Food Is Not Your Enemy

No-Recipe Recipes
June 17, 2019, 10:23 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Recipes | Tags: , ,

I used to be a frightened cook. I only began cooking in earnest in my late 30s when I began my nutritional counseling practice (thanks to my husband, an excellent cook, I was able to avoid touching a piece of raw chicken up until that point). Then when I did begin cooking, I clung to my preferred recipes like a drowning woman holding her rescue buoy—do not take this recipe from me! I may have cooked this 15 times, but I will still look at it 15 times as I cook, to make sure everything is right!

Only in the past year or so have I gained the confidence to let go a bit, to trust that, a decade into my cooking habit, I have some feel for how to do things in the kitchen. Which is why I’ve been enjoying The New York Times’no-recipe recipes” lately—recipes that are not really recipes, but sort of are. There are no ingredient lists or set steps, but instead an informal narrative essentially telling you to throw in a little of this, a little of that, bake until done. Improvise along the way. I like it.

I realized upon browsing through the Times that I had a couple of these no-recipe recipes too, and I want to share them with you. Very simple stuff, quick to prepare, and totally delicious …

Roasted Chicken With Herbs

Slice up some onions, and lay them out in a roasting pan. Put a piece of bone-in chicken on top of each slice, salt and pepper the chicken, and drizzle some olive oil and lemon, if desired, on top. Finish by sprinkling whatever dried herbs you like on the chicken—I happen to love the combination of rubbed sage, thyme, and rosemary, but you can go in any number of directions here. Roast at 375 degrees until the skin is nice and brown. For the legs or thighs I tend to prefer, this takes about an hour and 15 minutes. No need to baste, no fuss. Just delicious, succulent chicken with lovely crispy skin.

Roasted Veggies

Yes, there’s a theme here. I love roasting my food. Roasted vegetables in particular have become my new weeknight go-to side dish. Cover a sheet pan or two with some parchment paper, and spread out a nice mess of cut-up vegetables on there—virtually anything works. I like to do a diced winter vegetable medley of carrots, winter squash and rutabaga; or halved Brussels sprouts, or broccoli, or cauliflower, or big slices of cabbage. But whatever you like. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, add salt and any other seasoning you like, then use your hands to mix everything around and get the oil nice and evenly distributed. Roast at 400 degrees until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown a bit on the edges. That’s about 30 minutes for all the vegetables I mentioned above. (Stir them /flip them around at the halfway mark.) Beats steamed vegetables any day.

Recipes for Great Breakfast Smoothies
October 27, 2014, 11:17 am
Filed under: Dairy, Fruits, Healthy Lifestyle, nuts, Recipes | Tags: ,

I used to be a cold cereal eater. I grew up on Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, and Cocoa Puffs. In college, my best friend and I ate this stuff called Just Right every single day without fail. As an adult, I drifted from one cold cereal to another, never questioning the idea that cereal should be my breakfast—if Rice Krispies left me hungry in one hour, for instance, then I’d just get a bagel with cream cheese as a second breakfast. After I became a holistic nutrition counselor, I finally did start to ask if cold cereal was the best breakfast for me, and began to move toward healthier fare, like oatmeal with flaxseeds, walnuts, and raisins.

But one day I started to notice that, as healthy as oatmeal is, I was getting hungry 90 minutes or so after eating it, and sometimes my blood sugar even dipped very low at that time, to the point where I felt a little shaky. Oatmeal is wonderful for some people, I realized, but it wasn’t the perfect breakfast for me.

What has turned out to be the perfect breakfast for me (and my husband) is a homemade smoothie. I feel very satisfied after drinking it, and stay full up until lunch. There’s something about the combination of ingredients that I throw in the blender that just really works for me.

So what’s in my morning smoothie? I vary it a bit every day. Here is the template I use to make a 16 oz. serving:

Toss into your blender…

One ripe banana

Then pick another fruit…

½ cup of blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries, mango, or melon all work nicely

Then choose a nut butter…

2 tablespoons of almond butter or coconut butter are my favorites

Sprinkle in seeds…

1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, or flax seeds

Select a liquid…

About 1/2 cup of unsweetened nut milk (I like almond milk) plus ½ cup of water, or 1 cup of plain kefir (if I use kefir, I tend to skip the nut butter)

And lastly…

Add a few ice cubes if you’d like

Blend it all until smooth and you’ve got yourself a super healthy, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast in five minutes!

Are You Eating Your Roots?
September 24, 2014, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Recipes, Vegetables | Tags: ,

When you think about healthy eating, salads and green vegetables usually come to mind. But how about adding a little more variety to your plan?

Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnips are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates. Instead of upsetting blood sugar levels like refined sweet foods do, they help regulate them.

Why eat more root veggies? Long roots–carrots, parsnips, burdock, and daikon radish–are excellent blood purifiers and can help improve circulation in the body. Round roots–turnips, radishes, beets, and rutabagas–nourish the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and reproductive organs.

If you’re like most of the world, the root veggies you probably eat most are carrots and potatoes. But here are many others you can try:

  • Beets contain an abundance of antioxidants and are highly detoxifying.
  • Burdock is considered a powerful blood purifier. This long, thin veggie is a staple in Asian and health food stores.
  • Celeriac, also known as celery root, is rich in fiber and has a respectable amount of antioxidants.
  • Jicama is crunchy and refreshing and contains a generous amount of vitamin C. It’s a favorite in its native Mexico and South America.
  • Onions are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients, making them prized for their ability to strengthen the immune system.
  • Parsnips, which look like giant white carrots, boast a sweet, earthy taste. They’ve also got plenty of fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C. They’re also rich in calcium and folic acid.
  • Sweet potatoes contain unsurpassed levels of beta-carotene and are also rich in vitamin C, phytonutrients, and fiber.

Excited to add more roots to your diet? Here’s an easy recipe …

Roasted Root Vegetables
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-35 minutes
Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 turnips or 1 large rutabaga
  • 1 daikon radish (or substitute/add in other favorites, like squash)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • herbs: rosemary, thyme, or sage (fresh if possible)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash and dice all vegetables into bite-sized cubes.
  • Place in a large baking dish with sides.
  • Drizzle with olive oil; mix well to coat each vegetable lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs.
  • Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden brown, checking every 10 minutes to stir and make sure veggies are not sticking.

Tip: any combination of vegetables will work. Roasting only one kind of vegetable also makes a nice side dish.

Forbidden Rice With Onions and Garlic
January 28, 2013, 12:58 pm
Filed under: Grains, Recipes | Tags: , , , , ,

Have you ever tried black rice, a.k.a. “forbidden” rice? It’s a delicious and healthy whole grain that I’ve recently started making as a side dish. I’ve prepared it a couple of different ways at this point; here’s my favorite method:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup forbidden black rice, rinsed

1 3/4 cup water

1/2 strip kombu seaweed


Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more. Add the dry rice and saute for a few minutes, until you hear sizzling. Pour the water into the pan along with the kombu and cover. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for five minutes. Remove the kombu and discard it. Fluff the rice with a fork, salt to taste, and serve.

Keep It Raw to Keep Cool: Summer Salads
July 30, 2012, 10:59 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Recipes, Vegetables | Tags: , ,

Why is it that in the summer we naturally crave more fresh and raw foods? These foods have a cooling effect on the body. The lightness and high water, fiber, and vitamin content work together to act as our internal air conditioning during these warm months. At this time of year we also need less dense, high-energy food because we feel so energized from being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

There is no better season than summer to have fun creating your own fresh, tasty, creative salad combinations. By simply tossing together several of your favorite raw veggies plus a little protein, you have a perfect meal for a hot summer’s day.

Try your favorite dark leafy lettuce with various sliced, diced, or grated veggies. The possible combinations are endless. Fresh herbs are a wonderful option to mix in, as they are packed full of flavor. Experiment with adding diverse forms of protein to your salads, such as nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, fish, or poultry. (Protein in your salad will ensure that you don’t get hungry an hour after eating, which can happen if your salad contains veggies and fruit only.) Pick up a light and healthy dressing at your local health food store, or mix up something easy, like lemon juice, black pepper, and olive oil.

This is a great opportunity to try a new vegetable from your market. What are some creative flavors you’ve never tried before? Fennel and mint? Daikon radish and arugula? Summer squash with watercress?

Here are a couple of recipes for definitely-not-run-of-the-mill salads:

Bok Choy Apple Slaw

Prep time: 7 minutes

Serves 4


6 stalks bok choy (about 1/2 head), thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 granny smith apple, sliced

1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds


1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons honey or brown rice syrup

salt and black pepper to taste


1.     First make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and whisking well.

2.     Chop all the salad ingredients, leaving the apples until last. Mix in a salad bowl.

3.     Toss salad with half the dressing. Add additional dressing if desired.

4.     Eat immediately, or chill for up to one hour and then add the apples just before eating.


Asian Watercress Salad

Prep time: 7 minutes

Serves 4


1 bunch washed watercress

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup baked tofu

1-1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2/3 tablespoons plum vinegar or other vinegar


1.     Tear watercress into pieces.

2.     Mix with carrots in a salad bowl.

3.     Drizzle sesame oil and vinegar over salad and toss.

4.     Dice tofu into bite-size strips.

5.     Serve in individual salad bowls, sprinkle tofu on top of each and serve.

Veggie Burgers
May 23, 2012, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Grains, Mushrooms, Recipes, Vegetables | Tags: ,

Best veggie burgers ever, courtesy of my friend Barbara.

3/4 cup bulgur wheat

1 grated zucchini

1 onion, chopped

10 oz. mushrooms, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg

2 Tbs tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form the mixture into 4-5 patties. Bake the patties on a greased baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.

Pasta With Meat Sauce
May 1, 2012, 10:08 am
Filed under: Meat, Recipes | Tags: , ,

Since I’m normally such a recipe-follower when it comes time to cook, I feel really proud of this meat sauce that I’ve been making lately, as it’s my own concoction.

1 lb. of ground beef, preferably grass-fed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 28 oz can/box of crushed or chopped tomatoes (I use the boxed Pomi tomatoes)

1/4 cup red wine

1/2 tsp oregano

Few basil leaves, fresh or dried

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Saute the ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink. While the beef cooks, in a separate pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the carrots and onion for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked beef into the pot, then add the tomatoes, wine, oregano, basil (rip the leaves up if fresh), and salt and pepper. Simmer for one hour, partially covered. Add the parsley, stir, then serve over your favorite pasta. (Bionaturae whole wheat pasta is my choice!)



Pan-Roasted Rosemary Salmon With Greens
December 13, 2011, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Meat, Recipes, Vegetables | Tags: , ,

A lovely way to prepare salmon, courtesy of my hubby…

Serves 2.

2 wild salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to brush onto fish

Salt and pepper to taste

3-6 sprigs fresh rosemary

3-6 cloves garlic, halved

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and pat dry the salmon fillets. Remove the skin. Brush salmon with olive oil, and salt and pepper it to taste.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven-safe skillet (preferably cast-iron or other nonstick surface) over medium high heat. Just before the oil reaches its smoking point, add the rosemary and halved cloves of garlic to the pan. Lay salmon filets into the pan on top of the garlic and rosemary.

Let the salmon cook in the pan for 1 minute, then put the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 5 minutes for medium rare, 7 minutes for medium, 10 minutes for well done.

Remove from oven and allow the pan to stand for a few minutes.

Serve with a green vegetable of your choice–try sautéing some fresh kale, spinach, or Swiss chard in olive oil with minced or pressed garlic until the leaves are tender. Just wash your greens first and, for kale/chard, rip the leaves off the tough stems before cooking.

A White, Fatty Food That’s Actually Healthy
September 9, 2011, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Fruits, Oils, Recipes | Tags: , , , ,

Americans generally fear any food that is calorie-dense. This makes sense when you’re staring at the Aussie Cheese Fries at an Outback Steakhouse (2,140 calories). But not when faced with a coconut.

While coconuts cannot be classified as a low-calorie food–a tablespoon of pureed coconut flesh has 100 calories–they are among the healthiest foods you can eat. Among the benefits of coconut flesh, cream, and oil:

  • They strengthen the immune system
  • The type of saturated fat found in coconut products supports the thyroid gland, nervous system, skin, and provides a quick shot of energy
  • They increase metabolism
  • They support the formation of healthy HDL cholesterol
  • They’re rich in antioxidants, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, and many trace minerals
  • They improve digestion
  • They are anti-aging
  • They contain lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid that has antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties
  • They stabilize blood sugar
  • They are incredibly filling–you can go several hours without being hungry after consuming coconut

Now does it seem worth the 100 calories per tablespoon? I look at it this way: We need a certain amount of calories each day, and those calories need to come from somewhere–I’d rather they come from a food that will deeply nourish and satisfy me than from junk food that will leave me sleepy, irritable, and wanting to eat more and more. I’ve regularly been adding two tablespoons of this stuff called Coconut Manna, which is pureed coconut, to my fruit smoothies, and I can attest that not only are these smoothies delicious, but they’re very filling (they make a great breakfast–recipe below).

So yes, there is in fact a food that is white and fatty but good for you! Give coconut a try and see what you think.

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

1 banana

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

2 tbsp. pureed coconut

1/2-1 cup orange juice

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

Chocolate Coconut Banana Smoothie
July 26, 2011, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Fruits, nuts, Recipes | Tags: , ,

Just tried this new combination of ingredients and found it makes a great and very filling smoothie–the kind of thing that will be enough for breakfast.

1 banana

7-10 raw cocoa beans

2 tbsp. Nutiva brand Coconut Manna (pureed coconut, basically)

1 tbsp. almond butter

1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

A few ice cubes

Put all ingredients in the blender. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

Sweet, rich, and delicious! Plus, super good for you–lots of fiber, antioxidants, and immune-building compounds.