Chef Mark Allison's Column Oats, Orange & Kiwi

April 22, 2019


Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth. They're gluten-free, whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Sometimes they can be contaminated by other grains, so please read the label before buying. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits. For diabetics, they are known to help lower blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that people with heart disease benefit from oats because the beta-glucan fiber is effective at reducing both total and LDL (aka "bad") cholesterol levels.

Oats are also a really good source of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

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Winter Kale & Brazil Nut Pesto


April 15th, 2019

Just last week before the snow hit the Carolinas, I harvested the last crop of kale from my garden. I normally add it to stews, casseroles, soups, smoothies or make delicious sides or healthy snacks for the boys. Then I thought, "Hey, no fresh basil in the house. Let's use kale to make some pesto." This time of year, you always have Brazil nuts lying around in the nut bowl that are perfect to use to recreate a new twist on an old favorite that is packed with nutrition and full of flavor.

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Heartwarming Winter Casserole

April 8th, 2019


"Winter is Coming" - well it's here!!! Big time!!! - The short cold days of winter make you want to stay indoors with your feet up watching the flames dance in your fireplace, with the smell and aromas of something good cooking in the oven and the sound of soft music playing in the background. Why not try this easy and delicious tasting chicken casserole that takes minutes to prepare, then pop in the oven and sit back and relax knowing dinner is taken care of and the night is just beginning.

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Mushroom Stroganoff (Made Easy)

 March 25th, 2019

Beef Stroganoff is a Russian dish (from the 19th century) of sautéed pieces of beef served in a rich sauce made from smetana (sour cream). At culinary school back in the 80's, I remember making this dish as part of my final exams on my City & Guilds 706/2 program.

Funny how we look back on the good old days and laugh, but at the time not so good, as you were stressed trying to get all your mise en place sorted out. Making sure you had your station set-up (oven turned on - you'd be amazed at how many student/chefs forget to turn on the oven until it's too late!) and the most important thing, making sure you hit your window on time for the chef instructor (judge) to critique your work.

Being a chef certainly sets you up for life as most of "the most important things in life" revolve around being prepared.

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Chia Seed Pudding (As recently made on the Charlotte Today Show)

 March 19th 2019

This maple-infused creamy chia seed pudding is a natural vegetarian breakfast option made with just eight simple fresh/pantry ingredients.

The best part? It takes just 5 minutes to assemble and is the ideal breakfast for making ahead of time. Naturally vegetarian and gluten free if made with full fat coconut milk, the chia seeds soak up the moisture overnight and turn into a tapioca-like pudding dream. I like to add a little maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt, but like most of my recipes feel free to swap out for honey, add cinnamon or whisk in some cocoa powder. The options are endless and up to you?

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Easy To Make Vegan Eggless Mayo & Ranch Dressing

 March 11, 2019

This homemade egg-free vegan mayonnaise recipe is made with chickpea water, Dijon mustard, sea salt, white wine vinegar and vegetable oil with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Blending them all together gives you a delectable thick and creamy mayonnaise condiment to use on all your salads, sandwiches and homemade slaw dishes. Add a few more ingredients and turn it into an eggless ranch dressing that the whole family will enjoy and love.
Easy To Make Vegan Eggless Mayo & Ranch Dressing
Yields 1 ¼ cups

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Broccolini Goat's Cheese & Ancient Grain Salad

 March 4th, 2019

Broccolini, broccoli and broccoli rabe− it's easy to get confused because the names are so similar, and they are all green vegetables. But they are each quite different in flavor, texture, and how they should be cooked. You can use them as either a side, a salad, roasted, or steamed. All three are very versatile, highly nutritious, and have flavors found in cuisines around the world. In my opinion, I consider them all "superfoods," but they cost a fraction of the price of other so-called superfoods. Mixing broccolini with ancient grains, another outstanding nutritional

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Simple Nutritious Salad

 February 25, 2019

In my opinion salads are awesome not boring. You can throw practically anything you like into a salad, add a dressing and it will turn out great. Well, most times it will. Here is how I make salads at home for the boys and myself. I use a formula I created over 20 years ago that still works to this day. You have six main components to work with, starting with a base that is normally two cups. Follow that by a half cup to a full cup of starch and a half to a full cup of fruits or vegetables. Top that off with a quarter to a half cup of a lean protein and a quarter cup of toppings and a dressing.

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February 18, 2019

(pronounced "po-keh") means "to slice or cut." Originating from the islands of Hawaii, it started as a snack for fishermen. They used up the off-cuts of fish and added Japanese and other Asian seasonings. Poke is usually bite-sized pieces of raw fish or shellfish mixed with spices, herbs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, seasoning, seaweed and kukui, a nut relish. It can be served as an appetizer or snack.

As a main dish, it goes with rice, a freshly made salad or toasted bread. Whatever fish or shellfish you choose to use or seasoning you marinate it with, it is bloody delicious. Fresh and healthy, it's made in minutes and will satisfy the whole family.

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Chickpea Bread

February 11, 2019

Believe me, this bread is so easy and has the added bonus of very little clean-up and, I promise you, no waste. It is healthy, fabulously delicious, vegan, gluten-free and addictive, in a healthy way. Need I say more? Just one thing, enjoy!

Chickpea Bread
One 8 inch pie

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
Cooking spray

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Pan Roasted Red Snapper with Spinach, Beans & Green Grapes


February 4, 2019

The northern red snapper is a native species of fish from the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It's a wonderful source of lean protein that is rich in selenium, vitamin A, omega 3 fatty acids and potassium. It has firm flesh that cooks in minutes, either pan roasted, grilled or steamed, which makes it a fabulous and easy to prepare dish.

A lot of people are scared to cook fish or shellfish, but like anything you should at least give it a try. Cooking is all about temperature control and time. Start by bringing your piece of fish to room temperature, then season it with salt and pepper. If you're leaving the skin on, then slash the skin with a very shape knife, which will stop the piece of fish from curling as it cooks. Make sure your frying pan is hot but not too hot; it shouldn't be at the point of smoking. The oil should shimmer when hot, then add the fish and cook for 2 to 3 minutes

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Pan Fried Wild Alaskan Salmon with Sun-Set Slaw


January 28th 2019

From 1998 to 1999, we lived in Alaska and had one of the best years. I was on a teacher's Fulbright Exchange program at the Martin Luther King Career Center in Anchorage, which was an extraordinary school with amazing teachers and staff. We actually lived 10 miles outside of the city with only six other houses in our neighborhood. We were surrounded by mountains and tall pine trees. We had a family of moose living in our back yard, and the brown bears would periodically run down the street between the houses.

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Sweet Potato Wedges with Roasted Garlic Dip

 January 21, 2019

Healthy snacks or healthy party appetizers are hard to come by! Especially this time of year. But with a little thought and imagination you can keep things healthy by using fresh ingredients. You're always going to find garlic at the local store, along with potatoes and fresh herbs, so this recipe is simple and delicious, go on give it a try.

Crème fraiche is Frances favorite form of cream to cook with and use in the kitchen especially with smoked salmon or trout. It has a tangy hazelnut flavor to it, so it works well with seafood and poultry. With more body and complex flavors than fresh sweet cream, creme fraiche is a thick, rich, custard of a cream that works well with sweet or savory delights, and makes the perfect dip to accompany sweet potato wedges.

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Oven Baked Flounder with Pistachio Pesto & Ancient Grains

 January 14, 2019

This is one of those dishes that I made up when I saw one ingredient at the store and thought, "Let's have fresh fish tonight." I got home, opened the fridge and the pantry and thought, "Ok, what will go nicely with this beauty?" In the pantry, I found pistachios nuts but not enough. I added pumpkin seeds. In the fridge, there was fresh basil. So let's do a take on pesto. Ancient grains, canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Dinner was sorted in about 30 minutes. Go on give this recipe a try or get creative with what's in your kitchen. Enjoy!

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Christmas leftover Turkey Kedgeree


January 7, 2019

                I love leftovers, and what better way to use turkey leftovers than to make a "somewhat traditional kedgeree".
Kedgeree is a traditional Scottish (Indian) dish consisting of cooked, flaked Haddock, boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, and occasionally sultanas and it can be eaten hot or cold. Kedgeree was listed as early as 1790 in the recipe book of Stephana Malcolm of Burnfoot,

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Roasted Carrots, Radishes, English Peas, Tomato & Quinoa Salad

 December 31, 2018

Let's take a moment to talk about a very underrated vegetable - the pea. The pea is not actually a vegetable but a fruit since it contains seeds developed from a flower. But nonetheless, the pea is loaded with health benefits. With only 100 calories per cup and lots of protein, fiber and micronutrients, peas are a real power house food. One cup provides 44 percent of your daily vitamin K allowances along with generous amounts of vitamin B1 and folate, B2, B3 and B6. Niacin found in peas helps to reduce the production of triglycerides and very low-density lipoproteins which results in decreased bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increased good "HDL" cholesterol.

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Jicama Slaw with Toasted Buckwheat and Crumbled Feta Cheese

December 24th, 2018

If you haven't tried jicama give it a try. I tasted my first jicama over ten years ago and I just love it. Other names for jicama include yam bean, Mexican potato, Mexican water chestnut and Chinese turnip. It's the root of a plant that produces beans similar to lima beans. Has a globe-shape to it with papery, golden-brown skin and interior flesh that is juicy yet crunchy, with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. It tastes like a cross between a potato and a pear/apple. Originally grown in Mexico, jicama eventually spread to the Philippines and Asia. It requires a long growing season with no frost, so it thrives in locations that are warm year-round.

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Turmeric Honey Roasted Vegetables

 December 17th 2018

Whenever I eat root vegetables, I'm always reminded of my father and the happy memories growing up in the North East of England. My parents moved from their council house in Arkwright Street, Gateshead. To a brand new home in Eighton Banks when I was only 4 years old. My parents, were the first in our family to actually own their own home. In those days virtually everyone rented their house from the local government, hence the name "council house". One of the reasons my parents bought the house at the time, was it came with a huge garden. 70 foot long by 30 foot wide. My father was a very keen gardener at the time.

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Wake Up Call for Your Gut

December 10th, 2018

The origins of yogurt trace back as far as 5000 BC. I find it hard to believe that this creamy, tangy treat has been eaten across Europe and the Middle East since the Roman times for its health benefits. The health benefits come from colonies of "good" bacteria introduced during production. These bacteria digest the carbohydrates in the milk and produce lactic acid. The acid, in turn, causes the milk to gel, giving yogurt its thick, creamy texture.

The "good" bacteria are called probiotics. They are wonderful for your digestive system and can prevent a whole host of stomach issues. Seventy percent of your immune system is located in your gut. Eating probiotic foods like yogurt actually encourages more good bacteria to grow, keeping your immune system strong. Add some fresh fruit and homemade granola, and you have a really healthy start to your day that will keep you satisfied well into lunch time. If you are one of the 60 million Americans who struggle with digestive problems, give your gut a wake-up call every morning with this recipe.

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Vegetable Soup

 December 3rd, 2018

I have said this before and I'll probably say it again, but my boys love soup any time of the year, especially in the fall and winter months. Since we have the roaring fire pit on most weekends now, what better that to sit chat, laugh and reminisce about vacations, movies and family events with a blanket around your shoulders and a hot bowl of nutritious soup warming your hands and your stomach at the same time.

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