I love a tasty wheat berry salad any time of year. Wheat berries are so healthy (filled with fiber, protein and iron) and they have a wonderful chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor. This is my favorite recipe that I’ve tried so far – it’s salty, sweet, nutty and chewy. Since this recipe yields about 3 cups, I sometimes double it since it’s great leftover for lunch or dinner (or bites in between). It’s best served warm or at room temperature. Note: I make a vinaigrette with my leftover basil dressing — I just add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts & Basil
1 cup soft wheat berries, rinsed
3 cups water
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
1 cup loosely packed basil plus 5 additional large leaves chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Chewy but firm. Drain and season to taste with more salt.
To make the dressing, put olive oil and 1 cup clean, loosely packed basil leaves in a blender with a pinch of salt. Drizzle desired amount over wheat berries and stir to coat. You can also substitute a store bought pesto mixed with extra olive oil to make it runny enough to use as a dressing.
Toast pine nuts in a pan or oven (I use a toaster oven) until light brown. Toss pine nuts, crumbled feta and ribbons of basil into the salad.
HINT: Stack basil leaves on top of each other. Roll them up the long way to create a “cigarette” shape. Slice it very thin (1/8 inch). You will have nice ribbons of basil for garnish or salads.
Here is a yummy, nutritious mini muffin that’s great for kids — serve with breakfast or as a snack. The only change I made was to add some shredded zucchini to the original recipe. Any extra muffins can be frozen to be gobbled up later.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large bananas, mashed
1 (4.5 ounce) jar baby food squash
2 carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 24 mini muffin cups.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the mashed bananas, squash, carrots, zucchini and eggs. Stir in the flour, oat bran, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until just combined. Spoon the batter equally into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake about 18 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen them up, before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy immediately, or they freeze beautifully!
I love this veggie — it’s healthy and tasty (almond coating adds a nutty taste to the vegetables) and each bite offers a different flavor: carrot, parsnip or sweet potato. Note: you can grind the almonds in a mini prep processor or I have an extra coffee grinder that I dedicate to grinding nuts and spices only. I double this recipe (you’re going to want more!) and roast on two baking sheets (you don’t want to crowd the veggies).
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Toss the vegetables in the mix and then spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp, shaking the sheet halfway through.
Certain foods are supposed to bring you good luck for the year if eaten on New Year’s Day — cabbage, black eyed peas, etc. Here is my favorite cabbage recipe that I plan to make. Cabbage is so good for you (high in lots of nutrients, filled with antioxidants, can lower bad cholesterol, and is very low in calories and fat) and inexpensive, but often gets a bad rap. It does have a strong, funky smell when you cook it (that’s how I remembered it growing up) — and it can give you gas! Just don’t eat like three servings in one sitting! This cabbage recipe is awesome though – it’s fresh and delicious. You will want more than one serving! Great served with pork chops, pork tenderloin, or grilled sausages. Note: I lowered the amount of salt in the recipe below.
Prepare leeks by cleaning them, drying and chopping them into 1/2 inch rounds. Divide cabbage into two quarters, lay them on a flat, cut side and roughly chop them into chunks, avoiding the core. Separate the cabbage pieces slightly.
Heat a 5 quart French oven or a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter is bubbling.
Add leeks to melted butter and sauté for two minutes. Add the cabbage all at once and immediately stir thoroughly to coat the cabbage with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Partially cover and cook on medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until cabbage has wilted significantly. During this time, quarter and core the apple and roughly dice.
Add the apple to the cabbage as well as the apple cider vinegar. Sauté on medium heat for another three minutes, stirring often. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve hot.
Note: Chardonnay vinegar can be substituted for apple cider vinegar and the whole dish would be lovely with a sprinkling of caraway seeds sautéed in the mix.
I’ve been curious about breakfast quinoa and tried a few recipes that really were not that good. This is my favorite and it’s simple to make. It’s a great high-protein alternative to warm oatmeal in the morning. One of my two boys like this! Top with fresh fruit and/or nuts or nothing at all.
2 cups whole or low-fat milk, plus more for serving
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar, plus more for serving
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving
1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh blueberries, plus more for serving
Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until three-quarters of the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Cook, covered, until almost all the milk has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. Stir in blueberries, and cook for 30 seconds. Serve with additional milk, sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries.
I don’t know about you, but I always seem to mess up rice! I know it’s a simple thing to cook, but if you are off on something (size of the pot, amount of the water, level of heat, cooking time, etc.) you can be left with a sticky mess or burnt rice. I’m so bad at cooking rice, that lot of times I resort to (don’t tell!) Boil-in-a-bag Success Rice, but that’s not as good for you. We are supposed to be eating slow-cooked foods — and choosing whole grains over white. So, I was over-the-moon when I tried Gwyneth’s recipe for Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice. Just like it promises, your rice will turn out beautifully and it does keep well in the fridge for a few days.
Rinse the rice thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Place it in a pot set over high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, exactly 45 minutes. Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid, and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.