Archive for September, 2015

MAGNIFICENT MINESTRONE SOUP

Fall is the perfect time for soup. If there are vegetables in this recipe that you don’t like, simple omit them. Add others that you like! Utterly delicious, healthy and hearty!

ingredients (serves 8) summer-minestrone-soup-ck

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced leek, white and light green parts only (about 2 leeks)

1 cup thinly sliced carrot

1 cup thinly sliced celery

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

8 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (14.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided

2 cups chopped yellow squash

2 cups chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup uncooked ditalini pasta

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

5 ounces kale, stemmed and chopped

homemade pesto (or a high quality, refrigerated pesto)

Parmesan cheese, grated

directions

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add the leek, carrot, celery, and garlic; cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (do not brown). Add tomato paste; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.

Place 1 cup cannellini beans in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Add the mashed beans, remaining cannellini beans, squashes, bell pepper, green beans, pasta, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Increase the heat to medium; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the kale; cook for 2 minutes.

Divide the soup into bowls. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons of pesto and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light, August, 2015)

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EVERYTHING IN MODERATION?

A client of mine recently told me that he read a great article about nutrition. He said that the What-is-moderationarticle focused on moderation—that the nutritionist said that we can eat anything we want to, if we eat in moderation. I couldn’t agree with this more.

However, there is a however: In today’s world, it is almost impossible to eat moderately. Portions sizes have exploded to the point where we’ve lost site of what a “normal” portion is. In fact, there are many places that tout such enormous plates of food that they’ll actually give it to you for free if you can finish it!  I find this awfully disturbing. In many cases, even sharing a dish with someone will leave you eating too much.

The best way to get a handle on portion sizes is to do some measuring at home.  Invest in a kitchen scale and some measuring cups. (I have a non-digital kitchen scale that I bought on-line for under $15.) The rule of thumb is that we should be eating about 4-ounces of protein—that is about the size of the palm of your hand. Once measured, you might be very surprised, for example, about how 4-ounces of steak actually looks like on your plate. Starches, like rice, quinoa, potatoes, and starchy vegetables (peas & corn) should be about ½ cup—the size of a tight fist. A portion of cheese should be no bigger than your thumb. Eat loads of non-starchy vegetables and salad.  Once you have measured at home and understand what’s going on, it will be much easier when you go out to eat.

While  measuring is tedious you WILL  learn portion sizes. And once you do,  you will probably be able to start eating most everything. Moderation is key but you first have to understand what moderation is!

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GAZPACHO

Since it’s still warm out, we can continue to eat and enjoy gazpacho! What a refreshing, healthy soup. YUM!

ingredients 1G1B09_Gazpacho_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape
1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
24 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

directions
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

(Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten found on http://www.foodnetwork.com)

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YELLOW SPLIT PEA DAL

Dal is a soup or creamy side dish made from dried peas or beans that is often served alongside Indian meals. This soup version is subtle in flavor and comforting. Add more or less jalapeño to adjust spiciness.

ingredients (serves 4-6)

Yellow-Dahl

1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed well

7 cups water

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbs. ghee or coconut oil

1 tbs. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 to 3 jalapeños, minced

4 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped, about 3 cups (or canned)

Salt to taste

4 tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

directions

Combine the split peas, water, turmeric, cinnamon stick, and 1 tablespoon of the ghee/coconut oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour until the peas are tender.

Remove the cinnamon stick and stir the dal to make it smooth and creamy. When the dal is finished cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and dry-roast the coriander, cumin, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper for one to two minutes, shaking the pan to toast the spices evenly until they are highly fragrant.

Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee/coconut oil to combine with the spices, then add the jalapeños and tomatoes and sauté over medium heat. Add a little salt, and simmer until the tomatoes are softened and the liquid has been reduced. Add the cooked vegetables and spices to the dal, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Top with cilantro to serve.

NOTE: I didn’t’ know much about split yellow peas—this is my first time cooking with them. To find out more, I found a great site—http://www.thekitchn.com/. Here’s what I learned:

“Split peas are field peas, which are a variety of yellow or green peas grown specifically for drying. When these peas are hulled and then split in half along the natural seam, they become split peas, which encourages faster cooking and eliminates the need to presoak. Split peas can be stored in an airtight container for up to one year. Split peas are high in protein and fibers but low in fat. There is no need to soak split peas before cooking, and they turn very creamy when cooked through. There are two types of split peas, green and yellow. Green split peas are sweeter and less starchy than the milder yellow split peas.”

(Adapted from a recipe found in Experience Life, September, 2015)

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SAUTÉED FISH WITH SESAME AND INDIAN SPICES

If you’ve never cooked with Indian spices, give this recipe a go! It’s simple and has wonderful Indian flavors!

ingredients Fish-With-Sesame

2 tbs. sesame seeds

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

4, 4-oz. fish fillets (flounder, sea bass, snapper, tilapia, trout)

1 tbs. ghee, sesame oil, or coconut oil

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, quartered

directions

Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl. Press each fish fillet in the seasoning and turn to coat each side. Heat a large cast-iron skillet until a few drops of water flicked into the pan sizzle. Add the ghee or coconut oil. Place the fish fillets in the pan and sear them about two to three minutes on each side. Check the fillets with a fork to see if they are cooked through. Serve the fish sprinkled with chopped fresh cilantro and a lime quarter.

(Adapted from a recipe found in “Experience Life”, September, 2015)

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