Black beans are versatile, cheap, tasty, and loaded with many health benefits, a true wonder bean. You can get a dynamite recipe for Cuban Black Beans by clicking on the picture below.
I love this recipe for lots of reasons, one of which is that the beans for this recipe cost under $1.00 and my husband and I enjoyed them for two dinners. Since I used dried beans, the soaking time and cooking time in a slow cooker was long, but the preparation time was pretty minimal. You can make bean dishes more quickly with canned beans and still have tasty, nutritious and economical meals.
The nutritional benefits of this bean go on and on - see their article in The World Healthiest Foods. But the one benefit that I will mention here is that of their 70% carbohydrate, most is resistant starch. Why in that important? It digests very slowly so that it doesn't cause a steep rise in blood sugar and is able to reach the lower part of the intestine where it can feed the good bacteria in our microbiome.
If you've not eaten for a while and your blood sugar is starting to drop, you probably are getting "hangry" (bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger). At this point almost any food, particularly a sugary food that is quickly absorbed, will make you smile and give you comfort.
Unfortunately, that food will absorb quickly and more will be needed to keep you smiling. Also, sugary food is not apt to provide the nutrients that will keep your hormones and immune system functioning optimally. Though one piece of that wonderful chocolate cake may be the perfect choice occasionally, eating that on a regular basis has the downside that your scale and overall health will make you frown.
So What Should You Do?
Don't wait until you get hangry. Have a daily routine of three or four eating times per day. This predictability will make your whole body smile. Become aware of how hungry you are and get familiar with your own hunger scale. Choose foods and meals that have lean protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling terrific from one meal to the next. Check out the recipes on this website - they'll keep you smiling. Click on the picture to see what recipe is making these people happy.
This is an easy recipe and fun to make. I was surprised when the sides rose up so high. It's also not a heavy pancake, since the main ingredients are two eggs and with only 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup milk. This recipe is from the King Arthur website and the pancake can also be made in a cast iron skillet, but I didn't have the right size. And for this recipe size matters! When I try it again, I won't let it get quite so brown. Click here for the recipe
Our world has suddenly changed completely. Social distancing, a phrase we never have heard before, is now on everyone's tongue. Taking time in the grocery store to make choices or googling recipes is no longer a reasonable plan. Have a list and get in and out as soon as possible with foods that are nutritious and will last. You want to go grocery shopping as infrequently as possible. Fresh or thawed fish will not last in the refrigerator for long, but frozen fish can last for months. You can check on the label to see if they are responsibly sourced; however, some stores, like Aldi and Whole Foods, only carry frozen fish with those labels.
Fish is wonderful and lean protein source that contains other important nutrients as well. To safely unthaw the fish, just take it from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow's dinner. You can look at some of the great fish recipes on my site, cookingtogetherwithfriends.com. Click on the picture below to get a great shrimp recipe. A 12 ounce package of the easy to peel shrimp at Aldi was under $7.00.
Get your shopping list together. Include some frozen fish. Now, Get in and Get out!
Has your belly ever felt bloated? When this happens, what should you do? Finding the answer isn't easy, since this problem hasn't seemed important enough to the medical community to study it. Fortunately, a dietitian, Tamara Duker Freuman, working with a gastroenterologist took the problem seriously and wrote a comprehensive book called the Bloated Belly Whisperer. She starts her book by including a questionnaire to help you decide where in your gut your problem originates. Is it the stomach, the intestine, or the colon? After you answer this questionnaire she directs you to the right chapter or chapters you need to read. Although a standard recommendation for the problem is to "eat more fiber", the type of fiber you are eating may be the culprit. Some fibers are more gut friendly than others. Quinoa includes this type of fiber. It is easy to cook and is gentle to your gut. Click on Quinoa Primavera (pictured below) for a tasty recipe using this versatile food. Click here for a website with lots of other wonderful quinoa recipes.
Of course it's not possible to summarize all of Freuman's findings in this blog. However, I can tell you that many bloated belly issues come from fermenting carbohydrates that your gut does not handle well. A trial elimination diet called the FODMAP diet was developed at Monash University in Australia and has been used for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and related issues. There is a lot of information about this diet on the web as well as wonderful free apps. After the elimination period, foods are reintroduced to find the triggers. Working with a dietitian knowledgeable about the FODMAP diet is the best way to design your personalized plan.
You want to make a great meal for Valentine's Day. (Eating out on that day can put you in a crowded restaurant with harried staff.) An aphrodisiac sounds like the right ingredient for the meal, though this term often applies to pretty weird stuff, check out Rocky Mountain Oysters. What does result in lifting moods are foods that taste good and increase serotonin, the "feel-good" hormone. One such food is the sweet potato. A warm sweet potato is a super comfort food. Besides being versatile and great tasting, it is so nutritious. This is definitely the sweet valentine that will make the heart smile.
Actually, just a plain baked sweet potato is a marvelous food. However, this versatile vegetable can be cooked in many different ways and I've included the link to four recipes for you to consider from my website. Pictured above is a stew with turkey, sweet potato, and peanut butter. (The combination of sweet potato and peanut butter is found in many versions of West African dishes, many of which are vegetarian.) There are three other recipes featuring sweet potatoes, they include sweet potato wedges, sweet potato salad, and sweet potato and black bean burrito.
Mindfulness has certainly become one of the new buzz words, but is mindful eating with kids a reasonable goal? Isn't just getting kids enough food to eat between all their activities enough of a challenge? Clearly that alone takes real effort. Many of us have chosen a very busy, tightly scheduled life style that our children share. Mealtime is often not on the schedule and includes something quick on the way to the next activity - confirmed by the long lines in the drive-through lanes at fast food establishments. However, learning about eating mindfully is important for kids today, as well as for adults, precisely because of all the activity. We all find ourselves in a very toxic food environment with supersized portions and foods that have been manufactured with increased sugar, fat, and sodium to make them what some researchers are calling "hyper-palatable" because they encourage overeating.
These foods and this environment result in the large percentage of eating disorders we see in young people today. As a consequence, obesity, binge eating, and anorexia, as well as other common diseases of our civilization like diabetes, reflux, and bowel disorders, are increasingly showing up in children. How can we start to incorporate mindfulness into children's lives? To consider the issue more completely, I recommend getting the book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays, MD, co-abbot at the Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. There is a chapter specifically dealing with children. Remember, mindfulness is about awareness, making eating a more enjoyable, nourishing experience. As you become more mindful of the food you eat, it can also help you make decisions about what to eat.
Below is my 13 year old grandson, Ryan, practicing taking a bite of bagel mindfully. Video
Take a Deep Breath and Start Slowly
Mindful eating is an important for all of us, but it's important not to make it an all or nothing goal. In her book, Chosen says, "We can get off to a good start by lowering our standards and initiating our mindful eating by having one conscious sip of tea in the morning" . Or, like Ryan, 1 bite of a bagel.
In my weeks with my grandchildren, we did some mindful exercises. One they liked best was cooking a favorite dish. Here are their recipes, cranberry sauce, and tuna cakes. Although not the recipes I might have chosen, they ate them mindfully because they had chosen them. You can check out the videos of their cooking in the following links.
Ryans cranberry sauce Willow's Tuna Cakes
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#stonesoupblog, #mindful eating, #eating with kids, #cooking together
Nuts to the Holidays! Looking at the December food magazines at the bookstore, I got a "sugar high" by just looking at all the cakes, cookies, and candies on the covers. So, am I going to cloister myself away to avoid these "tastes of the season". That's what I would have to do to avoid some of the Christmas goodies. No, I'm not, but I am going try to sneak some tasty nutritional ingredients into my diet to help balance my sugar high. Nuts are the perfect antidote. By themselves, they contain mostly good fat, protein, and no carbs - the perfect sugar balancer. This is true of all nuts. Each one is a wonderful source of vitamins and many of the minerals lacking in our normal American diet. My newsletter this month will focus on walnuts with their super nutritional profile, including omega fatty acids. So - nuts to holiday cooking. Check out the recipe for this wonderful orange walnut torte. Happy Holidays.
An Italian Orange Walnut Torte
You've started your list - turkey, potatoes, squash, stuffing, green beans and, of course, pumpkin pie. This works. You've made a lot of very good Thanksgiving meals sticking to the standards that everyone looks forward to and expects. You feel pretty sure that nothing is missing. OK, Let's look at your list again. All those traditional foods are wonderful, but as often prepared, a little bland. Certainly good enough for many of our guests to eat themselves into a Thanksgiving coma, but how could you change these good foods into superstars? The secret is acid! Add some acid to at least some of these dishes and they will shine because acid is an antidote to blandness. There are lots of acidic foods to choose from. Finding the right one can change an average dish into a great one.
In the picture above I've lined up some of the foods I had in my house, placing them in a line from the most acidic on the left to milder acid on the right. Most of us are aware that lemon and vinegar are acidic, but there are many milder acids. So what is it exactly that the acid does? It balances and brightens flavors. For example, just adding olive oil to a salad will enhance the flavor, but adding a good vinegar will make it pop. Greek Yogurt is a mild acid, close to 5 on the pH scale, but can add a wonderful tang to the right recipe. Mustard is one of my favorite acids, with a pH of 3 and it can brighten all sorts of dishes, including salad dressings, fishes, meats, and grains. Wines and liquors are acidic and often add brightness to a dish. Many wonderful dessert dishes have liquor added to balance the sweetness. The brandy in my Creamy Brandy Cherries elevates a very simple dessert dish into a special one. Below is a squash dish that contains a number of acidic ingredients, including brandy, that enhance the great taste of this vegetable. Just click the link
Brandied Winter Squash for the recipe. How can you tell if your dish is balanced? Taste it! You'll find that your tasting skills will improve as you try various vinegars on your salad or different amounts of mustard in your dishes.
I've encouraged you to use acidic ingredients in your dishes to balance the flavors and avoid bland foods. Acid is the opposite of alkaline, so we should be clear about what these terms mean. Acid levels of foods and liquids are measured on a pH (power of hydrogen) scale of 0-14. A measurement of 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acid and above 7 is alkaline. The alkaline diet states that you should eat those foods that keep your body's pH above 7. However, your body's pH levels are not affected by the food you eat, unless you're dealing with a serious illness. For example, your blood's pH is in the very narrow range from 7.36-7.44. Going much above or below that can be fatal. Your stomach is very acidic with a pH between 2.3-3.5 which is necessary to digest your food properly. Another confusing fact about the alkaline diet is that, although the pH of a lime is 2.2, a reasonably strong acid, it is rated as highly alkaline on the alkaline diet. The theory behind the alkaline diet is faulty according to a number of reliable sources; however, the diet itself is fairly healthy, mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Its major drawback is that it eliminates some foods that are good for you.. For though the lime is rated as highly alkaline on this diet, an orange with a similar pH is rated as mildly acidic.
A common suggestion is that a vinaigrette salad dressing should be three parts oil and one part vinegar. However, vinegars can vary so much that for a more gentle balsamic vinegar a 2 to 1 ratio might be much better. But you'll need more oil with a stronger vinegar.
Above is a picture of green beans. My husband and I used them to fine-tune their flavor. First, I sautéd them in a little olive oil and some garlic and then added a little broth, covered and steamed them until their texture was just how I liked them. I squeezed some lemon juice on one of the dishes and added balsamic vinegar to the other. I assumed I would prefer the sweet taste of the balsamic; however, although I liked the taste of both, I found the lemon preferable. When served with the rest of the meal, the lemon was the clear winner, though between my husband and myself, all the beans were eaten. Let me know what you think. If you send me some of your ideas about using acid, I'll include them in my next blog.
Just send them to email@example.com
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember that focusing on the things for which you are grateful, will turn the meal into a celebration!
I knew lentils were good for you, but I had no idea how amazing they were. Their nutrition profile, sustainability and ease of cooking makes them a food that is not only great for our health, but for our planet's health as well. There is so much to be said about this amazing "pulse" (that is their proper classification) that I will refer interested readers to the lentil article on the site of the world's healthiest foods.
When you went into most supermarkets a few years ago looking for lentils you would only find bags of brown lentils and it is these lentils that are most familiar to the American cook. The brown lentil and the green lentil have been called the continental lentils and are sturdy lentils and keep their shape when cooked. Now in most grocery stores,, you will often find the smaller more delicate ones as well, usually red or yellow. These cook quickly and get mushy, perfect for the dals of the Indian Cuisine. The lentil is a stable of Indian cuisine. Varied and flavorful dishes are made from this simple food by creatively layering blends of wonderful spices. So when you decide to make a lentil dish, be sure to purchase the right lentil.
How to cook lentils:
Lentils don't need to be presoaked. Even the green ones, which are most hardy, only need about 30 to 40 minutes of boiling, Although the green ones are often used in French recipes and are expected to keep a firmer texture, they shouldn't be chewy. When salt or an acidic ingredient, like a vinegar or lemon juice, is added to the boiling water early in their cooking, they will not reach their proper tenderness. Other seasonings, can be added as the lentils cook to give them the flavor of the dish and the acidic ones can be added later. I generally keep lentils on hand since they make a fairly easy, satisfying, cheap, soup. (I can't use all these adjectives for most dishes.) Click here for this recipe which is on my website. Lentil Soup However, I wanted to try a different lentil and found a green lentil dish on the website www.realsimple.com. It's under Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce. In Florida, at the time of this writing, Halibut was $22 a pound. But any substantial fish will work, i.e. salmon or swordfish. I thought this recipe would be interesting, since it added the surprise of a sweet potato and had an unusual mustard sauce which was not thick, but complemented the dish nicely. See the recipe below.
Fish with Lentils and Mustard Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups green lentils, rinsed (1/2 pound)
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce pieces of a hardy fish fillet
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and sweet potato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, wine, and tarragon. Divide the lentil mixture and fish among plates and drizzle with the sauce.
(Obviously, the taste of this simple sauce will vary considerably by with your choice of mustard and wine. It is not at all thick, but the flavor was a nice addition.}
#Stonesoupblog #lentils #healthycooking
Tricia Gregory, MA,RD/N
A dietitian who is a foodie and loves a great dinner party with wonderful food and terrific friends.