Before I recap my week, here’s what I have for you: a way of eating healthy for the big holiday meals. For dishes like stuffing and turkey, I have help from my partner in smart foods, chef Mollie Katzen, who provided me with this recipe. For more Thanksgiving dishes made healthy, visit www.walnuts.org, then search “smart” to find Mollie’s recipes. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a great end to this year and great start to the new year. And try it, my mom would be proud (more on that below).
Whole Wheat-Wild Rice-Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing
This is amazing – honest! - and so simple a doc can make it. Use a really tasty 100% whole wheat bread for this. The better the bread, the better the result!
Makes 6 or more servings
5 or 6 slices (or 8 oz.) of 100% whole wheat bread (day-old or even stale okay)
1 to 2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1 stalk minced celery
1/2 tsp salt (possibly more)
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp minced or crushed garlic
1 1/2 cups (packed) cooked wild rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water or broth (possibly more)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup minced walnuts, lightly toasted
Up to 1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
Toast the bread until crisp, then cut it into dice. Set aside. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute. Add olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, celery, salt and seasoning. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes (until onion is translucent and celery is tender). Add garlic, wild rice and cranberries, and sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the bread and mix to combine. Sprinkle in the lemon juice and pour in the broth, mixing them both in with a large fork. Taste to adjust salt, and add pepper to taste as well. If you are using this to stuff a bird, it is now ready. If you are not planning to bake it inside a bird, check to see if it is moist enough for your taste. If not, you can add some more broth or water, and transfer it to a lightly greased (or nonstick-sprayed) baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and heat just before serving. Serve hot, with walnuts mixed in right before serving, and topped with pomegranate seeds, if available.
Now back to the week that was. Last Thursday evening Dr. Oz, master pediatrician Ellen Rome, and I did a webinar for our recently released book, YOU: Raising Your Child, The Owner’s Manual From First Breath to First Grade. But, before that, had a truly amazing dinner cooked by the master Alex Strata and his partner Beth Ginsberg at his restaurant Alex’s in Las Vegas. Truly amazing because it was probably one of the healthiest and clearly one of the top 5 meals I have ever experienced (I apologize, mom, but it really was), topped with great wines from major benefactor and visionary Larry Ruvo of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Brain Center in Las Vegas. I spent part of the afternoon with Cleveland Clinic master chef Jim Perko and the chef of the century (not the title I gave him, but the critics did and do), Joel Robuchon, teaching the master chef how to cook great tasting and healthy food.
Me a doc, teaching the best chef in the world? Well, I was really teaching about what ingredients to avoid (the 5 food felons) and what to include: healthy omega-3 fats in walnuts, avocados, salmon, trout and chia seeds, and turmeric, to name just two of the 25 ingredients we discussed that have been shown to improve brain function. My mom – who is deceased – probably never saw me cook more than eggs and toast, and some saturated-fat-laden stuffing, probably turned over in her grave many times when she saw me teach the greatest chef.
Oh yeah, Mehmet, Thomas Keller (French Laundry), Joel Robuchon and I hope to come out with a YOU for healthy cooking in a year or 3, all because the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Brain Center wants you to know what is good for your brain and to know that it can taste great. We did get to explain that on Las Vegas TV when Fox morning anchor Monica Jackson interviewed Dr. Jeff Cummings (a double doc) and me about the project.
Last week did start early on Sunday and end late on Saturday with patients and leadership meetings in Cleveland … but the stuffing in between was just as great.