YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Diversity Salad

Magic happens when you harmonize with contributions from every color. That’s usually the best way to dish it out. Crunch.

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, cut into quarters lengthwise, and then into very thin slices
1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped coarsely
4 small (pickling size) cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 bunch of radishes, cleaned, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned) cannellini beans, rinsed well and strained
1 1/2 cups cooked (or canned) turtle beans, rinsed well and strained
1 cup cooked (or canned) kidney beans, rinsed well and strained.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. huckleberry vinegar (or white vinegar plus 1/2 tsp. honey)
1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper

Add all the ingredients to a large salad bowl and toss. Set aside to serve at room temperature.
Appreciate the diversity of flavors, textures, and colors.

Thank you, Steve at Rancho Gordo, for a prior version of this recipe.
Reader, if you haven’t checked out Rancho Gordo yet, then do so now. Absolutely sublime.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Red Cabbage with a Buzz

When I saw this recipe I knew it was for me. Generally speaking, cabbage is one of those foods that is very underrated — especially the red kind. This recipe is a red-green party, lunch for a week with spicy, crunchy, sour power! Make some for you, or your gang, or the office potluck!

1 small head of red cabbage, cored
2 bunches flat-leaf Italian parsley, rinsed well and chopped finely
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), rinsed well and sliced thinly
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best, but not essential)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup peanuts (raw or roasted), chopped coarsely
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cut up the cabbage into small chunks, and process in batches in a food processor (short, quick pulses) just a few times until chopped roughly. Avoid overprocessing or you will have raw cabbage soup.

Remove cabbage to a large bowl, and mix in the parsley, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and chopped eggs. Serves 4-6.

Thank you to the incomparable Blender Girl for a prior version of this recipe.


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: Fennel Vegetable Soup

The folks where I work are always coming up with the most sublimely delicious recipes. This is one. If you’ve never eaten fennel, you are in for a delicious treat. Raw, it’s crunchy and sweet, a bit like celery with a faint whiff of licorice. Cooked it’s a different vegetable altogether. A great addition to any vegetable soup recipe, it is a total team player, happily absorbing other flavors from the pot at the same time as it shares its own. Fennel comes in bulbs, and the easiest way to cut it up, no matter how you intend to use it, is to slice it in half from top to bottom, and then to slice the half-bulb into thin blades, all of equal length and width, as you work around the bulb.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 ribs celery, rinsed and sliced very thin
1 medium bulb fennel (sliced, top to bottom around the bulb, into thin blades)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups kale, washed VERY well, deveined and shredded
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, until softening, stirring often. 2. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and fennel. Stir often, approx 5 minutes more, until vegetables begin to wilt.
3. Add tomatoes, kale, 5 cups water, salt and pepper.
4. Allow to boil, immediately reduce heat to medium, and simmer 25-30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley and serve. Serves 4.

Thank you to ClevelandClinicwellness.com for a prior version of this beautiful recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Golden Beets

Last week we went to the West Side Market and brought home a big fat bunch of gorgeous golden beets. I was so pleased with how they turned out. We had a great big bowl full of golden beets, and they lasted four days while we ate them with everything! That’s because this recipe goes great with roasted chicken, thick tangy yogurt, scrambled eggs, a bowl of lentil soup, or greens sauteed in olive oil. Basically, everything. 

3-4 medium beets
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (yes, I like more)
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
scant 1/4 cup white vinegar

Boil freshly scrubbed beets until you can slide a cake tester in and out with just about no resistance. Turn off the heat, and allow the pot to cool completely.

Peel cool beets with your fingers under running water. The peels should mostly slide off easily, and then scrape off any stubborn remaining bits with the edge of a sharp knife. Slice off the ends, and cut up the beets into 1/2-inch cubes.

Using a whisk or fork, mix together the vinegar, pepper, salt, and honey until the honey is completely dissolved. Pour over the beets, and stir well. Makes 6-8 servings.


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: Sparkling Delicious Lentils

Here’s a wonderful recipe to start your week right! Especially after the food extravaganzas (yeah!!) of the past few days, this salad may be a really great idea for helping your digestive system to get back on track. Add a serving to the bottom of a Ball jar or two, fill to the top with freshly washed-and-dried greens, and you’ll be ready for the week with a couple of lunches-to-go-go! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Celebrate the Season!

It must be November because, once again, my counter is covered with pumpkins and onions. Here are two relatively simple but unusual (dare I say extraordinary?) recipes to use them up. Both are fantastic not just for any old day of the week, but also as impressive contributions to holiday celebrations. Make the onions the day before you need them, if possible, because no matter how great they turn out, they taste even better the next day! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Hot Peppers

A while ago I received a container of hot peppers of various interesting shapes and sizes. One day I selected a smooth, green jalapeno, chopped it into tiny bits, and added it to a stir fry. Another time, I sliced a thin, 4-inch, bright red pepper into 1/2 inch segments, marinated it in some olive oil for an hour or so, and then poured the oil over roasted eggplant sprinkled with curly parsley. That gave the sweet eggplant a pleasant bite. No further inspirations were forthcoming, and the rest of the hot peppers sat on the second shelf in the refrigerator, moving closer to the back with each passing day. Continue reading