Sunday, March 15, 2015

Red lentil, Bulgur and Kale Patties

Later today I’m delivering a new talk called, The Facts and Fallacies of Fats at the New York Vegetarian Festival. 

So today’s post is short and sweet. 

This is a great new recipe I developed recently. Not only is it packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor, but it’s also great to pack and take along for a long day. I know I’ll have a few on me today at the Veg Fest!

This recipe calls for Bulgur wheat, but if you are following a gluten-free diet, it can easily be substituted with either quinoa or amaranth.

Red Lentil, Bulgur Wheat and Kale Patties
Makes 7-9 patties

1.5 cups of red lentils
1/2 cup of bulgur wheat (or quinoa or amaranth for gluten free)
1/3 cup of oats (either quick cooking or old fashioned)*
1 cup of kale, swiss chard or spinach - chopped
4 tbsps of canned diced tomato or tomato paste
1 clove garlic - minced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
Small handful of fresh or 1 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of dried tarragon or oregano
Lemon juice, ginger powder and black pepper to taste
5 cups of water or veggie broth

* get gluten-free oats if needed.

Start by boiling the red lentils in the water or broth for about 10 to 15 minutes. As the lentils begin to soften and break down, add the bulgur wheat, garlic, and spices and cook for another 10 minutes (if you are using fresh basil, save it until the end). The water in the pan should be almost completely absorbed.

Turn the heat to low and add the oats, diced tomatoes, and chopped greens. Stir until well combined. Add the lemon juice and fresh basil if you’re using it.

Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the greens have softened and turned bright green.

Now pre-heat the oven to 375. Let the mixture sit while the oven pre-heats. This is important because you want to give the oats a chance to absorb any remaining liquid in the mixture. This will make the mixture start to stick together.

I recommend letting the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.

Now line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon scoop out two tablespoons of the mixture and form into patties on the pan. If the mixture is too watery, they will not stick together, try adding more oats if this is an issue.

Once the patties are formed place in the oven and let cook for 15-18 minutes or until the patties start to brown on top. If you’d like you can flip the patties over at 12 minutes, but this isn’t necessary and increases the chance of the patties breaking apart.

I like to toss these on top of a large salad with lots of veggies, or just stick a few in a bag and take them with me for an easy on-the-go meal. They also make great burger replacements. Also try putting a tahini sauce on top.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Year Without Kale (and the best tofu scramble you’ve ever tried).

Before I explain the title, I want to say that I’m very excited to be speaking at the 5th Annual New York City Vegetarian Food Festival. I’ve attended each year in the past and having watched the event through its evolution, I can honestly say it has constantly gotten better. This year the speaker line up includes some of the countries foremost experts on fitness and nutrition including Dr. Joel Kahn, Rich Roll, and Sid Garza Hillman, among many others.

I will be presenting a talk called the “Facts and Fallacies of Fats.” The talk will examine the research on which fats are truly healthy, and how much fat our bodies actually need in an attempt to clarify a topic which has become increasingly confusing. I’m very excited for the opportunity, and look forward to seeing many of you there! I talk on Sunday afternoon so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Now, back to the title… A year without kale.

Wait? What!? Why?

Yes, it’s true; you’ve read that correctly. As some of you may know, I announced the other day that I’m about to make a large, life-altering change. It’s easily the biggest and scariest decision I’ve ever made, which is also what makes it so exciting.

At the end of April, I will be saying goodbye to my home in New York City and getting on a plane bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a one-way ticket in hand.

If you are curious as to why I would move to a city famous for it’s beef and it’s leather, it’s simple… my time in South America begins as many such adventures do… the pursuit of a beautiful woman.

Two Octobers ago, I met a woman at Jack Rabbit Sports Running Group. She is a doctor from Buenos Aires who was doing a month long observership at a New York hospital. We made an instant connection, and since then it’s been a wild ride of facetime phone chats and wonderful visits, which always seem far too short with far too much time in between. Anyway, we’ve now reach the point were it is time to take the next step.

But why a year without kale? Well, sadly, kale hasn’t caught on down in Argentina the way it has in the States, and it’s pretty hard to come by.  That said, I am being a little disingenuous, because we know of one market that has it on occasion, and I’ve also purchased over 1,000 seeds of different heirloom varieties, which I hope to grown on our balcony.

Now don’t worry, BYOL will continue and I’ll never be further than an email or skype message away from my readers in the States. During my time in Argentina, I plan on hosting some plant-based nutrition seminars and hope to work on some larger writing products. I will also continue the BYOL Nutrition & Wellness Counseling. And of course, I will be sharing many new recipes throughout the year!

Thank you to everyone for all of your continued support. It means more to me than I can adequately express.


Now for the reason you’re all really reading this post. The best tofu scramble you’ve ever tried!

I’ll do another post going through some of the questions and controversy about soy, but for now, know that whole sources of soy such as edamame, tempeh, and tofu can all be part of a balanced and health promoting diet.

That said, I always recommend purchasing organic soy products. I try not to be too much of a stickler about organics, because I don't want a plant-based diet to seem cost prohibitive. Soy, however, is a bit different, and to ensure you are getting a healthy, non-genetically modified product, organic is the way to go.

This tofu scramble is perfect for lazy weekend mornings or as a power dinner after a hard workout. But there are a few tricks to getting this just right.

Tofu Scramble:
Serves 2-3

½ block of organic tofu – drained and broken into small pieces
½ cup of quick cooking or old-fashioned oats (gluten free if desired)
4 – 5 stems of kale or spinach or any dark green
1 handful of fresh cilantro -chopped (optional)
½ avocado – cubed (optional)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Indian black salt* (aka kala namak)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste

Roughly 2 cups of your favorite sautéed veggies: (try)
Bell pepper

* Black Salt is actually pink and is often found in Indian dishes. This is one of the secrets for the scramble, as the salt has a sulphur odor and taste that helps replicate the smell and taste of eggs. It will be found in almost any Indian market as well as online.

First, you need to make sure you drain the tofu well. You can easily do this with any number of tofu presses available for purchase. However, as a person who has been criticized for owning one too many kitchen gadgets, I’ve resisted making such a purchase. Instead I place the tofu on one plate and then place another plate (or two) on top of the tofu. I normally leave the tofu with the plates stacked on top of it for at least 30 minutes. This will help ensure you get all of the water out of the tofu. If you skip this step, your scramble will be watery.

While the tofu is being pressed, start chopping all of your chosen veggies. As I mentioned above you can make an endless amount of different combinations.

Once the tofu is done, use a fork to break it up into a mixing bowl. Add the spices and oats and mix well. Depending on the type of veggies I use, I normally add them to the bowl once the tofu and oats are well combined. If using the veggies above, consider keeping the greens as well as the onion and carrot to the side for now.

Now heat a pan and add the tofu and the veggies (consider adding the onion and carrot first to let them soften). Keep the greens, cilantro and avocado to the side for now. Stir the scramble frequently to prevent it from burning.

As the spice mix starts to cook into the tofu, the tofu will begin to turn a bright yellow color. Once this happens you can add the greens and cook until the greens begin to soften.

Serve and top with fresh cilantro and avocado and a piece of toasted Lentil Bread.  If you like, add hot sauce.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.