Morning Warm Up: Oatmeal Done Right
Yup, it’s still oatmeal weather these days. It’s chilly here in NYC and oatmeal can offer up a warming, filling breakfast option. But with it, there always seems to come a side order of questions…are these carbs ok to eat for breakfast? Why am I ready to eat my fist an hour after having a packet of instant oatmeal? Is the flavored, low-sugar stuff ok? Is it absolute diet-blasphemy to have a bit of brown sugar, milk, raisins, nuts etc?
Tips For Doing Oatmeal Right
1. Go For The Nutrient Rich. Yes, oats are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, they’re high in fiber and they suck out cholesterol from the body. BUT consider the type of oats you’re eating. Instant oatmeal, while convenient, likely isn’t doing a stand-out job of satisfying you for much for much of the morning. The more dense the oat/grain, the more sated you are. So on a scale of most-filling to least-filling you’ve got steel cut oats at the top (you know, that Irish oatmeal that takes a million years to cook but is fantastic); old-fashioned rolled oats with a mere 5-7 minute cooking time; and the instant stuff, which is perfectly fine for an emergency or a quick breakfast, but likely isn’t as filling. Try making any version of oatmeal with all or part skim, low-fat, soy or almond milk and it’ll stick with you that much longer.
2. Ditch The Fake Stuff: Flavored, low-sugar stuff – too man-handled and processed = not as satisfying. Stick with the basic, plain oats and flavor it yourself. A teaspoon of brown sugar or maple syrup is a mere 16-20 calories, not too terrible and there are zero artificial sweeteners involved. Cinnamon’s a total of zero calories, so go for it.
3. Dress It Up: Back to question 2, it’s not blasphemy to add a sprinkling of condiments here and there and will surely make breakfast more interesting and allow you to get to lunch without starving yourself. Fresh fruits, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and event nuts (in small amounts) are great choices for adding a little extra zing to your morning bowl.
What’s my morning oatmeal routine?
I generally make 2 to 4 servings of old-fashioned rolled oats at one time to hold me throughout the week, reheat it and poof, breakfast is done. A 1/2 cup of dry old-fashioned and 1/4 cup of the steel cut is a serving. And if you refuse to sacrifice a moment of sleep in order to make breakfast, don’t worry – I refuse also. I set my oats with half water and half milk on medium heat and hit the shower. Done and done in about 7 minutes or so. My flavoring agents of choice at the moment include a mix of: golden raisins, chopped pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup and a dab of butter and a pinch of salt – yes, real butter, it’s only a smidge, and salt (the way my mom used to make it!). Toss in a few slices of banana or throw in diced apple while you’re cooking and you’ve got a killer, energy-packed morning meal. My extremely discerning brother more than deemed this concoction breakfast – worthy, so hopefully that gives it some additional backing.
Winter Comfort :: Braised Short Ribs with Dried Cherries & Red Wine
I can’t think of a much better meal for comfy, coziness on a chilly day than braised short ribs. These little gems fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. The perfect charm to warm you up on a cold weekend or after a long day on the ski slopes–and easy to serve up for a big group. And the addition of polenta makes this a nice gluten-free dish (just be sure to dredge the ribs in a gluten-free flour). Keep the meal balanced with a nice starter salad. Toss in some sliced pears, toasted walnuts, maybe a touch of gorgonzola and a drizzle of balsamic-honey vinaigrette and you’re good to go.
Braised Short Ribs with Dried Cherries & Red Wine
Serves :: 6
3 pounds short ribs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 cippolini onions (or 1 medium yellow onion), roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed gently with a knife
1 1/2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
2 cups cremini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup dried cherries
½ bottle dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
Polenta with Truffle Oil
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons truffle oil
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or a cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Dip in flour to cover each side. Brown the short ribs, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
Add onions, garlic and carrots to the pot and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add in mushrooms and herbs. Stir in the tomato paste and dried cherries and place the short ribs back into pan. Add the wine and beef stock and bring to a simmer.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven, place the short ribs on a platter, and reduce down the liquid for about 20 minutes on the stovetop. Add ribs back into pot. Serve short ribs and sauce with creamy polenta with truffle oil.
Polenta with Truffle Oil
Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in polenta in a steady stream. Add in salt and pepper and whisk continuously for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, whisking briefly every 10 minutes or so. Whisk in cheese and truffle oil and serve.
image via Nourish
Cold Season: Amped Up Chicken Soup To The Rescue
Cold and flu season is here full force, and of course one of the most popular remedies is good ol fashion chicken soup. While we all have our favorite variations, Clean Plates recently wrote about an amped up version full of nutrients and flavor.
Help for Soup (and Your Soul)
Amp up chicken soup with this umami-packed veggie of the sea.
Kelp, an edible seaweed (also called kombu) is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and for good reason. Not only is kelp chock-full of nutrients and vitamins, but it packs tons of umami flavor, says Hiroko Shimbo, chef and author of the IACP award-winning cookbook Hiroko’s American Kitchen.
In Japanese, the meaning of umami, that elusive fifth flavor, approximates to “delicious.” And kelp’s umami flavor “to me tastes the ‘cleanest,'” says Shimbo.
Shimbo recommends using kelp stock in place of chicken stock or water as the base for soups or as a braising liquid. The next time you make chicken soup, try this: simmer your leftover roast organic chicken in kelp stock instead of chicken stock or water, and you’ll have some of the richest, most nourishing, and most savory soups you’ve ever tasted.
Kelp stock is easy to make and keep on hand, as you’ll see in Shimbo’s recipe here. Best of all the chlorophyll-filled kelp is jam-packed with nutrients, including vitamins B, C, and E, soluble and insoluble fiber, plus iodine, calcium, and magnesium—a soulful spoonful for sure!
Clean Plates bonus: Kelp stock will give extra oomph to your vegetable soups, too. For a recent demo at the farmers’ market, Shimbo improvised a beet, miso, and kelp soup, recipe here. “Some people said ‘Oh, I don’t like miso,’ and some said, ‘I don’t like beets,’ but when they tasted this soup, they all said, ‘Wow-wow.’” We bet you will, too.
Top Photo: Clean Plates.
Whole Foods Winter Warm Up: Quinoa and Beef Meatballs
I recently came across this whole foods recipe for quinoa and beef meatballs and knew I had to try them. First of all, I love quinoa and all it’s healthy benefits, and secondly, my toddler seems to be addicted to pasta and meatballs, so any way that I can make them healthier helps. These contain chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots and onion) which sneakily kick up the nutrition even more. They turned out delicious, and it’s a recipe I will definitely go back to.
1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use frozen 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa, or cook it from scratch*)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup (I didn’t have any so just threw in a few tablespoons of crushed tomato)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (some people substitute amino acids instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Shape into 16 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.
(*Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe, and reserve the remaining for another use.)
PER SERVING:150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein
Top Photo: Whole Foods
Snow Day! Perfect Time For Baking & Hot Cocoa
Whole Wheat Lemon-Raspberry Scones with Raspberry Butter
makes about 18-20 scones
Hot Cocoa (with a kick!)
Summertime Staple: Peanut Sesame Soba Noodles
What happens when a lone gal joins a CSA farm share for the summer? Umm….her fridge is literally crammed with vegetables each week. We’re talking overflow action here. Which means I’ve been getting pretty creative about how to use veggies in a variety of ways, multiple per dish. I’ve also been having loads of friends over dinner…lukcy them. What better way to use up green AND red cabbage, scallions, carrots and a red bell pepper than with a massive batch of peanut sesame soba noodles. De-lish and great for an easy, vegetable-crammed lunch or a side dish. *FYi – soba noodles are a nice gluten-free option if you’re seeking to go low on the wheat given that it’s bikini/beach season.
PEANUT SESAME SOBA NOODLES with Scallion and Summer Herbs
Serves :: 8 to 10
6 to 8 ounces of soba noodles
1 small red cabbage, halved and finely shredded
1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, peeled, halved and thinly julienned
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small thai red chili, minced
1/2 cup each of mint, cilantro and thai basil roughly chopped
4 to 5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 small garlic cloves
toasted black or white sesame seeds
toasted peanuts, crushed
3 Superfood Smoothies For Summer
Here’s a cool, delicious post from our friends at Clean Plates.
Feeling thirsty? Juicing is all the rage, especially with temperatures rising. But there’s another exciting drink trend on the horizon: superfood smoothies. By blending instead of juicing, you can keep all the fiber and nutrients from your produce. Each recipe is simple to make. Bonus: these also make great ice pops.
Watermelon Slush Smoothie from Kimberly Snyder, owner of GLOW BIO
The owner of Clean Plates-approved smoothie shop GLOW BIO says, “Watermelon has great cooling and hydrating properties, as well as amazing cleansing and detoxifying effects. Always try to purchase organic watermelons with seeds, the way nature made them. But be sure to freeze the watermelon! It is not the same at all if you do not. Try it for yourself and enjoy this insanely satisfying treat.”
Approx. 3 c. watermelon (or one small watermelon)
2 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
Cut the watermelon into small chunks and freeze 3 cups overnight. Simply blend the frozen watermelon and the almond milk in a blender. Says Snyder, “The two ingredients combine so magically that you won’t need any kind of sweetener.”
Go Man Go Smoothie from Creative Juice
Hot new juice café Creative Juice focuses on local, in-season, organic ingredients with no added sugars. The “Go Man Go” puts the spotlight on vitamin-rich mangoes and potassium-rich coconut water. Oatmeal adds fiber, while yogurt provides probiotics for good digestion.
1 c. mango
3/4 c. coconut water
2 Tbsp. oatmeal (rolled oats or cooked steel-cut oats)
1/2 c. yogurt (Clean Plates recommends organic, plain and unsweetened)
squeeze of lime
pinch of sea salt
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy.
Chocolaty Superfood Smoothie from The Clean Plates Cookbook
Get ready for antioxidant-rich berries and cacao, vitamin-packed greens, and heart-healthy coconut oil and seeds—the seemingly varied ingredients come together deliciously.
1 1/2 c. organic frozen strawberries (If your fruit isn’t frozen, just add some ice cubes)
1 c. coconut milk
2 large leaves collards, kale, or chard, ribs removed, leaves torn into large pieces
2 Tbsp. unsweetened raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp. coconut nectar, or more to taste
2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil (optional)
1 Tbsp. chia or hemp seeds
In a blender, combine the strawberries, coconut milk, greens, cacao powder, coconut nectar, coconut oil, and seeds and purée until smooth. Add more coconut nectar to taste and serve.
Chocolaty Smoothie photo by Connoisseur 4 the Cure
Summer Brights & A Simple BBQ
There’s nothing better than spending a weekend or holiday with good friends and a laid-back dinner. Whether your spending this weekend in NYC or out in the burbs, this delicious recipe will add a little flavor to your get together. Enjoy the unofficial start of summer!
Grilled Lime-Cilantro Shrimp & Scallops with Zucchini Ribbons & Harissa-Caper Potato Salad
Serves :: 4 to 6
Shrimp & Scallops
½ lb scallops, local if possible
1 ½ lbs large shrimp, wild or local if possible
juice of 3 limes
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 – 3 Tbsp pickled jalapenos
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a dash of chili powder
½ tsp cumin
a dash of hot sauce for an extra kick
salt to taste
Zucchini & Summer Squash Ribbons with Ricotta Salata & Mint
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow summer squash
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/3 cup ricotta salata, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
*I’ve made another version of this salad in the past skipping the snap peas and radishes and popping in toasted walnuts instead. Also delish.
Potato Salad with Capers, Spring Garlic & Harissa
*yup, get ready for a rocking potato salad with ZERO mayo – and you’ll never know the difference!
10 or so small red bliss potatoes
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/3 to ½ cup spring garlic, chopped (scallions or red onion would also work well)
¼ cup capers
1-2 Tbsp pickle juice (trust me, it makes the salad!)
juice of ½ lemon
1-2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 5oz container of 2% Greek yogurt
1 tsp harissa (in spice powder form rather than sauce/condiment form) *I used a lovely harissa-rose petal spice blend by Steenbergs that I picked up in London a few weeks back
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Summer Linguine with Shrimp, Asparagus, & Lemon
STYLE IN THE KITCHEN: Here’s one of my favorite ‘go-to’ summertime recipes that incorporates the best the season has to offer.
Makes 3-4 servings
½ box whole wheat linguine
3/4 lb peeled shrimp
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp fresh cut chives
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp unsalted butter
2-3 small cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan reggiano (optional)
Boil water for pasta. Boil asparagus for about 2 minutes, run them under ice cold water to keep them crisp and set aside. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp 3-4 minutes until just done. Set shrimp aside once cooked.
Once water boils, cook pasta 10 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tsp olive oil & garlic in pan. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Add asparagus, chives, parsley, shrimp, lemon juice and lemon peel. Season with salt, black pepper & red pepper. Cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat.
Once pasta is cooked, add it to skillet and toss with shrimp-asparagus. Add in butter and parmesan if desired (some Italians would curse me suggesting parmesan with a seafood pasta!) Remove from heat. If desired, top pasta with additional parmesan and parsley and serve.
Homemade Granola: Insider Secrets From Someone Obsessed
OK, so lately I have been absolutely obsessed with making granola. I decided to start making my own since “crunch” it is my family’s go-to breakfast, and so many store bought brands are loaded with unnecessary sugar. I love granola that looks like granola (yes, you can see the oats and big pieces of nuts or dried fruit), and I’m not into spending $8.99 a bag for it (hello NYC).
So, I’ve been obsessed with mixing and matching ingredients and finding the perfect combo. Here’s what I’ve found out about mixing the perfect blend.
OATS: All granola has a base of oats. Most recipes will tell you to use old fashioned oats not the quick oats. I’ve tried all and actually found my best success with Trader Joe’s Organic Oats and also the surprising inexpensive organic oats from Mrs. Greens (in the bulk self serve bins).
CRUNCH: so my biggest hurdle in the first few blends was getting a little crunch out of it. In researching online I found a few secrets including switching to a quick oat and also adding some oat flour to get it all to bind. I used ground flax instead of oat flour and this also seemed to work. Also, I read about adding a little applesauce to the mix to get some more clumps which turn into crunchy oat clusters. However the biggest secret is adding an EGG white to the recipe. SCORE!
SWEETNESS: It doesn’t take a lot to bring in a little sweetness. The popular sweeteners include maple syrup, honey, brown sugar and vanilla extract. I usually half whatever the recipe is calling for. I’ve found using a mixure of honey and brown sugar yields a best result.
COATING: You’ll need an oil or melted butter to coat the oats. I usually use coconut oil, but have also used a mild tasting safflower or olive oil. I stopped measuring and usually use enough to coat my batches. You may not need as much as some recipes call for, but it is important that there’s enough to coat and bind.
ADD IN’s: The best part!! Adding in coconut and dried fruit also kicks up the sweetness factor. I love these hence I cut down on the other sweeteners. Also, nuts and other add-in’s can add flavor and nutrition. My last batch I added some sprouted quinoa to the oat mixture before popping it in the oven (so good). I also am big into adding chia seed (packed with power) and flax seed which both give added flavor, texture and nutrition.
THE BAKING: I suggest baking a bit lower temp than the recipe suggests. Also, use a good cookie sheet. My first batch burned at the 350 temp on my not-so-great sheet. I’ve done the last few at around 250, and actually have had great success baking them in the toaster oven (on the small sheet that comes with it).
My perfect recipe to come!