Refresh Your Recipes by Sophie Knapp, MScN, CN

March 11, 2024

Refresh Your Recipes by Sophie Knapp, MScN, CN

Who doesn’t love how spring brings a sense of refresh. Buds burgeoning, sprouts breaking the ground’s the surface, conifers leafing out an eye-catching display of bright lime green needles, and even some perfumey, pink and purple blooms are blossoming all around us. That sweet turn of seasons and wave of revival is just around the corner. 

With the Pacific Northwest undergoing this collective refresh, why not bring some of that into your home, specifically into your kitchen?

Do you make the same recipes over and over? Are you getting tired of eating the same thing all the time? Many of us enjoy getting into good old fashioned spring cleaning, but why not bring that same enthusiasm and intention to your meals too?

The lengthening days of spring bring a shift in the readily available local produce. This time of year is just the commencement of the roller coaster of farm-fresh deliciousness we’re all about to ride all the way through the fall. It’s a great time to get in the habit of tuning into what’s becoming available, looking up how to prep it, and then giving the recipe a whirl to craft tasty, nourishing meals.

As a nutritionist, many of my clients find it interesting and informative to hear me break down a recipe, walking them through the health-benefitting and not-so-healthful aspects of it. They also like to hear how they can optimize recipes to jam pack them with as many beneficial antioxidants, macro- and micronutrients to make their food choices work even harder for their health. 

In this blog post, I’ve chosen three of my favorite cookbooks that you can get at your local wellness shop, WILLOWTREE Market, and reviewed one recipe from each. 

  1. Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin (James Beard Award winner!)

It’s actually so hard to choose just one recipe from this book! Everything Amy includes is made to maximize the use of whole foods, and she does a grand job minimizing inflammatory components in her recipes. One of the ways she does this again and again is to emphasize the use of fresh veg and minimize the inclusion of sweeteners, especially processed sugar. It’s hands down, one of my faves. 

One of the most inspiring recipes in the book is her Zucchini Dressing. It involves sticking an entire zucchini in a blender along with some oil and a few other key flavors like citrus to craft a veggie-based, versatile dressing. 

The idea of turning a whole vegetable into a sauce is nutrition genius! It allows you to eat more veggies meaning getting more micronutrients and disease-preventing antioxidants, but while digging in, it feels like you’re just having a delicious sauce that’s making other veg taste even better. *chef’s kiss!

This cookbook is so smart. In general, so many of recipes like this one in the book have an original and then variations to try. Once you’ve made the original, the process is essentially the same to create a whole new flavor with one of the variations. Just to temp your taste buds, the variations on this Zucchini Dressing recipe include Golden Citrus; Shiso-Lime; Dill, Mint, and Lime; and Wasabi Black Sesame. 

  1. Mooncycle Cookbook by Devon Loftus & Jenna Radomski, MScN

Fun fact about this one! One of the authors, Jenna, is fellow alum of mine. We both attended the National University of Natural Medicine and went through the same master in holistic nutrition program. What’s up fellow NUNM alum! 

Besides containing some of my favorite whole food recipes, I love how this book has taken the complex stuff that is the hormonal dance of the menstrual cycle and made it apporachable. This topic is overwhelming to a lot of women, but understanding what’s happening in your body each month is so important for your relationship with body and understanding your health. Better yet, they very clearly outline actionable eating and lifestyle steps you can take during each phase of the cycle to optimize your wellbeing. They do this in a gentle, tender, and way that makes it fun! 

Mooncycle Cookbook offers an array of recipes from vegan muffins to steak fajitas. All recipes are rooted in the idea of food as medicine meaning things like processed sugar and processed foods are limited while fresh, colorful, whole food ingredients and plants are prevalent.

My recipe highlight from this one is the Rosemary Sausage Quiche with Apple Crust. It features a crust made of fresh-sliced apples, and a filling of eggs, bulk breakfast sausage, dairy free options, and a nice dose of fresh herbs. 

Again, this is a fine example of using a whole food in place of soemthing that’s usually empty calories that typically increase inflammation. In the case of quiche, a traditional flour crust, though fine in moderation and tasty, could work harder for you nutrient-wise. That’s what Mooncycle Cookbook has done here by replacing the typical flakey, blood sugar-spiking, flour crust with antioxidant and fiber-rich apple slices. 

There’s also a generous dose of rosemary in this dish. Cooking with herbs, even common culinary herbs like rosemary, helps pack the punch when it comes to antioxidant and micronutrient content of a meal. Generally speaking, most of us don’t get enough of those aforementioned nutrients, and they’re critical for keeping your body functioning optimally for the long term. 

A quiche is a phenomenal food to bake as a meal prepped breakfast for the week. It stores well in the fridge, is easy to heat up, and is exceptionally high in protein. Most people don’t eat enough protein, weakening their immune systems, sacrificing muscle mass, and leaving them with excess hunger and cravings. Breakfast is the meal I’ve seen people struggle with the most to get adequate protein intake. A generous slice of this quiche in the morning will set you up to savor meeting your protein goals on the daily. 

Good news if you’re not a meat-eater, I’ve made this using Minimalist Baker’s Spicy Tempeh Breakfast Sausage as a meat-free alternative, and it’s delish! I bet there’s an opportunity to use firm or silken tofu (maybe a combo) in place of eggs to craft a vegan version of this dish too. Let us know in the comments if you try it out. 

  1. More with Less by Jodi Moreno. 

First of all, Jodi’s sauces & homemade condiments like Pumpkin Seed Dukkah, Garlic Chips, Quinoa “Bread” Crumbs she introduces at the start of the book have taken the flavors in my kitchen to the next level. She’s included 30+ of them, and any one is simple to make and besides maximizing your taste buds’ enjoyment, adds significant nutrient-density to you dishes. The recipe I’ve chosen from this book recommends using her Nori Gomasio, a simple mixture of mineral-dense seaweeds, salt, and sesame seeds, to top it off. 

One of my go-to “I’m in a hurry and I need to make something to take with me to work so I can have a healthy lunch today” recipes is Miso Oats with Scallions + Sesame Oil. This is a fiberful, savory oatmeal recipe that I highly recommend not knockin’ ‘til you’ve tried! It’s basically oats mixed with miso as a base that’s topped with soft-boiled eggs, scallions, sesame oil, and whatever the heck else sounds yummy to you. 

If you like quick and easy, this one’s for you. I can whip this up in 10-15 minutes. As I said before this is one of my go-to’s, and I never get sick of it because there are so many ways to switch it up. 

Try switching up the miso (which WILLOWTREE sells some unique ones), maybe add thin-sliced cabbage, or sprinkle seaweed flakes to the top. I love adding seaweed to this dish because I don’t tend to like the taste of it. The way it mingles with the creamy oats and toasty sesame oil really works for me, and getting seaweed into our bodies on a regular basis is health-promoting. It’s one of the few dietary sources of iodine, and it’s rich in other minerals and antioxidants.

I do recommend swapping in whole rolled oats or quick-cooking steel cut oats in place of regular quick-cooking oats. Those regular quick-cook oats have had the fibrous bran removed, which makes them cook faster, but also takes away the fiber. Replacing them with the alternatives I mentioned will bulk up the the fiber content of the dish and make it less likely to cause a blood sugar spike.

Happy spring, and happy cooking everybody!

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