High Regard for Rhubard

 

 

 

 

There are some subtle signs that spring is here… that new life is beginning to sprout, blossom, and dazzle. Rhubarb is that sign for me, second only to strawberries.  And what a coincidence, rhubarb and strawberries go great together. This cousin to celery, is pretty sassy, rich, and a bit outspoken (tart).  We all have cousins like that, when its their season, they tend to make their presence known, that’s rhubarb.   Its like she (rhubarb) begs for attention, lots of sugar and like things.  Total red carpet treatment.  She demands that you love her.    I watched a man fall in love  just last week.  He simply couldn’t resist her pull.  It was actually quiet entertaining to watch him try. From a distance I noticed the delivery man place the case of rhubarb on the table, receive a signature,  and wave goodbye.  The first chef on the scene fingered through the full case of rhubarb, clearly checking for quality.  Even from where I stood  it was clear when like turned to love, and love to lust. He was a  man brazen with inspiration. New eyes. And so I watched in quiet anticipation to see where his creativity would take him.

This type of enthusiasm is common this time of year. Everyone and their mother is running to their nearest farmers market, farm, food coop and grocery store for a look at the seasons finest.   Only to waltz into their kitchens and create the best pies, jellies, jams, salad toppings and other exotic creations.   And why not ? Our beloved Rhubarb is one of the lowest calorie vegetables.  Rhubarbs red flesh ( the red stalks are the best; they’re less acidic, and more tangy) is packed with vitamin K ( responsible for promoting bone health, and reducing neuronal damage in the brain). Rhubarb also contains high levels of several B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  With all of these health benefits, the choice for rhubarb is an easy one.  Head to your nearest farmers market, food coop or grocery store, and find the reddest variety, with crisp stalks. Avoid the limp stalks like the plague.   If for some reason the top leaves are still attached, peel them off and discard them, theyre totally unsuitable for consumption.  And then try this delicious recipe from  the Vegetarian Times.  

 

Cheers,

 

Chef Will Hall

 

 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble Squares

Serves 12

These tangy-sweet squares will keep, covered, in the fridge up to 4 days.
Filling

  • 4 Tbs. orange juice
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 ½ cups diced frozen rhubarb
  • 1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated orange zest

Crust and Topping

  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
  1. To make Filling: Mix 1 Tbs. orange juice and cornstarch in bowl. In pan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, zest and remaining juice. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; partially cover, and cook 5 to 8 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. Add cornstarch mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Cool. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. To make Crust and Topping: Combine oats, both flours, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt in large bowl; blend with fork. Add orange juice and oil; blend with fork until crumbly.
  3. Press 2 cups oat mixture into bottom of 9×9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Spread rhubarb mixture over crust. Stir almonds into remaining oat mixture, and sprinkle over filling. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. 

 

References: 

Rhubarb nutrition facts and health benefits. (2014, January 1). Nutrition And You.com. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rhubarb.html

Salute Spring! Ten Ways to Enjoy Rhubarb Compote. (2009, May 9). Simple Bites. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.simplebites.net/salute-spring-ten-ways-to-enjoy-rhubarb-compote/

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble Squares. (2005, April 1). thevegetariantimes. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/strawberry-rhubarb-crumble-squares/

Wholly wholesome Hempseeds

 

 

 

 

 

This morning was a day much like the week prior.  I woke at the crack of dawn to stretch, run, hit some weights and follow it all up with a wholesome smoothie before work.  Pretty ordinary.  The real magic happened while making my smoothie.  I tossed in raw cashews, almond milk,raw oats, vanilla, coconut sugar, bee pollen, and finally hemp seeds.  Now I don’t want to give the impression that this was my first run in with hemp seeds.  Be it far from me.  But this moment was special because I  took a moment to really stay in the moment recognize just how powerful some of the ingredients in my Vitamix were (namely Hemp Seeds) .  I could go on for days (but I wont) about just how powerful hemp seeds are. Hemp seeds have been coined a miracle drug.   In his Book “Fats that heal, fats that kill” Dr. Udo Erasmus  names hemp seeds as the best source for a balanced source of essential  fatty aids ( omega 3, omega 6, steradonic acid, and linoleic acid).   According to Bastyr University associate professor and certified nutritionist  Jennifer Adler;  the anti -inflammatory quality of hemp seeds help to fend of a number of conditions including diabetes, certain cancers, auto-immune, and heart diseases.   Hemp seeds are  easily digested, high in protein, great for skin health, inhibit cancer growth,   whats not to love?

We are fortunate to have access to them.  With all of the legal hoopla surrounding the Hemp,  and Cannabis plant its great to know that there has been someone sane or savvy enough in government to allow us a chance to enjoy the natural benefits of either.    If you aren’t yet hip to what the real issues are; THC-tetrahydrocannabinol    (the compound found  in either plant that causes psychoactive effects) is regulated and monitored by  both the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)  and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Even though hemp contain very little levels of THC, it is still grouped with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance  ( by the DEA).  Hemp has been planted, harvested and used  for food and textiles  by the Chinese as early as 2800 BCE, grown and used in Chile in the 1500’s. It wasn’t used in North America until  a century later.  The whole world agrees, hemp seeds are delicious and wholly wholesome.  Try hemp seeds in shakes, smoothies, granola, or simply tossed into a salad.  Here’s a tasty recipe from the Vegetarian times that’ll help  introduce hemp seeds into your repertoire. Enjoy!

 

Chef Will Hall

 

 

 

Grated Carrot and Celery Root Salad with Hemp Seeds

Serves 4

30 minutes or fewer

Dark flecks of shelled hemp seed play off the bright color of carrots in this salad.
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 8 oz. celery root, peeled
  • 3 green onions, chopped (¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup shelled hemp seed
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp. hemp seed oil

1. Grate carrots and celery root using finest grater setting of food processor. Transfer to bowl, and stir in green onions and hemp seed.

2. Whisk together mustard and vinegar in small bowl. Whisk in hemp seed oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Add vinaigrette to carrot and celery mixture, and toss to coat.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Hemp. (2012, 08 12). Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/261088/

Hemp seeds image. (2014, 02 05). Retrieved from http://letstalkfood.net/tag/flax/

Kadley, M. (2014). Hemp seeds -get a taste of this rich source of anti-inflammatory omegas. Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/healing-foods-hemp-seed/

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA). (n.d.).Hemp seeds and hemp oil as food. Retrieved from http://www.eiha.org/attach/8/Hemp_Seeds_and_Hemp_Oil_as_Food_EIHA_EIHA.pdf

 

 

 

 

Oils and Other Flavor Options Pt II * Meatless Monday Special

 

Fat is the conduit for flavor. Yes, I said it, quote me.  In fact, professor of Foods and nutrition at Purdue University, Richard Mattes has done research that indicates that humans can also taste “fat”.  Which gives credibility to the the suspicion we all feel when a “fat free” version of a packaged food just does’nt taste as good.( *insert the fat free version of FIG NEWTONS)  The idea that humans could taste fat was introduced by French philosopher and physician Jean Fernell.  And so it took many years; plus plenty of research with rats for laymen and scientists to confirm that fat can indeed be detected by the taste buds ( thank God for rats huh? ) A life totally devoid of fat is really.. really a  lame existence.   So as a favor to my good friend  Ceramic Artist -Delores Hayes I will point out some fats that make your taste buds and the rest of your body happy as well.  One of the most basic points that can be made about the difference between plant and animal fats begins with how they look and move at room temperature.  So in other words, however you see olive oil at room temperature is more or less how it will move through your blood stream (now think on that) The same is true for animal fats; butter, lard etc.  Sit it on the counter and leave it there for a few hours.  Walk away, and find something to occupy your time.  When you come back, chances are, your animal fat will look just the same way it did when you walked away.   The vast difference in health benefits are very easy to see.  So lets make the case for plant based fats.  Its a good practice to stock your cabinets with more than one kind of fat/oil , variety is always key.   Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD, a Registered Dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation Program believes in this very principle. So, let us look at three of the most beneficial, versatile, and wallet friendly.

Olive oil (Virgin, Extra Virgin)  is one of the most flavorful, and versatile oils available.  But truth is for all of its nutritional “goodness” (high in Monounsaturated fats ),  and versatility its price tag reflects its quality, every  single time. Olive oil is mild enough to be used for dressings, roasting, and light sauteing.  Its great for your heart (your skin, and hair also), and if youre reaching for the best, this is it.

Sunflower oil is another beneficial oil (high in Monounsaturated fats ) , that can withstand the high heat (high smoke point) that sauteing, broiling, grilling, and frying (but who’s frying food in 2014?), with a much smaller price tag.  Safflower oil is still mild enough to be used for dressings or for other applications like creating flavored oils, and well suited for the budget friendly.

Grape seed oil is yet another great option for cooking.  This star quality oil has a very mild flavor and can withstand a bit less heat than say, sunflower or canola oil (medium smoke point).  It is ideal for light sauteing, making dressings, grilling, roasting and  making flavored oils. Grape seed oil also boasts high levels of Polyunsaturated fats .  In other words grape seed oil can provide you omega 3 fatty acids which has been found to increase brain power, and reduce brain “aging”.

The take home lesson; keep a variety of fats/oils in your cupboard (a life devoid of fat is a miserable existence) , use them relation to what  and how you’re cooking, and make your mouth happy.  Heres a fab recipe  from the Vegetarian Times to get your week started off right.  Enjoy!

 

Cheers,

 

Chef Will Hall

 

Red Curry Vegetable Soup

Red Curry Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

30 minutes or fewer

Thai red curry paste provides the spicy base for this soup. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand for the cauliflower and green beans.
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 12 oz. cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (3 cups)
  • 4 large green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 2 Tbs. Thai red curry paste, such as Thai Kitchen
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 6 oz. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (1½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and white parts of green onions; sauté 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown. Add curry paste, and sauté 1 minute more.

2. Add broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and green beans, and simmer 5 minutes, or until beans are tender.

4. Stir in lime juice and remaining green onions. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

 

 

 

References:

BAKALAR, N. (2012, 02 12). Nutrition: Brainpower tied to omega-3 levels. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/health/research/omega-3-fatty-acid-levels-linked-to-brain-performance.html?_r=0

Fatty food triggers taste buds, new research finds. (2001, 12 04). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011204073223.htm

Red curry vegetable soup. (2014, 01). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/red-curry-vegetable-soup/

Team, T. B. E. (2012, 05 31). Heart-healthy cooking: Oils 101. Retrieved from http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/05/heart-healthy-cooking-oils-101/

 

 

 

50 First Dates

 

One… two, three dates would’nt do. We would  eat the entire pack if we did’nt get this thing under control.  That’s a fact.  It was something like a synchronized feeding frenzy, a date with dates.  We’d split them both open to reveal the slim seed covered by here creamy gooey-ness.  Seeds got tossed, fingers got super sticky, and our mouths were made to feel satisfied. At each bite, we’d promise ourselves and the dates that this mouthful was in fact going to be our last. We made promises we had hoped to keep, but at each turn, we decided that these promises were made to be broken. Each of fifty or so of these delicious fruit were  all eaten as if they were our very first.   It was a  simple recipe for love.

I know what youre thinking… Chef Will… you’re in love with just about everything (there’s some truth to that, delicious and nutritious food is my passion) but dates fall into an entirely different category.  They can be enjoyed as a simple and gooey snack, or as a sweet element to  more meals than you can shake a stick at. And according to the California Dates website (http://www.datesaregreat.com/health-nutrition/ ) dates have antioxidant qualities and have the ability to help keep the heart healthy because of its low saturated fat, trans fat,  and fiber.  Dates are also known to carry a natural balance of calcium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and  potassium which are all understood to harmonically lower blood pressure.  And to be honest that should be enough evidence to take your time, fall in love and make each fifty of so feel like your very first.  Here’s an adaptation of a recipe that I used to go gaga for ( in addition to one bonus recipe). Give it a try and …. please do enjoy!

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

Vegan Cashew French Toast
Ingredients:
4 slices of bread *preferably stale-gluten free if that floats your boat
3/4 cups cashews
*3/4 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup almond milk or soy milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla *or to taste
1 tbs. honey/maple- for serving
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
*1/8 tsp nutmeg – or to taste
In a blender, combine cashews and milk. The consistency should be similar to pancake or waffle batter. If it’s too thick, add more water or milk. Next,  mix in vanilla, dates and pulse until very smooth.
Coat bread on both sides evenly and let excess drip off. Heat a skillet with cooking spray or coconut oil and cook each slice a minute or so on each side. Again, be sure your skillet is not too hot as these burn quickly. * be mindful that the first slice or so might come off very “raggedy”, but take your time and trust that youre about to taste a lil piece of heaven.
Spread on vegan margarine and add whatever toppings you like! Enjoy!

Chickpea and Date Tagine

Chickpea and Date Tagine

Serves 8

North African tagines often combine sweet and savory foods to play off the spices used to season them.
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup pitted dates, halved
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 10 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring often. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon, and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and 1/4 cup water; simmer 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, toast couscous in small saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 1 3/4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.

3. Stir dates and lemon juice into tagine, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over couscous, sprinkled with cilantro.

References:

California dates health and nutriton. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.datesaregreat.com/health-nutrition/

Chickpea and date tagine recipe. (2011, 12). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/chickpea-and-date-tagine/

Corleone, J. (2013, 12 18). Fresh dates vs. dried dates. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/527815-fresh-dates-vs-dried-dates/

Date image. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.clifbar.com/blog/detail/how_about_a_date2/

Vegan cashew french toast. (2012). Retrieved from http://photofueledfood.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/vegan-cashew-french-toast/

Oils & Other Options -Part I- **Meatless Monday Special**

Just today while still in a daydream, I wiped my mouth, hoping to clear my lips for another bite of deliciousness.  This was a beautiful moment in time, and I decided I would luxuriate in the present.  My eyes were more drawn to the olive oil that clung ever so gently to my grilled vegetables. It was luscious, simple…. delicious.  The whole situation made me think, was it the olive oil, the cooking method, or just the inherent deliciousness of the vegetables? The answer to that question proved to be all the above.  Clearly how we cook something makes all the difference in its outcome.  Choosing the best veggies is a great place  to start any dish, & roasting, or grilling vegetables are a sure way to minimize the amount of fat we use ( plant or animal based fats. ), and lastly the cooking medium (oil/fat) can mean the difference between a “sassy”, or “sorry” dish.  With that said lets help clear up some things. Where fat is, flavor abounds.  If you dont believe me think of the last “fat free” thing that you ate. It doesnt matter what it is, when you subtract or substitute a fat,  you change the chemistry.  Fat carries flavor the way a new Jeep Wrangler carries happy smiling  young passengers  into the sunset.  That flavor wants to ride  the length of your tongue right into flavor-ville and its only right that we offer it a fun ride. Hence the reason we will take a moment to explore a few to help decide, just which fat, which oil is the best in any given situation.  Here they are in no particular order.

Everybody knows that animal fat is very enticing.  So much so that much of  America lines up like zombie-like fashion to  buy goo gobs of animal products, even though its painfully clear to be the death of our nation. So Id like to shine some light on some plant based fats (oils)  that are better for you, but can also improve your cooking process.  Lets start identifying some of the most common and most accessible.  Canola, vegetable, corn, extra virgin olive, and coconut oil are all very mild, and tasty.  When each are used in their proper context they have the capacity to shine bright like a diamond ( http://youtu.be/91a1yO4Mx2I )    Canola oil  is very mild in flavor, and has a very high smoke point (meaning you can it can stand lots of heat before it smokes, and possibly loses its health benefits. Its ideal for sauteing,  and also grilling,  and broiling (and yes even frying, if that’s what youre into).  Canola oil like olive oil is made by pressing seeds to extract their precious bounty.  The particulars of the process are different, but the general idea is similar.  But canola oil has a dark history steeped in high temperature production, toxic chemicals, and  levels of euricic acid (which are spoken of as being toxic to humans) .  With this type of profile, its very challenging to develop a progressive relationship.  If you’re a big enough person, you can move past Canola’s imperfections to view its positives (its tough I know)

Olive oil is by birthright, great tasting, heart healthy (blood can flow through your veins freely), and can help protect the body from stroke, obesity chronic diseases like diabetes. It,  is made by pressing olives to relieve them of their nectar-Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and then pressed again to retrieve the most coveted portion of oil  for Virgin Olive Oil. Olive oil is a good substitute for saturated fats like butter. Its mild, but full flavor can be the right substitute for animal fats like butter (*Side bar- I use olive oil for my skin, and hair). Its benefits are better enjoyed at no, or low heat cooking (which does’nt exclude sauteing, but does discourage it and other high heat cooking methods).  Which might result in it being used  for a quick saute or other high heat, but quick cooking methods.  This wonder-filled olive oil is ideal for preparations like vinaigrettes ( or other dressings)  in order to benefit from its monsaturated fats, trace minerals and antioxidant qualities .  It is very important to avoid keeping olive oil at improper temperatures ( in order that you may preserve quality).  Heat, light and air all tend to diminish its quality.  Be sure your olive oil and all other edible oils are stored in airtight containers, preferably away from direct light and high heat. Treat her (olive oil) like a lady,  be sensitive to what application would be ideal to allow her to be her best (listen to her, give her what she needs to shine.

Coconut oil is one of my favorite plant based fats.  Its a great saturated fat substitute for butter, depending on your love of its gentle coconut flavor.  I’ll cosign Melissa Clark  ( Writer for the New York Times Dining and Wine)  on her statement about coconut oil having been coined a villan, kin to the devil himself in the past. But the reality is that coconut oil has an awesome lingering flavor, with a sweetness that’s complimentary for desserts and  lends itself toward some savory preparations as well (depending on your love for coconut oil) Coconut oil is, and has been favored by the every growing population of vegans in the U.S because of its ability to be used well as a substitute in baking, dessert preparation and in raising the bar on flavor in entrees.  When you read studies that relate to coconut oil in a derogatory way, the coconut oil that’s being highlighted is normally hydrogenated.  And anything hydrogenated is the pits.  The good stuff (extra virgin-unrefined coconut oil) is not chemically treated as is canola oil.  Lauric acid and stearic acid are both fatty acids that are found  in coconut oil.  They are both said to have favorable attributes in the body. In short that makes for a good product to keep on hand.  Join me next week for Part II of Oils and Options to dispel all of the mystery surrounding cooking healthily with oils and other fat options. Try this low cost, tasty vegan recipe  from the Vegetarian Times starring coconut oil, and eat your way to a healthier lifestyle. Till next time.

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

Vegan: Lentil and Coconut Soup with Cilantro-Habanero Gremolata

Vegan: Lentil and Coconut Soup with Cilantro-Habanero Gremolata

Note: Wear plastic gloves and use a separate cutting board when chopping the habanero pepper. You do not want to get it anywhere near your eyes or skin.

Yield: makes about 2 1/2 quarts, serving 4 to 6
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced on a microplane grater
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 small habanero or serrano pepper, seeds and ribs removed, flesh finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 pound dry brown lentils
  • 3 quarts water or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Kosher Salt
  • For the Gremolata:
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 small habanero or serrano pepper, seeds and ribs removed, flesh finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced on a microplane grater
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 tablespoon zest from one orange, grated on a microplane grater

Procedures

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions, and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, habanero pepper, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

  2. Add lentils, water, bay leaves, and coconut milk.Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are completely tender and have started to break down and thicken the soup, about 1 1/2 hours, adding more water or vegetable stock if soup begins to get too thick. Add chopped cilantro and stir to incorporate.

  3. Discard bay leaves. If desired, partially puree some of the soup with a hand blender or in a standing blender to thicken. Add hot sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce and stir to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt.

  4. For the Gremolata: combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

  5. Ladle soup into individual bowls, sprinkle with gremolata mixture, and serve.

    References:

Chen, J. (2007, 05 17). Forget the irs — there’s an olive-oil scandal afoot read more: The controversy behind extra-virgin olive oil | time.com http://ideas.time.com/2013/05/17/forget-the-irs-theres-an-olive-oil-scandal-afoot/

Clark, M. (2011, 03 01). Once a villain, coconut oil charms the health food world. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/dining/02Appe.html?pagewanted=all/

David L, K. M. (2013). Could coconut oil be good for your heart? read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/the-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil-nutrition-advice

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/olive-oil-vs-canola-oil.htmlOlive oil health benefits and nutrition. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits

oil image. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/public/slideshow.aspx?id=6442471506

Vegan: Lentil and coconut soup with cilantro-habañero gremolata. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Vegan_-Lentil-and-Coconut-Soup-with-Cilantro-Habanero-Gremolata-Serious-Eats-200288?columns=4&position=3/61

What is canola oil. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.canolainfo.org/canola/

So So Caught up with the Coffee Bean

When I woke up this morning, some of my first thoughts were centered around  the coffee bean; how beautifully brown it is, and how when toasted, freshly ground, and brewed, miracles happen.  Yes miracles…. when freshly brewed coffee touches my lips, I  somehow instantly go from being the human version of the “lil engine that could” to what singer R. Kelly described as ” being able to fly”.  Each slurp and sip brings me into closer communion with GOD.  Clarity comes in each and every swallow, and its in those moments that I feel my very best, …  thus I think my most inspiring thoughts.  A little deep I bet… but true. I am a loyal devotee to  this thing called “java”, and I  make no apologies. We found each other during my sleepless nights of culinary school, while bathed in moonlight I memorized terminology, and culinary formulas.  It was coffee that was there with me, while everyone else slept sound in their  bunks.  In those moments, we had each other only.  Our relationship  began as a one sided situation; me using the coffee to help encourage my eyelids to stay open.  That was primary…. But in the process of my using coffee, I fell in love with its flavor, its aroma, and color.  She was my night nurse ** insert Beres Hammond here** It was then that I realized the coffee needed me just as much as I needed it.  I found that it needed to be sipped, to be wooed, bl0wn on and teased.  She and I  made our love an exclusive one, and we were both better for it.  I know you must think that I’ve gone way too far, gone way too deep.  But my love is real, it’ s us against the world.

There are just as many arguments against the coffee bean as there are for it ( Trust me I wont harp on the cons) .  Lets just start with the fact that coffee is cherished the world over.  Its claim to fame begins with rich soil, in some of the warmest (tropical climates) climates and highest altitudes. It is here where the beauty of the bean is cultivated. My beloved bean is purported to be great to fight against depression (because of its mood altering effects),  it is also believed to help the liver regulate itself,  and may actually make you smarter ( temporarily improves your general cognition -which includes your reaction time, and logical reasoning).  Time Magazine cites coffee as having the power to fight  Alzheimers disease, decrease the risk of heart failure, ward off skin cancer, and believe it or not reduce the risk of  diabetes.  Thats all before you load it down with cream, sugar, syrup, Splenda, and anything else that may mask its glory. She .. the inhuman bean is rich in antioxidants, and bioactive compounds that assist coffee in being one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide. So although the cons include discoloration of the teeth, increased risk of stroke (with daily consumption of more than 4 cups), and the risk of osteoporosis (because coffee is a diuretic  and causes you to purge calcium through the urine), the pros outweigh the cons by far. But balance is key.  As is with all good things .  Whether you are in Ethiopia, Chile, Jamaica, or Ecuador, enjoy a cup of her loveliness while welcoming all good things into your day ( or late nights).  Purchase a cup or bag  of Starbucks ,Godiva, Illy, Cafe Bustelo or the like and join me in my praise of one of earths most coveted beverages.  Heres a recipe from the Vegetarian Times  for  coffee lovers, who like me, are so so caught up with the coffee bean.

Cheers,

 

 

Chef Will Hall

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

Makes 25 truffles

This recipe offers an introduction to making ganache, a combination of cream and chocolate used for candy fillings, cake frostings, and pastry glazes.
  • 5 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • 7 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 2 Tbs. whiskey or liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Kahlúa, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Combine dark chocolate and milk chocolate in large heat-proof bowl.

2. Combine cream and corn syrup in medium saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in coffee granules until dissolved. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate, and stir gently until all chocolate pieces have melted. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Add whiskey, if using, and stir 1 to 2 minutes with spatula or wooden spoon until chocolate mixture begins to thicken. Cover, and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight.

4. Fill small plate with confectioners’ sugar, fill small bowl with cocoa powder, and line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

5. Dip hands in confectioners’ sugar. 
Roll small lump of chocolate mixture into 1-inch ball, then roll in cocoa powder. Place truffle on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chocolate mixture, dusting hands with confectioners’ sugar to keep truffles from sticking. Refrigerate truffles until ready to serve.

References:

Chocolate ganache truffles. (2011, 02). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/chocolate-ganache-truffles/

coffee from around the world. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.ncausa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=75

coffee image. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.freegreatpicture.com/coffee-chocolate-milk/coffee-and-coffee-beans-close-up-16140

Coffee: The pros and cons. (2006, 09). Retrieved from http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/coffee-pros-and-cons

Groden, C. (2013, 07 26). How coffee could save your life. Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/07/26/how-coffee-could-save-your-life/

Gayomali, C. (2013, 7 25). 9 purported health benefits of drinking coffee [updated]. Retrieved from http://theweek.com/article/index/244468/7-purported-health-benefits-of-drinking-coffee

Health reasons to drink coffee (and cons to consider). (2013). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_reasons_to_drink_coffee_and_cons_to_consider

Oster, E. (2013, 09 09). Take back your pregnancy. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323514404578652091268307904

Sifferlin, A. (2012, 05 17). Coffee: Drink more, live longer?. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/17/coffee-drink-more-live-longer/

Coconuts Oil and Other Cautionary Tales

In the past, I’ve dedicated this blog to share my love for fresh produce, and its connection to optimum health.  As they say, an apple a day can keep the doctor away.. or something like that.  But in my heart of hearts I’m certain that prevention is key and that we all have the power to make simple every day decisions that will ultimately affect us in the long-term. However, eating well has a few more benefits than would be imagined by most people. Meaning; eating well actually has a direct impact on our natural beauty. What we eat effects just how our natural beauty asserts itself. Your diet can directly impact just how clear your skin is, how white or strong your teeth are, and just how strong or healthy your hair appears. This is my life,  I can speak from experience, you can believe that.  The proofs in the pudding.  With that in mind, I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with one of my closest friends, Ceramic artist Delores Hayes (Twitter @Artistdeloresjhayes) .  Delores is a beautiful creative, free spirit (*picture a modern-day flower child) complete with wild, untamed locs. Just the other day we were deep in a conversation about health, wellness, and pottery (weird mix  I know) when she suddenly interrupted me to ask if I had any useful knowledge about what she could do nutritionally to aid in the growth and strengthening of her locs.  “Of course I’m not a hairdresser, ” I said as a disclaimer, “but I could tell you some things that have worked for me”. With that said, I leaned back in my chair, adjusted the phone with one hand, my glasses with the other, and decided I’d  get straight into my Dr. Oz act.  Actually I stopped short of my act and  decided that I’d just refer Delores and my other friends who were curious about such things to really good sources for that  kind of information.  The truth is, a healthy body will produce a healthy head of hair. I can attest to those facts personally, but I think you’d rather hear it from Nikki Walton of Essence Magazines’ CurlyNikki  (@EssenceMag #AskCurlyNikki).  Its understandable that health and beauty secrets are easier to  hear from a woman… I get it she’s prettier, I’m not jealous (*breaks pen, and wipes ink off of face)

Another very special Sista in my life, Rosie Love, ( proprietor of Land of Milk and Honey Natural Hair Care Products takes a very natural approach to her hair care, and it sure shows.  Rosie’s stunning beauty is an embodiment of self-love and also a living testimony to little girls who shed tears at their mothers feet , hoping that the nightmarish combing sessions , will fade away like acid wash jeans… one day.  By some coincidence Ms. Love’s secret to hair care starts on the inside as well.  Like I always say, “health is wealth”.  When I cornered Ms. Love for some hot hair maintenance tips to share with my readers ; two things happened, she bobbed and weaved in hopes that she could avoid a chance to share her hair secrets ( so humble, so beautiful).  And then she gave me a short list of her hair do’s and donts.  ” 1. Keep it simple 2. Keep it protected 3. Like all things in life hair requires balance! The yin and yang of Hair is strength and moisture! 4. Love your hair and it will love you back! AND lastly; 5. Learn YOUR hair!”  In other words, take care of yourself, and your hair and it will yield dividends in the form of gorgeous locs.  Rosie also goes on to mention the importance of eating vegetables/fruit every day, especially dark green leafy and coniferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts )*all super foods, and garlic. Ms Love also places a lot of emphasis on drinking plenty of water. The take home message, keep it simple, eat well, and love thyself. To contact Rosie Love of Land of Milk and Honey , email her your natural hair care questions @Info@LOMAH.com .

One day, very very long ago.  I was rescued from hair purgatory myself,  by an angel that bore grace, moisture and unrefined coconut oil (Spectrum brand to be exact-found in most food Co Ops , & Whole Foods) in her bosom …true story.  I was on the doorstep of disaster and contemplated the possibility a life with limp, dry locs.  It was a fate most fatal for a man like myself.  This messenger from some heavenly place in the clouds found me at my lowest, and offered me a solution that literally saved my social life.  She massaged coconut oil in my hair after a luxurious shampoo, and natural conditioner.  I remember in those moments how everything in my life took on a newness, a rejuvenation.  I had been rescued and I would now walk the earth with rich moist, locs. Yours truly was the cats meow, a walking work of art.  And I tell you why, coconut oil is a force to be reckoned with. First of all, a little goes a long way.  It’s as natural a moisturizer as you’re going to get, assuming that you choose a non GMO , extra virgin, unbleached, and basically minimally processed version.  Coconut oil is known as a great moisturizer of sorts. Ms. Rosie Love has coined it ” the efficient humectant”.   In other words it  has the capacity to help draw moisture from the air into our hair. Which makes for a miracle moisturizer in my opinion.  This same wonder moisturizer is said to bind to the protein structures, and reinforce the hair fibers thereby making them stronger.  That just happens to be a very long winded way to say that coconut oil protects our hairs’ moisture content, while strengthening it.  So, with all that said, be cautioned, green veggies, fruit, rest, and coconut oil may be good for your health.

Respectfully Yours,

Chef Will Hall

References:

Kitchens, S. (2013, 09 24). Coconut oil for skin, hair, body: 6 things to know about the super ingredient. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/coconut-oil-benefits_n_1625631.html

Laquita, T. (2009, 04 13). Natural hair online support groups. Retrieved from http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2009/04/natural-hair-online-support-groups/

Love, R. (2013, 12 18). Interview by Chef Will Hall []. Coconut oil and other cautionary tales., Retrieved from chefwillhall.wordpress.com

Walton, N. (2012, 10 24). Ask curlynikki: Healthy hair starts within. Retrieved from http://www.essence.com/2012/10/25/ask-curlynikki-healthy-hair-starts-within/

The Black Girl, W. L. H. (2011, 12 21). The benefits of coconut oil. Retrieved from http://blackgirllonghair.com/2011/12/the-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

Stranger things than CRANBERRIES

Tonight was a night full of lessons.  For the most part,  I played the teacher, but I must admit, the biggest lessons were taught to me by my two sons.  It all started with my youngest son Maxwell’s invitation to beat me in checkers – that’s right, this kid invited me to a friendly game of checkers where he would hypothetically embarrass me, and therefore teach me a lesson     ( *shaking my head* these are his words not mine).  I suggested that I teach him a few things, providing that he was open to learning, instead of revisiting the day where I crushed him. He preferred the option to learn, and so we moved forward with a “friendly” game of checkers.  A few hours later, he felt empowered enough trash talk again, so we took a snack break in hopes that a healthy treat and some water would be sobering to  his young mind (* this kid is hilarious)  At the mention of a snack, my eldest son Will walks in (so typical) and suggests a few healthy treats before we could get into our next lesson – a game of  ” Go Fish “.  So we grabbed some unsalted pistachios, some water, fruit and made light conversation.  In my sleepy stupor I looked up to see Will smiling while rinsing something in a bowl.  It could’ve been anything for all I could tell.  So I gave myself a light smack on the face, and prepared for what looked like part two of snack time.  “Whatcha got there?” I asked while rubbing my eyes.  “Fresh cranberries Dad” he answered while tossing a few in his mouth the way most children eat jelly beans.  I grabbed a few myself, and got right down to business.  And then my son asked the question that woke me the way only expresso can. He looked  me in the eyes and said  ” Dad is it strange that I like fresh cranberries?, people always say that I’m a strange kid because I eat them”  I grabbed both sides of his face, and gave him a crazy wide eyed look, while still crunching on a mouthful of cranberries.  “Son, you are absolutely beautiful, cranberries are dope, and so are you, whoever tells you that you’ve got strange taste buds is the problem,… tell em Dad says so” I said.  (*and so begins the conversation on what “DOPE” means)  “Yes, son, there are stranger things than cranberries”.  As the night progressed we moved from checkers, to cards, to movies      ( the movie really did watch me), and that cranberry conversation never left my mind.  All I could think about was how crazy a world we live in.  In a land of information, childhood obesity has become our norm, whereas my son is made to feel like an oddity for his  love of whole foods.  I woke up suddenly in the wee hours of the morning impregnated by this question, and all others born from my lil mister’s original thought- Is it so strange for a child, or anyone for that matter to love fresh cranberries? Do people realize the health benefits of cranberries?  Does America understand cranberries integral role in this countries history…. even before colonization?  After rising  in the early am for a restroom run, I sat on the edge of the bed, and contemplated it all.  After 10 minutes of deep thought, i decided that this was no time for sleep.  I needed some answers that sleep would’nt offer.

Native Americans were very generous to the Pilgrims that settled in the Americas.  They sheltered them, taught them how to survive the harsh winters, how to plant, hunt and how to thrive on indigenous foods. They shared super foods like cranberries, and so in short the Pilgrims and all other such vandals survived, consequently the New America was created. Cranberries were called the  sassamenesh, and  ibimi by native tribes because of its bitter, sour taste,  and later, the “cranberry” by the early settlers due to its resemblance to the Sandhill crane.  Native Americans used the cranberry as dye for clothing, medicine, tea ( the leaves), for hunting bait, and an all purpose food. Yes, the Native Americans recognized the many benefits of cranberries early on. Pemmican, which was made from dried venison and cranberries would be stored in pouches and eaten as quick energy food on long journeys.  Cranberries have been recognized by the USDA Food Composition and Methods Development Lab as having antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are key in reducing the effects of oxidation, or aging in the body. Cranberries are great for cleansing the kidneys and bladder of toxins. They also boast disease fighting properties, so cancer and heart disease can take a hike.  And thats great news!  Besides all of that cranberries are delicious.  Whether you use them to make juice, sauce, relish, cakes, cookies or accent a simple salad, cranberries are a wonderful way to add color and great flavor to any meal.  So why again would anybody question a young boy for loving cranberries’ life giving properties? Like I said, there are things much stranger than cranberries.  Try this decadent cranberry bar recipe from The Vegetarian Times and reaffirm your love for one of Americas native super foods.

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

Cranberry Bars

Makes 25 bars

These vibrant-hued bars look great on an autumn dinner table. The sweetened condensed milk gives them a texture similar to Key lime pie.
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 7 oz. fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup graham flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

1. To make Filling: Bring cranberries and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 10 minutes, or until berries have burst and are tender. Cool. Blend in blender or food processor until smooth, and strain mixture through sieve. (You should have about 1 cup purée.)

2. Transfer purée to bowl, and whisk in condensed milk and lemon juice. Whisk in egg yolks.

3. To make Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, and coat with cooking spray.

4. Whisk together flours, sugar, and salt in bowl. Stir in butter and vanilla extract. Press into bottom of prepared pan, and bake 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F, and pour Filling into hot Crust. Bake 23 to 28 minutes, or until custard is set. Cool, then chill until firm.

5. Use foil to lift baked dessert out of pan, then remove. Cut into 25 bars. Serve cold or at room temperature.

References:

Aubrey, A. (2010, 11 15). Bow down to the medicinal power of cranberries. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2010/11/12/131272331/bow-down-to-the-medicinal-power-of-cranberries

Cranberry bars. (2011, 11). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/cranberry-bars/

Cranberry image. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.appforhealth.com/2012/12/cranberries-small-berries-with-a-big-health-benefits/

History of cranberries. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.cranberries.org/cranberries/history.html

Whitman-Salkin, S. (2013, 11 27). Cranberries, a thanksgiving staple, were a native american superfood. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131127-cranberries-thanksgiving-native-americans-indians-food-history/

Young, vegetarian, and very relevant (*Meatless Monday Special)

About 13 or more years ago, when most of my closest friends were still cramming back burgers laden with bacon, cheese, some type of rich condiment, and  enough lettuce, tomato and possibly onion to give the whole mess color; I was flaunting my new green lifestyle.  I’d sit down to colorful, carefully prepared meals; hey I’m a Chef so it was going down like a live Bob Marley concert at each and every meal.  My friends would be sure to shake their funky forks in my face, as their lips glistened with animal fat; mouthing “I don’t care, I love meat”.  All I could ever manage to  do was just chuckle and enjoy my meal, quietly, ….ignorance is bliss.   I’ve plenty of memories of  sitting through family gatherings, and crew lunches at work,  struggling to enjoy my meals as I was always the topic of discussion. Somehow my love of plant based foods became the brunt of jokes, while feasting on a dead carcass was “hot in the streets”.  As I grew in knowledge, my meals, and my lifestyle became more sophisticated.  I added exercise, supplements, meditation and all complementary elements into my repertoire and I prospered for it.  I gained lean mean muscle, better breathing, clear skin, and vibrant health.  In contrast, my cronies, well, …each and every one has gained a lot of extra body fat.  They complain not only of their problem areas, but also of the general lack of energy, loss of sex drive (yikes-shoot me when that happens) and  irritability. Well, guess who became  a sounding board, and a go to when my loved ones wanted to make life changing adjustments? Boy that felt good….  Then something happened that not only validated my lifestyle, but blew my mind- Russell Simmons announced that he was going vegan *insert fireworks here*  Now I’m very aware that there were many vegetarians  and vegans before myself, or Uncle Russ.  For example; Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci , and Pythagoras were all vegetarians before it was the hip thing to do.  But when Uncle Russ made that monumental move it shed a very different light on  us African Americans.  And then Rosario Dawson went and made it all sexy ( Listen: http://youtu.be/kKuzyO0WykI).  Since then one of the hippest presidents to bop into the White House; Bill Clinton claimed his vegan lifestyle and brought a little bit more prestige to us “salad eaters”.  Suddenly in my mind I had more in common with the upper echelon. Being a lover of all things green and in between went from a fad to something of more legitimacy. Talk about validation!  Then things got down right dope on  December 4th, 2013  when Jay Z aka HOVA ( Listen:  http://youtu.be/1tWmyPMf3wU) professed his vegan status.

Being a vegan/vegetarian has its health benefits, plenty of em.  Why else would we who grew up gnawing on flesh, bone and sinew change palates, and lighten our plates in such a dramatic way? Some of the more obvious benefits are; a trim waistline, increased energy, decreased rate of heart disease, reducing the rate of cancer, and the cool factor -that’s right you’re automatically that much cooler being a vegetarian (trust me).  Being a vegetarian promises longevity. In fact citizens of Okinawa, Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world based on a 30 year study of 600 centenarians. Citizens of Okinawa enjoy a diet that is predominately plant based.  Okinawans also consume animal products such as fish  and seafood (its an surrounded by water, why not? ), they also include physical activity as part of their recipe for healthy living.  But I digress, back to vegetarianism-  reliever  of menopausal symptoms,  regulator of digestive systems         ( yes enjoy dropping a deuce daily my friends), inspiration for more fun and colorful meals, and  reducer of  all kinds of pollution.  All HAIL VEGETARIANISM!  As the new year approaches, you still have time to clean out your pantries, brush off your food processors, write new shopping lists and prepare to turn up with your new sexy self.  Your friends will roll their eyes at you, and  crack jokes at your expense, but by spring time lets see who has the last laugh.  Here’s an easy, but tasty recipe from The New York Times  to get you cranked up like a true veggie head.

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

You don’t have to make this vegetable-rich dish in a paella pan, though if you do, you’ll get a nice layer of crusty rice on the bottom. Serve it as a main dish or as a side.

1 quart  vegetable stock or garlic broth

Generous pinch (about 1/2 teaspoon) saffron threads

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 red pepper, cut into strips

1 green pepper, cut into strips

2 cups medium-grain rice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded and grated on the large holes of a box grater; or peeled, seeded and chopped; or 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice

1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths

2 or 3 baby artichokes, trimmed and sliced (may also use frozen artichoke hearts, sliced)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen lima beans

1 cup shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Crush the saffron threads between your fingertips, and place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon warm water, and set aside.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy frying pan, an earthenware casserole (cazuela) set over a flame tamer, or a paella pan. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, peppers and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the tomato paste, paprika and rice. Cook, stirring, for one minute until the grains begin to crackle. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they cook down slightly and smell fragrant, about five minutes. Stir in the saffron with its soaking water, scraping in every last bit with a rubber spatula. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Add the stock, green beans, artichokes and chickpeas or lima beans. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer without stirring until the liquid has just about evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peas. Continue to simmer until the rice is dry, another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

Yield: Serves six to eight.

Advance preparation: This does not have to be piping hot, so it can be made an hour before you wish to serve. If you make it further ahead than that, you can reheat it in the pan.

Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 432 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 81 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 261 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 13 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (eight servings): 324 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 61 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 196 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 10 grams protein

References:

Arielle, G. (2011, 08 23). 10 black celebrities that dont eat meat. Retrieved from frugivoremag.com/2011/08/10-black-celebs-who-don’t-eat-meat/5/

Arielle, G. (2011, 08 23). erykah badu image. Retrieved from frugivoremag.com/2011/08/10-black-celebs-who-don’t-eat-meat/

Benefits of vegetarianism: Vegetarians live longer. (2008, 07 21). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/13/benefits-of-vegetarianism_n_112431.html

Why go vegan or veg?. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian/

Richardson, J. (2007, 12 17). Beyonce and jay-z on vegan diet?. Retrieved from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/beyonce-and-jay-z-on-vegan-diet.html

Rose-Shulman, M. (2911, 08 23). Simple vegetable paella. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/health/nutrition/24recipehealth.html


Its absolutely All About Acorn Squash

 

 

 

 

Autumn is all about the influx of produce, peeps and celebrations (in my opinion at least). We welcome the cold weather with hopes that the change of temperature will bring us some gorgeous scenery in the form of the yellows, oranges and reds of leaves; and somehow we’d accept the warmth of fireplaces and apple cider mingled with brandy as a libation. The flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom remind us that its all good in spite of the bitter cold.  Yes, its all about the harvest fest, namely Thanksgiving .  A holiday rooted in generosity, and sweet, genuine, communion (turkeys watch your backs). Shouts out to the Native Americans, (with their beautiful selves ***taking a bow)  Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite holidays for obvious reasons; good peeps, the greatest of fresh bounty from Mother Nature’s bosom (yes I said bosom), creative brews from the greatest of craft brew makers, and the prospect of bringing all of these dope things together to create my own lil piece of heaven.   This Thanksgiving was no exception, in fact it set the bar a bit higher.  While the rest of the nation sat down to turkey, the NFL, and overindulgence; we created a scene so intimate a nuclear missile could’nt shake things up (Don’t disturb this groove son! Listen here-  http://youtu.be/4Qis6VhHWuA) You might ask, “what was so special my friend?”, and I’d answer “EVERYTHING”! Yes we sat and gave thanks to the cornish hens, lamb, delish root veggies, craft beers, apple pies, and so on.  The LOVE in the room was rich enough to fill your belly without the aide of  food, and precious enough  in itself to bottle .  But as we chewed the fat (metaphorically), and tossed back craft beers over Yatzee. There  somewhere in the background; in the lowly oven sat the acorn squash who never really made it to the party. Sometime before our meal,  I split them, and roasted them with dried cranberries, mushrooms, onions, herbs and a wild rice pilaf.  They got dressed up like Cinderella for the ball, but never made it out to strut their stuff.  Sad but true. We enjoyed ourselves nonetheless, packed up food for the road, tossed back a few more brews, embraced and said our good nights.  It was’nt until the next day that those beautiful squash got to showcase their prowess.  We (my culinary counsel  and I ** wink wink)  decided they’d be just right for lunch. So as I warmed them, I made a quick pesto with parsley, garlic, toasted almonds, olive oil and a bit of pixie dust.  Just before serving them I dressed them with a bit of the pesto, and then served them with a simple side dish.  Somewhere in the first forkful I think I lost my grip on reality for just a second *** insert my drool here _____.  ( so so good-Listen here-   http://youtu.be/raHulMIPFRA)  The combination of the wild rice pilaf, pesto, and acorn squash was something like divine.  If you’ve ever had spaghetti squash or calabaza squash and been overtaken by the sweet, creamy texture, you’ll know exactly what I went through         (I think I need therapy now ** holding myself and shaking now  ).  It made me want to spoon out a bit and run out the front door to share it with the first sane individual who’d be brave enough to enjoy a sample.  I was moved, yes, moved enough do some research to figure out what in the deuce I had just injested.

Its no surprise that acorn squash are so flippin good ( step into a world –http://www.pandora.com/krs-1/i-got-next/step-into-world-raptures-delight?shareImp=true)  Acorn squash firstly is a nutrient dense whole food.  In short that means inch for inch its nutritionally brawlick.  1 serving (1 cup ) contains 37% of the DV of vitamin C, which is essential for healthy teeth/gums, healthy tissue, and healing wounds.  Acorn squash also flexes their nutritional clout with 23% of DV of thiamin, 20% of DV of vitamin B6, 18% of DV of vitamin A, 10% of the DV of folate, 26% of the DV potassium , 22% of DV for magnesium,  and 25% of DV of maganese.  Need I say more??? Well, I will anyhow, Acorn squash is low in carbohydrates, and sugar.  So, put that in your mp3 player and bop to it.  A feast that includes squash of any sort is one that you can feel good about from beginning to end.  Guilt free dining at its best.  Which brought me to the conclusion, that even though this holiday season included so many moving pieces, it was really all about the acorn squash.  Step inside my world with this delish recipe from The Vegetarian Times.  Enjoy!

Cheers,

Chef Will Hall

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

6 Servings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange squash halves cut side down in baking dish or roasting pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling. In large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain […]
  • 6 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice (genuine Ojibwa if possible), rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 green onions (white and pale green parts), chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ½ to ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange squash halves cut side down in baking dish or roasting pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling. In large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain if necessary.
  3. In another large saucepan, bring remaining 2 cups of water to boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. In large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions, celery and sage, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add dried fruits and nuts and cook, stirring often, until heated through. Using a fork, fluff quinoa and wild rice, then add both to skillet. Add orange juice and mix until heated through. Season with salt.
  5. To serve, remove squash from oven and arrange on serving platter. Spoon filling into each squash cavity and serve.

References:

acorn sqash image. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.foodfash.com/2013/05/01/chicken-salad-stuffed-acorn-squash/

Devereax, D. (2013, 11 06). Health benefits of acorn squash. Retrieved from http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2013/11/06/health-benefits-of-acorn-squash/

Health guide. (2013, 12 02). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/nutrition/vitamins/overview.html

Robinson, A. (2010, 02 24). Acorn squash nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/86858-acorn-squash-nutrition-information/

Quinoa and wild rice stuffed squash. (2008, 10). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/quinoa-and-wild-rice-stuffed-squash/

Scrivani, A. (2013, 12 02). Recipes for health:winter squash. Retrieved from topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/series/recipes_for_health/winter_squash/