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Did You Know You Need Fat to Absorb the Nutrients in Veggies?

If you eat your salad with a non-fat dressing and with no added fat like cheese, your body will not absorb all the nutrients in the vegetables you are eating.

Vegetables containing lycopene and beta-carotene, known as carotenoids, have been shown to help prevent heart disease and cancer, need fat to be absorbed into the body.

Dietary fats are also an important nutritional factor not only because your body needs them for building healthy cells and to produce hormones, but fat is also required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which your body needs to perform important functions.

You don’t need large amounts of fat to absorb the nutrients in vegetables, however. Use healthy extra virgin olive oil as a base for your dressing, some avocado or cheese (I like to sprinkle a bit of parmesan on my salad for extra flavor.)

Speaking of salad dressings, most commercial dressings are nasty and the no-fat ones are especially bad. Most commercial dressings contain inferior oils, chemicals, artificial sweeteners and sugars. Virtually all list the number one ingredient as water, and this includes expensive, organic varieties. Low or no fat dressings are loaded with artificial and natural sweeteners. Basically, buying prepared gives you a vastly inferior product that is way more money than making your own dressing.

So, no surprise that I always make my own dressing and it takes only minutes with my small food processor. I have a couple of Oxo salad dressing containers

Oxo Salad Dressing Containers

to store them and am always making different recipes, so I am never bored. Because there is acid and salt in the dressings, they can last for weeks.

I do have some formal salad dressings, like Caesar, but most are based on the classic vinaigrette and I just make whatever I am in the mood for. You need oil—my staple is extra virgin olive oil, but I use walnut for light dressings. You want to stock different vinegars, as they are one of the main flavors. I use unfiltered organic cider, balsamic, rice, red, and white or sherry. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar is nice and lemon and limes. You will want Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Fresh garlic. Other ingredients you can use are fresh or dried herbs like parsley, chives and dill. Hard cooked egg, hot sauces, capers. You can try pickle juice and pickles, soy sauce, sesame oil, anchovy paste or anchovies, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, crème fraiche, avocado, tomato paste, spinach and shallots.

Variety of oils and vinegars

If you like prepared dressings, read the ingredients and try to copy it, using the better ingredients listed here. I am pretty sure yours will be far better and healthier, too boot!

The basic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, salt and pepper. I usually add Dijon mustard. The nice part about mustard is that when you mix it in, it emulsifies the ingredients—meaning the dressing stays mixed.  I usually add a clove of garlic. After that, I either keep it simple or add items from the list, above.

I eat salads every day for lunch and usually have chicken, but sometimes I have shrimp or beans. I usually have the protein the same way for the week and make it on Monday. If I have plain chicken, any dressing will work, but if I make spicy blackened chicken, for example, I’ll want something creamy, like Caesar. I just mix it up and have been eating salad almost every day for years and have not gotten bored yet. (I do take breaks on the weekends.)

One thing that makes me crazy (I’ll admit when it comes to food, the list is long…) is when I order a salad and the dressing comes on the side because then I must attempt to dress the salad evenly. It is almost impossible to do with a fork, and the upshot are under and overdressed bites.

I strongly recommend using a flat-bottomed bowl and a good pair of tongs or salad “hands” to get the job of an evenly coated salad done right.

Salad Bowl and “Hands”

Because homemade dressing doesn’t have water as the first ingredient, start with the smallest amount you think you’ll need. Toss and taste. Add accordingly. Do this and you won’t be using a lot of dressing and each bite will be perfect.

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Low Carb Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus Dinner

Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus Dinner

I love to eat burgers with buns; crusty ciabatta and Eli’s soft brioche rolls are my favorites. However, a burger without a bun is actually pretty good, too. The key is good meat. I use either free range beef or buffalo. When meat is free range, it has more flavor and is leaner than animals raised in confinement.

Burger with mushrooms and asparagus

Some of the meals I cook have lots of ingredients; but not this burger dinner—it is simple and delicious.  Change things up with caramelized onions instead of mushrooms (or use both) or add tomato slices, raw onion and lettuce or any other toppings you enjoy.

If you would prefer to eat the burger with your hands, try steaming collard greens and using them as the “bun,” which is a trick I learned from the restaurant, Bareburger. 

If you like ketchup, but want to avoid the sugar, just mix some concentrated tomato paste with a bit of white or cider vinegar and viola—instant low carb ketchup!

Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds beef or buffalo, divided into 4 burgers

1 pound shitake and oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed

Handful pine nuts

3 ounces goat cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Grill or pan-fry on a cast iron pan burgers until done to your liking. In extra virgin olive oil, sauté mushrooms. I used shitake and oyster, but portabella, cremini or plain white mushrooms are fine, too.

Asparagus with goat cheese and pine nuts

On medium to low, sauté pine nuts in a tablespoon of butter until golden brown. Remove nuts. Put asparagus in pan and cover with water; cook until done, about 5 minutes. Drain well and mix with nuts. Add a couple ounces of goat cheese, and salt and pepper.

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Low Carb Fish “Tacos” Salad

I love fish tacos, but thought I could’nt eat them on my low carb diet, then realized all I needed to do was omit the tacos and viola! I simply increased the veggies and served the fish on top of the greens. The richness, textures and flavors of this dish are so satisfying that I don’t miss the tacos at all!

Fish “Taco” Salad

I usually use Mahi Mahi or Swordfish, but didn’t like the Mahi I saw and don’t eat swordfish too often because it has a lot of mercury, so I went with Trader Joe’s Dover Sole and it was delicious. Really, any fish or shellfish you like is fine. I live in a NYC apartment and can’t grill, but if you can, grilled fish or shellfish is my favorite way to eat fish tacos.


Fish “Taco” Salad

Serves Four

1 1/2 pounds fish

Either grill fish, saute it in a pan with a little olive oil or bake at 375 degrees; coat with a little olive oil, salt and peper and cook about 9 minutes.



Small red cabbage, sliced thin on a mandolin or food processor

1 medium red onion, sliced on thinnest blade on a mandolin

Romaine, chopped

1 avocado, small chunks

Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 Kirby cucumbers, sliced  on mandolin/food processor

4 radishes, sliced on mandolin/food processor

Chipotle Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream / greek yogurt/crème fraiche

Handful cilantro

1/2 cup mayo (You could omit and use only sour cream)

1 canned adobe chipotle pepper with sauce (freeze remaining)

1 small garlic clove

Zest of one lime and juice

2 Tablespoons of tomatoes


Zip all ingredients together with a blender

Toss salad with some pepper sauce to evenly coat. Add more sauce to cooked fish.

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Cioppino: a Bowl of Seafood Deliciousness!

Cioppino is a seafood soup that Italians traditionally made when they had leftovers they wanted to use. I love this dish because it is so flavorful, healthy and it takes minutes to make.

Cioppino seafood soup

I omit the shrimp, as my husband is allergic. I always make enough for two nights and cook half the scallops each night so the second night they aren’t overcooked.

You can also use other firm fish for Cioppino, like cod, catfish or flounder.

Because I am eating low carb, I add the zucchini “pasta” so the sauce isn’t wasted. If you are eating high carbs, I recommend a crusty bread for dunking!


Serves 4

1 lb scallops and shrimp (either or both)

2 cans clams, reserve juice

½ head of garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1 large (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes or diced

1 teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt  & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

Baby spinach and zucchini “pasta”, optional

Sauté garlic on medium low for a few minutes, not allowing it to brown.  Add clam juice and reduce to about half.  Add wine, tomatoes and spices and cook 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and scallops and cook 3 minutes or until done. Add clams, spinach, and zucchini, allowing spinach to just wilt. Remove from heat and add parsley.


Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

I often make dinner salads in warm weather and this one is very tasty.  Since I eat a low carb diet, I don’t add anything else, but a crusty bread (heated, of course) would be a good addition. If you don’t want to use haricot verts (French string beans) simply increase the amount of greens for the salad.

Unlike other beans, dried lentils cook in 30 minutes or less with no soaking necessary and come in a variety of colors.  Opt for the dried lentils for better flavor, price and variety.

Bacon gives nice flavor, but is optional. I buy my bacon from Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, NY; the animals are pasture raised and humanly treated–you can see them them you visit. The bacon is the best I’ve ever had.

Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

Serves 4 as a main course



4 small beets, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees until done, about an hour. Peel and cut into chunks and add a bit of dressing when they are still warm.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

4-8 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked (optional)

1 cup raw brown or green lentils

2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 bay leaf

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper

Chopped greens, including radicchio

1 lb haricot verts, roasted in a single layer at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper, about a half hour, until a bit wrinkled and dark.

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste


¼ cup aged white or sherry vinegar

1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard and salt. Then whisk in olive oil. Or put all ingredients into a small food processor.

In a medium pot, combine lentils, 4 cups water, garlic,  rosemary, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf; keep or discard garlic as you like. Toss lentils and beans with half of the sherry vinaigrette while still warm.

Toss greens with enough of remaining vinaigrette to lightly coat it and arrange it on a platter. Combine lentils, bacon and roasted vegetables, adding more of the vinaigrette to taste; spoon mixture on top of greens.

Turkey loaf , Asparagus and Zucchini “Pasta”

Turkey loaf with goat cheese, farm fresh asparagus from the North Fork on LI and zucchini “pasta”.

My husband and I recently spent a week on the North Fork on Long Island and we stopped at a local farm for asparagus. It was the best I’ve ever had, and we picked up three bunches on our way bck to the City.

I like to experiment with meatloafs and make them with ingredients based on other meals. This turkey meatloaf is borrowed from a chicken dish I make with goat cheese and artichokes.

Turkey Loaf

Serves 4; Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 lb Ground turkey

1/2 cup Scallions

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup Panko

1 egg

1-2 tablespoons worcheshire

Salt & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon gelatin

3 ounces goat cheese

Combine wet ingredients and gelatin and let sit a few minutes. Combine remaining ingredients. Spray oil in an ovenproof casserole or pan and place mixture in pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting open and seeing that juices run clear.


Good asparagus needs nothing more thana bit of butter, salt and pepper.


S &P


Cut off tough ends or snap off. Place in a saute pan with enough water to just cover and palce lid on top on high; when boiling, lower heat. Boil about 3 minutes and test for doneness. Drain water and on medium/low heat, add a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Stir until any remaing water evaporates.

Zucchini “Pasta”

2-3 zucchini

Touch of extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper

With a spiralizer, make pasta. Toss seeded part of zucchini. In a suacepan, on medium/high, heat a bit of oil and add zucchini. You may add a talespoon or so of water to make zucchini limp.



Grilled Chicken Burritos with Fresh Salsa

Grilled chicken burritos
Grilled chicken burritos

These chicken burritos are best when you can still get heirloom or other tomatoes from your backyard or farmer’s market, because they just taste so fresh. I like to grill chicken for burritos, but will pan cook them in colder months. When I want salsa and guacamole, I just make salsa and add an avocado, because it takes less time. You can use refried beans or whole beans, whichever you prefer. I used red cabbage but you can substitute any cabbage or lettuce. I used rice, but you can also use corn or omit. Also note that I slice raw onion on thinnest cut on a mandolin and squeeze to remove excess water which takes the bitter edge out, but adds great flavor.

Fixings for burritos
Fixings for burritos

Grilled Chicken Burritos

Serves 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Package of burrito or tortillas, whole wheat

Red cabbage, shredded

Rice, brown or white, 1/2 cup raw or corn

Refried red or black beans with a couple ounces cheddar cheese melted in


1 pound tomatoes, chopped

1 small red onion, sliced on thinnest mandolin blade, squeeze out extra water and chop

Cilantro, chopped

1/2- 1 juice of lime, to taste

Salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks

Mix all ingredients

Grill chicken until done. Heat burrito on a gas stove or in oven. Assemble all ingredients and let people make their own burrito.



Dry Rub Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Gnocchi and Roasted Vegetables  

Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with gnocchi and roasted vegetables
Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with gnocchi and roasted vegetables

I tend to cook pretty simply during the week and make a lot of vegetarian and quick meals. But on the weekend, I kick it up a notch and indulge a bit. I am not a fan of barbecue sauce, but my nephew turned me onto this dry rub recipe and I love it! Have used it on baby back ribs, chicken, steak and now pork tenderloin. The recipe was created by Silkworm and Bottomless Pit bassist Tim Midyett, but his version is way too salty for me, so I greatly reduced it. The ingredient that gives the rub a really special favor, or umami, is sumac, which is a Middle Eastern spice. I ordered some on Amazon and made a batch using all of the sumac. Midyett  grinds his ingredients, but I didn’t bother. Here is original recipe.

Midyett Dry Rub

1 part good sea salt

1 part black pepper

1/2 part sumac

1/2 part ground coffee (preferably dark roast)

1/2 part garlic powder

1/2 part cocoa powder

Mix together by hand or grind in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.

Dry Rub Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin

Midyett dry rub

Extra virgin olive oil

Rub a little oil on the tenderloin then put a light coating of dry rub over oil. The more rub, the spicier. Heat grill to medium and grill about 15 minutes, until center is slightly pink.

Crispy Gnocchi

I love Italian food, including gnocchi. However, I prepare gnocchi in what I would describe reflects my Jewish German ancestry because I like the flour-based dumpling crispy but with no sauce—more like spaetzle.

1 pound gnocchi

1-2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

  1. Cook according to package; usually 2-3 minutes or until they float. You can make this ahead of time, because you want them to be cold. If you don’t make them ahead of time, drain and pit gnocchi in an ice bath for a few minutes, then drain.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan to medium high and when hot, add butter. Add gnocchi and let sit a few minutes, then stir every few minutes until they get nice and light brown, about 15 minutes. Salt to taste.


Roasted Vegetables

I love to roast vegetables in the colder months, because the best roasting vegetables are in season and a wide variety are available, especially at farmer’s markets. The ones pictured here are golden and red beets, carrots and broccoli. I toss together whatever root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower I have on hand. Other vegetables—like kale, asparagus and beans—can also be roasted, but their cooking times will differ. Simply cut up what you want to eat, place on a rack and add some salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Stir midway through. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. The broccoli and cauliflower should be cut a bit larger than the root vegetables for even cooking times.

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Awesome Artichoke Spinach Dip

Artichoke spinach dip
Artichoke spinach dip

The origins of this dip are unknown, but it has become a classic party dip and it is delicious. I like to serve it with crudité, like carrots, peppers and celery, and with either crostini or a plain cracker. I have included the crostini recipe. I do not add salt, because Parmesan is salty enough for me. My version is chunky, but you if you prefer a smooth texture, simply put in your food processor.

 Artichoke Spinach Dip

1 can artichokes in water (I like Trader Joe’s), squeeze excess water and roughly chop

1 8-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, let defrost in a colander and squeeze excess water (no need to cook) if you are pressed for time, run warm water over it. I like to bake the dip in a pretty earthenware pot and place the hot bowl on a plate and add the veggies and crostini or crackers.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces jack cheese, grated

Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine everything and bake for 15 minutes or until hot.


Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ¼” slices of baguette on two large rimmed baking sheets; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through (if undersides are not browning, turn crostini over once during baking). Let cool on baking sheets.


Heirloom Tomato Chili Con Carne

Heirloom tomatoes, onions and garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, onions and garlic

I only buy tomatoes in season, because I dislike the flavor when grown in hothouses or otherwise. So I tend to eat a lot of tomatoes this time of year and whenever possible, choose heirloom from my local farmer’s market.

I had never made Chili Con Carne from fresh tomatoes, so I thought, why not try it and I made a batch yesterday. I know many cooks remove the skin and seeds, but I didn’t bother and I doubt anyone would know the difference. Anyway, the dish turned out great! I made mine from pasture raised beef, but you can use other meats or omit and make it vegetarian. I made some brown rice and served it with tortilla chips because the crispy chips add a nice texture. I also added some raw baby tomatoes,  crème fraiche and grated cheddar cheese to finish it.

Uncooked heirloom tomatoes added to meat and onions
Uncooked heirloom tomatoes added to meat and onions

Heirloom Tomato Chili Con Carne

Serves 6

1 pound ground pasture raised beef, buffalo, turkey, or chicken

2 medium onions, chopped

1/2 head garlic, minced

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes roughly chopped or 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes plus a handful of baby tomatoes quartered for garnish

1 ½ cups dried beans or 2 cans pinto and/or white beans and liquid if no salt

1-4 tablespoons hot chili pepper (adjust according to how spicy you like it)

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cumin

1 can corn or 2 ears corn, shucked (optional)

2 or more cups water

Grated cheddar cheese, crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

Brown rice and/or tortilla chips

  1. If you are using dried beans, soak overnight and cook until they are still pretty firm, set aside.
  2. Sauté meat on medium high until brown and crumbly and set aside, drain excess oil.
  3. Sauté onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil until soft on medium heat, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Add spices and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Taste and add more spices if needed.)
  5. Add tomatoes and dried, partly beans if using and a couple of cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, adding water or canned unsalted bean juice as needed.
  6. If using canned beans, add and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice and/or tortilla chips.  Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream or crème fraiche.

Heirloom tomato chili con carne
Heirloom tomato chili con carne