EAT YOUR BROCCOLI LEAVES

BROCCOLI-LEAF2

YES YOU CAN EAT BROCCOLI LEAVES!! AS A MATTER OF FACT BROCCOLI LEAVES ARE RICHER IN BETA-CAROTENE THAN THE FLORETS, AND CONTAIN OTHER HEALTHFUL PHYTONUTRIENTS THAT AREN’T FOUND IN THE STEMS AND FLORETS!

THE BROCCOLI FLOWERS OR FLORETS ARE MOST COMMONLY CONSUMED BECAUSE THE BROCCOLI LEAVES AREN’T TYPICALLY SOLD IN STORES.  WHY!?  FARMERS ARE WASTING THIS VALUABLE LEAF!  SO YOU WILL HAVE TO GROW BROCCOLI YOURSELF TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE LEAVES.

broccoli-leaf1

TRY GROWING THEM LIKE BABY SALAD GREENS.  SPRINKLE A HANDFUL OF SEEDS INTO YOUR GARDEN AND LET THEM GROW TO BABY LEAF SIZE TO 4-6 INCHES BEFORE HARVESTING.  A PLANT PRODUCES ONE MAIN HEAD  OF BROCCOLI AS IT’S FLOWER AND OCCASIONALLY A FEW SMALLER HEADS LATER.  THEN YOU CAN HARVEST THE WHOLE PLANT!  EVEN THE STEMS CAN BE SHREDDED FOR BROCCOLI SLAW!

THE BROCCOLI LEAVES ARE SIMILAR TO COLLARD GREENS IN TASTE AND TEXTURE – WITH A SLIGHT BROCCOLI FLAVOR.  YOU CAN ADD THEM DIRECTLY TO A LEAFY FRESH SALAD (MY FAVORITE) OR SAUTE THEM IN GARLIC AND BUTTER.  MY NEXT ENDEAVOR IS TO TRY THE LEAVES AS “CHIPS” LIKE KALE CHIPS.  THE LARGER LEAVES ARE PERFECT FOR STUFFING AS YOU WOULD A CABBAGE LEAF!

BROCCOLI LEAVES ARE VERY VERSATILE:  MAIN DISH, SALAD GREEN, SIDE DISH OR SNACK – TRY THEM ALL WAYS!!

Kale-Chips

BROCCOLI LEAF CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 4 cups BROCCOLI LEAVES, rinsed and chopped if they are large
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. Add completely dried, broccoli leaves to a large mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top.
  3. Toss kale with two forks until all pieces are coated in olive oil. Start with 2 tbsp, and if it seems too dry use another tbsp olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle cayenne pepper, chili powder, and sea salt over the top and continue to toss. Repeat once or twice more, but be careful with the cayenne pepper, if you’re serving this to kids!
  5. Lay out piece by piece on an ungreased baking sheet. Make sure each piece is not touching another and has enough room to bake properly. You will need 2 large baking sheets.
  6. Sprinkle more seasonings on top if needed.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes. You can check by trying one chip and if it is very crispy they are done!
  8. For best results, enjoy immediately after removing from the oven.

OTHER GARDEN VEGETABLE LEAVES ARE EDIBLE AS WELL!  SWEET AND HOT PEPPER LEAVES CAN BE USED IN A SALAD AND THE HOT PEPPER LEAVES WILL ADD A LITTLE SPICE!

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR GARDEN!  ENJOY THE GREENS AS MUCH AS THE VEGGIES!

 

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THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF COOKING WITH YOGURT

 

YOGURT3

To avoid congealey failure and maximize delicious success, follow these tips when cooking with yogurt:

Don’ts:

  • Don’t bake with it unless it’s thinned out and don’t heat it quickly or the concentrated milk proteins will separate from the remainder of the whey, never to unite again.
  • Don’t use aluminum cook or bake ware when dealing with yogurt, the acidity reacts unpleasantly to the metal.

Do’s:

  • Do bring it to room temperature before you add it to the dish, so that the temperature shock is not too great (otherwise it might curdle and separate), and add it to the dish spoon by spoon and at the very end of cooking.
  • Do substitute yogurt for buttermilk or heavy cream, two things you might not readily have in your fridge (who has buttermilk in their fridge?) Just water it down slightly, if needed to match the consistency.
  • Do put it in your ice cream maker with some fresh fruits, it freezes fast and creamy. Plus the healthy bacteria will even survive a freezing!
  • Do marinate! This is one instance where yogurt’s clinginess is a good thing. You can use less yogurt in a traditional marinade but still get the same tenderizing and moisture and flavor-enhancing effect.

MARINADE TEMPLATE:

2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Once you have all that in the blender, you can choose your own adventure:

Option 1 Lemon-Pepper: “The Classic”
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Juice from two lemons
1 really nice squeeze of honey
Even more black pepper (about 10-15 grinds)

tandoori-shrimp

Option 2 Tandoori: “The Crowdpleaser” (from Bon Appetit)
1 cup cilantro leaves (no need to chop since it’s going in the blender)
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon garam masala (McCormick now sells this — it’s an Indian spice blend that’s kind of sweet)
1 2-inch piece ginger
juice of one lime

Option 3 Middle Eastern: “The Middle Easterner”
1/2 cup fresh oregano, stems removed
1 clove garlic
juice from one lemon
2 teaspoons cumin

Option 4 Mustard and Herb: “The Pantry Special”
½ cup Dijon mustard
leaves from a couple sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Option 5 Chutney: “The Cheater”
1/2 cup your favorite chutney (these are my favorite)
1/2 cup cilantro

Whichever direction you’ve chosen:

Give the ingredients a good whirl in the blender, then pour into a large freezer bag along with your meat — 2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs or breasts  (pounded flat between two pieces of wax paper), drumsticks, or…here’s some breaking news: SHRIMP! I’ve discovered that a good flavorful yogurt marinade is a great way to kick up the sometimes bland frozen shrimp we pick up in the Northeast. (The photo above was made with the tandoori marinade — the dipping sauce is chutney mixed with lime and…more yogurt!)

Marinate your chicken or shrimp (thawed if frozen) in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush grill grates with oil. Scrape excess marinade off chicken or shrimp. If you are making shrimp, thread them onto skewers. Grill chicken turning once, until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. The shrimp will take a little less time, about 2-3 minutes a side.

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.dinneralovestory.com/choose-your-own-adventure-yogurt-marinades/

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/yogurt

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/09/18/dos-and-donts-cooking-greek-yogurt

EASY SHRIMP PASTA

EASY SHRIMP PASTA (3)
1/2 cup light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 lb frozen shrimp
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp fresh basil
8 oz cream cheese, cut up (I used the 1/3 less fat variety)*
12 oz fettuccini, cooked and drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Pour dressing over shrimp and marinate 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook fettuccini and set aside. In a large pan, heat shrimp and marinade about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, paste and basil and heat through. Add cream cheese and stir until blended. Serve over fettuccini with Parmesan on top!

*NEXT TIME I WILL TRY 1/2 OF THE CREAM CHEESE WITH 4 OZ OF GREEK YOGURT. REMEMBER THE YOGURT MUST BE TEMPERED AND ADDED AT THE VERY END! LOOK FOR MY POST ON USING GREEK YOGURT IN COOKING AND HOW TO TEMPER IT IN THE NEAR FUTURE!

SPICED CHICKEN AND BEAN SALAD

SPICED CHICKEN AND BEAN SALAD (1)

THIS IS ANOTHER EASY AND SEMI-COOL SALAD FOR THESE HOT SUMMER NIGHTS.

2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1# chicken tenders or breasts cut into thick strips
1 cup fresh (or frozen) green beans
1 cup fresh (or frozen) yellow beans
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 avocado (I bought a “lite” variety) halved, seeded, peeled and sliced
3 oz crumbled blue cheese
Ranch dressing (I used my low fat recipe http://wp.me/p3CD01-pA)

Combine oil and spices in small mixing bowl.  Coat chicken and grill 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine beans in a microwave bowl with a few Tablespoons of water.  Microwave 4-5 minutes just until heated through.  Prepare avocado.  Serve chicken over beans with avocado, some added blue cheese and a drizzle of my low fat Ranch dressing.

I THOUGHT EDAMAME WOULD ALSO BE GREAT IN THIS SALAD  AND SOMETIMES I GRILL SOME COLORFUL VEGGIES WHILE GRILLING THE CHICKEN TO ADD SOME COLOR (SWEET PEPPERS OF VARIOUS COLORS OR EVEN SWEET POTATO FRIES).

7 BASIC NUTRITION TIPS

 

AVOID OVEREATING

nutrition tip 1

Focus on finding a balance of hunger and fullness as you eat. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not just when you are full. While I still get snide looks from my Italian relatives when I refuse second helpings and dessert at Thanksgiving, I’m not complaining about being stuffed or having heartburn afterward!

THINK BEFORE YOU EAT

Food is energy for your body. Nothing more, nothing less. Think about your food before you eat: “Why am I eating this?” “Do I really need this?” This will help you focus on eating enough to keep you moving, and choosing foods that will give you prolonged energy.

EAT NATURALLY

nutrition tip 3

Focus on things that come from the earth, not a factory. The best advice is, when shopping at the grocery store, stay along the outside walls where you find fruits, vegetables, beans and lean sources of meat. All of these occur naturally. This helps keep those processed foods and sugar-packed snacks, all of which will kill your metabolism, out of the cart.

GO ORGANIC

NUTRITION TIP 4

Grow your own when possible or try some organic foods.  If you must purchase other produce wash well to remove pesticides and other toxins.

AVOID ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

NUTRITION TIP 5

Avoid artificial sweeteners. These are most often consumed in Crystal Light, diet sodas and “sugar-free” products. Think of them as toxins, because they are! Drink plenty of water.

CONTROL PORTION SIZES

Use small coffee mugs to eat your cereal in the morning. Get rid of all the large plates and cups in your house and only eat with the smaller or children’s sizes. Eat slowly, being certain to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. Try to eat slower than the slowest eater at the table. If you go to a restaurant, split a meal with your partner, or once your portion is delivered, cut it in half and have the waiter box up half of the dish for another meal.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES TAKE TIME

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE 2

Good nutrition is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t make the mistake of trying to change everything overnight. It took your entire life to adopt your current nutrition habits, expect it to take some time to change them. After two weeks of a consistent change, you have made it a habit. Pick two or three of these tips to start. Each week review how you have done and evaluate the areas that need improvement. During this review, plan on making an additional change to your nutrition.

 

FISH BRUSCHETTA BAKE

SIMPLE 6 INGREDIENT DISH!

FISH BRUSCHETTA BAKE (3)

29 oz can diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg (about 6 oz) of your favorite stuffing mix
3 large (about 1 1/2 lbs) white fish fillets (I used tilapia)
1 tsp basil
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place tomatoes with liquid in medium bowl. Add garlic, stuffing mix and 1/4 c water; stir until stuffing is moistened. Set aside. Coat 13″ X 9″ baking dish with non-stick spray and place fish in bottom. Sprinkle with basil and cheese (I also sprinkled a touch of red pepper flakes for some zing). Top with stuffing mixture.

Bake uncovered 30-45 minutes.

It was too windy to cook on the grill outdoors so I made this as an alternate plan. It was even better since it didn’t make the house smell like fish at all!

I SERVED THIS WITH ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON DILL BUTTER (LOOK FOR THE RECIPE COMING SOON!)

TRY TO WORK FISH IN TO YOU DIET SEVERAL TIMES EACH WEEK!!

VEGETARIAN SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN CHILI

SWEET POTATO CHILI 1

Ingredients

 

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, washed and diced (peel, optional)
  • 1-2 hot peppers of your choice, diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed tomato soup
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  •  4 teaspoons ground cumin
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (see Note)
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation

Place first 10 ingredients in slow cooker and mix well.  Cook on LOW 5 hours.  Add all spices except for cilantro and cook 1 additional hour.  Adding spices toward the end of slow cooking helps retain the spice’s flavor and vigor.

Serve with cilantro and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream – less fat and more protein) if desired.

*I might also serve over cooked brown rice, with tortilla chips or my quesadillas (Recipe coming soon!)

 

  • Note: Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers. Ground chipotle chile pepper can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets or online at penzeys.com.  I used a sprinkle of red pepper flakes instead.

Nutrition

Per serving: 307 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g unsat); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 14 g fiber; 494 mg sodium; 947 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (213% daily value), Vitamin C (48% dv), Iron (32% dv), Folate (29% dv), Potassium (27% dv), Calcium (16% dv).

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat

5 EVERYDAY INGREDIENT SWAPS FOR HEALTHIER EATING

SWAP - QUINOA

Quinoa for Rice

Replace a carbohydrate-rich staple like rice with nuttier quinoa seeds to give you more flavor and nutrients. One cup contains eight grams of protein and plenty of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Serve with vegetables and even more protein for a full meal.

 

SWAP - GREEK YOGURT

Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream

Greek yogurt has one-fifth of the fat and a similar texture and taste and can be used as a substitute in baking, dips, baked potatoes, tacos, and chili.

 

SWAP - AVODADO

Avocados for Mayo

For sandwiches and salads like egg salad and tuna salad, avoid the artery-clogging fat of mayo, and mash half of an avocado to use as a spread instead. On top of the extra flavor, you’ll get a shot of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, and other nutrients.

 

SWAP - OATMEAL

Oatmeal for Bread Crumbs

For recipes that call for bread crumbs, you can use vitamin B–rich oats instead. Use them for dredging chicken and salmon, yielding satisfyingly crunchy results, or add them to meatball and meat loaf mixes as a binding agent.

 

SWAP - CHIA

Chia Seeds for Eggs

Combine one tablespoon of ground chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, and let the mixture sit for five minutes, until it turns goopy. Use it to replace eggs in baking, and enjoy the extra fiber, antioxidants, other minerals, and good-for-you fatty acids.  This trick is used by strict vegans.

HERE ARE TWO SITES TO PURCHASE CHIA SEEDS:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Nutiva-Organic-Chia-Seed-12-oz/26968734

http://www.amazon.com/HealthWorks-Chia-Seeds-2-Pounds/dp/B000WV0RW8

Chia seeds may be available in local supermarkets too – I’ll let you know.  One word of warning I noted while researching on the internet is to avoid chia seeds from china – stick to USA seeds like those from Bob’s Red Mill.  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bob-s-Red-Mill-Chia-Seed-16-oz-Pack-of-4/17339994

Adapted from:  http://www.takepart.com/photos/healthy-kitchen-swaps/chia-seeds-for-eggs?cmpid=foodinc-fb

MEXICAN TUNA MELT ON CIABATTA – JUST IN TIME FOR LENT

mexican Tuna Melt 007 (570x428) (3)
3 (5oz) cans chunk light tuna drained
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c sunflower kernels
1/2 c finely chopped red onion
1 tsp lime juice
1 hot pepper finely chopped and seeded (I’ve used Anaheim and Poblano)
1/4 c mayonnaise (I mixed in a little plain yogurt to cut the fat)
1 c shredded pepper jack cheese

Fold together. Serve toasted on half a Ciabatta Roll or Whole Grain Roll with sliced tomato and a big salad!

GOOD FOR ASH WEDNESDAY AND ALL THE FRIDAYS IN LENT – FEEL LIKE YOU’RE EATING OUT AT A FANCY RESTAURANT!

SERVE WITH A BIG DILL PICKLE AND ENJOY!

NUTRITION LABELS: FACTS AND FICTION

NutritionFactsPanel

Start with the Serving Size

  • Look here for both the serving size (the amount for one serving) and the number of servings in the package.
  • Compare your portion size (the amount you actually eat) to the serving size listed on the panel. If the serving size is one cup and you eat two cups, you are getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label.

Check Out the Total Calories and Fat

  • Find out how many calories are in a single serving and the number of calories from fat. It’s smart to cut back on calories and fat if you are watching your weight.  Try to keep the calories from fat below a third of the total calories.

Let the Percent Daily Values Be Your Guide

Use percent Daily Values (DV) to help evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan:

  • Daily Values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5 percent DV of fat provides 5 percent of the total fat that a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat.
  • Percent DV are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack
  • You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day. For some nutrients you may need more or less than 100 percent DV.

The High and Low of Daily Values

  • 5 percent or less is low. Aim low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • 20 percent or more is high. Aim high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Limit Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium

Eating less fat, cholesterol and sodium may help reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

  • Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat.
  • Saturated fat and trans fat are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • High levels of sodium can add up to high blood pressure.
  • Remember to aim for low percentage DV of these nutrients.

Get Enough Vitamins, Minerals and Fiber

  • Eat more fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron to maintain good health and help reduce your risk of certain health problems such as osteoporosis and anemia.
  • Choose more fruits and vegetables to get more of these nutrients.
  • Remember to aim high for percentage DV of these nutrients.

Additional Nutrients

You know about fat and calories, but it is important to also know the additional nutrients on the Nutrition Facts Panel.

  • Protein Most Americans eat more protein than they need, so a percentage Daily Value is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans, peanut butter and nuts.
  • Carbohydrates There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables.
  • Sugars Simple carbohydrates or sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup.

Check the Ingredient List

Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities such as soy, wheat, nuts, and shellfish.  It is also useful to help those who wish to limit added sugars, sulfites, color additives  or people who prefer vegetarian eating.

WATCH OUT FOR DECEIVING LABELS AS WELL

For example, this Broccoli Cheese Campbell’s condensed soup label only contains the Nutrition Facts for the condensed soup yet the directions call for the addition of a can of milk.  Even using skim milk, this effectively doubles the calories of the soup.  This is not stated ANYWHERE on the label!

And, this one is one of my favorites! Great Value No Stick Cooking Spray:  check out the serving size !  1/4 second spray?  Who knows what 1/4 second is and who could possibly coat a pan or casserole dish with that amount?  Don’t be fooled, you are adding some fat to your cooking by coating the pan or casserole dish!  I also know someone who buys the butter flavor no stick spray, gets lite popcorn and liberally sprays the popcorn thinking it has zero calories!

BE SURE TO READ YOUR NUTRITION LABELS BUT DON’T ALWAYS TAKE THEM AT FACE VALUE!

Adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics