Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook

The Menu for Flu Prevention

  • Chicken Marengo
  • Green Bean Salad with “Sweets” and Clementine Dressing
  • Crunchy Carrot Cake


Right now, with temperatures dipping and rising, wind-lots of it, rain and snow, we know it’s flu season-the most commonly occurring illness in the world. You can take simple action with more than just a flu shot, if that’s what you choose to do . Look at your ‘eating plan’ (I just detest the word diet). Yes, that means the foods you eat.

Nutrient dense, plain, real food doesn’t mean it can’t be exciting-Au contraire!

The basic nutritional food mantra goes, “Eat the Rainbow” which means a variety of foods loaded with color! With all of the lists of top ten healthy foods out there, you certainly must have perused a few. Those are the superlatives while these are super foods however, nutrient dense foods that can (and should) be added to many everyday recipes. It’s not necessary to know the specific nutritional benefits from the edibles below (unless for healing disease), just make sure to include lots of them and a variety of them all in your diet.

Almonds-calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, , phytochemicals, anti-inflammatory agents

Dried beans-B vitamins, folate

Carrots- vitamins A, C antioxidants

Citrus-one of the best sources of vitamin C

Garlic virus fighting sulfur components

Green beans-excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese

Kale-packed with vitamins A, C, K and B6, fiber and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. All that for just 36 calories a cup! If you’re on blood-thinning drug, though, check with your doctor before consuming much kale, as its Vitamin K can interfere with such medications.(Washington Post)

Mushrooms-especially the dark and exotic varieties-produce substances that improve biological functions

Pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut, Delicata, acorn squashes -beta carotene

Red bell  pepper-vitamin C

Red onion-quadruple the quercetin of most other produce

Fresh edible rhizomes (the knobby underground stem)-ginger root, tumeric, horseradish, salsify,  Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), wasabi-extremely effective food  and medicinal value

Sweet Potatoes-beta-carotene, which creates vitamin A in the body

Tomatoes, cooked-lycopene, an important carotenoid with anti-oxidant characteristics

Whole grains-zinc, selenium

Dried beans-B vitamins, folate

Chicken Marengo

Serves 4

When the four of us kids were growing up, my dad prepared a special Sunday eve dinner usually from a cookbook in which we had say. The Marengo treatment became the superlative for all of us and I start to salivate even when I think of the combination of ingredients. Who knew then that it was one of the healthiest choices? Recently a cooking compadre shared that she had purchased rabbit from a local sustainable farmer. We both think this recipe would tenderize and make a succulent dish for a variety of meats or poultry.

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs (or thick pork chops)
  • Kosher salt freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet red onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces baby bellas, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (14 to 15 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved



Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium high heat until hot, add chicken and sauté until golden on each side-about 3 minutes total. Add celery, onions, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, broth, tomatoes and olives -spread around chicken. Place skillet in the oven and bake, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Serve over pasta-whole grain, please or brown rice.




Green Bean Salad with “Sweets” and Clementine Dressing

Serves 8


It’s the season for clementines but if not to be found… substitute 1/3 cup freshly squeezed juice and along with some zest.


  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Zest and juice of 2 Clementines
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 small sweet potato-peeled, cooked and cubed


In a blender, combine shallot, mustard, salt, pepper, Clementine zest and juice. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth.

Steam beans on a steamer rack set over simmering water until bright green and barely tender, about 6 minutes.

Place green beans on a large platter. Top with sweet potato cubes and drizzle with citrus dressing.

Crunchy Carrot Cake

Serves 10 to 12



Rose Schulman has always been one of my favorite healthy cooking mentors and cookbook authors. Her column, Recipes for Health for the NY Times is a creative no-nonsense approach to “good-for-you” cooking. The unique cake below is crunchy with the flakes of carrot and nuts and contains no flour. I made individual star cakes just because ’tis the season.

This crunchy, spicy carrot cake is much lighter and less cloying than most I’ve tasted. It’s important to grate the carrots on the fine holes of your grater, or else they’ll remain too crunchy. For best results, wrap the cake tightly in plastic after it cools and serve it the next day. It will keep for five days in the refrigerator if wrapped airtight.

  • 1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) unsalted toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw brown (turbinado) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup organic white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 10 ounces)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. Oil a 9-inch springform pan, and line it with parchment. Lightly oil the parchment.


Combine the almonds and the turbinado sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until the almonds are finely ground. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest, and pulse together.


Beat the eggs until thick in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with an electric beater. Add the organic sugar, and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Add the almond mixture and the carrots in three alternating additions, and slowly beat or fold in each time.


Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place in the oven, and bake one hour until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove the spring form ring. Allow the cake to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic.

Tags: ,

Recent Posts

Posts by Category

See all