Grains do OK on a plate, but mound them into a bowl and they are a terrific foundation supporting heaps of veggies, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, proteins and, depending on the dish, fruit. These concoctions have been dubbed “grain bowls” and taken over menus across the country. Spanish chef José Andrés, who debuts his new veggie-centric cafe Beefsteak in 2015, says, “There is nothing more comforting than a bowl full of beautiful vegetables and warm, filling grains. This is the bounty of the earth in a bowl!”
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Juice cleanses (sometimes called juice fasts) are a popular way to jump-start a healthy lifestyle and get nutritious fruits and vegetables into your diet. While many brands, like Organic Avenue and Blueprint Cleanse, were once offered exclusively via delivery in the local New York market, juice cleanses are more accessible than ever. Several brands are now distributed at grocery chains like Whole Foods and natural markets, ship overnight and have spawned their own full-on juice cafes. If you’re thinking of starting a cleanse in the new year, keep in mind that these natural juices should not be used as a long-term meal replacement. Rather, treat them as a way to kick-start your new routine and complement your diet. Here are a few ways to get your cleanse on.
Tomato yogurt is a thing? You betcha. You may have noticed the yogurt aisle leaning more savory, with veggie-based yogurts, thick and tangy ethnic yogurts, and sheep’s milk yogurt taking up real estate in the dairy section. These yogurts offer essential protein and are loaded with calcium (good for those of us over 40). Another bonus: When you subtract the fruit, you’re not only looking at lower sugar content but endless ways to incorporate the creamy stuff into your dishes. From marinades to toppers, salads and spreads, savory yogurts are a great cooking shortcut, recipe substitute or snack. Here are three brands that are worth taking a closer look at.
Oh, what to do when, at 11:30 p.m., in both a famished and weary state, you return to your hotel and discover that ordering a black bean burger via room service will take 45 minutes? One glance at the won’t-save-you-either minibar reveals nothing more redeemable than a $10 container of Pringles. A vending machine, of course, would instantly sate those late-night cravings. But do you really want your impromptu dinner to be comprised of a decidedly bad-for-you bag of chocolate chip cookies?
In addition to its natural caramely sweetness, there’s one more reason to pour on the maple syrup: it’s actually good for you. Yes, pure maple syrup is not only high in antioxidants, but every spoonful offers nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. According to Helen Thomas of the New York State Maple Association, maple syrup has a higher concentration of minerals and antioxidants, yet fewer calories than honey.
There’s nothing new about fermenting food. In fact, it may be one of the oldest food preparation techniques around. Long before we were sipping pricy Kombuchas at the local café, our ancestors were using this process as a means of keeping their food from spoiling in age without refrigeration. “Fermentation was one of the earliest forms of food preservation,” says Kathie Swift, RDN, author of The Swift Diet (Hudson Street Press, 2014). “Traditional cultures were intentionally fermenting fruits, vegetables and grains well over 10,000 years ago, but they lost popularity when modern conveniences came into use.”
Lately, despite our ability to preserve and refrigerate food, fermentation is all the rage again. So what exactly are fermented foods (and beverages)? And why should we make a point of including them in our diets? We asked Swift — a huge fan of fermenting — for some answers.
The name sounds strangely antiseptic, and the powdery flakes look suspiciously like what you’d sprinkle into the goldfish tank. But that does not deter certain cooks and bloggers (mostly vegetarian and vegan ones) from singing the praises of nutritional yeast. So what exactly is this supplement and what has it done to deserve a spot on the health food hot list? Read more
They used to be the stuff that fueled childhood nightmares: forkfuls of overcooked broccoli or endless orbs of bitter Brussels sprouts that had to be endured in order to tackle, finally, the chocolate ice cream. But today’s renditions of green vegetables don’t require nose-holding or the camouflage of cheese in order to win over legions of fans. From the once-maligned spinach that only Popeye fancied to the leafy kale that went on to wildly successful oversaturation, here’s a passel of formerly shunned vegetables (and a few equally undesirable fruits) that chefs have helped give miraculous makeovers. Read more
There is certainly no shortage of trendy ways to hydrate yourself on a hot summer day: smoothies, energy drinks, kombucha teas, vitamin-infused waters and, lest we forget, the ubiquitous coconut waters. Not to mention the boring old plain water that comes out of your tap — free. But if you’re thirsty for yet another option, you’re in luck. The latest beverage to show up at the grocery store is maple water.
Not to be confused with sweet, sticky maple syrup, maple water is basically the thin (supposedly not sticky) sap that is tapped directly out of the tree. “It takes 40 gallons of maple water to boil down to one gallon of syrup,” explains Kate Weiler, Co-Founder of Drink Maple. “People think maple water is going to overly sweet but are pleasantly surprised by its refreshing quality.”
Halva, the Middle Eastern sesame candy, is a dessert favorite. Dense and rich, it tastes like peanut buttery fudge and is often layered with ribbons of chocolate. What could be better? Just one problem: It’s traditionally loaded with sugar. Israeli native Shahar Shamir was a huge halva fan too, but as a former dancer keen on keeping healthy, he was hesitant to dig in.
A home cook since the age of eight (his mother taught him everything he knows), Shamir decided to fiddle with a recipe of his own, grinding sesame seeds with honey and roasted nuts, and making something that more closely resembled a nut butter than a candy. His rendition also dispensed with the usual hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. He served his new-fangled halva spreads to friends at dinner parties. They went wild.