February 23, 2015

Apricot Tomato Chickpea StirFry

This recipe is so awesome - thanks to my friends at Tomato Wellness for the inspiration to develop it. When you're cooking this dish, people will come by to ask what the amazing fragrance is as the spices blend with savory tomatoes and vegetables to create a very unique dish!
Yields 6 servings
This unexpected combination creates a delicious one-pot meal that offers antioxidants, fiber and flavor! Apricot lends sweetness to balance the natural acidity in tomato and red pepper while spices including chili powder brighten the dish and add complexity. Blending favorite spices together creates a vibrant color and bold flavor that everyone will love.
When balanced with healthful and fiber-packed whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, the Apricot Tomato Chickpea Stir Fry is a simple, yet easy to make dish. Combining protein, healthy fats and fiber creates a filling meal that takes about ten minutes to make. Fantastic for leftovers, pack some in a container to go for a flavorful lunch the next day!
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 can (14 oz) chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup diced tomatoes, not drained
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
½ cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat then sauté onions, garlic, ginger, and bell pepper for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  1. Add turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon, stirring constantly, adding small amounts of vegetable broth as needed to prevent the spices from sticking to the pot. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add remaining vegetable broth to the mixture and simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add apricots, chickpeas, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt.  Cover and switch to medium-low heat.  Allow to gently simmer for about 8-10 minutes, for flavor to develop.
  4. Ladle stir-fry over warm brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with cashews and cilantro.  Serve hot.
*original recipe by Ginger Hultin 1/20/15

February 18, 2015

How Was Your Valentine's Day?

How lucky to have a Valentine's Day on a Saturday this year!  Despite the continuing snow storms and frigid temps in Chicago, we had a lovely time full of time spent together, traditional celebration (red roses!) and some non-traditional ideas, too that worked out fantastically. If you read my blog, you know that I love Valentine's Day - I've loved it since I was in elementary school and we got to spend hours making heart envelopes to collect little grocery store pack Valentine's. (Looking back, I question the actual time spent on making Valentine's packets vs. learning how to read or do math, but hey - it was the 80's) You had to be careful which ones you gave to who - "You're Sweet" was best for a friend and "Happy Valentine's Day" best for anyone who could be interpreted as someone you 'liked'. Aside from that strategy, the most difficult part was picking out which package you wanted from the local grocery store: My Little Pony vs. Barbie cards? 

This Valentine's Day, I got red roses. I went to the gym and was the only girl to complete a full set of 20 inch box jumps in Tabata. We went out to dinner at a Pho place on Argyle and shared a delicious omelet and  soup with friends. And contrary to popular Midwest belief, Pho is pronounced "Fuh" - so says Huffington Post. Just for the record. Drinking California wines at BYOB and laughing with friends is the perfect way to share a Valentine's Day for me.Whether you celebrate Singles Awareness Day, Valentine's Day, or are simply getting excited that Spring is coming, I love that this weekend is all about spending time with friends or other people you care about whether you go out or eat in.
Sunday I went out with my dinner club, Unsettled, to Girl and the Goat in Chicago. They have their menu conveniently split into three sections: veg, fish and meat. While I don't participate in goat dishes or pig face, they have the BEST green beans, chickpea fritters, broccoli, cauliflower....when you go, be sure to order several of their infamous veg dishes.
What did you do Valentine's Day weekend that warmed your heart in one way or another?  How will you be spending the rest of your four weeks of winter?  Thanks Punxsutawney Phil ;)

January 28, 2015

To juice or not to juice? Pros and Cons

A question I get asked over and over again is about juicing; it is such a hot topic right now. Juicing continues trending strong in 2015 - another article about it just came out today in the LA Times, actually. Juicing is especially popular in the detox and weight loss circuits and, of course, with my patients going through a cancer diagnosis. Somehow, many people now believe that you have to juice to be healthy and then experience juicing-guilt if they aren't utilizing this practice as much as they have heard they should. So where did the juicing phenomenon come from and should you be participating?  *For the purpose of this article, I’m going to refer to juicing and blending interchangeably, naming them both  “juicing” though there are certainly differences. The reason for this is the questions I get are about both topics and the inquiries are covering similar topics: a concentrated form of veggies or fruit in liquid form. 

History of juicing: There is evidence of juicing fruits and veggies from ancient times. In modern day, a famous scientist from the 1920's, Max Gerson, popularized the practice as a cancer cure. I have many patients who come to me still on this Gerson diet. In the 1930's, Doctor Norman Walker wrote a book and practiced juicing as a form of consuming a living diet - you can still buy Norwalk juicers. The Champion juicer was invented in the 1950's, after which followed a plethora of juicers, becoming very popular in the 1990's with celebrities and health promoting figures. In 2010, the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead documentary came out where Australian Joe Cross teaches unhealthy Americans the benefits of juicing and sees vast improvements in his own health. I'm not affiliated with any of these people, but I do like the work Joe does and believe he and his dietitian Kristen DeAngelis (a good friend of mine) are great resources for more information on healthy juicing.   

Pros of juicing:
  • It is hydrating
  • It is a concentrated form of nutrients: there are antioxidants in the juice
  • Juicing can be really healthful and a way to hugely increase dietary plant-intake
  • You might juice produce that you otherwise don’t eat much of (beets, cilantro, lemon)
  • It’s a great on-the-go health food
  • It can taste great
  • Juice is easy to digest; without the fiber in a whole plant, you can take in a larger volume
  • People say it makes them feel good. 

Cons of juicing:
  • Juicing too much fruit can be too many calories or sugar for some people
  • Heat from the blender/juicer and time if you don’t drink it right away can destroy some nutrients
  • Juicing gets expensive (you have to buy a lot of produce)
  • It can be time consuming (preparation of veggies and cleaning equipment)
  • A lot of folks don’t want to juice during cold months
  • If you’re juicing (vs. blending), you remove the fiber from your produce
  • There is a risk of food borne illness
  • Drinking juice only (a cleanse) doesn’t give your liver all of the nutrients it actually needs to detox
  • Juice can be unbalanced: I like each meal and snack to contain a source of protein, fat and carbohydrate; juice is mainly carbohydrate. 
  • It can taste gross. 

Do I juice?  Not often; I don’t really care for it. I love eating veggies of all kinds and that’s how I get my nutrients.  If you like juicing or making smoothies, go for it! But don't have juice-guilt if you miss a day. Just be sure that you are also eating a variety of vegetables, both raw and cooked, and that you aren’t juicing too much fruit. Some people come to me with a prescription they’ve heard: “you must juice 16 ounces three times per day”….I tell people that juicing 8-12 ounces once per day should be adequate, depending on their goals, if they want to add juicing to an already healthy diet.  Feel free to leave me a comment if you agree, disagree or have more questions!