Cherry Apricot Almond Tart

This tart has the trifecta effect of cherries + almonds + apricots. And it’s gorgeous. I love how this tart gives off both a casual, rustic feeling and a sense of refinement at the same time. Get ready for it to be the talk of the barbecue.



The Pressure Cooker “Quick Soak”

“Quick soaking” with a pressure cooker means you can have beans on the table the same day … even within an hour. No need for the overnight soak.And Alison and I prefer how this particular method makes the beans creamy on the inside, but still strong enough to hold their shape.

Here’s how:

  1. Sort through the beans, discarding any split ones.
  2. Place beans in a 6-quart pressure cooker and add water to cover by 2 inches. Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you, to allow steam to escape. Drain beans.

If you’d like to cook the beans in the pressure cooker, all the better. Just follow the directions in the recipe, using the pressure cooker instead of a pot, and reduce the cooking time by half.

Homemade Gravlax with Wild Alaskan Salmon

Gravlax is a wonderfully simple way to showcase the the rich, buttery quality of wild salmon from the Copper River. Gravlax is a Swedish specialty that cures the salmon with a mixture of salt, sugar and spices. It’s a simple, no-cook technique requiring nothing more than a little prep work and time. There many of variations of gravlax. Our version uses a basic combination of granulated and brown sugars, coarse sea salt and black pepper that lets the luscious flavor and texture of the wild salmon really shine. You could customize this in any number of ways – swap black pepper for earthy white pepper, add lemon or orange rind, etc. Serve thinly sliced on multigrain crackers, garnished with chopped fresh dill and grated lemon zest. Or you could go old school and serve it with fresh bagels, cream cheese, capers and thinly sliced red onion.


Three Hours, Priceless Peace

As you know, we kicked off the launch of Nourish Weekly Menus last week with quite the event–5 days of giveaways on our Facebook page, from videos to e-cookbooks. It was awesome (I especially loved how the e-cookbooks turned out!). And I was EXHAUSTED.

Most of us, these days, run at a swift pace. It’s understandable; it just can’t be helped in our modern world. But it does make it even more essential to deliberately set aside time to recharge. And by Thursday of last week, I could tell I was definitely going to need recharging, and my sweet husband gave me permission to just sleep late and disappear on Sunday.

So I did.

I took off to the ocean, which, it never ceases to amaze me, is only about an hour away. Just watching the bars disappear from my iPhone felt freeing. Just having two concentrated hours to listen to a book on tape (The Three Marriages by David Whyte … incredible) felt indulgent.

The sun was strong and the breeze leisurely, so I lay out my blanket, stripped down to my bikini and soaked in the warmth. And for two blissful hours I didn’t have to corral my thoughts into focus, or answer rapid fire questions from my 4-year old every 20 seconds, or even move. I could just be.

I don’t make a practice of laying out in the sun–in fact, I’m normally a total wuss on Northern California beaches and bundle up in a jacket–but it felt especially liberating to me yesterday. When I was diagnosed with lupus in 1997, I was put on a drug that made me extremely sensitive to the sun. So the entire time Christopher and I were in Costa Rica on our extended road trip in 2000, I had to sit on the fringes of the beach, covered up in special SPF garb with huge, wide-brimmed hats. I remember watching other young women run along the sand and dive amongst the waves and feeling stifled and trapped. In my own body. It was the public manifestation of how far removed I felt from my own identity as I struggled to come to terms with having lupus, and losing the ability to have children.

That diagnosis was reversed and I went off the drug long ago and, like I said, I’m still careful in the sun. But the simple act of tilting my face up to the sky without fear still feels profoundly luxurious to me. You know what I mean? Do you have any little things you do that have an incredibly deep meaning for you?

Thank you to my husband for those three precious hours of reconnecting with who I am, now, here. Of re-inhabiting the healthy body I’m so grateful to have. And thank YOU for your incredible support with the Nourish Weekly Menus launch week!


PS — Check out what peeps are already saying about Nourish Weekly Menus:

“It was great to have easy recipes I could trust during the week to get good food on the table fast!”

“It was really fun to see what was on the menu each week. Once the shopping was done, the stress off my shoulders. The meals are fantastic, delicious and easy to make! Thank you!”


Want to Save 12,755 Minutes This Year?

I am busting out excited. Nourish Weekly Menus is finally HERE! And to celebrate, we’ve got a week’s worth of fun giveaways and terrific discounts going on over on our Facebook page. The first, on Wednesday, is a free video and worksheet on 7 Ways to Save 12,755 minutes this year and coupon for 5 FREE weeks of Nourish Weekly Menus!

So I thought for today’s post I’d give you 7 Reasons Nourish Weekly Menus will rock the way you eat:

  • It’s just what you need |  Other menu services give breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. We don’t. The vast majority of people struggle most with getting dinner on the table Monday through Thursday, so that’s what we focus on. We carefully craft the week, using Sunday as a launching pad for making foods do double duty—saving you time and cutting down on waste. (You may be able to enjoy some tasty leftovers for lunch, too.)
  • It’s designed for weeknights  | Most of the weeknight recipes are on the table in 30 minutes or less … many with just a few minutes of hands-on prep. We also don’t assume you have a staff of sous chefs and dishwashers on hand (we don’t), so we think about things like streamlining steps and using as few pans as possible when we develop our recipes.
  • We believe whole foods can be “fast food” too  | We don’t take shortcuts with processed ingredients, because they often end up sabotaging with sodium, fillers, calories and fat that you wouldn’t put there on your own. Instead, we focus on seasonal vegetables, whole grains, and sustainably-sourced meat, poultry and seafood, along with smart strategies for making them “fast food” on a weeknight.
  • We balance your plate |  A big part of a nourishing lifestyle is a balanced plate. You get to feel great that you’re serving a meal with all the right proportions (and portions!)
  • You know you’re getting sustainable choices  | We don’t dictate your priorities, but we do steer you towards sustainable choices. All of the seafood we feature in our nourishing menus, for instance, are sustainable picks, and we use much less meat than traditional menu services.
  • You’ll get really, really scrumptious recipes  | This ain’t a “boiled carrots and baked chicken” type of menu service (you know what I mean). We’re talking delectable, scrumptious, nourishing recipes developed by me and Alison, two veterans of Cooking Light magazine. PLUS, gorgeous photos and eye-candy layouts that will get your whole family excited about the week.
  • We give you tools you can really use |  We asked a LOT of questions when we were concepting Nourish Weekly Menus, which allowed us to craft out how we delivered each week’s recipes in a way that really works. The exact opposite of a “drag and drop” approach, we give you a weekly menu chart with helpful icons to let you know what dishes will be doing double duty, which ones freeze well, which ones take less than 30 minutes, and which are yummy for lunch the next day. Then we give you a Menu Map with step-by-step flow for each night (Preheat oven, bring water to boil, while waiting prep vegetables, etc.) to help you get the timing right. And, of course, your weekly shopping list and recipes. The whole package works together to make getting nourishing meals on the table entirely doable (we’ll have more about how everything works together on our Facebook page Friday).

See you on Facebook!

PS: I’d love your help spreading the word! If you’re comfortable doing so, please let your friends know about Nourish Weekly Menus and our launch week by sharing this link on Twitter, Facebook, wherever you like. Thank you!

Here We Go …

WOW. This is my first post on our brand new, revamped site. I’m blushing from the momentousness of the occasion.

Even more exciting, though, is what’s ahead. First, though, let me tell you a bit about why we redesigned the site.

As many of you know, I launched NOURISH Evolution in 2009 because I wanted a place where we could explore that sweet spot where health and sustainability and enjoyment all intersect. Early on, I recruited Alison, my long-time editor at Cooking Light and dear friend, to be my right hand gal. And all was good.

Then, once NOURISH Evolution was rolling, quite a few people said to me, “you know, you’re so good at explaining all of this and making it easy to understand … what would you think of creating a coaching program to help people actually make the changes you’re talking about?” And that landed. Big time.

So I delved into the (total) unknown of creating a lesson plan and curriculum and worked like crazy to make My Nourish Mentor. At the time, it was a 6-month program that was divided into small groups that all came together for a weekly phone call (thank you to all the pilot testers and early adopters!!!). It was awesome. After spending almost a decade and a half writing articles and sending them out into the ether, here I was with a front-row seat watching people’s lives change because of what I was teaching them. There was no turning back.

A few months ago, I tweaked the My Nourish Mentor program to make it more accessible–changing it from 6-months to 12-weeks, making it more affordable, and moving it entirely online. I also started developing a full library of online e-courses called NOURISH-U. But … everything felt very disjointed in the Nourish world. NOURISH Evolution had our awesome articles and recipes that people had come to rely on, but My Nourish Mentor and NOURISH-U were like little orphans out in the cold. So Alison and I decided on a total redesign to bring them under the fold (plus a REALLY exciting new offering coming later this week).

Now, at last, I feel like NOURISH Evolution is all I want it to be — a place where you’re empowered to live and eat in a way that nourishes all of you … and your family, and your community, and our planet. I’m glad you’re here.

PS — Is there something you’d like to see on NOURISH Evolution? A topic on our blog, a course on NOURISH-U? Let me know–leave a comment here.

PPSS — If you haven’t already, please join us on Facebook; we’ve got a stellar community gathering over there!

Super Seven Sustainable Seafood Picks-2011

It’s World Oceans Day again, and, wow, has the world’s fish been in the spotlight in the past year or what? This time last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was still oozing across the Gulf of Mexico. And it seems there’s news every day about a threatened wild fish or some irresponsibly cultivated farmed fish. What’s a conscientious fish-lover looking for sustainable seafood to do?

2011-sustainable-seafood-picksTo make those choices easier, Lia introduced NOURISH Evolution’s Super Sustainable Seafood Picks in 2009. We’ve updated that list each year with some new entries. Our criteria are simple: A fish must be raised or caught in an environmentally sound manner, safe to eat, widely available and easy to identify. We cross-check our selections with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWatch, Blue Ocean Institute’s Seafood Guide and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector.

Our selections have remained pretty consistent, though there have some changes. For example, this year, we knocked tilapia off our list of faves. Why? The fish is still an environmental darling – when it’s cultivated in recirculating tanks. But a recent New York Times story revealed that intense demand for the fish has lead to some questionable products on the market. Tilapia cultivated in the U.S. is still a “best choice,” but less than 5% of the tilapia on the market is from here. Much, but not all, tilapia from Central America is OK, and lots of it comes from China, which is definitely a no-no (a new Food & Drug Administration report uncovers serious concerns about contamination in China’s fish farms).

All that makes shopping for truly sustainable tilapia a bigger project than a busy shopper might want. (If you’re a fan of tilapia, try widely available U.S.-raised catfish instead.)

View from the Bay. Watch this video to discover how easy it is to cook mussels — and what you should ask the folks at the fish counter.

Drum roll, please, here are NOURISH Evolution’s Super Seven Sustainable Seafood Picks for 2011:

Barramundi. A common fish in Australia, barramundi is now being farmed sustainably both here in the U.S. and in Southeast Asia. Since they are a fast-growing fish, they’re a great choice for aquaculture.

Farmed Clams, Mussels, Bay Scallops, and Oysters. These bivalve mollusks leave their environment even cleaner than when they arrive because they filter particulates from the water. Even better, farmed versions of these mollusks from anywhere in the world are considered environmentally sound.

Alaskan Pacific Cod. Moist, lean, tender, and mild–if you crave cod these days, make sure it’s from Alaska, which has the most sustainable supply. It’s also marketed as Alaska cod, true cod, gray cod or simply as “cod” (like its less-sustainable cousin, Atlantic cod, so you’ll have to quiz the fishmonger). Pacific Halibut is another great alternative.

Sablefish (Black Cod). This omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish is prized for its velvety, buttery texture. Sablefish is neither cod nor butterfish, though it resembles both and may be labeled black cod, Alaska cod (just like Pacific cod, so be sure to ask the fishmonger if it’s really sablefish) or butterfish. Sablefish from Alaska or British Columbia is the most sustainable choice; Alaksan wild salmon also works well in many recipes calling for sablefish.

Alaskan Wild Salmon. Alaska’s wild salmon is a model of fishery management, so it’s abundant and widely available (fresh when it’s in season in summer and frozen year-round). We also think wild salmon has superior flavor and texture to its farmed cousins. If you can’t find Alaskan wild salmon, try sablefish or Arctic char.

Arctic Char. This is actually a member of the salmon family. In the U.S. and other parts of the world, it’s being raised in sustainable environments. It’s a delicious everyday alternative to salmon.

Herring/Sardines. Sardines are a type of herring, a small, fast-growing fish caught in purse seines with minimal bycatch and habitat damage. You’ll typically find them in cans or jars, often smoked or pickled, although fresh whole sardines are increasingly available, too, and are delicious grilled or broiled.

Certainly, these aren’t the only sustainable seafood, just seven of our favorites. When it comes to selecting other types of fish, here are few simple guidelines:

  • Skip supercheap fish. This advice comes from Mark Kurlansky’s new book, World Without Fish (Workman), a cautionary tale written for his young daughter and other kids. “Cheap fish has usually been caught in careless ways,” he warns. Likewise, cheap farmed fish may be the result of sloppy aquaculture practices.
  • Beware of the hot “new” fish. High demand often leads to overfishing, says Kurlansky. Orange roughy and Chilean seabass are just two examples of fish that high demand has pushed onto everyone’s “avoid” list.
  • Eat a variety of fish. We all have our favorites, and it’s easy to get into a rut (Lord knows, we love Alaskan wild salmon in our household). To avoid overtaxing any particular fish stock, make a point of expanding your seafood repertoire to eat a range of fish, from big carnivores like salmon down to sardines and other abundant choices lower on the food chain.
  • Shop at stores that support sustainable seafood. If you have a local fishmonger who’s knowledgeable about sustainable choices, that’s great. For guidance shopping at larger retailers, check out Greenpeace USA’s Supermarket Scorecard to see how your favorite store stacks up.

Old-Fashioned Raspberry Buckle Coffee Cake

A buckle is a homey, old-school American dessert that’s a single-layer coffee cake studded with fruit. As the cake cools, it settles and “buckles.” I used raspberries here, but blueberries or blackberries would work just as well. If you happen to have our DIY Ghee on hand, use it to add deep flavor to this recipe. The buckle cake a great addition to a brunch spread or as an afternoon snack with coffee or tea.


USDA Trades In Old Pyramid for a New Plate

I suspect Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was overstating things a bit yesterday when unveiling the long-awaited icon to accompany the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“It’s an important day for the entire country,” he declared, as he prepared to introduce the USDA’s new MyPlate. The icon replaces the old MyPyramid.

Well, important for dietitians, public health advocates and those interested in nutrition, maybe. I suspect more Americans were following Weinergate.

For the most part, MyPlate got a warm reception. First, it’s simple to understand. Anyone can glance at it and know half your plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains (mostly whole) and a quarter protein– with a small serving of dairy on the side. That’s a huge improvement over the old MyPyramid, which was widely criticized for being confusing and, basically, useless. That’s it here. Do you have any idea what those multicolored stripes mean? That’s OK, no one else did either.

Is it perfect? No, these things never are. As Adrienne Youdim, M.D., medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Weight Loss Clinic in Los Angeles noted, what you gain in simplicity you sacrifice in detail. Still, if people get the message on the proper proportions of fruits, veggies, grains and protein, that’s enough of a step in the right direction. In perfect world, she added, MyPlate would incorporate the message of physical activity, much like the stick figure did in the old pyramid.

Even Food Politics‘ Marion Nestle, who’s a tough critic of the USDA, is (mostly) satisfied with MyPlate. “My one quibble? Protein,” she notes in her blog. “Protein is a nutrient, not a food. Protein is not exactly lacking in American diets. The average American consumes twice the protein needed.  Grains and dairy, each with its own sector, are important sources of protein in American diets.”

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine PCRM raises another issue. While MyPlate emphasizes fruits and vegetables–and looks a lot (OK, almost exactly) like the PCRM’s own Power Plate–it’s at odds with current federal agricultural subsidies.

“The plate icon advises Americans to limit high-fat products like meat and cheese, but the federal government is subsidizing these very products with billions of tax dollars and giving almost no support to fruits and vegetables,” says PCRM staff nutritionist Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.

More than 60% of federal subsidies go toward promoting meat and dairy. Fruits and vegetables get less than 1%. So while the government is touting fruits and vegetables on half MyPlate, it’s doing little to fund promoting those foods.

Sure, if you visit the website, you can click around the plate to learn the different foods that make up the plate, and there are some improvements there. In “Proteins,” beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and seafood suggestions overwhelm those for meat and poultry. “Dairy” includes soy milk as an alternative (though as a bit of an afterthought), and “Grains” clearly favors whole grains over refined varieties.

But how many Americans are going to spend time trolling around, anyway? Harvey Hartman, of the market research firm Hartman Group, which does wonderful research on consumer behavior, has long maintained that plates, pyramids and other government-created public-education efforts are a waste of time.

“We were among the first to warn that the last refresh of the food pyramid in 2005 would prove unsuccessful and likely have no effect on obesity rates,” he notes. “We knew this because the pyramid was particularly confusing and people do not eat according to scientific principles. But more foundationally, because our research always shows that most people are not interested in this source of information, there is little reason to expect any correlated behavioral change.”

MyPlate is unlikely to fare any better.

“Once again, the powers-that-be refused to consider the historical evidence (i.e. that these things never work) and pursue more innovative approaches,” he says. “Rather than thrusting a plate upon us, why not remove all vending machines from schools? It’s always struck me as bizarre that we would let our children eat from machines.”

What’s your take on plates and pyramids? Do you care? In the meantime, try this Obscenely Good Eggplant-Ricotta Tartine. It’s healthy, delicious food on a plate. Your plate.