Cooking your way to better health for you and the planet.
Wholesome recipes from our featured chefs and cooks—no sugar necessary. Our chefs and cooks know how to prepare real food in ways that are affordable, nutritious, time-efficient, and delicious. Know of a chef or cook who is keeping it real? Email us and let us know.
Who is the Cook?
Wolfram is Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. Wolfram started cooking as a child - the oldest son of a single working mother. A confessed Kale junkie and "real food hack," Wolfram claims to eat this salad almost every day. “I just don’t have a lot of time to cook, and this salad delivers all the micronutrients and fiber I need. I have prepared this recipe for small and large groups and it is always a crowd pleaser. The Umami flavor mixed with the crunchy ingredients always leave me feeling filled for the rest of the day.”
Wolfram’s Kale Surprise (also known as "Barbed Wire" Salad)
This is a quick and easy meal that you can eat this almost every day - it will fill you up, and is loaded with great nutrients and fiber. Seems like everywhere you go today, there is kale...so many varieties! I'm hooked on kale and thought I might share my favorite kale recipe for you folks out there that don't have a whole lot of time for food preparation. There is so much incredible kale out there in markets right now, so please experiment with your own mix.
- Because we often have limited time and patience to prep, my favorite fast food is Harvest Sensations Organic Kale Salad that I find at Whole Foods. It is pre-washed and has some red cabbage and carrots shredded up in the mix to provide added color and some extra flavor. The kale variety they use is exceptionally crunchy and delicious (I think it is a blue Tuscan Kale, but the label doesn't say). Trader Joe's now has a similar kale mix as well. Dump as much as you want or need into the salad bowl. The more the merrier I say.
- Add handfuls of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond slices, peanuts, cashews, etc. to your own taste. I follow my own squirrel instincts in this regard.
- Mix it up with Annie's Naturals Shiitake & Sesame Dressing. This dressing has no sugar added and is my all-time favorite. I LOVE this stuff! Add as much as you want, and no I don't get paid by any of these companies to promote their products. (The IRN gets no compensation from the food products we highlight)
- Want to make your own Shiitake dressing? Sally Sampson from ChopChop shared the recipe below, which I have tried (and enjoyed!) is a great alternative if you have the time and want to make this salad dressing from scratch.
- Serve up in a humungous bowl and add some dollops of hummus on top. Make it Jalapeno hummus if you feel like walking on the wild side. Smoked-peppered salmon, VeganToona and Wasabi mayo all taste great on this too.
Who is the Chef?
Sally Sampson is the president and founder of ChopChop, a food and cooking magazine for young children (5-12 years). She is also the author/co-author of several cookbooks.
Sally's Homemade Shiitake & Sesame Dressing
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola, soy and/or sunflower)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)- (might be better with dried)
6 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Place a medium size skillet over medium low heat and when it is hot, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring from time to time, until golden, 3- 5 minutes
- Add the shiitakes and cook, without letting the sesame seeds burn, about 3 minutes
- Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk well
- Cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to two weeks
Who is the Chef?
Laura Stec is a corporate and private chef, corporate wellness educator for Kaiser Permanente and Bay Area businesses, owner of Laura Stec – Innovative Cuisine, and author of Cool Cuisine – Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming. The Food Party! is her featured blog for Embarcadero Media (Palo Alto Weekly, Menlo Park Almanac, Mountain View Voice).
Veggie Almond Chili
This chili has a lot of ingredients, but it doesn’t take long to assemble. The key to a satisfying vegetarian chili is creating a deep complexity of flavors so people feel like they are eating chili and not vegetable soup. Chili is best cooked the day before, allowing flavors to develop.
1/3 cup almonds
1/2 cup emmer grain,* or 1/4 cup bulgur (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil1 large yellow onion, chopped3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, diced medium
3 sticks celery, diced medium
1 small jalapeño, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder (optional but preferable; can use regular chili powder)
1 chipotle chili, finely chopped
2 reconstituted dry or oil-based sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry red or white wine1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, liquid reserved, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
6 tablespoons beer (dark is good, such as a chocolate stout or porter)
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon rich-tasting olive oil
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white or yellow hominy, rinsed and drained
1 cup black beans, cooked (canned or homemade. See recipe on pages 28–29)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Garnish: Chopped white onion and cilantro leaves, grated cheddar cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place almonds on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until light brown. Remove from oven. When cool, finely grind in a food processor.
- If using emmer: Rinse emmer and place in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook 50 minutes. Remove from heat.
If using quick-cooking bulgur: Place 1/2 cup bulgur in a small baking pan. Boil 1 cup of water and pour on top of bulgur. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. For more flavor, use 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup stock. Add ¼ cup or to taste to chili and reserve the rest for another use. Want to make your own Shiitake dressing? Sally Sampson from ChopChop shared the recipe below, which I have tried (and enjoyed!) is a great alternative if you have the time and want to make this salad dressing from scratch.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add onion and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and stir. Add carrots, celery, and jalapeño; stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the next 8 ingredients (coriander through Dijon mustard). Sauté for 3 minutes. Add wine and sauté until mixture is almost dry. While cooking, blend half the tomatoes into a purée. Add the beer, molasses, ground almonds, and olive oil. Add both diced and puréed tomatoes. Stir well and lower heat; allow this thick slurry to lightly cook for 10 minutes. Add stock, hominy, emmer, and beans. Cook for one hour on a low heat. Mix in cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish.
*Emmer is an ancient wheat, described as the “grandfather of farro.” It is a larger grain than regular wheat and has a distinct richer flavor and meaty-chewy texture—great for chili. I only know one place it grows in the country: Winthrop, Washington. Buy online at www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com.
Who is the Chef?
Luci Gabel is the founder of LuciFit, LLC, one of the IRN's partners. She has dedicated her career to helping individuals and corporations with making healthy lifestyle changes.
Luci's Super Easy Chicken Soup
Both of my Slovak grandmothers made this soup recipe. When I was old enough, they taught me how to make it myself. Because it was so easy, and so inexpensive, it was one of my mainstay meals during the winter months when I was first living on my own in New York City. Because it's so delicious, it's one of my go-to winter recipes still today.
You won’t believe how easy chicken soup is to make. You only need about 30 minutes prep time and the rest gets done while it’s on the stove! The meal is fool-proof and very flexible in terms of ingredients. Your kitchen will get steamy, which is an added benefit in the cold weather. Makes about twelve servings.
About 2.5 hours before eating: Take any remaining chicken off the bones (they don't have to be super clean)
Fill a soup pot with water
Place large bones of chicken into the water (discard any teeny ones)
Heat the bones to boiling
Add all the broth ingredients
Simmer for 1-1.5 hours*
Go and relax!
About 1 hour before dinner: Wash and chop into bite-size pieces all soup ingredients
Separate the bones
Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl
Take soup from stove with gloves or potholders
Pour soup through strainer and catch clear liquid below
Bay leaf, parsley and bones will stay in strainer. Discard contents of strainer
Rinse pot if you’d like but not necessary
Pour the clear liquid back into the pot & add water if needed, some may have evaporated
Add the prepped soup ingredients
Cook for 45 min to an hour or until carrots are soft (you cannot overcook)
Serve soup with a side of one or two of your choice: Protein - chicken, fish or lean beef
Grain - (1 c per person only) fresh pasta, brown rice, or barley
Vegetable - broccoli, asparagus, ear of corn, brussels sprouts, or sweet potato
Once soup is cool: you can skim any solid fat off the top
Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top, if desired
Add salt and pepper to soup per individual bowl if necessary (try it first without)
Store soup in pot in the refrigerator (it will last about 5 days)
*To make bone broth soup, plan to simmer the bones for longer: three hours minimum.
Who is the Chef?
Diane Hoch is the founder of The Food Evolution, a nutrition and cooking center that teaches people how to prepare "delicious and nutritious whole foods."
Citrus and Fennel Kale Salad with Avocado
- In a large salad bowl, place the kale and sprinkle with sea salt – massage until the kale begins to wilt and release some moisture, about 2 ½ minutes.
- Add the fennel, lemon juice and pepper - mix until well combined.
- Sprinkle with orange segments and avocado.
- Serve and Enjoy! YUM!
Who are the Chefs?
Chloe and Anna are the cofounders of Homemade, a healthy eating program that teaches people how to cook wholesome and delicious meals.
Homemade Ricotta Banana Muffins
This breakfast muffin feels like a special treat, but will fuel the body for hours without leaving a spike in the blood sugar. The eggs and ricotta provide the healing building blocks with natural proteins and fatty acids. The banana naturally sweetens the muffin, and allows a special texturing as well! Delicious!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Whisk the egg
- Mash in the banana
- Add and blend in the ricotta cheese, vanilla and salt
- Pour into greased muffin tins
- Bake for around 45-60 mins (or until edges are caramelized) - they will shrink a bit
- Serve warm or from the fridge!
Who is the Cook?
Dorothy is the Founder of The Suppers Programs and a facilitator of numerous meetings. Suppers is a network of nearly free-to-users programs for people who are willing to make diet and lifestyle changes to achieve more vibrant health. Meetings at Dor's run the spectrum from those focused largely on food preparation and developing a palate for whole, fresh food; to meetings for people with insulin-dependent diabetes; to raw vegan meetings for people who want to prepare delicious plant-based meals. Dor also runs facilitator training programs, health-focused tours of local food stores, and special Suppers events in public venues.
Dorothy's Broiled Salmon with Asparagus and Coconut Milk
1 pound salmon
coconut fat (or olive oil)
1 onion (sliced thin)
1 inch ginger (minced)
1 can coconut milk (not light)
2 limes (one juiced, one for wedges to serve)
1 bunch asparagus
1 small red pepper
1 bunch scallions (sliced for garnish)
2 cups edible pod peas
fresh dill (minced to garnish)
1 small red onion (minced)
- Put some oil in a roasting pan to prevent sticking.
- Place the salmon skin side down in the pan. Rub on a little oil and pepper.
- Broil until there is a little crust, about 10 minutes, and reduce oven to 350 degrees.
- Use a knife to check for doneness. I generally serve it while there is still a little translucence deep inside. It may need another 5 minutes to finish.
- Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a soup pot with oil and cook the onion and ginger until it starts to color.
- Add the coconut milk, juice of one lime, asparagus, and red pepper.
- Simmer 2 minutes and add the peas. Simmer just a couple minutes, peas should still have a little crispness.
- Place ¼ of the salmon into each soup bowl and ladle the vegetables and coconut milk around each serving.
- Garnish with minced red onion and dill and lime wedge.
Who is the Chef?
Jennifer Iserloh is the Co-founder of National Kale Day, an Integrated Health Coach, and Certified Yoga Instructor. Jennifer Iserloh enjoys sharing her delicious yet healthy take on healing superfoods. She is the co-author of 50 Shades of Kale, and has worked on over 20 cookbooks to date. Her sauteed kale is the perfect side dish for a variety of main courses.
For four, 1.5-C servings, you'll need:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale (about 10 ounces), stems trimmed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until the garlic begins to brown.
- Add the kale, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and chili flakes and toss to coat in the oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes tossing occasionally until the edges start to brown and the kale becomes soft. Serve immediately.
Who is the Cook?
Robin Wearley is a Physician Assistant and former Flight Attendant who holds a Masters in Health Communication from Boston University. With almost 25 years specializing in cardiac and vascular surgery, Robin brings the health care practitioner perspective to the Healthy Eating for Active Travelers (HEAT) forum on Facebook.
Apricot and Feta Couscous Salad
- Cook one cup of pre-cooked couscous according to directions and set aside to cool.
- Chop the shallot, apricots, pepper, and parsley.
- Mix the dressing.
- When the couscous has cooled, toss all the ingredients together adding amounts to your liking. Lightly dress.
- If traveling, put in a to-go container. Keep cool with an ice pack or a frozen, water-filled sponge in a zip-close bag.
Who is the Cook?
Summer Rayne Oakes is a model-entrepreneur and the founder of Sugardetox.me, an online site to help people cleanse themselves from sugar. She is deeply passionate about putting healthier food choices into the hands of more people and has focused her efforts over the last several years on building greater access to local food. She graduated Cornell University with degrees in Environmental Science and Entomology.
Sautéed Shiitake and Red Onions with Roasted Sunchokes and Spinach Salad
This is a wholesome salad with a lot of flavor, brought out by the buttery, nutty crispness of the sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes—a relative of the iconic sunflower) and the earthy flavors of the shiitakes. Paired with red onions and fresh spinach, this is a fresh, feel-good meal. Sunchokes are particularly good for gut health—and though they take a little while to bake, they are worth the effort!
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb of Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
- 8 oz of whole shiitake mushrooms
- 1 large red onion, quartered
- 4 oz spinach
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the artichokes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub the tubers and cut out any eyes. Slice the tubers in halves. Mix with about 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt in a large bowl then arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes.
- Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Either keep them in if you like them more caramelized or remove them. Add the mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add between 1-2 tbsp of water to the skillet to give some moisture to the mushrooms. Reduce to low and let steam for about 2 minutes longer.
- Remove artichokes, onions and mushrooms. Toss them into a large bowl. Next take your spinach and take the last 1 tbsp of olive oil and some salt and pepper to mix through the greens. Add the onions, shiitake and sunchokes to the top.