Showing posts with label fiber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiber. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad

Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad

Legumes, your humble beans, are quite the nutrition power house. They're loaded with protein and fiber, they have complex carbohydrates for sustained energy and they're low in fat. They are also a good source of B vitamins (important for releasing energy from food) as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium (maintaining healthy bones, blood and more). And the best part? They're cheap!

So what gives? Many folks think that they don't like beans. Or they think they take too long to cook. Or they're afraid of certain, er, effects after eating beans. To this I reply; with the right recipe, beans are DELICIOUS! Some beans do take long to cook, but if you make good use of your slow cooker or use canned beans, you can get over this hurdle too. As for the gas? Just build up your intake of beans slowly. This too will subside.

Lentils are a great "gateway" legume because they're super fast to cook. They go from dried to cooked in 20 minutes flat! They're also tiny and cute, so they're easier to hide amongst your veggies for the bean-phobes in your life.

Here is a great recipe I adapted from the Biggest Loser website.

Lovely legumes: Confetti Lentil Salad
  • 2 cups cooked lentils (from 1/4 bag dried lentils, 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup queso seco
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare your lentils according to package directions; mine took about 20 minutes boiling to be tender. 
  2. Chop your veggies and add them to the mixing bowl
  3. Measure the cheese and add to the bowl as well, followed by your dressing. 
  4. Enjoy right away, or let the flavors merry overnight before the big feast!
This recipe is incredibly flexible. Don't like cucumbers? Skip 'em! Have some roasted or grilled veggies left over? Toss 'em in! Think carrots should join the confetti party? I do too! 

I made 1/2 of a bag of lentils (8 ounces). I used 2 cups for this recipe and am saving 2 cups in the freezer for another time! Cook once, eat twice!

2 cups of lentils, ready to go!

Love those veggies! Is your cutting board looking dull or cracked? Check out this posting about cutting board maintenance.

chopped red bell pepper

I like to remove the seeds from cucumber using a spoon, but that's up to you!

Saving the veggie scraps (except for the onion skins) for the worm composter!

Almost ready!

It is important to measure those high-calorie ingredients such as cheese and olive oil

If you don't have access to a Latin grocery store, try feta, Gorgonzola or sharp cheddar cheese instead

Adding the queso seco, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic.


This recipe is vegetarian. If you'd prefer vegan, skip the cheese or substitute some grilled or roasted tofu. This is also good for those of you avoiding gluten, or feeding gluten-free friends!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Breakfast of Champions: Super Oatmeal

Oatmeal has a well deserved reputation of being a healthy breakfast. With the soluble fiber contributing to heart health and the whole grains keeping you satisfied, it is no wonder that people feel like they've gotten off to a good start when their breakfast bowl has oatmeal.

Since I like to tweak recipes to make them healthier and better, I have created a "super oatmeal" that is healthy and satisfying. 1/4 cup of oats may not seem like a lot, but when it is bulked up with fruit and nut butter, it is plenty!

Super Oatmeal

1/4 cup quick oats (cooks in 5 minutes)
1/2 cup water
1 medium apple, chopped
1 Tablespoon nut butter (almond, peanut, per your preference)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
1 cup low-fat milk or soy milk
Cinnamon powder and vanilla extract to flavor

1. Chop the apples and add to 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan. Cover, and bring to a boil.
2. Stir in the oats, cinnamon and vanilla and lower the heat to a simmer. Set the timer for 5 minutes and stir occasionally.
3. At the end of cooking, stir in the spoonful of nut butter and the flax seeds. Plop the thick cereal into a bowl and surround with your favorite milk. I like my oatmeal pretty thick, so I like this "island" approach with the cereal surrounded by the milk. If you prefer thinner oatmeal, you can either make with more water or stir in the milk. You choose!

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed more hungry folks.

Interestingly, this oatmeal is actually good reheated. You can make enough for several breakfasts, reheat the single portion in the microwave and pour your milk in afterwards.

The flax seeds offer many benefits beyond their delicious nutty flavor. When ground up, the seeds offer fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet is pretty low in omega-3 fatty acids and so we should embrace any opportunity to have more in our daily lives. Just make sure to grind the seeds before eating to have access to these benefits; our body cannot brake through the seed coat. Sprinkle on our foods and your body will thank you!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baking: Whole Wheat Birdseed Bread!

One of my resolutions for the new year was to not buy loaves of packaged bread for the house. Atkins? you ask. No, I simply want a little more control over what is in my bread, to limit packaging some and I like the challenge. 

One great book I have been using is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their method of bread baking is to mix up a batch of dough that hangs out in your fridge and is ready when you are. You do have to allow time for the bread to rise; once when the dough is initially mixed up and once before baking. The "hands on" time is quite limited. I have been using their recipes to make loaves of delicious bread, sticky buns, pizza, calzones and more. They're really wonderful! The instructions make even the beginner baker feel confident. You can do it; give it a try!

I LOVE their whole wheat bread recipe! I have found too many whole wheat bread recipes that taste like a brick...not great for converting folks to the high-fiber virtues of whole grains! This one is hearty but still soft. The original recipe is great as is, it is also delicious with added nuts and seeds; I've added pecans, flax, almonds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds....hence birdseed bread!

100% whole wheat sandwich bread 
(that doesn't taste like a brick)

Makes 3 1.5lb loaves (my bread pans must be big because it makes two for me)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (two packets)
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (neutral flavor)
6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

1. Mixing and storing the dough. Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the milk and water in a  5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with a dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with a dough hook).
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); approximately 2 to 3 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.


5. On baking day. Lightly grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch non-stick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2 pound (cantaloupe-size) handful of dough. This dough is pretty sticky and often it's easiest to handle it with wet hands. Keeping your hands wet, quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You want to fill the pan slightly more than half-full.
7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour the top of the loaf and slash, using the tip of a serrated knife.

Rising...hanging out with my super cool Kitchen Aid mixer :)

8. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray on another shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread. If you're not using a stone, the preheat can be as short as 5 minutes.
9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.
10. Allow to cool completely before slicing in order to cut reasonable sandwich slices.

All done and ready to be sampled! Yummy!
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