When I was growing up, my father did most of the cooking in my family. He made delicious, healthy meals. He told me he loved to cook for his family, because he felt he was participating in a creative endeavor and nourishing people he loved at the same time. I have carried this notion with me and used it as an example for my own cooking. I love creating meals for friends and family that not only make them smack their lips and dig in for a second (low cal!) serving, but meals that also sustain and promote health and vitality in my loved ones. I don’t bake much, because recipes for baking are precise and I like to throw things together in a creative way. I’ll think of a few tastes that might work well, and mix them together until I like what’s on my tongue. I wasn’t always so adept in the kitchen. The first time I tried to “cook,” I was 20 and in college. I didn’t have a stove, just a microwave in my dorm room. I bought a bagel and some American cheese and nuked that sucker. I was very proud of myself when I pulled a melted (albeit chewy) cheese sandwich from the microwave. I even called one of my friends and squealed “I cooked!” My culinary ability has since evolved. I began to take an interest in healthy, flavorful cooking when I moved into my first apartment after college. I would find new ingredients in the grocery store and call my father to ask, “What would I use cilantro for?” or “How do you cook eggplant?” “What is a good marinade for fish?” As I learned the spices that go with a particular type of cuisine, and how to prepare basic dishes, I began to experiment. Cooking became really fun. I’d find myself randomly thinking things like, “artichokes and pesto go really well together, maybe I’ll make an artichoke pesto, using the artichokes in place of the oil and lowering the fat and calorie content!” If I use recipes at all, it is merely as a guideline or an inspiration. I’d like to encourage you to do the same – to learn to create healthy, delicious dishes in new ways that you and your family will love. Teach a man to fish, he will eat for life. Teach a man to cook a fish healthfully and creatively, and that life will become longer and enriched.
So my culinary posts will be guidelines, not recipes. They are different from what you would usually find in a cookbook, because I think cooking should be inspired and new every time you do it. If you like heat, add a sh**load of cayenne or jalapenos to one of my dishes. If cilantro tastes like soap to you, leave it out. That’s not to say if you love cheese and bacon you should add a pile to the guidelines. Try to stick to the less calorically dense ingredients, but have fun and discover flavors you love other than “butter.” When I cook, I get a buzz from the thrill of creation. The same can happen to you.
This is one of my favorite summer dishes. It’s light and refreshing and doesn’t require the use of a stove. You can put it on crackers, but to healthy it up, you can scoop it with celery, cucumber slices, cauliflower, or any other veggie that scoops well. Summer produce is fresh and delicious! Happy Health!
1 can artichokes in water, drained, halved and patted dryish
small bunch fresh basil
small handful sunflower seeds
1-2 cloves garlic
handful shredded Parmesan cheese
juice of ½-1 lemon
lemon zest from 1 lemon
salt to taste
small drizzle of olive oil
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until mixture is dippish and enjoy! You can also substitute or add fresh parsley to the recipe. Or cilantro. Or whatever makes your mouth smile.