Let’s face it: We all hope to live a long, healthy life and while there are no surefire guarantees, there are a few ways we can improve our chances. Accordingly, we consulted with one of the most quoted and highly- respected experts in the field: Dr. Walter Willett, Chairman of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health and author of the best-selling “Eat Drink and Be Healthy” .
Walter not only gave us some great tips, he introduced us to the newly-released “ HSPH Healthy Eating Plate”, a VAST improvement over the USDA Plate, which according to Walter, has some SERIOUS flaws. The HSPH Eating Plate is not only more explicit, it defines the best foods that correspond to each portion of the plate and corrects a number of “errors” of the USDA Plate. (Once again, as with the USDA Pyramid, concessions were made to the dairy industry as well as other mega, agri-business conglomerates.)
To make it even more accessible, I selected a few easy and delicious recipes from my new book, Simple Asian Meals that correspond to each section of the HSPH plate so you can recreate the meal in your home. (Feel free to use the recipes as a base for inspiration, substituting seasonal vegetables and other whole grains. Walter not only approved, but he gave the dishes a big “thumb’s up”. So here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, and pleasurable meal or two.
I grew up relishing my Mom’s crisp potato pancakes. One night many years ago when I lived in the Far East, I decided to prepare them for my “surrogate” Chinese family and introduce them to one of my favorite Hanukkah foods, On a whim, I substituted scallions for the onions and the dish was an instant hit. To this day, I still make latkes with scallions and they are one of my son Jesse’s favorite dishes..
As much as I love the flavor of fried potato pancakes, my house smells like fried oil for days afterward so I developed an easier and (Dare I say?) healthier version where they are crisp-baked in the oven. If you go to the recipe section, or click on the picture of potato pancakes below, you’ll see my recipes for both versions. Either dish is excellent served with sour cream or applesauce. ( If you are watching your weight, substitute, non-fat yogurt for the sour cream.)
Photo: Tina Rupp
Melt www.meltchocolates.com is a wonderful chocolate boutique in London that I discovered some years ago and since it’s in our old neighborhood of Notting Hill, I always like to visit. I was there last week chomping on some unique flavors (Thank God, chocolate-covered bacon was not among them!!) One of their most popular products is the “hot chocolate blocks”. They are like lollipops. You put in a mug, add hot milk or cream to make hot chocolate. I’ve seen them elsewhere, but the unique thing about Melt’s is that they have 5 different types of chocolate and each one has an unusual and unique flavor:
Venezuelan~ dark chocolate with a rich, buttery, caramel taste combined with an earthy dustiness and a long, strong, finish.
Madagascan~ milk chocolate with honeycomb, cinnamon and pomegranate qualities.
Papau-New Guinea~ milk chocolate with a masculine, earthy quality with notes of tobacco leaves and red berries
Columbian~ actually grown and manufactured in its place of origin, has strong coffee notes, nutty sweetness, and a delicate smoky finish.
Carribbean~ a dark chocolate that’s lively and complex. Hints of licorice mingle with banana and olives.
I bought a bunch for gifts and a friend thought they would make great stocking stuffers. My husband now has a new late afternoon snack. J
Enjoy!! Stay tuned for upcoming videos from my travels to China and London.
When Marilyn Donati and Erika, her daughter, opened Vidalias Fresh (vidaliasmarket.com), in May they never expected the sandwiches to draw crowds. After all, the store is stocked with fresh local produce, (quite a bit of which is grown on Ms.Donch’s Utopia Farm several miles away in Wenham) 30-40 different varieties of artisanal cheeses, homemade soups, enticing baked confections, gourmet coffee, and a slew of selected specialty food products.
But it is the signature sandwiches like the Donati, (my favorite ) which features sopressata, mortadella, prosciutto di parma, provolone cheese topped with tomatoes, lettuce, red onions & hot peppers, drizzled w/EVOO & balsamic glaze, homemade meatball sandwiches, The West Beach, sliced all-natural turkey with Brie topped with mixed greens, cranberry horseradish sauce & /or mayo, that people line up for. My husband, Don, swooned over his lobster salad sandwich on toasted white bread (unlike the classic rendition served on a buttered hot dog bun, Vidalia serves their’s on toasted bread or a ciabatta roll. “It’s a little messy, but you get more lobster,” my husband remarked. Cooking classes will be held on alternate Wednesday nights.
Vidalias Eat Fresh is located at 9 West Street, Beverly Farms. Hours are Mon-Sat 7 am-6 pm, Sunday 8 am -4 pm.
Mid-summer is the most glorious time for enjoying local fruits and vegetables- especially berries, tomatoes and corn. Of course, I enjoy all the other fresh bounty from the garden and fields as well. But mid-July is an EXCRUCIATING time for me because I am impatiently waiting for local corn. I’m talking newly-picked-that-day-still-warm-and-moist-from-the-vine-corn. On the East Coast, we are getting corn from New Jersey and western Massachusetts, but that’s not FRESH ENOUGH for me.
Still, I see the ears of corn in the local farmer’s market and they call to me… “Nina, eat me!!”
So last week I bought some and developed a recipe for Smoky Grilled Sesame Corn for the new cookbook that I’m writing.. It was so good that I used the leftovers and created another new recipe for Smoky Corn and Red Pepper Salsa. I discovered that you can camouflage the flavor of “almost fresh enough” corn by grilling it!! My friend, Jaime Dominguez, who is a great cook, was visiting from San Francisco with his family and taught me the easiest way to grill corn on the cob. I previously thought I had it perfected, but Jaime showed me how to make it taste even smokier.
These two recipes are the first of many that I will share from the new book. The working title is “Simple Asian Meals” and the recipes are EASY, DELICIOUS, and ACCESSIBLE. They reflect the way I cook at home and how I deal with the daily dilemma of “What to make for dinner?” Yes, even though I’m a cookbook author, I deal with this boring issue every day just like everyone else. Although, its so much easier now when local products are so inspiring.
The majority of the recipes in the new book are meal-in-one dishes. Smoky Grilled Sesame Corn and the Smoky Corn and Red Pepper Salsa are from the chapter titled “Easy Sides” which accompany the “Asian Grill” recipes. “Easy Side” dishes can also be served with pan-fried, stir-fried, grilled, or steamed foods and include Spicy Fennel Slaw, Sake-Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Cherry Tomato Cilantro Salsa, and Vietnamese Cole Slaw with Dill.
Enjoy the recipes and celebrate my favorite time of year!!
Photo from: www.howstuffworks.com/corn.htm
Rachel Ray recently flashed her toothy grin to promote a topic more pressing than the latest 30-minute meal. She lobbied Congress to increase the budget for healthy school lunches.
FYI, the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010”, (a retooling of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966), passed the Senate with a $4.5 billion increase for school lunches over the next ten years. Sounds pretty good, huh? Unfortunately, it is shockingly short of the $10 billion over 10 years that the Obama Administration had suggested. Food advocates also agree that this amount is necessary for a true, healthy overhaul of the nation’s school lunch program.
It is time for change: Under the current requirements potatoes-even in the sorry form of soggy French fries- count as a vegetable. Your voice needs to be heard in order to make these reforms a reality. Here’s what you can do:
• Write or call your state representative and ask them to support greater increases to the school lunch reforms We’re hoping for an increase of 70 cents to $1. To contact your representative call the capitol switchboard at 1-800-815-3740 and ask for your state’s representative.
• Join Jamie Oliver’s revolutionary Food Revolution. Sign the petition here!
• Most importantly, make yourself aware of the issues. Check out the work
Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann Cooper, is doing: http://www.chefann.com/.
Let’s all help promote change and make it a reality.