YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Chef Ira’s Fresh Strawberries

My dad had a long and successful career in the perfume business, but he once confided to me that if he had it all to do over again, he would have become a cook. To tell the truth, I think that’s exactly what he did.

My dad is a great cook. A master in the kitchen, his wonderful recipes always demonstrate respect for flavor, texture, seasonings, and most of all the food itself. You might find him making a perfect omelette for two at 7 in the morning, or an exquisite lunch for five a few hours later. He’s just as happy making a celebration dinner for a dozen or twice that number. I like to work by his side, serving as his sous chef, learning as I go, and following his instructions on how exactly to cut the vegetables.

Here’s a little treat of a recipe he sent me once:

1. Juice 4 lemons, and then juice 2-3 oranges. Mix together the juices.
2. Sweeten with a few tablespoons of strawberry jam (preferably Trappist Monk brand).
3. Add in a quart of washed, chopped strawberries (green heads removed), and mix well.

Serve for dessert (in small stemmed glasses) as is, or spoon over yogurt or ice cream or scrambled eggs or anything else your heart desires. Bon appetit!



YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cranberry-Ginger Relish After Thanksgiving

Since I go absolutely ga-ga over cranberries, and I absolutely adore ginger, I consider this a perfect recipe! Eat this cranberry-ginger relish straight off your fork, or drop a heaping spoonful into a bowl of squash soup or a cup of plain yogurt. And it’s a perfect choice for slathering onto a slice of leftover turkey that could use a little more moisture.

Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Slow And Steady Wins the Race (2 vegan, 1 turkey)

Now that the cold weather has moved in, I thought it would be nice to talk about slow oven cooking. As often happens when food cooks overnight in my oven, its extraordinary fragrance awakens me periodically throughout the night. You have to try it to believe it; the smell is amazing. It’s impossible to go wrong with slow oven cooking. The flavors caramelize and blend to become complex and satisfying. Although it is true that eating well takes more planning, it does not take more time. In the case of slow oven cooking, it actually takes less, and all these recipes can also be made in a crockpot set to low.  Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes

This recipe makes a simple and lovely meal that could not be more delicious or satisfying! Like many recipes whose featured ingredient is one or more types of beans, it still tastes wonderful even if you fiddle with the ingredients a little. The name of the game is flexibility. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Yellow Squash Crockpot Soup

This soup, perfect for fall days and nights, cooks up beautifully in a crock pot. If you put together all the ingredients in the morning, the house will smell heavenly all day, and the soup will be ready to eat when dinnertime comes. On the other hand, if evening time works better for prepping the ingredients, the house will smell heavenly when you wake up, and the soup will be ready at lunchtime and also keep til dinnertime. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Summer’s Caramelized Corn Salad

This beautiful and elegant recipe, with its mix of so many different colors and flavors, will certainly make your tastebuds sing! The sweetness from the pepper, sour from the lime, heat from the Sriracha, brightness from the parsley, all come together to form an absolute culinary orchestra. And sauteing the corn in olive oil? Well that’s what gives it that little bit of sweetly caramelized late summer magic. Enjoy! Continue reading


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. 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.