This is my friend Chef Linda Shiue and she has a new cookbook.
Chef Linda is also Dr. Linda Shiue, practicing physician, trained chef and culinary instructor committed to helping her patients make the connection between their diet and their health. She explores her love of world travel and plant-based cuisine in her blog, Spicebox Travels, and all that goodness shines through in her first cookbook, Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes (Hachette Books).
I’ve been a fan of Linda’s writing and recipes for more than a decade (yes!) and I can highly recommend many of the recipes in this book, in particular, the Kale Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables (p. 69) that she serves at Thanksgiving (why wait for Turkey Day? I make it all year long), and a pair of tasty tacos ~ Potato-Mushroom (p. 87), and Roasted Salmon (p. 88). Dr. Linda includes all the extra flavor bombs that make her recipes worth putting on repeat ~ Grilled Pineapple Salsa (p. 111), Cashew-Lime Crema (p. 107) and Pickled Red Onions (p. 112).
Linda’s advocacy for a plant-based diet that doesn’t sacrifice flavor and enjoyment hits home with me because four years ago, I started a weight loss journey and took off 70 pounds through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise (mostly walking). I’ve maintained the same weight for three years now in part due to a plant-heavy diet. I still eat meat, but the vegetables are what I love. I’m continually learning how to eat well for my health and Linda’s blog and now book are my go-to resources.
Asparagus is undoubtedly one of my favorite vegetables and I am so excited for Linda to share her recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Gremolata with A Cook and Her Books readers, below.
Healthy Living with Chef Linda Shiue
Check this out: Linda recently answered a few questions about her cookbook, eating well and living healthy.
What is your goal with the cookbook & cooking classes?
As a doctor and cooking teacher, I wanted to provide an answer to the question of “Doc, what should I eat?” More than that, I wanted to show people that healthy food doesn’t mean deprivation, and teach people to love their vegetables. I think there are misconceptions about what “healthy food” is, and that people think of it as being bland, flavorless, and unappealing. I love creating a community in my cooking classes. And I tried to capture that same spirit of people communing over food and discovery of new tastes in the cookbook.
Your book and classes are a prescription for a healthy lifestyle. For someone who is looking to make changes in their diet and lifestyle, how do you suggest they begin?
I think the best way to help people make positive changes is to first make sure they understand their own reason for changing– ideally, it should come from within, not because someone told them to. It might be something like, “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to have more energy,” or “I don’t want to develop diabetes.”
Then, I think it’s good to examine their current diet and lifestyle habits, and see how to nudge those in a slightly more positive direction, while not necessarily doing a full overhaul all at once. For example, if someone loves burgers, perhaps have them try a veggie burger (or the Miso Glazed Maitake Mushroom Burger in Spicebox Kitchen) so that it’s still something familiar.
If they like tacos, trying one of the vegetarian or pescatarian taco recipes in Spicebox Kitchen, such as the Potato and Mushroom Tacos or the Roasted Salmon Tacos, might be a gentle way to still enjoy Taco Tuesday while stepping away from red meat and sour cream.
For increasing activity, a gradual increase, like those couch to 5K training programs, is much more reasonable than never exercising and then thinking you can run 5 miles daily right away.
What is your favorite food to cook right now?
I definitely go through phases with my cooking and eating preferences, and right now my tastebuds are definitely leaning towards Asia. I’ve been craving noodle dishes, and adding lots of greens and other vegetables to make them a little healthier. And now with our farmers’ markets bursting with beautiful spring produce, big salads too.
Tell me about travel and its role in your culinary inspiration.
I have an adventurous and curious soul, and I am always looking for the next place to explore! Because food and travel are my twin loves, organizing my travel around food is a logical and natural way to plan. I like to start out in the local market when I visit a new destination– it’s the heart of any place, where locals gather, and can really give you the pulse of a place.
And taking a cooking class can be a great way to learn more about the culture. I enjoy purchasing spices and local food as souvenirs, because it’s the best way to capture a food memory and feeling. It could be a local chile sauce, vanilla extract, tea, and when available, local chocolate.
Your travel plans have been on hold since the pandemic began. Where will you travel next? And what do you plan to eat when you get there?
I am feeling so restless! I have my eye on Turkey, where I plan to eat a lot of eggplant dishes, yogurt, and explore the spice markets.
Grilled Asparagus with Gremolata
by Linda Shiue, MD, Chef
One of my favorite ways to enjoy asparagus is quickly grilled. Just a few minutes of direct heat brings out its succulence and sweetness. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper are already delicious. For something a little more special, top with freshly made gremolata for a perfect summer backyard grilling treat.
Note: Gremolata is a vibrant lemon peel and herb topping used traditionally in Italian cuisine to accompany osso buco. It can also add a bright and zesty flavor to any roasted proteins or vegetables, to swirl into soup, or sprinkle onto pasta.
You can follow this recipe or just use a ratio of about 2:1:1, parsley: lemon peel : garlic. Make sure to peel the lemon lightly, to avoid adding too much of the bitter pith (the white part under the skin). A paring knife or vegetable peeler can be used for this purpose. (Note that because you’ll be eating the lemon peel, it is best to use organic, unwaxed lemons. Make sure to wash thoroughly before using.)
For a fun variation, feel free to experiment with other citrus zests (such as orange, lime, or grapefruit).
1 bunch asparagus
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon peel (from about 1 lemon)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1. Preheat grill for high heat.
2. Lightly coat asparagus spears with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to grill.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata:
Place chopped ingredients together on a cutting board and chop them again until well combined. Transfer to a bowl until ready to use. (Gremolata is best used same day. It can be stored in a paper towel–lined covered container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
4. Grill prepared asparagus over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, to desired tenderness.
5. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with gremolata. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Excerpted and adapted from Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy With Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes by Chef Linda Shiue, M.D. Copyright © 2021. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.
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