Instead of making a sweet and chocolatey treat for Valentine’s Day, I decided to do the opposite and make something with a complex, bitter flavor. Why bitter, you may ask? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each flavor (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty) nourishes a different organ. Bitter-tasting foods nourish the heart, so I thought it fitting to include a recipe that would benefit the heart on a day when we are encouraged to express our love.
In the depths of winter, when the temperatures plummet I’ll take a cup of chai tea over a cool smoothie any day. It was that impulse exactly that got me thinking of combining the two and having the best of both worlds: a warming and invigorating drink with a creamy, whipped consistency. To achieve this, I made a cup of chai and instead of drinking it, I simmered a chopped pear in the spicy brew, then blended it with cashews, a knob of coconut butter and a couple of plump dates. The result was the perfect snack and cup of tea in one.
One of the challenges of trying to cook in harmony with the seasons is that by this time of year, local produce is hard to find. It’s especially difficult for me because I draw my inspiration primarily from what I see while strolling through the farmers market or the grocery department of my local health food store. More often than not, a striking vegetable will catch my attention and inspire a recipe. During these wintry months there isn’t much that’s particularly pretty or interesting about the vegetables that are available (in New York City) and the only locally grown produce are roots that have been stored since the fall.
Chia pudding in all variations is one of my most-popular recipes with friends and clients. It’s sweet and light, is irresistibly creamy and lends itself well to a variety of flavors. Making a batch is a virtually mess-free endeavor, with only a blender and a bowl to clean, and this is also the perfect dessert to serve when you have no desire to stand over a stove. The only caveat is to allow enough time for the mixture to chill completely; overnight is best.
Cooking a large pot of chickpeas (or other beans) at the beginning of the week is a great way to ensure you have a healthy protein on hand that can become the basis of quick weeknight meals. I often give this advice to friends and clients when they want to eat more homemade meals but have time restrictions. Not only is it convenient and cost-effective, but home-cooked beans also taste much better than anything you’ll find in a can. High in protein, chickpeas also contain more iron and vitamin C than any other legume. Their creamy texture and pleasing mild flavor make them the perfect pantry staple.
If you’ve been following my smoothie posts over the last year, you may have realized that I’m not a fan of the typical green smoothie. Don’t get me wrong — I adore dark leafy greens but prefer them enjoyed in savory ways, not blended with sweet fruits and ice.
One of my favorite things about having houseguests is making a warm breakfast in the morning, preferably something that fills the kitchen with its delicious aroma and entices everyone out of bed — think spices, coconut, vanilla and pears. Ideally the breakfasts I make can be prepped the night before and baked fresh in the morning.
It’s that time of year again when there seem to be cookies everywhere one turns. Although it’s fun to participate in holiday baking traditions, it can wreak havoc on your healthy routine, as most of the cookies that surround us are loaded with white flour, sugar and bad-quality fats.
If you haven’t made a kale salad at home yet, here’s the perfect recipe to get you started. With roasted squash and the tahini dressing, it’s hearty enough to stand on its own as a light lunch, or a surprising addition to the dinner table. Plus, it’s super healthy, too.
Delicata squash contains the same health-promoting benefits of all winter squash varieties, and it’s high in beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamin C. Combine it with kale — another nutritional powerhouse with ample amounts of iron, calcium and chlorophyll — and you have a delicious fall salad you can feel great about eating. If you want to dress it up for a special occasion or a holiday meal, add some pomegranate seeds, a shower of shaved Parmesan, or a handful of toasted nuts.
As winter approaches us in North America, citrus fruits like mandarins, clementines and oranges of all varieties are just about coming into their full season. And it may be no mistake, as the extra vitamin C these delicious fruits pack in their bright, fresh flavor is just what we need to help get us through the cold season.