Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cucumber Mint Refresher

The temperatures in Duluth are finally feeling more like summer and I am ready for fresh non-starchy vegetables!  I definitely miss eating salads in the summer, but have found alternatives that are tasty and satisfying.   This is one of my favorites to add some vegetable zing to a summer meal.  It is also a great way to use the abundance of fresh mint in my herb garden.  Mint is also purported to aid digestion and is high in Vitamins A and C, as well as manganese. 

1 medium cucumber, peeled
4 - 6 fresh mint leaves

Chunk the cucumber and snip the fresh mint leaves into small pieces.  Put it all in the blender and wala!  It's as easy as that.  I added just a pinch of fresh sea salt.

Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories:  34
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 11  mg
Total Carbs:  6 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 2 g

Strawberry Mint Dazzler

This is a refreshing summer treat and incredibly easy to make.  Balsamic vinegar and strawberries may seem like an odd combination, but they complement one another superbly!

1 cup halved fresh strawberries
2 - 4 fresh mint leaves
1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Put it all in the blender and blend to desired consistency, making sure that the mint leaves are fully pulverized.

Servings per recipe:  1
Serving size:  About 1/2 cup
Calories: 67
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 4 mg
Total Carbs: 16 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 1 g

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach Kale Soup

Soup in mid-June isn't usually desirable, but when the high temperature for the past few days in Duluth has been only 52 degrees, I am ready for warm soup!  This is one of my favorite soups filled with healthy leafy greens.  It also is made with coconut oil, which is a unique type of fat that I digest much more readily than other types.  This is because coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride, which makes it more easily digested and absorbed more quickly.  Even though it is a saturated fat, it is metabolized quickly. 

3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, minced
Half of a dried chili pepper, no seeds
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium yellow potato, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (thick stems removed, and leaves roughly chopped)
1 bunch spinach (large stems removed)
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
Juice from 1 - 2 limes (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat coconut oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leek and garlic, and saute until golden.  Add the dried chili pepper, cumin, and potato, and saute for about 4 more minutes.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a low boil.  Cook until the potatoes are nearly tender. Add the kale and spinach and cook until tender.  Add parsley or cilantro.  Puree.  Season with freshly ground pepper.  Add the lime juice.  (With cilantro, I use lime juice.  With parsley, I use lemon juice.)

Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories:  200
Total Fat:  11 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium:  236 mg
Total Carbs:  23 g
Dietary Fiber:  6 g
Protein:  6 g

Moroccan Tofu Dip

This dip is my creation based on one that I tasted at the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op. I have made it several times to serve at my book club and have been asked for the recipe.  So, it must be good!  When I serve it to friends, I provide fresh raw vegetables for dipping.  For me, I generally spread it on a low-carb pita bread. 

12.3 oz package MoriNu Silken Tofu (extra firm)
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (or more to desired taste)
1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth and creamy.

Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size:  1/4 cup
Calories: 56
Total Fat: 3 g 
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 246 mg
Total Carbs: 2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 5 g

Monday, June 20, 2011

Avocado Tofu Dip

I created this recipe as a way to use up an avocado and cilantro, then added tofu for some protein.  It was delicious as a dip for low-fat baked pita chips. That's a recipe I'll share another time!

1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
2 slices MoriNu Extra Firm Silken Tofu                               
4 Tablespoons cilantro leaves
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Puree it all together.  You may need to add a bit of salt.

Servings per recipe:  4
Serving Size:  2 - 3 Tablespoons
Calories:  97
Total Fat:  8
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium:  30 mg
Total Carbs:  5 g
Dietary Fiber:  3 g
Protein:  4 g

Refreshing Cucumber Soup

I had planned to make my Easiest Ever Gazpacho soup, but realized I didn't have any salsa.  So I created this soup instead as a quick and tasty way to get some fresh vegetables.  It also helped use up leftovers from the vegetable tray served on Father's Day yesterday. I needed to add the V8 juice to provide enough liquid for the blender to handle it well.  Lucky for me, I had some in the cupboard.  

1 small can (5.5 oz) low-sodium V8 Juice
2 cups peeled and chunked cucumber (about 1 1/2 large cucumbers)
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
6 cherry tomatoes

Pour the juice into the blender first, then add the cucumber and puree.  Add remaining ingredients and process till desired consistency is obtained. 

Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size:  1 cup
Calories:  27
Total Fat:  0 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  54 mg
Total Carbs:  6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein:  1 g

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easiest Ever Gazpacho

I made this a couple of days ago based on what I had available and what I was craving.   It couldn't be any easier to make this flavorful chilled summer soup.

1/4 cup mild salsa                                                                       
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chunked
1 cup diced celery

Put it all in the blender and watch it whir!  Eat with delight.

Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size:  Approximately 2/3 cup
Calories:  62
Fat:  1 g
Cholesterol:  0
Sodium:  389 mg
Total carbohydrates:  13 g 
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein:  3

Pureed Yams with Ginger, Star Anise, and Cinnamon

The original recipe was from the November 2010 Country Living magazine, but it contained butter and brown sugar, so I modified it to meet my needs.  I love cinnamon and ginger, so it was a hit with me!  A nutritional bonus is the 975 grams of potassium.  I served this as a side dish for a pureed kale soup with ground turkey in it, and some yogurt for dessert.  Tasty!

1 medium yam, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup of cubes)
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tablespoon Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger

In a medium pot, add yam, star anise, cinnamon stick and enough water to cover, about 2 cups.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook yams until soft, about 10 minutes.
Drain, reserving liquid and discarding spices. Add Smart Balance, soy sauce and ginger and puree with an immersion stick.  Add some of the reserved liquid, if needed, to achieve a smooth consistency.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and serve hot. 

Serving Size: 1 large serving of about 1 1/4 cup
Calories:  219
Fat:  6 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  273 mg
Total Carbohydrates:  40 g
Dietary Fiber:  6 g
Protein:  3 g

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Strawberry-Mint Smoothie

I have an abundance of Lebanese mint growing in my herb garden. It was given to me by a friend whose husband is from the Mideast.  It can be invasive, so I wisely put it in pots dug into the the herb garden when I planted it several years ago and this has helped to contain it.  It has a lovely taste and I find as many ways to use it as possible.  I particularly like to pair it with strawberries.  I had organic strawberries in the freezer from last summer, so I paired them together today.  To add a healthy dose of Omega-3, I included ground flax seeds.  Delicious!

1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, halved
3 - 4 fresh mint leaves (or more)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 

Put all ingredients into the blender and puree until thoroughly mixed.   

Servings: 1
Serving Size: About 3/4 cup
Calories: 125
Total Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  2 mg
Carbohydrates: 15g 
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 4 g

Jamaican Black Bean-Sweet Potato Mash

This was originally a salad recipe that I transformed into a delicious spread for me.  I made it for lunch today and served it as a side dish with flaked halibut flavored with jerk seasoning.  It was a great combination. I finished the meal with Strawberry Mint Smoothie.  A very satisfying meal!

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 15 oz. can black beans
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
1/8 tsp paprika
1/4 cup chopped red onion
salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle sweet potatoes with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for about 30 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven, until soft.   When the sweet potatoes are cooled, mix them with the other ingredients.  Puree with an immersion blender, adding a bit of water as needed.   

Number of Servings:  6
Serving Size: Approximately 1/4 cup
Calories: 132
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  289 mg
Carbohydrates: 27 g 
Dietary Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 5 g