The Colors of Summer

imageFarmer’s markets around town are the sure, vibrant signs of summer. This photo displays part of my vegetable and fruit haul last weekend. I try to buy veggies and fruits in all colors–the reds, greens, yellows, and whites–in part because they are nutritious and in part because they are pretty. We eat them raw, in stir-fry meals, or roasted. The difficult part, I find, is figuring how best to store fruits and veggies so they do not rot before we eat them.

I learned a very handy trick in the Heart Insight Magazine about fresh herbs. It is possible to freeze them for later! Just cut fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or basil, and put them by teaspoon or tablespoon into ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. When you want to use the herb, toss the ice cube into the pot. Wa-lah!

Here’s a handy guide for storing vegetables and fruits so they may last their longest:

VeggiesEnjoy the colors of summer!

 

Eggcellent Egg Burritos

Breakfast burritos are one of my favorite things. A warm tortilla wrapped around eggs, veggies and salsa is just a little slice of heaven. But the problem with breakfast burritos is that the eggs fall out.

Well, no more. Not with this cool and easy method I learned from my cousin, Scott. He cooked breakfast for Michael and I last December when we visited San Francisco.

This fabulous, eggcellent (cute, huh?!) egg burrito method has transformed the slice of heaven that is a breakfast burrito!

Ingredients:

Eggs, Tortillas, and whatever you like in a burrito: vegetables, meat, cheese, salsa, etc.

Method:

Start by cracking one or two eggs into a bowl. I prefer two. Don’t add water or anything. Stir.

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Turn on the stove to medium heat. Add a little cooking spray or butter to your frying pan. Pour the eggs into the pan after it is preheated. Try to use a pan about the size of your tortillas. Immediately lay a tortilla on top of the eggs. Let the eggs cook with tortilla on top for 2 – 3 minutes.

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Next, use a spatula or a fork to get under the tortilla, grab it with your fingers and flip it over. The cooked egg will stay attached to the tortilla. Gently slide the tortilla onto a plate. Then add your favorite ingredients on top of the egg, and roll it up.

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You can make several egg tortillas and stack them on a plate. They shouldn’t stick together, and will stay fairly warm for several minutes. Your eggs won’t fall out of the burrito. Enjoy!

Yummy Apple Oat Bran Muffins

apple_oat_bran_muffins_RCPOkay, I added the word “Yummy” to the name of this recipe because the “Oat Bran” may turn a few folks off. But these muffins are not only healthy, full of fiber, with no added sugar, they are also really tasty! This recipe is from Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and pyramid, a way of eating that decreases the chronic inflammation caused by much of the traditional western diet. The muffins freeze and defrost nicely if you don’t eat them all right away.

 

 Ingredients

Canola oil for oiling the muffin pan (skip this if using muffin papers)                                       2 large green cooking apples (Granny Smith or another apple you like)
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/4 cups oat bran
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 12-ounce can apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup water

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 325° F. Lightly oil muffin pan. Peel and core apples; chop them coarsely. Set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together pastry flour, white flour, oat bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. Add thawed apple-juice concentrate, chopped apples, and enough water to make a light batter.
4. Mix just enough to moisten all ingredients. Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake till lightly browned, 25-30 minutes.
5. Remove muffins from cups while hot.

Dr. Weil’s website includes lots of information about healthy aging and the anti-inflammatory food pyramid. Enjoy!

Summer Kabobs

kabobs 5

This summer my husband is into grilling. Burgers, chicken, veggies, fruits, whatever he can. We are in the market for a new grill to replace our small, old gas grill and are experimenting now with charcoal. Michael dusted off the old Weber, chose some new lump coal, and is loving the flavor it offers.

One of our favorite meals is chicken, peppers, onion and bok choy stir fry. This combination with peanut sauce or teriyaki sauce is an easy and tasty dinner. But with the grilling kick going, we decided to change the pace and grill kabobs.

Kabobs are just fun. Take your basic foods, cut them into chunks and arrange them onto sticks. The grill adds unexpected flavor and textures.

Method: I chopped red pepper, green pepper and red onion into large pieces. Also chopped boneless, skinless chicken breasts into large pieces (about 1.5 – 2 inches) so that they would stay on the skewers without coming apart.

Zucchini, summer squash, shrimp, tempeh, pineapple, and mushrooms are other foods that would do well as grilled kabobs — not together, but in whatever combination you like.

Veggies & Chicken on the Weber

Veggies & Chicken on the Weber

The skewers are wood and came from Target. Just be sure to soak them in water for a short time so they don’t burn on the grill. I brushed the veggies and meat with a little teriyaki sauce and garlic for flavor and to prevent them from sticking to the grill. Olive, canola or peanut oil would work for this too.

We separated the chicken from the veggies since they cook at different rates. Direct heat in the center cooked the chicken more thoroughly, while indirect heat along the sides did a nice job with veggies, allowing them to cook but not get mushy.

 

 

In the end, here’s how they looked:

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We pulled everything off the skewers and tossed it in a large bowl, pictured above.

Y-U-M! Here’s to summer grilling!

 

No-Bake Energy Bites

healthy-energy-bites

If you are looking for a homemade healthy snack, these no-bake energy bites are for you! They are little nuggets of yummy goodness, easy and quick to make.

This recipe is thanks to gimme some oven. The oatmeal, chocolate and peanut butter are a filling and tasty combination. Honey and vanilla add a touch of natural sweetness to satisfy a sweet tooth, but not so much that they taste sugary. If you can’t find ground flax seed, you can buy the whole seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder.

Ingredients:

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (dry oats)

1 cup toasted coconut flakes

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for a half hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of about an inch in diameter. That’s it!

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 balls.

Enjoy!

Hearty Winter Soup

beef barley soup

This Beef Barley Soup recipe comes courtesy of Eating Well, one of my very favorite magazines. It has provided me countless recipes and food ideas over many years, and always includes new and informative articles about whole foods, our food system, eating locally and seasonally and much more. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t before.

With the cold of winter pressing in on many of us, soups are a great, hearty and simple meal with good helpings of leftovers. Without too many ingredients, I love this one and hope you do too!

INGREDIENTS
8 ounces sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

PREPARATION
Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the steak and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion and celery to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add tomato paste and thyme and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated with the tomato paste and are beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add barley, broth, water, salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juice to the pot and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vinegar to taste.

TIPS & NOTES                                                                                                                Quick-cooking barley is found at regular grocery stores; Here’s a picture of what I have found in the the soup section at the store:

quick cooking barley

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

NUTRITION
Per serving: 250 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 26 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 17 g protein; 5 g fiber; 701 mg sodium; 573 mg potassium.

Thank you Eating Well Magazine!

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Pasta Stir-Fry

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Pasta Stir-Fry (1)

My husband, Michael, and I love Thai food. We go out to our favorite small, local Thai restaurants every few weeks. I love to cook and enjoy experimenting with spices and new recipes, but rarely try Thai dishes because they seem too complicated. But this recipe, from the Go Red for Women website, struck me as possible to cook, and it wasn’t too complicated at all! Sweet and spicy flavors mix beautifully with peanuts in a fantastic combination.

If you haven’t worked with ginger root before, you find it in the fresh vegetable area. Buy a small piece (it’s inexpensive) but make sure it’s fairly firm, not bendy, in order to ensure freshness. Cut the brown peel off, and grate the ginger with a regular grater. It is worth the effort because of its sweet zesty flavor. Enjoy!

Ingredients
5 ounces dried whole-grain vermicelli or spaghetti, broken in half
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce (lowest sodium available)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger root
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional – these add the spice, so skip it if you              don’t like hot spice)
1/2 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups small broccoli florets (no larger than 3/4 inch)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

Preparation
1. Prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt. Drain well in a colander. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger root, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the peanuts for 2 minutes, or until they begin to lightly brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to a plate.
4. In the same skillet, heat the oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the broccoli, carrot, onion, and bell pepper for 6 minutes, or until just tender-crisp. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cooked pasta and peanuts. Cover to keep warm.
5. In the same skillet, still over medium-high heat, bring the orange juice mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, or until reduced to about 1/3 cup, stirring constantly. Pour over the pasta mixture, stirring to blend.
6. Cook’s Tip: To make preparing this dish even easier, assemble the orange juice mixture up to 24 hours in advance and use cut fresh produce from your supermarket.

Serves four. 1 ½ cups per serving.

© American Heart Association