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Quick Fix: Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

by | Feb 8, 2010
Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

It has been forever since I’ve posted a recipe, and I apologize. The thing is, I’ve been really busy. And when I’m busy my meals don’t tend to be super interesting or fancy.

But they are definitely delicious.

Kale has been my favorite instant meal lately. I can usually find three different kinds–curly, Tuscan (aka dinosaur), and red Russian–and they all work with this recipe. You can also substitute chard or any other sturdy greens to mix things up. If you want to make your life even easier look for kale with smaller, young leaves so the stems are tender enough to leave in while cooking.

The key to making a plain green vegetable worthy of an entire meal is adding something with protein or fat (preferably both). Nuts work perfectly, as do any kind of beans or lentils. This recipe calls for pecans, which are wonderful, but I usually use roasted pistachio nuts since they don’t need to be chopped. I was out of pistachios today since I ate so much kale last week (these things happen).

For me this meal is a perfect lunch. Alternatively you can serve it as a side dish and it can serve a few people. If you would like a little more substance serve it with lentils and brown rice or quinoa. I will sometimes have sardines or smoked mackerel or trout on the side.

Super Easy Kale With Pecans Recipe

Serves 1-3 people. 10 minutes.


  • 1 bunch kale or chard
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or pistachios
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Sea salt to taste

Start by mincing your garlic, just to make it a tiny bit healthier. Rinse your greens and place them all on a cutting board oriented in the same direction. If the leaves have very thick stems you may want to remove them as explained here. Personally I buy greens that are fresh and tender enough that I rarely bother removing stems.

Pile the greens on top of each other. Starting at the tip of the leaves, cut 1 inch strips until you have cut the entire bunch. If you are using Tuscan or red Russian kale, a lot less chopping is necessary because the leaves are thin and only need be cut in one direction. If your leaves are wide, cut them into 1-2 inch squares. It’s okay if your greens are still wet, the water will help them steam.

Using a pan with tall sides and a lid, add the nuts and turn it on medium heat. Lightly toast the nuts, stirring regularly with tongs. After 2-3 minutes, add olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. Add your chopped greens to the pan, sprinkle generously with sea salt and toss with tongs. Cover.

Stir the greens occasionally so they don’t burn, always replacing the lid after stirring. Continue cooking the greens as they wilt and turn dark green. If they start to burn lower the heat, add 1-2 tbsp of water and cover again to steam.

Kale is done cooking when it is dark green and the stems are tender. Unlike spinach, it is very difficult to over-cook kale because it retains its crispness very well.  Before turning off the heat, use tongs to clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer. Allow the garlic to cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds, then mix it up with the kale and nuts. Add half cup of beans or lentils at this point if desired.

Continue to cook greens uncovered for another minute or two. Taste test a leaf for saltiness and adjust to taste (be careful if you are using chard, it is naturally salty and easy to over-season).

Serve immediately.

Who loves kale as much as I do?

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Simple Eggs Recipe: Spanish Tortilla With Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

by | Sep 30, 2009

Spanish Tortilla

I’m super excited to announce that Danny Jauregui is sharing one of his recipes today at Summer Tomato.

Danny is a Los Angeles based food blogger. You can read his recipes on Over The Hill And On A Roll, and his food photography and blogging tips on Food Bloggers Unite!

Definitely visit Danny’s blogs and check out his incredible food photography, you’ll be blown away.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a Spanish tortilla and had no idea it was this easy. But now I seriously want to get that cast-iron skillet I’ve had my eye on….

Spanish Tortilla With Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

by Danny Jauregui

Spanish tortillas are my go-to dinner when I’ve had a rough workday. I love that you can take two healthy ingredients and easily create a mouth-watering dish. A Spanish tortilla is a bit like an omelette, only much easier to make. Thinly sliced potatoes are sautéed with onions at which point eggs are added and cooked until done.

Sliced like a pie, the Spanish eat a tortilla at room temperature with a light salad, which is my preferred way of enjoying it. I also like to serve it for brunch parties, just for a touch of variety.

In this version, I add Mexican flavors by including chopped cilantro and a Chipotle-Lime vinaigrette. Filled with nutrients and bursting with familiar flavors, I think you’ll really enjoy it!

Simple Potato and Egg Spanish Tortilla


6 Eggs

1 Large Potato, thinly sliced

½ Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced into rings

1 ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Pepper

¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro


Slice potato and onions into thin slices. The exact size is not important. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan or preferably a cast-iron skillet. Wait for olive oil to almost begin smoking and add the onions and potatoes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon stir potatoes and onions to coat in oil, lower the heat to medium and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, for a total cooking time of 5 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking combine the eggs and cilantro in a bowl and lightly whisk together. When potatoes are done, make sure they are lying as flat as possible in the pan and add the egg mixture. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until most of the egg on the bottom is thoroughly cooked. The top of the tortilla will not be cooked and should look runny.

Turn the broiler of your oven on, remove pan from burner and carefully place under broiler for 2 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden brown. Eggs cook fast, so keep your eye on the broiler. (If you don’t have a broiler simply place a cover on the pan and continue cooking on medium heat until top is solid and not runny).

Once top is brown, remove from broiler and let cool for 10 minutes. At this point you can slice it straight out of the pan, or flip it like I did. To flip, run a knife around the edge of the tortilla to loosen, place a plate upside down on top of the pan and flip the whole thing over. The tortilla should release easily.

Add some sliced avocado and your favorite salsa to really spruce this meal up, or make this Chipotle-Lime vinaigrette like I did.

The Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette adds a nice smoky and acidic note to the boldness of the potato and egg. Delish!

Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Adobo Sauce from a Chipotle Pepper Can

2 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Juice

¼ Teaspoon Salt

Adobo sauce is the smoky sauce that is included in Chipotle peppers. If you want a bit of spice, take half a Chipotle pepper and chop it super fine and add to vinaigrette.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette onto sliced tortilla.

What flavors do you pair with a Spanish tortilla?

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Simple Gourmet: Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre

by | May 27, 2009
Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chevre

Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre

I am very proud to share this recipe with you since it came by special request from my dad–a self-professed beet hater. I won him over with these beets several years ago and he is still talking about them! The same recipe stole my heart back when I thought I hated beets too.

Are you convinced?

Roasted Beets with fresh mint and chèvre is an elegant, impressive dish that hardly requires any cooking skills. If you are still worried you will not like the flavor of beets, you can look for the milder and less messy golden or candy-striped beets. Whenever possible I like to use a few different beet varieties to mix up the colors and flavors, but today I’m sticking with the common red garden beet.

Mint Leaves

Mint Leaves

To begin you must eliminate all thoughts of substituting canned beets for the fresh ones in this recipe. Fresh roasted beets have a rich, sweet and earthy flavor that is completely unlike the flaccid purple slivers that come in a can.

You will also need fresh mint leaves. Most grocery stores and farmers markets will have fresh mint this time of year. Dried leaves really don’t cut it in this recipe.

Chèvre is a soft goat cheese that a close friend of mine describes as “like cream cheese only better.” A little bit goes a very long way, so I always buy the smallest amount possible (this time it cost me $2.89).



Be careful not to add the cheese directly to hot beets or it will melt and form an unattractive pink slime. It still tastes good, but it’s better to avoid this problem by cooling the beets beforehand. An hour in the refrigerator works well, but if you are in a hurry you can get away with 10-15 minutes in the freezer.

This dish is very easy to scale for large batches, making it ideal for parties and potlucks.

Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chèvre


  • 1 bunch of beets (3 large), any garden variety
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 oz. chèvre, crumbled
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375.

If the leaves are still on your beets, twist them off leaving enough stem to use as a handle for peeling. If your beet greens are still fresh and springy I recommend cleaning them and cooking them up with some onions and garlic (cook them like spinach). Beet greens are so full of potassium that they are salty to the taste, so be careful with your seasonings because they are easy to over-salt. Both beets and beet greens are extremely good for people with high blood pressure.

Peel your beets using a vegetable peeler (I recommend this one) and chop evenly into bite-sized cubes. Discard stems. Cubes should be approximately 3/4 to 1 inch on each side. Keep in mind that the larger your pieces the longer they will take to cook.

Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to beets and toss to coat. Sprinkle beets with salt and place in a single layer in a large Pyrex baking pan. Place in oven on middle rack and roast until beets are tender and have a glazed-like appearance, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Roasting takes approximately 35 minutes.

When beets are finished roasting, transfer them to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 min, but 45 min to 1 hr is preferable.

5 minutes before the beets are done chilling, stack mint leaves on top of each other and chiffonade them by rolling lengthwise like a cigarette and slicing into thin ribbons. I like to cut the ribbons in half once by making a single cut through the middle of the pile along the vein of the leaves. Discard the stems.

Using a fork, crumble a small amount of chèvre into a small bowl or plate and set aside.

Sprinkle mint onto the beets and stir, leaving a few ribbons for garnish. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer beets and mint to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chèvre and remaining mint. Serve immediately.

Do you love beets? Hate beets? Interested in having pink urine?

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Quick Fix: Warm Sausage Salad à la Trader Joe’s

by | Jan 7, 2009

A couple weeks ago I was visiting friends and family down in Southern California (Orange County & Inland Empire) and on the first night found myself without my farmers market, without my Whole Foods and without a decent (or healthy) restaurant for miles and miles and miles. And miles.

The evening was getting late, so the only respectable option on the horizon was my beloved Trader Joe’s. But I have to admit, TJ’s is not exactly my first choice when it comes to produce. While they do have a small produce section with moderate variety, the stuff they carry is always pre-packaged and a little, well, let’s call it *off-fresh*. Not bad or old, but not exactly the pinnacle of freshness either.

I do not mind their bagged salad greens, however. Even at Whole Foods I buy the boxed kind because it always seems a little cleaner than the bulk bin. I don’t mind farmers market dust, but back-of-a-grocery-store-loading-dock dirt? I’ll pass.

So salad it was. I bought their herb salad mix, which has a nice assortment of interesting flavors. Salad is tough in the winter though. For starters, tomatoes are inedible. The Persian cucumbers looked okay, so I bought those and a bag of avocados.

What really takes the meal to the next level though is a sausage, onion, red pepper and mushroom sauté. The heat from the pan wilts your greens, adding a warmness to your fresh green salad. Eureka!

The secret is to use a sweet onion. Trader Joe’s always has several different onion varieties in little bags, so just read the labels and you’ll be fine.

Trader Joe’s also has a fantastic cooked sausage selection and I like them all. This time we went with Cilantro Chicken, but follow your heart when you are picking a flavor for your own salad.

If you are vegetarian you can substitute tofu or just skip the sausage.

A perfect any-season healthy meal in about 15 minutes.


Warm Sausage Salad à la TJ’s

(serves 2)


  • 2 Trader Joe’s cooked sausages (any flavor)
  • 1 bag of salad greens
  • 1 small (or 1/2 medium) sweet onion
  • 1 small red bell pepper (optional)
  • 6-8 brown crimini mushrooms
  • 1 small avocado
  • 2 Persian or Japanese (small) cucumbers
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Good quality vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Slice onion and bell pepper into slivers about 1 inch long. Clean mushrooms and slice into desired thickness. Dice the cucumber and avocado. Cut sausages into thin slices.

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat until it swirls easily. Add onions and peppers and cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes.

While the onions and peppers are cooking, empty salad bag into a large bowl add and the cucumber and avocado. In the summer, tomatoes are a nice addition too. Who doesn’t love summer tomatoes?

Dress the greens with olive oil and vinegar (balsamic is my favorite), and season liberally with sea salt and cracked pepper. Toss with tongs and set aside.

Don’t forget to monitor your vegetables while you are tending to your greens.

When ready, add mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook until mixture starts to slightly brown then add sausage, making sure the cut ends touch the surface of the pan. Continue to cook until the edges of the sausage start to brown, 4-6 minutes.

Scrape contents of the pan on top of the greens and mix well with tongs. This salad serves well with a chunk of baguette and even a bowl of TJ’s boxed Tomato and Red Pepper soup.


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Easy Potluck Idea: Homemade Hummus

by | Dec 5, 2008



Last night I went to a potluck and I have to admit, I was dreading it a little.

It’s not that I don’t love my friends or cooking for them, but I have been feeling queasy this week (I contracted some nasty food poisoning on my vacation–that’s what I get for not cooking my own meals!) and have not had much energy for anything, especially food.

But I have a food blog. Not only did I have to bring something, it had to be impressive!

I needed something quick, easy and delicious, made mostly from ingredients I have laying around. Hummus was my answer. Hummus is a Middle Eastern style dip made of chickpeas. Remember all that talk about how easy and delicious homemade beans are in the pressure cooker? Well chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are no exception.

Hummus is a perfect potluck contribution because it is easy to make, easy to transport and exotic enough to be impressive. Also, homemade hummus is way better (tasting, but also for you) than anything you can buy at the store… no offense to Trader Joe’s.

You can make the basic recipe with beans, tahini, garlic and spices, but I have added a couple extra ingredients if you want to take your hummus to the next level.

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • tahini to taste
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (gourmet paprika or fresh ground sweet chili powder is best)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re feeling spunky – optional)
  • pure olive oil or canola oil
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • preserved lemon (optional)
  • parsley (optional)

I always have tahini in my fridge, but if you do not it is fairly easy to find. Tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds with a consistency similar to natural peanut butter (the oily kind). It has a delicious smokey flavor and I use it to garnish many different dishes.

Olive oil is a key ingredient in this recipe, but it is important to understand that you cannot put extra virgin olive oil into a blender, or it will turn unpleasantly bitter. Use either pure olive oil or canola oil for blending, then add a good extra virgin olive oil on top as a garnish. Your extra virgin olive oil should have a bright green color, not a dull yellow or brown.

You can use canned beans if you are in a pinch, but I don’t recommend it.

Here’s what to do:

Pick over, rinse and soak the dry chickpeas overnight in excess water (they expand quite a bit). The next day rinse them again, put them in a pressure cooker and cook on high until done (mine works in 12 minutes). Once they are cooked, use a slotted spoon to move chickpeas from the liquid into a large bowl. Reserve the liquid. Throw out any chickpea shells that have separated from the bean.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can boil the chickpeas until they are soft, about an hour and a half. Add more water if necessary.

While the beans are cooking place whole, unpeeled garlic cloves into a toaster oven and bake at 400 for 3-5 minutes (I like them less cooked). Let them cool a bit then remove the peel, which should come off easily.

Add the garlic to your beans (mince it if you prefer to add it raw), along with 1/2 cup (or whatever) of the liquid they cooked in, 2 tbsp pure olive oil, 1/2 tsp of salt and lemon juice to taste (I use the whole thing).

Also add 2-3 tbsp of tahini (honestly I eyeball it and keep adding tahini until I’m happy with the taste) and the other spices. I recently purchased some amazing New Mexico chili powder from Tierra Vegetables and a few slices of preserved lemon from Boulette’s Larder that added incredible dimension to this already wonderful recipe. I am particularly impressed with the preserved lemon, which contributed a unique, rich lemon flavor unlike anything I have ever tasted.

David Lebovitz claims that making your own preserved lemons is not very difficult if you want to try. Rinse the lemons before adding them to your recipe, I added 5-6 slices.

Blend the ingredients together using a hand blender. If you do not have a hand blender you can use a regular blender or food processor. They work the same but are harder to clean.

Puree the mix until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Once the hummus is creamy, taste it with a clean spoon and adjust the salt, lemon and tahini.

When finished, move hummus to a tupper (for potluck) or serving bowl. Use a spoon to make a crater in the center, garnish with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley. California extra virgin olive oil is the best choice, in my opinion, and Trader Joe’s has a great one that is affordable. In San Francisco, however, I like to use Stonehouse olive oil. They have a store at the Ferry Building.

Serve with warm pita wedges or bread.

Hummus can be modified in a million different ways. It is fantastic with roasted peppers, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and different kinds of nuts.

Be creative!


What is your favorite hummus recipe?

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How To Cook Dried Beans Using A Pressure Cooker

by | Dec 2, 2008
Squash, Peppers and Beans

Squash, Peppers and Beans Recipe

I am not a vegetarian, but for convenience, financial and health reasons I do not cook a lot of meat. Consequently my dietary protein comes from many different sources, not the least of which is beans.

I realize that many of you have preconceived notions of beans and what goes along with eating them, but I am going to ask you to keep your mind open until I finish my explanation. If you read all the way to the bottom, you are more than welcome to unleash your fury in my comments section.

Let me begin by stating that I am not talking about canned kidney beans. I do not eat beans from a can unless I am desperately short on time. Not that there is anything wrong with canned beans: they are quick, healthy and relatively inexpensive. However, I have found canned beans to be very one dimensional in flavor and even less appealing in texture. They are also more prone to cause the digestive problems many people associate with “the musical fruit.”

Dried Beans

A little over a year ago my apartment acquired a pressure cooker that opened my eyes to the potential of dried beans. Dried beans, which are even less expensive than canned beans, can take hours to cook under normal circumstances. But a pressure cooker can cut this time to under half an hour and allows you to prepare large batches that can be stored frozen for months.

In my estimation, however, the best reasons to cook your own beans are taste, texture and variety. Home cooked beans taste worlds better than canned. First off, they do not have the characteristic slimy ooze of canned beans. (Definitely rinse your beans if you do buy canned). Dried beans also have a richer, more complex flavor without the metallic tinge you get with S&W. (Hint: Your beans will taste even more delicious when cooked in bouillon or broth.)

The mouthfeel of home cooked beans is also superior to canned. Different varietals have unique tastes and textures, so with each bean you try you embark on a new adventure. Some are silky and delicate, others rich and creamy. Larger beans tend to be heartier than smaller beans, but there is really no telling how they will taste until after you cook them.

While there are only five or six kinds of canned beans commonly available, the number of dried beans is innumerable. Rancho Gordo is an heirloom bean vendor I visit regularly at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market that has a fantastic variety of dried beans. Ever had a Black Calypso bean? Me neither, but I cannot wait to try them! Visit the Rancho Gordo website if you want to order online.

There are also fantastic bean selections at most health food stores, including Whole Foods. Check the bulk bins for the best deals.

Soaking Beans

One caveat of cooking your own beans is that they require a significant amount of soaking time. I recommended that you rinse them well and soak them overnight. All this requires is 5 minutes of planning the day before, and if you prepare large batches you do not have to soak beans very often. Be sure to pick over your beans for pebbles before cooking them.

Another bonus of rinsing and soaking beans is that it eliminates many of the sugars that your body cannot digest, thereby reducing (in my experience eliminating) unpleasant bodily byproducts. Toss out your soaking water when you are finished and add fresh water or broth for cooking.

Pressure Cooker Precautions

Pressure cookers can be dangerous if used improperly, so it is imperative that you follow the instructions carefully. In general, it is important to get a tight seal on the lid and be sure the pot is not over-filled (total volume should be less than half the volume of the pot). However, it is necessary to add sufficient liquid to the beans to prevent burning and dehydration. You also want to avoid adding salt until after your beans have cooked.

Follow the instructions on your pressure cooker to determine the appropriate amount of cooking time, usually 10-20 minutes. The contents of the pot are under a tremendous amount of pressure while cooking, so be sure to allow the pot to depressurize completely before attempting to remove the lid. This takes an additional 10-15 minutes.

Here is the pressure cooker I use.

I imagine that a slow cooker would be equally advantageous in cooking beans, but I have never tried it.

What are your favorite tricks to make beans more user friendly?

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Quinoa: Did You Know?

by | Nov 17, 2008

Quinoa is a seed plant common to the Andes of South America. Because it is not a grass, quinoa is not technically a cereal grain. For nutritional purposes, however, quinoa is considered a “whole grain” and is a fantastic alternative to rice.

Quinoa is rich in dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. But what makes quinoa stand out nutritionally is its protein content. Unlike most grains, quinoa contains a high percentage of the amino acid lysine, making it a complete protein.

A complete protein is a food that contains all essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

If you are vegetarian, acquiring all the necessary amino acids from your diet is more difficult than if you eat meat occasionally, because plant proteins are usually deficient in one amino acid or another. For grains, the missing molecule is usually lysine. Quinoa’s high lysine content makes it a nutritional powerhouse for a grain, whether you are vegetarian or not.

Quinoa can be found at many grocery stores (e.g. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) and frequently comes in a box. At some stores (e.g. Whole Foods) it can also be found in bulk.

Quinoa is much faster to prepare than other whole grains. As the New York Times recommends, I like to prepare it the same way I make rice. But it needs to be monitored more carefully, since it cooks much quicker. 10 minutes boiling should be sufficient.

I have not been able to find the red quinoa shown in the article. Let me know if you find it!

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Weekday Breakfast: Cereal and Fruit

by | Nov 10, 2008
Healthy Breakfast

Healthy Breakfast

Monday mornings are rough, but skipping breakfast is not an option. Current wisdom recommends you drink a glass of water and eat breakfast within an hour of waking. The quickest, healthiest thing you can have in the morning is a bowl of cold whole grain cereal with fruit.

But buyer beware. Almost all breakfasts cereals these days claim to be “whole grain.” Yet as you can probably deduce on your own, Cocoa Puffs is not a nutritious breakfast. All that sugar negates any benefit of their “whole grain” health claims.

The Truth About Whole Grain Products

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined the requirements that must be met for a manufacturer to use the term “whole grain” on its label (along with the respective health claims):

“Cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis – should be considered a whole grain food.” (emphasis added by me)

Understand? To be considered “whole,” grains do not actually have to be intact. Armed with this, manufacturers set to work demolishing grains as normal, then adding back the required ratios of grain parts (germ and bran) to meet the standard. Presto! Magic health in Lucky Charms.

Would you then be surprised if I told you that intact grains are much, much better for you than demolished and reassembled grains?

If you really want the benefits associated with eating whole grains you should be able to see an intact grain in what you are eating; something like an oat, for example. If not, there has definitely been some processing involved, which reduces the whole grain benefits. That being said, processed whole grains are better than purely refined grains (without germ and bran). White sandwich bread is indistinguishable from sugar in my view.

So this is the problem with breakfast, and it is difficult to avoid in cold cereals. Real whole grains are tough and bland, so some demolition and sweetening are almost always necessary for most people to eat them regularly.

Oatmeal is a fantastic choice. Steel cut oats are even better, but they take 45 minutes to cook. When you just want to pour, eat and run you will need a quicker alternative.

My Solution

I first turned to granola. Those grains sure do look intact, right? But take a closer look and you will find granola often contains ungodly amounts of sugar. Though I enjoy granola and occasionally eat it during outdoor activities, I cannot bring myself to eat it every day for breakfast. It is just too sweet and dessert-like for me. You can make your own granola and add less sugar if you have the time. But still.

The good news is there are some products that are whole grain, palatable and not packed with sugar. But making a good breakfast out of them requires a touch of creativity. I have found one company that makes a kind of granola without sugar. Muesli is actually the appropriate term for this kind of cereal. It is regrettably difficult to find, but is available at Whole Foods in a variety of flavors. The company that makes it is called Dorset Cereals out of the UK. It is not cheap, but I only use about 1/4 cup per serving, so a box lasts me several weeks.

Another cereal product I like is the Ezekiel 4:9 brand made by Food for Life. Though these cereals are not exactly intact grains, they are made from many different kinds of sprouted whole grains and are free of flour and other bad stuff. To give you an idea of what they are like, think of Grape Nuts with more flavor.

I wish I could say that these products solved all my problems, but there is also the issue of taste and texture. Both these cereals are very dense, and eating them without any additional sweetness is a little brutal. For this reason I do not eat them alone, but instead mix them with my favorite flake cereal, Nature’s Path Flax Plus.

I also always add fruit. These days I am using pomegranate seeds (see pic), but almost anything will do. I even keep a bag of frozen organic wild blueberries for emergencies. Fruit is sweet, but also very good for you. Hooray, problem solved!!

What is your healthy breakfast?

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Quick Fix: Edamame and Peas

by | Aug 6, 2008

We are all in a hurry sometimes. I happened to be in a hurry tonight. I won’t bore you with the details, but I got held up at work today and had more things to do when I got home than I could really fathom (including writing this post). I needed dinner, I needed it to be healthy (I’m going out twice tomorrow and for dinner Friday–wish me luck) and, most important, I needed it to be quick.

What to do?
I can’t stress this enough: stock frozen vegetables.
One of my most reliable dinners is sauteed soy beans (edamame), petite peas, pistachios and basil. To prepare, heat some olive oil in a pan, toss in half a chopped shallot or any mild onion like leeks or Maui (you should always have onion, garlic and some kind of fresh herb in the house–this is what weekends are for) and some kind of nut (these also have a long shelf-life). I prefer the roasted, unsalted pistachio “nut meats” from Trader Joe’s, but you can choose whatever you like or have available (walnuts, cashews and almonds are all delicious).
Let the onion and nuts cook for a few minutes until just starting to brown, add sea or kosher salt, then dump in about 1/2 cup of frozen, shelled soy beans (per person). If you are unfamiliar with soy beans, they look like lima beans only a little smaller (and they taste better). Stir them to cover in oil. Once shimmering, add an appropriate volume of frozen petite peas (petite peas are far sweeter and more delicate than regular peas) and mix. While cooking, crush and chop a clove of garlic. Clear space in the center of the pan and add garlic in a single layer. When garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds), stir contents of pan. Add a handful of whole or chopped basil leaves (or any other herb you have in the house), salt and pepper to taste, and mix another few seconds. Remove from heat when beans and peas are bright green and the herbs have wilted. Do not let brown.
Usually I eat this dish on a bed of (1/4 cup) brown rice. Today I threw in some chopped raddichio (with the basil) and served it on a bed of brown rice and purslane, because I had it. This added depth (and nutrients) to the dish, but is not necessary. Spinach is another nice accompaniment that can be added with the herbs. Please do not over-cook, this shouldn’t take very long.
Whole grains should be prepared in large batches and frozen in individual servings in plastic wrap. To thaw, run under warm (not hot) water for a minute or two until you can remove the plastic, then microwave (covered) for approximately 1 minute.
What is your favorite quick, healthy dinner?
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