I love cooking.
Growing up – the kitchen was where I had some of my best memories. It always tasted good, but I admit some of the ingredients we used weren’t the most healthy. But as I learned in this week's "The New You" Culinary Medicine appointment, you are what you eat.
"Anytime you eat anything you either feed disease or fight disease," said Jim Perko, Executive Chef of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative And Lifestyle Medicine.
"If you are loving what loves you back that means you are enjoying the food that is working well for you and fighting inflammation and it is fighting disease."
Chef Jim has spent years studying the connection between what we eat and how we feel.
"When you eat what you are, think about all of the foods that are indigenous to all the cultures of the world. That’s what they were raised on. They tend to eat those foods because it is apart of tradition," Jim told me.
Each week, Jim meets with clients to show them how to eat better and creates some new traditions. His philosophy… healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad. It can actually be pretty tasty.
Viewers Kim, Kati and I all met one on one with Jim to learn everything from knife skills to smart recipe swaps.
And thanks to his healthy recipes for "Mac and Cheese-less, Chocolate Chunk and Nut Chewies, and Quinoa Ragout, Irealized the new techniques weren’t that hard, and they really were delicious.
As Chef Jim told us, these swaps go far beyond any one diet.
"We want you to find enjoyment in your food," he said. "If you could learn those techniques, how to make things sweeter without sugar, savory without sodium fancy without meat, it doesn’t matter what diet you’re on, it transcends any diet."
Read below for the recipes featured today, and you can learn more in Jim's "The What to Eat When Cookbook."
PREP: 5 minutes
COOL: 15- 18 minutes
MAKES: 32 servings (2 cups)
SERVING SIZE: 1 tablespoon
INGREDIENTS: 2 cups (about 9.5 ounces) golden raisins, 2 cups water
- Combine the raisins and water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer uncovered until about 3 to 4 tablespoons water remain, 15 to 18 minutes remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.
- Transfer the Raisin mixture to a high- speed blender or food processor. Blend until an almost smooth puree forms, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender or bowl, about 2 minutes.
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE-LESS
PREP: 40-45 minutes
COOK: 40 minutes
MAKES: 6 servings
SERVING SIZE: 1 ¾ cups
INGREDIENTS: Four cups water, one cup (5 ounces) raw cashews, 12 ounces 100% whole wheat short elbow pasta, 6 cups (about 28 ounces)sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes, 2 teaspoons (or more) mild hot sauce such as Cholula, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard , 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 pinch cayenne pepper.
- Combine the water and cashews in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain the nuts and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, but still firm to the bite (al dente). drain the pasta; Rinse and drain again. Set aside in a large mixing bowl and cover.
- In a large saucepan, bring the sweet potatoes and almond milk to a boil over medium- high heat. Reduce to medium- low heat and simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the sweet potatoes in a bowl, reserving the almond milk. Measure reserved on the milk and add more almond milk, if needed, to equal 3 cups.
- Cool the three cups almond milk too lukewarm and placed in a heavy- duty blender. Add the cashews. Blend until the sauce is smooth. Add the sweet potatoes, hot sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Process until the sauce is smooth, scraping down the container as needed.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well. Please in a 10 by 12 inch casserole or baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
CHOCOLATE CHUNK & NUT CHEWIES
PREP: 25 minutes
COOK: 12-13 minutes
MAKES: 28 cookies
SERVING SIZE: One cookie
INGREDIENTS: 1 ½ cups 100% whole grain old-fashioned oats, 1 cup (about 4.2 ounces) pecans, toasted, 1 cup (about 3.6 ounces) walnuts, toasted, ½ cup golden raisins, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3 tablespoons raising reduction, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 cup (5 ounces) dark chocolate (70% cacao), cut into about 1/3 inch pieces.
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- In a food processor, pulse the oats until coarsely ground, about 25 seconds. Add the pecans and walnuts, and process until the mixture is finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the raisins and process until the mixture begins to stick together, about 20 seconds. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; pulse using on/off turns just until well blended. Add the Raisin Reduction, water, and vanilla, pulse until well blended. The dough will be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chunks until well incorporated. Scoop out the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (about 1 ½ tablespoons for each) and form balls using their hands. Place the cookies on large nonstick baking sheets, spacing at least 1 ½ inches apart. Lightly press down on each cookie by hand to flatten slightly.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
QUINOA, BLACK BEAN, ARUGULA & SPINACH RAGOUT
INGREDIENTS: 3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 cups Onion – medium dice, 1 tablespoon Fresh Garlic – minced, ¼ teaspoon Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Peppe,r 3 cups Broccoli florets – firm packed, 15 ounce can Black Beans – drained and rinsed, 2 each 23-25 ounce jar Tomato Sauce, 1 tablespoon Hot Sauce, 2 cups Red Quinoa – cooked (about 2/3 cup raw), ½ cup Arugula, ½ cup Spinach – de-stemmed.
- In large skillet on medium heat, add extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper, sauté till light golden brown.
- Add broccoli florets and sauté 3 minutes while stirring.
- Add black beans, tomato sauce, hot sauce and pre-cooked quinoa - bring to a simmer and mix.
- Add spinach, arugula and stir until thoroughly heated and greens just begin to wilt.