Living and Eating Well!


Spicy Tuesday – Ancient Grains Stuffed Tomatoes – Basil

Even in the coldest days of winter, the bright acidity and sweet flavor of tomatoes can seduce us. Ahh, we can’t wait for the month of August when the siren sound of drippy juicy tomatoes fulfills us! While we wait for better “tomato days”, here’s a way to make those hard, unripe, out-of-season tomatoes taste better. Of course, we would never throw away the seeds and middles of the tomatoes. All of it pops right into the veggie stock bag to enrich our next pot of stock.

Basil is one of the hallmark herbs of the Mediterranean. Lucky for us, it’s grown hydroponically and in greenhouses all over the country, which allow us to enjoy its herbal, sweet, spicy woody flavor year round. Basil contains a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins. Basil is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.

Ancient Grains Stuffed Tomatoes – Mediterranean Style

2 Cups Prepared Brown Rice

2 Cups Prepared ANCIENT GRAINS like Farro, Sorghum, Freekeh or Kamut***

½ Cup Pitted and Chopped Oil Cured Black Olives

½ Cup Chopped Sundried Tomatoes OR Chopped Roasted Red Peppers

½ Chopped Fennel or Celery

¼ Cup Capers

¼ Cup Basil, Chiffonade

1 Recipe Mediterranean Vinaigrette

6 Cups Shredded Kale, Napa Cabbage, Chard or Bok Choy

12 Roma Tomatoes, halved and hollowed out with a melon baller

1 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Step One Toss the rice, ancient grains, olives, tomatoes or peppers, fennel or celery and capers together in a large bowl. Drizzle with the Mediterranean Vinaigrette, reserving 2 TBs.

Step Two Place the shredded lettuces on a large tray and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Fill each tomato half with about 2 TBs of the ancient grains mixture. Place on top of the lettuces and sprinkle with the crumbled feta.

***We cook ANCIENT GRAINS in the healthy kitchen all the time. They are easy to make! Instead of the 1-2-3 method we use for cooking rice, (2 Cups of Boiling Water, ½ Tsp of Salt to 1 Cup of Rice equals 3 Cups of Cooked Rice), we use 3 Cups of Boiling Water, ½ Tsp of Salt and 1 Cup of Ancient Grains. After stirring the salt and grains into the water, we let it come back up to a boil, turn it down to barely simmering, cover and let it simmer away for about 45 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed. When ancient grains are done properly they have a delicious “tooth” or al dente texture.

Mediterranean Vinaigrette

¼  Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TB Sherry Vinegar

1 Tsp Dijon

1 Tsp Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Orange Juice

Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper to taste

Shake the ingredients together in a small jar.

Spicy Tuesday – Sweet Potato Maple Brownies – Cinnamon

Its that chocolate time of the year. You know – the time when the profusion of red velvet hearts tempts you the minute you walk in the grocery store. This week’s recipe is just in time to help you combat all the bad chocolate out there – and enjoy the really good stuff!

Buying chocolate is all about being a label detective. Here’s the list of what you should look for:

  1. 70% or higher Cocoa Solids, Chocolate Mass, Cacao, or Chocolate Liqour. The higher the percentage, the more heart healthy the chocolate will be for you!
  2. Chocolate is the first ingredient on the Ingredients list.
  3. You should NOT see the words processed with alkali or dutch processed. These words indicate that the chocolate has been processed. We all know what that means! The more processing, the less good-for-us results!

Cinnamon is another ingredient in these delicious treats. Cinnamon and chocolate are a match made in heaven! Our culinary friends in Mexico seldom cook without cinnamon when they create chocolate desserts and savories!

Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in ancient Egypt. And we still consume large masses of it today! However, now we know that it also has health benefits including helping diabetics control blood sugar levels. Cinnamon also has some anti-inflammatory benefits and is full of calcium and fiber.

Maple Sweet Potato Brownies

1 Cup Almond Meal

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt

1 Cup Cooked Sweet Potato

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

2 TB Canola Oil

1 TB Almond Butter

1 Tsp Vanilla

1 Egg Yolk

6 Egg Whites

Step One Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the almond meal, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Step Two In a food processor, combine sweet potato, maple syrup, oil, almond butter, vanilla and egg yolk. Purée until combined and smooth.

Step Three Gradually mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, until JUST combined.

Step Four In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter. Place in a parchment lined, non-stick sprayed 9 x 9 x2” square pan and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to rest until cool before cutting them.

Spicy Tuesday – Lemon Thyme Honey Goat Cheese – Thyme

Chilly, windy and brisk are three words that describe our weather here in Georgia. Those of you who live in the Northeast are probably looking at our temps and thinking, “Looks balmy to me!” But we are cold. Our answer? Soup!

What goes better with soup, than a simple side of Goat Cheese and local honey flavored with thyme and lemon zest. According to the National Institutes of Health, honey is an antibacterial and an anti-inflammatory. Who knew the product of flower nectar transformed by bees could be so wonderful? And when you add thyme leaves to the soup you also get potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. We always say the more power in your dish the better!

Serve your Lemon Thyme Honey Goat Cheese with whole wheat bread for dippers as we did here – or it’s a tasty way to get more veggies when you add crudités. If you have leftovers of the delicious cheese, use it to make a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich, or as a spread on a pita pocket, filled with shredded Napa Cabbage and Sliced Roasted Red Peppers.

You can make the dip with thyme and lemon, or shake it up with basil and orange, or sage, or even one of our favorite herbs, parsley. Choose your herb, choose your citrus and have fun.

Lemon Thyme Honey Goat Cheese

1 Cup Local Honey

1 TB Lemon Zest

1 TB Chopped Thyme Leaves

1 Log Goat Cheese

Whole Wheat Baguette


Warm the cup of honey over low heat until barely simmering. Remove from the heat and add in the zest and thyme.  Let sit for fifteen minutes until you pour over the goat cheese and serve it with baguette slices or crudités.

Spicy Tuesday – Winter Citrus Spinach Salad with Rosemary Yogurt Dressing – Rosemary

When the wind is blowing and the sky is that winter color of gray, soup is in order. We hear you! But we’re not featuring soup this week; cause its time to shake it up with a wintery citrus salad. After all that warm comfort food, the taste of bright oranges and grapefruits can be a real palate opener. Close your eyes and lets dream of warmer days…

This is a great salad because it highlights what is in season during the cold days of winter. The orange, grapefruit, and pomegranate give you a boost of Vitamin C to fight off the cold and flu season. Rosemary is an herb that not only tastes good in culinary dishes but is also a good source of iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. 

Winter Citrus Spinach Salad with Rosemary Yogurt Dressing


¼ Cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 TB Orange Zest

2 TB Orange Juice

1 TB Grapefruit Juice

2 Tsp Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt

1 Tsp Minced Shallot

½ Tsp Minced Rosemary

¼ Tsp Each Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Whisk the EVOO, zest, juices, mustard, and yogurt together in a small bowl. Add the shallots, rosemary, salt and pepper. Set aside while you make the salad.


1 Large Bunch Spinach, or other Power Greens

3 Large Oranges

1 Grapefruit

Seeds from One Pomegranate

1/2 Shallot, sliced thinly

1 TB Rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Step One Cut the very top and bottom off of the oranges. Carefully slice off the peel, removing the white pith. Cut into 1/2″ thick slices. Repeat with the grapefruit

Step Two Spread spinach on a large platter, pour three-quarters of the dressing over the spinach. Place the oranges and grapefruit on top. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and shallots. Finish with a final drizzle of dressing, a rosemary sprig, a pinch of sea salt, and black pepper.

Spicy Tuesday – Smoky Black Bean Spread – Oregano

Have your ever heard the phrase, “this one is a keeper”? We think this recipe is! Not only does it make one of the best dips with crudité or chips, it also works great as a taco seasoning, sandwich spread, as a base for huevos rancheros or as the start of an incredibly good chicken enchilada.

Oregano is one of the important components of this yummy spread. You may think of oregano as a component in Italian or Mediterranean food, but dried oregano is also an important flavor in Mexican cuisine. It actually has a plethora of health benefits starting with the Omega-3s that are in it and rounding out the mix with Iron, Manganese, and antioxidants.

Smoky Black Bean Spread

1 Large Red Onion, Chopped

2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), divided

6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped

1 Tsp Ground Cumin

1 Tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika

1 Tsp Oregano

½ Cup Vegetable Stock

3 Cups Cooked Black Beans, (Two 15 Oz Cans Drained and Rinsed)

1 (7 OZ) Can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, (use half to the whole can)

¼ Lime Juice

¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Step One Sauté the onions in 1 TB of EVOO until soft. Add the garlic and cook and stir until fragrant – about 1 minute. Add the cumin, paprika and oregano. Cook and stir for another minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the veg stock. Add the beans and chipotles and simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Step Two Cool, and add to the food processor or a blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Stir in the remaining EVOO, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spicy Tuesday – Happy New Year 2015

Shayna and I are busy coming up with new ideas and recipes for a Spicy 2015! Check back next Tuesday for the first Spicy Tuesday of this exciting New Year!

Spicy Tuesday – Cumin Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes – Cumin

Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes? Soft, warm, creamy and delicious – they taste great but more than a little bit are not great for us. Here’s a switch-a-roo for the potatoes that is easy, fast and super delicious. Oh yeah, we think that these cumin cauliflower potatoes taste much better than the ordinary!

The dish is so good because of the taste of the cumin and the lightness of the cruciferous cauliflower. Cumin is used as a diuretic and to treat stomach upset and flatulence. It is thought to promote a healthy digestive system. It is also a good source of iron and manganese. This is a good for your dish to serve as a side for the holiday parties that are happening all around us!

Cumin Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

3 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes

1 Head Cauliflower

2 TB Unsalted Butter

2 TB Cumin Seeds

1 Cup Low Fat Buttermilk

2 TB Ground Cumin

Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

Garnish with Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Step One Peel and quarter potatoes. Cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch florets.

Step Two In a large pot, cover the potatoes with salted cold water by 2 inches and simmer 20 minutes. Add cauliflower and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes more. Drain vegetables in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. With a potato masher, mash potatoes and cauliflower with the 2 TB of unsalted butter.

Step Three In a dry heavy skillet toast cumin seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder.

Step Four In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk and ground cumin. Stir the mixture into mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Add the toasted cumin seeds and mix until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish the Cumin Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with cilantro

Spicy Tuesday – Kale Lasagne – Parsley, Basil, Oregano

Its that time of the year, you know when… The hordes will descend upon your house, or you will be responsible for taking a dish to feed a big group. How about changing it up this year? With a dish that is sure to please everyone, veghead and meat lover alike!

Granted, this lasagna isn’t a super quick recipe. But we can guarantee you, its worth the time. Warm and satisfying, full of white beans, mushrooms, quinoa, kale and creamy cheese it is a nutrition powerhouse as well as a delicious dish.

We use a trinity of Italian herbs in the tomato sauce for this recipe. Fresh basil and parsley along with dried oregano are added to create not only flavor but nutrition, too! These three herbs are rock stars alone but put them together with kale and you have a powerhouse pasta to serve your family and guests during the winter months. Basil is full of Basil is rich in  vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium. Parsley is not just a garnish on your plate but actually has volatile oils that help decrease tumor formation in lungs (in animal studies). And finally dried oregano gets its name from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy). So this mountain of joy can help in various ways with GI disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.

Kale Lasagne

2 TB Olive Oil

1 Large Red Onion, chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, grated or minced

2 TB Tomato Paste

3 TB Chopped Parsley

Perfectly Easy Tomato Sauce*

2 Cans (15 ½ oz) White Beans

16 Oz Wild Mushrooms, Chopped and sautéed in 2 TB olive oil, 2 TB Worcestershire Sauce

1 Large Egg

1 1/2 Cups Prepared Quinoa

2 Large Bunches of Kale, Shredded

8 Oz Skim Mozzarella, Shredded

5 TB Grated Parmesan Cheese

Step One In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, cook the onion in 2 TB oil, until soft. Add the garlic and cook and stir until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, half cup of the tomato sauce, mix to incorporate & remove from the heat.

Step Two Combine the white beans and cooked mushrooms in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, the cooked quinoa, and the sautéed onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Step Three Spoon about one third of the remaining tomato sauce in a 9 x 12” casserole dish. Top with ½ of the shredded kale, then the ½ of bean mixture and then sprinkle on 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat, and end with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan. Bake for about 45 minutes until hot & bubbly.

*Perfectly Easy Tomato Sauce!

2 TB Olive Oil

1 Medium Red Onion, Sliced

1 Cup Dry White Wine

2 Cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1 Tsp Dried Oregano

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

2 TB EACH Chopped Parsley & Oregano

Step One Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the onion over medium heat until soft. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Two Add the tomatoes, oregano and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper, cook over medium heat for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Stir in the herbs.

These three herbs are rock stars alone but put them together with kale and you have a powerhouse pasta to serve your family and guests during the winter months. Basil is full of Basil is rich in  vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium. Parsley is not just a garnish on your plate but actually has volatile oils that help decrease tumor formation in lungs (in animal studies). And finally dried oregano gets its name from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy). So this mountain of joy can help in various ways with GI disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.

Spicy Tuesday – Double Ginger Molasses Cookies – Ginger

The holidays are the time for sharing sweet treats with others. And just because you are invited to a cookie swap, doesn’t mean you have to bring a cookie that is full of sugar, butter, fat and calories with the group.

How about trying a cookie like this? Granted, not health food, but a little-better-for-you, due to the reduced butter, less sugar and the wonderful spicy ginger that makes these cookies sing with flavor!

Ginger is helpful in eliminating gastrointestinal distress. In a recent double-blind study, ginger was shown to be far superior to Dramamine for motion sickness! We use it a lot in our cancer fighting kitchen for nausea during chemotherapy treatment. Ginger is also a anti-inflammatory because of compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

Remember it’s all about portion control when consuming cookies (2 cookies / serving for these) but rest assured, you are getting some health benefits from the ones below.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Makes about 40 Cookies

6 TB Unsalted Butter, softened

2/3 Cup Raw Fine Sugar

¼ Cup Molasses

1 Large Egg

2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

2 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Ground Ginger

1 Tsp Cinnamon

½ Tsp Mace (or freshly ground nutmeg)

¼ Cup Minced Crystallized Ginger mixed with ¼ Cup Raw Fine Sugar

Step One Beat the butter with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, beating well and molasses and egg – beat well.

Step Two Combine the flour, soda and spices, (except for the crystallized ginger-sugar mixture), together in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and stir until well blended. Divide the dough in half, wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.

Step Three While the dough is freezing, preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare 3 sheet trays with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the freezer and create about 24 (1 inch balls) Roll the balls in the crystallized ginger mixture and flatten the cookies with a glass to ½ inch. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks.

Why these cookies are better-for-you:

Less Butter

Molasses instead of lots of sugar

Spices including ginger

Spicy Tuesday – Fennel and Cauliflower Puree – Rosemary

Mmmmmm…what’s better than a big bowl of creamy potatoes? We have the answer. It’s a big bowl of fennel and cauliflower puree. Not only is it better-for-you – it has SO much more flavor than the standard bowl of mashed potatoes. Plus lots more nutrition, too!

Rosemary is sometimes referred to as the Christmas herb, and its use in this dish is no mistake. It brings pine-y warmth to the velvety mix of fennel, rich cauliflower and fragrant onions and garlic. And that’s not all rosemary has to offer, its nutrition is top notch. It is full of calcium, iron, and vitamin B6. Rosemary is also known to help digestion. There are compounds that are anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. Oh yes, this dish is awesome for your body and your taste buds!

Fennel and Cauliflower Puree with Rosemary

3 Heads Fennel, cut into ½” pieces

1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped

2 TB Olive Oil

1 Tsp Sea Salt

½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1 Large Head Cauliflower (or 3 bags Florets)

2 Large Cloves Garlic, peeled

2 TB Unsalted Butter

¼ Cup Skim Milk

1 TB Freshly Chopped Rosemary

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step One Preheat the oven to 400F. On a half sheet pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment and sprayed with nonstick spray, toss the Fennel, Onion and Salt and Pepper with the 2 TB Olive Oil. Roast for 45 – 60 minutes or until the fennel and onions are tender.

Step TwoWhile the fennel is roasting, cook the cauliflower and garlic clove in boiling salted water until tender – about 10 minutes. Using the immersion blender, puree. Then add the fennel mixture and puree again

Step Three Melt the butter with the skim milk and rosemary over medium low heat. Add to the fennel mixture and stir. Taste for salt and pepper and sprinkle with additional to taste.