16 January 2014 A Basic Caprese Salad

2014-01-12-foodie-015The middle of winter is not necessarily when you expect to find tomatoes, is it?  These, though not vine ripened, did actually grow on a farm in Massachusetts. They are Ugly, an apt name for this variety, and they were delicious!

Basic Caprese Salad

  • Ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced at about 1/4 inch
  • Fresh mozarella cheese, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and pepper2014-01-12-foodie-066

Method

  • Wash and slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving dish
  • Slice the cheese into rounds, put one round (or 1/2 a round, if the fresh mozarella is quite large) on each tomato slice
  • Top with a freshly washed and dried basil leaf
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

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13 January 2014 Roasted Root Vegetables

We visited a local market, Idylwilde Farms in Acton this week – one of my favorite places tImageo go. It is a place where high-end food products and wines can be found right next to the most beautiful produce imaginable. Our challenge this week was to find locally grown produce and, despite the fact that we’re right smack in the middle of January, we were able to do just that.

The parsnips and carrots are both from Western Massachusetts. One of my favorite winter veg side-dishes is, roasted root vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweetness of both the carrot and parsnips making this one satisfying treat for a winter meal.

Roasting vegetables, especially root vegetables, is a fairly simple process: hot (400 F) oven, chunks of cleaned veggies coated with olive oil, some seasonings of choice, and about 20 minutes. Here’s the “master” recipe for tonight’s dish:

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips  2014-01-12-foodie-055

  • About 3  large parsnips, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
  • About 3 large carrots, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
  • Good quality olive oil to coat. Tonight I used half basil infused, half good old EVOO
  • A couple of handfuls of herbs – tonight we used fresh rosemary, salt and pepper

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Clean and cut the parsnips and carrots. Place in a large bowl.
  • Add the olive oil to coat generously.
  • Toss in the herbs and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Spread in a single layer in a large baking pan.
  • Place in preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Test vegetables for doneness, remove from oven and serve.

Image


04 Jan 2014 Kale Chips

2014-01-05-foodie-022We finally got an opportunity to visit the Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmer’s Market this weekend.  Not only was a great excuse for breaking out of the house after the end-of-week snowstorm, it was reinvigorating to visit with and buy from local farmers and businesses.

And it was the perfect catalyst for getting both Adrien and me back on track with our food collaboration project, Four Nights a Week. Check out Adrien’s blog for more great photos.

This week the kale looked great so we bought a bunch from local farmer, 2014-01-05-foodie-013Jones Farms and some very tasty salsa from Town Farm Gardens in Brookfield, MA.

Kale Chips (adapted from many many recipes)

Ingredients

  • Bunch of kale
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse Salt

Method

  1. Thoroughly wash the kale leaves. Cut the thick spines off the leaves and rip into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Dry the kale (water and oil don’t mix). I used my salad spinner for this. Put the kale in a large mixing bowl so you can toss the olive oil and salt with the leaves.
  3. Drizzle on the oil – enough to coat (not drench). I’m guessing a couple of tablespoons were enough. Now sprinkle on the coarse salt.
  4. Spread the kale in a single layer on baking sheets. Don’t make the mistake of putting all the kale on one sheet or the leaves won’t crisp up.
  5. Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes or so — watch the leaves so that they dry and crisp but don’t brown.  Also, I know there are some bloggers recommending using a microwave, but I would not….. too easy for leaves to catch on fire.
  6. Take the pans out and let things cool off until you can handle. Serve and enjoy.

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08 Jan 2014 My Own Greens and Sweet Potato Soup

2014-01-05-foodie-002Is there anything better than a nice hot soup on a wintry evening? I don’t think so.  Another item we picked up on our visit to the Chelmsford Agway Farmers’ Market was sweet potatoes. Not the beat up ones you see in big box food stores either. These were inspirational.

And that’s how the idea for making a Greens and Sweet Potato Soup came to fruition.  I already had fresh baby spinach left from a previous shopping trip in the refrigerator, so creating the soup just became an exercise in putting together what tastes appealed.  So here’s the result, but if you’re feeling inventive, substitute away.

2014-01-05-foodie-054                      2014-01-05-foodie-007

Greens and Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Small bunch of fresh baby spinach, cleaned and stemmed
  • Stalk of celery, chopped finely
  • Half an onion, minced
  • Clove of garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
  • About 2 tsp of Garam Masala
  • Couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Method

  1. Start by sauteeing onions, garlic, and celery in oil until the onions are limp.
  2. Throw in the Garam and pepper flakes for a few seconds so their oils are released.
  3. Add the cubed sweet potato and give them a minute or two.
  4. Now add the 4 cups of vegetable stock. Cover the pot and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the spinach, stir around a bit, cover and cook until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper if you wish) and serve.

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05 August 2011 Cucumber Salad with Olives, Oregano, and Almonds

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. Cooking for Two 2012. (2012) Brookline, MA: Boston Common Press Limited Partnership. p 74.

My Comment: Cucumber salads are the epitome of refreshing on hot summer days.  As a big fan of America’s Test Kitchens, I knew this salad would be perfection – a descriptor I would NOT have used with my previous iterations of this salad. Thanks to the chefs at ATK, here is a salad that has crunch and flavor.

Ingredients:

2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved length-wise, seeded and sliced thin
2 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp  lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 TBSP chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
1 small shallot, sliced thin
12 tsp minced fresh oregano
1 1/2 TBSP sliced almonds (toasted & chopped coarse) I omitted these

Method

1. Line baking sheet with paper towels and evenly spread cucumber slices on sheet. Refrigerate while preparing dressing.

2. Bring vinegar to simmer in small saucepan over medium-low heat; continue to simmer until reduced to 1 TBSP, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperatures, about 5 minutes. Whisk in oil, sugar, lemon juice, 12 tsp salt and pinch pepper until well combined.

3. add cucumbers, olives, shallot, and oregano to dressing and toss to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes, then toss to redistribute dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with almonds.  Serves 2.

Nutrition information (almonds included):

Calories (60), fat (3.2 g), Carbs (8.2), Fiber (3.9), Protein (1.0).  Hormonal carbs (Metabolic Effect = 3.3)


30 July 2012 Grilled Peppers Piedmontese

Have you ever noticed how your weekly food bill creeps up when you don’t menu plan?  In addition to changing the way we are eating so that we’re more conscious of hormonal carbs, this week I was inspired to do more meal planning when we realized our food bills were getting out of control.  This recipe from the Boston Globe Sunday magazine seemed a good fit for an interesting side -

Copyright © 2012. Adrien Bisson Photography.

and at 6.9 grams fat and -58.8 hormonal carbs (yes!) it’s right on target for eating metabolically. We served with a lean boneless skinless chicken breast which shared the grill and was simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

 

 

Grilled Peppers Piedmontese

Adapted from Reid, Adam. Out of the oven, onto the grill. The Boston Globe Magazine. July 29, 2012. p 16.

Copyright © 2012. Adrien Bisson Photography.Globe Magazine. (July 29, 2012). p 16.

Ingredients:

1 dry pint grape tomatoes (halved)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling if wanted
Salt and black pepper
3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise through the stem, membranes and seeds removed.

Method:

In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, 2 TBSP oil, 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper to taste, the parsley and half of the basil.

Prepare a medium fire charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes (if using gas, adjust burners to medium).

Grill the peppers open sides down until the edges char (6-8 minutes). Turn the peppers, divide the tomato mixture among them, cover the grill and grill until peppers are tender but not collapsed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange the peppers on a platter and drizzle with oil (I didn’t) and sprinkle with the remaining basil just before serving hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Serves 6.  PER SERVING: 328 calories. Total fat 6.9 grams, Total carbs 4.7 grams, Fiber 1.1 grams, Protein 62.4 grams.


Changes, changes

This blog has been in hibernation for more months than I want to admit, partly due to schedule demands and partly due to a major shift in eating.

About 6 months ago I started to notice how s-l-o-w my metabolism had become and how little energy I had. Substitute sources for proteins in our mostly vegetarian diet were no longer easily digested.

One change that I made was to join a fitness and training facility, SLS Fitness. Right across the street from the school in which I work, I no longer had an excuse about “getting to the gym” and with several colleagues also going, there was strength in number. The day Sherri Sarrouf came to talk to us about starting an exercise program was one of the best days of my life – everything she described made perfectly logical sense. Using rest-based training (Metabolic Effect), over the last six months my energy levels have been climbing and I am building more muscle.

Stage II of the process involved working with Susan Kirby, a trainer and nutrition coach at SLS.  And here is where we’ve made some major changes to what and how we eat.

While I no longer am strictly vegetarian, I am careful to eat lean proteins: chicken, turkey, lean fish.  I am using olive and coconut oils and eat so that at least half of my plate is vegetable.

I compute hormonal carbs (carbohydrates – fiber – protein) and try to keep that number around 15 while I keep fats to 10 or less each meal.  I eat something about every 3-4 hours using the principles of Metabolic Effect as a guide. This is helping me keep insulin levels more level. Given that I was able to do this with very little trouble while on vacation, I think it’s a eating lifestyle I can deal with.

We still cook and prepare meals at least 4 nights each week and eat very few prepared foods. So while this blog of collected recipes will no longer be strictly vegetarian, there still will be lots of ideas for home cooks who are vested in healthy eating.

Enjoy!


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