Saturday, June 26, 2010

Want to see The Veggie Queeen on the Oprah Winfrey Network?

If you'd like to see me have my own show, Eating for Energy, please click this link.
You can vote a number of times for the same video. Should you lose the link, just go to browse videos, enter Jill and cooking, and you'll find me. I'd also love to hear any of your comments.

Additionally, I want to let you know that my blog has now officially moved to my new-ish website at You can find the blog under the blog tab or by clicking here. You can also sign up to receive new blog posts by clicking on the orange RSS feed button on the page. If you receive the feeds from this blog, please do that so that you can keep up with what I'm doing, in case I don't end up on the Oprah Winfrey Network any time soon.

I'd like your votes but honestly I see myself as a better candidate for PBS. I am all about doing vegetable, food and nutrition education and I'm not into hype or commercials.

Thanks for your support.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where Has the Time Gone?

If I were a teacher (oh, I actually am) and had to grade myself on blogging, I suspect that my grade would be less than a C for consistency or lack thereof. Each blog post might be an A or B but the lack of frequency would drag the grade down. With that said, and the self-flagellation out of the way, I can now tell you what I've been doing that's prevented me from blogging more often. (Listen for the excuses, if you read them, call me on them.)

As much as I'd like to say that I NEVER get ill, that's just not the case. I live in the world and sometimes those nasty germs and viruses get me, just like they do you. I take as many precautions as possibly but short of going the Howard Hughes route, I live in the world and as they say things happen.

In early March, I got hit with some stomach bug (from the one time that I ate outside the home) that I thought that I shook off through eating fermented foods, especially miso (South River is my favorite) and kombucha, rice and baked potatoes for the better part of a week. I was feeling better for a few days, and once again I ate at some potluck meals and wham -- I got knocked down again for close to another week. Back to rice, baked potato, miso, kombucha and home-fermented sauerkraut as tolerated. Finally started feeling better but a bit weak after the bodily assault. Throughout all of this I was writing and planning future classes. Luckily when I was teaching, I was feeling just fine. (Thank my lucky stars for that because teaching cooking when you feel lousy is just NO fun.)

I then went to Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo for just one day where I sampled my way through many products that I wouldn't necessarily consider "natural" but many that were. If you have any questions about the show, just ask me.
My favorite quinoa people from La Yapa quinoa from Bolivia where there. They call theirs, "Quinoa with a Cause", as they support education in Bolivia. I am pictured here with Tania, who is Bolivian. Check out their website. And while you're there, you can see my video on cooking quinoa in a pressure cooker.

Then I went to Oaxaca, Mexico for 6 days and all was well with the world. Saw some ruins, checked out Zapotec weavers, saw the Big Tree (any photos don't do it justice -- you have to just see it), went to markets, ate great food (stay tuned for posts and photos of the food) and then visited some friends of friends of friends and did what you shouldn't do - I drank the water because I saw it come out of a 5 gallon bottle. Trouble was that I didn't know where that bottle was filled, and with what. So, guess what? Traveling home the next day and wham -- sucker punched in the gut again, and there goes the eating for a number of days. Back to my regimen, which by then I had down pretty well.

Finally, I am feeling better and ready to get to work on food. I have a jar of cabbage, golden beets, green garlic, daikon radish tops, ginger, garlic and Oaxacan chipotle pepper fermenting on my counter top, inspired by the sprouting and fermenting class that I taught earlier this week. Once fermented (which will hopefully happen by mid-week next week) I plan to eat this regularly to help keep my gut healthy and resistant.

I have about a week to go and then I leave town again for Portland, Oregon and then Seattle. I am quite hopeful that I'll be able to drink the water and get back to blogging.

If you've got any wonderful stomach bug remedies, please share them in the comments below.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Veggie Queen Sprouts Again

I have been following a partly-raw diet for most of my life. I have always eaten raw fruit and vegetables, and for at least 30 years, on and off, I have been sprouting. I love the simplicity of the jar method:

  • you put the seeds in a jar with a screened lid or piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band,
  • soak,
  • rinse,
  • put in a bowl on an angle in a cabinet and then rinse twice a day
  • When ready, place the jar in a spot with indirect sunlight and let the sprouts green up by absorbing light and turning it into chlorophyll.
Here is the first step in seed soaking overnight. This has to happen no matter which method you use. This jar has a screen on the top.

But for the past 16 months, I have been using the Sprout Master Mini Triple Sprouter which is like a little stacked sprout house which is available from a place called The Sprout House where I buy most of my exotic sprout seeds. I purchase the usual beans and grains in bulk at my local natural foods store and send away for mixes (check out the Veggie Queen mix) and exotic seeds such as broccoli, clover, radish and many more.

I have discovered why my compact sprout system works better for me than the jar method. I recently made mung bean sprouts and put them in the cabinet to sprout in the dark. Twenty four hours later I realized that I had not remembered to rinse them. They were still OK but had a forgotten longer they may have stopped sprouting or rotted which is a big waste. I see my Sproutmaster on the counter top and remember to rinse the seeds which is vitally important.

I also discovered that the seeds seem to sprout better in the Sproutmaster than in the jar so I ended up putting my "jar seeds" into the Sproutmaster to finish sprouting. I made this salad with all those sprouts (no apologies for no photo since I made it for the McDougall program participants and didn't stop to take a photo. Believe me, it was beautiful. If you were there and want to comment, please do. I have to wait a few days for new sprouts before I can shoot the photo so... in the interest of time and getting this post up -- NO photo of the actual recipe).

Contact Rita at The Sprout House if you want to become a great sprouter like me. For the month of March you'll get a free pound of St. Patrick's mix with your sprouter. (Note: I am an affiliate of the Sprout House but only recommend people and products that I personally love.)

Rainbow Sprout Salad
Serves 4
I recently ate something like this at a mushroom hunting potluck. I had already likely eaten too much but it was too beautiful and tasty to pass up. Vary the ingredients based on what you have available.

1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons water
1-2 teaspoons mellow white miso
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons agave syrup (optional)

Combine all the vegetables in a bowl and toss, adding sunflower seeds and dried fruit, if using.
In a small bowl, combine orange juice, zest, water, miso, mustard and agave syrup, if using. Combine dressing with sprouts and vegetables right before serving.

© 2010 The Veggie Queen™, Jill Nussinow, MS, RD

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sonoma County Restaurant Week February 22nd to 28th, 2010

I happen to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with some of the best food around -- at least in my kitchen. I shop at the farmer's market and what I get it fresh and tasty. I am happy to say that the same is true for many Sonoma County restaurants, as I see the chefs haunting the farmer's markets for the "fresh stuff."

Coming up in less than 2 weeks, is the first
Sonoma County Restaurant Week. It's a chance to try a number of different restaurants -- certainly more than 25 of them are participating. I have a few that I'd like to revisit since it's been a long time, and some that I'd like to try. The best part of the the week is that you can choose from set menus that are either $19, $29 or $39. So you know what you're getting into.

On my list for the week are Sizzling Tandoor for some mighty-tasty Indian fare in Santa Rosa, Peter Lowell's in Sebastopol for organic, local ingredients hot out of their wood-fired oven, HopMonk Tavern also in Sebastopol, Barndiva in Healdsburg where I haven't been for ages but will gladly go for the Hen of the Woods 'shroom entree, Dempsey's in Petaluma where I know that I can pair the food with great beer and Bistro des Copains in Occidental would make my list for sure if they had a vegetarian entree but sadly they don't have one listed. Since there are only 7 days in a week, and I am already busy one of the nights, I am going to have to make some choices as to where to eat during this week. Usually, it's at home but I will make some exceptions.

Remember that my choices are based on the restaurant offering what sounds like a good vegetarian or vegan option. There are plenty of others that might appeal to you. Remember that you are supporting a vibrant community of farmers and restaurateurs when you go out for Sonoma County Restaurant Week. Hope to see you out there somewhere.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Michael Pollan and The Veggie Queen Agree on Vegtables and Cooking

The other day I went to see my former schoolmate, Michael Pollan, speak about his new book Food Rules. I find this ironic because in junior high and high school, I was the one who cared about healthy food, eschewing the garbage served in the cafeteria and bringing my own food to eat. I went on to get a graduate degree in nutrition and I think that Michael got a degree in English, communication or journalism. Michael Pollan became a famous writer. I became a writer with much less status but still with something to say.

Michael (also referred to as Pollan) will tell you that he’s not an authority on food. And this is the part that bothers me just a bit. For more than twenty years, I have been teaching people about eating healthier by eating “real” foods. I’d also tell them that they didn’t need a Registered Dietitian to tell them that the foods at the top of the Food Pyramid – cake, cookies, soda, ice cream, salad dressing and the like- weren’t good for them. Obviously, I was correct – they needed a journalist/writer to do that.

Michael’s new book Food Rules follows the format of his previous book In Defense of Food, going with his haiku, “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” This is where we come into agreement. In fact, one of the first statements I heard at the talk (I took 9 pages of notes in just over 30 minutes) was, “The healthiest food is in the produce department.” We agree that eating vegetables is an essential part of eating well.

I will now briefly run through some of the rest of my notes that might be of interest to you. My post title may be misleading because Michael and I agree on much more than just vegetables and cooking. In fact, we encourage people to follow many of the same food rules.

For a little background, Pollan shared that his interest in food grew out of his garden trials and tribulations. He was pleased to be at The Seed Bank and noted that the "real economy" is in the seeds, and that you cannot bail out the "real economy". In fact, we need to grow it. I agree wholeheartedly.

Pollan wonders why Americans are so confused about feeding themselves. And then when he takes a trip to the supermarket, he understands. There are lots of "food like substances" and far less "real food".

He suggests avoiding food that has health claims. He says that the cereal boxes contain the most flagrant examples of misleading claims, such as cereal that improves your immunity, that will improve your child's focus, that will protect you from a heart attack, yet this cereal contains 43% sugar by weight, and so on. And did you know that Froot Loops are better for you than donuts (as if donuts were the gold standard)?

He says that the yogurt aisle isn't much better.

He reminded the audience that food is not biochemistry. You do not need to know what an antioxidant is to eat well. AMEN. I couldn't agree more. You do not need a dietitian to tell you that potato chips are not healthy food. But please, Michael, I beg you to accept the fact that some dietitians are into food and what it can do, and RDs are not the enemy.

Here are the myths that Pollan wants to rebuke:
  1. Foods are the sum of their nutrient parts. Nutrients matter.

  2. You need experts to tell you how to eat. He likens this process to religion - and discusses the relationship of food and health.

  3. Nutritionism divides foods into good and evil nutrients which has led us to where we are now in terms of the obesity epidemic.

  4. The whole point of eating is health. Food and eating are on the ruining your health or saving your life spectrum. But what about other perfectly legitimate reasons for eating such as pleasure, community, cultural identity?

Pollan said, "I don't think that science knows enough to tell us what to eat." Agreed -- nutrition science is young. That's why I prefer to follow Mother Nature's need. He likens where we are to surgery in the year 1650 -- "it's interesting to watch but you don't want them to work on you yet," he says.

He suggests that if we tune into nature more and look at our past, we can likely figure out a better way to eat.

People who eat an incredible range of traditional diets around the world do not suffer from the chronic modern diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, that are rampant in the US population who eat the SAD (Standard American Diet) of mostly processed food.

And we can roll back the effects of the SAD diet by changing how you eat.

Here are some of the 64 rules in Food Rules that Pollan shared. Remember:

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

Avoid foods that make health claims, need a package and a big marketing budget.

The healthiest food is in the produce section. AT this point in the talk, I am smiling wide and patting myself on the back (at least figuratively). He said, "Don't be fooled by the silence of the yams, that they won't contribute to your health."

Don't buy any foods that you see advertised on television. (Big marketing budget at work.)

If it came from a plant, eat it. Woo hoo. Now I am internally cheering.

If it grew in a plant or a laboratory, avoid it. (Please say no to Monsanto as they destroy our food system.)

Rule Number 63: Plant a garden. Make it a large vegetable garden if you have the space, or a window box garden if you don't have room. Get away from fast, cheap and easy food. You'll eat what your garden yields. And you'll save money.(Oh, yes.) A recent study showed that a $70 investment in a garden yields about $700 worth of food. And it will put you in touch with the earth.

Rule Number 64: COOK. It's the easiest way to take back control of your diet and to know where your food comes from. (At this point, I was floating, and thinking that this talk was too good to be true except it could have been me up there wowing the crowd.)

While I wish that it were me or some other Registered Dietitian, with the ability to see beyond nutrients and look at food for the goodness that it provides, doing the bidding and getting people interested in their food, I salute Michael Pollan for all that he’s done to help people wake people up to the state of our food and what we eat. I hope that all that he's doing will make a big difference. It already has for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Raw Kale Salad: A Green Time of Year

Today at the farmer's market a guy that I don't think that I know directly asked me if I'd seen any bok choy at the market. I said, "No" because, I hadn't.

Then he asked me if I'd seen chard, and since I was right at the Triple T Ranch and Farm booth, I pointed to the basket of Swiss chard. He went over to it, and I remarked, "Why don't you use kale, there's lots of it here today?" He walked away and I have no idea what he did.

But I know what I did, I bought collards and 2 different kinds of kale: dinosaur and Red Russian and made a raw kale salad. This is certainly one of my favorite winter salads when the greens are sweetest. There are many variations on this but this is my current favorite. I think that this will change when the vegetables change with the seasons.

The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad
Serves 2-4
This is easy to make and you’ll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, put in extras to suit your taste. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. When you massage the greens, be sure to add the love.

2 bunches kale, collards or other greens, washed and spun dry
2-3 teaspoons raw tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons miso (my favorite is South River Miso – brown rice or or mellow white works well) or Bragg’s liquid amino acids
1 teaspoon agave, or more to taste
1 apple, sliced thin, julienned or grated

Remove leaves from large ribs and slice thinly. Put into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso. Put your hands into the bowl and massage the greens until they are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the agave syrup and apple. Stir well to combine. This tastes best when eaten immediately.

Note: you can also add sunflower seeds or dried fruit to this salad, or go more savory by adding crushed garlic and sliced onion and omitting the apple.

Notice how the greens shrink by about half when they are massaged with the tahini, miso and lemon juice. If you are eating this by yourself, make half a batch at once.

Let me know how you like this salad by leaving a comment here on this blog, below, or sending me an email at jill at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mushroom Camp, Fancy Food Show, Then Life

Even though I wrote right here on my blog that I was going to bring my camera to mushroom camp, I managed to forget it. It's probably a good thing that I did because there was so much work to do that I would not likely have had time to use it. My friend Ellen snapped the one photo that I wanted of me with Saul and Moon Planits (aliases), featured here. It's not everyday that you meet people with such unusual names, but SOMA mushroom camp is that kind of place. If I'd had more time out of the kitchen, it's likely that I would have discovered other interesting people.

I actually managed to get out to a class taught by Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac. on how to make medicinal mushroom tinctures but it was just then that I realized that we had to count bowls which would hold all the darned condiments for our outrageously complicated-to-prepare-and-cook Asian street food meal, put together by Mycochef Patrick Hamilton, pictured with me below, in a pretty unflattering but "real" photo. So, sitting in a class didn't really work for me and I didn't make it out of the kitchen much but the meal got rave reviews.

We had an incredible team of volunteers, too many to mention so forgive me if I haven't included your name (you know that I adore all the volunteer "kitchen slaves"), who worked their butts off. Below is Andy ("The Toolman") Still and his wife Gayle. Andy brought his industrial strength Robot Coupe with more blades than I ever knew existed. That machine saved us from kitchen failure and melt down although we know now that those blades are very, very sharp. Nothing further shall be mentioned regarding this or any other things that needed nursing.

Included here is also a kind of dark photo of me with my dear friend Dee, who does incredible hand reading, and is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. All photos by my "right hand woman" Ellen. I know that I ought to have some food photos but those will hopefully show up somewhere else, like on the SOMA Mushrooms website but nothing yet (or I've just been too busy to check).

Sunday night I left Mushroom Camp in a heavy downpour (both myself and the weather), ready for my bed at home, and the next day working on writing assignments at The Fancy Food Show at Moscone in San Francisco.

I had hoped to see, and stay with, my friend Sonnie but the weather (still raining) and my mood (both a bit wet and bedraggled) didn't allow that. I walked the show floor all day, missing a number of interesting items as I was focused on my story leads about beverages and cheese (of all things). And, once again, I forgot my camera. I ought to have it somehow surgically implanted so that it goes with me everywhere.

I managed to test out the chocolates, grains, gluten-free products (in abundance), agave (how many kinds can there really be? At least 2, I found out - white and blue.) and popcorn. It looks like popcorn is the latest, greatest "new" snack food. At the end of the day, I was ready to head back home for a fairly quiet week of work.

And I got that for a few days until Thursday afternoon when my 16-year old son called to tell me that he needed a ride home and that he likely needed to go straight to the hospital to have his appendix out. So, I picked him up, took him to Kaiser Permanente and we spent 6 hours in the emergency room, minus a short time in radiology for a CAT scan to determine that, yes, he did need his appendix removed, an hour in surgery pre-op, an hour post-op and at about 3 am we made it to a patient room, where my uncomfortable son tossed and turned in a hospital bed while his exhausted mother slept in a most uncomfortable chair for a few hours. When I awoke, I drove home to rest for a while and gather my thoughts.

Son is resting uncomfortably at home now, and I had a most remarkable deep sleep last night. I guess that somehow hard work pays off and you never know what the reward will be. I am grateful for the little things -- health, sleep, air, a roof over my head, the sunshine, rainbows, and so much more. May your next week be less eventful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mushroom Time Again -- SOMA Mushroom Camp Approaches

Winter in Northern California is often like a big playground for those of us who are mushroom hunters. I consider myself part of the lot, although the days that I go out hunting have been limited in the last few years by working too much on "perfect hunting days". I hear the mushroom sirens singing but must ignore them all too often. One of my goals for this year is to get outside at least once a week with my eyes focused on the ground -- at least during mushroom season which lasts until around April, depending upon the weather. While this has not been the best year for mushrooms, it's a heck of a lot better than last year which, to me, was one of the worst that I can recall. (But I am fairly new to this endeavor -- with less than 10 years in.)

No matter what happens in the woods, SOMA mushroom camp takes place Martin Luther King weekend in Occidental, California. And I am one of the lucky people who toils in the kitchen, putting out a couple of wonderful mushroomy meals. I work with Mycochef Patrick Hamilton who does the menu, and I am the kitchen coordinator, or sous chef. This year, I fear that I may be in trouble with our Asian street food menu of 20 dishes that require many hands. But many hands we will have and if I can remember all the names and faces that go with the hands, we will have spectacular results. (Think about joining us next year, in the kitchen or not. It's an amazing weekend.)

My favorite part of camp is when I sneak out the back door to mushroom cultivation -- making oyster mushroom bags to bring home. You can see the results from one of last year's oyster mushroom bags here.

This year I will have my camera with me and hope to get some people and mushroom shots, with the mushrooms easier to hunt down than the people. So stay tuned...

You never know what you'll find in the woods or in the kitchen.