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.

The Nutrition Doctor is (Back) In the Kitchen

I’m a firm believer that one has the entire month of January to wish people a happy new year. Hence today’s post, where my words arrive in a brilliant tapestry of richly hued marigolds, a photo I took in India where I was traveling these past weeks. And I’ll bet that not many of my regular readers receive new year sentiments in Hindi, so what I lack in timeliness perhaps I gain in creativity. (Or something.)

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been, in case you were wondering, and I’m excited to share interesting food photos and sentiments from my eight city journey from Delhi to Bangalore. (An assortment of pictures is also on my Facebook page here, in case you’d like a little preview.Coming soon are posts featuring sumptuous dishes redolent of curry and ginger; colorful markets overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits—and cattle; and agricultural vistas brimming with bounty from both land and sea.

Also, Octopussy.

Yeah, I wasn’t making that up. (Extra credit for those who get the reference!)

Stay tuned, and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and tasty 2014.

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.

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.

Non-Dairy Eggnog, the P.K. Way

For the original recipe, click on the pic.

With the growing awareness of the environmental challenges associated with beef and dairy production, among other concerns, does nog need the dairy? That is the question I sought to answer this holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe in moderation when it comes to most things, and indulging in a cup (or four) of annual eggnog falls squarely into that category. If you enjoy traditional nog, do check out my original recipe here. It has better-for-you modifications to make it my own, of course—read: fewer calories and less saturated fat and cholesterol—but it does use milk.

But can eggnog really work without the “moo”?(I’ll leave the non-egg eggnog recipes to someone else to sort, at least for now.) After all, the vast majority of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, and there are a lot of tasty milk substitutes out there that provide taste and cow-free nutrition with a smaller carbon footprint than dairy. The minor alterations I make here, mainly substituting almond milk for skim milk, resulted in a tasty beverage that did indeed meet my eggnog craving. (See serving suggestions below).

Of course,  I’m used to this kind of thing, so it worked for me. The real test is: Did anyone else like it?

All I can tell you is that I served it a holiday party, and saw people going back for seconds—and some for thirds. So I’m guessing people couldn’t tell the difference between this non-dairy nog and the real thing, or liked this version just as much.

Then again, it could have been the rum.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 18 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • ½ gallon soy milk, unsweetened
  • ½ gallon almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • Peel from 1 orange

In a large saucepan or pot, whisk up the eggs, then add the sugar. (If you use an electric beater, don’t overbeat and make it frothy.) Add the milk and cook slowly over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. More or less constantly, I’d say. I tend to multitask while waiting for this to cook but do be careful. There is a fine line between eggnog and custard, as I’ve learned. The latter is delicious, but not to imbibe. (More on this in the original eggnog post here.)  Add the spices, orange peel, vanilla, and honey, stirring to combine.

It usually takes around 20-30 minutes for the nog to reach a temperature of about 160-170 degrees F (70 C or so), which you want to do in order to cook the eggs.  When it reaches the correct temperature, remove from the heat and let sit for 2-3 hours. If the nog appears a bit lumpy—it’s just a bit of cooked egg—simply strain it through a colander. Perhaps because of the lack of dairy protein, or possibly because I used a different pot than usual, this recipe created very few egg solids, which was a bonus.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning, viscosity, or creaminess as you desire by adding a bit more of the above ingredients. This recipe will yield a nog thinner than most given the lack of cream, but I happen to like that. If you prefer a richer nog, simply add a bit of cream (if you do consume dairy) or nondairy creamer (but not the fake gross kind that’s pure sugar). Some people like to add whipped cream, although I personally don’t like to turn my nog into dessert. Whatever. Make it your own!

Note: Even though this recipe uses almond milk, I do not think it produced a dominant almond flavor. Perhaps just a hint, but I felt it worked with the other holiday flavors like cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel. Delightful!

* * * * *

Eggnog all on its own, chilled, is lovely when garnished with freshly grated nutmeg, as pictured on the holiday table above. Of course, those who like it spiked can add their own spirits as desired, whether bourbon, scotch, rye, whiskey, rum, Grand Marnier, or brandy; a combination also works well. Because this recipe does have a subtle almond flavor, I added a shot of amaretto, creating a very nice seasonal cocktail. (This is why the drink photographer below takes on an amber hue. Also, bad lighting.)

And perhaps the best surprise of all? This recipe created beautiful foam, making a perfect eggnog latté.

Ah, eggnog. You really don’t need the dairy.

Enjoy, and happy holidays!

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.

Elegant Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs

Even the most progressive and modern of cooks will admit to having a recipe for deviled (or “stuffed”) eggs up their sleeve. Just about everyone enjoys this lovely hors d’oeuvre, all the world over. They’re a perennial crowd-pleaser that will be consumed happily by both your forward-thinking foodie friends as well as those with a more traditional palate. 

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the classic stuffed egg, which includes little more than egg yolks, mayonnaise, and perhaps some minced onion and celery. A sprinkle of paprika on top, and you’re good to go. This is the recipe my mom makes, and I always enjoy them.

That said, the holidays are a good time to take things up a notch, which is exactly what I’ve done today when my recipe borrows a few traditional ingredients from Scandinavian, Jewish, and Mediterranean cuisine with the addition of smoked salmon, horseradish, and dill as well as olive oil, mustard, and caper berries. The result? Still a stuffed egg, but including omega-3 rich salmon and monounsaturated-rich olive oil, both heart-healthy, makes it a bit more nutritious. And—as importantly—delicious. If you love both deviled eggs and smoked salmon, you will adore this recipe.

And you just might find they’re the first to go on your holiday table.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
  • 1 tablespoon scallions or yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2-3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon capers, minced
  • 1-2 ounces of diced smoked salmon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, several grinds
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Several shakes of Tabasco (optional)

Instructions

Peel the eggs, split them in half, and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl. Crush yolks into a fine mash using a fork. Stir in the mayonnaise, olive oil, mustard, scallions, horseradish, vinegar if using, and herbs. (Vinegar adds balance to the creaminess, but you don’t really need it if using horseradish. Up to you! You could always make the recipe and adjust later if you like a little more bite.)  Fold in the smoked salmon and taste. Season with pepper, noting that you may need salt depending on how much salmon you included, which is naturally salty. A few shakes of Tabasco adds a backdrop of heat, if desired. Stuff each egg with some of the filling (about 1 1/2 teaspoons). I just use a regular cereal spoon for a rustic look, but you can use one of those cake decorator dealios to make it extra fancy if you’re into that kind of thing. You will have exactly enough filling for each egg half. Plate prettily, and scatter with dill for a simple garnish.

Cooking Notes and Variations

As in most things I share on my blog, this recipe is also to taste. In the quicker (read: fewer ingredients) version, I just add smoked salmon to my basic deviled egg recipe: no horseradish, dill, or capers in that one. (Add as much or as little fish as you like, using the full 2 ounces for a more pronounced salmon flavor.) I honestly like the simpler variant just as much; this one just has, well, more. More complexity, more flavors. You can use more or less olive oil and prepared mustard, too, as it suits your palate. I do recommended starting with the lower amount of mayo and adding more only if you really need it. Or you could try going with a bit more EVOO. Finally, you could make the recipe with all the ingredients listed without adding the salmon and then garnish each egg individually with a piece of smoked fish and small sprig of dill, which I do on occasion when the mood strikes. It’s sort of the best of both worlds: a traditional deviled egg with a smoked salmon and dill garnish for a touch of class. Do whatever you want and have fun!

* * * * *

And, by the way, it’s a dash or two of Tabasco, or cayenne pepper, that makes the egg “deviled,” in case you were wondering. Without this ingredient, they are actually just “stuffed” eggs in the true culinary sense of the dish. No one seems to know this, or care, so I like most just call them all “deviled” eggs except when I’m being pedantic like now.

Whatever you call them, they’re, er, devilishly good.

Groan.

I know, I’m better than that. But it’s Monday, and apparently my wit is still in bed, cowering under the covers this cold December morning.

Don’t let my terrible wordplay—used by any writer who’s ever written about eggs, and, let’s face it, isn’t even funny—dissuade you from trying this elegant recipe. And if you think eggs with the yolks can’t be part of a heart-healthy diet, as was touted in the 1980s, learn more about current research findings in a very well-written and informative article (and with many more bad egg puns) here, or hereThere’s no reason most people can’t enjoy deviled eggs every now and again as part of a moderate, balanced diet, especially if their overall eating pattern abounds with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, and all that good stuff I write about here on the The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen.

And that’s eggscellent news indeed.

(Sigh.) 

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe 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 writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time.  

© 2013 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Savory Swordfish in Tomato-Tamarind Sauce with Coconut Chutney

Today’s recipe is one of my “best dishes ever” according to my husband. Hardly a scientific study, this sample size of one. Though, for the record, he doesn’t say that for everything I make, in case you were wondering.

Anecdotes aside, this super savory supper simmers tender chunks of swordfish in a bold Indian-scented tomato sauce and tops it with coconut chutney for a dish that may not be the “best ever” (in my view) but did come out pretty darn good. My Facebook fans were also pretty enthusiastic about it from the food porn photo I posted and immediately requested the recipe.

The longest part of the preparation is making the tomato-tamarind sauce, which takes about 30 minutes as described in detail here. Once the sauce is just about done, cut the swordfish in chunks, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat in a sauce pan until seared on all sides, about 3 minutes. Next, add some of the sauce into the pan and simmer over medium-low until the fish is cooked through, another 5 minutes or so; you will have a lot of sauce left over for another use, happily. Shown in this picture is about half a pound of swordfish and 4 cups of sauce. (We like things saucy.) 

An optional garnish to take things up a notch is a dollop of coconut chutney. (It will take about 10 minutes to mix it up, and the recipe is here.) Alternatively, a simple scoop of plain yogurt would also work well, a common accoutrement to many Indian dishes. Finally, do read here if you’re interested in learning about the health benefits and environmental aspects about swordfish, always in consideration at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen.

And if you do give this recipe a shot, let me know if you find it my “best ever.”

I’d love to increase my sample size.

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. Her blogging is currently taking backseat as she writes her second bookShe 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. 

© 2013 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Indian Tomato Sauce with Tamarind and Coconut: So Many Uses

I whipped up this sauce one day on a whim during the heart of tomato season. It could certainly be made just as easily with canned tomatoes; no doubt that’s exactly what I’ll do when an Indian food craving strikes during the wintertime.

I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with this sauce’s big, bold flavors. I love making homemade tomato sauce from scratch—here’s a how-to cooking video, in case you were wondering—and this Indian-scented version takes a fraction of the time, with delectable results.

The whitish dots you see in the photo are fresh coconut, which is a key part of the flavor profile. (Frozen or dried could be used as a substitute, but make sure it’s unsweetened.) Don’t let the drupe fool you, though: this is a savory sauce with just a soupçon of sweetness. And it’s really the combination of all the ingredients together that create a Bollywood party on your palate.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano or green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon habañero or other hot pepper, finely minced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, several grinds (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 large tomatoes, very ripe, diced (or about 6 cups diced from cans)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Dash cayenne (optional)
  • ~1/2 coconut, fresh, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • ~1/2 cup coconut water
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons agave nectar (or honey) (optional)

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot at medium-high. Add onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes; mix often to prevent burning. Add the ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes, lower heat to medium, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until broken down, stirring occasionally. While tomato mixture is cooking, drain the water from the coconut, break the flesh into small-medium pieces, and transfer 1/2 of it along with 1/2 cup of the liquid into a food processor; amounts can be approximate. (Save remaining fruit and juice for another use.) Pulse until finely chopped. Add coconut to the tomato mixture along with the tomato sauce, tamarind paste, and spices. Stir well and simmer uncovered over low heat about 15-30 minutes; mixture will thicken as it cooks. (You can add a few tablespoons of tomato paste if you prefer a thicker sauce.) Stir in the chopped cilantro and taste and reseason with salt and pepper, as desired, adding agave or honey if needed for balance.

* * * * *

Just like “regular” tomato sauce of Italian ilk you’re probably used to eating, Indian tomato sauce is also quite versatile and can be used as a base for a variety of mixed dishes. It also makes a fabulous bed for a piece of fish or another protein of your choosing and a sublime soup. And, like many other sauces, it freezes beautifully.

Stay tuned for more gorgeous photos and recipe ideas for how to use my Indian tomato sauce with tamarind and coconut. I’ll bet you can think of a few tasty dishes of your own, too. If so, please do share them in the comments section of my blog.

And thanks for reading!

Dr. 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. Her blogging is currently taking backseat as she writes her second bookShe 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. 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.

For the Love of Pesto: 10 Recipes and Photographs to Inspire

An inadvertent theme develops on my blog every now and again, as in today’s homage to pesto. It’s actually reflective of real-life cooking and eating the P. K. Way, come to think of it. In other words, I make food over the weekend and then see how it inspires me when creating meals during the week. A few of these dishes fall into that category, and others were rounded up from my blog over the past couple of years to celebrate this wonderful spread. Roll your mouse over the pic for the dish and click on the links below the photos for the recipes.

And note that even if you decide not to make pesto on your own—though you really should give it a shot at some point given how easy it is, and I’ve got a 10-minute cooking video showing you how—you can still enjoy these fabulous dishes with your favorite store-bought brand.

 

If your mouth is watering, check out the recipes below:

Enjoy, and 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 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. Her blogging is currently taking backseat as she writes her second bookShe 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. 

© 2013 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Cruciferous Soup Goes Mediterranean (aka, Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiana and Pesto)

Apparently I have a lot to say about pesto this week. If you’re just tuning in to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, that’s because I took advantage of the last-of-the-season basil at the farmers’ market to whir up a big batch of pesto to get into the freezer for the winter. (The cooking video is here.) I’m even working on a photo montage starring this fabulous sauce for your food porn pleasure—if you’re into that kind of thing.

Of course, I also kept some pesto in the fridge for this week’s suppers, which brings me to today’s luscious dish.

Roasted vegetable soups are one of my specialities, and autumn is the time they come into full swing. Last week I made my first cauliflower soup of the season using both white and Roman cauliflower (explaining its lovely green tinge). My husband and I had already enjoyed a bowl for supper in traditional style, which is to say with a few whole grain croutons and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and scallions. I do so love creamy cauliflower soup, so if you do, too, make sure to check out my recipes for the classic (roasted cauliflower goes solo), elegant (cauliflower meets up with artichokes and leeks), and dual crucifer (broccoli and cauliflower) variants here on my blog. These soups are super easy to make and oh-so-tasty. They also freeze well, which is key for busy people like you and me.

Anyway, as it turns out, I still had a quart of soup leftover, which came in mighty handy this past Monday when I didn’t have time to cook. Remembering I also had freshly made pesto in the fridge, I simply heated the soup, dolloped pesto, sprinkled freshly grated parmigiania, drizzled extra virgin olive oil, and cracked black pepper and—Voilà!—a wonderful weeknight’s dinner was on the table in ten minutes. (And the time it took to warm the soup gave me the space to make a salad to complete the meal.)

Note: Some of the pesto sunk. I’m just saying.

Rich and satisfying, adding pesto and parmigiania made this soup feel like a totally different dish than its non-pestoed (go with it) sibling. Well, not totally different, I suppose, but a spoonful of garlicky herbaceous goodness did make it particularly delectable. And pesto would have this sublime effect on any number of soups, tomato basil—an obvious choice—and beyond.

Just one more way to bring a little pesto love into your life.

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. Her blogging is currently taking a back seat while she works on her second book. 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. 

© 2013 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: A Perfect Sandwich or Snack

To be honest, I was never a big hummus fan. Then, one day, I discovered an amazing store-bought brand that became a staple in my house. If you’ve got a product you like that’s made from good ingredients and isn’t loaded in sodium, hummus is a wonderful food to keep on hand for healthy eats.

That said, making it at home is super easy, and you only need a few ingredients and a food processor. My original recipe, shown in a cooking video, is here; this version just includes a roasted red pepper and a bit of cumin for a colorful, sweet variant that makes healthy eating a cinch.

Ingredients

  • Garbanzos (chick peas), 3 cups
  • Tahini (sesame paste), ~2-3 tbsp
  • Water (or cooking/canning liquid from the beans), ~1/2-1 cup
  • Garlic, 2-4 cloves
  • Roasted red pepper, up to 1
  • Olive oil, ~1/4 cup
  • Cumin, ~1/2 tsp
  • Salt, a few pinches
  • Black pepper, a few grinds
  • Cayenne pepper, a dash (optional)
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed from 1/4 lemon (optional)

Directions

If you’re not used to working with dried beans, which are less expensive and have a smaller carbon footprint with no packaging waste, give it a shot! It’s simple, and you can learn more here. Or just grab a few no-salt added cans from your pantry, as I sometimes do, for convenience and ease.

Whiz together the beans, 1/2 cup liquid, tahini, and garlic. Give the pepper a rough chop and add alongside the cumin and other ingredients then give it another whir. Enjoy the lovely hue it develops! Feel free to start with 1/4 pepper at a time and go up to the whole thing. The more you use, the deeper the color and more dominant the flavor will be. You’ll see that homemade hummus does not come out fully homogenized and extra creamy like store-bought; it will retain some texture from the beans. (In a good way, I think.)

Taste and adjust the seasonings and thickness to suit your palate. I often find myself adding more water/garbanzo liquid to make it thinner, a drizzle more olive oil for flavor, and sometimes an additional pinch of salt and extra garlic clove. It’s to taste! Do note that the garlic flavor develops as it sits, so if you’re not sure on that front then wait to see how you like it in a few hours or the next day before adding another clove. Need more instructions? Check out my cooking video here, and just add the red pepper and cumin to make this flavor.

This hummus was a beautiful play on my basic recipe. It’s a terrifically nutritious afternoon snack when paired with a few crunchy vegetables. It also makes a ravishing sandwich when slathered on whole grain bread along with arugula, a blush tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, and a crack of pepper.

Note to self: next time use more hummus.

No matter how you serve it, hummus is a protein-, fiber-, and flavor-filled food that is fun to make. It’s a great way to add more beans to your diet—and most of us don’t get nearly enough for optimal health. A fast and easy weekend cooking project, get some into the fridge now so you have convenient and healthy fare at your fingertips during the week.

And definitely make that sandwich.

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Dr. 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. Her blogging is currently taking a back seat as she works on her second book. Dr. Newby 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. 

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