Monthly Archives: June 2011

Peachy Keen Morning Smoothie

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Ah, blissful summer is here.  Full of fresh produce and beautiful mornings.  I recently got a great deal on peaches and tomatoes at local Marker Miller Orchard.  They have a section called “#2” produce. It’s like second chance, second look kinda stuff- usually it is either a bit older, bruised or unattractive in some way.  You may be wondering ‘why would you want to buy this stuff?’  Well sometimes the stuff does look gross and I would never spend my money on it. But often it is perfectly fine and I have gotten some great deals!  My whole eggplant series was because I got a whole box of perfectly good eggplant from the #2 section for just a few bucks!  Those eggplants lasted several weeks too!  Well this week I got 4 huge tomatoes for $2 and a bag of at least 12 slightly bruised but very tasty peaches for  $2!  Great sale and fresh local produce- could it get any better?  OK, so besides eating the peaches plain, here is a great idea of something to do with them:

First I start with 2 ice cubes and sliced peaches (skin and all- the skin has great nutrients and fiber!) 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Then add 1/2 cup organic Greek yogurt and about 1/4 cup organic coconut milk (I use vanilla of both of these products)

Then I grind a few tablespoons of flax seed and rolled oats in the coffee grinder and add to the mix. 

Last, blend it all together, put in a fancy glass and take a moment outside to enjoy the beautiful morning God has given you. 

What is good for you in this?

Peaches: A great source of potassium (which I just learned that you may be low in if you are on diuretics or sweat profusely!) Also a good source of beta-carotine which the body turns into vitamin A which is great for the eyes, helping to prevent cataracts.  Other good eye nutrients in peaches are lycopene and lutein which not only benefit the eyes but also the heart. Peaches are also of course a good source of fiber and vitamin C. 

Greek Yogurt:  Yes, yes this may seem like a health fad sweeping the nation, but Greek yogurt really is good for you.  Especially if you are a low meat eater and need to be sure you are getting enough protein. Greek Yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt with absolutely no fat along with lower sugar, sodium and carbs. It is a bit tart but with fruit and/or granola added, it is good. 

Coconut Milk: Personally I think Soy milk has too good of a reputation. For one thing most of our country’s soy is genetically modified- 2nd non organic livestock is usually fed large amounts of soy and corn and soy is in most snack foods and mayonnaise-  so I think we are getting plenty of it without having to drink it too. “So Delicious” brand coconut milk is organic and non-GMO.  Coconuts provide good nutrients such as medium chain fatty acids- a good fat that we use easily as energy instead of storing it.  So Delicious coconut milk has added nutrients such as vitamin B12 (something vegans and vegetarians often lack) and is a good source of Calcium. 

Flaxseed: A great source of omega 3’s, it is an anti-inflammatory, protects bone health, can lower cholesterol and can protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. 2 tablespoons gives you about 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  It does give the smoothie a bit of a texture, but it doesn’t bother me.

Rolled Oats– I added rolled oats for the same reason I added flaxseed. It has good nutrients and health benefits including protein and fiber.  

Spinach Blueberry Salad

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July is almost here. It’s officially Blueberry season.

Here is a yummy lunch to enjoy this July.

Start with a bed of organic Baby Spinach then add:

Raw Walnuts

Raw Sunflower Seeds

Blueberries

Balsamic Vinegar and choice of healthy Oil (olive, sunflower etc..)

Try it with multiple varieties of fruit, seeds and greens!

 

 

 

What’s Good for you in this?  

Spinach–  I could go on forever about it’s benefits but in short it fights cancer, keeps eyes, arteries, and bones healthy, and lowers blood pressure.  Eat up! 

Blueberries– An easy super-fruit! They are super high in cancer and disease fighting antioxidants and are good for: lowering cholesterol, helping fight urinary tract infections, keep eyes healthy, prevent memory loss, and high in vitamin C and fiber!  Plus they are delicious. You can pick your own at Hartland Orchard for only $3 a pint!

Walnuts– The higher content of omega 3 fat (a good fat, essential for body) found in walnuts makes them good for preventing heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and nervous system disorders. They are especially good for people who do not eat fish- as fish are also a good source of omega 3’s.  

Sunflower seeds- contains many essential nutrients including vitamin E, iron, magnesium, omega 6  (an essential fat).  Sunflower seeds help reduce/ protect from inflammation, colon cancer and heart disease. 

My Favorite Lunch

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The idea was sparked about 5 years ago while having dinner with our family friends who are vegetarian.  One of the many side dishes our host prepared for us was a tomato, cucumber, feta and mayonnaise salad. I fell in love.  I never realized how good feta cheese was and paired with the juicy cherry tomatoes and crisp cucumber- it was a match made in heaven.   I began making this dish for myself and still enojy eating it in the summer in the heat of the harvest. However it has also morphed into an addition recipe- tomato-feta tuna salad.   I came up with this one day when we were out of green olives (what I grew up putting in my tuna salad).  Here is what the recipe consists of today:

1 can tuna (in water is my personal preference)

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1-3 Tablespoons Hellman’s Mayonaise

1-2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Mix all items together. Enjoy with or without crackers- it is delicious either way!

You can also add cucumber chunks and basil leaves. 🙂 

Spicy White Bean Dip

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I‘m always interested in tasty plant based ways to get more protein in our diet.  I’ve been making hummus just about every week for a month. I was interested in trying a bean dip. Then I was given two ginormous Cooking Light Annual recipe books (Thank you Kelly!). I found a recipe called “White Bean Dip,” originally featured in their June 2004 issue.  I followed their recipe fairly closely and was satisfied with the outcome. It gets spicier as it gets older, so keep that in mind when adding garlic and spices. 

Soak about 1 cup dry Cannellini beans overnight

Cook beans in a pot of water- bring to a boil and skim foam off the top (this gets rid of stinky issued sometimes associated with beans)  then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40-60 minutes until beans are soft.

Allow beans and cool slightly

Sauté or roast 4-6 cloves of garlic

Add garlic to beans and process in food processor

Add several dashes (to your own taste) of cayenne chili powder and curry… or whatever spices you think would be good. The recipe called for coriander which I do not own so I made my best guess as to what else would work.

Add 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (I also secretly added a bit of kale) This is a good way to get non-parsley/kale lovers to eat it It is so good for you! I munch on raw sprigs of parsley  after lunch- fresh breath and tasty! – You may want to try that yourself after eating this dip depending on how much garlic you put in! 🙂

You may have to add liquid to the mix to make it wet enough for a dip- I added some water, lemon juice, cider vinegar and sunflower seed oil until I got the consistency I wanted.  Remember you can always add more, so do a little at a time.

Serve with veggie sticks and /or crackers

Today I am using:

but you could always get adventurous and make my wheat and seed crackers :

What is good for you in this?

Beans: low in fat, high in fiber and protein. When cooking dry beans, always pour out water used to soak, rinse then cover with fresh water in a pot. Bring water to a boil for 10 minutes- scrape off foam that rises to the surface, then reduce heat and simmer until tender.  

Garlic: High in vitamin C, antiviral, anti-fungal. Eating garlic regularly can prevent stomach, colon and prostate cancers as well as prevent stomach ulcers. Amazing heart helper- reducing cholesterol and triglycerides and helping to prevent heart disease and prevent heart attacks.  When cooking with garlic always sit it then allow it to rest 10 minutes before using. This allows the powerful antioxidant allicin found in garlic to form.  Allowing it to rest also ensures that the allicin will not be diminished when cooked (up to 15 min of heat). {source- whfoods.com}

Parsley: High in vitamin C and K along with potassium, iron and folate this herb packs a powerful punch against cancer and bad breath.  The compound myristicin found in parsley has been found to inhibit tumors in animals, it has properties that neutralize carcinogens in the body.  The oil apiol found in parsley  is helpful in relieving menstrual symptoms of pain, bloating and cramps. {100 Best Health Foods}

* side note- marinating meat in a marinate containing parsley and garlic will greatly help to reduce the carcinogen affects of cooking meat over high heats (ie, grilling)


Curry, cayenne pepper, whole grains and seeds all have excellent health benefits as well. So eat up and enjoy! 





Amazing Pizza

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 My mom came for church and lunch this Sunday. For lunch we decided to make individual pizzas because it would be quick, easy and we could all have what we wanted.  I had been dreaming about making this pizza for that last 24 hours, since I had gone grocery shopping and bought Kalmata olives, feta cheese and fresh mozzarella.  The entire time we were assembling the ingredients and pizza I could not stop saying how excited I was about the pizza I was making. I’m sure I was driving my mother crazy, thankfully she loves me and can tolerate my love for food.  The pizza above is mine.  For this one I started with a slice of Arnold’s 100 calorie whole wheat sandwich thins and topped it with: homemade pizza sauce (just thinned tomato paste, sprinkle of brown sugar and herbs), fresh parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, sauteed baby portabella mushrooms, orange pepper, fresh garlic, and fresh basil. It was absolutly delicious! I had just read this article by some famous chef in a magazine about making good pizza and how you should’t overload it with toppings… well I’m not sure I agree. I love toppings and sauces and this hit the spot. Delicious!  My husband was not quite as adventurous. Pesto, feta, parmesean and basil-tomato chunks with fresh basil on top. Still quite tasty.

Mom was adventurous like me. That must be where I get my adventurous spirit from. 🙂

Having just a handful of fresh ingredients on hand can add up to numerous different combinations of meals. I’ve made 3 meals with almost all the same ingredients this week and every one has been totally different.

Quick and Easy Pasta Dinner

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I had an awesome memorial day full of friends and food.  First I met up with two friends from college, we caught up and shopped all morning. Then we got lunch at Bertucci’s. I’d never been- it is very good. We shared a Margherita pizza which is tomato, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. It comes with amazing rolls with dipping oil and italian salad.  Scrumptious! Then I went shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and of course Wegman’s. I had never shopped Trader Joe’s and am definetly adding it to my list. It was awesome! It is like an organic Aldi. Good prices, low selection, high quality foods.  Needless to say by the time I reached home after all this, It was past our usual dinner time.   On my way home I thought over what I had bought and came up with this lovely idea:

Here’s How:

Artichoke Shells (or another whole grain or veggie pasta of your choice)

Cherry tomatoes- sliced up

baby portobello mushrooms (or mushroom of choice)

fresh baby spinach leaves

fresh basil- sliced

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Wegman’s basting oil (or olive oil with seasonings such as oregano, garlic, thyme…)

Boil pasta, drain then grate cheese over top and add veggies and a little oil, mix and eat!

15 minutes and dinner is served!

What’s good for you in this?

Tomato- their big claim to fame is their lycopene.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which means it keeps you healthy and can help prevent/fight cancer.

Artichoke- The artichoke in this recipe is in the pasta. It is like a traditional veggie pasta but made with wheat and Jerusalem Artichoke. I’m not positive how much benefit you actually get from veggie, but it can’t be bad.  Artichokes are full of fiber and one of the most antioxidant rich vegetables. So I vote for eating them in any form you can get- fresh is always best though! 🙂

Mushrooms– I happened to have baby portabella (apparently a.k.a crimini)  mushrooms on hand. These guys, along with other types of mushrooms, are an excellent source of potassium, selenium, niacin and riboflavin.   These along with the several other nutrients found in mushrooms are good for cell reproduction and have antioxidant properties (selenium actually helps your body make it’s own antioxidants).  Interesting fact, most of their nutrients are not diminished by coking (unlike most veggies).

Spinach– You’ve got to eat your spinach! Seriously, it is so good for you!  I just learned tonight while reading  a vegetarian cookbook that spinach contains most of the nutrients found in meat- so especially if you are cutting back your meat intake (as we have) – you’ve got to eat your spinach!  I could go on for several hundred words about what is good for you in spinach-  I’ll spare you but to sum it up: It is anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflamatory, and  helps bone strength.  Why would you not eat it?  My favorite way to eat spinach is in a salad topped with fruit and a sweet balsamic dressing. I eat it almost daily int he summer.  However, I try to sneak it in in places like this throughout the year as well.