f4ba68c1cbedb0122ea82653afbd56f3b53077b88b4c4a5f31 Uncomplicated Healthy Living: September 2015 http://www.freesearchenginesubmission.infoher-libido.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Canned Food - Is It Healthy?

We all know the taste of fresh is best.  The question, is do we loose all the healthy benefits of produce when it is canned?  Because the canning process calls for food to be heated, many vegetables and fruit loose their nutrients.  Surprisingly, there are some that release antioxidants and make them more available to our bodies due to the canning process.  The following are a few that we can use with confidence.

  • Tomatoes:  The lycopene that tomatoes contain is known to fight cancer.  Our bodies cannot access or use this lycopene without the tomatoes being heated.  So the canning process helps us access the lycopene.  To allow your body to take full advantage of this cancer fighter, cook the tomatoes with some oil.
  • Beans:  Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber.  Nutritionally, canned beans do not differ from those you have cooked yourself.  The only concern you may have is the sodium level.  The sodium in canned beans is in the liquid.  Be sure to drain and rinse the beans.  By doing this you can remove a significant amount of the sodium.
  • Corn:  The canning process, oddly enough, boosts the antioxidant activity in corn.  Which means we get more antioxidant benefits from canned corn than from fresh.  The down side is that it looses vitamin C.  The answer to this problem is to add some citrus to the corn.
  •  Pumpkin:  The canning process pumps up the calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin K of the pumpkin.  This may be the case because the process removes moister from the pumpkin, making it more concentrated.  Pumpkin is also a source carotenoids.  Our bodies cannot use these without the pumpkin be heated.  So that is taken care of by the canning process.
Fresh tomatoes, beans, corn and pumpkin do taste better.  But, the canned alternatives are versatile and economical.  Making these a good option for people who live in what are termed "food deserts".  They also are good option for off season use.  I wouldn't eat any of these straight out of the can, however, I do use them in recipes.  I do it with the knowledge that I am still eating healthy, even though the tomatoes in my sauce, or the corn in my cornbread, or the beans in my soup, or the pumpkin in my muffins is canned.

Was this helpful?  Let me know.  Please, leave a comment.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tilapia Tostadas with Corn & Avocado Salsa

You may need to find yourself a bib to eat these.  They are worth every messy bite you take.  Piled high with veggies and fish you have your meal in these little packages.  You want to figure one fish filet for each tostada and two tostadas per adult.  With that in mind you can adjust how much you get out to use.  There are a few components to coordinate, because you want it all ready to eat at the same time.  It can be done and you can be eating these crunchy, messy, yummy tostadas tonight!

Tilapia Tostadas with Corn & Avocado Salsa

1 cup corn 
1/4 diced red bell pepper
1/4 diced onion
2 tsp. minced pickled jalapeno
1/4 tsp. salt
1 avocado, peeled and diced
2 tsp. lime juice (you can use lemon if you want)
1 tilapia filet for each tostada
buttermilk (you can use another milk you have one hand)
organic stone ground cornmeal
ground flax seed
corn tortillas (two per adult)
shredded cabbage (you can use preshredded coleslaw mix)

To Make the Salsa:  Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and salt. Allow to saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and you start to get some browning on the corn.  Put the avocado in a bowl and pour the lime juice over it.  Toss together to make sure avocado is covered with juice.  Add the corn mixture to avocado and toss gently to combine.

To Cook Tilapia:  Rinse the fish and pat dry.  Cut filets in three or four pieces.  Place milk in a shallow dish.  Mix equal parts cornmeal and ground flax seed in another shallow dish.  Coat fish with buttermilk and then dredge in cornmeal mix.   Fry in a hot pan with a small amount of coconut oil three to four minutes each side.  Salt and pepper both sides of fish while frying.

Tortillas:  You want them crisp.  To do a small number you can place them in a nonstick frying pan at medium high heat for one to two minutes each side or until crisp.  For a large number the easiest way is to brush them with melted coconut oil or safflower oil.  Arrange then on a broiler pan and broil one to two minutes each side or until crisp.

Now you can put them together!  Place a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the shredded cabbage on a tortilla.  Top with tilapia pieces and a spoonful of the salsa.  Eat!

If you would like a creamy element to these, try a dollop of chipotle cream from my Sep. 11th post.  Have a good week and have fun in the kitchen!

Friday, September 25, 2015

English Pea Salad

In the south you have to identify which kind of peas you are using.  Black eyed peas or sweet green english peas.  This salad uses the english peas along with other veggies and an avocado dressing.  I know it is tailgating season.  This salad would be a fresh addition to your menu and travels well.  It can serve as the center of your meal or as a side dish.  It is a sure way to get the veggies you need.

English Pea Salad

10 ounces peas, if using frozen, thaw, rinse and drain
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
2 green onions, white and green parts sliced thin
1 egg, hard boiled, peeled and diced
1/2 of a large avocado, peeled
1 tsp. white wine vinegar (you can use lemon juice if you want)
1 tbsp. olive oil mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Place the first six ingredients, peas through egg, in a bowl and toss together.  Place the avocado in a separate bowl and mash with a fork till smooth.  Add the vinegar, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Stir together till smooth and creamy.  Add the dressing to the veggies and stir to coat.

I served it on a bed of red leaf lettuce.  You can eat it as is, or stuff it in tomatoes, stuff it in peppers.  You serve it in a way that pleases you.  So eat your veggies and have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Five Ways To Cut Salt Not Flavor

We all need salt.  It gives us a package of sodium and chloride that are essential to electrolyte balance in our bodies.  It also excites our sense of smell by enhancing the aromas of our food.  While that is not necessary to our health, it does add enjoyment to our lives.  Overuse of salt causes a rise in blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and stroke.  Are we then sentenced to a life of eating bland, unappetizing food?  No there are ways to still enjoy your food and minimize sodium levels.  Here are five:

  1. Cook at home:  Over 70% of the sodium people in the U.S. take in each day is from restaurant and prepackaged foods.  Only 5% is from home cooked foods.  Cooking the food yourself puts you in control of the 2,300 milligrams of sodium that is needed for healthy adults.  That mean cooking whole foods, from scratch.
  2. Use Herbs and Acids to add flavor:  Vinegars, citrus and wine add brightness to foods.  Herbs add an extra flavor pop to finished dishes.  By experimenting and getting used to ways to use these you get tons of flavor and you will not notice you have used less salt.
  3. Use Spice Blends or Specialty Salts:  Think of the different blend of spices you associate with regional foods.  Try them out.  Many of these combinations add flavor to the regions foods and they don't use excessive amounts of salt.  Toasting spices enhances them further.  Not salting food until the end, and then adding a specialty salt, like smoked salt is another method you can use.  Specialty salts add a different dimension and texture to food.  Also, a little goes a long way.
  4. Read labels:  It doesn't matter what it is, cereal, bread, salad dressing or canned goods, read the label.  By keeping yourself informed about what is in foods, you can make wise choices.  Choose lower sodium options or decide to make some items yourself instead of purchasing them prepackaged.
  5. Use small amounts of salty ingredients:  Non of us what tasteless food.  Using small amounts of salty things to finish a dish adds the needed flavor punch without an over abundance of salt.  Think parmesan cheese, salted nuts or other things that have a concentrated salty flavor.

It takes experimentation on your part to put these into practice.  That doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Cooking is creative and fun.  It adds enjoyment to what you eat.  Isn't that what eating is about?  Enjoyment!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Herbed Ricotta and Tomato Tart

Summer is drawing to a close, but, I still have basil growing.  So I made pesto and used part of it in this tart.  The tart also put to use late summer tomatoes.  With cheese and eggs this tart gives you plenty of protein as well as the nutrients of tomatoes.  Pair it with dark leafy greens and you will have a well rounded meal that isn't overly complicated to prepare.  

Herbed Ricotta and Tomato Tart

Pastry for a single crust (use your favorite recipe)
1 1/2 cup 2% ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pesto (see July 15th post for recipe)
1/2 cup diced onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 to 10 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise at 1/8" thick 

Line a tart pan or pie pan with the pastry.  Weight it down with beans or another pan that fits perfectly within your shell.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.  The edges should just begin to brown.  Remove from oven and turn the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While shell is in the oven saute the onions in a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil until soft and translucent.  Allow to cool slightly.  In a bowl mix together ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and pesto.  Add onion and mix.  Taste the mixture to see if you need to add salt.  Most of the time you don't.  Saltiness of the parmesan and pesto can vary.  When salt level is to your satisfaction add eggs and mix together.

When the shell is removed from the oven remove the weights and spread half of the cheese mixture evenly in it.  Place a layer of sliced tomatoes on top.  Spread the rest of the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.  Top with more sliced tomatoes.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set.  When it is not done the filling has a shininess to it.  If it is done there will on longer be any shininess.  Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!

I have made ricotta cheese before.  It is not difficult to do and is wonderful for recipes where your tossing it on top.  If it is baked into something, purchased ricotta works well.  You can also use purchased pesto if you want to.  Have fun in the kitchen everyone!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Spiced Plum Upside Down Cake

I try to bake something for my dad once in awhile.  I had plums on hand, so, this upside down cake was born.  I used coconut oil in the cake itself.  The fruit has butter in it because coconut oil doesn't caramelize the same as butter.  I also used sorghum molasses (it is also called syrup) in the cake.  This is a product that is used regularly in the south, but I know it is something you may not find familiar.  I'll give you my reasons for this choice after the recipe.  The method used for the cake is one I found in the 1896 Fannie Farmer Cook Book.  It makes a moist cake that is spicy and pairs well with the plums.  Try it out for yourself!

Spiced Plum Upside Down Cake

2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup coconut sugar
4 to 5 medium sized plums, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 sorghum molasses (you can use blackstrap molasses is you want)
1/3 cup boiling water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup spelt flour (you can use organic all purpose)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place the butter and coconut sugar in an 8" round cake pan.  Put the pan in the oven until the butter is melted.  Remove and mix the butter and sugar thoroughly.  Arrange the plums on top of the butter sugar mixture.  Set aside.

In a bowl place the coconut oil and sorghum.  Pour the boiling water over the top and stir until coconut oil is melted.  Add the egg and combine.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk together.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.  The batter will be stiff.  Carefully spread the batter over the plums and smooth out.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a pick comes out of the cake clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the cake pan to ensure the cake is not sticking and invert onto a cake plate.  Allow to cool completely.  Serve it by itself or with whipped coconut cream.

Now, the reason I use sorghum molasses.  It is higher in sugar content than blackstrap molasses.  It does contain iron, calcium, potassium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and riboflavin.  It does not have as much of these nutrients as blackstrap.  So why use it instead?  No chemicals.  Sorghum is made by crushing the stalk to get the juice.  The juice is then boiled down into syrup or molasses.  Blackstrap is a byproduct of processed sugar production.  While it is low is sugar content and high in nutrients. it contains the chemicals that are used in the processing of the sugar.  If you want to purchase sorghum, look for the sweet sorghum seal and you can be sure it is the real deal. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fiber Offers Health Benefits

Have you noticed all the products that have added fiber?  Everything from bread to ice cream is being labeled healthy because they have added fiber.  Why do we need fiber in our diets?  Where should we get our fiber?

There are two types of fiber found in food, soluble and insoluble.  Each one has it's own health benefits.  Insoluble, or roughage, passes through your digestive system and keeps it clean.  The benefit to that is lower risk of cancer of the stomach, pancreas and colon.  Soluble fiber works differently.  It dissolves and turns into a gel that binds to cholesterol and slows glucose absorption.  The result is prevention of heart disease as well as prevention of diabetes.

So are all these foods with fiber added or supplements the answer?  Not really.  The fiber in whole foods work with nutrients in those foods to give you the health benefits.  Fiber without the nutrients is not the answer.

Where do we get the fiber we need?  We can find fiber in plants.  Such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (beans and peas).  Don't rely on your mouth to tell you which are the best sources.  Pineapple feels fibrous in the mouth, but, it is lower in fiber than a kiwi.  The pineapple is also higher in calories than the kiwi.

Below is a list that nutritionists say are the top ten sources of fiber.

  • Black Beans (cooked)  15 grams of fiber per cup at 227 calories.  Other beans are similar in terms of fiber and calories.
  • Potato with Skin (baked)  That is right carb. haters potatoes can be healthy.  10 grams of fiber per cup at 160 calories.  You must eat the skin to get these results.
  • Acorn Squash (baked)  10 grams of fiber per cup at 114 calories.
  • Fresh Raspberries  8 grams of fiber per cup at 60 calories.  All the more reason to eat these beauties.
  • Barley (cooked)  6 grams of fiber per cup at 193 calories
  • Carrots  Whole carrots not those trimmed down to be baby carrots.  6 grams of fiber per cup at 55 calories.
  • Collard Greens (cooked)  5 grams of fiber per cup at 49 calories.  Other leafy greens are similar.
  • Sugar Snap Peas (cooked)  5 grams of fiber per cup at 76 calories.  I knew there was I reason I like eating these.
  • Apple with skin 4 grams of fiber per cup at 81 calories.  Make sure to scrub your apples, but, eat the skin.
  • Strawberries  4 grams of fiber per cup at 43 calories
How much fiber do we need to get per day?  21 to 38 grams.  Using the list above, as well as your favorite whole foods, you can make a goal of getting the fiber you need.  Of course our main goal is good health an longevity.  Good health to you!

Was this helpful?  Let me know.  Leave a comment.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Spinach Corn Bread

Cooler weather makes you want to turn on the oven and warm up the house.  This corn bread is a great way to do that.  It is more like a spinach corn casserole than corn bread.  It is very moist and full of spinach and corn.  Your kids will not mind eating their spinach this way!  Try it for dinner tonight.

Spinach Corn Bread

1 cup organic stone ground cornmeal
1 cup spelt flour (you can use organic all purpose)
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
2 tbsp. honey
2 eggs
3 tbsp. melted coconut oil (you can use safflower or canola)
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 cup corn, if frozen thaw, if fresh it is approximately two ears

In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, cornmeal through salt.  In another bowl whisk together buttermilk, honey, eggs and oil.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.  Mix together.  Mix in the spinach and corn making sure that the spinach doesn't clump.  Pour batter into a greased 8" square or round pan.  Bake 35 to 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 375 degrees.  When done a pick in the center will come out clean.  Cool a few minutes before cutting and serving.

You can put your own spin on this by adding a chopped jalapeno or chipotle.  You can put in some shredded cheese.  Make it your own and have fun in the kitchen!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pinto Beans and Chipotle Cream

Summer is coming to an end and the fresh produce is limited.  At this time of year we aren't getting cold weather veggies, but, we also aren't able to get summer produce any more.  It can be frustrating when you are trying to eat with the seasons.  So what can we do?  Get inventive with ways to get veggies into your diet.  Here we have pintos cooked with peppers and onion.  Pair it with brown rice and you will have a complete protein.  Add a salad and you have a well rounded meal.  This is quick and easy to make.  So it is a great dish for week night meals.

Pinto Beans and Chipotle Cream

2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 lemon juiced
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 chipotle chili, minced
2 tbsp. milk (your choice of what kind)

Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the onion, garlic, peppers and cumin.  Saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add vegetable broth, beans, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.  You want the onion tender and the broth mostly absorbed.  Remove from heat and add parsley and the lemon juice.  Stir gently to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, chipotle and milk.  To serve place your pinto beans in a dish and top with a spoonful of the cream.

Adjust the amount of chipotle according to your taste.  You can also choose different beans if you want. I have done this same dish with black beans.  Just remember look for canned beans that do not have sugar added and always drain and rinse your beans.  This will remove the majority of the sodium that has been added.

Enjoy your weekend and have fun in the kitchen!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chipotle White Bean Dip

I had a busy Labor Day weekend with family visiting.  As a result I didn't get to post a recipe on Monday morning.  I want to apologize for that.  So here we are midweek and I have a recipe for you.  This dip is easy to make and you can serve is many ways.  I served it with fresh veggies.  You can also serve it with pita bread chips, tortilla chips, top brochette or as a sandwich spread.  Spicy and creamy, it tastes indulgent but isn't.  So eat up and enjoy!

Chipotle White Bean Dip

1 can white bean (you can use navy, great northern or cannellini)
2 tbsp. diced onion
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 chipotle chili, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. salt

Drain and rinse the beans.  Place them in the bowl of a food processor.  Saute onion and garlic, in a small amount of coconut oil, until translucent.  Add to beans along with the rest of the ingredients.  Pulse once or twice to chop beans.  Process on low until smooth.  How easy is that?  Now you are ready to enjoy your dip!

Caned beans are lean source of protein and contain multiple nutrients.  They are economical and versatile.  Don't be scared to use this caned product.  Just be sure to look for bean that do not have sugar added to them.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cheesy Baked Eggplant Sticks

I am so happy we are still getting eggplant!  I have been trying different things with it this year.  These Cheesy Sticks are one of things I said is going to be made again.  Try them for yourself, they are simple to make and very few ingredients.   Make them with whatever you are putting on the grill this weekend.  You won't be disappointed.

Cheesy Baked Eggplant Sticks

1 medium eggplant
1/4 small white onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise in 1/2" slices.  Lay them out on a piece of paper towel and sprinkle with salt.  Turn them over and sprinkle salt on the other side.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  While eggplant is sitting, place the onion and garlic in a food processor.  Process until they are finely ground or pulp.  Combine the pulp and coconut oil in a shallow dish.  Whisk to combine.  Pat the eggplant dry and cut lengthwise into sticks similar to steak fries.  Place the eggplant sticks in the coconut oil and pulp, toss to coat the eggplant.  Place the eggplant sticks on a cookie sheet.  If you have any of the oil and pulp mixture left, pour over top of the eggplant.  Place the cookie sheet on the bottom rack of a oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the eggplant over.  Bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place the cheese on top of the eggplant sticks.  Return to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Then you get to eat them!

Try a different cheese if you would like.  Also, you can adjust the amount of onion and garlic to suit yourself.  Most of all enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Juicing or Smoothies - Which is Healthier?

Some people are loyal to juicing.  It has fantastic benefits.  You are able to absorb nutrients from the items juiced faster than if you were to eat them.  However, when it comes to a choice of which is healthier juicing or smoothies, the smoothie wins.  Why is it healthier?  Juicing leaves behind part of the ingredients in the form of pulp.  In that pulp is where you will find the most nutrients and fiber of fruits and veggies you have juiced.

Blending a smoothie preserves the entire piece of fruit or vegetable that you are including.  As a result a smoothie can give you added vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  If you include yogurt or milk it can also boost your calcium and protein intake.  The oxygen and heat introduced in the blending process can reduce some vitamin C and some B vitamins.  The amount lost is minimal.

Is there anything you need to be concerned about when choosing a smoothie?  Yes, sugar.  If you are going to use yogurt, be sure it is plain greek yogurt.  No sugar added.  Also purchased bottled smoothies are more like milkshakes.  They also do not have the maximum amount of nutrients because of having been prepackaged and sitting on a shelf.

So do it yourself smoothies is the way to go.  Experiment and find what flavors you like.  Add protein powder for added power.  Have fun with it.  Keep in mind though, man and women can not live on smoothies alone.  They are not a replacement for eating real, nutritious whole foods.

So everyone, get out your blenders and go!