Mac and Cheese, the PK Way | What I Made on The Taste

Macaroni and Cheese | The Taste

Here’s a taste for *you*! Thanks for reading & watching!

All cooks have their own version of macaroni and cheese, that perennial favorite that everyone loves—including me. So I was thrilled when that was the first team challenge on The Taste. And how fun to see the Domestic Goddess make mac and cheese in her own kitchen!

Anyway, after watching me on the show last night, one of my Twitter followers quipped “Did you put anything healthy in your mac+cheese? Is that possible?”

The simple response, as many of my regular readers will anticipate, is yes. (Occupational hazard.) Not that it’s always necessary, mind you. See, for example, my recipe for maple walnut ice cream. But it’s certainly possible.

Yet I think the more important answer to the question is that decadent dishes like mac and cheese absolutely fit into Cooking & Eating the PK Way, which is my food-loving philosophy that keeps pleasure and taste at the center of the plate (while also looking like this). There’s no need for total deprivation when it comes to diet, and that in and of itself can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food, trigger binge eating, and so forth. Mac and Cheese | PKWayThat said, macaroni and cheese is not my regular menu item given its massive amount of, well, cheese. (More examples of the things I regularly cook are here.) Moderation is key when it comes to meals like these; my recommendation is to keep mac and cheese as a special treat. I, for example, make it only a few times a year. I adore the classic cheddar-based version—confession: I still get occasional hankerings for Stouffer’s from my grad student days—but today’s recipe includes other cheeses, too. Ravishing additions like caramelized onions, blue cheese, and a crispy garlic and herb crumb topping come together in a sexy adult variation that’s definitely not yo’ mama’s mac and cheese.

So enjoy this lighter-than-usual-yet-still-creamy-and-delicious dish of indulgence—and do so guilt-free! It is definitely nutrition doctor approved.

Just, you know, not all the time.

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Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more)
  • 2 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, fresh (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Salt and black pepper, to season
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, homemade or no-sodium store bought
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth (or white wine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 12 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni (or other pasta of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups white cheddar, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups blue cheese, crumbled (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup green peas (optional)

Crispy Crumb Topping

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 2 pieces whole wheat bread, pulsed or grated into fine crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, chopped (almonds or pecans also work)

Directions

Caramelize the alliumHeat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low and add in onions and shallots. Season with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Cook down slowly until brown and deliciously sweet, stirring occasionally, and toss in the thyme leaves during the final minutes. Drizzle in a bit more EVOO if needed during cooking to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan and drying out. (More instructions here on how to caramelize onions.)

Make the pasta and sauce. While the onions are doing their thing, smash your garlic cloves with the back of a knife, remove the skins, and throw into a saucepan with the vermouth, vegetable stock, and rosemary. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes or so. Note that the goal is to infuse the stock with garlic and rosemary, not reduce it substantially. While the sauce simmers, fill a pot with water and a few big pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Follow the directions on the package and cook your pasta of choice until a few minutes firmer than al dente; it will absorb the sauce and become more tender during cooking. In a large bowl, grate the cheddar cheese and toss it with corn starch, then pour in the herbaceous stock and whisk. (Note that this is not a thick béchamel sauce; the mixture will still be thin at this point.) Stir in the mascarpone, dried mustard, and white pepper.

Prepare the crispy topping. Pulse the bread into fine crumbs; you’ll have about 1 cup or so. Heat the olive oil to medium-high and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant, and then the breadcrumbs. Sauté until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes or so. Add nuts and parsley, mixing an additional minute or two to combine.

Put it together.  Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce then add the crumbled blue cheese, caramelized onions, and peas (if using),  just until combined. Pour the mixture into a large casserole or fun, individual-sized serving dishes that have been lightly coated with olive oil or cooking spray. Scatter the top(s) with the crispy crumbs.

Bake in an preheated 375 degree F oven about 20-40 minutes (a deep casserole will take closer to 40 minutes), until mixture is hot and bubbling. If crumbs are getting too brown, cover with foil until cooked

Let the mac and cheese rest a few minutes then serve.

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If you’re still reading—and thanks for that!—then you caught the various alterations that make my version better-for-you-and-the-planet-too: I swapped nutritious whole grain for typical white for both the pasta and bread crumbs; switched heart-healthy olive oil for butter; selected homemade veggie stock rather than full-sodium store-bought chicken broth; and included veggies like onions and peas for balance and texture. (My hubby has an affection for peas, and I love to see the green pops of color.) And I used Nigella’s tip of starting with a stock, which lets the flavors sing rather than burying everything in uber-creamy cheesiness. (Though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that once in a while, as she and I both fully agree, and you can make this dish a lot richer by starting with a traditional roux and adding even more cheese.) Finally, including some toasted nuts in the topping brings in even more vitamins and minerals with a little bit of extra crunch to boot.

The result? The earthy, herbaceous notes of this dish come together delectably in a sophisticated take on mac and cheese that’s almost dinner party worthy.

And if this dish doesn’t quite work for you, since some people don’t care for blue, either use all cheddar or swap in Swiss or gouda. And include the veggies that make you and yours happy. Make it your way!

Or, you know, there’s always Stouffer’s.

I hear that.

Macaroni and Cheese

Note. This is the version of the dish I make in my own kitchen based on the ingredients I use regularly, like whole grain pasta and bread and homemade vegetable stock. I made minor changes to my regular recipe on the show based on the pantry items available. Also—repeat after me—whole grain pasta doesn’t suck, and this dish is the perfect foil since it has other nutty, earthy elements to it (like blue cheese and nuts). Give it a shot, or start swapping in whole grain for regular until your palate adjusts to the more pronounced flavor of whole grain pasta; it will happen.

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 healthShe brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through her writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

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

Getting Retro with Waldorf Salad: A Modern Take on the Classic

Waldorf SaladSome of my readers may not be familiar with this dish, which is decidedly old-school. In fact, Waldorf salad was created at the turn of the twentieth century. It was particularly popular in the early 1900s, even getting a shout-out in Cole Porter’s classic song “You’re the Top” from Anything Goes (1934) alongside Shakespeare and Mickey Mouse. Waldorf salad also played a starring role in one of the episodes of the 1979 British sitcom Fawlty Towers

Perhaps due to its tasty simplicity featuring common ingredients like apples and walnuts, it continues to be passed down the generations. And why not? There’s nothing not to like about this classic, and it’s a fine way to celebrate all those crisp autumn apples of varying colors and flavors. Just select a few varieties that make you happy—leave that pretty skin loaded with fiber and phytonutrients on, please—and add a few more ingredients for a dish that can be made in less than ten minutes. My recipe modernizes the salad with additional vegetables and herbs to give it a nutrition and flavor boost, and there’s plenty of room for you to play, too, to create your own perfect Waldorf salad fit for twenty-first century families.

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Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • Hakurei turnips (sweet salad turnips)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (approximately from 1/3 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (I prefer golden)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pecans, toasted, rough chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon agave nectar (or honey) (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions and Notes

Chop the unpeeled apples and turnips into bite-sized chunks and toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice. (I generally choose one sweet and one tart apple; use whatever you want.) Stir in scallions, celery, parsley, mayonnaise, yogurt, raisins, and nuts. Add a shake of vinegar and small squirt of agave, season with freshly ground pepper and a few pinches of salt, and mix. Taste and adjust: final amounts of vinegar, lemon juice, and agave (if using) will be dictated by how sweet or tart the apples you selected were as well as your own preferences. Personally, I enjoy a salad with tang so I often squeeze in a bit more lemon juice. Garnish with lemon zest, a few nuts, or a scatter of parsley and scallions, as desired.

* * * * *

Sure, you can just toss some apples together with yogurt and nuts perhaps like you would with any fruit for a simple snack or dessert. But putting a few additional ingredients together creates something … special. I include scrumptious turnips because they’re always at my farmers market this time of year. This small and sweet variety is perfect in any kind of autumn salad and has the same texture as a very crisp apple with none of the bitterness of its larger counterpart. Perfect complement.

There are so many other options to keep things interesting and suit your taste. Swap red or yellow onion for scallions; switch pistachios or walnuts for pecans; add kale, broccoli, or cauliflower for color and texture; or toss in and handful of grapes, as those keeping with the traditional recipe are wont to do. And you could ditch the mayo if you prefer and just use yogurt, perhaps with crème fraiche or sour cream for tang. I often include a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, too.

A small bowl of Waldorf salad makes a super breakfast, snack, or dessert, but with all of these vegetables I find it also makes a really nice light lunch when served atop a bed of greens. Peppery arugula is perfect (as pictured) but anything works, really, from sweet spinach to pretty red leaf lettuce; choose whatever you have on hand.

Modern Waldorf Salad

Here’s to the classics!

There’s a reason they’re still around, and getting creative makes them a fun and worthwhile addition to your meal-time repertoire, even now.

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 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.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce: A Revelation

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with CaramelSure, you can carve a pumpkin for Halloween and toast its seeds up all nice for a healthy snack or salad topping. But a pumpkin is far more than a decoration, and its orange flesh rich in nutrients like alpha- and beta-carotene and soluble fiber can be enjoyed in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Think: Thai pumpkin soup with cashews, coconut, and curryspinach salad with pomegranates and pepitas; and pumpkin bread with dark chocolate chunks and pecans.

And then there’s this sexy little number, a dessert so divine it will make a bread pudding lover out of you, just as it did me.

You see, I used to loathe bread pudding before I discovered this recipe and made it my own. I was sadly reminded of the reason for my detest last Friday night when my husband and I ordered one, thinking it would be like this plate of lusciousness. Instead, it was a starchy hunk of tasteless white bread that I scowled at in disapproval.

Very disappointing.

Tragic, really.

So I immediately baked up my unbelievably moist pumpkin bread pudding with sticky caramel and dreamy whipped cream to supplant that horrid food memory and bring back the love.

And now I share it with you.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups puréed fresh pumpkin (or canned with no added salt or seasonings)
  • 1 cup packed Muscovado sugar (or dark brown)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 10 cups whole grain bread, cut into 1/2 -3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I prefer golden)

Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce

  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for teetotalers)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Roast pumpkin as directed in this short cooking video here. When cool, remove the flesh from the skin (it should pull away easily if it is adequately cooked) and purée in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 2 cups and save the rest for another purpose; it freezes beautifully. 

Make pudding. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl then add half and half, pumpkin, sugar, spices, and vanilla extract, whisking fully until blended. (You can use a hand beater if you prefer, though it’s really not necessary.) Gently fold in the bread and raisins until the cubes are saturated with the custard. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased glass or porcelain baking dish; let stand 15 minutes. Custard should be largely absorbed with some liquid remaining. Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Prepare caramel. Heat sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, then whisk until fully combined. Add bourbon and salt and stir until smooth. Whisk in cream until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste—don’t burn your tongue!—and add more salt and/or hourbon as desired. Sauce will thicken as it cools and can be reheated over low heat when ready to serve the pudding.

Whip cream. Freshly whipped cream is a decadent addition to this dessert, a light yet velvety richness that perfectly complements the pudding and caramel. I’m going to go ahead and say it’s necessary. Simply beat 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form.

Drizzle caramel sauce on a plate creatively then top with a serving of pudding and dollop of whipped cream; a sprinkle of cinnamon here or there is optional. (See three additional plating ideas here.)

Note: This is a big recipe that serves about 8-10 people, ideal for a dinner party or holiday; leftovers can be frozen for another occasion. Or halve the portions for a recipe that serves 4.

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Truth be told, I first wrote about pumpkin bread pudding a couple of years ago, and the original story and a few good photos are here. But that post was mostly a story, and I’ve since gotten better about writing up my recipes. And—trust me—this one you need to try.

No, the whole grain bread and fresh pumpkin doesn’t make my recipe healthy, of course, in light of all that cream and sugar. Come on now. Yet it gives me such joy swapping whole grain bread for highly refined white with no deleterious impact on flavor. I’ve made this dessert for enough guests at this point to say with conviction that no one will be the wiser. Indeed, the nuttiness of a high-quality whole grain bread melds beautifully with the rich fall flavors of the dish.

While pumpkin bread pudding isn’t a show stopper in appearance—big brownish lump that it is—do not let looks deceive: it’s the ménages-à-trois of the pudding together with the salted caramel and cream that make this one of the most sumptuous autumn desserts out there.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel

Hello, lover.

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. Her first book Foods for Heath is now published and can be bought here. 

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

Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (Video)

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

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

* * * * *

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Foods for Health

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

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

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

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

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

Summer on a Plate: Caprese, Meet Peaches

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

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches

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

Caprese Salad wiht Peaches and Balsamic

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

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

And do make it soon.

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

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

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

Blueberry Ginger Scones: Simply Scrumptious

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

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

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

Don’t believe me? Just try it yourself.

* * * * *

Blueberry Ginger SconesIngredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sizzling Fish Fajitas with Mango Salsa: Colorful and Delicious

Welcome! I’m currently working on my second book and getting ready for my upcoming book tour for National Geographic’s Foods for Health. For more frequent updates on Cooking and Eating the P.K. Way, please become a fan on Facebook. And don’t forget to peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more!

Fish Fajitas with Mango SalsaDespite the long list of things I need to write (don’t even get me started), I often end up blogging about impromptu weeknight meals inspired by fresh seasonal ingredients—or whatever’s hanging around my fridge. In this instance, I had some leftover mango salsa from last week’s crab cakes (speaking of things on the list of “need to write”) that I wanted to feature in a different dish.

Mango salsa is sensational with soft lobster tacos or atop a simple piece of seared fish, but it had been some time since I’d made fajitas. Enter today’s dinner: sizzling fish fajitas with mango salsa, an amazing combination of meaty tilapia and the traditional mélange of peppers and onions stuffed into a warm whole wheat tortilla with sliced avocado.

Because I’ve written about fajitas before, today’s post is mainly cooking photos. Fajitas are easy to make, since you mainly sauté vegetables and whatever protein you’re using, but the marinade is the key ingredient that imparts the flavor you expect from this Mexican favorite; click here for more details. One of my Facebook fans claims this is one of her go-to recipes of mine. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as she does!

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Fish Fajitas Ingredients

Marinate veggies and fish for about 30-45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so.

Mango Salsa and Avocado

While the veggies are marinating, mix your salsa and slice some avocado.

Sizzling Fish Fajitas

Sauté the veggies first, then remove and do the fish in the same pan. (Fish cooks more quickly.) Next time I’ll keep the fish whole and cut into strips afterward, since many of the pieces flaked off during cooking. Still delicious, though.

Fish Fajitas

Serve fajita mixture on a large platter, allowing people to stuff and garnish as desired. (Chopped cilantro and soft tortillas not pictured.)

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Tilapia is terrific, budget-friendly, and sure to please kids and “I don’t like fish” adults alike because it is mildly flavored and looks and tastes almost like—you guessed it—chicken. It is, in fact, known in the food industry as “aquatic chicken.” Perhaps that’s why it is the fourth most consumed fish in the US, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tilapia farmed in the US is ranked as a “best choice” when it comes to the environment especially when grown in closed recirculating systems.

Think all “farmed fish” are bad? Think again. The sustainability of fish populations and the environmental impact of seafood consumption are related to a wide variety of factors, and wild-caught fish—including local species—have their own set of problems; ecologically sound aquaculture is likely part of the solution to feeding a growing population, as discussed in this brief Worldwatch Institute report and this video. Tilapia does not have the same health benefits as fattier fish, which have far more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but it is a lean protein low in calories with a smaller carbon footprint than terrestrial foods like poultry, beef, and lamb.

Of course, this meal could be easily reproduced using tofu or your favorite meat substitute, which would also be splendid. After all, the entire inspiration for this post was the salsa! But this particular combination of tilapia, onions, and peppers worked wonderfully, so give it a shot. Even if you think you don’t like fish.

Fajita Close-up

And enjoy!

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

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

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

Move Over, Chicken Wings: Meet Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo Cauliflower and Blue Cheese DipNever heard of buffalo cauliflower?

Neither did I until a friend told me about a dish she had sampled in a favorite Port Washington hangout, Sullivan’s Quay. I, too, was a bit skeptical at first: how could cauliflower hold a candle to classic chicken wings? I no longer eat poultry, but back when I did I, like any American, adored sticky, meaty wings with their spicy sauce and drippy blue cheese dressing.

What’s not to like, after all? But when you think about it, isn’t anything drenched in hot sauce and blue cheese a party on your palate? Does it really need to be chicken?

These are the questions I contemplated for one or two seconds before getting on google for inspiration to create my own better-for-you-and-delicious-too—i.e., healthy hedonism—recipe for buffalo cauliflower. Today’s post is the titillating result.

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Buffalo Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • Few dashes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Grind of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick baking spray. Break cauliflower into florets; save the leaves and stalk for another use, like cauliflower soup. Whisk to together buttermilk, flour, Tabasco, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Coat cauliflower with the batter, tossing to cover all the pieces, and set on the cookie tray. Let dry for 10 minutes or so.

Buffalo Cauliflower Batter

Cook cauliflower for 25 minutes, tossing about half-way through. The cauliflower should be browned and crispy in a few places, but not mushy.

Buffalo Cauliflower Roasted

While the cauliflower is roasting, whisk together the vegetable oil, hot sauce, and Sriracha together in a saucepan; quickly bring to a boil then set aside. If you like things super saucy, or are using a large head of cauliflower, double the recipe.

Buffalo Sauce

When the cauliflower is done cooking, pour the sauce over the florets, tossing to cover completely. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to allow sauce to set.

Buffalo Cauliflower

For an elegant and less labor intensive dish, simply toss the cooked cauliflower with crumbled blue cheese. I went traditional this time around and served my buffalo cauliflower with blue cheese dipping sauce. (This version is also much higher in calories, obviously.)

Buffalo Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Sauce

Cooking Notes

You can find many a recipe online for Buffalo cauliflower that does not use a batter. Roasted cauliflower on its own is divine, so I have no doubt that simply throwing the hot sauce on that would be great. I felt the batter provided a way for the sauce to adhere to the florets, but give it a shot without the batter if you’d like. A batter-less variant tossed with crumbled blue cheese will shave off a lot of calories and would retain the character of the dish, I think. Finally, do note that this sauce packs quite a punch. Use more oil and less hot sauce or—better—find a less spicy hot sauce to enjoy the dish without the heat.

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An insult to buffalo chicken wings? I think not. Just its heart- and planet-healthier cousin that certainly met this girl’s need for something hot and spicy drenched with creamy blue cheese goodness.

Make this recipe soon and let me know if you agree!

If you like what you see, please subscribe to the blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, ogle food porn on Pinterest, watch 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. Her first book “Foods for Health” (National Geographic) comes out September 9, 2014.

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

Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-Up: It’s a Mexican Fiesta!

Gallery

This gallery contains 20 photos.

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to post a colorful collage of some of my go-to Mexican dishes. Peruse the food porn, then check out the recipe list and links that follow for a tantalizing list of appetizers, dips, … Continue reading