The Healthy Hedonist

A fun lover's guide to great health

hedonism, n. the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence

- The New Oxford American Dictionary


How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice


2 - 1/3 cups rice, soaked in cool water
4 cups of water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil


Soak the rice in cool water for an hour, then rinse. In the beginning the water will have a light, milky look to it. Keep rinsing the rice until the water is clear.

Drain the rice thoroughly!

Put water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, sauté the rice in the coconut oil at a substantially high temperature. Use a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and a thick bottom for good heat distribution. Warning: if you did not drain the rice thoroughly, the trapped water will pop in the pan as you sauté and might cause the hot oil to spatter and burn you.

Stir the rice continually so that the rise does not burn. You will start to smell a nutty aroma being emitted from your sauce pan

Add the boiling water to the sauteéd rice and bring to a roiling boil.

Place your tight-fitting lid firmly on top and turn your stove to the lowest setting.

Cook, undisturbed, for 45 minutes.

Let the rice remain in the pot with the lid still firmly in place for at least 20 minutes.

Chicken and Rice


2 tablespoons of olive oil
Left over chicken bits, cut into thumb-tip size pieces, at least a cup and a half plus saved drippings from the chicken roasting pan
A cup of water
A tablespoon of cornstarch
Worchester sauce
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper


Using a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, gently heat the pan. Add olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken and drippings from the chicken roasting pan.

Using a small jar, shake the water and cornstarch. Add to chicken. Turn down heat and simmer until thickened. Add a dash of Worchester sauce, salt and pepper.

Serve over brown rice.

Chicken Soup

(Uses meat and broth from roast chicken)


For Broth:
Chicken carcass and skin
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
Bay leaf

For Soup:
1 onion chopped
2 stalks of celery sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Leftover brown rice or ½ cup of white rice
A dash or two of Worchester sauce
Garlic salt to taste
Two tablespoons of parsley
½ teaspoon of pepper


Preliminary – Remove meat from roast chicken carcass, reserving larger slices of breast for chicken sandwiches, and cutting remaining meat into thumbnail-size pieces or slightly larger. Place bones and skin in a large stock pot and fill with water. Add two carrots, two celery stalks, a teaspoon of peppercorns and a bay leaf. Simmer for a couple of hours. Strain broth through a cheese cloth or lightweight dishtowel draped within a colander, placed within a large bowl. Discard bones. I then do a preliminary wash of the dishtowel by squeezing a generous squeeze of dish soap onto it and squishing the suds into the dish towel for a minute or so.

Use a heavy bottom skillet to sauté chopped onion and celery in olive oil. When soft, scrape into chicken broth. Simmer for at least a half hour. Other vegetables can be added if you like, such as canned or fresh tomatoes, other leftover vegetables, or veggies in the veggie bin that are about to go bad. (Use of veggies that have passed their prime is one of the great reasons for soup-making.)

When you’re close to eating time, add the meat and rice. If using white rice, it takes about 15 minutes to cook. Taste and adjust seasoning.

As with other soups, it makes a great meal when served with fresh bread or a salad. The remainder will keep refrigerated for a couple of days and is an easy nutritious lunch. If you don’t think you’ll eat all of what’s left in a short time, freeze some for later.

Gluten-Free Crustless Quiche


¼ cup of butter (perhaps nondairy)
¼ cup of rice flour (or regular flour if you’re not doing gluten free)
¾ cup of milk (perhaps nondairy)
½ tsp. of baking powder
½ tsp. Of salt
5 eggs

Plus, a variety of cheeses equivalent to approx. 1.5 cup of grated cheese. In the last batch, I used most of a 15 oz. tub of ricotta that was about to go bad, plus a handful of feta and grated cheddar. It’s a good way to use assorted bits of cheese that aren’t enough to do much else with. If you have such bits that are starting to mold, cut off the mold and freeze the rest in anticipation of making this quiche.

And I often stretch this into two quiches by adding leftover pasta. My favorite is spinach pasta. Pasta with pesto is also good.


The quiche starts with a white sauce made by melting the “butter” in a heavy skillet, whisk in the flour when the butter is hot (but not browned), and then gradually add the “milk” while continuously whisking. Turn heat down until it’s thickened. Then turn off. This is when I add the leftover pasta.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the salt and baking powder and mix well. Add the cheeses and stir well. Finally add the white sauce and stir in well.

Pour into greased glass pie pan(s). Bake at 350 for approx. 40 minutes until lightly browned and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Accompanied by a salad, this makes a nice dinner. I cut what remains into wedges, put them into individual sandwich bags, freeze them, then take them out one at a time and have one for lunch. They defrost quickly, and I’ve often taken one to work frozen, and by lunch, it’s defrosted, but it does need a quick microwaving. A tablespoon or two of salsa on top makes it even tastier. It’s a very satisfying little lunch.



2 or 3 avocados, peeled and mashed
A tablespoon of finely minced onion
Garlic salt, approx. 1/2 tsp.
Chili powder, depends on how spicy you like it, but start with ¼ tsp. and add more to taste
Lemon juice, about a tablespoon


This is a very simple recipe.

Gingerly add the garlic salt, chili powder and lemon juice to taste.

Quickie Arrabiata Pasta

Slightly adapted from Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto


¼ cup olive oil
½ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 pound of penne or other pasta


Bring a large pasta pan of water to a boil. Add pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom pan with high sides (not a skillet), heat ¼ cup of olive oil, then add tomato paste and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and stir until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and remove from heat.

Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and pasta water to the tomato sauce, stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Season to taste with salt.

Serve with parmesan (optional). It’s a light dish, and you might want a little salad on the side to feel full.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a genuine homemade pasta dish that’s very satisfying in terms of taste that you can prepare in about 15 minutes. You can, of course, add other ingredients, such as mushrooms, sausage, pre-cooked vegetables such as broccoli or zucchini.

Quick Curry


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 chicken tenders
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk
Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste, start with a tablespoon and add more to taste
½ bag of frozen peas


Brown chicken tenders in olive oil.

Add coconut milk.

Bring to a simmer, add curry paste. Continue to simmer until sauce thickens. Add peas. Serve over brown rice.

Red Chili Enchiladas with Pinto Beans for Four


For the sauce:
6 tablespoons of chile powder
6 or 7 cloves of garlic crushed
4 ½ tablespoons of rice flour (can be regular flour if you’re not doing gluten-free)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Corn tortillas
¼ of a medium onion
Cheddar cheese


Start by putting a kettle of water on to heat and get out 3 little bowls and into them add the garlic, the flour and the chili powder.  (I do half and half mild and medium-hot of Bueno brand. Hopefully it’s available at your grocery store. If not, see if you can find something grown in New Mexico. It’s the best!)

Use a heavy bottom sauce pan and heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s fairly hot (not too hot) add the garlic. Stir to make sure it doesn’t burn. When it’s transparent, whisk in the flour and then the chili powder. Then gradually add up to 3 cups water, not all at once, and maybe not all of it, stirring until it’s smooth. Turn down the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. You want the sauce to neither be too thin nor too thick, so adjust with additional water if needed.

While it’s simmering, grate cheddar cheese. I always use Cabot Extra Sharp cheddar—better flavor. The amount is up to you. I grate enough to form a mound on a dinner plate about two inches high. Mince the onion finely. Heat a can of Bush’s pinto beans. I buy Bush’s because I think they are the best. You can use another brand or cook from scratch, but in terms of time and energy, this is what I do.

I do two tortillas per person. I fry them in olive oil, flipping them once, just until they’re bubbly and then place them between paper towels to remove the excess oil.

Then you’re ready to assemble, place one tortilla on a plate. The bottom layer is cheese and onion and about a half cup of chili sauce. Then another tortilla, more chili sauce and cheese on the top, with a serving of pintos on the side. I usually cover the plate with another plate, then “nuke” the plate for about a minute to make sure that the cheese is melted.

This is delicious, but very filling. We do this on Saturday night, and save a half of the serving to have for brunch on Sunday with a soft-boiled or fried egg on top, i.e. Huevos Rancheros.

Because we don’t eat all of the beans, I put the remainder in a quart container in the freezer and gradually add leftover beans to it. When I have 1 to 1 ½ quarts of beans in the freezer, I make bean soup out of them. This recipe will follow sometime soon, but I assure you it’s worth waiting for. It’s the best bean soup I’ve ever had, if I do say so myself!

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic


A bunch of fresh spinach, or a bag of pre-washed baby spinach
6 or 7 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil


First, prep the garlic. I cut off the stem end of the garlic cloves and microwave for 15 seconds in a little bowl, which makes them easy to peel. I swear by my Oxo heavy duty, self-cleaning garlic press. It’s a great investment in cooking gear.

The most tedious part of this recipe is plucking the stems from the spinach. It’s not essential if you don’t mind eating the stems, but I think it’s nicer when the stems are removed.

I then dunk the spinach in a basin of water and drain it in a colander. Even if you use the pre-washed, bagged spinach, you still need to do this step, because the water remaining on the spinach is part of the wilting process as it cooks.

I use a wok for this. If you don’t have one, you can use a heavy Dutch oven. Slowly heat the wok or Dutch oven. You want it to be hot, but not so hot that the oil will smoke when you add it, so heat the pan gradually. When you can feel the heat when you hold your hand over it, add the oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, stirring constantly. It won’t take long, less than a minute.

Then add the spinach and stir. It quickly wilts and it’s always surprising that it cooks down to a rather small volume compared to what it is before cooking. There are rarely any leftovers. But it’s good and really good for you.

Spinach Pasta


¼ cup of butter
6 or 7 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup of half and half
About 2/3rd of a 12 oz. bag of frozen chopped spinach (save the rest to throw into veggie soup)
A pound of spaghetti


This is a very quick-to-make recipe, about 15 minutes, so make sure everything else is ready, i.e. the table is set, and the salad is made, etc., because it goes together fast.

First put the pot of water on to heat for cooking the pasta. While that’s happening, peel and mince the garlic. I cut off the stem end of the garlic cloves and microwave them for 15 seconds in a little bowl, which makes them easy to peel.  I swear by my Oxo heavy duty, self-cleaning garlic press. 

Gently heat a heavy bottom skillet. (At this point, start cooking the pasta.) When it feels warm to your hand held over it, melt the butter, then add the garlic, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn. When it’s translucent, add the spinach and half and half. Turn up the heat a bit and let it boil down, stirring frequently.

When the pasta is done, drain it and pour it out into a large bowl. Pour the spinach sauce over it and toss well. Voila! It’s done.

This pasta is elegant enough to serve to company. If there are leftovers, I save them (freeze them) to add to the crustless quiche recipe, thereby doubling the volume of quiche.

I tried making this as a nondairy recipe, and it was good, but not nearly as good as it is with butter, half and half and Parmesan. So, it’s your call.

Three Hearty Salad Combos

Scalo Salad (adapted from a great salad from ABQ’s Scalo Restaurant)
Red leaf lettuce
Roasted red pepper, sliced thinly
Grape tomatoes
Kalamata olives, sliced
White beans (about half a can)
Cucumbers cut into small cubes
Feta crumbles
Vinaigrette or (even richer) homemade ranch dressing

Alan’s Surprising Combo Salad
Rye bread croutons
Grated Swiss cheese
Red cabbage
Green onions
Vinaigrette dressing

Salad Nicoise
2 or 3 Chopped Tomatoes
2 Potatoes (boiled whole slowly, then sliced while still warm)
2 hardboiled eggs, quartered
½ can of tuna, drained (optional)
¼ Red onion sliced thinly
Kalamata olives, sliced
Vinaigrette dressing

Veggie Soup


2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks of celery
 A large onion chopped, or equivalent*
3 or 7 cloves of garlic depending on how much you like garlic
­8 cups of water, 2 bouillon cubes
2/ 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. I like the fire roasted ones
2 bay leaves
Tsp. of chili flakes
Half teaspoon of black pepper corns
3 carrots sliced
Broccoli – a crown or two, I use all but the bottom of the stalk
Small head of cauliflower
2 zucchini, sliced
½ head of cabbage
Previously cooked brown rice, or ¼ cup white rice (optional)
A bunch of fresh spinach or a small box of frozen, or half a bag of frozen
Half a bag of frozen peas and/or corn
Worchester sauce (2 tablespoons)
Chili salsa
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Garlic salt or regular salt
Ground pepper


Saute onions, garlic and celery slowly in a heavy skillet. In a large kettle, add the onions, garlic, celery,  tomatoes, bouillon, pepper corns and chili to the water. Bring to a boil, add carrots first, turn heat down slightly. Slice and add broccoli stems first. After a few minutes, add broccoli flowerets, then cauliflower, divided into flowerets. Allow to cook for 10 minutes. Then add sliced zucchini. Allow to cook. Then add cabbage, sliced thinly. Allow to cook, for 10 minutes, then add rice, spinach and frozen peas and/or corn. Allow to simmer until all ingredients are well cooked.

Flavor to taste with seasonings.

This makes a whole soup pot. It’s a great meal with fresh bread, or a broiled open-face cheese sandwich. Store the remainder in one quart containers and freeze for future meals.