Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Avocado Arugula Salad

photo from

Summer is here. Okay, maybe not officially; but it sure is hot out there. Hot, hazy and humid. My favorite kind of weather. This is the time of the year when I don't want to fuss in the kitchen. I want to live at the beach.

During the summer months, you crave different foods. If you stop and listen to your body, it will tell you exactly what it wants and needs. Most likely, it will ask for more fruits, vegetables, and foods with high water content.  Soups, casseroles and heavy, hearty dishes are too taxing on your system during the summer months. You should naturally gravitate toward lighter meals, salads, and other simple foods. The side benefit of theses types of foods is that they are usually very quick and easy to prepare.  Who wants to be slaving over a hot stove now? The best part is this: all the water and nutrients you consume in the summer are cleansing your body in preparation for another slow and sluggish winter. This is why it so important to eat the right foods according to the seasons. This also the key to successful weight loss.

I have the perfect dish for you: Avocado Arugula Salad. It's bursting with life and lots of surprises: luscious avocados (good fat), sweet golden raisins and crunchy pistachios. The hummus dressing provides the protein and the aromatic, peppery arugula makes this salad extra special.

This is not your ordinary, boring salad. You won't find iceberg lettuce in here. In fact, I urge you to step away from iceberg. It has no real nutritional value at all.  Arugula, on the other hand, is a nutritional power-house.

Allow me to sing the praises of arugula for a moment: 

Arugula is one leafy green vegetable that stands out as a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. Consider the difference between iceberg lettuce and arugula. Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce.

Arugula also contains beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These are powerful antioxidants that can help  prevent diseases like cancer and macular degeneration.

Are you ready to try arugula now? 

Here's the recipe:

What You Need:

For the dressing:
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons hummus
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon finely minced chives
1 medium carrot, finely shredded
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
3 cups arugula
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons crushed pistachios

What You Do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until smooth. Gently toss dressing with arugula.
Divide dressed arugula in bowls and top with raisins and pistachios.

Serves 4
Recipe from

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wilted Chard with Pickled Red Onions

I always feel sorry for Chard. This gorgeous, green, leafy vegetable is so often ignored.  I watch people walk right by it in the produce section of my local market. Others will pick up a bunch, inspect it for a moment or two, and toss right back into the pile.  This is such a shame because chard is one classy act.

Here are a few reasons why you should fall in love with chard and add it to your diet:

Chard is a nutritional power house. It is packed with vitamins C, E, and K, carotene, chlorophyll, and fiber.  It is also an excellent source of several minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.  Chard also contains other nutrients including vitamin B6, protein, calcium, thiamine,selenium, zinc, niacin, and folic acid.

Chard is one of the best anti-cancer foods you can eat because of its combination of traditional nutrients; phytochemicals, chlorophyll, other plant pigments, and soluble fiber. The generous amount of vitamin K that is contained in chard, is especially beneficial in the maintenance of bone health.

If all that doesn't turn you on to chard; how about this? One cup has about 32 calories and it is naturally fat free. It's perfect for weight loss. Buy it. Cook it. Eat it!

I am always tempted to just toss bunches of chard into the carts of unsuspecting shoppers. Along with my business card, of course. Honestly, that might not be such a bad idea........

So now that you know all about chard, what the heck do you with it?

I have a recipe for you. This is easy, delicious, and healthy. I add raw brown sugar to this recipe instead of the regular white processed kind. A little pinch of sugar makes the pickled onions so much sweeter and helps to balance the strong taste of the chard.  If you are totally adverse to using sugar; go ahead and omit it. Or try a tiny dash of maple syrup instead.

Here's the recipe:
Wilted Chard with Pickled Red Onions


Friday, May 11, 2012

Not Your Mama's Au-Gratin

Photo from

If you are craving comfort food; look no further than this: Mushroom Basil Au-Gratin! This is not your mother's Au-Gratin. I am sorry to say, no matter how satisfying and delicious mom's recipe is; it's loaded with fat and calories. That's because it's made with butter and milk.

This recipe is completely vegan. The rich, creaminess comes from cashews. That's right. The end result: An extravagant, satisfying, protein rich, healthy meal. This dish is also a good source of Vitamin D; thanks to the mushrooms. Mushrooms are nature's only source of Vitamin D. Except for the sun, that is.....

Here's the recipe:
Mushroom Basil Au-Gratin


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Zucchini 101

photo from

How do you feel about zucchini squash? 

I hope you love it as much as I do because zucchini is one the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It's also very low in calories. If you want to lose weight;  include plenty of zucchini in your diet. If you don't really care for it, perhaps a little Zucchini 101 will convince you to give it another try.

Here are the health benefits of this amazing squash: 

Zucchini helps with asthma, as it contains Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflamatory properties. Good for painful joints, too.

Zucchini is known to help prevent diseases like scurvy caused by the deficiency of vitamin C.

Regular intake of zucchini effectively lowers high homo cysteine levels in the human body

This vegetable can help prevent the risk of  multiple sclerosis (MS).

Zucchinis have high water content (over 95%) and contain a very low amount of calories. Perfect for weight loss.

Zucchini contains useful amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin A, necessary for proper functioning of the human body.

Zucchini contains lutein. Good for the eyes!

Zucchini is a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, and manganese.

Eating zucchini is known to help the body in supporting the arrangement of capillaries.

Zucchini can help protect the body against colon cancer.

Zucchini is believed to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and related symptoms, such as high cholesterol.

The rind of zucchini contains beta-carotene, which is known to be full of antioxidant properties. Anti-oxidants protect cells against oxidation damage.

Zucchini is a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, the nutrients essential for building and maintaining healthy bones.


So now that you know how good zucchini is for you; here's a recipe!

Creamy Coconut Zucchini. 

I love this dish because it's so exotic. This is perfect to serve to the Zucchini Skeptic. Folks who swear they hate zucchini might just change their minds.

The light, creamy sweetness comes coconut and soy milk. You can substitute almond milk for the soy and get the same delicious results.  Take a look at all the warming spices in this recipe: chili powder, turmeric, and Garam masala.  We know what those do! They rev up our metabolisms to help burn fat and calories. This recipe is a winner, in every way.

Here's the recipe: Creamy Coconut Zucchini

Serve Creamy Coconut Zucchini over steamed brown or fragrant jasmine rice.