Kitchen Shrink

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We do have some powerful self-protective weapons at our disposal — food selection and handling being the most effective. Ancient cultures relied on that for their health; even before old Hippocrates advised using food as medicine. So, while you arm yourself with tools provided by personal trainers, meditation gurus and other healers, I’ll provide the edible components of your healthy lifestyle to keep you vibrant for years to come.
At the supermarket produce aisle, I befriended a shopper choosing assorted leafy greens and venting about how she must pay the piper for an indulgent holiday food orgy. She grumbled about the light, airiness of salads, and how “rabbit food” was hardly a satisfying meal. Looking outside the bowl, you can easily find an exciting bounty of roots, fruits, seeds, grains, gourds, greens, succulent seafood and other lean proteins to beef up an otherwise anemic salad, giving it a nutritional and gratifying oomph.
Strolling the aisles of my favorite supermarket looking back at the gustatory highlights of the year, I then gaze at my culinary crystal ball perched in the child’s seat of my shopping cart to predict what’s ahead for 2020. This has been a year of imposter foods — cauliflower impersonated everything from mashed potatoes and rice to pizza crust, breads and gravies. Plant-based proteins and molecules (like pea and heme iron) made mock meats taste, smell, chew and even “bleed” like the real McCoy. Shredded Jackfruit doubled for crab cakes, while spiral sliced zucchini and other squashes disguised themselves as noodles, aka “zoodles.”
’Tis the season when Christmas and the eight-day Chanukah hoopla merge. Chanukah, which begins on Dec. 22 this year, used to be a minor celebration in the Jewish line-up of holidays. Thanks to Christmas-envy among Jewish children (and adults) who are awe-struck by the bedecked trees and sparkling neighborhoods lit-up like a fairytale wonderland, Chanukah has been elevated to the holiday A-list. As for the food part, we’re fortunate to partake in the delights of both traditions that can be enjoyed during a joint celebration.
Over the years, I’ve attended many holiday parties, and hosted even more. I’ve appreciated all festive offerings, and while I would never turn my nose up at a jar of caviar or good bottle of wine, the gifts I’ve enjoyed the most came from creative minds and loving hearts. A particularly memorable one was a forest green ceramic planter filled with fresh sprouting seasonal herbs, including rosemary, sage and thyme, potted in an edible soil of crumbled dark chocolate brownies. These whimsical treats can be tailor-made to accommodate the dietary restrictions of the host (low cholesterol, or gluten-, lactose-, tree nut-, or sugar-free), and preferences (mild, hot, smoky, crunchy, sweet, savory, or vegan). You will need some simple supplies like Mason jars, cruets, clear gift bags, decorative tins, ramekins, twine and labels. Now let’s get this craft party started!
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Today’s butter substitutes are savvy and sophisticated, spreadable and versatile, plant-based and healthy without harmful trans fats. Here’s a run-down of choices to suit your family’s dietary restrictions.
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