Michelle Obama: celebrity chef? First lady's cookbook to share homegrown recipes

Are you ready for Michelle Obama, kitchen goddess? The first lady's pulling a Gwyneth Paltrow and publishing a cookbook. American Grown, on sale April 10, 2012, combines veggie growing tips with recipes inspired by Michelle's White House garden.

It's a garden she's toiled over since 2009. So have daughters Sasha and Malia, who help with the weeding "like it or not". Despite being a gardening novice, Obama's laid the groundwork for over 55 varietals of veggies. Stalks of black kale, bright yellow peppers, and beams of eggplant have grown from the most expansive garden the White House lawn has ever seen.

Now it's growing beyond the Obama home, and into the cookbook arena. According to her publishers, she'll use the garden's offerings as the starting point for seed-sowing, recipe ideas and personal anecdotes and photos the Obamas' home-base. The aim of the book is to show how "increased access to healthy, affordable food can promote better eating habits and improve health of families and communities across America," according to the publishers at Random House, who will donate all the profits to an unnamed charity. Did we mention there's going to be pictures in the book?

Recipes haven't been leaked yet but it's safe to say 100 percent of them will be extremely healthy and vegetable-based. Shine editor Lylah Alphonse already got a glimpse of what Michelle and co. can dream up, when she visited the White House earlier this month.

During a tour of the not-so-secret garden, officials passed out a pamphlet with recipes created with Michelle's veggies in the White House kitchen, and served to the Obama family on a fairly regular basis. (The mac and cheese is the girls' favorite). These should hold you over until April.

Broccoli Soup (serves 6)

1 large onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon butter

3 heads broccoli

6 cups light chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in butter until translucent.

Trim the broccoli to 1-inch pieces and blanch them in salty water.

Add broccoli to vegetable mixture.

Add chicken stock.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Simmer for 10 minutes then pass the mixture through a strainer.

Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Serve hot.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (serves 4 or more)

1 pound penne pasta

1 cup 2 percent or skim milk

1 pound shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. In the meantime, cook the cauliflower until soft and transfer to a blender to puree.

In a medium-size pan, combine the pasta and hot cauliflower puree. Add the milk and cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately while hot.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Herb Sherry Vinaigrette (serves 6)

2 pounds assorted seasonal garden greens like arugula and and baby spinach

6 chicken breasts (6 ounces each)

1 tablespoon thyme

zest from 1 lemon

6 sprigs chives, chopped

For the Vinaigrette

1 cup sherry vinegar

juice from 2 lemons

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine sherry vinegar, lemon juice, shallots, oregano, basil, and honey in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until the mixture is emuslified. Chill.

Wash greens, and set aside.

Marinate chicken with lemon, thyme, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then grill.

Serve chicken on a bed of greens, drizzled with vinaigrette

Warm baked apples with dried cherries, raisins, and blueberries (serves 6)

6 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples

3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

1 cup mixed dried cherries, blueberries, and raisins

1/2 cup light brown sugar

6 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

Brush 6 cupcake molds or a muffin tray with oil to prevent sticking.

Remove the stem and core of each apple with a melon baller. Poke a few holes into the top of the apple with a fork, and place apple in cupcake molds or muffin tray.

Place half a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate into the center of each apple. Fill each apple with dried fruits and sprinkle brown sugar over the tops. Drizzle with honey and bake at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes or until apples are soft.

Serve warm.

Fruit and oatmeal bars (serves 9)

6 tablespoons grape-seed oil, or other neutral oil, plus extra for brushing the pan

2 cups quick oats

1/2 cup mixed seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots, papaya, and pineapple. Use at least three kinds, and cut large fruits into dime-size pieces)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hang over the sides of the pan. Brush with oil.

Spread oats and seeds on another baking pan and toast in the oven until they're golden and fragrant, about 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan once during toasting.

In a sauce pan, combine oil, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Stir over medium heat until smooth and hot.

Transfer toasted oats and seeds to a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the oats and seeds and stir until well combined.

While the mixture is warm, transfer it to the prepared pan, pressing it into the pan easily with an offset spatula

Bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.

Using the overhanging foil or parchment paper, lift the fruit and oat mixture out of the pan and place on a work surface. Cut into 1 1/2-inch by 3-inch bars.

All recipes courtesy of "Healthy Recipes from the White House to You."


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Health lessons from the White House garden

Mrs. O on what matters to moms

Michelle's workout playlist