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updated 4/21/2010 4:34:00 PM ET 2010-04-21T20:34:00

Recipe: Steel-cut oats with apples and pecans

If you’ve never had steel-cut oats, you’re in for a treat. Chewier than rolled oats (which are often labeled “old-fashioned”) and with a great nutty flavor, their only drawback is that they take longer to cook than to eat! However, the quick-cooking type makes them possible on any busy morning; and as my friend and colleague Dr. John La Puma says in his book "ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine," there is no true nutritional difference between the regular and the quick-cooking types.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4.5 teaspoons organic maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
Serving

In a medium saucepan, combine the almond milk, 1 cup water and the oats. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

While the oatmeal is cooking, in a small saucepan, place the apples, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of the maple syrup and 1 tablespoon water. Cook over medium heat until the apples are softened and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans and cover to keep warm.

Stir the apples and nuts into the cooked and rested oatmeal. Divide among four bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon maple syrup over each bowl and serve.

Serving Size

Serves four

Recipe: Baby spinach with avocado, pomegrante and sunflower seeds

Ingredients
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 10 ounces baby spinach leaves, cleaned and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted (see sidebar at left)
  • 1 avocado
Preparation

In a blender, combine the orange zest and juice, lime zest and juice, shallot, olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the pomegranate in half through the stem. Hold one pomegranate half under the water and remove the seeds with your hands. Drain the seeds well, discarding the membrane. Set aside 3/4 cup. Reserve the rest for another use.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, all but 2 tablespoons of the pomegranate seeds, the sunflower seeds, and about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss gently to coat. Transfer the salad to a platter or individual plates.

Pit and peel the avocado and slice it thinly. Arrange the avocado slices on top of the salad. Sprinkle the reserved pomegranate seeds on top. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve.

Tips

To toast nuts on the stovetop, put the seeds or nuts in a small cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking the pan continuously, until the seeds or nuts smell fragrant and are golden, about two minutes for seeds or finely chopped nuts and about four minutes for nuts. Immediately transfer to a plate to cool.

To toast in the oven, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the seeds or nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden, two to three minutes for seeds and five to six minutes for nuts.

Serving Size

Serves six to eight as side salad

Recipe: Chicken satay with almond sauce

Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 11/2 tablespoons)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons natural almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Olive oil spray, for the grill
Preparation

Slice the chicken breast into thin strips 3 to 4 inches long; this is easier to do if the chicken is placed in the freezer for 20 minutes before slicing. You should have about 40 slices (count out and set aside roughly half as many wooden skewers as you have slices of chicken). In a medium bowl, mix the 1/2 cup tamari, the orange juice, lime juice, and two of the garlic cloves.

Add the chicken slices. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.

Before you are ready to grill the chicken, soak the wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender or the work bowl of a food processor, place the vinegar, almond butter, honey, ginger, sesame oil, 1 teaspoon tamari, and remaining garlic clove. Blend or process until smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.

If using a gas or charcoal grill, spray the grill with olive oil and prepare a medium-hot grill. If using a grill pan, spray it with olive oil and heat over medium- high heat.

Pat the chicken slices dry, and thread two slices onto each skewer. Grill for two to three minutes per side. Arrange the hot skewers on a platter and either drizzle the sauce over or serve the sauce in a bowl alongside the skewers.

Serving Size

Serves four

Recipe: Grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup packed fl at- leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • Olive oil spray, for the grill
Preparation

In the work bowl of a food processor, place the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the parsley and oregano leaves, and pulse until the herbs are coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Place the skirt steak in a shallow pan and pour 1/3 cup of the chimichurri sauce over it. Turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate, preferably for at least four hours and up to overnight. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce.

If using a gas or charcoal grill, spray the grill with olive oil and prepare a medium-hot grill. If using a grill pan, spray it with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Grill the steak for four to five minutes per side for medium-rare. Let stand on a cutting board for 5 to 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak and divide among four plates. Top each serving with one generous teaspoon of chimichurri sauce and serve.

Serving Size

Serves four

Recipe: Pear sorbet

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 large organic pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup ruby port wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • Thinly sliced pear, for serving (optional)
Preparation

In a small saucepan, place 1/2 cup of the honey and 1/2 cup water and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one minute. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the pears and lemon juice until finely chopped. Add the cooled honey mixture and process until smooth. Chill until very cold, at least four hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, place the port, vinegar, remaining two tablespoons honey, the cinnamon stick, and the star anise. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the syrup has thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 30 minutes. Watch the pan carefully during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking; it can very quickly go from perfect to burned and bitter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving; remove and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise.

When the pear puree is cold, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. The sorbet is best served at once, but it may be transferred to a freezer-safe container and frozen until ready to serve. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

If not using an ice cream maker, transfer the cold pear puree to a shallow glass or stainless-steel dish. Cover and place in the freezer until frozen solid, about 6 hours. Let the frozen mixture stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. With a large metal spoon, break the puree up into smaller pieces. Transfer the mixture to the work bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Serve immediately or place back into the freezer for up to 1 hour before serving. The sorbet will freeze solid but it can simply be processed again until creamy just before serving.

To serve, scoop the sorbet into individual serving bowls and drizzle the syrup over each. Garnish with pear slices if desired.

Tips

The sauce can be made ahead of time. Just transfer it to a glass measuring cup and let stand at room temperature for several hours, or for longer storage, cover and refrigerate. Before serving, heat in a microwave oven on high power for a few seconds, just until liquid and pourable.

Serving Size

Makes about five cups

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