This week on Food52 I shared my favorite way to cook dried beans and how to stretch a pot of humble beans into a week of family dinners.

I was always intimidated by cooking dried beans. I would either forget to soak them ahead of time (ahhhh!) or keep them simmering in a pot, only to find them undercooked at the end of the day. After a while, I began to shy away from recipes that suggested I try it again.

Discovering the simplicity of preparing dried beans in the slow cooker has thrown my trepidation out the window. You just combine a few ingredients and turn on the machine! A few hours later you have a perfect pot of beans. Life-changing. (But if you don’t have a slow cooker, fear not: I recommend the method outlined in this recipe.)

Click here to read the full story and get four recipes from Feeding a Family including: Slow Cooker Black Beans, Buckwheat Crepes with Delicata Squash, Black Beans & Avocado, Kale & Sweet Potato Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas, and Black Bean Quinoa Burgers.







All photography by Elizabeth Cecil.



If you are not on a January food cleanse you probably know someone who is or has, at the least, made some resolution about food. I have mixed feelings on winter cleanses (I write this while I am on day 4 of one – ha!). The benefits are pretty clear – from reestablishing healthy eating patterns to zapping that steady steam of holiday alcohol consumption. The tough part is that it is winter. Sure, there are fresh vegetables to be found but the offerings pale in comparison to warmer months.

If you are in some eating state between vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy free, or some creative combination of these, here are my favorite cleanse recipes that fit most programs. But really, when it comes down to it, simply cutting out packaged and processed foods does 95% of the work.

I’m off to make a kale salad and hide the final half bottle of pinot under the sink.


Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds

serves 6

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together lemon zest and juice and mustard in a bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss dressing with brussels sprout leaves and pumpkin seeds. Gently stir in avocado, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.


Winter Juice

makes 2 small glasses

6 carrots
1/2 a cucumber
2 apples
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 celery stalks

Simply juice the fruits and vegetables according to your juicing machine’s instructions. We start with the softest produce and work our way up to the hardest (typically carrots). Pour into glasses and enjoy.


Spinach & Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

makes about 15

1 cup quinoa

2 eggs

1/4 flour of your choice

3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1 package (10-ounces) frozen spinach or kale, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup finely grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

Olive oil, for the baking sheet

Start the quinoa cooking immediately so it can cook white you are prepping the other ingredients. Combine the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and boil it until it is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the quinoa to your favorite mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, tahini, vinegar, spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, knead, and smoosh all the ingredients together until they are one tight-knit family. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time.

Preheat the oven to 400 F with the rack in the middle. Oil a baking sheet. To shape the cakes, first wet your hands. For each patty, scoop up 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture with your hands and form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, firmly patting it so it stays together (loosie-goosies will fall apart). Arrange the patties on the baking sheet.

Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and crisp, flipping them over once halfway through the baking time, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.


Farro Kale Salad

From Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers

5-6 cups kale leaves, stripped off of stalks and torn or chopped into small pieces (1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, minced (or in my case sliced thin)
1 cup of farro
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 tart apple, diced, or 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or any combination)
4 ounces feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into small pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Vigorously toss and massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated.

Place farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Farro has a similar texture to barley when cooked, and has a nice toothy texture. Drain well, and combine with the kale. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Chop the onion, dill and parsley, and add to the kale and farro along with the pomegranate seeds, and apple or dried fruit, if using. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with the feta cheese.


Winter Muesli

makes about 4 cups

2 cups classic rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
Milk (hemp, nut, coconut, cow) or yogurt for serving

Using your hands, simply toss everything together in a large bowl. Be mindful of the sticky dates as they tend to clump together but once everything is in contact with the oats the clumps will loosen up. Muesli can be eaten with milk like a traditional cereal, sprinkled over yogurt, or soaked in milk overnight to soften up its texture. I like it all three ways. For those who like a little sweetness, simply drizzle over some honey or maple syrup.

A large mason jar filled with muesli, tied with a ribbon, and small recipe card attached would make a great gift for those left on your list (especially beloved teachers and neighbors). Because muesli is gluten free (if you purchase certified GF oats), vegan, and easily adapted to be nut free (substitute walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds) it works for everyone. If you want to make a few personal mixes some additions that I especially enjoy are dried unsweetened cherries, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.


Detox Smoothies

Choose between a sweet or tart green smoothie.


Sweet Green Smoothie

1 pear, roughly chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)

1 cup water or coconut water

Tart Green Smoothie

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1-inch piece peeled ginger root

1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped

3-inch piece of cucumber

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.



We arrived back home last night after five days on the go. Our adventures included ferry rides, long car rides, hotel rooms, hotel pools, cousins, grandmothers, creamed spinach, pumpkin cheesecake, Central Park, and (at the end of it) a very “lived in” looking family car. Off-island trips always make me think and notice things – about where we are but even more about where we come home to. Let me explain. Over Thanksgiving the cousins played a lot of games. One was a take on “red light, green light” but with silly dance moves instead of running. I was wondering why Dylan looked lost, glancing around trying to pick up on the rules. Then it hit me – he has no idea what a red light or, for that matter, a green light is. There are no traffic lights on Martha’s Vineyard, not one. This also explains why, every time we stopped at a red light, Gray would scream from the back seat GOOOO!. At first I took it as general long trip annoyance but there it was again – he is not used to stopping in the car for anything more then a parade of wild turkeys.



I am not saying that a quiet island life is better or worse then a lively city one. I am just always surprised when I see our home so obviously show itself in our kids. I for one was reminiscing about the beautiful grocery store we visited in New York as I went shopping this morning and found that we (as an island) are out of dill. I’m sure there are dill plants growing somewhere out there but don’t go looking at the grocery store.

Long story short, I think this Smoky Black Bean Chili is a good meal to transition out of last week’s travel and gluttony. It is filling, full of flavor, and fun to make but does not call for any butter or sugar. Although the recipe itself is extremely straightforward it does take time (overnight bean soaking and about 2 hours on the stove) so plan accordingly. The chili’s spice was a bit strong for the kids the day I made it but the next day it seemed to have mellowed out. You can always adjust the chili powder to please your crowd (or double up on sour cream).

Smoky Black Bean Chili from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon

serves 6

1/2 pound dry black beans

1/2 pound dry kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or ghee

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 to 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds fresh, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Cilantro, avocado, and sour cream for garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper



Pick through the beans, then rinse them well. In a large bowl, cover them generously with water, and soak overnight on the counter. The next day, drain the beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches and bring them to a boil with the bay leaves. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cooked through. Stir in a pinch of salt at the end and set aside.



Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onion over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, oregano, paprika, cocoa powder, chili powder, chipotle powder and cook 5 minutes longer. Add 3 cups of the broth, the tomatoes, and the tomato paste, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the beans of excess water and add them to the onion mixture. Add the rice, stir, and simmer on low for 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with the vinegar, additional broth, salt or spice, if needed.

Garnish each serving with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream. *We ate it with baby arugula, shallots, and sour cream. Chili will keep covered in the fridge for 1 week.




Sara Forte’s gorgeous food blog, The Sprouted Kitchen, was one of the first blogs I ever read and I have drooled over every post she’s written since. She just has it – the ability to make everyday wholesome ingredients transform into spectacular (but simple) dishes, beautiful taste, and photography that brings you right into her kitchen. Happily, Sara has just published her second book, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon: Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share, and one of you lucky readers is getting a copy in the mail. To enter, simply leave a comment below and I will draw a winner tomorrow night.

Bowl + Spoon includes tips on how to build a kitchen to cook in, essentials in a whole foods pantry, and recipes for morning bowls (like Flourless Stone Fruit Breakfast Crumble) , side bowls (like Za’atar Roasted Carrots), big bowls (like this Tahini Kale Slaw and Roasted Tamari Portobello Bowl), sweet bowls (like Roasted Pears in Goat Milk Caramel), and dressings and sauces (like Yogurt Ranch Dressing). There isn’t a recipe in these 225 pages that I don’t want to try. Here is the full recipe for the Tahini Kale Slaw and Roasted Tamari Portobello Bowl which is delicious and easy to pull together (I’m still licking the tahini dressing jar).


Tahini Kale Slaw and Roasted Tamari Portobello Bowl

serves 2

2 large portobello mushrooms

2 tablespoons toasted sesame or grapeseed oil

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon tamari or low sodium soy sauce


1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed

1 carrot, grated

3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 cup sunflower sprouts or microgreens


1 cup cooked brown rice

1 large avocado, peeled and diced

1/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds


1/2 cup tahini

2 tablespoons white or yellow miso

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Juice of 1 large orange (aboue 1/3 cup)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Lemon juice, to taste



To make the dressing – In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, miso, honey, sesame oil, and Sriracha to combine. Whisk in the vinegar, orange juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Thin with water or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. The dressing will keep, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Preheat the oven to 375F and line with parchment or foil. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and rub both sides with the oil and sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Place them gill side up on the baking sheet and drizzle the tamari on top. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes until the mushrooms look soft and collapsed. Once cool, slice them thinly.

While the mushrooms cook, prepare the slaw. Finely chop the kale. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale, shredded carrots, green onions and dress and desired. Rub the dressing into the kale to soften it and then add the sprouts.

Serve each bowl, warm or col, with a good portion of the kale, scoop of rice, a mushroom, avocado, and a generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds.


Here is a peak inside this gorgeous book:




Good luck!




Getting a new cookbook in the mail is my kind of fun. I flip through it right away, bring it into bed at night, start folding down pages, and ultimately create grocery lists for a handful of first choice recipes. We cook and eat those, check out the other folded pages, again shop and cook, slowly eating our way through it. I’m in the middle of a love affair with this new book, Clean Slate, from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, and am giving away a copy. Leave a comment below to enter the drawing and I will pull a name early next week!

I can’t wait for one of you to bring this home. There is so much important information in here from an overview of nutrients (including super detoxifiers, antioxidant powerhouses,  inflammation fighters, and digestive aids) to a simple pantry restock approach, and two specific mind/body detox action plans (one is 3 days and the other is 21 days – both come with full menu guides and recipes). Personally, I’m starting with the 3 day detox plan (call it trip prep or snow distraction strategy #99) and really appreciate the ease of it. You just cook three big batch meals (a smoothie, salad, and soup) to enjoy over the 3 days. It’s so simple that I may even be able to talk Nick into it.

I have at least a dozen recipes dog-eared but started in the kitchen with these two salads and loved both.

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Farro, Pea Shoot & Goat Cheese Salad
serves 6

1 cup farro
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup fresh shelled peas
2 ounces pea shoots, torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup small fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled (1 ounce)

Place farro in a medium saucepan, and cover with 4 inches of water; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender; 30 to 35 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl; let cool completely.

Meanwhile, cook peas in a small saucepan of salted boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Add peas, pea shoots, mint, almonds, and lemon zest to farro. Toss with lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with goat cheese.


Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds
serves 6

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together lemon zest and juice and mustard in a bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss dressing with brussels sprout leaves and pumpkin seeds. Gently stir in avocado, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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PS. Tell your friends to enter too and here’s a look inside…

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