I’ve become soft. That’s what my East Coast family and friends tell me. LA has had an unusally cold and rainy winter and I can’t get warm. By “cold,” I mean below 60 degrees, but above 40 degrees. I know my friends in the midwest have NO sympathy for me. I wouldn’t either. But what to do if you feel cold? Make a warming soup.Continue reading
Give me all the peasant food. I need nothing fancy to make me happy and satisfied. A good bean soup or bowl of braised lentils or refried beans is what I crave. I basically could never go Paleo because I can’t give up legumes! There are many different cultures which use legumes in their cooking – from the Mediterranean and the Middle East to India and Caribbean. Let’s not forget Latin America, South America and North America! Legumes are a nutritious, inexpensive and versatile staple in many kitchens around the globe. Did you also know beans with black or red color have crazy high amounts of antioxidants?
St. Patrick’s Day is approaching and I am here to tell you that you do not need to make corned beef and cabbage to be in the spirit. Make anything green — spinach risotto, kale salad, a mint chip smoothie — and you’re good in my book. I actually discovered recently that split pea soup can have Irish roots. Who knew? So this might be a nice way to have a healthy and delicious St. Patrick’s Day dinner without a lot of fuss.
I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of soup. Warm, filling, and nourishing, homemade soup feels like a big hug. My husband and my kids (especially Mr. Picky) all love soup and I love making it because it’s easy, flexible and soup makes great leftovers.
Last summer, my son came home after two weeks at sleep-away camp and couldn’t wait to tell me about an amazing food that I obviously had never heard of or eaten. He assumed this because if I had ever enjoyed such culinary perfection, I would have surely been delighting my family with it over and over again. “Mom, you’re not going to believe this thing I ate at camp! I tried to remember everything about it so that you can make it at home! It’s called…a sloppy joe!” Should I have admitted I grew up in the 70’s and saw more than my share of Manwich commercials? And that I have actually personally never eaten a sloppy joe in my life? Because really the thought of sweet beef chili on a hamburger bun never spoke to me.
But it spoke to Mr. Picky! And when Mr. Picky likes something, I mobilize into action! A classic sloppy joe is a sandwich (specifically on a hamburger bun) with a loose, seasoned ground beef and tomato filling. It’s called “sloppy” because it’s kind of a mess to eat. I came up with this version of a sloppy joe using ground turkey instead of beef and stretching the protein with some pinto beans, which I know is not traditional, but I couldn’t help myself. And since Mr. Picky loves beans, I figured it was safe. I also deviated a little from regular sloppy joes by cutting way down on the added sweeteners and by not using ketchup as my base. I think I came up with a very tasty and nutritious dish whether you can call it a sloppy joe or not! All I care about is that Mr. Picky goes crazy for it and always begs me to put it in a thermos the next day for his lunch.
I do toast up some hamburger buns for my hubby and the kids, but I like to eat the sloppy joe mixture on top of some cooked grains, like brown rice or quinoa. That’s how I can still make one meal but adapt it to appeal to everyone. Usually I’ll serve a green salad or cole slaw on the side and I’m done. You can adapt this recipe is by subbing 1 pound of crumbled tempeh for the ground turkey and you’ll have a great (even better I think) vegetarian option. Feel free to sub sweet bell peppers for the green or add a grated carrot into the mixture or double the meat and omit the beans if you want.
It’s a really easy dinner, and it reheats beautifully if you want to make it in the morning or the day before. It actually freezes well, too. Something I did recently was to make the sloppy joe mixture after school, transfer it to my slow cooker and keep it on the warm setting until we all came home for “one of the best dinners ever in my life, Mommy.” Winner!
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 1-2 Tablespoons cold-pressed, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup diced onion
- ½ green bell pepper, diced or sweet bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed (click here to learn how to cook beans from scratch)
- 1 18-ounce jar crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (I like Jovial organic tomatoes in glass jars.)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (look for vegan or gluten-free versions if you need)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- accompaniments: toasted hamburger buns or cooked grains such as brown rice, millet or quinoa
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and brown, breaking up the meat into small crumbles until just cooked through. Drain and reserve in a separate bowl.
- In the same skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, pepper and garlic until onion is tender and translucent.
- Add turkey back to the skillet and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
You can also make this more spicy with a little cayenne or hot sauce.
Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from the ’80s, where the guy wakes up super early in the morning every day and says, “time to make the donuts” ? That’s how I felt yesterday morning when I stumbled out of bed as the sun came up because it was “time to make the lunches.” Oy. How is it that I love to cook, but I dread making school lunches?
This isn’t a post about school lunches though. I’ll still post my kids’ lunches once a week on Instagram and Facebook so we can all share ideas. I just can’t believe it’s the beginning of school and I have not eaten what I think is enough tomatoes! Or eggplant. Or peaches. So now I’m on a mission to eat as much summer produce as I can before it is gone. And the first day of school is my warning bell.
I saw a post on Instagram the other day asking who was excited for pumpkin season? Uh, not me. What’s the rush? I would be delighted to eat watermelon and plums for a bit longer thank you. I want to make more of this Lentil and Grilled Eggplant Salad. I taught this salad in a class last year and I became obsessed with it, making it for friends and family all summer long. It has many of my favorite foods like grilled eggplant, which is much better than eggplant cooked any other way, in my opinion; hearty, protein-rich lentils, which are my favorite vegetarian protein source (Mr. Picky’s, too); and of course, the best of summer, ripe, juicy tomatoes.
I love the earthy, assertive flavors in this salad and especially the delicious, mustard-y vinaigrette. Dijon and lentils are great pals. This would be a perfect salad to bring to a Labor Day BBQ, especially if you don’t eat meat and make to ensure a vegetarian option. Or make this for dinner with something green on the side and you’re done. I’ve also added some goat cheese or feta for an extra salty bite. Many of my students like the precooked lentils from Trader Joe’s which would make this even easier to put together. Because I’m all about easy if it will make me cook something at home instead of getting take out. Gotta run — it’s already that time of day. Time to make dinner!
- ¾ cup French lentils, picked over and rinsed
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 cups vegetable stock or water
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing vegetables (or use melted unrefined coconut oil to grill vegetables)
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 medium eggplants (approx. 1- 1 ¼ pound each), sliced lengthwise ½-inch thick
- 1 small red onion, sliced into whole rings
- 1 large tomato, diced
- ⅓ cup fresh whole flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- Place the lentils and the wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the wine has been absorbed.
- Add the stock or water, onion and garlic to the saucepan with the lentils and bring to a boil over high heat, lower to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and reserve.
- When the lentils are done, drain and pick out onion and garlic pieces and discard. Place lentils in the serving bowl and pour a tablespoon of the dressing onto the warm lentils and stir gently to combine. Reserve remaining dressing.
- Turn your grill on to medium-high heat. Brush the eggplant and red onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill the eggplant and onion until tender and slightly charred (not burned).
- Chop the grilled vegetables into bite-size pieces and add to the lentils. Add the chopped tomato, parsley leaves and walnuts.
- Toss the salad with the remainder of the dressing and taste for salt. Serve warm or room temperature.
I learned via osmosis from watching my parents entertain that an antipasto platter is really all you need with drinks before dinner. It’s certainly simple enough for the busy host to put together, and always popular with guests because all those salty foods taste wonderful with cocktails. But there are antipasto platters and there are antipasto platters. My parents always had the best stuff because every time my father went to Italy, he would wedge all sorts of cheeses and salamis in his suitcases to bring back home. Actually, he still does it! But beyond delicious cheeses and cured meats were always beautiful olives, marinated artichokes, homemade roasted peppers with garlic and herbs and some crusty bread to put it all on. I don’t eat most of that anymore, but I still reminisce about the delicious flavors.
When I saw this amazing salad at Mozza, Nancy Silverton’s restaurant, it reminded me of my parents’ antipasto platters, but probably better for you since it’s disguised as a salad. I have been a Nancy Silverton fan since her days at Campanile and The La Brea Bakery. I think everything she creates is utterly delicious. It’s called the “Nancy’s Chopped Salad” and it’s almost famous in LA. Chock full of chickpeas, provolone cheese, salami and tomatoes, and a zesty oregano dressing, it’s similar to, but way better than, a lot of house salads I have had at Italian restaurants in the US, including the one they had at the old La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills. That said, I couldn’t help but tinker with this salad to make it vegetarian, and a little lighter.
I taught my version of this salad in my classes this year, but encouraged everyone to adjust the ingredients to suit their tastes. I love, love, love bitter lettuces like radicchio, but when I am hoping to appeal to younger kids with this salad, I substitute red cabbage which is much milder, but just as crunchy and healthful. Sometimes I’m feeling cheesy and with a vegetable peeler I’ll shave lots of Pecorino or Parmesan into the salad (see top image), but if I’m not in the mood, I’ll just take my microplane and dust a bit on top (see image below.) My favorite part is the roasted artichoke hearts, which is my sub for the salami. Obviously they don’t taste the same. I haven’t completely gone off the deep end. But there is something really hearty and substantial about the artichokes, especially if they get a nice crispy edge to them.
During the summer, it’s not unusual for me to make a hearty salad for dinner. I always have Mr. Picky take out what he wants before I dress it because he’s not open to vinaigrettes yet. He will eat plain chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce and the occasional pickled pepper. And Mr. Picky’s dad, my husband, has really come around to the Meatless Monday schedule. He used to look at me with raised eyebrows when I made a dinner without animal protein, but lately he’s been much more open to a very veggie dinner or weekend lunch. They all come around, don’t they!
- 10 ounces of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, quartered and patted dry
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
- Half of a small red onion or 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thinly, about 8 cups
- 1 head radicchio or half of a small head of red cabbage, sliced thinly, about 4 cups
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
- 4 ounce block of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler and crumbled or grated with a microplane (feel free to use less)
- 5 pepperoncini, stems cut off and discarded, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Place the artichoke pieces on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
- Optional: in a small bowl, soak the onion slices in ice water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. This will cut the harsh flavor of the raw onion. If you don’t mind raw onion, don’t bother soaking.
- Place the lettuces in a large serving bowl. Add the roasted artichokes, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, cheese, pepperoncini, and onion.
- Prepare the dressing: in a medium bowl or in a screw-top jar, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
- Drizzle enough dressing on salad to lightly coat. Toss and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.
Trust me that this cake is so good! It does NOT look like it has white beans in it, nor does it taste like white beans (which may I remind you taste like nothing.) And lest you think I am a genius coming up with blending white beans to make a high-protein, downright delicious cake, I will come clean and tell you this is nothing that hasn’t already been done about 16,7000,000 times, according to google. Even my idol, Martha Stewart, has made cupcakes with white beans! If it’s good enough for Martha, it’s definitely good enough for moi.
I thought this would be such a different, delicious and healthful cake for your Mother’s Day brunch, and what a conversation-starter! It’s always fun to quiz your family and friends — “Can you guess what the secret ingredient is?” I would never suggest making this for Father’s Day because most dads I know would rather have doughnuts than a cake with nutritional benefits. Moms are different. We’re always looking to have our treats without the guilt!
This cake was a huge hit in my classes last year. I first told everyone to open their minds because this would not resemble a classic coffeecake. Most people that come to my classes are pretty open-minded anyway. In fact a few ladies said, “Ah, of course. Black beans in brownies, white beans in coffeecake.” I agree, it makes perfect sense. But I would never make any dessert or any recipe for that matter just because it’s kind of healthful. Of all things, dessert should be enjoyed, and you will love this cake! It’s very moist, just sweet enough and light. I ate quite a bit of this cake last year and I never felt uncomfortable or sick after eating it. That’s an indication of a pretty clean dessert.
I normally encourage you to make your beans from scratch, but for this recipe it is very important that your beans be nice and creamy soft. So if you want to be on the safe side, just used canned. I love Eden which doesn’t use BPA in its can liners. The one ingredient which might throw you for a loop is the coconut flour, although I do have a great muffin recipe on my site that uses almond flour and coconut flour. At my Whole Foods, you can buy coconut flour from the bulk bins, which is nice if you just need a little bit. Most recipes which use coconut flour only call for small amounts of it because it is so absorbent. Don’t go thinking you can substitute regular grain flours for coconut flour! They are completely different!
If you decide you don’t want to make this coffee cake with the faux streusel topping, just make the cake with your favorite frosting or serve it with fresh fruit and whipped cream or whipped coconut cream. Either way, moms deserve a treat on Mother’s Day, so indulge or do something generous for all the special moms in your life! Happy Mother’s Day!
- Crumble Topping:
- 3 cups walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
- 2 cups cooked white beans (make sure they’re soft and not crunchy), such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed if canned (cold or at room temperature)
- 6 eggs
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia or plain stevia and add an extra ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pan
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12 x 9 or 13 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
- To make the topping, place the walnuts, coconut oil or butter, sugar and cinnamon in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until combined and the texture resembles a crumb topping. Remove from food processor and set aside.
- In the same food processor (no need to clean it) place the beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla coconut oil and honey and puree until smooth.
- Then add the coconut flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the white bean mixture and process until smooth. Pour into the greased pan.
- Spread the topping over the top of the batter and use a fork to swirl into the batter, then pat down to set.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator where it will stay good for up to a week.