Try This— Root to Stalk Cooking

I don’t want to look back on my life and think, I could’ve eaten that. Anyone that’s ever tended their own vegetable garden, or paid those hefty price tags for organic vegetables knows the pain of throwing those perfectly green stalks into the compost heap. The amount of care we take and the amount of money we spend to have fresh, organic vegetables in our kitchens is reason enough to adopt the philosophy of root to stalk cooking. The most convincing reason though is that we’ve been robbing ourselves of some pretty vital nutrients and unexpectedly rich flavors without even knowing it. While every home cook knows that vegetable scraps can make the perfect broth, it’s totally easy to overlook the other awesome root to stem cooking techniques. You must try this!

Cauliflower doesn’t have to be cut into florets. Instead, you can slice straight through the stem to create ‘cauliflower steaks’ to roast in the oven or sear in a pan with tomatoes, black olives, and capers

Leeks have those dark green tops that take longer to cook, but transform into a braising green with a slight onion flavor that gives a richness to egg dishes

Beet greens look and taste like a cross between beets and chard (earthy and sharp) and are delicious sautéed and added to a whole-grain salad (think quinoa or cous cous) with pickled beets, goat cheese, and walnuts

Radishes come with peppery-tasting leaves that you can use as salad greens tossed with sweet corn, tomatoes, and a creamy dressing, along with the radishes themselves.

Broccoli stalks used to never make it to my plate. But the silky, dark leaves surrounding broccoli stalks cook like spinach and taste like the sweetest broccoli you’ve ever had. The stalk itself can be peeled leaving the sweet and crunchy part of the stem which is just a perfect addition to a stir fry

Fennel fronds and stems are sweeter than the white bulbs and have a stronger anise flavor. If you like licorice, you can thinly slice the stems and candy them, or head in a savory direction and toss them in a salad with sliced fennel bulbs, shaved Parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil

These tips and more delicious recipes can be found in Tara Duggan’s Root to Stalk Cooking available on Amazon.

Our Healthy Kitchen: The First Five Foods

Healthy Foods

I really like cake. Seriously. I can finish off an entire two-tiered, gooey, chocolate-y, decadent cake by myself in less than 48 hours. It’s bad, y’all. I feel like crap after it’s all gone and no matter how many cavities I get or how sick my stomach feels, I just can’t help myself. There’s good news though. I’ve discovered that if I don’t have cake in the house to “snack” on, I won’t eat it. Groundbreaking, I know.

Clean eating begins at the grocery store. The ingredients you pick up at the store are the blueprint of your diet at home. Unless you’re as determined as Harold and Kumar were to get to White Castle, whatever you have in the kitchen is what you’re going to eat. So in the spirit of new beginnings, and a healthier me, I’ve started compiling a list of some of the foods every healthy kitchen should have.

1 Yogurt

Yogurt

In a previous post, I sang the praises of yogurt. Packed with probiotics, calcium, and vitamin B-12, yogurt promotes a healthy digestive system, and in turn can improve the function of your immune system. Look for yogurts that contain live cultures. If yogurt isn’t your thing, try other fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.

2 Honey

Honey

Refined sugar is a monster. It’s super high in calories and super low in nutritional value. Honey, on the other hand, is amazingly nutritious and extremely versatile. Not only can you sweeten up your morning tea or your afternoon salad dressing, you can also use honey as a face wash.

3 Whole Grains

Whole Grains

Protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber are just a few of the benefits of whole grains (pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, tortillas, whole grain breads). They’re easy to prepare, definitely stick to your ribs, and they have a long shelf life for storage in your pantry. Oatmeal, brown rice, tortillas, and Quinoa are rapidly becoming my favorites (it took me a while to start liking quinoa, so don’t beat yourself up if you think it’s gross).

*try making a quick tortilla wrap for lunch or dinner

4 Vegetables

Seasonal Vegetables

I guess this one goes without saying. We all NEED veggies. I try to stick to vegetables that will keep fresh in the fridge, and that will freeze well. Carrots, broccoli, avocados, and bell peppers are all pretty long lasting. Some leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach last a little longer in my fridge than other salad greens do. They also freeze really well without losing their texture so much in the thawing process.

5 Fruit

Fresh Fruit

You already know I have a giant, cavity riddled sweet tooth, so if I tell you that fruit can tame my cravings, you really have to believe me. Fruit is a sweet, and insanely nutritious, alternative to all the processed sugar that I have a tendency to binge on. I like to get fruit that’s in season as much as possible, but frozen fruit is a must have for the best smoothies of your life.

This list is in no way complete. It’s a work in progress, and I need your help to flesh it out.

What are some healthy foods that you have in your kitchen? I promise that as we check on each other throughout the year, this list will grow, as will the list of tips and tricks I learn from you along the way.

*******I purposefully didn’t provide a link to the movie trailer for “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.” I think it might be a little too raunchy for some readers, and I didn’t want to force my sophmoric taste in humor on an unsuspecting population 🙂