Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Smoked Paprika Chickpeas and Garlic Dandelion Greens

I made this last night. Made it again tonight. I had to post about it. It's soooo good. It's not Forks Over Knives, but I think I know how it could be. It's a combination of recipes from Heidi Swanson's cookbook Super Natural Every Day, that I tweaked and adapted. Happy end of summer, almost fall. Bitter greens, nutty red quinoa and smoky and spicy roasted chickpeas. And maybe a nip of bourbon later on. Mmmm.

Red Quinoa

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups cold water

Combine ingredients in a rice cooker or stovetop pot, cover and let simmer about 20 minutes until cooked through and fluffy. Set aside.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 13.4 oz can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried on a paper towel
2 tbs olive oil or any neutral oil (I use grapeseed)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp smoked, spicy paprika (if you don't have these, cayenne and chipotle work well, but use less, a scant 1/2 tsp. and more sweet paprika)

Preheat your oven to 425 (or in my case, toaster oven). Toss the ingredients together so all chickpeas are well coated. Then on a foil lined baking sheet, spread chickpeas in one layer and roast for ten minutes. If you want them tender, remove them now, if you prefer them a little more crispy you can roast them another 8 minutes. Then try not to eat them all before dinner is ready. Keep the oven on...

Garlic Dandelion Greens

1 bunch dandelion greens, washed, ends trimmed and then torn in half, roll up greens in one or two dish towels to dry
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
1 scant tsp salt

In a glass baking dish, with the oven still on at 425, pour in about three generous tablespoons of olive oil or any neutral. Add the minced garlic and salt. Put uncovered into the oven until you begin to smell the garlic, careful not to let it burn. Give it a stir while it's sizzling and then add the dandelion greens. Still uncovered, return to the oven for about three minutes. Then toss greens around, covering them in the garlic oil so leaves begin to wilt. Return to the oven again for three minutes. Toss around some more, repeat one more time. Then add the lemon zest, toss greens and continue to roast a few more minutes until the leaves are wilted and the stems just tender.

In a wide bowl, spoon the red quinoa into the bottom. Then sprinkle with half the chickpeas and top with the sizzling hot greens and garlic oil. You can give a little squeeze of lemon juice as a final touch.

Serves 2

For a Forks Over Knives version (no oil), substitute water for oil in the chickpea recipe, roast, watching carefully that the  chickpeas don't burn. Then after they've come out of the oven, give them a squeeze of lemon and toss. And for the dandelion greens, add the garlic, salt and greens and three tablespoons water to a saute pan on medium heat, cover and steam till greens are tender, tossing from time to time, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the zest towards the end. Toss greens and serve.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Forks Over Knives

Whenever I talk to my parents, a portion of the conversation always comes around to doctors visits. Which doctor did they see most recently, what test results just came in, when is the next minor or major surgery scheduled, which cap needs to be replaced by the dentist for the umpteenth time, when does physical therapy start, which medication needs to be adjusted, and on and on. And they're healthy, well informed, responsible people! I get text messages from my mother as she sits in waiting rooms, either waiting for my father to wake up or for a nurse to call her back to an examination room, bored and wanting to hear what's up in New York City. We laugh, another day, another doctor! It's not traumatic to go to the doctor, just time consuming, part-time job time consuming. At this point no one's health is great but it's all being managed by a series of specialists, and as long as my parents keep checking in, like getting the oil changed, cleaning out the air conditioner filters and paying the electricity bill, they can lead as happy, as rich and as long a life as they choose, obviously up to a point. My in-laws are in the same boat and around the same age as my parents, when you get into your sixties, seventies and eighties, all this is to be expected, and though Chris and I are still relatively young, I have begun to see that inevitable path before us. Which reminds me I need to make an appointment with my dermatologist for an annual check-up. Let's see what the sun did to me this year!

Here's the thing, you can totally ignore your health and let it bite you in the ass, royally, or you can be proactive. Right? And we know that being proactive means eating well and getting exercise. Not having access to information or health care however, is a whole other story. 

But being proactive, in a world of and, and nightly news health updates, and pharmaceuticals vs. homeopathy, local vs. organic and high-fat vs. low-fat can be overwhelming to say the least. Never mind that most primary care physicians never actually study diet in the first place. Even Mark Bittman, the great Mark Bittman, who goes vegan for breakfast and lunch, except for the half-and-half in his coffee, then eats whatever he fancies for dinner, recently wrote an article in the New York Times about how dairy is one of the worst things you can put in your body. The other day my husband showed me a photo of an egg with the title, "Eggs are worse for you than cigarettes".


Two years ago I read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals and started inhaling pasture raised beef and happy Berkshire pig bacon after nearly 15 years of not eating red meat. And after reading Nina Plank's Real Food, I was all about whole foods, full fat dairy, butter, brown eggs with rich sunset yolks, whole grains, bitter greens and happy, healthy meat. And I still am, sort of, but......

Despite all my efforts to keep myself and my husband healthy, it still came back to bite us in the ass.

My forty year old husband's blood pressure would not go down. My husband who's grandfather had a heart-attack and died at 40. I thought we were being healthy, really healthy. I even had books with medical science to prove it. It's an American obsession, health. We know it all!

I was not interested in changing my eating habits unless it was going to be delicious, because I thought my habits were already great. I can have my cake with the organic sugar and rich eggs, biodynamically raised cow's milk and spelt flour and eat it too! I thought we were eating better than most, I mean the cost alone should have cured something. But Chris' blood pressure, visit after visit, even with medications and increased doses and exercise would not come down. And it began to become clear that the blue cheese, chicken schmaltz and lamb chops weren't helping.

Chris' alternative doctor, for years (years!), kept trying to get him on a special diet that I resisted with my stack of books and whole foods receipts. 

But eventually there was no other choice. Chris was going to have to give up all animal products, no eggs, no meat, no diary, and then scariest of all, no oil. No canola oil, no olive oil, no sesame oil, no coconut oil. Nothing. And me being the cook in the household, was going to have to learn to cook onions with water.

We went Forks Over Knives, and after one year, now our families are doing it too.

(to be continued....)

Oil-Free Blue Potato Salad

An assortment of farmers market greens, washed and torn
Handful of cilantro, washed, leaves removed from stems
Six or so small blue/red/yellow potatoes, boiled till tender, cooled and sliced in half
Two heirloom tomatoes of different colors, large dice
Flat beans or green beans steamed or boiled till just tender but still bright green, cooled, cut into thirds
Half a red onion, small dice
Toasted slivered almonds
Yellow raisins

Arrange in your salad bowl then...


Juice of one lemon
Splash of champagne vinegar
Two teaspoons of Dijon mustard
One teaspoon of honey
One teaspoon whole cumin seeds ground with a mortar and pestle or 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of salt

Whisk together and pour over salad just before serving. Crack fresh pepper on top.


Toast a couple slices of hearty whole grain bread, then rub each side with a raw garlic clove, and serve.