Fall Farro Salad with Spiced Apples and Walnuts Plus Secrets to Fall Plant-Powered Eating

Fall-Farro-002.jpg

fall farro saladI love fall. The return to comfort food. Crisp air, along with crisp leaves underfoot. But  the fall schedule in my house is definitely busier than those lazy days of summer! Which leads me to a favorite recipe to help you stay well nourished and sane as you shift into a new season, but first, a favorite appliance!

. Hello Dehydrator: Why should canning and pickling have all the fun?

To hang onto the flavors of summer whilst infusing a pop of taste and nutrition into winter months, consider trying a dehydrator. One of the oldest ways to preserve the "peak of the harvest" - they are making a comeback and it's easier than ever with today's crop of modern technology machines.

.

To keep your energy and resilience functioning at their best ( a key to warding off cold and flu season),  try this stunning fall recipe that delivers big flavor in a lean and green package, from my friend and fellow plant-passionate dietitian Sharon Palmer, RD.

.

Fall Farro Salad with Spiced Apples and Walnuts

Fall Farro Salad with Spiced Apples and Walnuts

Makes About 6 Cups
.

Borrowing flavors from a Waldorf salad, this hearty whole grain salad gets a crunchy boost from Fuji apples, celery, and walnuts. The exotic ginger, cinnamon, and caraway seed dressing gives it a spicy kick.

Ingredients:
1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, cored, and diced
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. apple juice
1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. low-sodium herbal seasoning
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2.5 cups cooked farro, cooled
1 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped
.
Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl, add diced apple.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, low-sodium herbal seasoning, caraway seeds, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon. Pour over apples and toss together.
  3. Fold in farro celery, walnuts, cranberries, and parsley.
  4. Chill until serving time.
.

3 Secrets to Enjoying Plant Powered Eating This Fall:

Sharon shared her top 3 tips for keeping plants front and center this fall, without trading an iota of taste or comfort. And we both chimed in on some ideas to help you bring the tips to life.
.
1. Fall back on plant-powered comfort foods.
Many of our fall favorite comfort meals can be powered by plants- who wouldn't, for instance, love to curl up with a bowl of smokey red beans and rice, grilled vegetable lasagna with pesto, or black bean and butternut squash chili? It's also easy to take your favorite comfort food meal and whip it into plant-based shape: spaghetti and meatballs can become spaghetti with marinara sauce and faux meatballs (check out this amazing Meatless Meatball recipe made with mushrooms), chicken and dumplings can become a hearty fall vegetable stew with dumplings. Or a tired tuna noodle casserole could transform into a butternut squash, fennel and gruyere cheese casserole-perfect for a chilly evening-and insanely good leftovers.
.
2.  Cook up a big pot of vegetable soup. 
Start the week with a big pot of soup, based on fresh, seasonal vegetables, like carrots, celery, and potatoes, frozen vegetables such as zucchini and peas, or canned veggies like canned tomatoes, with lots of added herbs and spices.  Add a handful or lentils or whole grains (farro, barley, wild rice) to add more nutrients.  Now you've got a hearty soup that can be warmed up with meals or for lunch during the week. It's especially simple if you have a slow cooker-just toss in and go. For an easy start, try my Southwest Quinoa Black Bean Soup recipe - I did for Dr. Oz- he loved it!
.
3.  Put legumes on the menu a few times a week.  
Economical, easy and delicious, put beans, peas, and lentils on your menu a few times a week to gain health benefits such as better blood sugar control, and a reduced risk of obesity and heart disease.  Toss a hefty handful of beans (that have been simmered with broth, herbs and spices)into your salad or wrap; try cooked lentils in veggie burgers, savor a homemade spicy bean chili, serve a side three bean salad with a handful of fresh chopped herbs at lunch or dinner, or use chickpea flour to make a fabulous, high protein chickpea fritter-delicious as a light meal or a satisfying snack.
.
Now that I've thrown the gauntlet down with all of these great ideas, I see that I need to get some more recipes for you to try!  Will do, I promise. In the meantime, I hope you will let me know what you think after you've made Sharon's delicious dish!

4 Slimming Pasta Recipes For Mediterranean Diet Month

pasta-recipes.jpg

Mediterranean Diet Month Pasta RecipesI love the push I’m seeing back to actual cooking as a cornerstone of vibrant health. Across the country, leading nutrition experts are staging “Eat Ins” (like Dr. Mark Hymen’s here)  to bring people back to the table (and the stove). And last month Mark Bittman dished with with Michael Pollan - the godfather of this food movement - about his latest book, Cooked, and updated what has become the rallying cry of food lovers and health enthusiasts alike:

“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. And cook them.” 
"And cook them." Three little words. But for many of us - aye, there’s the rub.
.
Are You Cooking?
Hectic lives filled with multiple responsibilities, family and work commitments, and limited budgets can make cooking feel like a drudgery rather than a pleasant daily habit. And let’s be frank, who isn’t strapped for time these days? But cooking is really the fourth pillar of a lean and green diet, right after a diet brimming with whole, minimally processed foods, that features at least 3/4 plants and 1/4 high quality animal products, and with the right portions to avoid both obesity and food waste.
.

To celebrate Mediterranean Diet Month, I’m bringing you 4 fresh seasonal pasta recipes that couldn't be easier, or more delicious and healing. I’m sharing 2 of them below, and 2 in my next blog. While one features all the best of spring farmer's markets, the other is an insanely good, omega-3 fatty acid-rich dish you can literally make from ingredients in your pantry. In full disclosure, I developed these pasta recipes for Barilla to help them celebrate their Double Pyramid coming to America to help consumers understand how the Mediterranean Diet is good for you and good for the planet.

Let me know what you think! These are teeming with delicious, good for you ingredients, many of which are just coming into season.

Gorgeously Green Penne Spring Pasta - Mediterranean Diet Month Pasta Recipes

Gorgeously Green Penne Spring Pasta

This is a spring fling with your farmers market! The bold, fresh flavors of spring vegetables are brought to life with lemon zest. The peas and walnuts pack added protein for staying power.

Cook Time: 20 min, Prep Time: 10 min Makes 7 Servings

Ingredients

1 box penne 3/4 cup walnuts 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (or panko) 2 lemons zest 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped Pinch of salt 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 medium leek, thinly sliced 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1.5 cups) 2 cup fresh spring peas (or frozen) 1 large zucchini, julienned 1/2 Tsp salt 1/4 Tsp fresh cracked pepper 2 Tbsp fresh mint, julienned 2 Tbsp fresh basil, julienned

Preparation

PREHEAT oven to 400ºF. TOAST walnuts in oven for 5 - 8 minutes until the walnuts are lightly toasted.  In a food processor, PULSE together bread crumbs, walnuts and zest from 1 lemon. POUR into a medium dish and TOSS with parsley and a pinch of salt. SET aside.

PREPARE penne according to package directions. DRAIN reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, POUR olive oil into a large sauté pan. ADD the leeks and asparagus, and sauté over medium heat for about 4 minutes until they start to soften. ADD the peas and the zucchini, salt and pepper, and SAUTE another 5 minutes until all of the vegetables are slightly softened.  ADD zest of SECOND lemon and reserved cooking liquid and STIR gently until combined.  DRAIN pasta when it’s al dente and return to cooking pot. ADD vegetables to pasta and TOSS to combine. GENTLY stir in mint and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  SERVE 1 cup pasta mixture into serving bowls.  Top with 2 tablespoons of the walnut mixture.

 Nutrition Information (per serving): 410 calories, 16g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 8g fiber, 220mg sodium

Zesty Tomato Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives

Zesty Tomato Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives

This is the ultimate quick cook meal! All of the ingredients are from the pantry, perfect to have as an on-hand/“standby” meal.  The tuna adds protein and is rich in heart healthy omega 3 fats.

Cook Time: 15 min, Prep Time: 10 min Makes 7 Servings

Ingredients

1 box spaghetti 1 jar marinara sauce 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into lengthwise slivers 1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste if you like spice) 2 cloves garlic, sliced 2 Tsp capers, drained and rinsed 1 cup pitted black olives, sliced in half (about 2/3 of a 6 oz. can) 1 jar/can sustainable tuna * packed in olive oil, drained (use 2 jars if you want heartier tuna portions) Handful of arugula for garnish (optional)

*Sustainability in seafood depends on where you live: visit here to see which type of tuna is the best choice for you.

.

Preparation

BRING a large stockpot of water to a boil, and COOK spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, ADD olive oil, onions and red pepper flakes, sauté over medium heat until onions are softened, about 5-8 minutes. ADD garlic and sauté 1 minute more.  ADD a jar of marinara sauce, capers, olives and 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water and STIR to mix well. DRAIN the pasta, and ADD to saucepan with marinara sauce. Use tongs to gently toss together until combined.  SERVE by placing 1 cup of the pasta in a bowl. TOP with a couple pieces of tuna, and a handful of arugula.

 Nutrition Information (per serving): 400 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 7g fiber, 690mg sodium

 

Looking for more Mediterranean cuisine inspiration? Check out my post, Eat Like a Roman, for other recipes, including Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Lentils and Fresh Herbs, and more!

5 Ways to Green Your Grilling and Thai Soy Sliders

The summer sun is almost here, which means grills across America are about to be fired into high gear. I love grilling - for me, there's an almost primitive pleasure I derive from stepping outdoors and bidding adieu to the oven for a few months: the smoke. The smells. The sounds. And in our family, the consensus is that practically every food tastes better grilled-slices of crusty bread from the farmers market, fish or poultry with a snip of summer herbs, garden vegetables, even stone fruit like apricots and peaches.
You grill can not only be good for you, but it's good for the planet. Here are 4 of my favorite tips to keep your diet a cool shade of green during grilling season:
.
Green Grilling Ideas:
1.Cook once, eat twice. When you fire up the grill, use all the available space to cook dinner tonight, plus enough for extra leftovers to take to work or school tomorrow. Like I said, practically everything tastes better grilled. And maximizing the food you grill means cooking with less energy per calorie of food.
 2. Marinate meaty mushrooms. Drizzle portabellos with a generous amount of olive oil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes. Grill until soft and smoky on each side- as a side dish, a "mushroom burger" or in an omelet or salad, these are divine. With just 40 calories per cup, it's also a great way to also slash calories and saturated fat while still delivering bold flavor.
. 3. Grill an outdoor veggie pizza. The act of grilling utterly transforms pizza. The real flames and high temp create a deliciously crispy crust, with a fantastically smoked flavor. Simply buy some pre-made whole grain dough for your crust, and top with your favorite veggies and fresh sliced tomatoes (or your favorite sauce) and a small amount of good mozzarella for a fun dinner treat. Bonus points if you put on basil or oregano from your garden.
.
4. Grilled veggies make excellent sandwich toppings. The grill can also help you shake off a lunch rut: Try roasting your favorite veggies on the grill (lightly brushed with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper) and wrapping them with a whole grain tortilla and some hummus. Grilled sliced eggplant (like mushrooms) is another fantastic "meat like" alternatives.
5. Fire up Shrimp or Chicken Kabobs. Kabobs are a fun, easy way to serve smaller portions of animal protein-in a way that most people don't even notice. You can round out kebobs with  a side of whole wheat cousous and a yogurt dressing, or on top of summer salad greens.
.
.
Want more ideas? Here's one of my all time favorite creations- my Thai Inspired Soy Sliders.  You can prep the elements in advance and then people can build their own (which kids especially love to do). These savory, smoky  bite-sized sliders have a refreshing contrast-the crisp, pickled vegetables with creamy sauce. Even carnivores will crave one.
.
Have any more green grilling ideas? I would love to hear them! Please drop me a line.
.

thai slidersThai Inspired Soy Sliders

Yield: 5 Tofu Sliders
Inspired by the popular bahn mi Thai sandwiches that many Thai food trucks sell, these tofu sliders are a delicious twist on the typical slider, and are packed with fresh flavors.

.

Burgers: 5 whole grain dinner rolls 1 cup bean sprouts 1 small handful fresh cilantro sprigs 1 small handful fresh mint sprigs 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and julienned 1 small jalapeño, seeded and julienned (or with seeds, if you prefer more heat)

Directions: 1. The night before, slice the tofu into 5 equal slices (about 3/4 inch thick). Cover with paper towels, place in a bowl, and drain overnight. 2. Place the drained tofu in a marinating dish. Place remaining marinade ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup. Using an immersion blender, puree all the ingredients together into a paste. 3. Cover both sides of tofu with the paste, and marinate for at least 1 hour. 4. Preheat oven to 400°F, and preheat your grill or sauté pan over medium-high heat. 6. Grill the tofu 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through (and with grill marks). 7. While tofu is grilling, place dinner rolls directly onto the upper rack in the oven. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until toasted and slightly golden on top. Remove. 8. To assemble: Slice heated dinner roll in half. Spread 1/2-1 tsp of burger dressing on each side of the roll. Stack grilled tofu with some bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, cucumber, jalapeño, and pickled vegetables. Top with other half of dinner roll and enjoy immediately.

Tofu Marinade:tofu marinade 1 carton extra firm tofu 2 cloves garlic 1/2 a large white onion 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce 2 tsp sugar 1 tsp canola oil

Burger Dressing: 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise Juice from 1/2 lime 1 tsp sriracha

Pickled Vegetables - Kate GeaganPickled Vegetables: 1 tsp soy sauce 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar 3 tsp sugar or honey 1/2 tsp salt 1 bunch small Daikon or other radish, julienned 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned

Pickled Vegetables Directions: Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add carrots and radishes. Marinate 30 minutes - 1 hour (can be made the night before). Drain well before use.

Burger Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until combined. Taste and add more sriracha if you prefer more heat. Set aside.

Plant a Garden for a Planet Approved Diet

Garden.jpg

GardenWhile my snow-covered backyard in Utah is no indication, much of the country is gearing up for spring. My question to you is: what will you grow this year?  If you want to move to more eco-friendly eating, pick at least one thing and go for it! Whether a tiny window box, a pot of herbs and lettuce on a city terrace, or a full blown garden in your backyard, the greenest food of all is that which you grow yourself.

Aside from your "crop" being some of the tastiest and nutrient-packed foods you'll likely eat this year, there’s a slew of other benefits: the added calories you burn in gardening, the strong roots of healthy eating you’re helping to nourish in your kids, and all of the resources (and carbon emissions) saved by growing actual food rather than grass, shrubs or flowers. This is not to mention money saved in your food budget, and the money saved on your shrink (exercise fights stress and boosts mood).

So take action. Start small, or go big. Visit www. backyardgardener.com for a jumpstart no matter where you live. You’ll be sowing good seeds in every sense.

As for me, as soon as the snow melts I will be planting a bunch of yummy lettuces in my pots this year rather than flowers. What will you be planting? Check out these great gardening websites to get you started!