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June 2016 · Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen

Month: June 2016

11 Recipes that Will Make You Fall in Love with Lentils

“Beans! Beans! Good for your heart. The more you eat the more you…”


I’ll be honest, thatĀ little song didn’t mean much to me for most of my life because I didn’t eat beans! Aside from the occasional lima bean or green bean, I didn’t eat so much as a chickpea until I was an adult.

When I was a junior in college, I spent a semester abroad in southern Spain and was exposedĀ to dozens of foods I had never eaten before. Since I was a picky eater, I wasn’t exactly excited about this but knew it was a way I needed to grow. I even told my study abroad programĀ I was allergic to seafood, so I wouldn’t have to try any of it!

I remember sitting down for lunch one day, as my host mom, Matilde, served me a big bowl of what looked like tiny, brown flying saucers (got that reference from Rebecca Katz!).


It turned out to be lentil and carrot stew, and I had no choice but to try it (doing anything else was considered rude in Spain). Fortunately,Ā Matilde was so skilled at combining flavors in delicious ways that I tried it and loved it! Now, lentils are one of my favorite foods.

They also happen to be packed with nutrition to fuel your body and brain! Check it out:

  • They are PACKED with energy-balancing, weight-stabilizing,Ā fill-you-up fiber. *In fact, lentils fill me up more than any other food I eat.*
  • They’re an excellent source of plant-based protein. Green andĀ FrenchĀ lentils are especially high in protein!
  • They’re mineral-rich and contain calming magnesium, heart healthy potassium, and are the #1 plant source of folate, which is essential for brain and nervous system function, healthy pregnancy and fetal development, reduced cancer riskĀ and heart health support
  • They’re one of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods, which are some of the most nutrient-packed, anti-inflammatory, disease-preventive foods on the planet.

It’s nice to know that lentils are such a nourishing food, but where do we buy them and how do we cook them?

There are several different kinds of lentils, but the ones I tend to use the most are green lentils, French lentils and red lentils. Red lentils cook much faster but aren’t as firm as the other two kinds and contain less protein, so I don’t use red lentils as much as green we always have them on hand. Our favorite kind of pasta is actually made out of red lentils (one ingredient!) and is made by a company called Tolerant. We find it cheapest at Home Goods, but Whole Foods and MOMs sell it, too.

tolerant rotini

Every grocery store sells lentils, and you’ll find them either in the international aisle or in the health food aisle. Trader Joe’s also sells several different kinds of lentils, so we end up buying ours there to save a buck or two.

I scoured some of my favorite blogsĀ and pulled together 11 lentil-loving recipes ranging from salads to soups to casseroles. I hope they inspire you to get excited about trying these little filling, fueling legumes!lentil-cover-image

Red Lentil Hummus by Jo Cooks

Lentil Bolognese from i heart eatingĀ (We made this for dinner this past week and served it over Tolerant lentil pasta…it was DELICIOUS!)

Photo Credit: i heart eating. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: i heart eating. Used with permission.

Balsamic Lentil Salad from Destination Delish

Photo credit: Destination Delish. Used with permission.

Photo credit: Destination Delish. Used with permission.

Cozy Quinoa Buddha Bowl from Simply Quinoa


Photo Credit: Simply Quinoa. Used with permission.

Curried Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole from Nourishing Mealscurry

Warm Lentil Kale and Potato Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing from She Likes Food

Photo Credit: She Likes Food. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: She Likes Food. Used with permission.

Baked Salmon & LentilsĀ from Gimme Some Oven


Photo Credit: Gimme Some Oven. Used with permission.

Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew from Eat Yourself Skinny

Mushroom, Lemon & Lentil Salad from Delicious Everyday

Red Curry Lentils by Pinch of Yum


Photo Credit: Pinch of Yum. Used with permission.

Best Lentil Soup from Cookie & Kate

Photo Credit: Cookie & Kate. Image used with permission.

Photo Credit: Cookie & Kate. Image used with permission.

Do you like lentils? Do you have a favorite way you like to prepare them or a recipe you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

My Dad, My Hero: 6 Lessons that Have Shaped My Life

While I write mostly about food on this blog, I also recognize the importance of taking a more holistic approach to life. Nourishment isn’t just about food. One of the most important ways we nourish ourselves is by how and what we think.

Being raised by two entrepreneurs who have been married for almost 36 years has given me unique insights into what working, living and loving can look like. They’ve shaped how I think and have encouraged me to think differently, to dream of what is possible.

My dad, in particular, has influenced me and served as one of my greatest mentors. With Father’s Day approaching, I thought this would be a perfect time to celebrate who he is in my life and to share with you lessons I’ve learned from him. dad-me-kid

He has taught me so much about pursuing work that I love, treating people with kindness, and dreaming big.

I spent some time reflecting on what I’ve learned from him, and I want to share those lessons with you – advice from my dad. Dad + advice = DAdvice šŸ™‚

#1 Challenge Yourself

“Do something every year that scares the crap out of you.”

It’s one of the phrases I’ve heard my dad say more times than I can count. He practices what he preaches.

He celebrated his 66th birthday earlier this month by competing in the Raleigh Half Ironman triathlon. That’s a 1.2-mile swim in a lake (that was 81 degrees!) followed by a 56-mile bike ride and finished off with a 13.1-mile run. The very thought of those distances would be enough to discourage and intimidate most people, but my dad embraces races like these. dad-swim-run

As a 5-time Lake Placid Ironman finisher (2.4 miles, 112 miles, 26.2 miles), who is now training for his sixth race with my husband, who will be doing his first, my dad shows me and everyone around him that the greatest roadblock to what we can accomplish is our own limitations.

When he tells people he’s training for another Ironman, Half Ironman, or Olympic-distance triathlon, the first response is often a simple, “WHY??” followed by, “I get exhausted just THINKING about that!”

He’s not out to prove anything to anyone but himself. He knows that continuing to challenge himself in this way physically and mentally keeps him feeling and looking younger than he is. He learns new lessons with each race.

DAdvice #1: What’s one thing you can do in the next 6 months that excites you (and scares the crap out of you)? Make it happen.

#2 Question What’s “Normal”

My dad and I dancing at my wedding!

My dad and I dancing at my wedding!

What is “normal” anyway? Most of us decide that it’s “normal” to feel old and achy as we age, to be in a less than fulfilling job, or to settle for an “okay” relationship instead of an awesome one.

Why do we do this?

Because we don’t question it. We accept it. We assume it’s how things have to be.

It is what it is.

My dad has taught me by how he lives that those things don’t have to be normal. We can, in fact, shape our lives and the lives of those around us not by accepting what is but by thinking about what could be.

I’ve seen by how he lives that we can age and be well and have energy. That we can do what we love, love what we do, and get paid for it. That we can feel even more in love as we grow older instead of drifting apart or putting up with the other person.

My dad notices that most people his age have accepted that losing energy, feeling rundown, and having aches and pains are “normal” just because they’re common. But he refuses to accept that.

My dad and I at the summit of a mountain in Upstate New York last summer

My dad and I at the summit of a mountain in Upstate New York last summer

Because of his age, people often ask him when he’s going to retire. “From what, to what? I’m already doing what I love” is his response. That mindset has had a significant impact on my life and how I look at and pursue work.

He knows that moving his body and fueling himself with real, whole food are two of the keys to being able to compete in triathlons, spend his leisure time biking, swimming or running, and being so successful with his business. His life is a testament to Satchel Paige’s wise words:


DADvice #2: What’s one thing you’ve accepted as “normal” that might not be? What might the alternative be?

#3 Embrace What Makes You Different

If you’re someone who grew up feeling “different” from other people, you can likely relate to this one. File_000

My dad was always small for his age and maxed out at 5’6″, so he’s never been much of a physical presence. He was once asked whether his family was in the circus because of his size. He’s always told me that he liked being small because he could always make himself bigger. He felt badly for tall people because it was much harder for them to make themselves smaller.

He moved more than a dozen times when he was a kid due to his dad’s job, so he learned to be adaptable. He learned that humor is a great way to make friends, so he used it to his advantage throughout school (and to this day) as a way of disarming and connecting with people.

As a history teacher, he understands the importance of context, processes, and connections and uses what he has learned to help companies function more effectively, communicate better, and just “get along” as he says. I think he is brilliant at what he does, and he has helped thousands of people with his work.

He inspires me to do things differently in my work, just as he does with his. He’s totally comfortable doing things differently than everyone else. He embraces what makes him different and has taught me to do the same.

He and I recently co-presented a keynote session at the Frederick County SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) annual conference and infused the talk with our unique approach to work and life. It was SO MUCH FUN!


DADvice #3: In what ways are you “different” from other people? What makes you unique? If you can’t think of it yourself, ask your friends or someone else who knows you well.

#4 Pursue Lifelong Learning

If any of us buys my dad a DVD as a gift, we know to buy the “extended” edition that includes the director’s commentary because my dad will want to know the story behind the story…every time. He’s one of the most eager learners and voracious readers I’ve ever met. As a result, he stays relevant, offers new insights to his clients, and is always ready to share the latest and greatest teaching with anyone who will listen.

He describes his business as an “interest-driven” business and incorporates his new knowledge into how he consults with companies and individuals. One cool thing he’s helping companies do now is drive negativity out of the workplace using principles he and my mom have learned through marriage workshops they’ve attended.

Whether he’s reading the paper or a new book, talking to a sought after expert, or learning a new swimming or running technique, he constantly pursues new skills and knowledge, so he can continue to grow and feel alive.

DADvice #4: What’s something that interests you? What would you like to learn more about? This week, order a book, sign up for a class, tell a friend. Make forward progress.

#5 Be Humble and Grateful

In the spring of 2009, I almost lost my job. Health care reform legislation had been passed and the need for a full-time wellness person in a small firm was questioned. I remember when I was called into my boss and CFO’s office and was informed that I could stay onboard and take on another position or hang around for a few months while I found another job. It’s not like there was a resume service TX or something like that, that could help me get ready for a new job at the time.

I was stunned.

I remember calling my dad in anger and frustration, “Can you BELIEVE this?” I went off about my boss at the time and how I felt taken advantage of by her. I wasn’t feeling heard. I had even started copping a (noticeable) attitude with her when she asked certain things of me. At times, I told her “it wasn’t my job” to do what was, in fact, her job. (That phrase is, quite possibly, the LEAST effective thing to say…ever. I’d advise against it unless you have a new job lined up). My negativity began permeating other aspects of my work.

I had become indignant. My pride had gotten the best of me.

With his years of wisdom and a strong knowledge of my heart and how I’m wired, my dad did what he does best and helped me see things differently. He was the only person who could have lovingly told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. “Honey, she’s your boss. If she asks you to get coffee every morning, you do it. You have a pretty good gig there. You get to do a lot that interests you, you have good benefits, good opportunities, and you work for a good person. Take all of that into consideration.”

He was right. I had gotten proud and felt entitled. What I needed was to be humble and grateful.

DADvice #5: How can you shift your mindset to focus on what is working and what you DO like instead of dwelling on what you don’t? What we focus on expands. One idea is to focus on 3 things you are grateful for each night before you go to bed.

#6 Go for It

Perhaps more than anything else, this advice from my dad has shaped my approach to what I do. Whether I’m pursuing an opportunity or a promotion or want to meet someone I admire, I hear my dad’s words over and over again and have shared them with others:

“The worst thing they’ll tell you is ‘no’.”

Most of us are afraid of rejection. It doesn’t feel good. It makes us feel inadequate, insecure, less than. But so does not trying. If we never try, we’ll never know what is possible.

So, why not ask?

Last year I was recognized as the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. by WELCOA and was in San Diego for their wellness conference and another conference. A renowned expert in the field whom I admired was to be one of the keynote speakers at the second conference. I had read his book and articles, watched him on videos, and was inspired and impressed by what he was doing.

So, I found his email address on his website and emailed him to tell him how much I admired him and how I would love to meet. Not only did he give me his cell phone number, but he spent nearly three hours at dinner with just me one night of the conference! I was incredibly honored. It was something I will never forget.

Simply because I took a risk…and asked.

Dr. David Katz and me after dinner in San Diego!

Dr. David Katz and me after dinner in San Diego!

DADvice #6: What is something you want that you’ve been too afraid to ask for? Who’s someone you want to meet or talk to that you think is too “big” for you? Ask. Reach out to them. The worst they’ll say is “no”.

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to learn so much from my dad and his example. I know that his influence has shaped my mindset around work, the body, my marriage and how I treat people. I hope the lessons he’s taught me speak to you today.

Remember to challenge yourself, question what’s “normal”, embrace what makes you different, pursue lifelong learning, be humble and grateful, and go for it!

Our Kitchen Renovation Is FINISHED! {Before & After Pics!}

When we bought our house almost three years ago, we knew one thing for certain – we were going to knock down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. We live in a rancher built in the 1950s, so open floor plans were definitely not a thing back then.

Our oak cabinets were dated, we had very little counter space, and our Pepto-pink pocket doors needed to go!Ā From a practical standpoint, the layout made it impossible for us to talk with our guests and prepare food at the same time.

We were ready for a change.


To complicate matters a bit, I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to interior design. Selecting colors, styles, and layouts is NOT my thing.

When we were first coming up with ideas, I was convinced I wanted “warm” colors and a sunshine-y feel to the room – from countertops to paint colors. Oh, and I was adamant about a modern look. I told myself and anyone I talked to that the one thing I did not want was a modern look.

Sooo, naturally, we ended up with…dark gray porcelain tiles, a grey-beige paint color, white cabinets, nickel fixtures and a cool countertop with hints of plum – pretty much the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted!

Now that it’s finished, we love it!kitchen-new-full

Can I tell you how AMAZING it is to have counter space?? Soft-close drawers and doors? A pantry? Space to move? A place to entertain guests?

We used Craftmasters Remodeling to do the job, and they did pretty amazing work, making our (limited) vision into reality. We couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out šŸ™‚

Here are some before and after shots of our old to *NEW* kitchen!sink-before-after kitchen-doorway-before-after full-before-after

I know people like to know the particulars of renovation jobs like this, so I will do my best to let you know where different things came from:

  • It’s amazing to finally have some storage! Our cabinets are by Wolf and are the York style in white. We highly recommend the drawers for pots and pans and the rollout shelves in the pantry!
  • We bought these drawer liners for our spice drawers from Amazon, so we could easily organize and access our herbs and spices.

kitchen-storage kitchen-pantry

Now, let’s take a look at some of the fun decorative stuff. We used greens and purples / plums as our accent colors, since our countertop has hints of plum in it and because I’m kind of in love with the color purple.


Our wall artwork is from Marcella Kriebel. She does BEAUTIFUL watercolor art. Speaking of the walls, we’re looking to update a different room in the house soon; we’re not sure which one yet but we know we want to radically change the walls in some way. One of the thoughts we’ve had is to get some peel and stick wallpaper as we’ve seen some really nice designs. But for now, we’re quite happy with the wall artwork we have as it does bring some character to the otherwise bare walls.

I have a few more prints from her that we will be framing and hanging in other rooms in the house. She’s based nearby in D.C. but ships everywhere. She’s also on Etsy, so check out her stuff.

The frames on the ends are a Vintage Stone Grey wood frame from The Rusty Roof on Amazon.


So, there you have it!

Rachel (& Bill’s!) Nourishing Kitchen is complete šŸ™‚ I’m excited to see what will happen in our new space and look forward to sharing with you some new videos I will be filming using the island. I hope to host some smaller cooking events in our home, so those of you who are interested in having a more intimate and cozy class can join.

Now, I’d love to hear from YOU! What do you think of the renovation? Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Best & Healthiest Potato Salad I’ve Ever Had {No-Mayo!}

I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of egg, potato or pastaĀ salad. My parents never served them when I was growing up, and I’ve always had an aversion to mayonnaise, so cold, prepared salads were never appealing to me.

Last year, for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower, I signed up to make a few dishes. I know how much most people like potato salad, so I was determined to find a recipe that was delicious AND nourishing…and one that I would want to eat.

Cookie and Kate, an awesome food blog, had a recipe for an Herbed Red Potato Salad that was mayo-free and looked delicious, so I knew that was the one to try.


It was a HIT! And it made me realize that, prepared a certain way, I could learn to love potato salad, too. It’s light but creamy and packed with flavor from the herbs and garlic. The potatoes melt in your mouth, and you’ll have a hard time not going back for seconds. It’s THAT good!

Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap, but the neatĀ thing about this particular potato dish is that it tends to have a lesser impact on blood sugar because of what happens when the potatoes are given the chance to cool. Resistant starch forms.

In a blog post titled, “How Resistant Starch Will Help to Make You Healthier & Thinner,” Dr. Amy NettĀ gives us the scoop on what resistant starch is and why it’s helpful:

“Resistant starch (RS) is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon (large intestine) intact.Ā  Thus, it ā€œresistsā€ digestion.Ā  This explains why we do not see spikes in either blood glucose or insulin after eating RS, and why we do not obtain significant calories from RS.”

Cool, huh?? šŸ™‚

You’re going to want to make this salad for your next dinner, potluck or cookout. Everyone will love it!

Click here for the recipe from Cookie + Kate!


Food Safety Tip: Just remember to keep the saladĀ chilled and temperature controlled (under 41 degrees or over 135 degrees) if you bring it to a cookout. KeepĀ cold foodĀ cold and hot food hot. Potatoes canĀ be carriers of foodborne illnesses when their temperature is allowed to vary (it’s the potatoes NOT that mayo that can make us sick!)

Cherry Tomato, Asparagus & Quinoa Spring Salad

We just came back from an amazing weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, where my husband and dad (whose 66th birthday is today!) finished theĀ Half Ironman Triathlon. They swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 milesĀ and then ran 13.1 miles! It was a HOT day, but they did it!Ā All of their hard work is preparing them for the Lake Placid Ironman on July 24th. I’m working on a post about the experience from this weekend, so stay tuned for that post later this week šŸ™‚

In the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe for a salad I’ve made a few times already this spring, mainly because of how simple it is. It’s a dish you could bring to a potluck or enjoy for lunch or dinner.

And it includes one of the veggies that is in season here on the East Coast – asparagus!asparagus-closeup

Asparagus is one of my favorite springtime foods that is incredibly versatile and easy to make. You can steam it, bake it, saute it, or grill it. You can even use it as an ingredient in soup, but I’ve yet to try that.

I came up with this recipe after spending a beautiful afternoon with my friend, Lisa, and her two kiddos. When I got home, I took a look at what was left in the fridge and decided to put this salad together. The ingredients are simple – quinoa, onions, garlic, tomatoes, lemons, and asparagus.

This recipe embodies the wise words of Julia Child…Julia Child Quote

Think of this recipe as a template or a guide. Start with a cooked grain like quinoa or rice + onion and garlic base + 3-4 cups of veggies of your choice + vinaigrette. The other day when I made it, I threw in some arugula. Another time, I might use spinach instead or sub in some roasted red peppers for tomatoes. Use what you have šŸ™‚

Cooking does not have to be stressful, and using templates like this can make it more fun and freeing!spring-quinoa-salad-aerial-coverspring-quinoa-salad-closeup


1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (will yield about 3 cups cooked)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus,Ā woody stem (bottom 1″) removed and the rest chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves rolled and thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed.Ā DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5-6 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add asparagus and 1/4 cup water. Cook for 4-5 minutes orĀ until asparagus is crisp tender and still bright green. Remove from heat. Add vegetables to quinoa and toss to combine.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper together. Add olive oil and continue whisking until evenly combined. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle basil on top,Ā and toss everythingĀ to combine. Serve warm or chilled.

Hail, Caesar! Kale Salad {Hubby-Approved}

Caesar salads are one of the most universally loved salads…even for people who don’t like salads that much.

Since removing dairy from my diet a few years back, I’ve had to get creative about how to recreate the tastes and textures I enjoyed for so many years from things like cheese and Caesar dressing. I’ve tried a few recipes, but noneĀ really worked for me.

Until this one.

It’s from one of my favorite blogs – ohsheglows – written by Angela Liddon, who is a fellow lover of colorful, vibrant, plant-based foods. I’ve been making recipes from her blog for years and LOVE them.

I knew I had to try her Caesar salad recipe.

I’m SO glad I did! My husband, Bill, and I CRUSHED this salad. As in, we ate almost the whole thing in one sitting šŸ™‚

The dressing was thick and creamy and had just the right amount of tang. We used rosemary Chickpeatos instead of making Angela’s chickpea croutons, but I plan to try her recipe for those at some point in the future. chickpeatos-full-bag

The only ingredient that I didn’t have already and had never bought before was Worcestershire sauce. And you don’t have to get the vegan version, as the recipe suggests. Just use what you have!

Also, try not to let new ingredients in recipes intimidate you. Grocery stores offer more options than ever these days, so I’ve not had a problem finding things. The natural / health food aisle of the larger grocery stores carry most of the ingredients in recipes I post on this blog. My favorite stores locally are MOMs Organic Market, Whole Foods, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.

You have to try this recipe! It’s delish šŸ™‚

*Click here to get the full recipe for this Crowd-Pleasing Caesar SaladĀ from ohsheglows!*




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