World Food Day: Cooking with Chef Candice Kumai


October 16, 2013

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday are the most essential in a child’s nutritional needs. The foundation of strong bodies and minds is established during this critical window. The lack of proper nutrients is a contributing factor in almost half of deaths of children under five years old.

WFD Cooking with Chef Candice KumaiChef Candice Kumai, a regular judge on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and author of Cook Yourself Sexy, and upcoming Clean Green Drinks understands nutrition better than most, and she’s doing something with that knowledge on behalf of kids everywhere.

As mothers we take our children’s food choices very seriously, we make conscious decisions about how we shop and what we consume to do the very best for them. In this we are exactly like mothers all over the world — we do the best with what we have.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend a cooking class “Eating for Two: Cooking and Meal Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy” with Candice at Whole Foods. She showed us how to prepare an amazing meal filled with many of the healthy nutrients a mother needs when she is pregnant.

Candice’s goal is to help connect individuals to nutrition on the personal, local and global levels. Apart from still wishing that I could eat Candice’s incredible food every single night of my life, it was inspiring to see just how simple it is to get the right foods into our diets. Healthy can, and does, mean delicious.

Through her cooking and passion for food, Candice and the Thousand Days team invite us to join in action and awareness for improved nutrition everywhere.

WFD_food_blog_postGrab a Recipe
Homemade Lentil & Kale Soup with Roasted Garlic

This fiber-filled soup is loaded with iron from the dried lentils, legumes and kale, which helps the production of hemoglobin and prevents anemia, low birth weight and premature delivery. The garlic, a “natural superfood for pregnancy,” helps improve blood circulation and reduce cholesterol levels.

-2 garlic heads
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 tablespoons canola oil
-4 ounces pancetta (optional), cut into cubes
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
-2 carrots, peeled and chopped 2 fresh thyme sprigs
-1 bay leaf
-1 1/2 cups brown, red, or green lentils
-8 cups chicken stock
-1/2 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped
-1/4 teaspoon sea saltDirections:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the heads of garlic in half horizontally, drizzle them with olive oil and tent with aluminum foil. Roast for 40 minutes and set aside.

2. Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven or stock pot with the canola oil. Add the pancetta (if using) and sauté over medium heat until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pot using a slotted spoon, place on a paper towel, and reserve.

3. Add the onion to the pot and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the parsnip, carrots, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and cook for 5 more minutes.

4. Add the lentils and 6 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

5. When the soup is ready, mix in the Swiss chard, sea salt, reserved roasted garlic, and pancetta (if using). Simmer on low heat until the chard is just wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups chicken stock after the Swiss chard wilts, to finish.


Take Action Challenge
In honor of World Food Day, watch and then share this video about those first essential one thousand days. Then join A Thousand Days at Find them on Twitter at @ThousandDays and Facebook.

Photos: Top photo L to R: Adrianna Logalbo from Thousand Days, Candice Kumai and Chrysula Winegar; Bottom: Homemade Lentil & Kale Soup with Roasted Garlic. Both images from Chrysula Winegar

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