Diet and Weight: A Matter of Health, Not Looks

I Hate Talking About Weight!

Honestly, I don’t really enjoy talking and thinking about weight, mine or anybody else’s. Who does?

It’s a bit ironic given the majority of my research is on diet and obesity. Many of my studies look at how what we eat and drink impacts weight gain and its risk to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

PK Newby | #pkwayThis article needs to be on my blog, however, since we live in a world with a pandemic obesity crisis. In the United States alone, approximately two-thirds of adults and one-third of kids are overweight or obese. (Many people who are overweight or obese do not recognize it; I encourage you to calculate your body mass index and discuss your weight with your physician if you are uncertain.) As Westernized lifestyles, behaviors, and food gets exported around the globe, so, too, do our obesity rates: According to the International Obesity Task Force, more than 1 billion adults and 200 million children worldwide are currently overweight while an additional 600 million adults and 40-50 million children are obese.

The reason I don’t enjoy talking about weight is because I actually began my research career thinking about how pervasive and destructive the Westernized perception of beauty is in the US (and some other countries, too). We are bombarded with images of women of unrealistic body sizes and shapes with virtually unattainable weights barring chronic food deprivation. It bothers me greatly that we have such a narrow perception of beauty here in the US, and the last thing I want is for my own research—or this blog!—to fuel this grotesque fire.

That’s why I subtitle many of the lectures I give on this topic “A Matter of Health,” just as I’ve named this blog piece. Because my wish is not that overweight individuals hate their body: the current stigma of fat shaming and weight bias is obscene. Yet, the simple medical fact is that excess body fat carries health risks that are essentially avoidable. Still today, it seems many people do not fully recognize the degree to which extra weight impacts their health. For example, type 2 diabetes is essentially a preventable disease for most people and in some cases can be reversed with weight loss. Many cancers have also been associated with obesity. Yet obesity impacts almost all body organs and systems.

And note that the graphic does not adequately capture the psychological pain and suffering that many overweight individuals face due to diminished self-esteem and prejudice in our body-conscious culture. Especially troubling is the social difficulties and bullying some adults and children face due to weight discrimination.

Environment Matters: Individual Food Choices in Context

In my worldview, which is rooted in public health, an individual does not bear complete personal responsibility for his or her health, weight included. We are a product of genetics and our environment, not just our lifestyle. Most of us live in a society that encourages food consumption at every turn, in every place—and much of it unhealthy, I hasten to add. Food cost and accessibility are additional barriers to eating healthfully for some people as well. Individuals are thus part of a larger system that includes family, community, local, state, national, and global factors that impact our health and weight. (This is known as the social-ecological model of public health, in case you were wondering.) Food policies and production practices also influence what reaches individual plates, and these factors must be considered when working to stem the obesity epidemic on a population basis and help individuals manage their own weight at a personal level. (These topics are the subjects of many of my classes and research projects.)

PK Newby | #pkwayEven so, when all is said and done the decision of what you choose to put in your mouth must ultimately be made by you. My mission is to help you apply the science to your plate delectably, and that includes cooking and eating in a way that promotes healthy weight. And guess what? Those same meals and habits that will keep you free from excess weight are the same ones that will keep you enjoying good health and living longer, too.

For the Record: My Own Weight

My regular readers know that I’m not just your average nutrition scientist given my life-long love affair with food. And a love of food isn’t always conductive to a healthy waistline.

As a teenager I put on more pounds than was healthy for my size. Like all daughters, I blame my mother. (Just kidding. Kind of.) In other words, the culture of sweets and constant desserts around our house when I was growing up certainly didn’t help matters. But I also began working in restaurants when I was fifteen, and every Saturday night in high school I worked from 5pm to 3am, sometimes 4am. Let’s just say snacking on burgers and fries and fried mozzarella weren’t the best choices. I continued working in restaurants for a decade, so was always surrounded by scrumptious food. Sure, I eventually took off that extra adolescent weight, but I, like many of you, gain weight just by looking at chocolate cake. I practice the strategies I preach to you—like keeping your house free of snacks and sweets and practicing healthy holiday eating tips—because they are based on science, and they work. I’ve altered my behavior and lifestyle and my weight has followed suit.

So can you, and the recipes and science-based tips you find here on my blog are here to help.

And, just for the record, I have just as much trouble turning down that fourth second whoopie pie as you.

Seriously.

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New to my blog and just getting started? Here’s a piece to introduce you to some of the basics of healthy eating, and you can use the search feature to find more like it.

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.

PK 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.

Copyright © 2015 P. K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup: Another Variation on a Favorite

Parsnip and Cauliflower Soup | #pkwayMy love of cauliflower is news to no one who reads my blog. And it works out well, because it’s a favorite vegetable of so many people I know, too. Its mild, sweet flavor and crunchy bite is almost universally appealing and can be used in tons of ways. It occurs to me that I should do a cauliflower recipe round-up one of these days, since I probably have at least fifteen recipes dedicated to this delightful white crucifer.

An easy favorite is my roasted cauliflower soup, and I’ve made variations like broccoli-cauli comboartichoke and leek and pesto parmigiana. Today’s recipe adds parsnips to the mix for a fun change, creating a sightly different flavor profile that brings out the best of both vegetables. I don’t use Pastinaca sativa too often—though they did make a wonderful parsnip purée as a bed for slow-roasted salmon and lemony asparagus, a great meal for early spring.

I’m glad to feature this root today in this creamy white soup in my latest version of cauliflower soup that’s sure to please.

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Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, with core and leaves, chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, peels on, rough chop
  • 3 cloves garlic, skins removed and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or black)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme, tied
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/4-1 cup cream (approximate), optional
  • Fresh nutmeg, grated (~1/4 teaspoon)

Please note that the above quantities do not need to be exact. Like any soup, you’ll futz with the ingredients and spices, tasting as you go to create a soup that tastes wonderful to you. For just a hint of parsnip, use less. For more parsnippityness, include more. Then you’ll add however much stock you need to accommodate the amount of vegetables you used, to however thick you like your soup. After you purée, taste: I often find myself adding more spices: it’s always better to start with less, bring the soup together, and adjust at the end, because you can never go back.

Instructions

This recipe builds on the basic instructions for my roasted cauliflower soup, including about 2 cups of chopped parsnips to the roasting mix.The basic sequence looks like this:

1. Roast the cauliflower, parsnips, and garlic for about 20 minutes. (No need to peel the parsnips, and use the leaves and core of the cauliflower too.)

Roasted cauliflower and parsnips | #pkway2. Sauté onions in olive oil with salt and pepper over medium heat about 6 minutes then add the roasted veggies and remaining spices, mixing to combine.

Cauliflower soup base | #pkway

3. Add about 4 cups stock along with fresh thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cauliflower soup and stock | #pkway

4. Remove the bay leaf and thyme and puree the soup. (A hand blender makes it easy.) Stir in cream to desired consistency, grate in fresh nutmeg, and reseason soup to taste. (Add more stock as needed to thin.)

Cauliflower and parsnip soup | PK Newby

5. Garnish as desired. (Shown here with whole grain garlic and parsley bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.)

 

Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup | #pkway

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The parsnip is less popular than its orange cousin Daucus carotayet it has a sweet flavor and some good nutrition that makes it worthy of attention. While it doesn’t have the carotenoids of a carrot (as you could glean from its ivory color), it has only about 75 calories for a medium root (100 grams) and is rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, copper, and phosphorous, and has its own unique antioxidants like falcarinol and its derivatives, all beneficial to your health. More importantly, it’s a tantalizing addition to today’s tasty recipe.

What’s your favorite way to eat parsnips? Let me know in the comments below!

And stay in touch to see what happens in the next iteration of this soup…

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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 gallery for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

PK 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 is currently training for the Boston Marathon, her third (more here, and here). 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. 

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Holi Saag Paneer: A Celebration of Love

Saag Paneer | #pkwayThe Hindu festival of Holi is a celebration of colors, and of love. So it’s a great time to get back to some of the Indian dishes I have in my backlog for you, my dear readers. And what better way to begin with than with one of my own love’s favorites from a cuisine we both adore?

My husband always wants to order saag paneer, that Indian restaurant favorite featuring spiced spinach and cheese. If you’ve never tried it, think good, old-fashioned American creamed spinach. Then add bold Indian flavors and cubes of Indian cheese (a mild and firm white cheese found in most supermarkets and Indian stores). Saag paneer is savory deliciousness, if done right, achieving that amazing blend of flavors in the way that only great Indian food does. But most versions this side of the world are inadequately spiced, drowned in cream, and studded with flavorless cheese.

It was time to take matters into my own kitchen.

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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or other vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen chopped mixed greens (kale, collard, and mustard
  • 2/3 cup water, split
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3/4 cup water (if using frozen greens, use the water from defrosting)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ~1/4 cup cream (optional)

Directions

Prepare paneer. Whisk together the spices, salt, and oil to combine. Cut the paneer into bite-sized cubes and toss in the spice mixture to coat. Set the cubes to marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

In the meantime… Chop the onions, grate the ginger, and mince the garlic and jalapeño. Get your spices out and measured. (This set-up and prep is called “mise en place,” in case you’re wondering, and it’s good practice to keep things organized when you’re cooking.) Thaw the chopped greens in a microwave-safe dish, about 7-8 minutes.

Brown paneer. Heat a large pan to medium and pour in the paneer, creating one layer. Toss the cubes every couple of minutes to brown the cheese on all sides. They should be fried and crispy on the edges but still soft in the middle. Remove the cheese from the pan and set aside.

Fried Paneer | #pkway

Sauté veggies until caramelized. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the same pan; it will still have some of the marinade in it, which is fine. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop, then add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile pepper; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 25 minutes. After about 15 minutes, add about 1/3 cup of water so the mixture doesn’t dry out.

Stir in spices, greens, and yogurt. Increase the heat to medium then add garam masala, coriander, cumin, and 1/3 cup water, stirring about 3-5 minutes to combine. Mix in greens and about 3/4 cup water, simmering for about 5 minutes. Stir in yogurt, paneer, and lemon juice, mixing to combine. Taste, preseason, and add a little cream if desired.

Saag Paneer Stovetop

Cooking notes. My summer version of this dish includes a mix of whatever greens inspire at the farmers’ market, but frozen works beautifully and is much quicker. I often add a cup or two or garbanzo beans (chick peas) for a nutrient and texture boost. And you could swap tofu for paneer for the same reason, or just because tofu is delicious. Or use a combination of both tofu and paneer. (Try your hand at making your own paneer if you like, as shown here.) Finally, watch the cayenne and jalapeño if you don’t like spicy food; just cut back or omit. Make it yours, and do what you love!

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Indian-spiced spinach | #pkwayMost Indian dishes are quite labor intensive. Many different spices and, often, a lot of time, are required. (Case in point: Navratan Korma. But it’s also one of the tastiest and most rewarding dishes I’ve ever made.) This recipe has many fewer steps and ingredients so it’s a fabulous introduction to Indian cooking for those that want to break into this ravishing cuisine with its unique flavor combinations. (More on the chemistry of all that is here.)

I have a lot of Indian cookbooks and influences that inform my recipes, my husband’s late grandmother among them as well as a recent trip to India. This dish draws upon many of these to create an authentic dish, but the fried paneer (!?) comes courtesy of Aarti Sequeira: those spicy little cubes are a friggin’ revelation, quite possibly the ultimate Asian-inspired bar snack.

Whether you’re Hindu or not, the festival of colors and love celebrating the beginning of spring is certainly something everyone can get behind, and this beautiful green dish is a perfect choice for the holiday.

And I have one very happy husband.

PS. It’s okay if you also read the title as “Holy Saag Paneer!” It is awesome, after all.

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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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Seared Tuna Crostini with Summer Herbs and Tomatoes

Tuna Crostini with Green Goddess | #pkwayThe snow and cold just keep on coming here in Boston, which means it’s time to bring a little summer into your life. Sure, I adore my winter farmers’ market—local food high five!—but woman can not live on root vegetables alone.

And who doesn’t love crostini? Sure, there’s the typical variant with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto Genovese, a summer favorite. I also adore French radish sandwich-style, with its herb butter and crisp radishes as colorful as they are delicious. And let’s not forget about avocado with parsley-pistachio pesto and arugula. Whether toasted or not, a crusty baguette really is the perfect foil for all kinds of divine toppings that can be adjusted to suit season and taste.

Today’s recipe was inspired by a warm summer’s day when I was headed to the Berkshires with my husband to hear the Boston Sympony Orchestra present Beethoven’s glorious Ninth Symphony at Tanglewood. It was the perfect opportunity to have a picnic worthy of the music, setting, and company.*

I had a batch of freshly made green goddess dressing in the refrigerator, so little else was required to prepare this dish. I toasted thinly sliced French bread seasoned with olive oil and black pepper as shown here and quickly seared salt and pepper-ed tuna to rare. (Here’s more on how to sear fish alongside some farm to fork food facts about tuna.) I prepared a simple topping of sliced cherry tomatoes, parsley, scallion, and Kalamata olives tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and S & P, a burst of acidity and color to complete the dish.

I packed up everything to go, along with the ingredients for my cucumber basil sparkler, and we were off! When we had settled into our spot on the lawn, I poured our drinks and assembled the crostini with a slather of Green Goddess, leaf of arugula, slice of tuna, and spoonful of tomato-olive garnish.

Seared Tuna Crostini | #pkwayOf course this dish is best when sweet summer tomatoes and herbs are in season, but it works just as well whenever you just need a little sunshine on your plate.

And sometimes that’s in the middle of winter.

* Beethoven not required.

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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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Green Goddess (The Dressing, Not Me)

Dreaming of a summer day? Let your inner goddess out to play!

Creamy Herb and Avocado Dressing | PK WayThe alluring sounding “Green Goddess” is so called due to its pretty hue, as you might have guessed. Though actually the name came before the color, as the recipe was created based on a 1920s Broadway play of the same title. (Who knew?) And the dressing’s origins go back even further, to the times of Louis XIII with its sauce au vert.

Trivia aside, this herbaceous treat remains a popular salad accoutrement here in the US. I love making it in the summer, when it features fresh herbs from the local farmers market. But let’s face it: this dressing is just too darn good to eat only in August, and its other main ingredients—avocado, lemon, olive oil—aren’t local, anyway. So taste wins out with today’s post, a promise of warmer days to come.

If you’ve never made Green Goddess at home, you may be surprised to see anchovies in the recipe. As with Caesar dressing, the flavor is not really noticeable unless you choose to add more or layer some on top of the salad. But anchovies are absolutely the je ne sais quoi in the dressing, adding complexity and depth to what is otherwise a simple creamy herb and avocado dressing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, though, so if you’re sure you don’t want anchovies, or simply prefer a vegetarian version, just leave them out.

But if you are feeling adventurous, and want to give the dressing a fabulous umami flavor boost (not to mention a nice dose of omega-3 fatty acids), keep in those little fishies and give this dreaming-of-summer recipe a try.

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Ingredients & Instructions

  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup scallions, rough chop, both white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup chives, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and quartered
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 1-2 tablespoons)
  • 2-3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy oil (optional—and only if you love anchovies)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Blend everything but the dairy together in a food processor until homogeneous and smooth. Pulse in the sour cream and mayonnaise until combined. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and adjust ingredients as desired. (I often add more lemon juice and/or olive oil.)

Note. If you’d like to lighten the calorie load a bit, you can sub in low-fat mayo and/or sour cream, or even nonfat yogurt. Even so, there are about 350 calories in one large avocado—albeit loaded in heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. For these reasons, Green Goddess dressing is obviously a lot more energy dense than basic oil and vinegar, which is my everyday salad accompaniment. So whatever dairy you include in your version, definitely file this recipe under “moderation,” just as you would with other indulgent dressings (like, say, blue cheese).

Green Goddess Dressing | PK Way

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Wow, is this dressing ever good! Crazy good!

And calling it a “dressing” really sells it short, since it makes a sensational dip for fresh veggies or whole wheat pita chips or a ravishing spread for all kinds of mouth-watering dishes. Just you wait.

So won’t you join me in celebrating your inner goddess?

Every once in a while she definitely deserves a chance to come out and play.

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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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Heavenly Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash and Egg | PK NewbyRemember those sweet potatoes I roasted up all nice a few weeks back? I promised they were the beginning of many beautiful things, like my sherried sweet potato and crab bisque. Today’s recipe tosses them with a few spices and throws on a sunny-side up, crispy-edged fried egg: Brunch is served.

Or perhaps increase your portions a bit, throw on two eggs, and make it dinner.

Whenever you like to eat dishes like these, you’ll love the combination of sweetly spiced sweet potatoes and crunchy peppers, a meal that is as colorful and nutritious as it is delicious.

Runny yolk optional.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup poblano pepper, chopped (or green bell)
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, rough chop
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon harissa (optional)
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • Additional chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat then add onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked. Stir in garlic, parsley, paprika, and cumin until fragrant, about 1 minute, then mix in sweet potatoes and harissa (if using). Once potatoes are fully coated and heated through, taste and reseason as desired.

Especially delicious when served with a fried egg.

And a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and scatter of fresh parsley are always welcomed, too.

Sweet Potato Hash | PK Newby

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Hashes are made with all kinds of different spices to suit mood and palate. A very basic version of mine just includes veggies like these mixed with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Or you can keep with Italian-American flavors like parsley, oregano, basil, and the like. Today I’m featuring the warm spices that I love and add a little harissa at the end for extra oomph. It’s like a sweet potato version of shakshuka. (Of sorts.) You don’t really need the harissa, and I’ve made this dish plenty of times without it. But if you are into it and have it on hand, go ahead and try it.

I think you’ll be happy you did.

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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

 

Artichoke Hummus on Whole Grain Bread: A Perfect Lunch or Snack

Are you making your own hummus yet? I’ve got two fabulous recipes—garlicky artichoke and roasted red pepper—and even a short cooking video to show you just how simple it is. And takes literally five minutes.

If you haven’t yet tried it, perhaps you need a little food porn to inspire? No problem. Let me introduce you to this sexy little number: artichoke hummus slathered on whole grain bread and topped with juicy cherry tomatoes and crisp cucumbers, a drizzle of olive oil, crack of pepper, and sprinkle of sea salt to bring out the taste.

Artichoke Hummus Sandwich

You’re welcome.

Truth is, I really had no intention of making this into its own blog post. What’s there to say that I haven’t already said before about this delicious garbanzo spread, after all. But I decided to share it with you today after this quick pic from yesterday’s afternoon snack got so much love on my Facebook page.

Whether people just needed a burst of spring colors and summery flavors in the middle of another New England snow storm, or just love hummus as much as I do, I can’t be sure.

But, man, was that ever tasty.

If you’re not yet making your own hummus, it’s time.

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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Caramelized Onion and Brussels Sprouts “Grandma Pie” (That’s Pizza, Folks)

Caramelized Onion and Brussels Sprouts Pizza | PK WayFriday night is weekly pizza night for many people, which is the inspiration behind today’s post. That said, once-every-seven-days is probably too much than is good for your health, in my opinion. Especially if you’re doing the traditional processed food toppings on a highly refined white bread crust—not to mention all that deliciously ooey-gooey cheese.

Don’t get me wrong, now. I love pizza, as evidenced by a few recipes here on my blog like heirloom pizza Margherita; white pizza with garlicky herbed ricotta, artichokes, and arugula; white pizza with swiss chard, white beans, and caramelized onions (and its sister, pesto pizza, with the same toppings); and “the best of both worlds” red and white pizza. So there’s certainly room for enjoying this Italian favorite in moderation in my world. Once a month, say, or even less? There’s no hard and fast rule here, but let your weight, health stats, and good sense be your guide.

In any case, today’s scrumptious so-called “Grandma” pie (of sorts) was born from a side dish, believe it or not, when I scattered leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions atop a garlicky layer of ricotta cheese. I know, it’s not that different from a few of the other pizza recipes already up here but, well, whatever. I obviously have a thing for caramelized onions. (Who doesn’t?)

Pizza night indeed.

* * * * *

Ingredients and Instructions

You will need: One pizza crust (choose what you like, though I strongly encourage going whole grain); 32-ounce container of part-skim ricotta cheese; fresh garlic, parsley, basil, and other herbs of choice; Parmigiana and mozzarella (go for Buffalo!) cheeses; roasted Brussels sprouts; caramelized onions; salt, freshly ground black pepper, and olive oil.

1. Caramelize the onions & roast the sprouts. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to begin by making caramelized onions on the stovetop, as shown here. At the same time, you can roast your Brussels sprouts. The finished veggies look like this:

Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onions| PIzza2. Mix up the herbed ricotta. There’s no need for exact measurements here, as in much of cooking, just mix the ricotta with a couple of drizzles of olive oil, a few crushed cloves of garlic, and the chopped fresh herbs of your choice; season with black pepper; let sit 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to come out; and readjust. It’s really just flavoring the ricotta cheese to make it extra tasty.

Herbed Ricotta Cheese | PK Pizza

3. Prepare the cheeses. Grate 1/4 cup fresh Parmigiana Reggiano cheese (it’s always better this way). Slice about 4 ounces of mozzarella.

Brussels Sprouts and Cheese | Pizza 1

4. Assemble the pizza. Coat a rectangular baking pan/cookie sheet lightly with olive oil, stretch out the dough, and pre-bake for 7 minutes at 425 degrees F. (You can skip this step but this method creates a less dense dough in my oven.) Spread the ricotta cheese layer over the crust (you will have some left over), leaving a nice edge for fingers, then scatter with 1/8 cup grated parm. Top with mozzarella, sprouts, and onions.

Brussels Sprouts Pizza | Pre-cook5. Bake. Return the pizza to the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly, brown, and crispy in some places.

Caramelized Onion and Brussels Sprouts Pizza | PK Newby

Serve with remaining parmigiana cheese and crushed red pepper (if desired).

* * * * *

I hope you will have a “Who knew Brussels sprouts were so good on pizza?!” reaction to this recipe. I sure did. But don’t forget a big part of the story, which is that this dish was born out of leftovers. So much of my cooking style—as I mention all the time but it’s always worth reminding you—is making things in big batches to eat, freeze, eat again, eat again, and then morph into something new. Sure, you can start making this pizza from the beginning, but caramelized onions take a while and you may not be up for that. Perhaps easier—and certainly faster come pizza time—to make roasted brussels sprouts with caramelized onions and toasted hazelnuts for a meal and save the extra veggies for pizza night. Or keep your caramelized onions in the freezer so you always have them on hand; they bring a world of goodness to pretty much everything.

Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onions White Pizza | PK Newby

Oh, and by the way, I had never heard of the phrase “Grandma Pie” until reading about it in Bon Appétit last fall. You can read more about it here.

Or, you know, just eat it.

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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup: A Mediterranean Take on an American Classic

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato SoupFor the past several weeks now I’ve been traveling around the world showcasing some incredibly tasty—and spicy!—cuisine, from Vietnam to the Middle East, Thailand to Mexico. Today I’m returning to a dish that is more familiar to most. It’s a Mediterranean take on a classic American favorite, cream of tomato soup. It has many fewer ingredients and steps than recipes I’ve recently created, which is important because not everyone is interested in chopping tons of vegetables and searching the stores for exotic spices.

And I feel exactly that way sometimes, too.

Enter today’s soul-warming soup. It’s the perfect dish to bring us closer to traditional home comforts and ideal for simple weekday meals. You just need a few familiar veggies and common items you’ve likely got hanging around your home and you’re twenty-five minutes away from a creamy, rich, gorgeously-hued soup appearing on your supper table.

So, so good.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oilTomato and Red Pepper Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 28 ounces chopped or crushed canned tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, either homemade or no-sodium store-bought
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, fresh
  • Goat’s cheese, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and spices until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then add in the roasted red peppers and tomatoes. (Roast a pepper using one of the methods here or just use a high-quality jarred product form the store.) Cook 5 minutes over low heat to bring the flavors together, then add the stock and bring up to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then use a hand blender to purée the soup until smooth. Stir in fresh thyme and cream and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper as desired.

The soup is terrific on its own, or you can garnish with a crumble of chèvre, more fresh pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil for extra-special treatment.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

* * * * *

Stunning, right?

And it’s as wonderful as it looks.

No excuse at all not to get this simply delicious dish into your repertoire.

Like this? Then you’ll definitely like my basic cream of tomato soup, which is even easier and starts from either canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or even leftover tomato sauce—your choice! And there’s a cooking video showing you how-to 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 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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

 © 2015 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Hearty Mexican Vegetable Soup: Begin with Leftovers, Reduce Food Waste

In the words of the famous chef James Beard, “It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available and to waste nothing.”

Mexican Cauliflower SoupSounds like my kitchen, where I often start with farm-fresh, local ingredients and global spices to bring you delicious dishes. Using leftovers creatively and employing parts of the plant you might otherwise overlook to reduce food waste are considerations, too. Not to mention it just makes good sense to use every part of the vegetable you can to stretch your food dollar. It’s also efficient: I’ve said it before and I’ll remind you again that I do not cook every day, because I, like you, get super busy with life. Indeed, the more I write, teach, speak, and talk about food, the less I actually cook. And when I do take the time, I often eat the same thing several days in a row, happily—and usually end up playing with leftovers around day three to make something new.

Today’s recipe showcases all of these themes by starting with leftover Mexican cauliflower, (or even just roasted cauliflower, really). Simply sauté a few additional vegetables for your soup base, toss in your chopped cauliflower greens and stems—parts that most people toss but are perfectly edible—and add some stock, beans, and seasonings.

The result is this satisfying vegetable soup, redolent with warm and spicy Mexican flavors, chunks of cauliflower and peppers bobbing in a super savory broth.

Dinner is served.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped (omit if you don’t like heat)
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (as above)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of cauliflower cores and leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or beer)
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade, or no-salt broth or bouillion
  • 4 cups leftover Mexican cauliflower
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • Juice from 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • 2/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Drizzle or two of agave nectar (optional)

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium, add onions and peppers, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, chop the cauliflower leaves and cores. (It’s fine if it isn’t 6 cups, I just happened to have that much from earlier cauliflower dishes that I was saving for this purpose. Just use what you’ve got.)

Cauliflower Cores and Leaves

2. Once the onion-pepper mixture is cooked, stir in spices and garlic until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then add cauliflower stems and leaves. Stir over medium-low heat an additional 10 minutes, until stems have softened.

Mexican Vegetable Soup Base

3. Deglaze the pan with wine (or beer) and stir in 6 cups of the vegetable stock. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Mexican Soup Broth

4. Add the leftover Mexican cauliflower, lime juice, tomatoes, beans, and cilantro.

Mexican Vegetable Soup | PK Newby

5. Stir to combine, then simmer a final 10 minutes or so to allow everything to come together. Add more stock to thin if desired. Taste and reseason with salt, pepper, and spices; you may want a touch of agave (for balance, not sweetness).

Mexican Vegetable Soup | PK Way

Cooking Options. You could omit all the extra veggies and just mix up your leftover cauliflower with broth and reseason, no problem. (I just like cooking, is all.) Alternatively, you could make this entire dish starting from basic roasted cauliflower and just add more of the other ingredients and spices to your liking.

* * * * *

This soup is incredibly satiating—cauliflower really fills you up!—and I enjoy this broth-based variation since my cauliflower-based soups are usually blended and creamy. You might actually call this a Mexican cauliflower soup, since cauliflower is the dominant vegetable, as you can see. Even so, I found the dish ends up taking on more of a hearty vegetable soup flavor by the time you add everything else.

Whatever you call it, make it to please your palate. I sometimes include frozen corn kernels to this soup, or add a carrot and celery when I’m sautéing the veggies; black or white beans may also show up. Add tomato paste for a richer, more tomato-ey flavor, or even purée some of it if that brings a smile to your face. Garnish with a bit of sour cream to add a touch of richness and mellow the spiciness. Or toss on a few corn chips for crunch (like I do for my tortilla soup). Or keep it simple and bright with a scatter of fresh cilantro, pictured below. As when making any soup, simply adjust the ingredients, seasonings, and garnishes in a way that makes you say “Mmmm…”

Hearty Mexican Soup | PK Newby

Because if dishes like this don’t inspire you to make planet-friendly food that helps you save money, reduce waste, conserve time, and get you and your kids eating more veggies, then what’s the point?

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.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.