I can go on and on about my ideas on the evolution of nutrient dense ingredients to develop, what I feel should be where flavor profiles are headed these days. I didn’t plan on making my blog just about my awesome food, mouth watering pics and recipes. Although I have been getting requests for recipes, diet plans etc., I have held back from the food because I first wanted to give readers a look at what is driving my passion as a chef and bring their attention to a few important topics.
There are many issues in the world that I cannot single-handedly do much about, but as a chef, there are a few that I can put my efforts towards. Like eliminating and suggesting those I work with to be done with ingesting toxins. The majority of chefs are still buying and using them and the people being poisoned by them as a result of being misled by advertising and marketing. By “toxins” I mean refined sugar, white flour, iodized salt, hydrogenated oil, and MSG in its many disguises. To me these are the worst food products. They are the leading causes behind our deadliest health problems. This is not breaking news and you don’t have to wait to be told by a doctor to eliminate them and start eating the right foods.
I could contribute to slimming down that obesity epidemic I’m always writing about even by just using my creative talent with flavors. Making whole foods (not messed with by processing or refining) and lean proteins combined with nutrient dense superfoods taste good is something that an average person who has been taking the easy way out to get flavor won’t be able to do for long. Most will cringe at the idea of adding whole grains and the fiber that’s in the fruit and not just the sugary juice to their diet.
Leading by example as a chef that is not using my career as an excuse to let my health go, is bringing my “progressive modern” lifestyle of a chef into the kitchen. My latest venture is consulting with people one on one in their homes on how to simplify cooking for themselves and their families and soon to hold group demonstrations on “Eating to Live.” It will only be a matter of time before I am opening my own concept and spreading the knowledge of who benefits when we cook and live this way.
Before I can even start to introduce the food that will bring maximum benefit to your health along with great flavors, colors, textures and so on, I have to ask you, “Where has your mouth been?” Has your tongue been slathered with white flour, sugary drinks and sauces, MSG and other addicting flavor enhancers found in all grab and go food for most of your life? If so, let’s wean off of that crap and give your tongue a good scrapping to start fresh. Your mouth plays a small role in digestion and unfortunately most people rely on what goes on here, flavor, texture etc., to determine their diet. Becoming aware of what your body’s real needs are is part of enjoying nutrient dense foods.
For someone who is already eating a diet that is eliminating, refined sugar mostly, but all of the aforementioned will enjoy food that is, not lacking, but not based on rich flavors through fat, salt and other magical man-made fairy dust.
So it’s been long enough, here is one simple recipe that I have created using my favorite one pot mixing grains and starches technique. Full of protein, essential vitamins and minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. Add animal protein if you want but one serving of this dish will give you at least 15 grams of protein. The misconception of needing to eat meat to get protein is another blog. I am by no means a vegan, still consider myself a full on omnivore. When it comes to getting the most nutrient dense calories though, I do eat a ton of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Red Quinoa – sweet potato-figs-toasted pecans
2 cups red quinoa
1 1/2 cups sweet potato (not peeled, small dice, about ¼ in cubes)
1 cup dried figs (stem removed, cut in half)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasted is optional)
1 bunch baby arugula
31/2 cups vegetable stock (or just water with a little sea salt)
1/2 T maple syrup
Sea salt to taste
Rinse quinoa in a medium sized saucepan with vegetable stock over medium heat. Bring to a slow simmer. 4 minutes in add sweet potatoes and cover for the next 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take cover off, liquid should be almost gone. Add figs and take off of heat. Let stand for a few minutes and stir in maple syrup and pecans. You can serve it over the arugula or fold the arugula in.
This is a fine example of a nutrient dense side dish. Feel free to swap out the pecans for walnuts or whatever you like. The figs can be a different fruit like cherries also. Arugula can be spinach or watercress. Bringing sweet components into your savory dishes will fulfill the sugar craving we all have. Have fun with it.