Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scrumptious Soups: Asparagus

I love soups! They are so versitle, compliment almost any meal and are easy to cram full of delicious veggies.

I have really gotten on board with pureed soups. The tool you need? An immersion blender. This little kitchen workhorse quickly turns your pot of tender veggies into smooth, velvety soup - no need to transfer to a tabletop blender.Of course, you can use the table top blender, but if you're as big of a fan of soups as I am, you'll get your money's worth out of this investment.

Kitchen tip: if you blend hot soup in a table top blender, remove that little cap from the rubber top and cover the hole with a kitchen towel. This will allow some steam to escape while keeping the soup off of your kitchen ceiling.

This is more of a method than a formal recipe. Feel free to try it with any seasonal veggie - just try to pick similar colored veggies for beautiful soup.

A few ideas:
  • Celery + spinach + peas
  • Carrots + ginger
  • Roasted carrots + roasted parsnips + garlic
  • Red pepper + tomato
  • Butternut squash + pear 

Scrumptious Soups: Asparagus
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 potato, diced (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-3 quarts of low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 pound of asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup milk, half-and-half, or plant-based milk
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, saute the onion, potato and garlic in the vegetable oil until tender - about 5 -10 minutes.
  2. Add asparagus and saute for another minute or two. 
  3. Add enough stock to just barely cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the veggies are tender (but not mushy).
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree your soup until velvety and smooth. Stir in your milk and check the seasoning - add salt + pepper, if you wish. 
Pureed soups freeze well - try glass mason jars or 1-quart freezer bags. You can stack the plastic bags and store a lot of soup without using much freezer space. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I Bike: Tom

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?

I learned to bike when I was six years old, my eight year old sister was my coach. Needless to say I suffered a few scrapes and bruises before I got the hang of it! 

In what city and state do you live?

I currently live in South Bend, IN but I hail from the Emerald Isle. I lived in Ireland all my life before moving to South Bend last August to do a one year Masters in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Commercialization at the University of Notre Dame.  

What is the biking culture like there?

Ireland is a great country for biking. The larger cities such as Dublin and Cork are very bike friendly with most streets having bike lanes. In addition, the recent implementation of a biking rental scheme has made cycling even more accessible to both commuters and tourists. However, biking in the countryside is the main attraction. Ireland’s best sights such as the Ring of Kerry are best seen whilst biking the through the breath-taking landscape.  

What kind of bike do you have? 

My biking style is a bit reckless to say the least, so I’ve always had a mountain bike. 

How often do you ride your bike?

I ride my bike every day. 

Do you have a bike story?

I was in Paris in 2008 and I had just met the love of my life. We agreed to meet again outside Montmartre Metro Station at 10am. Surprise surprise, there was a strike and the metro wasn’t operating that morning. It was 9:45am, and I was 3 miles from Montmartre. I rented a bike at a nearby bike shop and made it just in time! We had not exchanged contact information (this was before facebook was all powerful), so if it wasn’t for that bike we may never have met again!

I wish drivers

would give cyclists right of way at an intersection crossing!!

I would ride my bike even more if...

I had a comfortable bike saddle.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?

YES!! Myself and my five Irish comrades nicknamed the Cycling Irish biked right through the winter.
Do you own a car?

No, not yet.
My favorite thing about riding my bike.... 


The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike…. 

Bike tour of Munich, Germany. Great city, lovely parks and very bike friendly.

The bike trip I’m dying to do…

Tour de France

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Grilled veggie + pesto pasta salad

I love summer food! This will be a great recipe to keep on hand when the zucchini plants are spitting out zucchinis faster than you can bake zucchini bread. This pasta is full of flavor and color and good for you, too! Feel free to swap veggies - I think that this would also be great with asparagus and eggplant.

This would be filling on its own, but for dinner, I also had some salmon on the grill and some strawberries on the side. Yum!

Gluten free? Try this with rice or quinoa.

Grilled Veggie + Pesto Pasta Salad
  • 2 medium summer squash, cut into quarters, length-wise (one yellow, one zucchini for beauty)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thick rings
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 6 or 8 strips
  • 8 ounces dry whole-grain pasta
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Boil pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse. 
  2. While pasta is cooking, brush veggies with olive oil and then grill veggies outside on your grill or inside on a grill pan until tender, but not mushy. When cooled enough to handle, dice veggies. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, pesto, beans, veggies and cheese. Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper and enjoy! Good warm or chilled.
Reader poll: What's your favorite veggie on the grill?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Living happily & healthily ever after: Alien vegetable lands in Ohio

Guest posting by Katie Arlinghaus 

This past spring my sister’s boyfriend asked my sister to marry him. She said yes and they’re ready to live happily ever after! I am confident that I can say this because I know they love each other and all of that essential business, but also because of the healthy game my to-be brother-in-law is particularly fond of playing.

When I went to visit them earlier this year he would stop at the store on his way back from work or wherever and bring home ridiculous amounts of produce. I’m talking crazy excessive—they have a mini produce section in their tiny London flat kitchen—amount of produce: Pears, raspberries, bell peppers, broccoli, apricots, mushrooms…My sister’s face scrunched to half its normal size as she calculated how we were possibly going to eat all of this before it went bad and where we could store all of it (I promised they’d live happily (healthily) ever after, not that my sister would have wrinkle-free skin)...blackberries, bok choy, radishes, oranges, apples, kale, potatoes, and an alien vegetable.

He pulled a bulbous, light green thing out of the bag, and with an oversized grin on his face he introduced us to his favorite purchase, “…and look what I found! It looks like an alien!”

Kohlrabi with leaves (the leaves are edible, too)
The thing truly did look like an alien head with little alien ear or horn tufts coming out from the top, or bottom, we weren’t really sure. My sister sighed, an indication to me that this was a common affair,

“What is it?”
“Well, I don’t know, but doesn’t it look like an alien?”
“How do you cook it? Do you eat it raw?”
“I don’t know, but look how cool it looks!”
My sister sighed, “What are we going to do? Google alien vegetable?”

So we did.

We googled “alien vegetable,” and turns out, “alien vegetable” is a common way for bloggers to describe kohlrabi, aka my new favorite vegetable. Kind of a cross between a radish or turnip and a water chestnut, kohlrabi (pronounced “cole-rob-E” has a texture similar to a radish, with a cabbage-like flavor. My sister roasted it with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Delish.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my mom came home from my uncle’s garden, “Look at the new vegetable your uncle grew! It’s called cole-something. He said it adds a nice crunch to salads and that we could sauté the leaves, like we would greens.”

Turns out, the alien vegetable wasn’t satisfied with its British Invasion and decided to land its spaceship right here in Ohio, and I’m so glad!

Raw, roasted, or sautéed, kohlrabi is a delicious source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Do a quick “alien vegetable” google search and try some today!

What strange vegetables have you tried?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Taj Mahal stuffed sweet potatoes

Most Americans aren't getting enough veggies. In particular, there is a gap in those orange veggies that are loaded with vitamin A (often in the form of beta carotene). This is a delicious recipe that is meatless and gluten free. Basically awesome for everyone.

Don't be afraid of the fat - our bodies need fat and it is how we absorb some of our nutrients, like vitamin A!

Taj Mahal Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
  • 2 baked sweet potatoes
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons milk or half and half, or your preferred milk
  1. Cook sweet potatoes. This can be accomplished in the microwave in about ten minutes, in a 350 oven for about an hour or in your slow cooker, on low, while you're at work. Your call.
  2. Warm a skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add onions, carrots, spices and cook 5-10 minutes or until soft. Add peas and cook until they're heated through. 
  3. While veggies are cooking, slice potatoes in half and scoop out most of the middle, leaving enough that the potato can still hold its own shape. Put the scooped out part in a bowl, add milk, and mash with a spoon.
  4. When the veggies are ready, add them to the bowl of mashed potato and stir until evenly distributed. Divide the mixture between the sweet potato halves and serve.
This recipe was inspired by Eats Well With Others. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Radish pasta

Radishes are one of those veggies we don't see outside of the odd slice in a salad blend here and there. We don't tend to seek radishes with gusto. However, they're super easy to grow and fun for kids to plant and pick. to eat 'em?

This is a simple pasta recipe that answers just that question. It used the zesty root of the radish as well as the greens. Did you know that they were edible, too? It is an added bonus! Cooking both the radish and the greens helps to tame the zestfulness of this veggie.

If you're picking these beauties from your own garden, the easiest way to clean the greens is to rip them from the radish root and soak them in a large sink-full of cold water; the dirt sinks to the bottom.

Radish Pasta
Serves 4

  • 1 bunch of radishes with greens (10 or so radishes)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 8 ounces of dry, whole grain pasta
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  1. Set a medium pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and then drain.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare the veggies. Clean the radish greens and then slice. Remove the little root tail from the radish bulb and then slice them thinly. 
  3. In a skillet, warm butter or olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and radish roots and saute 2-3 minutes longer. Add greens and pine nuts and saute for another minute or two, or until the pine nuts are lightly browned and greens are wilted. 
  4. Toss veggies with pasta and serve in bowls. Top with Parmesan cheese and eat!
What is your favorite radish recipe?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why I Bike: Jan

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?   

I can’t remember being taught to ride a bike!   Bike-riding was part of my earliest, fondest memories.  I just don’t remember having training wheels all that long because I wanted to keep up with the slightly older kids in the neighborhood who rode their bikes everywhere in the neighborhood.  After I learned and was in middle school, I rode 20 or 25 miles some days in the summer.  It was glorious seeing so much from my bike - what freedom!

In what city and state do you live?
Now live in South Bend, Indiana, but have lived in Portland OR, DC,and Milwaukee - all places where I’ve loved to ride my bike.

What is the biking culture like there? 
The biking culture is growing in South Bend.  Big focus on bike trails and bike paths now in past 5 years - great to see.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?   
I proudly own a Townie Electra - the ultimate commuter bike.  I also still own the 26” hot red Schwinn coaster-break bike that I rode until I was 16.  I logged too many miles on that bike to part with it and it’s moved with me several times!

How often do you ride your bike? 
Commuting to work and errands daily during the week;  on weekends, I enjoy riding the bike trails along the river in South Bend near our home.

Do you have a bike story? 
Teaching my youngest son Kevin to ride without training wheels!   Kevin so desperately wanted to learn to ride on his 6th birthday - he told me that would be the best birthday ever if he did!  He practiced, practiced, and practiced - and on his 6th birthday he put it all together!  Seeing him ride off down the block, confident and so happy, will always be a special memory to cherish.

I wish drivers...would respect that bikes are vehicles too.

I would ride my bike even more if...I lived in a balmier climate.

My favorite bike snack:
Fresh local fruit that’s in season - berries, apples, cherries - yumm!!

My favorite piece of bike gear are:
my Saddlebags.  They are deep and wide, and  I don’t ever hesitate to go anywhere because I can stash so much in them - work gear, outing gear, overnight stuff.  They helped transform my bike-riding - now I don’t hesitate to go anywhere!

Do you ride your bike in all weather? 
No.  I wish I did.  But our winters are so full of ice and snow I wait until the thaw comes to ride again.

Do you own a car?   
Yes. We have a bunch of kids and to handle traveling with them we needed a car.  All of them enjoy biking, though, which makes me very happy.
My favorite thing about riding my bike.... 
is that I observe much more of my surroundings when I bike.  I see things I don’t notice when I drive in a car, neighborhoods and people and nature all look different. I love  soaking up those details when biking!

The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike…. 
The Kal-Haven trail ride in Michigan - gorgeous 80 mile RT that ends up in Kalmazoo, done with BFFs over a weekend.  Did it in fall and the autumn colors were breathtaking!

The bike trip I’m dying to do… 
Poland by bike.  That’s where my family is from, I’ve never been there, and some touring friends of mine said that is the best way to see new countries and landscapes. 

Why do you bike?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Juice: What's the big deal?

Juice: is it a healthful drink providing vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals? A sugar bomb threatening your child's teeth and health? Depending on who you ask, you may get startlingly different opinions. 

Let's consider the facts. 

As a registered dietitian, juice, means a drink that is 100% from fruit. However, in practice that isn't the same jargon used by everyone. Plenty of parents, and by proxy their children, use "juice" to mean anything from actual fruit juice, so any sort of flavored, sugared watery drink. While it is simple to slap the same name on both, kool-aid and orange juice aren't the same. 

We can agree that whole fruit is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. When you squeeze fruit to make juice, it is almost as good, but you tend to loose the fiber. Fiber helps us to prevent heart diseases, manage our appetite and weight and keeps our GI tract moving smoothly. Without fiber, our brain doesn't register the calories as well. 

The other important consideration with juice is the portion. At my house we have some glasses that we inherited from my grandmother and are quite tiny, they're about 4 ounces. I used to scoff at their single-slurp portion and reach for something much larger. Turns out grandma was right: 4 ounces is actually all we should have at once, especially for children. 

How much juice is in a single orange? Not a whole heck of a lot. When I squeezed one orange with all of my might, I only got 1/3 cup. Consider that the next time you slurp down 16 ounces of juice - that may be the same number of calories as eating six whole oranges. Better than six cokes or six cookies, absolutely, but still leaves room for balance. 

Does it matter if the juice is from concentrate? Not really. Concentrating simply removes some of the water so that there is less product to package and ship. When you add the water according to the package directions, the amount of sugar doesn't change.
8 oz orange juice
  • 110 kcal
  • 21 g sugar
  • 0.5g fiber
Not from Concentrate Ingredients: Ingredients: Pasteurized Orange Juice. Concentrate ingredientsConcentrated Orange Juice. No added sweeteners or preservatives.

1 navel orange
  • 70 calories
  • 12 g sugar
  • 3 g fiber
8 oz "juice" Sunny Delight
  • 63 calories
  • 14 g sugar
  • 0g fiber
Ingredients: Water, High Fructose, Corn Syrup and 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Concentrated Juices (Orange, Tangerine, Apple, Lime, Grapefruit). Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta-Carotene, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Natural Flavors, Food Starch-Modified, Canola Oil, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Sodium Benzoate To Protect Flavor, Yellow #5, Yellow #6

What about that sugar? Most of us are consuming too much sugar. However, fruit is a package deal with lots of other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. We don't want to rule out fruit. 

Take away note: enjoy juice that is 100% from fruit, in small portions. Focus on whole fruit and water the rest of the day

Thanks for the question, Alice!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Crustless quiche

This is a yummy little summer meal that uses any kind of fresh veggies and satisfies your belly without feeling loaded down. Intimidated by making crust? Skip it! This quiche is just fine without it!

Crustless Quiche
Serves 6
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup shredded cheese - Swiss is yummy
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces of asparaguss, or so
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a pie plate with non-stick spray. 
  2. Warm a skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and saute for a few minutes or until tender. Plop the veggies into the prepared pie plate. 
  3. Whisk the eggs, shredded cheese, half and half, rosemary, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Pour mixture over cooked veggies. 
  4. Rinse asparagus and arrange lovingly over the egg mixture. Pop into the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the edges are brown, the quiche has puffed up and a knife inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. 
  5. Let rest for a few minutes for easier slicing.
This is excellent warm or cold, for breakfast and for dinner (in a car, on a train!)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday Synopsis: Holly's Hummus

Hooray for hummus! Hummus is an excellent bean dip as good on raw crackers and veggies as it is slathered on your sandwich or wrap. Flavor variations are endless, but here are a few of my favorites! Don't forget to pin the lovely picture :)

Spiced Pumpkin


Pizza - a kid (of all ages) favorite!

Caramelized onion

Cinnamon roll - a sweet hummus that tasted like dessert - yummy!

Pad Thai


Balsamic black bean

Roasted carrot a l'Orange

Reader poll: What is your favorite kind of hummus? What do you like to dip in it?
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