YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spinach Pesto

Here’s a special pasta dish with a gorgeous rainbow of colors that is perfect for when you want to make a good impression on someone special. And not only is it beautiful, but it’s so, so good for you. Each and every color represents a different phytonutrient, a building block for your good health. Nourishing yourself well is like playing roulette: you’re a lot more likely to win if you spread your bets all over the table. So think of each color as a different bet. And enjoy!

  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1/4 c. walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup each asparagus, red peppers, purple onion, zucchini (all cut into half-inch, bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 /2 lb. whole-grain pasta of your choice
  • 1 /4 c. pine nuts

1) Preheat oven to 400F. To make pesto, process spinach with olive oil in food processor or blender until mostly smooth. Add garlic, walnuts, yeast, salt and pepper. Blend again until smooth. adding up to 2 tablespoons more olive oil if needed to get the texture just the way you like it.

2) Place veggies on a cookie sheet with edges, and roast in oven for approx. 30 minutes, shaking occasionally. Set aside.

3) Toast pine nuts on a dry baking sheet for 2 minutes in the oven, and shake often. Don’t take your eye off them — two minutes goes quickly and pine nuts burn fast!

4) Prepare pasta according to directions. Reserve 1 /2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta, rinse, transfer to a bowl, and toss immediately with pesto. Add back a bit of reserved water at a time, just as much as you need to coat the pasta thoroughly.

5) Spread out the pasta on a large dish, top with roasted veggies, and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serves 2.

Thank you to vegweb.com for a prior version of this recipe!


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: 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: Asian Cabbage Slaw

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending the evening with a wonderful group of new friends. The fire was crackling, the food and wine were wonderful, the company was delicious, and I had such a nice time. This Asian Cabbage Slaw was one of the inspired dishes we enjoyed together. I could tell you all kinds of reasons that this salad is so good for you, like the Vitamin C, and the heat from the capsaicin, and the benefits of acid, but the fact of the matter is that the best reason to make this is because it’s really good. Enjoy!

3 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger, peeled
2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Asian fish sauce (skip this if you are vegan, and increase soy sauce to 3 tsp.)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. chaat masala (use garam masala if you cannot find this)
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 pound green cabbage, cored and shredded finely
6 scallions, thinly sliced (discard the dark green part)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped finely
1/ cup mint leaves, chopped finely
2 avocadoes, peeled, pitted, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced for garnish
1 1/4 cup roasted, salted cashews, chopped coarsely
microgreens for garnish

Whisk together the lime juice and honey in a large serving bowl, followed by the sriracha, soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, chaat masala, cumin, salt, and pepper. [Stop here, and store dressing in the refrigerator overnight if desired.] Add cabbage, scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, mint, avocadoes and 1 cup of cashews. Toss thoroughly. Garnish with avocado, cashews, and greens.

Thank you to Food & Wine for this exotic and wonderful recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: “Party Salad” or Sweet & Spicy Kale Chips

If anyone in your house is not eating as many greens as you think they ought to be (whether it’s you, or the kids, or your spouse), then make this asap! Think of it as a kind of party salad. You’ll notice that this particular recipe uses two large bunches of kale, but don’t think that’s too much: once they shrink in the oven, they turn into a moderate-sized bowl of chips at best. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: I Can See a Rainbow Salad

DEAR READERS:

AFTER 7 YEARS, AND MORE THAN 600 (!) POSTS, BEGINNING THIS COMING WEEK I WILL BE TAKING A BREAK FROM WRITING THE WEEKLY ESSAYS SO I CAN GET STARTED WRITING A LONG-AWAITED BOOK TO SHARE MY THOUGHTS AND HOPES FOR YOUR HEALTH & WELLNESS! WE WILL CONTINUE, EACH AND EVERY WEEK, TO POST SCRUMPTIOUS, GORGEOUS RECIPES (LIKE THE RAINBOW SALAD RECIPE BELOW) TO KEEP IN TOUCH AND CONTINUE TO MAKE DELICIOUS AND NOURISHING FOOD TOGETHER! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Vegetable Borscht

I wanted to share this vegetable borscht now(!) so that, hopefully, you’ll have time to make it the week (freeze), day (refrigerate), or at least the morning before you plan to serve it. Which means that, at the very least, you’ll want to make this recipe first thing in the morning to give its flavors time to blend. Besides its deliciousness, another one of the great things about this recipe is the fact that it meets the requirements of a great many different kinds of nutritional approaches. There’s nothing like making many people happy, all at the same time. And that’s not something that should be taken for granted, either! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Rainbow Beet Salad

Beets are one of my favorite foods. Whether purple, yellow, orange, or pink-and-white, these babies are phytonutrient heaven. Some people are partial to the smaller-sized beets, considering these the sweetest but, no matter what size you like, you’ll want to make sure to get ones with firm, dark green leaves on top. Beet greens are absolutely the best! When I buy beets, I cut the green tops off right away so I can slice them into short lengths, rinse them well, and saute them quickly in olive oil. They usually get eaten fast.  Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Fresh Herbs with Cannellini Beans

What makes this an unusual salad is that the herbs in this recipe play a leading role, complementing the cannellini (small white) beans as equal partners instead of minor players. Think of the herbs in this recipe more as greens than flavor enhancers. It’s a great way to use large amounts of fresh herbs from the garden. It’s super easy, super delicious, and super nutritious; herbs are known to have extremely high levels of phytonutrients. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: The Barefoot Gypsy’s Tabouli

Here is an absolutely fantastic recipe for tabouli from my lucky friend Judith, who got it from her mom, who got it from her mom, who got it from her mom, and so on, which is why my friend Judith is so lucky. Pick up what you need next time you go shopping, so you can make it in time for next weekend’s celebrations!  Continue reading