Wednesday, October 3, 2012

End of the Summer Seasonal Vegetables

I know I sound like a broken recoded where my friends and clients are concerned when it comes to me saying “eat seasonally and locally.” There are so many reasons why I say this all the time. Ayurvedic principals are certainly one of them, but more importantly is that they are healthier.

And when it comes to end of the season vegetables, the supermarkets are a great place to go, but the farmers markets are an even better choice. Rows and rows of beautiful brownish-red and orangish-green tomatoes, bright yellow squash and multicolored eggplants, all transforming the local farmers market’s aisles into a warm earth toned still life painting. Besides the beauty of it all, shopping at the farmers market at the end of the summer is one of the best times to load up on vegetables to add to your diet, as they are super delicious and very cheap…I bet you like that “cheap” part. Yes, fresh whole vegetables tend to be pricy at times, and especially when you are buying organic. So being able to buy bunches of them and not break the bank is truly a great thing.
 
If fresh tasting, beautiful to look at and affordable is not enough to get you motivated to take a trip to your local farmers market, then try this on for size. Vegetables that are picked at the height of ripeness are loaded with way more nutrients that your standard supermarket variation. This is because vegetables that are picked specifically for the supermarket are typically not local and are picked before they are fully ripened. As they have not reached that peak of ripeness, they are not as mature and therefore not as nutritious. The reason they are picked before full maturity for supermarkets is so that they can make the long trip from California, Florida, Kansas (or wherever), to the big supermarket chains without spoiling so they can continue to look great many days later when you first see them in the bins. Basically, they are picked to be transportable over nutritious. Needless to say, once picked from the vine the growing process has stopped. This is another reason why when you go to your farmers market you see larger vegetables with deeper more vibrant colors, as they pick their veggies at the peak of ripeness.
 
And here is another fun fact; once a vegetable is picked from the vine it starts to go through a process called, respiration. This is a process in which the vegetable starts to break down the stored organic material (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) which leads to a loss of nutritional value.
 
So here is the easy breakdown:
Local fresh produce (from a farmers market) = more nutrient dense food in every bite.
The bigger, cheaper and nicer to look at stuff is just a bonus of shopping at a farmers market over the nutritional aspect.


Now of course you need an idea on what to do with all these veggies now that I made you buy truckloads of local seasonal produce. Personally, this time of year I am a tomato shopper and I do love making a nice oven baked tomato sauce; super sweet, oniony, loaded with garlic and thyme and with that can’t miss oven roasted flavor. I still find it amazing how something so simple can yield so much incredible flavor! Here is how to do it…

Oven Roasted Tomatoes (using grape tomatoes):
Ingredients:
  • 3 pints of Grape Tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes); cut in half
  • 1 small Onion; quartered and separated
  • 2 cloves of Garlic; made into paste (tips below recipe)
  • 4 sprigs of Thyme; left on the stem
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and coat evenly (adjust for salt and pepper to taste)
  3. Bake for 35 minutes until they are lightly browned
How to use: you can use this for a marinara sauce by adding the tomatoes to a saucepot after they are roasted and simmering them for about 15 minutes to liquefy. Or you can use one large serving spoonful (or ladle) of the tomatoes, throw them into a pan with the equivalent of one bowl of already cooked pasta and toss to coat and heat through (this is my preferred method).
Yep, it was that simple. This method will yield exactly what I have in the picture. If you are going to use this for a simple marinara sauce, then add the smallest amount of salt possible when roasting, as most of us add Parmesan cheese to our pasta, and cheese by itself is salty. Incidentally, you can use this same exact method to make tomato soup. Just roast off the tomatoes and put them in a large saucepot when they are done, add a small amount of liquid and grab that submersible blender you have that you have been dying to use to blend it into oblivion…voila, fresh tomato soup.
Garlic tip: mashing the garlic after you have chopped it makes it into a paste. This is great for oven baking as garlic tends to burn fast and this prevents that from happening. To do this, just mince your garlic and then using the flat back of your chef knife with the blade facing away from you, pull the flat blade across the cutting board. You can add a pinch of kosher salt to help pulverize the garlic into paste.
Also shown in photos is zucchini and bell peppers oven roasted. To do this, follow the same instructions but add 10 more minutes of baking time.



Monday, September 17, 2012

The Rudi’s Wrap Review

The Rudi’s Wrap Review: Tomato and Goat Cheese Quesadillas and more.

I have been spouting to everyone to eat seasonally and locally lately. So much so, that I just wrote a nice piece for Rudi’s GlutenFree Bakery where I talk about nutrition and farmers markets (SEEN HERE). Yet in the middle of my seasonal scavenger hunt to the farmers market, I found a package on my doorstep. As excited as I always am to get a package, I rip it open only to get even more excited of the contents. What can get me so excited you ask?...a wrap, that’s what!  I received three nice packages of Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery’s new wraps from my good friends at Rudi’s to take for a test run, and I couldn’t be any happier.

Yep, wraps are that exciting to me and for good reason. If you are not gluten free, then you may not understand this. If you are gluten free but have no issues with egg or soy then you may still be scratching your head why this is so exciting. So let me put it this way; no eggs and/or no soy equals a dry crumbly, non-pliable wrap. Which to be honest sort of sucks. Let’s just say, there is a lack of quality product out there that are gluten, soy and egg free that are actually good. Luckily, we have Rudi’s to the rescue to end this wrap fiasco once and for all! But will they hold up to the tests? Let’s see.
 
So what are these tests? In my mind, one of them would have to be pliability. Without this in a wrap you have a dry cracking item that couldn’t even hold up to a piece of lettuce more or less a killer breakfast burrito. And let me just say, when a wrap is crumbling in your hands and all you have left is ham and cheese in between your fingers, the fun and convenience of a wrap is seriously gone, not to mention messy as heck. So a ham, lettuce and cheese wrap with mayo it is for the first test, and I have to say, this product passed this test very easily. Onto test # 2.
Next up, we have the moisture test. We’ve all had a breakfast burrito. They are hot, stuffed to the max with egg and cheese (and whatever else) and can get quite damp due to the high moisture content of the hot eggs and melted cheese. This will turn most gluten free products into mush at this point. So how did the Rudi wrap handle my daughter Gia’s favorite handheld breakfast item with loads of hot sauce? Pliable and still dry to the touch, that how.
Loaded Breakfast Burrito
I have to say, this product certainly brought a smile to my wife and daughter’s face as they remembered the taste and texture of a good wrap, as they have not had a real one in years since going gluten free.

So there you have it, soft, pliable and tasted great. Seems a little of an incomplete review coming from this guy right?...you bet! No, I am never the one to review a product with the “norm.” Give me crackers, I make matzobrei. Give me gluten free flour mix, I make zucchini pie. So give me wraps and I make what else but, quesadillas.

Consider it another test of the product if you like, and truth be told a serious test at that. A quesadilla is loaded, folded and grilled. Not always an easy task for a gluten free product. Yet again, this product passed the test. It was really a great pleasure to make quesos with them. You really need to run out and get some. If your kids are gluten free, then this product is great for brown bagging it now that school has started.
Killer Quesadilla

USAGE: I have noticed that if used from the fridge, they can become dry and crack. I would suggest leaving them on the countertop after opening. I also suggest zapping them in the microwave for about 15 seconds before using as this seemed to have increased the pliability. When I did this there was no cracking of the wrap no matter what I used it for.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Quesadilla
Check out my last article on end of the summer veggies on Rudi’s Gluten Free BLOG (  link will be up shortly   ) to learn how to oven roast your tomatoes for the Tomato and Goat Cheese Quesadilla (as seen in the picture above). Then just add some goat cheese crumbles, get out a flat grill or a large pan and grill over a medium-low heat until the wrap starts to brown and crisp…it’s that simple.
Well, that’s a wrap!
Resources:
Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery: www.rudisglutenfree.com 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Buffalo Cauliflower Dip

I love going to a party and chowing down on chips and tortillas as much as the next person. What I don’t like is a store bought dip. Always too salty, loaded with chemicals which I can’t pronounce and so fattening you might as well add the fat directly to my a$$. I also love going out for Buffalo wings. I always ask for extra carrot and celery sticks because I love the blue cheese dressing they give you. But going out and eating the carrot sticks, celery, chips and tortillas without dip is really no fun. So on goes the little bulb in my man-brain on how to make it so I can have my dip and eat it too!

Instead of just solving the problem, I decided to take both of my favorite dipping hobbies, (chips with dip and carrots and celery with wings and blue cheese dressing) and make it into one giant party. So in my own little Dr. Frankenstein way, I decided to create Buffalo Cauliflower Dip.

Seriously, think about it. You want to dip your chip? Then this stuff is the answer. You feel like chomping on veggies but miss that Buffalo wing flavor? This stuff can do that too, and all in one dip! Party in a bowl or one stop shopping…either way, it works for me.

Since typical dips are really fattening, I opted to go the garbanzo bean route. However, as great as they are, it’s still just hummus and too one dimensional for my needs in this case. Cauliflower dips are nice too, but to me cauliflower is more of a side dish (see recent recipe) and cauliflower dips are typically loaded with sour cream and cheese and too unhealthy. The combination of the two however is surprisingly complimentary. Add some heat and some other good stuff and now you have a great all around dip.


This is a no brainer, no cooking, food processor item that is super easy and is ready the second the blades stop spinning.  Cut some extra veggies because this stuff is addictive.

Buffalo Cauliflower Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cauliflower; boiled until very soft
  • 2-15 oz cans of garbanzo beans; rinsed and drained
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper; from a jar, packed in water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Shallot or ¼ of a small onion
  • 2 tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot (or 1 if you like things less spicy)
  • ½ tbsp. kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Side Note: as great as this stuff is as a dip, it is just as awesome as a spread for sandwiches. I have actually used this as a spread for my Street Corner Indian Chicken when putting them in tortillas (see last recipe). 
Chef Notes: if you are not a fan of a raw garlic and onion taste, just sauté the shallot and garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil for about a minute or so to take the bite off.  



Monday, July 9, 2012

Street Corner Indian Chicken

NYC is an awesome place to be if you are a foodie. Every block offers a bevy of different restaurants. If restaurants aren’t your thing and you only have time for a quick bite, then street corner food is just as ample an offering as the traditional storefront. In fact, street food has soared in popularity since the introduction of the gourmet food trucks you see on TV. Today alone I walked past the cheese steak truck, Mexican/BBQ/Cajun fusion truck, the meatball truck, two yogurt trucks, a specialty coffee truck and the lobster truck. For sure, we have no shortage of killer food in NYC.

As great as these food trucks are though, never count out the little guy. The smaller street corner vendors are every bit as good as the big food trucks. Finding your favorite one is the trick. Once you do and you become a regular, they typically charge you a dollar less here, thrown in an extra falafel there and even tell you their recipe if you ask nice enough.

My personal all time favorite street corner vendor food in NYC is Indian style food. These guys are everywhere so it’s never hard to find one no matter where I am in the city on any given day. I do find though that like any restaurant, these guys are not all created equal and their food does not always taste the same; some are way better than others. One of the best ways to see who has the best food is to check out how long the line is. The good ones also sport street corner Vendy Awards, so if you see they have one, it’s a good bet you’re getting a great lunch. Chicken, lamb, falafels, veggies and rice are the standard offerings. My guy hooks me up big time…A chicken and lamb platter with extra veggies and brown rice, white sauce only (no red sauce) and no wilted salad as filler. He even throws in two falafels for free and all for 5 bucks. Huge portion and I get a recipe from him to boot!


Speaking of recipes, today we have Street Corner Indian Chicken (as I have now dubbed it). After asking my guy many times, and getting a different story each time because he is not a man who uses measurements, I had to make this one a few times to match the flavor bite for bite. I knew what was in it as he did give me a list of all the spices, I just had to adjust the amounts. I did tweak the recipe a bit after getting it exact to his version as I am a huge fan of smoke paprika, and to be honest, it really made all the difference in this recipe.

This recipe packs a wallop when it comes to flavor. I do mine on the BBQ as I like a grilled flavor over that of a flattop. I have been serving this at my house with mashed cauliflower as the side. Besides being one of my favorite things to eat, the mashed cauliflower is also healthier than the rice I would get while at work. I’ve also been serving this on soft corn tortillas with all the fixings when we have friends over (as seen in the photos).


This recipes calls for a lot of chicken because we use this for when we have company, but we also love to have extra to take our leftovers to work. If you still want to make less, you will have to drill it down on your own.
Street Corner Indian Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 18 to 20 boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 ¼ tbsp Curry Powder; I use Madras Curry Powder
  • ½ tbsp Smoke Paprika
  • ½ tbsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Chipotle Powder (or Ancho powder); both are optional as they are for extra smoke and heat
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder; or 1 tsp fresh minced Garlic
  • 1 small Onion; large rough chopped pieces
  • ¼ cup of Light Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp Lemon Juice; or about 1 good squeeze
  • ½ tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
Method: 
  1. Using a large Tupperware; rinse the chicken and place them into the Tupperware (no need to pat dry as the extra water will become part of the marinade).
  2. Throw in all ingredients, combine well and marinade overnight.
  3. Heat the outdoor grill to high. Take chicken out of marinade, let the oil drip off but do not wipe off the spices; place chicken on the grill.
  4. Cook thighs on each side until you see a nice char. As these are very thin they will cook very fast.
Street Corner Indian Chicken
(shown in photo with Buffalo Cauliflower Dip which will be debuting on this blog as the next recipe)


Marinating Side Note; there is a reason people call for certain amounts of time when marinating meats, and that is to let the marinade penetrate the meat and get you them most flavor (or to tenderize). I am calling for an overnight marinade with this recipe, however, if you want to do them the same day, 4 hours is the minimum in my opinion to get full flavor.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mashed Cauliflower

I love a great side dish. In fact, a meal isn’t at all that enjoyable or feels truly satisfying without the great pairing of main dish item to a side. I mean, what is a cheeseburger without the fries? What is chicken without the rice? What good is meatloaf without the mashed potatoes?...I think you get the point!

In my never ending endeavor to create great food, I often find myself taking the high road and health-a-fying a dish, as opposed to making it in the traditional American fattening version. It is no secret that I love food, but as a Holistic Health Counselor I also have concerns for health. With that said, make no mistake, the food that comes out of my kitchen does not taste at all like health food and in fact packs some serious flavor where you need to do a double take on the health aspect of it. Every so often though, I make a dish that is surprisingly easy to make, healthy and goes great with many different items. So today we have Mashed Cauliflower.

Did I invent mashed cauliflower? No. Did anyone ever tell me how to make it? Also no. As a matter of fact, I never even heard about it before I started to make it about four years ago. Nowadays though, you see loads of recipes for it, all with their own unique twist. Words of wisdom; next time you think you invented a dish and you see it has already been done, don’t get down on yourself. There are only so many foods in this world, so the best you can do is to create your own spin on one.

This recipe for me actually came about because I simply did not keep an eye on a boiling pot of cauliflower and it turned out quite mushy. I noticed it was somewhat like mashed potatoes and figured I could do a variation of the standard mashies with the cauliflower. While it tasted great, it was a bit too mushy, and so I decided to purposely make it again, but this time with a firmer texture. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So why is my mash so good? Well for starters, I’m big on texture and flavor with foods. I’ve seen many recipes for this since I’ve started making it that call for cooking it way longer than I do and then puréeing it in a food processor. At that point, I feel as if you have baby food and I don’t find that very enjoyable to eat. So I have always stuck with my way of breaking down the cauliflower, which is chopping it in the pot with a flat wooden spatula rather than actually mashing. I guess I should change the name of this to “chopped” cauliflower. I also don’t like boiling food into oblivion as you lose not only flavor, but nutrients as well when you do so.

This side dish can actually be eaten on its own as it is so delicious, but I have found that this version goes great with grilled chicken, grilled lamb and meatloaf. To be honest, you can use it anywhere you would use mashed potatoes. This item is always a huge hit at our house and whenever we have leftovers at a party, people are always asking to take some home.

Garlicky, oniony, spicy, this dish has layers of flavor…make a lot, you’re going to need it!


Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients:

• 2 large heads of Cauliflower; cored and florets somewhat separated
• 1 very large onion; large dice
• 4 cloves of garlic; minced
• ¼ tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes
• ½ tsp dry Oregano
• ¼ Olive Oil; not Extra Virgin as it is too heavy
• 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
• ¼ tsp Black Pepper

Method:
1. Place the 2 heads of cauliflower in pot large enough to hold them and enough water to submerge the vegetable over a high heat and boil until the cauliflower still has a little, give but is NOT mushy.
2. Save 1 cup of the cauliflower water, then drain the cauliflower into a strainer and set aside.

3. In the now empty pot add the olive oil, onions, oregano and red pepper flakes and sweat the onions over a medium-low heat until the onions are translucent; about 5 minutes.

4. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to the pot and stir until the garlic is fragrant; about 1 minute.

5. Shut the flame and add the strained cauliflower and ½ of the cup of cauliflower water back to the pot. Using a flat wooden spoon, chop up the cauliflower until you have small chopped up pieces, but not into a mushy mash. Stir it up every now and then while chopping. The dish is now done, but if it is too dry, use the remaining ½ cup of cauliflower water and stir to combine.

How to know if your mashed cauliflower is too dry: take a good look at my pictures; notice in the small bowl how the cauliflower looks very moist, but is still able to mound up on its own, just like mashed potatoes do. Also note that in the large glass bowl in the background, you only see cauliflower and not a soupy mixture floating in water. This is why I only add ½ of a cup of the cauliflower water at a time. Cauliflower will range in size when you buy it, so a little less or a little more water is required to match the consistency every time. 
Resources:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sweet Potatoes – They are not just for Thanksgiving anymore



Guest Writer and recipe creator: Rose Carbone Fleming

Intro: Like everyone else from my past, I reconnected with Rose on Facebook after many years (and before you ask, no I am not that old). And while some people are friend collectors, I actually communicate with Rose. Recently, Rose started her own blog called “The Inside Out Girl,” where she writes about recipes and things of interest to her. What I like about the stories Rose shares, is that she makes you feel like you are right there with her while she checks out local strawberries at Strawberry Hill USA or is reminiscing about a lemon poppy seed muffins in Union Square NYC. Rose has recently decided to tweak her diet to become more health conscious, and so I thought it would be really great is she could create a new healthy recipe for Food and Living. So here it is, in Rose’s words...

I had a health scare recently that made me stand up and pay closer attention to my life.  First and foremost, I looked closely at what I was eating as it was definitely not helping me live my best life.  I soon realized that simple “swaps” for the food I was eating would be a great start on making me and my family healthier people, enjoying ourselves along the way.  Let me give you an example of a swap I made just this past weekend which went over so big, I know next time to make a lot more.
My husband and I were headed to a community cookout and I was assigned the potato salad. Simple and yummy, you bet. Healthy? Hmmm…not by a long shot! The typical summer potato salad contains 358 calories and 20.5 grams of fat per one cup serving.
I wanted to not only get those numbers down, but I also wanted to create a dish that was every bit as delicious as backyard BBQ Potato Salad.  I wanted to make a dish worth eating: Yummy AND Healthy.
I dug around in my pantry and fridge and came up with a very colorful mix of ingredients with which I made Cilantro Lime Sweet Potato Salad. This cold salad was a huge hit!  It makes a great presentation, is big on flavor, is loaded with fiber and has lots of minerals and vitamins, especially A&C. Best of all, it only contains 179 calories and 3 grams of fat per cup.  So “ingredient swap” complete, new delicious dish created and a healthier family to boot. I think I’m going to like being healthy, it is downright delicious!
Cilantro Lime Sweet Potato Salad
Ingredients:
  • 2 large Sweet Potatoes; cleaned and cubed (I leave the skin on for more nutritional value).
  • 5 cups Red Bell Pepper; diced
  • ½ a small Red Onions chopped
  • ½ cup of Fresh Cilantro Leaves; chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno OR Anaheim Pepper; seeded & finely chopped (if you like the heat, keep some of the seeds)
  • 1-6oz container of plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • The juice of 2 fresh Limes
  • ½ tsp White Pepper (use fresh ground black as a substitute)
  • 1 tsp Salt
Directions
Cooking Method 1:
Fast sweet potato cooking directions / microwave (shown in recipe pics):
  1. Place the peeled and diced sweet potatoes in a microwave safe bowl with 2 tbsp of water.
  2. Cover w/ plastic wrap, poke with a couple of small holes.
  3. Microwave on high for 8 minute or until potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Remove plastic stir gently to coat with water and then completely drain the water out.
  5. Cool in fridge for 15 minutes before making salad.
Cooking Method 2:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, lime juice (add the salt and pepper at this stage if you used the fast microwave method of cooking).
  2. Place in all the veggies (including the cilantro); if you would prefer a smoother, less leafy dressing, place the yogurt, mayo, lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper in a blender and pulse a few times.
  3. Toss to mix well.
  4. Refrigerate covered for at least an hour to chill
Resources:
The Inside Out Girl: http://www.theinsideoutgirl.com/

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Broccoli Rabe and Beans

I love escarole and beans, but it’s a fall/winter dish. And while I love the fact that you can get just about any vegetable now year round, I love produce more when it is in season. Take a look the next time you are in the supermarket at “in season veggies” as opposed to “out of season veggies” which we can now get year round. The in season ones are much larger and when eaten, they taste better than their out of season counterparts (sweeter or riper tasting). In season veggies also have more nutrients, not to mention how much cheaper they are when in season. I don’t know about you, but I go through bundles of fruits and veggies a week, so cheaper is better on my wallet!

Here are some examples:
  • Cauliflower in season is 2 for $5 (and they are huge) as opposed to out of season, when they are $3.75 for just one that is small in size.
  • Corn on the cob in season are 5 for $1 or $2 dollars and gigantic. Out of season they are 4 for $5 and not nearly as sweet and half the size.
So since price, size, nutritional value and taste dictate how I buy my produce, how can I satisfy the craving for one of my favorite dishes before next October? Switch up for a similar tasting veggie is how.

OK, so escarole and broccoli rabe do not taste exactly the same, but they do share some common taste characteristics. Bitter is the taste I am actually after here, a trait that a lot of veggies share; dandelion greens and turnip greens to name two. Speaking of turnip greens let me explain a little about broccoli rabe for those who do not know about this incredible vegetable.

Broccoli rabe is actually not in the broccoli family, but instead it is related to the turnip. This explains a lot in regards to its flavor and look (the leaves look like turnip leaves). And while you do see it in the produce section of any major supermarket, it is not anywhere near as popular as regular broccoli is and not a very common American dish at all; typically more of an Italian dish. You may actually see this in stores called “rapi” instead of broccoli rabe, but trust me, it’s the same veg. I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked when I am putting it in my wagon “how do you make that?” and “how do you say the name of that vegetable?”

Aside from taste, broccoli rabe is super healthy and is loaded with calcium, folate, vitamin K and antioxidants. But enough about health, let’s talk food!

The story goes; I’m cooking and I’m out of escarole, but I want my Italian comfort food. I decided to make two separate side dishes, one being cannelloni beans and the other sautéed broccoli rabe. I dropped a piece of rabe into my beans, and just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, I found two great tastes that taste great together…seriously, this is how I started making this dish. Oh happy accident.

After that day I started to make them together and in fact, like it much better than escarole and beans as broccoli rabe is truly one of my favorite veggies.

Bitter, creamy texture, salty and spicy, this dish has it all and makes the best side dish to cut through any steak on the grill but at the same time can stand on its own as a main course.

Pour yourself an ice cold glass of dry Pinot Grigio and let’s eat!

Broccoli Rabe and Cannelloni Beans

Ingredients:
  • 2 bunches of Broccoli Rabe; stems removed and tops cut in half
  • 2 - 15 oz cans of Cannellini Beans; rinsed and drained
  • 4 cloves of Garlic; minced
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 cups of low sodium Chicken Stock; or vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt; or Kosher Salt
  • Pepper to taste; optional
Method:
  1. In a large pot, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat until garlic is fragrant; about 1 minute.
  2. Add the 2 cans of cannellini beans and using a masher (or the back of a wooden spoon), mash about 1/3 of the beans.
  3. Add the stock, salt and pepper and raise the heat to medium, place cover on pot and let beans simmer for about 4 minutes (until the beans and liquid come together a bit and thicken up.
  4. Put the broccoli rabe in the pot, stir to combine and place cover back on a simmer for 5 minutes; until the broccoli rabe is tender but still firm to the bite and bright green.
  5. Immediately uncover, shut the heat and add parmesan cheese and stir to combine; serve

Broccoli Rabe and Cannelloni Beans






























This recipe is gluten and soy free

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fruit and Cheese; it’s that simple!

First things first; where have I been? Yep, I have been away for a while from writing and recipe creation. The reason for this is I was setting up new programs for my Holistic Health business which was consuming all of my time. So now that I have my three and six month programs jam packed with new and exciting information on health and wellness and have included mineral hair analysis to my practice, I am now ready to get back to writing, cooking and being my usual opinionated food self. So on to it!

The weather is getting warmer, the yard work has begun and my “honey do” list is about two pages and counting. This is leaving me little time to spend in the kitchen for prepping veggies and simmering three hour braises, let alone finding the energy to do so. So what to do when I am hungry? Sure, I can pop a cup-of-noodles, hot pocket or one of those pre-made dinners for one in the microwave and be eating in less than three minutes. But instead of eating unhealthy, sodium filled, cholesterol ladened, belly busters of processed crap, why don’t I just eat something simple, fresh and super healthy that takes about the same amount of time.

The simple truth about food is that “simplicity is better.” People tend to go overboard at times using too many ingredients, which most of the time leads to dishes where you cannot taste the different components, or the flavors just don’t meld together in harmony. Me, I like to taste all the items in a dish or be blown away by how flavors all come together. So how simple am I talking about here for a quick fix, no fuss, I have no time to cook a meal or snack? It’s as simple as Fruit and Cheese!

No, this is not an actual recipe I am dishing out here, just an idea and some facts. The truth is that when we as American’s think about a quick fix or to eat a small portion in place of a large meal, we automatically turn to junk food. And don’t think for a second that the Power Bar or Weight Watchers snack bar you have sitting in your closet is not junk, because they most certainly are; don’t get me started on that. Real food is real food…it is that simple! In other countries, a snack is typically something local to the area, high quality and very satisfying. This is of course if they have not been Americanized. Adopting this way of life is simple and certainly healthier than a fast-food cheeseburger.

Let’s talk about cheese for a moment. There is much debate on the topic of which cheese is healthiest or even if cheese if healthy at all. Low fat, full fat, soft or hard cheese, which is healthier? Well for starters, both low fat and full fat have the same amount of vitamin D and calcium (as well as other nutrients). The low fat variety is lower in bad fats, and that of course is a good thing. The only real issue I see with low fat vs. full fat is the flavor.

So why is flavor such an issue? For starters, lack of flavor equals a lack of satisfaction. Lack of satisfaction leads to you sitting around eating triple the amount of the low fat cheese than the regular full fat cheese, which is loaded with flavor. Let’s do the simple math; eating 5 small squares of full fat cheese is clearly better than eating 15 pieces of low fat flavorless cheese. Go ahead, tell me I am not right!

Next up, we have “Franken-cheese.” You know this cheese; it comes in a vacuum sealed plastic wrapper with a shelf life of forever and can be shipped in a non-refrigerated box on Christmas. Judging from this one can see I am no fan of Cracker Barrel or Kraft. Like anything else food related in my life, it better be the best of the best. For me, straight to the cheese shop on weekends. Unlike when I was a kid, every supermarket has a gourmet section for cheese in the store now, so getting real cheese is easy. Funny thing is, that when I was a kid it was not considered gourmet when I went to the cheese shop, it was just cheese from the cheese shop. These days, even the simplest item, such as cheese, has been made into a shelf life stable, sodium packed, preservative monster to add to our already mounting health crisis in America. Nope, for me it is regular, high quality, full fat non franken-cheese.

Cheese is also loaded with lots of good things we need in our diet. Depending on the cheese, some varieties have the following; vitamins A, B12, E and K, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium (to name a few).

So how do I snack on the good stuff? I like a hard cheese (like this Piave in the picture) as they tend to pair very well with fruit and honey. The cheese is nutty and salty and it complements the sweetness of the fruit and the smooth finish with the honey.

This takes seconds to put together, is healthier than any processed junk you may have laying around your from last year’s gift basket or cheeses and is super satisfying. In fact, I will have this instead of a full meal at times and pair it with a great dry white Pinot. Cheese plate, here I come!

Piave with strawberries, pears and honey














A little heads up on lactose intolerance; some people who are lactose intolerant seem to be able to tolerate sheep’s milk cheese or goat cheese without any issue. Be careful and always read the ingredients to make sure it is 100% pure with no added ingredients.

Resources:Healthy Xpectations