It’s my new favorite soup, Mom. It tastes like someone is taking care of me.
We were sitting around the dinner table like many other families. But we weren’t like any other family because a few months prior, we received the devastating diagnosis that Fabien, our 11-year-old, had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Stage III.
When people ask me for the most persuasive proof of the power of nutrition to heal, I reply with a question: did you know that Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease through diet and lifestyle is covered by Medicare?
Medicare vetted the program for 17 years before deciding to cover it for patients, under a new category entitled “intensive cardiac rehabilitation” — the first time Medicare has covered an integrative medicine program.
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.
Gleaming black olives, dusty purple eggplants, emerald kale, a splash of scarlet tomatoes on freshly made golden corn tortillas. I cook with my eyes. Color matters, texture matters, flavor matters. I rarely use recipes. I find my art supplies at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and my favorite season is now, summer, when the market is brimming with seasonal surprises. Crisp sugar snap peas and sweet baby carrots (with ferny leaves still attached) to snack on. Red and golden beets, pink and white French breakfast radishes, organic blueberries, and Rainbow chard. I can smell the rosemary as I approach the herb table, and can’t leave without a bunch. There are 3 or 4 kinds of kale and pale green lettuces to melt in your mouth. The tomatoes are starting to come in, and little squashes, and tiny orange peppers so beautiful and hot you must use with caution. 6 kinds of mushrooms, purple potatoes, and new things each week. I never eat corn until it’s fresh in the farmer’s market. Cooking with the vibrant, fresh piles of produce that appear before you, rather than buying from a list, makes life intense and interesting. Slender asparagus, spring onions, and in late June, ruby red cherries. In my kitchen, my son and I chop and saute these lovely things, both familiar and new. We arrange our creations artfully, on plain or patterned plates, to appear to their best advantage. A fragrant treat for the eyes, redolent of the sun in which they grew, plucked by the strong hands of the farm crew, and cooked with love. What can I say but thank you.
Jo Cooper just retired after 9 years as Food As Medicine Program Manager and Director of Nutrition Programs at the Center, and is now our Marketing Director.
I had to stop in the middle of eating my lunch just now because of how beautiful the colors are! This is a fall farm market feast, of small purple potatoes, crimini mushrooms, golden zucchini (!), squash blossoms, sweet red pepper and red onion with corn tortillas and arugula. Oh, YUM!
And easy. You may have noticed, that’s the only way I cook.