Today’s Harvest

If you want to take a break from Gaudí while in Barcelona but not completely escape the fantasy of his work, why don’t you go to the source of his inspiration… nature! and see what it has to offer: a good place to start is: La Boqueria… at first glance from the Las Ramblas street, La Boqueria seems like yet another produce market, but once I stepped into it, I felt like Alice in Wonderland falling into the rabbit hall and onto an imaginary world where all my culinary fantasies were on creative display, in rich colors and abundance! It’s like a museum of Catalonian culinary tastes had come to life and I was invited… My main challenge though: for the most part, no pictures were allowed (they seem to think they’re a museum too!) but I still managed to get you some!

orange - boqueria

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green 1 - Boqueria

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🇬🇧 London🌱 Greeneries🌱

When Mother Nature (or the City of London) gives you greenery absorb it with all your senses!

It’s lunchtime and you’re out and about on your urban routine with no time to stop and munch on a salad? Drink it!

Try to make some time, even if only 5-10 minutes each day, for a green spot pit stop where you can just look around and admire the beauty of nature’s simplicity in its rich details…

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Ready & Munchin’

You know labor is near when you’ve downloaded your contractions app to keep track of their length, intensity and frequency and your mom moves in and brings with her delicious delicacies to make the wait bearable!

Upper left: dried grapes (malban) with raw walnuts  Lower left: fresh-from-the-field green almonds Right: Pickled mini eggplant  stuffed with peanut & spices

Upper left: dried grapes (malban) with raw walnuts
Lower left: fresh-from-the-field green almonds
Right: Pickled mini eggplants stuffed with peanut & spices

Chéri Chicory

Chicory

Chicory

Lately, chicory is on my mind as I crave a good vegetarian winter dish!

I don’t find chicory very often in stores here, but when I do I take great advantage: I eat it raw as a snack! Now you’re probably imagining a farm pet munching on a grassy meadow, that’s not exactly the case, although I don’t hate the bitterness of its raw leaves, I only snack on the un-leafy stem part of chicory, which is less bitter, crunchy and has a rich taste that makes celery so dull in comparison (you’re probably still imagining a munching pet; my husband often tells me that I should have been born as a bunny, I take that).

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Chicory – Leaves and stems separated
While leaves can be used for cooking or in salads, stems are a great, crunchy and refreshing snack.

I also prepare chicory as a salad with a light, homemade vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice and herbs). However, the ultimate way to really savor the best of chicory is to cook it for a short time in boiling water then sauté it with caramelized onions and lemon juice… so yummy with pita bread!

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A popular countryside vegetarian meal in the Middle East
An assortment of sautéed chicory or dandelion with pita bread, cabbage-and-tomato salad, lentil-and-rice pilaf and greek yogurt

Chicory is a preferred ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Wild and cultivated varieties are both popular. They are mainly used in salads nevertheless they can be a perfect replacement to any leafy vegetable in many cooked dishes. From Provence to the Middle East recipes abound and vary but chicory’s draw is the same: an appetizing taste, a medicinal character (detoxing, diuretic and tonic) and a great nutritional content. Chicory is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals mainly folic acid, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C.

Bringing Veggies Back!

Edamame

Whether at your doctor, the dietician clinic, in health awareness ads, books and magazines or through Michelle Obama’s inspiring anti-obesity campaign, you’ve probably been lectured one way or another about the importance of “getting your kids to eat their veggies!” Still, many kids have little or no interest in eating vegetables and therefore lack essential nutrients in their diet. Here are my TOP 5 TIPS on making sure you get your child on the right veggie-track:

  1. Start early because your kid’s food preferences are like pottery and become harder to change as they solidify with time.
  2. Be consistent and proactive in making sure that you offer your kid healthy choices and avoiding that your precious little one develops a picky-eater habit.
  3. Make this a family project by setting a good example and making sure that any brothers and/or sisters are setting a good example as well. Kids love emulating their parents and siblings.
  4. Make food time fun by letting your kid count his peas, learn how to say the color of a carrot, the texture of a spongy eggplant (yes a raw eggplant!) and laugh at the bizarre new taste of a lemon!
  5. Give your kid some autonomy with the veggies! Kids love to discover things on their own and can develop an aversion to things when they are forced upon them. So as the choking hazard dissipates, let your kid enjoy some healthy veggie food finger choices: Fava beans, chickpeas, celery, cucumber and red pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts (cut in halves), steamed broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus…

You’ll be surprised how moldable kids are at an early age! In no time, they’ll be looking for the spinach in their plate and snacking on celery!

My 2-year-old daughter loves the sweet-ish nutty taste and tender texture of edamame. Many think of edamame simply as a bean appetizer at their favorite Japanese restaurant but their benefits far surpass this occasional treat. Edamame soy beans are usually sold in frozen packages in most grocery stores and make a great addition to one’s diet either as a snack, an ingredient in stir-fried or sautéed dishes or in a soup. They have the veggie baggage (rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) boosted with rich protein content making them a meat substitute and also contain a small amount of unsaturated fat (the good type of fat). My daughter usually enjoys them as a snack but when there is no cooked meal in sight, I throw a bunch of steamed edemame in a plate, coupled with some cubes of cheddar cheese and some cherry tomatoes and Voilà! Lunch is ready!

Keep an eye out for allergies as you are introducing new food to your child’s diet. In effect a small percentage of children are allergic to soy.