Perhaps it’s because we’re at the tail-end of winter and I’m sick of bland-colored foods (beans, grains, potatoes, the ocassional splash of orange via winter squash…), but I’ve been craving some vibrant, nutrient-dense foods.  I picked up Power Foods by Martha Stewart’s people at Whole Living Magazine and have really been enjoying it.  I generally enjoy her recipes, though find them a bit too labor-intensive for every night cooking.  Thankfully these recipes are dialed down a bit in terms of how many steps are involved.  Most are easy enough to cook on a weeknight and the ingredients aren’t too hard to source. 

We loved the Soba Noodle Soup with Shitakes and Spinach.  I’ve shied away from Asian cooking in the past because I wasn’t familiar with the ingredients or the technique, but through a combination of regular old grocery store ingredients, this recipe manages to create a really exotic end result.  We also tried the Shitake Nori Rolls since it used many of the same ingredients and were equally impressed.

The Quinoa, Apricot Nut Clusters sounded promising and had delicious flavor, but the texture was a bit too crunchy for my liking.  I wouldn’t twice bake the quinoa next time around.  And if you end up trying these, for heaven’s sake, let them cool on the cookie sheet.  Don’t attempt to transfer them to a rack to cool, as the recipe suggests.  A major crumb and curse-fest will surely ensue.  They remain perfectly intact if left to cool on the sheet, and are none the worse for it.  We also added coconut to the recipe and thought that was pretty tasty.

So, while waiting for vibrant veggies from my own garden, I’ve been pleased with the creative recipes in Power Foods.  They utilize ingredients that are common, but that simply haven’t been part of my usual repertoire.  And the range of colorful, nutrient-dense foods that are in season in the winter (even if shipped from warmer climes) has broken me out of my monochromatic meal planning in the most pleasant of ways.

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