars (made with dried fruits and nuts)
  • Raw almonds in individual portions (available at Trader Joe’s)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cashew Cups

These simple treats are extremely versatile: they are elegant enough to serve after a special meal and easy to put together quickly when you are short on time.

High in antioxidants and omega-3 fats, these dark chocolate cups are a healthy alternative to store-bought Halloween candy. This year, share these treats instead.

I use one piece of special equipment to make them: a silicone mini-muffin baking pan. It makes an ideal mold because each cup is the perfect portion size and the flexible material makes them easy to remove. But you could substitute another silicone mold. As baking pans and ice cube trays, they come in all shapes and sizes.

Not surprisingly, the finished product will only be as good as the ingredients. So use really good chocolate.

- 7 ounces 70% dark chocolate
- Raw whole cashews

Roughly chop the dark chocolate and place it in a glass or stainless steel bowl over a pan of slowly simmering water. Cover and heat until chocolate has just melted. Do not over-heat the chocolate or it will become dry and clumpy, instead of creamy and smooth.

Place 3 whole cashews in the bottom of each mini-muffin cup.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour one tablespoon into each cup, covering the cashews at the bottom. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or more, until set. Carefully pop out each chocolate cup and transfer to a serving plate or an air-tight storage container.

Makes 18 to 20 dark chocolate cups. Yield will vary with size and shape of mold.

Some equally easy and delicious variations:

Dark Chocolate Almond Cups
Instead of cashews, place 3 raw almonds at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cups
Instead of cashews, place 3 dried, unsweetened cherries at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above.

Dark Chocolate Apricot Cups
Instead of cashews, place 1 dried, unsweetened apricot half at the bottom of each cup. Cover with chocolate as directed above. Sprinkle with chopped raw pistachios.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Roasted Tomato Salad

When tomatoes are fresh and in season, I can't get enough. This recipe for a salad of roasted fresh tomatoes feels like September: a transition between summer and fall.

- Fresh tomatoes, cut into 1" wedges
- Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt
- Ground peppercorn

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a roasting pan, toss the tomato wedges with enough olive oil to coat, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar (roughly half the amount of olive oil you used), sea salt and peppercorn.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 45 minutes or more, until the tomatoes become soft and begin to caramelize. Turn off the oven and let them cool inside or use them immediately.

Serve the roasted tomatoes, warm or at room temperature, alone or arranged with any of the following:

- Fresh basil leaves
- Marinated olives
- Roasted red peppers
- Good, fresh buffalo mozarella
- Crumbled feta
- Crumbled goat cheese

If you have leftover roasted tomatoes, blend them up into a savory marinara sauce.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Roasted Fig and Camembert Crostini

Fresh figs are one of my favorite fruits. Here they star in an easy but elegant appetizer, which can also be served as a cheese course or dessert.

- Thin slices of whole wheat baguette, approximately 1 centimeter thick
- Chopped fresh figs
- Camembert cheese
- Local unfiltered honey

Preheat the oven to 375F.

On each slice of baguette, layer some chopped figs and top with a thin slice of camembert cheese. Drizzle a small amount of honey over the top of each one. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted, the toasts have crisped, and the tops are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Fall Soup

Technically, it's not yet fall. But September 19th is just around the corner and it feels like fall in New York.

Maybe the cool and cloudy weather is especially striking for me because I recently returned from a vacation in the hot and dry southwestern United States. I celebrated the wedding of some close friends and visited some of our gorgeous national parks.

When I was hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, conditions were sweltering: sunny and 116 degrees Fahrenheit with steep trails, no shade and only the water I could carry. I could feel heat radiating from the red earth and red rocks as I walked over them; it was like hiking through a sauna.

But it was also stunning: walking quietly along mountainous ridges with 360 degree views, strolling through soft, white sand next to the aqua-blue Colorado river, and soaking in an ice cold creek after we arrived at our destination: Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the canyon, more than a mile deep.

Upon my return to New York, summer suddenly felt like fall. The cooler temperatures, clouds and rain made me long for soup. Lacking provisions after my recent trip, I opted to make a simple lentil soup with ingredients I already had on hand, plus a few fresh veggies.

My newly-wedded friend sent me home with fresh California bay leaves and rosemary, so I used those, but dried herbs can also be used. The chipotle pepper makes this soup spicy and smoky, but if you don’t have a chipotle, you can substitute any dried chili pepper. Or leave it out entirely if you don't like your soup spicy. I used home-made duck stock because I happened to have some in my freezer, but you can substitute poultry stock, or mushroom or vegetable broth, or even water.

Serve this simple but satisfying soup with a big green salad and fresh figs for a hearty autumn meal.

Simple Smoky Lentil Soup

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
2 or more cloves fresh garlic
1 cup lentils, pre-soaked for 2 to 4 hours if possible
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 dried chipotle pepper
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
2 cups strong home-made duck stock

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Use a sharp knife to puncture holes in the chipotle pepper and set it aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Grate the garlic cloves into the pot and stir. Add the lentils, bay leaves, chopped rosemary and chipotle pepper. Season with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Stir and continue cooking for another minute or two, until the garlic becomes aromatic. Do not burn the garlic.

Add the duck broth and enough water to cover the lentils and vegetables. Bring to a boil, the reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or more, until the lentils are tender. Add boiling water as the soup cooks if the level of broth becomes low.

Once the soup is done, turn off the heat. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately or cover until ready to serve.

This soup can be made in advance. If it cools to room temperature before you are ready to serve it, store it in the fridge.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Capers

It’s tomato season and this flavorful, savory sauce can be paired with almost anything: wild-caught fish, pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed steak, portabella mushroom caps, whole grain pasta, or tofu cut into triangles. So serve it up with whatever you happen to have on the grill or stovetop.

Anchovies are an essential ingredient, so unless you don’t eat fish, be sure to include them, even if you think you don’t like them (you will be surprised). The anchovies contribute a savory flavor and healthy omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. The sauce won’t taste fishy and most people will never guess this secret ingredient. Because anchovies are small fish that live low on the food chain, they are less likely to be contaminated with heavy metals and other industrial pollutants than other larger fish.

1 tbsp olive oil, first cold pressing
1 tbsp organic butter or more olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped red onion or shallot
2 cloves garlic, or more to taste
2 oz anchovies in olive oil, drained
Freshly ground peppercorn to taste
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 to 2 tbsp capers, to taste
2 large vine-ripened, fresh-picked tomatoes
1 handful fresh parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped

Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped red onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic and stir. Cook until it becomes aromatic, about one minute more. Add the anchovies, peppercorn and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for a few more minutes, until the anchovies soften and you can break them up with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble, then reduce heat to low and simmer until it has reduced and thickened, about 15 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Spoon the sauce over grilled or sautéed fish, chicken, steak, portabella mushroom caps, whole grain pasta or tofu triangles. Garnish with parsley or basil.

Vegan Variation:
Replace the anchovies with sea salt to taste.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

This nutritious breakfast is a delicious combination of yogurt, whole grains, and fresh fruits in season. Here I chose blackberries and nectarines, but you can use any fresh, ripe fruit.

Use whole milk yogurt made from cow, sheep or goat milk. Or, for a vegan version, substitute yogurt made from soy.

Use clear glass dishes (or sturdy drinking glasses) if you want to see the colorful layers.

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
1 heaping cup fresh blackberries
1 cup chopped ripe nectarine
1 cup granola (recipe follows)
2 tbsp raw hemp nuts or ground flax seeds

Whisk together the yogurt and honey until smooth.

In each of two serving dishes, layer the parfait as follows, starting at the bottom:

1. A few black berries
2. ½ cup yogurt-honey mixture
3. ¼ cup of granola
4. ½ cup chopped nectarine
5. ½ cup yogurt-honey mixture
6. ¼ cup granola
7. ½ cup blackberries
8. tbsp hemp or flax

Serves two.

Home-Made Granola:

3 cups milled multiple whole grain cereal or old-fashioned oats
¼ cup warm water
2 tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil
Dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup raw nuts, roughly chopped (cashews, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts)
1 cup raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp)
1 cup unsweetened shredded raw coconut

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add the whole grains to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the water, honey or maple syrup, and coconut oil. Pour the mixture over the whole grains and toss to coat them evenly. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir. Bake 10 more minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cooled whole grain mixture, raw cashews, pumpkin seeds and coconut. Store the granola in an air-tight container inside the fridge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lavender Lemonade

This refreshing summer drink is elegant and easy to make. If you don’t have lavender, consider experimenting with a fresh herb, like rosemary, mint, or lemon balm. If you’re using fresh herbs, omit the lavender and use 2 tablespoons of chopped leaves in this recipe, and reserve some springs for garnish.

2 cups water, divided
1 rounded tablespoon dried lavender flowers
2 tbsp agave nectar (optional)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3 to 5 medium lemons
4 lemon slices* for garnish

Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Pour it over the lavender flowers and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and pour the tea into a small pitcher. Add the agave nectar and stir to dissolve. Add lemon juice and 1 cup cold water. Stir again. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 hours or more.

Taste before serving and if the lemonade is too strong, dilute it with water as desired. To serve, pour it over ice in individual glasses and garnish with lemon slices.

Or, freeze in freezer pop molds until frozen.

Serves 4.

* Cut slices from the center of the lemon and use the ends for juice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Freezer Pops

Although children love them, freezer pops are not just for kids. These healthy alternatives to store-bought Popsicles make easy and imaginative snacks and desserts, without any undesirable additives like sweeteners, artificial flavors or colors.

Some pops also make cool breakfast items on hot summer days, especially those that contain fruit and yogurt or coconut milk.

Others, like Green Tea Pops or frozen fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, can even be served as appetizers or palate cleansers between courses.

If you don’t have freezer pop molds, get creative with small paper cups or sturdy shot glasses fitted with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stainless steel or bamboo cocktail skewers, or wooden tooth picks. Freezing times will vary, depending on the shape and size of your molds. Before serving, dip the molds in a bowl of warm water to loosen and release them.

Green Tea Pops:

Tea pops are a healthy way to hydrate in hot weather. If you don’t have green tea - or simply favor another flavor - substitute any herbal tea. Other good choices include peppermint, rosehip, hibiscus, ginger and licorice.

2 cups brewed green tea
1 to 2 tsp honey (optional)
1 to 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Brew the tea slightly stronger than usual and stir in the honey. Allow it to cool to room temperature. Add the lemon juice and stir again to make sure the honey has dissolved. Pour it into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Raspberry Watermelon Pops:

Each pop contains one serving of fruit.

3 cups cubed watermelon
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Puree fresh or frozen fruit and portion into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Frozen Yogurt Peach Pops:

If you don’t have peaches, substitute apricots, plums, nectarines, or fresh berries.

1 very ripe peach, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups organic plain whole milk yogurt
1 to 2 tbsp honey

Spoon the chopped peach into 4 four-ounce freezer pop molds, filling them 2/3 full, loosely packed. Whisk together the yogurt and honey until smooth. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chopped peach, filling each mold. Put the sticks in place and freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Coco-Banana Pops:

Banana goes so well with coconut milk, but you can substitute any fruit that is fresh, ripe and local. Use fruit that is perfectly ripe or slightly overripe, and naturally sweet.

1 ripe banana or other ripe fruit, 1 piece or ¾ cup roughly chopped
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 3 four-ounce pops