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Produce a Happy, Healthy New Year with"The Produce Bible"

So is it today…or tomorrow…that you want to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle that includes many more fruits and vegetables? For inspiration and education, look no further than Leanne Kitchen’s cookbook, “the produce bible”, published by Stewart Tabori & Chang.

It is a richly illustrated, features forthright prose and has a minimum of the “fluff” sometimes prevalent in today’s exploding world of culinary endeavors. Kitchen’s background as a professional chef, food stylist and cookbook editor comes into focus in her own book. Plus she is an Aussie and as you may know, Australians tend to downplay a wee as compared to their American counterparts.

As Deborah Madison, author of dozens of vegetable-centric cookbooks, writes in her Forward, “ Many of us need a guide, and The Produce Bible provides just that. She continues that the book is “at heart, a practical guide—one that leads the reader, via avenue of great ideas and enticing recipes, to those foods more likely to be encountered”

High praise from such as highly successful writer and culinary figure!

It is NOT a diet cookbook. It is a cookbook about all the beautiful foods that are in the produce aisles. It is my personal belief that God knew we needed lots of fruits and vegetables…so He made them appealing by color, shape, scents, size, taste and texture. Where we went “off track” may well trace back to the Garden of Eden.

The solution?

Return to what comes from the gardens of our earth and produce your own healthy meals at home. Double or triple the fruits and vegetables you are eating and losing weight and feeling better will almost happen by itself.

Soups are one of the secrets of healthy eaters. They simply use soups to help fill their tummies and give them a sense of being satisfied…and they are likely to eat less of more caloric foods. Spicy Carrot Soup would be a great choice on a chilly day.

Spicy Carrot Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion chopped

8 carrots (about 1 ¾ lb.), chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper*

1 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. paprika

5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup plain yogurt, garnish

Cilantro leaves, chopped,

to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and carrot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

Add the bay leaf and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until the carrot is tender. Cool slightly, then blend in batches in a food processor. Return to the saucepan and gently reheat. Season with (sea)salt and freshly ground pepper.

Mix yogurt with the cilantro leaves. Pour the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of the yogurt mixture. Serves 4.

* Less cayenne pepper will make the carrots less spicy.

Sweet, earthy beets are unavoidably messy to prepare. But, oh the rewards! Inexpensive “rubber gloves” (latex, non-latex, etc.) will keep the beet juices from staining your hands. So, go to it. Beets have incredible nutrition, great fiber and are delicious when well prepared. Roasting is one of the best choices as it seems to concentrate the sweetness and the deep robust flavors of beets.

EASY Roasted Beets:

Leave long root end in place and trim leaf end* to within 1/2–inch of beet. Wash well to remove dirt. Place cleaned beets in a shallow roasting pan and lightly brush with olive oil (or canola oil). Roast in a 350-degree oven for about 1 ½ hours and until easily pierced with a knife or metal skewer. When still quite warm, but cool enough to handle, peel (ideally using gloves) as skin will slip off just with pressure. Trim root ends and stem ends with a paring knife.

*Beet greens are delicious! Cook leaves with stem attached very briefly as you would spinach. Drain and remove tough stems. Season lightly with salt, nutmeg and a bit of butter.

Here is an intriguing combination well suited to a holiday buffet….you might use the horseradish cream with a menu that includes roast ribs of beef.

Roasted Beets with

Horseradish Cream

8 beets

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. honey

Fresh chopped parsley, garnish

Horseradish Cream:

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. fresh grated horseradish

or bottled grated horseradish

2 tsp. lemon juice

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub and peel the beets, trim the ends and cut into quarters. Put the oil and honey in a small bowl and mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the beets among four large squares of foil and drizzle with the honey mixture, turning to coat well. Wrap beets loosely in foil. Bake for l hour or until beets are tender when pierced with a skewer.

Remove from oven and leave in the foil for 5 minutes. Remove from the foil and serve with a dollop of Horseradish Cream. Garnish with chopped parsley.

For Horseradish Cream: Whip cream until it starts to thicken. Do not over whip, then fold in the horseradish, lemon juice, sugar and salt.

SWEET NOTES ON

SWEET POTATOES

Ms. Kitchen writes, “sweet potatoes are complemented by the flavors of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. They go well with pork, turkey, ham and chicken as are especially good in curries. The simplicity of well-roasted sweet potatoes, cooked to the point of near-collapse, however, is extremely difficult to beat.”

Here is a combination of Ms. Kitchen’s method and mine: Quarter Sweet Potaotes leaving skin intact. Coat well with olive or canola oil. Place in a shallow pan and roast in a 400-degree oven just until tender, about 40 minutes or until they potatoes are ready to nearly “collapse.” Dot with butter, season as desired and serve, with diners removing skins as they eat. JB

 

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