Fad diets are “out” and healthy eating is “in”…

After overhearing a “fitness trainer” tell a client with kidney disease to consume a raw juice and protein shake diet filled with almost every substance on their “eat in moderation or do not eat” list, because it “will change your life”…I felt compelled to write a commentary on fads and extreme diets.  Extreme low-fat, no carb diets, paleo-diets and 100% raw food diets are just diet trends like neon colors and hot pants in the fashion world.  Moderation and variety keep you healthy, not colonics, extreme diets or weird diet regimes that have participants exclude broccoli, bananas or chocolate.

Extreme diets only benefit individuals with specific medical conditions in the long-term.  The most adamant followers of the latest diet trends soon jump into the next best thing in health and nutrition.  Short-term gain in your weight loss goals or a placebo induced mental boost that will fade with time are not worth “fitting in” with your health nut friends.  When people are new to healthy eating, like any other positive change, they want to share it with others, even if it means suggesting nutrition, exercise and lifestyles that may be harmful to someone else.  I am also not saying it is a good idea to obtain all your advice about nutrition from your doctor ( avg. 1 unit of training in medical school) or a nutritionist.  [ I have spoke with some doctors and nutritionist (with doctorates) who adamantly believe that you will suffer from severe nutrient deficiencies if you don’t consume red meat on a daily basis or that you will shorten your lifespan by eating a vegetarian diet].  You should do your own research on the newest diet crazes and ignore the hype.  Click on the hyperlink to the article cited in the next blurb you read about a supplement or food to omit from your diet.  Who sponsored the study?  What is the source–a new business owner promoting the “diet”, a science journal, a national health study or a trusted doctor, nutritionist or herbalist without any personal gain in the endorsement?

Check out the new study by Purdue University on absorption fat-soluble carotenoids – compounds such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.  Low-fat and fat-free dressings prevent your body from benefiting from all of the nutrients in your meal and will also leave you craving food later, thus causing you to consume more calories in your overall diet.   Quality over quantity is a good mantra to follow in your goal toward good health and nutrition.

Happy National Tequila Day….time for a Margarita.

Picture of the best Margarita… or what’s left of it. Forgot to take a photo before drinking it.

What did you do yesterday on National Tequila Day?  Okay, so we all know this is a holiday created by corporations to sell liquor and not an actual holiday…so what, have fun and drink a little.

I really enjoy a good Tequila.  I love the taste and it is one of the few hard alcohols I can drink straight without coughing or feeling like I am drowning.  My favorite way to drink Tequila is in a classic Margarita on the rocks; not the dayglow, green crap made with a Margarita mix, sweet and sour, or toxic sludge that looks like something out of Springfileld’s nuclear power plant on the Simpson’s.  I like my Margaritas with freshly squeezed lime juice, Triple Sec and high quality Tequila– and a little orange blossom honey if I’m in the mood for a sweeter version.

Mezcal makes a great substitute for a stronger flavored drink.

Some people like to add agave syrup, but I think it overpowers the more delicate notes in a good quality Tequila and is too syrupy.  Also, agave is a good gimmick to sell your product and make health food trendoids buy it—“OMG,  two products made from the agave plant are in my drink!”.  Try a good quality honey instead,  it will add to the subtle notes of the Tequila and the balance out the sour flavors, not mask them.

Here is my recipe for the best sweetened classic Margarita—you can also leave out the honey for an old-style version.

2 oz  Top Shelf or better quality Tequila or Mezcal
1 oz  Triple Sec (Cointreau is the best, but if you have good quality Tequila, any top shelf orange liquore will do.)
1-2 T Fresh squeezed lime juice
1-2 T Orange Blossom Honey (use good quality, local honey—the type of honey really does make a difference)

Coarse sea salt for the rim.

Pour the Tequila, Triple Sec and freshly squeezed lime juice (Don’t use the bottled stuff!) into your mixing container.  Add honey and let it sit for a few minutes before mixing.  This will make it easier to mix and dissolve the honey.

Rub rim of the serving glass with lime, dip in salt and add a few ice cubes.

Pour, garnish with lime and enjoy!  Simple, natural and additive free.

And yes, I purposely leave off the Oxford commas on non-academic writing, unless it is necessary for clarification.  It looks cleaner and more modern.  My blog, my choice, my body of writing.

Have you tried Toona? And we’re not talking about the vegan fish product…

Oniony-Garlicky Herbal Umami

Variety is truly the spice of life, as well as a necessary component to ensure you receive all of the nutrients you need in your diet.  If everyone pledged to try at least one new fruit, vegetable, legume, nut or other food item at least once a week, we could spark a revolution in the American food system.  Our supermarkets would be forced to sell a larger variety of fruits and vegetables, no longer relegating the American meal to a choice of the “20 most common produce items” sold in most markets.  Even the staunchest, habitual, stuck-in-a-rut diner can learn to find variety interesting and maybe even necessary in their daily consumption of comestibles.

For example, before Neri and I met his diet consisted of three main dishes:

  1. “add water to reconstitute” dried vegan chili (from the Kresge Co-Op) with a tortilla bowl topped with cheese; or
  2. a mustard sandwich (mustard, bread and nothing else); or
  3. rice drenched in soy sauce, occasionally with peas (we won’t even mention what a faux pas this is in some Asian cultures)

One or two of these dishes would be his lunch and dinner for an entire week during college.  Not because he couldn’t afford to buy food, but because he was a bachelor who had no idea how to cook.  I, on the other hand, lived on a tight budget, but needed variety.  So I would bake biscuits, make cookies and prepare everything from African peanut stew to miso soup to stretch my dollars and guarantee a variety of tasty meals and treats each week.  Once we started living together, he grew less and less fond of his mustard sandwiches and pickier about what he ate.  If we miss a week at the Farmers’ Market, my husband laments that dinner will not be as interesting and usually he is correct.

Most people have never heard of or even tasted Toona.  I had eaten it in dishes many times before actually discovering what was imparting that wonderful herbal, oniony-garlicy, umami flavor.  Toona aka (Toon or Chinese mahogany)  is harvested from a tree in the Mahogany family, Toona sinensis.  The tender spring leaves and shoots are eaten and used medicinally in China.  Locally, I find Toona at the Farmers’ Market sold by farm specializing in Taiwanese vegetables.  I find the best way to eat Toona and savor its unique flavor is to add it to scrabbled eggs or a simple salad.  There are numerous Chinese recipes that use 4 or more cups of Toon for a sauce or main dish, but at 75¢ or more per branch (which yields 1/4 to 1/2 cup of leaves) I haven’t felt the urge to spend an additional $12 to $20 in cash at the farmers’ market.

Other great ways to savor Toon without blowing your budget :

  • toss about a 1/2 cup of leaves into fried rice (we generally pan fry it in a small amount of  oil)
  • season Chinese and Japanese style cucumber pickles
  • toss into a tofu salad in place of other herbs

Toon is one of the underutilized tree leaves used to season dishes in America (with the obvious cultural exceptions).  The other two are: Murraya koenigii or curry leaves and Citrus hystrix also known as Kaffir or Makrut lime leaves.  [Note that “Kaffir”  the term in common usage for the tree, fruit and leaf, is also a derogatory term in parts of Africa (similar to the “N” word in English-speaking countries).  Although I have tried to avoid using the term “Kaffir,” it is almost impossible find anyone that knows what you are looking for if you use other terms for the plant such as Makrut or Indonesian lime].

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Winter (Summer) Solstice in a Jar: Preserving Lemons

The finished product

As promised, a follow-up to the Mujaddara posting on how to make preserved lemons.  I actually wrote this several months ago, but it has been languishing in my draft box.  The posting is slightly updated, keeping the late winter theme.  I really liked lemons symbolizing the return of the sun and the promise of longer, warmer days to come.  If it seems untimely, try inserting  summer imagery for Winter as you read the article.

Winter Solstice, the day with the fewest hours of daylight, also celebrates the return of the sun.  I thought it was a fitting title since winter is the season for citrus, most notably the bright, sweet, aromatic Meyer lemon.  As the hours of sunlight increase, so do the number and variety of citrus fruits available.  A jar a brightly colored lemons always reminds me of  the bounty of the spring crops that are just around the corner.

Preserving lemons in salt has been done for centuries throughout Asia, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  Perhaps the most well-known version is the Moroccan-style preserved lemon.  All you need is sea salt, small Meyer lemons and a large, non-reactive, non-corrosive container with a tight fitting lid.

Meyer lemons are closest to the varieties you would find in Morocco, but you can also make a batch with Eureka, Sorrento  or other thicker skinned varieties.  Other varieties may need a few weeks longer to mature into the jelly-like, gooey goodness that is the preserved lemon.  Recently, we identified our lemon tree as a Sorrento…yes, the limoncello lemon.  I am going to experiment by making a batch of preserved lemons with the Sorrentos and some limoncello.

A few weeks ago, this season’s first batch of preserved lemons finished maturing and was placed securely in my refrigerator.  Below is a picture of that jar made with Meyers.  [Note: The lemons have been stored in the refrigerator and the lemon juice becomes  a little cloudier].

solstice in a jar

Jar of Meyer Preserved Lemons.

The recipe for the lemons is pretty basic and inspired by recipes from Kitty Morse**:

  • 6-12 organic or non-sprayed lemons (Meyer is preferred, but any lemon will do)
  • 1/2-3/4 c sea salt (coarse or finely ground, must be iodine and additive free)
  • 1 large (quart) Mason jar or Pickl-It jar (with the plug not the airlock)
  • 1 Label for the jar–write the list the ingredients, processing method (fermentation) and date (end of fermentation period)

The mason jar or other container should be thoroughly washed in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher and allowed to air dry. (Some recipes call for sterilization, but I haven’t read any scientific studies on why this is safer in the case of fermentation–but REMEMBER TO ALWAYS sterilize jars that will be water bath processed for less than 10 minutes).

Wash the lemons under running water and dry completely.  Cut the lemon into quarters leaving the bottom 1/4 of the lemon attached (this will make a pocket to stuff with salt and allow for a more appealing presentation in the jar).  Next, pack each lemon with salt, hold quarters together and gently place into the jar—press down lightly to release the juice.  Continue stuffing and packing the lemons into the jar until it is almost filled, leaving enough space so the lemons do not touch the lid).  Now you have two choices to completely submerge all of the lemons in the jar:

  1. Squeeze fresh lemon juice until you have enough to completely cover the lemons, or
  2. Allow the lemons to sit on the counter for 24 hours and see if enough juice is released.  [If not, follow step one.]

Place the jar on your counter or in a sunny window (either way will work): 4-6 weeks (thin-skinned lemons) or 6-8 weeks (thick-skinned lemons).  Shake the contents once or twice a day to evenly distribute the salt and juice.*  Some recipes suggest refrigerating the contents after fermentation, others recommend leaving the jar on the counter.  I usually place my jars in the refrigerator since I don’t use the lemons in a short period of time.  It is a personal preference, so go with the choice that makes you feel comfortable.  Also, if you store the lemons outside the refrigerator, use within 1 year.

FERMENTATION SAFETY: THE PRODUCT SHOULD ALWAYS REMAIN BENEATH THE BRINE

In terms of safety, each year more studies show fermentation to be one of the safest forms of food preservation.  I have not heard about or read any studies or cases of individuals being poisoned by high-salt fermentation products (outside of an individual eating something that was obviously spoiled–foul smelling, moldy or a product not submerged in the brine) .  Most preserved lemons sold commercially are not truly fermented and are processed by pickling and canning.

I use a glass weight to ensure the lemons remain completely submerged during fermentation and storage.  Pickl-It sells glass weights that fit in their jars and will fit in some wide-mouth mason jars.   Pickle Perfect sells weights that fit in  pint and quart jars canning jars.

* If using glass or stone weights, gently shake the jar to avoid cracking the jar or weight.

**If you are not familiar with Kitty or her cookbooks, she is the leading expert on all things Moroccan, especially food.  Kitty’s new book, Mint Tea and Minarets will be out soon.  I recommend following her on her facebook page and her blog, Kitty Morse Moroccan Cuisine.  I was fortunate enough to meet her in-person during our winter vacation.  She was a gracious host, serving us mint tea (of course) and giving us a tour of her Moroccan-style home—including her kitchen.

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Mujaddara—-an inspiration for one-pot meals

Mujadara with a twist

Staple recipes become new again by switching a few ingredients.

Mujaddara and similar lentil/rice dishes, cooked in one pot, are a standard meal in many middle eastern homes.  Mujaddara is commonly topped with crispy, fried onions and served with yogurt, salads and flat breads.  I have been making this dish for over 15 years, using basic recipes from Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Greece and Egypt with minor changes to spices and toppings.  At home, I caramelize the onions and avoid frying them for a healthier meal.  When dining out we splurge on the delicious, crispy, fried bits.

The basic recipe is also a great base to experiment with and create new dishes to compliment almost any cuisine:

  • substituting different rice and grains  (brown, black or red rice; bulgur; barley, etc…)
  • changing lentils and beans (black lentils or fresh shell beans)
  • changing the flavor profile to match other cuisines.

One of our new favorite twist– Black Lentil Basmati Rice with Preserved Lemon.  It is simple, but extremely flavorful.  Serve as a main meal or side dish.  Neri recommends eating it with homemade or Greek yogurt and sautéed greens with mushrooms.

Preserved lemons add extra umami to many dishes.

Preserved Lemons—a small amount imparts a great deal of flavor to any dish.

Black Lentil Basmati Rice with Preserved Lemon

  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 preserved lemon**, lightly rinsed and minced (remove any seeds, use both the rind and pulp)
  • pepper to taste ( do not add salt, the preserved lemon will provide more than enough)
  • 5 1/1 c water

Pick through and rinse the lentils and rice.  Heat the oil and add the shallots. Saute until the shallots lightly brown, add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.  Add the lentils and preserved lemon and toss with the mixture.  Add water.  Bring to a boil and lower temperature.  Cover pot and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove lid, bring mixture back to a gentle boil and then add rice.  Grind in black pepper, mix and cover.  Lower heat and cook for 15-20 minutes.  When water has been completely absorbed, lightly toss lentil/rice mixture and cover to let it steam out for 5-10 minutes.  [Newbie Note: The dish will be moist, not dry and fluffy.]

This recipe makes about 5-6 cups and will feed 4-7 people.  You may cut the recipe in half, but use the same amount of garlic and shallots.  Makes a wonderful lunch or leftover dinner.  This flavor combination pairs well with Moroccan, Spanish and North African foods served with a medium sweet Riesling or Sake.

Three important rules to follow when cooking one-pot grain/legume dishes:

  1. Total amount of water added at the beginning of the recipe should equal the amount required to cook each component separately:  White basmati rice 1 : 1.5 ratio  and Black lentils  1 : 4 ratio  [solid to water] Total water = 5 1/2 cups
  2. Start the product with the longest cooking time first :  Black Lentils 25-35 minutes  White Basmati Rice 10-15 minutes   25 minutes – 15 minutes = 10 minutes (after which time add second main ingredient)
  3. Sturdy grains and legumes should be used for this recipe.  Red lentils, quinoa and amaranth are best when cooked separately, then combined.

Once you are familiar with a particular combination of ingredients, cooking times and the final product you may want to use more or less water.  If you add any vegetables to the pot, this will also affect the amount of water needed to thoroughly cook the grains and legumes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new flavors.

**Preserved lemons are easy to make at home, but may be purchased on-line or at specialty stores.  The next blog posting will show you how to make preserved lemons.

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Don’t throw out your expired vegetable seeds!

seeds with an expiration date of 2009 still growing fine

Both packets of seeds expired over 3 years ago, but had an one hundred percent germination rate.

Shortly after filling my self-made planter, (yes, I built it, but I didn’t cut the lumber) with organic potting mix, I found several packets of seeds that had expired several years ago.  I decide to do a little experiment and scattered the mesclun seeds on one side and the arugula seeds on the other.  A few days later my container was a giant chia pet, with barely any visible soil.

Expecting a germination rate of less than 25%, I was shocked at how many seeds were still viable.  The seeds had been stored in a cool dry place inside their original unopened packets, placed in a freezer bag.

We have been eating sprouts and thinnings for a few weeks and the plants are finally approaching their mature size.  Normally my plant rows are more even, but I wasn’t expecting to thin-out 50-60 little seedlings.

The moral of the story: Test your expired seed packets before you toss them, unless they have been stored improperly.  What is improper?  If the packets have been left in a very hot environment, become wet or both, then it is unlikely they will germinate.

I don’t recommend using your garden beds or containers to test your seeds, unless you have a large yard. The easiest way to test the germination rate of your seeds: THE PLASTIC BAG METHOD

  1. Dampen a paper towel and ring it out if necessary. You do not want it to be soaking wet.
  2. Lay the single or double layer of damp paper towels flat in a standard 1 gallon freezer bag.
  3. Next count out ten seeds from each packet and place each seed evenly apart on the paper towel, leaving a large space between sections for each packet.  You may label the sections using post-its or a sharpie if you are testing more than a few packets at a time.  Seal the bag, pushing out most of the air.
  4. Place the bag on a flat surface in the warmest room of your home or near a warm, heat generating appliance (top of the refrigerator, near a printer, DVR or cable box). The bag creates a mini-greehouse and many be reused indefinitely for this purpose— unless you forget about your germinating seeds and the bag becomes moldy.
  5. Check the seeds every 1-2 days to ensure there is moisture in your bag and to see if the seeds are germinating.  Use the number of days for germination on the seed packet as your guide.
  6. Once the seeds have sprouted, count how many of the seeds have germinated from each group.
  7. Since we are using 10 seeds this makes calculating the germination rate easy.
  8. 1 out of 10 seeds = 10% germination rate vs 9 out of 10 seeds = 90% germination rate

If the seeds are going to be used to grow plants as opposed to eating or growing sprouts, it is safe to use them past the expiration date.  This is a small way to reduce waste and save money.  Start with small changes to make sustainability part of your life.

Left-over Make-over: Thai-Style Pesto

creative pesto

Thai-style pesto

If you have never eaten homemade pesto, you may not be a fan.  Most of us are familiar with the generic, food supplier provided pesto sauces served in restaurants or in pre-made meals at the store.  They all taste the same.

Homemade pesto is unique, flavorful and varies from batch to batch. Pesto changes from region to region in Italy and Italian expats often switch out traditional ingredients for local products to ensure their pesto is fresh.  I have been making pestos since my college days at UCSC, when I discovered the wonderful Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market and was able to purchase flower bouquet size bunches of basil in over 6 varieties for under $3.oo per bunch.

You don’t need to use pine nuts, basil or Pecorino cheese to make a delicious pesto. My pesto changes with the seasons and sometimes crosses continents. Last week, Neri wanted pasta, but I really didn’t feel like cooking Italian. This pesto was a perfect compromise between both our desires for dinner that evening.

A recent trip to Laguna Hills Farmers Market provided me with more shiso (perilla) leaves than I needed for my Japanese dishes that week.  I also had fresh cilantro and mint leaves and 1/2 of an avocado from lunch in the refrigerator.  Early that day I was craving those “Thai” style toasted cashews, coated with lemon grass, chilies, sugar, salt and other spices–which is the inspiration for this pesto recipe.  You can vary the amounts of herbs and flavorings to suit your taste. The ingredients marked optional can be omitted if you do not have them available and will allow you to use the leftover pesto in a greater number of dishes.

  • 1  cup red and green shiso leaves (or all of one type) * If you don’t have shiso leaves use Thai or lemon basil*
  • 3/4 c cilantro (including stems)
  • 1/2 c mint leaves
  • 1 c toasted cashews (toast your own raw, unsalted cashews for the best flavor)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 T crushed dried chilies or single origin chili powder (do not use the chili powder with other spices)
  • 2 to 3 green onions
  • 1/4 c  to 1/2 c olive oil, coconut oil (melted) or nut oil
  • 1 tsp brown or date sugar
  • 1/2 in piece of lemon grass (inner bottom portion of the stalk) optional
  • 1/4 c grated coconut (packaged unsweetened) optional
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste

Using a food processor, pulse the cashews, garlic, dried chilies, coconut and lemon grass until finely chopped. Add herbs and green onions, pulsing until coarsely chopped. Add lime juice and slowly drizzle in oil with food processor running. Stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed. Once mixture is smooth, add salt, pulse to mix and taste.  The pesto should have a fresh green flavor with the sweet and salty bite of Thai food. Adjust ingredients as needed.

We used this pesto on pasta, tofu and stir-fried vegetables.  It would also be a wonderful addition to steamed baby potatoes or spread on a banh mi sandwich.

Keep reading throughout the summer for more creative pesto ideas including the best ingredients for the more traditional pesto variations.  The type of olive and quality of your extra virgin olive oil is just as important as the freshness of your basil.

Confession time: The photos I took of the original meal became corrupted and had to be deleted. The featured picture is a quick snap shot of the small amount (of the same pesto) left in the refrigerator. It was much brighter and colorful the first 3 days.

Leftover Makeover: White Bean, Quinoa, Carrot Patties with Fennel-Spiced Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

vegetarian beans quinoa yogurt leftovers makeover

A delicious way to use leftover beans and grains.

Do you ever have the same leftovers on multiple nights?  Maybe you prepared a large pot of beans, brown rice or barley to eat during the week.  Sometimes we make a little too much of a good thing and soon grow weary of eating it.  What is a waste-conscious cook to do?  Although I love eating beans and greens, and can do so for several meals during the week, I often dread eating the same or similar dish too many nights in a row.   I had the remnants of a large pot of navy beans and leftover quinoa sitting my refrigerator, but didn’t want to eat quinoa topped with warm beans.  While rummaging through my refrigerator, I remembered a delicious “meat” loaf I used to make with carrots and tofu…which is the inspiration for these patties.  I chose to bake the patties, but you may also fry the bean patties (lightly dipped in flour) like falafel or pan fry the fully baked patties patties for a different texture.  To complete the meal, I served the patties on a bed of fennel spiced greens with a garlicky yogurt sauce. The flavors of cumin, mint, fennel and sesame seeds in the individual dishes complimented each other and added to the overall umami of the meal.

Carrot Navy Bean Patties

3 cups   Navy beans, drained (may substitute another white bean)

3/4 cup Quinoa

2 eggs

1 T  extra virgin olive oil

1 large carrot grated or shredded

4 cloves of garlic

1 large shallot chopped

2 T sesame seeds

1 T dried parsley

1 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp dried mint

fresh pepper/salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shred carrots in the food processor. Leave carrots in the bowl and switch out to the standard blade.  Adds beans, quinoa, garlic, shallot and spices.  Blend until finely chopped then add olive oil and pulse into mixture until smooth.  Remove mixture into a medium size bowl.  Add beaten egg into mixture until blended.  If mixture is too moist, add bread crumbs or 1 T of flour.

Mixture after beaten egg has been folded in.

Form into small 3″x 1/2″ patties and place on oiled baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes on each side.

Check to see if bottom of patty is fully browned before turning.  Then carefully flip each patties over to cook on the other side. Remove patties from baking sheet and place onto a plate.

leftover makeover carrot beans quinoa

The recipes for the Fennel Spiced Kale and Garlicky Yogurt sauce are below.  You may also use the patties like falafel and serve in a pita or make a “meat” loaf sandwich.

Fennel Spiced Kale

2 bunches of kale (preferably Red Kale), chopped with stems removed.

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds

1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil on medium heat then add garlic, saute for a few minutes (do not brown).  Add paprika and saute until lightly darkened. Add kale and cover pan with lid.  When kale has wilted, add fennel and salt and toss. Cover and turn heat to low simmering for 5 minutes.  Add extra water or broth if leaves are sticking to pan.

Garlicky Yogurt

2 cups of homemade whole milk yogurt (or any plain yogurt you have in the frig)

1/2 tsp salt

1 minced clove of garlic

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp Meyer lemon juice

Whisk yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Add salt, garlic, oil and lemon juice.  Whisk until thoroughly blended.  Chill for 30 minutes or more.

vegetarian leftovers beans yogurt

Plated carrot navy bean patties with greens and sauce.

Leftover Makeovers: New Weekly Posting Debuting This Week

Cranberry-beans-staple-bulk-food-prepLeftovers don’t have to be stale repeats of your last lunch or dinner.  A few tweaks are all that is necessary to makeover that leftover dish or an entire meal. My favorite twist is to add more vegetables or a different protein combined with complimentary spices from a different cuisine.  Surprisingly little preparation is needed  to create a substantially different dish.  Each week I will be posting a leftover makeover from one of Neri’s meals over the past few weeks.

Rather than lecture about food waste in the United States (which various statistics place at somewhere between 25% to 50% of food in an average American home) I hope to inspire everyone to be more conscientious through creative “reuse” and preparation of food on a weekly basis.

It is easy to take leftovers from a night out or from food prepared at home and create a “new” meal the next day.  I will also discuss preparing foods in bulk, such as beans, quinoa, rice and roasted vegetables, and use them to prepare significantly different meals from the same staple ingredient during the week.

Slow food is possible on a busy schedule with a little preparation and planning.

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