Eggs poached in stock with spinach and buckwheat

I made a lot of soup this winter and came to appreciate the joy of home-made stock. With just a little extra work, you can get a stock pot going and then forget about it for at least 45 minutes. Strain it and you have a flexible base for a lot of good meals. It freezes beautifully, so make more than you need and bank some in the freezer for a future meal.

Spring allergy season has begun early in Boston. It’s predicted to be an especially bad year because of our mild winter. It’s also several weeks early.

We felt particularly under the weather last weekend, so I decided to cash in two jars of stock from the freezer stash. A quick and healthy meal can be had with two eggs, some pre-made stock, some leftover cooked grains and a handful of something leafy and green. Enhance the flavor as you time an inclination permits. If we’re feeling really under the weather, I add a few cloves of garlic to the stock and boil for at least 15-20 minutes. This time I sauteed some sliced garlic in olive oil and added it at the end, along with some chopped green onions. I had leftover cooked buckwheat in the fridge, but really any grain would do. I especially enjoy small round grains like quinoa and millet.

Eggs poached in stock with spinach and buckwheat

3 cups stock
4 eggs
1 cup cooked grains (give or take), preheated
a few handfuls of baby spinach
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 green onions, sliced

Bring stock to a boil, taste for seasoning. Crack eggs into 4 small bowls (like ramekins). To poach eggs, bring bowl very close to the boiling stock and gently tip in. Repeat with other 3 eggs, giving each egg a little room. Gently boil for about 3 minutes.

While eggs are cooking, saute garlic in some olive oil, taking care not to let it brown.

Divid preheated grains between two large soup bowls. Top with a generous handful of baby spinach (you can use a lot here–it will reduce down to nothing once the soup hits it.

Stir sauteed garlic into broth, taking care not to break the eggs. Gently spoon 2 eggs into each bowl and divide the stock evenly between the two bowls. Top with sliced green onions.

Serves 2.

Easy herb and grain salads

My patients have been requesting that I post recipes that are quick and healthy, and I can’t think of anything easier than a whole-grain salad made with some leftovers and a few things you probably have on hand already.

I almost always have some odd bits of left over brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat lingering in the fridge. I like to use it to whip up a salad as either a quick meal (made more filling with some canned beans), or a side dish to go with a piece of fish. It’s also a great way to put those bits of cilantro and parsley to use when you have just a little leftover from something else you’ve recently made.

I don’t really follow a recipe–I just use whatever is on hand, and dress it with olive oil and lemon juice (or vinegar).

Things that are nice to include:

* raisins
* nuts (pecans, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, toasted if you have the time)
* olives
* chopped fresh herbs if you have them (dried if you don’t)
* roasted red peppers
* capers
* beans (chickpeas are my favorite)
* cheese
* steamed veggies
* onions/scallions
* sprouts
* cucumbers
* tomatoes

For the dressing, think about combining 3 parts olive oil with 1 part vinegar/lemon juice. Add salt and pepper and any other seasonings to taste. You can also add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard. It’s best to mix the dressing in a separate container, beat it with a fork and taste to see if you need to add any more of anything.

When you put it together, the grain should be the predominant item in your salad. Add as much or as little of the other ingredients as you like.

Mix everything together and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes (assuming you have that kind of time–otherwise just eat it right away).

The picture above comes from this nice blog I recently discovered, Tale of Two Vegans. Check it out!

Teff, the super grain

I’m a big fan of the high-protein grains quinoa and amaranth. They fill me up and keep my energy steady for hours. I like to cook them together with millet to make a breakfast porridge, and also to use instead of rice in one of my stews or quickie rice/veg/egg lunches.

Teff is another high-protein grain, and one I’ve neglected for far too long. Teff is rich in minerals with a healthy dose of calcium and iron, making it ideal for women (and men, too, of course). It is also gluten-free, making it a nice addition to a gluten-free diet.

Teff flour is used to make injera, an Ethiopian flatbread that is used both as a serving dish and a utensil. If you haven’t eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, I highly recommend it. Just be prepared to eat with your hands.

Ethiopian feast served on injera

We like Asmara in Cambridge. Addis Red Sea in Boston is also quite good. My Ethiopian patients tell me that Fasika in Somerville is the best place.

I’ve been experimenting with both the grain and the flour this week. Since teff cooks up fairly sticky, like amaranth, I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast. For my most recent pot, I added some chopped sweet potato and cinnamon, and I’ve been reheating it with soy milk, raisins and pecans.

I tried the Bob’s Red Mill Teff Chocolate cake recipe, and while I liked it, it wasn’t chocolaty enough for my taste. I will experiment with it and post an updated version in the future. One great thing about the cake, though, is that it’s very filling (which is a good thing–it’s filling you up with high-quality protein).

One down side to adding teff to your diet is that it’s hard to find it at the store. Whole Foods in Cambridge carries teff flour, but not the grain. I order all of my grains from Bob’s Red Mill, and I think teff is definitely worth the trouble of ordering.