Nutrition in the Virtual Kitchen



Lisa Miller, co-owner of Berkeley’s Kitchen on Fire, says that in mid-March, as every business in town was suddenly faced with discovering how to continue through a lockdown of uncertain duration, she and her team jumped in with their own variation on making and packing meals for no-contact curbside pickup/delivery.

But Miller was also interested in new questions she was getting from customers:

“They were asking about how to make sure the meals they now prepare for themselves at home will be nutritious,” she says.

For years, Miller, a certified nutrition consultant, has been in demand around the Bay Area to lead wellness discussions and classes via Skype. She had already developed a nutrition program at Kitchen on Fire through which discussions and cooking classes focus on nutrition and healthy cooking, but now there was deeper curiosity.

“I hear customers asking how to know if they are putting the right balance of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats on their plates. We realized there was a need for more classes with this focus.”

The result is that Miller and co-owner and Kitchen on Fire founder Chef Olivier Said are now leading their team both in offering more healthy prepared options with immune supportive condiments, and also giving new drive and inspiration to their work in educating through a growing set of online classes and videos.

We asked the team for a plant-based recipe that expresses good nutritional balance.



Coconut Curry with Cauliflower and Chickpeas over Basil Rice

At Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley, California, we love this plant-based recipe, not only because it is delicious and satisfying, but also for its nutritional balance. In addition to the great mix of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, it also uses a variety of the different kinds of vegetable characteristics that we look to incorporate—green, leafy, crunchy, etc. The dish provides a full serving of plant-based protein, which comes from legumes, hemp seeds, and the protein naturally found in vegetables. (* indicates ingredients containing protein.) The coconut milk is also an excellent source of nutrients, including healthy fats. The fresh herbs and spices enhance flavor as they provide some health-supporting benefits. We hope you enjoy making this at home!

Serves 6-8

For the Curry
1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee (clarified browned butter)
1 large onion*, medium dice
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1-2 sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground turmeric*
1 tablespoon garam masala*
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds*
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons cayenne
3 cups vegetable stock*
1 pound collard greens*, rough chopped
1 large waxy potato*, medium dice
1½ head cauliflower*, cut into bite-sized florets
3 cups chickpeas* (canned), drained and rinsed
2 cups coconut milk* (canned)
3 tablespoons hemp seeds*, ground
¼ cup cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Greek yogurt* (for topping)

Heat the ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until it starts to turn a nice golden brown. Add in the cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, garam masala, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, nutmeg, and cayenne.

Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add in the collard greens, ground hemp seeds, potatoes, cauliflower, and chickpeas; simmer for about 10-15 minutes as you start cooking the rice, following instructions below.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer the mixture until all the vegetables are nice and tender. Adjust seasoning and stir in the cilantro.

For the Basil Rice:

2¼ cups water
½ cup fresh basil, rough chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
1½ cups long grain rice, rinsed and dried
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the water and basil into a blender and blend on high for a few minutes.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes. (If not using oil, skip the sauté step.)

Add in the basil water, bring to a simmer, cover (reducing heat to maintain a simmer) and continue to cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and fluff before serving.

To serve, place some rice on each dish and top with the curry. Garnish with the Greek yogurt and lime. Serve with some chutney and chapati, if you like.