Friday, November 30, 2012

Splendid Salads: Simple Ginger Carrot Salad

A salad can be so many things - they're a great way to get a mixture of flavors and textures and loads of good nutrition. If you make them yourself, you get to personalize them and ensure that they are actually healthy and not a calorie bomb (no, just because you put a leaf of iceberg lettuce underneath does not make your fried chicken and ranch dressing healthy).

When eating seasonally, you get to enjoy produce at their peak of flavor and nutrition. Now that the weather is turning cold, those delicious baby greens are no longer in season. Of course you can still buy them, but how about mixing things up? One option is to try a different green - Kale Salad is delicious and can be purchased locally very late in the season. Another option is to skip the greens altogether! When my dad was a kid, his mom often just shredded some carrots for a simple sweet salad. I built on that and added some fat for nutrient absoprtion and some seasonings for yummy flavor. Don't be limited my this recipe though, there are a zillion different ways to dress up this simple salad.

Feel free to scale this recipe up for down - if you're cooking for yourself, cut it in half. If feeding a crowd, double or triple it. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you'll whiz through the carrots in a jiffy. I used a box grater and did it by hand. A box grater is stable enough that your kids can help too (watch your fingers and knuckles!).


Simple Ginger Carrot Salad
  • 4 carrots
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or freshly grated ginger)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • More raisins and walnut halves, for decoration if you wish
  1. Grate carrots using a hand grater or your food processor
  2. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients. Add carrots, walnuts and raisins and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasons as your taste buds desire. 
No need to peel carrots. Leave on the tops too - they make a great handle when grating by hand and help prevent waste.  Do cut off if using food processor
Delicious, kid friendly and ready in a flash!


Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below. You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you for visiting my blog! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Smash it: moving beyond the mashed potato

The vegetable ninja is back! We're using delicious mashed potatoes as a basis for trying (and liking!) new fruits and vegetables. 

I don't think I've met someone who dislikes mashed potatoes. And what's not to like? They're creamy and delicious. Turns out that many vegetables are really delicious mashed. With a variety of vegetables, leafy greens and even fruit, you can make a multitude of tasty side dishes. Do add some fat for flavor and absorption of the fat soluble nutrients (the beta-carotene that makes carrots and pumpkin orange, for example), but don't go overboard. Too much fat can tip the calories too high (and tip the scale!).

 
There is a pretty big range of calories, sugar and fiber. Notice too, that if you include the skins from you reproduce, the fiber is higher. By skipping the peeler, you need less time to prepare the food and gain better nutrition - great! Also notice that the applesauce is unsweetened. The basic applesauce for most brands is loaded with added sugars and the calories usually double. Check the label!


1 cup mashed
Pumpkin
White potato
(no skin)
White potato
(with skin)
Sweet potato
Cauliflower
Carrot
Applesauce, Unsweetened
Calories
49
113
113
249
14
27
102
Fiber (g)
2.7
1.8
2.7
8.2
1.4
2.3
2.7
Carbohydrates (g)
12
26
26
58
3
6
28
Sugar (g)
5
2
1.5
19
1
3
23

Next time you are planning mashed potatoes, try something new. Maybe you skip peeling and get dinner on the table faster - you're doing better in the fiber category. Maybe you mix your white potatoes with cauliflower - you save on calories big time! Perhaps you want to try half carrot, half sweet potato; I'll bet you like it.

Mashed veggies are also a good way to get more greens - the Irish staple Colcannon is delicious and filling, not to mention cheap! 

I've written about this before, but cooking fruit vegetable purees or mashes is a great way to introduce new flavors. When someone is having a new food for the first few times, they're experiencing both a new flavor AND a new texture. When you remove the texture part of the equation, the reluctant eater is only focused on the flavor. Build from there. Sneaking in vegetables and fruits into foods is sometimes controversial amongst my peers. I think that they are one tool to improve intake of fruits and vegetables, but they aren't the whole solution. Get your household on board with new flavors and then build upon that with the vegetables and fruits in other forms.


Reader poll: Do you have a favorite mashed fruit or vegetable?

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below. You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ten ways to be green while saving green

It is a shame how often people thing that being green and being frugal are mutually exclusive - they're not! In and out of the kitchen, we can be better stewards to our earth and keep that green in your wallet. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired:

  1. Skip bottled water: bottled water is creating an enormous amount of trash, takes fuel to produce and transport and is often just tap water anyway. I have a stainless steel bottle that I tote everywhere.
  2. Wash clothes using cold water they get just as clean and significantly reduce your energy used while running the machine. You also don't have to sort clothes into different colors as using cold water reduces color bleeding.
  3. Hang clothes to dry - saves electricity and cost of drier sheets. It really doesn't take that long. Added winter bonus? As the clothes dry, they are adding humidity to the dry air in your home.
  4. Use cloth napkins all the time - not just for special occasions. Paper towels cost 1-3 bucks per roll and can only be used once. They're also not doing anything for your mealtime ambiance.
  5. Skip the plastic wrap and use a pot to store bread, muffins and bagels. Plastic wrap can cost $2-4 per roll.
  6. Make coffee at home and carry in a reusable mug or jar. Add spices to keep it interesting.
  7. Cook at home and pack your lunch. You save on food costs and packaging and it is usually healthier to boot. If you're a kitchen newbie, start small, take risks and don't be discouraged. We've all had our kitchen disasters!
  8. Cereal Killer Muffins
  9. Re-purpose food instead of throwing it away. Stale cereal can be used to make Cereal Killer Muffins and stale bread is easily turned into bread crumbs.
  10. Eat lower on the food chain. Beef is easily 4 or 5 times as expensive as beans. Conventionally raised beef is devastating for the environment - choosing meatless meals lowers your carbon "plate-print". If eating meat, look for animals that are raised responsibly and are fed grass - that is what cows are supposed to eat and they're healthier for it. Check out Meatless Monday for recipe inspiration and more information. 
  11. Use two wheels - The benefits of traveling by bike are endless, but better focus in school and at work, less dependance on oil, not needing a gym membership and rethinking unnessary trips and purchases (do I really want to carry that home on a bike?) are a few.

It is easy to get caught in the trap of feeling overwhelmed with wanting to make too many changes at once, or worse, feeling like what you're doing doesn't matter: it does! Do what you can and build from there.

 Reader Poll: What is your best tip for being green and saving green?

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below. You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you for visiting my blog!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recipe ReDux: Vintage Side Dishes - Thanksgiving Hummus


Thanksgiving is upon us and at the Recipe ReDux, we're celebrating with vintage side dishes!

Stuffing is so simple, but boy oh boy does it hit the spot on Thanksgiving! Since I have been having fun coming up with interesting hummus dips (pizza? Pad Thai? Balsamic Black Bean? , I thought, "why not stuffing flavored?".

Turns out it is pretty tasty! I did a trial run at my friend's 8th annual fabulous Friend-giving celebration this weekend and it was a hit!

Thanksgiving Hummus
Easily doubled if serving a crowd
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (about 1 small onion)
  • 3/4 cup celery, diced (use the leaves too, no need to toss)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Fresh or dried parsley, if you have it
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  1. In a medium saute pan, melt butter and saute veggies until tender. Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and stir for another minute or so or until your kitchen smell heavenly. Remove from heat.
  2. In your food processor (or very powerful blender) add chickpeas, olive oil and veggies and blend until smooth. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. As it cools, or after refrigeration, the dip will thicken. 
  3. Serve with fresh veggies to dip or whole grain crackers.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Reader Poll: What Thanksgiving side dish do you look forward to the most?

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below.
You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest 
Thank you for visiting my blog!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet treats: Pumpkin muffins with oatmeal and chocolate chips

Winter squash - including pumpkins - are the stars of autumn. There are endless ways to prepare this hearty vegetable beyond pie. Using canned pumpkin is easy, but roasting fresh pumpkin tastes so much better and just takes some time and the work of a sharp knife and an ice-cream scoop.



Just like there are many different varieties of apples or pears, there are actually many kinds of pumpkins. Pumpkins that are intended to be carved for Halloween are technically edible, but their flavor is watery and bland. You can find small pumpkins called pie pumpkins (or sugar babies) in the grocery store now, but it is also worth your while to check out your local farmers market too. I have been thrilled with the flavor of two different blue pumpkins - the walls of the pumpkin are really thick and the texture is smooth. These kinds of pumpkin are similar in flavor to a butternut squash.



There are several easy methods to cook a fresh pumpkin outlined here - my favorite is roasting because of the caramel flavor that develops, but you can easily cook your pumpkin in the microwave, in a slow cooker or in a pot on the stove. Carefully cut your pumpkin into wedges using a sharp knife, use an ice-cream scoop to remove seeds and stringy bits and roast in the oven until well browned and very soft. Extra pumpkin mush freezes well.

This recipe for pumpkin muffins is 2/3 whole grains, has minimal oil and is delicious. You can freeze extras and pull them out for a fast kid-friendly breakfast or an afternoon snack. If 20 muffins is too many for your house hold, simply half the recipe.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes about 20 muffins
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray muffin cups with non-stick spray or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. Cook and mash pumpkin. Reserve two cups and save the rest for another recipe.
  3. To pumpkin puree, add  sugar, oil, apple sauce, water, eggs and vanilla. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flours, oats, baking powder and spices. Stir just until moistened. 
  5. Add nuts and chocolate chips and stir just until mixed in. Do not over mix - this makes tough muffins.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. 
  7. Cool on a clean tea towel or cooling rack and enjoy. 
Freshly roasted pumpkin puree
Adding oats and flour

Ready to eat!

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below.

You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:


facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest 
Thank you for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scrumptious Soups: Apple pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup is hitting the spot! I love having a warm bowl with lunch or dinner (or both). This recipe makes a pretty large pot of soup - which is perfect if you're feeding a crowd or plan to pop some in the freezer. If not, it is simple to cut in half.


Apple Pumpkin Soup

  • 8-10 pounds of raw pumpkin (or 4 cans of pumpkin puree - not pie filling)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3-4 medium apples, chopped (no need to peel)
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, milk or half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut pumpkin open into large wedges. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place onto cookie sheet and roast until very tender and starting to brown on the edges. 
  3. While pumpkin is cooking, chop apples and onions. Preheat large saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once pan is warm, add apples, onions and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Scoop pumpkin from skin using a spoon into soup pot (or add cans of pumpkin). Add stock, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Add apple cider vineger, one tablespoon at a time, until you like the balance between the acid and the sweetness of the apples. Stir in milk or cream.
  6. To serve, garnish with a thin slice of apple and a swirl of cream.






 



Reader Poll: Have you ever cooked with a fresh pumpkin before? What did you make?

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below. You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you for visiting my blog!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Scrumptious soup: Thai pumpkin


I went a little overboard when I got to the pumpkin patch and managed to come home with eight pumpkins. These are all "food" pumpkins. Technically all pumpkins are edible, but when pumpkins are bred for carving, they tend to lack flavor and the pumpkin can be stringy.

I used one of the large red pumpkins (in the back of the picture) and made two soups - today's Thai pumpkin as well as an apple pumpkin soup. The Thai pumpkin soup was inspired from a recipe I found in a lovely memoir called The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather. It was a good read! She had a lot of great ideas for eating locally when you don't have a garden - she purchased foods from local farmers and growers and did small scale preserving. Great writing, great recipes.


For any pureed soup, my favorite kitchen tool is the immersion blender. They're not a huge expense and don't take up a ton of space in your cupboard, but boy do they make it easy to whip up some soup! You can also blend soup, in batches, in your blender, it just requires a bit more fuss. You could also use a potato masher and have a chunkier soup - just call it "rustic".




 Thai Pumpkin Soup
  •  4 to 5 pounds of raw pumpkin (or two cans of pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated peanut butter
  • 2-3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut pumpkin open into large wedges. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place onto cookie sheet and roast until very tender and starting to brown on the edges. 
  3. Once cool enough to handle, use a large soup spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh into a medium sauce pan. Add peanut butter, stock, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes and vinegar and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Using an immersion blender, a potato masher or your counter top blender, puree soup until smooth. Add cilantro and blend just enough to chop into little bits. Taste seasonings and adjust as needed.
  5. To serve, garnish with a cilantro leaf.
This is a 15 pound pumpkin - I used 1/3 of it for this recipe
Adding the lovely flavor before pureeing!


Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this article on facebook and twitter using the buttons below. You can also like me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:

facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weight: it is just a number

Picking beets
So you step on the scale - you know your weight. But, what is that actually telling you? How important is that number?

Weight is one tool that we can use to assess overall health, but unfortunately, it too often carries way more, er, weight than that. The number of the scale can be the difference between a good day and a bad day, if we feel pretty or not or if we "deserve" this or that. Yikes!

Our body consists of several kinds of tissues - our bones, our muscles, blood, food being digested and yes, fat. We do need some as an energy reservoir (in case McDonalds and the grocery store actually close) and some to cushion our organs, but for many Americans, we could stand to have less.

Based on our weight and height, we can calculate our Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI does not assess body composition - how much fat you have relative to muscle and bone. BMI is simply total weight as compared to height. That gives us a rough idea as to our weight status - too high, too low, or just right?

BMI is not perfect - and its ranges don't suit everyone. The ranges may be too high for some Asian folks as their frames are often more petite. It also is skewed for athletes as they often have much more muscle tissue. I am a biker and have always been very strong. For my height of 5'5 my weight of 148# my BMI is nearly overweight. While I have never been a good swimmer (don't float too well), I am really good at carrying heavy stuff, I usually wear a size 6 and can bike for many miles miles. I can also repel bicycles.Why confess my weight? I'm tired of worrying about it - and I think we do worry way too much about it.

The point is, we need to be a little more sophisticated in assessing our health and wellness. Yes, check out your weight once in a while, and keep it within a healthy range, but don't end your assessment there. Also look at your
  • hip to waist ratio 
  • fiber intake
  • blood pressure
  • fasting blood sugar
  • daily physical activity 
And ask yourself:
  • Could you run a mile if you were being chased by bulls? 
  • When was the last time you lifted weights or stretched? 
  • What are your cholesterol values? 
  • Do you use tobacco?

How are you doing on those criteria?

Furthermore: how are you sleeping? Is your work bringing you challenges, growth and satisfaction? Do you have positive personal relationships? Is water your main beverage?

There is indeed an obesity epidemic in our nation. Too many of our adults and our children are unhealthy. But it isn't just the weight - we aren't well. If we just focus on the weight, we are missing the big picture. If we just focus on the scale, we  are treating the symptoms. What is the real problem? There are many possible contributors: low intake of fruits and vegetables, exorbitant intake of junk, extensive hours in front of screens, minimal physical activity....the list goes on and on. We need to work on wellness throughout our daily lives.

The other downside of simply focusing on weight is that there are also folks who are thin in spite of their unhealthy habits - and their weight gives them a false sense of security. Sometimes health professionals refer to these people as the "skinny fat" - their weight is fine, but their health isn't.

In the end, weight is one tool to assess our health - but there many other factors of health. Don't let weight be an assessment of your own worth or beauty. 

Side note: BMI ranges are the same for all adults, men and women. For children, their body frame changes as they grow and ranges for suitable BMI are based on age and gender.

What would you include in a health report card?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Love child: Colcannon - potatoes and greens

Colcannon is a delicious mashed mixture of potatoes and greens that was born in Ireland. Traditionally kale or cabbage is used, but I have used anything from spinach to swiss chard or beet greens. I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like mashed potatoes, so this is a great way to take up the nutrition a notch and introduce some new flavors to your dinner table.

Potatoes have much of their nutrition in their peels, especially the fiber. However, most folks prefer to use peeled potatoes for their mashed potatoes. I compromised and "half-peeled" my potatoes. I guess I was feeling indecisive :)

There are many recipes available and the ratios of potatoes to greens are flexible. I found that many recipes were pretty loaded with butter, so I cut that down and added some olive oil too with good results.

If you are going to serve someone you think might panic as the sight of green mashed potatoes, try reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss first. Or, simply start low the first time you make the dish and add more greens each time.

 

Colcannon
4 large main dish servings or 6-8 side dish servings
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and peeled (or not peeled, or half-peeled)
  • a few cups of chopped greens - kale, spinach, swiss chard tat soi and beet greens are all delicious
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons milk (or more, or less)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Peel potatoes (or not) and chop into chunks. Place in medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Check after 10 minutes to see if potatoes are very tender when poked with a fork - if not, keep cooking until they are!
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your greens. Are they dirty or sandy? If so, fill your sink or a large bowl with cool water and give them a good swish. Remove any tough stems (I'm especially talking to the kale eaters here) and chop.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add onions and saute for a few minutes or until they begin to become clear and tender. Add greens and stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. 
  4. Once potatoes are soft, drain water from sauce pan. Using a potato masher, the bottom of a drinking glass or the back of a large flat spoon mash your potatoes. I like chunks so I don't fuss with this too much. 
  5. To your mashed potatoes, add the cooked greens and milk. Stir, and see if you want to add more milk to make mixture thinner. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serving suggestions: try as a side dish to some lovely chicken or fish, as the main event with a fried egg on top (vegetables for breakfast, anyone?) or in place of plain mashed potatoes anywhere.




Mixture of beet greens and kale


Reader poll: have you tried colcannon before? What greens do you like to use?

Like what you're reading? Feel free to share this recipe on facebook and twitter.

You can also visit me on facebook and follow my twitter feed:
facebook.com/hollylarsonmsrd
@HollyLarsonRD
Follow Me on Pinterest 
Thank you for visiting my blog!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis

Print this!