Monday, January 28, 2013

Luscious, Meatless, Fun

Sweet Potato Burgers with Apple Slaw

Sigh. Passion for cooking and eating better can get me in trouble. Information about audiences, locations and logistics can squeak by me when enthusiasm takes hold. So, when I said, “Yes, I’d love to speak at your meeting” to the young women requesting a healthy cooking demo, I didn’t pick up all the details.

The demo was scheduled for the temple. My audience was a Jewish women’s group in suburban Atlanta. “No problem”, I thought to myself, “I’ve got it”. “Bacon or pork, even shellfish - not a challenge for me.”

One of the details I had missed? The temple was kosher. Kosher means two kitchens. Two sets of pots and pans. No co-mingling of dairy and meat. No outside utensils. I can’t even bring in my own knives.

Over the next couple of months, organizer Stacey was patient with me as she explained the rules and regulations of cooking in the temple. Again.

We finally decided on a menu of Sweet Potatoes and Apples. Each dish would be packed with the nutrition and deliciousness of root veggies and sweet apples. You don’t have to explain the story to your family, just enjoy the burgers and slaw. Make ‘em on the weekend, serve during the week. Freeze the leftovers or take them for lunch!

Sweet Potato Burgers

2 ½ Cups Mashed Cooked Sweet Potatoes
¼  Cup Toasted Chopped Almonds
¼  Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Chopped Cashews
½ Cup of Cooked Quinoa
¾ Cup Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Large Egg
1 TB Dark Sesame Oil
2 Garlic Cloves Grated
1 TB Soy Sauce
½ Tsp Sea Salt and ¼ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
1 Cup Sesame Seeds

Combine all the ingredients together, except for the sesame seeds. Form into patties and coat with sesame seeds. Grill or Broil the burgers until brown and a little crispy on the edges. Serve on grilled buns with *Sriracha Mayonnaise and topped with Apple Slaw.

*Sriracha Mayonnaise is made by whisking together Sriracha and low-fat olive oil mayonnaise. Add as much of the hot stuff that you can stand! I start with 1 TB in ½ Cup of mayo.

Apple Slaw
1 Cup Shredded Carrots
1 Cup Shredded Green Apple
1 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage
¼ Thinly Sliced Green Onion
1 TB Chopped Fresh Cilantro
¼ Cup Asian Chili Sauce (Nam Ploy)
1 ½ TB Rice Vinegar
1 TB Lime Juice
1 Tsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Dark Sesame Oil

Step One In a large bowl. toss  the carrots, radish, cabbage, green onion and cilantro together.

Step Two In a small bowl or jar add the chili sauce, vinegar, lime juice, soy  and oil together. Toss with the slaw and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The NFL and Quinoa!

There's nothing like a room of retired NFL football players to make you feel small and a little nervous. But I shouldn't have worried. The group participating in the NFL career transition workshop this weekend was easy to talk to AND interested in healthy eating.

You might think these big guys would be chowing down on roast "beast" and fries. But, a surprising number of them told me that they were regularly eating quinoa, and several of them were either vegetarians or close to it.

When asked to do a healthy cooking demo for the workshop, I thought long and hard before picking my menu. The demo was set in a conference room in Midtown Atlanta, so no kitchen for prep and cleanup. Quinoa pita pockets seemed like a perfect choice.

You may know that quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein - with all 8 essential amino acids. And, that its actually the seed of the goosefoot plant, we just cook it like a grain. Chewy and nutty tasting, the people of Peru have eaten it for years, we just started to enjoy it in the late 1980's when it was imported into the United States.

I love shaking up traditional ideas. So when making the quinoa salad, I decided to stuff it into whole grain pita pockets - making it the perfect protein-packed sandwich on-the-go. You benefit from the protein in the quinoa and the rich creamy black beans, the fresh taste of the tomatoes and artichokes and the super anti-inflammatory properties in the turmeric and capers that are in the dressing.

Delicious, easy and better-for-you. What could be better?

Quinoa Salad Pita Pockets

1 1/2 Cups of Quinoa, Prepared as Package Directs
1 Can Black Beans, (or two cups of Black Beans that you have cooked)
1 Can of Quartered Artichoke Hearts, rinsed and drained
1 Can of Ripe Black Olives, drained
2 Cups of Halved Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 TB Sherry Vinegar, (can use Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar if you prefer)
1 TB Dijon Mustard
3 TB Capers
1/2 Tsp Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Honey or Pomegranate Molasses
6 Whole Grain Pita Pockets
6 Cups Spring Greens, (or use "Power Greens" a mixture of baby kale, collards and spinach)

Step One
Toss the prepared quinoa with the beans, artichoke hearts, olives and tomatoes in a large bowl.

Step Two
In another bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard, capers, turmeric, pepper, salt and honey. Drizzle the dressing over the bowl of quinoa and toss well.

Step Three
Cut the Pita Pockets in half and stuff some of your greens into the bottom. Top with the quinoa salad and enjoy!

*The salad keeps great in the fridge for 3-4 days, it just keeps getting better as the dressing marinates the quinoa.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Leaning" into the New Year Lunch

What a fun lunch today at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont West. More than a dozen of us gathered to talk about “Leaning” into the New Year. Leaning into accepting change, eating better, and taking good care of ourselves, our families and friends.

Wonderful Angela Buttimer led the class through a Mindfulness exercise and then they joined Sous Chef Lea, Lydia and me for a healthy delicious lunch.

The theme of the morning was carried throughout the meal – with a big crunchy salad and seasonal dressing, meaty mushroom bruschetta, curried chicken salad on sweet potato rounds instead of bread, and just a sweet bite of dried fruit for dessert. Hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we enjoyed our lunch!

Winter Greens Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

About 15 Cups of Chopped or Sliced Greens, like Kale, Curly Endive, Radicchio, Napa Cabbage, Purple Cabbage, Bok Choy
½ Cup Chopped Green Onions
½ Cup Chopped Toasted Pecans
4 Cups Chopped Roasted Radishes*
1 Head Thinly Sliced Fennel
Juice of 3 Meyer Lemons
1 TB Coarse Grained Dijon Mustard
1 Large Garlic Clove , grated
1 TB Honey
¾  Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper to Taste

Step One
Toss the Greens, Green Onions, Pecans, Radishes and Fennel together in a large bowl.

Step Two
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, honey together. Whisk in the olive oil and taste for salt and pepper. Toss with the salad and enjoy!

*To toast the radishes, chop them into quarters and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425F oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

Mushroom Bruschetta

2 LBs Baby Bella Mushrooms*, cleaned and sliced
3 TB Olive Oil
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
2 Garlic Cloves, grated
1 Tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 TB Chopped Parsley
8 – 12 thin slices Rustic Whole Wheat Bread, toasted

Step One
Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil, salt and pepper until the mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to brown. Add in the garlic and cook and stir until aromatic. Add in the thyme and remove the pan from the heat.

Step Two
Heap the mushrooms on the toasts and sprinkle with parsley.

*You can use any kind of mushrooms that appeal to you. If you can find Shitake or Maiitake mushrooms – they are not only full of flavor – but super food as well.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with 
Curried Chicken Salad

2 Large Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Cut into Slices about ½” Thick
1 TB Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
2 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Roasted and Chopped
½ Cup *Chopped Green Onions – Green Parts Only
¼ Cup Light Mayonnaise
¼ Cup Greek Yogurt
1 Tsp Garam Masala (or Curry Powder)
½ Tsp Cumin
¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper (or To Taste)
Zest and Juice of a Lemon
¼ Cup Sliced Almonds, Toasted
½ Cup Dried Fruit, (Golden Raisins, Cranberries, Apricots), Chopped
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley

Step One Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the Sweet Potatoes with the oil. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and salt and pepper to taste. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about  20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Step Two While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the chicken salad by combining the chicken, green onions, mayo, yogurt, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step Three Place several sweet potato slices on a plate and top with a dollop of chicken salad on each one. Garnish with the almonds, dried fruit and parsley.

Apricot Cherry Bites

3 Cups Dried Apricots
1 Cup Dried Cherries
2 Cups Chopped Toasted Pecans or Almonds

Whiz the apricots and cherries together in the food processor. Place the nuts on a large flat plate. Spray your hands with non-stick spray and roll the fruit into 1” balls. Roll the balls in the chopped nuts.