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Stupid Easy Turkey Chili

I feel rather naughty with this post because growing up, we weren’t allowed to use the word stupid.  (Breakin’ the rules, breakin’ the rules!!)  My mother decidedly banned it from the house and if any of us unruly children called each other the “s” word, it was a quick spanking and off to bed with no supper!  OK, that’s not true at all.  My mother’s actual response to our “s” word transgressions was a gentle talking to about how calling someone stupid was mean and hurtful.  I appreciate her desire to reason with us like the mature people she wished we were.  Unfortunately we weren’t, so no matter how convincing her explanation, “stupid” was hurled at each other with almost maniacal regularity.  (Our choice word was also accompanied by a slap, punch or evil glare that promised either a slap or punch.)

Siblings are so awful to each other, aren’t they?  It really is crazy what we say to the people we love.  Had I known of the emotional cuts and bruises made by my stupid words I would never have said them.  OK, that’s definitely an exaggeration.  I probably still would have said them, but definitely felt more guilt afterwards.  Ah, that’s the good Jewish girl in me!  Honestly though, when we say mean words, think negative thoughts or judge others harshly, it’s simply an internal defense mechanism reflecting the negativity and judgments we heap upon ourselves.

OK, so how does all this deep stuff relate back to stupid easy turkey chili?  Well, just as you can change how you judge yourself and others, you can also change the meaning of your words.  Here’s what I mean.  When stupid is used at the end of a sentence such as, “You are stupid!,” negativity abounds, however when used as a descriptor such as, “stupid good,” stupid suddenly morphs “good” into great.  Stupid is no longer a put down but rather a word used to exalt and make more awesome whatever comes after it.

And so we have stupid easy turkey chili!  What makes it stupid easy is there is little chopping, minimal prepping and it tastes really freaking good.

So the next time you find yourself throwing the “s” word around, just make sure it’s as a descriptor to this unbelievably stupid awesome chili.

Stupid Easy Turkey Chili 

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced (from jar is ok)

1 1/2 lbs organic ground turkey

1 14.5 ounce can organic diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1  15 ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained. You can also use white beans if you prefer)

2 cups organic chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

Sea salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, ground turkey and a pinch of salt until turkey is browned.  Add tomatoes, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the black beans and chicken broth to the pot.  Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Like this recipe?  Know others who will too?  Then pass it on with today’s tasty TWEETABLE!

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Beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more YOU……

If you’ve been following me for any time at all you know that I am a bean freak!  I will eat beans morning, noon and night and don’t really care about the musical side effects.  My husband doesn’t either and on certain very special bean-laden evenings we have terrific toot-offs.  (All of which he wins, but I still keep the hope.)  Now I wasn’t always this fart free.  In fact, I used to think tooting was the most embarrassing thing possible.  Worse even than misreading a word out loud in class.  (Another terror of mine.)  Flatulence was something you tried desperately to conceal, squeezing your tushie tight together to make sure no “silent but deadly” air passed by.  My parents are actually all about the gas (Hey GUYS!), but my extended family is terrified of being found out as farters.

My grandmother and aunt both avoid all gas-inducing goodies for fear of well, you know what.  Whenever I eat beans, onions or broccoli in front of them, the sideways glances quickly roll out with the following, “Oh, you eat those things?  And they don’t, um, give you G-A-S?”  “They do sometimes,” I say with a smile.  “But it doesn’t bother me.”

With their joint look of horror, you’d think I told them I bottle the stuff and sell it as perfume!

When it comes to loving your body, it is not only about likin’ how she looks and feels.  You’ve also got to be down with what comes out of her.  Seriously!  If you are embarrassed by every little toot or fart or whiff of BO your body gives off, you might as well stay home.  Just know right now, there is no controlling your body.  Simply let her do her thang and thank her for it.  The more your cut her down for what she was made to do, the more she’s going to do it.  Promise!

Now, I’m not giving you permission to let ‘er rip in a packed elevator, never shower or loudly belch in a fine dining establishment.  That’s just gross!  But if the, um, spirit moves you, don’t worry so much about hiding it.

In honor of all the lovely music our bodies like to make, here’s a tasty bean recipe.

I’ve mentioned these beans before but honestly once you try Rancho Gordo beans, you will never eat another bean again.  Ever!  I’m certainly not the first (or last) to sing these beans praises but whatever wonderfulness you hear about these bean, know this.  It’s all totally true.  Steve Sando, Rancho Gordo’s owner and bean freak after my own heart, offers multiple  types of heirloom beans that range from big and beefy to small and creamy.  The best part about his beans is they are recently dried so once soaked, they are ready in 45 minutes rather than the hour in a half it takes most dried beans.

I always try to branch out with my bean exploration and recently I made a pot of Ayecote Negro beans.  These beans are certainly on the big and beefy side which makes them ideal as a main dish. Last night I had a bowl of these beauties with a side salad and I was good to go and tonight we are having leftovers with a fried egg on top.  Yumtastic!  They also freeze very well so plop any leftovers in the freezer.

Before you dive into this brilliant bean recipe, I want you to tell me what YOUR favorite bean recipe is and how you deal with the many gifts that come with enjoying bean’s bounty ;)  Come on, sharing is caring and I want to hear it!

Big and Beefy Ayecote Negro Beans

Serves 4

1 bag Ayecote Negro Beans

1 bay leaf

2 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 an onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, washed and diced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan (optional, but highly recommended)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Add water to your tea kettle and bring to a boil. Place the beans in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with boiling water and let soak overnight.

Rinse and drain the beans.  Place in a medium stock pot with the garlic and cover with water about an inch above the beans.  Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes until the beans are soft yet toothsome.  Once cooked, drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.  (Call pot liquor.)

In the same stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the beans back to the pot with 1 cup of pot liquor and stir to combine.  Let the beans and vegetables cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  You may also add more liquor to make the beans more like a stew.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Mix in the parsley and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra special extra virgin olive oil.  Enjoy!



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Score MAJOR brownie points this Mother’s Day!

I knew I’d get you with that title because honestly, who doesn’t want to wow their mom, wife, grandma or even daughter this Mother’s Day???

Up until a year ago I held cooking classes every month.  They were wonderful and we cooked all types of food from Thai, Indian, Italian, and Greek to learning how to master healthy foods like greens, grains and beans.  However with JamieLiving going hog wild (yahoo!) the last 12 months and my attention being needed elsewhere, the cooking classes were put by the wayside.  And though I get asked for cooking classes regularly, I now only have time for the rare and special cooking event.

Which is why I am SO excited to share what’s been up at JamieLiving in the cooking department!

A few months ago I combined wonder-woman forces with Alexis Koefoed, the lovely owner of Soul Food Farm, and together we decided to create an amazing Mother’s Day Cooking Class!  Awesome, right??  I know!

On Saturday, March 12 we are opening up Alexis’ beautiful farm kitchen to 12 lucky mothers and daughters who are ready to eat, dance, cook and connect with the women they love most in the world.  (Aunties, Godmothers, Step-Moms, and BFFs are welcome as too!)  A woman learns how to eat by watching the women in her life and as the kitchen is the center of the home, it is where life in the form of delicious food is created and sustained.  This unique cooking class is your chance to connect with the lady you love most and share with her the true joy of cooking!

My beautiful mom and me where we connect best…in the kitchen!

This delicious mother-daughter day is meant to tantalize your taste buds, stimulate your senses and leave you with a profound understanding of what to eat and how to cook it for your beautiful body!

For more details and to snag your spot, CLICK HERE.

We have done very little marketing and already the class is 33% FULL!  The tickets are goin’ like hotcakes.   (Or organic kale cakes!)

This class is about sharing a deeply delicious experience with your mother or daughter. It doesn’t matter whether you cook every day or rarely step foot in the kitchen.  This class is for all levels and is all about getting your mother/daughter food groove on!!

What can you expect from the cooking class?  Click here to find out!

How do you know the Mother-Daughter Divinely Delicious Cooking Class is right for you?  Read HERE, sweetness, read HERE!

I can tell you right now that this class is going to fill up!  If you want have an amazingly unique experience with the woman you love, where you both learn to feed your tummies, hearts and minds, snag your spot RIGHT NOW!

Know any great women you’d like to invite?  Feel free to pass the event on!

This is the year that a card and flowers simply won’t do.  Sign up today and get excited for a Mother’s Day neither of you will ever forget!

In the comments below, tell me what is the best Mother’s Day you’ve ever had?  What made it so special?  What are you tips for making Mother’s Day memorable?

Also, be sure to share the Mother’s Day LOVE with Today’s Tweetable!

 Much love and I will see you on the farm!

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Kick your kale into high gear!

Do me a favor right now and take a BIG DEEP BREATH.  (It’s OK, I’ll wait.)  Now one more.  Feels pretty good, right?  That’s the deepest thing we are going to do today.  Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about fear, competition, empowerment and all that totally rad, transformational kinda stuff.  And though we’ve got to dig deep to see things shift, sometimes you just want an easy button.  Wish GRANTED!  There is to be no deep soul searching, no bow-to-Buddha breakthroughs and no how-does-that-make-you-feel moments today.  Today, it’s all about a straight forward, kick your kale into high gear recipe! 

Now I’m sure you are familiar with kale, right?  It’s like so totally the new spinach!  Kale is all over the health pop charts for it’s power packed punch of antioxidants and super green goodness.  It is seriously all the rage which means if you aren’t on the kale train, it’s time to hop on my friends.

Now, there are two types of kale eaters out there in foodie land. Those that like it straight up (that would be the green freaks like me) and those that prefer it hidden (that would be everyone else).  The brilliance of the recipe I’ve got for you today is that it covers everyone’s bases.  (Doesn’t that just feel SO good!)

This dish is the perfect balance of both worlds as it pairs marinated, raw kale with roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions.  YES, please!  While the kale curious might usually prefer their kale submerged in soup so as to avoid the “healthy hippie” taste, the sweet richness of the butternut squash and onions immediately softens any kale bitterness, making the new vegetable venturer very happy.  I luv luv luv this recipe and not because it is healthy (which it is) and not because it’s an easy crowd pleaser (which is it) and not even because it make me look like a brilliant cook (which it does).  NOPE, I love this recipe because it is unabashedly, deviously delicious.  So devious in fact it will get everyone, even the kale curious and wary vegetable worrier, to hope on board and say, “Please sir, may I have some more?”  

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions

Serves 4

1 large head dinosaur (lacinato) kale, washed and thinly chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin, unrefined olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Dash of sea salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 1/2 cups butternut squash and onions mixture (recipe below)

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Wash the kale, dry and chop finely.  Place in a large bowl and add in the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and thyme.  Massage the greens with your hands until evenly coated and wilted.  Cover and place in the fridge and let marinate for between 2 hours and over night.   When ready to serve, add in the butternut squash and onions, stirring well, and taste for seasoning.  Top with chopped walnuts and enjoy!

Butternut Squash & Onions

1 butternut squash (about 1 pound)

1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Dash of sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the bottom and top off the squash.  Halve, peel, and seed squash and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Peel and slice the red onion.  In two baking dishes, mix the squash with a bit olive oil, salt and pepper and place in one and mix the onion with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the other.  Bake the squash and onions until roasted and a bit crisp, about 45-1 hour.   The onions will cook faster than the squash, so be sure to check them about 30 minutes into cooking.  Remove from the oven and add to the kale.

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Spring Turnip, Bok Choy Blossom and Pork Stew

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time now.  However, when the idea first popped into my head about a year ago I immediately shot it down, deciding, “I couldn’t possibly!”  (Insert British accent here.)  Every few months it would appear like an excited puppy asking to be played with.  ”Now?”, it asked.  ”How about now?  Can we play now?”  ”NO!”, was my swift and curt response.   Yet with my answer came a tingle of guilt.  ”Why not share the love and tell people what’s been going on?”, I asked. “Because I’m embarrassed, shameful and worried people will judge me!”, I shot back.  WTF!?!?!  I certainly wasn’t expecting THAT answer and had no idea I harbored such feelings about this tiny little post.  We all care what people think about us however, no-one’s words are as hurtful to us as our own.  And I was saying some really nasty things to myself about this yet written post.  Turns out, I was judging the heck out of myself which instigated my feelings of shame and embarrassment.  No one had made me feel this way…I was doing it to myself!  And with that revelation, I present to you THE PORK POST!!

I love pork!  I do, I do, I do.  It is a beautiful meat with such versatility no wonder it’s the apple of every chefs eye.  Entire events are dedicated to the purity and wonder that is the piggy.  However, as a nice Jewish girl we aren’t allowed to talk about the fact that the smell of bacon speaks to the heart and carnitas are as close to heaven in a tortilla as you are gonna get.  Yet growing up, the only thing I knew about pork was that it was BAD.  It was unhealthy, unclean and something other, severely misinformed people ate.   (Yes my judgement ran deep.)  Pork was simply a cursed meat, in my estimation.  I reasoned it could have no redeeming value because if it did, everyone would embrace it with open arms.  And as fat phobic child, I was never drawn to pork because the only porky product I’d ever encountered was bacon.  I knew it smelled good but there was no way I was about to let those lard-lacquered strips into my mouth.  Before I move on let me just say that in certain Jewish circles (Reformed, of course), bacon is perfectly acceptable.  Pork shoulder, pork chop, ham….no way!  But after watching my father sneak bacon when out to brunch on more than a few occasions, it was quite clear bacon got a hall pass.

Fast forward to 2 years ago when I started eating meat again.  (My twenties were a vegetarian/vegan bubble.)  I easily brought in pasture-raised beef, goat, lamb, chicken, and turkey and my body loved it.  I was wild with meat possibilities and excitedly dove into recipes and preparations that looked unique and exciting.  Then one day I stumbled upon a Chinese 5-spice pork shoulder recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (best name ever!) and I was dumb struck.  I probably could have avoided it had the damn picture not literally called my name.  That was that.  I had to make it!  I went to the butcher shop at 1 pm, knowing it unlikely I would run into anyone I knew and covertly bought the pork shoulder.  Since that first pork adventure I’ve been hooked and look for new pork explorations every chance I get.

Stewy goodness

Now before you get on the “pork is fatty and fat isn’t healthy” kick, let me rock your world for a sec.  Your body needs fat!  In fact, your brain is 60% fat and needs to be fed fat to work properly.  That’s why we were all insane during the fat-free craze of the early nineties.  However, as with everything else, not all fat is created equal.   There is a big difference between fat from a commercially-raised animal and fat from an animal organic and pasture-raised.  Synthetic hormones, chemical byproducts and antibiotics store themselves in fat cells, so the fat on non-organic animals is literally loaded with toxins and therefore toxic to us.  However, high-quality fat (both saturated and monounsaturated) coming from organically, humanely raised animals is the type of fat you want in your diet.  Lastly pork, just like our beloved olive oil, walnuts and avocados, is high in monounsaturated fat, a fat that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and create stabilized energy throughout the day.  What the WHAT!!  I know, crazy right?  For a more in depth look at fats, read this.

I feel lighter already, having divulged my big bad secret.  And isn’t that how it always goes?  Once we choose to reveal and share, whatever we were holding on to so tight loosens, softens and changes shape.  I could be mad at myself for keeping my porky love affair a secret.  I could berate myself for not being strong sooner, telling my anxiety and judgement to f**k off.  But I’m not.  Because in some way, my secret was serving me.  It kept me safe as the girl I used to be, a girl I thought people wanted to see.  And it wasn’t until I was ready to reveal the changed me, that it felt safe to do so.

Beautiful Bok Choy Blossoms

So here is what I want to know.  What secret have you been keeping that you are ready to reveal?  What are you holding on to that is no longer serving you, that you are totally over and ready to release?

I’m opening up the forum for you to be free and honest so let it all hang out, sweetie!  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.  In the meantime, enjoy this kick-ass recipe and eat your pasture-raised pork with pride!

Spring Turnip, Bok Choy Blossom and Pork Stew

This is a stew inspired by a dish I had at Ippuku in Berkeley.  They prepare it with ground chicken which you can certainly use here.  The turnips soak up the sweet, salty broth beautifully and the bok choy blossoms add a bit of much appreciated toothiness.  If you can’t find boy choy blossoms, kale, regular bok choy or cabbage work well.

Serves 2 with leftovers

Two 2-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup water

1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1 tablespoon tamari

Dash of fish sauce

4-5 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered

1 pound ground pork (or chicken)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

touch of sea salt

1/2 pound bok choy blossoms (about 2 handfuls)

Add the ginger, garlic, water, mirin, tamari, fish sauce and turnips to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the turnips are soft.

In a saute pan, add the pork, ground ginger and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked through.  Add the meat and bok choy blossoms to the turnips, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes until the blossoms are bright green.  You may need to add an extra bit of water here if the stew seems too thin.  Adjust seasoning to taste and enjoy!

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Makin’ sweet chocolaty luv….

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been all about revealing secrets recently. So here’s another one…Chocolate is the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.  Seriously!  He protects me from heart disease, high blood pressure and with his natural mood enhancing chocolately goodness, in just one bite he takes me from drab to fab! He never says no to me, is always there for me and somehow knows exactly when I need love and attention.

Every girl deserves to have a deeply satisfying relationship with her chocolate.  The problem is that many of us keep our sweetie hidden from view, only enjoying him quickly and covertly so as to avoid someone seeing him and asking for a nibble.  To miss chocolate’s slow, sensuous nature is to deprive ourselves of the relationship of lifetime.  No one will commit to you, listen to you and know exactly what to say the way chocolate will.  In fact, my chocolate man and I just hit year 20 and we are still going strong!

Ah Yeah!
About to get it on!
Makin’ sweet chocolaty luv!
One happy girl!

Here are four simple steps to creating a lasting and loving relationship with your chocolate:

See – Look your chocolate over and notice his beautiful shape and how he is melted into form.
Smell – Does he smell like coffee, Tahitian vanilla, or nutmeg?  Notice his unique scent and let it fill your senses.
Chew – Take one square of your chocolate and chew it very carefully in your mouth, making sure not to swallow.  This allows for him to melt evenly over your tongue.
Melt – Let the chocolate sit on your tongue and melt across your palate.  The longer you let the rich goodness stay the more chances he has to touch each of your taste buds.

I know, right?  When you eat chocolate like that, actual men seem to pale in comparison. (Just kidding, we love our real men!)  Now are your ready to commit to this relationship fully and completely?  Grab yourself a dark chocolate bar, find a luxurious couch, lean back and go slow.  It just doesn’t get much better than that.  (If you feel like going BIG, try these chocolate blueberry truffles.  All I can say is, wowza!)

Leave a comment and tell me what your relationship with chocolate is like and how he (or she) makes you feel.   Come on, I want to know  ;)

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day makin’ sweet chocolaty luv!

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Secrets to Super Sexy Salad

I could eat salad every day….and do, actually.  I’m pretty sure Gray and I eat a small farm’s worth of greens every week.  Sometimes when I think about all the cabbage, red leaf, green leaf, butter lettuce, arugula, radishes and fresh herbs I ingest, I really do wonder, “Where does it all go?”  And after a quick “thank you” to my body for digesting it all, I dive right back in.  With my love of raw vegetable combinations you might think I’m one of those ladies who orders salad when lunching with her other lady friends.  This, I can assure you, never happens!  (The salad part, not the ladies lunching part.)  Honestly, I rarely order salads out because I value my salad experience far too much.  Most salads are dry, flat, flavorless disasters to which you must add a ton of thin, uninteresting dressing just to make it passable.  I shouldn’t be so tough on those little leaves. It’s not their fault they are forced into plastic bags, their juiciness being sucked away moment by moment as they ride in a truck on the way to your local Trader Joes or Safeway.  Granted, there are locally-focused restaurants that have beautiful salads, but more often than not you are presented with a sad state of salad affairs that you obligingly eat because you should “eat your greens”.

I’m sure you are thinking, “Jamie sounds like a raving lunatic.  It’s only salad, for goodness sake!”  And yes, you are right.  However good salad, really, truly amazing salad is a rarity for which I would happily forgo any rich meaty dish or even, dare I say it, dessert.  Whenever invited to a dinner party I always bring salad, and without fail I am asked, “How did you make this?  This is the best salad I have ever had!”  I smile and say, “It’s not me, its the ingredients.”  So, are you ready to learn how to make a brilliant salad that will make you and your guests cry for joy?  Alright then, let’s go!

Secrets For Super Sexy Salad

(And if you are wondering what makes any salad sexy, I’ll tell you.  Any time something delicious and juicy hits your tongue and you allow yourself to sit and savor it, you are transported to a seriously pleasurable and dare I say, sexy place.  Yes, salad can be just as sensuous as lamb stew or chocolate fondue.  You just need to give the good stuff a try!)

#1-  Buy whole heads of lettuce-  This keeps you away from the dry, mealy stuff and opens up an entirely new world of plump leaves that beg to be eaten.  Leaves and stems should be firm, not floppy, and feel moist to the touch but not soggy.

#2-  Mix it up-  Experiment with multiple types of lettuce rather than sticking to boring ole’ romaine.   Red leaf, green leaf, arugula, escarole, chicories, red butter, and green butter are all different varieties of lettuce that entice the palate and keep you interested.  I love mixing different lettuces in my salad to create varying colors and textures.  (The gorgeous maroon-colored lettuce below is what I picked up at today’s Farmer’s Market.  Talk about mixin’ it up!)

Batavian Lettuce

#3-  Texturize-   There are countless reasons why most salads are flat, however a big one is lack of texture.  Just eating lettuce with a spinkle of Parmesan is a one note experience and as you know, you want eating to be a symphony. (Like how I did that?)   You want wet, dry, crunchy, and creamy co-mingling and gettin’ comfy on the salad plate.  Red and watermelon radishes, red/green cabbage, avocado, goat cheese, blue cheese, jicama, and even pickled cauliflower provide texture and taste that impart life to your salad.

#4-  Go nuts- For me, salad does not hit that divine place until it is topped with some kind of nut or seed.  Nuts and seeds add crunchy, fatty awesomeness that take a good salad to great.  I recommend toasting your nuts/seeds before using them as heat brings our their richness and flavor.  And please do not get sucked into only using almonds.  (I know you!)  Try sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and hazelnuts.  Each has a unique offering so experiment and see which you like best.

#5- Touch of sweetness-  This is a husband request as my man is more of a sweety while I’m a salty dawg.  However, I will admit that many times a touch of fruit is exactly what the doctor ordered.  Adding fruit to your salad should change with the seasons which helps keep you from getting stuck in an apple rut.  In the Spring add strawberries.  In the Summer, a plum, peach, nectarine or pluot.  I adore pears in salad in the fall and for winter, toss in a few orange segments, grapefruit or persimmon.  Remember, this is not a “fruit salad” but rather using a touch of fruit for balance of flavor.  For a salad for 2, I use 1/2 a piece of fruit.

#6-  Dress it up-  This is where most people get it wrong.   Repeat after me:  ”I will no longer outsource my salad dressings!”  Most people grab bottled salad dressings because they believe homemade versions are too hard.  Oh, how wrong you are.  First know, almost every salad I make gets dressed in the same way.  Unfiltered, cold pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper.  DONE!  Sometimes I work in a bit of Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice but that really is about it.  I prefer my dressing to be light rather than rich & creamy so as to get the vegetables’ tasty story.  Think of dressing as an enhancer, the finishing bow on an already beautiful present.

There you have it.  The secrets to super sexy salad every time!  Please experiment with these tips and let me know what you come up with.  Of course, with all this salad talk it would be down right wrong to leave you without recipe to try.  I made this salad for our 20 person New Year’s Eve party and truth be told, it was more popular than the champagne. The sweet and crunch of the cabbage played perfectly against the spicy nature of the arugula and onion.

It is also the perfect salad for a romantic Valentine’s dinner.  Pair with a glass of jammy Zinfandel and dark chocolate and honestly, you can let gettin’ it on be the main course.   Enjoy!

Arugula & Cabbage Salad

Arugula and Cabbage Salad with Onion, Lemon and Parmesan

You will notice here that I’ve broken rule #4 as there are no nuts or seeds to be seen in this recipe.  The beauty of rules is they are made to broken and so I took the liberty of making this salad sans-nuts.  However toasted hazelnuts, if you felt so inclined, would be delicious on this.

Serves 4

1/2 a small red onion

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon organic honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 cups green cabbage, finely sliced

2 handfuls arugula

1/2 cup raw Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Soak the sliced onions in a small bowl of cold water for 20 minutes while prepping the rest of the salad.  In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard, and a touch of salt and pepper.  Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is well combined.  Set aside.

Cut the cabbage in half and then one of the halves, into quarters.  With a sharp knife, slice two of the quarters of the cabbage into thin strips and place the second cabbage half in the fridge for later use.  This should be about 2 cups.   Place the cabbage in a bowl with the arugula, the drained onions and the dressing.  Fold in the Parmesan cheese, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.


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CSA Adventures: Turkey Meatball Soup

Another fabulous post from my the newest JamieLiving health coach, Tanya McCausland!

We are in the height of winter vegetable season and I totally love it! The main reason is that I’m a serious soup junkie.  And of course winter veggies like carrots, celery, celery root, onions, cauliflower and hearty greens are just BEGGING to be turned into steaming, comforting and warming soups and stews. I’m pretty obedient so I have no problem doing as they ask and making a soup or stew once, even twice a week. My CSA has been brimming with wonderful soup veggies that sing cooking inspiration to me every time I open my box.

You just can’t go wrong with soup. For me it meets all my requirements for a weeknight meal:
-       Use what I have
-       Quick and easy
-       Forgiving (i.e. “screw up proof”)
-       Delicious

Soup can be the ultimate “clean the pantry” meal. I almost always have half an onion waiting to be used, carrots and celery on the verge of going limp and some sort of green leafy thing that is screaming “eat me”! Throw in a protein like canned beans or leftover chicken and you’ve got dinner in less than 30 minutes. If you have a slow cooker, throw it all in there, turn it on, go away, come back in 3-4 hours and dinner is waiting. I mean really, there is no reason to be waiting an hour for pizza delivery!

Here’s just how screw-up free soup is:   Got veggies? Got water?  Got soup!  Tastes bland? Do not despair! Add salt, pepper, a gulp of olive oil, a splash of tamari, spoonful of curry paste, squeeze of lemon or grated parmesan. Soup likes to be doctored up so don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors.

Soup is going to help me stay sane in 2012 because I know it’s going to be a crazy busy year. I’m ramping up my health and wellness business, starting to see nutrition clients and training for the Death Ride in July (which means multiple century rides between now and then. Yikes!). Making a filling and delicious dinner every night is going to be tough but I know that as long as I have a pot of soup sitting in the fridge I’ll be able to make time for all of these things and have a quick meal waiting in the fridge.

So, today I started 2012 off with a fabulous and warming Turkey Meatball Soup. With ground turkey sitting in the fridge and the spinach, carrots and onion in this weeks CSA I was reminded of making this recipe in the spring. It’s perfect for this time of year as well….warm, comforting and absolutely delicious! Plus, you can easily improvise or adapt this recipe by adding different veggies or some barley or wild rice. Enjoy!

Turkey Meatball Soup

Serves 4-5

1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped (about 3 stalks)
1 cup carrots, cut into half moons (about 2 medium)
½ TBSP extra virgin olive oil, ghee or butter
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp salt and pepper
no salt seasoning mix, chili pepper, dried oregano (herbs or your choice for meatballs)
2 bunches spinach, Swiss chard or kale (or 3-4 handfuls packaged)
1/3 cup chopped parsley

In a large soup pot saute onion in oil or butter until translucent. Add celery and carrots with pinch of salt. Continue to saute for 4-5 minutes over medium heat.

Add stock to pot and bring to a low boil.

Meanwhile, combine turkey, salt, pepper and seasoning of your choice in a stand mixer (or you can combine by hand). Get creative with the seasoning – any dried herbs and spices will work fine.

Once stock has come to a boil, roll turkey into small balls (about 1 ½ Tbsp sized) and add them gently into the stock. Don’t worry about them being perfectly round.

After you have used up all the turkey add the spinach and stir in until it wilts. Toss in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Tanya McCausland is a health and wellness coach and avid home cook. She hoards recipes (is there a TLC show for that yet?) and loves to ride her bike. She believes that great health begins with real ingredients and delicious home cooked meals. Her goal is to help others find the joy, empowerment and healing that the kitchen has to offer.

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Roasted Chicken Cassoulet

Cassoulet is for serious people.  Make no mistake, when you put 5 kinds of meat (traditionally pork sausage, pork shoulder, goose, duck and pork skin) into a single dish, you are not messing around.  I, on the other hand, am not a serious person and tend to take things as lightly as I can.  Life just feels better that way.  Don't get me wrong, I can certainly get agro about work, traffic and the occasional family meltdown but other than that, I try to let things flow.  However, cassoulet is not a flowing kind of a dish.  In fact it's down right anti-flow as after a single bowl of rich, meaty goodness, you aren't going any where for a while.  And yet, this traditional casserole from the south of France has always piqued my interest.  Even as a card carrying vegetarian/vegan I often thought how I could possibly make a cassoulet Jamie-friendly.

First a definition: Cassoulet is a slow-cooked meat and white bean stew that receives its name from the ceramic vessel cassole in which it is cooked.  Though cassoulet means a very specific thing in France, in the good ole' U.S. of A. it is often used as a fancy term for any combination of meat and beans.  As a vegetarian, my first cassoulet experiment came in the form of this roasted garlic and butternut squash recipe.  I left out the meat (of course), yet since I was serving it to a bunch of other vegetarians, no one cared that I called it a cassoulet.  (At the time I didn't have any French friends either, so that was helpful.)   It was an awesome dish and one that I whipped out every fall when squash season came around.  And then I started eating meat.  Oh meat how I do love thee.  Particularly paired with beautiful beans.  And yet I'm still not serious enough to make a real cassoulet.

roasted chicken cassoulet

Honestly, I'm intimidated by all that meat.  It just seems excessive, no?  I'm also not a big super fatty, crazy-rich dish fan.  It's not that I'm a food prude, my palate just doesn't swing that way.  So here is my first meat attempt at cassoulet.   Serious traditionalists please turn away as I can tell you right now this will cause you pain.   However if you want an extremely tasty chicken and bean stew, this dish will make you very happy!

And for those of you who are curious, here is a recipe that is the real deal

Roasted Chicken Cassoulet

I made this recipe gluten free however if you are gluten full, before adding the parsley, top the dish with homemade breadcrumbs and throw it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up.  Quite delicious!

Serves 4

4 ounces organic pancetta, chopped (optional though highly recommend)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup white wine (you can also use 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups chicken broth

2 15-ounce cans of great Northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (Go for the Eden brand as they are BPA-free)

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stem

1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves removed from the stem and chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper taste

3 cups leftover roasted chicken thighs, cut into chunks **

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven and add the pancetta.  Sauté until crisp and remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pot.   Add the olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt to the pot and cook until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and wine and simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and broth.

Add the beans, carrots, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.  Add the chicken and cook for another 3-5 minutes.  If the stew is thin, let it cook, uncovered for a few minutes.  If it is too thick, add a bit more broth.  Taste to adjust the seasoning and top with chopped parsley and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

**If you are using fresh chicken, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sear 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs in a single layer. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a plate and when cool, cut into chunks.  Add the cooked chicken at step 4.

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CSA Adventures: Asian Bok Choy Salad

My mom is the ultimate improvisational cook – something I truly strive to be. One look in the fridge and cupboard and she can whip up a delicious dinner that will knock your socks off. Me? More often than I would like to admit I sigh, throw my hands in the air and make a run to the grocery store for a few missing things. But, I’m learning her secrets….slowly but surely.

She recently came for a visit from Pennsylvania (where I graduated from high school and my parents still live). I love it when she’s here because it means I get to take a break from cooking and can take more notes on her incredible culinary acumen. She’s a combination of the Tazmanian devil and McGyver in the kitchen – when she’s not digging in my garden she’s in the kitchen cooking up a storm with whatever she happens to find lurking in my fridge. It’s pretty amazing!

On one evening I was busy doing some work for a client while my mom cooked a delicious duck we’d picked up at Marin Sun Farms near Pt. Reyes. When we sat down to dinner she put a salad on the table with ingredients I did not at first recognize. Not that they were unrecognizable….I just didn’t know I had salad ingredients in my fridge! “Mom, what did you make this salad with?” Turns out she’d found some bok choy hiding in my crisper drawer, half a head of cabbage and decided to make salad with it. Then, because there was one lonely apple hiding in the fruit bowl she added that as well. Mixed with a delicious tangy dressing this salad was AWESOME!

Fast forward a week, when I got another load of bok choy and a few radishes in my CSA. I happened to have some red cabbage lingering in my fridge so I knew right away what I was going to make. I added flavor by toasting up some pumpkin seeds with a few yummy spices. Just FYI, this is a great salad for work because it doesn't go all wilted and floppy on you! Make this salad with dinner, pack some up in a tupperware and put the dressing on the side.

This salad is perfect for the fall and winter months. The bok chok, cabbage AND radishes are loaded in vitamin C – our number one immune boosting vitamin. Plus, the pumpkin seeds provide a good source of zinc which has also been shown to ward off yucky colds and flus. How great is it that mother nature knows we can get sick this time of year so she delivers us great veggies to help keep us healthy? Get your fill now so you can be tissue free all winter long! And, since all the veggies are part of the cruciferous family you get added cancer protection!

Now, since this is a salad the amounts are just estimates. Be a fearless improvisational salad creator!

Asian Bok Choy and Cabbage Salad

Serves 4

The Salad

3 bunches of baby bok choy, chopped

1/2 medium red cabbage, shredded (I use a mandolin for this, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets)

4-5 radishes, sliced

Handful of dill, chipped

The Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp cumin

A few dashes of Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio (I use this versatile flavor mix quite often. If you don’t have this on hand you can use any combination of spices. Cumin, ground cardamom, salt would be delicious)

Salt to taste

Heat oil in sautee pan over medium-low. Add pumpkin seeds, spices and salt and toss frequently until they begin to slightly brown. They will begin to puff up a bit. Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them. You don’t want them to get too brown.

Set aside and let cool a bit before tossing into your salad.

 The Dressing

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1-2 drops of sesame seed oil

Drop of maple syrup

Squeeze of half a lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients in bowl. Taste and add more vinegar or tamari if you need more flavor.

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