Practical, healthful eating and living.

Ukrainian Gazpacho July 18, 2010

If you didn’t grow up eating Eastern European food, you might be skeptical of beets.  I find my self longing for them around this time of year.  Recommended for potassium and iron, beets are versatile and fairly easy to handle.  They may be roasted, grated raw into salads, or become the base of a comforting soup.  Every autumn, I set aside a special weekend just for making borscht.  In July, however, I look to beets to cool me down and restore nutrients lost to hot, steamy weather.

Here is a beautiful, 5-minute chilled soup that might become the first thing you reach for after an hour of Bikram yoga.


1 can of chopped or sliced beets (drained), or 2-3 chopped cooked beets (about 2 cups).

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 tablespoon minced scallions or chives

salt to taste

finely chopped cucumber (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine the beets, apple juice and buttermilk.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or storage container and stir in the dill and scallions or chives.  At this point, if you have just returned, famished, from yoga, go ahead and have some!  Or, allow the soup to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Add salt to taste and top with finely chopped cucumber (optional).

Anything with beets, I find, gets even better the second day.  Feel free to double this recipe in order to keep this on hand for quick snacks throughout the week.

From: “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites” by The Moosewood Collective


Cannellini all’Insalata July 4, 2010

After a bike ride in the sun, all I want is citrus, but I’m usually famished, too.  It’s easy to skip protein in summer when fresh fruit is abundant, and lemonade is flowing.  That’s why I love this white bean salad.  It’s so refreshing straight from the fridge, and it’s not anything like the Midwestern bean salads you may have had in the past. Be sure to have it with a slice of toast or a baguette to make a complete protein with the beans.  Not only will you feel refreshed, but you’ll have energy, too.


1 pound (about 2 cups) dried cannellini beans

4 garlic cloves (1 whole, 3 sliced)

1 sprig fresh sage

3 celery stalks ( 1 whole, 2 chopped)

1/2 red onion, julienned

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 large lemons

salt and pepper to taste

Leaves from 1 bunch parsley

Combine the beans, one whole garlic clove and the sage in a large bowl.  Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

The next day, discard the garlic and sage, drain and rinse the beans.  Place the beans in a large pot, cover with fresh water and add the whole celery stalk.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are al dente, from 30-40 minutes.  (Don’t let them turn mushy.)  Drain the beans, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Discard the celery.  Let the beans cool to room temperature.

Combine the sliced garlic, the onion and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl.  Squeeze the juice from 1 1/2 of the lemons over the top and season with salt and pepper.  Whisk lightly until emulsified.  Add the beans, chopped celery, parsley and reserved cooking liquid.  Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.  (Be sure to refrigerate if you plan to let it sit longer than an hour.) Season with more freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges from the remaining lemon half.  Remember that beans absorb salt, causing the flavor to disappear after a day.  Be sure to taste and re-salt leftovers as needed to brighten the taste.  You may want to add a little more lemon juice after day, but I find that the flavors of this salad just get better with time.

Based on Cannellini all’Insalata from “The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.”