Stories about “power foods” pop up frequently in health and cooking news today—magical, mystical ingredients for a healthier, happier life. Blueberries have taken on cult status as antioxidant warriors, sweet potatoes are infinitely sweeter now that we’re told regularly of the health benefits of their beta-carotene and vitamin A, and avocados offer “good fat.”
As the positive press for these healthful, delicious foods leads an increasing number of us to regularly add them to our shopping carts, the demand for recipes incorporating these nutritional superstars has grown. The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson (Ten Speed Press, 2013; $29.99) not only offers a plethora of recipes that highlight foods that have been shown to promote health but also supplies great background information about the nutritional science behind these power players—providing the answer not only to “What’s for dinner?” but also to “Why?”
Layered Frittata with Leeks, Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes
6 organic eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons organic plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmegSea salt
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts
4 cups stemmed and chopped Swiss chard, in bite-sized pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons almond flour, homemade or store-bought
2 tablespoons freshly grated organic Parmesan cheese
Position one oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler and another rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°.
Put the eggs, yogurt, thyme, pepper, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a bowl and whisk until the eggs are frothy and only very small lumps of yogurt remain.
Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt and sauté until just golden, about 6 minutes. Put the chard on top of the leeks and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover and let the chard steam just until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the chard.
Pour the egg mixture over the tomatoes and make sure it seeps through the greens; you may need to gently shift the greens to allow the egg to settle. Sprinkle the almond flour and the Parmesan cheese over the top.
Bake on the center rack for 10 to 15 minutes, until the egg is set. Turn the oven to broil and move the skillet to the top rack. Broil for 1 minute, until the almond flour and the cheese are golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Variations: Make this frittata dairy-free by substituting 2 tablespoons of water for the yogurt and omitting the cheese. Feel free to substitute spinach or kale for the chard.
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 25 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving: calories 170; protein 10 grams (g); carbohydrates 8 g; total fat 12.5 g (saturated fat 3 g; mono-unsaturated 5 g); dietary fiber 2 g; sodium 238 milligrams (mg)
Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
8 organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 11/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cups organic chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of salt
8 thawed frozen or jarred artichoke hearts (see cook’s note below), quartered
1/2 cup pitted green olives, such as picholine or manzanilla2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or cilantro
Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, working in batches if necessary, and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Decrease the heat to medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in ¼ cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot. Stir in a pinch of salt and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the remaining broth, the lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the chicken, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and olives and stir gently to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining lemon juice. Taste—you may want to add another squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of salt. Garnish with the mint.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to one month.
Variation: This dish would work well using a firm white fish in place of the chicken, such as 1 pound of halibut cut into 4-ounce pieces. Begin the recipe by sautéing the onion. Proceed as directed but substitute vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought, for the chicken broth. Add the fish during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving: calories 395; protein 33.5 g; carbohydrates 16 g; total fat 21.5 g (saturated fat 5 g; mono-unsaturated 12 g); dietary fiber 3.5 g; sodium 498 mg
Cook’s note: The artichoke hearts can be fresh, frozen and thawed, or packed in water in a jar. Whichever type you use, rinse them well. If using fresh artichoke hearts, add them right after adding the garlic.
Sweet Potato Bars
If you’re sensitive to gluten, you’ll love this recipe. Both teff and brown rice are gluten-free, so the flour isn’t an issue. Technically, oats are also gluten-free; however, they are subject to cross-contamination in the field and during processing. If you’re extremely sensitive to gluten, I recommend using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats.
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup teff flour or brown rice flour
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as garnet yams, baked until tender
2 organic eggs, beaten
1/3 cup organic plain yogurt
3 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly grated nutmeg, for dusting
Cook’s note: You can bake the sweet potatoes in advance and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put the oats, flour, pistachios, pecans, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the syrup and the olive oil and pulse until the ingredients are evenly combined but the mixture is still crumbly. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan. No need to clean out the food processor. Bake for about 15 minutes, until set. Keep the oven on.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Scoop the sweet potato flesh into a bowl and mash it. Put 1½ cups of the mashed sweet potato in the food processor (reserve any leftover for another use). Add the eggs, yogurt, syrup, orange zest, cardamom, and ginger and process until smooth.
To assemble and bake the bars, pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is set and just beginning to pull from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into 16 squares.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days or tightly wrapped in the freezer for up to two months.
Yield: 16 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus 2 hours for chilling.
Nutritional information per serving (2 bars): calories 120; protein 3 g; carbohydrates 16 g; total fat 5 g (saturated 1 g; mono-unsaturated 2 g); dietary fiber 2 g; sodium 55 mg
Reprinted with permission from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.