My Romance with Romanesca

Before there weather became unforgivably cold and the earth a barren desolate land; I would frequent the farmers market  to gaze upon the fresh local produce and flirt with the possibilities of my next meal.  On one random day I … Continue reading

2015 The Year of Health and Prosperity

I began this year like I did most years; reflecting on the successes of the year and designing a game plan to improve where I fell short. In the spirit of gratitude I went back and retraced my steps to see what the year looked like at a second glance. Part of retracing those steps was reviewing my log of photos, menus, and the like.  I must say that reflection can be the best medicine.  2014 has by far been the best year for healthy meal delivery!  In 2014 I have personally touched thousands of happy consumers with delicious, healthy, attractive, convenient and affordable meals;and that’s no small feat.  In the grand scheme of things life is short, and full of beauty, and deliciousness.  If you’ve missed the opportunity to sign up for personalized, delicious, health conscious meals delivered to your door-lets start 2015 off right!. Reach out to us at chefwillhall@yahoo.com. Here’s a small snap shot of what 2014 looked like, enjoy a virtual bite on me :  )

Cheers!

Chef Will Hall

Edible orchids are my favorite!

salads, salads and more salads

macrobiotic salads with vegan almond cheese and chives

Lentil and beet salad with almond cheese

vegan sushi

Spice your life up with some vegan quinoa sushi

macrobiotic carrot and broccoli salad

macrobiotic carrot and broccoli salad

fish lunch 2

Salmon, roasted pumpkin and sauteed kale

concord grapes

Snack sized portion of locally grown concord grapes

quinoa sushi

quinoa sushi

Pan seared halibut with sundried tomatoes and chick peas

Pan seared halibut with sun dried tomatoes and chick peas

mahi with coconut rice and mango salsa

mahi mahi with coconut rice and mango salsa

gluten free waffles with fresh fruit and yogurt

gluten free waffles with fresh fruit and yogurt

fresh romanesca -from the farmers market to your plate!

fresh romanesca -from the farmers market to your plate!

fresh parsnips-from the farmers market to your plate!

fresh parsnips-from the farmers market to your plate!

sea bass over spinach

red snaper over baby bok choy and wild rice pilaf

Snack sized caprese salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Snack sized caprese salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Passive as a Pecan

Farm pic

My visit to the state of NC was one of relaxation, rejuvenation and reflection.  In the company of family we found time to stroll some luscious farmland in search of the perfect cabbages, collards and sweet potatoes.  In the process we stumbled upon a nice harvest of broccoli, unroasted peanuts and the unsuspecting pecan.   Much to our surprise; the cabbages, collards, sweet potatoes, peanuts and broccoli all came at a surprisingly low price.  We (Mom, Rosie and I) wandered the farmland and took pleasure in the beauty of the crop while basking in the sunshine, wishing that these moments could last forever.  It was the stuff that day dreams are made of.  Each row of vegetables was perfectly symmetrical reminiscent of lined paper and all like things that command order.  As we made small talk, and snapped pictures, one of the resident farmers rode closely behind us a golf cart with a large basket in tow, ready to harvest the veggies of our choice at a moment’s notice.  After the veggies were selected, pictures snapped, and our stomachs growl gave way to movement, we made our way back to the vehicle.  On the way back I noticed a scattering of pecans.  I stooped down to gather a few for the ride back.  Who would’ve known that the flavor in those pecans would’ve been so nostalgic?

Pecans are not only super flavorful, and nostalgic, but theyre also the only tree nut that grows naturally in North America. North Carolina produces 4 to 5 million pounds of in shell pecans yearly. That’s a whole lot of nutrition.  Research suggests that pecans contain unsaturated fat and can help maintain good cholesterol.  Pecans also contain 19  vitamins and minerals which include;  vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, folic acid, and B vitamins.  Eating pecans are also responsible for increased levels of antioxidants in the body which wards off the effects of bad cholesterol.  All in all pecans are delicious, and extremely nutritious.  And although they were ever so passive and unassuming as they lay there on the ground that day in NC, they are quite possibly the most delicious nut I’ve ever tasted.  The best part of it all is that they’re in season.  Try them in this simple recipe, share em with a friend and enjoy the beauty, delicious flavor, and nutrition that is the pecan.

Enjoy in good health,

Chef Will Hall

Spicy Pecans

Makes 4 cups

30 minutes or fewer

These nuts look great packaged in tall narrow cellophane bags tied with raffia or ribbon. Other nuts, such as peanuts, hazelnuts or almonds, can also be used.

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

4 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. chili powder

⅛ tsp. cayenne or more to taste

4 cups pecans

2 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. In small bowl, whisk oil, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne. Place pecans in large bowl, pour mixture over nuts and toss to cover evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Spread nuts on a foil lined baking sheet and bake until nuts are more brown and dry, about 20 minutes. Cool completely and store in airtight container until ready to use.

Package in clear bags and tie with a colorful pipe cleaner or twine.

Citations:

Marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/commodit/horticul/pecans/

NC Pecan Growers Association. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.ncpecans.org/

Pecans: #1 in Antioxidants Among Nuts According to ORAC Values – ILovePecans. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.ilovepecans.org/pecans-1-in-antioxidants-among-nuts-according-to-orac-values/

Spicy Pecans. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/spicy-pecans/

High Falootin and Gluten Free

Chefs have been challenged by the idea that anything “gluten free” is just another pass for healthy folk to get special treatment. One more fleeting fad…. One more high falootin way to nag your restaurant server,caterer, or kitchen staff go out of their way and to conjure up a way to keep those with the supposed celiac disease, and /or non celiac gluten sensitivity in step with the newest health craze. Besides, wheat and other gluten bearing grains have been consumed since time began … right? Well… who knows. Gluten sensitivity has been blamed on gluten rich varietal grains(wheat, rye), and/or gluten’s popularity in processed foods. In other words, we’re overdoing it in terms of making gluten an over bearing presence at the party. Wheat gluten is simply a protein that is naturally occurring, and the fact is, more and more people are having issues digesting it, why?… again who knows. What we do know for sure is that as far back as 50 years ago the incidence of celiac disease has quadrupled. And so we’ll assume that occurrence of like symptoms (non celiac gluten sensitivity) has run the same course. Whether or not you believe that gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are a matter of delusion or not, the symptoms, affecting approximately 1% of the population are of a very serious nature. Symptoms appear in the form belly aches, bloating, skin rashes, and foggy thinking to name a few. Complications include diarrhea, anemia, and seizures. More people lack the ability to process gluten than are actually aware of it. It’s very important to see your doc if you are experiencing any of these symptoms; 1.) You have severe or recurrent diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal distension or bloating  2.) You are deficient in iron, folate or vitamin B12 OR  3.) There has been someone in your family that’s been diagnosed with celiac disease.
For those of you that find that you do have some issues digesting wheat, see your doc… ASAP,  in the meantime, try this super easy, and delicious recipe for Banana Oat Pancakes. They’ll definitely put a smile on your face, and your belly will thank you for such a high falootin gluten free food.

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

Banana-Oat Blender Pancakes

Gluten Free Banana Oat Pancakes:

Ingredients:
2 cups gluten free oats
1 1/4 cups vanilla almond milk
1 large ripe, organic banana
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon local honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large organic egg – egg substitute can be used
coconut oil or butter for cooking

Instructions:
Place all ingredients, except egg and coconut oil in the base of a blender and blend until smooth. Add egg and pulse a few times until egg is fully incorporated.
Heat a griddle or large sauté pan over medium heat and melt a teaspoon or two of coconut oil. When hot, pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side) and serve hot with maple syrup.
*If batter becomes too thick to pour easily, add a tablespoon or two of almond milk to thin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations:
Banana-Oat Blender Pancakes. (2013, August 12). Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.mountainmamacooks.com/2013/08/banana-oat-blender-pancakes-gluten-free-dairy-free-recipe/
Birch, J. (2014, May 8). 3 Signs You Should Get Tested for Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/gluten-sensitivity-test
Steinmetz, K. (2011, May 23). Bad-Mouthing Gluten. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2071129,00.html
Velasquez-manoff, M. (2013, February 23). Who Has the Guts for Gluten? Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/opinion/sunday/what-really-causes-celiac-disease.html?pagewanted=all
Velasquez-manoff, M. (2014, October 11). Can Celiac Disease Affect the Brain? Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/opinion/sunday/can-celiac-disease-affect-the-brain.html

A few things I learned while RUNNING

Running has been an integral part of my life. After running year round in high school I made a silent vow to myself to make sure it continues to be part of my repertoire, by any means necessary. And believe me it certainly pays off. I have learned to draw some pretty amazing parallels between my life and running. Here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years that have helped bring me perspective in every area of my life. I hope in some small way it will help you run your race more efficiently.
1. Run your own race– Nothing can put a damper on your life or your daily run the way comparing yourself to someone else can (*insert side eye here) When running keep your eyes on your own goals, and remember that running a successful race is contingent upon factors that only you can control. Run your own race, mind your own business. Compare your present self only to your former self. Period.
2. Stay in your own lane– This just reiterates #1’s point. Keep your mind stayed on your own goals. When you start to shift your energy into someone else’s race it not only ruins your chance of success, but it severely hampers the next person’s progress. Once again, stay focused grasshopper.
3. BREATHE- Let’s face it, running, just like life isn’t easy. But as long as you’re alive, its necessary to do your best in everything that you involve yourself in. I’ve learned that without breath it is impossible to live. That’s a fact. When you’re striving towards a goal it is even more imperative to pace yourself. The better you can breathe, the easier the task will become. So even if you don’t run, learn to meditate, or pray. Life is impossible without the two.
4. Wave and learn to smile– A smile is powerful. It is your strength in tough times, it is also your gift to the world. Let’s face it (*pardon the pun) it takes fewer muscles to smile then it does to frown. So whether you find yourself, walking running, and strolling through the day, flash that million dollar grin.
5. Enjoy the ride/run-You may not have time to smell the roses, but you can glance at them as you trot along through your day. Life is a gift.
6. Get in your own stride-one step at a time- I’ve found that on big projects I can get easily overwhelmed. That’s just my weakness. I’ve been told for as long as I can remember to take it one step at a time. Well it didn’t hit home until one Sunday, I decided to run a 10 miler. Its easy to run 5 miles out, but the return trip is a conundrum ….trust me.  What I’ve learned was to take it one step at a time, get in a comfortable stride, put your mind on the music and step it out. Period.
7. Dress light– Nothing will kill your progress quicker than carrying an unnecessary load. When running; as in life, unload anything that you don’t necessarily need to move forward- too many clothes, too heavy shoes, worry, self-doubt, negative associates, whatever and whoever it is. Let it go!
8. Respect the journey– One step at a time, one breath at a time you’ll get to your goal. No matter who you are and what you’ve achieved in the past, you can only take one step at a time, never two or three. When training for strength it’s never safe or smart to grab 100 lbs before being able to handle 50. That’s part of your development. Enjoy the ride, breathe, smile, get in your stride, stay in your own lane, dress light and you’ll be there before you know it.

Wishing you all GOOD HEALTH & WEALTH,

Chef Will Hall

References:

Vincent, D. (1991, October 1). runners image. . Retrieved , from http://lakewaramaugultra.com/jack.html

Going against the “GRAIN”… Young Black and Vegetarian

 

I was hatched into a family where meat reigned supreme. .. Chicken and pork where a staple in my home the way rice is commonplace in a Latino home. I’ve had so much carnage that I can close my eyes while YOU chew and know intimately how each corner of the pig, chicken, and cow taste all before you swallow. I’m an expert of sorts. My mother is actually very proud of this very thing. In fact on every holiday she has a habit of making mention of my former love for braised. short ribs. She’ll lean in with a warm rib dripping of warm BBQ sauce…sucking the excess before it has a chance to fall through the air. Quite a talent if you ask me…  However.. life goes on. And I grew more enlightened. I traded short ribs for tempeh, and Kool-Aid for green juice smoothies, butter for coconut oil, and all you can eat buffets for temperance. Vegetarianism has taken a firm hold on my heart, and taste buds. For all my friends and family that miss those opportunities to share every deep fried and roasted hoof, paw, wing and other things… Sorry… but I’m not sorry. I’ve evolved. But best believe it’s all for the best. I’ve joined the movement and taken hold on its momentum full force. So I invite you to jump onboard the bandwagon, it’s a great place to be.

Vegetarianism is still a novelty in some circles and so when I’m seen passing on a plate full of flesh I’m either received as a national treasure or a bad omen. Its just the way it goes. But as a minority it has been very important to begin making some major changes in the way i behaved, and that includes what foods I’ve invited into my belly. The decision to drop meat and limit sugar in my life wasn’t an easy road lined with sugar plums and gingerbread houses. It all stemmed from a conversation that I had with my mother. I complained of low energy, and frequent urination. Her advice, see a doctor. (**insert cricket sounds**) In her opinion I was destined for a life of diabetes, and possibly heart disease. Two things that I wasn’t either ready for… nor excited about. So, I took nutrition classes searching for a way out of a bleak future. And in that process, this is what I discovered . African American adults are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician than non -Hispanic white adults. African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to have high blood pressure than non – Hispanic whites. And lastly, African American men and women are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non white Hispanics. And while it is self evident that other minority groups are affected as well, knowing those facts and seeing them play out in the lives of my family scared me straight. Period.

A vegetarian diet, combined with exercise promotes quality of life. Although there is no silver bullet in regards to warding off disease, a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a sound diet is key to a higher quality of life. Incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your meal times, while phasing out animal products is a great way to not only ward off disease, but also to control weight gain, and improve the bodies response to allergens. Health is indeed wealth.  and guess what? Vegetarianism is beginning to build momentum in the African American community. In fact several African American celebrities like Erykah Badu, Andre 3000, Reverand Al Sharpton, and Common have all embraced a plant based diet. And while that should’nt be your sole motivation, it should cast a bright spotlight on the fact that healthful living is a movement. So I invite you to join this movement for a higher quality of life, and a more promising future. Leave a legacy of health, because health is indeed wealth. Try this soulful vegan recipe and join the movement.  

Here’s to Healthful Living,

Chef Will Hall

 

 

BLACK-EYED PEA AND SPINACH CAKES (WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO TARTAR SAUCE)

THIS RECIPE IS :

Dairy FreeVegan

SERVES

4

INGREDIENTS

Tartar Sauce 

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained

Cakes

  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 (12-ounce) box firm silken tofu
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 8 scallions, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil

PREPARATION

Tartar Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and stir together. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Cakes

  1. Finely mince the spinach in a food processor and set aside. You should have about 1 cup of spinach.
  2. In a food processor, process the tofu until smooth, then scrape into a medium size mixing bowl. In the same food processor, pulse the parsley, bell pepper, and scallions until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the tofu and add the spinach, black-eyed peas, flour, panko, baking powder, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon four mounds of the mixture into the oil, flattening the tops of each to make a one-inch thick cake. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. If cakes become dark brown, reduce the heat to medium. Flip and cook 2 more minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with the reserved tartar sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

CATSOULIS, JEANNETTE. “Soul Food Vegan Style.” The new York Times 5 May 2011: n. pag. Print.

Coleman, Christina. “The 15 most annoying things about being a Black Vegetarian.” . Global Grind, 10 May 2013. Web. . <http://globalgrind.com/2013/05/10/most-annoying-things-about-being-black-vegetarian-list/&gt;.

DiJulio, Betsy. “Pea and Spinach Cakes (with Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce).” . The Blooming Platter, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. . <Pea and Spinach Cakes (with Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce)>

medina, jennifer. “Fast-Food Outlet Stirs Concerns in a Mecca of Healthy Living.” The New York Times 11 Dec. 2011, sec. Loma Linda Journal: n. pag. Print.

Tinuoye, Kunbi . “Are more African-Americans embracing veganism?.” theGrio. N.p., 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014. <http://thegrio.com/2012/02/27/are-more-african-americans-embracing-veganism/&gt;.

“We’re in!.” OMH Content. N.p., 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 5 July 2014. <http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=62&gt;.

A few ways to prevent being famished….

 

 

 

 

 

In the course of any Chefs day, somewhere in between  saving the world from boring food and just making the world a better place in general ; we forget to eat.  As ridiculous as it sounds ,it’s just how things go.  Ever seen Superman, Batman, or Ironman eat? My point exactly…  . A good friend of mine reminded me (without even knowing it) of some excellent tips to help you stay in the game while saving the earth from itself.

Tip #1 Grab yourself a smoothie.  I know it sounds trendy, but smoothies are tasty, low fat, easy to make, cost effective, and you can blend  up any combination  under the sun.  I like to start with a mild leafy  green like spinach or kale.  Add combinations like banana/ cashew/ hempseed/vanilla almond milk for post workouts.  Or frozen strawberry/mango/chia seed/spinach ( don’t forget to add a liquid like orange juice or water to help things move when you’re blending your smoothie)   for a mid day snack.Make it colorful, make it tasty.   Either way it’s a win /win!

Tip#2 Grab yourself a salad.  Salads 0are a quick way to get what you want and what you need all at once.  You can choose to start your salad with a leafy green and add things like chickpeas, peppers, olives, tomatoes, leftover proteins (grilled chicken, tofurky, “fakin bacon”) or use that stale bread on your counter to create the best croutons your mouths ever met.   If leafy greens aren’t your fancy, then consider using that leftover grilled veg, chicken and pasta to create something on the fly.  Chop your veggies into bite sized pieces, toss in the pasta, some red wine vinaigrette , seasonings and you/re on your way to making your belly happy.

Here’s a few quick tasty recipes to try on your own.  Enjoy in good health!

 

Cheers,

 

Chef Will Hall

 

 

 

Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap

 

 

White beans mashed with ripe avocado and blended with sharp Cheddar and onion makes an incredibly rich, flavorful filling for this wrap. The tangy, spicy slaw adds crunch. A pinch (or more) of ground chipotle pepper and an extra dash of cider vinegar can be used in place of the canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa and Tecate beer.

 

Makes: 4 servings

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

NUTRITION PROFILE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 4 8- to 10-inch whole-wheat wraps, or tortillas

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chile and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, carrot and cilantro; toss to combine.
  2. Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese and onion.
  3. To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap (or tortilla) and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Ingredient Note: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with the Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, they’ll keep at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

NUTRITION

Per serving: 346 calories; 17 g fat (4 g sat, 9 g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein;13 g fiber; 462 mg sodium; 491 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (60% daily value), Vitamin C (45% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie

 

Serves 1

30 minutes or fewer

  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup plain soymilk
  • 1 ¼ cups frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup firm tofu cubes
  • 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar
  • ⅛ tsp. ground allspice (optional)

Purée spinach leaves with soymilk in blender. Add blueberries, tofu, flaxseed, agave nectar (if using), and allspice (if using); blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

References

“Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie.” Vegetarian Times. The Vegetarian Times, n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/blueberry-spinach-smoothie/&gt;.

“Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap.” EatingWell. Eating Well, 1 July 2009. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/creamy_avocado_white_bean_wrap.html&gt;.

Image* “Pepe Nero Bar & Diner Blog.” Pepe Nero Bar & Diner. N.p., 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://pepenero.bg/en/blog/&gt;.

“Yoga Class Getting You Home Late? 4 Ideas For Quick, Healthy Dinners.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.fitsugar.com/What-Eat-After-Yoga-27024774&gt;.