Chefs Share Healthy Recipes To Kick-Start The New Year

Judith J. Mercado

Falafel Waffle with Yogurt Sauce and Cucumber-Tomato Salad Credit: 21c Museum Hotel Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or tasteless, either. Whether you’ve got resolutions to eat healthier this year or are simply looking to add nutritious meals to your home cooking […]

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or tasteless, either. Whether you’ve got resolutions to eat healthier this year or are simply looking to add nutritious meals to your home cooking lineup, these recipes by professional chefs are definitely worth a try. Below, you’ll find recipes and tips to make everything from falafel waffles to a morning blueberry smoothie.  

Kale and Mushroom “Risotto”

Recipe by Wen-Jay Ying, founder of Local Roots NYC

This hearty, healthy, zero-waste meal makes use of kale stems, which are sliced finely into the size of grains and used as a rice substitute, and turnip peels puréed with mushroom stems and an apple to give the dish a creamy texture. 

“It’s tempting to take a bunch of kale from your farm share and simply make a kale salad with the leaves while composting the stems, but with this recipe, you can use all of the ingredients: the kale stems, mushroom stems and turnip peels, yielding zero waste,” Ying said. “This risotto is thick and packed with flavor—sweet, bitter, spicy and umami. In this recipe, the purée is used as a substitute for water or chicken stock that is traditionally used when making risotto.”

For this recipe, Ying uses half of the kale leaves to create crunchy chips which add texture to the dish but also make a great snack. In a similar way, braised turnips make a great side dish or can be eaten alone at another time. “Because the recipe is versatile, it extends the life of your produce and expands your experience with them,” she said.

Recipe for Kale and Mushroom “Risotto”

Yields 4 servings

For the Kale and Mushroom “Risotto”:

1 bunch of kale, destemmed (save the stems and reserve half the leaves for kale chips)

7-8 cremini mushrooms

Turnip peels (saved from the braised turnips)

Mushroom stems

1 apple

1 tsp EVOO

1/4 of a lemon, juiced

salt, to taste

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Rinse kale. Separate stems from leaves. Finely slice stems to about the size of a grain of rice.

Cut the leaves into 3-inch pieces. Reserve half of the chopped kale leaves for kale chips and let them dry.

Rinse mushrooms. Separate the mushroom caps from the stems. Reserve the stems for the purée. Finely slice the mushroom caps. Set aside.

Peel the turnips, saving the peels. Set aside the peeled turnips.

Coarsely chop the turnip peels and mushroom stems into smaller pieces.

Slice the apple. Leave the peel on.

In a blender, put the ingredients in the following order: lemon juice from 1/4 of a lemon, EVOO, apple, chopped turnip peels and mushroom stems.

Blend and add water as necessary in order to get a loose oatmeal-like consistency. Taste and add salt and/or lemon juice as desired. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, place butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and optional red pepper flakes. Sweat the garlic, then add the sliced kale stems.

Cook the kale stems until it gets a little color and the butter browns. Then add the turnip, mushroom and apple purée.

Stir until fully combined. Keep at a low simmer. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms and half of the kale leaves, separately. Set aside.

Once the “risotto” has thickened (but not dried out) and the kale stems are tender, add the sautéed mushrooms and kale. Stir until combined. Taste and season as desired.

For the Braised Turnips:

2 turnips, peeled (save peels for “risotto” )

5 Tbsp unsalted butter (increase or decrease, depending on taste)

1/2 of a lemon, juiced (zest lemon and save for kale chips)

3 garlic cloves, mashed

salt, to taste

Slice the turnips into 1-inch thick rounds

Place the butter into a sauté pan over medium heat. Add lemon juice from half of a lemon and mashed garlic.

Once the butter has melted, add the turnip rounds. Then add water just to cover the turnips.

Braise the turnips over medium-high heat. Flip the turnip rounds occasionally for even cooking. Cook until tender and add salt to taste.

For the Kale Chips:

Kale leaves

1 Tbsp EVOO

lemon zest (using lemon from the braised turnips)

salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure the kale is completely dry. In a bowl, toss the kale with the EVOO. There should be a light coating of EVOO on the leaves.

On a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, lay out the kale leaves. Sprinkle lemon zest and a pinch of salt on the kale.

Bake the kale for 8 minutes. Then, rotate the sheet tray for even cooking and bake for another 8 minutes.

The kale chips should be dry, rigid and with little color. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Radicchio Salad

Recipe by Caroline Schiff, head chef at Slow Up and pastry chef at Gage & Tollner in Brooklyn, New York

“Don’t get me wrong, I love a great pantry recipe, but sometimes I find them lacking in freshness and after opening so many cans, I’m feeling a little bored,” Schiff said. “I like to view my pantry as a tool kit with everything I need on hand to make simple ingredients pop and shine. This time of year, I’m craving lighter, brighter, veggie-focused dishes, but still want something hearty. It’s freezing out there after all.”

This salad is great served warm or at room temperature, and Schiff describes it as “the perfect winter salad with nuts for texture, chili flakes and lemon for punch, and cheese for a little richness and body.”

Recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Radicchio Salad

Yields 2-4 servings as a light veggie main or side

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Olive oil, as needed

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small head radicchio, shredded

Zest and juice of half a lemon

Chili flakes, to taste

1/2 c toasted nuts, (walnuts, pine nuts, whatever you have and like) chopped if large and lightly toasted

1/4 c grated Parmesan, Pecorino or another salty, hard cheese

Directions:

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil, then place the Brussels sprouts on the pan, cut side down.

Season with salt and pepper. Roast until browned and crisp, about 25 minutes.

Place the cut radicchio in a mixing bowl and dress with olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Taste and adjust. Add the walnuts and half the cheese. Mix well.

When the Brussels are done allow them to cool for about 5 minutes before tossing them with the radicchio. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Transfer to a serving plate and finish with the remaining cheese and lemon wedges if you want a little extra acidity.

Falafel Waffle with Yogurt Sauce and Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Recipe by Jeff Seizer, executive chef of Counting House at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina

“I love falafel!” Seizer said. “This is a fun and simple recipe I make all the time.” This recipe is a favorite for his two young kids and is often enjoyed as a healthy lunch.

Seizer noted that the salad and yogurt sauce can be made ahead of time, so that come lunch time (or whenever you choose to enjoy these waffles), all you need to do is make the batter and cook the waffles.

Recipe for Falafel Waffle with Yogurt Sauce and Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Yields 2 large waffles

For the Waffle:

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas

1 small white onion

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped 

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

3 cloves of garlic

2 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp ground coriander

2 tsp kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp tahini

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and mix until it’s mostly smooth with some small chunks.

Heat up your waffle maker and pour the batter in. Cook until lightly brown. If you don’t have a waffle maker, cook the batter in a pan lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil. This recipe should make about 4 falafel cakes.

For the Yogurt Sauce:

1 c Greek yogurt

1/2 c mayo

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp ground cumin

Pinch of salt, pepper

Dash of extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill.

For the Salad:

Chef’s note: Use what you have laying around! This does not need to be exact.

1 pt cherry tomatoes

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Blueberry Smoothie

Recipe by Mee McCormick, chef and founder of Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile in Nunnelly, Tennessee

“This is my go-to smoothie,” McCormick said. “I always have a bag of frozen cranberries and organic frozen blueberries on hand. During blueberry season on my Pinewood Farms, I use fresh blueberries. Loaded with antioxidants and prebiotic fiber, this is the one recipe I recommend adding to your weekly groove as it’s easy and delicious.”

This recipe is featured in McCormick’s latest book, My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure.

Recipe for Blueberry Smoothie

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 c organic or wild blueberries

1/2 c whole frozen cranberries

1 Tbsp dairy-free yogurt

1 scoop organic dairy-free vanilla protein powder OR 2 Tbsp nut butter or seed butter

1/2 c pomegranate juice

1 c flax milk

2 c water

1 scoop maca powder

1 scoop greens powder

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.

Serve immediately.

Vegetable Dal

Recipe by Palak Patel, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education

“My version of a one-pot dal is a play on a traditional recipe that incorporates more vegetables and greens,” Patel said. “I’m from Gujarat, a state in western India, and dal has been a staple in my house since childhood. Growing up vegetarian, dal was my comfort food and one of the first recipes I learned from my mother. When I make this recipe, the aromas take me right back to being in the kitchen with her.”

For the recipe, Patel uses two types of lentils (brown and red), which gives texture and flavor to the dish. “The red lentils give the stew a creamy consistency and the brown adds an earthy flavor,” she said. “This recipe is fully plant-based and an easy weeknight meal. The texture is rich, with fragrant spices, and packed with protein and fiber.”

Recipe for Vegetable Dal

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 c brown lentils, rinsed

1 c red lentils, rinsed

2 Tbsp sunflower oil

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp grated ginger

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 c diced yellow onion

1 c carrots, small dice

1 c sweet potato, small dice

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne (less or more, as desired)

1 tsp garam masala

Kosher salt, to taste

6 c of water or broth

Juice of half a lemon

2 c spinach, rinsed

Chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions: 

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat, add cumin seeds until they sputter in oil. 

Add onions, garlic, ginger and a pinch of salt and sauté for 3-5 minutes and the onions are translucent.

Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes, then add spices, both lentils, carrots, sweet potatoes and broth. Season with salt.

Cover with lid and simmer on low for approximately 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked through. Check seasoning and adjust as needed.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice, spinach and cilantro.

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