April 17th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We conclude our coverage of National Grilled Cheese Month with a fun recipe you can make with your children.
Prep time is only 5 minutes, cook time is 4 minutes, and all of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Click here for the recipe for Rustic Grilled Cheese, featured earlier this month.
Cheesy Apple Cinnamon Raisin Grill
Makes 1 serving
2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1 slice cheese
1/4 small apple, cut into thin slices
Top one of the bread slices with cheese and apple slices. Cover with remaining bread slice.
Spread outside of sandwich with butter.
Cook in skillet on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on both sides.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Kraft Foods
Read More:Cheesy Apple Cinnamon Raisin Grill
February 15th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Sunday marks the beginning of the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration. In China, the New Year’s Eve dinner is so important that if family members cannot attend, empty seats are kept to symbolize their presence.
Confections like these Sweet Sesame Balls are served to wish good fortune to all. Today’s ingredients, except those noted, should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Sweet Sesame Balls
Serves 5 (2 sesame balls each)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sweet lotus paste (available at Asian grocery stores; red bean paste can be substituted if you cannot find it)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 7 cups cooking oil
- Powdered sugar
- Mint leaves
- 1 cup sweet rice flour (available at Asian grocery stores)
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 tablespoon baking powder
- Pour flour in mixing bowl. Boil water and mix with flour. Add Group A ingredients to the bowl and mix together.
- Form 10 balls out of the mixture and pound flat.
- Place 2 teaspoons of sweet lotus paste in each flattened ball; roll into a ball shape again. Roll balls in sesame seeds.
- Heat oil to medium-low heat in wok and place balls inside. Deep-fry for about four minutes, or until outside is golden brown and balls float on top of oil.
- Remove balls and set on plate. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve with mint.
Book Pick of the Day: Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai
Recipe and photo courtesy of Panda Express
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August 15th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Vegetarians have long used coconut milk in place of its dairy cousin. Yesterday’s blog entry described one of my favorite recipe ideas.
In the September issue of Bon Appetit, several top chefs offer tips on using coconut milk in their favorite dishes:
- Michael Cimarusti, co-owner and executive head chef at Providence in Los Angeles, makes a delicious smoothie by combining sweetened coconut milk, a banana, a drop of honey, a splash of fresh lime juice and a few fresh mint leaves.
- Food Network star Emeril Lagasse of Emeril’s New Orleans, NOLA and Delmonico Steakhouse (among other highly touted restaurants) adds unsweetened coconut milk to chicken broth. He then “kicks it up a notch” by adding lemongrass, ginger, lime and garlic to create a Thai-style soup.
- And Chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago dazzles breakfast aficionados with his pancakes, replacing half the milk in a standard recipe with unsweetened coconut milk. He then tops it off with shredded coconut.
As mentioned yesterday, if you have trouble locating regular or lite organic coconut milk at your local natural or organic food store, you may purchase it online through Amazon.com.
Click here to subscribe to Bon Appetit.
Read More:Nuts for Coconut Milk
July 18th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
When shopping for organic food, you’ve undoubtedly loaded your grocery cart with rice, pasta, potatoes and other side-dish staples. But have you ever purchased a package of quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) comes from the goosefoot plant, native to South America. Cultivated for centuries for its high-protein seeds, it’s also a great source of fiber, iron, calcium and phosphorus. The ancient Incas, in fact, called it “chisaya mama” (mother of all grains).
Quinoa can be substituted for rice in most recipes, which is what Andrea Beaman did when she created this Quinoa Pilaf. A contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” she served it with Curried Sweet Potato for a hearty vegetarian meal.
If you have difficulty finding organic quinoa at your local market, you may order it online through Amazon.com. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Black pepper
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Rinse quinoa. Add quinoa and water to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Add a pinch of sea salt. Cover and reduce flame to simmer. Cook for 12 minutes.
- In a frying pan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil for 2–3 minutes. Add shitake mushrooms, sage and sea salt (add black pepper to taste), and cook for 3–5 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl combine cooked veggies, dried cranberries and cooked quinoa.
Read More:Quinoa Pilaf
April 12th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Celebrity chef Akasha Richmond, owner of Los Angeles-based Akasha’s Visionary Cuisine and author of Hollywood Dish, is known for using organic food ingredients in her natural, low-fat and often vegetarian cuisine. She shares the following perfect-for-spring recipe in honor of the Go Organic! for Earth Day campaign.
Fettuccini with Edamame, Asparagus and Spinach Sauce
Makes 4 servings
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus (cut off half of the stalk; cut remaining stalk and tips diagonally into
1 cup frozen and shelled edamame
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
5 oz. baby spinach, washed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. fettuccini
Additional grated Parmesan cheese
In a 2-quart saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add asparagus pieces and blanch for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of ice water. When chilled, drain and place in another bowl.
Cook the edamame in the stock for 8–10 minutes, or until tender. Remove edamame, adding half to the asparagus and the remaining half to another bowl. Reserve stock.
Heat olive oil and butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook until it wilts, about 1–2 minutes.
Place spinach mixture, half of the edamame, 3/4 cup of reserved stock, basil, cheese and black pepper in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and creamy.
Cook pasta according to directions on package. While pasta is cooking, heat spinach sauce with the reserved asparagus and edamame over medium-low heat. When the pasta is done, drain and serve with the hot sauce. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese.
Read More:Fettuccini with Edamame, Asparagus and Spinach Sauce
January 5th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve been focusing on heart-healthy organic eating this week, so here’s an easy-to-prepare recipe to accompany your favorite entree. Sweet potatoes and bananas combine to make this flavorful low-fat custard.
1 cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup banana (about 2 small), mashed
1 cup nonfat milk
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 egg yolks (or 1/3 cup egg substitute), beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Nonstick cooking spray, as needed
- In a medium bowl, stir together sweet potato and banana. Add milk, blending well.
- Add brown sugar, egg yolks and salt, mixing thoroughly.
- Spray a 1-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer sweet potato mixture to casserole dish.
- Combine raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top of sweet potato mixture.
- Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 40–45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Read More:Organic Sweet Potato Custard
January 2nd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Jill Hennessy (NBC photo: Paul Drinkwater)
In a recent interview, actress Jill Hennessy, star of the NBC hit drama “Crossing Jordan,” was asked about the one food she can’t live without. Her answer? Cocoa powder, which she adds to her morning bowl of Cream of Wheat.
“Seriously, it’s even better than a chocolate soufflé,” Hennessy swears—and her predilection may even help her fight cancer and heart disease.
According to researchers at Cornell University, cocoa is a major source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. It contains twice the amount found in red wine and up to three times the level found in green tea, according to Dr. Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology. He and his fellow researchers found that cocoa contains a high level of phenolic phytochemicals (flavonoids), which indicate the presence of known antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Cocoa offers 611 mg gallic acid equivalents (GAE), a phenolic compound, and 564 mg flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) per single serving. In comparison, a glass of red wine provides 340 mg GAE and 163 mg ECE, while one cup of green tea offers 165 mg GAE and 47 mg ECE.
“If I had made a prediction before conducting the tests, I would have picked green tea as having the most antioxidant activity,” Dr. Lee says. “When we compared one serving of each beverage, the cocoa turned out to be the highest in antioxidant activity, and that was surprising to me.”
Phenolic compounds protect plants against insects and pathogens. A decade ago, “food scientists did not know that phenolics had an important role in human health,” Dr. Lee explains.
But don’t rush to substitute an organic chocolate bar for a cup of organic hot cocoa.
“Although a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because of the saturated fats present,” Dr. Lee and his research team concluded in their study. Cocoa has about .33 g fat per one-cup serving, while a standard 40-g chocolate bar contains 8 g fat.
To ensure you get your daily antioxidant boost, Dr. Lee encourages “diversification.”
“Personally, I would drink hot cocoa in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening,” he says. “That’s a good combination.”
Sources for Organic Cocoa Powder
Green & Black’s
Read More:Cancer-Fighting Organic Cocoa
December 27th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Christmas may be over, but Hanukkah continues this week. One of the most popular dishes during the eight-day holiday is brisket—a cut of beef, sold as a small roast, that is usually braised in the oven because it requires the addition of water to ensure tenderness.
If you’re trying to cut down on your meat intake or you’re a vegetarian, you can substitute organic portabella mushrooms. Steven Raichlen, author of “How to Grill,” brushes them with butter and coats them with a Southwestern-style dry rub. He then sears them on the grill (or under the broiler), thickly slices them and serves them with barbecue sauce. As with beef brisket, the meaty mushrooms are very tasty when served on soft rolls.
Hot & Spicy Portabella “Brisket”
Adapted from “How to Grill”
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 large portabella caps (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat grill or broiler.
- Prepare barbecue rub: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, celery seed and red pepper.
- Brush mushrooms with melted butter. Rub half a teaspoon of the barbecue rub on both sides of each portabella.
- Grill mushrooms, turning once, until they are browned and tender, about 10 minutes.
- To serve, slice portabellas on an angle and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired. Place the remaining barbecue rub in a recloseable plastic bag; refrigerate and save for other uses.
Makes 4 portions (about 1/2 cup barbecue rub)
Read More:Hot & Spicy Organic Portabella “Brisket”
December 22nd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Mary Micucci is one of the most famous caterers in Los Angeles, specializing in large events like Hollywood movie premieres. She launched Along Came Mary in 1975, working out of a Volkswagen Bug. Today, she runs a $10 million business as the largest gourmet catering company in the entertainment industry. The “Hollywood Reporter” even dubbed her the “epicurean Steven Spielberg.”
When entertaining for Christmas, “think themes,” says Micucci. “Try snowmen, reindeer or toy soldiers carried out in the decor or cut out as cookies, with fun decorations and celebratory desserts.”
Here’s Micucci’s recipe for wassail, a traditional Christmas punch, which she made for last year’s star-studded premiere of “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” You should have no trouble finding organic ingredients at your local whole or natural foods store.
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart fresh orange juice
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole nutmeg, grated
10 to 18 whole cinnamon sticks
3 whole oranges, cut in half
25 whole cloves
8 stemmed Irish coffee mugs
- In a large saucepot on low, heat apple cider, juice and sugar. Bring to a rapid boil while adding 10 cinnamon sticks and grated nutmeg. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stick cloves into the skins of the 4 orange halves, placing them in even, linear rows. Turn off heat and add cloved oranges. Allow flavors to expand within the mix for 15 minutes.
- Using a peeler, zest 8 orange strands (4” each) from the third orange and set aside.
- Reheat mixture and pour into decorative coffee glasses. Garnish each glass with whole cinnamon, with orange strands twisted around it. Serve hot.
Cheers from everyone at Organic Authority!
Read More:Organic Christmas Wassail
December 21st, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
’Tis the season for pumpkin pies, gingerbread men and decadently rich desserts. Fortunately, there are ways to slenderize your holiday baking so you can maintain a healthful diet that meets your organic lifestyle needs.
Start by substituting organic applesauce or other organic fruit-based products for butter, margarine or oil in your favorite holiday breads and baked goods.
“Substituting fruits for butter works well in most quick breads, muffins and some cakes,” says Jyl Steinback, a personal trainer who has been dubbed “America’s Healthiest Mom” and author of several books, including “Fill Up to Slim Down” and “Supermarket Gourmet.”
“It usually doesn’t work as well in cookies,” she tells Organic Authority. “I have good success substituting the full amount of butter or margarine with the fruit. You can also try substituting fat-free yogurt, fat-free creamers or skim milk, in certain cases. There is no absolute proportion, as recipes will differ, so it truly depends on the individual recipe.”
So, what basic guidelines should you follow?
“If the recipe is too ‘liquidy,’ add a little more flour,” Steinback instructs. “If it is too thick, add a little more fruit or liquid. Try applesauce, crushed pineapple or canned pumpkin in several of your favorite quick bread or muffin recipes. Cake recipes are a little more fussy, but I have had success substituting applesauce for the oil in packaged mixes.”
And while we’re on the subject, if you’re not exactly Julia Child or you’re pressed for time, there are several organic cake mixes available at your local natural or whole foods store. Check out the Dr. Oetker line, which includes vanilla, chocolate and marble cake mixes, as well as icing, cookie and muffin mixes.
Read More:Healthy Holiday Baking