Red Lentil and Yam Dal

Advertisements

If you love Indian food but often feel daunted by the idea of making it yourself, dal (sometimes spelled “daal” or “dahl”) is a great entry point. With simple ingredients and minimal effort, dal requires basic knife skills and a little patience. To boot, this recipe also happens to be vegan; but while it is free of animal products, it is no way lacking in flavor. When I first sampled a bite to make sure the lentils were cooked through, I ended up standing for several minutes over the stove, eating spoonful after spoonful and groaning over just how delicious this dish actually is.

What’s more, it’s arguably even better the day after you make it, after the ingredients have had more time to meld in the fridge. I love making a big pot of dal and nursing it over the course of the week; you can doctor it several ways to add some variety, and eat it for literally any meal. (I had it for breakfast the morning after I made it!) Add some fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, coconut cream, crispy fried onion slivers, or some raita or yogurt. Eat it with naan, roti, on toast, or with brown or basmati rice. This dish is complex and balanced enough to stand up to a little tweaking, but really is remarkably good straight out of the pan.

What Is Dal?

Usually including onions and/or tomatoes and a host of spices, dal is essentially savory lentil porridge.

The word “dal” comes from the similarly named Sanskrit root verb, meaning “to split,” and is commonly used to refer to lentils of all colors and sizes. (In this case, however, we are talking specifically about the dish.) Made from either lentils, peas, or beans which do not require soaking (also called “pulses”), dal comes in three primary forms: made from unhulled pulses, split pulses, or hulled and split. When a pulse is hulled, its outer shell is removed, thereby making it easier to digest; in turn, however, it looses some of its inherent nutritional value in the process, such as dietary fiber.

According to Wikipedia, India is the leading producer and consumer of pulses in the world, no doubt why lentils and other legumes contribute so much to Indian cuisine. Most Indian households eat lentils in some form at least once throughout the day (either sweet or savory), no matter where they fall on the financial or class spectrum. In this way, pulses are a great equalizer in Indian cuisine.

One popular way of finishing a bowl of dal is to pour “chaunk” over the top of the bowl. Chaunk is generally whole spices fried in a neutral tasting oil, such as fenugreek, red pepper seeds, or cumin or mustard seeds. However, chaunk varies regionally and comes in a wide variety of forms.

India’s Legume History

Tracing back well before the Christian era, a baked, sweetened lentil paste dessert known as “mande” or “mandaka” reaches back to the Buddhist era. Two legumes which show up in India’s historical texts are chickpeas and horse gram, both of which are still eaten in India to this day.

In texts dating back to 1130 AD, pulses are mentioned as the main ingredient in common dishes, with dals made from cereal grains also present. Pulses can be cooked with or without soaking, but can also be ground into a flour and used to make traditional Indian breads such as papadum, or moong dal paratha.

Lentils are also considered the first meal of someone in mourning, because they are round and sorrow (like a wheel) is thought to come around and touch everyone in their turn. Additionally, the lentils’ smooth shape is thought to symbolize the silence indicative of the mourning period in Indian culture.

It is said in lore that during King Avadh’s reign, a cook was hired exclusively to cook lentils. He took the job on the condition that the king eat the lentils while they were good and hot, never allowing them to grow cold. This worked for a while, until the king was unable to come as planned for dinner one day.

In frustration, the cook threw the whole dish away and walked out, saying “yeh mooh aur masoor ki daal” or “you are not worth this lentil!”

Health Benefits of Dal

Aside from being a low fat, low cholesterol dish due to being pulse-centric rather than meat-centric, dal also contains hearty doses of ground spices like cumin, coriander, and ginger. Thought to contain healing properties in India’s Ayurvedic medicine tradition, dal nourishes on a cellular level and promotes overall wellness in several ways.

Lentils are high in

  • B vitamins
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • folate
  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • phytochemicals, which prevent diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • fiber
  • iron
  • and are 25% protein

They have been linked to heart health, blood sugar management, lower blood pressure, and general fitness, as they increase satiety and discourage overeating.

Fresh cilantro has been linked to reduced symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, reduced anxiety, and blood sugar management.

In this recipe, ground cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric are all used; each of these spices is thought to host a litany of health properties, essentially adding up to reduced inflammation, blood sugar management, improved heart health, weight loss facilitation, and improved brain health and digestion.

(If you are curious about learning more about yam nutrition facts for this dal, please refer to my previous blog post for Sweet Baked Yam With Tahini, Cilantro, and Pepitas.)

It’s hard to have a bad day eating such colorful food…perhaps this is why golden turmeric is linked with depression relief.

Onions sauté in a little oil followed by yams, ginger, garlic, and red pepper. In go the lentils, spices, salt, tomatoes, and some water…

Everything simmers for about 35 minutes. Stir in some coconut cream for some richness and just try not to immediately scoop yourself a bowl! And don’t worry–dal freezes beautifully!

Print

Red Lentil and Yam Dal

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's NYT recipe.
Course healthy, Main Course, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Cuisine Indian
Keyword are dal good for weight loss, are dal keto, are dal keto friendly, are lentils and dal the same thing, are yams good for you, beans, can dal be frozen, can dal be reheated, daal, dahl, dal, entree, feel good food, feel good food plan, food history, history of dal, history of pulses, how dal is made, indian, indian cuisine, indian exports, indian food, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, intuituitive eater, is dal keto, is dal keto friendly, legume, legumes, lentils, pulse, pulses, red lentil, side dish, vegetarian, where can i buy dal, where dal comes from
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs neutral flavored oil, such as canola
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 inch peeled ginger, finely minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp aleppo chili flakes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sautuntil translucent, about 5 minutes. Add yam and sautee for another 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes, and stir. Add lentils and ground spices to the pot, and stir until fully incorporated. Add tomatoes and 3 1/2 cups water, and raise heat to high until the mixture boils.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat until mixture is at a rapid simmer and cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until lentils are fully cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt.
  • Remove from heat once liquid is absorbed and lentils are cooked, add coconut cream and stir. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Chicken and Spinach in Cream Sauce

Advertisements

I will never forget the first time I had mushrooms and cream sauce: the tang of white wine tempered the silken nature of the heavy cream, creating a luxurious blanket for the simmering creminis. It’s hard to argue with the allure of heavy cream, even when we are trying to be eco- or animal-conscious.

I don’t buy it often, and my fridge almost always has milk alternatives in it such as oat or almond–but every now and then, ya just want something so creamy it’s basically liquid butter.

This flavorful sauce beautifully coats tender poached chicken breasts and cooks fresh spinach in a matter of minutes. Grounded in earthy greens and brightened by white wine and a splash of lemon juice, this truly is a decadent, simple dish that makes enjoying dinner a no-brainer. Plus, it comes together in under an hour and utilizes only one skillet, which makes clean up a breeze.

While I would be hard pressed to label this a “healthy” dish, there are certain benefits to eating lean protein like chicken breasts (low cholesterol, high protein) and spinach.

Health Benefits of Spinach

Aside from containing vital nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium, spinach is also high in vitamin A and folate.

Vitamin A has been linked to eyesight, skin, and hair health, as well as reduced risk of certain cancers like cervical, lung, and bladder cancers.

Vitamin A also helps to fight acne and is an essential micronutrient necessary in collagen production, responsible for keeping us looking young and healthy, as well as boosting bone health and nutrient absorption.

Folate plays a key role in red blood cell formation and general cell health and function.

Isn’t it fun to know that, on a cellular level, our foods are working to keep the machinations of our amazing bodies in order?

What’s even more fun is knowing that folate is a nutrient that requires fat in order to be absorbed by the body, thus making this rich cream sauce the perfect vehicle for your leafy greens. How’s that for a justification? 😉

Simple ingredients means minimal effort, but it also often means crystal-clear flavor that is easier to balance.

What do I mean by “balance?”

Fat vs. acid is a great place to start. In this dish, the cream is obviously the major contributor in the “fat” column, while white wine plays heavily into the “acid.” The reason these two ingredients come together in this straightforward sauce is the fact that they play off each other nicely, making for a surprisingly complex, savory relationship. Add some garlic for pungency and shallot for character and you’ve got an excellent backdrop for whatever you like, whether that be chicken, fish, mushrooms, or vegetables.

Part of what keeps the chicken in this recipe so moist is the fact that it poaches after it sears. This has the double benefit of cooking off some of the alcohol in the white wine and further thickening the sauce.

Add some parsley for color and a squeeze of lemon for a burst of freshness. What this dish lacks in color it makes up for in flavor. Serve with rice or over a bed of fresh spinach, and enjoy!

Print

Chicken and Spinach in Cream Sauce

This simple dish comes together in minutes and makes and excellent date-night or special week-end meal!
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, French, Intuitive, traditional
Keyword chicken and spinach, chicken florentine, chicken in cream sauce, eat your greens, feel good food, feel good food plan, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, one dish recipes, one pan recipes, one-pot recipes, simple recipe, simple recipes, spinach
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • cast iron pan or heavy bottomed skillet

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • salt, for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 small shallots or one large
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, packed
  • fresh parsley, to taste
  • fresh lemon wedges, to taste

Instructions

  • Season chicken breasts to taste with salt and pepper. Coat (dredge) in flour and set aside.
  • Grate shallot(s) and press garlic and set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium-high in a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet. Sear chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes each turn. The chicken should read 165°F on an instant read thermometer. If using high-quality, organic chicken, feel free to heat chicken to the "chef's temperature" of 155°F, if you are comfortable. Keep in mind the chicken will continue to poach in the white wine in the following steps.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add butter, garlic, and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and simmer about 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Flip the chicken breasts after 5 minutes, then remove using tongs. Place on a cutting board and cover with tin foil, allowing the meat to rest for several minutes while you finish the sauce.
  • Once the wine mixture has reduced significantly, add the cream and cook until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon, between 5 and 10 minutes. Once the sauce is complete, turn off the heat and add fresh spinach, stirring until incorporated and fully cooked, about 1 minute.
  • Cut chicken against the grain into 1/2" strips. Plate with spinach and cream sauce, ideally over a bed of rice. Serve hot with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

Braised Short Ribs (Based on Alison Roman’s Recipe)

Advertisements

Spring has sprung! (Yay, daffodils! Yay, tulips! Yay, every other form of emerging life!!) For some people, this means lamb or rabbit; for others, it means welcoming in the coming year’s harvest via sprouts, spring vegetables, kale, and the like. Whether you eat meat or not, spring is an undeniably exciting time of year–the world around you begins to stir and life resumes its cycle of defying death in beautiful and surprising ways.

Speaking of beautiful and death-defying, there is truly nothing like sinking your teeth into a skillfully-prepared piece of meat. Flavorful, tender, juicy and decadent, meat is a luxury consumed quite casually in modern American culture. If I were to wet my finger and stick it to the air, however, I might be inclined to say this attitude is changing…but I think there will always be something primal in us that is hardwired towards calorie-rich foods, meat being no exception to this rule. Wherever you choose to guide your diet, from vegan to carnivorous paleo, we must nod to our ancient brain development and growth as being linked, at first, to hunting and cooking. (Edit: This is still debated in the scientific community; here is an example of a counterpoint which posits that bone marrow and fatty brain tissue, not flesh, were the key players in brain development.)

Today, of course, there’s no strict need to kill for calories; if you look for it, you can find frozen cauliflower crust pizza at the grocery store. We’ve come a long way since crafting stone tools and crudely practicing butchery as early as 3.4 million years ago. But who knows, maybe there were those among us who opted instead to find essential amino acids in ways other than animal-based proteins…

For me, meat is an indulgence, so I tend to choose when and how I eat it deliberately. While shouldering the climate crisis responsibility (specifically as it relates to deforestation, water pollution, and methane gas emissions, all associated with overconsumption of meat) is a heavy cross to bear, chances are we could all afford to eat a little less, and a little more “cleanly.” Soap box aside, these short ribs are incredibly simple, elegant, and decadent–and very rich and filling. Do your part and support a local butcher, if you can; splurging here on high quality meat is really worth it. Make this a special occasion meal, and you will not be disappointed.

What Are Short Ribs?

Short ribs are a cut of meat typically taken from the chuck or brisket areas of a cow and are formed from the shortest portion of the rib cage where the bones are not quite long enough to be considered “ribs.”

Short ribs are typically cut into two ways: either in individual pieces with meat around the bone (English style) or in one long piece of meat holding three cross sections of rib together (“plate” style).

On the left is plate style short ribs, and on the right is English style. (from Google images)

What’s Great About Short Ribs?

Short ribs have a naturally high fat content and therefore, if cooked properly, they can be incredibly flavorful and tender. They are also very rich and filling, so less meat “goes further” when it comes time to eat.

Where Can I Purchase Short Ribs?

This is a great excuse to head to your local butcher and strike up a conversation! Supporting local always feels good. If this option is not accessible to you, I recommend checking out delivery services such as Moink Box or Porter Road.

Ok, I’m Hungry…Show Me The Recipe!

First, gather your ingredients.

For this recipe, I used Kettle & Fire brand bone broth–and no, they are not paying me to say this. I find it is readily available in most grocery stores and is a good quality for the price. Of course, you can always substitute regular stock or broth, but low-sodium is good here, unless you factor that in as you season the dish.

What I love about this recipe is how straightforward it is. Brown the seasoned meat, flavor the remaining oil with two heads of garlic, then add your chopped vegetables and tomato paste (also known as mirepoix).

Garlic flavored rendered fat and canola oil coats the vegetables as they removed all the crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add your liquids and thyme…

Then in go the browned short ribs so that the meat is submerged (bone up).

Then cover and bake at a low temperature for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Serve with rice or potatoes, and don’t forget to enjoy it with your sauce, fresh herbs, and Alison Roman’s recommended lemon zest!

…did I mention the knife is optional? And don’t miss out on all that flavorful fat–after all it is good for your brain 🙂

Print

Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from Alison Roman)

Deeply flavorful, these garlicky short ribs fall off the bone after 4 hours of braising.
Course dinner, Main Course, meat
Cuisine American, traditional
Keyword alison roman, braised short ribs, carnivore, crumbs, crumbsoncrumbs, feel good food, feel good food plan, garlic short ribs, intuitive chef, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, new york times, new york times cooking, nyt, nyt cooking, short ribs
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 3 people

Equipment

  • 6.2 liter heavy bottomed dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs short ribs, at least 2 per person but no more than 5 lbs
  • diamond kosher salt, for seasoning
  • finely ground pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise through the bulbs
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3/4 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, preferably bone broth, or one package Kettle & Fire bone broth
  • 4 grams fresh thyme, tied in a small bundle if you have the baker's twine
  • chopped parsley, for serving
  • chopped chives, for serving
  • freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

Instructions

  • Generously season dry ribs on all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside 15-30 minutes before browning to allow the meat to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 275°F.
  • Chop celery, carrots, and onion into large chunks and set aside. Uncork wine.
  • Heat canola oil over medium-high flame in a heavy bottomed dutch oven. Working in batches if necessary, brown the meat on all sides until golden, about 10 minutes. Place on a wide plate, then pour rendered fat into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the fat back into the dutch oven, then add the chopped vegetables. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the browned bits from the bottom of the pan have been lifted from the moisture from the vegetables.
  • Add tomato paste and stir. Cook about 3 minutes, or until the paste has begun to caramelize, become fragrant, and turned a rusty color.
  • Add wine to the pot, slowly at first so you can scrape up any remaining brown bits. Add the remainder and simmer about 2 minutes. Add the broth and thyme and stir. Add browned ribs, meat side down, into the liquid and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The short ribs should be falling off the bone and very tender.
  • Gingerly remove short ribs from the dutch oven using tongs. Place on a serving platter and cover with tin foil, allowing them to rest about 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, skim as much fat as possible from the liquid in the dutch oven. Drain over a bowl using a fine mesh seive and discard the vegetables and garlic. Return the liquid to the dutch oven and cook over medium heat, until the mixture has reduced noticeably, about 10 minutes.
  • As the sauce is reducing, chop parsley and chives and zest the lemon. Uncover short ribs and garnish with herbs and zest, and plenty of sauce. Enjoy with rice or potatoes, and the last 1/4 bottle of wine.

Whole Wheat Cranberry Goo Pie

Advertisements

Did you know cranberries are considered by many to be a “superfood,” due to their high antioxidant and nutrient content? Whether worked into a cake, whirled into a smoothie, or made into a sauce meant for smothering pork chops, cranberries have proven that they are worthy of any meal, any time of day.

Why Cranberries Are Good For You, More Than Once a Year

  • Conclusively linked to lower likelihood of a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Linked to cancer prevention, and proved to slow cancer progression while triggering death of cancer cells
  • Cause improved immune function, as they are high in vitamin C
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve oral health and reduce the likelihood of gum disease
  • Support collagen production essential for wound healing
  • Host a slew of nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C, A, E, K, B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-6, not to mention they are rich on fiber which promotes liver health.

Cranberries have nearly equal parts naturally-occurring sugar as they do fiber, which is a great scenario for the liver–as it works to process the sugar, the fiber slows down the process, preventing the sugar from being turned into fat for storage to be “processed” later.

Convinced? Here’s Some Ways to Eat Cranberries

  • Toss dry cranberries into a salad, fruit salad, or trail mix
  • Add whole cranberries to your next loaf of banana bread or muffins
  • Stir whole cranberries into a bowl of oatmeal or cream of wheat
  • Blend cold cranberries into a smoothie
  • Blitz whole cranberries with sugar and orange zest  in a food processor until homogenous to make flavored shortbread cookies

If you are interested in drying your own fresh cranberries, check out this recipe from Spruce Eats.

Working With Whole Wheat Flour

It’s important to note that working with whole wheat flour is a different experience entirely than working with regular all-purpose flour. Whole wheat is less refined, has more fiber, and is therefore prone to absorbing more liquid and developing less elasticity than all-purpose flour. If you are experienced with whole wheat, feel free to use three cups of it in the pie crust. If you are less experienced, consider substituting one to one and a half cups for regular flour in the pie crust.

It’s equally important to note that the less water you can add to your crust the better, so go slow with your additions of ice water. The crust should just come together without feeling shaggy or falling apart, and should roll out well with minimal sticking to your rolling pin. Finding your “sweet spot” for pie crust is an intuitive process that gets easier with time, so don’t feel discouraged if your crust isn’t perfect.

A Little Crust Troubleshooting

Tough crust? This is a sign you have added too much water, and/or overworked the dough.

Crust not divinely flakey, as you’d hoped? Make sure you’re using ice cold butter and water, and try folding your rolled out dough multiple times into a rectangular shape before before rolling it out a final time for the pie plate, effectively laminating it.

Top of your pie burned while the bottom is underbaked? Tent your pie with foil for the final 15 minutes or so of the bake to continue the cooking process without coloring the crust.

Making a fruit pie? Consider cooking down some of the fruit filling before adding to your prepared pie crusts in order to reduce baking time and ensure cornstarch or other thickening agent has set. This also allows you to pack more fruit into your pie, maximizing flavor and fruit-to-crust ratio. This is especially awesome for loaded apple pies! Make sure your fruit mixture has completely cooled before adding to your crust to maximize flakiness.

But Now For That Pie…

Gather all your ingredients together. As you can see, I used two small oranges in lieu of one large orange.

Mix cranberries, orange zest, ginger, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl. Featured is the butter cut into the flour with spices and sugar, and ice water.

After cranberries cook over medium heat until the cornstarch has set, allow the mixture to completely cool. Add to your prepared pie crust, cover with a lattice if desired, brush with egg wash and dust with a generous handful of sugar, and bake!

10/10 recommend serving with greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream. The fat really helps temper the cranberry’s acidic edge.

Yum! 😛

Print

Whole Wheat Cranberry Goo Pie

Fresh cranberries come together with sweet orange and grated ginger and stand up boldly to a buttery, whole wheat crust.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American, baking, Healthy, Intuitive, traditional
Keyword antioxidants, cranberries, cranberry, cranberry ginger, cranberry goo pie, cranberry orange, cranberry orange cookies, cranberry pie, crumbs, crumbs on crumbs, crumbsoncrumbs, feel good food, feel good food plan, ginger, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, nutrients, orange ginger, superfood, superfoods, vitamin c, whole wheat, whole wheat baking, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pie crust
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 generous slices

Equipment

  • shallow pie plate
  • rolling pin or wine bottle

Ingredients

  • 24 oz fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbs Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur, optional
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour, with the option of substituting 1 1/2 cups of regular flour for the whole wheat
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs white sugar
  • 2 sticks cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 6-8 Tbs ice water
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/4 cup demerara sugar, or other large crystal sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Add cranberries, first measurement of white sugar, corn starch, grated ginger and orange zest into a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture into a large sauce pot or pan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly, adding 3 Tbs of fresh orange juice and optional liqueur. (Note that the cranberries will stain so don't use a wooden spoon if this bothers you.) The cranberries will begin to pop and the mixture will become homogenous and saucelike after 5-7 minutes. You will know that the cornstarch is cooked through when the cranberry mixture takes on an opaque, gelatinous quality, no more than 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, place flour(s), spices, salt, and second measurement of sugar in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add butter chunks and smoosh with your fingers until flattened, or use a pastry cutter for maximum flakiness. When most of the butter has been "cut," begin adding tablespoons of ice water. Stop at 4 or 5 and mix everything together. If you are using straight whole wheat flour, the dough will absorb more liquid. If using a mixture, the flour will absorb less, but will also be prone to growing tough if overworked. Stop adding water when everything just comes together. (The dough should roll out easily with minimal sticking to your rolling pin.) Divide the dough in half and form two discs, about 1 1/2" thick. Wrap one disc in cling film and transfer to the fridge.
  • If desired, roll dough into a rough rectangle and fold repeatedly hotdog style, then hamburger style, until you have a rectangular column of dough. Re-roll the dough to 1/4" thickness. (This is to maximize flakiness.)
  • Transfer dough into a shallow pie dish, with about 1 inch hanging over the sides of the dish. Add the cooled cranberry mixture and place the pie in the fridge while you roll out the second disc of dough. Cover the pie and pinch the edges together or use a fork to combine the edges of the crust.
  • Brush the entirety of the visible crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle a generous amount of demerara sugar over the top. The cranberries are extremely tart, so the sugar you throw on the pastry now helps to balance out the cranberry flavor.
  • Bake 35-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown, tenting with foil if necessary. If you are using a glass pie dish, check the bottom of the pie to ensure the crust is fully baked before pulling it out of the oven.
  • Serve this pie warm with whole yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Sweet, fatty flavors are a natural compliment to this pie!

Pad Thai For Dummies

Advertisements

If you’re anything like me, Thai food is a friendly constant in your takeout rotation. While I am a sucker for anything curry, or chicken with cashews, or tom kha gai soup (but that’s another blog post), I invariably end up coming back to pad thai. When you crave it, nothing else will do, perhaps due to its tangy umami blast of flavor and the supreme satisfaction that comes with eating a bowl full of noodles; maybe you added the bean sprouts and maybe, this is the moment where you gloriously abandon vegetation of any kind and head straight for the scrumptious rice noodles and protein.

This pad thai recipe attempts to come as close to the “authentic” flavor one might find at a Thai restaurant as possible.

The only ingredient I had to go out of my way to purchase was tamarind purée, which one can certainly find at a local Asian Market.

Ways to Spruce Up Your Pad Thai

  • tofu, shrimp, chicken, beef, or other protein
  • bean sprouts
  • cilantro, garlic scapes, scallions, or other pungent, herby greens
  • chopped peanuts or cashews
  • chili oil, chili crunch, chili flakes

By and large, this is at its core a simple dish–remember, in Thailand this is often served as street food–so keeping it simple is a great way to honor pad thai’s distinct flavor.

Tamarind Paste–Do I Really Need It?

While a quick google search has proved that there are a plethora of pad thai recipes on the internet which skip this ingredient in favor of more…shall we say, “western”?…ingredients, I find that the tamarind paste not only is a key player in pad thai’s trademark tangy flavor, but it also contributes to the overall color of the dish as well. I have made this dish with and without tamarind paste and, I have to say, that certain je ne sais quoi is really present WITH the paste. Fortunately, you can find tamarind purée for as little as $4 and use it in both sweet and savory dishes…plus, who doesn’t love expanding their flavor dictionary?

What Is Tamarind?

Also called tamarindo or Indian date, tamarind is a fruit in the legume family which grows in tropical places. The brown, sticky pulp is harvested from around the seeds growing in crescent-shaped pods hanging from the tamarind tree, then is pulverized and sold as a paste. Tamarind’s distinctive flavor comes from its high tartaric acid content, which is most commonly connoted with grapes. (Cream of tartar is the powdered form of this acid, and is the ingredient which gives snickerdoodle cookies their familiar tang.)

Other Uses for Tamarind Purée

  • Meat tenderizer–tamarind and beef are a classic combination, as tamarind is one of the primary ingredients in Worcestershire sauce
  • Blended with spices and coconut milk (think: garam masala, curry, turmeric, ginger…)
  • Tempered with sugar in sweets or baked goods anywhere you might use lemon juice
  • Blended into shrubs or cocktails
  • Check out this recipe for agua fresca, a sort of tropical “lemonade” !

But back to pad thai…

First, gather your ingredients.

Here I’ve featured a block of extra firm tofu as my main source of protein, accompanied by two eggs; of course, choose whatever protein is going to make your pad thai dreams come true. Shrimp or prawns are an excellent choice.

Dredge the tofu in cornstarch and fry, rotating until golden; scramble the eggs; make the sauce; grate the ginger, garlic, and onion; cook the noodles…then assemble in a hot pan or wok!

Finish with herbs, any chili products, bean sprouts, and chopped nuts. Enjoy immediately, and restart the clock for “when it’s time to eat pad thai again”…but don’t wait too long! 😉

Print

Pad Thai

Sauce-drenched noodles mix with roasted nuts, herbs, scrambled eggs, and protein come together on one happy plate. As close to "authentic" pad thai as can be!
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Keyword better than takeout, easy gluten free, feel good food, feel good food plan, gluten free, gluten free recipes, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, pad thai, rice noodles, Thai cooking, Thai cuisine, thai influence
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • wok (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4 oz dry rice noodles
  • boiling water (enough to cover noodles)
  • 2 eggs, lightly scrambled
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated finely into a pulp
  • 3 garlic cloves, medium
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry with paper towels, and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 3 Tbs fish sauce
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbs tamarind water, (Note: If your tamarind comes in a thick paste, dilute with water until it is the consistency of orange juice.)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes or paste, chopped scallions or cilantro, roasted peanuts and/or cashews, optional

Instructions

  • Prepare any toppings you might like to add to your pad thai like herbs or scallions, roasted nuts, lime, or chili products and set aside.
  • Scramble the two eggs in a small bowl with a splash of room temperature water and set aside.
  • Grate onion, garlic, and ginger on the second-finest side of a box grater and set aside.
  • Whisk fish sauce, tamarind, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  • Cook your protein. If using tofu like featured above, drain and dry the tofu and cut it into one inch cubes. Dredge in cornstarch and salt. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and sautee the tofu cubes until golden brown on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 15 minutes. Drain over paper towels.
  • Meanwhile, place your rice noodles in a wide, shallow bowl. Boil enough water to completely cover the noodles, and let them soak undisturbed for 7 minutes.
  • While the noodles are soaking, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok, if using. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion "paste" and sautee until the onion becomes aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs to the pan and mix with a spatula until incorporated and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium and add the drained, slightly stiff noodles to the pan and stir. Cook, stirring constantly for another 3 minutes.
  • Add pad thai sauce (fish sauce mixture) and cook for another minute.
  • If using, toss in any bean sprouts and turn off the heat. Finish with a generous squeeze of lime and the sauteed tofu and stir.
  • Top with herbs, nuts, or chili flakes and serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Baked Mac & Cheese

Advertisements

Some people say “I love you” with cards and flowers. Others do it with mac and cheese.

Here in the South, baked mac and cheese seems to be a dietary requirement; it’s on nearly every menu that in any way boasts a connection to “soul food” and can be found both as dressed up rotini with a fancy cheese sauce made from gruyere AND unfussy elbows tossed in a Velveeta solution. One thing all of these versions have in common is their unequivocal deliciousness…one doesn’t even mind that with each forkful their arteries are clogging and, with each second helping they are solidifying a pending commitment at the gym. Sometimes, the heart just wants cheesy carbs and, being a heart-leading individual, I find this echo of longing hard to stave off for more than a week or two.

If you are reading this, chances are you too enjoy a sinfully large heap of steaming, cheese-coated noodles from time to time. I won’t bother you with the nutrition facts of today’s recipe, as sometimes it truly is better not to know.

What I will say is, it is really hard to have a bad day when you’re eating bacon, cheese, hamburger meat, and spiced breadcrumbs all in one bite. Believe me. I tried. And I wasn’t even mad to eat this as dinner for several days in a row…or lunch, for that matter. Mac and cheese is just kind of magical that way.

If you have children or are trying to pinch pennies, this recipe is especially for you. Each serving is incredibly filling and offers a significant amount of protein, and definitely has enough, erm, caloric value to keep even your most athletic family member going from lunch until dinner. Add a vegetable and a salad to your plate and you’ve got a “balanced” meal! (If you’re feeling particularly virtuous, throw some chopped cauliflower into your pasta water in the last few minutes before al dente and mix in with the ground beef and cheese sauce…but let’s just say this dish has no intentions of claiming to be “healthy”…)

Mac and Cheese Facts

  • Thomas Jefferson’s black chef, James Hemmings, is the first known person to cook mac and cheese in America.
  • Cheese dates back around 10,000 years and was originally made as a way to preserve farm fresh milk.
  • The first cheese factory opened in the United States in 1851, which caused cheddar cheese to be one of the first foods affected by the Industrial Revolution.
  • Velveeta cheese has over 22 ingredients and is no longer regulated as a cheese.
  • Kraft mac and cheese was originally created in order to provide the cheapest protein to American families possible.
  • The recipe for macaroni and cheese likely originated from Northern Europe, though the first record of a recognizable recipe dates back to 1769.

For more on mac and cheese, check out this article from the Smithsonian.

Good lord, it looks like nearly equal parts cheese and pasta…oh well. Who’s complaining about this? I ask the reader! Bacon and lean hamburger meat make delightful additions to the bubbling, cheesy pasta, which, as you can see here, consisted of two different pasta shapes I was trying to get rid of. This is a comfort food, not a gastronomic masterpiece, after all.

I cooked the bacon slices then snipped into bits using kitchen shears, then browned the beef in the bacon fat, which I reserved when the meat was done. Featured next to these two plates is a bowl full of panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with oregano, garlic salt, onion salt, and paprika.

What we have here is cheesy, meaty noodles. 🙂 I made a simple roux using the reserved bacon/beef fat and butter, then added milk and grated cheese. In go the cooked noodles and ground beef, then bacon bits, breadcrumbs, and a sprinkling of grated parmesan for good measure. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown. Broil on hi for a few minutes if you want it extra crispy.

Add something green to your plate to pretend you are a grown up and enjoy the fruits of your labor; now pull out your colander and get ready to make mac and cheese! 🙂

Print

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Baked Mac & Cheese

Cheesy noodles nestled with bacon and ground beef are topped with crispy, spiced breadcrumbs for comfort food perfection!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Comfort Food, Southern Cooking
Keyword baked mac and cheese, comfort food, crumbs, crumbs on crumbs, everything but the kitchen sink baked mac and cheese, everything but the kitchen sink mac and cheese, hamburger helper, how to make mac and cheese, is mac and cheese healthy, James Hemmings, loaded mac and cheese, mac & cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni & cheese, macaroni and cheese, southern cooking, Thomas Jefferson, what's mac and cheese, what's mac and cheese good with, where was mac and cheese invented, which mac and cheese is best, who invented mac and cheese, will mac and cheese make you fat
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Equipment

  • Dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pieces thick cut bacon, cooked, chopped, and with rendered fat reserved
  • 1 16 oz package of ground beef, lean is ok
  • 1 1/2 cups panko, unseasoned
  • 1 tsp paprika, smoked or unsmoked
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (or substitute equal parts dried oregano and parsley)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 3/4 tsp onion salt
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 16 oz pasta, shape of your choice--rotini is great for maximum sauciness
  • 4 Tbs butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated cheese, tightly packed (cheddar is classic but feel free to sub gruyere or gouda)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until cooked but not quite crispy. Snip into 1/4" strips or roughly chop and set aside.
  • In the same skillet used to cook the bacon, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef and drain on a plate covered in paper towels. Pour any remaining fat from the pan into a dish to use later. You should have about 1 tablespoon.
  • Mix breadcrumbs and spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil on the stove. Meanwhile, grate the cheese. Boil pasta until just cooked, 8-12 minutes depending on the shape. Drain in a colander over the sink. If you are worried about the pasta sticking into one mass while you make the roux, reserve enough cooking water to keep the pasta wet while you prepare the cheese sauce. Pasta cooking water contains starch which prevents the pasta from sticking together.
  • In a medium-sized dutch oven, heat butter and reserved bacon fat over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, turn heat down to low and add flour, whisking until incorporated. Cook the flour over low heat until it foams and turns a golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add milk, whisking continuously, until fully incorporated. It may seem liquidy at first; add the grated cheddar (or alternative) cheese and whisk until the cheese has fully melted.
  • Add cooked ground beef and drained pasta to the dutch oven and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Dress the top of the mixture with the cooked bacon bits. Sprinkle the spiced bread crumbs over the top of the pasta until fully covered. Add an even layer of parmesan over the top and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. If you desire crispier breadcrumbs, broil over high heat for several minutes. Serve immediately!

 

 

Hearty McQueen Family Scones

Advertisements

In the wide world of baked goods, maybe one sweet treat in every twenty is worth baking (or eating!) again. Oftentimes, we bakers cover our “sins” in sugar, which easily becomes the dominant flavor in whatever we are creating. While it is true that this often has crowd-pleasing results, what we gain in popularity we often lose in nuance. Have you ever taken a bite of a buttercream frosted cupcake which instantly made your teeth hurt? We’ve all been there. And while the point of frosting is to be a sweet addition to a cake or cookie or whoopee pie, nowhere in the rules does it say it must be only sweet. The challenge then becomes: how can I bring out the positive flavors in the butter? Can I add some salt for increased complexity, and to balance the sugar? Are there any flavored extracts I might use? What if I sweetened with honey instead of powdered sugar? Et cetera.

Impassioned feelings about frosting quality aside, these scones are anything but basic sugary fluff. Fortified with oats and moistened with buttermilk, these barely-sweet scones offer tart cherries where others might offer chocolate chips. This is not your average baked good, people. This scone is the stuff of legends, and makes for a breakfast of similarly epic proportions. There’s really no word for them better than “hearty;” so if that’s not your bag (and I get it, it’s not everyone’s bag) then you may want to check out this recipe for decadent chocolate cake instead!

soak your cherries ! 🙂

I find I have best results when I soak my cherries in water before baking. That’s them relaxing in a jar full of water in the upper right corner.

Why Soak?

Those who fail to soak may end up with a drier overall baked good, as the cherry will draw moisture from the dough during the baking process. If you want your scones around for more than one day, moisture becomes even more precious–not to mention the cherries have a much more enjoyable texture when still plump and juicy after baking. So, soak your cherries anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

Are These Scones Good For Me? If So, Are They Boring?

The short answer to the first part is, all things considered, for a sweet treat yes, they are relatively healthy. There’s no shortage of butter, but hey, these scones have lasting power that may save you some calories down the road. Plus they’ve got fiber from the oats and vitamins C, A, and K, antioxidants, and several minerals from cherries to boot. It’s not as good for you as taking a supplement, but is, perhaps, tastier, and, perhaps, more comforting.

Which brings us to the “are they healthy and therefore uninteresting” part of the posited question. If you like textural juxtaposition in your mouthfeel experience when eating, feeling nourished and also like you’re getting away with something at the same time, and eating cherries in any capacity, then chances are these scones probably won’t bore you. I have probably made these scones dozens of times and still reliably crave them. But if, being a reasonable and sophisticated adult, you already think healthy and delicious don’t have to be mortal enemies, then you probably won’t take much convincing about these scones…fiber content aside.

use a pastry cutter or your fingers to incorporate butter <3

If you have a pastry cutter at home, now is its moment! But if you are one of those who takes pleasure in the tactile, you may enjoy incorporating the cold butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers. Somewhere, I have a pastry cutter which is feeling neglected…

dough disc

Flatten your dough into a disc about an inch and a half thick, slice into eight relatively uniform triangles, and bake until golden brown. Something to consider: the more you incorporate your ingredients, the tougher your scones will be. Every time you push and pull on your dough, you are participating in forming a gluten network. While this is great for breads, most folks tend to prefer a tender scone. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until everything just comes together.

Best when shared (but you already knew that)! These scones last, at best, for two full days but really are best when eaten the day you decide to bake them. You can always freeze them in a freezer-safe bag if you think eight scones is too much to enjoy or distribute.

Print

Hearty McQueen Scones

Soaked tart cherries and wholesome oats mean this buttermilk-moistened scone has some serious lasting power! Makes a great breakfast.
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine baking, Healthy, traditional
Keyword cherries, cherry scones, oat scones, scones, sour cherries, tart cherries
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 Tbs butter, (salted is fine)
  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, soaked in water at least 30 minutes to overnight
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Add butter in small cubes, and combine using a pastry cutter or fork.
  • Add oats, cherries, and buttermilk, mixing after each individual addition. After adding the buttermilk, mix until just combined.
  • Shape dough into a disc about an inch and a half thick, using a floured surface and your hands.
  • Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the dough into eight triangular pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Keep in an airtight container up to two days.

 

 

Coriander-Crusted Tuna Steak With Coconut Rice and Quick Pickles

Advertisements

One thing I have truly loved about exploring the South is venturing into local butcher shops. One can find anything from alligator and frog legs to bacon, boxes of cow, and lamb. It was with great self-restraint that I passed up the pricey swordfish in favor of the slightly-more-economical tuna steaks.

If you’ve never had freshly ground coriander, pairing it with tuna is an excellent introduction. Its subtly bitter, floral quality is a delight to the senses and sidles up to tuna’s meaty character with a surprising amount of acidity. If you’re not sure what else do to with whole coriander, consider using it as a chicken rub or brewing it as tea with a little fennel and cardamom.

This truly is a “treat yo’self” dinner; your plate will be full of fresh herbs and healing whole spices, healthy fats from the coconut milk, and protein from the tuna. Great for a date night or weekend dinner, or post-workout protein binge.

Why Tuna?

Tuna is very low in fat and calories, and contains no carbohydrates. This means it is nearly pure protein. In a 3.5 ounce serving, tuna contains 20 grams of protein. This is good for folks who are trying to watch their weight or cholesterol intake. Tuna also contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as well as several minerals, including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium, which helps to counter the deleterious effects of any trace amounts of mercury which may be present. Google recommends eating tuna no more than three times a month, for those of you who might be concerned about mercury. The average tuna can is about five ounces, whereas most steaks are around eight.

After my ingredients were prepped, it was just a matter of cooking the rice, soaking the quick pickles in an air-tight bag with their sugar-vinegar solution, and searing the steak.

Chopped cilantro, scallions, lemongrass, fish sauce, and lime juice percolate in a bowl while the cucumbers pickle and rice and tuna cook. Slice up your steak, spoon up some of the herb mixture, and enjoy!

This will definitely be in my rotation for favorite dinners…

Print

Coriander-Crusted Tuna Steak With Coconut Rice and Quick Pickles

Low-carb, high protein dinner.
Course dinner, healthy, Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Intuitive
Keyword ahi tuna, ahi tuna steak recipe, are tuna steaks healthy, can tuna steak be pink, coconut rice, coriander crusted tuna steak, creamy coconut rice, date night dinner, feel good food, feel good food plan, healthy delicious, healthy dinner, healthy doesn't mean boring, how to cook a tuna steak, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, is tuna steak protein, quick pickles, thai influence, tuna steak, when is tuna steak cooked
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • rice cooker (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice, ideally jasmine or sushi rice
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 6 oz tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
  • 2 Tbs untoasted sesame oil, plus more for brushing
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 Tsp whole coriander seeds, ground in spice mill or mortar and pestle
  • 4 Tsp freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbs sesame seeds, untoasted
  • 3 Tbs black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 large lime, juiced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, with tops removed and tender bulb sliced into thin medallions
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced halfway up the stalk
  • 1 medium-heat red pepper, such as an Aji or Cayenne, sliced into thin rounds (remove the seeds if you are sensitive to heat)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 1 Persian cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

Instructions

  • If using, add rice, chicken or veggie stock, and coconut milk to the rice cooker and turn on. Otherwise, combine the three ingredients in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer undisturbed until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers and red pepper into rounds. Combine rice vinegar and sugar together and stir until completely dissolved. Pour vinegar into a quart sized zip-top bag with cucumber and pepper slices and seal, removing as much of the air as possible so veggies are coated in the solution. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, pat tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Brush with 2 Tbs sesame oil and lightly season with salt, bearing in mind you will be topping the steaks with fish sauce and lime juice which accentuate salty flavors. Generously pat ground pepper, coriander, and sesame seeds onto the steaks until the surface is completely covered. Set aside.
  • Combine chopped cilantro, lemongrass bulb medallions, scallions, fish sauce, and lime juice in a medium bowl and stir. Set aside.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Add roughly 3 Tbs of sesame oil to the pan, followed by your steaks. Steaks are cooked after 2 minutes per side, but I prefer my steaks closer to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Cut into thin strips and place on a plate with coconut rice and drained quick pickles. Top steak strips with cilantro mixture. Serve immediately.

 

 

Spicy Briny Farro Salad

Advertisements

There’s nothing like the grounding, refreshing experience of eating fresh herbs. Add some briny olives and texturally-pleasing, plump farro grains to the mix and you’ve got the beginnings of this simple salad.

Inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe, this easy dish comes together in minutes and feels nourishing, tastes interesting, and is infinitely riff-able. Even in its simplest form, it is accessible, delicious, and just the right amount of healthy.

Health Benefits of Fresh Herbs

Not to be outdone by other leafy greens, herbs pack more vitamins and minerals ounce per ounce, and boast an array of antioxidants and compounds known to prevent cancer, improve circulation, soothe indigestion, fight bacteria, and more.

In this recipe, parsley offers vitamins A, C, and K which support eye health, immune system, and bone health, among other benefits. Parsley has antibacterial properties and has even been cited as a protectorate against chronic diseases.

Mint contains more vitamin A, as well as iron, manganese, and folate, in addition to antioxidants. Mint it known to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and indigestion and may even improve brain function and memory.

Herbs have been used medicinally as well as in the kitchen for centuries in different cultural contexts across the globe. Check out this great resource if you are interested in adding more herbs to your diet but aren’t quite sure where to start!

What is Farro?

An ancient precursor to modern day wheat, farro has roots which trace all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, at least 20,000 years. A whole grain boasting robust flavor and nutrients, farro comes in several varieties and in several different forms.

Farro can be:

  • Pearled, for shortest cook time and softer texture
  • Semi-pearled, or partially pearled
  • Whole, for more flavor and nutrients but longer cook time

Health Benefits of Farro

Farro contains a higher plant-based protein content than rice, plenty of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals like zinc, iron and magnesium in addition to contributing rich, nutty characteristics. Some folks even toast their farro grains before cooking in order to bring out complexity and deepen present flavors.

Due to farro’s high fiber content and nutrient-packed nature, eating this grain may even help to keep one feeling full longer, as well as bolstering cognitive function, heart health, and slowing down the liver’s conversion of sugars to fats, giving the body a chance to catch up and burn the carbs. As such, it is a great staple for folks who may be trying to lose weight or consider their long term health.

It is important to note, however, that while farro is a relatively healthy grain, it is not gluten-free. Farro is an excellent healthy choice for folks watching liver function, memory and brain longevity, and heart health, but not for those who are celiacs or gluten-intolerant.

Assembling Ingredients and Prep

This recipe is all about prep! I sliced my shallots finely on a mandolin before mincing to increase uniformity, crushed my olives with the flat side of a knife and coarsely chopped them, gently simmered my farro until tender, and chopped my herbs and serrano peppers. The collards were sliced into thin ribbons and sautéed briefly in oil until glossy and tender. Everything gets thrown into a bowl with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of high-quality olive oil and…

…then it’s time to eat. This recipe is best eaten fresh, but will last covered

in the fridge up to 3 days.

Print

Spicy Briny Farro Salad

Based on a Bon Appetit recipe, this cold grain salad comes together in about 30 minutes and makes for a delicious meal that is just the right amount of "healthy"!
Course dinner, healthy, lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Healthy, Intuitive, Mediterranean
Keyword farro, fresh herbs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Assembly 3 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups green olives, pitted, crushed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, cut into thin rounds.
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, for sauteeing
  • 3 large collard leaves, stemmed
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse farro in a colander and drain. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to low, simmering for about 30 minutes, or until farro is tender but still maintains structural integrity. Drain any excess water and allow farro to cool.
  • Meanwhile, crush and chop olives and herbs, and set aside. Mince shallots and slice serrano pepper, and place in a small bowl. Add lemon juice to the shallots and pepper and stir. Set aside.
  • Slice stemmed collards into thin ribbons. Heat first measurement of oil in a pan over medium heat, and add collards. Stir and cook until greens are coated and begin to wilt, 3-5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cooled farro, olives and herbs, shallots and pepper, collards, second measurement of olive oil, and any desired pepper. Stir to combine and serve immediately. Best if eaten within three days, and keeps covered in the fridge.

Sweet Baked Yam With Tahini, Cilantro, and Pepitas

Advertisements

As the fall and winter months steal over the calendar, baked yams similarly creep into my meal plans as the year’s darkness and chill cause cravings for sugar and fat. This is not to say I don’t find an excuse to eat sweet potato fries all year…but since the trend to replace yams with russet potatoes in French fries hit the gastronomic scene in the 1980s, yams have come a long way from their once-a-year appearance at the Thanksgiving dinner table to transitioning into more of a culinary “regular.”

Why Choose Yams Over White Potatoes?

Yams are a great replacement for regular white potatoes if a diet requires complex carbs rather than starch, which is often hard to digest and more filling than it is nutritious. Generally, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index (GI) than russet potatoes. Additionally, yams are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants like beta carotene. This antioxidant is turned into vitamin A once it is digested, which is essential for immune system function, skin clarity, and eye health. It is also pivotal in maintaining healthy mucous membranes in the digestive system, increasing immune response and lowering inflammation. In fact, vitamin A is incredibly abundant in yams, clocking in at over 100% of the daily value (DV) recommended for optimal health. What’s more, it is a fat-soluble nutrient–so preparing your yams with a little fat helps to make this vitamin more readily absorbable.

 

The Colorful Food Diet

Studies suggest that loading your plate with a variety of colors is a great way to ensure consumption of an abundance of nutrients, and typically at a lower caloric cost. This is a fun way to skip out on taking daily supplements and to explore new foods and cooking methods at the same time. Additionally, brightly colored foods tend to be fruits and vegetables, which have added benefits aside from their vitamin and mineral content such as fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats, and more.

Health Benefits of Tahini

Aside from boasting a rich, complex flavor, tahini has several health benefits as well. Just one tablespoon of tahini contains minerals essential to bone health, like phosphorous and manganese. Tahini also contains thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin B6, which are both important for sustaining energy production. Like yams, tahini is contains anti-inflammatory compounds and may even be beneficial to people with arthritis.

Sesame seeds, the main ingredient in tahini, have even been shown to improve kidney and liver function, and may even help to prevent fatty liver disease by increasing fat burning and decreasing fat production due to naturally occurring compounds. Sesame oil is a heart-healthy oil with primarily unsaturated fats and omega-6.

The Bottom Line

This dish is rich, filling, and incidentally healthy. One yam can easily feed two people, especially if prepared as a side dish to a protein or salad. Get your knife and fork ready and eat to your health!

Tahini and lemon juice is a classic pairing. The acidity of the lemon helps to temper some of tahini’s more earthy, bitter notes while enlivening some of its more pleasant characteristics, like its nutty richness and tang. Throw some grated garlic into the mix and you’ve got the beginnings of a flavorful dressing!

This easy dinner comes together quickly and is a great way to stretch ingredients to fill more bellies!

Print

Sweet Baked Yam With Tahini, Cilantro, and Pepitas

Bake a yam and dress it with a sweet tahini sauce, fresh herbs, pepitas for crunch, and sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt for brightness! A simple, healthy, and fresh lunch or dinner.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Healthy, Intuitive, Vegetarian
Keyword are yams good for you, are yams potatoes, are yams sweet potatoes, baked yams, easy recipes, feel good food, feel good food plan, frugal recipes, healthy recipes, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, pepitas, tahini, tahini dressing, thrifty recipes, what yams are good for, why yams are good for you, why yams are healthy, yams
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 yam or sweet potato, medium
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 100 g fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 2 Tbs sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt
  • 1 Tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbs pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • sumac, to taste (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Scrub yam free of dirt and particulates. Wrap in tin foil tightly and bake in the oven until fork-tender and releasing caramelized juices, 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the yam.
  • Meanwhile, create the tahini dressing. Mix tahini, lemon juice, honey, garlic, oil, and water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup until silky and uniform. Remove cilantro leaves from the stems and chop.
  • In a small skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds until fragrant and golden, about five minutes. Set aside.
  • When the yam has finished baking, remove from the oven, discard the tinfoil, and set the yam on a large plate. Using a long knife, slice the yam into four even pieces, lengthwise. Immediately splatter tahini and sour cream in equal measure over the yam. Toss cilantro and pumpkin seeds over the top, and a dash of sumac, if desired. Serve immediately.