Delicata Squash & Black Bean Tacos

Delicata Squash & Black Bean Tacos
  1. 1 Delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into 1/4” slices (skin can stay on)
  2. olive oil
  3. kosher salt
  4. freshly ground black pepper
  5. ground cumin
  6. 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 4 ounces fresh ricotta
  8. cilantro, chopped
  9. 8 street taco sized tortillas (4”)
  10. pico de gallo (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Use convection heat.
  2. Toss squash slices with olive oil, a generous sprinkle of kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper and cumin to taste (1/2 teaspoon is a good place to start). Spread onto a baking sheet - do not overlap pieces. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until starting to caramelize.
  3. Toss black beans with a touch of olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and cumin to taste.
  4. Mix fresh ricotta in a small bowl with kosher salt, pepper and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
  5. Heat tortillas for a few minutes in oven until warm.
  6. Spread each tortilla with the ricotta mixture, top with black beans, squash and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with pico de gallo if desired.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
  1. 1 pound green beans
  2. 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  3. 1 can cannellini or navy beans, drained
  4. 1 large shallot
  5. 3 T. red wine vinegar
  6. salt
  7. freshly ground pepper
  8. ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  9. basil or other herb, optional
  1. Trim green beans and parboil them in salted water until tender. Drain and immediately spread them to cool. Cut tomatoes in half. These steps can be done in advance.
  2. For the vinaigrette, peel and dice the shallot finely and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the vinaigrette; this can sit awhile.
  3. Do not add green beans or cannellini beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. Garnish with basil or another herb.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Vitamin Boosted Black Rice Salad

Vitamin Boosted Black Rice Salad
Serves 4
For the vinaigrette
  1. sea Salt and pepper
  2. 1 t. French Dijon mustard
  3. 1 t. honey
  4. 2 T. sherry vinegar
  5. 6 T. olive oil
For the salad
  1. 1 oz. walnuts
  2. 1 cup black rice
  3. 1 pink grapefruit or 1 orange
  4. 1 fennel bulb, without greens, cored and sliced paper-thin (use a mandolin)
  5. 1 cup red grapes, cut in half
  6. 2.5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  7. 1 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  8. 1 T. chopped chives
  9. 1 T. chopped dill
To prepare the vinaigrette
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients in the order listed. Whisk to emulsify.
To prepare the salad
  1. Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over medium heat for 5 min., or until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the heat and let cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.
  2. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. Check whether it’s well cooked and drain if there’s still water in the pot; let cool.
  3. With a sharp serrated knife, peel the skin and pith from the grapefruit. Cut the fruit into segments, discarding the membrane; dice, cover, and set aside until ready to serve.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, fennel, grapes, grapefruit, cheese and walnuts. Toss the salad gently with the dressing and fresh herbs and serve.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries and Gouda

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries and Gouda
  1. 1 ½ c. quinoa
  2. sea salt
  3. 5 T. olive oil
  4. 1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  5. 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  6. 4 oz. arugula, thinly sliced
  7. 4 oz. gouda, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  8. 3 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
  9. 1 large crisp apple cut into ½ ” dice
  10. 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  11. 1 cup finely diced fennel
  12. ¾ cup dried cranberries
  13. 3 T. sherry vinegar
  14. freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse the quinoa. Drain and place in 3 quart pot with 2 ½ cups water and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer covered until the quinoa is tender, about 15 min. Drain the quinoa, return to the pan, cover and let rest for 5 min. Fluff with fork. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and brown around edges, 6-8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the onions until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onions, arugula, cheese, celery, apple, walnuts, fennel and cranberries.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil with the sherry vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Add the dressing to the salad and gently mix.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

What YOU Need to Know about the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans by Lynn Dugan

DietaryGuidelinesJust recently, the Obama administration released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are revised every 5 years with the purpose to help us make healthy food and beverage choices and to serve as the foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs throughout the US. If you are interested in learning more, here is the Executive Summary.

After sifting through the report, I have prepared some noteworthy points to highlight. Let’s start with how healthy eating is defined by the Guidelines:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the color groups–dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and others.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese and or fortified soy beverages), fat free or low fat
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy products
  • Oils

This healthy eating plan is nothing new but keep in mind, many people with a goal of ‘healthy eating’ may have cut dairy foods from their diets. But dairy foods are recommended to help meet the calcium, vitamin D and potassium needs for everyone— these are the nutrients we are not getting enough of. The Guidelines recommend 3 servings of dairy daily for everyone 9 years and older. One serving equals 1 cup milk or yogurt and 1-1/2 ounce of cheese.

Next, let’s look at what to limit in our eating. You may have already heard the big news: cut down on sugar and sodium and keep saturated fat intake ‘in check.’  Saturated fat is found mostly in animal protein foods. By purchasing and preparing lean cuts of meat and varying your protein choices to include legumes and fish, this recommendation is manageable.

The sugar recommendation includes any sugar added to foods but does not include the natural sugar found in foods like fruit and dairy. The recommendation is to cap added sugar to about 12-1/2 teaspoons (50 grams) daily (that is, 10% of calories for a 2,000 calorie diet). This can add up quickly if you enjoy sweet desserts and sugared beverages. But know that hidden sugar counts, too.  Common sources include jarred pasta sauces, energy drinks, canned fruit, and breakfast cereals. Food labels are a valuable resource to determine the sugar content of packaged foods.

For sodium, the cap is 2,400 mg daily. This amount of sodium is found in a teaspoon of salt. To meet these guidelines, it does help to avoid the salt shaker at the table, but unfortunately a major part of the sodium in American diets (80%) comes from processed and packaged foods. These foods include: frozen meals, canned or pickled foods, snack foods, condiments, and soda. Cutting sodium from your diet may make foods suddenly taste bland. But over time, your taste for sodium will adapt and you will be able to use less for the same flavor. It will also be important to rely on herbs and other seasonings to bring more flavor to your palette. Your Marcel’s chefs can help you with that!

bananaReading labels for both sodium and sugar content is the only way to know what you’re eating. However, eating foods without labels is the best kind of eating!  The less processed, the better. Making small changes that stick over time is the best strategy for tackling these latest recommendations. As stated in the Guidelines, “A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes… it is one of the most powerful tools we have.” In the spirit of healthy eating, I am sharing a simple fruit dessert recipe, Banana “Ice Cream.” Enjoy!

Banana "Ice Cream"
Serves 2
  1. 2 small (or one large) ripe banana, peeled and sliced
  2. chopped nuts, if desired
  1. Freeze sliced bananas for at least 2 hours in an airtight container.
  2. Blend frozen bananas in a small food processor. Scrape down food processor as banana goes from crumbled to gooey and again to smooth consistency.
  3. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Or eat immediately if a soft consistency is desired. When serving, garnish with chopped nuts.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

The Power of Breakfast by Lynn Dugan

We all know how important breakfast is…but more than half of American adults do not eat breakfast everyday and it’s estimated that 12 to 34 percent of children and adolescents regularly miss this morning meal. There are many benefits of eating breakfast that you won’t want to miss…here are the highlights:

  • Breakfast fuels your brain after the overnight fast.  That is why it’s called break-fast.  Your brain needs the energy and you benefit! Kids benefit, too.  Studies have shown that children do better in school (improved memory, alertness, concentration, and test scores) compared to kids who skip breakfast.
  • Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers.  Unfortunately, many people skip breakfast just to save calories.  The fact is that breakfast skippers are at a greater risk for weight gain and obesity.
  • Eating breakfast helps you meet nutritional goals, especially for whole grains, dairy and fruits.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to get all of the recommended servings of whole grains (3), dairy (3) and fruits and vegetables (5) in your diet even spread across three meals and one or two snacks.  If a meal is skipped, it is even harder to meet the requirements.  Breakfast is a natural opportunity to include whole grain (with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, hot cereals, and whole grain toast and waffles), fruit (100% juice, fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruit) and fat-free or low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese).
  • Emerging research suggests that eating breakfast may improve your overall health, helping your heart, digestion, and bones.  All of these benefits may be due to the nutritional boost from breakfast- fiber from fruit and whole grains for heart health; fiber for digestive health; and calcium from dairy foods for bone health.

breakfast lynnOne of my family’s favorite breakfast recipes is baked oatmeal, especially on colder mornings. We often eat it topped with vanilla Greek yogurt and it keeps us satisfied until lunchtime.



Baked Oatmeal
Serves 6
  1. 3 cups oats
  2. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 t. cinnamon
  4. 2 t. baking powder
  5. 1 t. salt
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1/3 cup melted butter or Earth Balance spread
  9. 2 t. vanilla
  10. 1/4 cup dried apricots, quartered
  11. 1/4 cup dried cherries, halved
  12. 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  1. Mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla; whisking to blend.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until moistened.  Add the dried fruit and sunflower seeds.  Stir to mix.  Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  2. Serve warm (or at room temperature) with vanilla yogurt and chopped nuts, if desired.
Marcel's Culinary Experience