I originally came up with this concept for FoodTrients when I was writing a magazine column for people over 50. The magazine is called Life After 50 and my column was called “Eating Well Over 50.” I wrote it for six months and it got me started cooking again and taking photographs for my first cookbook (The Age GRACEfully Cookbook). I know that people are busy and while they want food that tastes good and is good for them, they don’t have a lot of time. So I created recipes that are easy to make AND delicious.
Almost every single one of my recipes has 7 steps or fewer. They don’t take a lot of time to prepare—minutes, not hours. They aren’t overly complicated and often can be made in just one pot or pan. I want people to see how simple it can be to get really good, anti-aging foods into their diets.
To give you some examples, here are a just a few favorites:
Stuffed Petite Peppers
I like to combine the nutty flavor of millet with Canadian bacon and chlorophyll-laced parsley to make a satisfying filling for these cute pepper appetizers. Millet is a protein-rich but underused whole grain. Gluten free, it can be cooked like rice and used in place of white rice in many recipes–simply use three parts water to one part grain.
1/2 cup millet
1 1/2 cups water
4 tsp. olive oil
4 slices Canadian bacon
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 medium egg white
8-10 mini bell peppers, tops and seeds removed
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Place the millet and water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes. When fully cooked, fluff millet with fork and toss in 1 tsp. of the olive oil. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, mix the Canadian bacon and the parsley until the mixture resembles ground meat, about 1-2 minutes.
3. In a skillet, saute the garlic and onion in the remaining 3 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the Canadian bacon mixture and cook until browned, an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. In a bowl, combine millet, onion-bacon mixture, paprika, and egg white.
5. Halve the peppers lengthwise and stuff with millet-bacon mixture. Top with the panko breadcrumbs.
6. Bake peppers on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees until browned, about 15 minutes.
Tilapia Fillets with Cilantro
The anti-inflammatory properties of fresh cilantro, ginger, and olive oil help keep skin looking young. I prefer to make this recipe using tilapia fillets, though you can substitute any firm, whitefish fillet. Using banana leaves to wrap the fillets will impart the full flavor of the fish, but the use of aluminum foil alone will also work.
2 banana leaves
2 tilapia fillets
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut in half and sees removed
1/2 cup seeded and sliced tomato
1 Tbs. peeled and thinly sliced gingerroot
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs. chopped scallions
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat grill or oven to 350 degrees. Lay a banana leaf on top of a large square of aluminum foil (about 8″x 8″). Place a fillet in the middle of the leaf. Repeat.
Add the salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from the lemon over the fillets.
3. Top the fillets with the tomato, ginger, onion, and scallions. Drizzle with the olive oil.
4. Wrap the banana leaves around the fillets to create a square packet. Wrap the packet with aluminum foil.
5. Bake fillets at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or grill for 20 minutes on each side.
6. To serve, remove the aluminum foil wrap and transfer the fillets to a plate. Top packets with the cilantro and serve with the banana leaf.
Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry
Tofu is an excellent alternative to meat, and this stir-fry will provide you with plenty of health-boosting vegetables. Broccoli is a good source of lutein, a hedge against macular degeneration. Cauliflower and kale have phytonutrients that protect against cancer. I use a wok to prepare this dish, but a large skillet will work, too. The tofu doesn’t have to be fried first, but frying gives it a nice texture.
1 package (8 oz.) firm tofu
6 Tbs. peanut oil
1 Tbs. grated gingerroot
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup snow peas
1 cup broccoli florets, cut or separated into bite-size pieces
1 cup cauliflower florets, cut or separated into bite-size pieces
3 cups chopped kale
2 chopped scallions
2 Tbs. oyster sauce combined with 2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water
- Drain the tofu and press between paper towels to remove excess water. Cut tofu into 1- to 11⁄4-inch cubes.
2. Heat 4 Tbs. of the peanut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes. Remove tofu from pan and keep warm.
3. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. peanut oil to the pan and sauté the ginger and garlic over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the carrots, snow peas, broccoli, and cauliflower and cook until just tender but still crunchy, about 7–10 minutes.
5. Add the kale and scallions and continue cooking until kale softens, about 4–5 minutes.
6. Stir in the oyster sauce mixture and cornstarch mixture and cook until a thick sauce forms, about 2 minutes. (If using unfried tofu, add now and cook until heated through, about 2–3 minutes.)
7. Remove vegetables from heat. Fold in tofu.