YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Golden Gazpacho Soup

You can think of gazpacho as soup and salad, both, at the same time. It will make a great first course at a nice dinner, but you can also take it to work for lunch (maybe with Mary’s Gone Crackers or a slice of toasted whole-grain bread). It would also make a scrumptiously satisfying mid-afternoon snack.

After my husband arrived home one time with a large tray of golden, acid-free tomatoes, I had my eye on those beauties from that instant on. We ate a few on Friday night, and a few more on Saturday. Then, I could no longer resist, so I swooped in on Sunday morning to pulverize the rest in my Vitamix! My husband said it was okay because he wanted to go buy more anyway. And he did.

I actually made this recipe to share at a barbecue and, no exaggeration, it was the best gazpacho I have ever made. Somebody was asking me for a gazpacho recipe the other day: If you’re reading this, use this one (with whatever tomatoes you have)! I love how simple it is. And I love that the tomato-ey sweetness is enhanced not with sugar but with red pepper and balsamic vinegar. Everything in this recipe comes in pairs: tomatoes and peppers, garlic and onion, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Alice Waters (The Art of Simple Food) would be so proud.

Ingredients:

9 medium golden-yellow tomatoes, quartered
2 additional golden-yellow tomatoes, chopped fine
1/2 red pepper, cored and seeded
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Set aside the two chopped tomatoes.

Add the remaining tomatoes, red pepper, onions and garlic to the blender, and blend on high 30-45 seconds until smooth. Pour in the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and blend again for 10 seconds more.

Pour the soup into a pitcher or large glass jar, stir in the chopped tomato, and leave to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors. 

Note: You are going to need a high-speed blender to make this recipe. A regular one won’t work because it isn’t strong enough to pulverize everything. There are a number of good high-speed blenders, like Vitamix or Blendtec, and you should feel good about getting a refurbished one, too. A friend of mine got a refurbished one and it lasted more than 15 years.

Finally, a homegrown gazpacho prayer: thank you sun, thank you rain, thank you farmers and, of course, thank you Vitamix.

Serves 8-10. 


When it’s Not Really Fruit or Vegetables

If I had just ten seconds to share nutrition advice, I know exactly what I would say: Eat more fruits and vegetables. And I don’t think that would surprise anyone. We all know that fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, rich in not only fiber but also phytonutrients, and everyone knows it’s a good idea to eat more of them. Especially since most of us don’t eat enough produce to begin with.

Now, the brand managers in the food industry know that we know we should eat more fruits and vegetables. This is why there are so many processed food items containing fruit-related words, or some version of the actual word “fruit.” Vegetables, too, to a lesser extent. Like vegetable oil. And which “vegetable” would that be, please? Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Joe’s Sassiest Asian Slaw Ever

My buddy and longtime fan Joe Gardewin has come up with what he calls “the very best and sassiest Asian slaw ever.” He says it’s great on turkey tacos but you should also feel free to eat it plain, right out of the bowl, if you want! His list of veggies is somewhat flexible, but includes cabbage, daikon radish, and hot peppers at the very least, and he is proud to say that he is a legit food snob since he hand-cuts his slaw. Go, Joe! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chocolate-Pecan Bars (df, gf, vegan, no bake)

My friend Lia brought these to book club a couple weeks ago. OMG. You should make them. Technically they are meant to be dessert, but they would be great for breakfast, too. I would bring them to folks young and old. A reunion of friends. A picnic. A gathering of neighbors. A special meal. An ordinary one.

Food like this creates all kinds of moments, like moments in time and moments of gratitude. It’s a personal reminder that food is meant to nourish not just the body, but the heart and soul as well. And the best is when our food does all three at the same time. Thank you, Lia.

Date-Pecan Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted, natural almond butter
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted pecan halves, divided
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 5-7 pitted Medjool dates (1/2 cup packed)

Chocolate Layer

  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp. natural almond butter, unsalted

Topping

  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, greased foil, or wax paper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the date-pecan layer, add dates and almond butter to a food processor. Blend approx. one minute until sticky and crumbly, like chunks of wet sand or dough. Scrape down the sides of the processor intermittently, as needed, between processing.
  3. Add 1 cup pecans, vanilla, and salt to food processor. Blend continuously until pecans are fully incorporated and mixture is soft and crumbly. When the mixture holds together when pinched, it’s ready. Add remaining pecans, and pulse only a few times until pecans are just barely incorporated, with medium-small pieces still visible.
  4. Pour the contents into the prepared baking pan. Press gently with a spatula, and smooth into an even, tightly-packed layer.
  5. To prepare the chocolate mixture, add chocolate chips and (¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp.) of almond butter to the top of a double boiler, or heat in a microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 20-second increments until soft and melted. Stir until smooth.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over date-pecan layer. Smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans, and press gently into the chocolate.
  7. Freeze for 20-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and slice into 16 generous bars or 20 bite-size pieces.

Thank you to Beaming Baker for a prior version of this recipe.



YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Grilled Tofu & Cucumber Salad

Grilling season—yeah! Here’s something so delicious you’ll probably want to make it even if you aren’t vegan! Of course, if you do want to make something special because your favorite vegan happens to be coming for dinner, then this really yummy recipe is a great choice! And you should plan to make enough for everybody, just in case. The warm and cold; soft and crunchy; sweet, sour and heat all add up to a very pleasing set of contrasts.  Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Two Parsley Salads For You

There is a warm and cozy spot in my heart where the parsley goes. Parsley doesn’t usually get people riled up in the same way as basil, thyme, and oregano, but that’s about to change! What’s great about these recipes is that parsley is not the garnish but the main event. It’s the green, the herb, the everything. No competition, no second fiddle. It’s not a decoration, it’s just the parsley, and it’s definitely meant to be eaten this way. Continue reading


Fourth of July Celebration (almost)!

Here’s one of my all-time favorite posts, reposted from July 4, 2010:
It’s the fourth of July today, and my sibs and I have converged on the family home for the great annual bash. On and off since yesterday evening, five strapping grandsons have been carrying cartons of beer, wine, soda, water, and iced tea up to the deck, where great drums of ice stand ready to receive them all. Continue reading



Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (plus one glorious recipe!)

An article on the obesity epidemic once ran in our local paper with the headline “Eat, drink, and be sorry.” Eat, drink, and be SORRY? The actual quote reads, “Eat, drink, and be merry, so that joy will accompany him in his work all the days of his life.” And herein lies the problem. Continue reading