Author Archives: kristin wartman

Very Best Minestrone

Soak and boil your own beans for the best broth

The weather is still a bit bizarre here in New York — it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s hot, it’s cold. Yesterday was a cold day and I took the opportunity to make my new all-time favorite soup. This will likely be my last soup post of the season but I am so enthralled by it that it may show up again in my kitchen! There is one crucial component to this soup — you must soak and boil your own beans and reserve the cooking liquid from the beans for your stock. This makes the soup creamy, delicious, and hearty. I’ve tried it several different ways and this is the way to go. Plus, it’s economical and you avoid any nasty chemicals that may be present in canned beans and packaged broth (see my article in The Atlantic on obesogens for more on this). It’s delicious and healthful — make it before summer is upon us.

Very Best Minestrone

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4  carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 to 2 cups chopped greens, I like kale, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
4 cups cooked white beans
about 1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice (I used Pomi)
about 6 to 8 cups bean cooking liquid (you can add water if you don’t have enough)
3 to 4 tbl olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot saute the onions in about 2 tbl of olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for several minutes. Then add the remaining olive oil with the garlic, parsley, beans, and greens and stir and cook for several more minutes or until garlic is fragrant and greens are wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, bean-broth, water, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan and more fresh chopped parsley.

Nutrition Nuggets

Beans come in many varieties but for most of them: white, navy, kidney, pinto, black — the nutritional benefits are very similar. Beans contain high amounts of fiber and protein and are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. They also contain iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Richly colored dried beans offer high amounts of antioxidants. Beans are also protective against cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, researchers found a significantly reduced frequency of breast cancer in women who had a higher intake of beans or lentils.

Parsley is an extremely potent healing food. It is rich in large numbers of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. Parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, and iron and is a good source of minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties and is regarded as a nerve stimulant that helps with energy production. Parsley’s volatile oil components have all shown to have anticancer effects. Parsley is also a good cleansing food and helps with liver health.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and as such, exhibits the same kind of anticancer properties as all the other members of this family. Kale is actually one of the most nutritious vegetables, with high amounts of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. It is a great source of calcium, iron, and copper as well as dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. As you can see from its deep green color, kale is very high in chlorophyll. The deeper green your vegetable, the more health benefits it contains and kale is one of the darkest!

Photo from the Moderate Oven

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Filed under Main course, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I’ve been so busy with various writing projects that this blog has fallen by the wayside. But I’m determined to get more recipes up on a regular basis! This means they will be short and sweet entries based on the food I’m making in my kitchen all the time. Here’s a delicious creamy cauliflower soup that’s just right for our strange weather here in New York. It’s tough to go from a sunny 73 degree day spent in shorts in Prospect Park to a chilly, drizzling 50 degree day back in boots and winter coats the next. So I made this soup to warm (and cheer) us up. It’s a real comforting and nutritious dinner.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbl butter*
1 cup whole milk*
4 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
dill (about 2 tbl, chopped, or more to taste)
salt and pepper

Place 2 tbl butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for several minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for another several minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir and cook for three more minutes. Add the remaining 2 tbl butter and garlic and stir to combine, cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add salt and pepper. Add the broth (make sure you cover all the vegetables). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. In small batches puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender. Return to the pot and add the milk and the dill. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately with more fresh chopped dill.

*If you want to make this without the dairy, I bet coconut milk and coconut oil would make delicious substitutes for the cow’s milk and the butter.

Nutrition Nuggets

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. It is also typically high in the trace mineral boron. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous family (with broccoli, cabbage, and kale) which is known to contain cancer-fighting compounds. Researchers believe that these compounds stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body. The compounds also work to increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.

Carrots contain the highest amount of provitamin A carotenes of any commonly consumed vegetable. Two carrots provide 4,050 retinol equivalents, or four times the RDA of vitamin A. Carrots also provide excellent amounts of vitamin K, biotin, fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium and thiamine. They are high in antioxidants that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. High carotene intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and a 50 percent decrease in cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Human studies suggest that as little as one carrot a day could cut the rate of lung cancer in half.


Filed under Main course, Soups, Vegetables

Brian’s Chili

Fall is officially here. The weather is cooling down here in New York and Brian is making chili. The food is great in the Fall! Brian’s chili is just one example of the comforting, warming meals we eat this time of year. Peppers are still abundant at the Farmer’s market and tomatoes are everywhere —  a homemade chili is the the best place to use all of these nutritious ingredients.

Brian’s Chili

2 boxes Pomi tomatoes*
1.5 lbs grass-fed ground beef
1 large onion
2 large red bell peppers
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
2 cups cooked black or pinto beans
3 to 6 chili peppers (jalepenos or other hot chili) depending on your heat preference
1 12 oz. organic lager (alternately, use the same amount of water)
3 tbls olive oil
4 tbls chilli powder
salt and pepper

Brown the beef in one tablespoon olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one tablespoon of the chili powder to the beef and a pinch or two of salt as you are browning. Once the meat is browned, remove it and drain most of the fat to a bowl. Add one tablespoon olive oil and chopped onion to the pot with one more tablespoon chili powder. Saute the onion until translucent and soft. Add all the chopped peppers and salt. Cook down until they are tender and add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, beer, beans, meat, and fat. Add the remaining chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on a low temperature and stir frequently for at least one hour (the longer the better). Serve with shredded cheese.

* You can also use fresh, blanched tomatoes; you will need about 12 to 16 plum tomatoes for this.

Nutrition Nuggets

Tomatoes are packed with nutrition. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenes, biotin, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are full of a type of a red carotene called lycopene. Lycopene has shown to be extremely protective against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Lycopene works to  prevent these diseases by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can damage cellular structures.

Bell Peppers are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B6. They have excellent antioxidant activity and are a great source of phytochemicals. They also contain lycopene. Studies have shown that bell peppers are protective against cataracts. They have also been shown to prevent blood clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Bell peppers should be eaten by those wishing to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.


Filed under Main course, Recipes

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus

I’ve eaten my fair share of asparagus this season. I’ve cooked it every which way and this is my favorite at the moment. It couldn’t be simpler but it tastes gourmet. The egg yolks coat the sweet roasted asparagus and the Parmesan cheese provides a salty, nutty counterpart — all you need are some delicious pastured eggs, seasonal asparagus, and a bit of good Parmesan cheese and dinner is served in less than 20 minutes. A good crusty baguette wouldn’t hurt either.

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus
Serves 2

4 to 6 eggs
2 bunches asparagus
Parmesan Reggiano
Sea salt & pepper

Rinse asparagus and snap off ends. Place in a glass baking dish with a generous coating of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 375 for about 15 minutes, tossing the asparagus about halfway through. Meanwhile grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside. When the asparagus is nearly finished, prepare eggs (at least two per person) over easy, or until the the white is cooked but the yolk remains runny. Divide asparagus evenly between two plates, place eggs on top, and coat with a good dusting of Parmesan. Add a bit more salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition Nuggets

Asparagus is low in calories and carbohydrates while relatively high in protein compared to other vegetables. It has been used historically to treat arthritis due to its unique phytochemicals and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are pretty darn close to a perfect food. The best option is to eat pastured eggs — meaning eggs that come from chickens that are raised on open pasture and regularly eat grass, plants, bugs, grubs and whatever else they can find in the fields. Chickens are omnivores and the quality, taste (and health benefits) of their eggs is largely dependent on what they eat.



Filed under Eggs, Main course, Recipes, Vegetables

Shrimp Caesar Salad

This is my new favorite salad – it’s simple and nutritious and can easily be prepared for a weeknight meal. People think that making your own Caesar dressing is difficult, but with a food processor or blender it’s ready in about 5 minutes. I use raw egg in mine but you can omit it if you are worried. If you’re buying your eggs from a local farmer who raises his or her chickens on pasture, raw eggs are safe to eat — but I would never recommend eating a raw industrial egg! I used shrimp here but you could use salmon, chicken, or top it with hard-boiled eggs. This is a simple, delicious, and a very nutrient dense meal just in time for Spring. Enjoy!

Shrimp Caesar Salad
Serves 4

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
Cooked and chilled shrimp (make sure to buy wild-caught of US origin)
Parmesan Reggiano, grated for topping

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of one Meyer lemon
5 anchovy filets
1 tbl Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1/2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the dressing place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender and combine for about 30 seconds. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides, then with the motor running add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until incorporated and the dressing looks well combined. Toss the chopped lettuce and dressing in a large salad bowl, then top with Parmesan and shrimp, add ground pepper to taste.

Nutrition Nuggets

Lettuce is a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. In general, the darker the lettuce the greater the nutrient content. Romaine lettuce is generally the most nutrient dense and is an excellent source of vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamins C, B1, and B2. Lettuce is also an excellent source of the minerals manganese and chromium.

Shrimp is an excellent source of protein, selenium, and vitamin B12, iron, and phosphorus. Shrimp also contain the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Parmesan cheese (the real kind, not the kind that comes in the green shaker) has more protein than any other cheese. It’s full of beneficial bacteria, calcium, vitamin A, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin B12. Cheese has been shown to protect against dental cavities.

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Cabbage & White Bean Soup

Even though Spring is just around the corner, here in New York we’re still having our fair share of chilly weather. Last Wednesday, after a nearly 60˚ day, the temperature struggled to reach 30˚ and all I could think of was soup. I’ve been making a variation of this soup all winter since cabbage and potatoes are some of the only vegetables we can get locally. This last batch was especially good and I think it has to do with the technique of layering flavors throughout the cooking process. Enjoy!

Cabbage & White Bean Soup

1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz white beans
6 small fingerling potatoes, cut into small rounds
1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced
3 tbl butter
6 cups Vegetable Mineral Broth (or broth of your choice)
salt & pepper
dried oregano

Place 2 tbls butter in a deep soup pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt and coat the bottom of the pan. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, and a pinch of oregano, stir to coat and cover the pot. Allow the potatoes to brown a bit and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick. Add remaining 1 tbl butter along with the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, a bit more salt, pepper, oregano, and cook for another 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the white beans and a few tablespoons of broth and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Allow to cook for several minutes, then add the remaining broth and another pinch of oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add the cabbage, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and oregano if necessary. Serve with a generous dusting of Parmesan.

Serves 4

Nutrition Nuggets

Cabbage contains potent anti-cancer phytochemicals and is very nutrient dense, it is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folic acid, biotin, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Many studies confirm that the higher the intake of cabbage-family vegetables, the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Cabbage has also been shown to treat peptic ulcers effectively due to its concentration of the amino acid glutamine, which helps repair and regenerate the gastrointestinal tract.

White Beans, like all beans, contain a rich source of fiber. They also contain significant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Beans are also protective against cancer according to the Nurses Health Study II. Researchers found a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer in the women who ate beans or lentils two or more times a week.


Filed under Gluten free, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Barbara’s Spelt Honey Bread

A couple years ago, I asked my Mom to remove gluten from her diet to see if that could be aggravating her arthritis. After a week or two off gluten, my Mom reported much less inflammation and pain, particularly in her fingers, where she was most affected. She also noticed improvements to her digestion. Removing gluten from one’s diet is never easy since so much of the American diet is based on gluten-containing products like breads, pastas, and crackers. My Mom doesn’t have a true wheat allergy, like those with Celiac disease, but she does have an intolerance. Whenever she eats something with gluten for a special occasion, she feels it in her joints for the next several days and she gets an upset stomach.

Like most everyone else I know, my Mom loves bread and so she did not embrace this new found intolerance with much excitement. But she is grateful for spelt! As is the case with many who have a wheat intolerance, my Mom tolerates spelt just fine. This is her recipe and it is a joy for her to eat fresh, homemade bread again. She recently posted this recipe on her blog, Bees and Chicks, and I wanted to share it here too. Here’s what she wrote:

This Spelt Honey Bread is really delicious and it’s great for those of you who might not be able to tolerate wheat in your diet. For a long time I thought I might never be able to eat yeast-raised bread again, but I’ve been eating this bread for a couple of months now. Being able to once again have warm bread fresh out of the oven and slathered in butter is heaven for me.

Barbara’s Spelt Honey Bread

1 pkg active dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon
2 cups warm water (105° to 110° F)
4 tbs honey
3 tbs melted butter
1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
5 cups spelt flour + about 1/2 cup for kneading
1/2-cup oat flour
1/2-cup corn meal

  1. Combine yeast, warm water and honey in a warm bowl. Let stand until it proofs — yeast will begin to ferment and you will see the yeast swelling and some small bubbles in about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile measure spelt, oat and corn flours into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Stir the melted butter into the proofed yeast and pour into a stand mixer bowl containing 3 cups of flour mixture and the salt.
  4. Stir until blended, then add remaining flour a cup or so at a time until it that is blended. Continue stirring for a minute or two. Dough will be a little wet.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dip hands in flour to keep the dough from sticking and knead dough for 4 – 6 minutes, adding flour as necessary until dough becomes smooth and elastic. DO NOT over knead the dough – spelt loaves can get tough and crumbly if kneaded too long.
  6. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, rolling it to coat the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm draft-free spot for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Grease two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pans. Make sure to really get them coated otherwise the bread has a tendency to stick.
  8. When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide it in half forming two smooth loaves. Put the loaves in the pans, cover and return to a warm, draft-free spot for another hour or so until the loaves reach the tops of the pans. (At about 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 350° F.)
  9. Uncover loaves and place pans in oven on a heavy baking sheet or a pizza stone and bake about 45 minutes until the tops are light brown and the loaves sound hollow when you tap them. Remove from oven.
  10. Brush tops with melted butter if you prefer a softer crust and turn bread out onto wire racks and let cool.
  11. Loaves should be cool before slicing. You can slice into a warm loaf, but it will be crumbly (and delicious if you slather it with butter!). The longer you wait, the cleaner the slices.

Note: This bread freezes beautifully. I slice the second loaf and put it in the freezer for toasting.

Yields two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2”x 2 1/2″ loaves.

Nutrition Nuggets

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.

Honey should always be purchased raw and unfiltered. Honey that is not pasteurized, clarified, or filtered retains more of the phytochemicals that account for its health benefits. Honey, particularly darker honey, such as buckwheat honey, is a rich source of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, that have strong antioxidant activity. Honey has been found to be protective against atherosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries. This is because honey improves blood antioxidant levels and helps prevent lipid peroxidation — or the damaging of lipids (fats) by free radicals in the body. Honey also has wound-healing properties and has been used topically as an antiseptic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns, and wounds for centuries.

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Filed under Baked Goods, Nutrition, Recipes, staples