July 29, 2015

2015 Cookbook Challenge: June Wrap

If there is any theme to emerge so far with my 2015 Cookbook Challenge, is that three cookbooks is probably too many. There always seems to be one that gets left behind, and not because I don't want to cook from it! This month, the orphan was Essentials of Grilling. I earmarked a few recipes, and I hope to make them sometime, but it just didn't happen. We were pretty basic with our grilling this month. 

The book I delved into the most was Herbivoracious, and by the most I mean three recipes (I had earmarked seven, and saw several more that looked good but I didn't tag because even though I tend to be overly optimistic, I wasn't that optimistic).

I actually made all three recipes in one evening! Since they weren't particularly protein-rich, we had a little leftover grilled chicken on the side.

Recipe 1: Chevre with Sauteed Grapes. This recipe called for red grapes, but Whole Foods had green grapes, so there you have it! The grapes were halved and briefly sauteed in olive oil, before being plated with goat cheese balls and topped with fresh oregano, chopped chives and ripped up chive blossoms (the herbs came from my garden). The contrast of the sweet grapes, the tangy goat cheese and the aromatic herbs was lovely. Would make again!

Recipe 2: Grilled Treviso Radicchio. I sent my husband to Whole Foods for radicchio, and he came home with frisee. Close enough! Romaine would have worked, too. After grilling, we chopped the frisee, drizzled it with balsamic vinegar, topped it with peelings of Parmesan and some toasted walnuts, then ground some salt and pepper. Would definitely make again!

Recipe 3: Ten-Minute Chickpea Salad with Feta and Basil. This super-easy salad combined chickpeas with red onion, cucumber, a jar of roasted red peppers, feta, garlic, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I keep forgetting to use the jars of roasted red peppers in my pantry, so I'm thrilled to be down by one. My basil plant is also starting to bolt, so I needed to use that asap. Leftover were great the next two days. Would definitely make again!

I did not get a chance to make the Braised Belgian Endive with Sauce Gribiche, the Caramelized Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini (really more of a fall entertaining recipe, anyway), the Classic Chopped Salad, or the Middle Eastern Bread Salad (Fattoush). Overall, this book is definitely a keeper!

From Mediterranean Fresh, I made the Romaine, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad, which include a sub-recipe for a walnut vinaigrette using sherry vinegar. Delish! I also made (just last night) the Green Salad with Lardons, Mushrooms, and Chopped Egg (only I forgot to buy mushrooms). Also delish. 

Before the calendar strikes August 1, I will make the Tunisian Roasted Pepper Salad (with a few modifications) and the Moroccan Carrot Salad with Cumin (there are a handful of really delicious-looking grated carrot salads in this book, but I'll start with this one). I won't get to the Belgian Endive with Apples and Hazelnuts (again, more fall-ish), the Moroccan Artichoke and Orange Salad or the Moroccan Cooked Carrot Salad. I've had Mediterranean Fresh almost since it came out in 2008, and I don't think I've made anything from it before now (bad!), but I'm glad I finally got around to doing more than just leaf through it. And that, readers, is the whole point of this yearlong journey through my cookbook  shelves. 

Stay tuned next week for my August picks!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, and potentially earn money when readers purchase books linked to from these posts.

July 28, 2015

Food for Thought: Cravings

Do you struggle with food cravings? While most people have cravings, at least occasionally, some people experience them with such frequency or intensity that it becomes a serious challenge when trying to eat healthfully.

If you struggle in this way, please check out my first Food for Thought post on the Menu for Change blog.

July 27, 2015

On Nutrition: Where Does Fruit Fit?

Happy Monday! My latest On Nutrition column, "Fruit: How much should you have in your diet?" ran in yesterday's Seattle Times, and I want to make one thing crystal clear: I'm not saying that you should not eat fruit!

I feel inclined to point this out, because I received an email last week from a reader who was quite offended that I suggested that people with lactose intolerance should try drinking A2 milk (even though I quite distinctly said that A2 milk was NOT appropriate for people with medically diagnosed lactose intolerance), and I still get emails from people referring to the column I wrote in support of a vegan diet (they are referring to my January column on plant-based diets, in which I quite clearly stated that you can eat a plant-based diet without being vegan or vegetarian.)

No, I am not anti-fruit. If I were, I would be missing out right now on summer's luscious local berries, cherries and peaches, and that would be sad. I would have to ignore the gorgeous strawberry preserves that my husband canned yesterday, and that would be tragic.

That said, I see the ramifications of the rampant black-or-white, all-or-nothing opinions about fruit, either that it should be shunned (the sugar!) or eaten with abandon (eat your fruits and veggies). I have also had many patients who, in an attempt to overcome their sugar cravings and addictions, manage to successfully ignore the office candy dish and say no to nightly desserts, only to dramatically increase their fruit intake. Yes, fruit is more nutritious than candy, cake and ice cream, but if you are trying to watch your blood sugar and your weight, more fruit is not better.

I had a patient recently who told me that, during a stint in Weight Watchers, that she was told that "no one ever got fat eating fruit." On the other hand, I've had patients who I know are spot-on with their healthy, balanced eating plans all day, but eat several pieces of fruit in the evening, even though they aren't hungry (emotional/stress eating). This can and often does lead to weight gain.

So please do enjoy fruit, but include it in balanced meals and snacks, and as with any other food, don't eat it just because it's there, or you're bored, or you have the munchies.