Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal

To make:

2 cups cooked steel cut oats
1 cup canned pumpkin (half a 15 ounce can)
1/2 cup lowfat milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon allspice)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and crumbled

Stir together all ingredients except nuts in a medium saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped pecans.

What’s good about it:

Steel-cut oats may take longer to cook than regular oats, but they “keep” better; make a big batch, says Huber, and it heats up beautifully and stays creamy. “I love this breakfast because the addition of pumpkin makes it feel more like dessert, but you’re getting a lot of vitamin A, and fiber to keep you full all morning.” The pecans contribute protein – and a welcome crunch. You can also use regular old-fashioned rolled oats; it’s not true that steel cut oats are a better choice nutritionally. “It’s just that regular oats are cut, steamed, and rolled – so they’re kind of pre-cooked and take less time to prepare,” says Huber.


Lunch: Braised Kale and Feta Tartines 

To make:

2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound kale, cleaned and chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 slices of rustic bread

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1 T oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat, and add garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add kale and vegetable broth to pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until kale is crisp-tender. While kale is cooking, mix together feta, oregano, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Set aside. Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, until any remaining liquid has evaporated and kale is tender but still vibrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound kale onto bread and spread cheese mixture on top. Broil for 3 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

What’s good about it:

“Kale, like many dark leafy greens, is such a nutritional powerhouse than when I eat it, I actually feel a boost, like I’m high on vegetables,” says Huber. Like many food experts, she makes a habit of doubling her efforts whenever she cooks. “I’ll make batches of kale, or Swiss chard or other leafy greens, always thinking a meal or two ahead.” What Huber also loves about this open-faced sandwich: Less bread (though the hearty whole grain is a nutritious, fiber-rich choice). “I love sandwiches, but keeping them open-faced puts more emphasis on the filling.” The feta and olive oil add some healthy fat along with flavor.


Dinner: Braised Chicken and Chickpeas with Smoked Paprika and Swiss Chard

To make:

3 T all-purpose flour
3 pounds chicken thighs and legs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T smoked paprika
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 14-ounce cans chickpeas, drained

Place the flour in a Ziploc bag. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and paprika and drop half in the flour. Seal the bag and shake until well coated. Remove, shake off any excess and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan and brown well on all sides, in batches if necessary not to crowd, about 6 minutes total per batch. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion to Dutch oven and sauté 4-5 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. Pour in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits on the bottom, and cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Add tomatoes and chicken stock to pan. Stir in chickpeas and bring to a boil. Place chicken on top of chickpeas and sprinkle with an additional pinch of salt and paprika. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and chickpeas are tender.

What’s good about it:

“I love a one-pot meal like this, and chicken thighs hold up well to braising,” says Huber. Why not use leaner boneless, skinless breasts, you ask? “Because ounce for ounce the difference in calories isn’t so huge,” she says. “When we go to extremes with eating lean or low fat or fat free, we deprive ourselves of joy—without a lot of nutritional pay-off.” Which is a nicer way of saying, everything in moderation. This warm, comforting dish also benefits from the fiber of the chickpeas, which add a nutty, filling starchiness.


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