Inspired India This new Indian cookbook is a gem


Long before bloggers were blogging and before you could get a paneer tikka masala in seemingly every town in America, Madhur Jaffrey was spreading the gospel of Indian cooking.

Her first cookbook was published in 1973, and since then her dozens of books have been racking up awards and showing us all how to take the lessons of her home country and translate them to our own kitchens.

For her newest book, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking ($35), Jaffrey crisscrossed India (the country with the largest percentage of vegetarians in the world) and gathered recipes from home cooks.

Madhur Jaffrey has been called the Julia Child of Indian Food (photograph by Christopher Hirsheimer).

These are not the heavy meat and cream-laden curries you will see at a restaurant. Instead, they showcase the vibrancy and incredible diversity of Indian vegetarian cuisine. There is the sweet, sour, salty and coconut-enriched Kodava mushroom curry from southern Karnataka; a spinach dish stir-fried with garlic, cumin and fenugreek seeds; and cabbage fritters from the state of Andhra Pradesh held together with just a wisp of chickpea flour.

This massive book (it clocks in at 400-plus pages) is a reminder of why we still buy cookbooks even with an Internet saturated with recipes. It’s a lockbox of lush, beautiful and functional recipes that are guaranteed to work. Even the most die-hard cook is bound to pick up a few new ideas and techniques.

Jaffrey shared her recipe for fresh cucumber spears, sprinkled with lemon juice and dusted with spices, with us. They are the perfect last-minute addition to your Thanksgiving menu: crisp and refreshing enough to cut through a rich and heavy meal, and easy enough (no reheating needed!) to not create any headaches. If your menu is full-to-the-brim already, save the recipe for later—it’s the perfect revitalizer post T-day, and all year round.

Cucumber Spears
Kheeray Ki Phankay

Serves 4
4 cucumbers (ideally seedless cucumbers, labeled Armenian or Persian)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
1⁄8 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons olive or peanut oil
1⁄8 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
1⁄8 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
5–6 fresh curry leaves or small basil leaves

1. Peel the cucumbers and halve them lengthwise. Arrange them on a plate, cut side up. Dribble the lemon juice over them as evenly as you can manage. Now sprinkle the salt, cumin seeds, and chili powder over them in the same even manner.

2. Put the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, a matter of seconds, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Throw in the curry leaves and turn off the heat. Now tilt the frying pan and spoon the oil and spices evenly over the cucumbers. They are ready to be served.

Excerpted from VEGETARIAN INDIA by Madhur Jaffrey. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Leftover Love Prioritize sweet potatoes on your plate pre– and post– Thanksgiving plates


Leave your holiday lethargy behind and get help digesting all that stuffing and pie this Thanksgiving.

It’s time to get back to your roots by relying on the power of sweet potatoes, a crop grown in the Americas far before any Pilgrims showed up.

These orange tubers are loaded with vitamin B6, which helps your body break down carbohydrates, leaving you feeling more energized.

Watch Deliciously Ella whip up sweet potato brownies.

Sweet potatoes also have a low glycemic index, meaning they slowly release sugar into your bloodstream. And they contain minerals like manganese that help control blood sugar levels. Plus, the rich pigments of this potato called anthocyanins are influential antioxidants sure to boost your health in the midst of unhealthy indulgences.

So bake organic sweet potatoes to your heart’s content. When considering what sides to make this year, double down on these sweet, mighty roots and consider them not just during holiday meals but also throughout the year to help balance blood sugars and relieve starchy overloads.

Here are a few recipes to lift your leftovers to the next level:

Start your morning with these sweet potato pancakes.
Try this fall-inspired smoothie with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Load up on sweet potato topped with avocado.
Make your leftover mash into a sweet potato burger.

Whip up this creamy dip and serve with crudité.
Turn baked potatoes into dessert.

You Don’t Know Jack Here's the newest meat substitute you need to know


Eating more plant-based meals is a worthy endeavor (for both your body and the planet), but once you commit, you’ve still got to find something to eat for dinner.

If you feel like you’ve OD’ed on beans and tofu, it’s time to meet jackfruit. While jackfruit sounds more like something you would use as a morning oatmeal topper, it actually makes for the perfect filling for a vegetarian take on carnitas tacos.

Here’s the deal: When ripe, jackfruit is very sweet and has a flavor that approaches the taste of Juicy Fruit gum. But, when jackfruit is harvested young it has an incredible fibrous meat-like texture and consistency.

A single jackfruit can weigh well over 60 pounds.

Chicago-based Upton’s Naturals makes two flavors ($5) of jackfruit, a Chili Lime with sea salt, cumin and vinegar and a tangy Bar-B-Que. The heat-and-eat packs are now available nationally, including at Whole Foods.

Don’t let the idea of meat fruit squick you out until you’ve given it a try. We’re piling the sweet and smoky Bar-B-Que variety into a lunchtime pita with a side of crunchy coleslaw made with avocado mayo. The zesty Chili Lime works just as well as a topping for a roasted sweet potato as it does being mixed into a kale salad with beans and avocado. Another selling point for Upton’s jackfruit products is that unlike meat alternatives like tofu, seitan and tempeh, it’s completely gluten-, soy- and oil-free.

“Jackfruit is one of the most underutilized crops in the world,” says Nicole Sopko, the Vice President of Upton’s–in fact the company has forged special relationships with Thai farmers to bring the young fruit to market. Whether you are going vegan or are just incorporating more meatless meals into your weekly schedule, jackfruit is well worth adding to your rotation.

The Syrup Solution Fit more maple into your health regime


Sweet news: A spoonful of maple syrup is good for you.

This natural sweetener contains antioxidants galore. So far, studies have uncovered 54 beneficial antioxidant compounds in maple syrup, which help fight inflammatory diseases like osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

These beneficial compounds also act as natural skincare, helping to repair free radical damage. Maple syrup surpasses other sweeteners with its high levels of energy- and immune-boosting minerals like manganese and zinc.

Watch how maple syrup is made.

New research also reports that the syrup is an able warrior in the fight against drug-resistant germs. Lab tests found a concentrated extract of real maple syrup combined with antibiotics is effective at destroying bacteria called biofilms, which are commonly found in difficult-to-treat infections.

Scientists don’t recommend pouring the stuff over everything just yet, but rather using it as a sweetener when you can, perhaps to enhance a bowl of oatmeal or dress up butternut squash. You can try it in more savory applications, too, such as this maple pumpkin risotto or salmon glaze.

Just don’t use any old “syrup” (sorry, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth). Only “pure maple syrup” produced without additives like high-fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring will give you the nutritional benefit.

Even with all the goodness in this syrup, remember to pair sweets with a fat or protein when you can, and don’t overdo it. Try a dab of grass-fed butter on your pancakes to slow down your glycemic response and get the most out of these vitamins without the sugar crash.

My, My Mayo Love guac? You're going to crush on this.


Ryan Cahill took a post-party conundrum and turned it into a brilliant new product: When he found himself with loads of leftover guacamole, he substituted it for mayonnaise in a potato salad and Avèyo, the avocado mayonnaise, was born.

Unlike so many mayos on the market, Avèyo ($4 for 6 oz. or $12 for three boxes) is made without any GMO ingredients, preservatives, soybean oil, sugar, emulsifiers or gums.

While wonderful avocado oil products have been hitting shelves (we like Chosen Foods avocado oil for high-heat cooking and the neutral-tasting Primal Kitchen Mayo for spreading on sandwiches), this is the first mayonnaise based on the whole avocado fruit rather than just its oil.

We’re putting this spread on everything.

As Cahill says, “This is a mayonnaise designed from the avocado up.” He starts with super-ripe California Hass avocados and blends them with vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and lime juice. The result is remarkably creamy and very tangy, but still fairly low in calories per serving (1 tablespoon is about 25 calories).

Avocados’ gloriously healthy fat stands in for the usual eggs and most of the oil, making Avèyo vegan-friendly too.

Avèyo pouches do need to be refrigerated, but they also freeze well. We’re mixing ours with ground turkey for turkey burgers, subbing it for regular mayo in an updated version of deviled eggs and using it as a straight-up dip for raw vegetables (get more recipes here).

If only our parties regularly led to such brilliance.

Quack This Egg Break out of your shell and try duck eggs


Want a high-performance omelet? Try the head honcho of huevos: duck eggs.

Duck eggs are higher in protein and iron than chicken eggs and contain about double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Oh, and they’re quite tasty, too. And with avian flu hitting farms throughout the country and causing chicken egg prices to soar, now is the perfect time to try something new. Chicken eggs are among the most common dietary restrictions, affecting more than 5 million Americans. But people with these sensitivities are often able to tolerate duck eggs.

Try baking with duck eggs for extra rich and fluffy pastries.

As with chicken eggs, the nutrition depends on the diet of the ducks. Be sure to ask your farmer or local market manager about what their ducks eat; you want ducks that enjoy a natural free-range diet, not soy and wheat feed.

The bigger yolks also make for richer cooking. Chefs love them for fresh pastas, custards or homemade mayonnaise. They are also a great resource for gluten-free baking, as the extra protein in duck egg whites helps bind gluten-free grains together and the extra fat adds a fluffier texture to pastries and cakes.

One thing to watch: duck eggs are higher in cholesterol than chicken eggs, so if you’re on a low-cholesterol diet, consider yourself warned. Everyone else, get quacking.

Sunflower Power Seed your way to healthier, glowing skin


As the days get shorter and we all go back to spending more hours in the office than the great outdoors, you can replace that lost sun (and fun) time with this little snack.

Sunflower seeds are one of the highest natural sources of vitamin E, which supports skin health and helps protect against free-radical damage. As a good source of healthy fats, they also help hydrate your skin and give it a natural glow.

To get these benefits, simply add a ¼ of cup of sunflower seeds to your day. It will provide you with the recommended daily dose of vitamin E, along with 6 grams of protein, healthy fats and extra minerals like magnesium.

Watch: How sunflower seeds are harvested!

Here’s how:

Start your morning with some grain-free granola and yogurt. Our favorite version is a blend of sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, hemp seeds and a dash of cinnamon.

Add a scoop or two of sunflower seed butter to your oatmeal. Look for jars without added hydrogenated fats, sugars or thickening agents—or make your own.

For lunch or dinner, try making your own veggie burgers with sunflower seeds or buy some pre-made Sunshine Burgers topped with avocado and sprouts.

If you prefer a sweeter delivery method, make these quick and healthy cookies, starring sunflower seeds and jam.

Storage tip: Because these potent kernels contain oodles of unsaturated fat, they can easily go rancid. Keep them fresh by storing them in a tightly sealed container in your fridge or freezer.

Stick to these tips and you’ll keep your summer glow even as the leaves begin to change.

This Fonio Is For You A gluten-free ingredient to rock your world


Quinoa was worshipped by the ancient Incas, and in modern times by all of us who identify as part of the health-minded tribe.

We’re here to declare that it’s time to make room in your temple of wellness for a little-known superfood: fonio.

The gluten-free grain is the tiniest member of the millet family. It’s rich in minerals and essential amino acids, a good source of protein and its insoluble fiber aids in digestion.

Fonio cooks up as easily as a pot of rice and the fluffy, nutty grains (it’s couscous-like in appearance) are easy to incorporate into any meal of the day. We’re using it as an alternative to oatmeal in the morning with a swirl of almond milk and hemp seeds, and pairing it with roasted butternut squash and greens for a desk-side lunch. Fonio can also be ground into flour for gluten-free baking exploits and even used to brew beer.

Move over quinoa – there’s a new gluten-free grain on the scene.

Not only is fonio a superfood, but also it’s a boon to farmers: the crop is drought-resistant, is adaptable to arid climates (like sub-Saharan Africa) and be can grown in poor soil without the use of any pesticides.

Atacora Essential Inc. specializes in sourcing Fair Trade products directly from West Africa without any middlemen and they are one of the first suppliers of fonio in the US ($13 for 1 lb.).

One of the best ways to get cozy with fonio is to pick up a copy of Pierre Thiam’s new book, Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl ($35).

The Brooklyn-based chef dives into his native country’s multifaceted cuisine with plenty of recipes for fonio, including a super-easy mango and fonio salad.

Think of it as your primer for Fonio 101.

Mango Fonio Salad
Recipe from Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl

Serves 4
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
2 cups cooked fonio or quinoa (see Note)
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped
1 ripe mango—peeled, pitted and diced
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
½ cup cashews

1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice with the salt and pepper.
2. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking to emulsify.
3. Place the fonio in a large bowl and add the parsley, mint, mango, onion, tomatoes and cucumber.
4. Toss well and generously fold in the vinaigrette to taste. (You may have some left over.)
5. Top with the spiced cashews (if using) and serve immediately.

Note: to cook fonio.
1. Wash 1 cup fonio grains by submerging in warm water, swishing the grains around with your fingers, then pouring out and replacing the water several times until it runs clear. Drain well.
2. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium pot.
Stir in the cleaned raw fonio and 1 tablespoon of salt, cover tightly with the lid, and turn the heat to low.
Cook for about 2 minutes, until the water is just absorbed.
3. Turn off the heat and gently fluff with a fork, making sure you fluff the bottom where it’s wetter.
4. Cover again for another 5 to 10 minutes, until tender.

A New Leaf Move over kale; broccoli leaves are a thing


Did you know that about 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten? If you measure that amount of food waste by individual, it comes out to more than 20 pounds per person each month. With awareness comes action, and new odds and ends from healthy ingredients are making their way into our stores and onto our plates.

It’s no secret to farmers that broccoli produces edible, super nutritious leaves but they usually get chopped off and thrown into the compost pile. And even when broccoli heads make it to the market with their leaves attached, most cooks tend to discard them—until now.

Broccoli leaves can now be found as featured ingredient—sold in bags like other organic greens under the Broccoleaf brand—at grocery stores in New York and California.

Watch: How Broccoli leaves are harvested.

Mature broccoli leaves can grow to up to two feet long, so if you can’t find the bagged version, talk to your local farmers about saving them. Eating this super green not only reduces food waste, but it also gives you access to more nutrients. One serving of broccoli leaves provides 100 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C and crazy good amounts (340 percent) of vitamin K, a rising vitamin star for bone density. And they beat their kale counterpart in the vitamin A department, which is great news for your eyes and skin.

As with most greens, you don’t want to overcook them or you’ll lose all those valuable nutrients. Try a light steam or sauté, or toss them into a soup or salad. If you’re into juicing greens, you’ll love their flavor (slightly sweeter than kale) and higher water content.

To get started, try one of these fall-appropriate recipes featuring broccoli leaves:

Cleaner Candy Enjoy your favorite treats without the tricky ingredients


It’s that time of year: The air is cooler, the spooky decorations are up, the stores are bursting with mini-sized candies. Whether you’re going to dig into your kids’ stash or dip into the bowl you “bought for trick-or-treaters,” you know you’re going to eat some candy come the 31st. (So are we.)

Good news: There’s a way to do it without completely blowing your healthy-eating habits. Some brands have created versions of classic favorite candies that, while not necessarily healthy (it’s still candy), are a bit cleaner than your typical grocery-store fare.

Ocho minis
It may be the first time ever that knockoffs are higher quality than the originals. If you love Snickers, Mounds or peppermint patties, now you can have versions made with organic ingredients and fair-trade dark chocolate. These minis come in coconut, peanut butter, peppermint and caramel flavors. And if you can’t decide which is your fave, no worries: there’s a variety pack, of course.

Trick or (healthier) treat?
Photo credit: Justin’s facebook

Justin’s peanut butter cups
Organic, fair-trade chocolate enrobes organic peanut butter for that combo you’ve loved since childhood. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties come in regular size and minis; white chocolate regular size only.

Unreal candy-coated chocolates
Regular or peanut, it’s your call; either way, they’re made with fair-trade cacao and their bright hues come from vegetable and spice extracts, not artificial dyes.

Panda licorice
Four simple, recognizable ingredients (molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract and aniseed oil) make up these flavorful soft candies. Or grab cherry or raspberry flavors, both made with fruit purees.

GoOrganic fruit chews
If you usually reach for the taffy or fruit chews, you’re in luck: these sweet bites, which come in apple, lemon, strawberry and raspberry, are made with organic ingredients (so they’re GMO-free) and no artificial dyes.

Walk Away On-the-go eating makes us over-consume


Halloween and the season of candy consumption it kicks off is the start of an unhealthy eating marathon for many. But we’ve got a trick that is sure to treat your body right from now through the end of the year without changing what you eat. This week, focus on how you eat, rather than what you eat. A new study shows that eating on the go, specifically while walking, causes people to overeat later in the day.

Walking on its own is great exercise and a proven stress reliever, but it’s a terrible way to eat a meal. In fact, it distracts our body’s ability to notice that we’ve even eaten, according to the research. That’s why you might feel hungry even after you’ve noshed on an energy bar (or two) on the way to work.

Watch: A video on how to eat mindfully.

Sitting down for a meal is a ritual that’s quickly going out of style. Our grab-and-go culture makes it perfectly acceptable to eat meals while running errands, driving, or even in line at the post office. Even when there’s no rush, we still distract ourselves by watching TV or playing endlessly on our devices. These distractions also make food taste bland and cause us to overeat as well.

So how can you start eating more mindfully and avoid overindulging this week?

The obvious solution is just to sit down and make your meal the main event. Try this mantra: stop, drop and eat.

Turn off the TV and your devices and focus on each bite of your meal. Perhaps put on some slow, relaxing music to set the mood. It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to send a message to your brain to let it know you are full, so slow down and relax when you eat, and take a pause before reaching for seconds—after a few minutes, you probably won’t want them.

Make every meal an enjoyable experience that you can replicate every day. If you look forward to your meal, you’ll think twice the next time you decide to eat and run.

Fat and Happy Give lard and ghee a turn in your kitchen


It seems like everyone has gone loco for coconut oil in the past year (including us). But what if you need a flaky homemade pie crust or you crave the richness of butter or maybe you just can’t stand that coconut flavor? Then you need to get cozy with lard and ghee.

Both of these traditional fats have been used for centuries and they are not as unhealthy as you might have been led to believe. Read on to learn how to best incorporate them into your home cooking routine.

Who knew fat could look so appealing?

Lard: Simply put, lard is pig fat. But kick any thoughts of processed hydrogenated lard to the curb, and instead go for pure lard that comes from pasture-raised animals with no added hormones or antibiotics.

Lard is excellent for frying and sautéing and it will seriously up your baking game. Plus it is free of trans fats and is high in oleic acid, a heart-healthy essential fatty acid. Ask your local pig farmer if they sell it, or grab a snazzy jar from the folks at Fatworks (find a store near you). Founder David Cole let us know that Fatworks will soon be introducing pasture-raised lamb fat and organic chicken fat (aka schmaltz) along with their duck fat and beef tallow.

Ghee: Used for centuries in Indian and ayurvedic cooking, ghee is simply clarified butter. That means it has all of the tasty benefits of butter, without any of the negatives of the milk solids. Ghee is lower in both lactose and casein (which many people have a hard time digesting) and it has a higher smoke point, while being rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K-2 and CLA.

Buy a jar from Ancient Organics or Tin Star Foods, or get fancy with a jar of Tava Life vanilla bean ghee for your morning toast, or boost your immune system with ghee loaded with turmeric, ginger and black pepper from Pure Indian Foods.

Beyond The Pink Put these colorful foods on your plate in October


Every October, products of all shapes and sizes are covered in pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pinkwashing, or adding pink ribbons to products like candy bars, doughnuts and even wine, makes companies look like they care about breast cancer on the package. But what’s inside these products is often not healthy at all.

Let’s raise awareness about the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year by bringing more attention to what’s on our plates. (Guys are affected too, as they can also get breast cancer and are often caregivers for the women in their lives.)

Research has found that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking less alcohol offers a 60 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Other studies have found that eating plant-based foods increase survival rates.


Here are three colorful food families that offer up high doses of breast cancer prevention.

Try broccoli, kale and cabbage, which come in shades of green, red and purple. These powerhouse veggies are shown to stop the growth of breast cancer cells.

Eating carrots, sweet potatoes and squashes with vibrant pigments of orange, red and yellow, is linked with lower rates of breast cancer, especially the hard-to-treat tumors that don’t respond to estrogen-based hormone therapies.

Many good meals begin with chopping up onions, garlic, shallots and leeks, which can be white, green or purple. Research shows that these vegetables contain many compounds with anti-breast cancer effects and that they help prevent the proliferation and invasiveness of breast cancer cells.

Tea For You Teaonic makes teas that will have you buzzing (sans caffeine)


Poor tea: it’s always playing second fiddle to coffee.

Just when we’re all on board with green tea’s superstar antioxidant properties, the bombastic older sister that is coffee steps in to steal the limelight with butter-powered Bulletproof Coffee news.

The mother-daughter team of Fleur and Desiree Chesler behind Teaonic want to put tea (and only tea) firmly in the spotlight with a new line of organic bottled herbal teas that contain absolutely no sugars, sweeteners, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Take care of your gut with flavors of spiced chai, dandelion root and cinnamon.

Desiree was a high-powered lawyer with the stress levels to match. When she found her “health in a mess,” she and her mother attended the Institute for Integrate Nutrition, adopted a diet based on whole foods and started making restorative and invigorating herbal teas to support the body.

The non-GMO tonics are made from herbs, roots, leaves, barks, fruits, flowers and spices and are brewed at Teaonic’s Los Angeles microbrewery. Each bottle is aimed at a different benefit, such as gut health, liver or skin support. The “I Love My Adrenals” blend uses a mix of cinnamon, ginger and clove along with holy basil and the adaptogen herbs rhodiola and eleuthero root for stress relief. The bold labeling makes it easy to sort out just what you need, no matter how deep a funk you are in.

Look for the bottles everywhere from Wanderlust Hollywood to the San Francisco airport or get them online where you can build your own variety pack.

We especially loved using the teas in smoothies in place of water (get more recipe ideas here) and the cute and reusable apothecary-style bottles–we upcycled ours into vases for fresh blooms on the windowsill.

What paper latte cup ever did that for you, huh?

Shroom To Breathe A shiitake a day keeps the doctor away


Are you noticing a familiar tickle in the back of your throat? Scratchy eyes? Feeling a little tired or run down?

The common cold strikes most adults up to four times per year, particularly when temperatures start to shift. But we’ve got the perfect preventative food to help you boost your immunity: a serving of cooked shiitake mushrooms.

University of Florida researchers recently found that people who ate shiitakes each day for four weeks showed increased levels of IgA levels (which are linked to greater sinus and respiratory immunity), and more natural killer T-cells, which are known to help increase general immune function.

Watch how to cook shiitake mushrooms

These mushrooms, known for their rich texture and intense savory flavor, are one of the most commonly cultivated varieties and possess antiviral, antibacterial and even (quite ironically) antifungal properties.

Luckily, you don’t have to go foraging in the woods to get this magic medicine. Organic shiitake mushrooms are sold both fresh and dehydrated at markets and health-food stores around the country.You can easily add dehydrated versions to your favorite soups or sauces.

If they feel like a stretch on your budget, remember that missing a week of work, school or commitments can be even more expensive. Buy in bulk when you can or try growing your own. And remember that investing in your health now can help you avoid future sickness.

Here are seven ways to work shiitakes into your week.

1. Start your morning with this breakfast salad featuring grilled shiitakes.
2. Try them sautéed with green beans as a side dish.
3. Pack shiitakes for lunch with this panini recipe.
4. Make a quick appetizer for a party by stuffing them with olives and sundried tomatoes.
5. Try this hearty pasta dish with pancetta and mushrooms.
6. Warm up with this creamy vegan parsnip soup.
7. Get the Food52 version of this restorative shiitake soba noodle soup.

Travel Channeling A cookbook that inspires wanderlust (and healthy eating)


Heidi Swanson’s new cookbook,  Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel ($30), is like Eat, Pray, Love for those who would have preferred Eat, Eat, Eat.

Swanson is the powerhouse author and photographer behind the much-loved blog 101 Cookbooks, and the cookbooks, Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day.

Her newest book is divided into two sections: “Near” and “Far.” The “Near” portion focuses on recipes inspired by her life in Northern California, while “Far” is divided into five chapters: Morocco, France, India, Italy and Japan.

She says, “Once you’re home from a trip, details tend to fall away. I noticed, long after I’ve forgotten the names of monuments, train stations or boulevards of a city I’ve traveled to, the flavors would stay with me.”

Baked oatmeal with pluots— only 1 spoon required.

Although Swanson has hit the road with this book, she maintains her ethos of a life bright with vegetarian recipes, global ingredients and nutrient-rich superfoods.

The 120 recipes for inventive dishes like granola with nori are deeply personal, drawn from her journals and matched with a sprinkling of heavy-hitters from the blog (such as this sprout salad). Swanson smartly includes an additional section called “En Route,” with food designed to hold up to the long flights, delays and the inevitable unpredictability of travel, like rice paper wrapped spring rolls and strong ginger snaps for queasiness.

Swanson shared her recipe for baked oatmeal with us, drawn from the Near section of the book. It’s the kind of recipe to both root you in place and give you the nourishment to start planning your next jaunt.

Baked Oatmeal

Makes 6 servings
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole Marcona almonds
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine- grain sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 cup kefir or buttermilk
1 cup water
1 egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound ripe pluots, quartered and pitted (or other stone fruit)
A bit of cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 375° with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch square baking dish (or equivalent), then sprinkle with lemon zest.
2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, kefir, water, egg, half of the butter, and the vanilla.
3. Arrange the pluots in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the kefir mixture over the oats.
4. Gently give the baking dish a couple of raps on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves through the oats.
5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve.
6. Finish with a bit more maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter, and a thread of cream to bring it all together.

Let Them Eat (Healthy) Cake A four-ingredient baking miracle, just in time for apple season


As the weather cools down, you may notice an upswing in cravings for warm, sweet treats. But rather than reach for something out of alignment with your health, here’s a seasonal treat you can easily whip up without much time or effort: the dump cake.

Yes, Epicurious has called it “by far the worst name in the history of desserts.” But here’s why this lazy-but-delicious Internet sensation is sweeping households across the nation: You literally just dump a few ingredients into a pan and bake them. No need to clear off counter space for multiple mixing bowls or track liquids versus solids. You satisfy a dessert craving in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

Watch: How to make a peach cobbler dump cake.

But not all dump cakes are created equal.

This healthier version will yield a dessert (or breakfast!) with very little assembly that’s essentially a fun twist on baked apples, which are low in calories and high in fiber. Leave the apple skins on to double your fiber intake and keep it simple. (Some of the best apple varieties for baking include Fuji, Golden Delicious and Pink Lady.)

Use this recipe as a template for any dump cake you desire, as they are equally delicious with cranberries, pears or plums. Practice making them now and you’ll be a pro by the holidays.

Apple Spice Dump Cake

Makes 1 cake
4 cups chopped fresh, organic apples (about 2 large apples)
1 box gluten-free cake mix (see note)
¾ cup grass-fed butter, melted (plus extra for greasing the pan)
Pinch of cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with a bit of butter.
  3. Spread the apples in an even layer at the bottom, layer the cake mix on top and drizzle with melted butter.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Use a toothpick to confirm it’s cooked through.

Note: Our favorite gluten-free cake mixes include King Arthur Flour, Pamela’s and Cake Therapy brands.

Under The Sea Up your smoothie game with Maine's own kelp cubes


In the morning when we fire up our blender for a smoothie, we ask ourselves “what have we not put in yet?”

And until we found the Portland, Maine-based company Ocean Approved, kelp was most definitely not on superfood additions list.

When you pop a vibrant green kelp cube into your smoothie, you are not only supercharging yourself with a dose of magnesium, zinc and iodine (especially critical for healthy thyroid and hormone function), but you are doing a solid for the ocean: The rapidly growing biomass of the kelp helps to address the growing problem of ocean acidification by removing nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon dioxide (three elements the oceans already have too much of).

Supercharge your smoothie with the vibrant green kelp cubes.

The color might be in-your-face green, but the flavor is more mildly fresh than ocean funky and won’t alter the flavor of a smoothie. Besides trying out a category killer kale-kelp smoothie, try the cubes in miso soup or a tomato sauce.

Ocean Approved runs the first-in-the-nation open-water kelp farms. The farms operate without the need for fresh water, arable land, fertilizers or pesticides and produce nifty frozen kelp cubes ($10 and up per 12 pack). Find the cubes online at Vital Choice, at Whole Foods on the East Coast and everywhere from Juice Generation (NYC) and JuiceLand (Austin) to Canyon Ranch spa.

Founder Paul Dobbins started the company because he had personally experienced the grim realities associated with the collapse of Maine fisheries. He says, “I was determined to create a business that would be both restorative to the environment and the families that depend on income derived from the sea.”

Another feel-good bonus: Kelp is harvested during the winter (counter-seasonal to traditional fisheries), so Ocean Approved employs lobstermen and scallop divers when they need it the most.

Pack It In Build the perfect mason-jar salad


Brown-bagging it to save money and eat cleaner? If so, no doubt you’ve seen crisp, lively Mason jar salads all over social media.

It’s no wonder these layered lunches are a Pinterest darling; they’re an easy way to eat a balanced, healthy lunch without spending a fortune at your local salad joint (where you might still get ingredients of questionable quality).

Prepping one of these babies so that you get a satisfying meal that’s also crunchy and delicious requires some strategy. Read on to become the envy of all your workmates.

Watch: How to make 4 quick salad dressings in a jar!

First layer: Dressing. It goes in first to keep it away from delicate ingredients.
Second layer: Firmer items. Next add your crisp vegetables, beans and/or proteins. These guys can sit on the dressing and hold their own.
Third layer: Lighter ingredients. Here go your tomatoes, grains and fruit.
Fourth layer: Greens. Bring on the lettuce and dark greens. They’re far from the dressing and placed toward the top to keep them from getting soggy or weighed down.
Fifth layer: Crunchy bits. Finish up with anything you want to keep crisp (that’s you, nuts and seeds).

Once everything is in the jar, cover it and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, simply shake it up.

Some final pointers: Make sure your jar is big enough to fit everything—a quart-sized jar should do the trick. Choose a jar with a wide mouth; you need to be able to get your fork in there (or to easily pour it out into a bowl, if that’s more your style). And don’t overstuff it, or your items won’t mix effectively.

Now that you know how to pack your jar, what should you put in it? Here are some ideas:

Greek: Red wine vinaigrette + red onion/cucumber/olives/bell pepper + chopped tomatoes/feta/chickpeas + Romaine + sunflower seeds

Taco: Chile-lime vinaigrette (or salsa) + scallions/black beans/radishes + mango/chopped tomatoes/shredded Cheddar/ chicken + shredded lettuce/chopped cilantro + a few tortilla chips

Superfoods: Lemon vinaigrette + broccoli and cauliflower/ cooked salmon + quinoa + chopped kale + hemp seeds

Or pick up this book for 50 Mason jar salad recipes.

You’re Toast Amp up your breakfast with coconut butter


Dear Avocado Toast,

You’re delicious, but you’re making us feel like we’re living in a wellness version of Groundhog Day. Every morning we see your green self on Instagram, on the menu when we brunch and on our own kitchen counters when we are desperate for a quick snack.

But there’s a new challenger to your throne: coconut butter toast.

While coconut oil is made by extracting oil from the coconut’s flesh, coconut butter (also called coconut manna) is made by blending the entire white meat of the coconut (think almond oil vs. almond butter). This results in a creamier paste-like product, with more fiber than coconut oil.

We’re pretty sure this is going to be your new favorite use of the coconut.

Like an avocado, coconut butter is packed with nourishing fats and has a satisfyingly rich flavor.

Keep your steadfast coconut oil handy for baking or frying sunny-side up eggs, but add a jar of coconut butter to your pantry for blending into smoothies, eating by the spoonful and, of course, for spreading on warm toast with a sprinkle of hemp seeds or coconut flakes on top. Below, three ways to (coconut) butter up:

Nikki’s: This company blends organic coconut butters with fun flavors like mint chocolate chip, dark chocolate fudge and vanilla cake batter ($13 for 12 oz.). We’d be happy to substitute them for frosting the next time we bake. Other high-quality nationally available brands include Artisana, Tropical Traditions, Nutiva and Philosophie.

Eating Evolved: For a treat, grab a pack of these 72% dark chocolate cups ($3) filled with organic coconut butter and sweetened with organic coconut sugar.

DIY: With a little patience and a food processor or heavy-duty blender, you can make your own coconut butter. Add 2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to your food processor and blend for about 10 minutes or until a smooth paste forms. Take care to not overheat the machine and scrape down the sides with a spatula to combine.

Peel Away Surprise! You can eat banana peels (and here's why you should)


Many mornings we grab a banana on our way out the door for a quick breakfast (or if we have a bit more time, slice one on top of our morning yogurt). But we may be too quick to throw away the peel when we’re finished.

Think about this: Banana peels may be better for you than the actual fruit itself. They contain powerful nutrients with antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic and cytoprotective properties, according to long-standing research.

And as a great source of serotonin (the happy hormone), banana peels can actually boost your mood. Try eating them (make sure to choose organic) before work or other stressful situations and see how you feel.

Watch: The health benefits of eating banana peel!

To start incorporating banana peels into your diet, take a cue from other food cultures. In India, Africa and the Caribbean, banana peels are commonly cooked or fried, but you can save time by adding one banana and its peel to your breakfast smoothie. Or puree a whole peel or two and mix it into a healthy muffin recipe. You can even steep peels in boiling water to make a banana peel tea before bed.

If you’re not sold on eating the peels, at least consider saving them for other helpful uses, such as brightening your smile. Banana peels can be used for everything from relieving rashes and itches to polishing silver and leather, and even cause your cartoon friends to slip and fall in hilarious ways.

To store peels, simply give them a rinse to remove any excess pesticides or dirt, chop them up and freeze until you are ready to use them.

However you decide to use them; don’t just throw them out. Your body and the environment (about 780 million pounds of peels go to landfills each year) will thank you.

Hump Days Camel's milk is the newest beverage to hot the market


If “Meet the Parents” taught us anything, it’s that you can milk any animal with teets.

Yet that doesn’t mean that we’ve expanded our gluten-free granola accompaniment to much beyond grass-fed milk.

Desert Farms wants to expand your horizons by adding a new bottle to your breakfast table: Camel milk.

This California-based company works with farmers who raise pasture-raised and grass-fed camels to distribute camel milk without any added hormones nationwide including Whole Foods (locate a store here). The product line includes both raw and pasteurized milk and kefir, along with powdered milk and soaps.

The camel milk-based product line has been dubbed “liquid gold” by fans.

Camel milk is probiotic and high in vitamin B1, and it contains less than half the fat of whole milk, but you’ll pay for it: At $18 a pint, it’s not cheap. But with 18,000 cows for every one camel in the US, it’s a little bit easier to understand the numbers game. Those who’ve tried it swear by it and call it “liquid gold” with reports of everything from improvement in the behavioral and cognitive tests of autistic children to accelerated wound healing in diabetics and the relief of autoimmune disease.

One of the best parts about camel milk is the flavor—it’s just like “regular” cow’s milk. While we’ve found alternatives like rice or soymilk sometimes leave a funky aftertaste, the camel’s milk we tried went down smooth.

New products in the works for Desert Farms include a camel milk ice cream and chocolate—so keep your eye out for something new on your dessert table as well.

Due Process A new book explores what it means to go totally natural


We’d all like to consume less processed food: Fewer chips, more kale; less sugar, more honey.

But could you take on the challenge that Megan Kimble did in her book, Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food ($16)?

In it, she chronicles her efforts to go a year without eating processed foods. Challenges arise from the very first page, when she debates whether the peanut butter she is about to eat is considered verboten.

The year becomes an experiment in what she can make in her own kitchen. For instance, grinding up wheat berries for flour is in, but taking that flour and sifting out its endosperm and bleaching it into fluffy whiteness is out. She satisfied her peanut butter cravings first by trying to grind peanuts with a mortar and pestle, then more successfully with a food processor.

The kitchen became Kimble’s laboratory for conjuring up unprocessed meals.

Follow Kimble’s journey as she mills wheat, extracts salt from the sea, tempers chocolate and slaughters a sheep. The book is made more compelling by the fact that the graduate student attempts to balance her project with a normal social life (think dating), all while earning about $18,000, an income that falls well below the federal poverty line.

She comes to the conclusion that, “I should figure out precisely what made a food processed….it would take me a year to figure out where to draw the line, to understand where our food system succeeds and fails in processing food from land.”

Below, three definitions from Kimble that will make you rethink your food and where you spend your food dollars.

Food additives: More than 10,000 chemicals are added to our foods today—most of which have not been approved by the FDA.

Ingredient labels: The seedy underbelly of food. Read it. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, it’s probably processed.

Multiplier effect: How spending locally creates local wealth. Independent, locally owned businesses recirculate a greater proportion of their revenue locally compared to national, corporate chains.

Amazon Prime Meet macambo, a nutrient -packed super seed


From the looks of our pantry, you’d think we were Amazonian adventurers. Quinoa, maca, cacao, lucuma, camu-camu… there’s a rainforest’s worth of nutrition in there. But just when we felt like we’d discovered all of the Amazon region’s nutritional secrets, another superfood has emerged from Peru.

It’s called macambo, and Imlak’esh Organics, based in Goleta, California, is now bringing it to America.

The golden pods of the macambo tree contain seeds that have been eaten for centuries by locals to fuel them through the equatorial heat. In Andean medicine, they’ve been used to stimulate brain function, earning the brain-shaped seeds the nickname of “brain bean.”

Eat these “brain beans” straight from the jar or add to salads or smoothies.

Imlak’esh founder Tucker Garrison first encountered macambo seeds while traveling through remote Peruvian villages. He and co-founder Philip Richardson now source Imlak’esh’s macambo from a women’s collective in Peru that wild-harvests it sustainably, which allows the women to earn a living wage while protecting the rainforest’s fragile ecology.

The seeds are lightly toasted and salted with Andean rock salt. Their flavor is reminiscent of cashews but with more of a flakey texture and smoky essence. It’s a bit of an acquired taste but, from a nutritional standpoint, one that’s worth getting used to. Macambo seeds are powerhouses of fiber, protein, omega-9 fatty acids and theobromine, the same alkaloid that lends macambo’s cousin, the cacao bean, its mood-boosting buzz.

Macambo makes an energizing snack straight out of the jar or can be added to salads and smoothies. They’re perfect for when your slog through a late-summer workday (or workout) feels like a trek through the rainforest.

Sauce And Effect Excuse me: There are vegetables in my ketchup!


We don’t need to be tricked into eating our vegetables (more likely you’ll find us shouting about broccoli spigarello from a rooftop). And there’s no way the government is convincing us that ketchup is a vegetable.

However, two new companies and their inventive products are making us change our tune. See you at the backyard barbecue (with plenty of vegetables and better-for-you ketchup in hand).

True Made Foods pack a whole lot of real vegetables into their ketchup.


The folks at this NYC-based Food-X accelerator business go beyond not including anything artificial in their products: they want you to rethink the kind of calories you are taking in. Why eat regular ketchup (even if it has an organic label slapped on) when you can eat one that is just as delicious and packed with spinach, carrots and butternut squash ($6 for 19 oz.)? Some of our tasters even thought the smoky BBQ sauce ($7 for 19 oz.) tasted like McDonald’s (in a good way). High praise for something packed with three times more Vitamin A than any other ketchup on the market, as well as fiber, protein, iron, and vitamins B6 and C. For those who crave a spicy kick, True Made offers Veracha (vegetables plus Sriracha; $7 for 19 oz.).

Carmit Levin and Jacob Seidenberg Korn want you to know that they make katchup, not ketchup. They infuse their fresh-tasting variety with fire-roasted smoky-sweet green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico, along with ripe tomatoes, grey sea salt and tangy raw apple cider vinegar. It’s also vegan, and contains no gluten, corn syrup or GMO ingredients ($7.50 for 10 oz.). We’re trying out the four varieties (mild, medium, hot and extra hot) on the usual roundup of burgers, eggs and hotdogs, but it also amps up a Sunday morning Bloody Mary mix.