Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Dirty Quinoa

Serves: 3-4 people
Hands-on time: 15-20 min
Total time: 30 min

This recipe for “dirty” quinoa is adapted from the dirty rice I used to make all the time when I was single and cooking was a low priority.  I also used to chop up hotdogs and throw them in to make a meal, but um I don’t do that anymore. Now it’s just clean, whole, unprocessed food for me.  I sure wish they made a natural hotdog flavor I could add to a dish to get my hotdog fix.  Anyway, enough about hot dogs, let’s make some dirty quinoa!


Continue reading “Dirty Quinoa”

Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Farro con Pollo

Serves: 4 people
Hands-on time: 40 min
Total time: 40 min

This recipe was adapted from a Bobby Flay Fit recipe called “Quinoa con Pollo with Peas and Green Olives.”  It took me a ridiculously long time to make (ok, I admit it, it was 2 hours, ugh) but was absolutely delicious.  It was worth spending the time figuring out how to get it down to a 40-minute recipe.  If you have the chicken already pre-made from a previous night’s meal you can shave another 10 minutes off of the hands-on time.

Given that it’s winter, I opted for the meatier toothiness of farro instead of the more delicately textured quinoa. That turned out to be a great adaptation because the meal is very flavorful and the farro holds its own better than I think the quinoa would have. Continue reading “Farro con Pollo”

Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Nutrition 101

This is a lecture I gave at one of my Healthy Cooking meetup groups in 2016.  Sorry it’s somewhat of a work in progress but will polish it up soon!


Nutrition Defined
Basic Nutrients
Nature’s Intention

Nutrition Defined

What Most of us Learned in School
From Merriam Webster:
the act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically :  the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances

The Scientific Definition

Scientific = Biochemical
Introducing Dr. T. Colin Campbell…

Warning: This is a somewhat unpopular criticism of the way nutrition is supported by our government and medical establishment at large.

Excerpt from his 2013 book “Whole, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”:
“I remember sums from grade school math. We added two numbers and got a third. The third, which we called the sum, was nothing more or less than what you got by adding the first two numbers. That’s the very soul of reductionism. Remember, the sum total can be completely known if you know each individual part.”

Dr. Campbell goes on to explain his theory that nutritional science, and to a greater extent, the food industry as a whole, relies on reductionism to further their argument that processed food is fine because the individual components are “the same” as what you’d find in natural whole foods.

Did you know?

Traditional medical doctors have little to no training in nutrition. It is not part of the curriculum. Here’s an excerpt from an article in a dietician’s publication from January of 2016:

It’s no secret the nutrition education many medical students receive today leaves much to be desired. The Institute of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges currently recommend medical students receive 25 hours of dedicated nutrition education over a four-year span. Whether that’s sufficient is an argument unto itself, but many colleges aren’t even meeting that goal.

Basic Nutrients


Carbohydrates * See next slide
Proteins * Meat, (some) vegetables, dairy, eggs, beans
Fats * Harder to digest but important for “internal lubrication”

* Good source of energy

* Some essential fats must be eaten (body can’t produce)

* Trans fats are the only fats you should not eat

* Fat does not make you fat.

Water * Our bodies need constant replenishment

* Best detoxifier

* Best a.m. kickstart


Compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen called sugars (saccharides)
Simple vs. Complex
* Simple sugar molecules form chains to create complex carbohydrates (starch)
* Enzymes break the chains down to simple sugars for the body to absorb.
Comes mostly from plants.
* But also milk, which is difficult to digest and can cause problems.
Americans eat far too few carbohydrates.
* Mostly empty calories
* 70-80% “good” carbohydrates is recommended by many whole food nutrition experts
* USDA Recommends 45-65%

A Lesson in Nutrition from Dr. McDougall


Essential vitamins
Plant foods

Also essential
Better from food than supplements


How Digestion Works

The digestive system breaks down macronutrients into molecular components such as amino acids, fatty acids and glucose.

These then absorbed through the walls of the digestive tract, and the circulatory system disseminates them throughout the body.

<insert image from slide 14>


Fiber is an even LONGER chain of complex carbs. So long that it can’t all be digested, and much of it passes through your system undigested.
Eating high-fiber foods is hugely beneficial …
* Maintains bowel health
* Controls blood sugar
* Reduces bad cholesterol
* Lower risk of heart disease or stroke
* Aids weight loss (feel full longer)
* Helps remove toxins and unwanted fungus
* Reduces risk of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids

Sources of Fiber

Beans, peas, lentils
Whole grains
Green veggies (celery, broccoli, green beans)
Starchy vegetables (potatoes, parsnips, etc)

Gut Health

Sequence is important
Avoiding inflammatory foods
Gluten, sugar, dairy


Calories are Your Energy

All food has calories
Your body transforms the calories from food into heat energy
The heat energy is then used by your body to run its various systems
You only need to consume enough food to “run” your body.

How Calories are Stored


<insert image from slide 20>

Excellent description at

Quality is Everything

Calories in – calories out… NOT!
Choose the natural (whole) version
* A little bit of honey instead of Splenda
* Eat an apple instead of drinking apple juice
* Fresh veggies, not frozen or canned
Counting calories doesn’t work
* Weight-watchers model

Nature’s Intention

Good and Bad “Diets”

Fad diets are temporary and never work.
Some come close
* Paleo (sort of)
* Weight Watchers

Bad diets
* Low carb
* Low fat
* Any that support processed food

The Best Diet

A good diet is a permanent lifestyle choice
Based on whole foods
Organic, natural ingredients
As close to natural state as possible
Mostly plants, whole grains, good fats, lean protein
Use “gentle” cooking techniques (e.g. light sauté vs deep fry)

The Simplest Diet in the World

Excerpt from The Great Cholesterol Myth
Chapter 13, 22:16


Slides – <put on slide share>

Recommended Books and Films
Whole, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD
The Great Cholesterol Myth, by Jonny Bowden PhD & Stephen Sinatra MD
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (Book and Film)
Forks Over Knives (Film)

Praise for T. Colin Campbell
Excerpt from Amazon review of The Low-Carb Fraud (Dr. Campbell’s latest book)
“…Eating his recommended way, I have gone from 235 pounds on a 5 ft 1 in frame to 121 pounds. I had been testing prediabetic for years and now my blood sugar and other values are completely normal. I stride around like a teenager whereas before I had x-ray verified need for replacement of both hips, both knees, and both ankles. I had severe osteoarthritis such that each step was very painful. I now work all day on my feet and have no pain at all…”

Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Vegan “Dirty” Brown Rice

This is a wonderful rice dish as a main course. You can spice it up with any of your favorite vegetables and or hot peppers.  For a protein-rich version add a drained and rinsed can of black or red beans along with the vegetables

1 cup of fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup of fresh cauliflower, chopped
1 cup of sliced carrots
2 cups of long grain brown rice
5 1/2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb or herb blend (optional)

Combine 2 cups of long grain brown rice and 5 1/2 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Add carrots and seasonings, stir and bring to a boil. (Add 1-2 tbsp of butter or oil if desired.)

Reduce heat and cover tightly.

Simmer 30 minutes, then lift cover and quickly add the cauliflower and broccoli. Don’t stir.
Re-cover immediately.

Simmer 15-20 minutes longer, or until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.

Fluff lightly with a fork and serve.

Nutritional Value of Brown Rice (1 cup cooked)

216 Calories
1.8 g Total Fat
0 g Cholesterol
10 mg of Sodium
84 mg of Potassium
45 g Total Carbohydrates
5 g Protein

Nutritional Values of Vegetables (1 cup raw)

73.6 Calories
.8 g Total Fat
0 mg Cholesterol
89 mg Sodium
2607 mg Potassium
15 gr Carbohydrates
5.26 g Protein

Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Avoiding Bad Influences

During the week I have a corporate job with a very well established company with lots of resources. Recently I went to a company training event where they provided a “continental breakfast.” There were two tables in the breakfast area. They weren’t marked as such but I could tell they were making an attempt to give people the choice of comfort food vs. healthy food. On the “healthy” table there was a large platter of fruit, including cut up melon and various kinds of berries. OK so that’s a good start. Next to the fruit platter sat a large container of creamy (i.e. not the greek type) yogurt to spoon over your fruit. I did not taste the yogurt, but my guess is that it was vanilla flavored and had sugar. As long as you were not lactose intolerant or diabetic, it was probably fine.

I had some fruit, skipping the lactose-laden, blood sugar-spiking yogurt/dessert topping.

Muffin PlatterOn the other table was an even larger platter with a gorgeous array of pastries and muffins. Ah the allure of comfort food… white processed flour and white processed sugar… warm it up and add a pat of butter. I am salivating just thinking about the steamy aroma and messy yumminess of salty melted butter commingling with sweet runny blueberries. Sigh. Alas, anything but healthy.

Next to the Platter of Heavenly Sin, there was a slightly smaller platter with a pile of bagels and a variety of flavored cream cheeses. I figured there must be at least one or two whole grain bagels in the pile as I noticed a few oat flakes speckled the plate and table nearby. For sure, cream cheese has some protein in it but any nutritional advantage is swallowed up by the abundance of saturated dairy fat molecules that surround it. And who knows what else was in the cream cheese in order to make it taste like strawberries or honeyed walnuts or whatever. Besides the runny vanilla yogurt, the flavored cream cheese was the only bit of protein I saw at the whole breakfast. I would have been thrilled with some hard boiled eggs or plain greek yogurt…

Finally, there were a few different kinds of juice, and of course, coffee. All in all, a nice solid breakfast of pure carbs, mostly processed. Thank goodness for the coffee to keep us all awake during our mid-morning sugar crash.

Fresh Pear with Cinnamon

Don’t Toast Your Quinoa

A recent study on different ways of cooking quinoa has revealed that toasting your quinoa prior to cooking can actually decrease the nutritional value. 

You can read the publication here (if you enjoy reading scientific papers) but I’ll give you the bottom line: the best way to prepare your quinoa for maximum nutritional value is to rinse it well, don’t toast it, and cook it under pressure. 

Here’s a great recipe that uses a wonderful blend of Mexican-inspired seasonings.