The Next Big Thing in the Produce Aisle: Tiny Vegetables.

by in Trends, May 26, 2014

baby vegetables
Baby corn has long been a stir-fry staple, and those so-named baby carrots have become the obligatory sidekick to hummus. But small vegetables only seem to betting bigger — at least in supermarkets and restaurants. Earlier this year, California’s Shanley Farms introduced “single-serving” avocados (trademark name: Gator Eggs) sold in clever packages reminiscent of egg cartons. Produce titan Green Giant sells Little Gem Lettuce Hearts, a lettuce hybrid that resembles romaine in miniature. Not to mention the countless iterations of baby broccoli — in fact, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale — that appear in grocery stores everywhere. Are bitty vegetables merely an eye-catching novelty or are there culinary benefits to downsized produce?

At least for chefs, the most desirable baby vegetables are generally the ones that are indeed babies — that is, harvested young. “When grown well and picked fresh, baby vegetables eat beautifully,” says Aimee Olexy, chef and owner of Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Daily, in Philadelphia. “Often tender and sweet, they require less overall cooking and retain a more perky mouthfeel and appeal on the plate. Young baby peas and beets are almost always wonderful, and a dainty little treat worth the work,” she says.

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Taste Test: Kale Chips

by in Taste Test, May 25, 2014

kale chips
Crunchy versions of this leafy green vegetable are taking the chip aisle by storm. There’s no doubt kale is delicious and nutritious — but do its dried spin-offs live up to the hype?

The Criteria
We rated these leafy snacks on a 5-point scale (5 being highest) and judged them on taste, texture, price and nutrition, with special attention paid to stats such as calories and sodium. All of the brands were vegan and gluten-free, but none contained only kale. Most featured various spices and nuts, so it’s worth reading labels carefully, particularly for anyone who has food allergies.

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7 Vegetarian Summer Party Dishes

by in Healthy Recipes, May 24, 2014

stuffed cherry tomatoes
Even if summer isn’t officially here, it’s fair to say Memorial Day marks the beginning of the backyard food-fest season. Whether you’re a host or a guest, make this your motto: No vegetarian left behind!

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes (above, from Food Network Magazine)
Start the party off right with these one-bite wonders, which come together in 20 minutes. Feta-stuffed cherry tomatoes take a quick turn in the broiler to get the cheese soft and slightly charred before getting drizzled with olive oil.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food News, May 23, 2014

loaf
In this week’s news: Gluten isn’t the only culprit in town; carbs, however, aren’t getting any slack; and a chef serves up a side of food politics.

Later, Gluten; Hello, FODMAPs
Studies show that 30 percent of us would like to cut down on our gluten consumption. For many, this stems from the belief that eating gluten can lead to gastrointestinal distress, an idea that drew attention after a 2011 Australian study. Thorough as that investigation was, the fact that it resulted in no real clues about why people might be so sensitive to gluten had puzzled the researchers. Recently, they headed back to the lab to give the experiment another go using an even more water-tight protocol. The results threw a wrench in prevailing thinking about gluten intolerance: Study participants reported little change in how they felt based on how much gluten they were or were not consuming. (Important note: Although gluten intolerance might be in question, celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten consumption, is real but rare.) What did seem to make some difference, the scientists note, was the amount of a specific category carbohydrate found in wheat, known by its acronym, FODMAPs.

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Gluten-Free “Birdseed” Granola

by in Gluten-Free, May 22, 2014

birdseed granola
We love a wholesome and hearty breakfast to begin our days, and this granola has four different whole grains in it, so it is exactly that! It’s a great breakfast (or snack) for summer, paired with berries and yogurt. We jokingly call this granola “birdseed” because it looks a bit like it, with the millet and quinoa. We use butter, but coconut oil can be substituted for a dairy-free version. It keeps nicely all week in an airtight container.

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The Chef’s Take: Swordfish Kebabs from Jimmy Bradley

by in Chefs and Restaurants, May 21, 2014

swordfish kebabs
With Memorial Day around the corner and grill season afoot, these rosemary-skewered swordfish kebabs are just the ticket. Not only are they light and richly flavored, but they also come together in a snap.

Don’t let the unfussy preparation, which involves nothing more complicated than making a citrus-herb marinade, fool you into thinking the fish dish stints on taste. The resulting flavors are nuanced and sophisticated. Rosemary branches that pierce the fish perfume the kebabs, and the swordfish, with texture reminiscent of a steak, stands up to the herb’s signature aroma. Once the smoke from the grill works its way into the mix, the result is bewitching.

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Dessert of the Month: Almond-Vanilla Mini Cakes with Rhubarb

by in Amy's Whole Food Cooking, May 20, 2014

rhubarb cakes
These mini cakes are a lot like macaroons: Crisp on the outside, thanks to plenty of almond meal,  and tender inside, from the combination of maple syrup and coconut oil. Not only are these little cakes dairy- and gluten-free but they’re also packed with nutritious ingredients, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, and flours ground from whole grains and nuts.

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For the Love of Vegetables: Recipes That Celebrate Produce, Year-Round

by in Cookbooks, May 19, 2014

beekman vegetable cookbook

The journey of Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge from New York City executives to country farmers has been well-chronicled — on the reality TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys and in their best-selling cookbook The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook (both named after their historic home in upstate New York, Beekman 1802). Combining their business savvy with their love of the land and what it can produce, the duo have become well-known for turning a struggling goat farm into a thriving enterprise, producing goat’s milk soap, artisanal cheese and a cornucopia of vegetables.

Their latest book, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden, is year-round celebration of what they grow, and delicious ways in which home cooks can share in the bounty.

What’s a good way to expand your vegetable palate beyond the basics?
When in doubt, roast. Nearly any vegetable can be tossed in olive oil and salt — and red pepper flakes if you like them — and roasted in a 375 to 400 degree oven until browned and softened. It works with everything from the hardest winter squashes to delicate hearts of romaine lettuce. If there’s anything you’re curious about, buy it, roast it, and chances are, you’ll love it.

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5 Recipes That Prove Oatmeal Has Amazing Secret Talents

by in Healthy Recipes, May 18, 2014

oat smoothie
So you thought you and your oats were pretty close. After all those mornings waking up together, you knew everything about each other … right? Turns out, your old friend has been leading a secret life. A surprising life. A savory life. Curious? Check out these five recipes that will have you thinking outside the oatmeal bowl.

Tropical Oatmeal Smoothie (above)
Make your smoothie more satisfying by grinding oats to a fine powder in the blender before adding all that nutrient-rich fruit. It amps up a standard sip with fiber and and adds a hearty texture. You may even want to break out your spoon for this one.

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A Salad and a Meal, All In One: Wheat Berries and Brussels Sprouts

by in Uncategorized, May 17, 2014

wheat berry salad

I don’t know about you, but if I’m eating a salad as a meal, I want it to have some heft. I can’t last until my next meal on mixed greens alone. Enter wheat berries and Brussels sprouts. Together with some nuts and cheese, they make tasty a salad filled with protein and fiber, which does wonders for satiety.

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