Healthy Living

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping

I love to place Grape Tomatoes Topping over Ravino Ravioli. It is more of a topping than a sauce. This recipe makes enough for two portions as a side dish.

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016

Ravioli with Grape Tomatoes Topping © Karen Lee 2016


  • 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in circles, preferably Del Cabo brand
  • Ravioli
  • Boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 pieces of ravioli, preferably Ravino
  • Garnish
  • ½ cup or more freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chiffonade of parsley


  1. Heat an 8-inch skillet for 1 minute over medium heat.
  2. Add two tablespoons olive oil and then the garlic. Turn the heat to low. Sauté about 2 minutes or until the garlic has just begun to take on a little color.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, oregano, black pepper and cayenne. Sauté 1 more minute, but do not allow the garlic to get too dark.
  4. Add the grape tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes or until they have softened. In order to keep the round shape of the tomato slices, stir no more than 2 times.
  5. In a medium size saucepan, bring one quart of water to a rolling boil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the ravioli to the boiling salted water.
  6. After the ravioli has come to a boil, set the timer for 4 minutes. Stir once. Remove with a wire strainer or slotted spoon.
  7. Place ravioli on two dishes. Spoon Grape Tomato Topping over ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley.



Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with a milder taste. It has smaller florets with thinner and more tender stalks. I use the whole vegetable except for the last half-inch of the stems.

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016

Broccolini © Karen Lee 2016


  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup chicken stock


  1. Wash broccolini by submerging and lifting in a big bowl of water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.
  2. Let drain in a bowl. Spinning dry is not necessary.
  3. After discarding about ½-inch of the stems, cut the broccolini into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Heat a 10-inch stainless steel or enamel skillet for one minute over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then the garlic. Turn heat to medium low and sauté the garlic until it just starts to take on some color. After the garlic has been in the pan for one minute add the salt and the chili pepper.
  5. Add the broccolini and toss; sauté about 1 minute, then add the stock a few tablespoons at a time. Simmer until evaporated then toss and add more stock as needed until the broccolini is tender, approximately 5 minutes. Dish. Drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt.

Shiitake Chips

Shiitake boost the immune system. I roast 2 or 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms almost every night in a black iron skillet and serve them as a side dish or an appetizer with my dinner.

Tips for working with mushrooms

  • Buy all mushrooms 2-4 days in advance and let them air dry in the frig on a plate without a cover.
  • Always wash your hands and the cutting board after handling the shiitake and make sure they are cooked through before eating.
  • You want to be able to see parts of the bottom of the pan otherwise the pan is too crowded and the shiitake will not brown or crisp.

Shiitake Chips © Karen Lee 2016

Shiitake Chips © Karen Lee 2016


  • 12 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, a few turns of the mill
  • a sprig of thyme or rosemary (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash shiitake.
  3. I like to wash all vegetables and fruits by submerging and lifting them in a bowl of water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added. This helps the cleaning process.
  4. Dry the shiitake with a paper towel.
  5. Place them in a black iron skillet stems up.
  6. Do now crowd lest they will not crisp.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Toss in a sprig of thyme or rosemary if you have it.
  10. Roast the shiitake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a little crisp and brown.


Serve like lollipops. The stems are too tough to eat.


Mexican Peaches

The organic peaches from Mexico are so sweet and the season is now. They rival the Georgia peaches.


Fairway has them priced at $3.99 a pound. (Second floor of Fairway, 74th and Broadway)

Choose the ones that have a dominant red patch.

Allow them to ripen at room temperature for 2 -3 days or until they smell sweet and have a slight give.

I turn them every 12 hours. Lay them flat, in a single layer.

I like to wash fruit by submerging it in a bowl of filtered water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.

Dry and eat. You are in for a treat!

Indian Inspired Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt

I taught a class on February 4th and asked the students at the end, “About which recipe would you like me to blog?”

They overwhelmingly replied, “The Soup!”

This delicious soup lasts five days in the refrigerator, and is packed with healing spices that can have a salutatory effect on the body when used regularly.

  • Cayenne pepper has been given credit for lowering cholesterol, fighting infection and acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Turmeric has been given credit for preventing cancer, acid reflux, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Cumin has also been given credit for preventing Alzheimer’s.
  • Ginger has been given credit for aiding digestion and circulation, lowering cholesterol, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds the recovery of a cold and sore throat and settles an upset stomach.
  • Beans are a great source of iron, fiber, and protein and also help lower cholesterol.

Karen Lee Secret: Roasting cumin enhances the flavor. I like to roast ¼ cup cumin seeds in a small iron skillet over low heat for a few minutes or until the seeds are a little darker and smell good. Let cool then pulverize in a Krups electric coffee mill or use a mortar and pestle. Store in refrigerator in a covered brown glass jar. Roasted cumin will keep its aroma for three months.

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014

Split Pea Soup with Spiced Yogurt © Karen Lee 2014


  • 1 2/3 cups organic yellow split peas
  • 6-7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (green stem removed if any), sliced
  • 2 cups diced sweet white onion (such as Vidalia) or half onion and half leek
  • ½ cup carrot, scrubbed but not peeled
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
  • Garnish
  • Spiced yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. Wash split peas, drain and simmer in 5 cups of the stock for 1 hour, cover askew, or until almost soft. Stir every fifteen minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil in a heated skillet over low heat. Sauté garlic and onions for 4 to 5 minutes until they just begin to color. Add carrots and celery, ginger, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, salt, and cayenne; sauté over low heat for another 3-4 minutes until spices get a little darker and their aroma is released. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes and simmer a few minutes. Then add the cooked peas and the remaining stock. With cover askew, simmer until the split peas are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. To serve the soup, place one cup of pea soup in a bowl. Add 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with cilantro and a dollop of spiced yogurt.

The Spiced Yogurt recipe is adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and can be made two days in advance and stored in refrigerator. Yields four to six portions.

Spiced Yogurt

Spiced Yogurt


  • 1 cup plain whole yogurt, hung, or use Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. If using plain yogurt, cut a piece of cheesecloth about an 8-inch square. Rinse in cold-water; squeeze dry. Line strainer with cheesecloth and drain yogurt in strainer for a few hours.
  2. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Using five chopsticks (Chinese wooden whisk), stir in the spices.

Sautéed Snow Peas and Shitake

We had another fun class on January 19th.  Happy hungry students gathered around the butcher block eager to learn healthy new dishes to add to their repertoire.  Sautéed Snow Peas and Shitake were on the menu and I wanted to share this delicious recipe with you.


Choose Snow Peas that are bright green, no trace of brown or yellow. Crisp looking, flat, with underdeveloped peas. Snow peas are a good source of vitamin C, iron and manganese (good for bone development).

Shitake have been given credit for boosting the immune system, and helping prevent cardiovascular disease.

Karen Lee Secret: I like to buy shitake (and all mushrooms) three to five days in advance. Place them in a bowl, uncovered in the refrigerator. They dry out and give up less water when you sauté them and therefore become crispy.


Sautéed Snow Peas and Shitake

Sautéed Snow Peas and Shitake


  • 10 ounces of snow peas (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup shitake, no stems
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced, no seeds no membrane
  • 2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • ¼ teaspoon ground roasted cumin
  • 1 whole scallion cut into 1/8-inch half rounds
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Wash snow peas by submerging and lifting them out of a bowl of water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added. (This helps clean them) String each snow pea then pile 2 snow peas on top of each other and slant cut into 3 pieces the long way.
  2. Wash the shitake in the same way as the snow peas. Using a knife remove the stems and discard, then cut each shitake into ¼ inch strips.
  3. Heat a small iron skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, turn the heat to medium and sauté the shitake about 5-7 minutes or until crispy. Season with half of the salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet to a serving platter.
  4. Rinse a 10-inch stainless steel or enamel sauté pan then dry over medium heat. When water evaporates (this procedure will take one or two minutes) add the remaining olive oil and sauté the snow peas over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining salt and pepper. Flip or stir occasionally.
  5. Add the butter and the ginger and sauté another minute.
  6. Add the jalapeño, shallot, and cumin and continue to sauté and stir for another minute.
  7. Add the scallions and sauté another 30 seconds. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Empty contents of pan into the serving platter.

My Favorite Yogurts

All my favorite yogurts are organic. They are made in small batches from organic farms.

The cows feed on grass, hay, grains, which produces milk that is better for your heart and tastes better.  The grass on which they graze has not been treated with chemicals. The cows have not been treated with hormones or stimulants.

The milk is pasteurized, but not homogenized so the cream is on top. The taste is superb and superior.

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes.

The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.

— Robert Frost

I eat half a cup of yogurt every day.

If eaten sans sugar, yogurt is probiotic, which means it replaces the good bacteria in your intestines.

I add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.  Cinnamon has been give credit for lowering the cholesterol and acting as a natural inflammatory.  After eating ½ teaspoon of cinnamon every day for several months, my blood test revealed that my triglycerides had taken a dive.

The yogurt brands I like are:

  • Maple Leaf Creamery
  • Hawthorne
  • Erivan
  • Butterworks

I buy them at Fairway, Gourmet Garage, Whole Foods and Farmers Markets.

Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013


In my last blog I gave you a recipe for Roasted Plum Tomatoes.

Today I am offering you a suggestion of how to use them in a quick pasta dish.

Here is my recipe for Pasta with Roasted Plum Tomatoes.  This recipe is enough for one or two people as a side dish and can easily be increased.

Cut ½ cup of the roasted tomatoes into large dice. Seeds, skins and all.

Sauté 2 cloves of sliced garlic in 1 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over low heat for a few minutes or until the garlic just begins to take on color.

Add ¼ teaspoon salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano.  Sauté one more minute.

Add the roasted tomatoes and simmer 2 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Boil 2 to 3 ounces of dried pasta.  Reserve a few tablespoons pasta water before draining.  Add pasta along with one or more tablespoons pasta water to sauce.  Toss.

Sprinkle with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Toss then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin oil.

If you prefer add some torn basil leaves to the pasta at the end and omit the oregano.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes


Roasted Plum Tomatoes are delicious and versatile:

  • As a side to broiled or pan roasted fish.
  • In pasta dishes.
  • Also good to eat with mozzarella or for goat cheese and tomato crostini or in a sandwich.
  • As a flavor enhancer when added to vegetable soup.
  • You can also put them through a food mill for a smooth tomato sauce.

So great to have Roasted Plum Tomatoes on call to use in a variety of dishes. They last for one week in the frig.

You can still find local plum tomatoes at the farmers markets and the price is right. You may not even have to let them ripen this time of the year.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes © Karen Lee 2013

  • 12 ripe plum tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt mixed with 1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced, green stem removed if any

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a stainless steel skillet or a shallow roasting pan. The skillet you choose should be big enough so the tomatoes have a little space between them.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife and put them in the skillet cut-side up. Do not over crowd. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne. Insert a sliver of garlic in each half.

Roast at 300° for 1-3 hours or until they have shriveled a little, are soft, and are a little brown on the bottom but still holding their shape.

This recipe can be adjusted to a small amount or a large amount of tomatoes. The more tomatoes you have in the oven the longer they will take to finish roasting.

Sweet Strawberries


Just returned from Whole Foods Market.

They are having a sale on organic strawberries from California.

$4.99 for a big box.

Very sweet.

I always like to wash fruit and vegetables in warm water to which a dash of white vinegar has been added.

Fill a large bowl with warm water.  Add a dash of vinegar then submerge the berries, swish them around then lift them out.

Submerge and lift one more time in just plain water.

Drain and dry.

Fruit is best eaten at room temperature.

For proper digestion, eat fruit 30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after a meal.

Purple and Red Fruits are full of protective antioxidants, which are good for the heart.