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Nina Simonds» spices of life Delicious, Healthy Food for Wellness and Longevity Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:28:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Easy Dinner: Pyramid Style Mon, 15 Aug 2011 20:32:53 +0000

Let’s face it. When it comes to dinner, we want it all: 

  • Easy
  • Delicious
  • Healthy

I’m no different, even though I’m a cookbook author with 10 books (soon-to-be 11!!) to my credit. Making dinner every night can be challenging.

Fortunately, Farmers’ Markets are now offering all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits. Cooking is a pleasure. So we invited Dr. Lilian Cheung, a nutritionist from the Harvard School of Public Health, to a Farmer’s Market and were inspired. Using the HSPH Food Pyramid and the newly designed USDA Plate (, we brainstormed and came up with all kinds of quick, healthy Asian dishes.

Go to the Recipe section for



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Quick Bites: Cinnamon Tue, 01 Feb 2011 22:17:20 +0000

Fragrant and delicious, cinnamon is a fantastic spice to use in quick and easy desserts.

It’s great in a rub for roasted, pan-seared or barbecued meats, sea foods, and vegetables.

And according to research, approved by the American Diabetic Association, cinnamon can help the body metabolize sugar so it increases insulin production and helps lower cholesterol.

Throw a teaspoon into your daily latte.


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Secrets to Master Stir-Fry Wed, 11 Aug 2010 21:19:44 +0000

A good fire, a fresh vegetable, some garlic and you have most of the makings for a great vegetable stir-fry. This is one of my basic recipes that I use with all fresh vegetables including broccolini, but you could substitute any vegetable from baby cabbage hearts, green beans, snow peas, zucchini to spinach. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly. I cook a bunch and serve it with grilled seafood, chicken, or meat and some rice for an easy dinner. Make a bunch and reheat it, eat it at room temperature, or add it to soups and stews.



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Bon Appetit Wed, 17 Mar 2010 00:52:29 +0000

Would you expect cafeteria food to be even more delicious and healthier than your Mom’s?

Bon Appetit Management, an on-site restaurant company that prepares food for 400 locations, including the University of San Francisco, MIT, the Getty Museum, and Yahoo!, makes food from scratch using local ingredients. Their commitment to sustainability, health, and reducing the carbon footprint is remarkable. We need more companies like Bon Appetit who are doing a stellar job and trying to make a difference. Watch the video and drool.

I first met Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appetit’s co-founder, at “Cooking for Solutions”, an extraordinary annual event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Bon Appetit is a primary sponsor). Award-winning baker, chef, and cookbook author Jim Dodge, who is Bon Appetit’s Director of Special Events, is one of the main organizers. The gathering, which is now in its ninth year, brings together celebrity chefs, renowned wineries (Benziger, Chappellet, and Sanford wineries), press, and the general public. The two-day event of non-stop information panels, cooking demonstrations, and signature gala celebration is devoted to raising awareness and discovering how to protect the health of the soil, water, and ocean wildlife. And it’s FUN!!!



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Steamed Pears with Dates, Honey, and Cinnamon Wed, 13 Jan 2010 01:42:38 +0000

Asian pears, also called Chinese pears or pear apples, are firm, crunchy, and surprisingly juicy. When my body felt dry and my throat was scratchy, Dr. Zhu, my Chinese doctor, prescribed some “Steamed Pears with Honey and Jujubes” (dried red dates). Once steamed, the pears become tender and the resulting broth is soothing and not overly sweet. (It’s a great winter dessert!) You can also use Bosc pears and if jujubes are unavailable, you can substitute candied ginger or prepare simply with honey and cinnamon stick. When I am feeling indulgent, I add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. BTW, they are also delicious at room temperature or cold. And you can reheat them in the microwave.



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Unlocking the Secrets of Chinese Herbs Wed, 16 Dec 2009 00:41:20 +0000

I strongly believe that Traditional Chinese Medicine is very effective in helping with many conditions, including preventing colds and the flu, jet lag, and insomnia, and it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend Chinese herbs. In our last video I visited my Chinese doctor (“R U Yin or Yang” video). Dr. Chun Han Zhu gave me an herbal “prescription” for a soup, so my next stop is Boston’s Chinatown where I visit my favorite herbal shop.

Some of the herbs Dr. Zhu recommended are:

  • Dang gui or Angelica sinensis, an herb commonly used to treat women’s reproductive health issues and also recommended to help prevent and treat some forms of cardiovascular disease
  • Huang Qi or Astragalus is recommended for treating the common cold and upper respiratory infections because it helps to strengthen the immune system
  • Go ji or Wolfberries which are believed to nourish the “yin,” strengthen blood, liver, and the kidneys, and contain anti-oxidants.

Go to the SpicesofLife recipe section for a delicious and easy recipe, Poached Pears in a Cinnamon-Ginger Syrup.

Stay tuned for the next video where you can join me in the kitchen while I make Steamed Black Bone Chicken Soup. YUM!


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Are You Yin or Yang? Wed, 02 Dec 2009 03:07:31 +0000

Dr. Chun Han Zhu, a brilliant Chinese doctor who lives near Boston, has been a teacher, healer, and mentor for many years. In this video he explains some basic principles of yin and yang. He also offers suggestions of how you can avoid colds and the flu in the colder weather by eating certain foods that will provide balance and strengthen the immune system.

As Dr. Zhu explains, it is helpful to know whether you are yin or yang. Ideally, you should be diagnosed by a Chinese physician, but here are some tips that might help you to know what type you are.

Yin Body Types

  • Listless or lacking energy
  • Thin and Pale-faced
  • Vulnerable to infectious disease
  • Relaxed, easy-going and quiet
  • Sensitive to cold

Yang Body Types

  • Usually superactive, hyper, full of energy and vitality
  • Generally heavyset or overweight
  • Flush-faced or ruddy complexion
  • Restless or impatient
  • Not sensitive to cold

Stay tuned for the next videos where we explore a Chinese herbal store and then make two dishes that are great for the winter.



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Easy Dinner: Roast Chicken and Tomatoes Wed, 18 Nov 2009 01:38:48 +0000

With Thanksgiving coming up, roast chicken is probably the last thing you want to think about, but it’s always helpful to have new ideas for easy side dishes. Roast cherry tomatoes are simple to prepare and taste delicious. Use the leftovers on sandwiches or as a topping on grilled meats or seafood. Sprinkle the top with different herbs such as fresh or dried basil or oregano before baking, then toss with cooked whole wheat pasta, grated cheese, and some greens. Add cooked meat or seafood and you have a filling and healthy meal.

Enjoy the holiday!


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Best Recipe Ever: Moon Cakes Wed, 30 Sep 2009 02:56:00 +0000

The Harvest Moon Festival and Moon Cakes are very special to me. First of all, it was one of the first foods I tasted many years ago when I went to live in Taiwan. If you happen to go to Chinatown, you will see the Chinese bakery shelves are filled with numerous varieties, each one with a different filling. The Chinese like their moon cakes stuffed with red bean paste, lotus seed paste, and dried fruits and occasionally garnished with a salty duck egg yolk. Sound appetizing? They can be cloying and not as appealing to the western palate.

I learned a wonderful version of moon cakes from a Chinese chef years ago in Taiwan and I’ve further adapted the recipe. My Five-Treasure Moon Cakes have a buttery-vanilla crust stuffed with a sumptuous apricot marmalade filling, and it is one of my favorite recipes. I like to make a batch or two of the dough and filling and stuff them. I then freeze the uncooked, shaped cakes in plastic bags and bake them the day I am serving them. They are delicious served with tea.

Let’s all celebrate this beautiful, but poignant time of year! (Winter’s on the way.)

Enjoy the full, harvest moon and make moon cakes.


Moon cake presses can be ordered through Woks ‘n’ Things, 2234 S. Wentworth Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Phone: 312-842-0701

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The NEW Fried Rice with Ming Tsai Tue, 15 Sep 2009 22:00:56 +0000

According to celebrity chef Ming Tsai, shrimp fried rice was the first dish that he learned to cook as a child. Now, many years later, after training in France, Japan, and in restaurants around the country, the owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass., has updated the recipe to make it even more delicious and healthy. Ming created the recipe inspired by the Healthy Eating Pyramid. To learn more, go to at the Harvard School of Public Health website.

Ming is not only a member of the Nutrition Roundtable, but a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), working to further education and research on food allergies. To learn more about Ming, his restaurant, books, and other activities, check out

Ming’s shrimp fried rice is a sumptuous meal-in-one dinner, and the leftovers are terrific for lunch or dinner the next day.



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