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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blood Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette


As a conscious omnivore, when I eat meat, I eat as much of the animal as possible.

I like to treat fruits and vegetables the same way.

I save scraps like leek tops and shiitake stems for soup stock. I buy beets with their greens attached and eat those too. I roast the seeds from squash and pumpkins (one of my favorite snacks). And I always eat the outer layer of fruits and vegetables whenever possible because they are most nutritious with their skins and peels intact.

Citrus peels contain flavonoids like nobiletin and tangeritin that have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects in the body. Studies show that these flavonoids can induce the death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and reduce the chance that tumors will spread to other parts of the body.

Limonene, a monoterpene compound found in the essential oils of citrus fruit peels, also has anti-cancer activity. It stimulates enzymes in the liver that break down carcinogens and alters gene expression in cancer cells to inhibit their growth. Monoterpenes like limonene have been shown to prevent cancers of the breast, colon, liver, lung, pancreas and skin.

Because pesticides are often concentrated on the outer layer of produce, only eat peels from citrus fruits that have not been sprayed. When your citrus fruits are organic, always eat their zest.

Blood Orange Reduction 

If you can't find an organic blood orange, omit the zest and use only the juice.

Zest of 2 organic lemons (save the juice for another purpose)
1 organic orange, zest and juice
1 organic blood orange, zest and juice
Pinch sea salt

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to simmer, turn the heat down to low. Swirl occasionally and allow it to reduce until it becomes a few spoonfuls of a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Blood Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe is the perfect amount for a big salad. If you want to have some leftover, double or triple the batch.

1 tbsp blood orange reduction
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Ground peppercorn to taste
Pinch sea salt (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge.


Rooprai HK et al. Evaluation of the effects of swainsonine, captopril, tangeretin and nobiletin on the biological behaviour of brain tumour cells in vitro. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. 2001 Feb;27(1):29-39.

Crowell PL, et al. Human Metabolism of the Experimental Cancer Therapeutic Agent D-Limonene. Cancer, Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 1994;35:31-37.

Crowell PL and Gould MN. Chemoprevention and Therapy of Cancer by d-Limonene. Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis, 1994;5(1):1-22.

Dietary Phytochemical Research Demonstrates Potential for Major Role in Cancer Prevention. Primary Care & Cancer, 1996;16(7):6-7.

Foods That May Prevent Breast Cancer: Studies Are Investigating Soybeans, Whole Wheat and Green Tea Among Others. Primary Care and Cancer, February 1994;14(2):10-11.
Haag JD et al. Limonene-Induced Regression of Mammary Carcinomas. Cancer Research, 1992;52:4021-4026.

Hensrud DD and Heimburger, DC. Diet, Nutrients, and Gastrointestinal Cancer. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, June, 1998;27(2):325-346.

Lee YC et al. Nobiletin, a citrus flavonoid, suppresses invasion and migration involving FAK/PI3K/Akt and small GTPase signals in human gastric adenocarcinoma AGS cells. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 2011 Jan;347(1-2):103-15. Epub 2010 Oct 21.

Leonardi T et al. Apigenin and naringenin suppress colon carcinogenesis through the aberrant crypt stage in azoxymethane-treated rats. Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood). 2010 Jun;235(6):710-7.

Orange Peel Oil Studied as Cancer-Fighting Agent. Medical Tribune, May 30, 1991;11.

Potter JD. Your Mother Was Right: Eat Your Vegetables. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000;9(Suppl.):S10-S12.

Schardt D. Phytochemicals: Plants Against Cancer. Nutrition Action Health Letter, April 1994;21(3):7-13.

Stavric B. Role of Chemopreventers in Human Diet. Clinical Biochemistry, 1994;27(5):319-332.

Steinmetz K and Potter JD. Vegetables, Fruit and Cancer II: Mechanisms. Cancer Causes and Control, 1991;2:427-442.

Steinmetz KA and Potter JD. Vegetables, Fruit, and Cancer Prevention: A Review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1996;96:1027-1039.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fish Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce


Fish cakes are a quick and easy way to eat tinned fish. Serve them like you would crab cakes: as an appetizer or atop a large salad for a main course. Or form them into balls and serve them wrapped inside lettuce leaves, skewered with cherry tomatoes and cucumber chunks, or as finger food.  Crunchy outside and soft inside, kids will love them and have fun dipping them into the yogurt sauce.

I buy tinned fish with the bones (they are a great source of calcium) and zip them up in my food processor in no time. Here I season them with fresh cilantro, ginger, lemon zest and red onion, but you could just as easily substitute your favorite flavors or whatever you happen to have on hand: parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, chili pepper, scallion, shallot, garlic or lime zest. If you don't have fresh herbs, use ground dried herbs. If your citrus isn't organic, omit the zest.

Fish cakes can be prepared in advance, which can make dinner a breeze on busy nights. You will have just enough time to steam some spinach or make a salad while they cook.

Fish cakes:
1 organic lemon
7 oz tinned sardines with bones, drained
1/2 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro
1 tsp fresh grated ginger, or to taste
1 egg
1/4 cup stone ground garbanzo bean flour
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing

 Lemon Yogurt Sauce:
1/3 cup organic plain whole milk Greek or strained yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
Fresh lemon zest and juice
Ground peppercorn to taste

Zest half of the lemon into a food processor. Add the sardines, onion, cilantro and ginger. Process until finely chopped. Add the egg, chick pea flour, and a pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn.  Process again until thoroughly mixed. Form the mixture into cakes (or balls).

Zest the rest of the lemon into a small bowl. Add the yogurt, mustard and peppercorn. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, sauté the cakes until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a serving plate.

Cut the zested lemon into slices. Squeeze one or two over the fish cakes and serve immediately, with the rest of the lemon slices and the yogurt sauce on the side.

Yield: 3 medium cakes or 10 balls

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wild Salmon with Orange Ginger Sauce


This dish is a winner because it's so simple to make and you may have the ingredients already on hand.

I always keep wild salmon stocked in my freezer for fast dinners when I'm short on time. After you thaw it overnight in the fridge, it cooks quite quickly. You have just enough time to make a sauce and toss a salad before it's ready to eat. Dinner can be ready in 20 minutes.

I buy organic citrus fruit because it's important to eat the zest. The essential oils in citrus zest are the most flavorful part of the fruit and they have important health benefits too, notably anti-cancer effects. If you have other organic citrus fruit, like tangerines or grapefruit, feel free to experiment. If your oranges are not organic, omit the zest from this recipe.

A stove top grill pan is my favorite way to cook salmon and I always start with room temperature fish (take it out of the fridge in advance). Because there is minimal contact between the fish and the pan, the meat won't dry out if you don't overcook it.

Avoid overcooking the salmon because it will quickly lose its flaky and tender texture. I prefer cooking salmon on the stove top (rather than in the oven) because I can keep a good eye on it.

  • 2 organic Valencia oranges, zest and juice, or other oranges
  • Fresh ginger
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound wild Alaskan salmon at room temperature, fillets or steaks, cut into 4 ounce portions
  • Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing 
  • Ground peppercorn
  • Tamari (optional)

Zest and juice the oranges into a small saucepan. Grate enough ginger to taste. (I like my sauce spicy so I use a teaspoon or more.) Add a small pinch of sea salt, but not too much because you will want to adjust the seasoning at the end. Warm the mixture over medium-low heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half, about 15 minutes.

While the sauce reduces, brush the salmon with olive oil and season it with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Warm a stove top grill pan (or skillet) over medium heat. Once hot, place the pieces of salmon inside and do not move them once you put them down.

Cook until the fish detaches and develops grill marks, about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Along the side it should look halfway cooked: the bottom half will be opaque and the top half will be translucent. Turn the fish over and turn the heat off. Cover loosely and allow to rest for 5 or more minutes, while the residual heat finishes cooking the fish.

Once the orange ginger sauce has reduced and thickened, taste it for seasoning. If it needs more salt, add a few drops of tamari (or more sea salt if you prefer). For a teriyaki-like flavor, add more tamari, to taste.

The fish is ready to eat when it is just cooked through. It should be opaque but soft and moist. It should flake apart easily when prodded with a fork.

Transfer the fish to a serving plate. Drizzle the Orange Ginger Sauce over the fish or serve it separately.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Apple Pecan Tart with Chestnut Pastry and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

This healthy dessert contains whole fruit, nuts and whole grains, with just a touch of maple syrup. It's a healthy alternative to traditional pecan and apple pies laden with white flour, sugar and sometimes even corn syrup.

The filling is a mixture of pecans, which make it nutty and creamy, and apples, which make it soft and smooth. Because I leave the apple peels intact, this dish is an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants.

When I was cooking the apples for the filling, I added a dry rosé of Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes, because I happened to have an open bottle in the fridge. Any sort of liquid is helpful in getting the sauce started, so feel free to substitute a dry white wine, apple cider, the juice of an orange, or even a splash of water.

I bake my tarts in a lightly-buttered 9-inch square tart pan with a removable bottom, but you can use any pie dish.

For the pastry:

  • 1/2 cup roasted, shelled, roughly chopped chestnuts (or 3.5 oz vacuum packed)
  • 1/2 cup raw oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 stick or 1/2 cup grass-fed butter, cubed
  • 5 tbsp ice water

Chill the ingredients before you begin: place the butter and chestnuts in the fridge and freeze the oats and flour in the bowl of a food processor, with the blade, for 20 minutes. Prepare a glass of ice water and a tablespoon measure.

Assemble the food processor and pulse the chestnuts, oats, whole wheat flour and butter together until pea-sized pieces appear. Continue mixing while you add just enough water (4 to 5 tablespoons of water) until the dough forms a ball. Gather the dough together and wrap it in aluminum foil before you transfer to the fridge for at least one hour to rest.

For the filling:
  • 4 medium apples (Opalescent, Stayman Winesap and Granny Smith work well)
  • Splash of dry rosé wine
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • 1 cup raw pecan pieces
Core and dice the apples (the smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook). Add them to a large sauce pan with the wine, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apple pieces break down into a sauce, about 30 minutes. Stir in the pecans and set aside to cool.

Once cool, pureé until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.

For assembly:
  • 2 apples that will hold their shape (McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a clean, dry, smooth surface lightly coated with whole wheat pastry flour.

Once the dough has lost its chill, roll it out from the center, turning frequently, until it is an inch or two larger than your tart pan. Gently lift it into the pan and fit the dough into the corners and along the sides. Do not stretch the dough. Trim off any extra dough along the edges. Line the tart dough it with aluminum foil and fill it with dry beans to hold the shape. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans (save them for future baking projects) and bake for 5 more minutes.

While the tart shell bakes, quarter the apples and remove the seeds. Thinly slice each quarter into 6 pieces. Set aside.

Spoon the apple-pecan purée into the pre-baked tart shell and smooth the top. Arrange the thin apple slices on top of the filling in any pattern. Bake for 50 minutes or more, until the apples start to brown on top. Cool completely.

If you'll be serving freshly whipped cream with the tart, place a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl and a whisk or attachments for an electric mixer in the freezer to chill while the tart cools.

To serve:

I like to serve this tart with organic cream, unsweetened and freshly whipped with a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Fresh grass-fed cream
  • Pinch cinnamon
Pour some fresh cream, about 1 tablespoon per person, and a pinch of cinnamon into the chilled bowl and whip until sufficiently light and airy.

Cut the pie into individual portions and serve with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bone Broth


Broths made from bones have been revered as both food and medicine since ancient times. Rich in minerals and glistening with fat droplets, bone broth has even been called "liquid gold."

It's not just delicious, it's nutritious too. The nutrients and protein in bone broth are well absorbed and the gelatin acts as a natural digestive aid. It's a traditional food for sick individuals, people with arthritis and those with a weak constitution. Bone broth is also a healthy base for soups, stews and sauces.

Like all things, the quality of the finished product can only be as good as the quality of the original ingredients. Use bones from animals raised on pasture, fed their natural diet, and never exposed to hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or other chemicals. Bones, meat and organs from these animals are a good source of healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, unlike bones, meat and organs from animals fed grains (even if those grains are organic).

I used a turkey carcass plus the neck and giblets (save the liver for another use) for this broth but you can use bones from any wild, grass-fed, or pasture-raised animal. Smaller bones can be chopped up with a sharp cleaver and your local butcher can cut up the bigger bones for you (or use an electric saw). More surface area is better but they don't need to end up in tiny pieces. Just make sure that the marrow is exposed and they fit into your pot.

I usually add dry beans, pre-soaked overnight, to give the broth more nutrients and a bit more body.  I also add a splash of apple cider vinegar because the small amount of acid will maximize the release of gelatin and minerals like calcium and magnesium from the bones as the broth simmers.

Carcass or bones, preferably with some meat left on them, marrow exposed
Several cups of roughly chopped aromatic vegetables like celery, carrots, onion or leek tops
A head of garlic cut in half through the "equator" 
A pinch of sea salt (not too much because you can adjust the seasoning later)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 to 3 dried bay leaves
1 or 2 dried chili peppers (optional) 
1 handful of dried beans (adzuki, white, pinto)
Splash of apple cider vinegar 

                        1. Add everything to a large stock pot along with enough cold water to cover all of the contents generously. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the stock at a boil so gentle that just a few bubbles rise to the surface at a time. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer the stock, tasting occasionally, until all the flavor has been extracted from the bones, about 4 to 5 hours.
                        2. Cool the broth, strain it, and portion it into clean, labeled glass jars with tight-fitting lids. If you plan to freeze the stock, leave an inch of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion and prevent the jars from cracking.
                        3. Once the stock has cooled to room temperature, screw the lids on the jars and place them in the fridge overnight. 
                        4. Once the stock is chilled throughout, transfer to the freezer all of the jars you don't plan to use in the near future. Leave the lids unscrewed, as the liquid will expand as it freezes and you don't want the jars to burst. The following day, when the stock is completely frozen, screw on the lids.
                        Yield: 6 to 7 pints of stock