Summer is like a celebration of food that is one big crescendo leading up to the finale of Fall’s harvest. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, cooling cucumbers, delicate summer squash and zesty pesto make way for an abundance of fruits and vegetables that strengthen and boost our immune function, from dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, to winter squashes, crispy apples and pears, and a variety of roots and tubers.
As I honor this equinox, I can feel the shift from the celebration of summer to the work of Fall and the focus on strengthening and preserving that lies ahead. While I have memories of canning beets and beans, taking all day to sterilize jars, prepare ingredients, seal containers and then listen (and pray) for the pop made by the lid sealing, rarely is that my approach these days. Preserving can come in many forms, but my preference is always for methods that retain as much of the nutritional value of the foods as possible, while requiring the least amount of effort.
In practice, that looks like fresh herbs and hot peppers hanging to dry in my kitchen to eventually be stored in mason jars. Beets, carrots, cabbage and green beans are put up to lacto-ferment on my countertops until they reach the point of sour and yet crisp. The dehydrator hums day and night, drying tomatoes, kale and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to be stored for winter (as long as we can keep from devouring them as soon as they are done).
These are just a few of the chores that make fall feel like a sprint to the finish…a rush to beat the first frost. Sometimes I accomplish them all, other times just a few. As with eating clean and living well in general, the goal is not to do it all, but rather to make healthy choices and do the best you can. Here is a list to help you do just that this fall:
1. Flash freeze berries and vegetables.
2. Dehydrate tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potatoes, herbs, apples, pears, kale…
3. Hang herbs and peppers to dry.
4. Start a compost pile or turn your current pile and spread useable compost on garden.
5. Plant fall crops like salad greens, arugula, spinach and radishes.
6. Transfer delicate herbs like rosemary into pots to grow indoors through winter.
7. Wrap unripe tomatoes in newspaper or store in bucket with sawdust to ripen and preserve.
8. Ferment cabbages, beets, carrots, greenbeans…
9. Plant garlic.
10. Plant cover crop.
11. Make medicinals like fire cider, elixirs and infusions.
12. Mulch garden with fallen leaves.
13. Carve a pumpkin and move indoors for winter.
This is a small sample of my activities for the upcoming season and I hope you’ll share the traditions and activities that make fall nourishing and memorable for you, too!
Eat clean and live well!
The Pointe of Food | September 8, 2014 | Susannah Marchese
I recently had the immense pleasure of spending a bit of time in the kitchen of Terry Walters, author of the cookbooks Clean Food and Clean Start. I have been an admirer of Terry for a long time. I own an early copy of her cookbook Clean Food (a go-to cookbook of mine) and recently purchased Clean Start. I love these books. The recipes are simple, colorful, full of veggies and nutrients. In other words: This is my kind of food!
Terry’s food philosophy is clear: Eat whole foods. Eat close to the source. Eat organic. Cut out the processed stuff and cook more of your meals yourself. I couldn’t agree more! So when I was planning my posts for The Pointe Of Food, a chat with Terry was first on the to-do list. Lucky for me, she doesn’t live far and was gracious enough to make some time for a chat.
The Pointe Of Food: So, Terry, what is a typical breakfast for you?
Terry Walters: I run for exercise, so on the days where I am up early, I might have a handful of almonds, or some dried apricots, just to give me a boost. But then I’ll come home and have my real breakfast which in colder weather might be oatmeal or steel cut oats topped with ground flax seed or milk thistle, olive oil and cinnamon. Or I might have a bowl of my own granola. In warmer weather, I love to make green smoothies.
TPOF: I notice in your books that the recipes are mostly without animal protein. Do you categorize yourself as a vegan?
TW: I eat for health and balance. I try not to label myself because labels don’t listen to your body. There are some people who NEED animal protein. Their bodies and their internal make-up just need it. But yes, my cookbooks, to look at them, would be considered vegan. I present these recipes because these are the foods we need to eat more of. Simply put: I listen to my body to figure out what it needs, but balance is the ultimate goal.
TPOF: Talk a little about your kids. As they grow up, are you happy with their food choices?
TW: From the beginning, I was very sensitive to building their “gut” health, and eliminating their food sensitivities. And we always had a running dialog about food, why it was a good food, or what about it made it nourishing. But we don’t talk about eating. I never forced them to eat, but I would bring things to their attention. I would cook a beautiful meal, and they would try the things that were new to them, and then I would sit back and let them make their own choice and I respect their choices. It’s food, but it’s like anything else in parenting. You model good behavior, and you hope they learn from that and make good choices for themselves when the time comes.
TPOF: So speaking of parenting, how influential was your own mother in how you view food?
TW: My mother cooked all our meals. I remember sitting in the room near our kitchen, doing homework, and smelling the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen and I can remember being excited about dinner thinking “Oh, what’s it going to be!” When I grew up and went off to college, I definitely missed the nourishment of my mother’s home-cooked meals and our shared mealtime.
TPOF: What about cookbooks? Besides your own, what do you have in your kitchen?
TW: I don’t use cookbooks! They failed me back in the 80′s when I had high cholesterol. Don’t get me wrong…there were plenty of good cookbooks in the 80′s, but even the healthy ones were full of dairy and sugar, the very foods I was trying to eliminate. So in college when I moved off campus I taught myself how to cook. Doctors told me I had to eat Kale and brown rice. So I made kale and brown rice. It was awful, so I taught myself how to make food taste good. That was the beginning for me.
TPOF: You taught yourself well because now you’re a wonderful cook! What’s your favorite meal to prepare?
TW: I love beautiful food. The best pick, the freshest in season. Food should nourish all our senses including visually, and if it doesn’t, that’s why we’re not nourished. I also believe in the family meal, sitting down together to a dinner of beautifully prepared food. Unfortunately, family meals are not the norm anymore.We are an instant gratification kind of society.
TPOF: Do you have a “go-to” dish you never tire of?
TW: Year round, I’d have to say sauteed greens. Any greens in season. A bit of sea salt, olive oil and avocado on top. Soups and roasted veggies in the winter are also staples. And I’m always fermenting something. I eat homemade fermented foods every day.
TPOF: Why fermented foods?
TW: Fermented foods are the best probiotic around. Hands down. Great for your gut!
TPOF: Did you ever meet a vegetable you didn’t like?
TW: If you read through all my books, you’ll notice there is only ONE cauliflower recipe, and it doesn’t even taste like cauliflower. So there’s your answer. But I have learned to love it. I think if you don’t like a certain vegetable, chances are you’ve never had it prepared well. If you can figure out how to bring out the good qualities of a vegetable and balance the less-than-pleasing qualities, you’ll probably like just about everything!
TPOF: I’m so excited about your new cookbook, Eat Clean. Live Well. Tell us a little about it!
TW: It’s every bit the clean food cookbook as the first two books with over 175 new seasonal vegan and gluten-free recipes for the foods we all need more of, no matter what else is on your plate. What’s new in this book is a wealth of life-style information to help people maintain balance and health throughout the year. Topics include everything from making clean food kid-friendly to boosting the immune system in the fall, the benefits of fermenting your own food, cleansing and detoxifying in the spring and much more. Plus, this book has over 200 photos, so it provides plenty of visual as well as cooking inspiration.
TPOF: Finally Terry, what’s your favorite part of your job? Teaching? Recipe development?Writing?
TW: All those things! It’s all good because it’s balanced. I might sit down for a while and write or do some editing or prepare for a cooking class, then get up and do some cooking or work in my vegetable garden. It’s a balanced life.
Terry’s new book is Eat Clean. Live Well. It will be available November first. Terry is currently the culinary director at The Institute Of Sustainable Nutrition.
I’d be lying if I blamed back-to-school for making snacking a new issue in my home. In truth, it’s a challenge 365 days of the year, and the kids aren’t the only ones who struggle to make good choices when it comes to snacking.
As soon as someone utters the word “snacks,” I instantly think of chips, dips, crackers, bars, pretzels, drinks…and of course there’s the uber-salty, sweet, highly processed foods that fill the “snacks” aisle of almost every grocery store. Without a doubt, if that’s what I kept in my house, that’s exactly what would be eaten!
The trick to healthy snacking is to make nutritious foods in advance. If they’re easy to grab, they will be. I call it The Cucumber Phenomenon. Every year, my garden produces more cucumbers than we know what to do with. The kids get so sick of cucumbers, they refuse to eat even one more. At the mere suggestion of cutting up a cucumber, I get moans and dirty looks. And yet, peel and slice a cucumber, set it up nicely on a plate with dip for when the kids get home from school… and they devour it with no hesitation. It works with just about any prepared food, whether made fresh for this very purpose, or pulled together from last night’s dinner.
Recently, my family has been snacking on a new recipe from EAT CLEAN. LIVE WELL. (due out 11/1) – Peach, Avocado and Forbidden Rice Nori Rolls! Follow the recipes as is, or substitute your own favorite combination of rice and vegetables for endless combinations!
And when you’re ready for even more, here are 20 nutritious snacks ideas as inspiration for healthy snacking. I’ve included some links to my recipes that have been featured on this and other sites over the years, and many are featured in my books… so it’s time to start flipping through the pages!
1. Cut-up raw veggies and salad dressing
2. Cut-up raw veggies and bean dips (hummus, black bean dip, cannelloni bean dip…)
3. Summer rolls (wrap up grated raw vegetables with pesto or dip in a soft summer roll)
4. Burritos (rice, beans, avocado, salsa, lettuce…)
5. Burrito pizzas (put a little pesto on a burrito, top it with last night’s sautéed greens and broil)
6. Roasted veggie dip (run last night’s roasted veggies through the food processor with olive oil and spices)
7. Soups…any and all varieties welcome
8. Fruit crisp (Place sliced fruit in casserole, top with rolled oats mixed with coconut oil and maple syrup, bake and serve.)
9. Baked sweet potatoes
10. Nutritious cookies, bread, muffins and cakes (zucchini, banana, carrot…)
11. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables (kale chips, beet chips, root veggie chips, crispy chickpeas, fruit leather, banana chips, dried apple rings…)
12. Lacto-fermented pickles and dilly beans
13. Nuts and seeds (and combinations of such as trail mix)
14. No-bake nut and seed bars
15. Cut-up seasonal fruit and berries
16. Peanut or sunflower butter on celery or apples
17. Homemade granola (with homemade almond milk)
18. Sugar snap peas (in season)
19. Smoothies (vegetables, fruit, cacao and nut butters are all yummy add-ins)
20. Leftovers. any. period.
Let’s keep this conversation going. Share YOUR favorite healthy snacks, because who knows where the next go-to snack idea will come from! And as always…