Best Roasted Turkey Breast

In this special post I am happy to introduce my amazing Mom — it's only fitting since she taught me all I know about cooking and baking. She is a great cook and baker and I hope to feature more of her recipes here in days to come.

Hi there! A few days ago as I was telling Kristin (bragging really) how I made an absolutely delicious roasted turkey breast, she asked me to write a guest post. Of course, I was happy to say yes.

This recipe started when I was trying to come up with something easy for dinner that would also leave enough leftovers for another meal. I had been craving turkey, but I never cook it because it's such a big production. A whole roasted turkey isn't hard to do, but it takes a long time and is way too much food for two people. Still, I thought there must be a way to satisfy my craving without the big mess.

And that's when I got to thinking about how I could roast just half a turkey breast. The problem I've run into before is that it tends to be dry and not very flavorful. I thought the solution might be to roast it on a bed of vegetables which could release enough moisture during cooking to keep the meat moist. Then I remembered reading a recipe (wish I could remember where) that used a few fresh bay leaves to flavor a turkey. So I combined those two ideas and the recipe that follows is the result of my brainstorm. It was truly delicious, moist and flavorful. Though I was too tired to bother, I think you could make a nice gravy from the drippings and vegetables in the pan.

One caution, the fresh bay leaves impart a very strong bay flavor to the meat. You may want to cut back on the amount in the recipe if that's not your favorite flavor. You could substitute sprigs of rosemary and/or other fresh herbs. Any of those choices will give you a wonderfully flavorful, moist turkey breast.

Best Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1/2 turkey breast (pastured meat if you can get it)
  • 4 - 5 celery stalks, cut into 4" lengths
  • 3 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 4" pieces
  • 1/2 lg. onion, sliced
  • 4 - 5 lg. fresh bay leaves — adjust quantity to your preference
  • 2 -3 tbs. butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. herb mix, see note
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat turkey breast dry. Lay the celery and carrots in alternating rows on the bottom of a roasting pan to create a kind of vegetable rack to support the turkey breast. Scatter onions on top of the vegetables, then lay the bay leaves on top of the "rack."
Place turkey breast on top of vegetables and bay leaves, skin side up. Scatter butter pieces over the turkey breast. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herb mix.
Roast in preheated oven for 18 - 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 165 degrees — use an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. (Alternately, you can make a small slice into the thickest part of the meat, if the juices run clear, not pink, it is done. This is not the preferred method for checking doneness because if you need to cook it longer, the juices will run from the cut while it continues to cook.)
Remove from oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
This will make enough for dinner for two people, plus enough for a turkey salad the next day.
Note: many years ago I bought a spice mixed called "Fines Herbs." It was discontinued quite a while ago, so now I mix my own. I've never use the same amount of the various spices, but here is a rough idea of how to prepare this mixture: In a small bowl mix 2 tbs. thyme, 1 tbs. oregano, 1 tsp. ground sage, 1 tsp. marjoram, 1 tsp. basil. You could also add a teaspoon of rosemary. (Sadly, I never use it because Kristin's dad hates it. He can detect the smallest amounts like a drug-sniffing dog.) Adjust the quantities of each spice to your liking. It's really delicious. I use it for our Thanksgiving turkey and on whole roasted chicken.
Enjoy!

Very Best Minestrone

The weather is still a bit bizarre here in New York — it's hot, it's cold, it's hot, it's cold. Yesterday was a cold day and I took the opportunity to make my new all-time favorite soup. This will likely be my last soup post of the season but I am so enthralled by it that it may show up again in my kitchen! There is one crucial component to this soup — you must soak and boil your own beans and reserve the cooking liquid from the beans for your stock. This makes the soup creamy, delicious, and hearty. I've tried it several different ways and this is the way to go. Plus, it's economical and you avoid any nasty chemicals that may be present in canned beans and packaged broth (see my article in The Atlantic on obesogens for more on this). It's delicious and healthful — make it before summer is upon us.

Very Best Minestrone

4 cloves garlic, minced 1 medium onion, chopped 4  carrots, peeled and chopped 1 cup of fresh chopped parsley 1 to 2 cups chopped greens, I like kale, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons 4 cups cooked white beans about 1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice (I used Pomi) about 6 to 8 cups bean cooking liquid (you can add water if you don't have enough) 3 to 4 tbl olive oil sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot saute the onions in about 2 tbl of olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for several minutes. Then add the remaining olive oil with the garlic, parsley, beans, and greens and stir and cook for several more minutes or until garlic is fragrant and greens are wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, bean-broth, water, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan and more fresh chopped parsley.

Nutrition Nuggets

Beans come in many varieties but for most of them: white, navy, kidney, pinto, black — the nutritional benefits are very similar. Beans contain high amounts of fiber and protein and are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. They also contain iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Richly colored dried beans offer high amounts of antioxidants. Beans are also protective against cancer. In the Nurses' Health Study II, researchers found a significantly reduced frequency of breast cancer in women who had a higher intake of beans or lentils.

Parsley is an extremely potent healing food. It is rich in large numbers of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. Parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, and iron and is a good source of minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties and is regarded as a nerve stimulant that helps with energy production. Parsley’s volatile oil components have all shown to have anticancer effects. Parsley is also a good cleansing food and helps with liver health.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and as such, exhibits the same kind of anticancer properties as all the other members of this family. Kale is actually one of the most nutritious vegetables, with high amounts of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. It is a great source of calcium, iron, and copper as well as dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. As you can see from its deep green color, kale is very high in chlorophyll. The deeper green your vegetable, the more health benefits it contains and kale is one of the darkest!

Photo from the Moderate Oven

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I've been so busy with various writing projects that this blog has fallen by the wayside. But I'm determined to get more recipes up on a regular basis! This means they will be short and sweet entries based on the food I'm making in my kitchen all the time. Here's a delicious creamy cauliflower soup that's just right for our strange weather here in New York. It's tough to go from a sunny 73 degree day spent in shorts in Prospect Park to a chilly, drizzling 50 degree day back in boots and winter coats the next. So I made this soup to warm (and cheer) us up. It's a real comforting and nutritious dinner.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup 1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 medium onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 4 tbl butter* 1 cup whole milk* 4 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth dill (about 2 tbl, chopped, or more to taste) salt and pepper

Place 2 tbl butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for several minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for another several minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir and cook for three more minutes. Add the remaining 2 tbl butter and garlic and stir to combine, cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add salt and pepper. Add the broth (make sure you cover all the vegetables). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. In small batches puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender. Return to the pot and add the milk and the dill. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately with more fresh chopped dill.

*If you want to make this without the dairy, I bet coconut milk and coconut oil would make delicious substitutes for the cow's milk and the butter.

Nutrition Nuggets

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. It is also typically high in the trace mineral boron. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous family (with broccoli, cabbage, and kale) which is known to contain cancer-fighting compounds. Researchers believe that these compounds stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body. The compounds also work to increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.

Carrots contain the highest amount of provitamin A carotenes of any commonly consumed vegetable. Two carrots provide 4,050 retinol equivalents, or four times the RDA of vitamin A. Carrots also provide excellent amounts of vitamin K, biotin, fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium and thiamine. They are high in antioxidants that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. High carotene intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and a 50 percent decrease in cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Human studies suggest that as little as one carrot a day could cut the rate of lung cancer in half.

Brian's Chili

Fall is officially here. The weather is cooling down here in New York and Brian is making chili. The food is great in the Fall! Brian's chili is just one example of the comforting, warming meals we eat this time of year. Peppers are still abundant at the Farmer's market and tomatoes are everywhere —  a homemade chili is the the best place to use all of these nutritious ingredients.

Brian's Chili

2 boxes Pomi tomatoes* 1.5 lbs grass-fed ground beef 1 large onion 2 large red bell peppers 2 large yellow or orange bell peppers 4 cloves garlic 2 cups cooked black or pinto beans 3 to 6 chili peppers (jalepenos or other hot chili) depending on your heat preference 1 12 oz. organic lager (alternately, use the same amount of water) 3 tbls olive oil 4 tbls chilli powder salt and pepper

Brown the beef in one tablespoon olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one tablespoon of the chili powder to the beef and a pinch or two of salt as you are browning. Once the meat is browned, remove it and drain most of the fat to a bowl. Add one tablespoon olive oil and chopped onion to the pot with one more tablespoon chili powder. Saute the onion until translucent and soft. Add all the chopped peppers and salt. Cook down until they are tender and add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, beer, beans, meat, and fat. Add the remaining chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on a low temperature and stir frequently for at least one hour (the longer the better). Serve with shredded cheese.

* You can also use fresh, blanched tomatoes; you will need about 12 to 16 plum tomatoes for this.

Nutrition Nuggets

Tomatoes are packed with nutrition. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenes, biotin, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are full of a type of a red carotene called lycopene. Lycopene has shown to be extremely protective against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Lycopene works to  prevent these diseases by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can damage cellular structures.

Bell Peppers are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B6. They have excellent antioxidant activity and are a great source of phytochemicals. They also contain lycopene. Studies have shown that bell peppers are protective against cataracts. They have also been shown to prevent blood clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Bell peppers should be eaten by those wishing to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus

I've eaten my fair share of asparagus this season. I've cooked it every which way and this is my favorite at the moment. It couldn't be simpler but it tastes gourmet. The egg yolks coat the sweet roasted asparagus and the Parmesan cheese provides a salty, nutty counterpart — all you need are some delicious pastured eggs, seasonal asparagus, and a bit of good Parmesan cheese and dinner is served in less than 20 minutes. A good crusty baguette wouldn't hurt either.

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus Serves 2

4 to 6 eggs 2 bunches asparagus Parmesan Reggiano Sea salt & pepper

Rinse asparagus and snap off ends. Place in a glass baking dish with a generous coating of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 375 for about 15 minutes, tossing the asparagus about halfway through. Meanwhile grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside. When the asparagus is nearly finished, prepare eggs (at least two per person) over easy, or until the the white is cooked but the yolk remains runny. Divide asparagus evenly between two plates, place eggs on top, and coat with a good dusting of Parmesan. Add a bit more salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition Nuggets

Asparagus is low in calories and carbohydrates while relatively high in protein compared to other vegetables. It has been used historically to treat arthritis due to its unique phytochemicals and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are pretty darn close to a perfect food. The best option is to eat pastured eggs — meaning eggs that come from chickens that are raised on open pasture and regularly eat grass, plants, bugs, grubs and whatever else they can find in the fields. Chickens are omnivores and the quality, taste (and health benefits) of their eggs is largely dependent on what they eat.

Photo Blisstree.com

Shrimp Caesar Salad

This is my new favorite salad – it's simple and nutritious and can easily be prepared for a weeknight meal. People think that making your own Caesar dressing is difficult, but with a food processor or blender it's ready in about 5 minutes. I use raw egg in mine but you can omit it if you are worried. If you're buying your eggs from a local farmer who raises his or her chickens on pasture, raw eggs are safe to eat — but I would never recommend eating a raw industrial egg! I used shrimp here but you could use salmon, chicken, or top it with hard-boiled eggs. This is a simple, delicious, and a very nutrient dense meal just in time for Spring. Enjoy!

Shrimp Caesar Salad Serves 4

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped Cooked and chilled shrimp (make sure to buy wild-caught of US origin) Parmesan Reggiano, grated for topping

For the Dressing: 1/2 cup olive oil Juice of one Meyer lemon 5 anchovy filets 1 tbl Dijon or stone-ground mustard 1/2 tbl Worcestershire sauce 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the dressing place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender and combine for about 30 seconds. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides, then with the motor running add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until incorporated and the dressing looks well combined. Toss the chopped lettuce and dressing in a large salad bowl, then top with Parmesan and shrimp, add ground pepper to taste.

Nutrition Nuggets

Lettuce is a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. In general, the darker the lettuce the greater the nutrient content. Romaine lettuce is generally the most nutrient dense and is an excellent source of vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamins C, B1, and B2. Lettuce is also an excellent source of the minerals manganese and chromium.

Shrimp is an excellent source of protein, selenium, and vitamin B12, iron, and phosphorus. Shrimp also contain the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Parmesan cheese (the real kind, not the kind that comes in the green shaker) has more protein than any other cheese. It's full of beneficial bacteria, calcium, vitamin A, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin B12. Cheese has been shown to protect against dental cavities.

Cabbage & White Bean Soup

Even though Spring is just around the corner, here in New York we're still having our fair share of chilly weather. Last Wednesday, after a nearly 60˚ day, the temperature struggled to reach 30˚ and all I could think of was soup. I've been making a variation of this soup all winter since cabbage and potatoes are some of the only vegetables we can get locally. This last batch was especially good and I think it has to do with the technique of layering flavors throughout the cooking process. Enjoy!

Cabbage & White Bean Soup

1 small onion, chopped 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced 15 oz white beans 6 small fingerling potatoes, cut into small rounds 1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced 3 tbl butter 6 cups Vegetable Mineral Broth (or broth of your choice) salt & pepper dried oregano

Place 2 tbls butter in a deep soup pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt and coat the bottom of the pan. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, and a pinch of oregano, stir to coat and cover the pot. Allow the potatoes to brown a bit and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't stick. Add remaining 1 tbl butter along with the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, a bit more salt, pepper, oregano, and cook for another 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the white beans and a few tablespoons of broth and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Allow to cook for several minutes, then add the remaining broth and another pinch of oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add the cabbage, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and oregano if necessary. Serve with a generous dusting of Parmesan.

Serves 4

Nutrition Nuggets

Cabbage contains potent anti-cancer phytochemicals and is very nutrient dense, it is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folic acid, biotin, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Many studies confirm that the higher the intake of cabbage-family vegetables, the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Cabbage has also been shown to treat peptic ulcers effectively due to its concentration of the amino acid glutamine, which helps repair and regenerate the gastrointestinal tract.

White Beans, like all beans, contain a rich source of fiber. They also contain significant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Beans are also protective against cancer according to the Nurses Health Study II. Researchers found a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer in the women who ate beans or lentils two or more times a week.

Barbara's Spelt Honey Bread

A couple years ago, I asked my Mom to remove gluten from her diet to see if that could be aggravating her arthritis. After a week or two off gluten, my Mom reported much less inflammation and pain, particularly in her fingers, where she was most affected. She also noticed improvements to her digestion. Removing gluten from one's diet is never easy since so much of the American diet is based on gluten-containing products like breads, pastas, and crackers. My Mom doesn't have a true wheat allergy, like those with Celiac disease, but she does have an intolerance. Whenever she eats something with gluten for a special occasion, she feels it in her joints for the next several days and she gets an upset stomach.

Like most everyone else I know, my Mom loves bread and so she did not embrace this new found intolerance with much excitement. But she is grateful for spelt! As is the case with many who have a wheat intolerance, my Mom tolerates spelt just fine. This is her recipe and it is a joy for her to eat fresh, homemade bread again. She recently posted this recipe on her blog, Bees and Chicks, and I wanted to share it here too. Here's what she wrote:

This Spelt Honey Bread is really delicious and it's great for those of you who might not be able to tolerate wheat in your diet. For a long time I thought I might never be able to eat yeast-raised bread again, but I've been eating this bread for a couple of months now. Being able to once again have warm bread fresh out of the oven and slathered in butter is heaven for me.

Barbara's Spelt Honey Bread

1 pkg active dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon 2 cups warm water (105° to 110° F) 4 tbs honey 3 tbs melted butter 1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt 5 cups spelt flour + about 1/2 cup for kneading 1/2-cup oat flour 1/2-cup corn meal

  1. Combine yeast, warm water and honey in a warm bowl. Let stand until it proofs — yeast will begin to ferment and you will see the yeast swelling and some small bubbles in about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile measure spelt, oat and corn flours into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Stir the melted butter into the proofed yeast and pour into a stand mixer bowl containing 3 cups of flour mixture and the salt.
  4. Stir until blended, then add remaining flour a cup or so at a time until it that is blended. Continue stirring for a minute or two. Dough will be a little wet.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dip hands in flour to keep the dough from sticking and knead dough for 4 – 6 minutes, adding flour as necessary until dough becomes smooth and elastic. DO NOT over knead the dough – spelt loaves can get tough and crumbly if kneaded too long.
  6. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, rolling it to coat the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm draft-free spot for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Grease two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pans. Make sure to really get them coated otherwise the bread has a tendency to stick.
  8. When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide it in half forming two smooth loaves. Put the loaves in the pans, cover and return to a warm, draft-free spot for another hour or so until the loaves reach the tops of the pans. (At about 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 350° F.)
  9. Uncover loaves and place pans in oven on a heavy baking sheet or a pizza stone and bake about 45 minutes until the tops are light brown and the loaves sound hollow when you tap them. Remove from oven.
  10. Brush tops with melted butter if you prefer a softer crust and turn bread out onto wire racks and let cool.
  11. Loaves should be cool before slicing. You can slice into a warm loaf, but it will be crumbly (and delicious if you slather it with butter!). The longer you wait, the cleaner the slices.

Note: This bread freezes beautifully. I slice the second loaf and put it in the freezer for toasting.

Yields two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2”x 2 1/2″ loaves.

Nutrition Nuggets

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.

Honey should always be purchased raw and unfiltered. Honey that is not pasteurized, clarified, or filtered retains more of the phytochemicals that account for its health benefits. Honey, particularly darker honey, such as buckwheat honey, is a rich source of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, that have strong antioxidant activity. Honey has been found to be protective against atherosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries. This is because honey improves blood antioxidant levels and helps prevent lipid peroxidation — or the damaging of lipids (fats) by free radicals in the body. Honey also has wound-healing properties and has been used topically as an antiseptic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns, and wounds for centuries.

Homemade Veggie Burgers

These veggie burger are easy to make, have infinite variations, and are delicious — far superior than any store bought option and far more nutritious too. This is based on Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He recommends either pan frying them or baking them but having tried both methods, I found baking them was easier, less messy, and helped with holding the burgers together. I highly recommend these! Best of all you can make a double batch and freeze half of the patties before cooking so you've prepped two dinners at once. Serve them with baked sweet potato wedges and a green salad. Enjoy!

Homemade Veggie Burgers adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or use any bean you like) 1 cup cheese of your choice (cut-up or grated) 1 cup old-fashioned oats 2 eggs 1 small onion, quartered 1 clove garlic, peeled 1 tsp dried oregano 1/4 tsp chili powder (or more to taste) salt & pepper to taste

Combine the beans, cheese, egg, onion, oats, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.

With wet hands, shape into patties and let rest again. If you have time, the flavor improves when they sit for about 20 minutes or so before cooking. Alternately, you can make them up to a day in advance and store in the refrigerator before cooking.

Place patties on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Flip burgers and then bake for another 15 minutes, or until burgers have a golden-brown crust.

Serve immediately. Makes 6 large burgers.

Nutrition Nuggets

Garbanzo beans are a good source of fiber, folic acid, and manganese, they also contain high amounts of molybdenum — a trace mineral needed to detoxify sulfites, a preservative commonly found in wine, processed meats, and salad from salad bars. They are a great source of protein and are high in minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Garbanzo beans can help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Oats are high in minerals like manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of the minerals magnesium and iron and contain vitamin B1. Due to the fact that oats contain dietary fiber high in beta-glucan, they have long been touted as having cholesterol lowering effects. Beta-glucan binds bile acids and removes them from the body to help lower cholesterol. Oats also have a favorable effect on blood sugar and are a good alternative to refined grains.

Top 5 Foods for Immune Health

It’s that time of year — people around you are sniffling and sneezing, coughing, and blowing their noses; it ain’t pretty and it’s impossible to avoid. Just this past week, I was surrounded by some of these sick people — in my own house, no less. A few days later I started to feel a slight pressure in my chest and a vague headache, but I was determined not to come down with anything — after all, this is my specialty — so I loaded up on the items in the list I’ve provided you with below and am happy to report I’m healthy as can be. Garlic and Onions

You could write a book on the health benefits of garlic, in fact there are quite a few. In terms of immune health and resistance to colds and flu, garlic tops my list of foods to eat. Also, it’s delicious and easily added to many meals. Garlic, as well as onions, contains the sulfur compound, allicin, which has been shown to be highly effective against common infections like colds, flu, and stomach viruses. It is also effective against more powerful microbes like tuberculosis and botulism. Load up on it — who cares if you smell like garlic, it beats being sick any day.

Sauerkraut (and other fermented foods)

If you think you don’t like sauerkraut, I suggest you give it another chance. It’s actually quite good and the health benefits are remarkable. The beneficial bacteria in raw sauerkraut — meaning it hasn’t been pasteurized — promote the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract. Friendly bacteria have a powerful effect on your gut’s immune system, which is your first defense against harmful pathogens. These bacteria also aid in the production of antibodies. Sauerkraut is a more affordable and more delicious alternative to taking probiotics out of a bottle. In fact, it’s relatively easy to make your own sauerkraut at home. Otherwise, when shopping for it in the store make sure it’s raw. It’s easy to serve as a condiment with many foods, or good for a snack on its own.

Cabbage-Family Vegetables

These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, kale, and greens from mustard, radish, and turnip. Granted you’ll be getting some cabbage in your sauerkraut, but these winter vegetables are crucial to maintaining good immunity throughout the cold months and you really need to load up. It’s no coincidence that this is their season and along with potatoes and carrots these are some of the only local vegetables available.

One of the American Cancer Society’s key dietary recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer is to include plenty cruciferous vegetables in your diet. Proper immune function goes hand in hand with preventing cancer (as a side note, all of the foods on this list are also anticancer foods) and the phytochemicals that promote immunity, are abundant in the cabbage family. Most of these compounds are glucosinates, which work by dramatically increasing antioxidant defense mechanisms. All of these vegetables are easily steamed, sautéed, braised, or roasted (with some garlic!) for quick, easy side dishes or lunches. See my recipe here for simple sautéed cabbage.

Green Tea

I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of green tea before, but its reputation is well deserved and thus it earns a place on this list. Green tea, along with black tea, contains high levels of vitamin C, D, and K and riboflavin as well as good amounts of many trace minerals. But what gives green tea its superior health profile is the polyphenols it contains. The major polyphenols are flavonoids — these are well known antioxidants with powerful detoxifying abilities. Green tea polyphenols seem to increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the small intestine, liver, and lungs. Drink green tea throughout the morning and afternoon but not in evening as it does contain some caffeine.

Power Spices: Turmeric and Oregano

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family commonly found in curry spice blends. Turmeric has an array of health benefits, one being its positive effect on immune health. It has long been studied as a natural antibiotic agent and studies have confirmed that it can inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses. Its medicinal qualities largely stem from one of its chemical compounds, curcumin — which gives it a yellow pigment and has potent antioxidant qualities. Here’s a simple recipe for Garlic Curry Broccoli.

Oregano has been shown to exhibit potent antioxidant qualities due in part to two oils it contains: thymol and carvacrol, which are antimicrobial agents. In one analysis done by the USDA, oregano scored the highest in antioxidant activity of any herb or food tested and ranked higher than many fruits and vegetables. It contained 42 times the antioxidant activity of apples, 12 times as much as oranges, and and four times as much as blueberries. During the winter months, dried oregano is easily used to spice up an array of soups, stews, and sauces.

Soy: A Controversial Bean

soy is the second largest monocrop grown in the U.S.

Last week, I wrote an article on soy that caused a ruckus. It was originally published on Civil Eats and was then picked up by the Huffington Post. The health benefits or detriments of soy is a controversial issue and people are  passionate about their views on both sides of the spectrum.

As a food writer and nutrition columnist for Civil Eats, my goal is to work towards fostering critical thought on sustainable agriculture and its corollaries: food, health, and nutrition. I don’t claim to have definitive answers on any one issue, food, or idea; but I do intend to open up the discussion and present views that may be less well-know or controversial and have merit.

In response to those who were critical of my piece: it is certainly true that there are studies to support the claim that soy can in fact be healthy and beneficial. There are also many studies that prove the opposite, as I noted in my piece. There is no shortage of contradictions on the health value or dangers of soy. In just one abstract from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the contradictions abound. The authors first say, “Isoflavones possess nonhormonal properties that are associated with the inhibition of cancer cell growth.” But then go on to say, “Some data from in vitro and animal studies suggest that isoflavones, especially genistein, the aglycone of the main soybean isoflavone genistin, may stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive tumors.”

After reviewing many studies like these and researching soy over the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that the possible health benefits of soy do not outweigh the potential risks. Further, what really alarms me is the increasing amount of soy that slips its way into the American diet via processed foods — it’s important to realize just how much soy we are consuming without intending to. The authors of the same study address that here, “Because the use of soyfoods and isoflavone supplements is increasing, it is important from a public health perspective to understand the impact of these products on breast cancer risk in women at high risk of the disease and on the survival of breast cancer patients.” Again, I choose to err on the side of caution.

Another factor to be aware of is that most commercial soy is processed with hexane — a known neurotoxin that has dangerous side effects; the EPA has nearly an entire page listing the health hazards associated with it. Hexane is a byproduct of gasoline refining and is a hazardous air pollutant. Soybean processors use it as a solvent since it is a cheap and efficient way of extracting oil from soybeans (always check food labels for soybean oil and avoid it — in addition, peanut, corn, and other seed oils are often processed with hexane). During processing, whole soybeans are bathed in hexane, which separates the soybeans’ oil from protein. Hexane is not a food and we don't want to be eating it.  Clearly, the dangers of processing soy with hexane is one part of the soy story that is not up for debate.

It is true that some people tolerate unprocessed, fermented, organic soy very well and it may even be healthful for them. But the purpose of the piece I wrote for Civil Eats was to inform the general public on the possible negative effects associated with soy — especially highly processed soy and soy ingredients — since the mainstream media as well as the FDA and USDA portray it only as a health food. The American people deserve to have all the information they need to make their own decisions. My soy article is part of a larger effort to bring to light crucial health and nutrition information that is too often left out due to the special interests of big business and industrial agriculture.

Corniest Corn Bread (or Muffins)

Corn bread is a great addition to your Thanksgiving feast and this is the best recipe I've made yet! Simple as can be with corn meal and spelt flour as its base and lightly sweetened with a bit of palm sugar. When corn was in season here in New York, the added juicy sweetness of the corn kernels was a real treat, but it's great without them too. As I mentioned last week this goes perfectly with the Potato Leek Soup. Enjoy! Corniest Corn Bread (or Muffins) Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking             

1 cup spelt flour 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (aka polenta) 3 tbl palm sugar 2 ½ tsp baking powder ¼ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt pinch nutmeg (optional) 1 cup buttermilk 6 tbl butter, melted and cooled 1 large egg 1 egg yolk 1 ear fresh corn kernels (when available, optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter muffin tins or square 9” pan.

In a large bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk buttermilk, butter, egg, egg yolk until blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently but quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix. Stir in corn kernels. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until top is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Nutrition Nuggets

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.

Potato Leek Soup

This is an incredibly simple soup, but it tastes like you've been cooking it for hours. Truth is, you can make it from start to finish in less than an hour, so it makes a great week night meal. The most time consuming part of it is cleaning and chopping the leeks. People often tell me that they are intimidated by leeks and don't know what to do with them. Well, here is your answer! The easiest way to prep them is to chop off most of the green tops, slice them down the middle and rinse them well under cold water in the sink (save the green tops for your next Vegetable Mineral Broth).

When you have your Vegetable Mineral Broth on hand all you have to do is take it out of the freezer the night before to defrost. I like to serve this soup with my cornbread, which will be my next post so stay tuned!

Potato Leek Soup

8 cups Vegetable Scrap Mineral Broth 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes 3 medium to small leeks or 2 large, chopped into rounds 4 tbl butter salt & pepper to taste

Clean and chop leeks and potatoes. Heat 3 tbl butter in a stock pot over a medium flame. Add the chopped leeks to the melted butter and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining butter and the chopped potatoes. Stir well and cook for about another 5 minutes or so. Add about a half cup broth and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan and stir well. Add the remaining broth and fresh ground pepper. Turn heat to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then reduce the heat to a medium-low flame and simmer soup for about a half an hour.

Serves 6

Nutrition Nuggets

Leeks are a great source of vitamins B6 and C and folic acid. They also contain manganese and iron and a good amount of dietary fiber. Similar to onions, leeks can lower cholesterol levels, improve the immune system, and fight cancer.

Yukon Gold Potatoes, like many potatoes, are a good source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C, niacin, pantothenic acid, and dietary fiber. Remember that most of the nutrients, fiber, and protein are found in the skins, so don't peel them!

Onion & Gruyere Quiche

I love quiche and this one was especially delicious. The gruyere and carmelized onions add a great depth of flavor and the buttery, spelt crust was amazing. Serve with a simple green salad for a healthy and satisfying dinner.

For the crust:

1 cup spelt flour (plus more for dusting & rolling) 1 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes 1/2 tsp salt 3 tbl ice water

For the filling:

6 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk 1 1/2 cups whole milk 1/2 cup sliced gruyere 1/2 cup grated parmesan 1 large onion, sliced and carmelized 1 cup chopped spinach 1 to 2 tbl butter salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  To prepare the crust, add the flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine several times. Add the cubed, cold butter to the flour and pulse until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal. If you are doing this step manually, combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add the cold, cubed butter and with two sharp knives cut the butter into the flour using a criss-cross motion.

2. Move the mixture to a bowl and add the cold water. With your hands, work the dough until you form a ball. Place the bowl in the freezer to chill the dough for about 10 or 15 minutes (This step can be prepared up to a day in advance, just keep the dough in the refrigerator).

3. Slice the onion into rounds and add to a small saucepan with one to two tablespoons butter. Stir over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and just begins to carmelize. Remove from heat and set aside. Chop the spinach and prepare cheeses.

4. Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured counter. Roll out the dough, rotating and turning, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. When you’ve rolled the dough until it is slightly larger than your pie pan, place it in the pan and press firmly all over. You can use pieces to repair any tears as necessary. Poke the dough with a fork several times (this will help prevent puffing) line the crust with parchment and fill with rice or beans (or pie weights if you have them). Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Now prepare the filling: Whisk eggs and milk until combined in a large measuring cup or bowl. Add chopped spinach, parmesan, salt and pepper and whisk to combine several times. Set aside.

6. After the pie crust has pre-baked for 10 to 12 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Remove the crust from the oven, remove the parchment paper with the pie weights. Add the sliced gruyere and onion to the bottom of the crust. Slowly pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until almost firm (it will still jiggle a little in the middle) and lightly brown on top. You can test to see if it’s cooked through by inserting a knife 1 inch from the center of the quiche, it should come out mostly clean. Cool for several minutes before serving or serve at room temperature.

Nutrition Nuggets

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are pretty darn close to a perfect food. The best option is to eat pastured eggs — meaning eggs that come from chickens that are raised on open pasture and regularly eat grass, plants, bugs, grubs and whatever else they can find in the fields. Chickens are omnivores and the quality, taste (and health benefits) of their eggs is largely dependent on what they eat. Read more about eggs in my Civil Eats article.

Onions contain sulfur compounds like allicin which have strong effects on boosting immunity. They also contain one of the highest amounts of quercetin of any food — a flavonoid which helps to calm allergies, reduces inflammation, and is also a powerful antioxidant providing protection against cancers and heart disease. Clinical studies have shown that onions lower blood pressure and prevent clot formation as well.

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.

Homemade Refried Bean Quesadillas

Making refried beans from scratch is simple — no cans necessary! This is loosely based on Mark Bittman's recipe found in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. If you must use canned beans, try Eden brand. They now makes cans without BPA lining, which has been shown to cause all sorts of problems. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be adjusted to accommodate any season. Right now, peppers are overflowing at the farmers markets as well as in our own garden. But in the winter, you can simply use onions instead. If you are lucky enough to live in a place where avocados are local and in season, they make a great addition to this meal. The recipe below is the bare bones version. Feel free to pep it up with some peppers, greens, zucchini or whatever else you can think of!

Refried Bean Quesadillas

1 lb dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and cooked, or 1 can pinto beans 2 tbl olive oil 3 scallions or 1 small onion, chopped 1 tbl cumin 1 tsp coriander 1 tbl chili powder ½ tsp curry ½ tsp cayenne ½ tsp sea salt pepper to taste

½ lb grated cheese of your choice 8 sprouted corn tortillas (I like Food for Life brand)

Rinse dried beans and place in a bowl with water to soak overnight. Drain and boil in fresh water until tender.

Sautee onions, scallions, peppers or any additional vegetables until just tender, add the spices and cook for another five minutes. Add the beans and mix, then mash with a potato masher or back of  a wooden spoon.

Place four corn tortillas on a baking sheet, top with the bean/vegetable mixture, grated cheese and another corn tortilla. Bake in oven at 400 degrees until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp to your liking.

Makes 4 Quesadillas

Nutrition Nuggets

Beans are a rich source of fiber. Their high fiber content helps with lowering cholesterol as well as maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Beans have high amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Folic acid and B6 help lower levels of the amino acid, homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Beans are also an anticancer food. In the Nurses' Health Study II, researchers found that women who ate beans and lentils regularly had a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer.

Blueberry Cobbler Bars

I wanted to make fresh blueberry cobbler but I also wanted it to be eaten at a potluck — so it had to be portable and it had to be easily cut and eaten without much mess — so I created these bars. First I decided to make blueberry jam (rather than just baking the fruit as you would with a traditional cobbler) which is what held the bars together. I made the jam from fresh blueberries and chilled it overnight, then I made the cobbler in the morning. I count these as another success in my quest to tweak all of my favorite recipes so as not to need any refined sugar or white flour. The potluck, by the way, was held at an amazing farm called Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Blueberry Cobbler Bars & Blueberry Jam

For the jam:

2 pints blueberries about 1/2 to 1 cup water about 3 tbls honey 1 to 2 tbls fresh lemon juice

Put the blueberries and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about five minutes add the lemon juice and honey and continue to stir occasionally over medium heat until the mixture is reduced to a thicker consistency (about 30 to 45 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and chill completely in the refrigerator. The mixture will become much thicker after it is chilled.

For the cobbler bars:

2 1/2 cups spelt flour 1 2/3 cups oats 1 cup walnuts, chopped 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbls butter, softened to room temperature 2 large eggs 3 tbls maple syrup 2 tbls honey 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer (or large bowl, with hand mixer) cream the butter, honey and maple syrup on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix just enough to incorporate. Add the nuts and oats and mix until just combined. Press about 2/3 of the mixture into the parchment-lined pan, spreading out evenly. Spread with the blueberry jam and then crumble the remaining dough on top. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour. Put the pan on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cooled cut into squares.

Nutrition Nuggets

Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids — antioxidant compounds that create their brilliant shades of blue, red and purple. When Tufts researchers analyzed sixty fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability, blueberries scored the highest. Blueberries help prevent the brain from oxidative stress and may help reduce the effects of age-related conditions, like Alzheimer's disease. Blueberries have also been found to improve vision and protect against macular degeneration. They may be protective against the development of cataracts and glaucoma and are also therapeutic in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers. Blueberries promote urinary tract health because they contain the same compound found in cranberries that help prevent and eliminate urinary tract infections. They are also high in vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin E, and riboflavin.

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.

Rustic Zucchini Galette

This recipe is adapted from one recently posted on smitten kitchen — very barely adapted. It is so delicious though, that I had to post it here. Naturally, I changed the white flour out for spelt flour and I made a few other minor tweaks — other than that, it's the same. I'm calling it rustic, because it doesn't look nearly as pretty as Deb's does, but no matter, it tastes divine. Although the instructions look a bit complex, do not be intimidated! This does involve several steps, but it's actually quite easy and well, well worth it. The pastry shell itself is so light and flaky even using the spelt flour — and the nuttiness of the spelt compliments the ricotta cheese, garlic and basil beautifully. Enjoy!

Rustic Zucchini Galette adapted from smitten kitchen

Serves 3

For the pastry:

1 1/4 cups spelt flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes 1/4 teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled again 1/4 cup sour cream 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup ice water

Filling:

1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 cup ricotta cheese 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 3 tablespoons slivered basil leaves

Glaze:

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry cutter, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. Or mix in your food processor.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over clean dish towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of the garlicky olive oil together, and 1 tablespoon of the basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet, or if you have a pizza stone I recommend using that. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with remaining basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Nuggets

Zucchini are the best known of the summer squashes and are high in cancer fighting compounds. They are particularly healthful during summer months because of their high water content and high amounts of carotenes, which are helpful in protecting against the damaging effects of the sun. They also contain good amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

Basil is a potent healing food. It has been used medicinally as a digestive aid, as a mild sedative and for the treatment of headaches. The oil of basil has antibacterial properties and it is effective in treating intestinal ailments. It contains flavonoids that protect against free-radical damage making it an important anticancer food.

Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse and has many medicinal properties, which are thought to be largely the result of the sulfur-containing compounds it contains. It has high levels of trace minerals, particularly selenium. Studies have shown that garlic decreases total cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL, which is protective against heart disease. It has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Garlic has been used throughout history to fight infections. It is antimicrobial due to the sulfur compound allicin, which has been shown to be effective against colds, flu, stomach viruses, as well as stronger pathogens. Garlic appears to be protective against some cancers. Studies have shown that as few as two or more servings of garlic a week may help protect against colon cancer.

Granddaddy's Potato Salad & Homemade Mayonnaise

I've made this potato salad for two BBQ's so far and both times it was a big hit. This is my grandfather's recipe that I modified only slightly by making my own mayonnaise. The recipe for homemade mayonnaise follows as well. It is so easy and much more healthful than any store-bought brand. Making your own potato salad is great way to indulge in one of summer's treats without having to worry about what exactly is in that white-ish goop covering the potatoes and other vegetables. This recipe is also nutrient-dense — full of hard boiled eggs, onions, parsley, celery and healthy fats from the homemade mayonnaise. This makes enough to feed a crowd!

Granddaddy's Potato Salad adapted from a recipe by John Hobe

4 lbs red potatoes 1/2 cup white wine vinegar 1/2 cup olive oil 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced 1 cup celery, chopped 2 cups mayonnaise, see recipe below 5 tbs Dijon mustard 12 eggs, hard-boiled 1 cup parsley, chopped

Drop unpeeled potatoes into cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, but still firm. When done, drain and drop into a mixing bowl. Roughly slice them and sprinkle the still-hot potatoes with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss.

Add the onions, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, toss gently to combine. Add the quartered eggs and parsley and toss again. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate (can be made the day before).

Before serving, toss again, correct seasonings if needed.

Serves 20

Homemade Mayonnaise adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters

1 egg yolk, from a pastured chicken pinch salt about 1/2 tsp water 1 cup oil (I used a combination of olive, coconut, and sesame oils)*

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg yolk, pinch of salt, and 1/2 tsp water. Slowly dribble the oil into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. As the egg yolk absorbs the oil, the mixture will thicken and lighten in color. When it reaches that point, add the oil a little faster, whisking continuously. If the mixture becomes very thick before all the oil is incorporated, thin with a few drops of water. Taste and add more salt as desired. If not serving right away, refrigerate.

* Please note that when using extra virgin olive oil the mayonnaise will have a distinctly "olive-y" taste which some people do not like. The mixture I used produced a nice and more subtle flavor. Just mix equal parts of olive, coconut, and sesame oils.

Nutrition Nuggets

Potatoes are a good source of many nutrients and minerals. They are especially high in potassium, vitamins B6 and C, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. Potatoes contain lysine, an amino acid lacking in many grains that has been found to be helpful in treating and preventing the herpes virus. Remember that most of the nutrients and fiber are found in the skins so don't peel your potatoes and always eat the skins. Potatoes also contain chlorgenic acid, a chemical that prevents cell mutations leading to cancer. It is important to buy organic potatoes whenever possible since potatoes often have very high amounts of pesticide residue after they have been harvested. Also, most commercial potatoes have been treated with sprout inhibitors that can have harmful effects. Red potatoes are a lower glycemic choice than many other types of potatoes and therefore are a better choice for people with diabetes or other blood sugar issues.

Parsley is an extremely potent healing food. It is rich in large numbers of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. Parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, and iron and is a good source of minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties and is regarded as a nerve stimulant that helps with energy production. Parsley's volatile oil components have all shown to have anticancer effects. Parsley is also a good cleansing food and helps with liver health.

Celery is another potent healing food and is very high in vitamin C and fiber. It is a good source of potassium, calcium,  folic acid, and vitamins B6, B2, and B1. Celery contains phytochemical compounds known as coumarins which are useful in cancer prevention and enhance the activity of white blood cells. Coumarin compounds also help tone the vascular system and lower blood pressure. Studies done at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that in animals given the equivalent dose of what would equal four celery ribs for a human, blood pressure was lowered by 12 to 14 percent and cholesterol was lowered by seven percent. In other clinical studies celery extract showed impressive results in treating osteoarthritis and gout pain. Study participants given 34 milligrams of the celery extract twice daily experienced significant pain relief after three weeks of use, with an average reduction in pain scores of 68 percent while some participants reported 100 percent relief from pain. Most noticed maximum benefit after six weeks of use.

Kale and Onion Frittata

Kale and Onion Frittata

1 small bunch kale, washed and chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces (stems removed) ½ large red onion, sliced into half moons 8  eggs ¼ cup milk ¼ cup Parmigiana-Reggiano, grated (plus more for topping) 2 tbls butter salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 1 tbl butter in an oven-proof pan over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add kale and stir until it becomes bright green. Cover and allow to cook until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl. Add the cheese and salt and pepper.
  5. When the kale is thoroughly cooked, add 1 tbl of butter to pan and coat the bottom, then add the egg mixture to the pan and spread the vegetables evenly throughout.
  6. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until the sides are just about set.
  7. Sprinkle the top with a bit more Parmigiana Reggiano as well as a bit more salt and pepper.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the frittata is firm, about 10 to 15 minutes. Check with a knife to see that it is cooked all the way through.

I love frittatas because they are easy to make and can have so many variations. You can substitute any vegetables here, asparagus (get it while it's still in season!) is a great addition to a frittata as are mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, garlic, shallots ... and on and on. This is a great last-minute dinner that can be ready in less than a half-an-hour. Enjoy!

Nutrition Nuggets

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are pretty darn close to a perfect food. The best option is to eat pastured eggs — meaning eggs that come from chickens that are raised on open pasture and regularly eat grass, plants, bugs, grubs and whatever else they can find in the fields. Chickens are omnivores and the quality, taste, and health benefits of their eggs is largely dependent on what they eat.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and as such, exhibits the same kind of anticancer properties as all the other members of this family. Kale is actually one of the most nutritious vegetables, with high amounts of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. It is a great source of calcium, iron, and copper as well as dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. As you can see from its deep green color, kale is very high in chlorophyll. The deeper green your vegetable, the more health benefits it contains and kale is one of the darkest!

Onions contain sulfur compounds like allicin which have strong effects on boosting immunity. They also contain one of the highest amounts of quercetin of any food — a flavonoid which helps to calm allergies, reduces inflammation, and is a powerful antioxidant providing protection against cancers and heart disease. Clinical studies have shown that onions lower blood pressure and prevent clot formation as well.

Baked Salmon with Balsamic Onions

Baked Salmon with Balsamic Onions

½ large or 1 small red onion, sliced 1 pound wild-caught salmon 3 tbl butter 2 tbl balsamic vinegar salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cut the onion into half moons. Add two tablespoons butter to a sauce pan over medium heat. As the butter is melting add the onions, stirring frequently as the onions cook.
  3. Meanwhile place the salmon, skin-side down, in a buttered glass baking dish and place in the oven.
  4. After about five minutes of cooking the onions, add the balsamic, ½ tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring as the onions begin to carmelize.
  5. After about another five minutes, add the remaining ½ tablespoon butter, stir to combine and remove from heat.
  6. Remove the salmon from the oven and pour the onions and butter/balsamic reduction over the salmon and spread evenly.
  7. Return the salmon to the oven and cook until done, about another 20 minutes.

Nutrition Nuggets

Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods and has been prized and valued for its nourishment in traditional cultures throughout history. It is an excellent source of protein, potassium, selenium and B12. Salmon also provides high amounts of the important omega-3 fats.  Dr. Weston Price, in his travels throughout the world to find the healthiest people, concluded that those cultures who ate fish and other seafoods had the best health of all. Eating fish promotes excellent growth and bone structure and is crucial for pregnant women, babies and young children.

It is of utmost importance to only buy and consume wild-caught salmon from responsible fisheries. Farmed salmon is not only nutritionally inferior to wild salmon but the salmon farms are contributing to the destruction of the ocean ecosystems. In addition to having less omega-3 fats, more omega-6 fats, and 20 percent less protein, farmed salmon also contain higher levels of pesticides and carcinogens due to the type of feed they are given. In the wild, salmon eat a diet of pink krill, thus turning their flesh pink and bestowing it with all the health benefits in krill. Farmed salmon on the other hand, are feed pellets with a synthetic dye in order to turn their white-gray flesh to pink.

Onions contain sulfur compounds like allicin which have strong effects on boosting immunity. They also contain one of the highest amounts of quercetin of any food — a flavonoid which helps to calm allergies, reduces inflammation, and is also a powerful antioxidant providing protection against cancers and heart disease. Clinical studies have shown that onions lower blood pressure and prevent clot formation as well.