Foodist Approved: Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

by | Feb 12, 2014
Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

I love making homemade hummus, but I don’t always love the process of soaking and simmering the chickpeas for hours in advance. Plus beans just don’t seem to agree with everyone (if you know what I mean).

So I decided to concoct a bean-free hummus with seasonal roasted vegetables. I chose parsnips and cauliflower to keep the creamy white of traditional hummus, and to lend an earthy, crave-worthy sweetness to this seasonal spread.

This recipe is a 2-for-1. The first step yields an alluring tray of roasted veggies that you’ll want to snack on right out of the oven. That’s fine! Go ahead and relish—just make sure to set aside two and a half cups of them for the hummus. Otherwise the whole batch might get demolished by hungry peeps.

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Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

by | Jan 15, 2014
Red lentil soup with kale and farro

Red lentil soup with kale and farro

This past week has been a pinch hectic as my husband and I closed on our first house and are getting ready to move.

Dinners had to be quick and easy with minimal cleanup, meaning one-pot meals instead of my usual nightly disaster in the kitchen (which always keeps my husband busy scrubbing). But into those single pots I also needed to fit a lot of healthy goodness, as I’ve been extra hungry lately (have I mentioned that I’m pregnant!!).

My best concoction from the week was a creamy, hearty soup that I loved so much, I made it twice. This recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to throw together and then you can just sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the smells while it simmers (no wine for me!).

I got lucky with how good this soup turned out as I was actually just trying to use up a few random ingredients in our pantry. I found a bag of red lentils that had been sitting neglected for a while. I like how red lentils take on a creamy texture when cooked in a broth. They’re perfect for thickening a soup and they add a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

I tossed in a cup of farro to make it a meal. That, combined with the kale, made this a one-pot meal loaded with both nutrition and flavor.

It also makes for a delicious vegan soup (there is no actual cream in this creamy soup). Simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the sprinkle of parmesan.

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Foodist Approved: Southern Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and Quinoa Salad

by | Jan 1, 2014
Black-eyed peas and collard greens quinoa salad

Black-eyed peas with collard greens and quinoa salad

This recipe is inspired by my Southern roots. In the South we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day for good luck. Tradition says that eating these cute beans leads to a prosperous year.

Typically this dish is cooked in pork fat. I decided to skip the oink and instead created a vibrant salad. After all the holiday overindulging we need a little help detoxifying our digestive systems.

This recipe contains plenty of foods rich in fiber and phytonutrients, two things crucial to cleaning the ol’ pipes of toxins. You can make it ahead and pack for lunch all week to ensure you start your year right.

Here’s to a delicious 2014!
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Foodist Approved: Roasted Butternut and Leek Warm Winter Salad

by | Dec 4, 2013
Butternut Warm Winter Salad

Butternut Warm Winter Salad

It’s OK to let yourself indulge a little this time of year. The best part about the holidays is family, friends and… food. I can’t imagine how boring a holiday party would be without delicious eats and festive cocktails. And enjoying good food in the company of good friends is healthier than eating a salad by yourself at home in front of the TV.

But (and this is a big but) don’t be tempted to bring home the leftover cheese platter and pecan pie, even with Mom insisting.

To maintain your healthy lifestyle throughout the holiday season it’s important to eat fresh and light at home. Soups, salads, baked fish and roasted veggies are all great choices. They’ll balance out all the festive eating and drinking, and getting plenty of veggies this time of year is especially important to keep your immune system strong and your waistline in check.

When the weather is cold and rainy (as it so often is this time of year in Portland), I don’t crave salads. But I know that a salad is sometimes just what I need to recover from a night out. I’ve discovered that if I top my salad with warm roasted veggies, I get both my raw- and cooked-veggie fix together. Plus, a warm salad is so much more appealing. The key to a winter salad is to use a hearty green like arugula or spinach; leave the romaine lettuce for light summer salads.

I made an amazing winter salad the other night with leftover roasted butternut squash. I added it atop my usual favorite combo of arugula, walnuts and Parmesan, then added pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of hummus dressing. It was so good!

Butternut can be difficult to chop. I recommend heating the entire squash in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes so that it’s easier to get a knife through it. Or buy your butternut already cut (I promise I won’t tell). Just don’t use frozen butternut. After cooking it will have the consistency of baby food.
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Foodist Approved: Cucumber Wakame Salad with Oranges

by | Nov 13, 2013
Cucumber Wakame Salad

Cucumber Wakame Salad

Unless you’re Japanese, here are some words you’ve probably never heard: “Honey, we’re running low on wakame! Don’t forget to pick up another bag!”

But perhaps they should be. Sea vegetables (wakame is one) are one of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods. Sea vegetables make up 10% of a typical Japanese diet, and guess what people live longer than any other in the world? (Hint: it ain’t Americans.)

The ocean provides us with thousands of varieties of vegetables. Some varieties have a fishier taste than others, but marinating the vegetables in a lemon or vinegar dressing will offset that fishiness. My favorite varieties are wakame, arame, toasted nori and kombu. Because of its mild taste, arame is great for kids and those who’ve never tried seaweed. You can find all these varieties in most health food stores. They come dried in small bags and require soaking in water to rejuvenate, but are otherwise easy to store and can be kept on hand for days for when you need a good nutrition kick.

Below is a recipe for my favorite seaweed salad. You’ve probably had a similar dish at Japanese restaurants. The restaurant version has a lot of added sugar. Instead of sugar I use orange segments for a delicious sweet and salty contrast. This salad is easy to prepare and goes well with an array of main dishes, from baked fish to veggie stir-fries to steak or grilled chicken. Try it as a side with my Miso-marinated Grilled Chicken. I promise you’ll be happy and healthy!
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Velvety Mediterranean Gazpacho with Avocado Cream (+ Cookbook Giveaway)

by | Sep 9, 2013
Velvety Mediterranean Gazpacho with Avocado Cream

Photo Credit: Leo Gong

Today I’m thrilled to share a recipe from The Longevity Kitchen, the fabulous new cookbook by Rebecca Katz, MS. Rebecca is a Marin-based nationally recognized cookbook author, nutrition expert and chef. She is the founder and director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal, which is dedicated to transforming lives through nutritional science and culinary alchemy. Her previous book, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, is a two-time IACP award-winner.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jun 7, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week a crash course in deceptive meat labels, fish eaters outlive vegetarians, and Splenda impacts insulin responses.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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6 Things To Consider Before Buying A Juicer (+ more tips for fruit & vegetable juicing)

by | Mar 4, 2013

Photo by Tawheed Manzoor

Juicing fruits and vegetables is widely considered a healthy habit, even though most nutrition experts caution against the excessive sugar and calories you get from juicing.

Although I’ve had tons of questions about it, I’ve avoided discussing juicing at Summer Tomato because I didn’t think there were enough positive things to say to warrant an entire blog post.

That is, until I got a juicer.

Two months ago (Update: it’s been a year now, and while I don’t juice regularly (see reason #6) I still enjoy it on occasion) a Breville juicer and blender magically appeared in my kitchen. I wasn’t particularly excited about it, but agreed to participate in the ensuing juicing experiment—for research purposes, of course. The idea was to start juicing a few mornings a week, just to see what happens.

I was more than a little surprised how much I enjoyed it. Even though it was mostly vegetables, I expected the juice to be very sweet, which it wasn’t. Instead it was bright and refreshing, like a summer salad. It also tasted and made me feel good, and as long as I kept the serving size to 8oz or less it was easy to maintain my weight.

I also find that fresh juice is a great way to fend off a cold, when I feel one coming on.

But juicing is not for everyone. And before jumping in head first, there are a few things you should consider.

Update: Read this for more on the science and health of juicing.

6 Things To Consider Before Buying A Juicer

1. Fruit juice and vegetable juice are not created equal

It may sound counter-intuitive, but fruit juice may actually raise your risk of heart disease. Fructose, the primary sugar found in fruit, is transformed into triglycerides in the liver and promotes insulin resistance, both of which promote heart disease. Similarly, fruit juice increases type 2 diabetes risk while whole fruit lowers it.

Why do you think high-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you?

While whole fruit does not typically pose a problem because of its high fiber content, concentrating fruit by juicing it increases the fructose per serving dramatically. Think about how many oranges go into making one small cup of OJ, and you’ll start to see what I mean.

If you’re getting a juicer because you think apple-orange juice is going to make you healthier, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Plan to juice mostly vegetables or else getting a juicer is not a particularly healthy choice.

2. You still need to eat your vegetables

Don’t assume that drinking your vegetables is the same as eating them. Yes, as in the case with fructose you will be concentrating vitamins and minerals from your vegetables, but you will also be losing a lot of fiber that slows digestion and helps you feel full.

The rate you digest food and your satisfaction after eating are just as important to your overall health as the nutrients you consume. So while juicing can add to your overall nutrient intake, it cannot replace your daily vegetable consumption.

3. Juicing may stall weight loss

Though vegetables have less fructose than fruit, it is still an incredibly efficient way to take in calories, something most of us don’t need. If you choose to experiment with juicing while attempting to lose weight remember that you still need to watch your portion size, and consider reducing it if weight loss stalls.

I recommend no more than one 8oz juice serving per day if you are trying to lose weight. This is pretty small.

4. Prepare to do a lot of shopping

As noted in the above points, juicers take large quantities of vegetables and turn them into small amounts of juice. Additionally you need to continue buying and eating vegetables for your regular meals.

All this means you’d better plan to do a lot of shopping for produce if you want to keep your refrigerator stocked. If you aren’t prepared for this, you might find you don’t get the use you expected out of your new purchase.

5. Expect to drop some cash

Juicers aren’t cheap, nor are all those shopping trips. Consider juicing a luxury, not a necessity. So if money is an issue for you, you might want to look elsewhere to upgrade your healthstyle.

One thing we’ve experienced with the Breville juice and blend is that it feels like overkill for the kind of juicing we’re doing at home. While some of you may be juicing for large groups, juicing for two does not require an industrial strength machine.

Keep in mind that a larger, more powerful juicer will be harder to work, harder to clean and difficult to store. Consider a smaller size if possible. This smaller model from Breville looks like a fantastic option for a 2-person household.

Here’s a good midrange option: Breville Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor

6. Expect a time commitment

All the shopping, juicing and cleaning does take some time. Making juice for two and cleaning up takes about 10-15 minutes each morning. And as I mentioned above, extra shopping is required (we can no longer fit a week’s worth of vegetables in the fridge, so multiple store trips are necessary).

While the extra work is worth it if you enjoy the juicing experience, you should factor it in while making your purchasing decision.

A few other tips for juicing

If you do decide to take the plunge, here are a few suggestions we’ve found make the best juicing experience:

  • Focus on vegetables, but include some fruit. We’ve found that one small apple makes a huge difference in flavor. This is all we recommend so far in the fruit department.
  • Include 1-2 root vegetables–such as carrots or beets–to add additional flavor and antioxidants. We like to include either 2 small carrots (1 large) or 2 small beets (1 large). These tend to contribute a tad more sugar and a nice earthy flavor, adding complexity.
  • Add at least one leafy green vegetable. We’ve been happy with kale, broccoli and chard (currently in season), but others likely work as well.
  • Include one watery vegetable. Cucumber, celery and other watery vegetables help dilute the too-strong flavors of the previous 3 ingredients. This can make a big difference in drinkability, while adding some nice flavor and additional vitamins.
  • Don’t forget a garnish. A small amount of a strong flavored item such as ginger, lemon, mint or other herb can make your juice a real pleasure to drink while adding highly concentrated antioxidants.
  • Consider adding back a few scoops of the fiber that is filtered out by the juicer. This will make your juice more filling.

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Originally published February 24, 2011.

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5-Minute Lunch: The Tastiest, Easiest, Healthiest Bean Salad on the Planet

by | Feb 22, 2012
Heirloom Bean Salad

Heirloom Bean Salad

This is a recipe that I rely on often, particularly when I’m short on time but don’t want to eat something unhealthy. As I’ve mentioned like a zillion times during my show, I think beans are one of the absolute best go-to foods when you want something tasty and satisfying.

Don’t worry, this is not one of those nasty 3 bean salads your well-meaning aunt brings to barbecues. When you start with good quality, dry beans they bring an amazingly creamy texture to a dish and are absolutely delicious. And if you prepare them properly by soaking them for a few hours beforehand, you also won’t get any of the digestive issues most of us associate with canned beans.

On that note, the title isn’t quite accurate. It assumes that, like me, you’ve spent a bit of time early in the week making a big batch of beans to add to the meals you make through Friday. That said, preparing the beans only takes 2-3 extra minutes of prep time, but there are a couple hours of waiting between the essential steps. If you use a pressure cooker it is even faster.

In a pinch, feel free to substitute lentils, which can be used similarly but cook up in only 20-30 minutes, depending on the size.

Today I made this recipe using only ingredients I already had in my fridge. I did this intentionally to show you how easy and versatile it is. But feel free to substitute any of the vegetables with ones you have or like better. It doesn’t matter which beans you use either, a simple black bean is also very lovely if you can’t find fancy heirloom beans.

This dish turns out different every time I make it, depending on what I have in the house, my mood and, of course, the season. In the summer, for example, I tend to use cucumber, French radish and a handful of arugula. Also feel free to experiment with different oils, vinegars, citrus, herbs, salts and spices (smoked paprika is a great addition).

I use this dish most often for a light lunch or substantial snack. It can be served warm or cold, or can be made into a full meal by adding a fried egg on top (or other protein) with a side of greens. This recipe is for a single serving, but it scales easily.

Heirloom Bean Salad With Winter Vegetables

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cooked Rancho Gordo Pinquito beans
  • 2 small carrots or 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced lo bok or daikon
  • 1/2 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly diced parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or nut oil
  • 2 tsp rice or red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

If your beans aren’t already cooked, soak them overnight or at least 6 hours. Discard the soaking liquid, rinse several times then cook in beef, mushroom or vegetable stock until tender.

Place appropriate amount of beans in a bowl and add sliced vegetables, green onion and parsley. I tend to go heavy handed on the herbs because they add such a wonderful freshness, but feel free to experiment with the amount you like.

You’re welcome to mix the vinaigrette beforehand, but if you’re lazy like me feel free to just add oil and vinegar directly to the bowl, along with some salt and pepper and any other spices you choose.

Gently stir with a spoon, taking care not to damage the beans. Adjust salt and pepper and enjoy.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Sep 30, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

I had to restrain myself from including 20 articles in this week’s post, but for your sake I kept it to my usual top 10. Whatever you do don’t miss Bittman’s calculations on the price of broccoli versus McDonald’s, how easy it is to sell fruit to kids, how global warming is affecting the fishing industry, how the food industry is responding to the Real Food movement, and the other five articles.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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