Scandinavian Midsummer: Feast the Night Away

July 26, 2011

Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press)

Swedish cuisine is the ultimate “nouvelle” cuisine. It is simple, fresh, and is naturally local and seasonal. It’s elegant, yet down-to-earth, which is also a perfect description of the Swedish people, and even Swedish design.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with Sweden, its culture, cuisine and people. I’m so grateful that finally the world has caught on that my beloved Sweden is a recognized culinary destination.

The daughter of a Swedish mother and an American father, I’ve been visiting Sweden since I was a little girl. During my regular visits, I soaked in every possible aspect of Swedish food and cooking. I took many fishing trips in the North Sea on my Uncle Olle’s small motor boat. I received early lessons on cleaning, smoking, grilling, pickling – and any other method one could name – of preparing fresh fish.

I was raised in the Swedish culinary tradition. I’ve picked wild blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms in the Swedish archipelago, then watched as my grandmother (Mormor) and Aunt Ingrid prepared treats with the bounty. Growing up, I and my mother dined regularly on crepes with lingonberries and cream – one of my favorite dinners (though now I use yogurt instead of cream! Naturligtvis!). I’ve delighted in all the unique foods my family introduced me to: the grainy rye breads, the special cheeses and yogurts, the smoked reindeer meat, the delicate, sweet, and tiny Swedish shrimps, caviar, crayfish, and of course, meatballs and lingonberry sauce!

If you are not a Swede or Scandinavian, you may not know that this is the most special time of year. For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock.

Every ear, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day.

Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve. It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop.

Beginning Friday morning, families gather to set the scene. Every spare piece of furniture is moved outdoors, setting up a festival atmosphere. Large wooden crosses are turned into maypoles decorated with flowers, ribbons and leafy branches.

The maypoles are raised, and hours of dancing, singing and community wide camaraderie get under way. By late afternoon the revelry has served its purpose. Gnawing hunger has prepared the celebrants for the main event: the feast, Sweden’s famed smorgasbord.

Smorgasbord is a Swedish invention and is literally a table of open-faced sandwiches. Though its origin was a simple array of hors d’oeuvres, smorgasbords today are exhaustive buffet-style spreads, the Swedish version being the best known.

There are appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. The dishes signal summer’s first harvests: freshly clipped dill, tender root vegetables, fish and other seafoods, and strawberries grown in the country.

There are cured ingredients, as well. Pink rolls of cured salmon are wrapped around dill sprigs, with yellow mustard sauces and peppercorns alongside. There is marinated herring and coarse salt, as well as dill and other pickles. Dairy products also are important, including eggs, cheese and cream.

The traditional drink is aquavit, Swedish vodka spiced with anise and caraway. It is served in tiny schnapps glasses. The Midsummer toast, which loses something in translation, usually amounts to a unanimous gulp followed by a chant of “rah, rah, rah, rah.”

Actually, preparation of Midsummer food usually begins a couple of days before. Local fishermen stack their just-caught salmon in rickety wheelbarrows, roll them into town and go door to door displaying their wares for inspection by anxious cooks.

The fish are carefully examined in solemn transaction, the cook – usually my Grandmother – signaling the final selection with an abrupt, “This will do!” The fisherman nods, satisfied, and carries the fish to the kitchen where it lands on the table with a thud. The smell of the sea enters the house with the day’s catch. The best knife has been sharpened for this moment: the start of Midsummer Eve cooking.

Aquavit and Marcus Samuelsson’s Gravlax Club Sandwich
(excerpted from Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press)

This sandwich is such a popular item in Aquavit’s café that it is never off the menu. It combines the velvety textures of guacamole and gravlax, with the crispy nature of iceberg lettuce and great chewiness of whole grain bread. If you want to make this sandwich and don¹t happen to have any gravlax on hand, you can substitute smoked salmon with equal success.

I’ve used this recipe at parties. Just cut the sandwiches into smaller appetizer size sandwiches, into quarters, and place a tooth pick through all layers for easy grabbing. It’s always a hit.

Makes 5 sandwiches.

2 avocados
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 medium size red onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 thin slices of whole grain wheat or rye bread
5 thin slices of Gravlax
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the limejuice. Add the chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro and toss everything to mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

2. Toast the bread slices lightly and let them cool.

3. Place a slice of gravlax on a slice of bread. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture over the gravlax and sprinkle with shredded iceberg lettuce. Cover with a second slice of bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and gravlax.

1 Gravlax Club Sandwich: Calories; 300, Total Fat ; 15g, Saturated Fat; 2g, Cholesterol; 5mg, Sodium; 740mg, Total Carbohydrate; 38g, Dietary Fiber; 15g, Omega 3 Fatty Acids; 0.82 g, Protein; 11g

2-1/2 pounds fresh salmon
4 Tbsp Sugar
5 Tbsp Coarse Salt
1 Tbsp White Peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 Bunch Fresh Dill
Lemon and additional dill for garnish
Mix sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
With half of the dill, cover the bottom of a shallow baking pan just slightly larger than the fish. Pour two-thirds of the sugar, salt and pepper mixture evenly over the dill and place salmon on top, skin side up.

Cover the salmon with the remaining mixture and remaining dill. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for two days (at least 24 hours).

To serve, scrape off the marinade, slice fish thinly and roll. Garnish with lemon pieces and dill. Serve with mustard sauce on the side. Serves 8 to 12.

Mustard Sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Dill
3 Tbsp Gulden’s Mustard
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
All ingredients should be at room temperature. Place mustard in a small bowl, add sugar. Blend in the oil slowly. Add the dill and mix thoroughly.

Nordic Food Days June 19 to 26, 2011
The embassies of the Nordic countries are bringing five of the world’s best chefs from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Among the events: Nordic Jazz and Cuisine on the rooftop of the house of Sweden in Georgetown on June 19, and June 21 to 26: Nordic Restaurant Days at select DC restaurants. For more information, go to:

I will see you there!

By Katherine Tallmadge, author Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press, June 2011), designs personalized nutrition and wellness programs for individuals and companies.

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Strawberries and Asparagus: A Delicious Opportunity for Health

The Farmers Markets are almost in full swing. The Rose Park Market began on Wednesday, May 9 (every Wednesday, 3 – 7 p.m. through November), with the two most popular items in season: asparagus and strawberries. And of course, The Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market is now open on Sundays, 8:30a.m. – 1p.m. This is the time of year to revel in the peak ripeness, flavor and nutrition of these springtime delicacies.

The recipe for curried chicken salad with strawberries comes from my mother and makes a very nice lunch offering. Like any curry dish, its perfect companions are a spicy or sweet chutney (try CHOP Market’s Nature Isle Chutney) and a cool yogurt. You could also top it on a baguette or stuff it into a tomato or avocado half. Serve with pickles, carrot and celery sticks or radishes. You can use any seasonal fruits such as peaches, grapes, oranges, or anything ripe and in season. Have fun with it. The beauty of spring is the wide array of options, and it’s hard to go wrong.

Strawberries are actually members of the Rose family, and there are over 600 different varieties. Choose freshly picked, ripe berries, as they will be the tastiest and will have the most nutrients. “Look for berries fully formed, bright red, without bruising or soft spots and with fresh-looking green caps,” says janie Hibler in her book, The Berry Bible. She continues with a word of caution: “Beware of buying out-of-season strawberries, as sometimes they are picked when they are only 40% ripe. These berries may turn red, but they will never develop sweetness and can be hard as an apple.”

Strawberries are considered a “superfood.” They have one of the highest antioxidant and nutrient contents of all foods, they are also low in calories—you can eat them in unlimited quantities. In fact, for your health, the more the better!

“A serving of eight strawberries contains more vitamin C than an orange,” says David Grotto in 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. “Strawberries are also rich in folate, potassium, and fiber. They’re especially high in cancer- and heart-disease-fighting phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) called flavonoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechin, and kaempferol.”

Asparagus, meanwhile, is packed with nutrients. Low in calories, it’s an excellent source of folic acid and Vitamin C, Thiamin, and Vitamin B6. Asparagus, like other fruits and vegetables, is sodium-free, and contains no fat or cholesterol. It is an important source of potassium and many nutrients, important for boosting your immune system and preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure and even preventing cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, Asparagus is the highest tested food containing Glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters. Additionally, Asparagus is high in Rutin, which is valuable in strengthening the blood vessels.?This recipe for chilled asparagus spears in a creamy vinaigrette is a bright, balanced dish that I think brings out the best in asparagus.

Kjerstin’s Curried Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Roasted Almonds

Serves 4

2 cups chicken breast meat, cooked, chopped (about 2 half breasts)
1 pint low sodium, nonfat chicken stock
1/3 cup small mild onion, chopped
1-1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup seedless grapes, halved (or other available fruit)
¾ pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp curry powder, or to taste
1 oz almonds or walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup low fat ranch-style or cucumber dressing

Poach the chicken breasts in stock until cooked. Let cool, then chop in bite-size pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients and chill. Serve chilled. Per serving: 230 calories, 8 grams fat, 1 grams sat fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams protein

Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot, and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette

Serves 6 to 8

2 lb asparagus, cleaned, tough ends removed, cut in 1.5 inch pieces
1 Tbsp walnut or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted walnuts, chopped
1 small (4 oz) red bell pepper, finely chopped (roasting optional)
1 bunch (1/4 cup) green onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
4 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp low fat Greek yogurt
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsely, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

If you are using raw walnuts, toast the walnuts: place in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool, then chop.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit the asparagus, red pepper and green onions. Place the bowl with the vinaigrette in the refrigerator so that it is cool when the asparagus comes out of the oven.
If you wish, peel the stalks of the asparagus for a more tender vegetable. Slice the asparagus stalks diagonally into bite-sized or approximately 1.5 inch pieces. In a large bowl or plastic bag, toss the pieces in the walnut or canola oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, until the asparagus is coated lightly with oil. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes in the middle of the oven. Pour the hot asparagus into the cool vinaigrette to help discontinue the cooking of the asparagus, so that it remains al dente. Do not overcook! Add the red bell pepper, green onions, and nuts. Toss and serve immediately while still warm, or serve chilled. About 1,000 calories for the entire dish.

Dining Out — Without the Bulge

I love going out to restaurants. The whole ambiance is delightful. I enjoy the solicitude of the staff, watching the people and simply taking a quiet hour or two to relax and enjoy good food. There are times when I go out and choose healthfully, and there are other times I enjoy a good splurge and overindulge — either choice is perfectly normal.

For me, eating out is a special occasion. For millions of Americans, however, it’s a way of life. I know more than a few people who eat out all three meals five, six, even seven days a week. That’s when restaurant food can present appreciable health problems.

Let’s face it: one reason the dishes we get in restaurants are so delicious is that they’re swimming in richness, and chefs choose their ingredients and cooking methods for their effects on the palate, not for their health properties or low-calorie contents. An occasional splurge won’t do any lasting damage. But indulging — or, to be frank, overindulging — on a regular basis will add some serious weight to your frame if you aren’t careful.

If you eat out frequently, I recommend some basics. Before you go, or even decide on a restaurant, look at the restaurant’s Web site and menu so you know what to expect, and make a note of some of the courses you think would be tasty yet healthy. This way, you’re not so tempted by the sights and smells of the fattening foods you’ll inevitably be surrounded by once you get there.

Second, if you have read about the restaurant and chef, then you may have some idea of how heavy-handed the chef is with butter or other fattening ingredients, or whether the restaurant serves a sole diner a portion that could feed four. But if the place is new to you then look around for clues. Take a walk to the restrooms and look at the food on other diners’ plates. How big are the servings? Are the meats, veggies, pastas swimming in sauce? What do you smell? Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff for help. Finally, it is okay to ask for a take-home bag if the serving size is too much.

Set some priorities. Suppose, for example, you’ve booked four meals out this week. You certainly won’t lose weight, and you may even gain weight, if you eat with abandon each time. What you can do, however, is decide in advance that one of those nights is going to be your “splurge night.” Order anything you want. Enjoy every bite. Savor each and every one of those special calories. On the other three nights, order more carefully. You’ll still enjoy the experience of dining out, but you won’t take in more calories than your poor body can handle. In my book, “Diet Simple,” I call this strategy “The 25 Percent Blowout.”

Some diet plans and nutrition fanatics forbid, or at least discourage, eating at restaurants and enjoying yourself with abandon at all. I disagree. My approach is designed to help you enjoy your meals — enjoy life, for that matter — and feel satisfied while maintaining a healthy weight. Eating out with friends or family is a wonderful experience. No eating plan has a chance to last if it’s not enjoyable. What I do advise is eating (and ordering) smart. By all means, enjoy your meals away from home — but take a few simple steps to keep the calories under control.

To give you some perspective, the average woman should eat about 1,800 to 2000 calories daily to maintain her weight (1,500 to 1,800 to lose weight). The average man, about 2,200 to 2400 (1,800 to 2,100 to lose weight). But a person’s calorie needs can vary widely depending on his/her height, weight, age and degree of fitness and activity level.

I find people feel best and avoid blood sugar and appetite highs and lows with their accompanying cravings when they eat 1/3 of their day’s calories in the morning, 1/3 mid-day and no more than 1/3 of their days’ calories in the evenings. So, for the gals, that means your meals should be no more than about 500 to 600 calories, but if you prefer to have more food at dinner — my recommendation would be 800 at the most for a dinner out. For the guys, meals should be no more than 750 calories — or 900 max for dinner out. These rules aren’t carved in stone, but they’ll give you some context when I give you recommendations or you go to a restaurant’s Web site to view the calorie content of some of their offerings.

As an example, the beauty of traditional Italian cooking is its simplicity: Italians have a no-fuss approach to cooking so their extraordinary ingredients shine. A little olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe an herb or two, and voila — a light, healthy masterpiece! But for this magic to happen, the freshness of the basic ingredients is vital. Italians (in Italy) have access to the most delicious produce, nuts, grains, olive oil, pasta, cheese and seafood in the world, often because they still get it from their own backyards, the neighborhood farm or the fisherman nearby. This freshness and high quality is why simplicity works — no complex cooking styles or sauces are necessary, which keeps calories down and health up, especially because serving sizes traditionally are small.

But this is where real Italian cooking and most American Italian restaurants part ways. Most Americans expect a lot of food on the plate for their money. We call it “value.” But when restaurants are expected to serve such huge amounts of food for low prices, the quality of the ingredients suffer, chefs resort to fattier methods of cooking and gooier sauces are used to compensate. This is one reason why Americans who regularly eat in restaurants are fatter, according to research. In fact, one study found if a person ate in a restaurant 12 times or more per month, they were eating 20 percent more calories. That can pack on the pounds very quickly!

This is not to say it’s impossible to eat healthy in a restaurant. You just have to go in with your eyes wide open. Of course, in any restaurant the no-brainer healthy selection is a salad-like appetizer, a simple seafood preparation such as grilled fish and fruit for dessert.

But when in Rome, we want to do what the Romans do. Eat pasta. Drink wine. Linger over several courses of beautiful food.

You don’t need to be disappointed — just alert and careful. Italians do interesting things with vegetables and seafood (try mussels and clams cooked in broth, or raw bar style). The beef or seafood carpaccios are excellent light and tasty choices. And always check the side-dishes and appetizers. Small servings of pastas that involve vegetables and light sauces are perfect alternatives. Of course, if we ate more Italian-sized portions and preparations, we’d be fine.

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., a nutrition expert for over 20 years, will customize an easy and enjoyable nutrition, weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you, your family or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Visit or call 202-833-0353.

Cool as a Cucumber

Needless to say, this summer’s heat has been oppressive. But Mother Nature’s wrath has yielded one benefit: very tasty fruit. Apparently, this summer’s early rains promoted growth. Then the intense heat, sun, and drought concentrated the flavors and sweetness in fruits such as berries, peaches, melons, grapes and tomatoes to produce a most extraordinary crop.

I have frozen several quarts of blueberries to save for the winter, and even frozen chopped-up cantaloupe and cherries for future smoothies and treats for my kitten, Abby (yes, she does eat cantaloupe every morning. She’ll even eat grapes, berries, and certain veggies, as long as I hand feed her).

These fruits can add wonderful flavor to any dish. Add berries to your cereal, peaches alongside your meat dish or salad, cucumbers on your sandwich. You can also make a cool soup with any of these fruits. It is so easy to get your “five cups per day” (which does indeed help prevent cancer, heart disease, as well as keeping you slim), as they can be a part of every meal and snack.

I have contacted a few local chefs for their ideas for keeping things cool, healthy, tasty and interesting:

Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant’s Chilled Sweet Melon Soup with Minted Yogurt
Serves 6

• 1 sweet cantaloupe melon (such as a sweet dream), peeled, seeded, and cubed
• 1 cup prosecco
• 1 cup whole milk
• Pinch salt & pepper
• 2 cups small diced melons
For the crème fraiche
• 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
• 3 mint leaves
• 2 tarragon leaves
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch salt & pepper

For the soup: Combine melon and prosecco in a bar blender, puree till smooth. Add milk and seasoning, blend quickly to incorporate, remove and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the Garnish: Brunoise or finely dice the herbs and combine herbs with yogurt. Pour chilled soup into bowls. Drizzle herbed yogurt on top and garnish with diced or Parisian scooped melons.

Laura Bonino’s Griffin Market Watermelon Salad
Serves 6-8

1 (5-pound) watermelon
1/2 cup blood orange
Extra virgin olive oil
20 medium fresh basil leaves

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into 1 inch cubes, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the melon, olive oil and basil. Lest rest in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro
From “Cooking with Nora” by Nora Pouillon
Serves 4

3 cups lowfat yogurt
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 medium green pepper, washed, seeded, and cut into chunks
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Peel of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno pepper with seeds, stemmed
1 teaspoon sea salt
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Put the yogurt, cucumbers, green pepper, garlic, lemon juice and lemon peel, olive oil, cilantro and jalapeno in a blender. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and refrigerate.

Pour the chilled soup into 4 bowls, garnish with cilantro.

Note from Nora: “Since the fruit I use is organic, I always use the skins. I zest or peel my lemons or limes with a vegetables peeler. Then I peel off the white pith from the fruit (you need a sharp paring knife) and put the whole lemon or lime and its peeled skin into the blender.”

Katherine Tallmadge’s Fresh Mexican Salsa
(From “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations”)
Serves 22

Try this as a dip or accompaniment at your next party. It goes fast, so make plenty of it! You can also use it in scrambled eggs, tortillas or as a marinade or dressing. Throw it in plain yogurt or mashed avocado to make a dip. My measurements are the proportions I prefer, but you can vary any of the ingredients depending on your preferences.

1 large sweet “candy” onion (about 1/2 pound)
2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and shopped (start with about 3 1/2 pounds. Use canned tomatoes, if good tomatoes aren’t available)
3-4 jalapeno peppers (1-2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)

Add the onion to the tomatoes. Finely chop 2 of the jalapeno peppers to start with. Taste. If you desire more heat, add more jalapenos. Mix in the cilantro. Add the salt depending on your taste. Mix in the lime juice.

Susan Belsinger’s Simple Fruit Smoothie
Serves 2

About 1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit, such as peaches and berries, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 cup cold soy milk
3 to 5 ice cubes
2 drops pure vanilla extract

Put the fruit in the blender. Drizzle the syrup or honey over it. Add the ice cubes. Pour the soymilk over all and add the vanilla. Blend until pureed and frothy. Serve immediately in a tall glass with a straw.

Carol Cutler’s Berry Granita
(From “Diet Simple”)
Serves 8

Grated zest and juice of one orange
2 teaspoons orange liqueur
20 ounces frozen berries (or other fruit)
Sugar or sweetener to taste (optional)
8 mint sprigs (optional)

Place berries in freezer until frozen. Put 8 small sherbet dishes in the refrigerator to chill. Put frozen berries into a food processor. Add the orange zest, juice, and liqueur. Pulse for about 30 seconds to break up the chunks, then process on high until the mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness, if necessary. When the mixture is pureed, spoon immediately into the chilled dishes and place in the freezer. If the granite has been frozen for more than 6 hours, remove it from the freezer 10 minutes before serving time. If desired, decorate with the mint sprigs.

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. will customize an easy, enjoyable wellness, nutrition, weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you, your family or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at or 202-833-0353. Mention this Georgetowner article and get 20 percent off your first consultation.

Back-to-School Lunch Box Ideas from Washington’s Top Chefs

It’s back to school, and Washington’s top chefs are pitching in. Ever since Michelle Obama started her “Let’s Move” campaign, chefs and dietitians everywhere have been encouraged to help get school children into shape by improving their diets, upgrading school offerings and developing wellness and physical activity programs.

In this spirit, last week 5,000 insulated school lunch boxes were given away at Woodrow Wilson Plaza’s Capital Harvest on the Plaza (C.H.O.P.) Farmer’s Market, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Each lunch box contained creative, yet simple and kid-friendly recipes from top chefs like Equinox’s Todd Gray, Restaurant Eve’s Cathal Armstrong, Marcel’s Robert Weidmaier and Citronelle’s Michel Richard. The Georgetowner is providing you those very special recipes! Each Friday, at Woodrow Wilson Plaza through the Fall, the C.H.O.P. Farmer’s Market will feature live music and a top chef, who will be demonstrating healthy cooking using ingredients fresh from the field that day.

One of the most active chefs improving D.C. children’s nutrition, our very own Todd Gray, appeared with Mrs. Obama at a White House gathering of 700 chefs nationwide. Gray’s Equinox Restaurant is a regular haunt of the Obama family. He and co-owner/wife, Ellen Gray, have helped organize other D.C. chefs to provide guidance to D.C. area schools for improving the freshness, flavor and acceptance of their offerings.

For example, Todd Gray adopted D.C.’s Murch Elementary School in 2009, helping them start a garden while teaching principles of growing and cooking food. When he first visited Murch, he noticed that while the children were offered fruits and vegetables they were mostly being thrown away. Over time, as he involved the children, teachers and parents in growing, harvesting and cooking fresh food, their natural curiosity and excitement about food took over. Their enjoyment of more healthy and nourishing food was a natural consequence.

“This project has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my 25-year career as a chef,” said Gray. “Make a commitment to the school and these kids – it will change your life professionally and personally. Our own son is so proud of what we are doing and asks us all the time, ‘When are you coming to my school?’.”

Art & Soul Restaurant Chef Art’s BBQ Meatloaf Burgers

As a parent, I am always challenged with getting kids to eat vegetables. I find one of the best ways to get kids to eat is used in this preparation. You can also make great meatballs too and serve with multigrain pasta.

1 1/2 pound lean ground beef, my favorite Allen Brothers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup of bell peppers
1/2 cup of grated carrot
1/2 cup of broccoli flowerets, chopped
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1/2 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup of BBQ Sauce 1 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
2 large egg whites

In a pan add canola oil, and sauté onions, peppers, carrots, and broccoli till tender. Remove and allow to cool.

Combine ground beef, veggies, bread crumbs, 1/2 the BBQ sauce, spices and egg whites. Mix well and chill for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and shape into 6-4 ounce burgers.

Chill slightly, heat skillet or grill to medium heat. Cook 8 minutes per side, till internal temp is 165 degree’s. Spoon additional BBQ over burgers and serve on Whole Grain Buns

Chef Cathal Armstrong
Restaurant Eve, Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper; PX, The Majestic

Eamonn’s R.L.T. (Rasher, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich)

Makes 1 sandwich
1½ back rashers (leaner than bacon)
2 slices wheat bread, toasted
½ tomato (or 1 small tomato), sliced
2 or 3 leaves romaine lettuce
One large spoonful homemade mayonnaise (see below for recipe)
Cheddar cheese, sliced, as needed (optional)

In a pan set over medium-low heat, sauté the back rashers, then pat them dry. Wrap the bread and a few rasher strips in tin foil. In a separate container, pack the sliced tomatoes and romaine lettuce. Put the mayonnaise in a small container and pack a blunt-edged spreading knife.

Armstrong’s tip: Separating everything in individual containers stops the bread from getting soggy. Eamonn puts the R.L.T. sandwich together at school, and he likes it because he can show his pals that he can “cook.”
Rashers is a slang term for Irish Bacon. It is similar to Canadian bacon and leaner than regular bacon. Rashers can be found at Whole Foods. Cooks in seconds!

Homemade Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 cup, enough for five sandwiches

1 large organic egg yolk
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup canola oil

Combine the yolk, salt, water, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Fold a hand towel into a ring on the counter and set the bowl into it to hold it steady while you whisk the ingredients together. While whisking vigorously and constantly, slowly drip in the oil (it helps to measure out the oil into a cup that pours well in a thin stream, or you can start your emulsion by drizzling the oil off a spoon). After the emulsion turns creamy, add the oil more quickly than a thin stream. From the beginning, the mixture should look creamy and be thick enough to hold its shape. Store in the coldest part of the fridge.

Marcel’s Chef Robert Wiedmaier
Shredded Chicken, bacon and Avocado Whole Wheat Wrap

1 whole wheat tortilla wrap shredded chicken (from last night’s dinner)
Bacon strip (left over from breakfast)
Lettuce, shredded
Avocado slices
Cheese, pre-grated or fresh
Optional: lite ranch dressing (would not add if you’re making sandwiches the night before)

Roll the tortilla by folding in two sides, than roll away from you.

Wrap in foil or wax paper so it can easily be torn away to eat.

Chef Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant
Yummy Stuffed Pita Pocket

2 Tbs cashew or almond butter
1Tbs low fat cream cheese
1 Tbs all natural jam or marmalade
2 Tbs low sugar granola
1 sliced banana

Half the pita so that the interior pocket is accessible

Spread pocket with cream cheese and jam

Sprinkle granola into pocket

Lay sliced banana into pita pocket

Cut into ¼’s and secure with bamboo picks

BTW… Toast if available for a real treat…

Tabouli with Chick Peas, Basil, Seasonal Vegetables and a Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
By Nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. Author, “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations”

Makes about 6 – 300 calorie servings
Time: 20 – 30 minutes

1 Cup Bulgur (Cracked Wheat)
1 15-ounce Can Chick Peas, drained
1 Large cucumber, skinned and seeded, chopped
1 Large Yellow Pepper, seeded, chopped
1 Sweet Onion, finely chopped
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, sliced (omit if good cherry tomatoes are not available)
1 Large Handful Fresh Basil, chopped

¼ cup golden raisins ¼ cup roasted pine nuts

Juice of One Lemon (2 Tbsp) and its lemon zest
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 crushed Garlic Clove
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

In a large glass bowl, pour 3 cups boiling water over the bulgur and let sit for 15 minutes or longer.

While the bulgur is fluffing up, make the salad: In a large glass or plastic bowl, dump in the chick peas, the chopped cucumber, pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, basil, raisins and pine nuts.

Make the vinaigrette in a separate small bowl: roll the lemon on the counter and place in microwave for 30 seconds (this procedure extracts the maximum juice). Let cool.

With a microplane, zest the lemon, being careful not to use the bitter white pith.

Squeeze the lemon juice and place with zest in the small bowl.

Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk together.

Drain the bulgur and add to salad.

Toss in the vinaigrette.

RJ Cooper, III – Chef/Owner of Rogue 24
The Kid Can Cook Llc.
Sesame Chicken Wraps

2 cups rotisserie chicken, pulled
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbl mayonnaise
2 cups boston bibb lettuce, chiffinode
4 ea spinach tortillas

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, pineapple juice to make an emulsion. Add the cashews, sesame seeds, pineapple and chicken. Fold all together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Lay out four tortillas, place a half a cup of lettuce on each tortilla, add the chicken mixture and roll the tortillas. Serves 4.

Michel Richard, Citronelle & Central
Pink, Yellow & Green Couscous (Don’t tell them it’s got vegetables)

2 cups V8 juice
1 cup couscous
¼ cups frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup frozen corn, thawed
½ cup milk
4 Laughing Cow segments
Salt & white pepper


Kids: Defrost the peas and corn an hour before you want to begin cooking.

Kids : Remove the aluminum foil from the Laughing Cow cheese

Parents: Bring the V8 to a boil in a small pot with a lid. Add a pinch of salt and the couscous, stir well, cover and remove from the heat. Wait 10 minutes.

Parents: In another pot, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Kids: Add the laughing cow to the milk, and mix with a small whisk to make a light cream sauce.

Kids: Add the peas and the corn.

Parents: Salt & pepper to taste.

Kids: Add the cream pea sauce to the couscous.

Kids: Mix with a wooden spoon.

Kids: Portion the couscous into 4 small bowls.

Kids & Parents: Enjoy! Serves Four

Chef Victor Albisu, BLT Steak
Banana, Strawberry & Nutella Sandwich on 7 Grain Bread

½ Banana, each
2 Strawberries, each
2 tbsp. Nutella
2 slices of 7 grain bread


Toast the seven grain bread and spread with Nutella hazelnut spread (for added texture and ?avor you can add chopped toasted hazelnuts to the spread).

Place sliced strawberries and sliced bananas on the spread and press the sandwich lightly on a table top griddle or a non stick pan. Serves One

Michelle Poteaux, Bastille
Sweet Griddled Corn Cake with Sautéed Peaches

Corn Griddle Cakes:

1½ c. All Purpose ?our
1½ c. corn ?our
5 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
¼ c. sugar
1½ c. water
2 cups milk
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted fat

Combine water, milk and eggs, then, separately combine all sifted dry ingredients.

Next add dry to wet ingredients and stir. Finally, stir in the melted fat. Bake on a hot griddle.

Sautéed Peaches:

5 Yellow, cling-free peaches, sliced in wedges
Granulated Sugar
Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
Tarragon, fresh and chopped last.

Lightly toss with cooked peaches

Serve with fresh whipped cream or Corn ice cream Serves Six

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A, R.D., columnist and author of “Diet Simple,” regularly appears in the national media, customizes nutrition programs for people and designs corporate wellness programs. (202) 833-0353