We think of seasons: Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer… but it’s really more like transition to spring, late spring… summer… then late summer. Memorial Day feels like the pivot point, marking the start of summer; but you really never know what transition times will bring. Right now in the Bay Area, we’re having unseasonably cool temperatures and rain is predicted. For us, that’s like a blizzard coming! It’s a big deal. We may have harbingers of summer, but we’re not quite there yet.
When you’re a baby of a chef and culinary nutritionist and you’re named Olive, you know you’ve got the cards stacked in your favor! Your mom is definitely going to get creative, wholesome and fun!
With Mother’s Day coming up, you don’t mind if I share about my dog children, do you? I am, after all, their devoted mom.
My first canine child, Bella, a Portuguese water dog, has been featured in two of my cookbooks, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and The Longevity Kitchen. Her favorite food was carrots. In fact, she was the only dog in my experience who preferred carrots to bacon. For every carrot that went into a pot, one went into her mouth. She was very chatty. Whether I was chopping a vegetable or an animal protein, she would be vocalizing. No manners whatsoever when it came to trying to get food out of me!
Arugula is my number one go-to green. I put it on EVERYTHING! I like a little bit of bitter, and it has good tooth—texture you can sink your teeth into. Arugula plays well with others, especially seasonal fruits like blueberries, roasted cherries, apricots. Throw it in with other lettuces, in a frittata, into a pesto. Throw it on top of soup! Top it with sardines. Throw it in at the last minute of scrambling an egg. On top of toast with smushed avocado. The topping looks like green hair! Like that girl in school who had that curly kind of crazy hair? Like that.
When it comes to healing, our notion of time can behave very strangely. It might speed up or it might be infinitely slow, like molasses. When we are eager for a loved one to get better, as I am now, it can seem like forever. The body heals at the rate that it heals. I remember Rachel Naomi Remen saying disease is a weird thing; it reveals itself when it’s ready to reveal itself. It can be frustrating when all sorts of symptoms appear, but no prognosis is certain. You are left wondering...where am I?
Load up your Netflix list and get ready for a trip around the world with a cascade of visually lavish food-related movies guaranteed to stimulate your taste buds and warm your heart! For of course though each of these movies is centered around cooking, the food serves as a medium to tell the stories of families, relationships, and life experiences.
Julie Burford, my beloved Soup Sister and neighbor about whom I’ve frequently written (watch us making soup together here) is always on the frontline of cooking for people in need. She’s the Florence Nightingale of the kitchen, the one in our neighborhood who absolutely shows up with something nourishing or comforting or both when someone is sick or struggling. Her husband Stan says, “She’s the edible therapist!”
In California every spring (and briefly again in the fall) the baby artichokes arrive. It’s a very special moment, a seasonal splendor many of us cooks wait for. Especially those of us who’ve eaten the carciofi simply and elegantly prepared in Tuscany. One of the seven wonders of the culinary world!
I often speak about turning your black and white food world into technicolor; moving from all the tan and beige on the Standard American Diet (SAD) plate to the rainbow-hued plate of the healthy whole foods cook. Over the years we’ve learned that rich color actually signifies the presence of nutrient density. The deeper the purples, blues, and reds for instance, the greater the concentration of antioxidants. The ruby red raspberries, indigo wild blueberries, and purple-black blackberries really are nutritional gems of the plant kingdom.
Your inspiration for the week: don’t overlook cabbage! I call cabbage the bocci ball of the cruciferous set. A bowling ball, a big, heavy dense, ball of leaves. In terms of nutritional benefits, cabbage rocks. It’s chock full of goodness! Fiber, potassium, choline, B12, iron, selenium, pantothenic acid (B5), manganase…. But. It’s like the stepchild of broccoli and kale. It’s the humblest of vegetables. Nobody even thinks about it.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I could be thinking about chocolate...but I’m thinking about the color red. And I might be thinking about strawberries… but I’m thinking about beets!
Is everyone around you coming down with colds and flu? And those nasty respiratory infections that linger so much longer than anyone expects? That’s February. A volatile month, a gauntlet we run to make it to spring. Whether you’ve got kids in school, like little Petri dishes scooting around, or you’re hopping on an airplane, or shoulder to shoulder on the subway, unless you live in a bubble, you are vulnerable.
One of THE great books of 2017, and sure to endure: Karen Page and photographer Andrew Dornenburg’s Kitchen Creativity: Unlocking Culinary Genius—with Wisdom, Inspiration, and Ideas from the World’s Most Creative Chefs. That’s a tall order! And in this, their 11th book, they deliver.
You know when you’re on the same path as someone, and you’re aware of them, but you never meet? Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN and I were like that. We both did culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, then got our masters in nutrition. I heard a recording of a talk she gave at a symposium, explaining how to use food to help people chronic illness. She was so incredibly dynamic! I reached out to her via email, we talked on the phone (for like an hour! I was on my dentist’s parking lot) and finally met in person when I was in New York and she invited me onto her radio show.
My word for this year is… inspiration!
Where does inspiration come from? Often from the strangest things. You go in the kitchen, you want to cook something, and you wait for something to whisper in your ear, and give you the divine answer for what to make for dinner tonight. Or you wait in front of a blank computer screen, or a blank canvas. As I start to talk about inspiration, what’s the first thing that happens? Nothing!
A spot-on post from the archives: be kind to yourself this holiday season! Have fun. Savor those special treats! I wave my magic culinary wand, thus decree. Enjoy! :)
Why do we do it? We have this tendency over the holidays to put ourselves on a LONG nonstop guilt trip, like a first class ticket to Hong Kong and back, on the most expensive airline you can imagine. We splurge and purge AND beat ourselves up over it. I have a better idea: find a way that works for you to relax and enjoy life! If you have a brownie, enjoy it! And so you don’t massively overdo, and truly feel awful, plan ahead.
I started drinking chai when I was doing my internship at The Chopra Center for wellbeing because we had to make it every day. There were an almost overwhelming number of spices that went into that chai recipe. OMG! And I was the newbie on the block. So guess who got to make the chai?
I’ve rediscovered the frittata! You know those periods when life overwhelms? When you just need somebody to tell you what to eat? Something in your back pocket to reach for? For me, the frittata is IT. My Soup Sister, Julie Burford, reminded me of this by recently bringing me two gorgeous, tasty ones! What an amazing gift. Granted, I’ve made frittatas MANY times… but it hasn’t always been my go-to dish. I’d kind of forgotten. Now it’s back!
Fall… that invigorating time, filled with crisp air, glowing woodlands, and a feeling of the world settling down for a long winter siesta…. And how many of you have already flirted with colds during this change of seasons, hmmm?
Time to focus on boosting your immune system!
Lentils are the underdogs of the pulse, bean and legume food group, the unsung heroes, worthy of more attention and respect. If you’re not integrating lentils into your food world, I have some tips for you. A few easy tweaks in their preparation makes their texture terrific instead of blah (a game changer!) and their flavor zooms up on the dial with a few well-chosen ingredients.