Spicy Cajun Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the most under-appreciated members of the brassica family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts, bok choy and chard).

All the brassicas have powerful anti-cancer properties, with a phenomenal ability to neutralize free radicals.  An extra incentive to include cabbage in your diet is the positive effect it has on estrogen metabolism.  Low rates of breast cancer in Eastern Europe fueled research into the phytonutrient compounds called indoles, which boost the ratio of “good” estrogens in both men and women.

If that weren’t enough, cabbage delivers a big chunk of the daily vitamins and minerals we need, as well plenty of fiber.  It’s delicious both cooked and in slaw (although over-cooking releases an unpleasant sulfurous odor).  One note of caution: people with hypo-active thyroids should eat cabbage in moderation.

Spicy Cajun Cabbage

Ingredients:

Cabbage Close Up

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed and minced
  • 1 small head green cabbage, shredded

Add butter and oil to hot skillet over medium heat; then add onion.  Saute onion for a few minutes, then add garlic.  Saute a few minutes more (until soft), and add the shredded cabbage.  Keep turning over cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes; add the spices.  Keep stirring until cabbage is tender and aromatic, and done to your taste – probably about another 4 to 5 minutes.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Watermelon, Feta and Parsley Salad

Ingredients:Healthy Organic Watermelon Salad

  • 3 to 4 cups peeled and cubed watermelon, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1 lime

Arrange the watermelon cubes on plates or a large platter.  Sprinkle with the feta cheese and parsley and drizzle with lime juice. Garnish with mint, if desired, and serve immediately.

 Optional Extras:

  • Red onion, diced
  • Black olives, chopped

Makes 4 to 6 salads.

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posted in Healthy Eating

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Delicious, versatile and easy to make, hummus is a healthy and inexpensive way to dress up a veggie plate, add body to a salad dressing or use as sandwich spread. This is a mild, tasty hummus you can use all year round – and it has a good balance of protein, fiber, unsaturated fat, minerals & vitamins.

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 scrubbed carrotsbigstock-Hummus--27098909
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 thick slice raw ginger
  • 1 dried red chili (optional)*
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seed
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini*
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. In the morning, put 1 cup of dried chickpeas to soak in 2 -3 cups of filtered water.
  2. In the evening, drain the chickpeas and place in a heavy pot with: water, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, raw ginger, red chili, and cumin seed.
  3. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat & cook for up to an hour.  The goal is tender but not mushy.
  4. Discard the vegetables and drain off the liquid into a measuring cup.  Put the cooked chickpeas in a blender with: lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt, pepper, and 2-4 tbsp of the reserved liquid.
  5. Blend until creamy; add more salt if necessary.  If you have leftover liquid, you can use it in other recipes (when cooking rice or soup, for example) – or give it to a houseplant!
  6. Serve garnished with minced parsley and red pepper, & maybe a drizzle of olive oil.

Some variations:

  • Garlic lovers can add 1 – 2 cloves of raw garlic; blend well!
  • Roasted red pepper makes a colorful and tasty addition
  • Mix in minced basil or spinach for a green version
  • Try making this with white beans instead of chickpeas

*Available at Indian grocery stores

posted in Healthy Eating

Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut or almond butterAsian Salad
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey,optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1- 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, optional
  • small handful of chopped peanuts or almonds, optional
  • salt and red pepper flakes, to taste

 

In a large bowl, mash together the nut butter and hot water until they form a smooth paste.  Mix in vinegar, agave syrup, salt, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Add the cabbage in 2 cup increments, mixing well after each addition. Add red pepper to taste. Cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, visiting it every hour or two to give it a good stir. If desired, sprinkle the nuts on top right before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon.    Serves 4-6.

 

Adapted from Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Roasted Cauliflower with Green Herb Sauce

Spring is a great time to try vegetables in a new way.  We think of cauliflower as a winter vegetable but it transitions beautifully to spring in a zesty green sauce.  It is also a good source of numerous B vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber.

 

Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower with Green Herb Sauce*

Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, whole

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped

1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  Place whole head of cauliflower on parchment lined-sheet.

Brush cauliflower with 1/4 cup olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper.

Pull short sides of parchment over cauliflower and fold one ends over other a few times to seal.  Fold long ends of parchment under cauliflower to create a packet.  Roast until knife-tender, about 40 minutes.  Tear open parchment at top, roast for 15-20 minutes more until golden brown.

In a small bowl, stir together parsley, cilantro, garlic, mustard, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 cup of olive oi.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve cauliflower warm, accompanied by sauce on the side.

*Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living tm

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Delicious, Nutritious Dandelion Greens

dandelion leaves isolated on white

A relative of the sunflower, the humble dandelion packs a hefty nutritional punch as a spring tonic: it supports digestion, reduces swelling and inflammation, and is used by herbalists to treat skin conditions like eczema and acne. One cup of raw dandelion greens out-performs broccoli in Vitamins A and K, besides being rich in calcium and iron.

 

 

Dandelion greens add a nice bite to a spring salad, and can be used exactly as you would bok choy or other greens.

 

 

 

Here’s a lovely Italian-flavored recipe:

A side dish of swiss chard cooked in olive oil with garlic and c

 

3 pounds dandelion greens, tough lower stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3- 5 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

 

 

Cook greens in a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water, uncovered, until ribs are tender. Depending on your taste, this can take from 5 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking and drain well, gently pressing out excess water.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring, until pale golden, about 45 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, then add greens and sea salt and sauté until coated with oil and heated through, about 4 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

8 Daily “Greats” for a Healthy 2017

Here are 8 food items that are incredibly beneficial to include in your daily diet.  They will boost your immunity and vitality, and are very protective of your overall health!

Dark chocolate

Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant, mineral rich; heart protective; improves mood

Blueberries

Anti-oxidant & anti-aging; neuro-protective; anti-cancer; supports digestion; heart protective; nutrient-dense; healthy fiber

Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; anti-depressant; helps regulate blood sugar; heart & gut protective

Best as food, with fat (ex. coconut milk) for absorption

 
Green Tea

Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant; heart and neuro-protective; helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels; anti-cancer & anti-aging

 
Garlic

Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; heart protective; anti-fungal; detoxifying; supports healthy digestion; anti-oxidant & anti-aging

 
Bitter Greens

Nutrient-rich; promote bile secretion & healthy digestion; boost gut-based immunity; detoxifying; reduce sugar cravings; stimulates metabolism

 
Ginger

Anti-inflammatory; heart-protective; promotes healthy digestion; reduces fever; anti-nausea; anti-bacterial & anti-fungal; helps regulate blood sugar

 
Echinacea

Strong immunity modulator; anti-aging; anti-cancer

Best used long term; sourcing & formulation are key

 
Water

# 9 here, but truly # 1 in healthy habits: drink half your body weight (lbs) in ounces every day

 
posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

Pumpkin Chili

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oilVegetarian Chili
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
 
Optional garnishes:
  • Minced green scallions
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salted pumpkin seeds
 

Heat heavy pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add onion, celery, garlic and cumin seeds.  Saute until onions are translucent.  Add red bell pepper, chili powder and oregano.  Saute a few minutes more until bell pepper starts to soften.  

Add cinnamon, tomatoes, pumpkin and beans.  Add stock and let it heat through.  Turn heat down to low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.  Check the seasoning; add more chili if you like it spicier, or more stock if needed.  Let cook another 10 minutes; add salt to taste.  This freezes well.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating, Seasonal Tips

The Best Cranberry Sauce Ever (no kidding)

Ingredients:Overhead of a bucket of cranberries and a pot full of whole cran

1 pound rinsed fresh cranberries

1 – 1 1/2″ inch piece of peeled fresh ginger

Finely chopped pulp of 1/2 red grapefruit (or 1 orange)

2 tsp. minced zested peel from the citrus (optional)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Sprinkling of nutmeg, if desired

Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Cool and serve.  Add a light sprinkling of nutmeg if you like.

 

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Roasted, Broiled or Baked Tomatoes and Tomatillos

 

Roasted, Broiled or Baked Tomatoes

This is great for green or under-ripe tomatoes.  However you cook them, you will want to remove the core.  For broiled or roasted tomatoes, slice them in half horizontally, or in 3/4″ thick slices.  

Ingredients:

  • Green or under-ripe tomatoesSlow-Roasted Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste

 Optional Extras:

  • Thyme, rosemary
  • Capers
  • Crumbled feta cheese

1. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large glass baking dish.  Add the cut tomatoes, and coat them in the oil.  For broiled tomatoes, make sure the cut side faces up; for roast tomatoes, you want the cut side down.

2. Some nice variations are to add a few teaspoons of pickled capers (in this case, omit any salt) and/or some sliced or smashed fresh garlic.  Thyme and/or rosemary add extra flavor.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Broil for about 10 – 15 minutes.  If you are baking them, cook at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes.  For oven-roasting, you will cook them for 1 – 2 hours at 325 degrees.  Feta is wonderful on these, but again you will want to be careful not to over-salt them before cooking.

 

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Broiled or Baked Tomatillos

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 2 pounds fresh tomatillosFresh Homemade Salsa Verde

Optional Extras:

  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 – 3 serrano chiles
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro 
  • salt, cumin seeds, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to broil (or 400 degrees if you prefer to bake).
  2. Shuck the outer skin of the tomatillos; the skin will feel a little sticky.  Rinse the tomatillos and roll them in a kitchen towel to dry.
  3. Slice them in half horizontally and toss them with a light coating of olive oil.  A pump spray works well for this,  Put them cut side down in a large glass baking dish.
  4. I like to add a sprinkling of cumin seeds and 2 – 3 peeled, slightly smashed garlic cloves for extra flavor.
  5. For salsa, throw in 2 or 3 serrano chiles (cut off the tops; you can de-seed them if you want a milder salsa).
  6. If you are broiling, slide them under the broiler unit for 5 – 8 minutes, then turn them over.  Cook another 5 minutes or so; the skin side will be blistered.  Your broiler may be hotter and faster, so watch them!
  7. If baking, between 8 to 10 minutes per side will do.  You won’t get the smokey charred taste, but they will still be delicious.
  8. Cool, peel if desired (the skin will slide off easily).
  9. Process in the blender for salsa, adding salt to taste.  1/2 fresh white onion and 1/2 bunch cilantro are great additions also.
  10. I like these roughly chopped as an addition to polenta or baked cheese grits, or in a Mexican-flavored chicken soup.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Pick a Perfect Melon

Cantaloupe Melon

1. How does it look?

You don’t want a melon with any bruises, soft spots, moldy patches and cracks.

2. What’s the color like?

If you are buying a watermelon or honeydew, pick a melon with a dull surface.  A shiny skin means the melon is probably under-ripe.  Also, honeydews should be pale yellow to light lemon in color, not overly green.

Avoid cantaloupes or muskmelons that have an underlying green or white color; the rind (underneath the net-like texture) should be a golden or orange color.

3.Does it feel hollow?

Tap the melon with the palm of your hand; it should sound hollow.  Also push your finger gently on the round spot where the stem was attached; it should give a little under light pressure.

4. Is it heavy for its size?

Pick up a few melons and see how they feel.  Choose a melon that’s heavy for its size.

5. How does it smell?

You want a melon that smells fresh and slightly sweet.  This will work best for cantaloupes and honeydew melons.  

posted in Healthy Eating

Tabbouleh Salad

TaboulehIngredients:

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup (or more) parsley
  • 1/2 cup seedless cucumbers, cubed
  • 3/4 cup tomato, cubed

  1. Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and salt together in a small bowl, then add the bulgur wheat. Let soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, depending on the coarseness of your bulgur and how soft you want it.
  2. Wash and dry parsley. Remove the stems if you don’t like them; chop all finely.
  3. In a large bowl, combine parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Add the soaked bulgur along with the dressing and toss everything together.
  4. Tabouleh tastes wonderfully fresh the day it’s made.  If you let it sit overnight, the flavors have a chance to meld and it tastes even better.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

The Amazing Green Drink

Spinach And Apple Smoothie

3 – 4 leaves fresh kale You can use spinach, collard greens (I add extra apple with these), romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, or any combination.  Beet greens, chard, mint and mustard greens do not work well!
2 stalks celery Celery is #2 on the “Dirty Dozen” list, so please buy organic if you possibly can.
½ large green apple Apples are #1 on the list!!  Go to http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/  for more info.You can use the whole apple if you like more sweetness.
½ avocado I like the smaller Hass avocadoes best, but use what you have!
½ large cucumber(or 1 small) No need to peel these, unless they have wax on the skin.
¼” slice fresh ginger You don’t have to peel this if the skin is fresh and unblemished.
2 dates Trader Joes has these at a pretty good price, but it’s also worth looking in Asian or Indian groceries.

 

Add filtered water to about halfway up the blender container.  Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.  You may need to put a kitchen towel under your blender if it vibrates a lot.  You need a good blender for this, but don’t be surprised if the dates don’t completely blend.

This will make 2 tall glasses – drink it all, or share!  It does not keep well, although you can store it for 12 – 24 hours in an opaque glass jar in the refrigerator.

posted in Healthy Eating

Caribbean Chicken With Grilled Pineapple

 

Ingredients:Japanese Food

  • 4 medium (1 1/2 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
  • 2 limes, divided
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium (3 1/2 lbs) pineapple, peeled and cut into slices 1/2″ thick
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling at medium heat, or preheat a large ridged grill pan on medium heat.

Meanwhile, place chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap; use a meat mallet to pound the chicken to an even 1/2″ thickness.

From 1 lime, grate 1 tsp.  peel and squeeze 2 tbsp. of juice.  Cut remaining lime into 4 wedges and set aside.  In small bowl, combine the olive oil with the lime peel and juice.

Lightly brush the pineapple on both sides with the lime mixture; set aside the remaining lime mixture in bowl.  Place the pineapple slices on the hot frill rack or frill pan, and cook for 10 minutes or until browned on both sides, turning once.  Remove pineapple from grill.

Stir the mint leaves into the remaining lime mixture, and pat onto both sides of the chicken.  Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp.  freshly ground black pepper to season both sides.

Place the chicken on the hot grill rack or pan, and cook 5 minutes or until the chicken is browned on both sides and no longer pink (throughout), turning over once.

Serve the chicken with the pineapple slices and lime wedges.

 *Recipe adapted from Delish.com

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Why you should eat chocolate.

Dark-Chocolate

You don’t need a special occasion to eat chocolate – but this Valentine’s Day, make sure you have some dark chocolate. And that’s a prescription everyone will like!

Real cocoa contains high concentrations of flavanols. These phytonutrients are clog-busters for your arteries. Like cranberries, strawberries, apples, onions, tea and red wine, cocoa reduces your blood platelets’ tendency to stick together and create clogs. Plus cocoa contains magnesium – which, among other benefits, is important for heart health and function.

But wait – there’s more!

Dark chocolate that is rich in cocoa (70% or more) may also reduce blood pressure.  That’s because the flavanols help modulate nitric acid. This also promotes healthy blood flow, another component of cardiovascular health.   According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the increased nitric oxide also helps control insulin sensitivity in healthy people.  So paradoxically enough, a little dose of cocoa-rich dark chocolate can help with blood sugar management.

A recent Australian study showed that eating chocolate high in healthy antioxidants reduced the blood pressure-raising effects of exercise on overweight individuals. So a little dose of dark chocolate can not only be a nice reward, it can also help you get more benefit from your workout.   

Also dark chocolate seems to be more filling than other forms of chocolate (the lower the percentage of cocoa, the less the health benefit).  That’s a good thing, because the more satisfied you feel, the less you are likely to crave foods loaded with fat, salt or sugar.Keep in mind, you want chocolate that’s not loaded with massive amounts of sugar and fat.  Most candy bars do not offer any benefit, just a lot of calories.

But wait – there’s even more!chocolate-with-cocoa-beans

As most women on the planet can attest, chocolate helps manage stress.  It’s almost universally recognized that stress is not good for us, but you may not have stopped to consider the effect of stress hormones floating in your bloodstream. Over time, high levels of cortisol increase the general level of inflammation in the body.  This has potentially disastrous consequences over the long term.

You only need an ounce or two to get that lovely chocolate effect we all love. So this Valentine’s Day, remember that good things can come in tiny packages!

Here are some miscellaneous – but marvelous – benefits of a few ounces of dark chocolate as a regular part of your diet:

  • It may help your skin be more resistant to sunburn.
  • It may have a calming effect on the vagus nerve (cranial nerve X), which supplies the diaphragm.  A spasmodic nerve supply to the diaphragm muscle has been implicated in uncontrollable coughing.
  • And dark chocolate may also prevent a different kind of spasm.  The flavanols in cocoa are known to bind to a small intestine protein that regulates fluid secretion.    This might not stop a raging case of diarrhea! but most of us might be willing to experiment.
  • And perhaps most important of all, it may improve your cognitive function.  Chocolate makes you smarter?  Sign me up!

Have I mentioned how delicious dark chocolate is?  No wonder we love it. 

 
 
posted in Healthy Eating, Seasonal Tips

Susan’s Winter Soup

Squash and Bean  Soup

Serves 4

  •  1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Bean-Soup-And-Parsley1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1yellow squash, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 16o can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp prepared pesto

Heat oil over medium heat, sauté onion for about five minutes; add both squash and garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.

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posted in Healthy Eating, Seasonal Tips

Poached Pears

Here’s a simple, fool-proof way to make a lovely, light dessert.  It’s totally simple, and will please the pickiest eater.

  • 4 firm but ripe pears*poachedpear
  • 3 – 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 – 3″ piece of peeled fresh ginger
  • whole cinnamon stick
  • whole vanilla bean pod
  • 3 – 4 TB. honey (optional)

Peel** the pears, leaving the stems intact.  Set them on their base in a pan, add water to cover and the spices.  If you’re using honey, dilute it in some hot water and then add it.  Bring to a slow simmer or very low boil, and cook gently for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool in the liquid, and serve room temperature or chilled.

You can reduce the liquid to a syrup and pour it over the pears, or use it in other recipes – it is totally delicious!

Another idea is to “plump” dried cranberries in the warm liquid and serve with the pears.  A few whole walnuts are another nice garnish.  Other possibilities for garnishes include a dusting of nutmeg, or a dollop of very lightly sweetened creamy yoghurt.

*Firmer pears, like the Bosc and Seckel varieties are ideal.  Bartlett’s will work, but tend to get mushy.  They still taste wonderful, but aren’t as pretty on the plate!

**You do want to peel the pears for this recipe, but remember that pear skin provides fiber and a wealth of phenolic phytonutrients that are anti-oxidant and anti-diabetic, among other benefits!

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posted in Healthy Eating

Baked Apple Compote

I don’t know why I start looking for quick desserts in the winter.  It is after all, the season of long-slow cooking.  Maybe it’s just that the early darkness makes me yearn for something satisfying, quickly!  This is not only fast, it’s easy, delicious, low-fat, no added sugar, easy to make for one or a crowd, and doesn’t require any special ingredients.  What is this miracle?

Baked Apple Compote– a simple, yummy crowd pleaser

  • 1-2 organic* Granny Smith apples, choppedBaked-apple-stuffed-with-nuts
  • 1-2 tbsp. dried cranberries (basically a generous pinch)
  • 1-2 tbsp. raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger (grate 1-2tsp, fresh or dried)
  • A tiny pinch of nutmeg
  • Juice of ½ small orange (enough to coat the apples & distribute the spices)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Place chopped apples in a large bowl; add dried cranberries, raisins and almonds.  Dust with cinnamon, grated ginger and nutmeg and toss with oranges juice, adding any pulp bits as well.

Grease a baking dish with coconut oil.  Place apple mixture into dish and bake at 350o oven for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy as-is or add creamy yoghurt.

For a larger group, allow 1 large or 2 small apples per person and scale up the rest of the ingredients.

*If you can get organic apples, please do!  Here’s the Dirty Dozen Guide to the produce that carries the highest (and the lowest) pesticide load

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Curried Pumpkin Soup

One of the very first Health Tips I ever sent out was called Pumpkin: Not Just for Pie!  If you don’t load it up with cream, pumpkin is a low calorie food, with tons of Vitamin A (good for your eyes) and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. These minerals can play a role in your ability to stay hydrated, among other benefits. Like all members of the squash family, it’s actually a fruit! The seeds are also delicious, and super-nutritious.

So here’s what I’m making for Thanksgiving supper: Curried Pumpkin Soup.

Pumpkin cream soup with pumpkin seeds

  • 2 medium onions (or 1 onion and a few shallots)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cumin*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  1. Finely chop onions.
  2. Mince garlic and ginger. It’s easiest to put the garlic through a press, and use a grater or microplane for the ginger. Or use garlic and ginger paste if you’re in a hurry.
  3. Heat a heavy sauté pan over fairly low heat.  Add enough olive oil (or coconut oil, if you like the flavor) to really coat the bottom of your pan:  about 1 – 2 tablespoons.  Add brown mustard seeds.  Let them “pop”.  Add the onion, let it sauté a few minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and let that cook a bit.
  4. Add cumin, coriander and cardamom. *Or just use a curry powder you like; I use a combination of mustard seeds, cumin and curry powder.
  5. Now you can open 2 big cans of pumpkin and toss that it.  You want at least 3 cups.  Trader Joes has organic pumpkin; just make sure you don’t use pumpkin pie filling!  Now add about 3 cups of water, 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, and 1 can of full-fat coconut milk (also available at Trader Joes).

If you want to make this ahead of time, just cool completely and refrigerate.  When you re-heat it, you can top it with a little creamy yoghurt and some cilantro, if you like.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

Facts about Sugar

 

Enjoy this infographic created by Ellie Koning for TotalHealth

Read the full article here.

 

 

posted in Healthy Eating

A brief history of sugar…

The central part of the tongue is covered in taste buds that detect sweetness.  In nature, foods that are sweet are generally safe to eat – so we are naturally programmed to like it!Happy-Ugandan-Children-Eating

The Greeks and Romans had only honey as a sweetener.  Sugarcane originates in Southeast Asia, where it was chewed raw to extract the flavor.  Travelling Buddhist monks carried it to China and to India, where it was first crystallized about 350AD.  Then it made its way to the Middle East via the Moslems.  The Crusaders brought it back to Europe, and by the 14th and 15th centuries, it was commanding extraordinary prices.

The rise of tea and cocoa drinking in England pushed demand even further; by the time of the American Revolution, sugar was the most valuable trade good in the European world.

French, British, Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Caribbean and South America were devoted to producing sugar.  But the crop has two dark sides.  One, it exhausts the nutrients in the land used to grow it, leaving deforested land and depleted soil.  The impact on the Brazilian rainforest  is a major ecological concern.

Truck-Loaded-With-SugarcaneEven worse, sugar cultivation is extremely labor intensive, so it became one of the primary drivers of the slave trade from Africa.  Conditions on the sugar plantations were brutal, and those who survived the horrors of the infamous Middle Passage were literally worked to death.  Even now, the production of sugar is based on poverty-level wages and terrible working conditions.

There are other sugar sources in production these days: beets and dates are among the leaders.  High fructose corn syrup was developed in the late 1950s.  It is very sweet and extremely cheap to produce so it has progressively replaced more expensive sources in industrialized food production.

The science isn’t clear on whether the human body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup in the same way as other sugar sources, but it has certainly led to high calorie content in many foods (see the list below) and has played a destructive part in the enormous surge in obesity over the last 30 years.  Check your ingredients!

Many products use sugar in some form to enhance flavor cheaply, even when it’s not part of the traditional recipe.  Here are some not-so-sweet surprises:

Peanut butter

Pasta sauce

Salad dressings

Mayonnaise

French fries

Applesauce

So it’s smart to check the ingredients on products you buy.  When you eat a piece of chocolate, you know it’s candy – and it’s a wonderful treat you should enjoy!

posted in Healthy Eating

Kohlrabi Salad

Cooling salads are perfect for the kind of weather we’ve been having, but salads don’t always have to rely on a base of greens. Here’s a fun salad based on a slightly unusual but very tasty “tuber” – a change of pace from the old standby potato salad!

Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables I have often looked at – and passed right on by. Once it showed up in my CSA share, though, I was stuck!  I had to find out more. Turns out it’s not a tuber, or even really a root vegetable – but it’s definitely edible! More than that, it’s quite tasty and very refreshing!

The purple and green varieties are interchangeable.  Just cut off all the branches, and peel off the skin with a sharp knife.

Kohlrabi Salad

bigstock-kohlrabi-growing-on-vegetable--35465660

You will need:

  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1/2 sweet non-mushy apple (unpeeled)
  • 1 peeled carrot
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Asian red chili sauce (optional)
  • 2-3 sprigs cilantro, minced fine
  • salt to taste
  1. Cut the peeled kohlrabi into matchstick pieces.  This is much easier if you have a mandoline.  You can also shred it on the large-holed side of a box grater.
  2. Using the same method as above, matchstick (or shred) the apple and carrot, add to bowl.
  3. Add sesame oil, rice vinegar, red chili sauce, cilantro, and salt to taste.
  4. Toss together.
  5. Chill before serving.

Variations:

  • Add very finely sliced or minced red pepper for more color
  • Try ume vinegar instead of rice vinegar
  • Marinate a pressed garlic clove in the oil for 24 hours before making the salad (you can add the garlic or discard it)

Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, kohlrabi is a good source of thiamine, folate, magnesium and phosphorous.  It’s high in fiber, and contains Vitamins C & B6, potassium, copper and manganese.   In a hurry?  Just shred it and dress it with ume vinegar – a quick, cooling addition to your summer repertoire.

posted in Healthy Eating

Kale Chips

Did you hear about Dave Letterman saying, “Hats off to kale chips”? Kind of astounding, right? but great! So here’s how you make them for yourself – cheap, easy, and pretty fun.

Bed of ornamental cabbage, or kale, focus on white leaves

Let’s face it, kale is not everybody’s go-to vegetable.

But it is surprisingly versatile, and can be surprisingly tasty.  It also holds up well to a few days in the refrigerator. Another plus, for those of us who like to garden past tomato season, is that it’s pretty easy to grow. That’s why you’ll see so many ornamental varieties, like the lacy white and purple versions on the top.

The ruffled edge variety is the most common in the markets, but you’ll see what’s often called “Tuscan kale” as well.  Italian cooking uses kale in some classic soups, and many kale recipes use parmesan or goat cheese as an extra enrichment. Whether you use the ruffled or Tuscan variety for your chips, wash the leaves thoroughly & cut out the stems.  I like to roll the washed leaves in a kitchen towel to get them really dry – it helps the oil adhere to the leaves.
Wooden dish of roasted kale chips on a colorful table clothTear the dried kale into bitesize (about 2”) pieces, and toss them with a very light coating of olive oil and a good dose of freshly ground sea salt or kosher salt.  Spread them out onto baking sheets in a single layer.  Bake at 300 degrees about 15 to 20 minutes, moving them around on the sheets a few times as they cook.  You may need to adjust time and temperature for your oven; persevere!

posted in Healthy Eating

Breakfast

Your mama was right: you need to eat breakfast!

Here’s why:

  • Breakfast provides you with the energy and nutrients that you need to get moving into your day – regardless of what you have on the calendar.
  • Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Eating breakfast helps you maintain an adequate blood sugar level; this will prevent any cravings for a sweet snack, or a mid-morning slump in energy.
  • People who skip breakfast generally don’t end the day having gotten the full complement of vitamins and minerals they need.

So what’s for breakfast?

Here are some quick and easy ideas:

  • If you like eggs, you can make an omelet much faster than you think.  Use raw veggies you cut the night before, or leftovers.  A 2 egg omelet cooks quickly, and you can roll the veggies up in it with a wide spatula almost like a burrito.
  • If you like the idea of a burrito, remember it doesn’t have to be based on rice and beans; try  baby spinach, sliced tomatoes and goat cheese, or roast eggplant and hummus.
  • Make a breakfast smoothie.  There are lots of recipes out there, and here’s a useful tip: put your ingredients in the blender jar the night and store it in the refrigerator overnight.  Then just add whatever liquid you like in the morning.  This is great if you’re using frozen fruit.
  • Oatmeal – a great standby – does not have to be cooked every morning.  Cook a big batch, store it in 2 or 3 small containers, and heat it up in the morning.  Different fruit and nut combinations add flavor and variety.
  • If you are really pressed, grab an apple and a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese.  This will get you through a few hours – but plan on an early lunch!
  • We’re conditioned to certain types of foods for breakfast, but your body really doesn’t care where it’s getting the nutrients from.  There’s no reason you can’t eat dinner leftovers for breakfast, if you like.  The meal just needs to have some kind of protein, and enough carbohydrate and good fat to sustain you.  Have a great day!
posted in Healthy Eating

Spring Detox

It’s finally spring… & it’s time to shake off the sludge! Here are some ideas to help you move on from winter’s guilty pleasures towards a lighter, healthier being.  For this month:

Ease up on (or avoid!) Clogging Foods:

Fast food – tends to be high in fat & sugar

Products that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup – this includes most sodas & many tea-based drinks

Red Meats – give your system lighter proteins for a while – chicken, fish, soy, legumes, nuts

Cakes, cookies, pies & candy – high in calories & low in nutrient, alas…

Caffeine – maybe what you need is less caffeine & more sleep!

Junk food – potato chips are easy to eat, but the salt & fat content is incredibly high

Alcohol – some of your “winter weight” may be from the second glass of wine!

Lighten up with these Cleansing Foods:

Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage

Garlic – try it roasted for a milder taste

Fruits – Fresh, frozen, dried – all have benefits & give us the sweetness we crave

Lemons & other citrus – can reduce the amount of salt you use on vegetables – & help us de-toxify

Deep leafy greens – Spinach, kale, collard & beet greens, chard, parsley

Clean proteins – organic chicken, organic eggs & dairy, small fish, soybeans, unsalted nuts

Water – the best liquid refreshment on the planet!

posted in Healthy Eating, Seasonal Tips