YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cherry-Chocolate Mousse

Looking for something cool to serve in small, elegant glasses on a warm evening? This lovely mix of fruits, almond and chocolate will make your heart sing and your eyes flutter. Promise.

1 small banana
12 ounces frozen cherries
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 oz. dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped

Combine the banana, cherries and almond butter in a food processor or high-speed blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate, and spoon into bowls.

If you would like to try making a firm ice cream, freeze 2-3 hours, and then serve with a proper ice-cream scoop.

Serves 4.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Let this list of spices inspire you! Sure, you can reach for the curry powder in the spice cabinet, but wait! Don’t! You are not going to believe the difference between THAT and THIS. It’s diamonds vs. paste. Top shelf vs. moonshine. Everything you’ve ever wanted vs. anything you’ve ever settled for. You will be so grateful, and your tastebuds will, too.

If you’d like, you can serve this beautiful curry with a bowl of rice and a plateful of cucumber slices. The original recipe comes from So Vegan. So check it out.

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
4  large tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. hot chili powder
3 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coconut cream
3 cups raw spinach
1 handful fresh coriander leaves
pinch of salt
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tsp. coconut oil for frying
sliced cucumber for garnish

1. Add onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Crush the mustard seeds and coriander seeds until fine, either with the side of a knife blade or a mortar & pestle.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
4. Fry the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, and chili powder for 2 min.
5. Add the onion and tomato mixture, stir well, and simmer on low heat for 20 min.
6. Add coconut cream and chickpeas, stir well, and heat for 3-5 min.
7. Add a pinch of salt, a drizzle of lemon juice, and a small handful of coriander.
8. Add all the spinach, and stir briefly until wilted.

Serves four.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Brigid’s Chocolate Chip Goji Berry Gluten-free Muffins

I happen to have the privilege of working with some very talented people, and Brigid Titgemeier is one of them! Brigid started a blog this year to share her expertise as a registered dietitian, and you must check it out. This past week she posted her recipe for Chocolate Chip Goji Berry Muffins, which she describes as “the perfect way to combine the nutritional benefits of eggs and oatmeal in one delicious muffin!” No complaints here. The nourishing, high-quality ingredients add up to a spectacularly gorgeous, delicious, and satisfying yum! And so much better than a “breakfast bar.”

Goji berries are a long, slender, red berry that you can pick up in the dried foods section at many grocery stores. You don’t need a special recipe to eat them; they taste good straight from your palm, too. Rich in vitamin C, fiber, and phytonutrients, you can be sure that you are nourishing yourself with these sweet little babies.

Ghee, if you are curious, is simply another term for clarified butter. You can buy it, or you can make it as follows: Gently melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Within minutes, the butter will separate into 3 layers, with foam on top, milk solids on the bottom, and clarified butter in between. Spoon off the foam, discard, and then, without disturbing the bits of milk solids resting on the bottom of the pan, pour the clarified butter into a clean glass jar. That’s it!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup oats, certified gluten-free
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • a dash of sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup grass-fed ghee [or cold-pressed coconut oil if you avoid dairy]
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup goji berries
  • cold-pressed coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. To prevent sticking, rub a bit of coconut oil into each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients (chickpea flour, almond flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt).
  3. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and mix well (eggs, banana, peanut butter, vanilla, maple syrup and ghee [or coconut oil]).
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and goji berries.
  6. Spoon batter into the muffin cups to 2/3 full.
  7. Bake 14-16 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Simplest Salad

I’ve been making this salad for breakfast, yes breakfast, for months now. I know it’s a bit unconventional in the U.S. to eat salad for breakfast (though not in Europe and the Middle East), but it’s such a great way to start the day. Its success is built on simplicity. My strategy remains similar, week in and week out. It is never quite the same, and always delicious. Thank you to Alice Waters for teaching me to eat simply. This salad makes one single serving, but is infinitely flexible if you’d like to invite a friend or an army to your table to share a meal.

1 medium white potato (organic), cooked
2 small (pickling) cucumbers (approx 4 inches long)
8 grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tsp. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
a small handful of fresh herbs (choose from among chives, basil, mint, thyme, oregano)

Dice the potato into 1/2 inch cubes, and add to a bowl.
Halve the cucumbers the long way, and slice into thin half-moons.
Slice each tomato in half.

Mix together the vegetables, and add the herbs. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Mix well.
Sprinkle the top with sunflower seeds just before serving.

Thank you, Alice Waters.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lemon-Sesame Kale Salad

A kale celebration for kale lovers everywhere (!). If you don’t happen to have any kale right now, you can still make this salad with any other greens growing in your garden or sitting in your fridge. Radicchio is a good addition, too. Do I post a lot of recipes for kale? Maybe. But I know hardly anyone who eats enough green, leafy vegetables. What’s the deal with green leaves? They’re basically a nutrition powerhouse, with loads of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, you name it. Exactly like taking a multivitamin. But without the constipation.
  • 1 head of kale
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and diced)
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced 
  • 2 cups (1 can) chickpeas, rinsed well and patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds (shelled) for garnish
Dressing:
  • 1 /2 cup tahini 
  • 3 /4 cup water
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove (med-large), minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the veggies and beans, and toss into a large bowl.  Set aside.
2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, adding a bit of water drop by drop (one teaspoon at a time) if necessary. Remember the water in the veggies will thin the dressing further.
3. Pour the dressing into the vegetables, mix gently, and serve immediately.  Garnish with sunflower seeds.
A prior version of this recipe comes (with many thanks) from Angela at vegangela.com.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Beautifully Red Cabbage Salad

Welcome to lunch for a week with spicy, crunchy, sour power! When I saw this recipe I knew right away that it had a future in my kitchen! Even still, cabbage is one of those foods that is highly underrated — especially the red kind. But go ahead and make some for you, your gang, and your co-workers! You’ll be very happy you did.

1 small head of red cabbage, cored
2 bunches flat-leaf Italian parsley, rinsed well and chopped finely
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), rinsed well and sliced thinly
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best, but not essential)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (separate whites & yolks if you’re inclined)
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Cut the cabbage into small chunks, and process in small batches in a food processor (short, quick pulses) just a few times until chopped roughly. Avoid overprocessing or you will have raw cabbage soup.
2. Empty chopped cabbage into a large bowl, and mix in parsley and onions.
3. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss thoroughly.
4. Sprinkle with nuts and chopped eggs. Serves 4-6.

Thank you to the incomparable Blender Girl for a prior version of this recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Haminados for Passover!

Haminados are one of my all-time favorite Passover recipes! Simple, sublime and delicious, they have been a staple at the Passover tables of Mediterranean Jewish communities for millennia! Check out this recipe and you’ll see why. Whether you make this dish in your crockpot or oven, it takes just a few minutes to toss it together and get things cooking.

12 whole eggs, in their shells
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Kosher salt
4 whole onions, including their skins
1 tsp. olive oil
1-2 quarts cool water

Slice the whole onions, skins and all, into quarters. Pack the eggs and onions into a crock pot or a medium-sized, tightly covered dish. Add salt, pepper and olive oil. Pour in cool water to cover the eggs completely, and turn heat to low (crockpot) or 200 F (oven). Cook at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours if you’re busy. Check the water periodically to make sure it stays at or close to the top of the eggs. When you’re ready, drain, rinse and peel the eggs you’re planning to eat right away, and refrigerate the rest for later. Discard the onions, hopefully in your compost pile if you’ve got one!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Fennel Vegetable Soup

The folks where I work are always coming up with the most sublimely delicious recipes. This is one. If you’ve never eaten fennel, you are in for a delicious treat. Raw, it’s crunchy and sweet, a bit like celery with a faint whiff of licorice. Cooked it’s a different vegetable altogether. A great addition to any vegetable soup recipe, it is a total team player, happily absorbing other flavors from the pot at the same time as it shares its own. Fennel comes in bulbs, and the easiest way to cut it up, no matter how you intend to use it, is to slice it in half from top to bottom, and then to slice the half-bulb into thin blades, all of equal length and width, as you work around the bulb.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 ribs celery, rinsed and sliced very thin
1 medium bulb fennel (sliced, top to bottom around the bulb, into thin blades)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups kale, washed VERY well, deveined and shredded
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, until softening, stirring often. 2. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and fennel. Stir often, approx 5 minutes more, until vegetables begin to wilt.
3. Add tomatoes, kale, 5 cups water, salt and pepper.
4. Allow to boil, immediately reduce heat to medium, and simmer 25-30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley and serve. Serves 4.

Thank you to ClevelandClinicwellness.com for a prior version of this beautiful recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lebanese Potato Kugel

Once again, my dear friend and talented cook Judith has outdone herself. Potato kugel (translated loosely as “pudding,” but much more Yorkshire than chocolate), was a mainstay of my childhood. Last weekend she completely surprised (!) me, creating her own version of this recipe that is so familiar and dear to me, and which I grew up eating on many holidays and other special occasions. My Grandma Rosie had her own special way of making potato kugel; she taught my mom to make it, and that’s how I learned. Grandma Rosie’s version would have you heating the oil in a square glass Pyrex pan in the oven, carefully pouring the potato batter directly into the hot pan with spitting hot olive oil, and then sprinkling a little more oil on top prior to cooking it, but Judith’s version gives you a little more control over the crust.

This is one of those recipes whose flavor creates a memory that stays with you for years. As my grandma Rosie would have put it, it takes a little bit of potchky-ing (fussing) but, as Judith puts it, it’s “A labor of love you won’t regret.”

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup garbanzo or fava bean flour
1/2 cup cilantro (plus more for garnish if desired), chopped coarsely
1/2 cup green onion, finely sliced
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
water to mix

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except the water.
2. Add water as needed to absorb chick pea flour, so that the mixture is wet but sticks together (fairly solid). Too wet is better than too dry, fyi, so if you are unsure, err on the side of more water.
3. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add a generous slick of olive oil (approx 2 Tbsp.), and spoon potato mixture into the pan, spreading it into an even layer. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes, reduce flame to medium, and allow to brown.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Once the sides of the kugel begin to crisp, slide a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen, reduce the flame to low, and allow to cook 10-15 minutes more. This time, slide a sharp spatula under and around the edges to loosen it from the pan.
5. Flip the kugel by placing a serving plate atop the skillet, and then flipping so the cooked side faces up. Return empty skillet to the fire, turn up heat to medium-high. Add remaining olive oil, allow to heat thoroughly, and slide kugel, now raw side down, back into the skillet. Allow to cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, and
6. Transfer the entire skillet to the preheated oven. Cook 15-20 minutes until done. Use a sharp knife to check the center of the kugel for doneness.
7. Flip the kugel onto a cutting board or platter, and slice into 8 or more wedges. Serve with a few slices of brisket, a squeeze of lime, more fresh chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of salt, a crumble of queso fresca, a drizzle of Mexican crema, or straight up. Your choice.

Thank you, Judith. Hearty appetite!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Feminista White Beans

Here’s a recipe served throughout the Middle East by families, the families who love them, and the families who love to feed them. All kinds of families.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, peeled & minced (approx. 1 med-large onion)
  • 1/2 cup celery, rinsed & minced (approx. 2 medium stalks)
  • 16-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 3 cups canned white beans (navy beans or cannellini), drained and rinsed well
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

Heat olive oil to medium-high in a large, deep skillet. Add onion and celery, lower heat to medium, and sauté until translucent and turning golden.

Add crushed tomatoes, honey, and paprika to the skillet, and stir gently until mixed. Continue to heat until mixture is simmering. Stir in the beans. Add a pinch or two of salt and a few shakes (or grinds) of black pepper.

Cover and simmer over very low heat for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and basil just before serving. Serves 6-8 hungry feminists (and their families).

A prior version of this recipe was published at www.vegkitchen.com. Thanks!