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Katy’s Take on A Good Granola Bar

Recently, I made a few granola bars for the hungry walkers who hiked across Princeton in support of Friend of Princeton Open Space.  Quite a few people requested the recipe, which is base on one I found in that wonderfully successful blog, Smitten Kitchen.   I made several different versions using a variety of fruit and nut combos, but the basic idea follows.  These are REALLY rich, the sort of thing any self-respecting St. Bernard would have around his neck if he was rescuing you from an avalanche.

3 cups quick oats or  3 cups total oats, oat bran, wheat germ, quinoa flakes, barley flakes etc)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups your choice dried fruit (currants, dried cherries, raisins, chopped dates, cranberries, etc)

4 cups your choice nuts/seeds (walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, etc)

1/2 cup sugar (brown or white)

1 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/2 cup local honey OR 3/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup nut butter

Grease an 8 x 12-inch roasting tin, then line it with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two opposing sides.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients — oats, fruit, nuts, sugar, salt,  cinnamon — in a big bowl, then working in batches, give the dry ingredients a good spin in the food processor, until everything is looking well chopped and uniform in size.

Whisk the coconut oil, nut butter and either the honey or maple syrup together.  Pour the wet mix into the dry ingredients and fold until all the liquid has been incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and pat down firmly with the back of a spoon (or an offset spatula if you have one).   Bake 20-30 minutes, until light brown around the edges.   COOL COMPLETELY  (OVERNIGHT WOULD BE BEST) BEFORE  CUTTING .  Makes 24 really rich bars.

Mares Eat Oats and Teens Eat Oats

My friend Julia sounded worried.

“I just don’t know if we’ll have enough food to satisfy them…” she said.

You should know that Julia is married to a gorgeous six-foot-something Texan, has views on chilli, has written and edited cookbooks, has worked in test kitchens of food magazines, cooked in fabulous French restaurants, makes wedding cakes with her daughter and throws parties for 50 without batting an eyelash.  So I was surprised to hear her voice quaver at the thought of feeding my two teenage boys.

“Julia, it’s fine,”  I said.  ” Don’t worry.  Anyway, I always have a bag of oats for them.  They can each have a bowl of oats and milk if they get hungry. ”

Lady Bracknell’s “HANDBAG ?” was nothing compared to Julia’s “OATS? OATS? What, do you mean OATS?  Katy, they are boys not horses!”

“I dunno, Julia.  They’re tall and sort of massive, they don’t talk much, they look down their noses at me,  when I ask them a question they tend to snort, they stamp around a lot, occasionally they run really fast, but mostly they like to stand there eating — they kinda seem like horses to me.”

Watercolor by K. McElhiney

Watercolor by K. McElhiney

“But OATS?  RAW?”

“Well, think of it as really, really pared down muesli…besides, it fills them up.”

By now, Julia was laughing outright at my unorthodox teenage nutrition program.  She can laugh all she wants, because I know that any day now she’ll be buying a bag of oats for her handsome young ‘horse’.  Some days, you just don’t have time to whip up another pan of lasagne or roast a side of mastodon and a bowl of oats has to do.  Frankly, a bowl of oats provides an excellent amount of fiber and a smattering of vitamins and minerals.  As an added bonus, there is some research suggesting that oats lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. Bring on the oats!

In the meantime, if plain raw oats and milk seems outlandish to you, you can ease your way into the idea by making some European-style Muesli; just toss some oats and nuts in a food processor and give it whirl.   After I have made a big batch, I portion out a single serving and soak it over night in some plain kefir or almond milk or whole cow’s milk as well as some grated apple (in the fall and winter) or berries (in the spring and summer). In the morning it’s smooth, yet a bit crunchy and infused with the flavor of the fruit.  It’s kind of like cold porridge.   Of course, if the weather is chilly, there is nothing to stop you from pouring some warm milk over your muesli for a bowl of nutty, fruity hot cereal.

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The answer to the question keeping you up at night

I know what’s making you toss and turn at 3 A.M., and it’s not your daughter’s report card or your nutty client.  But fret no more!  The tossing and turning can stop, because I have the answer to the question keeping you up at night.  Are you ready?  Here it is: Read more

On Winter Cleansing

We are barely into the New Year, and already I’ve heard people talking about cleanses and detoxes and other extreme eating regimes they are planning for January or February, so I’m just going to come right out and say this: Read more

Head-to-Tail Cooking, Vegetarian Style

photo 2Head-to-tail eating has been all the rage for a few years now.  Chefs such as Fergus Henderson of St. John in London and his compatriot Hugh Fearnsley Whittingstall brought this concept — eating the entire animal, head to tail, so that nothing is wasted — back into style.  American chefs are also exploring this sustainable approach to cooking meat.  Preparing and enjoying food this way makes sense for many reasons: less waste, more nutrients, more mindful use of resources and a greater connection with our ingredients.  

I think we should be bringing this idea to the vegetable world. Why throw away the skins, or the green tops of the beautiful vegetables we find at the farmers’ market, not to mention the vegetables we have nurtured in the garden?  I’m not saying we should be eating banana peels, but I am offering up three ways to use more of the whole vegetable. Read more

Indian Summer in a Bowl

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Tomato-Ginger Soup with Lentils

I never promised you a rose garden, but I did make some vague assertion that I was going to post some lentil recipes featuring shades of India.  A soup I made the other night bows in that general direction.  This is a soup where tomatoes meet ginger.  I’ve had enough of the tomato-basil combo to last me until next summer.  This alternative tomato-ginger duet is perfect for celebrating crisp bright days perched on the edge of winter.

Briefly, I sautéed a large chopped onion in a mix of coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil (although you could use either exclusively), and then added a good dose (2-3 tablespoons) of finely grated fresh ginger, some ground cumin, some ground coriander, a clove or two of minced garlic, 5 or 6 tomatoes from the autumn farmers’ market, a squirt of tomato paste (I like the kind in a tube), a handful of red lentils for substance, salt, pepper and some water. I let this all cook for half an hour or so.  Then I pureed it with my handy-dandy immersion blender (you could use a food processor, Waring blender or non-electric, old-fashioned, manual food mill with equal success, but more mess).

Finally, I let it sit for about half an hour. Sitting is essential for any soup — it helps pull all the flavors together.  I served it with a good sprinkling of my favorite flakey sea salt, some toasted sesame seeds and a swirl of full fat, plain yogurt.  Indian summer in a bowl.

Sexy Lentils

 

IMG_1693Beluga . . . Parisian nibble . . . Kashmir . . . Roman Holiday . . . unctuously delicious . . . moistest chocolate cake . . . I’m guessing these words and phrases don’t automatically conjure up lentils for you.  But that is all about to change.

We are going to banish the wet-wooley-hiking socks reputation that has dogged the lovely lentil and rehabilitate the image of this nutritious gift from the garden. Long the victims of sludgey brown casseroles, lentils have been relegated to the slag heap of cuisine for decades. Sure, the occasional chef has tossed them into his confit of duck, but for the home cook, lentils have suffered from the curse of miserly good-for-you-ness. But no more. Today’s post begins the renaissance of the perfect pulse.

To start with we are going to ignore the lentil’s goody-goody two shoes rep, so I want you to pay no attention to the fact that lentils are Read more

Summer Games

I’m announcing a fun, new family game, but first I want to tell you a story, so settle yourself down for a second.

Once upon a time, there was a young Yale student who had been given one of the best educations available in the western world. As he was about to head off to live on his own, this strapping young athlete stood chatting with his mother in the family kitchen.  He turned to her and, pointing to the can of tunafish in his hand, said, “So how long do I need to cook this before it’s done?”  This is a true story, and a worrying one.  I hear stories like this all the time: last week the mother of a college-age daughter relayed that her daughter had called to ask how to turn the pancake batter in the fridge into pancakes.  Another well-educated young woman thought that mashed potatoes came from a box.

We are raising an amazing generation of young people. They can find anything on the Internet, compete in triathalons, design websites, create apps, compose sophisticated dance music, speak multiple languages, start non-profits, ace their ACT’s and build houses in Haiti. What many of them haven’t yet learned is how to perform one of the tasks most essential to human survival — make themselves a meal that will nourish their body, mind and spirit.

People who cook their own food are living healthier, happier lives.  Earlier this year, food journalist Michael Pollan told The New York Times, “We need public health ad campaigns promoting home cooking as the single best thing you can do for your family’s health and well-being.”

The problem is that learning to cook, like learning your multiplication tables, learning to play lacrosse or learning to swim, takes coaching, practice and patience.  It can also make a big mess.  But it is worth it!  It is time to bring the children into the kitchen.

To that end, Good Food Naturally is sponsoring the first annual

Summer Family Cooking Games

Here are the ground rules: Read more

Local and Seasonal: Peaches

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I live a bike-ride away from Terhune Orchards, and this week their farm store has been fragrant with the smell of their own, tree-ripened peaches. Presented with all those peaches glowing in the afternoon sunlight, I was prompted to throw together a crumble. It was more than pretty good, so I wanted to share the peach-love. Read more

The Secret about Kale

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Increasingly, I hear conversations that go something like this:

Fred:  I don’t eat carbs any more — they make me feel so bloated.  

Ginger:  I know!  I have a kale smoothie every morning; it’s so much better than all those carbs.

Fred:  Oh, that sounds good.  I had this great kale salad for lunch yesterday — I feel so much better when I don’t have carbs at lunch. 

Just so we’re all clear on this . . . KALE  IS  A  CARBOHYDRATE!  There are three categories of macronutrients that we humans consume: protein, fats and carbohydrates. Most food has a complement of these nutrients, as well as water, fiber and splatterings of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals and such). Kale is no exception — there are small amounts of protein and some trace fatty acids in kale, plus vitamins and minerals, but it is primarily a carbohydrate. In fact, most fruits and vegetables are primarily carbohydrates. If you are eating lettuce and radishes, you are eating carbs. If you are eating blueberries and Brussels sprouts (not together, I hope), you are eating carbohydrates. Swiss chard, collards and spinach?  All carbs. Have I made my point? I hope so, and I hope that you will continue to eat a range of these wonderfully healthy plant-based foods. Read more