Flower power Cook up a cruciferous vegetarian steak

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We’re equal-opportunity eaters.

We see no reason a piece of vitamin C-rich and fiber-filled cauliflower can’t be a big, fat and juicy as a resplendent grass-fed steak.

Good thing chefs around the country agree with us. Meet the cauliflower steak: A full head of cauliflower, core intact, sliced from top to bottom and temptingly seared and caramelized. It deserves to be the centerpiece of your table, as much as any piece of meat.

At New York’s new Café Clover, executive chef David Standridge serves golden-brown steaks with fresh greens, a chutney of pickled cauliflower and herbs, a cauliflower puree (simply made with water, cauliflower and a touch of cream) and a sauce made of piquillo peppers, garlic, almonds, sherry vinegar and olive oil. “My inspiration was to create a vegetable-centric entree that a pork loving chef, like myself, is fully satisfied by,” he says.

Superba Snack Bar’s cauliflower steak comes with edible flowers, a parsley puree, crispy horseradish and dill.

At Brooklyn’s Eugene & Co, the pan-seared vegetable incorporates cumin, coriander and paprika and is finished off with carrot ribbons, feta and toasted cashews. Park Avenue Winter serves their T-bone with black rice and goat cheese, while Kin Shop puts a Thai twist on theirs with a Siamese green curry with Szechuan peppercorn tempura, kabocha squash and turnips.

Across the country, LA’s Superba Snack Bar has been rocking the trend since 2012, but is changing things up with a new plating with edible flowers, a parsley puree, crispy horseradish and dill.

Thankfully, this is a preparation that is not just for the pros, chef Standridge tell us. “The technique is very simple and something that anyone can easily replicate at home.”

Follow his instructions for your new favorite non-steak steak:

1. Trim a whole head of cauliflower of its leaves and then cut into steaks 1 to 2 inches thick. The best way to do this is to trim from the outside until you can see that the stem is holding the steak together. That will give you an idea of where to cut.

2. Once you have a nice thick piece, it’s just a matter of heating olive oil in a pan until hot and getting a nice golden brown sear on each side.

The health benefits of cauliflower.

Hybrid happy When kale meets Brussels sprouts

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Dearly beloved readers, we are gathered here today to witness the union of kale and Brussels sprouts in holy matrimony. Into the cruciferous kingdom these two wonderful vegetables come now to be joined in hybridization, to be henceforth known as “kalettes” and we will all get to eat happily ever after.

The rumors are true: Brussels sprouts and kale have joined their sweet forces into a new hybrid called the “kalettes” which combines the best flavors of each vegetable and offers a sweet and nutty result. The taste is milder than Brussels sprouts and the texture is more tender than kale, but this vegetable mash-up is still rich in vitamins C and K and contains double the amount of vitamin B6 than traditional sprouts.

Frilly-leaved kalettes are quickly making their presence known nationwide: Keep your eyes peeled for this purple and green wonder vegetable at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger, Costco and other retailers around the country. You can also look for kalettes marketed under the names “BrusselKale” and “Lollipops Kale Sprouts”. You can even get your hands on kalette seeds for your garden here.

Kalettes makes for a great boost of color and nutrition.

Whatever you call them, we like them roasted in the oven at 475° for 10 minutes, simply sautéed in a skillet with some olive oil or chopped finely and mixed with apple cider vinegar into a raw kalette salad.

This blessed union is also a great reason for a refresher on the difference between GMOs and hybrids.

Tozer Seeds, the largest family-owned vegetable seed company in England, hybridized the kalette by cross-pollinating Brussels sprouts with kale (which belong to the same plant species – brassica oleracea), through self-pollination, and then cross-pollinating the parent lines using insects (something that could happen in the wild). On the other hand, genetically modified foods (GMOs) are derived from organisms whose DNA has been tampered with in an unnatural way, for example through the gene splicing or crossing different biological kingdoms.

Got it? Then what are you waiting for? Go get some kalettes!

Recipes with kalettes

Coffee 2.0 Should you try to turbocharge your coffee?

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Coffee purists, take a deep breath. What we are about to suggest you do to your morning joe is anathema to all that you hold dear.

Step one: Brew 8 ounces of your favorite coffee. Step two: Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted grass-fed butter and 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil and blend them into the coffee using a blender at high speed for 10 to 20 seconds or until foamy.

The recipe above is Bulletproof Coffee, a term that has been on a particularly potent rampage of late. The term was coined and popularized by Dave Asprey, a proponent of a Paleo-like diet and a seller of his own Bulletproof-branded products including Brain Octane oil, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil extracted from coconut and palm kernel oils.

Asprey uses MCT oil instead of coconut oil; supposedly MCT’s, which make up about 15% of butter and coconut oil, are more easily digested than other fats, are used directly as energy similar to carbohydrates and might (emphasis on might) enhance the body’s natural tendency to burn fat.

We recommend using grass-fed butter and coconut oil.

Converts swear that drinking this concoction delivers boundless energy with a sharp focus. The idea is the fat slows the time it takes for your body to metabolize the caffeine, creating a slow energy burn sans caffeine crash, while keeping hunger at bay and spurring weight loss. Although there is no solid scientific research to back up the claims there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.

When we tried it, we felt satiated, loved the creamy flavor and did find that we were completely without the caffeine heebie-jeebies. However, we won’t be ditching our morning hot water with lemon routine or a nourishing fiber-rich breakfast in favor of drinking solely this coffee anytime soon.

If you do decide to play around with your morning cup, know that blending is the linchpin to the whole thing: Plopping a spoonful of coconut oil and butter into your brew won’t cut it. The key is to emulsify all those good fats into a cohesively frothy latte-like whip. We also recommend trying it with grass-fed butter and coconut oil (rather than spending big bucks on MCT oil) given that you probably already it have stocked in your kitchen and the coconut oil provides more beneficial fats than processed MCT oil.

And let us know how it goes on Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to know what you brewed up!

It’s all good Reboot your eating habits with this must-have cookbook

Photo Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

We’ve had it with half-hearted resolutions. This year, we’re going for the full reboot and taking our cues from A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great ($30).

Taking healthy eating advice from Marco Canora of Manhattan’s Hearth, a chef who cops to “crazy hours and even crazier eating habits” and who formerly fueled his body with “the questionable trinity of coffee, bread and cigarettes” might seem counterintuitive. Instead, it’s refreshing.

Canora has been there, done that, or as he says, “I was a champ at treating my body like a piece of #%@* … until my body started to stage a revolt.” Thirty pounds of excess weight, sleep apnea and thyroid dysfunction kicked this chef into action and propelled him into finding a healthier lifestyle that was also delicious.

In his new cookbook, Canora teams up with certified health coach Tammy Walker to showcase 125 good-for-you recipes that you actually want to eat.

“A good food day … it’s about eating super delicious food with a clear direction toward better health.” — Chef Marco Canora Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

This winter we’ll be making bowl after bowl of his Dandelion Salad* with Hard-Boiled Egg. The eggs create a rich coating that mutes the bitterness of the greens, while olive oil steps in to make the fat-soluble nutrients in the greens more easily absorbed. It’s the perfect hearty winter green swap for anyone sick of kale and the dandelion greens do an ace detoxing job for those overtaxed livers.

And if you are in New York City, stop by Canora’s new bone broth window, Brodo, which sells hot and nourishing bone broths made with grass-fed beef bones, organic chicken and turkey.

We’re taking Canora’s loud-and-clear sentiment into the new year with us, “A good food day isn’t about patting yourself begrudgingly on the back for eating the way you’re ‘supposed to;’ it’s about eating super delicious food with a clear direction toward better health.”

  Serves 4 to 6

2 bunches dandelion greens, thick stems removed,

cut into 2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

(*CP Note: If you can’t find or aren’t fond of dandelion greens this salad works wonderfully using tender greens such as spinach or arugula or try a mix of greens for varied flavor and nutrients.)

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled croutons or toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Put all the ingredients (except the croutons, if using) in a large salad bowl and really get in there with your hands to thoroughly mix everything so the egg yolks break down and coat the greens. Sprinkle with croutons or toasted breadcrumbs, if you like.
Order a copy.

Clean Habits: Tucker Yoder How the chef of the Clifton Inn keeps it clean

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One of the things we feel strongly about at Clean Plates is that clean eating can happen wherever you find yourself. Tucker Yoder, the executive chef of the Clifton Inn, a luxurious Relais & Châteaux property, is a sterling example.

Although the Clifton Inn is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, an area of the country still known more for its salted pork products than its consumption of green juice, Tucker honors the amazing bounty of produce that comes out of the region. He has become a culinary force, as well as a keen forager and an advocate for local and heirloom vegetables.

Read on for Tucker’s eating habits. And his name is one to keep in mind: This rising chef is opening his own place in 2015.

Chef Yoder shares his love of the outdoors and foraging with his four kids.

 

What’s a typical day of eating like for you? I always start my day with breakfast, either stone-ground oatmeal with fresh or frozen (picked in season and frozen or dried) fruit, or homemade muffins made from freshly milled flour.

Do you follow any sort of diet? Or do you have any must-eat foods? I don’t follow any particular diet, but I love greens: kale, collards, chard, spinach and arugula.

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? I try to keep from snacking too heavily throughout the day. Plus, I keep active outside of the kitchen by hiking, cycling, playing soccer and chasing after my four kids.

Can you tell me more about how you got into foraging and what you love to forage for? I have always loved being out in the forest and camping. I started exploring and learning what is edible in the woods. I love searching for chanterelles.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life at home and in the restaurants? We grow a lot of our own vegetables at home, and we make almost everything from scratch including bread, pasta, ramen and pizza. We also try to preserve everything we can in season. This winter I’ll be pulling out some of our pickled and preserved things—such as ramps or dried mushrooms—and working them into dishes.

Dine at the Clifton Inn

The great eight Clean Plates' 2014 holiday gift guide

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This holiday season, we are gifting goodness all around: gifts that are good for the recipient, good for the environment and just plain good to give. We’ve done all the research, tasting and testing; the rest is up to you.

1. Back to the Roots Mushroom Farm ($20). Give your favorite city-dweller this fun farm-in-a box so that they can grow their own vitamin C-rich oyster mushrooms at home. The USDA certified organic kit is made from organic recycled waste, including corncobs and sawdust, and it’s guaranteed to yield at least two harvests.

2. Vita Organics ($55 for 12 bars): Spread cheer with a bar of 72% organic chocolate made with top-notch raw and organic ingredients. Pro-tip: Buy a case of 12 bars and you’ll be covered for all those last-minute panic gifts.

3. Abeego Wraps ($10 to $25): We’re slipping these beeswax coated-organic cotton wraps into the stockings of everyone we know. The malleable sheets are perfect for kids to tote around snacks or for cooks looking to kick their plastic-wrap habit.

 

4. Wild for Wild Seafood Pack ($104): Send a heaping box that includes two whole wild New Zealand John Dory, two whole wild New Zealand Thai Snappers and two pounds of wild New Jersey Diver Scallops. You’re not just sending sustainable seafood; you’re sending dinner for nights to come.

5. Frank Coffee Body Scrub (from $15): Let’s just say it’s a very good thing this scrub comes with a cheeky “Do Not Eat” warning. The delicious smelling concoction of sweet almond oil, orange essence and ground Robusta coffee beans is hard to resist.

 

6. Urban Sproule Salt (from $8): Add some flavor to a cook’s spice drawer with some extra-special sea salts that are dried in the sun on a NYC rooftop. Flavors like cave-aged cheddar and lemon verbena are sure to get taste buds (and conversation) going.

7. Catskill Provisions Honey Whiskey ($40): Stock the bar of your favorite tippler with this New York rye-and barley-based whiskey sweetened with late-summer Catskills honey. With a warm, spicy aroma and a kick of ginger, it’s what every winter drink craves.

 

8. Cecil & Merl Gluten-Free Cheesecake (from $60): Ship one of these lemon-ricotta beauties to your favorite harried hostess and she will be grateful through 2015 and beyond. The filler-free cake is packed with rBST/hormone-free crème fraîche, ricotta and whole milk cream cheese and wrapped in a brown-rice based, gluten-free graham cracker crust.

Baby got flat Why we're wild about Angelic Bakehouse

Talking about bread (and especially gluten) these days is a straight-up quagmire. But we’re not ones to ever shy away from a good conversation about food.

These days, when we reach for a slice of bread, we try to make sure it’s made with sprouted grains, meaning that it has boosted nutrition. Sprouted grains by nature are lower in carbs and calories, and higher in protein and fiber than traditional flour-based breads.

Now with the introduction of Angelic Bakehouse’s Flatzza ($6), we can also reach for this super-versatile sprouted grain flatbread as a base for open face sandwiches or homemade pizza. The thin, circular bread is made using only non-GMO ingredients like sprouted quinoa, barley and amaranath with American honey and no artificial sweeteners, fats or preservatives.

Non-sprouted vs sprouted wheat. Sprouted grains are lower in carbs and calories, and higher in protein and fiber.

 

Husband and wife team Jenny and James Marino bought the Milwaukee-based bakery five years ago and gave the company a total rebranding. Jenny says, “The masses were just starting to wake up to the benefits of sprouted grain. Knowing this, we bet the farm on sprouted and discontinued all other lines, choosing to focus on doing one thing and doing it really well.”

And that they do. Angelic is one of the few commercial bakeries in the USA that sprout all of their grains in-house, and gently grinds the fresh sprouts straight into the dough—rather than drying or milling them into flour. Even better, Angelic Bakehouse’s products can easily be found all over the country at stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market.

If your turkey is still lingering, the Marinos’ recipe for Thanksgiving leftover pizza is a compelling reason to pick up a pack of Flatzzas—either online or in a store near you.

Thriving over surviving We're going bargain crazy over Thrive Market

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We want to give a digital high-five to the four founders of Thrive Market.

The cohort was brought together by two shared realizations, says VP of Content Kate Mulling: “First, that living healthy in America is too hard for too many people, and second, that it shouldn’t be that way.”

With the mission to democratize access to healthy living, our grocery shopping has just changed for the better. Thrive Market makes more than 2,500 non-GMO and organic foods, supplements, home, baby and beauty products available online at wholesale prices in normal, everyday sizes.

That means no more having to cobble together a buying club or making massive bulk purchases that wallow in your basement. What this means in cold hard cash terms is 25 to 50 percent off the prices you are used to paying. Take a jar of that all-purpose wonder ingredient: extra-virgin organic coconut oil. We usually pay around $17 for a 16 oz. jar from the Garden of Life brand. On Thrive it’s just $9.

Left to right: Gunnar Lovelace, Kate Mulling, Sasha Siddhartha and Nicholas Green, co-founders of Thrive Market.

Is your mind blown? Because ours is.

Here’s how it works: Register for free to browse the Thrive catalog during a 30-day membership trial, and receive 15 percent off your first purchase and free shipping on all orders over $49. If you love what you see, buy a membership ($60 a year). To make the deal even sweeter, Thrive kicks in a free membership to a low-income family for every paid membership.

What’s more, you won’t have to drive to the store, and Thrive is 100 percent carbon neutral through carbonfund.org. “Our certification covers national shipping, packaging materials, warehouse utilities, even the work commutes of our team,” Mulling says. “All packaging, boxes and inserts are made from post-consumer recycled paper and are recyclable.”

Anyone feel like a feel-good shopping spree?

 
Sign up now for a FREE 30 day trial!

We want more Ottolenghi sweeps us away (again) with Plenty More

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We were more than a bit skeptical about a simple pot of beans that takes a whole five hours to cook.

But when the instructions come by the way of chef (and vegetable guru) Yotam Ottolenghi, we’re inclined to shove our prejudices to the side.

Ottolenghi is the man behind the new Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi ($35). It’s a follow-up to his 2011 stunner, Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. This most recent book is set to be just as much of a phenomenon: it was sitting pretty as the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Vegetarian Cooking category before it was even released. If any man is responsible for sexying up vegetables in the past couple of years, it’s him.

We think Ottolenghi’s secret rests in his deep dive into Middle Eastern flavors and his commitment to serving vegetables, grains and legumes every-which-way. He will blow the doors off your senses with recipes like a pink grapefruit and sumac-spiced salad; a saffron, date and almond rice; and a brussels sprout risotto.

Scroll down to try this slow-cooked chickpea recipe  Photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin

 His wholly original approach also applies to this bean dish, with a paste of tomatoes, cayenne pepper, paprika and a poached egg served on the side. Besides the cooking time, it’s a completely low maintenance dish—try it on a quiet weekend where you can soak the chickpeas the night before and let a pot simmer away on the stove the next day.

He says, “The result more than won over my fellow recipe testers—the chickpeas are impossibly soft and yielding and the flavor is rich and deep in a way that only slow cooking can bring about.”

Ottolenghi also helpfully notes that, “It tastes fantastic the next day and the day after that, so you might want to double the quantities and keep a batch in the fridge. A spoonful of Greek yogurt can be served alongside each portion, if you like.”

CP Note: We recommend using a sprouted grain bread and coconut palm sugar.

  Serves Four

Rounded 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water

overnight with 2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tbsp to finish

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 medium red peppers, cut into ¼-inch

dice (about 1 ¼  cups)

1 beefsteak tomato, peeled and coarsely

chopped (1 ⅔ cups)

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

4 slices sourdough bread brushed with olive oil

and grilled on both sides

4 eggs, freshly poached

2 teaspoons za’atar

Salt and black pepper

1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with plenty of water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, skim the surface, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Place the oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, red peppers, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper in a food processor and blitz to form a paste.

3. Wipe out the chickpea saucepan, return it to the stove over medium heat, and add the paste. Fry for 5 minutes (there’s enough oil there to allow for this), stirring occasionally, before adding the tomato, sugar, chickpeas, and a scant 1 cup water. Bring to a low simmer, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 4 hours, stirring from time to time and adding more water when needed to retain a sauce-like consistency. Remove the lid and cook for a final hour: the sauce needs to thicken without the chickpeas becoming dry.

4. Place a piece of warm grilled bread on each plate and spoon the chickpeas over the bread. Lay a poached egg on top, followed by a sprinkle of za’atar and a drizzle of oil. Serve at once.

One fish, two fish… Fill your freezer with just-caught fish

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When it comes to sustainable seafood, sorting out what-is-what is nothing but (excuse the expression) a giant kettle of fish. Worries about overfishing, contaminants like mercury and other serious health and ecological issues are constantly in flux.

But there’s a new way to keep fish as part of your diet, without having a total panic attack.

The folks at ShopFreshSeafood have introduced a Wild for Wild Seafood Package ($104; includes free overnight shipping, plus 10% off for first time orders) that includes two whole wild New Zealand John Dory, two whole wild New Zealand Thai Snapper and two pounds of wild New Jersey Diver Scallops from Barnegate Bay that are so sweet and fresh they can be eaten raw.

Everything in the pack is “either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans,” says owner Megan Grippa.

Megan Grippa (right), owner of ShopFreshSeafood knows her fish (and shellfish and crustaceans and other delicious ocean proteins)

Based out of The New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, this four-generation family-run business can get fish to your door faster (and fresher) than the stuff that ends up at your neighborhood store. Since the pack includes way more fish than is needed for a single dinner, use Grippa’s trick for freezing fish. “Remember that air is the enemy when it comes to freezing your fish, ” she says. “I usually wrap it tightly in saran wrap and then wrap it again in aluminum foil. Make sure to mark the outside with the type of fish and the date.”

Being confident that what you are buying has been responsibly raised or sustainably caught means you can stop freaking out and instead concentrate on cooking the fish (and the accompanying those heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids) in the most delicious way possible.

CP Note: To get started on a journey towards eating more sustainable fish, consider checking out: For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking and Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood.