Richly colored, crunchy textured, and bursting with flavor, Muhammara helps celebrate the holidays deliciously. Originating in Syria, Muhammara is undeniably a standout, whether on its own, as a dip for crudités or pita, or slathered on a sandwich. Deep-red Muhammara, which is Arabic for “reddened,” is a most healthy and delicious alternative to hummus—everyone’s previously favorite dip!
Based on an online search, I learned to pronounce this Syrian specialty as mu-ham-ma-ra. Although, you might prefer one of these other possibilities: mu-HUMM-a-ra, moo-hahm-MRAH, or mooah-MARA. 😁
Despite the number of pronunciations and recipes, the ingredients are mostly the same, though perhaps treated differently. The givens include red peppers (roasted or not), walnuts (toasted or not), pomegranate molasses, and Aleppo red pepper flakes. The variations include differing spices and quantities, as well as differing textures from coarsely chopped to smoothly puréed. Thus, it took a bit of research, tasting and refining to create today’s Muhammara recipe.
Vegan, gluten- and dairy-free Snickerdoodles that look, taste and smell just like the Snickerdoodles we remember.
Until March of this year, it had been many years since my last Snickerdoodle cookie. Though, that first bite, even after so many years, quickly brought back memories of the taste, smell and texture of original Snickerdoodles. Yet, that cookie included olive oil and eggs, was both dairy and gluten-free, made with a small amount of puréed pumpkin and was round. Not a standard list of Snickerdoodle ingredients or look.
THE SEARCH WAS ON
The friend I was with at the time and I both agreed that we wanted to find and/or create a vegan Snickerdoodle recipe. Our search began once we saw the list of ingredients for those cookies. Surprisingly that pumpkin purée was the first ingredient, and almond flour made them gluten-free. However, we wanted a cookie without eggs or olive oil. I searched online for vegan Snickerdoodles with pumpkin, and found a promising recipe on the following blog, Wholesomelicious.com. Today’s recipe was inspired by and lightly adapted from that recipe.
Clean flavors, crisp textures and colorful fresh vegetables make French Green Lentil Salad a great addition to summer menus. Crisp and colorful with summer’s juicy, ripe tomatoes and refreshing cucumbers. Clean and bright with the garden’s bounty of fresh parsley, mint, oregano and scallions. Healthy and wholesome with earthy, French-green, du Puy lentils. And all tossed together with a tangy Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette. French Green Lentil Salad travels well, whether to work, a picnic, a potluck or to your patio table. This salad’s destined to become a summertime favorite.
French Green Lentils
French green lentils, provide the hearty and flavorful foundation for this main dish salad. These tiny, mottled, bluish-green lentils have a richer and earthier flavor than many other lentil varieties. Plus, they hold their texture and maintain their shape when cooked. Rather important attributes for a salad. They can easily be found in the bulk section of natural food markets
Celebrate spring and asparagus season with a bowl of gluten-free ramen and carrot noodles tossed in a creamy and delicious Miso Cilantro Pesto. This quick and easy dish combines deeply roasted asparagus with lightly cooked and fork-twirlable carrot noodles. The fresh and flavorsome pesto brings the dish together with its abundance of fresh young greens, cilantro and umami-rich miso. It’s definitely spring in the kitchen.
Have you yet discovered Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen noodles? These Japanese-style noodles are made from nutritious and easily digestible, gluten-free millet and brown rice instead of the more typical wheat. Being ramen, they quickly cook in about 5 minutes.
Versatile, Nourishing Miso
Miso is so much more than a bowl of soup. It is a culinary staple, a condiment, a spice, a seasoning and a flavor enhancer with many health benefits. Umami-rich miso is used in recipes as diverse as salad dressings, marinades, pastas, stews, spreads, dips, soups and even desserts.
Few people outside of Minnesota ever taste or even see traditional wild rice. Their long, thin “grains,” with their nutty flavor, chewy texture, and nutrient density are quite a delicacy. My husband grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Although he left many years ago, his two sisters still live there. So, each year, we receive a Christmas gift of truly wild, hand-harvested, Minnesota -wild rice. Although it resembles rice and is treated, prepared and enjoyed like rice, wild rice is actually unrelated to rice. It is an aquatic marsh grass.
Truly Wild, Wild Rice
Traditional wild rice is gathered by hand by “ricers” in a canoe. In this 19th century image, one woman holds a forked push pole. The other two women each have a wooden flail to knock the rice into the canoe. Finishing the harvested rice involves fermentation, followed by smoke curing, by parching the wild rice over fire, gas or steam heat. This is done to dry the wild rice in order to loosen the chaff, so it can be winnowed away and removed from the kernel. Watch this process on YouTube by searching for: Dancing and Winnowing Manoomin.
Dear Dr. Ma, I was told I need more minerals, but the tablets recommended constipate me. What are my options? — Susan
Great question! I was just reading the other day a statement that struck me funny: “If we could get all our minerals from the earth’s crust, we would have eaten it away to nothing.” Yet, as you are experiencing, our bodies don’t digest and process minerals straight. All plants, whether growing in the sea or on land, are made to do this job for us. Simply put, the roots pull the minerals out of the soil, we eat the plants, and receive the benefits of easily digested, assimilated, utilized, and eliminated minerals. Whole-food minerals, or balanced mineral salts, as they are called in the body, are needed in every interaction and process in our body’s systems.
Equally delicious served warm over rice, as the main element of a Buddha bowl, or served cold as a lettuce wrap or salad. The braising liquid—rich with mirin (Japanese fermented rice cooking wine), fresh ginger, garlic, soy and tomato—builds savory and fragrant flavor notes deep into the tofu. Enjoy Tomato Braised Tofu Shiitakes and Greens as a most deliciously satisfying, nutritious, protein-rich, plant-based entrée, side or snack.
It has been so many years since I ate tofu. A few months ago, I began feeling the need to add a bit more protein in my diet. I stopped, rather than pass by the recipe in my huge recipe binder that inspired Tomato Braised Tofu Shiitakes and Greens. After reading the recipe and looking into the health benefits of tofu, I decided to give tofu another try.
Consider a luscious, roasted pear dessert for your holiday table. Easily-prepared Roasted Pear Maple Pecan Crisp comes together in 15 minutes. It then bakes unattended for about 40 minutes. With most holiday dishes requiring organization and concentration, what a treat to have a light and lovely dessert with so little effort.
Presentation’s Everything The transformation of the traditional fruit crisp into more sophisticated holiday fare retains all that we love about fruit crisps, from the crispy topping to the tender fruit.
Imagine a roasted pear half atop a swirl of maple yogurt. The pear is filled with golden brown, crisp, chunky and gently spiced Maple Pecan Topping. And, it’s all embellished with a sprinkling of ruby red pomegranate seeds (arils) for both striking color and complexity of flavor.
I saw a portion of a travelogue the other evening on the Provençal region of southeastern France. The host was walking through a farmers’ market in Nice. I was astonished and delighted to see rows of grab-and-go baskets filled with Ratatouille (rat-ə-TOO-ee) vegetables. Truly fast-food shopping at its healthiest. Each basket looked rather similar to this handsome Ratatouille Family portrait featuring the vegetables in my Ratatouille. For me, just the sight of farmers’ markets and home gardens bursting with late summer produce turns my thoughts to Ratatouille. And, propels me into action.
Ratatouille and I Go Way Back
Our relationship goes back to my college days in Berkeley. My new friend across the hall ate Ratatouille mixed with cottage cheese for lunch almost daily. At the time, it seemed much too weird for me to even consider trying it. Eggplant and peppers and summer squash—no way!
Until last summer, roasting was my preferred way to cook beets. (Actually, the only way I cooked beets.) I’d not heard of nor considered steaming beets. Though, steam them I did. To my surprise, the wedges of steamed beet were tender and retained both their flavor and color. While hot, I tossed them in a balsamic vinegar, fresh herb and garlic dressing. By adding some favorite beet accompaniments—toasted walnuts, fresh mint and feta cheese—a new, healthy, delicious, and gorgeous Balsamic Beet Salad was born. Plus, I can now recommend two excellent cooking methods for beets: roasting and steaming.
Steaming Beets Is a Win-Win
Steaming beets retains both their vitamins and minerals as well as their gorgeous color and flavor. Plus, they cook in about a third to half the time of roasted beets. Depending on their size, in 30–45 minutes, steamed beets are tender and ready to eat. Great as an easy side dish with just a sprinkling of salt. And, especially delicious as a side or main dish Balsamic Beet Salad.