Brighten up your winter with pretty food

One of my wintertime joys is selecting fresh-cut flowers in the grocery store’s floral shop. They’re a pick-me-up when the world outside my window is cold and gray. Another surefire way to lift my spirits is wandering through the produce section.

Filling the shopping cart with brightly colored vegetables and fruits helps me keep my New Year’s resolve to improve my health by eating better. A bowl of lemons, oranges, apples and pomegranates on the counter is as pretty as an arrangement of white Asian lilies and red carnations, and it is a visual reminder that I am going to nurture my body with nourishing foods.

A few weeks ago a copy of “Bon Appetit: The Food Lover’s Cleanse: 140 Delicious, Nourishing Recipes That Will Tempt You Back into Healthful Eating” by Sara Dickerman arrived at the office. Opening a new cookbook is as exciting as unwrapping a holiday present, and this one thrilled me to no end. The photographs are mouthwatering and capture the essence of beautiful, whole foods.

Thumbing through the book made me crave nutritious dishes like Roasted Cauliflower with Thyme and Olives, Bulgur with Parsley and Chives, Vegetable Root Minestrone, and Braised Chicken with Squash and Prunes.

But of all the photos, the one that I couldn’t take my eyes off was of a very simple breakfast dish. It reminded me of a simple bouquet.


In a dry skillet, toast 1 ½ tablespoons red quinoa over medium heat, stirring constantly until it darkens a bit and begins to pop intermittently, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in ½ teaspoon honey; the quinoa will clump into clusters. Spoon ½ cup sheep’s milk or other plain yogurt into a bowl. Top with 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, ¾ cup yellow-skinned apple slices and the toasted quinoa.

Our assessment: Never had I toasted dry quinoa before and was delighted by how good it is this way. Toasting brings out quinoa’s naturally nutty flavor, and mixing it with honey turns it into flavorful, crunchy bits. Keep it in mind months from now as a creative topping for ice cream.

Also, don’t be intimidated by pomegranates. There is a very easy way to separate the fleshy, ruby-red seeds from the peel: Fill a large bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half, then submerge in the water. With both hands, break open the peel and gently knock the seeds away from the white pulpy membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. When you’re done, remove the peel and scoop out all the membrane bits. Then collect the seeds.

From the book: “Bon Appetit: The Food Lover’s Cleanse: 140 Delicious, Nourishing Recipes That Will Tempt You Back into Healthful Eating” by Sara Dickerman; 340 pages, $35. Published by William Morrow, 2015.

What you get: The book is organized by season, and each contains recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, along with a 2-week cleanse menu.

In her own words: “I’ve been putting together ‘The Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse’ for six years now, and I have a confession to make: I have misgivings about the word cleanse. It’s more appealing, I suppose than diet or regimen, but using it is hard for me, because it suggests that the opposite of cleansing is getting dirty. And I’m pro-food. I don’t think eating, no matter how indulgent, is a sullying experience.” — Sara Dickerman