Here’s a woman who inspires me: Grace Young, who is THE absolute grand dame of the stir-fry. She’s been called the Stir-Fry Guru and the Poet Laureate of the Wok. I think of her as ne plus ultra, a major-award winning cookbook writer and food journalist who is THE one to teach and inspire us all to become sit-fry masters.
The Why of Stir-Fry
Why stir-fry? Because it is one of THE great healthy, fresh, quick-cooking techniques to get colorful, tasty, comforting foods on the table even on a weeknight. In other words, invaluable! I easily stir-fry one or two times a week. I shop and get my gorgeous fresh ingredients. I prep as instructed (see below). I pull up my sleeves and, quickly, employing my ultra stir-fry skills, create a glorious, sure-to-please meal in minutes. You can, too.
Grace’s book: Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge
A stir fry can be lots of things. You can, as I used to, clean out your fridge, chop and throw everything in the pan. But: there are stir-fry skills to master that bring the technique to a whole nother level.
Happy New Year, friends! We wanted to stop by with a round-up of 18 vegan and gluten-free New Year reset-friendly recipes that are vegetable-forward and deeply nourishing, but also satisfying and delicious. We’ve got you covered on healing soups and stews, vibrant mains, energy-boosting breakfasts and snacks, a powerful cold remedy drink, and even a minimally sweetened dessert that still very much tastes like a treat. Wishing you all the health and happiness in 2018 :)
No-Recipe Healing Soup (v, gf)
One of our most popular recipes of 2017. This is a highly customizable soup, built on a powerful broth made with immunity-friendly ingredients. It’s delicious and warming, but especially helpful to those under the weather or low on energy. Make sure to seek out 100% buckwheat soba noodles to make this recipe gluten-free.
Use Prime Juice #1 when feelings of anxiety arise, or when you feel ungrounded, sluggish, or unmotivated. This juice is also good for fall, winter, and spring, or whenever the weather is cooler. Prime Juice contains pure and absorbable nutrition, and can help minimize detoxification symptoms.
- 1 cucumber
- 1 apple, seeds removed
- 1 handful fresh spinach
- ¼ head purple cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1 beet
- 1 lemon (you can use the entire lemon, but cut it into quarters before juicing)
- 1 inch peeled fresh ginger
Optional: ½ to 1 teaspoon spirulina powder, stirred into the juice after preparing. The taste is strong, so if you want to try it, start on the low side and work up to a full teaspoon.
Although the Golden Rule is not a new idea, I’m still awed by it. Years ago while dining in Washington DC, there was an unexpected interlude between courses that was just as wonderful as the food. The experience reminded me that the more trusting I am, the more others will trust me and vice versa.
A friend and I were having dinner at Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in America. We decided to go all out and get the 4-course tasting menu. It was a big splurge, but it was my birthday. The manager assured us that if we placed our order quickly, we’d be able to finish in time to make it to the Kennedy Center where we had tickets for the symphony.
Suddenly, however, it was 20 minutes to eight and we hadn’t yet had dessert. The manager, Jack, appeared at our side. He told us we should leave if we wanted to make the concert. I asked if we could settle our bill first, but he said we needed to hurry. He told us to enjoy the show and come back afterward for dessert and drinks. We could pay then. He trusted us to walk away from a sizeable bill.
True to our word, we hurried back to Nora as soon as the performance ended. We had a delicious dessert, and were even treated to sauternes wine on the house. We paid our bill and left knowing we’d had a magical evening.
Where does inspiration come from? Often from the strangest things. You go in the kitchen, you want to cook something, and you wait for something to whisper in your ear, and give you the divine answer for what to make for dinner tonight. Or you wait in front of a blank computer screen, or a blank canvas. As I start to talk about inspiration, what’s the first thing that happens? Nothing!
Immediately when I thought, “inspiration,” I went into freeze mode. Then I started looking around in my space. I walked away from my computer, looked outside my window, and saw the blood oranges growing on the tree outside. Last year it wasn’t doing well. This year I’m going to have a bumper crop. I’m seeing the color orange, and the plants in my garden… Turning, I see the wooden spoon collection in my office, shelves full of favorite books, and my and my friends’ artwork. I see a very colorful throw on my office couch.
This is where my inspiration comes from—from paying attention to what’s around, in any given moment.
Two stories arise in my mind as I look at the oranges, for example.
If I had a choice, most of my savory dishes would be one-pan dishes :) Convenience is hard to beat. That little bit of initial effort you put into assembling all the ingredients for a single-pan dish pays off incredibly well when you end up with a big meal, plus a ton of leftovers for the week, having only used one pan or pot in the process.
In What is Spanakopita?, wiseGEEK provides an overview of spanakopita through the ages: “This tasty dish may have originated over 400 years ago, and may have been introduced during the Turkish occupation of Greece. A Turkish dish, ispanaki, is almost identical in presentation, though it sometimes has scallions added. Spanakopita is better known as a Greek food, however, and one will find it served in most Greek restaurants outside of Greece, as well as in virtually all restaurants in Greece. Chefs and food historians credit Epirus, Greece with the most delicious spanakopita.
A spot-on post from the archives: be kind to yourself this holiday season! Have fun. Savor those special treats! I wave my magic culinary wand, thus decree. Enjoy! :)
Why do we do it? We have this tendency over the holidays to put ourselves on a LONG nonstop guilt trip, like a first class ticket to Hong Kong and back, on the most expensive airline you can imagine. We splurge and purge AND beat ourselves up over it. I have a better idea: find a way that works for you to relax and enjoy life! If you have a brownie, enjoy it! And so you don’t massively overdo, and truly feel awful, plan ahead.
If you’re throwing the party, do what my friend Julie does and anchor your table with soups! Julie puts one on either end of her buffet, with lovely 5-ounce glass mugs, and peppers the rest of the table with different morsels (not mountains!) of yum. Hot smoked salmon. Serious mouthfuls of baked goods (she’s a fabulous baker). Beautiful cheeses. She replenishes as needed, rather than start with overwhelming masses of food. I watched how her guests interacted with all the tempting offerings this year, and noticed people kept filling their cups up with soup. The conversation flowed happily, and no one felt compelled to say, OMG, I’m going to pay for this!
I love a smooth soup, but sometimes I crave a little more texture within that creamy format. Enter this Chickpea, Parsnip and Kale soup, which has it all in terms of texture: a smooth and silky base, with satisfying chunks of chickpeas and kale throughout.
When I was a schoolteacher, I carpooled with a woman who went to the gym every day, rain or shine.
I’m not like that.
Actually, I enjoy exercise, but it just takes a lot to motivate me. Justification for not doing it flows from me with the ease of water breaking through a poorly built dam. It’s too cold, too hot, too late, too early. I’m too hungry, too full, too busy, too tired.
When I was teaching French to elementary school-aged children, I used a reward system that worked incredibly well. Every student got a gold star for the day if they made an effort to speak French. It was remarkable to see how hard they worked for this seemingly small token.
I wondered if I could apply this same tactic to my own life. So began my Gold Star Experiment.
On the first of the month I posted a calendar on my fridge. Each day contains the words “Exercise” and “Vitamins.” I made it simple because I knew if I set my expectations too high there would be a greater chance I wouldn’t follow through. The goal: take vitamins and do something active every day, no matter how small.
Keeping track of each day is very helpful. Otherwise, I have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow. But then tomorrow becomes another tomorrow and so on. This way I’m accountable every single day. To sweeten the deal, I promised myself a gift if I received 31 gold stars in the month.
The experiment was a success. It seems…Gold stars aren’t just for children!
The mouthwatering aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through homes everywhere as chefs lovingly recreate traditional holiday favorites such as pumpkin pie and gingerbread. Nothing conjures up the holiday spirit more than festive meals eaten in the company of family and friends.
Eating in the pleasant company of friends and family is wonderful for health. According to ayurveda, the spiritual components of cooking and eating are just as important for digestion and assimilation as are the physical components. That means, for example, cooking in a joyous rather than a stressed atmosphere, giving positive attention to the process of cooking and serving the meal, saying thanks before you begin, and enjoying companionable silence or quiet, pleasant conversation with friends and family as you eat. Such a meal converts quickly to ojas, the substance that sustains life and promotes good health, radiance and bliss.
What is more precious than the gift of time? Unless it’s the gift of yum. :) How about giving both to dear friends and neighbors, the ones who will TRULY savor the delicious, delectable treats that you drop off for their enjoyment? Some might love DIY kits, with all they will need to make something marvelous, and others might like a fait accompli. I’ve got some suggestions for both!
We live in a world where we are SATURATED with information. Gone are the days when we had wait with baited breath for the latest and the greatest. We are ALWAYS confronted with the latest and the greatest! But there is also a place for savoring the very best. One of those places is inside the covers of a superb cookbook. These are the books that have penetrated the constant barrage during 2017 for me, the ones that I REALLY like and recommend!
For me, the criteria are:
Does the author have a point of view?
Is the author telling a compelling story through the recipes?
Is the photography enticing?
Is it original? (That’s a big thing! So much of what is “new” is not original. Been there. Done that)
Does the front matter of the book set you up for success?
Is it well designed?
Otherwise, you could just go online. But then again, I haven’t had that much luck online. I get frustrated with the poor quality of the recipes. These books have all passed the litmus test of true value.
While preparing Christmas Eve dinner a few years ago I sliced the tip of my finger on a sharp blade. Although it wasn’t a particularly bad cut, it was deep. I wrapped it tightly and went outside to catch the final rays of evening light. While I was sitting on the porch, feeling sorry for myself, a neighbor popped over. As we chatted over the fence, I held my finger in my palm and grumbled about having cut myself. After offering me a pair of latex gloves so I could continue making dinner, he told me that he’d had a difficult few days. A close friend of his family, a woman with four children, had died in a tragic accident.
The weight of his story sunk in deep. I kept picturing the children without their mother on Christmas, or any future Christmases. In an instant, the life of this family had been irrevocably changed.
I returned to my house with a heavy heart. I felt deeply for my neighbor and the family dealing with this awful tragedy, but I realized that my sadness wouldn’t serve anyone in that moment. My sorrow would never bring back the wife and mother, nor would it put their family back together. The only thing I had control over was my feelings. I could continue to feel sad, or I could say a prayer for the family and make a greater effort to appreciate every moment. And, so that’s what I did.
Cauliflower is one of the most delectable, beneficial and versatile foods there is. From its sumptuous aroma and indescribably nuanced flavors (slightly nutty, a bit floral, but not at all overwhelming), to the luscious way it practically melts on the tongue when cooked to perfection, cauliflower is a powerhouse of deliciousness and nutrition, and there are countless ways to add it into daily dining.
For this recipe, we've joined cauliflower with pistachios for a truly unique and ambrosial taste experience. The dry, almost "earthy" flavor of pistachios intermingles beautifully with the nutty/floral overtones of the cauliflower for an enticing and extremely healthful dish. Enjoy!
Bright orange pumpkins are popular symbols of fall. But pumpkins are much more than something to carve or serve in a pie.
You can use pumpkin in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. And when you discover all the powerful health benefits of pumpkins, you’ll see why the humble pumpkin can be an easy and affordable way to boost your health and add color to your meals.
Checking in really quickly with this olive oil loaf that we haven’t been able to get out of our heads. We knew that we wanted it to be vegan and naturally sweetened, with a pink, plant-based icing, but the rest took a bit of debate. Should it be gluten-free or not? Should we aim to make it golden yellow like traditional olive oil cake? We finally decided on a simple, spelt version (maybe we’ll tackle a gf one later?), sweetened with coconut sugar, and thus darker in color than your average olive oil batter. It is still moist and hearty, and the icing is so easy and very special :)
I love baking with spelt flour, especially sprouted spelt, which I used quite a bit for the baked goods in our new cookbook. The batter here is very simple, and yields a nice, crumbly yet moist dough, perfect for baking projects like this one. I would usually use coconut oil in this batter, but decided to go the traditional route and use olive oil. I love the subtle, earthy flavor that it brings to this loaf.
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