Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Whole Wheat Wrap with Apple, Peanut Butter and Raisins



This is our standard breakfast when I am not feeling creative. It also happens to be a favorite of my husband. The fat content on this sandwich is a little higher than I would like mostly due to the peanut butter. However, peanut butter is a good source of protein and the fat is mostly the heart healthy variety so I don’t believe this is an unhealthy choice. There are reports that apple skins contain six times the antioxidants of the apple meat. If you have a habit of peeling your apples now you have a good reason to eat the skin. The raisins were included for the resveratrol in the skin of the dehydrated grapes.

Be certain that you buy a natural peanut butter than contains the peanut skins in the butter. The peanut skins contain catechins that are also found in green tea. Catechins are powerful antioxidants that are thought to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Overall this makes a quick and portable breakfast that contains protein and fiber as well as enough calories to power you through your morning. We normally have this with a big mug of green tea that we flavor with a little pomegranate juice.

Whole Wheat Wrap with Apple, Peanut Butter and Raisins
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 whole grain wrap
1 apple - scrubbed, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon of raisins

Directions:

Spread peanut butter on half the whole grain wrap. Top the peanut butter with apple sliced and raisins. This sandwich is best when eaten cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 398.42
Calories From Fat (40%) - 160.19

Total Fat - 19.52g
Saturated Fat - 3.93g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 520.36mg
Potassium - 424.75mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.54g
Fiber - 12.58g
Sugar - 23.67g
Protein - 18.73g

Comments:

This is a good breakfast if you are looking for something that your husband or kids can make on their own. The sandwich travels well if you wrap it with a piece of wax paper. You can jazz this sandwich up by sprinkling a little cinnamon on the peanut butter or by substituting dried cherries for the raisins. If you like sweet things for breakfast drizzle a little agave on the sandwich (note this will be a little messy).

My husband and I have had this breakfast sandwich many times. We think it is the amount of protein and fat that makes this sandwich so satisfying. When we have this for breakfast it seems to take an hour or so longer for us to get hungry for lunch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Zucchini Sauce and White Beans



We haven’t had a bean dish in our house in a few days so today I decided to cook a pound of great northern beans. I cook a lot of beans at my house. I never cook less than a full pound of beans. Cooked beans freeze well. Even if you have a small family, I highly recommend cooking a full pound of beans. Beans are a wonderful source of low fat protein that is packed with fiber.

This recipe is hearty and very filling. When I make this sauce I always make an entire box of whole wheat pasta so that we have lunch leftovers for the week. This recipe is packed with a variety of healthy ingredients that you can feel good about feeding your family.

The cooked tomatoes contain lycopene that are reported to protect our men from prostate cancer. Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse that the National Cancer Institute has deemed to have anticarcinogenic properties. When you are cooking with garlic be certain to slice or mince it and allow it sit for 10 minutes before you heat it to allow sufficient time for the allicin to develop. Onions are a good source of quercitin and are also reported to have anticancer properties. Many herbs (rosemary included) are packed with antioxidants and are great to include for both flavor and health reasons. The whole wheat pasta and white beans are packed with fiber and protein. The combination of rosemary and white beans is very Tuscan.


Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Zucchini Sauce and White Beans
Makes 6 large entrée sized servings

Ingredients:

1 red onion, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
28 ounces of fire roasted diced tomatoes
14 ounces of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, minced
3 cups of cooked white beans
2 zucchini, halved and cut thinly into half moons
13.25 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
6 quarts of water
1 tablespoon of kosher salt

Directions:

In a large pot sauté the minced onion and garlic in olive oil until it is tender and starting to caramelize. Add the tomatoes, kosher salt, black pepper and rosemary and cook for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.

Meanwhile bring the 6 quarts of water to a boil in another pot. When the water boils add the tablespoon of kosher salt and drop in the whole wheat penne. Stir the pasta for the first 30 seconds to make certain it doesn’t clump together as the starch releases from the surface of the pasta. Set a timer for 2 minutes less than the cooking time on the box. Al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index than pasta that is cooked completely. When you remove the pasta it should be mostly cooked, but still have a little resistance when you bite into it.

While the pasta is cooking add the cooked white beans and zucchini to the tomato sauce. You don’t want the white beans to fall apart in the sauce, or for the zucchini to get mushy in the sauce.

Drain the pasta (reserving a cup of two of the pasta cooking liquid) and add the drained pasta directly to the sauce. Stir the pasta into the sauce to evenly coat it with the sauce. If your pasta is too dry slowly add a little of the reserved cooking liquid until the dish is saucy enough for you. By cooking the pasta for a minute in the sauce you are encouraging the pasta to absorb the flavor of the sauce.

Serve this dish while still hot with a green salad as the side dish.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 483.42
Calories From Fat (9%) - 44.54

Total Fat - 5.11g
Saturated Fat - 0.52g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 681.4mg
Potassium - 1327.69mg
Total Carbohydrates - 93.07g
Fiber - 17.7g
Sugar - 10.4g
Protein - 21.6g

Comments:

This dish reminds me of the things I love about Tuscany. The combination of rosemary, white beans and tomatoes is so familiar and comforting. This pasta dish is full of the intoxicating aroma from the fresh rosemary. The nutritional information on this dish is fantastic. The fat content is low, and the fiber and protein are high given the serving size.

White Bean and Artichoke Dip



I made a pound of white beans earlier today for my tomato and white bean penne. With the remainder of the beans I decided to make a bean and artichoke dip. I make many different variations of bean dip. I use all different types of beans, and a lot of different flavorings. Garlic tends to make its way into most of my bean dips. I love the flavor or garlic and the idea that it may be helping to protect us from cancer. The flavor combinations that work with bean dips are almost endless and are limited only by your imagination. If you are going to keep your dip low fat it is important that you add a lot of flavor with spices and seasonings.

White Bean and Artichoke Dip
Makes 8 – ½ cup servings

Ingredients:

4 cups of cooked white beans, well drained
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers
14 ounce can of artichokes, well drained and chopped fine

Directions:

Add white beans, limes, chili powder, garlic, pepper and hot crushed peppers to the food processor and puree. Add the finely chopped artichokes to the bean dip and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I serve this with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks. It is also good on crackers or toast.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 182.21
Calories From Fat (3%) - 4.6

Total Fat - 0.56g
Saturated Fat - 0.12g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 292.58mg
Potassium - 802.03mg
Total Carbohydrates - 35.73g
Fiber - 9.65g
Sugar - 0.72g
Protein - 11.48g

Comments:

This bean dip has a lot of flavor and texture. Lime is the most predominant flavor followed closely by the chili powder and hot crushed peppers. I like the textural variation this dip gets from the minced artichokes. This is good as a dip or a sandwich spread if you are looking for something to hold the fillings into a sandwich.

I love that one half cup of this dip has more then 9 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein for under 200 calories. One of the reasons I like beans and bean dips so much is that they are such a great source of protein and fiber for so few calories.

Green Salad with Bulgur and Dukkah



Salads are a mainstay of our diet. We eat them everyday, but salads can sometimes be boring. This salad is anything but your usual green salad. The bulgur is an interesting addition, but the Middle Eastern dukkah takes the salad over the top. This may be my new favorite green salad. I hope my husband likes it as much as I do.

Green Salad with Bulgur and Dukkah
Serves 1

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon of sherry vinegar
kosher salt, to taste (numbers assume ¼ teaspoon)
black pepper, to taste
4 cups of mesclun greens, torn into bite sized pieces
6 grape tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 inches of cucumber, halved and cut into thin half moons
4 tablespoons of cold cooked bulgur
½ tablespoon of dukkah, for garnish

Directions:

Combine the dressing ingredients (olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper) in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, except the dukkah. Toss to thoroughly combine the ingredients. You want the bulgur to be evenly distributed and to lightly coat the leaves.

Put the dressing salad into a bowl and sprinkle with dukkah and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 183.22
Calories From Fat (46%) - 84.83

Total Fat - 9.82g
Saturated Fat - 1.28g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 504.1mg
Potassium - 752.05mg
Total Carbohydrates - 21.13g
Fiber - 7.42g
Sugar - 1.13g
Protein - 5.79g

Comments:

I love salads, but unless you change them frequently they can be the least interesting part of the meal. Since salads are good to include in a meal, I am always looking for ways to make my salads a little unusual. The cooked bulgur adds protein, texture and color. The addition of bulgur is unusual enough to take this otherwise typical green salad to a new level. About a month ago I made some dukkah for bread and pasta topping. I thought why not add the dukkah to the salad. It turns out that dukkah is a fantastic salad topping. I don’t know if this is normally what they do with dukkah, but it is my favorite way to use it so far. The dukkah adds healthy fat and crunchy texture that I like. It also adds a subtle Middle Eastern note to the salad. If you are looking for a different salad from your usual give this one a try.

Banana and Wild Blueberry Smoothie



Smoothies are a very common breakfast at our house during the summer. I tend to make our smoothies a little differently each day. Today we had a banana and wild blueberry smoothie. The bananas were included for kidney health and potassium. Wild blueberries are very high in antioxidants so I tend to keep a bag in my freezer at all times. Freshly ground flaxseeds are a good source of omega 3’s and reported ability to fight cancer. Brewers yeast is a good source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The oatmeal was included to add a little body and extra fiber to the smoothie. Cinnamon was included for its ability to assist the body in processing sugar, which is naturally present in the fruit I included.

Overall we liked this smoothie and thought it tasted mostly like bananas with cinnamon and blueberry notes in the background.

Banana and Wild Blueberry Smoothie
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 bananas, peeled
2 cups of frozen wild blueberries, unsweetened
2 cups of filtered water
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of brewers yeast
1/3 cup of old fashioned oatmeal

Directions:

Place everything in the blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately in a chilled glass.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 314.94
Calories From Fat (14%) - 42.69

Total Fat - 4.84g
Saturated Fat - 0.6g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 12.72mg
Potassium - 481.01mg
Total Carbohydrates - 64.61g
Fiber - 7.84g
Sugar - 14.52g
Protein - 6.39g

Comments:

My husband thinks this should be called banana blue because it tastes like a banana smooth, but it is blue. I agree that the banana flavor is the most prominent. However, I thought the cinnamon and blueberry flavors were also identifiable. The brewers yeast was not strong enough to taste. Next time I will increase the brewers yeast by 50% to see if the flavor stays hidden in the background. The oatmeal added body and fiber to the dish but was not detectable. The flaxseeds also disappeared into the smoothie. This is good smoothie to fuel your morning when you need breakfast in a hurry.

Nutritional Info updated 07.05.09

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Asian Stir Fry with Black Bean Sauce and Cashews



This dish came together based on what we picked up from our organic CSA this morning. Bok choy is part of the cruciferous vegetable family and is thought to fight cancer. Some studies indicate that shitake mushrooms also exhibit cancer fighting abilities in addition to a great deal of flavor. Onions, garlic and ginger all contain high levels of antioxidants and are thought to fight cancer. Snow peas were included for crunch. The black bean and garlic sauce was included purely for flavor. Cashews were included for healthy fat and texture and color. If I had had a red or orange bell pepper I would have added that to the dish for color, flavor and beta-carotene.

The combination of flavors and textures in this dish is good. You could turn this into four servings if you add 2 cups of cooked brown rice or noodles to the base of stir-fried vegetables. I wanted to keep the nutritional content of the meal high and that is why I did not include brown rice or noodles.

Asian Stir Fry with Black Bean Sauce and Cashews
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of canola oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 head of bok choy, sliced
2 cups of snow peas
¼ pound of fresh shitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 inch of ginger, grated
2 tablespoons of black bean and garlic sauce (jarred sauce on the Asian aisle of the store)
4 tablespoons of cashews

Directions:

Sauté onion in canola oil over high heat for two minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except cashews) and cook for approximately 5 minutes until vegetables are soft. Plate stir fried vegetables and top with cashews. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 345.51
Calories From Fat (43%) - 149.89

Total Fat - 17.39g
Saturated Fat - 2.3g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1405.83mg
Potassium - 1588.09mg
Total Carbohydrates - 37.72g
Fiber - 11.53g
Sugar - 13.11g
Protein - 15.56g

Comments:

The calorie count on this dish is very low considering the large quantity of food it made. If you want to reduce the fat you can easily eliminate the canola oil and use a little water to stir fry the vegetables. I had not initially planned on adding the cashews or I may not have omitted the oil. The fiber count, grams of protein and potassium in this dish are also quite good.

This dish comes together very quickly. I had everything prepped to go into the hot pan in about 5 minutes. The total cooking time was about 7 or 8 minutes. I love a dinner that I can pull together in less than 15 minutes from mostly fresh ingredients.

If you are unfamiliar with black bean sauce it is a wonderful sauce that is savory, salty and has a lot of umami. I learned to love black bean sauce in San Francisco and have been buying it ever since. If I decide to figure out how to make black bean sauce I will post it on the blog.

Trail Mix: Dry Roasted Edamame, Blueberries and Raw Pumpkin Seeds



Do you ever make your own trail mix? This is something that I do regularly for my husband to snack on at work, or to carry with us if we know we are going to be away from home for hours.

Each of the components in this mix is added for disease prevention, specifically cancer. The pumpkin seeds are a good source of selenium which is why they are included. The dried blueberries are very high in antioxidants. The dry roasted edamame is included for protein as well as the reported ability soy has to fight cancer.

The Kirkland brand of dried blueberries have a little more sugar than I would like, but the moisture content the fruit adds keeps the mix from being too dry. If your health food store sells dried sour cherries or wild blueberries that aren’t sweetened, that would be an excellent substitution. Overall, the mix is a reasonable balance of protein, carbs and fat as it is listed.

Trail Mix: Dry Roasted Edamame, Blueberries and Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of dry roasted edamame
1 tablespoon of dried blueberries (Kirkland Brand)
1 tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Combine and package.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 136.01
Calories From Fat (37%) - 50.79

Total Fat - 5.95g
Saturated Fat - 1g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 78.43mg
Potassium - 69.58mg
Total Carbohydrates - 12.35g
Fiber - 4.71g
Sugar - 5.83g
Protein - 9.3g

Comments:

This makes a nice trail mix that is fairly low in calories and fat. I like to make my own snack mixes so that I have control over the specific ingredients. I try to add only items that I want us to eat. If you look the ingredients on some of the commercially available trail mixes they frequently include too much sugar, or salt and the organic mixes are ridiculously priced. Try making your own trail mix, it is easy, stores well and is much cheaper than buying it premade.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cantaloupe and Lime Juice



Do you open the refrigerator and stare inside and wait for the food to tell you what it wants to become? Well, I do that all the time. Sometimes things jump into my mind immediately and other times it is a struggle to come up with ideas. Today the cantaloupe wanted to be used somehow. I couldn’t decide if the cantaloupe was going to become sorbet or juice and in the end the juice won mostly due to the fact that it was much quicker.

This juice is light, refreshing and sweet. It tastes mostly of the cantaloupe with a little lime in the background. I like that the juice contains a lot of potassium and vitamin A. This juice would make a nice substitute for your morning citrus juice if you were looking for a change of pace.

If you wanted to add a little complexity to the juice you could make an agave ginger syrup and use that in place of the plain agave. Alternately you could add a few pieces of finely minced crystallized ginger to the blender instead of the agave.

Cantaloupe and Lime Juice
Makes 2 servings – approximately 12 ounces each

Ingredients:

1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of amber agave

Directions:

Place everything in the blender and puree until completely smooth. Serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 111.03
Calories From Fat (5%) - 5.12

Total Fat - 0.61g
Saturated Fat - 0.15g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 46.3mg
Potassium - 784.43mg
Total Carbohydrates - 27.76g
Fiber - 4.12g
Sugar - 22.53g
Protein - 2.61g

Comments:

This is a nice simple and quick fruit juice. The flavor of this recipe is predominantly cantaloupe with lime being a subtle background note. If you are a fan of melon this is a different way to serve the fruit. I really like having a juice option that contains 4 grams of fiber in a serving.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Broccoli Bisque



This soup is a follow up on the blended soup I made yesterday. After reading part of “Eating for Health” yesterday I plan to experiment with many more blended soups this year.

My cooking tends to be low in fat. This broccoli soup, like the asparagus soup yesterday, is higher in fat than most of my recipes. There is a richness from the nuts that makes this soup very satisfying and higher in fat. Additionally, the fat in the nuts makes it easier for the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. You can cut down on the total fat in the soup by reducing the raw cashews in the soup, but it will affect the texture and mouth feel of the final product.

By pureeing the broccoli while still frozen the nutrition present in the vegetable is not destroyed by heat. Many books and articles have indicated that lightly cooked or raw broccoli is more nutritious than cooked broccoli. Since I am very focused on minimizing disease (particularly cancer), I plan to eat my soup cold but it is also good hot. Also, I included two cloves of raw garlic for the cancer protection in the batch of soup I made. You may want to start with one clove of garlic and taste the soup to see if you want to add the second clove.

Broccoli Bisque
Makes 2 large entrée size portions (approximately 4 cups each)

Ingredients:

½ cup raw cashews
3 cups of water
1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled (depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
6 cups of frozen broccoli florets

Directions:

Put everything except the broccoli in the blender and puree until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the broccoli one cup at a time and puree until smooth. Continue until the broccoli has been thoroughly incorporated. The soup should be completely smooth when you are finished. I made this soup in a Vitamix blender. If you are using a lower power blender you may need to defrost the broccoli before adding it to the blender. This soup can be served hot or cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 258.52
Calories From Fat (38%) - 98.6

Total Fat - 11.8g
Saturated Fat - 2.06g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1066.52mg
Potassium - 1169.54mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.79g
Fiber - 14.99g
Sugar - 7.75g
Protein - 17.71g

Comments:

When the weather is hot pureed soups are quick to make and eat. Gazpacho has always been a favorite at our house. This year I am going to be experimenting with additional pureed soups that can be served hot or cold. I like that this soup has as its base a healthy cruciferous vegetable that is reported to help the body fight cancer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cold Asparagus Bisque



I started reading the most recent book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman today “Eat for Health”. The item that struck me as being the most profound thus far is the concept of how proper chewing is necessary to get all the nutrition from food. The doctor goes on to explain that few people chew their food sufficiently.

In this book Dr. Fuhrman introduced the concept of “blended salads” which is exactly what it sounds like, raw vegetables pureed in the blender. The idea behind blended salads is that the blender does the work for you so that all the nutrition is available to the body. This concept led me to think of what I had in the house that would be good in the blender and this soup is what I made for dinner tonight.

I like that this soup is rich and creamy, but the richness doesn’t come from an unhealthy fat. Raw cashews are something I use frequently when I am trying to achieve a “dairy like” richness. The raw garlic was included for flavor, but also for its cancer fighting potential.

Cold Asparagus Bisque
Makes 2 main dish servings of about 3 cups each

Ingredients:

2 pounds of raw asparagus, cut into large chunks
½ cup of raw cashews
2 cups of filtered water
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, raw (depending on how much you like garlic)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place everything in the blender and puree until uniformly smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, pour into chilled bowls and top with kosher salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 227.56
Calories From Fat (40%) - 91.25

Total Fat - 10.99g
Saturated Fat - 2.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 160.72mg
Potassium - 1092.47mg
Total Carbohydrates - 26.02g
Fiber - 10.48g
Sugar - 9.96g
Protein - 14.54g

Comments:

This soup is creamy and yet light. The raw asparagus flavor is a little “grassy” but I in what I would call a good way. I found the soup to be refreshing and perfect for a warm summer night.

Immunonutrition



If you follow this link it takes you to an interesting article on “Immunonutrition” which was published by the National Cancer Institute. The article addresses the role of nutrition in the formation of cancer and tumor behavior.

Some of the foods that are discussed are mushrooms, spirulina (blue green algae), flavonoids from soy and cocoa, tea, apple skin, cucumber and others. I find it curious that this topic is being discussed at the National Cancer Institute and yet doctors generally won’t acknowledge a strong causal link.

I interpret this article as another reason to continue to focus on the foods we consume in our house. I believe that if your body is better nourished it is better able to fight disease.

I read another article a while back that talked about how the typical American is malnourished even though they are also overweight. That fact appears crazy until you realize that the standard American diet is full of processed food that has been stripped of most of its nutrition. This may also explain why we as a country spend so much on health care.

Sweet Tofu, Cinnamon, Walnut and Apricot Spread


(pictured: Yoga Bread with Sweet Tofu, Cinnamon, Walnut and Apricot Spread)

Do you like cinnamon toast, or raisin bread? If so, you should give this spread a try. Earlier this week I picked up a loaf of whole wheat bread that includes cranberries and sunflower seeds. The somewhat sweet bread makes a great toast with peanut butter, but I wanted another option for a topping. Today I made a sweet tofu spread that I particularly like. It is very quick and easy to make in the food processor. Try any nut or fruit you like in the spread. The variations of this spread are numerous.

Sweet Tofu, Cinnamon, Walnut and Apricot Spread
Makes 26 – 1 tablespoon servings

Ingredients:

7 ounces of extra firm tofu, drained and squeezed of water
½ cup of walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons of amber agave
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of vanilla
6 dried apricots, roughly chopped

Directions:

Place tofu, walnuts, agave, cinnamon and vanilla in the food processor and puree until completely smooth. Add the apricots and pulse to combine. You can leave the apricots somewhat chunky or puree until they are smooth. I like my spread to have a little texture from the apricots so I left mine apricots chunky.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 27.44
Calories From Fat (59%) - 16.09

Total Fat - 1.92g
Saturated Fat - 0.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1.17mg
Potassium - 42.12mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.91g
Fiber - 0.49g
Sugar - 1.03g
Protein - 1.17g

Comments:

Sometimes I have fruit and/or nut bread on hand that I want to use for breakfast. This spread is great on toast if you want something that is a little sweet that is not bad for you. This reminds me of cinnamon toast, only a healthy version. The serving size on this spread is smaller than my savory spreads because otherwise I find it to be a little too sweet. If you like fruit, nut and cinnamon I think you will like this spread.

Garlic and Cancer Prevention



If you don’t enjoy the flavor of garlic, it might be wise to try to learn to at least tolerate the flavor if you are concerned about cancer prevention.

I was reading the website of the National Cancer Institute and came across this fascinating article about garlic and cancer prevention. The National Cancer Institute (part of the National Institute of Health) recognizes garlic as one of several foods with anticancer properties (see item 7 in the link above).

Garlic is reported to be a natural blood thinner. If you are about to undergo surgery or take a blood thinner check with your doctor before increasing your consumption of garlic.

Now given my love of Italian food we already consume significant amounts of garlic. However, I will now be adding garlic to my recipes whenever I think it will work.

Tofu, Roasted Red Pepper and Cashew Spread



I am always looking for new flavor combinations to try in my tofu and cashew spread. This version is mildly flavored and not particularly hot. I tend to like food that is fierier than this, but sometimes even I need a change.

The roasted red pepper and paprika add a nice amount of vitamin C to the spread. The tofu provides protein, and the cashews add heart healthy fat and body to the spread.

Tofu, Roasted Red Pepper and Cashew Spread
Makes 13 – 2 tablespoon servings

Ingredients:

7 ounces of extra firm tofu, drained and squeezed of water
½ cup of raw cashews
1 roasted red pepper, drained
5 sun dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1 garlic clove
¼ teaspoon of cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Process all the ingredients in a food processor until it is uniformly smooth and creamy. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 38.64
Calories From Fat (55%) - 21.3

Total Fat - 2.55g
Saturated Fat - 0.37g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 90.35mg
Potassium - 86.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.41g
Fiber - 0.47g
Sugar - 0.59g
Protein - 2.38g

Comments:

This is a mild but flavorful tofu spread that makes a great sandwich spread (to hold your vegetables into your sandwich). It is also good on a bagel for breakfast. I also use it like hummus and dip raw vegetables into it. If you are a bit fan of garlic, you can add another clove to this spread. It would add flavor as well as natural antibiotics

Spicy Tomato Vegetable Juice



Question: What do you do when you get a nasty summer cold with a sore throat and blocked sinuses?

Answer: I suggest a spicy tomato based vegetable juice with raw onion and garlic.

I have been fighting a cold for a few days and late last night the cold won. This morning my throat was sore and my sinuses were blocked. In the old days I would have made a pot of chicken soup. Since chicken soup is out I turn to vegetable juice, which is much quicker and easier to make when you feel lousy.

Today I made a tomato based vegetable juice with raw onion and garlic to open my sinuses. Within 5 minutes of my first sip my nasal passages were open and I could breathe through my nose. Being able to breathe normally makes a cold so much easier to tolerate. I keep this juice in the refrigerator and will sip on a small glass every few hours so that I can keep my sinuses open.

This juice is best for people that enjoy big flavors and bit of heat. There is a lot of “bite” from the raw onion and garlic that comes through in the flavor. The hot crushed peppers add heat to the juice. You can tame the assertiveness by adding less of the onion and garlic, but that is the part that I believe opens the sinuses. However, if you don’t have a cold and just want to make your own tomato juice I would reduce the onion and garlic by half to start.

Garlic has been used for hundreds of years as a natural antibiotic. Since I am not a scientist I cannot prove that it does any good, but I do know that I feel better when I consume garlic at the first notion of a cold.

Spicy Tomato Vegetable Juice
Makes 4 – 6 ounce servings

Ingredients:

14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 carrot, scrubbed and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, scrubbed and roughly chopped
¼ of a red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
½ teaspoon of dulse flakes
¼ teaspoon of celery seed
½ cup of filtered water

Directions:

Toss everything in the blender and process until it is completely smooth. Store in a sealed jar until ready to drink. This juice is best served very cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 33.19
Calories From Fat (6%) - 2.14

Total Fat - 0.26g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 175.69mg
Potassium - 312.46mg
Total Carbohydrates - 7.69g
Fiber - 1.99g
Sugar - 3.64g
Protein - 1.24g

Comments:

I would describe this as tomato juice with the volume turned up. The juice is spicy from the raw onion, garlic and hot crushed peppers. It has a nice thick texture, which is still drinkable. I make juices like this when I have a cold and want to open my sinuses without medication. The raw onion and garlic are great for sinus relief.

This juice is also good with jarred roasted red peppers and smoked paprika. There are many variations of cold vegetables juices that you can make in the blender. Once you get started making them you may not buy the canned varieties any longer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sweet Potato Chips flavored with Lime and Chipotle Chili Powder



After my success with the crunchy salad topping I thought chips should be the next thing to try. These are my first attempt at both baking and dehydrating chips. Back in my unhealthy days I thought nothing of frying chips. Those days are long behind us now.

I decided to prepare the chips two ways (baked in a low oven and dehydrated) since I don’t think many people have a dehydrator. I bought a cheap Salton dehydrator years ago when I wanted to try to make my own salmon jerky. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well this $25 item works. The only down side is that it is large and therefore takes up a lot of room when it is being stored (which is most of the time). If you are interesting in picking up an inexpensive dehydrator, I bought mine at Target.

These chips don’t use any oil because I wanted to see what happened without the fat. I have baked chips before but always used a little olive oil spray because I thought it was necessary for flavor. With the inclusion of lime juice and chipotle chili powder I can safely say these chips have plenty of flavor and I don’t miss the oil.

These chips have exceeded my expectations. At the moment this is my favorite snack recipe. I will be making many different flavors of these going forward.

Sweet Potato Chips flavored with Lime and Chipotle Chili Powder
Makes 4 smallish servings

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato, sliced as thinly as possible on a mandolin
juice of one lime
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of chipotle chili powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees or get out your dehydrator. If baking line three or four half sheet pans with silpat or parchment and set aside until needed.

Slice the sweet potato on the narrowest setting of your mandolin. Place sweet potato slices in a bowl and cover with the lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder.

If baking: place the chips in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn the over the chips and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Test the chips to see if they are uniformly crunchy. If yes, remove and cool on a rack. If no, bake for an addition 15 minutes and test again. Continue baking until the chips are crunchy.

If dehydrating: place the chips on the dehydrator rack in a single layer and allow to dry for 2 hours before checking. The amount of time required would depend on how thin you sliced the potato. Continue to dry until the chips are crisp, this will happen eventually.

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Make plenty of these chips; they will disappear quickly once your family has tasted them.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 28.91
Calories From Fat (1%) - 0.16

Total Fat - 0.02g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 252.95mg
Potassium - 114.02mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.86g
Fiber - 0.99g
Sugar - 1.42g
Protein - 0.53g

Comments:

To say that are pleased with this recipe is an understatement. I am thrilled with the taste and crunch of these very healthy chips. The chip texture is very light, almost like a crunchy flavored sweet potato air. It reminds me very much of air popped corn, but with lime and chipotle flavor. Hmmmm, I think I am feeling a popcorn experiment on the horizon. Okay, back to the baked chips.

It made no different in terms of texture whether the chips were baked or dehydrated. If I were in a hurry I would definitely bake these since it is so much faster. If someone in your family likes snack food give these chips a try. The hardest part was slicing the sweet potato on the mandolin.

We will be eating these with the spicy tofu dip when we have our green tea. Being healthy really can be much tastier than most people realize.

Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad Topping


(pictured: baked sweet potato threads cooling on a silpat lined baking sheet)

Salads are a staple in our house and we eat even more of them in the summer when the farmers' market is full of yummy local produce. I love recipes that have a mix of textures, cold, crisp, soft and crunchy. Croutons are wonderful, but they don’t add much nutrition even if they are whole wheat and baked. I was thinking of what I could add to our salad that would be crunchy and good for us, and this idea popped into my head. It worked better than I expected and will become a regular technique in my kitchen.

I used sweet potatoes today because they are so nutritious. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants which we all need more of in our diet. Since this experiment was so successful I will be using different vegetables with similar techniques to see what else works. I will add additional posts as I make different versions.

Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad Topping
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

¾ of a large sweet potato
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with parchment or a silpat.

Cut the sweet potato thinly on your mandolin fitted with the crinkle blade. Toss the sweet potato strips with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper for flavor.

Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, toss the potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet and store in an airtight container at room temperature until you need them. I used them at room temperature on my salad as a crunchy topping. Please note the sweet potatoes will become crunchier as they cool.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 62.84
Calories From Fat (32%) - 20.21

Total Fat - 2.29g
Saturated Fat - 0.32g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 172.38mg
Potassium - 169.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 10.07g
Fiber - 1.57g
Sugar - 2.04g
Protein - 0.81g

Comments:

These little crispy and crunchy sweet potato threads exceeded my expectations. I love the flavor and especially the texture they add to a salad. I can’t wait to try more versions of this technique with different vegetables and flavors. It is so nice to have a crunchy topping for a salad that isn’t a crouton, or nuts.

My husband refers to my kitchen as area 51, due to all my experiments. All I can say is area 51 is gearing up for many more crunchy veggie experiments. Hmmmmm, I wonder how turnip or beets would be as baked chips………. I see another experiment or two on the horizon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Middle Eastern Inspired Wheat Berry Salad



This salad is easy to put together and improves as it sits in the refrigerator. It makes a great cold lunch or picnic item. The great thing about using wheat berries is that they are minimally processed and therefore retain more of their nutrition.

The wheat berries and sunflower seeds retain their chewy texture, which is a nice counterpoint texturally to the softer vegetables. The sumac helps to enhance the lemon flavor and adds an additional sour note to the salad that is unusual.

If you are unfamiliar with sumac it is a common Middle Eastern spice that grows wild in both the Middle East and Italy and comes from the dark purple berries that are dried and ground. The taste of sumac is fruity and sour. Sumac can be purchased online or is found at well stocked Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t find it, add more lemon juice and zest to the recipe for a similar flavor.

This salad is very healthy with the inclusion of the garlic, onion and tomatoes, which are all reported to help protect you from cancer. A serving of this salad contains more than 15 grams of fiber, which is half of what you need for the entire day, and more than the 12 grams of fiber the average American consumes in a day.

I serve this salad as an entrée when the weather is warm and I want something refreshing for dinner. Since the entire dish has less than 400 calories and 15 grams of protein. I think it makes a great light, yet substantial dinner packed with a lot of nutrition.

Middle Eastern Inspired Wheat Berry Salad
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup of wheat berries, which will be cooked and cooled
4 cups of water to cook wheat berries
zest and juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
1 tablespoon of sumac powder
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 pound of snow peas, sliced into ¼ to ½ inch lengths
½ red onion, finely diced
½ cup of raw sunflower seeds
1 hass avocado, sliced
8 cups of lettuce
salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook wheat berries in at least four cups of water until tender. The wheat berries will take at least an hour to cook. Be certain to check them periodically to make certain the water has not evaporated. When the wheat is tender to the tooth, but still a little firm, pour the wheat berries into a colander and drain. Rinse them in cold water if you are in a hurry.

Combine the lemon zest and juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sumac. Move cooled wheat berries to a dish with a lid. Pour the dressing over the wheat berries and toss to coat evenly. Add the tomatoes, snow peas and red onion and refrigerate covered, until ready to serve.

Before serving the salad taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. To serve place two cups of lettuce on each chilled plate. Top with one quarter of the wheat berry salad and fan a quarter of the avocado on top of each serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 396.17
Calories From Fat (34%) - 135.61

Total Fat - 16g
Saturated Fat - 1.99g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 29.5mg
Potassium - 1031.35mg
Total Carbohydrates - 54.79g
Fiber - 15.34g
Sugar - 7.3g
Protein - 15.28g

Comments:

This is a good salad when you want something cold that is still substantial. The salad would make a nice lunch or light dinner. This salad would also be good with cucumber or fresh parsley. If you have any almond feta on hand that would make nice addition to the salad.

If you haven’t tried making wheat berry salads before this may have you making many variations. We enjoy the chewy texture of the wheat berries in all types of cold salads. You can use the wheat berries in place of brown rice or pasta in any cold salad.

Be careful when eating as sumac will stain your clothing. If you rinse the sumac out immediately with cold water the stain won't set.

Green Tea in "Science Daily" Today



This morning when I checked Science Daily on-line I found another article on green tea. Since I wrote a post on green tea yesterday I wanted to add the most recent information to the blog today.

If you read the article at Science Daily you will see that green tea may have the ability to reduce the incidence and/or slow the growth of prostate cancer. The article goes on to explain that more testing is necessary to confirm the results. Scientists tend to be reluctant to state definitively that things are correlated without numerous scientific studies.

Returning to the book “Anticancer”, the EGCG that is present in green tea is destroyed when the tea is fermented (turned into black tea). According the author the EGCG blocks the receptors that issue commands for the creation of new blood vessels. Given that my degrees are both in finance, I can’t explain this in a detailed technical manner. However, if you want to study this further go to these three journals: Nature, Medicinal Chemistry Reviews Online or the Journal of Nutrition for more information.

My position is that it will be years, and possibly decades before science has thoroughly studied this topic and why should we wait for the final results to get started drinking green tea everyday. I plan to continue to drink my green tea everyday, and to encourage my husband to drink it often.

Don’t forget to have a little soy when you have green tea to enhance the protective benefits of both the tea and soy. We have been eating dry roasted edamame, or spreading the spicy tofu on toast as a nutrition booster when we have our green tea.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Artichoke Sauce



When I need a quick dinner I frequently turn to salad and some type of pasta. Tonight we wanted something tomato sauce based for the prostate cancer protection. I had a little of my basic tomato sauce in the freezer and decided to add plain canned tomato sauce to extend the sauce and mellow it out a little. I was making dinner for my husband and parents tonight, and my 80-year-old mother is not very tolerant of spicy food. So, you do what to need to do to make everyone happy.

This sauce was born out of necessity one evening when I wanted artichoke and tomato sauce and didn’t have any frozen artichokes. I grabbed some marinated artichokes, gave them a quick rinse and drain and tossed them into the sauce. To my great surprise the marinated artichokes added a nice acidity that I didn’t plan, but really enjoyed. Adding the marinated artichokes has the same impact as adding capers or olives to the sauce. I now add marinated artichokes to my sauce intentionally.

Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Artichoke Sauce
Makes 7 servings (provided you have a large salad with this main dish)

Ingredients:

5 ¼ cups of basic tomato sauce
28 ounces of tomato sauce, canned
13.25 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups of marinated artichoke hearts, quartered, drained and lightly rinsed

Directions:

Combine the spicy homemade tomato sauce with canned plain tomato sauce and cook over a very low flame so that it simmers gently, for an hour. This slow cooking will reduce the sauce so that it coats the pasta as you see in the photo above.

Cook the penne pasta in 6 quarts of salted water until the pasta is al dente (about one minute less than the package indicates).

While the pasta is cooking quarter, drain and rinse the marinated artichoke hearts. Add the artichokes to the tomato sauce during the last few minutes of cooking so that the artichokes will heat through.

When the pasta is cooked toss it with the sauce and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per Serving
Calories - 302
Calories From Fat (7%) - 22.57

Total Fat - 2.59g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 813.94mg
Potassium - 733.85mg
Total Carbohydrates - 59.8g
Fiber - 11.73g
Sugar - 8.98g
Protein - 11.49g

Comments:

This pasta has a nice background of flavor from the hot peppers, olives and vegetables. I tend to like my sauce with bigger flavors but this is a great compromise if you are making dinner for people that aren’t big fans of heat. While this sauce is somewhat mild, it may still be too spicy for children.

Fortunately we have a few servings of this left over for lunch. This pasta reheats well in the microwave, like most pasta dishes. When I pack this for lunch I add lightly cooked broccoli to the dish. Combining lightly cooked broccoli and tomatoes enhances the cancer fighting abilities of both items (or at least that is what researchers that know more about this than I do claim).

Green Tea and Cancer


(pictured: a lizard from the National Aquarium that seems to be very attentive)

Green Tea and Cancer

I can remember green tea being discussed as healthy over 25 years ago when I worked in a health food store the summer before college. The details were sketchy back then, but it didn’t stop many of us from consuming the then uncommon beverage. Fast forward to 2009 and we now have more information on why we should be drinking green tea regularly.

In “Anticancer: A New Way of Life” the author, who is also a doctor and cancer survivor, strongly recommends green tea for the EGCG. According to the doctor, EGCG is “one of the most powerful nutritional molecules against the formation of new blood vessels by cancerous cells”. The doctor goes on to explain that after 2 or 3 cups of green tea that EGCG is plentiful in the body and spreads through the capillary vessels. Additionally, the doctor references a study by the “Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism at Harvard” the showed that green tea and soybeans taken in combination enhance the protective benefits of each substance compared to each being consumed separately.

Later in “Anticancer” the doctor explains that Japanese green tea is higher in ECGC than Chinese green tea. The Japanese varieties are sencha, gyokuro, and matcha. Additionally he notes that the tea should be steeped for 10 minutes and consumed within 2 hours to get the maximum benefit from the tea.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of “Anticancer” yet I highly recommend that you do. I found the book to contain a lot of scientific references, that I appreciate, while being written in a style that is easy to read. I made quite a few changes to my cooking after reading this book.

According to a lab in Montreal run by Richard Beliveau, the effects of EGCG have been documented to slow the growth of leukemia, breast, prostate, kidney, skin and mouth cancer. The scientist has also written a book on foods that fight cancer. If you are looking for more information from this scientist check out the review of his book.

I have clinical friends that are skeptical of the idea that food plays a big a role in the prevention or control of disease. However, since I like green tea and dry roasted edamame, I see no reason not to have a little tea and edamame every few hours, just in case.

Spicy Tofu, Raw Cashew and Artichoke Dip or Spread


(pictured: Spicy Tofu Spread on Toasted Sprouted Hemp Seed Bread with Broccoli Sprouts)

I consider myself a recovering cheese addict. I practically worshipped at the altar of the cheese gods. We used to buy a lot of cheese at Costco, and that was for a family of two. So you can imagine how much cheese I have consumed in my lifetime. Goat cheese and ricotta were both frequently in my refrigerator. I loved the soft spreadable texture and how the cheese would snuggle the fillings into a sandwich. This tofu spread (or dip) functions in much the same way as soft cheese. The texture is not quite as firm due to the artichokes, but I like the flavor they add, so I give up a little firm texture for the added flavor.

If you are looking for ways to increase your consumption of tofu this is a great recipe to try. Many years ago my husband told me he would eat tofu provided it didn’t taste like tofu. I have become very adept at making tofu that tastes like other things.

Consuming Dairy products is not good for anyone’s health. If you look at the saturated fat content of all cheeses I think you will be surprised. Additionally consuming dairy has been linked to an increase in cancer. Even if you aren’t vegan, replacing cheese with tofu anywhere you can is a good idea, in my opinion.

Spicy Tofu, Raw Cashew and Artichoke Dip or Spread
Makes 25 (2 tablespoon servings)

Ingredients:

14 ounce of extra firm tofu, thoroughly drained
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
10 sun dried tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place everything in your food processor and puree until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 43.39
Calories From Fat (51%) - 21.96

Total Fat - 2.63g
Saturated Fat - 0.39g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 227.15mg
Potassium - 136.39mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.89g
Fiber - 0.71g
Sugar - 0.62g
Protein - 3.02

Comments:

This soft spread is good on bread as a mayonnaise replacement to hold the ingredients into your sandwich. Today I served it on toasted sprouted hemp seed bread with broccoli sprouts on top. This recipe is also good used as a dip for raw vegetables or dolloped on top of roasted vegetables.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mexican Macaroni and "Cheese"



The weather was rainy and dreary much of the day. I wanted to make something that used a lot of vegetables and had a little heat. Spicy food brings to mind Sicilian or Mexican for me, and today I wanted something that was Mexican inspired.

This is a variation of my nacho cheese sauce that includes pasta, vegetables and beans. Both my husband and I like this sauce. It has a decided Mexican flavor that is remotely “cheesy”.

The different colored vegetables make certain that you get a variety of vitamin and minerals from this dish. Consuming beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions and turmeric have all been linked to a reduction in various cancers.

The overall nutritional values of this recipe are quite good. The calories are reasonable for the portion size, and the fat is quite low and the potassium is high. I also like that the dish includes a good amount of protein.

Mexican Macaroni and “Cheese”
Serves 5

Ingredients:

1 cup of red kidney beans, soaked or quick soaked
4 cups of water

8 ounces of whole wheat pasta
4 quarts of water
1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 zucchini, quartered length wise and sliced
1 cup of corn kernels
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated (allow to stand off the heat 10 minutes to allow allicin to develop)
14 ounce can of diced tomatoes

½ cup of nutritional yeast flakes - to add a cheeselike umami
½ cup of whole wheat or sprouted whole wheat flour
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon of cumin seed
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)

kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the soaked kidney beans in four times the amount of water until soft. I cooked my beans for 30 minutes. Your cooking time will depend partly on the age of the dried beans.

Heat 4 quarts of water in a large pot until it boils. Add the kosher salt and cook the pasta until it is al dente.

Meanwhile cook the vegetables (olive oil through tomatoes) in the olive oil until tender. Be certain to use a large pan with a lid that is big enough to hold the sauce, vegetables and pasta. I used a 14-inch skillet with 3-inch sides that has a lid.

Place the sauce ingredients in a blender (nutritional yeast through hot crushed peppers) and puree until everything is combined.

Add the sauce ingredients to the vegetables and cook until the sauce thickens and the raw flour taste cooks out. This will happen in about 5 minutes.

When the pasta has cooked drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce and vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.

Serve hot. You can add fresh chopped cilantro or parsely, if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 414.69
Calories From Fat (11%) - 44.33

Total Fat - 5.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.53g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1551.06mg
Potassium - 1374.51mg
Total Carbohydrates - 74.78g
Fiber - 12.94g
Sugar - 8.31g
Protein - 21.33g

Comments:

This is a mild sauce that is suitable for those that aren’t big fans of heat. If I were making this only for my family, I would double the hot crushed peppers and increase the ancho chili powder. The sauce is a nice combination of flavors that also has good depth of flavor from the various ingredients. I like that the dish has protein from the beans and whole grain pasta and that it includes plenty of vegetables.

This pasta reheats well in the microwave if you are looking for something to pack for lunch.

Cold Lunch Options


(Pictured: A lionfish whose photo I took at the National Aquarium this week)

Cold Lunch Options

Yesterday my friend Alexandra asked me to suggest a few recipes that her mom could take to work for lunch that didn’t need to be reheated. Since I was pulling the list together I decided to post it on the blog in case anyone else was interested. Below is a list of recipes on the blog that would fit that requirement:

1. Cold Avocado Bisque
2. Bulgur and Vegetable Salad with baby spinach and sunflower seeds
3. Smashed Chickpea and Artichoke Salad as a salad or sandwich
4. Chickpea and Nut Salad also as a sandwich or salad
5. Orange, Red Onion and Spinach Salad with Kalamata Vinaigrette
6. Asparagus Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
7. Tomato Onigiri are typically served cold in a lunch
8. Pinto Bean Dip is a great spread on a whole grain wrap with roasted vegetables and lettuce or spinach inside
9. Smoky Spanish Tortilla is also good cold
10. Cold Melon Soup with Harissa and Pinot Grigio
11. Green Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Lemon Vinaigrette
12. Cold Cucumber Soup with Raw Spinach and Lime
13. Collard Wraps with Hummus, Walnut and Carrot
14. Brown Rice Salad with Vegetables
15. Mushroom and Walnut Pate on Whole Wheat Pizzette
16. Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Garlic
17. Roasted Garlic Low Fat Hummus on Whole Grain Wrap or Pizzette with roasted vegetables
18. Potato Salad with Dill, Lemon and Dijon
19. Whole Wheat Pizzette with Marinated Artichokes and Almond Feta
20 Asparagus Bites with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Sherry Vinegar is also very good cold
21. Cardamom Kissed Muesli with a little almond milk or soy milk would make a filling lunch
22.Fat Free Hummus with Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Paprika is great on a wrap with roasted vegetables or used as a dip and eaten with vegetable crudités (carrot sticks, celery, bell pepper strips, cucumber sliced)
23. Gazpacho with Avocado
24. Millet and Raw Asparagus Salad - this is a favorite of my adorable husband
25. Strawberries stuffed with Almond Feta
26. Potato and Artichoke Salad with Parsley and Lemon
27. Bulgur Salad with Walnuts, Bell Pepper and Cucumber

I didn’t realize how may cold dishes I had included on the blog until I started writing this post. I will add a new category for cold meals to make these easier to find going forward.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cold Avocado Bisque



This soup is my variation of something we made in cooking class a few weeks ago. Avocado is a very healthy fat that I like to incorporate into our diet when I can. The soup has a very distinct Mexican flavor from the lime, ancho chili powder and hot peppers.

It is best to serve small portions of this soup since it is calorie dense. I think this soup makes a nice appetizer.

Cold Avocado Bisque
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 hass avocado
juice of two limes
¾ cup of cold water
¼ teaspoon of ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place everything in the food processor except the hot crushed peppers. Puree until completely smooth.

Serve in chilled bowls and top each serving with ¼ teaspoon of hot crushed peppers, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Be certain to tell everyone to stir the hot crushed peppers into the soup before eating. The peppers are a little hot if you get a spoonful of them.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 165.73
Calories From Fat (68%) - 113.38

Total Fat - 13.52g
Saturated Fat - 1.86g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 249.23mg
Potassium - 515.37mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.75g
Fiber - 7.88g
Sugar - 1.43g
Protein - 2.21g

Comments:

This soup has a texture that reminds me of bisque. The soup has a spicy background while being cold and creamy on the tongue. This is definitely a soup for avocado lovers. If you are a fan of avocado give this soup a try.

If you like a little texture in your soup I would add finely diced red bell pepper or cucumber. Cilantro would make a lovely garnish that would be a nice flavor combination. This soup would also be good with a little tofu sour cream on top.

Bulgur and Vegetable Salad



I love a cold grain and vegetable salad. This one combines the benefits of whole grain with added nutrition from the raw vegetables. This salad is packed with vegetables and flavor. It has a little heat from the hot crushed peppers and flavor from the lemon juice and zest. The crunch of the cold vegetables add a nice textural counterpoint to the cooked grain.

Bulgur and Vegetable Salad
Serves 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of bulgur, uncooked
4 cups of water
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
2 lemons, juice and zest
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of edamame, shelled
1 seedless cucumber, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 carrots, grated
2 tablespoons of hot crushed peppers
½ teaspoon of dulse granules
1 pound of raw asparagus, sliced fine
½ pound of sugar snap peas, sliced

Directions:

Cook bulgur in water with salt in a covered pan until water is absorbed (about 20 minutes on medium heat). Add lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil to warm bulgur. When salad has cooled, add the prepared vegetables and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 205.31
Calories From Fat (14%) - 29.71

Total Fat - 3.46g
Saturated Fat - 0.49g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 148.35mg
Potassium - 589.13mg
Total Carbohydrates - 38.44g
Fiber - 10.82g
Sugar - 5.49g
Protein - 9.15g

Comments:

This salad has a little heat from the hot crushed peppers, and plenty of flavor. It travels well, and makes a great lunch with some raw baby spinach, broccoli sprouts and sunflower seeds. I added the spinach and broccoli sprouts for the additional cancer fighting benefits.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sicilian Inspired Chickpea Sandwich Filling with Artichokes



Question: How can I use chickpeas on a sandwich that doesn’t involve hummus?

Answer: Try a smashed chickpea sandwich filling.

I love hummus, but sometimes need a change. This sandwich filling also uses chickpeas but instead of pureeing them I smashed them lightly. The purpose for smashing the chickpeas is to keep the filling from rolling out of the sandwich easily. The lime juice (acid) was added for flavor, without resorting to salt. The filling needed a little oil for flavor. I use a lot of hot crushed peppers. I love the flavor and heat the peppers add without a lot of calories. The marinated artichokes were included for both flavor and texture. The slightly firm texture of the chickpeas was a nice contrast against the softness of the artichoke hearts.

Sicilian Inspired Chickpea Sandwich Filling with Artichokes
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup of dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of hot crushed peppers
½ teaspoon of dulse granules (or substitute kosher salt to taste)
1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, drained thoroughly and roughly chopped

Directions:

Cook chickpeas and drain thoroughly. Add lime juice and olive oil to chickpeas while still hot so they absorb the flavors better. Using a potato masher, crush the beans roughly. Add the remaining ingredients to the chickpeas and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 128.17
Calories From Fat (28%) - 36.34

Total Fat - 4.16g
Saturated Fat - 0.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 227.53mg
Potassium - 287.92mg
Total Carbohydrates - 20.31g
Fiber - 5.39g
Sugar - 0.3g
Protein - 4.56g

Comments:

I served this chickpea salad on a sprouted whole grain wrap with broccoli sprouts and lamb’s quarters. The broccoli sprouts were included fro their cancer fighting potential. The lamb’s quarters was included for their high nutritional values. This filling would also make a nice topping for a green salad.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fideua Con Setas



This dish is my combination of two Spanish dishes that I love. I combined the garlic and mushroom tapas dish with fideua. If you are unfamiliar with fideua it is a Spanish pasta dish that is made in the risotto style with pasta (fideo) that is similar to angel hair but is an inch long.

I used fresh maitake mushrooms in the dish due to their reported ability to fight cancer. If you can’t find fresh maitake mushrooms they are also available dry. The smoked paprika adds not only smoky flavor but also a lot of vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant).

This dish is very smoky from the paprika. The garlic is also strong but not overpowering. The texture of the dish is soft and starchy, but the strands of pasta retain their individuality.

Fideua con setas
Broken Spaghetti (risotto style) with mushrooms
Makes 4 small portions

Ingredients:

8 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup of sherry
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, grated (allow to sit 10 minutes so that allicin will develop)
6 cups of water or veg stock (you may not use it all)
12 ounces of fresh maitake mushrooms, torn into bite size pieces
¼ cup of sliced green onions

Directions:

Toast broken pasta, smoked paprika and crushed red pepper in olive oil over medium heat until the pasta is a little brown. Add sherry, salt and garlic and stir pasta until sherry has been absorbed. Begin adding water or veg stock ½ cup at a time and stir as you would risotto. Continue to add water and stir until pasta is al dente. Then add the maitake mushrooms and cook for an additional two to three minutes. Stir onions into the dish and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 290.83
Calories From Fat (14%) - 40.13

Total Fat - 4.59g
Saturated Fat - 0.68g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 243.35mg
Potassium - 377.05mg
Total Carbohydrates - 51.93g
Fiber - 7.9g
Sugar - 2.11g
Protein - 10.55g

Comments:

If you want pasta for dinner, but want something different this is a great alternative. I have made fideua with mushrooms for a year or so now, and I love the smoked paprika and garlic in this dish. This pasta is good with salad made with sherry vinaigrette.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Product Review: Ezekiel 4:9 – Sprouted Wraps



Product Review: Ezekiel 4:9 – Sprouted Wraps

Have you seen the Ezekiel products in the freezer section of your grocery store and wondered what they were all about? Sprouted grain breads have been very popular at health food stores for a long time. I remember sprouted grains at Trader Joe’s about 10 years ago. The early versions of sprouted baked goods were edible, but not very tasty. If you haven’t tasted sprouted bread in a while, it is time to give it another chance.

The Ezekiel product is available at most major grocery stores in the freezer section. It is frozen because it contains no preservatives. The lack of chemicals is a big plus for me. I have been baking with sprouted flour very successfully for well over a year, but decided to try these wraps late last week when I was short of time. The texture is firm, but pliable. The tortillas did not break or crack when filled and rolled. The tortilla flavor did not overwhelm the filling I used (Chickpea and Nut Salad). Overall, we liked these tortillas much more than we expected.

I have been reading about the benefits or sprouted grains for a long time. According to the Ezekiel package, sprouting grains releases nutrients that are contained within for the purpose of propagation. The company further explains that the nutrients and beneficial enzymes that are released by sprouting are thought to increase the nutrition of the grain and make it easier for the body to process. The package information does coincide with other things I have read. I haven’t thoroughly researched this topic to confirm it has sound scientific basis. That research is on my list of things to do. I will post the findings of my research as soon as it is finished. For now I buy sprouted grains (regardless of the benefit, or not) because the price differential isn't substantial enough to not buy them.

The ingredient list from the package is listed as:

Organic sprouted wheat, filtered water, organic sesame seeds, organic sprouted soybeans, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted millet, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted spelt, sea salt

Nutritional Information (per tortilla) from the package:

Calories – 150
Calories from fat – 30

Total Fat – 3.5g
Saturated Fat – 0g
Trans Fat – 0g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium 140mg
Potassium – 150mg
Total Carbohydrate – 24g
Dietary Fiber – 5g
Sugars – 0g
Protein – 6g

Comments:

Both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of these wraps.
We would recommend this product if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own and want an organic sprouted whole grain wrap for a quick sandwich.

Banana, Peanut Butter, Spinach and Soy Yogurt Smoothie



Green smoothies again!

Every Sunday morning we go to the farmers market to pick up our organic goodies. Smoothies are a great breakfast when you are in a hurry.

The smoothie today is a little different from the prior smoothies due to the addition of soy yogurt. The soy yogurt is included for the probiotics, which are reported to boost the immune system. The yogurt also makes the smoothie a little thicker, and gives it a little background tang. The spinach is included for cancer fighting potential, and overall good nutrition. The banana is a great source of potassium and is good for kidney health. The peanut butter adds thickness, protein, fat and a nice flavor. The ice is included to thicken the smoothie.

Banana, Peanut Butter, Spinach and Soy Yogurt Smoothie
Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 cups of baby spinach, rinsed thoroughly
2 bananas, peeled
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
½ cup of soy yogurt
1 cup of soy milk
approximately 6 ice cubes

Directions:

Put everything in the blender and puree until smooth. Serve immediately in a chilled glass.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 326.71
Calories From Fat (32%) - 104.11

Total Fat - 12.12g
Saturated Fat - 2.26g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 194.53mg
Potassium - 1005.23mg
Total Carbohydrates - 46.66g
Fiber - 6.41g
Sugar - 24.77g
Protein - 12.77g

Comments:

Green smoothies are starting to appear more often in our house. The color is a little distracting, but the flavor is excellent. I like that it is a quick breakfast and that it is so good for us. If you haven’t tried a spinach smoothie you will be surprised at how the spinach flavor disappears behind the other ingredients.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pasta with Pesto, Wilted Spinach and Bean Balls



Yesterday we were out of the house almost all day. At 8 pm I need to make dinner fast ….. we were starving. This is what I tossed together from what we had in the house. It became a quick and very tasty dinner.

The spinach is a very healthy ingredient that is packed with nutrition and reported to fight cancer. Basil, like many herbs, is thought to promote cancer cell suicide (Anticancer, page 123). The remaining ingredients are all healthy and add flavor.

Pasta with Pesto, Wilted Spinach and Bean Balls
Serves 2

Ingredients:

8 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes after slicing so allicin can develop)
¼ cup of basil leaves
1 pound of baby spinach, chopped
8 bean and bulgur balls

Directions:

Cook pasta in 4 quarts of salted water until just done (al dente). Start testing the pasta to see if it is cooked, 2 minutes before the package directions indicate it will be done.

Puree the spinach in the food processor with a tablespoon of two of water. You want the basil to be very fine.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bean balls to the oil and cook to warm through and lightly toast all over. Add the garlic to the bean balls and quickly (about a minute) then add the spinach. Continue to cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the pureed basil and stir to mix throughout. If the sauce is dry add a ladle of pasta cooking water.

When the pasta is cooked toss it into the sauce. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 688.62
Calories From Fat (17%) - 117.37
Total Fat - 13.6g
Saturated Fat - 3.15g
Cholesterol - 11.34mg
Sodium - 570.74mg
Potassium - 1056.98mg
Total Carbohydrates - 123.19g
Fiber - 11.41g
Sugar - 6.43g
Protein - 32.26g

Comments:

For a fast dinner, this is really tasty. The nutritionals were also not too bad. A few less calories would have been good, but we were starving after being out of the house most of the day. The basil and spinach was a very tasty combination. I also liked the bean balls after a quick sauté in olive oil.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vanilla Almond “Ice Milk”



Since I started making my own almond milk at home I have been looking for different ways to incorporate it into my recipes. This recipe is very quick and easy. Vanilla is my standard flavor for desserts so that I can dress them up with different toppings.

Vanilla Almond “Ice Milk”
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3 cups of unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons of arrowroot
6 tablespoons of amber agave
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Thoroughly whisk together ¼ cup of the almond milk with the arrowroot and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 ¾ cups of almond milk and agave until the mixture starts to bubble (this will happen at approximately 185 degrees). Turn off the heat and add the arrowroot slurry and stir to combine. Add the kosher salt and vanilla extract. The milk mixture will be visibly thicker almost immediately. It will continue to thicken as it cools. I move the entire pan to an ice bath to cool it quickly. Store the cooled milk in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the dessert.

Follow the directions of your ice cream maker and use the milk as you would any dairy ice cream base.

Store the frozen dessert in a covered container in the freezer until you are ready for dessert.

Nutritional Information (per half cup serving):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 91.43
Calories From Fat (21%)- 19.46

Total Fat - 2.16g
Saturated Fat - 0.25g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 112.02mg
Potassium - 171.37mg
Total Carbohydrates - 13.48g
Fiber - 2.21g
Sugar - 5.48g
Protein - 4.09g

Comments:

This is my first attempt at almond ice milk, and I think it turned out well. I particularly like the nutritional numbers. Any dessert that is less than 100 calories is destined to be a favorite of mine.

This frozen dessert has a nice texture and a subtle vanilla flavor. The texture of this frozen dessert is very similar to ice milk. Tonight we had this with fresh strawberries, chopped walnuts and a little agave drizzled over the top.
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