Thursday, January 21, 2010

Suzuki Roshi quote

"To cook is not just to prepare food for someone or for yourself; it is to express your sincerity. So when you cook you should express yourself in your activity in the kitchen."

-Shunryu Suzuki
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Quinoa Stuffing with Kale and Pomegranate

Although I try not to pay much attention to celebrity docs (not Dr. Oz, not Dr. Phil and especially not Dr. Laura....perhaps Dr. Ruth....sometimes Dr. Drew....), I found this enticing recipe from Dr. Oz in the November issue of Natural Health. I decided to give it a try for the upcoming thanksgiving dinner (and made it ahead of time to leave room for a plan B, just in case). Turns out it was totally tasty! And healthy to boot!

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced, divided
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste (I used black pepper)
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (I used 1/3 of this amount in dried Sage and Thyme forms)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (strip the leaves from the stems)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add half of the garlic and cook until soft but not yet golden. Raise to high heat, add the stock and kale and mix. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking, stir until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside to cool.

Add cooled kale and pecans to a food processor; pulse until pecans are chopped and kale is shredded but mixture is still chunky.

In a separate saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onion and remaining garlic; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sage and thyme; continue cooking until onion is caramelized, approximately 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir in the pecan-kale mixture.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil and melted butter. Season with salt and white pepper.

Add the egg and wine and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Garnish with pomegranate seeds before serving.

The sage, thyme, onions and garlic give the dish a traditional stuffing flavor. The quinoa, kale and pomegranate make it super-duper healthy. I give this recipe two thumbs up for fine holiday eating!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food of the Week: Soybeans

Food of the week: Soybeans

The nutritional benefits of soy have been sensationalized in the US in the past few years. It is true, the soybean does tout many health benefits. However, we have recently seen concerns emerging over the newly popular and widely used food. These concerns relate to both nutritional aspects and the way in which the soybean is mass-produced here in the US and in other parts of the world as well. Let’s take a look at the many sides of soy.

Photo Courtesy of


  • Excellent source of protein, which is why soy is commonly used as a replacement for meat.

  • Unlike meat, soy does not contain saturated fat or cholesterol and may actually lower cholesterol levels.

  • Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and magnesium

  • Fiber!

  • Soy increases levels of nitric oxide, which help to prevent atherosclerosis (Coronary Artery Disease)

  • Isoflavones in soy help to protect heart and bone health in post-menopausal women

  • The protein and fiber in soybeans help to stabilize blood sugar for people with diabetes. In fact, studies have shown that a diet including soy may help to prevent type 2 diabetes.

  • Soybeans contain Choline, which may lessen chronic inflammation

  • Additional benefits may include gastrointestinal wellness and protection against prostate cancer


  • Purified soy products (ie soy milk), often used in the US, do not have many of the health benefits of whole soy foods. These products can actually stimulate pre-existing breast tumors.

  • 85% of soybeans produced in the US are genetically modified. There are no additional restrictions on genetically modified soybeans, they are treated the same as regular soybeans.

Ways to eat Soybeans:

  • As an appetizer, side or snack, blanch Edamame (soybeans in their pods)

  • Eat tofu or tempeh as a meat substitute

  • Use soybeans in Stir-Fry or Pasta

Little Known Facts:

  • Soybeans are the most widely grown bean in the world.

  • The origins of the soybean go back to China over 1300 years ago

  • Most soybeans produced end up being used as feed for cows, chickens and pigs (not their natural dietary choice, it helps to make their stomachs explode or get infections, but I digress….)

So it does appear that soybeans really do offer a lot of nutritional benefits, if you eat whole soy rather than refined products. As always, we need to know where our food is coming from and what has been done to it. This is not always an easy thing to do. There was an excellent documentary made this year about the food industry in the US called Food, Inc. There was a segment about soybean production that I don't think you would want to miss.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Week of August 3, 2009

My public awaits! Here is this week's menu plan. I do have some recipes coming up, so stayed tuned, my dear fans.

Breakfast: Pina Colada Pancakes (recipe to come)
Lunch: Tuna Salad
Dinner: Chicken, Tots and Curried Vegetables (leftover from Friday's dinner)

Breakfast: Chai Latte and Hot Cereal
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: Out

Breakfast: Bagel with Vegetable Cream Cheese
Lunch: Avocado Salad and Soup
Dinner: Mini Pizzas with Zucchini, Red Onion and Tomato (recipe to come)

Breakfast: Chai Latte and Pina Colada Pancakes
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich
Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast: Bagel with Vegetable Cream Cheese
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: TBD

Monday, July 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Week of July 27, 2009

More ingredients from the farmer's market this week. Nothing terribly fancy though. Lots of PB & J and Hot Cereal throughout the week. Very budget friendly! Also, I will have some dinners out later in the week (which will balance out that money I saved).

Breakfast: Hot Cereal
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and White Corn

Breakfast: Hot Cereal
Lunch: Tuna Salad with Crackers and Avocado Salad
Dinner: Spaghetti with Chicken

Breakfast: Hot Cereal
Lunch: Spaghetti
Dinner: PB & J

Breakfast: Breakfast Burrito
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: Out

Breakfast: Bagel
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich
Dinner: Indian with the ladies!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnut

I have been so excited to use my fresh produce from the farmer's market. I started off the week by using a recipe from the association that coordinates my local farmer's market. It is a great pasta dish that uses my new favorite thing in the world, goat cheese, and something I've never really known what to do with, beet greens.

Just a forewarning, this makes A LOT of pasta. Be prepared to feed an army or have leftovers for days, maybe even weeks.

Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnuts
2 bunches beets, with greens, trimmed and scrubbed - Save the beet greens (side note: I didn't actually get my beets at the farmer's market, I know....but they didn't have the beets with the greens still attached, so I had to go to my local supermarket.)
8 oz whole wheat penne
1/4 extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped tarragon (I couldn't find this so I used basil instead)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake beets wrapped in foil for about 45 minutes. In the meantime, wash the beet greens and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips, set aside. When the beets are done, cool them under cold water and peel skin off. Trim ends and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.

In a skillet, heat oil. Add garlic, basil, and pepper flakes, cook about 1-2 minutes. Add beets and greens, until the greens are wilted.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Stir in goat cheese and creme and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Serve immediately.

By the way, I've been fine with eating beets from a can. It just seemed like too much work to cook them in the oven. But, it was so worth it. They smelled so good! No more canned beets for me.

Should you eat a sizable portion of this beety meal, just be prepared for a health freak-out the next day. Just a warning. You're probably not hemorrhaging. But, who am I to say? I'm no doctor.

And here's my kitty. She does not eat beets. She's cute, isn't she? Sweet? Well....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Week of July 20, 2009

I made a little trip to the farmer's market yesterday and got some fresh goods. I picked up some very fresh tomatoes, peaches, zucchini, basil, cucumber and goat cheese (I have recently developed a fondness for goat cheese). Now I'm excited to prepare some meals with these ingredients.

Breakfast: Mini bagel with PB, plus a few slices of Cheese and Apples
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich
Dinner: Avocado Salad with Red Onion and Cucumber, and White Corn on the Cob with butter, Parmesan cheese, lime and chili pepper

Breakfast: Chai Latte and breakfast burrito
Lunch: Leftover Beet and Goat Cheese Pasta (Recipe soon to be posted)
Dinner: Birthday dinner for a friend

Breakfast: Bagel with Vegetable Cream Cheese
Lunch: Leftover Beet Pasta (I will be eating this for days)
Dinner: Pizza with friends

Breakfast: Chai Latte and breakfast burrito
Lunch: Avocado Salad and PB Sandwich
Dinner: Mini Pizzas with Goat Cheese and Zucchini

Breakfast: Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich
Lunch: Leftover Mini Pizzas
Dinner: Out