The Real Food Journal

It’s Drink Wine Day! Here’s a Risotto with Pinot Noir to Help

Pinot Noir, Pink Rice and Mushroom Risotto by Robin Asbell

Meaty Mushrooms, Pink Rice and Pinot Noir

National Drink Wine Day

Do you really need an excuse to drink wine? Well, one has come along, it’s National Drink Wine Day today. To get into the spirit of things, I thought I would do a fantastic flavor pairing and create a bowl of umami-amped risotto, just by putting some pinot noir, a few kinds of mushrooms, and some Himalayan Pink Rice together.

The old rule of “red wine with beef, white with fish” is no longer in play, especially when it comes to Pinot Noir. Pinot is lighter in weight and less tannic than the old school Cabernets and Barolos that sidle up to hunks of red meat. Besides, that old rule didn’t say anything about vegetables and grains!

Whole Grains Pair with Wine

So, to show off my delicious Pinot Noir, I started with a base of Madagascar Pink Rice. It’s a variety sold by Lotus Foods, and it’s pretty unique. The Madagasscar Red Rice has had 40% of its bran layer scraped off, making it a little less nutritious. Why do it? Because the exposed endosperm will absorb liquids more quickly, and even give up some of the starches that we celebrate in a bowl of creamy risotto.

As much as I love a 100% whole grain, the truth is, when a little bran is removed, it’s much more suited to risotto. I’ve been making risotto with whole grains for many years, and have gone so far as to add some steel cut oats, or even to give the cooked grain a quick spin in the food processor, just to get some of the creamy starches from inside the bran to merge into the stock. Farro, a hefty whole grain, is often sold “perlato,” or “semi-perlato,” which means that the bran layer has been removed to some degree. If you want to make a farro risotto, it will be much easier with a semi-perlato.

The remaining 60% makes a fine showing with the earthy, nutty flavors we love in a red rice, and those flavors go really well with Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir and Pink Rice Risotto with Mushrooms by Robin Asbell

Sip and Savor

Building Umami With Mushrooms

To really emphasize the umami of the mushrooms, I threw some dried shiitakes and sun-dried tomatoes in water to simmer for the stock. Dried mushrooms are rich in glutamates and guanylate, both of which create the meaty mouthfeel we associate with, well, meat. Sun-dried tomatoes are also a bonanza of umami-boosters. The wine itself has umami, too, thanks to fermentation.

To build the flavor, I used four kinds of mushrooms. The dried shiitakes in the stock, some common button mushrooms in the risotto, seared trumpets on top, and raw enokis for a delicate crunch.

If you want even more umami and are into dairy, Parmesan cheese can be stirred in at the end, too. But you might be amazed at how much flavor is in the risotto from plants alone. Definitely taste it first.

A few sprigs of rosemary cut all that meatiness with a piney herbal note, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes provides the occasional spark.

So stock up on Pinot Noir, Madagascar Pink Rice and mushrooms, so you can make this revelatory risotto for friends, family, and anyone else you might want to lift a glass with. Get two bottles, to make sure you have plenty after you add it to the risotto!

Pinot Noir, Pink Rice and Mushroom Risotto by Robin Asbell

Pink Rice and Pinot Noir Risotto with Mushrooms

Use umami-rich ingredients to make a satisfyingly flavorful risotto. Madagascar Pink Rice gives it a beautiful red hue, and Pinot Noir tints the whole dish beautifully.


  • 4 cups water plus more as needed
  • 6 large dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary divided
  • 1 cup Madagascar Pink Rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pinot noir
  • 4 ounces trumpet oyster mushrooms or other large, meaty wild mushrooms, halved
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese optional
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • enoki mushrooms for garnish


  1. In a 1 quart pot, heat the water, dried mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes over medium heat, just until they come to a simmer, then reduce to low.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, saute onion, mushrooms and a couple of sprigs of rosemary in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the mushrooms are browned and shrunken, about 5 minutes. Add the pink rice, stir to coat grains thoroughly. Add salt and wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Add the mushroom water a cup at a time, stirring often, adding more as it is absorbed. It will take abut 30 minutes to get a nice creamy texture. If you run out of mushroom stock, just add water. Test the rice by biting a grain, when soft, adjust the texture with a little water.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. When hot, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Add the trumpet mushrooms and sear on each side, about 3 minutes. Take off heat and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  4. Serve risotto topped with seared mushrooms, raw enokis, and a sprig of rosemary, and a glass of Pinot Noir.


A Valentine’s Treat With Aphrodisiac Magic

Valentine's Day Cake and Mousse

Get in the mood with chocolate, pomegranates, and yes, beets!

Valentine’s Day Meets Aquafaba

Perhaps Valentine’s Day comes along in February for good reason. Winter has been with us a little past its welcome, and we need a little motivation to get convivial. Give the sweatpants and hoodie a rest and at least make an effort to look good for your mate, that sort of thing.

It’s always a good excuse to have a sensual dinner, and open a bottle of something special. For that, we thank good  ol’ Saint Valentine.

If you are looking for a little extra spark, you may want to pick some extra-sexy aphrodisiac foods for your special meal. Some of the historically lauded aphrodisiacs make the list on looks alone, such as the suggestive asparagus, avocado, and fig. Others, though, have a nutritional basis for being considered good for the boudoir.

Beets, the ruby red roots we eat in borscht, are actually one of the foods that does something for your sexual performance. I know, you are saying, “What? A vegetable that my husband hates, not oysters?” Beets, it turns out, are one of the foods highest in the Nitrates that convert to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the walls of your circulatory system.

That is the same thing Viagra does.

Yup. Beets are the safe, natural version of all those pills they hawk on TV for ED.

Start the day with Beet Juice Aphrodisiacs

If you really want to take beets out for a spin on this issue, make this beet enhanced cake. Nobody will be the wiser. But for the real effect, juice some beets and drink it throughout the day of your romantic date. Try this recipe, for starters.

Because good circulation and overall health are at the heart of sexual health, let’s just keep going. This cake, in all its chocolate glory, is vegan, so it’s heart healthy from the jump. It has a beet puree, hidden in its moist, tender crumb. It’s made rich with coconut oil, the fat that energizes, while having the mouthfeel of butter.

Chocolate is An Aphrodisiac

If you take a look at the recipe, you’ll see that there are 12 ounces of dark chocolate in the cake and mousse, and some cocoa, as well. If you eat one slice, you are getting an ounce of chocolate and a teaspoon of cocoa. Chocolate, which we now classify as a health food for its antioxidants, is a classic aphrodisiac. It contains cannabinoids, which trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain as marijuana. It has a mellow form of caffeine, to give you a little boost.

It’s luscious and sensual in the mouth. It’s the essence of Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Chocolate Beet Cake with Aquafaba Mousse and Pomegranate Chili Sauce

Deep Dark Chocolate, with Brilliant Red Accents

For even more pulse pounding heart health, I went with pomegranate juice, and gave the sauce a little kick with cayenne. The hit of spice in the sweet, tangy sauce wakes up your palate on every bite, reminding you that you are alive. It’s also a circulatory stimulant, raising your metabolism just a bit.

Valentine's Chocolate Cake with Aquafaba Mousse and Pomegranate-Chili Sauce

Romance is in the Air

Aquafaba is hot!

The fun part of this dessert is the aquafaba. If you haven’t tried it yet, aquafaba is the water that you have left when you cook chickpeas. It’s a miraculous discovery, because it’s something we used to pour down the drain, which we can now use to replace egg whites in baking. You can use the aquafaba from canned, unsalted chickpeas- you’ll need to drain about 3 cans to get enough for this recipe, or make your own.

If you make your own, measure out 2 cups dried chickpeas, 6 cups water, then put in a pot and simmer on the stovetop (lid on) for at least 4 hours on low. Don’t rush it, you want the beans to be almost falling apart, and the liquid to be rich with beany proteins and starches. Cool the beans in the liquid before straining. Chill the liquid. I like to portion it into 1/2 cup containers and freeze it, so I have it handy.

Then you have plenty of chickpeas on hand to make hummus!

Valentine's Chocolate Cake with Beets and Aquafaba

You’ll have plenty of cake left for energizing pick me ups all week

Then, you can whip the aquafaba to make puffy, billowy clouds, just like the kind you can make with egg whites. A big bonus is that when you fold in melted chocolate to make mousse, there is no risk of food poisoning, as there is from raw eggs. And you are leaving the chickens alone, as you revel in the fluffy, light mousse.

Folding Chocolate into Whipped Aquafaba

Folding Chocolate into Whipped Aquafaba


Valentine's Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate-Chili Sauce and Mousse

Valentine's Chocolate Beet Cake with Pomegranate Chile Sauce and Mousse

Three easy components, made with the magic of aquafaba, make a stunning Valentine's dessert.

Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 1/4 cups organic sugar, divided
  • 2 cups aquafaba, divided
  • 1 cup chopped beets 6 ounces
  • 1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, 70% cacao
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 te vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, divided
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup Superfruit jam
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment, then grease and dust with cocoa, shaking the pans and tapping on the counter to coat. Reserve.

  2. Use the Vitamix to grind 1 cup of the sugar for the cake, and reserve. Grind the 1/4 cup for the mousse, and reserve.

    Measure 1 1/4 cup aquafaba for the cake and put it in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl if you are using an electric mixer. Save the remaining 3/4 cup aquafaba for the mousse.

  3. Steam the beets for about 15 minutes, until very tender. Melt half of the chocolate and let cool. Place the milk , coconut oil, melted chocolate and beets in the Vitamix and secure the lid. Select Variable Speed 1 and turn on the machine. Gradually increase the speed to 10 and blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the unbleached flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in the beet mixture. It will be thick.

    In the stand mixer, put 1/2 teaspoon of the cream of tartar and mix on low for 1 minute, then increase to high. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and sprinkle in a tablespoon of the cup of organic sugar that you ground at the beginning every 30 seconds or so. At the end it will be billowy and glossy.

  5. Fold a third of the aquafaba mixture into the flour mixture, then when it is well mixed, gently fold in the remaining. When it's just combined but not deflated, scrape into the pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of a layer comes out with only moist crumbs, transfer to racks to cool.
  6. For the sauce

    Pour the pomegranate juice and sugar into a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium low and simmer vigorously for about 10 minutes, to reduce to 3/4 cup. Whisk in cayenne and simmer briefly, then transfer to a pouring vessel.

  7. For the mousse

    Melt the remaining 6 ounces chocolate and let cool to room temp.Place the remaining 3/4 cup aquafaba and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix on low for a minute, then increase to high and beat for 10 minutes. Still on high, sprinkle in the remaining sugar over the course of 5 minutes, very gradually. Gently fold in the melted chocolate, then chill the mousse, covered.

  8. To assemble

    Run a knife around each layer of cake and loosen the layers. Place a cake plate over one, and flip onto the plate. Peel off the paper. Spread with the jam. Repeat with the second layer. Use a fine sieve to dust with powdered sugar.

    Slice in 12 pieces. Serve each slice with a tablespoon or so of sauce and a scoop of mousse, garnish with pomegranate seeds.

The Herbivorous Butcher Takes Over The World! And My Banh Mie.

The Herbivorous Butcher

Aubry and Kale Walch at the Herbivorous Butcher

Minneapolis may be famous for the Twins, for Mary Tyler Moore (RIP) and for its Chain of Lakes. But these days, in the world of food, we are now famous for the Herbivorous Butchers.

Yes, the brother and sister team of Aubry and Kale Walch have captured the imaginations of press the world over, with their inspired renditions of mock meats and cheeses. In just a year, they went from spending their days giving away samples at the Farmer’s Markets to selling 3,627 pounds of faux meat and 516 pounds of non-dairy cheese in December ’16, and they can’t keep up with demand.

They have been written up in the Guardian, Time, Zagat, Buzzfeed, The New York Times, Vogue, and a list too long to repeat. Diner’s, Drive ins and Dives paid a visit, and put the charming pair and their unique shop on food tv.

Vegan Banh Mie

#1 Selling Korean Ribs in a Banh Mie

So how, exactly, have the ‘Butchers taken seitan, a food made since the 6th Century in China, and made it so hot?

First, they didn’t like the products out there, and became obsessed with making new, better tasting versions of the ancient seitan we know as mock duck, or wheat meat.

“We thought we would have a little lifestyle business, just us making making it. We didn’t think about all this when we were at the Farmer’s Market. Now we have seven employees in the kitchen, and twenty in the store.”  said Aubry. “Now we want to put our butcher shops in other cities.”

From where I stand, the sampling was where the ‘Butchers created a new market. The two charismatic vegans managed to surprise all the shoppers who came to the market for watermelons and sweet corn, by offering them a taste of something they would never, ever seek out in a grocery store.

“Just try it, I’d say. Most are skeptical until they taste it. Everyone will taste it, if only to confirm their love of meat. But we surprise them” said Kale, or as Aubry called him, “The Sample Master.”

Once the meat was winning hearts and stomachs at the market, the duo launched a kickstarter, knocked it out of the park, and then opened the quirky, warm little storefront they now run in North East Minneapolis.

Herbivorous Butcher

The Big Cleaver Really Draws Your Eye!


There’s a Cleaver Motif in the Shop

The shop, nestled in between a number of meat-centric restaurants, presents itself like the kind of butcher shop you might find in Mayberry RFD – with a touch of hipness. “It feels like an old-fashioned butcher shop, maybe it’s a familiar feeling for people who have been there. You can order by the pound, you can taste the sliced meats.” said Kale.

The meats are designed to appeal to omnivores crossing over, not die hard vegans, who may find their resemblance to animal foods off-putting. “60% of our customers are omnivores coming in to either try to switch, or because a friend or family member who’s vegan is coming over. Then they try it and like it.” Said Kale. “They’re not for vegans who don’t want it.”

Because the meats are seasoned, sauced and completely cooked, all you have to do is insert them into your familiar foods,as I did with my Banh Mie recipe. “For the most part you can directly swap them out for your favorite meat. And never worry about cooking the bacteria out of your food.” said Aubry.

The ‘Butchers also make non-dairy cheeses, and they sell the Punk Rawk cashewmilk cheeses made in Minneapolis, I wrote about here. They sell a few select sandwiches, all modeled on the kind of over the top deli sandwiches you’d see in a Dagwood cartoon. Stacked with sliced meats, cheeses,and delectable toppings, the sandwiches made Guy Fieri roll his eyes with bliss, and he’s eaten a few big fat sandwiches in his day.

Korean Ribs

Korean Ribs in The Case (Pardon the reflections)

Behind the case is the kitchen, where the happy sausage makers mix, form and cook all the meats.Here’s a glimpse of some roasts being shaped:


Wrapping Mock Meats in Cheesecloth Before Cooking

The ‘Butchers call themselves a “savory bakery,” because they are basically kneading doughs and then baking or steaming them. They have branched out into some jackfruit-based products too, which can meet the needs of the gluten free vegans as well as the curious omnivores who miss pulled pork.

So, if you don’t live in Minneapolis and want to give the HB products a try, order them here. If you do live nearby, the shop is worth a trip.

And you can bet that there will be more outposts of the Herbivorous Butcher, coming soon.

Vegan Banh Mie

Savory, Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Herbal and Full of Crunch

Vegan Banh Mie

Makes 2 sandwiches

1 small baguette
vegan mayonnaise
1/2 medium daikon, finely julienned
1/2 large carrot, finely julienned
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 HB Korean Ribs, sliced
1/2 medium cucumbe, peeled and sliced
1 small red Fresno chili, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, whole
2 small scallion, sliced on a diagonal

Preheat the broiler. Split the baguette into halves and then slice each for a sandwich. Open the baguette piece and spread with mayo. Wait to broil until the rest of the sandwich parts are ready to go.
In a small bowl, combine the daikon, carrot, sugar, rice vinegar and salt. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Slice the “ribs” into thin pieces and warm them in a pan on the stove, or microwave.
Slice the chilis, pluck the cilantro leaves, and sliver the scallions.
When all is ready, broil the baguettes until the may is bubbly and browned in spots. Place each on a plate and layer on cucumber, ribs, some of the daikon mixture, the cilantro, chilis and scallions. Put the top slice of bread on and serve immediately.



Chocolatey-Crispy Energy Cookies and Yes, Win a Vitamix!

No Sugar in these Chocolate Crispy Energy Cookies

Chocolatey Crispy Energy Cookies, Made with Dates

Sometimes, you just want a cookie. Comfort me with chocolate, if you want me to keep on keeping on. There are times for rich desserts, surely. But I like to have a little energy cookie on hand that I can nibble before a workout. Those times when you don’t need a full meal, but you need a little something to keep your blood sugar up.

That’s where my easy energy cookies come in. These Chocolatey Crispy Energy Cookies are perfect for tucking in my gym bag, so I can grab one after about an hour of hard cardio. When you are active, you don’t need to eat much, but if you want to keep going, you need some calories.

Rich, chocolatey cookies in my gym bag? They call my name, urging me on.

To make these, I relied on the old baker’s trick of a date puree. Sweet, fiber rich dates, steeped in boiling water, are blended into a smooth paste, and some coconut oil and flax seeds are whipped in. The resulting mixture replaces the sugar, butter and eggs of a conventional cookie.

Dates and Coconut Oil for Fitness

Dates are the preferred base for energy balls, bars and other snacks, because they are full of sweetness, to be sure, but also fiber and nutrients. The sugars are mixed in with slower digesting fiber, so it’s not the same kind of jolt that refined sugar would give you. Then coconut oil, the favorite fat of body builders, boosts metabolism and helps keep you satiated longer. It’s a wonderful fat for baking, because it is a form of saturated fat, which solidifies to a buttery texture once the cookies are cooled. Flax seeds are there to create a gel that helps bind the cookie, as well as deliver essential fatty acids and more fiber.

Use the Vitamix to blend a sweet date paste

Puree of Dates, Flax, Coconut Oil

Energy cookies and other fruit based snacks are easy to make in the Vitamix. Whether you want to make a date puree, or use another fruit, like prunes or even raisins, you can rely on the powerful blender to make a smooth fruit sweetener. Then you can use it in all sorts of baking.

Of course, I threw in some mini-chips to add melty chocolate appeal. You can also chop some unsweetened chocolate if you really want to go sugar free, and experience the bitter side of chocolate.

I’ll be counting on these cookies to power me through my workouts this month. It’s the dark and cold time of year that makes you want to stay in a warm bed and skip the gym. So these cookies are just one of my motivating, energizing tricks to keep myself on track.

And yes, scroll to the bottom of the post and enter to win a Vitamix!

Chocolatey Crispy Energy Cookies

Quick to Bake, Too

Chocolatey-Crispy Energy Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

1 cup pitted dates
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup rice crisps
1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking sheet pan with a light coating of oil or parchment. In the Vitamix Container, pour the boiling water over the dates, let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the water into a cup, then add back 6 tablespoons of the soaking water to the dates. Add the flax, coconut oil and vanilla and process to mix. In a large bowl, mix the cocoa, flour, and baking soda. Stir in the date mixture, and mix. Fold in the rice crispies and chocolate chips. Scoop heaping tablespoons and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on the sheet pan and flatten to 1/2 inch thickness.

2. Bake for 6 minutes, then reverse the pan and bake for 6 minutes. Cool on racks.

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Blend Up an Immune-Boosting Juice and Enter To Win a Vitamix

Rosehips, Clementines, Turmeric and Ginger Juice

Rosehips, Clementines, Turmeric and Ginger for Your Health

They say that colds have nothing to do with the cold. Yet I just can’t shake the idea that getting chilled to the bone on a wintry day is a surefire way to invite the rhinovirus in. As the chill wind blows hard across the snowy landscape, it must be weakening me as it makes my nose run and my eyes water. Add wet socks on cold feet and I feel my defenses dropping.

I suppose the best way to avoid the cold is not just to bundle up. We have to build our defenses from the inside out. Luckily, there are some fortifying foods that can help you fight off those opportunistic bugs, with just a quick and easy buzz in the blender.

Immune Boosting Foods

I have been a turmeric fan for years, and it looks like the world is coming around to the amazing effects of the golden root. I’ve written about my favorite fresh turmeric-laced Dal soup and the protective qualities of turmeric in a turmeric tonic for skin. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory food, and that alone makes it a good thing to keep your body in top shape for fighting off a cold.

Vitamin C is a classic for fighting colds, so this juice has a one-two punch, delivered by both rosehips and fresh clementines.

Rosehips are the seed pods of spent roses, and are often overlooked in the lists of super-healthy foods. They are available in the bulk section of many Coops, and are really inexpensive, considering all the nutrients they harbor in their purplish red pods. According to, an ounce of dried rosehips has 199% of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C, as well as 24% of the Vitamin A. They are a very good source of manganese and a good source of E, K, calcium and magnesium. An ounce is alot of rosehips, a rounded quarter cup by my measure, so make your rosehip tea strong, as I did in this recipe. If you want to get every bit of the nutrients from your rosehips, you can add the steeped pods to the blender, and it will need a little more honey to balance out the tartness. The mixture will be thicker, too.

Clementines are those little mandarin oranges that are popular this time of year, I bought two bags for the price of one, so we can keep a bowl of them on the table and eat them as snacks. Like oranges, they are full of Vitamin C and antioxidants and taste great.

Ginger is an age-old home remedy, and there are studies showing that it kills viruses and bacteria. It warms you from the inside, and the peppery juice helps clear your throat.

Raw honey is another favorite to soothe your throat and give you some natural antibiotics. Some honeys, like Manuka, are so potent with antibiotic activity that you can use them on wounds. If you have some Manuka honey, definitely use it in this.

Tasty Immunity Foods

Tasty Foods That Boost Your Immunity

The Vitamix Makes it Fast

For this juice, I used the Vitamix to make sure to get every bit of the goodness from these foods. Whole Clementines, turmeric and ginger get blasted into liquid form with the powerful blades, making it easy to drink and enjoy. The only planning ahead was in brewing the rosehips into a pink tea for the base liquid.

If you don’t have a Vitamix yet, scroll down and enter to win one. You can also win a copy of my latest book, 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix (Robert Rose.) There’s a whole cahpter on whole juices like this one.

As winter wears on, I am glad that I have potent real foods to help me battle with the germs everyone else is swapping around. The best defense is, well, a good defense!

Immune Boosting Juice

Makes about 1 1/4 cups


1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons dried rosehips

2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sliced fresh turmeric

2 small clementine tangerines, peeled

1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)


In a heat safe cup, pour boiling water over the rosehips and let steep until completely cooled, about an hour. You can do this ahead of time and chill the tea ’til serving time.

Strain out the rosehips and pour the tea into the Vitamix container. Add the ginger, turmeric, tangerines and honey. Secure the lid and select Variable Speed 1. Turn on the blender and gradually increase the speed to 10, then High. Run for about 45 seconds, until the turmeric and ginger are completely pulverized.

Serve within 24 hours.



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Creamy Roasted Cabbage Soup and a Chance to Win a Vitamix!


This week, I taught a class on “superfoods.” Of course, that meant that I got to cook with some of my favorite flavor-, color- and antioxidant-packed foods. But one that I didn’t have room to squeeze into the menu was the cabbage.

Sure, the blueberries and pomegranates get most of the limelight for their antioxidant punch, but let’s not throw shade on the everyday cabbage. Like all its brassica brethren, this cousin of kale is a plant-based powerhouse of protective phytochemicals.

Classic Peasant Food

I usually have a hunk of cabbage in my vegetable drawer, holding its own for weeks at a time in a ziplock bag. Unlike so many fragile foods, the sturdy cabbage can be stored and taken out every time you need a sliver for salad or a wedge for stir-fry. But once in a while you just need to finish it off in a feast like this soup.

The cabbage has a slightly spicy flavor when raw, but when you roast it, the natural sweetness comes to the fore. By tossing it with olive oil and sliding it in the oven, I was able to get both moist and juicy caramelized cabbage chunks and a few slightly charred leaves to give the mix some complexity. All while I went about my business, ignoring the magic happening in the oven.


Roasted Cabbage, Carrots, Onions and Garlic with Rosemary

Roasted Cabbage, Carrots, Onions and Garlic with Rosemary

The Vitamix Purees and  Heats the Soup

Once it’s all soft and sweet, it just takes minutes to puree the veggies with some creamy raw cashews. Nobody will miss the dairy. With just a cup and a half of water, the resulting puree is so thick and rich, you would swear that there was cream in there. Nuts of all kinds are in the superfood category, thanks to essential fatty acids, protein and fiber.

The Vitamix is such a powerful blender that it not only makes a super-creamy soup, but it also heats the soup to a piping hot serving temperature. Just let it run and it will start steaming to let you know it’s ready.

So if you want to enter to win your own Vitamix 5200, scroll on down to the bottom of this post and dive right in.

Until then, you can make this in a food processor, just add the water at the end, gradually, as the rest of the ingredients become smooth.

We can celebrate the cabbage with a superfood soup that feels like a decadent indulgence.

That’s a win-win in my book!

Roasted Cabbage, Rosemary and Garlic Soup

The Roasted Brussels Sprouts Are a Perfect Accent to the Creamy Soup

Creamy Roasted Cabbage Soup with Rosemary

Serves 3

1/2 small cabbage, sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
2 large garlic clove, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
18 small Brussels sprout, halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews

Preheat the oven to 400 F. On a large sheet pan, place the cabbage, carrot, onion, rosemary and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then toss to coat. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring halfway. When all the vegetables are super soft and some are well-browned, take out.
While the cabbage is roasting, place the brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt to taste. Roast for about 20 minutes. Make sure to save the oil to drizzle over the soup.
When the cabbage is cooked, place the water and raw cashews in the Vitamix container. Add the cabbage mixture and secure the lid. Select Variable Speed 1 and turn on the machine, then slowly increase to Speed 10, then High. Blend for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is velvety smooth. If desired, blend for 2 minutes longer to heat the soup.
Serve 1 cup per bowl and garnish with 12 Brussels Sprout halves and a drizzle of the oil they were roasted in, and a fresh rosemary sprig.


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Spicy Walnut-Beet Tacos, Enter To Win a Vitamix

Walnut Beet Tacos

Tasty Tacos with a Hint of Chipotle

Tacos. We love them, whether they are from a taco truck or the ones you make with a powdered seasoning packet from the store. (Don’t scoff, I’ve been asked to make those by high end private chef clients, so somebody really connects with the spice packet!) Crunchy shells, soft shells, just give us tacos. So it’s no surprise that we have Americanized the simple taco of Mexico by creating all sorts of fusion tacos. Korean tacos, Indian tacos, Thai tacos, all delicious in their own right.

For my entry into the not so authentic but darn tasty taco competition, I got a craving for the flavors in my favorite Walnut Beet Burger with a little more spice and excitement. So I cranked up the Vitamix to do the work of mincing up the beets, onions and walnuts.

And yes, you can enter to win a Vitamix a little further down….

Everybody knows the Vitamix is great for making smoothies and other purees. But It’s often overlooked as a tool for mincing. When I was taking a deep dive into everything the Vitamix can do for my book 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix, I explored the ways in which a fast, powerful blender can do more than just puree.

To make this taco filling, you’ll be utilizing the blender blades to quickly mince the hard beets. It goes so quickly, it’s really more of a matter of restraint than anything else. Just drop the pieces in one after the other, and the machine chops them and flings them up on the sides of the container, so you can add the next one. Then just scrape the mince into the hot pan. no need to wash the container, just follow with the onion, add to the pan, and quickly mince the walnuts to bits.

Mincing Beets in the Vitamix

Mincing Beets in the Vitamix

Sauteing the minced vegetables takes hardly any time at all, since the pieces are so small. A chopped tomato, some garlic and spices, and boom, you have a savory, slightly spicy taco filling. The sweetness of the beets, the richness and hint of bitterness from the walnuts, and a touch of miso round out a rich flavor. A few taco add-ins, like creamy avocado, tomato, lettuce and drizzles of sour cream and hot sauce, and you have a meal. Add a squeeze of lime for a little contrast, and it’s heavenly.

If you like real heat, feel free to add more. I live in Minnesota, where this might even be considered medium-hot.

Enjoy the tacos, and check out the chance to win below.

Good luck!



Chipotle Walnut Beet Tacos

Makes 4 tacos

3 medium beets, peeled and cubed
1/2 medium onion, quartered
1 cup walnut halves
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red miso
1/2 teaspoon salt
small corn or flour tortillas
romaine lettuce
sour cream
hot sauce

Remove the plug from the Vitamix lid and secure the lid. Select Variable Speed 6 and turn on the machine. Drop the beet cubes, one at a time, through the hole in the lid, mincing each before adding the next. It goes quickly. Spread the oil in a large saute pan and place over medium high heat. Scrape the beets into the pan and stir. Set the Vitamix container up again and repeat with the onions, scrape out into the pan. Put the container back on the machine, replace the lid and turn it on. Drop the walnuts in and mince, it only takes a second, so don’t make butter.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, chipotle, cumin, chili powder, miso and salt. Mash the miso into the mixture as you stir. Stir and scrape the beet mixture for about 8 minutes,until the beets are tender and the onions are soft. When the pan gets dry and the mixture starts to brown and stick, take off the heat.
Serve hot in tortillas, with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and sour cream, if desired, add hot sauce.
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Win a Vitamix and a Copy of 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix!

Win a Vitamix 5200

You’ve always wanted one…

It’s a big fat giveaway this month, and I’m so happy to be able to give you a shot at winning your very own brand new Vitamix! Yes, thanks to the generous folks at Vitamix, you can enter to win a 5200 model, to make all your blending dreams come true. Along with it, you’ll get a copy of my latest book, 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix (Robert Rose Books) and one other winner will get the book by itself. That’s the option for those of you who already have a Vitamix!

300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix

While researching and testing the recipes for 300 Best Blender Recipes, I got to put the 5200 and the Professional Series 750 through their paces. The 5200 has all the power and versatility that you need. They sell new for $449.00, and will perform for you in the kitchen for many years to come.

If you want to know more about the machine, click here to see the info on the Vitamix 5200.

Win a Vitamix!

Win a Vitamix 5200!


I’m so excited to have the chance to get this machine into the kitchen of a lucky winner. The Vitamix is the kitchen tool that allows you to crank out everything from almond milk and walnut butter to silken pureed soups. I even created a whole body care chapter for the book, and some lush body lotions, scrubs and treatments. The 300 recipes will cover you for everything from breakfast to cocktails, and the 5200 will power through it all.

So take a look at the links below and when you get to the bottom, enter to win!

You can watch me make Fresh Almond Butter and a Creamy Cheddar Sauce in the Vitamix on Kare 11 Here.

Freshly ground millet and white whole wheat flours in a freeform rustic loaf

Millet Demi Loaf from 300 Best Blender Recipes on KARE 11

For now, check out these blender recipes:

Pear Lemon Cupcakes by Robin Asbell

Pear and Lemon Cupcakes from 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix

Vodka-Thyme Slushy from 300 Best Blender Recipes by robin Asbell

Lemon-Thyme Vodka Slushy from 300 Best Blender Recipes to Make in Your Vitamix

Three simple elements to one delicious dish

Three simple elements to one delicious dish



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Hoppin’ Happy New Year with Black-Eyed Peas for New Years Day

Hoppin' New Year Black Eyed Peas

Have a Hoppin’ New Year with Blackeyed Peas

Happy New Year 2017!

The passing of the year is seen as a moment when change is possible. Around the world, people are throwing New Years Eve parties, and marking the moment that the calendar rolls over with toasts and revelry. But don’t dismiss January first as just a day to nurse a hangover. New Years Day is a day to mark a new beginning.

The ritual of ending one year and starting another can be a powerful catalyst for making positive changes. It can also be another time to make pointlessly grand resolutions, that probably won’t stick with you past the next weekend. If your resolutions are to eat better, New Years Day is as good a time as any to add some delicious whole foods to your diet. Pledging a complete overhaul may be too much for most people, but little pledges, like doubling your vegetable intake, or doing meatless Mondays, or even going whole grain instead of white are all simple enough to pull off. Just pick things that are do-able.

The rituals and superstitions around New Years Day all see the day as symbolically setting the tone for the rest of the year. Believers take pains to not spend money or write checks, as that will set the stage for money leaving you all year. Some believe that the first person to enter your door after midnight is very significant, and make plans to have a good guest bring some symbolic gifts.

What the heck, a few gifts make for a happy New Year!

To start the New Year off right, we follow a few customs and eat foods that are thought to be auspicious. In Spain, 12 grapes are eaten at midnight, one for each month of the year. Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day is a Southern tradition that shows that you don’t hold yourself above the rest of us. Pork is thought to add richness that will stay all year long. Peas and beans are eaten in many cultures on New Year’s because the round beans symbolize coins and money. Similarly, leafy greens are thought to symbolize folded cash, so eating greens on the big day will bring money to you all year long.  Rice is a symbol of abundance. Fish is historically served at feasts, especially dried or preserved fish, in part because Catholics don’t eat meat on religious holidays. Fish also has scales, which resemble coins, and it swims in schools, which symbolize abundance. In Chinese New Year’s, the fish is always cooked whole, to bring the most life force to the diner. Golden foods, like cornbread, bring the color of gold to your plate and attract wealth. Noodles, especially long, Chinese noodles, symbolize longevity. In Chinese New Years celebrations, a special longevity noodle is sold, one long noodle bundled up to cook whole. Don’t cut your noodles,  just slurp them up for the full effect.

Hoppin' Blackeyed Peas

Add Hot Sauce to Taste!

Hoppin’ Happy New Years Blackeyed Peas and Rice

Blackeyed peas keep you down to Earth, while carrot “coins” may just attract money. The bed of collards symbolizes cash, and we all hope for a little more cash. Rice symbolizes abundance, so eat plenty of it.

Serves 4

3/4 cup blackeyed peas, soaked
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, sliced in coins
1 rib celery, chopped
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 small chipotle chile canned in adobo, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch collard greens

2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
hot sauce
chopped parsley

Soak the peas overnight, then pour off the water and put them in a small pot. cover with water by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes. Test the beans for tenderness, don’t overcook. Drain.
In a 2 quart pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat. When the onions are clear, add the garlic and saute for another few minutes. Add the brown rice and chipotle with 2 cups water and the salt. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce the heat, cook for about 35 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Trim the collard greens by tearing or cutting the leaves from the stems, then finely slice the stems. Reserve.
Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cup with the cider vinegar, fresh thyme, paprika and salt. Pour over the cooked blackeyed peas and toss to coat.
Just before serving, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the collard stems for 2 minutes over high heat before adding the leaves. Saute, stirring, until the leaves are softened and deep green.
Serve collards topped with about 3/4 cup rice, and 1/2 cup peas on top. Drizzle with hot sauce and parsley.



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