The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

A favorite lunch: Greens & Beans

September 15, 2010Jo CooperFood As Medicine0

My colleague Klara Royal is SO busy preparing for our Mind-Body Medicine professional training program coming up October 2 – 6 here in the Washington, DC area that I wanted to make lunch for her as a special treat.  What to cook?  Easy– our old favorite, greens & beans.

We first learned this from Food As Medicine faculty member John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH, organic farmer and teacher extraordinaire.  It’s as simple as can be, and there’s something about the combination of kale and beans that radiates energy.  Cheap, easy, nutritious and delicious.  A winner!

Ingredients:  one bunch kale, 1 can cannellini beans, one extra-large or several small cloves garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, Bragg’s or tamari to taste.

Method:  Wash and tear kale into bite-sized pieces.  If you’ve never cooked kale before, you will be SHOCKED at how much it cooks down!  Rinse beans.  Peel and chop garlic.

Warm a small heavy pot and pour in about 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Give that a minute to warm, then briefly sauté chopped garlic.  Add beans, stir, and cover.  Meanwhile, warm a large pan (I use a chef’s pan, a sort of flat- bottomed wok, at home, but anything will do), add a little olive oil, and throw in the kale.  Add about one cup water, stir and cover.  Check on the beans.  Stir a little and smash a few, so there are some whole and some smashed (makes for a nice texture at the end).  Stir the kale a few more times– I leave the beans to brown/crisp a little on the bottom for some crunch–and in about 5 – 7 minutes you are all done.  The greens should be bright, emerald green and still chewy, but not tough.

Serve the kale in a flat bowl or plate, top with the cooked beans and a spritz of Bragg’s or Tamari to taste.  Experience suggests that if you are making this at work, your colleagues will start drifting  into the kitchen and making “mmmmm” noises right about when the garlic really starts to sizzle.  No problem– teach them how to make it, too.  Also works with family members.

Serves 2.  Or one, if like Klara’s husband you LOVE kale.


Recipe infusion: Join PCRM's 21-day Kickstart

Bingo! When both your 22-year old AND 15-year old sons scarf down a dish, you know you’ve got something.

Last night I made the Hoppin’ John salad recipe from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM’s) 21-day Vegan Kickstart program, and I’m here to tell you it’s a winner.  Easy, filling, nourishing food– just the kind of thing I look for in a family week-night recipe.

It’s a rice salad with black-eyed peas (why don’t I use these more?), chopped scallions, celery, parsley and chopped tomatoes, with a garlicky, lemony dressing.

The 21-day kickstart started Monday, but it’s not too late to join.  Each week, you’ll receive menus and recipes– and that’s why I joined, for the infusion of new, tried and true recipes.  One does get tired of ones own cooking from time to time.

Join the 21-day kickstart.

Get the Hoppin’ John Salad recipe.


Liquid sunshine: 7 days of green smoothies

I admit it: I’m hooked on green smoothies.  But if you have to have a vice, hey.

For me (and everyone’s different, which is pretty wonderful), green smoothies are the perfect start to a day. They taste like liquid sunshine, and make me feel strong and energized all morning.

Here are a week’s worth of photos and recipes to get you started.  You’ll note the occasional profusion of jars– a sign that my whole family is hopping on board this smoothie thing.  My oldest son (he who does not like vegetables) is up to one quart a day.  And if you are getting the idea they are delicious, you are absolutely correct.

Recipes below.  A couple of basics:  vary your greens, so you don’t O.D. on too much oxalic acid in spinach, for instance.  All plants have protective devices– too much is too much.  Rotate with kale, parsley, romaine lettuce, chard, and so on.  Too thick?  Add more water.  Or, you can add coconut water, like our faculty member Derek Neal did in our previous post (see ‘smoothies’).  For convenience and cost savings, organic frozen fruit is a great option.  Freeze bananas that are getting too soft, to add to future smoothies.  Add ripe avocados for delectable smoothness. You get the idea.

1.  Kale & Cantaloupe (Monday)
1/2 organic cantaloupe, kale (ribs removed), water
2.  Pinneapple & Spinach (Tuesday)
1/2 fresh pineapple, spinach, handful of parsley, water
3.  Peach Raspberry (Wednesday)
Frozen peaches, 1/4 pint raspberries, banana. small head of lettuce  & some mint leaves for zin
4.  Blueberry Fig (Thursday)
4 Brown Turkey figs, 1/4 pint blueberries, banana, lacinato (aka dino) kale (ribs removed), water
5.  Alex’s Minty Mango (Friday)
Frozen or fresh mango, spinach, mint leaves, water
6.  Parsley Passion (Saturday)
1/2 bunch parsley, 1/2 cucumber, peeled, 1 apple, 1/2 ripe banana, 1 cup water
7.  Strawberry Nectarine (Sunday)
Nectarine, handful of strawberries, banana, frozen pineapple, lacinato kale

More resources:  I highly recommend Victoria Boutenko’s books Green for Life and The Green Smoothie Revolution along with her family’s terrific blog (see ‘favorite sites’) for zillions of recipes, how to introduce smoothies to babies and children, and more.


By Popular Demand: Shredded Carrot & Beet Salad

This was one of the most popular dishes at Food As Medicine 2010– perhaps because it’s such a glorious eye-full?

In her book The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, from whence this recipe cometh, Rebecca Katz says, “…I set out to create the most colorful salad I could, using purple beets, orange carrots, and fresh mint.  If I’d had a vegetable crisper instead of a box of crayons as a kid, this salad would have been the result.”

And not only beautiful, but brimming with antioxidants.  We all know we’re supposed to be tracking those down and including them in our diets like crazy, right?  Turns out, as Rebecca says, “Generally speaking, the right way to go is to cast a wide net instead of focusing on a single antioxidant.”

This is one stunning combo.  As you see, the Capital Hilton kitchen did the colors side-by-side, and they are equally gorgeous tossed, with the green flecks of mint dancing amidst the shredded orange and burgundy.  A great choice if you are looking for that wow factor for a healthy lunch or dinner dish.  And beets and carrots are in season, in local farm markets (at least in the mid-Atlantic region), right now.

Photographs of Food As Medicine 2010 by Erin Goldstein

Shredded Carrot and Beet Salad

Serves 4
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup peeled and shredded carrot
1 cup peeled and shredded red beet
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, and salt together
until thoroughly combined. Put the carrots in a mixing bowl, drizzle
with half of the dressing, and toss until evenly coated. Place the carrots
on one side of a shallow serving bowl. Put the beets in the mixing
bowl, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and toss until evenly
coated. Place the beets in the serving bowl next to the carrots for a
beautiful contrast of red and orange. Top with the chopped mint before

From Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Celestial Arts, 2009.

Rebecca is a core faculty member and our Executive Chef for Food As Medicine, and designs all our food for the program.  OMG.  Eating like this for 4 days is SUCH a treat!

Thank you for sharing, Rebecca!

Fresh from the Molacjete: Arran's Guacamole

Searching for something so easy to make, so healthy, and so delicious you can’t believe it’s not under lock and key?

Here you go:  Arran’s guacamole.  In 5 minutes, you can have it on the table.  He wanted me to make a video to show you how quick it is, but I’m not that adept– yet.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here is a quick slide show to prove the point and entice you.  Chop, chop, and you’re done.

He makes it in a molacajete, a large  mortar and pestle dating back several thousand years to Mesoamerica.  Its rough stone surface makes smooshing up the avocados a snap, and it makes a truly beautiful serving container, too.

2 ripe avocados
1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt & cumin, to taste
Optional: finely diced tomato, chopped cilantro

¡ A su salud !

Beat the Heat: A Rainbow Salad

With temperatures over 100 degrees and code orange air alerts (“unhealthy for sensitive groups”) here in Washington, DC, who feels like cooking?  Or for that matter, eating?

My solution last evening:  a rainbow salad.  Everything organic, nearly everything purchased at our local farm market the evening before.  Nothing much to it:  two kinds of lettuce, blueberries, strawberries, pine nuts roasted with just a little ground coriander (my son Arran who is a chef teaches me these haute cuisine tricks), sliced carrots, and a little finely sliced peppermint, tossed with a tad of high quality olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  Ta-da!  As quick as it sounds and as delicious as it looks.

Summer Harvest

Summer’s harvest is rolling in!  See the riches we plundered at the Farm Market on Saturday, including the first corn of the season (white), and little orange ‘Sundrop’ tomatoes, organic strawberries, black raspberries, and small plums (well, everything we purchased is organic), and mountains of greens (kale, chard, dandelion, arugula, baby spinach, Boston lettuce), herbs (peppermint, parsley)…  This rainbow cornucopia inspired our first summer feast:  steamed corn (several of us thought it so rich and succulent it didn’t require butter or any other spread), green beans with a spritz of lemon and a pinch of fleur de sel, quinoa salad (details below), soft boiled fresh farm eggs and sliced plums with black raspberries.

A simple recipe for the quinoa salad:  Start with 2 cups of quinoa, well and repeatedly washed to remove the bitter saponins and cook on stove top or in rice cooker with 4 cups water.  Meanwhile, prepare the following:  toast 1/2 cup pine nuts in a heavy pan over a flame– shaking to keep from browning too much, and adding a pinch of coriander.  Chop a handful each of washed mint leaves and washed parsley.  Saute a few cloves of garlic, minced, in olive oil.  When the quinoa has finished cooking, squeeze in juice from half a lemon and drizzle in some olive oil.  Stir in all the other ingredients, along with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries.  I made this up as I went along, and it’s really nice– very subtle.  It was particularly delicious slightly warm, but Alex enjoyed a taste cold at the office on Monday.

It’s such fun to experiment this time of year, with a glorious palette of possibilities!

ps– I’ll have a wonderful slide show and some other goodies from Food As Medicine shortly.

Delicious Chilled: Potato Leek Soup

Here’s a lovely gluten-free vegan potato leek soup from Gluten-Free Goddess.  We liked it better chilled the day after we made it and served it warm– but it may have been the result of that magic that happens when a soup sits overnight, and all the flavors marry and deepen.  Rich without the cream, and the crisp, fresh chive garnish makes a pleasing contrast. Elegant thermos fodder for school and work lunches.

Bon appetit!

A Real Find: Brazilian Collard Greens

Ooooh, I love the internet!  Once home with my fresh collard greens from the farm market, I felt inclined to try something new.  A  google search turned up an appealing and speedy recipe for Brazilian collard greens– not the oxymoron you might think, for greens that are famous for slow, slow cookin’.

The whole process is revealed in this brief video, featuring then-executive food editor of Gourmet magazine Kemp Minife.  The most time consuming thing is slicing the rolled up leaves into fine ribbons.  Chop some fresh garlic, then the cooking takes literally 3 minutes.  You wind up with yum yum yum delicious, brilliant green, garlicky, toothsome greens that even a teenager will like.  Seriously!  Taste-tested in my own kitchen, and not a smidgen of leftovers.  This is a keeper.

Seasonal Delights: Roasted Asparagus

Nothing could be easier, more elegant, or more delicious than roasted asparagus in the springtime. So when I hosted a pot-luck dinner party celebrating a dear friend’s birthday recently, I chose that for my contribution.

Don’t you agree that it’s preferable to have fun at a party rather than suffer from kitchen exhaustion?

This beautiful dish was the perfect solution.  To serve 8, I assembled 2 bunches of asparagus, 1 orange bell pepper, 1/2 head of fennel, 4 portobello mushrooms and some red onion.  After snapping off the tough ends of the asparagus, I cut the stalks diagonally into inch-and-a-half long pieces, cut the pepper into 1″ squares, and sliced the fennel, asparagus and onion as you see, then tossed everything in a large bowl with some good quality olive oil, coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper.  I threw them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and topped with some fresh sprigs of thyme (remove when done– they blacken a bit).  I popped the tray into the oven set on ‘low’ broil, and stirred around after 10 minutes, cooking probably a total of 15 minutes altogether.   The roasted veggies turned out perfectly, looked gorgeous on a colorful platter, and were just right slightly warmer than room temp. Oh!  Yum!  Such a hit.

On the table I placed a gold cotton napkin in the center of each plate, with a fresh flower from my garden laid diagonally across the napkins at the last minute– an even mix of dandelions and Korean spice viburnum sprigs (fragrant!). Everyone smiled as they sat down.


ps– I can’t believe there was just enough left over for lunch the next day!  (see photo)

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