A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square in NYC, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.
This week: Kelly brews hot apple cider with a gingery twist.
Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest
As everyone has heard by now, last week, Hurricane Sandy rocked the Northeast with its insane power. Fortunately, I have not suffered at all in comparison to many. I still have a home. My home has heat. My friends and my family are intact and safe. My workplace is open for business. And I am healthy. I can’t really ask for more than that. I’ll tell you the way I got through the storm emotionally and physically. It shouldn’t be a surprise, really.
During and after the storm, when subways weren’t running, when it was dangerous to go outside, when the internet was down, I did little else than cook for my boyfriend and myself at his apartment in the East Village. The East Village was without power, but we still had the gas stove! So I cooked. And cooked. Simple things, things with heft that filled the belly: apple cinnamon oatmeal, banana pancakes, sautéed spicy greens, chili (which turned into chili mac, whole-wheat pasta with veggie chili). Every hour, I asked him: "Are you hungry? What do you want to eat?" I couldn’t get myself out of the kitchen. Even after the sun went down, even when we weren’t really hungry anymore, I wore a head lantern in the kitchen. And I cooked.
I cooked eggs. I even ate eggs. Yep, last week I ate eggs. Big egg sandwiches on a buttered baguette that had been grilled in a pan (so, I ate butter, as well.) There is really no sense in saying that I only ate steamed broccoli during Hurricane Sandy. So many people I know are talking about "the Sandy 15," which is a play on the Freshman 15. You know, the 15 pounds a college freshman gains when confronted with high-calorie dining hall fare and perhaps not the most physically active lifestyle. Folks say they gained significant weight last week when there wasn’t much more to do than watch hours of storm news footage and eat things they normally wouldn’t eat in quantities they normally wouldn’t fathom. It’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world. In times of great stress, we go back to the habits we have embraced since childhood. For me, that means eating a lot of food and sometimes not the healthiest food. I can reprimand myself for that, but it won’t do much good now. The plant-strong lifestyle accepts me back every time! And I waste time when I feel guilty and scold myself for not making the best choices. It was a hurricane, for goodness' sake.
But there was one thing I kept making and enjoying over and over again during the storm and its aftermath that I consistently felt good about. It was fresh ginger tea. A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I looked online for fresh ginger tea recipes. And we’ve been making it ever since. It has tremendously powerful effects on a sore throat. And its spice and sweetness are just perfect! Just peel and mince an inch of fresh ginger, simmer it in hot water for a good 15 minutes, douse the drink with a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and sweeten it with a drop of honey. You’ve got ginger tea! Of course, all you need is water, ginger, citrus, and honey to make it, so it's an ideal storm recipe.
After the storm, I started thinking about ways I could ginger-up other drinks that I hold dear. Hot apple cider came to mind. What if, I thought, I simmered apple cider with some of that fresh ginger, along with a good squeeze of fresh orange juice, some mulling spices, and a bit of honey? Well, it turns out that makes an awesomely comforting hot beverage! And a festive brew, at that. After all, the holidays are coming up. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been more happy to sit down with friends and family and simply enjoy each other’s company, warm our hands, tummies, and souls with a mug of hot apple-orange cider, and be thankful for, among so many other things, a working stove. It’s the hearth we gathered around for comfort during the storm. It’s the one we’ll gather around long after.
Hot and Gingery Spiced Apple and Orange Cider
4 cups apple cider
2 cups water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Peel of one orange, cut into strips (leave out the white part!)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Honey (optional, to taste for sweetness)
In the NYC area? Stop by for cooking advice!
Do you need help with maintaining a healthy diet? Drop by WFM Columbus Circle or WFM Union Square to chat with me about this recipe and plant-strong cooking tips. I'll be preparing this hot cider on Friday, November 9, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at our Union Square store.
If you're not in the area, send me a direct message or add your comments or questions below.
Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Spiced Cranberry and Pear Wild Rice Pilaf.
Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.