As soon as the weather cools, I grease my roasting pans and get to work.
Every Sunday I do a big food prep. I spend 2-3 hours chopping, marinading, washing, blending and roasting so we're set up with food for the week.
Roasted veggies are a staple in my house and something my family never really tires of. We switch out the veggies, spices and sauces to keep the flavors fresh and fun.
This recipe could easily turn into a formula - get creative!
Makes 4 servings.
The first time I cooked brisket was for a New Year's Eve party (I always test recipes when I'm having company over for dinner - probably not the best time to get adventurous in the kitchen!). It was delicious but dry and rubbery.
Then I met the Instant Pot and Melissa Clark.
Everything that I have cooked out of her Dinner in an Instant cookbook has been a hit. Flavorful, simple and perfectly suited for a pressure cooker. In her intro she says,
The key to successful pressure cooking is choosing recipes in which softness and succulence is the goal, and which traditionally take hours to get there. It (an Instant Pot) can't cook a whole chicken very well, and it doesn't do crisp or crunchy. So don't ask it to and you won't be disappointed.
In essence: just because you can cook something in a pressure cooker (ie. cake) doesn't mean you should.
Well this Korean Brisket recipe she has sure highlights the strengths of the Instant Pot. It was melt-in-your-mouth good.
Beef is one of those ingredients that my clients love and fear. For decades it's be touted as an artery clogger, sure to shorten the lifespan of anyone who indulges in it due to the saturated fat content. As it turns out, we haven't gotten the whole story.
For one thing, we know now that the sugar industry suppressed data about how sugar is the foodstuff most closely linked to heart disease, not fat.
Additionally, not all fats are created equal.
You know how proteins are made up of individual amino acids? Fats are made up of fatty acids. Whether it's a saturated fat or an unsaturated fat is determined by what kinds of fatty acids are found in the fat. Each of these fatty acids has unique characteristics, including whether it promotes or protects against heart disease.
What determines what kinds of fatty acids get laid down in the fat tissue of a cow? Just like humans, animals are what they eat. Diet and environment determine the health of the animal and the benefit - or harm - eating that animal might cause.
A Tale of Two Beefs
Animals raised in an industrial food system are fed grain and silage, fuel that makes them gain weight more quickly but is generally lacking in nutritional value. Additionally, ruminant animals (bison, cows, goats and sheep) cannot digest grains well. Their digestive systems were developed to harvest nutrients and energy from grass and other plants found in a pasture. We moved these animals off pasture and into confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs or feedlots) in the 1950s when we started engineering grains and got really good at it. We needed an outlet for this bounty and livestock was an easy diversion.
Now, cattle and other ruminates can't eat grain without antibiotics. Ruminates ferment their food to digest it. They chew their cud. When a ruminate animal eats corn it produces more acid, which can wear away at the protective mucosa in its digestive tract. Over time this can cause major problems for the animal. Antibiotics keep infections in a feedlot down. They also make the animals gain weight more quickly. The use of growth hormones in food production also promotes more rapid weight gain. Where we once raised cows for 4-5 years on pasture, we can now get them to market weight in 14 months or less in a CAFO.
The engineered feed grains we grow in this country don't have much nutritional value to offer. Grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle produce beef that's higher in omega-3 fats, vitamin D, carotenoids (forms of vitamin A) and lower in saturated fat overall. The saturated fats found in grass-fed beef are comprised of fatty acids that protect against heart disease: palmitic, stearic and oleic acids.
Cows fed corn - and inevitably raised in an unsanitary and stressful environment characteristic of a feedlot setting - produce beef that is higher in omega-6 fats. These aren't inherently harmful but become inflammatory when out of proportion to omega-3 fats. Since corn-fed beef - and a standard American diet - is deficient in omega-3 fats, this is easily attained. Corn-fed beef is also higher in saturated fats that promote heart disease: lauric and myristic fatty acids.
This is a long-winded way to say: when it comes to eating beef and other meat, the source matters. Buying grass-fed beef and pasture-raised meats, dairy and eggs delivers the most nutritious food to your table. You can find these products at your local food co-op. My favorite source is direct from the farmer. I buy a meat CSA from Sunshine Harvest Farm.
Back to the brisket.
Melissa combines Korean spices with the home-down goodness of a savory roast. If you make this recipe, be sure to serve it with the kimchi coleslaw she recommends. Get the complete recipe here.
Tag me in a post if you make this brisket - I want to know how much you love it!
I incorporate plant proteins into my weekly meal plan to ensure I'm meeting my nutrition needs with a variety of sources, while also making food choices that have a positive impact on the environment. I always have nuts around for snacking, seeds to top salads, and an assortment of beans and lentils to throw in a pot of soup or make into a veggie dip.
This recipe has become a staple and one that I double whenever I make it. The patties can be frozen on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for a quick meal on the fly. These are also great to share with friends and family members who are facing hardship, illness or have welcomed a new babe to their household.
Lentil Walnut Burgers
Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
Makes 4 servings
I am a self-crowned queen of one-pot meals. They make my world go round.
Recently I've been jamming on a tofu and veggie noodle soup dish that has been hitting the spot for weeks.
Now, soy has gotten a bad rap over the years, that has largely been unresolved. Before you dig into the following rant about that, get you soup going - it will be ready by the time you finish reading this.
There are two big things about soy that come up in my work with clients and conversations with other wellness junkies:
1) Soy is an allergen. It is one of the 7 most common food allergens, and for that reason can be problematic for people. People who have an allergy to soy may experience difficulty breathing, hives, rapid heart rate, tightening in their throat or chest, and other not fun and potentially life threatening symptoms.
An intolerance to soy (or any other food) could be less straightforward. Food intolerances are sneaky, sneaky. Symptoms include digestive upset of all shapes and sizes, muscle and joint pain, headaches and migraines, brain fog, fatigue, eczema and much more fun. An Elimination Diet is the best way to identify food intolerances.
2) Compounds in soy have been named "phyto-estrogens" and implicated in various health concerns, including the obesity epidemic - especially a pattern of fat accumulation that had been identified as "feminine" (i.e. breasts, butt and thighs) - early puberty, breast and other cancers of the sex organs.
Years ago, I heard a retelling of a conversation with the biochemist who identified phytoestrogens in which he reported regret for the naming of the compound, because it raised some significant alarm and dissuaded individuals from eating soy. I mean, when hormones like estrogen are implicated in all kinds of diseases, who would want to eat it? (this is all hearsay so don't quote me on it)
Phytoestrogens were named such because they resemble the chemical structure of estradiol, an active form of estrogen. This molecular mimicry allows phytoestrogens to attach to estrogen receptors in the body and exert a similar effect. While they're able to bind to these receptors, they do so weakly thereby exerting a weaker effect than estradiol or other forms of estrogen. The consequence of this is that estradiol remains in circulation and is therefore shuttled to detoxification and elimination.
What does that mean for our health?
Well, it turns out that these compounds, a class of isoflavones, actually protect against those cancers we previously feared. If you want to read more about that, I recommend this article by Dr. Tina Kaczor who dug into the literature to better understand what the relationship between soy consumption and cancer actually was.
Bottom line: People who are allergic or have an intolerance to soy should not eat it. But if you're not allergic to soy, even if you have a family history of breast cancer, bon appetit.
One last note on soy foods before I give you this delicious recipe: not all soy foods are created equal.
Imagine a drive through the Minnesota countryside: on your left you see corn waving in the wind as far as your eye can see. And on your right, you see soy replenishing the corn-depleted soil from last years growing season. Combined, corn and soy make up 50% of all crops grown in the US. We are so good at growing corn and soy that food scientists had to figure out what to do with all of it, and now byproducts of each are in virtually every box, bag or can of food.
If you read Dr. Kaczor's article, she'll make a case for including soy no matter the source. I have a little more conservative approach. When advising clients about choosing the foods with the highest nutritional value, I recommend limiting soy consumption to the whole food and traditionally fermented products: edamame, fermented tofu, tempeh, tamari or soy sauce. If shopping for soy milk, choose a product with the fewest ingredients possible...which should be water, soybeans and maybe some salt.
You ready for that recipe now?
This soup is best eaten freshly prepared. The noodles do not hold over well and will get unappealingly mushy if cooked and stored. Store your prepped ingredients separately for an easy to assemble meal.
INGREDIENTS for 4 servings:
*I am not affiliated with these brands and do not make a commission on recommended their products to you.