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Eating Healthy, With Pizzaz

Eating healthy food doesn't have to mean sacrificing flavor, according to cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie, who says preparing a balanced menu isn't hard, and can be delicious.

She showed the way Thursday in The Early Show's "Five Minute Cooking School," at the Manhattan flagship store of specialty home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma. Ritchie

to co-anchor Hannah Storm.

While emphasizing that she's not a nutritionist, Ritchie says her highlight the things our mothers told us: Eat a wide array of colorful fruits and veggies, and you're on your way to a more balanced diet.


Antioxidants: These substances can counteract the destructive effects of free radicals in the body. The most common use of antioxidants, however, is as a preservative. Synthetic antioxidants, such as BHA and BHT, are often included by cosmetics manufacturers to keep their products from spoiling, but natural antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E can be added to cosmetics as a safer alternative to the synthetic variety. In the form of vitamin and mineral supplements, antioxidants help counteract the effects of free radicals on cells and repair cellular damage. Antioxidants protect cells by sacrificing electrons to prevent free radicals from stealing electrons from healthy cells.

Endive: Endives look a little like lettuce and, while bitter, are less so than radicchio. They also make a wonderful addition to salads and soups.

Celery Root: Part of the celery family, the celery root, or celeriac, is routinely used in French cooking and is seen throughout Europe. It's grown for its root use and appeared in the United States beginning in the 19th century. Despite its association with root vegetables, celery root has a certain panache. Perhaps that's due to its honored place in the French specialty, celery remoulade, or because it makes such luxurious pairings with dried cepes or with tender artichoke hearts. Celery root has a pungent, celery-like flavor and is, in fact, a special variety of celery, developed by gardeners during the Renaissance. In recipes calling for cauliflower, fennel or cardoon, celery root makes an interesting and unexpected substitute, if not a quantum improvement. This root is bypassed by many because of it unusual appearance of crevices and rootlets. When cooked well, this root evokes celery and parsley flavors. These vegetables should be firm, with no brown soft spots. Sprouting tops should be bright green. They're rich in phosphorous and potassium, and have about 40 calories per cup. To store celery root, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for up to a week.


Purple Belgian Endive & Crab Salad

Purple and blue fruits and vegetables are the exotics of the produce world. Like purple and blue flowers, they have a rare and special allure. They also rank high on the list of the most healthy foods, since they're especially rich in antioxidants.

Leaves from 2 heads purple-tipped Belgian
Endive or regular Belgian endive
4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 lb. fresh or thawed frozen lump crabmeat
1 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 tsp. capers, chopped
2 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Arrange 3 or 4 endive leaves on each of 4 chilled salad plates. Coarsely chop the remaining leaves and make a bed of them on the arranged leaves.

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, crabmeat, tarragon, olive oil, mayonnaise, capers, Tabasco and lemon juice, and season with the salt and pepper. Divide the crab mixture equally among the plates, mounding it on the beds of chopped endive. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Starters, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Editor's note: Simon & Schuster and are both owned by the CBS Corporation.

Celery Root & Potato Potpie

Containing antioxidants for healing and protection, the white and tan category of produce includes many nourishing root vegetables. Among them are potatoes and celery root, which are combined to create this warming potpie.

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
small pieces
2 to 3 Tbs. ice water

1 large or 2 medium celery roots, peeled and
cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. black truffle oil

To make the pastry, in a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. With the machine running, gradually add the ice water until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

In a saucepan, combine the celery roots and potatoes. Add water to cover and 1⁄2 tsp. of the salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are fork-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and sauté until the onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and the remaining 1⁄2 tsp. salt and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock and cook until reduced to about 2 cups. Stir in the parsley. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry disk into a round about 1⁄8 inch thick and trim to fit a 6 to 8-cup casserole dish.

Transfer the potatoes and celery roots to the dish and pour the reduced broth mixture on top. Drizzle with the truffle oil. Cover with the pastry, pinching the edges to seal.

Cut 2 or 3 slits in the top. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the edges are bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the potpie from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, then slice and spoon into warmed bowls. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Main Dishes, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Kiwifruit Sorbet

Green is the color of growing things. The flavor of green fruits is light, fresh and clean, and their texture is crisp and juicy. They are naturally good for you. This sorbet, a light and fresh alternative to rich ice cream, combines the complementary flavors of tropical kiwifruits and tart lemon juice.

6 kiwifruits, peeled
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
12 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 egg white
3 Tbs. Cointreau or other liqueur of
choice (optional)

For the garnish:
Lemon zest strips
Sliced peeled kiwifruits

In a blender, puree the kiwifruits just until smooth. Do not overblend or the seeds will break up and make the puree bitter. Measure out 2 cups puree. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. Let cool, then chill for 2 hours.

In a bowl, combine the kiwi puree, lemon juice, mint and cold syrup and stir to combine. Pour into a shallow metal baking pan and freeze until icy, about 4 hours. Process in a food processor or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg white and liqueur, and process or beat until fluffy. Refreeze until firm, about 4 hours, then beat again. Pack the sorbet into a container and freeze completely, 4 hours more.

Serve in chilled glasses, garnished with lemon zest and sliced kiwifruits. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Desserts, by Annabel Langbein (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

Nutritionists have long known that yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into essential vitamin A, but only recently have the full benefits of this color group come to light. Orange fruits and vegetables taste bright and zesty, and they help keep us healthy in many ways throughout the year. In this recipe, carrots help make these cupcakes moist and sweet.

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
7 Tbs. fresh orange juice, warmed
1 tsp. baking soda

For the mascarpone icing:
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 oz. cold mascarpone or low-fat cream cheese
Strips of dried mango for garnish (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 10 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, maple syrup and orange zest until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the carrot.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In another small bowl, stir together the orange juice and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the orange juice mixture in two additions until smooth. Do not overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the cupcakes are risen and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a baking sheet and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the mascarpone icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest and mascarpone until blended.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them and garnish with strips of dried mango. Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 10 cupcakes.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Desserts, by Annabel Langbein (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

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