Root veggies, especially when roasted, are a real comfort food, and this is the kind of soup that’s a real reviver during chilly months. Chinese medicine associates root vegetables with lung health; other peer-reviewed studies have found squash such as the nutty Kabocha squash here are immune boosters filled with gut cleansing fiber. Soups like this just welcome a spice blast, and we’ve obliged this one with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and thyme. Downing a bowl is like lighting your internal fireplace to keep winter’s chill at bay.
Conquering this recipe reminded me of Charlie Brown’s travails with Lucy and that football. There would be Lucy, pleading with Charlie to take one more shot at kicking the football and promising she wasn’t going to mess with him anymore—and always pulling away the ball at the last moment. The Brussels sprouts in this recipe played Lucy to my Charlie. They teased me with their offerings of wellness—especially a compound shown to keep DNA from fragmenting during cell reproduction—but they kept refusing to play nice with every taste companion I threw their way. I was about to walk away for good when an email arrived from a friend who knew about my frustrations. She sent along a picture of a beautiful Brussels sprout stalk in her garden, with the small sprouts dotting the stalk, along with a caption that said, “Please give us another chance! We’ll be good!’ So I said, “Okay. One. Last. Chance.” And whaddya know? I finally achieved success. Roasting was the key, creating a golden-brown, sweet-tasting, crunchy treat.
This is my Rosetta stone of soup, a broth that can be transformed to meet a myriad nutritional needs, serving as everything from a delicious sipping tea to the powerful base for more hearty soups and stews. So no matter what a person’s appetite, it can provide a tremendous nutritional boost. This rejuvenating liquid, chock-full of magnesium, potassium, and sodium, allows the body to refresh and restore itself. I think of it as a tonic, designed to keep you in tip-top shape.
Rebecca Katz, Chef, Author and Food As Medicine (FAM) Executive Chef, demoed this recipe in her kitchen on stage at the end of FAM last year. It’s become a staple in our summer menus. We thought you’d like it, too!
Some folks like shots of tequila. Well, my choice of a shot is much, much healthier. Take this Mediterranean gazpacho. It makes a hit of V-8 look like amateur hour. The great part about gazpacho is it’s really a vegetable orgy; cucumbers, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, fennel, garlic. At this point readers often scream, imagining they’ll look like a bunch of nine-fingered piano players after all that veggie chopping. Believe me, I know—at culinary school, gazpacho prep is the equivalent of Ninja Knife Skills Boot Camp, where teachers walk around the kitchen with (I’m not kidding) rulers to make sure each veggie is uniformly diced. That’s nuts, and unnecessary; here we toss everything–veggies, spices, herbs, oil–all into Vinny the Vita Mix, add a little olive oil and shazam! It’s party time. I took this to an Independence Day dinner and poured out the cheer into shot glasses topped with a little avocado cream. You know you’re doing something right when everyone corners you for the recipe (I’m an easy touch on that one). This is like a drinking a Virgin Mary. No hangovers. Promise.
Variety isn’t just the spice of life; it’s the one thing that will keep you from falling into a food rut. Salad lovers often tell me they get bored with the same old thing. The danger, of course, is this disenchantment can lead them away from the greens their bodies really need. Enter this salad and the idea of eating seasonally. It’s not just a catch phrase. Each season brings new foods just hitting their peak; in this case strawberries and arugula were just taking their first walks of the spring down the runway. In addition to their incredibly sweet taste, strawberries fight inflammation and tumor growth. Here you’ve got a fresh salad that feels like Pop Rocks going off in your mouth: Strawberries, mint, a lemony balsamic vinaigrette, a topping of sliced almonds. You want variety? This is the salad equivalent of Secret Santa: Lots of surprises, and every one of them a gift.