Thursday, July 14, 2022

Mediterranean Summer Grain Salad

It is time for a great grain recipe that helps clear out the fresh veggies from your garden.  It can take as little as 20 minutes to make or more if you use a variety of grains in your recipe.  Check out the previous blogs on the protein content of the grains and the nutrients they provide.  Let me know which grains you use and the results!!!

Mediterranean Summer Grain Salad Recipe
(Vegan if omit cheese)

4 1/2 c cooked amaranth, couscous, Israeli couscous, quinoa, or barley or combine them all
3/4 c cucumbers, 1/2” slices then quartered
3/4 c tomatoes, 1/2” cubes or halved cherry or grape
1/4 c feta, crumbled
1/3 c artichoke hearts, in brine rinsed then quartered or smaller
1/8 c toasted pine nuts
8 kalamata olives, cut into pieces
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp basil, fresh and chopped
1 T Sal y Pimienta avocado oil or olive oil
Pepper, fresh ground

Cook the grain according to package directions.  See bottom of recipe for basic directions.   Prepare the remaining ingredients while the grain is cooking.  Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, olives, lemon juice, lemon zest and basil in a large bowl and lightly toss. 

After the grain is cooked, remove from heat, fluff and wait for it to cool for about 15 minutes.  Add to the prepared mixture and gently toss.  Drizzle the oil and crack fresh ground pepper and gently toss one last time.

Serve chilled.

Prep time: 15minutes
Cook time:  5-45 depending on grain choice
Serving size: 1 cup servings
Serves 6

Amaranth:  1 1/4 c water for 1/2-cup amaranth.  Combine in pot, bring to boil.  Simmer for about 20 min on low heat
Barley: 1 1/4 c water for 1/2-cup barley.  Boil water, add barley.  Simmer for 45 min on low heat.
Israeli couscous: 1 c water for 1/2 c Israeli couscous. Boil water, add couscous.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes on low heat
Couscous: 5/8 c water for 1/2 c couscous.  Boil water, add couscous.  Stir, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes. 
Quinoa: 1 c water for 1/2 c quinoa.  Combine in pot, bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Winter (and Fall) Squash Season

by Sabrina Linden, Dietetic Intern
Cooler temperatures and shorter days put the rich orange, yellow, and green hues of winter squash on display.   Providing vitamins A, B6, and C, and packed with antioxidants, this veggie is sure to boost immunity all season long.  The yearend’s varieties differ from their summer counterpart in that they have a hardy (often still edible) exterior allowing survival through the chilling weather, and a mildly sweet interior as cozy and comforting as your favorite sweater.  If you’re new to squash shopping, delicata and butternut are great options for beginners; the deeper the beige of butternut, the better.  As for delicata, look for a strong yellow color with green stripes.  Both cylinder shapes can be prepared with the skin intact.  Veterans to these vegetables can explore the evergreen spherical versions like acorn and kabocha.  And, if you’re trying to convince anyone in your household to eat more veggies, may I suggest a golden spaghetti squash- yes the inside looks just like noodles!    All in all, winter squash are one of my favorite kickoffs to fall.  I encourage you to add them to your grocery list and remember, whichever you choose, make sure it’s: firm, not soft; blemish-free; dull, not shiny.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Kabocha Squash and Azuki Beans with Kale!

What's the difference between "pumpkin" and "squash"?   

This is the best answer I could find:
"Squash are generally separated into three categories: summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkins. The difference between them all is really just based on how they are used. Summer squash are harvested when young and tender, while winter squash are harvested when hard and ripe. Pumpkins are really just winter squash, but have a distinctive pumpkin shape."* 

Not to mention there are SOOOO many varieties.  I found great lists (plus additional recipes) - All About Pumpkins Varieties and Seed to Supper.  In this recipe, I used the Kabocha Squash but Butternut or Acorn could have easily been substituted.  There was so much squash left I had to figure out what to do with it.  Check out and join later this week for the great treat!!  

Pumpkin is so nutritious, full of fiber and beta-carotene.  Here is more in formation:
1 cup of cooked pumpkin flesh contains**:
Calories 49 
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg 
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg

To truly amp up this macrobiotic dish, add some brown rice.  Check out last week's blog on the macrobiotic diet.  Prepare the Kabocha Squash and Azuki Beans with Kale or any of the other wonderful recipes and and you'll find yourself saying "That's Vegetarian?!"

Kabocha Squash and Azuki Beans with Kale

1 6-inch Piece of kombu
1c Azuki beans, dried
2c Kabocha squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, can leave peel on if organic, I prefer without
1/2 bunch kale, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1t soy sauce or shoyu
1t ginger

Combine the kombu and beans in a bowl and cover with 3 c water.  Soak for a minimum of 5 hours preferably overnight. 

Drain the kombu and beans, discarding the soaking water.  Slice the kombu into 1" x 1" squares and put the pieces in a pot.  Add the beans and fresh water to cover the beans by about 1 inch.  Put the burner on high and bring to a boil, straining any foam that rises to the top.   Boil for about 5 minutes or so.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes checking every 10 minutes for enough water (at bean level) and doneness.  Soaking the beans longer decreases the cooking time.

Once the beans feel al dente, add the ginger and soy sauce (or shoyu) and stir.  Then place the squash on top and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.  Check, it should be slightly soft, then add the kale and simmer for another 10 minutes.  It should still be bright green.

Prep time: 15 minutes, mostly for cutting the squash and kale.
Bake time: 50 minutes
Serves 4, about 1 cup each
Level of difficulty - Intermediate.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Winter is a great time for soups - Hot and Sour is easier than you thought

 Keeping it brief, I bought a bunch of bok choy and wasn't sure what to do with it all. Searching for recipes, I came across a hot and sour soup. AND I couldn't believe how easy it was. I had to modify it a fair bit because I prefer more hot and more sour than the recipe had. Here is my SOUPED up version (every bit of the pun intended). Many of the ingredients are swappable, add more such as baby corn and water chestnuts. Leave out the egg if you want it vegan. The nutrition facts are approximate depending which ingredients you use. More soup recipes to come to battle this winter. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Super Bowl Sunday!! Are you ready for some healthy snacks? Wait I mean FOOTBALL!!!

Another guest blogger - Dietetic Intern Esteban Tlatenchi.

The Super Bowl is the most famous sporting event in the United States. The National Football League schedules it on the first Sunday of February, also known as Super Bowl Sunday. In the U.S., people view it as an unofficial national holiday. American football fans or not, people like getting together with friends and family to socialize, watch the commercials, cheer for their team or the underdog, and eat delicious finger foods.

The party will have plenty of food for the next couple of hours. Probably before the end of the halftime show, a person could eat at least one serving of everything. The Department of Agriculture ranked Super Bowl Sunday as the second-highest day of food consumption in the U.S. next to Thanksgiving. The top Super Bowl party foods are (in no order): sliders, nachos with a dip, pizza, chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, or anything wrapped in bacon, hot dogs, popcorn, party subs, loaded potato skins, and ribs. Food and drinks combined can add up many calories of high fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium. Do not forget to include desserts and beverages, which include sugary drinks and beer. All these foods and drinks are delicious and tasty but come at a high price.

Imagine tallying the calorie values of some of the foods a person could eat during the game. Using CalorieKing and the USDA's national nutrient database, a person could eat about 4,000 calories, over 150 grams of fat, and 180 g of sugar from the items listed below.









Cal Burn Time


Costco’s Pepperoni Pizza

2 slices


48 g

136 g

2580 mg

14 g

142 min or 345 min



Domino’s BBQ Chicken Wings

8 pcs


26 g

36 g

1680 mg

20 g

55 min or 134 min



Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips

22 chips

(2 oz)


16 g

34 g

360 mg

2 g

34 min or 83 min



Regular Hot Dogs w/ ketchup & roll

2 hot dogs


37 g

58 g

1980 mg

18 g

72 min or 175 min



Tostitos Tortilla Chips with a hint of lime

12 chips


14 g

36 g

250 mg

1 g

34 min or 83 min



Tostitos Medium Salsa con Queso

8 Tbsp 

(½ cup)


10 g

20 g

1120 mg

2 g

18 min or 44 min



Corona Extra Beer

(39.3 g alcohol)

3 cans 12 fl oz


0 g

42 g

0 g

2.1 g

52 min or 125 min



Pepsi Soda

3 cans 12 fl oz


0 g

123 g

90 g

123 g

52 min or 125 min



Total consumed during the game



485 g

8060 mg

182 g

7.5 hrs or 18.5 hrs 



The 150 grams of fat is about ¾ cups of butter and the 180 g of sugar is about a cup of granulated sugar added on top of it. Eating these foods is the easy part but burning it off is a different story. A person to burn all these calories would have to jog about two marathons or walk from the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn to the beaches of Montauk, Long Island, at a pace of 10 min/mile. That is a lot of exercising to do to burn the food eaten at the party. Yet, a healthier option would be much different.

The estimate of 4,000 calories is more than one day's total recommended caloric intake of 2,000. By the end of the day, a person could eat more than 6,000 calories between breakfast, lunch, and the Super Bowl Party. A person can gain about a pound or two depending on their body. Maybe it is one of the reasons many call in sick for work the next day. There are alternative food options that one can prepare that are still tasty and, more importantly, healthy. One can still enjoy the game, the party, and eat healthily. With a bit of research and preparation, one can make healthier delicious treats that everyone can enjoy. Hopefully, by the end of the game, your team and you won by watching what you ate.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Plant Based for the Holidays? Yes You Can!!!

Thank you to my dietetic intern Anastasia Palshina, my guest blogger, for incorporating more plant-based foods into the holiday menu.


Winter holidays are here. It means delicious food will be on the tables of many Americans. While the current pandemic may destroy traditional gathering plans, it will unlikely affect the contents of the American holiday table. During the holiday season, there tends to be a spike in overindulgence and poor diet patterns. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 40% more calories are eaten at a holiday buffet by the average person versus dining alone.[1]Overconsumption affects people not only on Christmas or New Year’s Day but during the whole holiday season. Families experience a lot of stress during preparation, and some people experience loneliness[2] as well which contributes to overeating. Loneliness is intensified for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. The minimal consequences of such behavior may be a weight gain due to extra calories being consumed; people also may experience tiredness, mood swings[3], due to the type of unhealthy food they consume. Those who suffer from preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome can have more severe consequences.

         In holiday stories we often see how people enjoy goose or pork, candy canes, and gingerbread cookies with eggnog. Unfortunately, replicating these habits at home, people don’t think that goose or pork have high-fat content, specifically high in saturated fat. A traditional symbol of Christmas - the candy cane has 22 grams of added sugar and that is just for one candy. The list can go on and on. No wonder that for many people holidays is a true test of will power. Regardless of one's culture, the holiday table can vary significantly but they all have the same problem. The type of food chosen is extremely important during the holiday season. Many traditional dishes contain a lot of sodium, sugar, saturated fat and even trans-fat in numerous holidays bakery goods.[4]Trans fat destroys cell membranes, that is why it was banned by law. In small amounts trans-fat will not harm you. A single cookie or slice of cake is allowable; however, a holiday syndrome of overeating can increase consumption of trans fat. The hidden danger of trans fat can be also due to overconsumption of cooking oil, red meat, dairy products, and butter, whereas trans-fat exists in amounts less than 0.5g per serving and is not labeled. Several servings of such products certainly have the ability to be on the holiday table.1 Nothing but the combination of food high in sodium, saturated fat, and alcohol can spoil holiday days. The condition known as holiday heart syndromesends many people to the hospital every year.2

             To avoid such an unpleasant surprise during the holidays, a plant-based approach can be used. Many studies showed improvement in glycemic control and lipid balance in people who followed a plant-based diet, especially with type 2 diabetes.[5][6][7] Even simply replacing some saturated fat with walnuts that have essential fatty acid and a high concentration of omega -3 (3.4g per 3 oz.)[8]may not only help with bad lipid management but also enhance mood and regulate inflammation.[9] While completely switching to a vegetarian diet is a challenge for many people, the replacement of some food during holidays can bring much more joy than stress and prevent health conditions caused by traditional food consumption. Replace salty and fatty foods like pork or goose with plant-based protein such as beans, legumes, and tempeh. Replace sugary treats with more fruit-based reduced sugar desserts. Overconsumption will not be as detrimental if the holiday table is full of healthy plant-based food.

[1] "Holiday Heart Health Secrets: Here's how to navigate a tempting holiday buffet without overeating and compromising your health." Heart” Advisor, vol. 21, no. 12, Dec. 2018, p. 4+. Gale Academic OneFile, Accessed 13 Nov. 2020.

[2] "Avoid holiday heart and other seasonal threats to your health: alcohol use and overeating can lead to heart palpitations, but holiday heart isn't the only cardiovascular risk this time of year." Heart Advisor, vol. 17, no. 11, Nov. 2014, p. 4. Gale Academic OneFile, . Accessed 13 Nov. 2020.

[3] MD ES. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Blog. Published March 31, 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020.

[4] Trans fat: Double trouble for your heart. Mayo Clinic. Published February 13, 2020. Accessed November 30, 2020.

[5] Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, et al. A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1588S-1596S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736H

[6] Trepanowski JF, Varady KA. Veganism Is a Viable Alternative to Conventional Diet Therapy for Improving Blood Lipids and Glycemic Control. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(14):2004-2013. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.736093

[7] Turner-McGrievy G, Harris M. Key elements of plant-based diets associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Curr Diab Rep. 2014;14(9):524. doi: 10.1007/s11892-014-0524-y. PMID: 25084991.

[8] Gropper, S., Smith J.L., Carr T.P. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Seventh edition, Student edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning, 2018; 137.

[9] Kiecolt-Glaser JK;Belury MA;Andridge R;Malarkey WB;Glaser R; Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain, behavior, and immunity. Accessed November 30, 2020. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

APPLES!!!! One of the reasons I love Autumn!

Feel the soft supple skin. Is it firm to the touch or does it have some give? Smell the sweet fragrance. Gently bring it up to your mouth, touch it to your lips, open wide and one healthy bite into the sweet flesh until the juice starts to slide down your hand. Slowly pull it away. Savor the taste as you slowly chew on the crisp flesh of that delicious Winesap apple. The ever sensual apple. 

There are over 7,500 apple varieties, so many more that I remember from my childhood. Many exciting varietals are actually hybrids – Jonagold is a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, Empire is a cross between the Red Delicious and McIntosh, and the Mitsu (Crispin) is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indu. Who knew? 

Apples can be a combination of sweet and tart and a spectrum from crisp to mealy. Ever have a spicy apple? Try a Winesap. Or the newest apple from Washington State that was developed the old fashioned way - COSMIC CRISP. A cross between the Honeycrisp and Enterprise. It's juicy sweet, and tart. Learn a little more from this NPR clip.

Apples are primarily a late summer/fall harvest fruit but do harvest into November especially for winter varieties like Mitsu, Fuji, Northern Spy, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. When choosing the right apple, make sure there are no bruises. The ones you get in a regular supermarket are the prettiest of the bunch often waxed to perfection. Don't be afraid of the ones that are a little less shiny and raw looking. Less tampering with mother nature.

Also note that apples fall into the dirty dozen from the Environmental Working Group - which means, organic is best for apples. They retain and or use a lot of pesticides in the crop. General rule of thumb is to store in a dark cool place. Ever use an apple in a paper bag to ripen other fruits and vegetables? Well it is a great trick when you need them to ripen faster. Apples give off ethylene gas which speeds the ripening. So use caution leaving apples in your fruit crisper in the fridge. Keep the apple in a plastic bag in the drawer. 

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. 

Which apples do you like to use for what purpose? And if you really feel adventurous – Why? Please comment on That’s Vegetarian’s Blog below!

Apple Slaw  
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp oil - Olive, Walnut, Avocado
1/2 tsp table salt
2 cups cabbage - Napa, savoy, purple, green varieties; thinly sliced or chopped
1 cup celery, thinly sliced 
1 cup carrot, shredded
2 medium tart apples - Granny Smith, Cortland, pink lady, empire, McIntosh, Braeburn, Jonathan; cored and coarsely grated or shredded
2 medium shallots, minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper

First, make the dressing. In a large bowl add apple cider vinegar, honey, oil, and salt. Whisk together for  30 seconds to a minute until well combined. 
Add cabbage, celery, apples, shallots, and dried fruit. Toss. Season with pepper.
Prep time: 15 minutes

Apple Varieties and Uses.