I race through vegetarian/vegan cookbooks as if they were I-can’t-put-them-down romance sagas. Ditto for books on vegetarian/vegan, or plant-based nutrition, and diets. In fact, for my first post, I thought I should ‘fess up, and share with you my biases on the issue of nutrition and diets.  The foundation of my thinking about eating is Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, the culmination of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. This massive study of diet and lifestyle in rural China showed that people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease, and that a whole-food, plant-based diet was the hands-down healthiest way to eat. (I should get credit for a large portion of Dr. Campbell’s royalty income: He should only know how many of his books I’ve bought and given away.) After The China Study, pretty much anything written by Drs. Dean Ornish, Joel Fuhrman, Caldwell Esselstyn and Neal Barnard, guides the way I plan meals, shop and cook—all of their dietary conclusions reflect Dr. Campbell’s findings.


I’m always struck, or more precisely shocked, by what food writers consider “healthy”–example below–so I think it’s important for me to be up front about my perspective on this issue. Taking my cue from Campbell through Barnard, I’m more likely to write about food and suggest recipes that are low-fat (and low-calorie), vegan, heavily plant-based, and as little processed as possible: my definition of “healthy.” Now for that example I mentioned: The New York Times “Temporary Vegetarian” column, which appears to be The Gray Lady’s crumb-size concession to healthy eating in its Dining section.  In a recent column, for example, a featured egg white frittata contains 1 T butter and 2 T and 2 tsp. olive oil (do you really need butter? And, that much oil to make a frittata calling for only five egg whites?), PLUS pecorino cheese (saturated fat! salt!). A second recipe, included to give you an idea of what to do with those pesky left over egg yolks, describes an egg salad sandwich that uses 4 yolks, 4 whole eggs and 1/3 cup mayonnaise (are you kidding?). To show you and your kids, though, that I’m not so ridiculously rigid about diet, at least first blog post out, I’m starting with a sweets recipe that shows you can have your cake (OK, cookie) and eat it (fairly healthily), too. Next time, we’ll talk GREENS.

The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

(From Vegetarian Times’ Everything Vegan, Mary Margaret Chappell, ed. Wiley, 2011.)

Makes 30 Cookies

2 cups walnuts

3 Tbs. canola oil

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1½ cups oat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

3 3.5 oz. bars bittersweet vegan chocolate, chopped,

or 1½ cups vegan chocolate chips (12 oz.) [Elisa: my preference-easier!]

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray [Elisa: I use parchment paper; much less messier].
  2. Blend walnuts in food processor 30 seconds, or until ground into a fine meal. Add oil, and blend 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture has the consistency of natural peanut butter. Transfer to bowl.
  3. Bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in saucepan, Pour sugar mixture over ground walnut butter, add vanilla, and stir until no lumps remain.
  4. Whisk together oat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in separate bowl. Stir oat flour mixture into walnut mixture. Cool 10 minutes. Fold in oats, then chocolate pieces.
  5. Shape dough into 2-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of drinking glass dipped in water. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown. Cool 3 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. [Honestly, plates work just fine, as long as cookies aren’t stacked}.

Immediately following Thanksgiving is Hanukah, the festival of miracles and light.  Try this riff on the classic potato latke, using parsnips and fennel.  Then, drop the doughnuts. Instead, top off the celebration with olive oil cake, adapted from the beautiful whole-grain bakebook by Kim Boyce, Good to the Grain.

Un-potato Latkes

Makes 10-15 latkes


3 medium-large parsnips

3/4 fennel bulb, with leaves

¼ cup spelt flour

pinch of sea salt

½ cup safflower or grape seed oil for frying

Clean parsnips by removing any white “hairs” and rinsing well.  Rinse fennel.

Using a handheld grater, grate the parsnips using the side that will produce the chunkiest parsnip pieces.

Rinse the grater and then grate the fennel on the same size.

Place the grated parsnip and fennel in a glass or ceramic bowl. Optional: add one Tblspn chopped fennel leaves.

Add a large pinch of sea salt.  Optional: add freshly ground pepper.

Sprinkle the spelt flour over the vegetables and toss the mixture together.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 4-5 Tablespoons of the oil, so it covers the bottom of the pan.

Form latkes by squeezing the mixture in your hands.

Place them in the pan (you can fry 3 or 4 latkes at once, depending on the size of your skillet.)

When the edges begin to brown (after 3-5 minutes), use a stainless steel spatula to flip the latke and flatten it into the pan (this will help keep it whole).  Cook the second side for about the same amount of time.

Remove from pan and dredge on a brown paper bag.

Add oil to the skillet as needed. The latkes will cook faster and faster as the pan gets hotter.

Serve with fresh sliced pears or fresh applesauce (see my very simple recipe posted here last December: https://theingredients.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/potato-free-hanukah/).

Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from Kim Boyce

Serves 8


Olive oil for pan


¾ cup spelt flour

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unrefined sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp coarse sea salt


3 large eggs

1 cup olive oil

¾ cup whole milk

1 ½ Tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

5 oz bittersweet chocolate with no sugar added, cut into ½ inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in middle of oven.

Brush olive oil onto bottom and sides of a 9-½ inch fluted tart pan.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs.

Add olive oil, milk and rosemary. Whisk again.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, gently mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces.

Pour batter into pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing top.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until top is domed, golden brown and

darker around the edges. A fork or toothpick should come out clean.

Cake can be eaten warm or cool.

Happy Hanukah!


Healthy Halloween 2

One year ago in our first week of blogging, we posted “Healthy Halloween,” a piece on alternative, healthier treat options. One Halloween, hundreds of – almost a thousand! – meals and tens of holidays later, my priorities have shifted. I am, of course, still focused on finding alternatives to high-sugar, high-fructose corn syrup-infused candy. But I am also thinking about how to cut down on individual plastic packaging while honoring safety and hygiene considerations.  And let’s not forget about the sheer waste quotient of this holiday: candy that gets thrown out, wrappers that are not properly disposed of, and much more.

So, when the trick-or-treaters knock, consider offering these options for a healthy, more sustainable Halloween 2010:

Unusual thick-skinned fruits. Think lychee nuts, kumquats, clementines and kiwi.  No individual wrapping or bags necessary: drop them straight into trick-or-treaters’ bags.

DIY mini dried fruit skewers. These are done on toothpicks rather than full-length skewers. Offer trays of dried apricots, mango, papaya, figs and cherries: invite the children in to Make Their Own.

Juice boxes. Choose organic juice, fruit-infused water or coconut water packaged in paper containers and you’ve given the trick-or-treaters something to wash down – er, flush out – all those sweet treats.

Fresh-popped organic popcorn and/or popcorn necklaces.  Paige suggested popcorn last year: it is evergreen.  And if your children are crafty, they can string the popcorn into edible necklaces or bracelets.  How to: Use a large-eyed needle with untreated thread or fine twine to “sew” the string through the center of each popped kernel.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds.  ‘Tis the season.  Keyword here is “fresh”. Pour them into a (lined) freshly carved pumpkin outfitted with a scoop and call it a night.

Did I mention that my older daughter is planning to dress up as a refrigerator this year?

Happy Healthy Halloween!



8 September 2010


Pomegranates Pomegranates ripen as Rosh Hashana approaches.

I took this picture in the Golan last week as the pomegranates were almost ready to be picked. They are eaten on the New Year as a symbol of righteousness and fertility.

Here is one of my favorite dishes using crisp, juicy pomegranate seeds.

Pink Quinoa Pomegranate Salad

serves 8

1 cup light quinoa, soaked and rinsed well

3 whole beets, boiled in 4 cups water; retain bright red cooking water and chop one beet into small cubes (save the others for later use)

1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped and sauteed in olive oil

1 medium-sized cucumber, chopped into small cubes

seeds of one fresh pomegranate, removed by scoring skin with a knife, separating seeds from peel and white pulp membrane

sea salt and olive oil to taste

In a medium-sized saucepan place the quinoa and 2 1/2 cups of the reserved beet water with a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the flame and cover the pot. Cook for 15-18 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed the beet water and is a pinkish color.  Allow to cool. You can also cook the quinoa a day in advance and refrigerate overnight.

In a large bowl, place one third of the cooked, cooled quinoa. Add about a third of the chopped beets, garlic, parsley and cucumber; toss.  Cover with another third of the quinoa; add another third of the beets, garlic, parsley and cucumber and toss again. Repeat a third time until all quinoa and vegetables are mixed together in the bowl.

Add most of the pomegranate seeds and toss into the mixture.  Sprinkle sea salt and drizzle olive oil on top. Top with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve.


Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries These mid-summer crops are done in the northeast

Wishing you all a fresh beginning and a sweet New Year!


July 26, 2010


Cucumbers: Pickle. Them. Now

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberriesEat them raw. Fold them into pancakes.  Make berry muffins.


Doritos: below, a passage from Aimee Bender’s new novel  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake,

about a nine-year-old girl who can taste the provenance of each ingredient in food, as well as the emotional status of the preparer(s):

What is good about a Dorito, I said, in full voice, is that I’m not supposed to pay attention to it. As soon as I do, it tastes like every other ordinary chip.  But if I stop paying attention, it becomes the most delicious thing in the world.

I popped open a supersize bag—my one prop—and passed it around the room. Instructed everyone to take a chip.

Bite in! I said.

The sound of crackling. Eliza giggled in the back. Her parents did not allow her to eat Doritos. I was her drug dealer, in this way.

See? I said. What does it taste like?

A Dorito, said a smartass in the front row.

Cheese, said someone else.

Really? I said.

They concentrated on their chips. That good dust stuff, said someone else. Exactly,  I said. That good dust stuff.

What I taste, I said, reading from my page, is what I remember from my last Dorito, plus the chemicals that are kind of like that taste, and then my zoned-out mind that doesn’t really care what it actually tastes like. Remembering, chemicals, zoning. It is a magical combo. All these parts form together to make a flavor sensation trick that makes me want to eat the whole bag and then maybe another bag.

Do you have another bag? Asked a skateboard guy, licking his fingers.

No, I said. In conclusion, I said, a Dorito asks nothing of you, which is its great gift. It only asks that you are not there.

Nice Rice

As the temperature soared to 94 degrees in New York, I was in Chinatown shopping for kitchen supplies.  With aching feet and parched palate I passed an airy, spare shop with a Japanese edge called Rice to Riches.  A rice pudding place. The walls were crowded with signs including “Off the eaten track” and “Everything in moderation… except rice pudding.” I tasted a “Solo” portion (other sizes are “Epic,” “Sumo” or “Moby”) of “Chocolate Chip Flirt”. It was sweet, creamy and surprisingly satisfying on a sweltering May day. The ingredients are listed as: “milk, rice, sugar, eggs and cream and a rousing selection of seasonal flavors, fruits and other ingredients. No artificial ingredients or preservatives.”   Here’s my own rice pudding recipe that is delicious and dairy-free.


Serves 4-6

3 cups rice milk

2 cups amasake

2/3 cup (66 grams) of uncooked Arborio rice

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 heaping Tablespoons Rapadura (unrefined organic cane sugar) or dark brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Cinnamon to sprinkle on top

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the rice milk, Arborio rice and salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg and brown sugar until well mixed.

Add a half-cup of the hot rice mixture to the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time, vigorously whisking to incorporate.

Add the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir, on low heat, for 10 minutes or so, until thickened. Be careful not to boil the mixture at this point.

Stir in the vanilla.

Remove from heat and top with a few shakes of cinnamon. Serve warm or cold.




12 May 2010

William Spear, a macrobiotic teacher and feng shui master says, “We live in a toxic soup.”

Eat these detoxifying spring vegetables to begin to swim out.


Asparagus – one of the few vegetables that is a perennial, they are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

Radishes – dissolve accumulated fats in the body and are a good source of calcium. Plant the seeds and in 3-4 weeks you’ll have ready-to-eat radishes.

Ramps – wild leeks with a sweeter, milder taste than scallions; they add flavor to a spring broth.


Pears – been there, done that

Tomatoes – way too early for fresh, local tomatoes

Winter squash – is a dense food best eaten in fall and winter