Welcome winter

Hello Winter!

Whether we want to be or not, we are part of nature.  One reason it is important to eat seasonally is to stay balanced and connected with nature.  In the same way that we clothe ourselves differently for each season, we should also eat differently during each season.

The energy in nature starts to retreat during the fall and by the time winter comes around, the energy has contracted and further decreased and moved inward.  Winter is the time for reflection, restoration and nourishing our energy reserves. Therefore the winter diet should be the most warming and typically the heaviest of all the seasons.  It is important to eat more cooked, warming foods to satisfy our body’s need for heat.  The diet is more calming, and combined with the cold air and lack of sunlight, we are encouraged to relax and hibernate, thereby restoring our energy for Spring.

If you are not sure what to eat during the winter, pay a visit to your local Farmer’s Market and see what is available.  Nature provides us with the foods that are appropriate to eat at the correct time of year.  What can you get excited about in Winter?  Winter squash (too obvious?), beef and lamb, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, root vegetables and leafy greens.   Fantastic seasonings of the winter can include cinnamon, ginger and garlic.

If you notice that watermelon is not available right now, that is a good thing.  Melons are very cooling foods and perfect to hydrate and refresh ourselves in the summer.  Overeating cooling foods like melon during the winter stresses the digestive system and thus the immune system, which are forced to work extra hard to maintain warmth in the body.   This does not mean you shouldn’t eat any cool or raw foods in the winter, but rather you should adjust your diet to include more cooked food in the winter than in the other seasons.

Check out the many great recipes on my site that will keep you warm and balanced this season!

Pamela in elle magazine

LA designer Jenni Kayne and nutrition guru Pamela Salzman invite ELLE to their popular lunch-hour how-to
class on nutritious home cooking.

Read about Pamela in the January 2011 issue of ELLE Magazine!

ELLE January 2011

Lentil and brown rice soup recipe + Instant Pot version

lentil and brown rice soup | pamela salzman
Everyone needs a lentil soup recipe in the repertoire.  This is a classic and a nourishing one at that.  I grew up on lentil soup and my mom was into creating “complete proteins” when we had a vegetarian meal.  The thought back then was that if you were eating a meatless meal, then you would need to combine certain foods to create the same complete protein profile as animal protein.   Now we know that it is not necessary to eat those complementary foods in the same dish to gain the benefits of consuming all the essential amino acids, but I still adore the combination of lentils and brown rice in my soup.

brown rice and lentil soup | pamela salzman

I prefer to use French lentils, which hold their shape much better than the flat brown ones, but really you can use what you’ve got.  I vary this soup often, sometimes adding a few chopped up green beans or a teaspoon of ground cumin for an earthy twist.  I always throw in a few handfuls of dark green leafies at the end, spinach and kale being my favorites.  And tomatoes only get to join the party if they’re in season since I almost never buy canned tomatoes (ugh, aluminum.)  Try garnishing with freshly grated pecorino-romano, it adds a great zest to the soup.

lentil and brown rice soup | pamela salzman

For you lunchbox-packers out there, lentil soup is fabulous the next day in a thermos.  And the kiddos get a lunch that will provide stable blood sugar levels, great protein for the brain, and long-lasting energy.

brown rice and lentil soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
lentil and brown rice soup + Instant Pot version*
Serves: 8
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 14.5-ounce can, drained ( I used ½ box Pomi)
  • 8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, turkey stock, or water
  • 2 cups French lentils, picked over and rinsed (you can use whatever lentils you can find, such as black or Puy, but note that cook times may vary)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 big handfuls spinach, kale or chard (ribs removed), coarsely chopped in large pieces
  • ½ cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions or add with lentils and increase liquid by an additional 1 cup
  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring until tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook for a minute. Add stock, lentils, uncooked brown rice (if you’re adding it here), thyme and 2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Pull out the thyme sprigs and discard. Add greens and stir until wilted.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you didn’t add raw brown rice to the pot with your lentils, add the cooked brown rice to the pot now or put a little in each bowl and ladle the soup on top.
*To make in the Instant Pot:
Press the "saute" button and wait a couple minutes for the insert to heat up. Add the oil, carrots, celery, onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
Add stock, lentils (I tested with French green and black), raw brown rice, thyme and salt. Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to turn the machine off. Secure the lid on top of the insert and lock closed. Make sure the vent is closed. Press manual and make sure it's on High Pressure. I cooked it for 12 minutes and thought that was perfect. The Instant Pot will take a few minutes to come up to pressure, so it will say ON for a few minutes. Once the machine is done cooking, you can manually release the pressure or opt for natural release. Check the manual for an explanation of both.



Molasses-ginger cookies recipe

Molasses-Ginger Cookies | Pamela Salzman

Just in time for your cookie exchange!  These cookies are chewier than a gingersnap, but still wow you with that sweet and spicy kick.  I love rolling them in unsweetened, shredded coconut instead of the traditional granulated sugar, but they are just as good without the additional adornment.

Molasses-Ginger Cookies | Pamela Salzman

Let’s discuss some of the sweeteners used in this recipe.  I used organic brown sugar as my first sweetener.  I wouldn’t call brown sugar a high-quality sweetener, but it provides the flavor and tenderness I am looking for.  I choose the organic version to avoid the high concentration of pesticides found in regular brown, but this ain’t health food.  The other sugar is called Rapadura or a similar product goes by the name Sucanat, short for sugar cane natural.  These are minimally processed organic cane sugars which still contain the vitamins and minerals naturally found in the sugar cane plant.  The molasses is still present in these granules, which make it a perfect sweetener for these cookies.  If you can’t find them, use all dark brown sugar.  Lastly, I have used blackstrap molasses in the past, hoping my family will like it as much as regular unsulphured.  But alas, we will sacrifice less iron for less bitterness.  If you enjoy the stronger flavor of blackstrap, by all means use it.  You will be rewarded with a much more mineral-rich cookie.  But the end of the day, we should enjoy what we make and my family and friends adore these cookies with regular unsulphured molasses.

As with most cookie dough, this can be made several days in advance, if kept refrigerated and well covered.  You can just bake the quantity that you need when you need it.  This is especially helpful when your daughters tell you their charity league cookie exchange is on Friday at 4:00 pm and school gets out at 3:00 pm.  Grin (and bake it!).

Molasses-Ginger Cookies | Pamela Salzman

molasses-ginger cookies recipe
Serves: 4 dozen 2½ inch cookies
  • 2 cups whole grain pastry flour, all-purpose flour, or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted, organic butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup Sucanat, Rapadura (whole cane sugar) or dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dark unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 large, organic free-range egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut or turbinado sugar
  1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Add crystallized ginger.
  2. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add molasses, vanilla and egg and beat until well blended.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix until just blended.
  4. Chill, covered, until firm, at least several hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Place the coconut in a small bowl. Form the dough into 1 to 1 ¼ inch balls (an ice cream scooper is helpful) and roll them in the coconut or turbinado sugar. Place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. You should fit 12 per sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies in the lower third of the oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the tops start to crack. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks.


Turkey sausages with cabbage and fennel recipe

People ask me all the time for more recipes that are Fast!  No, faster!  And easy!  I understand the challenges that people face when pulling together a weeknight meal, whether they are parents or not.  However, we need to put some time into our cooking.  I haven’t figured out yet how to make something in no time that’s worth eating.  But this sausage and vegetable dish is my idea of fast food.

I buy precooked sausages from Applegate Farms, which don’t contain spooky ingredients like nitrates or nitrites (hooray, no carcinogens!).  Slice up some cabbage and fennel and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy dinner.  Make extra and toss it with pasta the next day, just save some of the pasta cooking water after you drain it if you need to moisten the sausage dish up.  If you have a favorite sausage that is not precooked, I would slice it or remove the meat from the casing and sauté that first.  Remove it from the pan, sauté your vegetables and put the sausage back in.

If you haven’t cooked with fennel before, it has a fresh, licorice undertone and perfectly complements the fennel seed that is usually present in most sausages.   I use red cabbage here for color, for the extra phytonutrients that come with it and the higher C profile than green, but you can certainly use green cabbage if that’s what you have handy.  Cabbage is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables – a group that I encourage you to incorporate regularly into your diet.  These include all the cabbages and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choy.  These vegetables contain some potent anti-cancer compounds called sulphurophanes.  Cabbage also contains some cholesterol-lowering benefits as well as loads of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients.  It is also relatively inexpensive, to boot.  What are you, in love with cabbage or something? Well, maybe I am!

turkey sausages with cabbage and fennel recipe
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • ½ red or green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 fennel bulbs, tops removed and bulbs sliced thinly
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 nitrate-free, pre-cooked sausages, sliced on the diagonal as small or large as you prefer. I cut each link into 4 or 5 slices.
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add onion, cabbage and fennel. Season with sea salt and pepper and sauté until just tender.
  3. Add sausages and cook until heated through.
  4. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until wine evaporates. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.


Butternut squash, beet and apple skewers recipe

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers | Pamela Salzm


I used to struggle coming up with an hors d’oeuvre that was tasty, fresh and didn’t contain tons of dairy.  Have you ever noticed the popular hors d’oeuvres that show up at every cocktail or dinner party – there’s the baked wedge of brie, the spinach and artichoke dip bubbling over with three cheeses AND sour cream, the cheese platter, the mini grilled cheeses and of course, the most sophisticated of all, The Caprese Skewer.  Believe me, I’ve made more than my share of boconcini, basil and grape tomatoes on a toothpick, but people, it is no longer 1999!  We have got to move on!

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers|pamela salzman

So I began thinking about why the Caprese Skewer is so ubiquitous.  The Caprese salad is simple and delicious when showcasing perfect tomatoes, aromatic basil and fresh, creamy mozzarella.  What could be better than having each of those flavors in one delightful bite?  So why not extend the salad-as-skewer idea?  What about a Greek Salad Skewer?  Grape tomato, spinach or mint-wrapped feta, cucumber, and a pitted kalamata olive sprinkled with dried oregano and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.  Hmmmm, I like it, but very summery.

It’s Fall, so I roasted butternut squash and apples with rosemary and skewered them together with red beets.  Needs a little green.  Take a piece of arugula or spinach and turn it around a piece of feta so that the feta doesn’t crumble when you skewer it.  Then drizzle it all with a little balsamic and oil.  Who wouldn’t want to eat that??  Don’t answer that.

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers|pamela salzman

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers|pamela salzman

I will forewarn you, there is a bit of prep involved.  There’s chopping and roasting and skewering.   Ah, I am seeing the lure of the ease of the old standby skewer, but these are so worth it.  The colors alone will make your hors d’oeuvre stand out in a sea of cream and you will be a star!

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers | Pamela Salzman

butternut squash, beet and apple skewers recipe
Serves: 48 skewers
  • ½ medium butternut squash *, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ –inch cubes
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ –inch cubes
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 medium beets, roasted, peeled and cut into ½ -inch cubes
  • 4 ounces arugula or baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 package feta, cut carefully into ½ –inch cubes(optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra- virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butternut squash cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Transfer to prepared sheet pan and spread out in one layer. Season with sea salt, pepper, and half the rosemary.
  3. Place the apple cubes in the same bowl and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Repeat the same procedure as the squash
  4. Place the sheet pans in the oven and roast squash for about 30 minutes, turning halfway, until tender and slightly caramelized. Roast apples until just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  6. Thread the squash, apple, beet and arugula or spinach on a small skewer or toothpick. If you decide to use feta, wrap the cube of feta with a leaf of arugula/spinach and skewer. Arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with the vinegar and oil.
*other ideas include parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes.


Muhammara recipe (turkish red bell pepper and walnut dip)


muhumara|pamela salzman

I know those holiday parties are coming up and I thought another hors d’oeuvre post would be helpful.  My good friend Cheryl gave me this recipe.  She is an outstanding cook and everything she makes is a home run.  I love the fact that this dip is mostly roasted red bell peppers and walnuts and it is easy-peasy to put together.  A bonus is that it tastes better if you make it ahead and we all know how much I like to prep in advance.   You can certainly use jarred roasted peppers or the ones that you can find in some deli cases, but I find (no surprise, I’m sure) that the ones you make at home taste so much better.  Maybe it’s all that love that goes into them!

muhummara|pamela salzman

muhummara|pamela salzman



A note about the pomegranate molasses:  I try not to use ingredient that are expensive, hard-to-find or that have a short shelf-life.  I found pomegranate molasses easily at my local Whole Foods and it cost only about $4.  Also, it lasts for a long time, so I didn’t hesitate to keep it on the ingredient list.  However, if you can’t find any and you don’t live close enough to me to borrow it, you can add a drop of raw honey and some extra lemon juice to mimic the tart-sweetness that pomegranate molasses brings to the dish.

muhummara|pamela salzman


Here I am serving it with endive leaves and gluten-free sweet potato chips, but feel free to go with the traditional pita or other raw vegetables.

muhammara recipe (turkish red bell pepper and walnut dip)
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 ½ cups raw walnuts
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped, about 1 ½ cups or 1 12-ounce jar
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses plus more to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • A few shots of hot sauce or ¼ teaspoon ground red chiles, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Toasted pita, your favorite chips or endive leaves
  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the walnuts and bread crumbs. Process until finely chopped.
  2. Add the roasted peppers and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients (except the pita) and blend.
  3. Taste and adjust with more oil, molasses and/or salt.
  4. Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve. The flavors will come together as the dip sits. Serve with pita, chips or endive leaves.