Summer is in full swing, and we all know what that means…TOMATO SEASON! I’m sure you all have a bountiful crop of tomatoes lying around from your garden..and if not, a plentiful supply of them from the farmers market or grocery store. So what better recipe to make with them than a gorgeous, easy Summer pasta dish?
Now I know this may sound weird, but I am not a fan of raw tomatoes. Never have, never will. Yeah, I am THAT person. But, when they’re cooked with a plethora of fresh ingredients to sweeten them up and break them down into a gorgeous sauce or salsa? I’m a huge tomato fan once they are transformed into some sweet and savory deliciousness…so here we go. Balsamic Tomato Basil Pasta with Fresh Ricotta.
This is truly Summer in a Bowl, my friends. This pasta dish is so simple and fresh you’re gonna love it. I made a lovely chunky sauce with a batch of chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered in 7 Barrels Balsamic Vinegar and their Sweet Basil Olive Oil (omg #LOVE!), with sautéed sweet onions and garlic, red pepper flakes and chicken stock. Then I tossed the pasta with a little bit of the pasta water, added the cooked balsamic tomato sauce, and topped it with fresh basil, some big dollops of fresh ricotta, and lots of Parmesan cheese. Juicy, sweet, tangy, savory perfection.
This is truly Summer in a Bowl, my friends. Made with fresh tomatoes simmered in 7 Barrels Balsamic Vinegar and Sweet Basil Olive oil, with sautéed sweet onions and garlic making a lovely chunky tomato sauce..topped with fresh basil and ricotta cheese and more Parmesan cheese! And it's so easy to make that you won't be slaving over the stove in this hot weather either. Juicy, sweet, tangy, savory perfection.
1 pound of pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water
1 tablespoon Seven Barrels Sweet Basil extra virgin olive oil
4-6 large tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Seven Barrels Traditional Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add tomatoes, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions begin to get soft and lightly browned and tomatoes release some of their liquid.
Place balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk well. Carefully add it to the skillet and continue to cook for a few minutes more until the sauce slightly thickens; remove from the heat.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes, and toss together over low heat for an additional few minutes until the sauce coats the pasta. Add a small amount of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is too dry, to your desired sauce consistency.
Place the pasta in large bowl and top with fresh grated Parmesan, ricotta cheese, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot, immediately with some crusty garlic bread.
Well the holidays have finally arrived – my favorite time of year! I love having some time to rest and relax and enjoy quality time with friends and family, especially around the table sharing delicious food and wine. So to celebrate the season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite holiday recipes that I’ve created over the years – either for myself or a few of my clients (KitchenAid, Colavita and Seven Barrels), that I wanted to share with all of you. From appetizers, to salads, to desserts, entrees and cocktails, they all have that special magic touch perfect for the holidays.
I’d love to hear in the comments below what some your favorite holiday recipes are too – feel free to post them and share a link below, and if you want to share my recipes online please include a link back to my site and credit to Kristen Hess / The Artful Gourmet and @artfulgourmeton social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr).
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous and prosperous New Year 2017!
I had the opportunity to attend a special preview tasting of Olive Garden‘s new ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu this week at a lovely event held at Haven’s Kitchen in NYC with a group of other food bloggers, writers and journalists.
We sampled a (generous!) variety of delicious food and wine, and learned more about the new menu ideas and inspiration from the Olive Garden team and Executive Chef, Jim Nuetzi.
Inspired by the flavors of Italy’s Mediterranean Coast, Olive Garden is evolving its popular Lighter Italian Fare menu to the new ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu, which celebrates the flavors and cooking styles from the popular Mediterranean region of Italy with all entrees under 600 calories.
Beginning Jan. 2, two new entrees – Chicken Margherita and
Linguine di Mare – will be available in restaurants. Following, the fully evolved ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ rebranded menu section, which includes guest favorites as well as the new entrees, will be introduced on Jan. 23.
“Healthier dishes at restaurants can often be perceived as boring or unsatisfying. However, our Mediterranean-inspired Shrimp Scampi with its flavorful ingredients was our second most popular entrée on the entire menu last summer,” said Jim Nuetzi, Executive Chef for Olive Garden. “The positive reaction from our guests further showed that we could create indulgent and craveable entrees that just happen to have the added benefit of lower calorie counts.”
The guest-favorite Shrimp Scampi, which was introduced to the Olive Garden menu last year, has exceeded any other Olive Garden lighter fare entrée in popularity. Many guests were surprised that the flavorful and satisfying dish was only500 calories.
The guest reaction to the Shrimp Scampi inspired chefs to explore additional ingredients that would excite guests in the same way, leading them to the cuisine of Italy’s Mediterranean coast. The region is long known for healthier lifestyles and cooking with light, flavorful ingredients such as seafood, olive oil, fresh vegetables, whole grains and Italian spices.
The ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu features:
NEW! Chicken Margherita: Grilled chicken breasts topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto and a lemon garlic sauce. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.
Shrimp Scampi: Shrimp sautéed in a garlic sauce, tossed with asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta.
NEW! Linguine di Mare: Shrimp and mussels sautéed with homemade pomodoro sauce and whole grain linguine.
Herb-Grilled Salmon: Filet grilled to perfection and topped with garlic-herb butter. Served with parmesan-garlic broccoli.
Chicken Piccata: Grilled chicken topped with a lemon garlic butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.
Tilapia Piccata: Delicate white fish baked in a lemon garlic butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.
Entrees on the rebranded menu start at $14.29.
And last but not least, we enjoyed a gorgeous dessert, Warm Chocolate Baci Cake with coffee..simply divine.
..and got some take home goodie bags with a bottle of wine and some wine glasses!
ABOUT OLIVE GARDEN
Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.8 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), which owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate over $6.8 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 150,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, Olive Garden restaurants have donated more than 35 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country.
Hello Summer! And hello to the season for lighter food and flavors and quality time at the beach and the pool (READ: also time for shorts and sundresses and to lose a few to fit into the bathing suit!)
I’ve been craving pasta lately because i’ve been cutting down on carbs a bit, but I’ve had this cool Veggettinoodle tool in my pantry for a few months and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make some Zucchini Noodles (AKA “zoodles”), and tie in some fresh ingredients from the season such as shrimp and corn and basil.
This dish screams creamy comfort food, but is balanced out with a clean, citrus-y brightness with a Meyer Lemon cream sauce made with mascarpone cheese, Meyer lemon juice and zest, lemongrasschicken broth, whitewine, sweet basil olive oil and garlic. The lightness of these zucchini noodles are also totally amazing, rather than a heavy pasta that will put you to sleep in .02 seconds.
I love Meyer lemons because they are delicate and less sour than regular lemons and almost mimic the flavor of lemon and orange juice mixed together, which you can absolutely do if you can’t find Meyer lemons or they aren’t in season. I ordered mine on Fresh Direct which always has everything in stock and delivers on top of that!
Prep your zucchini noodles with a Veggetti or Spiralizer on a cutting board or over a large mixing bowl. I suggest squeezing out any excess water from them before sauteing (you can let them sit in a colander to extract water for about 15 minutes or so). You might also want to cut the strand piles in half to make them easier to manage and eat. Sauté the noodles in some olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic for a few minutes and set aside.
Zest and juice one Meyer lemon to add to the cream sauce. Look at that vivid color! LOVE.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the shrimp and sauté in some olive oil for couple minutes until they are pink and set aside. Don’t overcook them though because you will add them back in to the sauce later on and you don’t want tough rubbery shrimp.
Prep ingredients for the Meyer Lemon Cream sauce and add the white wine, chicken broth, Meyer lemon juice and zest to the saute pan with leftover juices from the shrimp. Stir and simmer over medium heat for until the liquid reduces by half.
Add the corn, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until heated through. I used frozen sweet corn but you can use fresh corn too which might take a little longer to cook (or you can precook the fresh corn and add the kernels into the sauce).
Stir in the mascarpone cheese and blend together until it turns into a gorgeous, silky and creamy sauce. Toss in the shrimp and basil. Isn’t that pretty?
Serve over the zucchini noodles with additional basil and lemon zest and get ready to DEVOUR.
Alternatively you can toss the zucchini noodles in to the pan with the sauce and shrimp and corn and mix it all together to serve as a one pot dish. I prefer keeping the noodles separate from the sauce so they don’t get too mushy, personally.
Garnish with some extra basil and lemon zest and serve with a glass of white wine (I particularly like McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay who were kind enough to send me a sample which I LOVED), and some crusty bread to mop up that yum sauce, if you wish. Light, bright, healthy and delicious!
This is a super healthy and totally delicious low carb option to pasta. It features sautéed zucchini noodles smothered in a Meyer Lemon cream sauce with shrimp, corn and fresh basil. It's light and bright and the perfect dish for Summer with a glass of white wine and some toasty bread to mop up the sauce.
1/2-3/4 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Garlic salt and Pepper, to taste
Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
1/2 cup white wine (Truvee Chardonnay)
1/2 cup chicken broth (Pacific Foods Lemongrass Bone Both)
2/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sweet corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Fresh Basil, for garnish
Additional lemon zest, for garnish
Make the Zucchini Noodles:
Using a Veggeti or Spiralizer vegetable cutter, cut both zucchini into medium large noodles over a cutting board or large bowl.
Form the vegetable pasta into two piles and cut each in half to create shorter, easy to manage strands.
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic for a minute or so, being careful not to burn.
Add the zucchini noodles, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes to your desired consistency.
Remove noodles from the heat into a medium bowl and set aside while you cook the shrimp.
Prepare the Shrimp:
In the same sauce pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper on to the shrimp, and add shrimp to the pan cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring often so they cook evenly.
Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl while you make the Meyer Lemon cream sauce.
Meyer Lemon Cream Sauce:
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the same large sauce pan over medium heat.
Add the additional garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, zest, chicken broth and wine and let simmer down until reduced, about 3 minutes.
Add the corn kernels, salt and pepper and heat through another minute or two, then stir in the Mascarpone cheese until you get a silky, creamy sauce.
Add the cooked shrimp, zucchini noodles and basil; toss to coat. (You can also keep the zucchini noodles separate from the shrimp, corn and basil with Meyer Lemon sauce and spoon it over the noodles in bowls which keeps the noodles from getting mushy in the sauce which is how i prefer serving them.)
Serve with additional basil and lemon zest, and a glass of Chardonnay or dry Italian wine and some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
This would also be a delicious sauce over any pasta, and if you're a vegetarian you could substitute the shrimp for another vegetable or legumes for some protein.
If you can't find Meyer lemons or they aren't in season, simply mix some orange juice into the lemon juice to give it a similar flavor.
Note: I received a sample of McBride Sisters Truvee Chardonnay for tasting which inspired me to create this recipe and share with my readers. All opinions of the product are my own and I was not compensated for this post.
So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.
I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some redgrapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarellacheese, and some thin cut Italianham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.
I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.
This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.
I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.
Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)
Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge
1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.
Stay tuned for my next episode of Cooking with Color 4 Kids® airing May 24 from 9-9:30 am on cable TV in NYC! Lots of colorful, healthy food and talented young chefs presenting the artful creations they submitted for the Michelle Obama & Epicurious’ Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids State Dinnerrecipe contest!
We are also looking for a few kids who would like to participate on this episode Cooking with Color 4 Kids® – we will be taping the show at BRIC Arts Center on Wed May 14 from -10 pm. We would like to call a few kids in to the show between 8-9 pm to ask the kids who are cooking their recipes a few questions via Skype. They will be on the show for about a minute interacting with myself and the kids during the live show taping on screen. The show will be airing live on the internet and on cable TV in NYC on Sat May 24 from 9-9:30 am. Send me a DM with your Skype address if interested and I will send you details on how we will Skype you in to the show and where you can watch it on the 24th!
View Cooking with Color 4 Kids® on BRIC Brooklyn Public Network Cablecasts:
Brooklyn Channels: Time Warner 34 / Cablevision 67 / RCN 82 / Verizon FiOS 42
BRIC Brooklyn Public Network cablecasts in all five boroughs exclusively on Verizon FiOS cable. Watch the program online on BPN Channel 3, by visiting: http://bricartsmedia.org/community-media/watch-brooklyn-public-network
There’s nothing better in the Summer than a visit to the Farmer’s Market to get some super fresh veggies that are ripe in the peak of the season. Some of my favorites are fresh cherry tomatoes, zucchini and corn that are lightly roasted or sauteed tossed with some roasted garlic, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese over pasta. It’s light, healthy and refreshing for a Summer dinner with a glass of wine with some friends at a table out on the back patio served with a green salad and some crusty bread.
Summer Veggie Pasta with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, Zucchini & Corn
A light and healthy Summer pasta dish with farm market fresh vegetables including roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes, corn and zucchini topped with fresh herbs and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Delicious!
1 package fresh or dried spaghetti (can sub fettucine, penne or tagliatelle)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small to medium garlic bulb
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons
1 or 2 ears of corn, husked
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh mint or basil leaves, torn
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Shave off ¼” of the top of garlic bulb and peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast for 45 minutes up to one hour and let cool. Squeeze out the garlic bulbs, slice or mash, and place in a bowl to the side.
Bring a pot of water to a boil (you can add a teaspoon of sugar and milk to the water if you like sweeter corn), and add the corn, bringing water back to a boil (about 5-7 minutes.) Once water is back to a boil, remove the corn ears. Let cool, shave off kernels and set aside.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut in half again into quarters. Shave zucchini into thin ribbons and set aside.
In another large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain; place pasta in a large serving bowl.
While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add zucchini to pan; and sauté for 5-7 minutes until soft and cooked through, stirring often. Add cooked corn kernels and roasted garlic and sauté together for another minute or so.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan along with tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt; cover and cook 4-6 minutes. Add tomato-garlic-corn mixture to the cooked pasta; toss to combine. Top with torn mint or basil leaves, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with a green salad and crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Kathy Freston is is a bestselling author with a focus on healthy living and conscious eating, a health activist, vegan fashion lover, and person obsessed with living and eating well consciously. I had the opportunity to interview Kathy on her healthy living strategies for cooking and eating right, and find out more about her background, bestselling books and favorite recipes.
In Kathy’s new book, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World, she discusses how she made the switch from classic, meat and fat-laden comfort foods to plant-based substitutes to create the same dishes, not only healthier for her well-being, but also better for the ecosystem and reversing and preventing disease.
Veganist was an instant New York Times bestseller, as were two of her previous books – Quantum Wellness and The One. She has appeared frequently on national television, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, The View, and Extra. She is a regular contributor to the The Huffington Post, and her work is consistently featured in many national publications.
Kathy is also offering a limited number of signed copies of her bookThe Lean! –a 30-day plan for achievable, healthy, long lasting weight loss. The philosophy behind the book is about making choices to eat foods that are delicious, filling, and supportive of your weight loss goals. Each day of her 30-day plan, she asks you to make one simple change – from drinking more water, to swapping nondairy for cow’s milk, to exercising for a few minutes each day. Little by little, these changes will help you gain momentum and propel you towards your goals.
“Leaning in’ is a positive, sustainable way to lose weight and transform your health. It’s all about setting an intention for what you want, and then nudging yourself ever so gently in that direction.”
For more of Kathy’s tips and suggestions for cooking, eating right and healthy living, visit her shop on OpenSky.com — the premiere social network for shopping where you can connect with experts in health, food, design and style for exclusive information, advice and insider product recommendations.
***Now for the exclusive interview with Kathy where she discusses about her background, healthy living strategies and cooking tips in more detail.
1. Can you tell me a little bit about your nutrition / culinary training and professional background?
I am just your average food obsessed gal with no culinary training, which is why I enlisted the help of Chef Dayna Mcleod to come up with some super easy and delicious recipes to accompany the weight loss plan!
And on the nutritional front, I’m a researcher rather than a dietician, so I track down the best and most definitive peer reviewed studies on how food affects our health and weight; I try to pull it all together so that the science is easy to understand and applicable to anyone’s daily life.
I’m lucky to know and work with some of the nutrition science rock stars of our time, like Drs. Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil, Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic, T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and Neal Barnard, professor of medicine at George Washington University. I use their work and expertise to substantiate the medical soundness of The Lean plan.
2. When did you realize you wanted to be a nutrition and healthy living expert? Who in your career has inspired you most? What did you learn from them?
My interest in health was first born out of vanity! I wanted to lose weight, have clear skin, and look attractive… all things that had eluded me until I started changing the way I approached food. But vanity was soon taken over when I learned that nutrition could add years (many years) to my life by preventing and reversing disease. THAT’S empowering!
I’ve been inspired most by the people who have lost weight – whether it was 30, 100, or 200 pounds – and turned their health around. They are the best story tellers and motivators because when they share the steps they took and tell how they felt along the way, you can feel in your bones that you can do it too. I love those people; they are game changers – not only for themselves, but for their families and communities, too!
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your healthy living strategies and what makes your menus and healthy eating plans unique?
Here’s my belief: life is meant to be enjoyed, and food is a big part of that. So much of our comfort and joy is connected to enjoying traditional favorites with our friends and family. I’m a big fan of continuing to enjoy the traditional foods we grew up loving, but just upgrading them a bit so that they are healthier. I love pasta with sausage, for instance; so I’ll opt for pasta made from brown rice (you cannot tell the difference between it and white flour pasta) and veggie sausage instead of the fatty stuff from animals. I love tostadas and burritos; but I’ll have them with black beans rather than beef or chicken with all the fixins (nondairy sour cream rather than dairy, though). I love all things creamy, but I make them with cashew cream so that it’s easier on the body. No white-knuckle, hard core discipline – just healthier versions of the things we already love!
4. Can you tell me a little more about your book and eating plan The Lean, and some of the basics key points and advantages behind it?
The Lean is about getting lean in the body, but it’s also about “leaning in” to the process easily and gradually. You have one new task to do each of the 30 days of the plan, and what you do on Day 1, you will also be doing on Day 2, Day 3, etc; so by the end of the 30 days, you will have 30 wonderful new habits that will have crowded out some old bad habits!
5. Can you give us some quick tips and strategies on weight loss and nutrition?
Here are 3 little things you can do right away that will help you begin leaning:
1. Eat an apple a day. The fiber fills you up and keeps your blood sugar steady. The pectin from apples is actually twice as good as other fiber, because it leaves your stomach twice as slowly so you feel fuller longer. Eat one before a meal and you’ll eat far less calories!
2. Drink 8 glasses of water, 8 times a day. This keeps your metabolism (and every other system in your body) running optimally. In regards to weight loss, it’s called pre-loading: people who drink 2 cups of water before meals in a study lost 5 pounds of fat more than people who didn’t drink water in a 12 week period. Easy peasy!
3. Add 2 Tbs ground flax seeds to your food every day (in a smoothie or soup, for instance, or mixed in with oatmeal); the fiber adds volume to your food and fills you up so you are satisfied for hours. And flax has a powerful antioxidant in it called lignans, which are cancer preventative.
Notice how weight loss and health go hand in hand?!
6. What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe, and would you be willing to share it?
Well, there are many (I can say that since I didn’t write the recipes!). I love, love the recipe for cashew cream that I borrowed from Chef Tal Ronnen for the book. All you do is soak raw cashews in water overnight, and then blend them (at a very high speed) with fresh water the next day to get delicious cream that you can use as a sauce, a base for soup, or anything you would have used heavy cream for! It’s way less fattening than dairy, and has zero cholesterol! I also love this Soy Milk Maker because you can make fresh soy milk, almond milk, and cashew milk instantly! Its also great because you can use it to make porridges and pureed soups for a healthier meal option.
7. What are your favorite ingredients to cook with and why?
I really like adding fruits to meals because they make the dishes sweet and textured. I love mango salsa on black bean cakes (recipe in The Lean), sliced pears in salad, or a sprinkling of goji berries into a soup for an extra dash of health.
8. When cooking at home, what do you like to prepare for yourself?
I could live quite easily on soups and salads. I get all my nutrition – protein, complex carbs, and veggies – from them, and they are super hearty and fulfilling. And did I mention easy? Also, when I make a soup or chili, I make at least double what I need and freeze half of it for a later date when I may not have time to cook.
9. What are your favorite cookbooks/books that you recommend (besides yours!) to help readers eat healthier and more nutritiously?
Summertime always remind me of home – when the sun is shining, a warm breeze is in the air, locusts are humming and all the flowers, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are in full bloom. There’s a small local farmer’s market up in Webster, NY not far from where I grew up that I used to visit with my Mom as a kid. We would buy fresh apple cider and donuts, pumpkins for Halloween and fresh corn and melons for our summer picnics. This year I went home to visit for Fourth of July weekend, and my Mom and I visited once again to buy some fresh fruit and veggies for our holiday BBQ feast.
I was craving some juicy watermelon and strawberries and went on a mission. There’s nothing like that first bite of sweet, cool, bright pink flesh of melon and ruby red berries in the summertime.
This Watermelon and Strawberry Salad is a simple combination of fresh watermelon, strawberries and a few blueberries mixed in with a little bit of lemon juice, sugar and water to make a simple refreshing syrup to macerate the fruit. This is how we traditionally make the fruit salad but you can also toss the fruit in a citrus infused balsamic vinegar for a tangy contrast with the sweet fruit – a good friend of mine made this salad and used Tavern on the Green Citrus which has a blend of orange, tangerine and lime essence and is just as delicious!
I found a recipe for a French Potato Salad made with salt potatoes and fresh herbs, a lightened up version from the heavier mayonnaise-laden salads from our family picnics of the past.
It calls for salt (or new) potatoes (red or yellow), shallots, parsley and thyme tossed in an oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard base making it light and tangy.
Fresh parsley adds some green…and the sweet shallots mixed with thyme, dill and onions gives it nice fresh flavor. I added some dried dill (you could also use fresh) and a few chopped green onions for an extra dash of flavor – délicieux!
Fresh market grown. Simple, fast and delicious. And most of all homemade with love, and my Mom – just like the good old days.
Fresh from the Farm Market: Herbed Potato Salad + Strawberry Watermelon Salad
Yield: 4-6 servings
Herbed Potato Salad:
2 lbs red or yellow salt potatoes, halved
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 c olive oil (light yellow, not extra virgin)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp dried or fresh dill
1/4 small Vidalia onion, chopped fine
1-2 green onions, sliced
1/2 c sugar
1 c water
1/4 watermelon, cut into cubes
3 c strawberries, halved
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
garnish: fresh mint leaves (torn into small pieces) or microgreens
Herbed Potato Salad:
Place potatoes in a large pot of cold salted water covering potatoes by about an inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Run under cold water to cool slightly, then drain.
While potatoes are cooking, whisk together oil, mustard, vinegar, shallot, parsley, thyme and dill in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add cooked potatoes and chopped onion and 1/2 of the green onions to the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with additional green onions and parsley and serve at room temperature.
Strawberry Watermelon Salad:
To make the simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, let simmer for about 5 minutes and cool.
Place watermelon, strawberries and blueberries in a large bowl and add the syrup, mixing well. Add a dash of lemon juice and garnish with mint or microgreens.
Herbed Potato Salad recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living.