Ever wonder how certain foods affect your body? Do you want to know which ingredients can help support your health? Are you looking for new creative recipes?

Welcome to our Food for Thought Blog Series that will aim to address these questions and more each month! Tune in for expert nutritional tips from Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian and diabetes educator at Washington Adventist Hospital, and savvy cooking techniques from Randall Smith, executive chef for Adventist HealthCare.

Chef Randall

Chef Randall Smith

Nothing brings freshness and brightness to cooking like fresh herbs. There is seasonality to herbs but herbs grown indoors can be available locally year round. To prepare them simply pick the leaves from the stems and chop with a knife. Use the stems in your vegetable stock. One mistake that home cooks make with fresh herbs, and it’s a mistake I often see repeated in recipe books, is to use them in place of dried herbs. They are two different things. Fresh herbs do not stand up well to long cooking. The flavorful oils and aroma disappear when cooked too long.  Fresh herbs should always be added to a dish at the end of cooking. Long cooking releases the flavor of dried herbs and these are appropriate in a simmering sauce, stew or braise.

Let’s Make Pesto!

At various times of the year farmers markets, CSA’s and backyard gardens are overflowing with fresh herbs and greens. Pestos are the perfect way to take advantage of the quantities of basil, thyme, chives, mint, parsley, oregano, cilantro and garden greens that arrive throughout the season.  Pestos are used for almost anything– as a pasta sauce, as a seasoning, as an ingredient, as a marinade, and as a spread on sandwiches, crusty bread, or crackers.  They will keep for a week in the refrigerator and indefinitely if frozen–so make large batches and freeze them for a taste of the summer in the middle of winter.

The technique for creating pesto is straightforward.  They usually contain greens or herbs, a dry Italian cheese like Parmesan or Romano, nuts (this is optional if you are allergic, but you should add more cheese or a little bread crumb), and oil.  Pulse everything in a food processor until minced and slowly add olive oil while blade is spinning.  It can be made thick for a spread or looser for a pasta sauce by adding more oil.  I’ve given you a sample of pesto recipes, but the possibilities are endless and you should experiment with any of the elements.  The result will nearly always be good!

small_pestoThyme Pesto

Add this to any broth soup 

Makes 1-1/2 cups


1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves

1 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup Asiago cheese

3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare as outlined above.

Sage Pesto

Thinned with white wine or water this pesto is a great marinade and baste for oven roasted chicken or vegetables

Makes 5 cups


1 cup fresh sage leaves

2 cups fresh parsley

3 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pecans

3/4 cup C parmesan cheese

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare as outlined above

Mixed Herb Pesto

This pesto is a useful all purpose seasoning

Makes 7 cups


2 garlic cloves

1 cup Fresh Basil

1 cup Fresh Parsley

1 cup Fresh Spinach

1/2 cup Fresh oregano

1/2 cup Pistachio nuts

1/4 cup Olive oil

¼ cup water

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare as outlined above.

What foods are you curious about?  We’d like to hear from you. Please share your questions in the comments section below.