5 Ways to Upgrade Your Oatmeal

Oatmeal Upgrade

As we covered in “Why Are Oats an All-Star Grain?”, oats are arguably one of the most nutritious grains you can eat. Oats, oatmeal and oat bran lower cholesterol, provide cardiovascular protection and immune boosting properties. But, does the idea of a hot, steaming bowl of oats makes you want to yawn? If so, here’s five ways to upgrade your bowl of oatmeal. And the best part, these upgrades are low glycemic and will not only make the bowl more satisfying, they’ll take your breakfast nutrition to the next level. Continue reading “5 Ways to Upgrade Your Oatmeal” »

Why Are Oats An All-Star Grain?

Steel Cut Oats

Believe it or not, grains are not evil (paleo friends!) Among all grains, oats are a morning comfort food all-star and can also be used extensively in baking. While oats have a similar amino acid profile as wheat, they retain more of their original nutrients than refined wheat products as only the outer inedible husk is removed during milling. According to research, it is the bran component of oats and all whole grains which contain the most important bioactive constituents. But, the nutrient-rich bran is removed during processing of most other grains. Also, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion, a feeling of satiety and appetite suppression. Continue reading “Why Are Oats An All-Star Grain?” »

How to Make and Use Basic Cashew Cream

Cashew CreamCashew cream has long been a staple in the vegan world —and for good reason! It just may be the queen of dairy-free alternative toppings. Cashew cream, it is rumored, can make even non-vegans forget about  everything from mayonnaise to sour cream, cream cheese, full-fat diary cream and cream sauces. Can you imagine?! It is as versatile as it is easy to make. Simply soak the cashews, drain, blend, then add seasoning.

Continue reading “How to Make and Use Basic Cashew Cream” »

‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’ Giveaway for National Nutrition Month

TVFBWelcome to the virtual book tour for THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, by Karen Page. I am proud to take part in this event, which celebrates Registered Dietitians and National Nutrition Month. Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy of Karen’s latest masterpiece!

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a book solely for vegetarians. This is a book for anyone who wants to enjoy a greater range of plant-based whole foods, anyone who wants to improve their health, anyone who tends to go “improv” in the kitchen. It is for anyone tired of the same salad or steamed vegetables. Continue reading “‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’ Giveaway for National Nutrition Month” »

How to Make Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Cubes

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Cubes

As mentioned in Juicing Vs Blending. The Plot Thickens, plant fiber is much more interesting character than we realized. More than simply roughage or a bulking agent, fiber is a carrier for the free radical-quenching polyphenols found in many fruits, vegetables and other plants.

However, most plant polyphenols are fused to the plant fiber and can not be extracted [1,2]. So, if consumed as a whole plant or blended, the polyphenols travel through the digestive tract, then into the colon, where they are digested by friendly flora, producing short chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) [3,4]. These short chain fatty acids deliver many health benefits, from anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties to inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria and increasing mineral absorption. Some also serve as a major fuel for the cells that line the colon [5,6,7]. But, juice those same fruits or vegetables and most of these valuable polyphenol compounds are removed with the fiber. Lose the fiber. Lose the polyphenols. Continue reading “How to Make Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Cubes” »

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Bagna Cauda-Style

Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

My Nonna introduced me to Bagna Càuda, a traditional Italian warm dipping sauce made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. Translated literally as ‘hot bath, the dish is typically eaten during the autumn and winter months, served hot in a communally with raw, boiled or roasted vegetables.

She prepared Bagna Càuda in her electric skillet for family gatherings. As the butter melted into the olive oil, the garlic would soften and the warm pool would eventually dissolve the anchovies and transform into a heady, salty and nutty sauce of umami goodness. The aroma was as unique to me as it was captivating. I knew I was smelling ‘the Old World’ before I even knew what that phrase meant.

Continue reading “Whole Roasted Cauliflower Bagna Cauda-Style” »

Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale

Vegan Winter PestoPesto isn’t just for summer! Using avocado as the base, substituting greens for basil and nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese, this vegan recipe is flavorful, rich and can be enjoyed year-round. You won’t miss the cheese. Your body will love this heart-healthy, low-glycemic and fiber-rich ways to dress pasta.  Continue reading “Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale” »

Juicing Versus Blending. The Plot Thickens….

Juicing Versus BlendingIn “Juicing Removes More Than Just Fiber”, Dr. Michael Greger throws a wrench into the ongoing ‘Juicing versus Blending’ debate. While, both can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, research is leaning towards blending as the victor. One of the main arguments against juicing is the fact that extracting juice from fruits and vegetables removes the plant fiber in the process. Adding weight to this argument, research shows that plant fiber is even more important than the well-established benefits to gastrointestinal health as well as managing blood sugar, weight and cholesterol. Fiber, it turns out, is a polyphenol carrier. Continue reading “Juicing Versus Blending. The Plot Thickens….” »

Teecchino: Life Without Coffee

Teeccino Coffee Substitute

Coffee. Love it. But, taking a break is not a big deal. However, flash back 10 years or so, and that was not the case. A Seattle native, I had developed a healthy habit with the roasted beans. It is not a coincidence Starbucks started in Seattle. Soundgarden fan or not, listen to ‘Black Hole Sun.’ You will then understand the need for comfort and relief from the pervasively dark, gray and damp days of the 47th latitude. Continue reading “Teecchino: Life Without Coffee” »

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower SoupShe had me at ‘vegetables’. The setting was the Q & A session following the opening of the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. An attendee asked the keynote speakers, James Beard Award-Winning authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg what they thought would be the hottest new trend in food. In the spirit of ‘everything old is new again’, Karen declared simply, ‘vegetables!’ She then went on to discuss her latest book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’.

I was already a fan of their previous book, “The Flavor Bible,” a book which could not be named more appropriately. It is not a cookbook. There are no recipes. Rather, it is an invaluable compendium of alphabetical listings of foods that are paired together. Perfect for free-form cooks, those of us who like guides more than recipes.

After purchasing it, the book quickly became indispensable. It was like an old friend I could ask for ideas when pondering how to made a dish more distinct, or even where to begin. So, when I saw the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby during a conference break, I made a bee-line to them. I stood a bit star-struck among a small group chatting with them. As they had recently become vegetarians, my work as a nutritionist gave us common ground for an albeit short, but rewarding conversation. I then trailed off from the group satisfied.

Fast forward two months and three thousand miles away to New York City. I discover that Barns & Noble was hosting a “Flavor Bible” book signing with Karen and Andrew moderating a panel of chefs discussing vegetarian cuisine. When I approached them to get my book signed, imagine my surprise, shock really, that they remembered me! These two are really something special. They were so kind and sincere to all the panelists, so grateful for the leadership they had shown in vegetarian cuisine and such gratitude to their supporters. My only regret about the event is never downloading my book signing photo with them off their website! I can’t find it now.

Back home with my “Flavor Bible(s)”, the original and the vegetarian version, I set to work improv-style in the kitchen. The result is this simple curried cauliflower soup recipe. My intention was to create something very flavorful and nutritious, with enough fat and protein to make it somewhat hearty. Want to take the comfort food factor up a notch? Simply add  extra cashew cream. You can also add more garbanzo beans for more protein and heartiness.

I have tried roasting the cauliflower first. But, I didn’t notice enough difference to merit the effort. But, it simply might be that any subtle flavor doesn’t really stand up to the garam masala, a great addition if you like your curry a little on the hot side. Omit it if you don’t.

To get the most health benefits from this soup, use fresh cauliflower, not frozen. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Then, let sit for about 40 minutes before cooking, one of the strategies outlined in a prior post about gaining the benefits of raw crucifers even when cooked. This recipe also supports improved bioavailaiblity of the curcumin in the curry powder, as detailed in another prior post.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Serves 6-8.

Curried Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond or rice milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (or one 16 ounce bag, frozen)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (1 15 oz can) organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup chickpea croutons for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cover raw cashews with filtered water and let sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes. Then, drain off the water, add the almond or rice milk and blend until smooth.

  2. Heat the coconut in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Then add the curry powder and garam masala (if using) and stir to cover the onions and garlic thoroughly.

  3. Add the chopped cauliflower, then cover with the broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the garbanzo beans and coconut milk.

  5. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or process in blender in batches.

  6. Stir in the lime juice, adjust salt, if needed, and serve warm topped with chickpea croutons.