Rustic Lentil Soup

Rustic Lentil Soup

At restaurants, my dad didn’t see a set line where the salad bar ended and the soup bar began. He’d stride up, bowl in hand, and ladle away to his heart’s content. Other folks may have looked on aghast, but my dad was a real culinary alchemist; he knew which ingredients played well together. This soup pays homage to his wizardry. It has a hybrid quality, probably because it started out as a lentil dish braised in red wine, which I loved, but then realized it was just a few tweaks away from being a hearty lentil soup. Like dad, I experimented to find the right combination of taste and heft, because to me watery soup is like finding a bill in the mailbox instead of a check. Lentils are so good for helping regulate blood sugar levels that everyone should consume them often; in an effort to lure those who aren’t especially fond of lentils, I’ve made them enticing by surrounding them with mushrooms, red wine, Swiss chard, garlic, and a host of herbs and spices.
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Rockin' Black Bean Soup

Rockin’ Black Bean Soup

A staple of Latin cuisine, this black bean soup rocks because it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Black beans are rich in protein and dietary fiber, and recent studies link black bean consumption to reduced rates of pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers. Cooking the beans with kombu, an easy to find dried Japanese seaweed that breaks down the bean’s sugars, eases gas and bloating while softening the bean’s exterior. As for taste, I guarantee your taste buds will say “more, please!”
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Chicken Stew from My Nana

Chicken Stew from My Nana

Most chicken stews are made with a heavy hand; the result is the feeling that you’ve just consumed dinner for four. My nana knew a better way. This is a much lighter chicken stew, coming in on the gravitational scale somewhere between chicken soup and roast chicken. What makes this dish is both the traditional ingredients and the fact that it simmers as long as a senate filibuster. A little patience pays off in a bountiful stew.
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Roasted Delicata Squash with Orange and Thyme

Roasted Delicata Squash with Orange and Thyme

As a cook, you never stop learning. I was doing a cooking demo one day in a tiny town in West Marin across from Toby’s Feed Barn. As I was prepping and peeling the squash, an extremely seasoned farmer with a weathered face came up to me. He was the kind of guy who normally wouldn’t talk even if he were on fire. But what I was doing truly had him flummoxed. He looked at my peeler, smacked his lips in thought, and said, “Y’know, you don’t have to peel ’em.” He might as well have said it’s okay to drive naked. I told him I’d been peeling them forever. “Nooooo,” he moaned, at what was obviously food blasphemy in his book. “The skin is good—tender. Stop peeling!” It turns out he was right: the skin does indeed taste fine, and once it’s cooked, it isn’t tough. Squash has excellent anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting nutrients, along with a huge kick of vitamin A. In this incarnation, it also has wonderful sweetness, thanks to the roasting and the addition of orange zest and maple syrup.
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Swiss Chard and Roasted Butternut Squash Tart

Swiss Chard and Roasted Butternut Squash Tart

Like Penn and Teller, opposites often attract—and create magic. So it is here. At first glance, Swiss chard and butternut squash appear to be poles apart, yet they melt into each others arms in a way that enraptures the senses. The sweetness of roasted butternut squash is the perfect foil for chard’s tartness, and cranberries and orange zest do a similar tango to heighten the appeal. Visually, the tart is a stunner; topped with walnuts and studded with cranberries and feta, it looks like a still life waiting for the right artiste to saunter by. Chard is also a longevity superstar, full of antioxidants and boasting phytonutrients linked to blood sugar regulation, heart health, and improved detoxification. Note that you’ll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.
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Bellas Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Salad

Bella’s Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Salad

And who, pray tell, is this exotic culinary adventuress named Bella? My eight-year-old Portuguese water dog, Bella. For a long time now, she’s loved carrots. She literally comes running every time she hears the carrot peeler come out of the drawer. My husband and I thought, “Hmm, that’s different for a dog,” and played the approving parents. Recently she’s expanded her palate to sweet potatoes. No sooner do they hit the counter than she’s singing and dancing around my feet. I quarter and square off the potatoes and fling the ends at her, and she’s been known to get some serious hang time as she leaps for them. Seriously, Air Bud’s got nothing on Bella. Maybe she heard about how healthful sweet potatoes are: their natural sweetness is perfectly balanced with high fiber content, slowing the rush of sugar into the bloodstream, which is great for the vascular system, and for mood. My experience says that’s true; whenever I make this salad, Bella’s awfully happy.

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Sweetest Corn Bisque

Summer’s Sweetest Corn Bisque

Corn has gotten a bad rap lately, and that’s a shame. It’s true that adulterated versions, from high-fructose corn syrup to corn oil, are downright unhealthy. But freshly shucked corn is amazingly rich in phytonutrients, and in flavor. Believe me, I know good corn. There used to be huge cornfields within walking distance of my childhood home. I vividly remember coming home with a bushel of summer corn, planting myself outside our back door, and ripping away the husks with glee. Flash forward just a wee bit and now I have my Gen Y kitchen angels Jen and Katie out on my back porch, sipping lemonade and giggling over how they’re knee-deep in husks. In this soup, shaved corncobs make for an outrageous broth, and the whazzed-up kernels create a richness that lets the honey-like flavor linger on the tongue like a slow sunset. If you could put summer in a pot, this would be it.
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VIBF Summer Berry-Coconut Milk Ice Pops

Summer Berry–Coconut Milk Ice Pops

This recipe was featured in the Weekly Yum, on Stirring the Pot radio. Cookbook author and culinary translator, Rebecca Katz joins the conversation with Stefanie Sacks to deconstruct Summer Berry-Coconut Milk Ice Pops from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink. Sacks and Katz lure you into the kitchen to create meals that enhance your health and well being while caressing your tastebuds. Nutritious always meets delicious on the Weekly Yum.
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