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Of all the things you do that you have control over every day, diet can have the most immediate and lasting impact on your body and overall quality of life. Don't underestimate the power of the home-cooked meal or the well-stocked kitchen!

Fresh food -- organic and local, as unprocessed as you can get it, from your neighborhood farmer's market, your co-op, or your own backyard -- forms the core of a whole foods diet that contains the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for optimal nutrition. Being free of unnecessary additives and preservatives, fresh food is the most flavorful and full of active phytochemicals -- it's also when food is most delicious!

For added safety and to minimize your impact on the environment, choose organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Organic food is free of pesticides, which have been shown by numerous studies to linger in the body and contribute to a host of health problems. The Dirty Dozen are the most heavily sprayed of non-organic fruits and vegetables, so even if you eat non-organic produce regularly, try to buy them organic if you can.

These recipes have been culled from resources all over the Web, as well as from printed media and from cooks themselves. Browse, try, adapt, enjoy, and check back for new additions!

Swiss Chard & Raisins

* 2 1/2 lb. red or rainbow Swiss chard, washed
* 1/4 c. raisins
* 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 14 oz. chicken stock or vegetable broth
* 2 slices Applegate Sunday or Turkey Bacon, chopped (vegan alternative: Lightlife OG Smoky Fakin’ Bacon)
* Coarse salt, to taste
* 2 pinches ground nutmeg
* 1 sm. yellow onion, peeled, chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coarsely chop the greens. Add oil, bacon and onion to the pan. Cook 2-3 min. until onions begin to soften and bacon* is lightly browned. Add chopped chard to pan in large bunches, adding remaining chard as the greens wilt. Sprinkle in raisins, add broth and season with salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer greens 10-15 min. until greens are tender. Raisins will plump as the dish cooks through. Makes enough for 4-6. *[Note: If you are using tempeh, brown it in the pan beforehand, set it aside, then return it to the pan along with the onions.]

Chunky Chicken Pasta Salad

* 2 c. raw rotini or other medium pasta shape (or 3 c. cooked)
* 2 c. cooked chicken (leftover grilled, roast or rotisserie is fine), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1/2 c. cheddar, Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes
* 2 green onions, chopped
* 1 small green or red pepper, chopped
* 1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
* 1/4 c. mayonnaise
* 1/4 c. plain yogurt
* 2 tsp. cider or white wine vinegar
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy. Drain, then rinse well under cold running water and drain again very thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl. To the pasta, add the chicken, cheese, green onions, green or red pepper and chopped parsley. Toss to mix. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss well to coat everything with dressing. If you're making this salad to serve later, add the dressing at the last possible moment before serving. (Pasta has a tendency to absorb dressing as it sits.) Leftovers can be revived with a bit of additional dressing at serving time.

Savory Sandwich Spread

* 1 lb. firm tofu
* 1/4 c. brown miso
* 1/3 c. roasted tahini
* 2 tbsp. onion, minced
* 3 tbsp. carrot, minced (optional)
* 3 tbsp. unsalted sunflower seeds

Press tofu to remove excess water: Place tofu on a flat surface. Cover with a cutting board, and place an iron skillet or a similarly heavy object on top. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Crumble tofu into a medium bowl. Mix in miso and tahini. If desired, stir in onion, carrot, and seeds. Refrigerate.

California Veggie Wrap

* 1 tbsp. spreadable cream cheese
* 1 lg. (10-inch) flour tortilla, regular or flavored
* 2 tbsp. carrot, shredded
* 2 tbsp. red or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
* 2 tbsp. red onion, chopped
* 1/4 c. Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
* 1/4 avocado, peeled and sliced
* 1/4 c. baby spinach leaves (or torn arugula)
* 1/4 c. alfalfa sprouts
* Salt and pepper to taste

Spread cream cheese over the tortilla to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Arrange all the filling ingredients in a row along the center one-third of the tortilla. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roll the tortilla up as tightly as possible to enclose the filling without tearing the tortilla. Cut in half crosswise and eat immediately, or wrap both halves in plastic wrap to pack into a lunch bag.

Blueberry-Peach Crisp

* 2 c. fresh blueberries
* 2 c. fresh peaches, peeled, cut into small chunks
* 1/3 c. water
* 2 tsp. lemon juice
* 4 tbsp. butter or non-dairy alternative (Earth Balance)
* 1/3 c. brown sugar
* 1/3 c. unbleached white flour
* 3/4 c. uncooked oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash berries and remove any
that are spoiled. Place in 8" x 8" baking dish. Add water and lemon juice; stir well. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Combine the flour and oatmeal and add together
to butter and sugar mixture. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed and crumbly. Sprinkle oatmeal mixture over berries and bake 40 minutes, or until browned.

Mini Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins

* 1 1/4 c. natural bran (not cereal)
* 1 c. all purpose flour
* 1/2 c. brown sugar
* 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1/2 c. milk
* 1/3 c. vegetable oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 med. apple, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the cups in two mini muffin pans. In a large bowl, stir together the bran, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil and eggs. Add the milk mixture to the bran mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the chopped apple. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 20 to 22 miniature muffins.

If you prefer, you can bake this batter as full-size muffins
instead of miniature ones. Increase baking temperature to 375° F and time to 20 minutes. You'll only get 6 to 8 muffins, though.

Hazelnut Croquettes in Tomato Sauce

* 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for greasing
* 2 onions, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* 1 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes
* Salt and fresh ground black pepper
* 4 oz. hazelnuts, toasted and grated
* 2 oz. fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs
* 2 oz. Cheddar cheese, finely grated
* 2 rounded tsp. tomato puree
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and fry the onions for 10 minutes or until softened but not browned. Remove half the onions to a bowl and set aside for the moment -- this is for the croquettes. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the onions remaining in the pan, and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have collapsed and reduced to a puree. Puree smoothly with an electric hand blender or in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the croquettes by adding the grated hazelnuts to the fried onions in the bowl that you set aside earlier, and mix in the breadcrumbs, cheese, 2 tsp. tomato puree, beaten egg, dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into eight croquettes and place in a greased, shallow, ovenproof baking dish. Pour the tomato sauce over and around the croquettes and bake them for 25-30 minutes or until they are puffy but firm to the touch.                                        

Honey Nut Balls

* 16 graham crackers
* 1 c. crunchy peanut butter
* 2/3 c. honey
* 1/2 c. nonfat dry milk powder
* 1 c. coconut

Crush the graham crackers between two pieces of wax paper with a rolling pin or in a food processor. Combine the peanut butter, honey and powdered milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Make small balls with mixture and place on wax paper. Roll balls in shredded coconut. Makes 24 balls.

Roasted Cauliflower & Red Pepper Soup

* 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* Salt and pepper
* 1 med. onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
* 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
* 3 c. stock or water (add more to thin the soup if you like)
* 1 tbsp. cream or sour cream (optional garnish)
* 1 tbsp. dukkah (see recipe) (optional garnish)
* 1 tbsp. fresh herbs such as basil, oregano or parsley, chopped (optional garnish)

Toss the cauliflower florets in the olive oil with the salt & pepper. Arrange the florets in a single layer in a baking dish. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about half a minute. Add the cauliflower, roasted red peppers, cayenne and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Puree with a hand blender. Serve garnished with cream, sour cream, dukkah or chopped herbs if desired.

Dukkah (Savory Middle Eastern garnish)

Dukkah can be used as a garnish on soups, salads and other vegetables. Also try it with bread dipped in olive oil.

* 1/2 c. almonds
* 1/2 c. hazelnuts
* 1/4 c. sesame seeds
* 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
* 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
* 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1 tbsp.* chili powder (optional)

Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a preheated 350 degree oven until fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Finely chop the nuts after they cool. Toast the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns one at a time in a pan until fragrant, about 1-3 minutes. Grind the seeds and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Mix everything together.

* Mix in the chili pepper a little at a time and test with some bread and olive oil.

Lemon Bars

* 1 c. flour               
* 1/2 c. butter, softened
* 1/4 c. powdered sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 c. granulated sugar
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/4 tsp. salt       
* 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix flour, butter, and powdered sugar in an electric mixer until the dough starts to come together. Press into an ungreased 8” x 8” pan, building up an edge. Bake for 20 minutes, until light brown. Wipe out bowl. Beat remaining ingredients for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour over hot crust. Bake another 25 minutes longer, or just until no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares.

[Note: For a tropical twist, try using lime juice instead of lemon, or combine lemon and lime juices and add a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes to the top after baking.]