YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Heirloom Beans & Wild Rice Thanksgiving Salad

I usually thank people for their recipes at the end, but not today. This week, not only does gratitude itself deserve top billing, but so does our appreciation for this particular recipe. So thank you to Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo in Napa CA, and to his friend Alexis Handelman, the creative brains behind both  Alexis Baking Company and this genius of a recipe. The folks at your table, whether vegetarian or turkey-ish, will not be able to stop themselves from gobbling, gabbling and gibbering about this spectacular dish. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and thank you for reading YHIOYP!


4 cups cooked white, yellow and/or red beans (try Rancho Gordo Rebosero or Eye of the Goat beans)
4 cups cooked wild rice (try Rancho Gordo Wild Rice)
1 cup cubed pumpkin squash (try Sugar Pie, or even butternut squash)
1/2 large red onion
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
5 large Brussels sprouts
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in water
1 fresh Fuyu persimmon, quartered and sliced thinly
1/3 cup baby arugula (rocket)
1/3 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. stone-ground or grain mustard
2 tablespoons any combination minced fresh herbs (thyme, lemon thyme, chervil, chives, marjoram)
Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped coarsely

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the squash cubes and onion liberally with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until tender, turning if necessary, 15 to 20 minutes. Once the onion is cool enough to handle, dice it into 1/2-inch cubes.

Meanwhile, peel and discard the tough outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Then steam the leaves for 3 minutes, until bright green and barely tender.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, mustard and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium-large bowl, combine the beans, wild rice, and diced onion. Mix in half of the vinaigrette to start, and add more a bit at a time until you are satisfied. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a large platter and spread evenly to cover the platter.

In another bowl, combine the roasted squash, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, persimmon, arugula, and parsley. Add 1/4 cup vinaigrette and mix gently to combine. Add more vinaigrette if desired, plus salt and pepper to taste. Scatter this mixture down the center of the beans and rice already on the platter.

Sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds and walnuts, along with any remaining vinaigrette.

Go For a Walk!

This week we’re going to talk about taking a walk. Here’s what I tell my patients: “I’ll pay any price to keep you mobile.” I consider mobility a goal of the highest priority. There is only one other goal about which I feel this way; I also want patients to know that I will pay any price to keep their blood sugars normal. When our kids were much younger, and they got stuck in a complaining mode (I’m cranky; I don’t feel well; I’m bored; I have too much homework), I would always say, “Go for a walk!” It got to be a joke in our house. They took it to the next level. Fever? Go for a walk! Migraine? Take a hike!  Broken leg? Walk it off! Appendicitis? “Very funny,” I said.

Our bodies are meant to move, and walking is just about the best solution for a whole host of problems. This week, plan a family walk after Thanksgiving dinner, and then do it again in the days after, along with whoever you can convince to join you. It will calm and focus your mind, protect your mobility, modulate your blood sugar, stabilize your mood, and improve your sleep. It’s a win-win.

Activity is a very powerful mood stabilizer, perhaps the most powerful, and there is even evidence suggesting that it is equivalent to taking an anti-depressant. A walk is a great way to perk up a droopy mood or calm an overstimulated mind, especially after an intense family get-together. A walk will keep your circulatory system circulating, and that will keep your skin looking young and healthy. A walk will  keep you vibrant in all the ways that count. Finally, because moving turns some of your food into physical energy, it will help keep your weight and blood sugars in the normal range. When you go for a walk, you are doing a lot.

There’s no need to train for a marathon or an iron man. Just make time to move a little bit more than you did last week.

A final word: One reason that dog owners are generally in better health is because of the benefit that accrues from having to take your dog for a walk every day. One morning I drove past the local church and saw the following sign: Pray every day—walk with God. That would work, too.

One last thing: If you have not yet tuned in to the #TodayShow on #NBC to check out our Brain Health & Wellness program at Cleveland Clinic Wellness, now’s the time! I am so very proud of the Brain Team!

Winner by a Mile

Last year, an article entitled “Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health?” was published in the scientific literature, and James Hamblin wrote a story about it for the Atlantic. He called it “Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner is Real Food.” You know, I would have edited out the word “Real” and then called it, simply, “Food.” The original article was written by David Katz and Stephanie Meller, of Yale School of Public Health. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Kale Salad Like You’ve Never Imagined

Here’s another fabulous recipe from Sweet Amandine‘s Jessica Fechtor, just in case one wasn’t enough! You will not be sorry. In case you were wondering, kale happens to be one of those cold-weather vegetables that continues to grow even after the first frost. In fact, sometimes it seems like the frost kicks it into high gear. Try this recipe with whatever kale you can get your hands on, whether from the grocery store, or your own garden, or someone else’s. And thank you! to my friend Suze, who stopped by this week with a big bunch of kale from her family’s own prodigious garden. Continue reading

The Magical Fruit

On the occasion of my ninth birthday, my beloved Uncle Lenny gave me a book called The Human Body, which still owns a place on the bookshelves that hold my medical books. I called it “The Body Book,” and I carried it everywhere until I had learned everything in it, cover to cover. I was fascinated not only by the contents, but also by the idea that each part of the body was uniquely designed to do exactly what was required of it. Form followed function, and I couldn’t get enough. That, parenthetically, was also the year I realized I was going to become a doctor. Continue reading

That TED Talk, Now WITH Those Photographs

My TED talk is over and done! Exhausting, exhilarating, and done! I’m super charged about sharing the video, which I’m told should be online in just a few weeks. This presentation included a number of firsts for me, but the most significant was that it was the first time I have ever shared “before-and-after” photos. The feedback, fantastic and instructive, is what I’m going to discuss today.  Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Roasted Carrot & Fennel Soup

Please meet one of my favorite new food writers, Jessica Fechtor, who writes on her blog Sweet Amandine and whose first book, Stir, reached the NYTimes bestseller list in recent weeks! What a grand success for a newly published author! Yes, I read it and, yes, it was wonderful! Stir, by the way, is not just about food. It’s about how finding her way around the kitchen was how Jessica found her way back to living after a brain aneurysm and its aftermath left her overwhelmed and unsure of absolutely everything.   Continue reading


This past week my mom brought over a gift of a bag full of beautiful little orange Habanero peppers from her garden. Lucky for me, she had no idea how spicy they would be. I’m guessing that it was just about at the point of taking that first little taste that she realized how perfect they would be. For me, that is. Continue reading

Can I Eat Fruit?

Recently I’ve been asked by a number of people whether it’s okay to eat fruit. You know it’s relatively high in sugar; they’re worried about whether they should be eating a food that contains a lot of sugar. It’s fine. As long as the sugar is enclosed in a fiber matrix, and as long as you don’t already have a blood sugar problem (like uncontrolled diabetes), feel free to eat fruit. You can trust me when I say that apples and oranges are absolutely not what’s driving up our collective weight. The obesity epidemic is not being caused by fruit. Continue reading