Category Archives: Nutrition & Sustainable Food News

I’m in the Strib!

I am quoted in an article “Is bone broth the new coffee?” by Kevyn Burger, which appeared in the Taste section of Thursday’s edition!!

Burger contacted me b/c of my old blog post about making broth from chicken feet, entitled “Why Didn’t the Chicken Cross the Road?”.    Answer: because its feet were in China.

I believe you will get a ‘kick’ out of that post (pun intended)!  Basically, I make the case for chicken feet broth and decry the common hypocrisy about feet vs wings.

I do want to add a comment, however. I’m quoted as saying that I don’t always tell people that I’ve used chicken feet in soup. But rest assured, the vegan food I cook for clients is truly vegan! No bones about that!  

Besides being cheap and tasty, chicken feet broth is full of healthful glucosamine and chrondroitin.  You may as well enjoy animal joints more directly. I don’t find gel supplements particularly tasty.

There are lots of recipes for chicken feet broth on the interweb, as there are for other stocks & broths. But really, just throw them in a pot or crockpot w/ an onion and simmer away.


More about the benefits of cooking chicken feet:


New Demo Videos

Check out these little videos!  Thanks to Lane Rapp of Growing West Side, here I am captured for all eternity at last Sat’s cooking demonstration at their “Bean Summit”.

It was a terrifically educational session, starting with a show-and-tell of many kinds of heirloom beans, followed by growing tips from heirloom bean farmer Paula Foreman of Encore Farms, and lastly, my demo, where I made 3 different organic bean dishes (all vegan and gluten-free, no added sugars and no soy, of course).

  1.  Jacob’s Cattle Bean & Veg Salad in Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette
  2. Cassoulet of Black Beans, Green Kale & Cherry Tomatoes in Red Pepper Sauce
  3. Smashed Garlicky Black-eyed Peas with Spinach & Sage (great as bruschetta topping or sandwich filler)
Paula Foreman of Encore Farms on bean irrigation

Paula Foreman of Encore Farms on bean irrigation

Growing West Side’s mission is “Building community by supporting local gardening and sustaining a healthy neighborhood” in St Paul’s funky West Side. Among its many activities, it

  • runs a small Sat morn Farmers Market in the Icy Cup parking lot at corner of George and Stryker Sts, so you can buy veg and eat ice cream simultaneously (very smart);
  • offers free Scarlet Runner bean seeds for “Beans on the Boulevard”, a program to beautify the ‘hood;
  • offers classes on topics from Growing Small Fruit Orchards to Chickens 101;
  • has established a free Seed Library at the Riverside Library on George St.

Another fab organization that offers similar programs & resources in St Paul is Frogtown Gardens in the Frogtown neighborhood that stretches north of University Ave between Lexington and Western Aves. 


Spring Cleaning

I’m inordinately excited to announce that I have just begun to give all my kitchen scraps to Lost Boys Acre, a small one-acre organic veg & poultry farm in New Brighton!!  On Thu I gave a very large trash bag full of DDoW leek, beet, cabbage and carrot bits plus some old millet.

Old wilting scraps are ok too, said Lost Boys’ Kristie Kellis. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing that these descendants of dinosaurs won’t eat — yes, they do love chicken, and moldy cheese, apparently, too. What little they won’t eat goes into compost for the veg farm.

So, I am going to clean out the cupboards and frig at home with the happy knowledge that all that old past-due stuff will go to good use. The chickpea flour I got 3? 4? yrs ago and never used. The 2 yr-old chocolate chips. The mystery pilaf in the back of the frig. Maybe even the stale old spices?   And, of course, odds & ends in the cooler at GIA Kitchen, like sprouted fava beans and really old soup.

Here’s a pic of my happy “customers”. The more green matter they eat, the richer and more orange the egg yolks. Which I will see for myself, b/c I’ll get eggs in barter. Mmmmmm. 

Jake the turkey and girls at Lost Boys Acre farm (photo by Lost Boys Acre).

Jake the turkey and girls at Lost Boys Acre farm (photo by Lost Boys Acre).








Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)

Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)









On the very same day, I had a small catering job for a training session by MN Interfaith Power & Light, a local group working for climate justice. I gave them 10 quarts each of Gingery Beet Soup and Quinoa Fennel Carrot Salad in Dill Vinaigrette (the dishes of the week) plus gluten-free crackers and 2 bags of organic apples (which I get at wholesale cost). They provided bread & butter and beverages. Voila! A healthful, light and flavorsome meal for 20 at a reasonable price ($10/each). Vegan, paleo & GF, too.

I heard these environmentalists enjoyed my dinner. I know will be very pleased to hear about my relationship with Lost Boys Acre!

I am getting more such calls to deliver meals to board retreats, workshops, staff trainings, etc. People cannot brainstorm and strategize productively — nor study, nor work — if they’re hungry and tired. I’m on a board of directors, I should know. God forbid you ask me to review financial spreadsheets at 6.30pm, after a full work day.  Cheese-laden pizza? That’s just bread for dinner. That’s not dinner!

Adding napa cabbage last to simmering beets and leeks. I subbed potatoes for parsnips. (my photo).

Adding napa cabbage last to simmering beets and leeks. I subbed potatoes for parsnips. (my photo).

Speaking of spring cleaning, this Gingery Beet Soup, like all beet soups, will really ‘clean’ you out. In the good sense!  Plus, it is an extremely “clean” soup, as it contained a very small amount of olive oil and a very large amount of vegetables. The recipe is from one of my new cookbooks, “Love Soup” by Anna Thomas. It’s very easy to make, keeps well and, you can eat hot or cold. I enjoyed it both ways this past week. Cold soup was very refreshing on an 80F day.



Why Didn’t the Chicken Cross the Road?

Because its feet were in China.

Last month I shared Grandma Wong’s simple pork & corn cob consomme. Like all Chinese grandmothers, she also made an excellent chicken version with chicken feet. UGH, you North Americans are thinking!  But that’s what chicken feet are good for — very good in fact.  You don’t eat them. You just boil out all the chicken essence, then discard, just like you will do with your Christmas turkey carcass.

“Using chicken feet produces a rich, bold, flavorful broth” with [nutrient-rich] gelatin” says Lori Molski of Pure Fresh, whose soup photo I have ‘borrowed’ here below; see her recipe, among many others on the web.

Plus, Grandma Yue would add, chicken feet are cheap (she had six kids). You can get a whole bagful at the butcher counter for $2 dollars. They come frozen in bags at the Asian & Latino groceries. I’ve bought frozen chicken feet from local organic vendors too. It’s even on their product list.

Frank’s Red Hot wings eating contest (web photo).

What, I ask you, is the difference between wings and feet?! 
Other than people LOVE chicken wings and will over-pay for them routinely, especially if they come covered in bottled spicy sauce?  Chicken wings consist of bone, cartilage and nice moist bits of tendon and dark meat, covered in skin. Chicken feet consist of bone, cartilage and tendons covered in slightly thicker skin. People devour wings, gladly tearing those little proto-limbs apart with hands and teeth — the only way to eat wings, after all. And yet, they want mostly de-boned* chicken these days — dry chalky breast meat, at that — ostensibly because they can’t deal with bones…. Huh??  Enter a new creation, ‘boneless wings’, ie white breast meat processed and molded into a wing shape. (Eye roll.)

In fact, there has been such an explosion of demand for chicken wings in America that chicken producers can hardly keep up!

TIME magazine reported last February a steep rise in demand for chicken wings started three years ago.

USA Today continued:

Wings “used to be a throwaway item,” says Andy Howard, head of purchasing and product development for the Texas-based Wingstop chain. “The poultry guys couldn’t even give it away. Now prices have gone through the roof.” The primary factor driving up wing prices is the growing number of restaurants, including many national chains, that are adding wings to their offerings, says Richard Lobb, spokesman for the Washington-based chicken industry trade group the National Chicken Council.  ….  Other than for wings, the recession has slowed demand, and the overall price for chicken has been soft. “As expensive as wings are, they cannot carry the entire bird,” he says.

To offset wing prices, numerous restaurants are adding “boneless chicken wings” made of breast meat, [Larry Schaefer, founder of the Wisconsin restaurant chain Legend Larry’s] says. “The boneless wing is a much higher profit margin and it also attracts a lot more people who don’t care to eat things on bones,” he says.

TIME magazine also pointed out,

“Peak season for chicken wings is, by no small coincidence, also peak season for many sports lovers. It’s January through March, a span when the NFL Playoffs, the Super Bowl and March Madness take place. The National Chicken Council estimated that 1.25 billion chicken wings were eaten on Super Bowl Sunday, and that 23% of people who watched the game ate wings — a few, or perhaps a few dozen, each.

One interviewee I heard on NPR practically bemoaned the fact that chickens come with only 2 wings. I suppose if the GMO trend continues unopposed and hybridizing becomes ever more acceptable, eventually scientists will implant a chicken with salamander genes — which tastes like chicken anyway — to get a bird which can grow a new wing whenever it loses one. I’ll stop there.

Well, so where do all those unwanted chicken feet end up?  According to The New York Post,

The dark meat generally deemed undesirable stateside will be parceled out to countries in Asia, along with Russia and Mexico. “Most of the world actually prefers the dark meat,” said Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council. …“The chicken feet are exported in large portions to China, where they fry and eat them with beer,” Super said.

I bet there’s a spike in fried chicken feet sales during Shanghai Sharks’ b-ball games and national badminton and football (soccer to you and me) tourneys. Well, at least they’re not being ground up and fed to herbivore cows.

Chicken Vegetable Soup made with Chicken Feet Stock (photo Lori Molski,

So here’s a modest proposal. Given the increasing rate of poverty and food insecurity right here in MN, maybe I should start a campaign to popularize chicken feet soup. Waste not, want not. Think demos at food banks, meals at shelters. I could get Martha Stewart to sponsor me. She grew up solidly working-middle class and spent a year in jail, so she’s likely sympathetic to the plight of tired, poor, huddling masses, yearning for nourishing home-made soup. Plus, Martha would SURELY approve of such resourcefulness. Superstar chef Mario Batali, too, since he’s responsible for reviving (pun intended) the trend of organ meats, pig jowls and such served in haute cuisine fine dining establishments.

Give chicken feet soup a try!  You have nothing to lose and only nice chicken broth to gain. Add a corn cob or two. Both my Chinese grandmas would approve.

Note: I have restrained myself from including a photo of you-know-what. You’re welcome.

 Chicken parts are de-boned. A breast or thigh is not really ‘bone-less’, as if it never had one. This language disassociates food from where it comes from, ie animals. The Chinese words for pork, beef and chicken are “pig meat”, “cow meat” and ‘chicken meat”.

Waste Not, Want Not

A blog article “10 Simple Steps to Reduce Holiday Food Waste” reports:

Here’s a horrible, but not really surprising, statistic. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, our food waste triples in the United States.

“Food wasted in the United States and the United Kingdom could feed the world three times over”. (Photo & stat from

OMG!  The frugal gourmet /latent Chinese old lady in me shudders at the mere thought.

Another informative article “The Energy Cost of Food Waste” discusses the economic, humanitarian and environmental costs of widespread food waste.

A study claims 40 percent of all food in the United States is wasted, which translates into $47.2 billion of our nation’s food supply.

The Mother Nature Network article’s 10 Steps include planning more carefully; smaller plates; composting; and of course, making meals of left-overs.

I love composting. And, I’m ALL about left-overs.

Yes, I have ‘saved’ turkey carcasses from friends’ and family dinners and even from the nursing home where I interned as part of my dietetic tech training. The nursing home kitchen was very proud of its tradition of roasting turkeys for their home-made holiday meal, but were going to just toss the tasty bones of 5 giant turkeys. Whaaa?!  Criminal. Me and my deep freezer to the rescue.

I don’t know why they didn’t plan on making soup. The Food Director prided herself on meeting tight budget restrictions, after all. Those seniors and patients in rehab would have hopped out of their wheelchairs and ran to the dining hall for home-made soup. I worked in that kitchen, I should know. Talk about food waste.

My blogpost “Random Cooking Tips” from yesterday included suggestions to add frozen corn cobs to any soup stock; and making simple quick Mafe Stew w/ Sweet Potatoes.

 You can adapt those same tips for twists on Thanksgiving left-overs. Here are a few ideas: 

Thai Coconut Veggie Chowder — simple & quick.

 1) Turkey Chowder — make turkey broth w/ frozen corn cob. Then, throw in the green bean casserole, the brussel sprouts, plus frozen corn and diced white or sweet potatoes. If you have wild rice casserole, throw that in, too. The sauce from the traditional Midwestern casseroles will provide a bit of creaminess. Add a little milk too if you want.

2) Thai Turkey Chowder — same as above except add ginger & lemongrass when simmering stock. Then add coconut milk,  lime juice and cilantro. If you like Thai spice, add a few TB of Thai curry paste.

3) Indian Turkey Curry over Mashed Potatoes. Combine some broth, some turkey, onions, garlic, curry powder, a can of diced tomatoes and either some yoghurt or coco milk. Simmer. Throw in green bean casserole and stir. Heat up the mashed potatoes.

4) Turkey & Sweet Potato Mafe stew. Combine some broth, some turkey, onions, garlic, can of diced tomatoes, some tomato paste, left-over sweet potatoes and any green vegetable, and a slurry of melted peanut butter +  broth. Simmer. If you have mashed sweet potatoes, mix some into the sauce. See previous blogpost for more on Mafe. 

5) Stuffing Croutons and Italian Bread Salad. Spread out the stuffing on a cookie sheet and bake til crispy. Bread salad, a Mediterranean staple which relies on stale bread, is cubed bread plus fresh tomatoes, onions, minced herbs and a simple olive oil vinaigrette.

PS: #1 – 4 are gluten-free. #1-2 can be adapted to be dairy-free.


Join me in giving profuse thanks that we have food, period, let alone food to wantonly waste.
Whether you made the meal or not, savor your left-overs, not only because they taste good but also in the knowledge you are doing your part to reduce waste. And, Happy Holidays!

Random Cooking Tips

I post daily on One Dish’s Facebook page about dishes and little tips from my teaching and cooking activities. Here are some recent ones.


Teens mix a simple salad dressing into cabbage & apple slaw. (photo Nicky Patnaude)

1) At my class at Boys & Girls Club (early Nov), we made a quick salad dressing of mayo + bottled Italian vinaigrette. I decided that my usual straight vinaigrette might be too different for these teens, and besides, those two condiments were in the Boys & Girls Club refrigerator. It was fine and, at least it wasn’t sweet like typical coleslaw dressing. One could scaffold  down the fat / dairy by reducing the ratio of mayo gradually so they don’t notice so much. One could blend vinaigrette with buttermilk which has less fat than mayo (and no egg). I usually skip dairy altogether and blend vinaigrette with silken tofu for a lovely creamy VEGAN dressing or dip. People don’t even notice it has no dairy. See recipe page and scroll to the bottom for Vegan Dill /Cilantro Dressing.

Chicken Mafe Stew with sweet potatoes and spinach (photo Nicky Patnaude).

2) Two great ways to make stews thick & creamy is to add nut butter and/or a little mashed potato or squash. This is especially nice with vegan gluten-free stews, in place of dairy and flour, since the nut butters add a rich creaminess. That’s what the teens and I did with the Chicken Mafë Stew and Lentil Mafë Stew. Mafë is a simple West African sauce of tomato sauce mixed with peanut butter. We added boiled cubed sweet potatoes and frozen chopped greens (spinach or collards) to both versions.

Lentil Sweet Potato Mafe Soup (my photo).

The next day, I added water to the Lentil stew and enjoyed it as comforting hearty soup along with a big bowl of slaw, for a filling, low-carb meal. This soup will inevitably appear on Delivered Dish of the Week menus quite soon.

If you’re sensitive to peanuts, you could use almond, cashew or soy nut butter. I was given samples of soy nut butter at the Food Allergy Resource Fair last Sat, which I’m eager to try.

3) When you make a long-simmered soup, throw in frozen corn cobs to enhance and sweeten the broth. Works great for both meat and vegetarian soups. My grandma used to make a very simple consomme of pork & corn cobs (all Chinese savory soups are consommes). All she did was simmer a cheap lean cut of pork shoulder with 2 frozen corn cobs. I don’t even remember any onions in it. Hours later, we enjoyed a clear low-fat broth with wonderful flavor. Per Chinese custom, we took out the pork and corn and served that separately from the broth. White rice and a green vegetable or two rounded out this meal. We dipped small pieces of tender pork in soy sauce and ate with rice. She liked to eat the niblets off the cob, but I disdained because I found the niblets had no flavor. All the corn essence and most of the pork flavor was in the broth.

This simple soup is perfect for a crockpot. If making a vegetarian soup, use veggie broth/bouillon and add onions, carrots etc. Ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, remove the cobs and throw in frozen corn niblets and frozen or fresh spinach.

I particularly like to use sweet corn broth as stock for thick White Bean Soup with Dill.

Super-food Stews

Black-eyed Peas, Carrot & Collards in Smoked Paprika Sauce, over brown rice (here pictured w/ Sriracha hot sauce on top). A super-food one-pot meal.

Black-eyed Peas, Carrot & Collards in Smoked Paprika Sauce. Served this very simple hearty stew on Fri night for 70 folks; and it’s on the lesson plan for 2 “Super Food” cooking classes this week.

Taking advantage of seasonal veg, it’s a very “clean” yet intensely flavored, toothsome one-pot meal that is vegan, gluten-free, low-fat and low-glycemic, high-fiber and nutrient-dense. Plus, your day’s Vit A and more.

Here’s the Recipe. This is technically a ‘cassoulet’, ie a braised dish with broth. Serve over brown rice or other whole grain, with hot sauce on side.

Making this for a family quantity, say 2-3 quarts, it’d take less than an hour esp with canned Black-eyed Peas. I used farm-fresh veggies from the market, of course, but, flash-frozen will do too, and would shave off another 15 min of prep time.

Btw, Black-eyed Peas have 6g protein per half-cup, in top 4 of legumes (winners are kidney beans & soybeans). Don’t have black-eyed peas? Fine — use any canned beans or lentils. (Search this blog for more posts about BEP, my favorite neglected step-child bean.)

Of course, this is a perfect autumn vegetarian entree. It would also be terrific with a small amount of chicken, pork, kielbasa, or turkey brats, and yes, left-over bacon. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, or squash as well but, refrain from making this into a carb-fest (ie increasing glycemic load). Keep a high veg to carb ratio.

More nutritional info:


  • 1 cp cooked sliced carrots contains 54 cal, 4.7 g fiber, 1.2 g protein, 5.4 g sugars, 537% RDI vit A, 9.4% RDI Vit C, 4.7%  calcium, 5.5% folate, 2.9%  iron, 26% Vit K.

 Estimated glycemic load = 2 (of 100/day target).
  • 1 cp cooked collards has 49 cal, 5.3 g fiber (10% RDA), 2 g protein, 308% RDI vit A, 58%  Vit C, 27% calcium, 44%  folate, 12% iron and 1045% Vit K. Estimated glycemic load = 4 (of 100/day target).
  • 1 cp canned black-eyed peas has 160 kcal, 6 g protein, 34 g carb, 8 g fiber, and notably, 6.7% RDI iron and 15% folate. Estimated glycemic load = 20 (of 100/day target).

    [RDI = Recommended Daily Intake]

 Some of my coaching clients are trying low-carb regimens. Ok, then skip the grains, not the beans.Beans are the best kind of complex carbs AND provide serious protein, so do NOT omit. You’ll just get hungry sooner if you do.

Scroll the Recipe page for more Super-food recipes!