Moringa Challenge

MoringaPhoto

Adding Moringa powder to my no-oil hummus

An inquisitive chef like me is always looking for interesting new ingredients to add to my repertoire of healthy delicious tasting recipes.  At my latest cooking demo appearance at the Seed: Positively Plant-Based event last month, I came across an ingredient I had never heard about.  A plant native to the North of India (note to self: plan a trip to India soon) called Moringa, is currently sold in its dehydrated green powder form.  Apparently, it is the cat’s meow in terms of nutrition including a high protein and antioxidant contents.  It is sold by a company called Africrops, the plant is grown in Tanzania, Africa and takes an interest in letting most of the value added stay at the community where it is grown.  Low and behold, I was hooked to see the possibilities of this new ingredient.

And how does it taste? Ah!  Here is the challenge.  As a start, I have been adding it to my lovely Sleepover Oats recipe, every morning.  It does indeed have a very peculiarly spicy (in a kind of arugula or dried ginger sort of way) taste.  It comes front and center of any fresh fruit and oats and seasonings I have in the overnight oats and I recognize that its sharpness may not be for everyone in the morning.  I have also been playing adding some of it in a version of my no-oil hummus (see picture). A little seems to go a long way both in terms of flavor and appearance.  More calibration is needed—again, the Moringa came out strongly in the mix of flavors—but the challenge is on, and most likely you will be hearing more about it in the future as I test and try for new options.  Who knows? I may end up setting up cooking classes to introduce this ingredient to many more curious and inquisitive minds with a healthy bent like me.  Stay tuned…

Want to win some Moringa for yourself? You’re in luck because courtesy of Africrops I’m giving some away. Head to my FACEBOOK page to answer a question in order to win!

Fabulous Fiber Part 2

FIBER2Yep, I’m back on my fiber high horse, following up on my last post about the importance of adding fiber to your diet.  Some of you reached out to me asking how to measure and keep track of dietary fiber.  Well, in these app centric days, if you haven’t already, please make the effort to download one of the many apps that help you track your food on a daily basis (I like My Fitness Pal and Tap and Track which are free, but there are a lot of other ones). If anything, do it for the simple curiosity of how much fiber you are consuming on a daily basis and to take charge of you and your family’s health one meal at a time and boost that number out of the water!  My app tells me as a daily goal that I need (a meager) 19 grams of fiber.  The median consumption of fiber in the US is a sad 12 grams.  I am happy to say that I easily triple that number on a regular basis (thank you Sleepover Oats Breakfasts!).  Paleo-biologist studies from 10,000 year old stool samples found in caves in Texas point to fiber consumption back then of close to 100 grams per day!  Now that is what I can call a paleo-diet that makes sense to me (the rest of it is crazy).  Still struggling for delicious ways to add fiber to your diet? Then sign up for one of my many July small-group cooking classes and learn some new fiber tricks–Smoky Black Bean Burgers anyone?

Fabulous Fiber

My veggie burgers are one deliciously surprising way to add fiber to your diet.

My veggie burgers are one deliciously surprising way to add fiber to your diet. Next class June 23rd.

Another Sunday New York Times, another maddening article and study surrounding the very high cost of medical treatment in the US and the failure of the “free market” to provide better services at lower costs to the population.  This time around it was an analysis on the cost of colonoscopy procedures to detect colorectal cancer.  I am a firm believer that a lot more government intervention is needed to control costs, but I also like to point out that a lot of effort on behalf of individuals could come a long way to solve this problem.  Not even once in the article was it mentioned that there are plenty of studies that show a large decrease in colorectal cancers when dietary fiber is increased.  And I mean dietary fiber as in beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and not in dietary supplements, shakes or powders (those don’t work, sorry).

You will be doing yourself a grand favor by cutting down on any kind of meats, eggs and dairy that you usually consume and which contain no fiber at all, and load up on more whole plants (and yes, all are loaded with protein so don’t start me up on that!).  And if you missed Michael Pollan’s NYT article on bacteria a few Sundays ago, the availability of lots of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) is a key fuel for these beneficial bacteria to thrive in your gut and that will make you thrive.  So by all means, let’s complain loudly to fix the mess of the healthcare system we have in place in America, but don’t complain while you eat highly processed cheeseburgers, pizzas and the like.  Do it while you chomp a handful of carrots and apples.

Think it’s boring adding fiber to your diet? I can help you do it in fun, tasty ways either one-on-one or in my small group classes. And I’ve got a surprise for you if you take my Veggie Burger Fest class–there are delicious ways to add veggies and whole grains to even your favorite summer cookout plans. Will I see you there?

Restaurant Rec: Sarabeth’s

Takeaway Tip: Even at the most seemingly unfriendly vegan restaurant—inquire about options that are “off menu”

SarabethVeggieEnchiladaMy first thought as I was approaching the new Sarabeth‘s restaurant on Park Avenue South was: who eats dinner at Sarabeth’s, a place known for their brunch, jams and pastries? On top of that, the restaurant eerily replaces what used to be a steakhouse—not a promising sign. But there I was, a friend had made reservations there and I was not involved in the selection. I kept mum and proceeded to sit down and peruse the menu.  Not a single vegan (let alone healthy vegan) option once you eliminate the obligatory fries or other uninspiring sides. “Maybe they can leave the cheese out of the mushroom pizza?” I thought.  I opted to nicely ask our waiter if the chef could possibly suggest an improvised vegan option.  To my surprise, they offered these vegetable enchiladas featured on the lunch menu but not in the dinner menu.  Mildly spicy tomato sauce covering these beautiful Napa cabbage rolls filled with veggies and black and white quinoa and garnished with red cabbage and scallions. Ask nicely and with some luck, ye shall receive a vegan delight!

Beware Mediterranean Madness

DSCN9305No one loves the Mediterranean more than me—the pic is of me on honeymoon there last summer! But don’t believe all the hype you’re reading about the new study around the Mediterranean Diet. I’ve been lucky enough to work with several doctors who inform my approach and program on healthy eating. Please check out this note from Dr. Ornish in the Huffington Post pointing to the flaws in the study (thanks Jeff Novick for sharing!). In a nutshell, avoid any olive oil or refined oils in your diet, you can get plenty of natural fats in unrefined plant-based dishes and with a lot more nutrients.