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Posts tagged ‘real food’

Spice Doctor

Tacos are a mainstay in our house.  They’re satisfying, pretty balanced, and super fast — the weeknight dinner trifecta as far as I’m concerned.  We generally make them with beef, topped with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa and shredded cheese, and wrapped in either soft corn tortillas or big pieces of crisp lettuce. Read more

Herby Melange

My great, great aunt — a role model for healthy aging — always seems to bring something special when she comes over for a meal.  Self educated and worldly, she has a sophisticated grace about her that shows through in her day-to-day way of living, the questions she asks, and her impeccable taste in seemingly everything.  As a college student, her recipes are the first one’s I’d ever seen with no measurements, just ingredients.  Read more

Mother Knows Best

My mother, that is (not me).

Maybe it’s because of all the wisdom she accumulated raising three kids, or maybe it’s just plain old Midwestern resourcefulness, but she seems to often (not always) know best.  She knows how to paint rooms and arrange flowers and install screens and strip floors and sew comforters and fix almost anything.  She knows how to make people feel special and loved, no matter who they are.  And most impressively to me these days, she knows how to get kids to eat vegetables. Read more

Orange Marmalade

I used to dream about opening a breakfast and lunch cafe.  Years of sitting in New York City cafes sipping espressos and eating croissants and browsing through magazines made me think it would be amazing to start my own.  I longed to create a place where people came for community and warmth and strong coffee and wholesome, chic breakfasts.  A place where children and elderly people in the neighborhood could mingle or simply co-exist.  Where the menu was small, but mighty. Read more

Bread Doesn’t Come in a Bag

New York City’s Sullivan Street Bakery publishes a no-knead bread recipe on its site — I’ve also seen it appear in The New York Times within the last few years, and it’s a staple in Mark Bittman’s food bible, How to Cook Everything.  It’s the only yeast bread I’ll attempt because it takes very little (working) time and usually comes out quite well (except the time I put tablespoons instead of teaspoons of salt in it and gave it to a friend after she had a baby…ooops).  Read more

Grains of the Gods

via mark bittman

via mark bittman

Mark Bittman posted a graphic last week that I loved, for both its beauty and its simplicity.  I love grain salads in the summertime — they’re easy to make ahead of time for a BBQ, they keep well in the fridge, and they’re amazing 1-dish meals that leave you satisfied but not stuffed.  Inspired after seeing this image, I made a favorite recipe for dinner last night.  The core grain is farro, a wheat most commonly grown in Italy.  With a chewy texture and rich, nutty flavor, it’s distinct, crave-worthy, and our kids even eat it!  Here’s my go-to recipe:

  • 1-2 cups of farro (boiled and drained)
  • Blanched asparagus + snow peas
  • Halved cherry tomatoes (we plucked ours from the garden — whoo hoooo)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of chopped dill
  • Dressing (1/2 C olive oil + 1/4 C balsamic + salt + pepper)
  • Feta cheese to taste

What’s your favorite grain-based salad (if you’re a grain eater)?  And if you don’t eat grains, why not?

Eat Local

Even though I now live in a place where “summer” extends far beyond the short window when schools close and summer camps open, I still love the way Memorial Day marks the unofficial (pre-solstice) beginning of the season of long days…meals outside…sweaty workouts…family downtime…new top 40 hits…bare skin…BBQs…beach reads…skinny dipping…s’more making…fireworks…nostalgia…FUN!  To kick off the season, I’m going to make a special trip to the farmer’s market this Sunday to stock the kitchen with seasonal deliciousness (something I’m trying to do more consistently).  If you’d like to do the same, Field to Plate offers a comprehensive list of farmer’s markets around the U.S.  Happy (and healthy) eating this weekend!

On a related note, I need some new food inspiration.  Do you follow a food blog the inspires you to cook great, seasonal dishes?  I’m thinking about trying out a few of Saveur’s 2013 Best Food Blog winners, but I’d love recommendations!

poster by my-name-is-annie via deviantART

poster by my-name-is-annie via deviantART

3-Ingredient Meals

photo by cookbookman17, via flickr creative commons

photo by cookbookman17, via flickr creative commons

One winter break during college (long before all of today’s talk about clean eating), I arrived at my parents’ house to find my mom cooking “three-ingredient meals.”  She’d randomly picked up a cookbook called Cooking 1-2-3: 500 Fabulous Three-Ingredient Recipes, and she was hooked on the idea of whipping up delicious and simple meals using minimal ingredients.  While I was pretty sure I was already on to the idea of simple ingredients (the beer/cheese/peanut combo counts, right?), I decided I might have something to learn from her earnestness and experience.  So we cooked…and we cooked…

And while I don’t remember exactly what we made or how we did it, I do remember the amazement that such deliciousness could erupt from such simplicity.  Simple grilled or broiled fish with a salad…pureed vegetables offering a creamy foundation for a pork chop or piece of beef…tempeh and broccoli stir-fry…pudding!  So now, as I try to cook healthy meals for a family (with limited time and equally limited culinary skill), I often fall back on the 3-ingredient framework (I don’t include spices or oils in my 3 ingredients).  Here are some of my favorite recipes to make:

Yes, three ingredients is limiting, but sometimes limits actually provide comfort and ease.  And beyond that, in the food category, if you can pronounce and recognize everything you’re eating, you’re better off than most people!

Do you have any favorite 3-ingredient dishes to share?  Does limiting ingredients help you cook easier, healthier food, or does it leave you feeling unsatisfied?  If not 3, what’s your magic number?

Bircher Muesli

I just got back from a trip to Australia, where two dear friends exchanged some of the most heartfelt vows I’ve ever heard on a steep cliff overlooking Sydney’s sparkling harbor.  It was a spectacular ceremony, and it’s always exciting as a friend to sense a couple’s palpable anticipation of the joy a lifetime of togetherness will bring.  But, I think weddings are and should stay very private, so this post isn’t about my friends’ marital bliss…

It’s actually much more basic.  It’s about a love affair I had in Sydney with bircher muesli.  Sydney is hot and humid this time of year and full of beautiful people walking, running, boxing, training in parks, swimming in oceanside pools, surfing, relaxing in the sunshine on the city’s many spectacular beaches, and eating “real food.”  It makes Australia feel like the land of the healthy (and according to the Gates’ Foundation’s 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, it is, sitting comfortably in the top 10 for life expectancies for both men (#6) and women (#9)).

Good food feels like a daily requirement in Sydney, which makes the appearance of bircher muesli unsurprising, but delightful nonetheless.  Some American friends of ours living on one of Paddington’s Victorian-lined streets served it alongside eggs and (yes) kangaroo at a delicious brunch, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I liked it so much that I ordered it the very next day at the famous Bill’s restaurant.  Bircher muesli was created at the turn of the 20th century by a Swiss physician named Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, an early raw food advocate.  And Bill’s has perfected a simple version of it we can all make at home.  Here it is (at home, I think I’ll add some nuts to the recipe as well):

Bircher Muesli with Stone Fruit (Source: Bill Granger)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup coarsely grated apple
  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup sliced peaches & nectarines
  • 1/4 cup mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Directions: Place oats and apple juice in a bowl and soak for 1 hour, or overnight. Add grated apple, yogurt, and lemon juice to oat mixture and mix well. Spoon into serving bowls and top with fruit. Drizzle with honey.

This will now be one of my weekend brunch staples, which will be extra yummy because I think I’ll always associate it dear friends and sun-kissed Sydney.  What healthy foods have you discovered while traveling?  Have you managed to bring them home as a way to savor the taste and the memories?

Cleanse, Eat Clean, or Both?

photo by lollyknit, via flickr creative commons

photo by lollyknit, via flickr creative commons

A few years ago, our neighbor did a 3-week cleanse, during which he progressively eliminated certain foods, fasted for a day or two mid-way, and then slowly added foods back into his diet.  He raved about it after he finished it (like most people seem to when they complete a cleanse), saying he felt younger and fitter and more relaxed….he was a changed man. Read more

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