Everybody’s Ful

???????????????????????????????Ful medames, a staple dish of fava bean porridge in  North Africa and the Levant, has many regional variants. In Egypt, it’s often served for breakfast, accompanied by flatbread and pickled vegetables. My version adds black and kidney beans and red lentils for a more varied nutritional profile, as well as turmeric and black pepper. Add as garnishes the ones suggested below or more olive oil, vinegar, mint, parsley, chopped garlic, berbere or other hot pepper, or other ingredients of your own choosing. Continue reading

ABCs Salad

???????????????????????????????This recipe is an example of the kind of dietary diversity that is important for any healthy diet. Add, subtract, or substitute ingredients freely in this highly adaptable salad, and as long as you include members of the Allium, Brassica, Capsicum, and Citrus (thus, “ABCs”) families, the results should both delight and richly nourish you. Note that these ingredients work synergistically to create a dish that’s healthier than the ingredients eaten separately. Black pepper magnifies turmeric’s powerful properties, the mustard and radishes boost broccoli’s benefits, and the nuts, seeds, and olive oil aid the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.

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Tip: Soaking nuts

???????????????????????????????Nuts come with their own biochemical preservatives (phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors) to keep them from spoiling until conditions are right for them to sprout. You can rid them of most of these mildly harmful chemicals by soaking them for 24 hours or so in slightly salt water. Many people find that soaking nuts also also makes them easier to digest. I keep a cup of almonds in a jar of water in the fridge, from which I scoop a handful or so every day as a healthy snack. When the water turns cloudy, pour it out and replace with fresh. For storage longer than a week or so, dry the nuts in a dehydrator or warm oven until no longer moist.

Persian Springtime Stew

The inspiration for this dish is Louisa Shafia’s recipe for Ash-e-reshteh in her wonderful book (and blog), Lucid Food. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of my version, which I have tweaked considerably, but it’s both nutritious and delicious—a great combination any time of year. In springtime, you could add wild-foraged greens to the pot. Continue reading

Tip: Squeezing goodness from citrus fruits

???????????????????????????????Fresh lemons, limes, and oranges are full of nutrients, but you’re throwing away some important ones if you toss away the outer rinds and the white pith between rind and flesh. Wash the rinds (even if organic) with diluted vinegar or a fruit & vegetable soap, then use a microplane or box grater to grate off as much of the zest as you can and store it in a small container in the fridge or freezer. Use the zest to add flavor & nutrition to many dishes. Shred the pith and store it in another container; add it to smoothies, soups, or other dishes, for added fiber and phytosterols. Taste before adding rinds or pith, though, because some can be on the bitter side. And because rinds are high in oxalates, they are best avoided if you have gallstones, kidney stones, or concerns about calcium absorption.

Maya Angelou’s Pears in Port Wine

Along with her many literary gifts, Maya Angelou also gave the world a cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long. Although many of her culinary creations fall outside the parameters of this blog, this recipe for pears poached in port would be delicious as an occasional indulgence–especially with the addition of some whole spices (such as cloves, cinnamon, and allspice) and orange rind, and substituting cashew cream for the accompanying ice cream. “Second or third servings [reserved as leftovers] could be eaten in the morning with coffee or in the afternoon with a cup of aromatic tea,” Ms. Angelou suggested. Excellent breakfast fare, indeed. Continue reading

Roasted Beet and Carrot Dip

???????????????????????????????This lighter alternative to hummus has received rave reviews wherever I have served it. Continue reading