YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Bean Dip with Feta and Herbs

Here’s a simple, flavorful recipe from the July 2012 edition of BBC Good Food magazine. You can eat it with slices of cucumbers or crackers, or spread it on toast, or stuff a tomato with it.  I think it would also be amazing on a slice of butternut squash, roasted under the broiler for a minute or two.

The original recipe [clearly not written by an American] says that you should “whizz until smooth,” which I think could be taken in more than one way. I prefer it chunky. And I feel the same about peanut butter, by the way.

  • 1 can (14 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 7 oz. feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • generous amount of fresh ground pepper

Place the beans, feta, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor, and pulse to the desired texture. Stir in the herbs, season with pepper, and share it with someone you love. Take the leftovers to work tomorrow.

 

 


How Your Portions Take Care of Themselves

I want to speak once again about a massive misconception, namely that obesity is an overindulged state. It is not. The reason that your appetite increases right along with your waistline is that the bigger you are, the more malnourished you become. And the more malnourished you are, the hungrier you get.

So this means that portion control is not a solution, but rather a consequence of improving your nutrition. It happens by itself when you begin to eat in a way that supports your good health. The more nutritious food you eat, the more nourished you become, the more weight you “release,” the better your pants fit, and the more reasonable your appetite gets.

Have you ever said to yourself, “Why, oh why, did I drink so much olive oil?” Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I shouldn’t have eaten so much fruit salad!”? Of course not. Foods that are nutritious send signals to our brains to put the brakes on automatically when we’ve had enough.

In contrast, items without nutritional value send no such signal. So it’s easy to eat too much candy, too many potato chips, half a pan of brownies, a sleeve of Thin Mints, and two full orders of deep-fried whatever. Even on the same day.

That’s why the solution to overweight is not to eat less but to eat better. It’s why I want a lot of peanuts (or edamame or walnuts or almonds or chickpeas) in my salad. Because that salad is going to fill me up and stick to my ribs a lot more if I add plenty of nutritious oil and protein to that gorgeous colorful salad. And I also want the salad dressing to be made with something rich and nourishing like olive oil or tahini, either of which will make the salad taste fabulous and satisfy me for at least a few hours. Fat-free salad dressing is not food. Neither is anything else made with corn syrup.

Portion control is a separate issue from nutritional density. Eat more nutritious food, and your portions will begin to take care of themselves.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Corn & Quinoa Salad

In case you’re wondering, THIS is what you should do with your roasted ears of corn! ‘Tis the season!!

  • 1 c. black quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn, roasted on the grill if you are so lucky, otherwise boiled)*
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. sweet grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c. red cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 c. cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt

1) Heat quinoa and salt with water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes or until water is absorbed. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes.

2) Add the quinoa, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and cucumber to a generous-sized bowl.

3) Blend together the dressing ingredients until smooth, pour over the vegetables, and toss until well mixed.

4) Call the troops! Plan on this amount feeding 3-6, depending what else is on the table.

*Note: if the corn is incredibly fresh and sublimely sweet, consider using the raw kernels. But that is up to you.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Zucchini with Cilantro Pesto

Thank you to Terry Walters and Clean Start for this beautiful, inspired recipe. It’s the kind of recipe many of whose ingredients, or at least some, may already be on your counter, and it’s got all kinds of valuable substitution possibilities that can keep you experimenting for a good long while.

Cilantro has powerful flavor, and it’s exceptionally rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and some volatile oils that may even have antibiotic properties. If your family goes crazy for cilantro, not a speck will be left afterward. And if you decide to make it for company, your guests will remember what a great cook you are for a long, long time!

Pesto:

  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pine nuts, toasted lightly
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

1) Puree pesto ingredients until well blended. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

2) Slice 2 medium zucchini and 1 medium yellow summer squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Either slice the squash into half moons as thin as humanly possible (with either your knife, or a mandoline if you have one), or cut it into long slender matchsticks, or turn it into long ribbons of “pasta” squash. Your choice.

3) Add a steamer rack to a saucepan with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil. Immediately add the squash to the steamer rack, cover the pot, and cook 3 minutes or until just tender. Try not to overcook, and remember that it will continue to cook a little bit more after you remove it from the heat.

4) Add cooked squash to the bowl of pesto and toss well. Decorate with additional pine nuts, and serve.

If you get a yen to try some substitutions, try parsley for the cilantro, or lime for the lemon, or raw cashews for the pine nuts, or steamed baby artichokes for the zucchini. This pesto is the best thing ever on roasted tomatoes, or pasta, too, of course. Enjoy!

 

 


What Successful Diets All Have in Common

10604703_10154437825720532_2197759303142084385_oI gave a talk the other day in Erie, Pennsylvania, on “What Successful Popular Diets Have in Common.” We took a photo of the announcement on the easel, and posted it on Facebook, whereupon a whole bunch of people asked the obvious question: So what is it?! What do all popular diets have in common?! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chickpeas & Parsley

This recipe is a super-delicious, uber-nutritious gift from a dear friend. He says it was inspired by Michael Symon’s 5 in 5, but this version is vegan! Serve it in a beautiful, brightly colored bowl, and put the bowl on a large red cloth napkin. My imagination is running wild… Continue reading


I Am Grateful

I am thinking about gratitude. It’s not hard for me. I was born an optimist; I always see the glass half-full. I always make lemonade from lemons — what else would you do with them? Yes, it is true that I have had my share of bad days, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they have made me a better person, and a better doctor, too. See what I mean? It’s a given. I had a quiet laugh this week when my dear friend send me a “positivity challenge” on Facebook because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s never been positivity that was the challenge! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Tomato and Fennel Pasta Sauce

Two of my favorite things: tomatoes and fennel! This is totally the “sauce of the season,” with fresh herbs and a simple strategy for bringing out the natural sweetness of all the ingredients. If you are not a big fan of pasta, then try cooking some turkey meatballs in this sauce, or pour it over a little pile of tofu cubes, or poach a few eggs in it. Then again you could serve it with a pan of polenta or a bowl of quinoa, or use it to make a tray of lasagna. You choose! Continue reading


Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

Sometimes I imagine a sign in my office, just above the door, that says “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” I think about this a lot, especially when I see people who are hard on themselves, who discount small efforts as insufficient, or who describe themselves as lazy, or incompetent, or unfocused. They are none of these. If anything they are precisely the opposite — hard-working, goal-directed and applied — but they tend to believe that if they can’t give it their all, there’s no sense trying because there can be no chance of success. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lilah & the Banana Muffins

My friend Lilah sent me this recipe for banana muffins earlier today. Even though she really doesn’t care for bananas, she said “I have to tell you, I loved these.” She said she’s planning to make batches to feed her kids for breakfast on schooldays. I like that idea. You have to assume, of course, that she’s planning to make enough to eat a couple more after they leave. I like that idea, too. And just so you know, there’s a version of this recipe (check out Debbie Reichert’s blog) that’s been posted more than 600,000 times on Pinterest.

Ingredients:
2.5 cups old-fashioned or gluten-free oats
1 cup plain greek yogurt or coconut milk yogurt, Greek-style
2 eggs
½ cup raw honey
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds (flax meal)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ripe bananas, peeled and broken in half
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely
dark chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners.
2. Place 1 cup of oats plus all of the other ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Add second cup of oats and blend until smooth. Add final one-half cup of oats and blend, once again, until batter is smooth.
3. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and sprinkle the tops with the chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool on wire rack for a few minutes, and then share the love! These are amazingly delicious, warm or cool. And yes, Lilah, I think they will make a fantastic breakfast for your kids. They would probably be really good with some peanut butter spread on top, too. Warm and slightly melty. Ohhh…