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Lucky Peas and Kale

The year is almost up and if you’re just beginning the diet, or an old hat by now, you will want to prepare some of these black eyed peas for your New Year. Lucky or not they are sure good for you!
You will need:

  • 2-cups Dried Black Eye Peas
  • 1-medium white or yellow onion, minced
  • 1- large, fresh Bay leaf, dry is ok too, I prefer fresh
  • 2-good cloves of garlic, smashed and minced (about 1 teaspoon if using prepared garlic)
  • 2-Tablespoons Olive oil, or Grapeseed oil
  • 1 -6 ounce can chopped tomatoes, organic if possible
  • 4-cups Kale, washed, rinsed and chopped or 1 ready to use bag
  • 2-Tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1-teaspoon smoked Paprika
  • 1-teaspoon ground Cumin
  • Juice of 1-sour orange, or 1/4 cup of a blend of lemon and orange or lime and lemon
  • Fresh black pepper in a grinder, about 1 teaspoon
  • 2-teaspoons sea salt
  • Optional sliced Serrano, or Jalapeno chili.

In a pot have your soaked beans at the ready in double the amount of water to beans. 4 cups water to 2 cups beans in this case. To quick soak you can boil the peas in water and set the cover off the heat and let it sit until room temperature again. This takes about an hour or two. Or you can soak overnight, or even use canned, but drain and wash well due to the excess sodium that tends to be used in canned peas. Dried are best and easy if you just soak and drain them prior to use.

Depending on  how you like your kale add it at the beginning or the end. I prefer it to be tender and silky in a dish like this, so I add it with the dried peas at the beginning with the garlic, onion, spices (except salt) Bay leaf, oil and tomatoes to the pot. You will want to sweat the onion in the oil first on medium-low heat. Then add the spices and garlic and stir until fragrant and add the peas, tomato and water. Bring it up to a boil and skim off any scum that arises.  Bring it down to a simmer and gently cover with a little ventilation. Cook for about 45 minutes until the peas are nice and tender as you like them. Don’t add salt until the end when cooking beans and dried peas. When it’s ready for the salt test and add the citrus juice and vinegar. That should brighten things up and not necessitate more salt, but just in case, taste again and add it if you like. Let it sit to cool some and serve over wild rice or brown rice if you like, or just as it is.

Makes about 6 hearty servings

Variation: Use same amount of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or stock in lieu of water.

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

So you may have seen this leathery, hot pink or fuscia fruit with it’s strange curly spikes at the grocery store more frequently, and thought to yourself “now what is that and what would I do with it?”

Dragon fruit has a flavor and texture similar to kiwi fruit. It is a member of the cactus family (think prickly pear). The skin of the fruit is inedible, but the flesh is white and flecked with little black specks that look like vanilla or poppy seeds.

Select ripe fruits without bruises. You can just slice them in half with a sharp knife and scoop out the fruit with a spoon by running it around the inside of the skin. Then you can eat it right away or dice it up and add it to fruit salsas, fruit salads, or smoothies. It is versatile and mildly succulent.

You will need:

  • 4 ripe Dragon fruits, scooped out of the skin, and diced
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 fresh mango, diced
  • 2 cups soy or almond milk
  • honey to sweeten if preferred (shouldn’t need it)
  • 1/4 cup ice

In a blender add all the ingredients and puree until smooth and creamy.


Salmon Cakes with Bitter Lettuce and Fennel Salad

These salmon cakes are a breeze to make with a food processor. I enjoy the contrast of the robust and fatty salmon against the bitter greens and sweet, pungent fennel root. Fennel pairs so well with citrus as well and I have included the use of orange segments in the salad, as well as pomegranate seeds for a tangy crunch.

For the Salmon Cakes you will need:

  • 1.5 pounds of fresh or frozen and thawed wild caught salmon (pat dry with a paper towel) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced herbs such as tarragon or parsley or both
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • sea salt to taste, about 3/4 teaspoon
  • freshly ground pepper about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or old bay seasoning
  • Olive oil to brush onto the salmon cakes, about 1/4 cup

To prepare pre-heat the oven to 400°F and have a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper ready to bake the salmon cakes.

In a food processor add the cut up salmon and pulse until you have small, fine bits, but not a paste. You want a little under 1/4 inch chunks. In a bowl combine some of the  Panko breadcrumbs and the herbs, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon and seasonings. About 3 tablespoons of Panko just for texture. Once the salmon is processed add it to this mixture and fold it all together well. Now you are ready to form the salmon cakes into disks about 3 inches or less across and about an inch high.

The remaining Panko crumbs can be put onto a plate to use to coat the cakes as you form them. Just press them gently into the crumbs as you shape them and try to get an even coating. You should be able to get about 8 cakes at this size, with 2 cakes being served per person.

With a pastry brush or grill brush gently brush some olive oil over the formed salmon cakes and set them onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes until done. They should be firm and lightly golden brown on top.

Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the bitter greens and fennel salad.

For the salad you will need:

  • 1 small bulb of fennel root, washed and shaved on a mandolin or thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange segments, supreme is preferred
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cups mixed greens such as radicchio, mizuna, and endive
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons good Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients in the bottom of the salad bowl you will be using and whisk well until incorporated. Then toss the salad ingredients well with the mixed dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Serve 2 salmon cakes each on top of a plate of this delicious salad and enjoy!

If you like you could substitute 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar for pomegranate molasses if you can find it. Also adding toasted walnuts would be an excellent addition to this salad.




Kale and Lentil Salad

Red Lentils are quick to cook, and very filling. This salad can be served warm as a side dish, or chilled until cool and eaten as a cold salad. You will need:

  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons good vinegar such as balsamic or sherry
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dinosaur kale, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • fresh basil, minced or chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts or other nuts like hazelnut
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salad have your ingredients ready and warm a skillet or sauté pan gently over medium heat and warm the oil and garlic until it softens, about 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure no sticking or burning. Add your vinegar and kale and wilt the kale, stirring to coat the greens with the warm garlic dressing. Once wilted remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix this with the basil and nuts and tomatoes while still warm but not hot. Squeeze a little lemon over the salad and toss gently ensuring an even coating. You may serve this chilled or warm as it is and it is a lovely summer dish. This is excellent with a grilled fish as an entrée.   Serves-4

Broiled Scallops with Beet Vinaigrette

  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 6  tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh sea scallops, muscle tabs removed
  • 1 bag pre-washed mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup julienne carrots
  • 1/4 cup julienne Daikon radish ( can substitute Jicima)

To prepare the beets simmer them in a heavy bottom pot with acidulated water (water with acid like lemon juice) until they are tender and can be pierced with a knife. When they are cool enough to handle peel and chop them.

Place the beets and vinegar in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the olive oil, dill and salt and pepper. If necessary thin with a little water. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Dry the scallops well on a paper towel, season with salt and pepper if you wish, and broil in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, but not rubbery.

To serve assemble the salad and add scallops atop the dressed salad.

Serves about 4


Green Papaya Salsa

This is a Vietnamese inspired salsa which can be served over fish, chicken or vegetables. Select a firm papaya, without blotches or soft spots. You must peel a green papaya before using it. A vegetable peeler works just fine for this. Halve the Papaya lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and discard them. You can then cut each half into quarters lengthwise and use a knife to cut off the whitish membrane where the seeds were encased. Now you can dice up your green papaya. If you cannot find a green one, an under-ripe one that is slightly yellow will still work. This salsa can be made with a ripe papaya, and does not require heating in this case. Mango is also an excellent substitution.

You will need:

  • Green Papaya, peeled and diced (about a cup)
  • One medium tomato, diced
  • One small Vidalia onion, diced
  • One small or medium Jalapeno chili, seeded and diced (alternatively you may substitute a canned chipotle pepper if you prefer)
  • One half of a fresh orange, juiced (about two or three tablespoons)
  • Juice of half a fresh squeezed lime
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • Sea salt to taste

To prepare the salsa:

  1. Combine the Papaya, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and juices in a skillet. Warm gently over medium heat.
  2. When the salsa is warm, remove from the heat and add the fresh chopped herbs and salt. Check for taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Easy roast chicken

With chicken being allowed on the Diet for a Pain Free Life, it can be a struggle to find new ways to incorporate it into your meals in a flavorful and exciting way. For that I simply add a lot of great spices and roast a bone in full chicken breast from the meat counter at my grocery store. it is already broken down from the bird with the center breast bone still intact and the two chicken breasts ready for preparation. Usually this comes as a skin on deal, but ask the meat person to remove it or simply take it off at home.

You will need:

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout spice (or a mixture of cayenne, paprika, black pepper, cinnamon)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, just a squeeze will do
  • fine sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl big enough to hold the chicken breast, mix the ingredients well. Add the chicken breasts and coat well then cover and refrigerate to allow the marinade to penetrate. A minimum of 20 minutes and ideally a few hours to overnight. When ready pre-heat your oven to 425 F. If you have a roasting pan where you can place the chicken breast side up to roast this is ideal. Just set it on the pan and stick it in the oven until the internal temperature at the fattest part reads 170F. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 15 more minutes to allow the carry over heat to continue distributing the juices and for the meat to cool slightly.


With this chicken the collard green salad would be perfect.

Valentine’s Day Baked Fish in a Foil Pouch

Spices help with flavor in a dish, but they also help with our circulation. Getting that blood flowing, that heart pumping and set for some romance.Baking fish and shellfish in a foil package is one of the easiest ways to prepare a meal, and frees you up to focus on other things while a meal is working away. It melds flavors together, sealing in juiciness; and using heart healthy olive oil, spices, olives, herbs, veggies and sea salt will help keep you and your loved ones healthy.


Mediterranean Fish Baked in a Pouch:

  • 4 fish filets of your choosing (each about 8 oz)
  • Sea salt (I like fine textured the best)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine of your choosing


  • 1/2 cup of pitted black olives, choose your favorite
  • 1 glove of garlic, peeled and smashed with the broad side of a knife, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 small dried red chili pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (or 1/4 cup soaked, drained and chopped sundried tomatoes)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 475 faranheit and make the marinade. Put the olives, garlic, chili pepper, herbs, lemon juice and oil into a large bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss.  Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for up to 30 minutes to allow the juices to escape from the tomatoes.

Take a piece of aluminum foil about 15-inches in length and place 1/4 of the tomatoes and some marinade on one side and a filet on top of it. Fold it over and seal that side, then seal one end leaving the other open. Pour into the open end 1 Tablespoon good olive oil and some of the white wine (1/4 of the amount) and seal up the remaining side. Do the same for the other 3 filets.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes and remove from the over. Then let it stand about 4-5 minutes to allow the fish to continue to steam in the bag.

To serve Place each bag on a plate and either have the guest cut open the top of the foil and peel it back, or you can do this prior to serving.



Soba Noodle Salad

Soba are buckweat noodles found in Asian cuisine. They are great served hot or cold and hold up well to bold flavors and spices!

  • 10 ounce package of Soba noodles
  • 1/4 teaspoon arrow root powder (can substitute corn starch)
  • 4 ounces vegetable stock
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of 1 lime (zest the lime before you juice it!)
  • 3 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons organic tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or smashed well
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 pint fresh shiitake mushrooms, julienne
  • 1 small package snow peas, blanched

Cook the noodles in boiling water until tender to the bite. Follow package instructions. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature. Warm the vegetable stock and combine just enough to the arrorroot powder, or cornstarch to make a ‘slurry’. Boil the remainder of the stock and add the slurry, stirring. Heat until thickened, it will coat the back of a spoon lightly when it is done. Remove from the heat.

Add the lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, and garlic. Whisk in the thickened stock and the toasted sesame oil. Stir in the cilantro.

Heat the grape seed oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms and brown gently and cook out the moisture. Add the snow peas. If using frozen, defrost and blot dry before adding to the pan to avoid splattering hot oil when the water hits the pan! Saute until heated and the snow peas are tender but with a bite.

Toss all the ingredients with the cooked noodles and enjoy!

Serves 4

Red Lentil Salad

  • 2 cups cooked red lentils, drained
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 2 naval oranges, supremed (segmented) and diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or smashed well
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon basil chiffonade, or minced
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Cook the lentils per the package instructions, and drain well. Allow to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients well, tossing gently with a wooden spoon. Add the herbs last and season to taste with sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Serves 4