World Hunger: 10 Myths

Frances Moore Lappe and Kelly Toups with World Hunger 10 Myths

World hunger is not a traditional area of study for dietitians, but one thing I love about dietetics is that it has allowed me to explore food and nutrition issues from so many different perspectives. Following a passion for food and nutrition policy, I landed at the Small Planet Institute in 2013 working as a research fellow on Frances Moore Lappé’s newest book, World Hunger: Ten Myths.

For those of you not familiar with Frances Moore Lappé, she is often credited with being one of the early pioneers of the food movement. Diet for a Small Planet, her 1971 classic that has sold over 3 million copies, was among the first works that helped people make the connection between the food we eat and the health of our planet.

Today her latest book, World Hunger: Ten Myths, is finally being released! I am so grateful to have been a part of this project, even if only for a year. Anyone interested in hunger and food insecurity, food justice, food and nutrition policy, sustainable agriculture, GMOs, and more should definitely pick up a copy. You can order it on Amazon here.

World Hunger 10 Myths Cover

– Kelly

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Summer Harvest Linguine with Cannellini Beans

Whole Grain Linguine with Wheat Beans and Summer Vegetables

A somewhat unlikely duo, beans and pasta are an odd sounding but much loved combination in my repertoire. The beans contribute protein to an otherwise carb-heavy meal, offering a delightful change in texture, and a rich, hearty flavor. This Italian inspired dish uses creamy cannellini beans and whole wheat linguine as a canvas for sautéed summer vegetables (heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and Tuscan kale). Grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil round out the meal.

Late Summer Farmers Market Vegetables

^^ Fresh from the farmers market! Pro tip: Pick up your eggplants and tomatoes now, before they retire for the season

Sauteed Summer Vegetables

Whole Grain Linguine with Tuscan Vegetables

^^ This recipe is great for entertaining, and was the first meal I served on my new roof patio

Summer Harvest Linguine with Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium to large eggplant, chopped
  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans (or other white bean), drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut or torn into ribbons

Method:

  1. Cook linguine according to package instructions. After draining, toss the pasta with one teaspoon olive oil (to prevent noodles from sticking) and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and eggplant.
  3. While the onion and eggplant are softening, chop the tomatoes.
  4. Once the tomatoes are chopped, add them to the skillet (the eggplant will have absorbed all of the oil by this point, so the pan will need the liquid from the tomatoes).
  5. Add the garlic, salt, oregano, and cannellini beans, stirring occasionally.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the kale leaves from their stems and tear or chop into bite sized pieces.
  7. Add the kale to the skillet, stirring until kale is wilted.
  8. Dive the pasta among four plates, then top each plate with the vegetable mixture. Garnish each plate with one tablespoon each parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Summer Vegetables

Nutrition per Serving: 510 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat). 23g protein, 86g carbohydrates (20g fiber, 15g sugar*), 4mg cholesterol, 435mg sodium, 233% Vitamin A, 250% Vitamin C, 31% Calcium, 37% Iron

*none are added sugars

– Kelly

Slow Cooker Red Beans and (Brown) Rice

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Having started my elementary school years at a Catholic school in Louisiana, there is something about the Lenten season that makes me crave Cajun foods. From steamy gumbo to crispy catfish, my mouth starts watering for these comforting, Creole morsels before the last bite of King Cake has been finished. Today I’m sharing a recipe for a meatless, budget-friendly (and diet-friendly) recipe that is perfect for Fridays during Lent, and just about everyday in between!

This Red Beans and (Brown) Rice dish requires a bit of prep work and advanced planning (the beans have to soak and boil briefly before you toss them into the slow cooker), but I can assure you that this recipe is still incredibly simple!

Now, you may be asking, why bother to boil the beans? After all, isn’t the point of a slow cooker to eliminate that pesky step?

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice

Indeed, most dry beans can be tossed in a slow cooker and cook beautifully, but red kidney beans are a special case. Undercooked red beans contain a toxin, so you must boil them for at least 10 minutes before you put them in the slow cooker. Note: this is a prime example of why it’s important to get recipes from reputable sources that have been trained in food safety (such as yours truly)!

Once your beans have gotten a head start on the stove, the slow cooker will soften the beans and develop the flavors of the dish. The familiar southern aroma comes not only from the seasoning, but also from the onion, celery, and green bell peppers (the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cuisine).

Rice is a namesake component of Red Beans and Rice, but feel free to get creative with your grain base. Personally, I think a combination of different whole grains (like barley, quinoa, and farro) would go really well with this recipe. In fact, I was planning to use barley (hulled, not pearled), but my local Whole Foods was out. This hearty, rib-sticking bowl is best served alongside a dark green vegetable, such as kale chips (like I used) or collard greens.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice 

Slow Cooker Red Beans and (Brown) Rice

adapted from MyRecipes.com

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning (I use 3 tbsp, but if cooking for young children, I recommend 2 tbsp)
  • Optional: 7 oz Andouille sausage, sliced (I didn’t use sausage in the recipe today, to keep it budget-friendly and Lent-friendly, but I have used it in the past and it was delicious!)
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice (or other whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or farro) for serving. This will make about 6 cups of cooked rice, which is enough for about eight ¾ cup servings.

Method

  1. Soak the dry beans in a pot of water for five hours. Then, drain the soaking water and add fresh water to the bean pot. Bring to a full boil, and boil for at least 10 minutes. NOTE: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. RED KIDNEY BEANS CAN BE TOXIC IF UNDERCOOKED.
  2. Drain the boiling water from the beans. Then add beans and all other ingredients (including sausage, if using) to a slightly oiled slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for 6 hours. Then remove the lid and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes. This will help it thicken up a bit.
  4. Before serving, prepare rice (or other whole grains, if using) according to package instructions. Two cups of uncooked brown rice will yield about six cups of rice, which is enough for eight 3/4 cup servings. 
  5. Portion about ¾ cup red beans over about ¾ cup brown rice in a bowl.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice

Nutrition per serving (3/4 cup red beans over 3/4 cup brown rice, not including sausage): 390 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated fat), 18g protein, 76g carbohydrates (17g fiber, 3g sugar), 140mg sodium, 3% Vitamin A, 28% Vitamin C, 11% Calcium, 31% Iron

– Kelly

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes

For most folks, Superbowl Sunday is the first real test of whether the healthy habits started in early January are going to be embraced as lasting lifestyle changes, or cast aside as abandoned resolutions. There’s no need to panic, however. With a little advanced planning, the right recipes, and some creative presentation skills, healthy foods can be far more alluring than their deep-fried counterparts, even on one of the most gluttonous, sedentary holidays.

Here is a round-up of my favorite Superbowl Sunday themed fruit and veggie platters and healthy Superbowl Sunday recipes from around the web. Bring any of these dishes to your Superbowl viewing party — dieters and non-dieters alike will be glad you did!

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes!

Veggie Tray with Football Toast from The Forman Fam

Kelly’s tip: Make sure the toast is 100% whole grain. For the laces, feel free to use string cheese toasted on, or carefully piped ranch dips (such as this healthy ranch dip made from Greek yogurt, or this one made from tofu).

Healthy Superbowl Recipes!

Individual Veggie Cups from Constant in Chaos

Kelly’s tip: In addition to some of the healthy Ranch dips I named above, feel free to pair veggies with bean dips, such as roasted garlic kale hummus, beet hummus, kale pesto white bean dip, or black bean dip.

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes!

Football Helmet Fruit Salad from the National Watermelon Promotion Council

Kelly’s tip: This link has the step-by-step directions on how to carve the helmet!

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes

7-Layer Football Dip from Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons

Kelly’s Tip: Take this cute presentation idea, but substitute plain, nonfat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. Also, serve with whole grain baked chips or crackers (I recommend these or these).

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes

Mini Football Meatloaves from Hungry for Football

Kelly’s tip: Keep the football shape and string cheese laces, but use a healthier meatloaf recipe, such as this Sicilian Turkey Meatloaf, this Apple, Sage, and Turkey Meatloaf, or this Cranberry Lentil Loaf with BBQ glaze.

Healthy Superbowl Sunday recipes

Chocolate Covered Strawberries from Shari’s Berries

Kelly’s Tip: To make your own, just dip washed and dried strawberries in melted dark chocolate, lay onto wax paper, then pipe on white chocolate laces when dry.

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes

Football Mason Jar Drinks from Flamingo Toes

Kelly’s Tip: Instead of soda, fill these jars with unsweetened iced tea or iced coffee. Or, fill with a healthy, naturally sweetened chocolate shake, such as this Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Shake or this Dark Chocolate Mocha Shake.

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Recipes

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings from The Food Network

Kelly’s Tip: Substitute plain, nonfat Greek yogurt for the sour cream in the blue cheese dip for a healthy, vegetarian version of this Superbowl Sunday classic. And don’t forget the celery sticks!

For more cute sports themed food presentation ideas, check out my Cute Sports Food Pinterest Page. Also, see here for more healthy dips and spreads. What will you be making this Superbowl Sunday?

– Kelly

Root: Vegan Food for Carnivorous Palates

It’s refreshing to come across a menu that doesn’t use cheese as a crutch for vegetarian meals. At Root, a vegan restaurant, that’s not even an option.

Tortas

Tostada: Crispy corn tortillas topped with chili-spiced sweet potatoes, black bean and corn salsa, avocado, and (tofu based) crema, served with greens

If you have visions of rubbery “veggie meats” and endless tofu dishes, think again. In fact, you won’t even find tofu on the lunch or dinner menu (except cleverly blended into the house made aiolis). Clean eaters can still find superfood darlings, such as kale, quinoa, and beet juice. However, by creating whole-food versions of carnivorous favorites (hush puppies, burgers, tostadas, and more), the menu is approachable to people of all dietary patterns. The word vegan doesn’t even appear anywhere on the menu, so as not to isolate customers.

Tucked away in grungy Allston, Root is a clean oasis, with an atmosphere that reflects the food they serve. The small space is industrial, yet inviting, contrasting square, copper tables with an abundance of natural wood accents. Bicycle wheels decorate the walls. Water is served in mason jars. Root is counter service at lunch and dinner, but switches to table service for the weekend brunch.

At some vegetarian restaurants, such as Life Alive, all of the food tastes overwhelmingly of umami, with little differentiation between menu items. What distinguishes Root from its meat-free peers is that each dish has a unique flavor profile. Like the popular Boston vegetarian chain, Clover Food Lab, many dishes are Root are deep fried, and aren’t as healthy as the clean atmosphere and vegetable emphasis would have you believe. However, for the health conscious consumer like myself, there are many nutritious options.

Warm Kale Salad

Warm Kale Salad

One such item is the warm kale salad ($8). A hearty way to enjoy leafy greens during the winter months, this dish is a delightful bowl of lightly steamed kale, caramelized onions and bite-sized nuggets of roasted butternut squash. Dried cranberries, pepitas, and citrus miso dressing complete the bowl. Somehow, this generous salad leaves your body feeling nourished and content, even if you have just indulged in the artery clogging, yet oh so addictive, herbed fries and house made ketchup.

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Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Kale takes on an entirely different persona in the sweet potato quesadilla ($8). This appetizer-sized dish consists of a flour tortilla filled with sweet potato, kale, and sautéed onion. Rather than relying on a processed, vegan soy cheese to bind the quesadilla together, the dish is served with a creamy thyme sauce made from cashews. This rich, hearty sauce is also the secret to the delicious eggplant caprese sandwich.

If you’re looking for southwestern flavors, your best bet is the torta ($10 with choice of fries or side salad). Chili-lime black beans, tomatoes, avocado, pickled onion, and fried jalapeno, are pressed together in a locally made Iggy’s bun. The toasted bread is the perfect vehicle for the warm black beans and pickled veggies, while the avocado tones down the heat from the perfectly crisp jalapenos.

Other noteworthy dishes include the made-from-scratch black bean and quinoa based “root burger” and the famously fluffy vanilla pancakes (the secret is the coconut oil). With a menu this inviting, plant based diets have never seemed more mainstream. And at this inspired eatery, that is precisely the intent.

Root is located at 487 Cambridge Street, Allston, MA. info@rootboston.com, 617-208-6091. Hours: Monday-Friday: 11am-10pm, Saturday-Sunday: 9:30am-10pm.

– Kelly

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Nectarines and Corn

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Nectarines and Corn

Ashley and I spend our workdays reading about atrazine contamination and pesticide poisonings, so when I found out that she had never seen Erin Brockovich, I knew we needed a movie night. And what goes better with a girl-power, kick-corporate-butt movie than a beautiful, healthy, plant-based dinner?

Because Ashley recently acquired a sourdough starter (from 1890!!!), she brought homemade whole-wheat sourdough bread and homemade sourdough crackers. Yum! A hearty summer salad was a natural pairing. This picture on Pinterest was my jumping off point, but I threw in cheesy chickpeas to up the protein factor. Chicken would taste delicious on this salad too (as would avocado), but I was looking to keep it vegetarian with the garbanzos. In fact, subbing nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan would make this vegan, although I haven’t experimented with that yet.

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Corn and Nectarines

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Nectarines and Corn (inspired by eats well with others)

Serves 4

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 3 large nectarines, thinly sliced
  • 1 recipe cheesy chickpeas (see recipe below)
  • 1 recipe honey mustard vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Method:

  1. Boil the corn until cooked (about 5-7 minutes), and then slice kernels off of the cob. My other favorite trick for cooking corn is to steam it in the husk by microwaving it (with the husk still on) for 5 minutes (for 2 ears). Once it cools, you can peel it and cut it as usual.
  2. Massage the kale with olive oil until it turns a dark green color and reduces by about half.
  3. To assemble, toss the kale with the nectarines, basil, corn, cheesy chickpeas, and honey mustard vinaigrette.

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Nectarines and Corn

Cheesy Chickpeas (inspired by Clean Eating)

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Spread out chickpeas over several layers of paper towels to dry, for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil and cheese until the oil is absorbed.
  3. Once the oil is absorbed, break up the cheese a bit with your fingers, then add in the garbanzo beans and mix until well combined.
  4. Evenly spread the chickpeas onto a greased baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes.

Cheesy Chickpeas

Cheesy Chickpeas pictured prior to baking

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

Method:

  1. To make the honey mustard vinaigrette, pour the champagne vinegar, olive oil, honey, and mustard into a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

Cheesy Chickpea Kale Salad with Nectarines and Corn

Serves 4

Nutrition Per Serving: 330 calories, 14g protein, 11g fat (2g saturated), 49g carbohydrates (10g fiber, 13g sugar), 418mg sodium, 215% Vitamin A, 145% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium, 18% Iron

Protein: How much do we really need?

Eating a vegetarian diet has had me thinking about protein lately. Am I really getting enough? It’s been said that most Americans eat more than enough protein, but is that really true of vegetarians? And how much do we actually need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8g protein/kg body weight. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein is 10-35% of calories. This means that for me personally, my protein RDA is about 40g/day, while my protein AMDR is anywhere from about 40-150g/day. That’s a huge range! Why are they so different? And which one of the recommendations should we go by?

The RDAs were developed in 1941 (during World War II) because food was scarce at the time, and the government wanted to know the minimum level of nutrients that Americans needed without experiencing negative health consequences. Therefore, it is important to remember that the RDAs were developed as the baseline amount to prevent deficiency, not as a goal number for optimal health. Years later, the AMDRs were developed as a range of intake for promoting optimal health. So while it’s definitely true that most Americans eat enough protein, the AMDR range is pretty large, and I would argue that few Americans actually eat too much.

As far as I’m concerned, RDAs are outdated and old news. The AMDR is a much more current number with an identifiable high end and low end. As with most nutrients, it is important to spread protein intake evenly throughout the day to receive maximum health benefits. So try to have at least 1 protein source at each meal, whether or not you are vegetarian. Looking for ideas? See the amount of protein in various foods below.

Carnivorous Protein Sources:

  • 2 oz sliced deli turkey: 13g
  • 3 oz light canned tuna: 16g
  • 4 oz grilled chicken breast: 24g
  • 6 oz grilled salmon fillet: 34g
  • 6 oz filet mignon: 40g

Vegetarian Protein Sources:

  • 1 whole large egg: 6g
  • 1 large egg white: 3.5g
  • 12 oz skim milk: 12g
  • 1 Greek yogurt cup: 14g
  • 1 string cheese (part skim mozzarella) 7g
  • 1 Luna Bar (chocolate peppermint stick) 8g

Vegan Protein Sources:

  • 12 oz plain soy milk 9g
  • 12 oz unsweetened almond milk 1.5g
  • ½ cup cooked black beans 7.5g
  • ½ cup cooked lentils 9g
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter: 8g
  • 2 tablespoons hummus: 3g

Note: Protein levels above were calculated using the USDA Food and Nutrient Database, as well as reading nutrition labels from foods at my house. Also remember that the RDAs and AMDRs are designed with the average healthy adult in mind. Everyone has a different body with unique needs, and your physician or dietitian may recommend otherwise based on your individual circumstances. For a personalized health plan, see your physician or dietitian.

– Kelly

Shamrock Tostadas: A Healthy St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Shamrock Tostadas

After seeing so much green at my first Celtic’s game last night, I’m starting to get pretty excited for Saint Patrick’s Day. I have a feeling that Saint Patrick’s day is going to be a pretty big deal here in Boston, but this themed recipe takes me back to my Texas roots. Pinterest inspired me to combine these cute bell pepper shamrocks with one of my favorite vegetarian recipes: Veggie Tostadas. Side note: tostada shells are pretty difficult to locate up here, but I eventually found them at my local Whole Foods Trader Joe’s Shaw’s Star Market.

Shamrock Tostadas

Shamrock Tostadas (inspired by Pinch of Yum & Martha Stewart)

Makes 8 tostadas

Ingredients

  • 8
    tostada shells
  • 1 15-oz can
    refried beans
  • 4 large
    bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 large
    onion
  • 3 small
    green bell peppers
  • 1 cup
    nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon each
    cumin, chili powder, and paprika

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. While the oven is warming up, chop the onion and colorful bell peppers (not the 3 green ones, though) into bite sized pieces.
  2. Put the chopped peppers and onion onto a greased baking sheet and evenly add the cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Then roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. Note- I don’t add any additional oil other than what was used to grease the pan.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, carefully slice the green bell peppers across the middle to create a shamrock shape. It probably won’t take all 3 bell peppers to make 8 slices, but this will allow you to pick the best looking ones. Use the scraps to create a small stem shape for each shamrock.
  4. When the veggies are finished cooking, quickly heat up the can of refried beans according to package instructions.
  5. Assemble your tostada by layering it with about 1/4 cup refried beans, 1/2 cup cooked veggies, 2 tablespoons of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, and 1 shamrock. Enjoy!

Shamrock Tostadas

Nutrition per Tostada: 166 calories, 2.4g fat (0.3g saturated), 3.8mg cholesterol, 410mg sodium, 118mg potassium, 30g carbohydrates (4g fiber, 8g sugar), 13.5g protein, 52% Vitamin A, 124% Vitamin C, 14% Calcium, 15% Iron

Nutrition facts were estimated via My Fitness Pal using the following ingredients:

Shamrock tostadas

Oops… forgot to show the refried beans!

Note: I usually eat 2 tostadas with a side, such as a piece of fruit or handful of nuts. Since this meal is very low fat, avocado would be a great addition!

As you probably suspected, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to healthy Saint Patrick’s Day recipes. Check it out and get inspired!

Vegetarian Valentine’s Day

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and Multigrain Toast

Is it just me, or did Ash Wednesday come particularly early this year? Because I work with students with special diets, because I value plant based diets and their effect on the environment as well as the food system, and because giving up grilled chicken and fish for so long will be a sacrifice, I decided to go vegetarian during Lent. And since the Liturgical Calendar seems to be ahead of itself this year, this means that I am celebrating a Vegetarian Valentine’s Day.

My meal consists of Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and a warm slice of Multigrain Toast.

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and Multigrain Toast

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese: I used this recipe from Giada’s new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada. I left out the leek and butter, because I don’t know what a leek is and was too embarrassed to ask at the grocery store (maybe next time). This cookbook has some great looking healthy recipes, and I’m very thankful that my brothers gave it to me for Christmas this year 🙂

Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander: I used this recipe that I found on Pinterest (of course!) It tastes great chilled, and seems like it would be a great dish to bring to a potluck because it would travel so well.

I made both recipes simultaneously, and the whole meal came together in under an hour. Not bad!

– Kelly