You don't need a ton of stuff to cook like a pro. Build this small set of high-quality knives—recommended by our favorite food writers and editors—and you'll be ready to tackle any recipe that comes your way.
Essential for chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing
To Buy: Try the reasonably priced but high-quality Mac Knife Chef Series Chef’s Knife, 7-1⁄4 inch; $60 via Amazon
Necessary for peeling small fruits and veggies
To Buy: A top pick at Cook’s Illustrated, the Victorinox Swiss Army 3-1⁄4-inch Fibrox Straight Edge Paring Knife is effective and affordable; $10 via Amazon
A supersharp, lighter-weight multipurpose knife for meat, fish and veggies
To Buy: Wüsthof offers a 7-inch hollow-ground Santoku; $70 via Crate & Barrel
A long knife with a strong blade for slicing meats and carving chicken and turkey
To Buy: Try the German stainless steel Zwilling Pure 8-inch Carving Knife; $67 via Zwilling
Effortlessly cuts bread into neat slices
To Buy: They don’t take much abuse, so you don’t need an expensive one. Try the Dexter Russell Traditional Scalloped Bread Knife; $24 via Amazon
This plan gets you through the first half of the week with no fuss. Factor in 1-1⁄2 hours to roast the chicken and veggies. If Monday is not ideal for this, move the time-intensive cooking night to Sunday.
Photo by iStock
Monday: Roast Chicken & Root Vegetables
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a pasture-raised chicken and peeled, chopped root vegetables in a roasting pan and cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. (Prepare enough veggies for leftovers.) Cook, basting chicken occasionally, for about an hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (but not touching bone) registers 170 degrees. Allow chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving. After dinner, remove meat from chicken and store with the leftover veggies in the fridge.
Tip: To accommodate more people, turn your oven up to 450 degrees and buy an extra package of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Roast them with your whole chicken by placing them on top of the vegetables. Monitor doneness with a meat thermometer, as they will cook more quickly than the whole chicken.
Tuesday: Chicken & Veggie Tacos
Add tortillas and tons of accoutrements—crumbly queso fresco, mild green chilies, salsa and sour cream—and last night’s home-cooked fare is transformed into a new meal. Simply shred the leftover chicken and heat the chicken and veggies. Then let everyone take their turn at the taco bar.
Wednesday: Chicken & Veggie Frittata
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a deep skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté any veggies you have around, then add the leftover chicken and roast veggies. Season with paprika and warm through, then spread the mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle with cheese. Break 6 large eggs into a bowl and whisk to combine, adding 1⁄2 cup milk or cream if you wish. Pour into skillet to cover the chicken and veggie mixture. Let cook for 1 to 2 minutes until you see the edges beginning to set. Transfer to oven and cook for 10 to 20 minutes. When done, the eggs shouldn’t run if you slice the frittata with a knife. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
Bonus: Leftover frittata makes a great on-the-go breakfast when heated and served in a roll, or you can place it on top of salad greens for a yummy lunch.
I love curry. It’s safe to say the majority of us do, considering the dish’s proliferation across the globe. Curry originated in India, and it’s strongly associated with Thai, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian cuisines, but today curry is a popular dish nearly everywhere in the world. Many curries are defined by their inclusion of a curry spice mix, typically made up of turmeric, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cayenne and sometimes mustard. Aside from the obvious reasons to eat curry—it’s delicious and infinitely versatile—there are many health reasons to indulge in a curry craving. Here is a collection of my favorites.
1. Fight Cancer: Curry is an effective (and delicious) delivery mechanism for turmeric, one of the most effective medicinal spices on the planet. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a potent and well-researched antioxidant, making it useful in cancer prevention. Two other curry spices are also cancer fighters: Cardamom contains phytochemicals thought to specifically ward off hormone-responding cancers such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancers; and cumin is particularly good at preventing colon cancer. Most curries also include a number of highly antioxidant vegetables such as bell peppers, chilies, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, garlic and more.
2. Up Your Uptake: Many people take turmeric supplements, yet our bodies utilize curcumin much more effectively when it’s consumed with fats (this helps the curcumin be directly absorbed into the bloodstream rather than through the intestines) and piperine, a constituent of black pepper—in fact, curcumin’s bioavailability increases by about 2,000 percent when it’s consumed with just 1/20th a teaspoon of black pepper. Guess what’s in nearly every curry recipe you might care to eat? Turmeric combined with fat and black pepper.
3. Alleviate Pain: Ginger is ubiquitous in curries, and both ginger and turmeric (which are related plants) are potent anti-inflammatory herbs, making them effective in relieving the pain of arthritis.
4. Improve Digestion: Curry contains a number of herbs thought to improve digestion, including ginger (one of the world’s most well-known digestive aids and nausea-fighters), cumin and cardamom.
5. Improve Brain Health: Turmeric helps reduce a buildup of plaque in the brain, meaning it can enhance cognitive function and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, cumin contains iron, which increases blood circulation, leading to enhanced cognitive performance.
6. Eat Good Fats: Curries contain coconut milk, a type of healthy fat thought to aid in weight loss by helping us feel satisfied and even possibly increasing metabolism.
7. Stay Well: A number of ingredients in curry are antiviral and/or antibacterial. Coconut milk is a rich source of lauric acid, which our bodies convert into monolaurin, thought to fight influenza viruses. Likewise, curry’s garlic and onions may help ward off sickness. The cumin and bell peppers in curry also make it a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
8. Stay warm: Herbalists call some foods “warming,” because they help improve circulation, making us feel warmer from the inside out. Curry contains several of these foods including ginger, cayenne, cardamom, garlic and black pepper. This winter, warm yourself with a hot, comforting bowl of curry.
My family has always been very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving. Traditional in the American sense—we have a roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans and whatnot. We also have our own traditions. Meaning, we have the same items at the table every year. We always have my great grandmother’s scalloped potatoes and we have plenty of appetizers. No matter the creative ideas for appetizers or side dishes we might have, you can bet your bottom dollar that the same ones will adorn our table year after year.
The holidays are comforting, as is family and the routine dishes we enjoy. However, generations grow older and changes happen. It’s inevitable—a new dish will someday find a place next to the turkey. There are two of us in the family that are now gluten-free. My cousin and I adopted the diet after becoming aware of our thyroid issues many years ago. I remember we both had a holiday or two in the beginning where we accidentally ate a dish that we didn’t know wasn’t gluten-free. It’s been an uphill battle ever since.
For me, the hardest holiday food to part with has been stuffing. I’m the girl that reheats leftover stuffing the day after Thanksgiving instead of making a turkey sandwich. It has always been my favorite. Enter, gluten-free cornbread stuffing. My grandmother usually makes a traditional stuffing with stale white bright. I could have gone the gluten-free white bread route, but it wasn’t the same, so I had to go the other direction. I made this recipe a few days ago (for the sake of the picture) and I’ve been eating it for lunch ever since. I’ll make it again for Thanksgiving and I’ll have no problem eating those leftovers, too.
Photo by Rachel Bratene
Cornbread & Sausage Stuffing Recipe
• 1 pan prepared gluten-free cornbread (I used a mix. You can substitute regular cornbread here. Prepare the day before.)
• 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 12-ounce pork breakfast sausage (I used a gluten-free sausage.)
• 1 yellow onion, diced small
• 2 celery sticks, diced small
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, removed from the stem and chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup fresh cranberries
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Dice day-old cornbread into medium-sized cubes and lay out on a baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle walnuts around cornbread and bake for 20 minutes, or until cornbread starts to brown.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
5. In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil together. Add sausage and, when it begins to brown, add onion and celery.
6. Cook just until onion becomes tender, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let mixture cool completely.
7. In a large bowl, mix cooled cornbread mixture and cooled sausage mixture with remaining ingredients. Generously season with salt and pepper.
8. Spoon cornbread mixture into a glass baking dish (I used a 9-by-9) and cover with foil.
9. Bake for 35 minutes.
10. Remove foil and bake for 25 more minutes.
Malorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.
Me like eat healthy food!
A paleo diet is far from just a meal plan—when taken seriously, it’s a way of life. Though you don’t have to let your grammar devolve, there is evidence that adopting a more primal lifestyle could be a healthy option for you.
When starting out (or continuing) with a lifestyle changing diet, it can be difficult to find the support and inspiration you need. Whether you’re just starting to think about what being paleo means, or are a seasoned cave person on the hunt for fresh and tasty recipes, the following blogs are 10 of the best paleo blogs out there (though there are way more than just 10!).
1. Paleo Leap
This blog has resources for people at all stages of paleo, with fun recipes, news articles, lifestyle and life tips ranging from fitness ideas to money saving tips to how to stay on track when you eat out at a restaurant
2. Civilized Caveman Cooking
This blog was written by the NYT best-selling co-author of The Paleo Kitchen, a retired marine who spent years struggling with eating disorders and fitness obsessions, who found happiness and food peace with the paleo diet. His blog has hundreds of delicious recipes organized by meal, and a whole section for the crock-pot.
3. Radishes and Rubies
Written by the Californian author of The Paleo Slow Cooker, this blog offers tons of tasty recipes and lovely photography—just browsing through will make you hungry! This is a good website for beginners at the lifestyle, with straight-forward and understandable guidelines and tips to eating a little healthier every day.
4. Chris Kresser
This blog is written by a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, paleo nutrition, and integrative medicine, and the author of Your Personal Paleo Code. This blog will give you the science and nutrition backing to start taking paleo seriously. This is a great resource for finding educated solutions to many health problems, including thyroid disorders, heartburn, and gut health.
5. Cave Girl in the City
Kenzie gives us a fun and fresh look at a paleo life, balancing food, fitness and fashion. Her blog has tons of yummy recipes, as well as useful Paleo pointers and tricks, kitchen hacks, themed paleo menus, and some personal style tips.
6. Mark’s Daily Apple
Mark Sisson (with the help of Grok the caveman) have outlined a Primal Blueprint, meant to change the “diet” mindset to a lifestyle mindset. His blog focuses less on recipes and meal plans, and more on living, exercising, sleeping well and trying to LGN (look good naked).
This oft-cited blog is written by Juli, a CrossFit coach based in Denver who loves good food and tough exercises. She co-wrote the Paleo Kitchen with George Bryant from Civilized Caveman Cooking, and also wrote OMG. That’s Paleo?. Her recipes are fun and delicious, and each has a story with a little… personal flair.
8. The Domestic Man
This blog was written by Russ Crandall, author of The Ancestral Table, who has been struggling with a rare autoimmune disease since he had a stroke when he was 24, and underwent a serious heart operation at 26. Paleo diet is not a cure for Russ, but has helped him recover his health enough to live a normal life and get off some of his medications. His recipes look delicious and often have some international inspiration.
9. The Spunky Coconut
This mother of 2 has quite a sweet-tooth, and has found delicious and less-bad-for-you recipes, written in her cookbooks, Dairy-Free Ice Cream and The Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook. If you want to introduce paleo ideas into your diet, but arent’ quite ready to give up baked treats and desserts, this is the place to go. She also has a ton of delicious main meals, soups, stews, and veggies.
10. Nom Nom Paleo
This blog is adorable. Follow along with a cartoon Michelle Tam as she shows you what to buy, how to plan a meal, and how to prepare awesome paleo meals. Michelle is also a NYT best-selling author of NomNom Paleo: Food for Humans. Every paleo person should check out a few of her “nomtastic” recipes.
11. Paleo Mom
In case you’re starting to sense a trend, I like bloggers who have written cookbooks—they seem pretty legit to me. Here’s another NYT best-selling author of the series The Paleo Approach. Sarah’s approach to paleo is one of holistic healing—food can reverse the effects of autoimmune diseases (like cancer). Her blog has recipes galore, as well as a guide to living paleo, and insight into autoimmune problems you may not even know you have. Bonus, she also has a whole section of paleo foods for kids.
12. Primal Palate
this website not only has wonderful recipes, but it is a community hub for paleo people. You can upload your own recipes, read about the latest foodie news, and find a hundred books on the paleo diet. They also have an e-newsletter that will deliver new recipes to your inbox every week.
13. Cupcakes to Crossfit
This husband/wife duo embarked on a paleo diet together, trying to find a middle ground between eating cupcakes all day and doing crossfit. This blog offers delicious recipes, vibrant photography, and fun infographics.
14. Everyday Paleo
This is a classic, as far as paleo books and blogs go. Sarah Fragoso wrote best selling Everyday Paleo, with an intro by Robb Wolf, the father of paleo diet. On her site, you’ll find a ton of great recipes that are simple and tasty enough to prepare and eat every day, as well as her podcast and video workshops.
15. Bravo for Paleo
Studying pre-med, cooking and writing on the side, Monica is a fresh new face on the paleo scene. She offers delicious recipes for all types and time constraints, as well as foods for special occasions.
Other good resources to check out:
Paleo Magazine – helpful Paleo 101 resources, Paleo Radio, Paleo TV, general paleo community hub
Ultimate Paleo Guide – more paleo blogs, food lists, recipes, meal plans, and more
Institute for the Psychology of Eating – A List of 50 More Paleo Blogs
I love Chai. The sweet, the spice, the warm milk (in a chai latte)…it’s all the happy feelings of fall in a perfect little bundle of warm drink. Unfortunately, most cups of chai that you buy at a coffee shop, or pre-made packages of chai latte mix you could buy at the grocery store, are loaded with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and just a bunch of things you don’t need in your cup of tea.
Here's an alternative: Let’s make our own chai!
Making Your Own Chai
A bit of background: Masala chai is a combination of many spices, black tea, milk and (if you so desire) sweetener. Though these spices and flavors vary across the globe, “masala” means “mixed spice” in Hindi, where this variation of tea originates. (Also, note, “chai” is a variation of the Chinese word for tea, “cha,” but was culturally preferred unadulterated. Most of what we consider simply “chai” today is in fact Indian spiced Masala chai). The result is beautiful and harmonious drink that will warm you from your fingers to your toes.
In terms of health, tea has been drunk since the 3rd century in China for medicinal purposes. WebMD also supports that black tea, dried fermented tea leaves, has been shown to protect the lungs and may also reduce the risk of stroke. Masala chai also packs in a lot of antioxidants and goodness from the spices you are using, many of which can be used on their own for their potent aroma-therapeutic and anti-inflammatory benefits.
There are some different types of chai we could make. A normal chai tea bag will make a basic spiced tea; in fact, you could divide these spices into six equal parts and store them in tea bags, if you wanted to. But chai concentrate is what you want for a chai latte (my favorite!). Think of it as the espresso of chai. Then the chai concentrate (mixed beforehand with the following recipe) can be brewed directly with the milk of your choice.
The spices for chai are best when prepared fresh, meaning, using the whole dried spices, then toasting them together to release maximum flavor, and then steeped whole. But we don’t always have time for that. This recipe will work as well with any ground spices you may have in your cupboard. The following recipe indicates the amount of whole spice needed,
This masala chai concentrate recipe will ensure your steaming cup of masala chai is just moments away from brightening up your fall afternoon.
Masala Chai Tea Concentrate
Yield: About 1 quart chai concentrate
What You’ll Need:
*All spices and tea can be found in your local grocery store or natural-food store
• 6 cups water
• Sauce pan
• Strainer (or reusable (muslin) tea bag if you don’t want to fish for your spices afterwards)
• 1/4 cup raw sugar or honey, or natural sweetener of your choice
• 2- to 3-inch fresh ginger, sliced
• 5 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon peppercorns
• 2 vanilla beans
• 3 star anise
• 15 cloves
• 5 allspice (optional)• 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
• 5 black tea bags, or about 10 grams (1/2 ounce) loose leaf plain black tea
• Milk of your choice (dairy, almond, soy, even sweetened condensed milk all work well)
1. In a medium pot, bring the water and sweetener to a boil and simmer until the sweetener is fully dissolved.
2. Add all of the spices, and continue to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat, add the tea bags, and let them steep for 10 minutes. Then strain out the spices and tea bags. Store your chai tea concentrate in the fridge, it will last for several weeks
4. To serve, mix the chai tea concentrate 1:1 with milk. Gently heat in a small saucepan until it reaches the desired temperature. Pour into your favorite mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from The Prairie Homestead
• Use a few tablespoons of organic sweetened condensed milk instead of milk and sugar
• Use green tea, or a mix of black and green tea
• Use coconut milk for a Thai version, spiced with anise, tamarind and cardamom. *Add a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk as well for best results
• Create your own “Masala,” or mix of spices. Many recipes include whole black, pink, or green peppercorns, almonds, saffron, fennel seeds, and/or rose hips, and some even have unsweetened cocoa powder for a chocolaty version. You could even try adding orange peels, apple slices, or apple juice for a fruity take.
Taylor Nutting is an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living, who loves to find new ways (especially if it involves cooking!) to live a healthy and happy life.
This hearty dish has all the health benefits of acorn squash, rich in Vitamin C, Potassium and Magnesium, and all the warm scents of fall or winter, with a touch of exotic flare. This will leave you satisfied, and your home smelling wonderful. It’s also gluten free, and easily adapted to vegan dietary preferences.
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Serves: 4 to 5 people
• 4 servings cooked brown rice *prepare beforehand
• 2 acorn squash
• 1 pound grass-fed beef
• 1 large onion
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic
• 1 large bell pepper or equivalent
• Spices to taste: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon curry, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, dash of cayenne pepper, dash of cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup raisins or cranberries
1. Prepare rice.
2. Cut squash in half with checkered slices and de-seed. Then roast for 30 to 40 minutes.
3. While squash is cooking, brown ground beef. Add onions and garlic, to brown; peppers and any other vegetables; salt and spices; until fragrant; and raisins last.
4. Combine beef mixture and rice, then add more spices or salt if needed.
5. When squash is cooked and tender, add a heaping ladle-ful of beef and rice mixture to the hollow of the squash. It’s okay if some spills out—it adds to the charm!
6. Serve hot, and enjoy!
• Chop up an apple, sauté with onions and peppers
• Add more vegetables: peas, carrots, spinach
• Add some nuts: toasted pine nuts or pistachios add a nice nutty flair
• Mix up the meat: Make with sausage, chicken or bits of bacon
• Chop up squash and mix together with other ingredients for a “one-pot” meal
Recipe by Taylor Nutting, an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living and cooking experiment enthusiast who loves to try new ways to live a healthy and happy life.