Quinn on Nutrition: Recipes for blessed feasts

The Monterey County HeraldNovember 22, 2013 

My neighbor says he found some great holiday recipes in an old Sunset magazine circa 1984. Love that. And here are some other unique ideas from recent books on my radar:

"Quinoa Cuisine" Ulysses Press, 2012. Contrary to this edible seed's similarity to my last name, it is pronounced "KEEN-wah" and not "quinn-oh-a."

Quinoa is higher in protein and fiber than many grains. It is also gluten-free for those who must avoid gluten in wheat, rye and barley.

Recipes in this book include Pumpkin Waffles (yum) and Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Smoked Salmon Hash.

Ingredients are simple and instructions are easy. And while specific nutrition information is not available for each recipe, various icons identify which are gluten-free, vegetarian, good for company and so on.

"The Flavor Bible" by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, Little Brown and Company, 2012. I hope I'm not the only one challenged with getting simple food to taste good. This 380-page reference lists hundreds of ingredients along with the herbs, spices, and other seasonings that will "coax the greatest possible flavor and pleasure from them."

Indeed. Page 1 of this book defines "flavor" as: "Taste + Mouthfeel + Aroma + the X Factor"-what we perceive from our other senses plus our heart, mind and spirit.

I looked up cabbage, for example and found it goes well with apple cider vinegar, carrots, caraway seeds and a whole host of other ingredients screaming for me to be more creative.

"The I Love Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook," by Kris Holechek Peters, Ulysses Press, 2012. We don't have to be vegetarian to love Trader Joe's ... or this cookbook. These no-nonsense recipes use many of the great products we find at TJ's.

Orange-Blueberry Cornbread Muffins for instance, are prepared with fresh blueberries, orange juice and milk added to Trader Joe's cornbread mix. Other recipes include Herbed Garlic Polenta Fries, Tuscan Tomato Soup and Pumpkin (yes!) Spice Cobbler.

"Modern Native Feasts" by Andrew George, Jr., Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013. Chef George - an Aboriginal Native from British Columbia - says he has fused traditional and modern recipes in this cookbook. I'll say. Recipes include "Cranberry Sweet and Sour Goose Breast" and "Rabbit Fricasse" (Don't worry; you can substitute chicken).

And have no fear of "Wilted Stinging Nettles," Chef George assures us. Cooking renders the skin-irritating leaves and stems of this plant harmless, tender, delicious...and full of nutrients.

"Bless This Food" by Adrian Butash, New World Library, 2013. Originally published in 1993, this book is a collection of 150 ancient and contemporary prayers from around the world that give thanks for food.

Blessings range from the simplicity of a child's prayer: "Thank you heavenly Father, for my bread, my dad and mother and my bed. Amen." to the more formal, "Thank God for home, and crisp, fair weather, and loving hearts that meet together; and red, ripe fruit and golden grain, and dear Thanksgiving, come again."

Two prayers are presented visually in American Sign Language. And the short "Bless this food" is translated in 19 languages.

(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of the "Diabetes DTOUR Diet" (Rodale, 2009) and "DTOUR Diet Cookbook: (2010). Email her atbquinn@chomp.org.)

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