My fiancé and I were recently invited to the birthday celebration of my fellow Soul Cycle freak and clean eating nut. There had been talk of the calmness and serenity of Lake Tahoe, but nothing prepared me for the tranquility and beauty that engulfed us upon arrival. The sun-filled days started with morning yoga and slowly progressed to sipping chilled wine while sailing the majestic crystal blue lake that was surrounded by snow-tipped mountains. Evenings were spent congregated around the fire pit with s'mores, liquid libations, melodic chatter, and good tunes. For the culminating meal and birthday celebration, the host arranged a jaw dropping seafood feast. I hope that the pictures below do some justice to the beautiful food and unforgettable scenery that we were fortunate enough to experience.Read More
I was approached recently by a private client to create a two-week detox plan. I am not one who truly believes in elongated cleanses, juice fasts, or detoxes, but I happily obliged and created my version of a detox meal plan. Why am I not pro detox? Because I don’t believe in quick fixes; I believe in making permanent, sustainable and realistic changes to your diet that will improve your well-being long-term.Read More
Dinner For Two
I felt inspired by a magazine that I recently acquired that is devoted to gatherings. Whether it is a get together for two or twelve, the stories shared in the magazine demonstrate that there is a multitude of ways to make your guest feel special. I had the opportunity to entertain twice this past weekend-purveying artisanal smoked fish from the institution Russ and Daughters for brunch and composing a simple home cooked dinner for a dear friend. Food brings us together and good sustenance usually leads to a great time.Read More
Recently, I have been feeling highly motivated to experiment with creative vegetarian cuisine. If I had to put a label on my dietary habits, I would fall along the lines of a pescatarian who dabbles in Pio Pio’s deliciously roasted and flavorful chicken and someone who fully embraces the comfort of turkey meatballs on a Sunday night. To find inspiration, I flipped through a lovely cookbook called Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. It is a vegetarian cookbook devoted to wholesome natural recipes. I found the author's philosophy about ingredients and cooking very in tune with my beliefs and was immediately consumed with decisions on which recipe to attempt first.Read More
Sometimes you just can’t help but get those cravings for gooey, cheesy, spicy goodness. Instead of going to the local greasy fryalator restaurant, I opted to make these simple, healthy, and tasty quesadillas that fulfilled my mexi craving. Obviously, to no one’s surprise, I had to take a healthful spin on these quesadillas and chose Ezekiel’s sprouted grain tortillas as my foundation.Read More
Buckwheat pasta with spinach basil pesto, oven roasted tomatoes, broccoli and peas
After consulting with the family chef about proper tomato usage for this summery soup, San Marzano puree was used over fresh tomatoes or tomato juice. Unless the tomatoes are extremely ripe, high quality canned is recommended. At first, I felt like I was cheating, since this soup was intended to encapsulate summer, but once chilled, the gazpacho was the pure essence of tomatoey, cucumbery, and garlicky peppery goodness.
Besides swapping the tomato juice for canned, I relied on my trusty
for guidance for the Gazpacho. A cucumber, red bell pepper, small yellow onion, garlic, parsley, scallions, lemon and lime juice, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper were gently pureed with the tomatoes, white vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and chilled.
For a spin on another summery favorite, I pulverized a box of organic spinach, basil, parsley, four garlic cloves, two tablespoons toasted walnuts and a little drizzling of olive oil to create a pesto. I found that spinach has a high level of water content, so you really only need a little olive oil to meld the sauce together. I mixed in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to finish. To bolster up the buckwheat pasta, I added roasted cherry tomatoes and organic broccoli and peas (both frozen). The cherry tomatoes were oven roasted with oregano, basil, canola oil, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. This created a nice slightly charred and sweet tomato that burst with flavor.
The buckwheat pasta not only had a lovely hue, but also added a nutty quality and provided added fiber. The pasta was also loaded with vegetables from the spinach; which is packed with folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, fiber, magnesium and calcium, the broccoli; which also has beta-carotene, fiber and calcium, along with iron and vitamins A, C and D, and peas, which are a good source of protein. Walnuts provided omega-3 and antioxidants.
This was a lovely summery meal that left plenty of leftovers…. too bad my fridge is broken.
Many people have pondered about the odor that arises post consumption of a spring meal composed of farm fresh asparagus. Sometimes even a few crunchy spears will cause the sulfurous smell to permeate your nostrils. Although debatable, most science blames the aroma on a sulfur compound in the asparagus called mercaptan. Believe it or not mercaptan is also found in skunk secretion, rotten eggs, garlic and onions. The smell that develops is due to the breakdown of this compound during digestion. Some fortuitous folks lack the enzyme to digest mercaptan and therefore do not have the stinky side effects. Despite the aftermath, asparagus has a bounty of benefits besides being versatile and delicious. Asparagus has a nice balance of carbohydrates, fiber and protein. The green spears also have vitamins A and C, folate and lutein, which is beneficial for eye health.
For my farmer’s market fresh asparagus, I simply roasted the trimmed spears with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley for 8-10 minutes at 350.
As the main event of the evening, a cioppino was prepared. Cioppino is a seafood stew that originated in San Francisco and is traditionally made from the catch of the day, therefore the ingredients are up for interpretation. For this cioppino, hake, a sweet, semi-meaty white fish was used as well as wild sea scallops, muscles, clams and shrimp.
Fennel, onion and garlic were first sautéed in olive oil. Red wine was then added to deglaze. After it reduced, a can of San Marzano diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of fish stock were added and brought to a boil. After about 10 minutes, the pot was removed from the heat and allowed to cool slightly and then blended with an immersion blender. Once thinly pureed, the stew was brought back to a simmer. The hake and sea scallops were salt and peppered and quickly pan seared. While searing, the rest of the shellfish were added to the stew and cooked until the shells opened, 5-10 minutes. Everything was plated together and chopped basil and parsley were added to the finished product. Toasted slices of Grandaisy whole wheat baguette smothered with roasted garlic were placed along side for dipping.
This cioppino was very simple, extremely flavorful and delicious and encapsulated the essence of the sea. This dish was low in fat, contained fiber, lycopene and the crustaceans, mollusks and fish provided lean protein. The total cooking time was around an hour.