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Friday, March 30, 2012

A great marinade for a vegetarian wrap


Marinades can add such wonderful flavoring to meals. They can be very complicated with many ingredients or they can be simple to assemble. Depending on what you are looking for in flavor, both are worthy to have in your entourage of possibilities. For a weeknight, I generally go for simple. Typically I make the marinade the night before the dinner I am preparing, or first thing that morning so the food has time to absorb the flavors.

We had a delicious Hot Provencale Vegetarian Wrap last week that required a simple marinade. The marinade recipe was as follows:

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence

As you can see it is very simple and can be used to marinate a broad variety of vegetables. For this recipe we used 1/2 eggplant, 2 yellow squash, 1 zucchini and 1 fennel bulb.The recipe serves 6 and each serving is 321 calories.

The marinade made the vegetables tasty and moist. The overall recipe makes delicious wraps which take advantage of the spring vegetables that are available and plentiful. A definite repeat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cooking Class: Marinating

I was roaming around the internet looking for some great marinades when I came across this great "101" on the principals of marinating from Cooking Light. I thought is was very helpful and easy to understand regarding the basics of marinades. There is even a video on the subject which I felt was worth the time to watch it. Always good to get a "brush up" on any cooking method.

I like marinades because they are generally easy to do and are made for prepping ahead of time which saves time at dinnertime when you are making your meal. It is a healthy and low calorie way to add flavor to any food. They are truly great with any food, including the expected meats as well as with fruits and vegetables. I don't do marinades as much in the fall and winter but come spring I am ready to grill again and my desire for marinades reappears. I will be sharing a number of recipes which include marinating in the months ahead. Get ready for some fun grilling!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Salad- Mixed Greens with Pears and Raspberries


I love Spring! It makes you feel energized and excited for everything that is new. All the Spring vegetables are beautiful to behold. I even feel healthier!

With the Espresso-Braised Beef & Mashed Sweet Potato Crockpot meal my daughter fixed the other day, we added a salad. Instead of the usual plain tossed green salad, we went for a mixed green salad with fruit. It was yummy. It had a variety of greens- spinach, Boston lettuce and curly endive. Then ripe pear (2 Cups) and raspberries (1 Cup). It was visually appealing and happily colorful. And it was simple to assemble. It serves 6 and has 86 calories per serving.

The dressing was the perfect complement to the salad. A light and airy flavoring, well suited for a Spring salad. It was so good I plan on using it for many of my simple green salads this time of year. The recipe for the dressing is as follows:

3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salmon over Warm Lentil, Apple & Walnut Salad-an Awkward Recipe


Sometimes you try recipes and they just aren't very easy to execute. I think it is important to share the occasional flop along with all the great recipes I have found. I came across a recipe last week that I thought sounded delicious and with a quick cursory review, did not look too difficult to do-Salmon over Warm Lentil, Apple & Walnut Salad. In actually doing it, though, I found it to be very "awkward" to follow. Some of the steps didn't make much sense and were hard to do. For instance, it calls for cooking the onion whole and then later on in the recipe it calls for you to cut up the steaming onion...really?!? Making the lentil puree also seemed to be extra work for little benefit since the puree comes out an ugly, unappetizing grey color. So, I do not recommend this recipe and it will not be a repeat for us. The search will continue for a similar recipe that works!

Oh well, you win some and then...you lose some.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Update on Healing

It is amazing to me how it is the unexpected challenges that can really slow you down. With my knee surgery it has been the thrombophebitis that has caused me so much discomfort, pain and slowed my progress down. In order for my knee to heal, I need to move it, exercise it and use it. For the blood clot and inflamed veins I need to not irritate it, keep my leg above my waist and take lots of anti-inflammatories (i.e., mega-doses of Ibuprofen). A real conundrum. It took me a while to discover the balance of being up and exercising for a bit, then getting off my leg and getting it raised up high to combat the inflammation and swelling. Things are getting better, although much more slowly than I would like.

Meanwhile I continue to work on eating the right things to keep my swelling down and help the post-surgery healing process. I would much rather concentrate on this than the pain in my leg! I saw a great and helpful segment on the Today Show about the best foods to eat after you have had surgery because of their healing properties. In a nut shell, it is good to add more lean protein, an additional 20 grams, to your diet (snack on nuts or enjoy a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt...), more fruit with vitamin C (oranges, grapefruit...) and vegetables with beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes...) and also add some zinc into your diet (pumpkin seeds and dark meat).

I do think concentrating on healing and taking deliberate steps to help myself heal has helped. I am sending a message to my mind and my body that I am committed to healing. Creating and supporting a healing environment and fostering a healing attitude has got to help, right? The proof is in the healing...I am on my way!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Healthy Living Tip- Blasting Bad Blood Fats

My husband has enjoyed a subscription to Men's Health for a number of years. It is a magazine I enjoy reading as well. It is always filled with great advice and solutions to promote and inspire healthy living. This week I found an interesting tidbit regarding mangoes. New research has indicated that eating mangoes daily can reduce triglyceride levels. This is what I read:

"To squash your triglyceride levels, eat more mangoes. In a new Mexican study, people who ate about a cup of mango everyday for 30 days lowered their levels of these harmful fats by 38%. The fruit's polyphenols help reduce oxidation."

We use frozen mangoes in our smoothies, an easy way to include this fruit in our diets. Now I want to consciously add them daily for 30 days to see how this routine can help me lower my cholesterol counts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Daughter's Crockpot Recipe This Week- Chicken Cacciatore


My daughter continues to pick winners for her crockpot dinners. This week it was a Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. This recipe came from 400 Calorie Fix by Liz Vaccariello on page 289. It is an uncomplicated recipe with some chopping. We used whole grain Barilla pasta. The serving is generous- 4 ounces of chicken, 1 cup sauce and 2/3 cup pasta for 380 calories. We paired this with a salad for a perfect and tasty meal. For an online recipe I found this Yummly version for similar calories. The Chicken Cacciatore my daughter prepared was delicious and a definite repeat...might be nice to serve for guests...adding a class of Chianti, of course!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Healthy Recipes Using Orange Marmalade

With all our jars of marmalade, it is nice to find a variety of recipes that use it as part of the ingredients. Honestly, there are only so many peanut butter & jelly sandwiches you can make or pieces of bread you can toast and put marmalade on top of...it just doesn't make that much of a dent in a yearly harvest. So I have tried out a number of healthy recipes that use marmalade. Below is a list of some of our favorites:

Broiled Salmon with Marmalade-Dijon Glaze
Herb-Orange Pork Tenderloin
Sesame Shrimp Salad
Orange Beef Stir-Fry

Orange-Glazed Carrots and Onions
Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints (use marmalade as the "jelly")

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Making Healthier Home Made Marmalade


Once upon a time we lived in Kansas City where we had a greenhouse in the backyard and a nice sized terrace where we had potted citrus trees. When we moved we couldn't bear to leave our beloved trees behind. I have made marmalade from our Calamondin Orange Trees each year for decades. When we moved to a higher altitude the trees bore even more fruit...not what you would expect but they love it here. This year I harvested 2 huge bowls of little oranges and made over 40 jars of marmalade.

My recipe is very simple. Harvest the oranges. Wash them. Halve them and extract the seeds. Measure the oranges and add 3/4 cup water to every cup of oranges. Put it all in a large pot. Bring it to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture is reduced by almost a half (takes about 1/2 hour) to bring out the pectin. Leave it on the stove to cool. Then put the pot in the refrigerator overnight to allow the pectin to continue to release from the orange peel. The next day measure the orange melange. Again, for every one cup of the mixture, add 3/4 refined sugar to the pot. Bring it all to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 1 ½ hours, or until your candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees. While you are boiling the marmalade place your cleaned glass jars and tops in another big pot. Make sure all items are covered by water. Bring the water to a boil and let it continue to boil for 20 minutes. When you fill your jars, you want to make sure the jam and the jars are still as hot as possible to keep everything clean and sanitized. The heat also helps to seal the tops to the jars...I love hearing the "pop" as the jars seal! Measuring the mixture helps you to estimate the number of jars you will need. Make sure to put a label on each jar that names the contents and the month and year you canned it...important for keeping track of your annual stash. There is an informative YouTube video that also shows a slightly different version of making marmalade that might be helpful to watch if you are new to canning.


This recipe is as organic and low carbon foot print as you can get. And by adding only 3/4 cup of sugar to each cup of orange melange, it is lower in sugar than most traditional marmalade recipes (next year I want to take it a step further and see what I can do successfully to further lessen the refined sugar in the recipe and still capture the same texture and taste). It is fresh and tart tasting. We love it! And it is a great gift for friends and family when you exchange gifts or go to a party. There is nothing better, or more meaningful than homemade.

We love using our marmalade in a variety of ways. A spoonful in a serving of Greek yogurt is divine. Covering a round of brie and then heating it up in the microwave to then serve on crackers is a delicious appetizer for you and your guests. Adding a tablespoon to steamed carrots makes a yummy side dish for dinner. And then there are all the entree recipes that use marmalade...more on that in another blog. Hope this inspires others to get into canning. If so, let me know!

Friday, March 16, 2012

In Honor of a Healthy St. Patrick's Day--Irish Oatmeal Risotto

I was watching the Today Show this morning and was intrigued with an Irish meal that was being presented on the show. I was particularly intrigued with the risotto recipe...the chef makes it with steel cut oats! Innovative and very healthy. Here is the recipe-

Recipe: Irish oatmeal risotto


Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 scallions, sliced, including green
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups pin head (steel cut) oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 6 1/3 cups chicken stock, heated to simmering
  • 1/3 Desmond cheese (if not available, use Parmesan), freshly grated
Preparation
Heat a large heavy saucepan and add the oil and butter. When the butter is foaming, turn the heat to low, add the scallions, thyme and grated carrot and cook for 4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and oatmeal, and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until each ladleful is absorbed. The oatmeal should be creamy but firm to the bite. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and orange zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serving Size
Serves 4.

Looks good, doesn't it? The entire meal also included -

Fillet of beef with whiskey glaze sauce and

Sautéed garlic spinach puree

 

Can't wait to try it. Enjoy your weekend...and Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Benefits of Curry Paste


I am all about healing these days. Since we have been using curry paste more regularly in recipes, I thought I would troll the web to see what health benefits it might contain. Little did I know one of its may benefits is reducing inflammation...just what I need for healing my knee and leg...also great in heart health! Here is what I found out-


Curry paste is a flavoring agent used commonly in cooking throughout Southeast Asia made principally from galanga -- a type of ginger -- and the spice cumin. Used often to flavor lentil soups and various meats, curry paste has a number of properties that may help fortify your health for minimal calories, according to Dr. Jonny Bowden, a clinical nutrition specialist and author of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth."

General Nutrition Information

One tbsp. of curry paste contains approximately 25 calories and an assortment of vital nutrients, Bowden says. Curry paste also contains about 50 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that aids in tissue health, and about 10 percent of your daily value of vitamin C to fortify your immune system and help facilitate strong connective tissue and collagen growth .

Curry Paste and Inflammation

Curry paste's two primary ingredients can have profound effects on inflammation, according to Dr. John Berardi, a nutritional biochemist and adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin. The likely culprit is a component called curcumin that inhibits certain enzymes from converting benign chemicals into ones that encourage and allow inflammation. Berardi suggests in addition to frequent curry paste consumption that in the event of an acute inflammation, 400 to 600 mg of curry powder concentrate in capsule form can help you heal more quickly.

Curry and Cognition

According to Dr. TP Ng of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the National University of Singapore, curry consumption is linked directly to cognitive function as we age. In a survey of 1,010 Singapore residents between 60 and 93 years old, those who ate curry had significantly stronger cognitive performance than those who "rarely or never" ate curry. The results suggest that eating curry as infrequently as one time per month may be adequate to protect your cognition.

Curry Paste and Nausea

Curry paste's high concentration of ginger may be beneficial for those battling nausea, say sources at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Consumption of 1 g of ginger daily, about a teaspoon, had anti-nausea effects in both pregnant women suffering from morning sickness and also novice sailors experiencing seasickness. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes, too, that curry paste may also be beneficial to those undergoing bouts of chemotherapy.

Looks like we will be using Curry Paste even more regularly!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Daughter's Crockpot Recipe This Week- Curried Beef Short Ribs


My daughter is racking up success after success in her slow cooker attempts. This week she tackled Curried Beef Short Ribs. This is a recipe she found in Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook on page 190; when then found it online so we could share it with you. The calories per serving is 410.  We added steamed broccoli to complete the meal. The total calorie count for the meal was 435.

It was tasty. The curry was understated and not hot. It gave the meat a richness. The meat was shredded and placed on top of brown rice. There was sauce drizzled on top which added necessary moisture and a brightness. It was a fun change of pace. Repeatable but not one to put on our "favorites list...better as a change of pace.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Side Dish Recipes For Avoiding Inflammation--good for the Heart & Knee


Part of my recovery from knee surgery includes avoiding foods that promote inflammation. The interesting reality is that the same foods that can cause coronary inflammation are the exact same foods that cause or exacerbate any inflammation in your body. The more refined a food is, the worse it is for our body, especially inflammation and swelling. Worst on the list are white flour, white rice, white sugar and white potatoes. This can be a big wake up call if you are used to making simple side dishes for meals...those that most often include roasted or mashed potatoes, quick cooking white rice, or a loaf of French or Italian bread. Alternatives are not that hard to come by but it does require mindful planning...and learning about healthier choices.

This past week I have been on a mindful journey to find healthy, non-inflammatory, side dishes for my menus. They still need to conform to the over all goals of appropriate serving sizes and calories (only two of the recipes provided don't have calories already listed, I plan on figuring out the calories on those two). To my great satisfaction I have found some appealing looking recipes I look forward to testing out on my family.

The first recipe I tried was Quinoa and Cranberry Pilaf. It was delicious! The one thing I realized is that many of the whole grain recipes are really meant as whole meals for vegetarians so the quantities are much larger than you would want for a side dish. I plan on halving those recipes going forward so I don't have so many leftovers.

The other recipes I picked out to try are-
Roasted Fennel & Farro Salad
Fresh Herb & Lemon Bulgur Pilaf
Bulgur with Ginger & Orange
Quinoa with Latin Flavors
Quinoa with Mushrooms and Ginger
Quinoa Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) Pilaf
Barley Risotto with Fennel
Wild Mushroom & Barley Risotto
Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Spinach

I picked this variety of whole grain dishes so I would have side dishes that can go with any type of menu. Now to see which ones are truly tasty.... I will keep you posted!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Healthy Living Quote #18

Embrace healthy fat-


Ibanez always puts nuts, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil in his cart. "Your body needs the fat," he says. "I just like mine to be from natural sources."

Raul Ibanez, clutch-hitting left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, in Men's Health January/February 2012 Edition

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cooking Class: Stir-Frying

I continue to be amazed at the number of resources there are available to us on the internet. Cooking Light has always been a favorite of mine. As I was roaming around the other day, looking for stir-fry recipes, I came across this Cooking Class: Stir-frying area on their website. I was very impressed. It explains the health benefits of stir-frying, its origins and how quick and easy it is to prepare. It also mentions the equipment you need to prepare stir-fry and even offers a blow-by-bow video. To top it off there are recipes you can link to to make all variety of stir-fry. This is Life Made Easy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stir-Fry Shrimp and Vegetables

We made a delicious and pretty simple dinner last night. The stir-fry with the rice (note it is brown rice) is 379 calories. The pineapple adds another 74 calories. The total calorie count for the meal is 453. It is on page 103 of CookingLight Low-Fat Low-Calorie quick and easy cookbook...a long-standing favorite. I couldn't find this exact recipe on the internet but there are certainly other choices out there. What I like about this recipe is that there is a minimal amount of prep time, it is uncomplicated, it uses a bag of stir-fry frozen vegetables (always a handy thing to have available) and is not too spicy while still being flavorful. Adding fresh pineapple we find rounds out the meal nicely. I usually buy my pineapple several days before the meal so it has time to continue to ripen. The pineapple last night was sweet and juicy. Another hit for the family!

If you would like to have this particular stir-fry recipe, let me know and I will post it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Avoid Over Grazing At A Buffet

I am about to go on "Spring Vacation" where I will be in situations where there will be food buffets. A friend forwarded this list of "Dos and Don'ts" on to me. Buffets, cocktail parties and any grazing situation I find myself in is always difficult-- especially on vacation. It is good to be reminded of ways to pre-plan how you approach the buffet and therefore how to avoid the downward spiral.

Tired of rolling home after an all-you-can-eat buffet? Use our tips to keep your waistline in check when you visit a buffet or salad bar.

DON’T: Skip all your meals and arrive famished.
DO: Eat well-balanced small meals before hitting the buffet.
Studies show that when you skip meals, you tend to overeat at your next meal. It’s best to eat your regularly scheduled small, balanced meals and arrive hungry but not out-of-control famished.

DON’T: Pile your plate with the first food your eyes land on.
DO: Take a stroll around the buffet to examine all of your choices.
Oftentimes, we start by eating the first thing we see but realize later that the “good stuff” is hidden at the other end of the buffet. Take the time to check everything out before you make your decisions.

DON’T: Treat the buffet like it’s your last meal.
DO: Savor every bite.
If you’re shoving down food at light speed, you won’t be able to taste it, let alone enjoy it. Choose your favorite foods then sit down and take the time to relish every bite.

DON’T: Think a salad is your best choice.
DO: Keep your options open.
We do encourage eating plenty of veggies, but sometimes salads can be deceiving. If you add high-fat ingredients like cheese, creamy dressings, bacon bits or fried chicken you can end up with over 1,000 calories! Perhaps there’s a piece of grilled fish or chicken with a side of sauteed vegetables that may has fewer calories and is just as healthy as a salad.

DON’T: Assume foods labeled as “vegetarian” are healthy.
DO: Ask questions.
Oftentimes, we assume that the food is healthy because of its title (i.e. vegetarian egg rolls). A meatless dish can still be fried and filled with high-calorie goodies. To be certain, ask about the ingredients and cooking method. If you can’t get an answer, then it’s best to skip it.

DON’T: Overdose on sauces.
DO: Measure them out.
Many of the calories in meat, fish, chicken and other dishes tend to come from heavy sauces. They may not look creamy, but many are made with loads of butter and oil. Instead of skipping the dish altogether, either ask for very little sauce or drain off most of the sauce before you eat it. If you can measure out a sauce (like gravy on turkey) then opt for 1 to 2 tablespoons.

DON’T: Guzzle liquid calories.
DO: Opt for low-calorie beverages.
The buffet table is full of potential calories. There’s no need to fill up on juice, regular soda or other high-calorie beverages. Water, seltzer or freshly brewed iced tea are all good lower-calorie choices.

DON’T: Go nutty over dessert.
DO: Taste a few yummy options
Who doesn’t love dessert? But there’s no need to take full servings of 5 different kinds. Instead, use my 2 tablespoon rule—take 2 tablespoons of 2 or 3 desserts that you must have. Sometimes a little taste is all you need.

TELL ME: How do you maneuver your way through a buffet?

Knee Surgery Update


It has been a long 5 days since my surgery. I think my knee is progressing nicely even though I continue to feel tremendous pressure on my knee cap. I go see the doctor for the first time after my surgery today. I am looking forward to what she has to say...and getting to see my knee for the first time.

I have not been able to bathe (per doctor instructions) since last Wednesday nor have I touched my bandaging. I have been eager to follow all the rules in the hopes of healing faster and getting back into the swing of things as quickly as possible. I am REALLY ready for a shower, though! And REALLY tired of this stiff bandaging!

Since I have been pretty immobile I have not been out of control with my eating. The usual snacking has not occurred. But since I have not been exercising, it will be interesting to see how my weight has fared. Have I stayed the same or have I gained any weight due to inactivity? I start rehab tomorrow so that should help me start revving up my activity level.

I have avoided feeling too sorry for myself which has helped me avoid over eating. I have continued to design our menus according to the usual parameters. I am feeling proud of myself for "sticking to it" under these "feeling sorry for myself" circumstances. Now to hear what the doctor says...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Healthy Living Quote #17

Pick Your Organic-


All organics are not created equal. "If I'm going to eat the peel, I'll buy organic...otherwise, I don't see the point."

Raul Ibanez, clutch-hitting left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, in Men's Health January/February 2012 Edition

An Environmental Working Group study confirms the theory; it found that fruits eaten unpeeled tend to have higher pesticide levels.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vanilla Bean Shortbread


I have found a dynamite recipe for shortbread. Most shortbread is packed full of butter and therefore high in saturated fat. This shortbread uses half the butter and replaces the other half with canola oil which is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat. And to make it that much more wonderful, each serving is only 101 calories! You can find it in the Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook on page 278 or go online using the link I have provided above.

This shortbread has the same flaky texture and lightness you look for in any good shortbread. The vanilla bean flavor adds a new dimension. I have never scraped out the seeds of a vanilla bean before. I was amazed at how small and plentiful they were. They provide a richness to the shortbread, and an aroma that is very appealing. They have been a hit with everyone I have shared them with. A definite repeat!