Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #14

Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary Recipe, Spotlight on Lamb, Healthy Eating Debunked and The Stairs Count

Having traveled around the world and sampled some of the most amazing grass-fed lamb dishes, from grilled chops to tandoori roasts to casseroles, I’m always shocked by the statistic that Americans barely eat one pound of lamb a year. It could be that a massive leg of lamb seems intimidating at first or that, as a pricey cut of meat, it isn’t a food many of us grew up with. If you’re new to this “other” red meat, there’s no simpler or more delicious introduction than a rack of lamb. My recipe will serve two for an elegant New Year’s Eve dinner or any other special occasion. For an even more festive presentation perfect for four people, ask the butcher to tie two racks together to form a crown roast, and just double the ingredients in the marinade (it should cook in about the same time).

Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #14 Roasted Lamb Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary

    There’s no better way to enhance any cut of lamb than with a coating of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and lemon juice, but feel free to adjust the garlic and rosemary up or down depending on your taste preference. Creamy polenta or whipped mashed potatoes are a perfect accompaniment along with roasted Brussels sprouts or glazed carrots.


    • 1 rack of lamb with 8 ribs, frenched (see “Healthy Ingredient Spotlight” below)
    • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
    • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, plus extra sprigs for garnish 
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
    • Coarse sea salt 
    • Freshly ground black pepper 


    Step 1

    Place the rack of lamb bone side down on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Add the garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to the bowl of a small food processor and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped. Coat the lamb on all sides with the mixture, and season generously with salt and pepper. Allow the lamb to stand at room temperature for one hour. 

    Step 2

    Put an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Roast the lamb for 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare or until the internal temperature on an instant-read meat thermometer registers 125°F. (Roast the lamb 5-10 minutes longer if you prefer it less pink.) After removing it from the oven, loosely tent the lamb with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. To serve, slice the rack into individual chops and divide them between two dinner plates, fanning them in a semicircle. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. 

    Yields 2 servings.
Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Lamb

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

The Other Red Meat: Lamb

It’s time to sing the praises of lamb, a red meat that, depending on the cut, can have less fat than beef. Also, grass-fed lamb in particular tends to have less fat than grain-fed lamb, as well as fewer calories. Read labels to know for sure how the lamb was raised—New Zealand lamb, as well as most lamb raised in Colorado and some parts of the Midwest, is primarily if not completely grass-fed. (Surprisingly, imported lamb is often less expensive than US-grown.)

In addition to being a great protein source, with about 20 grams in three ounces, lamb has important vitamins and minerals—B12, iron, potassium, and zinc. As with most red meats, you want to remove as much of the visible white fat as possible before cooking to limit your saturated fat intake. “Frenching” a rack of lamb—prepping it in the French way—involves removing the meat, fat, and membranes from between each of the ribs. This not only creates a sophisticated presentation, but also pares down a lot of the fat that can be tempting to eat but just isn’t good for you. Many racks of lamb are often sold frenched or can be prepped by the butcher in the meat department of your favorite food store (you may need to request this cut in advance). One reason rack of lamb is more expensive is the work involved, but you’re also getting almost pure meat. If you want to exercise your knife skills, you can try the frenching technique at home. For a great step-by-step, check out the directions from Work Sharp Sharpeners.

Healthy Kitchen Tip: Oven-Roasting Meat Right

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

Oven-Roasting Meat Right

Oven-roasting is a great way to bring out the flavor of meat, and roasting whole cuts of meat (as well as whole chicken, turkey, and duck) on a well-oiled rack in a roasting pan allows any hidden fat to drip away as the meat cooks.

If you want to create a bit of a crust on the edges of a roast, press chopped herbs, ground seeds, or even chopped nuts mixed with a little extra virgin olive oil rather than breadcrumbs on all the exposed sides. Just as garlic and rosemary are ideal for any cut of lamb, crushed black peppercorns are great for beef. Using a dry rub of herbs and spices is another delicious way to prep the surface of a roast, especially a pork roast, for the oven.

For Your Best Health: Healthy Eating Debunked

For Your Best Health

Healthy Eating Debunked

Ever wonder if healthy eating is really all it’s cracked up to be? If these moments of questioning tend to happen as you pass your favorite bakery or get a hankering for a gooey meatball parm, strengthen your resolve with the latest report on the benefits of high-quality diets from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Researchers reviewed numerous studies based on the health outcomes of three diets—DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), the Healthy Eating Index, and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index or AHEI, all of which call for eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy plant-based fats and a low intake of solid fats, added sugar, and sodium. Findings show that the better the diet quality, the lower the risk of all-cause mortality; coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure; cancer, including prostate and colon cancer; type 2 diabetes; neurodegenerative diseases; and among cancer survivors, all-cause mortality and cancer mortality—mega rewards indeed for healthy-eating efforts. Note that separate studies have found that the AHEI approach, while not as well known as some other healthy eating plans, may convey the most benefits of the three.

Fitness Flash: Take the Stairs

Fitness Flash

The Stairs Count

Want a snapshot of your heart health? Being able to climb four flights of stairs in less than a minute—at a fast pace without stopping, but also without running—is a simple and inexpensive cardio wellness indicator, according to research presented at a recent scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology. “The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health,” said study author Dr. Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña in Spain. “If it takes you more than one and a half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.” Telling your doctor how you did on this test will help him or her decide whether more formal tests would be appropriate for you.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #13

Apple Sauté Recipe, Spotlight on Cinnamon, Lowering Blood Pressure and The Positive Impact of Cardio

There’s nothing quite like the enticing aromas of the holidays. Whether your passion is baking and building a gingerbread house from scratch or crafting the perfect eggnog to sip by a roaring fire, there’s one pantry essential that you just can’t do without—cinnamon. What I love most about this tasty tree bark—yes, that’s where it comes from!—is that it adds so much richness to all kinds of dishes. In fact, when you use cinnamon in a recipe that calls for sugar, you can often cut back on the amount of sweetener, especially in fruit-based desserts. Enjoy!

Apple Sauté

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #13 Cinnamon Saute Apple Sauté

    More elegant than a baked apple yet healthier (and faster to make) than apple pie, this sautéed dish is a great way to satisfy a sophisticated sweet tooth. If you want to indulge even further, it’s amazing over a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream.


    For the apple sauté

    • 8 -10 shelled almonds
    • 1/2 lemon
    • 2 Macoun, Granny Smith, or Gala apples, cored
    • 1 tablespoon walnut or grapeseed oil
    • 1/2 cup apple cider, a liqueur like Poire Williams, or a sweet wine like Sauternes 
    • 1/2 teaspoon All-American Gingerbread Spice (recipe below)
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • Cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese, to taste

    For the All-American Gingerbread Spice

    • 1 tablespoon whole cloves 
    • 2 tablespoons cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese
    • 2 tablespoons allspice 
    • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon grated nutmeg 
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    Step 1

    Toast the almonds in a small sauté pan for 3-5 minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle, chop coarsely and set aside. Using a microplane grater, zest the lemon half, setting aside the zest. On a cutting board, slice the apples horizontally into circles about one-half-inch thick, and then squeeze the juice from the lemon half over them. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the apples in one layer (do this in batches if needed to avoid crowding). Sauté for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the slices have released all their juices and feel tender when pricked with a knife tip, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, lift the apples from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Add the lemon zest, cider/liqueur/wine, gingerbread spice, and vanilla to the pan and rapidly boil down to a syrup, whisking constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the apples, and top with the chopped almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

    Step 2

    Pulverize the cloves in a coffee bean grinder and transfer to a small bowl along with the other spices. Whisk to combine and funnel into an airtight glass jar. Note: Wipe out the grinder very well to remove all traces of cloves.

    Yields 2 servings.

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Cinnamon

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Ancient Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been valued the world over for centuries for medicinal purposes, for religious ceremonies, to make fragrances, and as a sweet and spicy recipe ingredient. Cinnamon was once such a coveted commodity that wars raged between countries over its trade. The only “fight” today is over which cinnamon to use. There are a handful of different types, all species in the Lauraceae family: Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka (known by the country’s former name), Indonesian cinnamon, cassia cinnamon from China, and what I love most for its intensity, Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi), world renowned for its spicy sweetness.

The harvesting of cinnamon is unique compared with that of other spices. The traditional technique involves chopping young trees down to stumps, waiting for new shoots to rise, and then culling curls of new bark to dry. Artisanal farmers in Vietnam do it differently—they make a strategic cut around the base of each tree and let the bark dry in place to concentrate its natural oils before the quills are harvested.

Healthy Kitchen Tip: Cinnamon

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

Savory Cinnamon

If you reach for cinnamon only to top your lattes or add sweet spice to smoothies and oatmeal, it’s time to discover some of the many cuisines that use it for savory dishes like dried-fruit-and-nut-laden Persian rice, Moroccan tagines, Mexican moles, Vietnamese pho, and Greek moussaka. Cinnamon is also an important ingredient in many global spice blends that you can mix up and have ready to go for a dry rub or a flavor boost: 

  • Baharat is a mainstay in Middle Eastern cuisines around the Arabian Gulf as well as in Greece, Turkey, and Northern Africa—it gives rich flavor to roasted lamb for shawarma, chickpea stews, curries, rice dishes, and roasted vegetables. 
  • Five-spice powder is a must for Chinese dishes such as stir-fries and roasted pork.
  • Garam masala is an essential ingredient for many Indian curries and the classic chicken tikka masala. Chai masala is a spicy blend that takes your favorite cup of tea to the next level (it also tastes great in your morning coffee or when added to hot milk). 

For Your Best Health: Cinnamon and Lower Blood Pressure

For Your Best Health

Cinnamon and Lower Blood Pressure

In ancient times, cinnamon was the go-to remedy for respiratory and digestive ills. We’re still learning about its benefits today. According to a review paper in Pharmacognosy Research, the phytochemicals in cinnamon could be good for brain health, boosting the brain’s ability to use glucose, the energy source that supplies every part of the body. These phytochemicals also are being studied as a way to help lower blood pressure, manage diabetes, and boost heart health, along with fighting off cell damage caused by toxins in our environment.

Fitness Flash: Setting Achievable Exercise Goals

Fitness Flash

Heart-Pumping Cardio

Trying to reach the national guidelines to exercise for at least 150 minutes every week can seem daunting until you break that number up into manageable chunks—almost magically, exercise becomes an attainable goal. Now a new study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital not only confirms that this approach works but has also uncovered just how exercise might deliver various health benefits in such short order.

According to the study, published in Circulation, about 12 minutes of heart-pumping cardio exercise leads to impactful changes in the circulating levels of metabolites, substances that are created during metabolism and are in the driver’s seat when it comes to insulin resistance, oxidative stress, inflammation, longevity, and more. After exercise, glutamate, a metabolite linked to heart disease and diabetes and decreased longevity, fell by 29%, and DMGV, one linked to an increased risk for diabetes and liver disease, fell by 18%. There’s a reason they call exercise free medicine!

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #10

Dried Apricot and Cranberry Pilaf Recipe, Spotlight on Dried Fruits and Homemade Stock and Learn How Olive Oil Supports Heart Health

Do you feel a chill in the air yet? ’Tis the season after all! As we move into the most challenging holiday period in recent history, a great way to warm up and feel soothed is to enjoy healthier comfort foods. As public health experts are pointing out, we need to take steps to boost our immune systems by eating foods high in nutrients and by getting enough exercise, the latter being a challenge if you’re a gym rat and your health club is off-limits or you just want to stay safe by avoiding crowded indoor spaces. But there are work-arounds that make staying healthy more fun. Let me share all the details with you, starting with a sweet side dish.

Dried Apricot and Cranberry Pilaf

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #10 Dried Apricot and Cranberry Pilaf

    Rice is the perfect vehicle for a wide range of flavors, both sweet and savory. I’m a fan of the subtle aroma of jasmine rice, but any long grain will work. Dried apricots and cranberries are evocative of the season and give this pilaf a sweet-tart taste, but feel free to use whatever dried fruits you like, instead of or even in addition to. When sprinkled on the finished dish, the fresh orange zest gives it a wonderful perfume. I love to use a Microplane grater because it makes such a fine zest, and it’s so easy to move over the entire surface of the peel to get all the goodness.


    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
    • 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
    • 2-1/4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped fine
    • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
    • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
    • Freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon or more orange zest 
    • Pinch of cinnamon, optional


    In a covered saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. (This helps keep the grains distinct in the finished dish.) Stir in the broth and increase the heat to medium. Bring to a low boil, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the apricots and cranberries and remove the pan from the heat. Put the cover back on, wait another 5 minutes, and then fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the almonds, parsley, and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and grate the orange zest right over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.

    Yields 4 servings.

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Enhance Dishes with Dried Fruits

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Enhance Dishes with Dried Fruits

Dried fruits, such as apricots, cranberries, raisins, and prunes, are great for recipes like pilaf because they add flavor without unwanted moisture. They also make great fiber- and nutrient-rich snacks, especially when mixed with heart-healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios. But remember that both dried fruits and nuts are very calorie dense, so measure out one-ounce portions rather than munching straight from a bag, suggests Harvard Health. When shopping, read labels to avoid brands with added sugars—with the exception of cranberries, they should be sweet enough on their own. For cranberries, look for brands sweetened with apple juice. You might also want to choose those made from organically grown fruits and avoid those with colorings, additives, and, especially if you have asthma, sulphite-based preservatives like sulphur dioxide. Opaque packaging that blocks out light will help maintain freshness and taste. Note that while fiber is more concentrated when a fruit is dried, vitamins A and C are often lost in the processing, so dried foods shouldn’t replace all the fresh fruit in your diet, especially not berries.

Healthy Kitchen Tip: Homemade Stock

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

Homemade Stock

Many home chefs know the value of devoting a few hours every month or so to making a large batch of chicken stock and storing it in containers in the freezer. Stock adds far more flavor than water in recipes that require a cooking liquid. But you can also make a small batch on the fly whenever you buy (or make) a rotisserie chicken or two for dinner. Here’s my hack: After enjoying all the meat, place the chicken carcass in a crockpot with a stalk of celery, a carrot or two, a sliced onion, a garlic clove, a teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, and, if you have one, a leek. Add water to cover, turn it on and, in no time, you’ll have a really nice stock. Strain it and, if you want it to be even more flavorful, reduce it in a saucepan on the stovetop.

For Your Best Health: Olive Oil Supports Heart Health

For Your Best Health

Olive Oil Supports Heart Health

Important research done at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science (KRCBS) of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, has advanced our knowledge of just how olive oil helps support heart health. Scientists discovered that levels of an important plasma protein, ApoA-IV, increase as the body digests foods high in unsaturated fats, like olive oil. ApoA-IV specifically blocks a receptor on blood platelets that they need in order to clump together. Sometimes this clumping—called aggregation—is useful; however, when it results in a blood clot and blocks blood flow, it can be fatal. 

“Platelet aggregation can save lives because it can stop bleeding in damaged vessels,” explained Dr. Heyu Ni, Platform Director for Hematology, Cancer and Immunological Diseases at the KRCBS. “But we usually don’t want platelets to block blood flow in the vessels. This is thrombosis, and if vessel occlusion occurs in the heart or brain, it can cause heart attack, stroke, or death.” The research showed that higher levels of ApoA-IV can also slow down the plaque buildup in blood vessels (atherosclerosis) that stiffens their walls and also sets the stage for heart attack or stroke.

The study, published in Nature Communications, also revealed that ApoA-IV has its own circadian rhythm, and it’s most active overnight. So, according to Dr. Ni, eating foods with high unsaturated fats and following an appropriate sleep pattern together help strengthen ApoA-IV’s role in cutting the risk for atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Fitness Flash: Persevering Over Your Inner Couch Potato

Fitness Flash

Persevering Over Your Inner Couch Potato

It’s hard to resist COVID-19’s ability to bring out the couch potato in all of us, but an expert panel from the American Public Health Association, writing in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, reminds us of just how important staying physically active is, precisely because of the pandemic. It’s essential to good health, especially for people with preexisting and chronic health conditions who face a disproportionate risk from the virus. Here are some of their ideas:

For cardio exercise, walk outside, staying at least six feet away from others and wearing a mask. Layer on more clothes as the weather cools—you can peel them off as you heat up. When you can’t get out, try marching in place or stepping up and down off the first riser of a staircase. Doing five-minute chunks a few times a day is a good start.

For strength training, use your own body weight to turn household tasks into exercises. Do heel raises at the sink when washing dishes, and rear leg lifts as you bend to empty the dishwasher. After a grocery run, do a set of biceps curls with large soup cans before you put them away. 

For a combo approach, between episodes of a show you’re streaming or during broadcast commercials, get in some circuit training. Take a run or brisk walk around the house, then do eight chair sit-stands, walk up and down a flight of stairs, and finish with eight wall pushups.

If you need outside motivation, find out whether your gym is offering live-streamed classes, or dip into a YouTube channel workout. 

Whenever you’re at home, think of ways to spend less time sitting and more time moving. Remember that exercise is free medicine and works body and mind, helping us cope with the stress of the pandemic and anxiety over when it will finally be in the rearview mirror.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #7

Greek Fava Recipe, Spotlight on Legumes and Gluten-Free Legume Pasta, and the Truth About Diet and Exercise

This is the time of year when I’m usually in Italy and Greece, tasting the most amazing, freshly pressed olive oils and working with my growers on creating flavorful and unique blends. There’s nothing quite like spending fall in the heart of the Mediterranean, with its comfortable daytime temps and cool evenings, wonderful for unwinding at a Greek taverna, savoring luscious mezze—their wide array of appetizers—and wine with people who not only love them, too, but are responsible for growing the crops that chefs and vintners depend on.  

Mediterranean food is rich, heart-warming, stick-to-your-ribs cuisine. With this week’s recipe, you can bring one of my favorite tastes of Greece to your own table…

In Greece, “fava” is a creamy purée made from the yellow split peas traditionally grown on the island of Santorini. These split peas are not related to fava beans, though both are legumes. Yellow and green split peas are great pantry items, and supermarket brands cost just cents a bag. But if you really want to splurge, for just a few dollars more, you can buy true Greek yellow split peas from Arosis, a purveyor that sources them from small Greek farms. Many online merchants sell a variety of the company’s products. 

Greek Fava

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #7 Greek Fava

    Greek fava is a wonderful twist on hummus, the better-known legume-based dip. Fava has a silky creaminess for a great mouthfeel. It’s often topped with caramelized onions and capers and served with toasted pita wedges, but I love using cucumber spears and sliced veggies for dipping.


    • 1 cup dry yellow split peas
    • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or low-sodium canned
    • 2 small onions, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    • 1 bay leaf 
    • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if desired
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • Coarse salt
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • Paprika (smoked if possible)
    • Optional: capers, caramelized onions and lemon wedges


    Step 1

    Rinse the split peas in cold water to remove any grit and drain. Transfer to a large saucepan and pour in enough stock to cover by at least an inch—start with 2.5 cups. Add half the diced onion, the garlic and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and skim off any foam that accumulates on top. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the peas reach a thick, porridge-like consistency, 30 to 60 minutes. Stir occasionally and add the final half-cup of broth if all the liquid is absorbed before the peas are tender—don’t let them dry out or scorch on the bottom of the pan. 

    Step 2

    When the peas are done, allow them to cool. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the peas to a food processor using a slotted spoon and reserving any remaining cooking liquid in case needed. Add 5 tablespoons of the olive oil and the lemon juice and process until smooth. The consistency should be like mashed potatoes. If the mixture is too dry, add any stock that remained in the pan or a couple of tablespoons of water. Add the oregano or parsley and pulse until well distributed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    Step 3

    Mound the fava in a serving bowl and top with a sprinkle of paprika and the remaining diced onion and tablespoon of olive oil or more to taste. If making ahead, refrigerate and then let it come to room temperature before digging in. Garnish with capers, caramelized onions and lemon wedges as desired.

    Quick Kitchen Hack: Once a week I like to make a batch of caramelized onions. Not only are they great on the fava, but they’re also delicious as a condiment or flavor booster on everything from eggs and burgers to steamed vegetables and even toast. Slice three or four large onions and sauté in 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cook them low and slow—it could take up to an hour—until completely soft and brown, a sign that their natural sugar has been released. Finish with a splash of your favorite balsamic vinegar, pack into a glass jar, and refrigerate.

    Yields 6 appetizer servings.

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Quick Croutons to garnish homemade meals

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Superstar Legumes

Legumes are superstars among plant-based foods because of their fiber, protein and wealth of other nutrients. Within legumes is the group called pulses. These are specifically plants that have pods, explains USA Pulses, and a pulse itself is the dry edible seed within the pod. Among the most delicious types are whole and split dry yellow and green peas; green, French green, red, black and small brown lentils; and a veritable army of beans, including the well-known kidney beans, great northern beans and black-eyed peas (a bean, not actually a pea!), adzuki beans, the oversized cranberry bean, and, yes, the fava bean. Explore more at

Healthy Kitchen Tip: Storing Squash

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

To Soak or Not to Soak

Not all legumes need a long soak before they can be used. Simply rinse lentils and dried peas, removing any tiny pebbles you might find. For cooking, a good rule of thumb is to start with 2.5 cups liquid per 1 cup lentils, 2 cups liquid for 1 cup dried peas, and add more as needed during cooking. They’re often tender after a 30-minute simmer.  

You can cook beans without soaking first, but they’ll take a lot longer. For chickpeas, use 3 cups water to 1 cup chickpeas, and soak for 8 to 24 hours. For beans, use enough water to cover and soak overnight. Your bowl should allow for the beans to double or triple in size. Drain, rinse with cool water and simmer 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your recipe. 

For a faster no-soak method, USA Pulses recommends a quick boil and rest: Boil 2 cups water and 1 cup beans for 3 minutes, or 3 cups water and 1 cup chickpeas for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and wait 1 hour before proceeding with your recipe.

For Your Best Health: Homemade meals and your health

For Your Best Health

Gluten-Free Legume Pasta

You know that regular pasta is part of the pantheon of refined flour-based products that lack the micronutrients of whole grains. Enriched pasta contains some, but hardly all, of the vitamins and minerals lost when the wheat is refined. But whole-grain pasta isn’t the only alternative, particularly if you want gluten-free or simply fewer carbs. Enter legume-based pasta—black beans, chickpeas and red lentils are taking the starring spots among pasta alternatives from companies like Eden Foods and even pasta king, Barilla. Plus, they have more fiber and more protein than whole-grain pasta, according to a report by UC Berkeley. To keep the goodness going, think vegetable- and olive oil-based sauces rather than butter or cream.

Fitness Flash: Setting Achievable Exercise Goals

Fitness Flash

The Truth About Diet and Exercise

Whether you’re a casual or serious fitness enthusiast, you know that exercise and diet work together to build a better body. But it turns out that some sports nutrition lore is actually incorrect. At last year’s meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, renowned Newton, Massachusetts-based sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, RD, set the record straight.

  • You don’t need protein supplements to build muscle. Getting about 110 to 150 grams of real protein a day will do it. To increase muscle size, the answer is strength training.
  • Think protein if you want a bedtime snack. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2018 found that a cup of cottage cheese about an hour before you turn in will help with muscle repair while you sleep.
  • For vegans, make sure to get enough leucine, the amino acid that triggers muscles to grow. Nonanimal sources include nuts, seeds, soy foods, lentils, beans and other plant proteins. Since a standard serving of most of these plant-based foods doesn’t have as much leucine as a serving of meat, for instance, you might need to have a serving at every meal and for snacks to get the recommended daily intake, Clark advises. 

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!