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Tabouleh – an excellent salad option for a hot summer day. It’s made with fresh herbs, tomatoes, olive oil, spices and can be eaten with pita bread, or atop romaine lettuce leaves. In the Middle East, fresh grape leaves are used as a scoop.

Tabouleh made with quinoa.

Tabouleh made with quinoa.

You can add any number of vegetables to tabouleh – according to taste; carrots, cucumbers, red or green onions are wonderful additions.

As you can see, tomatoes are a star attraction – and since they are in season right now and delicious varieties are currently available at your farmers’ market, why not pick up a few good tomatoes and try some tabouleh tonight?

Prep Time: 40-50 minutes


  • 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bulghur, medium grade (can also use cooked millet or quinoa as gluten free options)
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


If using MILLET – add 1 cup of millet and a pinch of salt to 1-3/4 cup of water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir, place lid on the pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Then stir to fluff the grains and taste. It it’s still a little crunchy, add about ¼ cup of boiling water and leave over low heat so that it will steam covered for an additional 10 minutes.

If using BULGUR: place 1 cup of bulghar in a bowl and cover with 1 ½ cups of boiling water and a dash of salt. Cover bowl and set aside for 20 or 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork when all the water has been absorbed.

Combine all ingredients, adding salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil last.

Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.

July – absolutely the best time of year to source fresh, ripe, locally grown tomatoes. Farmers’ markets all around the metro DC area carry some really fabulous heirloom varieties. Here’s what to look for, and then how to store it and use it when you get home!

Look for red and ripe tomatoes. Lycopene, the star antioxidant available in tomatoes has a higher concentration when tomatoes are red and ripe.

Tomatoes should be FIRM, but yield to a little pressure; it is best to avoid tomatoes with bruises, cracks and a puffy appearance (Murray, et al., 2005).

Shy away from green: If the seeds of the tomatoes or any of the insides are green, than the tomato was most likely picked green and treated with ethylene gas to hasten its ripening. This is especially true for “vine-ripened” varieties that are priced higher than other conventionally grown tomatoes.

SMALL: There is more lycopene and vitamin C in tomato skins, therefore cherry and plum tomatoes are more nutritious and often taste sweeter than other varieties (Robinson, 2013).

ORGANIC: A ten-year study revealed that under the same climate conditions, organic tomatoes contained increased levels of the antioxidants, quercetin and kaempferol than conventionally grown tomatoes (Mitchell, et al., 2007). Choosing organic will also reduce consumer exposure to organophosphates, insecticides that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as acutely toxic to bees, wildlife and humans.

Or if you want to skip the fresh tomato and go straight for the salsa or sauce… Tomato products are great because processed tomatoes are more bio-available than raw tomatoes, pastes and sauces are a good choice if one is looking to increase dietary antioxidant intake.

When buying tomato products, consider the packaging. U.S. products follow more strict packaging regulations related to exposure to toxic metals, and plastic-lined cans which may release bisphenol A (BPA). This hormone disrupter more actively leaches into acidic foods like tomatoes. It is much safer to buy tomato products packed in glass jars or Tetra packs (Murray, et al., 2005 and Robinson, 2013).


Environmental Protection Agency website: Gartner, C., Stahl, W., and Sies H. (1997). Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66(1), 116-122.
House, P. (n.d.). Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene., Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Mitchell, A.E., Hong, Y., Koh, E., Barrett, D.M., Bryant, D.E., Denison, R.F., and Kaffka, S., (2007). Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 55, 6154-6159.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

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You know it, you’re going to bring home as many fresh tomatoes as you can carry from the farmers’ market! Here’s what to do when you get home:

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. If tomatoes have been refrigerated they should be allowed to recover at room temperature for a day or two before eating (McGee, 2004, p. 331). If unripe, tomatoes exposed to fruits and vegetables that emit ethylene gas (e.g. banana, apple, pear) can help to speed up ripening. Put tomatoes in a bag with one of these fruits (Murray, et al., 2005).

When preparing tomatoes, serve them with fat (olive oil is really great, or processed in sauces or salsa to increase lycopene bioavailability. Never cook in aluminum or cast iron, as tomato acid will bind to these metals and produce a metallic flavor to whatever your are cooking, and may have harmful effects on your health (Murray et al., 2005).

Other Factors to consider: Lycopene is one of several nutrients found in the tomato plant. While some of these natural chemicals provide fantastic benefits to human health, they are part of the tomato plant’s defense system; and help it fend off pest invasions as it grows. The tomato is part of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, meaning that part of this defense system includes a stockpile other chemical defenses, usually alkaloids, which can be toxic to some individuals, causing inflammation and allergic reactions for susceptible individuals (Murray, et al., 2005).


McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

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Inventing your own pesto is easy! Mix and match the herbs you like (or have on hand) as well as the nuts and/or seeds you prefer most and follow the basic instructions below:

  • 3-1/2 cup of herb leaves (basil, cilantro, anise hyssop, mint; you can also use the flowers of plants like basil, sage and rosemary.
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup of roasted nuts or seeds (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds….)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

To prepare you will want to put the leaves, garlic, salt and Cheese, if you are using it in a blender and mix until you have a paste. drizzle in the oil slowly and blend until you have the consistency you desire. Note that if you use a nut like cashew, you will get a somewhat creamy result, especially if you add a tablespoon of lemon.

Keep tasting your creation. If your pesto tastes a little bitter, try throwing in a little basil or nuts like almonds or cashews; any one of these ingredients will sweeten it up – without sugar. If it tastes a little too oily, you will want to throw in some more herb leaves. And if it just seems like it’s missing something a teaspoon of lemon may just be the right touch.

Let yourself explore until you come up with the perfect pesto! Let me know how it goes!

If you are not feeling all that adventurous, check out these recipes, and do let me knowhow it goes.

Bitter, but better for you; and a perfect side dish for holiday meals.

Photo: Bigstock

Photo: Bigstock

Brussels sprouts come from a family of vegetables called crucifers. They are called the flowering part of the plant grows in the same of a cross. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts contain high amounts of glucosinolates, plant nutrients known to fight cancer. Brussels sprouts have a special combination of four specific glucosinolates that set Brussels spouts apart from other crucifers in their cancer fighting capacity. These glucosinolates also make Brussels sprouts bitter. Research shows that Brussels sprouts kill more human cancer cells than all other cruciferous vegetables ( They also contain high levels of vitamins C, A and K, as well as folic acid and dietary fiber.

Brussels Sprouts are best when freshly harvested, and should be cooked within a day or 2 of bringing them home.When shopping look for bright green sprouts with tightly wrapped leaves. If they look wilted or have a cabbage scent they have been around a long while after harvest and have lost most of their sugars and nutrients  (Robinson, 2013).

Steaming Brussels sprouts releases their nutrient power. It is only when they are old and overcooked that they off a strong sulfur smell. This smell and their bitterness may be why many Americans often leave them out of their daily vegetable choices.

I like to steam sauté Brussels sprouts in 1/3 cup of water and a tablespoon of butter. I add a little caraway seed and then serve them with a Dijon and maple syrup sauce. Delicious!


  • Robbins, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side. Little Brown  & Co: New York.
  • The World’s healthiest Foods http://


Kale belongs to a family of plants known as crucifers named for their four-petal flowers that are arranged in the shape of a cross.

Like all crucifers, Kale contains cancer fighting compounds called glucosinolates.Though they make kale bitter, glucosinolates are the reason that kale is such a superstar in vegetable nutrition. The crucifers with the most glucosinolates are kale and Brussels sprouts.

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Kale has a combination of phytonutrients that make it uniquely equipped to fight inflammation. Kale has an extremely high ORAC rating (oxygen radical absorbance).

Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as iron and calcium. In fact, one serving of Kale has more calcium than 6 oz. of milk and more fiber than three slices of whole wheat bread (Robinson, 2013).

Kale is best when eaten fresh. Raw kale has more nutrient value than cooked; and when cooking it is best to steam or sauté it just long enough for the leaves to wilt. Overcooking will give it a strong sulfurous odor (Robinson, 2013).

Best when freshly harvested, the longer it is stored in the refrigerator, the more bitter it becomes, and it loses close to 80 percent of its health benefits. Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist, hardy stems. Leaves should be fresh and green, never wilted.



  • Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side. Little Brown & Co: New York.
  • The World’s healthiest Foods http://

Over the past couple of months I have been doing food demonstrations educating people on how to increase the benefits of particular foods through cooking techniques. So far I have averaged about one demonstration a month. Each one I put together helps me to gain the supervised hours I need to get my license to practice as a nutrition specialist in the state of Maryland.

Back in July, my classmate Maureen and I led a fermentation workshop. We were able to share what we’ve learned regarding the benefits of eating fermented foods. Participants went home with fermented kefir, sauerkraut, ketchup, and fermented fruit and vegetable drinks known as kvasses.

In August I did a cooking demonstration at the Mt Rainier’s Farmer’s Market. There I tried to emphasize quick and easy recipes that involved many of the vegetables sold at the market. There was quite a bit of interest. I am sure that had nothing to do with the free food samples. To learn more about that day – please go to my YouTube page and see the slide show

September I hosted a canning party  where we canned applesauce and some spicy salsa. Canning is a great option if you have a garden and want to enjoy the fruits of your harvest later in the year.

Just last weekend I gave a workshop at a church in Baltimore on apples – how to serve them fresh and cook them in both savory and sweet dishes. For me, the best part of the workshop was when the 5-year old boy wanted to be the first to try the green smoothie made of kale, ginger, banana and apple, and then he immediately asked for seconds!

I have been lining up engagements throughout October and November. If you know of a group that’s eager to learn, perhaps we can arrange something!

Protein-rich Breakfast #12Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen:


  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 2 to 3 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 red onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
  • Dash of black pepper

How to: Press tofu to remove excess water — I usually do this by placing the block between 2 dinner plates and resting a tea kettle filled with water on top of the top plate for about 30-45 minutes. When I come back to it, I remove the tea kettle and tip the plates over the sink to drain out the excess liquid. Once the excess liquid is removed, crumble the tofu into small pieces. Heat olive oil in a frying pan.

  • Add tofu, tamari and turmeric and s
  • auté for 5 minutes.
  • Add onion, red pepper, paprika, umeboshi vinegar and black pepper.
  • Cook for 5 more minutes or until mixture thoroughly heated.

Garnish with alfalfa sprouts or fresh parsley.


This tofu scramble recipe was made available compliments of, where I was trained as a health coach in 2009.





Protein-rich Breakfast #10: Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen


  • 1 cup quinoa (12.14 g protein; $7.99/lb)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon,
  • ¼ cup blueberries (1/2 gram protein; 4.99/cup)
  • 7 walnuts (4 grams protein; 6.99/lb).

How to: Measure out 1/2 cup of quinoa and rinse it through a fine mesh strainer – or a colander lined with a round paper coffee filter. Place the rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until water is absorbed and you see the spirals coming from the quinoa grains. Scoop out one cup of quinoa, sprinkle with teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of blueberries and walnuts.

12.14 grams of protein; total cost $19.97 (you should have quinoa and other ingredients left over for future meals).

Note: Quinoa is a high protein grain indigenous to Bolivia. This grain is low in sodium and cholesterol, and is a good source of micronutrients, especially magnesium manganese and phosphorus. To read more nutritional data on quinoa see:


Protein-rich Breakfast #7Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen


  • 1 cup of Oatmeal (6 grams protein; 1.99/lb)
  • 1 cup milk (8 g protein; $3.79/gallon) and
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (5 g; $4.96/lb)

How to: bring 1-3/4 cup of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt; add one cup of oatmeal and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, until much of the water is absorbed. Serve with 1 cup of milk and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. If you prefer a sweeter flavor add 1 tbsp of maple syrup.

19 g protein;  total cost $10.74.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.


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