Seared Scallops with Moroccan Spices, Red Lentils, and Sweet Potatoes

Welcome! I’m currently working on my second book, so my blog posts come less frequently than I’d like. For more regular updates on Cooking and Eating the P. K. Way, including food porn, links to recipes, and insights on current nutrition news, please like my page on Facebook. Note that FB has new algorithms that seriously limit how many fans see a given post, so make sure to select “Get Notifications” if you like my page. Thanks!

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Moroccan Soup with Scallop

I love entertaining but I don’t always have the time to create elaborate meals. And that’s okay, because not all dinner parties call for dishes that take days to prepare. Plus, I have a freezer full of all kinds of goodies suitable for both weeknight eating and guests alike. I always cook in bulk for exactly this reason so I’m able to call on my BFF for help whenever I need a hand getting dinner on the table.

(My freezer, that is.)

Enter today’s fabulous dish.

It began with a soul-warming red lentil and sweet potato soup I had in the freezer, a favorite that’s rich, filling, and packed in nutrition. I’m so excited about this soup that I even have a cooking video here to show you the how-to. Super easy to prepare—and it’s almost magical to watch your red lentils break down into a thick soup right before your very eyes! Inexpensive to make, too.

While terrific on is own perhaps with a spinach and pomegranate salad for a regular meal, it needed a bit of gussying up to make it suitable for a party, even if just a casual dinner and games get-together with friends. A succulent scallop would be the perfect addition, I decided.

To keep things simple, you can just give the mollusks a quick sear on a hot skillet after seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper. Alternatively, you could create one of my favorite spice mixtures with Middle Eastern and North African flavors that I use on all kinds of seafood.

In small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, dry mustard powder, 1-2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2-3/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and white pepper; a pinch or two of cayenne is optional for kick. (I’ve also added 1 teaspoon of dried ginger to this mix on occasion.) Go ahead, taste it. What you’re looking for are hints of sweetness, spice, and heat. If it’s not the right proportion for you, adjust to make it your own. It should be yummy, obviously, though keep in mind the spices are powdered and they won’t really show their true colors come until they are seared onto the scallops and the sugar caramelizes.

Pour the spices onto a plate and dip both sides of the scallop into the mixture to form a thin coat. (You’ll have enough spice for 6-8 scallops.) Sear in a bit of olive oil on a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side depending on size. Easy as can be. Just don’t overcook, lest you have something more akin to a rubber ball than a juicy scallop.

(If you’ve never seared scallops, learn more on how to cook seafood and check out two other recipes with seared scallops here and here.)

Ladle the lentil soup into a shallow bowl and set the scallop in the center. Garnish with a few micro greens—purple radish are what I used for color—chives, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a beautiful presentation.

Moroccan Seared Scallops

You could create a different proportion of soup to scallop if you like, treating the soup as more of a sauce at the bottom of the bowl and serving each guest three scallops instead of one. However you plate it, this dish is definitely dinner-party worthy. Especially when served with a beet, arugula, and orange salad and lemon and garlic roasted asparagus, and followed by stewed rhubarb and blackberries with mascarpone cream and toasted pine nuts.

I mean, hey, it was still a party.

If you like what you see here at Healthy Hedonism, 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.

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. 

© 2014 P. K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor. All Rights Reserved.

Mouth-Watering Maple Season Stars Buttercream

Welcome! I’m currently working on my second book, so my blog posts come less frequently than I’d like. For more regular updates on Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way with food porn, links to recipes, and insights on current nutrition news, please like my page on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

Whoopie Pies

Weekend whoopie? Yes, please. Click on the pic for the recipe.

I’ve been on a serious salad kick on my blog these past few weeks. Here’s a round-up of recipes and why it’s time to “Spring into Salad!” in case you’re behind in reading or new to Healthy Hedonism. Salad is a pillar of my diet, and I write about it a lot. That said, it’s time to take a break from all that today with a post celebrating the joys of maple syrup.

I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks more about fall than spring when it comes to maple syrup. Perhaps that’s because maple blends so well with warm autumn favorites like cinnamon and cloves, apples and squash. Even so, ’tis spring that’s maple syrup season. It started late this year in Canada due to cold weather but the season is now in full swing here in New England.

In fact, it’s the country with the Maple Leaf on its flag—Canada—that produces more than 85% of the world’s maple syrup. Canadians take their “liquid gold” very seriously, and I was brought into the maple-loving club at an early age. (I grew up in New York but was born in Montréal.) I can remember visiting maple farms in the Canadian countryside as a little girl and seeing the trees slowly drip, drip, drip the amber sap into large vats then visiting the old wooden sugar shacks to watch it boil into thick maple syrup. You can bet we always brought some home with us straight from the farm, just as I do today from my own local markets.

Kale Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Kale salad + maple dijon vinaigrette. Click on the pic for the recipe.

Maple sugar candy was a special treat—my sister adores it—and my mom enjoys maple cream cookies. I don’t eat these foods much anymore but do love my maple syrup-drenched pancakes and French toast once in a while. And churning up a batch of luscious maple walnut ice cream is an annual tradition. (It’s my husband’s favorite.)

On the savory side, maple syrup also makes a ravishing salad dressing when combined with Dijon mustard. Learn how to whisk it up in five minutes in this cooking video, then use it on salads like kale and Brussels sprouts with Marcona almonds (left) or butternut squash, rosemary onion, and dried cranberries.

Oops, I said I was taking a break from salads.

Back to desserts.

I made maple buttercream for the first time a few years back when baking pumpkin whoopie pies. Common centers for these scrumptious cakes usually include marshmallow fluff, cream cheese icing, and the like. I ventured from tradition and thought maple buttercream would make the perfect filling.

Boy, was I right.

The original post on how I learned to love whoopie is here. Yet as I was just working on this recipe for my book and updating the photos on my blog, here’s a little preview to make your mouth water.

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Maple Buttercream

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, cold, diced

Beat the egg yolks on high until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat maple syrup on medium high heat to about 200 degrees F, about 6 minutes. The syrup will boil down and thicken as it cooks; do not let it burn. Slowly and carefully stream the hot syrup down the side of the bowl into the yolks while continuing to whip the eggs on medium high until the syrup is incorporated, 2 minutes. Beat in the maple and vanilla extracts. Add the butter a couple of pieces at a time and beat on high until the mixture looks creamy and forms gentle peaks, about 5 to 8 minutes. Be patient. It takes time for the mixture to become buttercream, but it will.

And do not even think about using anything but pure maple syrup in this recipe.

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I can not say enough about this buttercream, which is mind-blowingly good when sandwiched between two pumpkin whoopie pies. I’ve also served it on chocolate cupcakes with similar effects and eaten it by spoonfuls directly out of the bowl.

Buttercream is not an everyday food, of course. But it is certainly part of cooking and eating the P.K. Way, a food-loving lifestyle based on a plant-based diet that also includes fabulously rich comfort foods every now and again. I hope you love this buttercream as much as I—though make sure to keep it filed firmly under “moderation.”

Whoopie Pies with Buttercream

Also, do not make buttercream when you are alone in the house.

If you like what you see here at Healthy Hedonism, 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.

P.K. NewbyP. K. Newby (“The Nutrition Doctor”) is an expert 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. 

© 2014 P.K. Newby. Healthy Hedonism. All Rights Reserved.

A Big Salad for Supper Goes to Southeast Asia

Welcome! I’m currently working on my second book, so my blog posts come less frequently than I’d like. For more regular updates on Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way with daily food porn, links to recipes, and insights on current nutrition news, please like my page on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

Thai Salad

An inadvertent salad theme has emerged on my blog these past few weeks. Of course, it’s not unusual. I am a salad fiend, as my regular readers well know, and am always anxious to share the love. And when you eat salad as often as I, getting creative with global flavors keeps things interesting.

Sexy, even.

Peanut Dressing

Click on pic for the recipe for this amazing peanut dressing, perfect as a salad dressing or satay sauce.

There are a number of things needed for salad to take the starring role at your dinner table, however. Ingredients like beans, nuts, and so forth all help and are discussed in my “Spring into Salad!” post here. Today’s salad puts some of these ideas to work in a supper-sized version of a simple Thai salad that gets additional protein and yum from pan-seared tofu, avocado, and a hard-cooked egg. Red pepper and scallions add flavor and color and all lie atop a bed of glorious salad greens like spinach and kale. The traditional peanut dressing is key, and the recipe can be found here.

Not only is this salad super tasty, but it’s a real boon to your health in all of its plant-based goodness. It also has a lower impact on the environment than carnivorous choices. It’s perfect for Meatless Monday—or any day—so grab your dinner plate, fill it with greens, and pile on ingredients that make you happy. Don’t forget to toss on a few peanuts for garnish and crunch, too.

And by all means do not forgo the dressing. It’s what makes the salad so sensational (and will help you feel full). This zesty salad sauce has just enough body to hang on to the lettuces but isn’t at all gloppy. It’s spicy-sweet flavor can go as hot as you like, or not at all. Sure, this creamy vinaigrette adds calories, but this is dinner, after all, and the fat comes from heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids like those found in peanut butter and peanut oil. (For more on my love of peanut butter and its health impacts, click here).

Beautiful to look at, too, eh? Perhaps like a lovely bloom growing in the tropical climate of Thailand?

Thai Salad

Well, who knows. I don’t recall seeing any flower that looked like that in Koh Samui or Phuket, but, regardless, 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 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. 

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

 

Irish Soda Bread, the P.K. Way

Prefer Irish Brown Bread? Click here for my recipe.

I’ve learned a lot in my recent research on Irish soda bread thanks to the interwebs. For example, traditional Irish soda bread contains little more than flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt. In contrast, the sweeter Irish American versions often include butter, eggs, sugar, raisins, and caraway seeds. And of course there are all kinds of unique variations that people create to suit their own palate, which is exactly what I did over the weekend.

Before you grab your mixing bowl, let me tell you what to expect from soda bread the P.K. Way. In essence, this recipe builds on my beloved Irish Brown Bread, found here. While I actually prefer brown bread to Irish soda bread, I do enjoy both and wanted to come up with my own version that combined some of the texture of my Irish brown bread with a bit of the lightness of raisin-studded soda bread. To do this, I substituted white whole wheat flour for a (relatively) finer texture than all coarse whole wheat and I also added raisins. The resulting bread retains its whole grain character and crumb and the raisins and sugar add a hint of sweetness. Do be clear, though, that it it is by no means a sweet bread. It has a hard, tasty crust—the heels are almost crunchy—and a moist, dense interior. It is fabulous when just baked but also keeps in the fridge for many days. It’s perfect with a cup of tea and also makes great toast with a mug of coffee. And in case it isn’t obvious, this bread is wonderful with a slather of rich Irish butter, which is creamier and sweeter than many American butters. I wouldn’t say the butter is necessary.

But I would say it’s awesome.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Whole Wheat Irish Soda bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Irish butter, cold, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix it in with your fingers quickly until the mixture resembles sand. Stir in the raisins. Make a well in the flour bowl and pour the buttermilk into the center and stir together with a fork until fully incorporated (but with as little mixing as possible). The dough will be somewhat sticky. Turn it out onto a board and knead approximately 5-8 times, until the dough comes together. (Don’t overknead or the bread will be tough.) Shape the dough into a mound, flatten slightly, and use a sharp knife to cut a cross in the center about one-half inch deep. (The cuts need to be deep to allow the center of the bread to bake properly.) Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, rotate the pan, then turn the oven down to 375 and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes. The bread should be nicely browned and crusty and will sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before cutting.

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For more information on all things Irish soda bread, read this interview on Epicurious here.

While enjoying a slice of this warm-from-the-oven bread, that is.

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 cooking 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 disease through diet and the relationships between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to hep people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. She is currently working on her second book.       

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

A Big Salad for Dinner is Officially a Thing: A Few Favorites to Inspire

Welcome to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen! I’m currently working on my second book, so my blog posts come less frequently than I’d like. For more regular updates on Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way with daily food porn, links to recipes, and insights on current nutrition news, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading!

It feels like a long time since I’ve written a “big salad for supper” post. Yes, it’s a thing. I started talking about the concept in 2011 and then again in 2012 with my “Spring into Salad” post. I’ve recently seen it featured on hip restaurant menus and in many magazines. And Meatless Monday is the perfect time for a little salad inspiration to get you hooked on the idea. (Yes, that’s a thing, too. Learn more about it here.)

Some of my favorites include:

And there are many more on my recipes page to further tempt you.

But the fact is that most of the time, for every day eating my “big salads” include whatever vegetables, beans, and/or nuts I have on hand that make me happy that day, a combination of goodies from my local farmers market and store-bought staples. Pictured here is a bed of gorgeous mixed greens and baby spinach topped with red pepper, sprouted lentils, watermelon radish, cubed tofu, red onion, and avocado. Top with a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, crush of black pepper, and pinch of salt and a healthy, satisfying supper is ready in 10 minutes.

So. Big salad for dinner. It’s time. Make it your own, and go for 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 cooking 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 disease through diet and the relationships between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to hep people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time.        

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

Chinese Stir Fry with Szechuan Sauce and Soba Noodles

Welcome to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen! I’m currently working on my second book, so my blog posts come less frequently than I’d like. For more regular updates on Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way with daily food porn, links to recipes, and insights on current nutrition news, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter

Recently I found myself with a hankering for Chinese food but couldn’t decide whether I wanted lo mein or stir fry. What to do, what to do…The problem was solved when I created a hybrid of the two dishes. I made a small amount of Szechuan sauce (recipe here) but then tossed the whole thing together with soba noodles in a method more akin to lo mien. Lighter than a stir fry with no need to wait for rice, this lovely meal satisfied my craving and was ready in less than thirty minutes.

Hey, I didn’t say that this story was terribly interesting. Though there are a few tid bits that I hope are helpful to someone considering what to cook for dinner, perhaps even for the very first time.

First, if you’re new to the kitchen, this recipe is for you. My husband (who pretty much never cooks) actually made the sauce in about ten minutes and had no problem at all. You’ll get that great Chinese food smell you want, too, while happily sautéing ginger and garlic in sesame oil—and you’ll have created it yourself with a fraction of the sodium and far more vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your dish from all those veggies and whole grain noodles.

Second, this recipe can use any mix of vegetables and protein that you like. (One example is here, which includes more details on how to prep the veggies if you’ve never done it before.) Usually I advise choosing just a few veggies and perhaps a protein or nut for a meal that allows individual flavors to sing, a “less is more” kind of approach. Then again, sometimes I just throw in whatever produce I have on hand, like today’s mix of broccoli, red peppers, yellow onion, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts, with toasted almonds for crunch. Do what makes you happy. The fun addition in today’s recipe is the leaves I had been saving from a head of cauliflower specifically for this dish. The outer leaves are perfectly edible and make a wonderful addition to a stir fry: they taste a bit like (Chinese) cabbage given cauliflower is in the same cruciferous family. It’s a terrific opportunity to stretch your food dollar and avoid food waste, which ends up in landfills and releases climate-warming methane, a greenhouse gas about twenty-one times more potent than carbon dioxide. (More food waste facts here.)

Tasty, quick, and a great recipe for a beginner cook, what more incentive do you need to make your own stir fry the next time a craving for Chinese arises? Well, if you do need another reason, I will humbly admit that I’ve been told by many people that my Szechuan sauce is their “go to” recipe tacked on their fridge for easy weeknight meals that are healthy, flavorful, and kid-friendly to boot.

Here’s hoping you enjoy it as much as they do!

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 cooking 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 disease through diet and the relationships between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to hep people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time.        

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

Blue Cheese Dressing: Salad Indulgence, Delightful Dip

I ate my share of salads when I was a kid thanks to my home-cooking mom. There were always a slew of dressings on the table from which to choose in our family of six with flavors such as Italian, Ranch, French, Thousand Island, and the like. You know, all those bottled dressings kids enjoy, a sugary-salty sauce to make the salad go down. Blue cheese dressing must have been on the table as well given my dad loves it—though I don’t remember thinking much of it. Smelled funny and looked even worse with its blue-gray tinge, as I recall. Gross.

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and waitressing at a little pub on Long Island that I fell head over heels with the creamy deliciousness that is homemade blue cheese dressing. That entire summer, my weekly treat was a salad swimming in the stuff following the Saturday night shift. (Wings may also have been involved.) Then I began buying a high-quality store-brand dressing to use regularly on my salads at home or eat out of the jar.

Despite my addiction affection, I eventually stopped purchasing blue cheese dressing. First, the kind I liked was pretty expensive, and I was a poor college student at the time. Second, even if prepared with some heart-friendly unsaturated fats, blue cheese dressing packs a punch at about 150 calories per tablespoon. And it’s all too easy to go overboard, making your salad little more than a blue cheese delivery vehicle. (I’m talking about myself here. Obviously.) For all these reasons, going with olive oil and vinegar or a simple vinaigrette for your everyday salads is definitely a better choice.

Even so, I still find blue cheese dressing sublime and every now and again I’ll make a batch in my own kitchen. While still rich and creamy, my version is lower in saturated fat and calories and a bit lighter on the palate than some given its use of buttermilk and nonfat yogurt. But don’t kid yourself: you’re still tossing cheese in a bunch of fat.

That’s why it’s so friggin’ good.

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Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 4-5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt (non-fat, Greek, or whatever)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced white onion
  • 1 tsp minced chives
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves (fresh)
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Black pepper, several grinds
  • Salt, to taste

Stir everything together, taste, and season with a few grinds of black pepper and salt as needed. You might try it without the mayonnaise, too; it’s great either way. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry then adjust ingredients as desired. Want it thinner? Pour in more buttermilk. Thicker? Spoon in more yogurt or mayonnaise. Tangier? Try a few more drops of vinegar. (Fresh lemon juice also works.) Brighter? Toss in a few more herbs. As with all things, make it your own.

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What else is there left to say?

Oh, right. Blue cheese also makes a fabulous dip for veggies and other things. Like, for instance, Buffalo cauliflower bites, my recent Super Bowl snack and the inspiration behind this year’s blue cheese endeavor.

However you like to eat your blue cheese dressing, it’s time to ditch the supermarket brand and whip it up on your own. Make it. Make it now.

Just, you know, not all the 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 Twitter, check out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more. And to learn more about the nutritional benefits of salad dressing and see me whisking up a maple-dijon vinaigrette in action, click here or search here for more tantalizing recipes.

Dr. P. K. NewbyP.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic disease through diet and the relationships between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to hep people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time.        

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

Upscale Super Bowl Salsa Starring Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Garlic

When it comes to the Super Bowl, everyone loves the game-day classics, usually including such things as chili, nachos, and pizza. I’m no different, so last year I jumped on the bandwagon with a round-up of a few of my personal favorites here. But no matter what you’re serving, I’ll go out on a limb and say chips are on the menu—which means you’re gonna need some salsa. Hey, you can even put out more than one kind to keep your buffet table as interesting as the game. Here are a few suggestions, from traditional to fruity:

(Yeah, okay, so guacamole’s not a salsa—but it otherwise fit the chips ‘n’ dip category so I tossed it in there for all you guac lovers out there.)

In today’s post, I add a new recipe to my repertoire by including roasted tomatoes and tomatillos together in one glorious dip. Unlike its summery counterpart, perfect when fresh produce is in season, this version employs roasting, a common method of cooking in the colder months that really allows the flavors to intensify. You’ll need to work a little bit harder to make this salsa then simply chopping fresh vegetables, but people always seem impressed when things are roasted—don’t they?—which is why I’ve called it “upscale.” Well, whatever. It’s quick to make, wonderful when served either warm or cold, and a perfect accompaniment to burritos, tacos, grilled fish, and other suppers

And, of course, chips.

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Roasted Salsa with Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Garlic

Heat oven to 450 degree F, then wash and prep the tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, onions, and poblano pepper. (Use as many as you like, this really isn’t an exact thing, but for one frame of reference here I used 2 medium tomatoes, 7 tomatillos, 1 onion, 1 poblano pepper, and an entire head of garlic.) Peeled garlic cloves and tomatillos can stay whole; tomatoes can be cut in half if large or remain whole if small; onion and pepper get a rough, small chop. Toss all the vegetables in olive or other vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper, and place together on a pan. (More on how to roast tomatillos here.)

Roast about 10 minutes, then give everything a toss and cook another 7-10 mintues or so. (Time varies by size of the vegetables.) You’ll know the tomatoes and tomatillos are cooked when they are soft but still hold their shape: if a sharp knife pierces the flesh easily, they’re done; usually the tomatillos take longer, since they’re harder. For the onions, garlic, and peppers, you’re looking for a nice charring.

Chop or Blend. You now have two options. For a chunkier salsa that retains some of the distinct colors and flavors (pictured at the top), simply give everything a rough chop before adding remaining ingredients below. Or, for a more homogenous mixture, throw everything into a food processor and pulse until you obtain the texture and viscosity you desire.

The blended salsa, below, is also great, just a slightly different animal; it, too, was terrific with chips and made a toothsome topping for vegetable quesadillas when served warm. (Recipe for that dish is here.)

We’ve gotten ahead of ourselves, however.

Mix and stir. Whether you chop or blend your roasted vegetables, it won’t become salsa until you add the key ingredients, which are lime juice (fresh, from about 1-2 whole limes), chopped cilantro (to taste, a few tablespoons), and a bit of white balsamic vinegar (about a teaspoon or so, or less). What you’ll want to do is stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to come together before tasting. This would also be the time to include more crushed garlic and finely minced hot pepper for bolder flavors, or perhaps some additional diced raw onion for bigger bite. Sometimes salsa will also benefit from a touch of honey or agave if your vegetables weren’t sweet enough; an extra drizzle of oil can also be nice. Readjust with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed to suit your palate. (If these instructions are still too vague for you, check out this video showing me salsa-making in action.)

This is a basic recipe, but don’t forget that the ultimate key to getting you into your kitchen is making things the way you like them: have fun, toss in some corn kernels, throw in some black or white beans—whatever! Plus, if you’re making your own salsa, you’ll not only impress your Super Bowl guests (or yourself), you’ll also enjoy the nutritional benefits of eating whole foods prepared with a lot less sugar and salt than if you’d bought it at the store. No packaging waste, either.

And that—to employ an obvious, not at all clever, really shouldn’t even say this yet still true turn of phrase—is definitely a touch down when it comes to your health, and the health of the planet.

Yeah, definitely shouldn’t have said that. Try this recipe anyway, won’t you?

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 cooking 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 disease through diet and the relationships between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to hep people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time.        

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

Chili: The Comfort of Home Cooking

Meatless chiliAfter traveling for many weeks throughout India, all I did was eat Indian food. (Obviously.) Now, while I love the spicy, flavorful dishes of the Asian subcontinent as much as anyone—adore it, really—any cuisine gets old after a month in my humble opinion. That’s probably why my own kitchen creations include dishes from all the world overMexican to Moroccan, to keep my taste buds tingling. A few American favorites make appearances every so often, too, like the classic chili con carne.

Or, in this case, chili sin carne, or without meat. Which I would have just stated outright but who’s ever heard of chili sin carne? It just sounds like a naughty phrase I made up. And I like that about it.

Anyhow, as it happens, chili was the very first dinner I made upon my return from abroad. Combining my needs to eat anything not Indian and relish in the comforts of home cooking amidst the return to frigid winter weather, it was the perfect dish that kept me warm and fed the whole week long when jet lag and fatigue stymied further culinary endeavors.

Since I’ve described how to make chili in the past (click here), today’s post is little more than a photo with a bit of cooking encouragement to get you off the couch and into that room with the stove. Chili really is the perfect opportunity to have fun in the kitchen and make it your own. Indeed, this batch is a bit different from the previous one, since my recipe varies by whimsy and season. Today’s version features traditional ingredients like red, green, and poblano peppers along with pinto and kidney beans in a cumin-scented tomato base. Things get more interesting, however, when you, er, lose the carne and add the sin. 

Now, now. Stop rolling your eyes—whether at the thought of leaving out the meat or at that horrid pun—and give it a shot. Most meat substitutes, like the soy protein crumbles I used here, really do take on the texture of ground meat and the flavors of however it’s cooked. So, it’s a perfect way to enjoy chili in a more-environmentally-conscious-and-less-cholesterol-and-saturated-fat kind of way while giving a bit more heft to each delectable bite. 

A scattering of sharp cheddar cheese, diced onions, and cilantro are welcomed optional toppings, completing this hearty supper that’s both soothing and satisfying. Take the meal over the top with a serving of moist and savory cornbread, if you like. (My favorite recipe is here.)

Vegetarian Chili

Despite the joys of discovering new dishes around the globe, it’s so good to be back in my own kitchen, a return to cooking and eating the P.K. Way that is as delicious as it is sustainable and nutritious.

As they say, there’s no place like home.

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 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.        

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

Where Are the Seeds? A Pomegranate Public Service Announcement (How-To Video)

With its covertly packaged ruby red seeds that yield a surprising crunch, a burst of sweet-tart juice dancing on your tongue, Punica granatum is a fruit unlike any other. It’s been cultivated since ancient times, a favorite in both Greece and Egypt, and is used in many different cuisines. It also has spiritual symbolism in numerous religions thus finds a special place on holiday tables around the world. Despite this unique prominence and impressive reputation, many haven’t the slightest clue how to approach a pomegranate. Like other plant foods less familar to American audiences, most eye it dubiously, perhaps remembering a previous unfortunate encounter, and opt instead for the pre-packaged seeds. In today’s blog post, I show you how to take charge of your pomegranate with two simple methods to easily extract the luscious seeds inside. In about nine minutes, you’ll learn how to successfully wrangle a pomegranate for your next meal. (Or party trick).

Not sure how to feature the gorgeous pomegranate seeds you worked so hard to extricate? I mainly use them in salads, like this spinach salad with pomegranate,  pepitas, and pomegranate vinaigrette or a kale salad with pomegranate, walnuts, and pears. I’ve been meaning to make vegetarian ash-e anar, a pomegranate seed flecked Persian soup made with the juice. I often just eat them out of a bowl, as in this video, for a snack or dessert. Last, but certainly not least, they make a great garnish in cocktails like a pomegranate champagne sparkler, The Diva,  or even a pomegranate margarita. (All of these cocktails use pomegranate liqueur and/or pomegranate juice.)

However you enjoy this beautiful red fruit, congratulations on mastering the pomegranate.

Thanks for watching!

* * * * *

This public service announcement was brought to you by Dr. P.K. Newby, whose sole mission is to encourage readers to live deliciously through plant-based diets that promote  health and protect the planet. She receives no remuneration from the pomegranate people but checks are welcomed.

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. 

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. 

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