YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Quinoa, Squash and Bean Soup

Here’s a great, simple recipe from my friend’s friend’s daughter-in-law. We’re practically family! Check out Marci’s blog at You can say that YHIOYP sent you. P.S. Note the regionalism in her blog title: that kind of talk is something you’ll hear only in Philadelphia and South Jersey. If you live in that part of the country, you would never say that you’re going to the beach. It’s “down the shore” for you! So many great memories of the Jersey shore, where the food is great and the living is easy.

  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans, soaked overnight or at least 6 hours
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 c. winter squash, cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6 c. liquid (she uses 2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth plus 4 c. water, says any combination will do)
  • 1/2 c. quinoa (she uses red quinoa)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: chopped parsley or chopped basil

Place beans, onion, garlic, squash, 1 Tbsp. salt, paprika, bay leaf, tomatoes and liquid in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Check beans for softness after 4 hours. For last half hour add 1/2 c. quinoa. Stir and cover to cook for remaining time. Add salt and pepper to taste, with fresh herbs if using.

(adapted from NY Times, longer it sits, thicker it gets, freezes “perfectly”.)

Does This Nourish Me?

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you choose your foods:
“What should I be buying, preparing, and eating?”
“What should I be making for my family, or co-workers?”
“Does this provide me with nutrients and building blocks?”
“Does it help my body to grow, to heal, to be strong and healthy?”
“Does it nourish me?”

To thrive or not to thrive, that is the question.

Real food nourishes. We convert food molecules into muscles, bones, blood vessels. We use those molecules to strengthen our immune systems, to guide our brains to relax, to hike up hills and run marathons.

Garbage in, garbage out. Sugar, Crisco®, food dye? Having some difficulty focusing? You might want to consider whether it’s your food choices.

I didn’t just wake up one morning and start eating like this. It’s been a process. First I stopped eating white flour. Then diet Coke. Then frozen fish sticks. Margarine. “Breakfast cereals.” I put that in quotes because it’s like “TV dinners.” When marketers tell me what to eat and when to eat it, that’s a very bad sign. “Lunchables,” there’s another one. No thanks.

Then there was the night years ago that I finally “flipped” the kitchen once and for all. My elementary-school-aged children threatened that “we’re gonna eat white bread at school!,” to which I replied, “You may eat anything you like when you’re at school or a friend’s house. I’m not saying you can’t eat white bread. I’m just saying that we won’t be having that in our kitchen anymore.” In the ensuing months they settled down a lot, especially when they noticed that they actually felt better.

Is it ever okay to eat “food-like items” that are not nourishing? Yes, just like it’s okay to go to the movies once in a while. But you probably wouldn’t want to live there.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cauliflower Polenta with Mushrooms

My dad says that you shouldn’t eat anything white except cauliflower. Plus, he loves cauliflower. It may seem a little drastic, but it’s definitely a reasonable strategy for eating more vegetables and less stripped carb. Plus there is so much you can do with cauliflower. Continue reading

Wellness as a Pyramid

I like to think about health and wellbeing as a pyramid, a pyramid with three major pillars: eating patterns, activity patterns, rest & relaxation patterns. Notice I didn’t call anything diet and exercise — yeh, those don’t work. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spicy Black Bean Soup

I’m trying to get you to eat more beans, in case you can’t tell. Peasant food, rustic. Old-fashioned. From the old country. Why did they eat so many beans? Beans are the only food on the planet that’s rich in both fiber and protein. This makes them very special, filling, nutritious. And inexpensive. So eat your beans! Thank you to Mark Bittman, and How to Cook Everything Fast, for the original version of this recipe. If you use canned beans, dinner can be ready in 15 minutes. Continue reading

Diet is a Punishment, Eating a Celebration

Dieting means to restrict, to deny oneself. It is a logical consequence of the assumption that weight problems are due to overindulgence. But there is a big, fat fault line within this assumption, for if it were true, then denial would be an effective and viable option for losing weight. It is not, of course, which is why you have probably noticed that diets almost never work. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chicken with Yellow Split-Pea Gravy

I made up this rather elegant recipe one Sunday a few weeks back when I got tired of looking at a package of yellow split peas that had been in the cupboard for a very, very long time (no, I’m not going to tell). Embarrassing. Here’s what I did: Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Rice & Collards Soup

Last year I was asked to give a talk on vitamins and minerals. For lack of a more inspired approach, I decided to go in alphabetical order, plodding through all these micronutrients like an elementary school teacher. As part of the talk I shared ideas for good sources of the various vitamins and minerals. To my great delight, I discovered that greens were a source of almost every vitamin I mentioned! Who knew? Greens even have tons of orange and yellow nutrients, like beta-carotene. The dark green pigment hides the lighter ones, but they’re still there. Continue reading

A Big Fan of Small Change

Maybe you know, or maybe you don’t, but I like to imagine that there’s a big sign on my office wall that says “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” It isn’t actually there, but I like to pretend it is, and I quote it all the time. It’s not important to hit the track like you’re training for the Olympics. It’s not reasonable to think you should be able to lose 20 lbs. by next month. And it’s definitely not in the cards for you to become the next meditation guru. But it’s not necessary either. Continue reading