Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (Video)

Autumn Harvest SaladAutumn abounds with hearty greens, lively herbs, crisp apples and pears, and squashes of all shapes and sizes. Here in Boston we’re also lucky enough to be seeing the final crop of sweet tomatoes and summer corn. It truly is a cornucopia of goodness at the local farmers’ markets, which makes for terrific eating that’s good for you and the planet, too.

Today’s salad features roasted butternut squash, rosemary onions, and dried cranberries. The salad sings with a zesty maple Dijon vinaigrette. Watch the video of me whipping it up at the Boston Local Food Festival and learn more about why salad dressing and nuts are so nutritious.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 6 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 large onion, large chop (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, rough mince
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, split, or more
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (reduced sugar if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive, canola, or grape seed)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chive blossoms, minced, or regular chives
  • Mixed lettuces, about 8 cups (arugula, mustard greens, kale, etc.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Roast the squash. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Remove the peel and seeds from the squash and cut into fork-friendly chunks. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat, using more if needed. Spread squash onto a baking sheet and roast about 20 minutes, tossing once, until softened. Don’t overcook, since you want the squash to retain its shape and have a pleasing texture for the salad. (Note: extra squash works fantastically in roasted butternut squash soup.)

Roast the onions. Chop the onion—yellow, white, or Vidalia all work well—into large pieces. Give the fresh rosemary a rough mince. Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and toss together; use more oil if needed. (Like the squash, the onions should be lightly coated, but not greasy or dripping.) Spread onions onto a baking sheet and roast at the same time as the squash, about 12 minutes, tossing half-way through. Onions should be somewhat browned, soft, and translucent. (Caramelized onions are a great way to go, too.)

Make the dressing. While the vegetables are roasting, whisk Dijon, vinegar, and garlic together in a small bowl then stream in the oil until emulsified. I recommend adding about 4 tablespoons of oil and go from there; some people like a dressing with more vinegary zing while others prefer a milder taste. You can’t go back, so tasting is key before adding it all! Whisk in fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Put it together. When vegetables have cooled somewhat to warm or room temperature, you are ready to plate your salad. On a large serving platter, create a bed of greens that makes you happy. I encourage you to go for dark green and red for the greatest nutrition; the bitter crunch of kale or mustard greens works wonderfully to provide texture and contrast to the sweetness of the squash and cranberries. Spoon the squash over the greens then scatter with the roasted onions and dried cranberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and top with minced chive blossoms; regular chives work fine if you can’t find them. Let people serve themselves, and pass additional vinaigrette around the table.

Options. For a heartier salad, include nuts and seeds of your choosing, like toasted walnuts or spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds; a whole grain like quinoa, farro, or brown rice; or cooked beans. Crumbled goat or blue cheese also work really well. Less is more, so don’t add all of these at the same time, but with tasty toppings like these you can make this salad over and over again, adding new elements to suit your mood to keep things fun and interesting.

Serves 6-8 people, fewer if consuming as a stand-alone “big salad for supper.”

* * * * *

This video was remixed from my cooking demo at the Boston Local Food Festival, where I made three other salads featuring health- and planet-friendly ingredients like pear and arugula with walnut vinaigrette. For more delectable recipes of all kinds, please visit my recipe page.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more. Thanks for reading!

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public healthShe brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book, Foods for Health, was published in September 2014 and can be purchased here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Kale Tale: How I Fell in Love with the Headless Crucifer

Have you ever eaten kale, the headless crucifer? If you haven’t (or if you have and hated it), I beg you to keep reading, because I’ve had nothing short of a revelation and I’m down-right giddy about sharing it with you. Following is my kale tale.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad: Who Knew?

It was an article in Bon Appétit by Molly Wizenberg that really got me thinking more seriously about this hearty vegetable. Kale never appeared on the family dinner table when I was a child, and my culinary endeavors as an adult were limited to soups, braising, and sautéing. Cooking seemed important to tame some of the bitterness that kale can have; the thought of eating kale raw had simply never occurred to me. Yes, me. The Nutrition Doctor.

Kale and Brussels sprouts salad, day 1: marcona almonds and pecorino cheese.

Well, you can imagine my skepticism when I stumbled across a recipe for kale and Brussels sprouts salad. Cooked kale was one thing, sure. But raw (I scoffed)? Who could possibly like that? Yet, glancing at the gargantuan head of kale I had just purchased from the farmers’ market, I quashed my negativity and decided to give it a shot. The dish did call for Brussels sprouts, almonds, pecorino, and a lively mustard vinaigrette, after all. How bad could it be?

And if you’re into health, kale is among the most nutritious veggies out there. I’ll bet you already knew that given its prominence as the “it” vegetable for the past several years (though cauliflower has given it a run for its money in 2014). For the record, the sensationalism of “super foods” is pretty silly: most nutrition scientists like me encourage consuming a wide variety of deeply colored vegetables to get a diverse array of nutrients rather than overdosing on just one thing. Keeps your plate more interesting, too; no need for a three-course meal featuring kale and only kale.

Anyway, kale (like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and so forth) is a cruciferous vegetable that has been associated with lowered blood cholesterol and decreased risk of some cancers. These effects are due in part to vitamins A, C, and K and minerals manganese and copper as well as bioactive components like flavonoids and glucosinolates that have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Kale is also a reasonable source of calcium, important for you non-dairy drinking folks. The nuts and olive oil in the salad are great sources of healthy monounsaturated fats; almonds are a rich source of many minerals, vitamin E, and fiber and nuts in general have been shown to lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Let’s face it: this salad is nothing short of a nutritional powerhouse.

As importantly, the bitterness of the kale coupled with the caramelized sweetness of the Brussels sprouts alongside the crunch of the almonds and the zing of the Dijon dressing creates a veritable party on the palate. The salad perfectly demonstrates the Healthy Hedonism philosophy that is Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way. I’m not saying it’s pumpkin whoopie pies with maple buttercream or anything—come on, that’s just sheer hedonism and I love it. But as far as salad goes, it rocked my world.

Kale and Brussels sprouts salad, day 2: roasted almonds, red onions, and cheese-free.

In fact, I ditched using the kale in a soup as planned and made it three times. In a row. I swapped caramelized Brussels sprouts for raw grated, since I love them and had some in the fridge. I also happen to think it looks prettier and provides a better contrast of textures and flavors. I’ll probably start getting creative by adding legumes or other proteins—garbanzos? white beans? grilled tofu? salmon?—to turn it into a stand-alone “big salad” main course. And, for the record, I’ve made the salad with and without cheese (right) and it’s great either way, so go ahead and go vegan on this one if you’re into that kind of thing, or if you just want to shave calories.

So that’s how I fell in love with raw kale. Something I never really considered much during the first several decades of my life has now become a go-to salad ingredient following inspiration from my local farmers’ market—there are many varieties of kale to enjoy—and a little encouragement from Bon Appétit. My story reminds us yet again of the importance of always being open to new things: new vegetables, new dishes, new salads, new spices, new ways of cooking and eating. Welcome all of it, and embrace it fully. And I hope I will continue to be of assistance and inspiration to you on your delicious journey towards better health.

After all, we’re in it together: you, me, and our new BFF, kale.

* * *

This article was written today in honor of National Kale Day, which apparently is a thing. It was excerpted from the original post and edited following its original publication on my blog in 2011. For many more kale-inspired recipes, salads, soups, and beyond, please visit my recipe page.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more. Thanks for reading!

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public healthShe brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health was just published and can be purchased here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Cucumber Basil Sparkler: The Sweet Taste of Summer

Cucumber Basil SparklerThe calendar may read “autumn,” but the hot weather in Boston definitely says “summer.” Not to mention there are still crisp green cucumbers and sweet basil at my local farmers’ market. It just so happens that this drink is also featured in the summer menu of my new book National Geographic Foods for Health. (You can learn more about it here and buy it online here.) For all of these reasons, today is the perfect occasion to mix up a cucumber basil sparkler.

Now, if you’re new to my blog, a quick trip to the recipe page or this slideshow will quickly reveal my love of luscious libations of the alcoholic variety. Yet that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy creating tasty mocktails for those who don’t consume alcohol. (Or when it’s two o’clock in the afternoon.) You may even find that your kids enjoy this fizzy green drink, little more than homemade soda flavored with cucumber purée and lightly sweetened with basil simple syrup.

For the original story behind this recipe and the how-to, click here. Then grab a cucumber, basil, sparkling water, and lime, and you’ll be enjoying this refreshing drink in no time.

Cucumber Basil Sparkler

It really is divine, the sparkling essence of summer in a glass—and it doesn’t need alcohol to delight the palate.

But I won’t stop you from adding a shot of gin or vodka, either.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, ogle my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book was published on September 9, 2014 and she’s working on three others.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

 

From Farm to Fork, Why What You Eat Matters: Foods for Health Now On Sale!

I am excited to announce that my first book is now on sale here and will be available in stores around the country on September 9, 2014!

Foods for Health

Foods for Health is science-based (of course!) and filled with great food porn—and even includes a few of my very own photos like the one here. It’s a gorgeous, coffee-table type book that highlights 148 foods and explains the health and environmental impacts of each in a user-friendly fashion. I can’t wait until my cookbooks are published to help you bring salubrious and sustainable eating to your plate in delectable ways. Until then, peruse hundreds of recipes right here on my blog and keep checking back with The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen for fabulous dishes that will make you swoon.

I hope you’ll understand that I won’t have much time to write in the upcoming weeks with the beginning of the semester and book tour activities. (By the way, you can still register for From Farm to Fork: Why What You Eat Matters if you like, and it’s offered online so you don’t need to be in Boston.) In the meanwhile, I hope you pick up a copy of Foods for Health for your collection. Thank you for your support!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, check out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella, and Pesto Sandwich: Summer on a Plate

Tomato and Mozzarella SandwichOkay, fine. Yes, I did also refer to my caprese salad with peaches as “summer on a plate.” I suppose it’s safe to say that almost everything I make these days is summer on a plate. Which means that seasonal delights like heirloom tomatoes and similar fare play a prominent role in my diet. Like Christmas for foodies (or something), summer tomatoes come but once a year—and I take full advantage.

Doesn’t mean you need to get all hot and bothered in the kitchen, though. (Unless you’re into that kind of thing, in which case I have plenty of splendid suggestions on my recipe page, including fresh tomato sauce.)

But if you’re like most people and prefer to keep things simple come August, this recipe is for you. Perfect for lunch, dinner, or a even a simple snack or hors d’oeuvre, the quintessential summer sandwich doesn’t get easier than slicing up a crusty baguette; spreading it with garlicky pesto (classic genovese or, for a change, parsley-pistachio); slabbing on tangy fresh mozzarella; and topping it with a thick slice of juicy tomato. Season with freshly cracked pepper and a bit of sea salt and tuck in a few leaves of basil here and there just for fun, perhaps an additional drizzle of olive oil. Pretty on the plate and a delight on the palate.

Sure, you can use a high-quality, store-bought pesto if you like. But why? if you’ve never made pesto from scratch before, now is the time. Fresh herbs abound at the local markets, sweet smelling and inexpensively priced. There’s a cooking video here to show you how, or a text version here; it takes all of five minutes. Go for it! As we like to say in New England, it’s wicked easy.

More importantly, it’s wicked delicious.

Heirloom Tomato and Pesto Sandwich

Since I’ve been blogging for the past three years, this may well be my shortest blog post ever. No reason to spend time reading about food, after all, or even writing about it. It’s summer! Get out there, enjoy it while it lasts, and savor the sweetness of the season by getting into the kitchen to bring summer onto your plate.

Looking for a title more tomato love? My other favorite sandwich features creamy garlic aioli and arugula. Or ditch the bread altogether and toss all the different colors of heirloom tomatoes you can find onto a plate for a pesto-laden caprese. More pesto-inspired ideas are here.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, check out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Whole Grain Waffles with Blueberry Maple Syrup

Blueberry Waffle BiteI’ve made waffles all of two times in my life, including today. I don’t often do the sweet thing for breakfast but I am working hard this summer to expand my cooking skills. And who knows when a waffle need might suddenly arise, after all; best to be prepared.

Ergo this blog post, which I’m writing now lest I soon forget. Because, not to boast, but I’m pretty impressed with this dish. Especially since I had to futz to create a recipe for two and only two waffles to maintain healthy portion management in our two-person household. (That’s why a bunch of the ingredients specify “heaping,” by the way, because you need the right balance of wet and dry ingredients to achieve the right texture and I wasn’t up for writing a recipe with 5/8 of an egg.)

What a treat! My white whole wheat flour with all of its whole grain goodness yet soft texture delivers yet again.These waffles were even lighter and fluffier than I expected (see the photo?), with crisp outer edges and terrific flavor. While these little babies would be delightful with the standard maple syrup, my homemade blueberry syrup using sweet, local berries made an outstanding accompaniment.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, or to taste
  • Pinch salt

Whisk together dry ingredients. Mix together beaten egg, melted butter, and milk and pour into dry mixture. Stir until the wet ingredients are incorporated, about 7-8 full strokes or so, and don’t over mix the batter; it’s okay if there are a few lumps. Let sit for 5 minutes while the waffle iron heats up. When hot, pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle, coming almost to the edges. Cook 3-5 minutes, until waffle is set and lightly browned. While the waffle is cooking, heat blueberries in a small saucepan over high heat until some begin to burst. Turn the heat down to medium and mash some of the blueberries to create a chunky sauce. Add the maple syrup and salt and stir to combine. Add a few more blueberries or a bit more maple syrup as desired to suit your taste. Makes 2 large round waffles. (I like splitting the pieces and serving as triangles; do as you wish.)

Waffles with Blueberry Maple Syrup

* * * * *

I might have made waffles only twice in my life thus far, but I definitely see more waffles in my future.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, check out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Summer on a Plate: Caprese, Meet Peaches

It doesn’t get much prettier or simpler than this. In a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, this ravishing play on caprese salad screams summer with the addition of juicy peaches. The traditional ingredients of tomato, mozzarella, and basil still shine, but including sweet stone fruit brings a burst of color and flavor that just may make you swoon.

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches

Simply slice your favorite tomato—heirlooms are glorious, if you can find them—and serve with peach wedges and shards of fresh mozzarella. I had a bit of extra basil oil, which is why the cheese has flecks of green, but you needn’t bother. (Though the addition of pesto is always an option on this kind of salad, as shown here.) Tuck in a few leaves of basil and season with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper; a drizzle of balsamic is always delicious, too, pictured below.

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches and Balsamic

Okay, fine, yes, I just wanted to include another photo of this salad because it’s so luscious.

And I really have very little else to say, other than to encourage you to take advantage of local and seasonal produce while you can. The tomatoes, peaches, and basil came from my local farmers’ market, which makes all the difference when it comes to taste. You can have fun with the salad by mixing up the variety and color of the tomatoes, the type of cheese, and even the herbs and stone fruit you use: make it delicious, your way.

And do make it soon.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Blueberry Ginger Scones: Simply Scrumptious

Blueberry Ginger SconeI’m always sad when strawberry season ends. Happily, the berry love keeps coming when other delightful summer berries next appear at my local farmers’ market. Enter the blueberry, that little fruit which packs a big nutritional punch due to its incredibly high antioxidant capacity thanks in part to anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found mainly in the skins and give blueberries their romantic dusky hue.

Blueberries are my favorite berry to munch on right out of the carton or throw on cold breakfast cereal or oatmeal. They also make starring appearances in muffins of the corn or bran persuasion, not to mention pancakes. Blueberries bring beauty and flavor to salads, too, like in my arugula salad with quinoa, blueberries, and Marcona almonds.

In today’s recipe (obviously filed under the “moderation” chapter of Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way), I fold blueberries into scones alongside candied ginger. And, to be clear, the ginger is just as important to this glorious pastry as are the blueberries. Together, the winning combination of sweet blueberries and slightly spicy ginger comes together in one of the tastiest scones I’ve ever eaten.

Don’t believe me? Just try it yourself.

* * * * *

Blueberry Ginger SconesIngredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon heavy cream, separated
  • 1 teaspoon Demerara or other sugar (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add diced butter into the mixture and combine using a fork or pastry knife until the butter is the size of small peas. Fold in blueberries and ginger to coat with the flour mixture. Add cream and stir with a fork just until flour is fully incorporated. The dough will be sticky. Lightly flour your hands and gather it together into a ball, then shape it into a disc about 1 inch tall and 6 inches wide on a floured surface. Use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the dough with the remaining 1 teaspoon of cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar, if desired. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 4 pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet an inch apart and bake 15-20 minutes, until risen and lightly browned. Let cool approximately 10 minutes before eating.

Makes 4 large scones. (Had I fully realized how large they were I would have probably cut my disc into 5 or 6.)

* * * * *

It had been ages since I’ve made scones, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was with outcome. This recipe is a “cream” scone, as you glean from the egg-less ingredients. Because of that, the texture is incredibly rich and tender, more cake-y than bread-like. While no one would argue that a fresh blueberry scone all on its own isn’t delicious, the addition of candied ginger took these scones to a whole new level of greatness. You can use crystallized if you prefer, though candied tends to be a bit softer and works especially well in baked goods (like in my ginger snaps).Blueberry Scone Plated

There was another reason I made this particular recipe, too. You see, if you follow my blog you know that I am in love with white whole wheat flour, a whole grain counterpart to refined flour that provides a softer texture than traditional whole wheat flour but with the same health benefits. I’ve used it in all kinds of baked goods with excellent results, like brownies, chocolate zucchini breadpumpkin bread, and biscotti. This recipe begged me for white whole wheat flour and would doubtless yield a wonderful scone. However, I decided to conduct a little experiment here with you to examine the question directly: Is a scone made with white whole wheat flour truly as good as its refined grain counterpart?

We shall see, my friends. We shall see. Stay tuned for later this summer when I remake these scones and share the results.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Za’atar: The Beginning of Something Beautiful

Za'atarDid you know that za’atar actually refers to Origanum syriacum, a perennial plant indigenous to the Middle East? 

Yeah. Me, neither.

Today, za’atar generally includes a selection of herbs from the genera Origanum, Calamintha, Thymus vulgaris, and Satureja (otherwise known as oregano, basil thyme, thyme, and savory). But when most people hear the word “za’atar,” they are thinking about the tantalizing Middle Eastern spice blend that creates a party on your palate and livens up all kinds of dishes. A typical recipe calls for herbs, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac, though most cooks have their own go-to variation. I use fresh thyme, since I adore it, and include both black and white sesame seeds for added color and flavor. Sumac is a required ingredient that provides subtle flecks of red and distinctive flavor to the mixture; you can probably find it at your supermarket. The black and cayenne pepper are my own touch, since I like a bit of heat; omit one or both if you don’t. It’s your za’atar, after all.

However you do it, make it. Make it now.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Couple of grinds of black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne

Toast the sesame seeds in a pan over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, until fragrant and deepened in color. While that’s happening, remove the thyme from its stems and mince roughly. (You want 2 tablespoons total once it’s minced.) After the seeds have cooled for a few minutes, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store unused za’atar in the refrigerator.

* * * * *

Za’atar can be used in ways limited only by your imagination. Simple uses include sprinkling it over olive oil to make a tasty dip for (pita) bread or scattering it on hummus for extra zing. That’s simply the beginning, though, so if you need help envisioning its many uses, search the interwebs or click here—and make sure to come back to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen to see what I conjure in the not-too-distant future.

Za'atar and Pita

Thanks for reading!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Artichoke Hummus: Super Easy, and Ready in Five Minutes

Artichoke HummusAh, hummus. Never really cared for it, truth be told. Like so many store-bought products, the flavor and quality varies greatly. (That’s my polite way of saying that it often sucks.) There are exceptions to this rule, like a particular brand at Trader Joe’s that I’ve been calling “crack hummus” because if it’s on hand, I can’t get enough.

That said, hummus is so easy to make at home, and I’ve come to prefer the fresher flavor and less homogeneous texture of my own recipe. I love beginning with dried beans—they’re not just for kindergarten art projects, you know—though my desire to eat hummus doesn’t always coincide with the extra time needed to start completely from scratch. Fortunately, both chick peas (garbanzo beans) and artichokes are handily found on the supermarket shelves, making this version of hummus even quicker to whip up at home. And I’m talking about five minutes here, folks, so grab yourself a no-salt added can of each and a few kitchen staples and let’s get cooking.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chick peas, drained (save liquid)
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, drained (save liquid)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

For more information on how to make hummus, you can watch this five-minute video. Basically, all you need to do is put everything together in the food processor, taste, and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate. Note that for the liquid you can use either the artichoke water or garbanzo liquid from the cans, assuming there was no salt added, or just use water. Start with the lower amounts of ingredients in the recipe and go from there; I often find myself adding a bit more lemon juice or water and an extra drizzle or two of olive oil.

* * * * *

Note that while this hummus can be eaten immediately, the garlicky flavor that I adore really comes out once it’s hung out in the fridge for a while. Then it’s even better. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and give it a crack of pepper and serve with your favorite veggies for a scrumptious treat you can feel good about. And if you like this recipe, be sure to check out my other favorite kind of hummus, roasted red pepper. Either makes a fabulous sandwich, too.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

P.K. NewbyDr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book comes out on September 9, 2014.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.