#1 Fresh Taco Wraps
These fresh tacos are filled with a delicious rich “cheeze” made of cashews and cilantro, and topped with a crumbled nut “meat” of heart-healthy walnuts and spices. The cheeze keeps for three or four days in the fridge and the meat for up to a week. Ingredient tip: I use cashews from Navitas Naturals, which I think are the biggest and freshest truly raw cashews available. Serving tips: Scoop the cashew mixture on top of a salad, or serve as a dip with sliced carrots and cucumbers. The walnut mixture also is great sprinkled over a salad or on soup. View recipe.
# 2 Warm Bean and Goat Cheese Salad with Mint Vinaigrette
The mint, both raw and blanched, is a shiny contrast to the pleasant funk of the cheese. Ingredient tip: You’ll need 3 pounds of favas in the pod to yield 2 cups shelled, blanched, and peeled beans. If you can’t find fresh beans, frozen will do; just be careful not to overcook. And any seasonal mix of beans will work; in the fall, try cranberry beans. View recipe.
# 3 Duck Breasts with Raspberry Sauce
Try using ghee (clarified butter) for high-heat cooking. In a pinch, substitute light cream cheese for the mascarpone. View recipe.
# 4 Honey-Sesame Brittle
Makes about 3/4 pound / Break up this sweet brittle and place shards of it in cellophane bags for gift giving. Prep tip: You’ll need a candy thermometer and a small pastry brush; the pastry brush is dipped in water and used to wash down the pan sides as the candy cooks, which prevents sugar crystals from forming. View recipe.
# 5 Skillet Brown Rice Fusilli with Lamb, Zucchini, and Feta
Serves 6 / Prep tips: Cooking pasta in limited liquid in a large, deep skillet avoids bringing a huge pot of water to boil; plus, the pasta absorbs flavor and releases starch that thickens the sauce. This technique works especially well with brown rice pasta, found in the gluten-free aisle of many markets. View recipe.
# 6 Arame Salad with Seared Tofu and Red Peppers
Serves 4–6 / Seaweeds’ fatty acids and antioxidants have been linked to lower risks of breast and skin cancer. Ingredient tip: Look for arame, a threadlike dried seaweed, in bulk bins or prepackaged in Asian-food sections. If you have them, use bulk green tea leaves; or simply tear open a teabag and use the contents. View recipe.
# 7 Chicken and Pasta in Brodo
Your budget dinner’s centerpiece. The simple homemade chicken broth (brodo) is the basis for the deeply satisfying flavor. Ingredient tip: Choose an unusual pasta shape, like fusilli, for visual appeal. Using whole-grain pasta is delicious here and doesn’t feel heavy in so much broth. Prep tips: Cooking in advance and letting the broth set for a day makes it taste even better. Serving tip: Crusty bread with this course would be nice. View recipe.
# 8 Skillet Scramble with Kale and Garlic
Serves 2 / Prep tip: To roast garlic, instead of cooking in oil as is the common method, put peeled, whole cloves in an ovenproof dish and cover with water. Cover with foil and cook at 375 degrees for at least one hour, or until cloves are very soft. Serving tip: Serve atop toasted whole-grain pita or naan. View recipe.
# 9 Olive-Oil Cake with Citrus Compote
Serves 12 / An unusual and healthy alternative to other baking fats, extra-virgin olive oil lends its characteristic fruity aroma to this satisfying cake, similar in texture to a pound cake. The slightly bitter peels lend a not-too-sweet, sophisticated taste. View recipe.
# 10 Molasses Quinoa Waffles with Apple Butter
Serves 10 / Make-ahead tip: This batter keeps nicely in the fridge and is great to have on hand in the morning, or even to make a waffle sundae after dinner. Serving tip: Top with apple butter and softened butter, plus a drizzle of honey. A good ratio of apple butter to whole butter is about 1 tablespoon of apple butter to 1 pat of butter. View recipe.
# 11 Roasted Squash, Tofu, and Spinach Salad
If you have more time, adding roasted parsnips and sunflower seeds enhances this salad's texture and variety. Serving tip: A simple tomato soup balances this meal. View recipe.
# 12 Black Japonica Rice with Thai Chicken Curry
Black Japonica is actually a blend of Japanese short-grain black rice and medium-grain mahogany rice, also developed by Lundberg Family Farms. Thanks to the flavor-packed Thai curry paste, available in most grocery stores, this curry has complex flavor though it is quick and easy to prepare. View recipe.
# 13 Puffed Brown Rice Tabbouleh with Red Cabbage
This refreshing salad combines classic tabbouleh ingredients but substitutes puffed brown rice for traditional bulgur and adds red cabbage for color and crunch. Ingredient tip: Puffed brown rice is rice's version of popcorn; be sure to use the unsweetened variety. Serving tip: To round out the meal, serve with hummus and whole-wheat pita bread. View recipe.
# 14 Coconut Black Rice Pudding
Medium-grain Chinese black rice is often sold under its trademarked name, Forbidden Black Rice, and brings elegant sophistication to any meal. The rice bleeds a very deep indigo color as it cooks. Because the bran layer is intact, this pudding is chewier than traditional melt-in-your-mouth white rice puddings, but it will be equally well received. View recipe.
# 15 Warm Oysters on the Half Shell with Spicy Ponzu
A zinc-rich aphrodisiac. Oysters perish quickly, so if possible buy them the same day you plan to eat them, and choose the smallest oysters you can find. They should be closed tightly! View recipe.
# 16 Tex-Mex Pizza
Prepared whole-wheat pizza crusts work wonders. Ingredient tip: Spicy green tomatillos are often found near the hot peppers in produce sections. View recipe.
# 17 Quinoa and Salmon Stew with Tomatoes
Quinoa is a quick-cooking and versatile whole grain. This unusual approach pairs it with dill and salmon, with felicitous results. View recipe.
# 18 Butter Lettuce and Apple Salad with Seared Scallops
Serves 2 / Prep tips: The secrets to this salad course are a very crisp apple and a very hot pan for searing the scallops. Prepare the lettuce and dressing the day before, but bring the dressing to room temperature before serving. Don't be tempted to get ahead on anything else; this dish only sparkles when everything is very fresh. View recipe.
# 19 Indian Spicy-Sour Chickpeas with Cauliflower
Used extensively in Indian cooking, anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger enhance cruciferous cauliflower, vitamin-rich tomatoes, and high-fiber chickpeas, packing this dish with cancer-fighting potential. Prep tip: Use more or less jalapeño depending on your heat preference. View recipe.
# 20 Buckwheat-Flaxseed Blueberry Pancakes
Serves 6 (makes twelve 5-inch pancakes) / Ingredient tip: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high-fiber flaxseeds offer nutrient benefits only when ground (whole flaxseeds pass right through), so opt for the most finely ground flaxseeds you can find, or grind your own in a coffee grinder. View recipe.
# 21 Mustard-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts
Serves 8 / Ingredient tip: Look for brussels sprouts sold still on the stalk; they’re fresher and easy to snap off when ready to cook. Small sprouts tend to be sweeter and more tender. Prep tip: To toast hazelnuts, bake raw nuts at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until fragrant. Cool, then rub vigorously with a towel to remove papery skins.
# 22 Grilled Radicchio, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Panini
Sweet, sour, salty, and bitter come together gloriously in this delicious treat. If you don't own a panini press, don't worry — you can achieve excellent results with a stovetop grill, although you will need to flip the sandwiches to grill both sides. In a pinch, you can even prepare panini in a pan just as you would plain old grilled cheese, but there will be nothing “plain” or “old” about it! View recipe.
# 23 Brown Butter Cakes with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote
Every cook should have a silver-bullet dessert. Prep tips: The key to really red compote is a preliminary maceration (marinade) in sugar. This helps set the color and pull out some of the juice in the fruit. Serving tips: The compote can be added to the cake in two ways: A tablespoon of purée dropped on top of the batter before baking will settle nicely into the cake, or you can use it more like a sauce. I also recommend a little soft, sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche. View recipe.
# 24 Arugula Salad with Citrus Dressing
In high summer, it’s basil, tarragon, delfino (a cilantro cousin), nasturtiums, and finely sliced raw beans. The dressing is a citrus mix, reduced to concentrate flavor. It’s a friendly and accommodating dressing that encourages you to concoct your own mix of herbs and greens. View recipe.
# 25 Minted Green Pea and Buttermilk Soup
Serve this first course with a lush salad of baby greens, dressed with olive oil and champagne vinegar; top with toasted pecans. View recipe.
# 26 Crisp Chevre Sandwiches
Offer as an appetizer to complement the refreshing Rhubarb lemonade spritzer. Ingredient tip: Thin-skinned English cucumbers tend to have a less bitter skin than regular cukes; you'll find them wrapped in plastic in the produce section. If they're unavailable, you may substitute three small, very fresh zucchini. View recipe.
# 27 Strawberry Granita
This dessert is a brilliant bowl of color with a pure, intense flavor. Ingredient tip: You may use frozen, thawed strawberries if necessary, but you might need to add more sugar. View recipe.
# 28 Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa Salad (
Roasting asparagus concentrates its flavor. If you don’t have quinoa, serve the asparagus atop brown rice or couscous; or simply as is. View recipe.
# 29 Asparagus Salad with Peppered Cashews
A wonderful and unique combination of flavors and textures. Cashews add protein and healthy fats to every bite. View recipe.
# 30 Southwestern Quinoa and Edamame Salad
Add crumbled queso cotija or feta cheese for a more indulgent dish. Serving tips: For best flavor, let the salad come to room temperature before serving. It’s delicious wrapped in butter-lettuce leaves or tortillas; you can also serve it with roasted vegetables drizzled with vinaigrette or a garlic-yogurt sauce. View recipe.
# 31 Raw Lasagna
With all these fresh, colorful ingredients, this “rawsagna” looks as beautiful as it tastes. View recipe.
# 32 Cobbler Crumble Topping
A rich, buttery crumble that’s naturally sweetened with Medjool dates and full of healthy omega fatty acids from pecans. You won’t believe this guiltless crumble hasn’t been baked! It will keep for at least a week in the fridge. Serving tip: Use this to top your favorite sliced fruit, like peaches, mangos, nectarines, persimmons, or apples; or sprinkle over your favorite vegan ice “cream.” It’s even delicious all by itself. View recipe.
# 33 Steamed Halibut with Mango Sauce
Top this mild fish with the spicy-sweet mango sauce to create a meal that appeals to all ages. Prep tip: You can substitute striped bass, pollock, or another white fish. Serving tip: Accompany with a side of basmati rice laced with cumin seeds, plus a salad of chopped cucumbers, diced tomatoes, minced onions, and plain yogurt. View recipe.
# 34 Mango-Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie
Serves 2 / Antioxidant-rich mango and anti-inflammatory pineapple team up with coconut milk to create a taste of the tropics in this sunny smoothie. Prep tip: Adjust the whey protein powder to your needs, and use unsweetened or vanilla powder to vary sweetness. View recipe.
# 35 Curly Endive Salad with Papaya and Poached Chicken
Endive has a bitter edge, which is instantly tamed by just a few bites here and there of red papaya and a spicy citrus vinaigrette. Prep tips: Poaching chicken at a low temperature helps keep it tender and moist. Ingredient tip: I don’t recommend bottled bell peppers in this salad. View recipe.
# 36 Oregano, Dill, and Spinach Pesto with Potatoes and Chicken
Serves 4 / This pesto’s strong flavors meld nicely to create a perfect dressing for mild potatoes. Prep tips: Once made, the pesto keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before using. Serving tip:This meal is just as good cold and makes a nice picnic lunch. View recipe.
# 37 Carrot and Ginger Corn Bread
This gluten-free recipe has a fantastic texture and zippy ginger taste. Make-ahead tip: The uncooked batter keeps in the refrigerator for several days, so you can make fresh, hot muffins any morning you feel like it. Ingredient tip: Turbinado sugar is similar to brown sugar but with a coarser texture. View recipe.
# 38 Fresh Juiced Breakfast Beverage
I call this “The Invigorator,” but it’s no simple beverage. Because natural juices are food, you should view them as a liquid component of your meal that gives your body nutritional sustenance. All-natural fruit and vegetable juices (without fillers and artificial sweeteners) are sometimes a better way to consume otherwise solid foods because the body digests them more easily; however, they do pack calories and so are not meant to be consumed like water. View recipe.
# 39 Apple Butter
Apple butter is a staple on our menu and on my table at home. At the restaurant we spread it with whole butter on our sprouted-grain toast, sprouted-grain bagels, or English muffins. Refrigerate in jars. This makes 4 cups, so you’ll have a couple of jars to gift to friends. View recipe.
# 40 Roasted Salmon with Avocado Salsa
The piquant relish adds a delicious zing to this dish. Ingredient tip: Try to use salmon fillets of an even 1-inch thickness, which won’t dry out as quickly. View recipe.
# 41 Red Lentil Soup
Warming on a fall night, this one-pot meal provides both nourishing protein from lentils and antioxidants from superfood spinach. Masoor dal, a beautiful salmon-colored lentil, is skinned and split before purchase, so it cooks quickly and turns golden and soft when cooked. You can substitute red or yellow lentils, though cooking time will increase a bit. View recipe.
# 42 Corn, Red Pepper, and Avocado Soup
Prep/cook time: 25 minutes Serves 4 / A beautiful, light supper. Puréeing some of the soup creates a creamy texture—without any cream. View recipe.
# 43 Herbed Goat-Cheese Puffs
Once you experience how easy making this pastry is, you’ll cook up these bite-size appetizers again and again. Ingredient tip: To save even more money, use savory whipped cream instead of goat cheese; simply whip 6 ounces cream until it holds a peak, then add 2 teaspoons fresh basil, one bunch chopped chives, zest from two lemons, and a pinch of salt. View recipe.
# 44 Cardamom-Vanilla Poached Pears with Pistachios
Use a pot that’s big enough to avoid crowding pears, but small enough that pears remain upright during cooking. Serve with pistachio tuilles (cookies). View recipe.
# 45 Chicken with Chocolate and Herbes de Provence
The sauce is delicious in such an unusual way, chances are no one will be able to put their finger on the secret ingredient. Prep tips: Fresh herbs are marvelous, but if you can’t find them, just substitute with ½ teaspoon of dry herb for whichever ones are lacking. (Be sure to use fresh parsley, however.) Serving tip: Serve with asparagus spears, broccolini, or French beans. View recipe.
# 46 Herbed Bread and Vegetable Stuffing
Serves 8 / Prep tips: Try using sprouted whole-grain bread for added texture and nuttiness.Serving tip: If some of your guests are vegetarian, use the stuffing to fill portobello mushroom caps; brush caps with olive oil, fill, and bake at 375 degrees until tender. View recipe.
# 47 Chia-Crusted Tofu with Cauliflower Mash
Serves 4 / Prep tips: Chia seeds lend tofu a crunchy crust that is packed with fiber and good fats. (You can substitute sesame seeds if you like.) Sprinkle chia seeds into the mashed cauliflower for extra fiber. Grated sharp cheddar cheese, minced chives, and nutmeg are also welcome mash additions. View recipe.
# 48 Fruit and Nut Bark
Makes 1 1/2 pounds / This bittersweet-chocolate bark, studded with tangy dried fruit and crunchy almonds, makes a delectable present. View recipe.
# 49 Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Crust
Serves 12 / This delicious, press-in crust has a sandy texture similar to a graham cracker crust. To prevent it from getting soggy, store pie at room temperature instead of refrigerating. It will keep well for two days at room temperature; five days refrigerated. Ingredient tip: Be sure your spices are fresh for maximum flavor. Serving tip: The orange-scented, tofu-and-yogurt topping nicely balances the sweet pie; but you can indulge in whipped cream, of course. View recipe.
# 50 Agave- Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 24–30 / Creamy, lightly sweetened peanut butter fills dark chocolate cups in this irresistible candy. Prep tip: You’ll need small fluted paper candy cups, available at candy-making supply stores, and a small pastry brush. View recipe.