Winter Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 8 to 12

This recipe calls for 6 cups of cooked wheat berries, although 6 cups of another cooked grain such as brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley, or bulgur can be substituted for the wheat berries. Be aware that the cooking times for whole grains vary. The procedures and cooking times for other whole grains can be found at the Whole Grains Council .

Place the wheat berries in a large saucepan and with enough water to cover the berries by a few inches. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Taste and see if the wheat berry is cooked. You want a soft, but still chewy texture. If desired, cover and cook for 15 to 30 more minutes until the desired texture is reached. Drain off the water and allow the wheat berries to cool to room temperature.

2 cups wheat berries
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Meanwhile, combine dried fruit, carrot, celery, apple, parsley, scallion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce, tossing thoroughly to mix. Stir in the cooled wheat berries and add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator until served.…

Superfoods in A Super Diet
Superfoods in A Super Diet

 

According to the American Dietetic Association ,”superfoods are purported to have more significant health benefits than other types of food because they provide high amounts of one or more beneficial components”.

The concept of “superfoods” has captured much interest in the press. I think we all know we can’t live on one food alone, but a diet filled with wholesome foods serves us best nutritionally and forms the foundation for good health.

For healthy adults and children the goal is to promote health and reduce overall risk for some chronic diseases. Health and prevention is a two part process. First, eat a “super diet”. Include many of the foods below on a regular basis. (There are many, many “superfoods”. This is only a small representation.) Second, get up off your can (rather than reading blogs?) and move. Physical activity is key to healthy muscles, bones, and bodies. Now for a short list of some of my favorite superfoods. Note: phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants and antioxidants are a compound that prevents free radical damage to cells in the body. You’ll see these terms sprinkled liberally throughout the list.

Avocados
Avocados may have a bad reputation for high calories and fat, but most of the fat in this fruit (yes, fruit) is monounsaturated, and avocados are packed with nutrients. Avocados contain about 60 percent more potassium than bananas and contain more vitamin E (which helps prevent muscle damage and reduces inflammation) than most other commonly eaten fruits. Make guacamole, chop it up and put it on top of a bowl of chili, or slice is and serve on a sandwich.

Bananas
A medium-sized banana contains a whopping dose of potassium and, in case you haven’t heard, potassium is one of the body’s most significant minerals, critical for proper cellular and electrical functions. As an electrolyte, potassium actually carries a tiny electrical charge with it throughout the body. It regulates the water and acid balance in blood and tissues and is one of the most important nutrients for normal growth and building muscle. Use in a smoothie, slice and put on a bowl of hot oatmeal, or eat out of hand for a quick snack on the go.

Blueberries
Rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins (the blue color pigment), blueberries promote a healthy urinary tract and enhance night vision. Not to mention the phytochemical lutein and the natural sources of dietary fiber that may reduce the risk of diabetes, circulatory problems, and memory loss. Use frozen blueberries during the winter time when fresh aren’t available. Sprinkle fresh blueberries on spinach salad or make a yogurt parfait.

Broccoli
A readily available vegetable, broccoli boasts high amounts of vitamin C . Part of it’s powerhouse protection is derived from phytochemicals that give your immune system a boost. Use fresh in salads, or cooked in soups, pasta dishes, or cut into spears, sprinkled with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh lemon zest.

Dark Chocolate
Now we’re talking. Who knew chocolate was …

Stay Healthy - Cold and Flu Prevention

Cold and flu season is just around the corner. I tend to think positive. I’m not going to get sick this year. Children are the primary carriers of cold and flu viruses and because I spent a lot of time with my three crumb-snatchers I plan to be proactive in prevention. Here are some helpful food, nutrition and cooking ideas to help you stay healthy:

Eat Healthy

For this to happen planning is the key. Pick a day (I like Thursdays) to go grocery shopping. Visit a farmers market if you can sometime during the week or weekend. Plan meals in advance and make extra to take for lunch, or for your kids to take for lunch. I always think it’s just as easy to make soups, stews, and chilis in a double portion and freeze or eat the leftovers. Stick to a menu created around vegetables, fish, grains, poultry, fruit, and smaller quantities of meat – and stay away from processed foods as much as possible. I find this even hard to do, but I try to use as many ingredients in my cooking as I can, not just heat and serve foods.

Eat Immune-boosting Foods

Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. Turmeric has curcumin, a polyphenol with strong cold and flu-fighting properties. Oregano’s antioxidant activity is due to its high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. Ginger is spicy and sweats out colds and flu, among many other healing properties. This is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak about the health benefits of food. When used in cooking garlic, turmeric, oregano, and ginger are delicious, not to mention the health benefits from the good foods cooked with these ingredients.

Sleep

A reasonable amount of sleep every night is a must and if at all possible go to bed at about the same time and wake up at the same time. I personally prefer the 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. routine.

Exercise

A very important key to keep your body strong. Strong people are fit and energetic. Make a plan to put on your walking shoes and get outside everyday. When I do that I am successful at walking at least 5 times a week.

Drink Tea

Green, white, or black. So soothing during the chilly days of fall and full of plant-based phytochemicals that enhance health and maybe are even protective against heart disease, bad breath, and osteoporosis.

Take Care of Yourself

Eat well and be well. You deserve to be in peak condition when the cold and flu season hits. The kitchen, and all the wondrous ingredients we have access to, used for creating a delicious meal is the best place to start.…

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is an exciting partnership between Harvard Medical School Osher Institute and the Culinary Institute of America. These prestigious institutions sponsor hands-on workshops bridging nutrition science, health care, and culinary arts. In a nutshell, these folks work tirelessly to promote the kitchen as the center of a medical system for improving the health of society. They believe if they teach people how to cook, and enjoy food in a way that doesn’t leave feelings of deprivation, physically or socially, our medical system and the health of Americans can change for the better. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for the concept of cooking and sharing food as the cornerstone of health care.…

I'm Not At My Table

For the next several days, my kitchen table will be filled with food, laughter, spilled milk, and stories about the weekend and school – but not me. The table is short one person. This is all for good reason. I’m in Chicago, attending the FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo) of the American Dietetic Association. This annual gathering of food and nutrition experts is quite impressive and I never leave feeling uninspired. Dietitians from every walk of life, keeping abreast of hot nutrition topics. It’s so fun. The biggest give aways at the trade show, from what I can tell, are reusable grocery bags. There’s a lot of “green” talk this weekend. Frito-Lay is causing quite a stir for their talk of sustainability, but some wonder if they really espouse the tenants of the organic movement in the potatoes they use in their chips. Much to chew on, so to speak.

I’m so excited for another reason.  I just attended a session about Healthy Kitchens, an initiative where cooking (YES, my beloved cooking), mindfulness, sharing food and good nutrition was presented as an all-encompassing way to prevent and treat chronic disease. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. More to come on this topic. I might just have to open a healthy kitchen of my own where I teach some real life cooking skills to those at the most risk (children and college students).

I just finished looking for some lunch. The $10.00 tuna sandwich at Au Bon Pain wasn’t doing it for me, so I think I’ll head into the trade show and down a cup of yogurt. Probiotics are all the rage.  Then I’ll look for a chair, relax a bit, and think about a time when more kitchens become the focus of treating and preventing chronic illness.

I’ll be honest. I miss my kitchen at home, but know all young eaters there are in the hands of the best male cook I know. I even heard that last night there was a marshmallow roast after dinner in that said kitchen. Now those are some good times. Making memories with food. I hope the stars were out.…