I’m a firm believer that food can be medicine but am not so much a fan of the so-called “superfood” movement. Purportedly spreading awareness of and enthusiasm for healthy eating, the “superfood” movement appears to be a bastion of good in an era of freakshakes, cronuts and Tella balls. But what should be a simple message about healthy eating habits – “eat food, too much, mostly plants” in the words of a very wise man – has been confused by an obsession with seeking out the most obscure ingredients with, let’s face it, dubious benefits. Social media definitely has a part to play in this. Why take a photo of a sweet potato when a blue algae latte would probably get more likes (it made the news!), and fungus is much more interesting if harvested from caterpillars.
So, flying in the face of superfood fads, here’s an incredibly easy meal packed full of everyday, nutritious ingredients, that will allow you to eat nachos and feel great about it. Heart-healthy black beans, immune-boosting garlic, vitamin-rich corn and green peppers, meaty mushrooms full of vitamin-D, kale (no explanations needed) and parsley, which leaves kale behind in the dust when it comes to nutrient density. Serve with avocado for a dose of healthy fats and lime juice, which improves nutrient absorption. We even managed to find some carotenoid-spiked, organic sweet potato and corn chips. Best of all, for the price of a blue latte, you have a filling meal for 4, plus leftovers for a wholesome just-add-egg hash breakfast.
Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
- kernels from 2 corn cobs (keep the cobs in the freezer for stock)
- 1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced
- 6 white mushrooms, stems trimmed, diced
- 1/2 bunch kale, leaves stripped and shredded
- 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped, stems finely chopped
- 1 14oz can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 tbs EVOO
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbs salt-reduced, gluten-free tamari
- organic corn chips (these will be non-GMO), avocado, limes to serve
- Heat olive oil in a large frypan. Add the onion, garlic, chopped parsley stems, cayenne pepper and dried herbs. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Deglaze the pan with apple cider vinegar, then add the corn kernels, green pepper, kale, half the chopped parsley and salt. Saute until the vegetables have softened, then add the drained beans and tamari and toss to heat through. Stir in the rest of the chopped parsley, then take off the heat.
- Serve with corn chips, quick guacamole made by mashing up avocado with a squeeze of lime juice, and lime wedges.
The thing about good bread, with no preservatives, sugar or fillers in it, is that it goes stale pretty quickly. Nothing wrong with that – this is the magical process that gives us super-crunchy croutons, french toast and bread and butter pudding. And tomatoes are absolutely incredible at the moment, which means one thing – panzanella!
This is a sort of panzanella-caprese salad mashup. We’re in the US! Where they fly in the face of Italian culinary tradition and even add cheese to seafood, because cheese makes everything better. While we’re at it, we’re throwing in some other tasty ingredients – marinated artichokes and olives – because we can. This was a delicious side for lemon and herb roasted halibut (yes, still working through our freezer full of Homer-caught halibut). It’s also filling enough to be a light meal on its own – cheese equals protein so macros are covered from where we’re standing.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1.5 lbs of tomatoes*
- small ciabatta, ~8oz
- 1 buffalo mozzarella, 8oz
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosmary
- bunch of basil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 4 marinated artichokes, quartered
- 10 pitted olives, roughly chopped
- 6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
- 3 tbs red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup + 3 tbs EVOO
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan to serve
- Tear the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces. In a mixing bowl, toss the bread with the dried oregano, rosemary and 3 tbs olive oil. Spread onto a baking sheet and broil until golden and crunchy. Keep an eye on it as it can burn easily.
- Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes (don’t have to be neat – totally a fan of Jamie Oliver’s no-fuss “rustic” approach) and add to a large mixing bowl with the artichokes and olives.
- Pick the leaves from half of the bunch of basil and reserve. Finely chop up the rest of it, stems and all, and add it to a small mixing bowl with the chopped up anchovies, vinegar and 1/3 cup oil. Whisk together with a fork, then add this to the tomatoes along with the warm bread croutons (they’ll soak up more of the juices whilst warm). With clean hands, toss it all together – squash the tomatoes a bit to get more of the juices out. Tear the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and add this to the bowl as well. Season with salt and pepper and give it a final mix.
- Tip out the salad onto a large platter, scatter over the reserved basil leaves and grate over some parmesan to serve.
*Go for locally grown varieties where possible as these are ripened properly on the vine and are much sweeter as a result. Also, don’t store them in the fridge!