Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kelly's Zucchini Sticks

My friend Kelly makes these crunchy, panko breaded zucchini sticks in the oven, adding shredded Parmesan to the breading. You can make a honey-mustard dipping sauce if you like (combine Greek yogurt, raw honey and grainy mustard), or eat them on their own. They are killer. 

Kelly's Zucchini Sticks:
*4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered into sticks
*2 eggs
*2 cups all natural Panko breadcrumbs
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment and drizzle with olive oil. Whisk eggs in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Mix breadcrumbs with salt, pepper and Parmesan in a medium mixing bowl, then transfer to a shallow dish or bowl. Working in batches, submerge each squash slice in the egg, then roll in breadcrumb mixture to coat. Arrange pieces on parchment leaving 1/2 inch of space between each. Repeat. Drizzle breaded squash pieces with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until breading is golden brown. 
Cool on wire racks lined with paper towels. Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"

Delighted by this month's issue of Food and Wine, celebrating summer vegetables, I was eager to try David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl's Summer Vegetable "Ceviche," gracing the magazine's cover. Colorful summer veggies are tossed in a fresh squeezed lime marinade, for a bright and refreshing dish. Chunks of creamy avocado meet crisp bites of fresh corn, sweet nectarine, cherry tomato and orange bell pepper for unexpected balance. This is hands down the most colorful salad recipe I've run across, with crowd-pleasing appeal. Make this. It's fun and beautiful and the perfect answer to the summer heat.

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche": From Food and Wine August 2013 Issue

  1. 1 cup fresh baby lima beans (from about 1 1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean
  2. 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  3. 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  4. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  6. 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  7. 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  8. Sea salt
  9. 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  10. 2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
  11. 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  12. 1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
  13. 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
  14. 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  1. In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño and shallot; season the dressing with salt. Gently fold in the lima beans, corn, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper and tomatoes. Refrigerate the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours. Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the “ceviche” chilled.
MAKE AHEAD The salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Perfect Diet?

It has happened. The mainstream's quest for perfect eating has finally and completely gotten under my skin. Our society's obsession with perfection has not only made writers, talk show hosts, scientists, exercise buffs, and thousands of others rich on the subject, it has done a fair amount of harm for our nation's sensibility. As we buy books written by experts on why wheat bread makes us fat, or spend yet another paycheck on the latest fad workout routine, we continue to loose ourselves in the effort, often ignoring the bigger issues.
While counting calories, or following charts, food has become something we fear, hate, feel guilty about, categorize and rarely enjoy. The should and shouldn'ts are not making us healthier, just more obsessive and less fun to be around. Terms such as Paleo and Caveman are beginning to represent a culture of the overly-saturated.
Of late, I have witnessed the over abundance of nutritional information to have a paralyzing effect on even the most motivated. Perhaps what the conversation needs is more perspective:
Annually, the United States sends more food to the landfill than any other, while over 10 million Americans go without regular meals (4 million of whom are children) or suffer crippling nutritional deficiencies (including the obese). This is where I have to draw the line on the topic of "the perfect diet" because in essence, this has become a discussion for the privileged.
While I recognize the food industry's gross assault on our food system and would call additives and fillers unlawful (if not morally corroded to the largest extremes), and try dearly to avoid such foods, we need to make sure our conversations about eating leaves enough room for other keystone topics.
Sadly, not all of us can be expected to have the same priorities, let alone opportunities, when it comes to choosing the foods we eat, and unjustly, much of this is economical. The reality is, a big chunk of the population has what they would consider bigger fish to fry. Around the globe, getting anything on the table is often a bigger question than what?
Being in the health-food field for so many years now, I have come to believe "the perfect diet" doesn't exist anyway. There are many fundamental laws of nutrition that apply to all, though one's "perfect diet" may be completely inappropriate for another due to our individual needs. The nutritional demands of a nursing mother are different than those of a middle-aged executive. And as much as our nutritional demands differ from person to person, so do our emotional, economic and cultural identities. In this context, looking for a "one-size-fits-all" diet is a lost cause. Giving up the hope of finding one may be the first step in gaining the freedom to enjoy and rejoice in real food for nourishment and comfort.
While I fully support the local food movement and all the other back-to-basics food efforts, I do recognize the financial, social, cultural, emotional, and geographical challenges on the subject. We all must do the best we can with the means we have. Food has the power to nurture and the power to crumble us, but we need not give it the social power to divide us.