If You Don’t Recognize It, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 3

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat lean protein source such as chicken; cut back on red meat & full fat dairy
  • Avoid refined foods & processed foods
  • Spice it up.  Ginger, curry powder & other spices are linked with anti­inflammation

Sources: Barry Sears, MD,,

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 2

How to minimize inflammation?
  • Eat a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids such as oily fish & walnuts.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white pasta & rice
  • Eat plenty of whole grains such as bulgur & brown rice

Denise Cooks…Split Pea & Ham Soup


My mom never made it when I was growing up.  I think she had a ‘Mommy Dearest’ type experience with her mother when she was young, and it scarred her for life.  Which is a bummer…split pea & ham soup is one of my all time faves! 

I’ve gotten spoiled the past few years…being in the kitchen less for work has prompted me to be in the kitchen more at home.   I really like cooking for myself, and friends & family.  There’s nothing so satisfying as sitting down to a meal that I prepared myself.

First step-just like at work, was gathering my mis en place.  Notice the ham is a Niman Ranch. It’s humanely raised, pastured, no antibiotics, nitrates, nitrites, etc, and only 30 calories per oz, so fairly lean.  I don’t tolerate nitrates/nitrites well, so have not eaten cured/processed pork products for some years (not a bad thing).  I found this product at Whole Foods yesterday & thought I’d give it a try.  I highly recommend it!

I’m not so picky about my split peas though…

After gathering my mise en place, I started my cuts.  Beautifully even, medium dice that Rie would be proud of!  I like just a little carrot in my pea soup, so loaded up on the celery & onion.

Then it’s into the pot to sauté (I like the veggies to caramelize so it is a sauté vs sweat).  I tried to get a pic of this step, but my camera lens kept fogging up.  Here’s the best shot.  It’s a good thing I love being a chef…I don’t think I have what it takes to be a photographer.

Once my veggies & a little of that incredible ham were nicely browned, I added the peas, chicken broth (you can use veggie broth), a bay leaf & some fresh ground black pepper.   This picture was after the soup simmered for the recommended time of ½ hour (as stated on the package of split peas).  The peas were still as hard & they look!  I ended up simmering it for about 2 hours.


Now the best part…sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup!

It was delicious! 


About 8 ounces good quality ham, diced to ½”

2 small-medium sweet onions (I like Vidalia’s, but any sweet will do), diced to ½”

2 small-medium carrots, diced to ½”

2-3 ribs celery, diced to ½”

1 tbsn olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 lb split peas

*About 3 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (you can use water, but broth will add more flavor & richness to your soup…and you’ll also need to add salt if you use water)

About ½-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 

Dice the ham & vegetables.  Heat a large saucepan over high heat.  Add oil; sauté ham & vegetables until nicely browned.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer, uncovered for a couple hours, until peas are tender & soup has thickened.

*You may need to add more broth if soup is too thick.

If You Don’t Recognize it, Your Body Won’t Either – Inflammation Part 1

  • Diets high in processed foods are linked to inflammation in the body which can lead to a whole host of diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc) 
  • How to minimize inflammation? 
  • Eat plenty of fruits & vegetables 
  • Minimize saturated fats & eliminate transfat

The Juice Illusion

I consider myself a visual learner and nothing had made me happier than the slew of nutrition infographs that seem to be popping up on the Internet lately.  My current favorite is from the Pritikin Longevity Center.  Titled The Juice Illusion, this infograph is a visual feast for the eyes.

This infograph is timely given recent research linking juice consumption with obesity related type 2 diabetes. Whole fruit consumption is associated with decreased risk. Furthermore, satiety (i.e. satisfaction) is increased significantly when you EAT rather than drink your fruits & veggies; there is no fiber in juice. Plus many nutrients are lost in the juicing process.

In the spirit of whole fruits & vegetables, I have included this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette recipe that includes 2 of my favorite veggies. My personal modifications: less olive oil, roast the Brussels prior to mixing with the kale & skip the craisins & pepitas (personal preference).

Food Rules Part 10…Eat Animals that Have Eaten Well

  • The diet of animals we eat strongly influences the healthfulness of food we get from them
  • Meat & eggs from grass fed animals contains healthy fats (Omega 3’s) & higher levels of vitamins & antioxidants
  • Choose pastured animals food when possible

Slow Roasted Pork and Cider Jus


Serves 8-10

3-4 lb – pork butt
2 c – chicken broth, low sodium
2 c – apple cider
1 c – chicken broth, low sodium
¾ cchopped onion
2 ea – thyme sprigs, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves
2 t – apple cider vinegar
2 T – unsalted butter, cut in ½’’ cubes

Pork Roast

  1. Put pork &  broth in 9×13 glass casserole, cover with foil
  2. Roast 2 hrs @ 300°, then remove foil & raise temp to 375°
  3. Cook until liquid mostly gone, 45 min
  4. Continue roasting, turn meat every 10 min, until browned, 30 min 
  5. Remove & break into large pieces  

Cider Jus

  1. Mix all jus ingredients, except butter, in medium saucepan
  2. Boil until mixture reduces to 1 c, 30 minutes
  3. Strain & discard solids, whisk in butter a few pieces at a time
  4. Season with s&p 

Serve with pureed butternut squash & maple roasted brussels sprouts

It’s the great pumpkin

Summer has come and gone and fall is here with treasured treats like apples & pumpkins. It is not even November yet and I have already made my pumpkin cookies more times than I can count. While arguably not the healthiest way to serve pumpkin, these cookies are one way to ensure a hefty serving of this nutrient rich vegetable. Why do I love pumpkin so? In addition to the multiple health benefits, the combination of dark chocolate & pumpkin is divine. Rich in cocoa phenols, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants (i.e. disease fighters) Not to be outdone by chocolate, pumpkin offers a healthy dose of Vitamin A (great for vision) is a great source of fiber, is low in calories (only 49 per cup) & rich in the (cancer fighting) antioxidant beta-carotene.

Enjoy, but remember indulge in moderation (although easier said then done when it comes to this moist morsel),

Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (you can also do half all purpose, half whole wheat)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (can use fresh)
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
¾  cup dark chocolate chips (optional) or dried fruit

- Preheat oven to 350 ˚ F
- In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter & brown sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and stir by hand just until combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir just until blended.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough 2 “ apart on a cookie sheet (I bake on silpats).
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: (one cookie):
Adapted from One Smart Cookie

Got Sleep?

Drink the Spinach Water…Food Rules – Part 9

  • Traditional wisdom with some science behind it
  • The water from cooked vegetables is nutrient rich!