Parade.com: Hold the White Rice and Get Your Freekeh On

The Freekeh Cookbook by Bonnie Matthews

Here’s a typical weekday situation: A recipe calls for rice. There’s only 30 minutes for dinner. Healthy brown rice takes 45 minutes, and unhealthy white rice is 15 minutes to cook. When it comes to time, I’m guilty of choosing the latter. I have tricks for using grains in weekday meals, such as doubling the requested amount and storing the difference in the freezer, or cooking slow-cooking grains—such as barley and farro—on weekends.

One of my favorite healthy and quick-cooking grains is whole-wheat couscous. Quinoa is another favorite, but the rinsing process is time-consuming. My recent discovery is freekeh, a familiar grain in Arabic cuisines with a 15 to 20 minute cooking time.

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Never Forget these Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars

Potato Chips, fruity and hard candies, twirly sugar sticks, chewy caramels, salty pretzels and raw nuts were not my childhood friends. Among the most offending taste were raw nuts. The taste of peanuts are what I image wood to taste like, but I love peanut butter. And, I will never understand people’s obsession with salted sunflower seeds as they spit speckled shells onto subway train floors. Then there’s the pecans. They’re a different nut.

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Parade.com: Saffron Butternut Squash Soup

Saffron Butternut Soup

Finland. Summer 2003. Lunch outside of a mild summer day. The server presented steamed salmon in a saffron creamy broth. It was simple dish, but the memory of its taste is grand. Recently, when I made Saffron Butternut Squash soup as an idea to include in a Thanksgiving menu, the first spoonful didn’t have me thinking of smoked turkey. Instead, forgotten memories of Finland returned.

It was the summer of learning about organic food, becoming environmentally-conscious and riding Copenhagen’s public bikes. The flavorful produce was fresh, bruised and unwaxed. Large chickens looked liked American cornish hens. Fingerling potatoes enclosed in a thin papery skin roasted into a buttery softness. I would return to occasionally trying to recreate the Saffron Creamy broth. It’s a simple sauce, in which I’m surprised to not have successfully created it. Perhaps, the simpleness of the sauce is underestimated. Ten years later into today, I would unwittingly recreate the taste with different ingredients, but the memories come courtesy of saffron. It’s distinct flavor beautifully infuses every dish.  Read more

Parade.com: 3 Ways to Spice Up Your Acorn Squash

Spicy Roast Acorn Squash

Even as a so-called health nut, I love winter squashes roasted until they’re buttery and sticky-sweet. They’re drizzled with olive or coconut oil, or a little soft butter is brushed on slices. Perhaps they’re sweetened with brown or coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey. A bit of sea salt and fresh black pepper are sprinkled here and there. In my creative mind, winter squashes are flavored with any combination of herbs and spices. Read more

Parade Magazine: Roast Brussel Sprouts and Wild Brown Rice

Roast Brussel Sprouts and Wild Brown Rice

I personally prefer smoked over fried and roast turkey. The orange-tea smoky flavor infuses the whole bird to render even the breast meat juicy. As my father cooks at least three turkeys, each using a different cooking technique mentioned above, he’s also preparing several carb-loaded side dishes.  Read more