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A favorite book

If there is ONE book you will buy this year, just one, make it this one: The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods [120 Recipes for Vitality and Optimal Health] bRebecca Katz. I am a big fan of Rebecca Katz’s work. Let me tell you why:

1. She is a trained nutritionist and has been working with people for years to get them to eat better but she uses science to motivate not to create fear. Her work is not intimidating but rather inspiring. This particular book, for instance, focuses on 16 anti-oxidants loaded ingredients and the science behind them. That is great if you love reading the details. But turn to the middle of the book and each one of those ingredients is featured in a recipe that you just feel like you have to try! (We loved the Greener than the Green Goddess Dressing with Avocado… amazing.

2. I love that Rebecca says that her main tool is flavor! She motivates people to cook with it and succeeds! Her books are runaway bestsellers and this is why.

3. The mineral broth showcased in this book is worth buying the book for. Yep. Just that one recipe. My boys tell me that the broth makes the kitchen smell magical. I serve it to them all the time and use it as a basis for soups, chili etc. It is loaded with all that is good for growing bodies and some bodies that are  (ahem) just trying to maintain themselves (like me!)

I asked the lovely Rebecca Katz to tell us a bit about the book in her own words.

The Longevity Kitchen

By Rebecca Katz

As a cook with a Masters of Science in nutrition, I’ve spent more than a decade motivating people to eat well and in my latest science-meets cookbook tomb, The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods, I use the most important tool  — flavor —  to show people that great taste and great nutrition can joyfully coexist at the dinner table.

Flavor is a fantastic, and usually essential, agent of dietary change. As my grandmother used to say, “If something doesn’t taste good, people won’t eat it in the long run, no matter how good it is for them.”

The truth is, I believe we’re all born with an instinct that draws us toward the foods that nourish us best. That instinct probably evolved as a survival trait, but in modern times, many people have drifted away from this innate wisdom.

The Longevity Kitchen is divided into two parts.  The front of the book is filled with nutritional science, including a culinary pharmacy, open 24/7/ and the second part is devoted to nutrient dense recipes infused with YUM.   One of the most important category of ingredients in the book that’s an absolute must-use, from the standpoint of both flavor and longevity, is aromatics: spices, herbs, and alliums, such as garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and chives.

Aromatics serve several important roles. They’re incredibly stimulating to the mouth, nose, and eyes, offering a culinary telegram to the brain consisting of three words: time to eat! There’s immense pleasure associated with that message. It could be argued that when you crave a certain kind of food—Italian, Indian, and so on—what you really want is the aromatics associated with that cuisine.

Receiving the sensory input that those aromatics are just around the corner creates almost a Pavlovian response, like a little kid hearing the chimes of an ice cream truck coming down the street. Just think of how your nose has sometimes pulled you out of from what- ever you may have been doing in another part of the house, offering a simple but irresistible command: “Go the kitchen. Now!” That’s aromatics at work.

If you haven’t used these ingredients a lot, fear not. The recipes in The Longevity Kitchen will help you get more familiar with them, and then you can start improvising. When you’re ready to put together your own creations, you can use the following global “flavorprints” to help you capture the essence of different cuisines.

Global Flavorprints

Region Ingredients

Asian: basil, bay leaves, chiles, cilantro, coriander, curry powder, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, lime juice and zest, mint, miso, red pepper flakes, turmeric

Indian: cardamom, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, saffron, sesame seeds, turmeric

Latin: chiles, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, oregano, sesame s

Mediterranean: basil, bay leaves, fennel, garlic, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme

Middle Eastern: allspice, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, sesame seeds, thyme

Moroccan: cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, red pepper flakes, saffron, thyme, turmeric

Source: The American Spice Trade Association

Gram for gram, no ingredients are more powerful for stimulating the appetite and satisfying the taste buds than herbs and spices. Their power to heal is no less outstanding. Over the past decade or so, numerous aromatic ingredients have gone under the microscope. A major impetus for this may well have been the prolific use of spices in folk medicine; they have been revered by traditional healers from around the globe for centuries.

 

For more information: http://rebeccakatz.com/books/the-longevity-kitchen/

 

BasmatiPilaf2 Katz_Longevity-Kitchen-774x1024

 

Brown Rice Pilaf with Saffron and Ginger

Adapted from The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz (Ten Speed Press, 2013)

Photo by Leo Gong

BasmatiPilaf2

(Recipe and photo used with permission of author)

yield: Makes 6 servings

time: Prep Time: 5 minutes (after soaking the rice) Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

Healers have touted saffron’s medicinal properties since the days of Hippocrates, and Cleopatra claimed that it was an aphrodisiac. Its scarcity (it takes some four thousand crocus blossoms to create an ounce of saffron) and the belief that it could be used to treat everything from wounds to the plague even caused the Austrians to go to war over the spice during the Dark Ages. This is at least one feudal folk myth that modern science has corroborated. Studies have shown that saffron has outstanding antibacterial and antiviral properties and also aids digestion. People sometimes balk at saffron’s cost, but it isn’t unreasonable when you consider its potency; this recipe calls for only 1/8 teaspoon, and as you’ll see, a little goes a long way. This pilaf is a delightful and gorgeous dish. The rice is sautéed before cooking to avoid that sticky, gummy consistency, and ginger, parsley, and lemon zest add zing.
Prepare ahead: Soak the rice in cool water and the juice of half a lemon for 8 hours or overnight before cooking; this will make its nutrients more available and decrease the cooking time. If you don’t have time to soak the rice, add an extra 1/4 cup of broth and cook for an additional 15 minutes
ingredients
1 teaspoon warm water
1/8 teaspoon saffron
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon diced shallot
1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked, rinsed, and drained well
1 3/4 cups water or vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 (1-inch) piece unpeeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Combine the warm water and saffron in a small bowl. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saffron and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is evenly coated with the oil. Stir in the water, salt, and ginger. Increase the heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Check after 20 minutes; if there are steam holes on the top, it’s ready. Remove ginger. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley and fluff with a fork to combine.
Variations:
Substitute quinoa for the rice (no need to soak it first). For a dolled-up version of this dish, add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom when you add the saffron. Add 2 tablespoons of currants or raisins when you add the lemon juice, and substitute mint for the parsley. Serve topped with 3 tablespoons of toasted slivered almonds.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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