Friday, December 30, 2011

Triple Berry Parfait

Festive and a snap to make, this was part of my Christmas dinner with my family.  I had forgotten that I had taken a photo of it until today when I was uploading photos for my other posts.   The combination of the antioxidents in the berries and the probiotics in the kefir make it a great immune-building dessert.  Who knew that dessert could be healthy?

1/2 cup frozen triple berry mixed fruit  (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
1 cup plain low-fat kefir

Partially thaw the frozen fruit mix.  Put the kefir into a blender and add the fruit, and puree to desired consistency.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: Approx 1.25 cups
Calories: 209
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 133 mg
Total Carbs: 34 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 15 g

Kale, Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

I am still all about "easy" today.  So I looked in the fridge, saw the left-over cauliflower and broccoli soup from yesterday and decided to add some chopped kale to it for extra potency and flavor, and cooked it in the microwave.  All hail kale! 

2 cups florets of cauliflower and broccoli, chopped
1 -2 cups water
onion powder, to desired taste
garlic powder, to desired taste
1/8 teaspoon Nature's Seasons
4 kale leaves, destemmed and chopped fine
(I prefer to use the Tuscany Kale.  It's lovely to behold!)

Place the chopped broccoli and cauliflower florets in a 4-cup glass measuring cup  Ad water to at least half the amount of vegetables, or more if a thinner soup is desired.  Ad onion powder, garlic powder, and Nature's Seasons.  Microwave at high power until the vegetables are tender.  Add the chopped kale and continue to cook at high power until the kale is tender.  Cool a bit, then puree with an immersion stick blender.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

Servings per recipe: 2
Serving Size: Approx. 1.25  cups
Calories: 46
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 131 mg
Total Carbs: 8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 3

Wild Wood High Protein Tofu

On my recent post for Quick Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup,  I mentioned adding tofu to it.  I know that tofu is repulsive to some people, but not to me!  I loved it even before it became an important element in my diet. Maybe my love for it is because I was first introduced to extraordinarily good quality tofu in Japan in the early 1980's when I was there to teach English as a Second Language.  I was consistently eager to try all the foods offered to me, including tofu.   My favorite recollection of how it was served was as a simple small block with an indentation in the top of it filled with a mighty hot wasabi paste.  My nostrils were on fire but I ate it again and again.  It was also frequently served as small cubes in a simple yet delicious miso soup, or with stir-fried vegetables.  Oh, I do miss stir fried vegetables. But I am grateful that I can still enjoy tofu and find that it fits my requirements for soft protein.   But the spicy wasabi has to go. 

At the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op, I recently discovered a new type of tofu by Wild Wood Organic Foods that is higher in protein than most other types. An 85 gram portion of this tofu contains 14 grams of protein, which is more than double what most tofu of similar size contains.  Other nutritional information for this serving portion is listed below.   This tofu is super-firm, and quite different from the smooth Japanese type of tofu I was initially introduced to, but it tastes similar and is more amenable to being sauteed than the softer types.   Yet it is soft enough for my digestive system to handle without a problem. 

My husband reminds me that when buying tofu, it is critical to buy organic, since customary practices for growing soybeans uses high levels of pesticides.

The wonder of tofu is that it easily absorbs the flavors used with it.  One of my favorite marinades for cubed tofu is soy sauce (or Bragg Liquid Aminos) with curry powder, garlic powder, and sometimes I throw in a little bit of rice vinegar.  Then I saute it in coconut oil.   The other cool thing about this new type of tofu is that it is not packed in water, so it doesn't need to be pressed or drained, thus I don't need any additional prep time (or advance planning) to make it. 

Experiment and enjoy!

Sauteeing tofu
Nutritional Information for Wild Wood Organic Tofu:
Serving Size: 85 grams per serving   (each package contains 3 servings)
Calories: 130
Total Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 15 mg
Total Carbs: 3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 14 g

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quick Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

When time, energy, and ingredients are at a minimum (like today when I am resting from Christmas festivities),  this is one of my easiest routes to a quick and healthy soup.

2 cups florets of cauliflower and broccoli, chopped
1 to 2 cups water, depending on desired consistency for the soup
onion powder
garlic powder
1/8 tsp Nature's Seasons

Place the chopped broccoli and cauliflower florets into a 4-cup glass measuring cup.  Add water to at least half the amount of vegetables, or more if a thinner soup is desired.  Add onion powder, garlic powder and Nature's Seasons, to desired taste.  Microwave on high power until the vegetables are tender, stirring a couple of times,  and the kitchen is stinky.   (Our 18 year old son, Sam, always knows when I cook this!)  Cool just a bit and then puree with an immersion blender stick.   Adjust seasonings to desired taste.  Serve immediately as a soup.  Sometimes I add a bit of Parmesan cheese and some turkey meatballs to it.  It's also very good with some high-protein sauteed tofu cubes in it, with a dash of soy sauce, giving it a Japanese flavor.  (These additions are not included in the nutritional analysis.)

Quick Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup with Tofu
 Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: Approx 1 1/2 cup
Calories: 50
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 240 mg
Total Carbs: 8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 4 g

Monday, December 12, 2011

Squash Soup with Nutmeg and Sage

Tom was the glad recipient of more squash from a friend.  The photo here shows the variety of squash he gave us, plus a couple I still had from our garden.  The soup I made this time is an adaptation of a recipe from a family cookbook from my friend, Julie.   The combination of sage and nutmeg with squash intrigued me when I read it and delighted me when I ate it!  I didn't have a butternut squash to use for this recipe, and I'm not sure what type I used, but the resulting soup was tasty.    

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups cubed, peeled, seeded butternut squash
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground sage (or 2 T chopped fresh sage)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup to 1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fat-free Fage Greek yogurt

Spray a large, nonstick saucepan with non-fat butter flavored cooking spray.  Then add the garlic and onion.  Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the squash, broth, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, pepper and sage; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, adding the water 1/2 cup at a time, until the squash is very soft, about 20 minutes. (You may not need to add all of the water, depending on the density of the squash.)  Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.  Add the Fage yogurt and reheat gently till the yogurt is heated, but do not allow it to boil. 

Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: Approx 1 1/2  cup            
Calories: 108
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 254 mg
Total Carbs: 25 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 4 g

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kale-Collards-Broccoli Puree

After a medical appointment last week, my husband and I stopped at the Duluth Whole Foods
Co-op, which is only a few blocks from the medical complex. As I surveyed the hot deli bar, I spied a chafing pan filled with a mixture of sauteed kale, collards and broccoli.  The appeal of those dark, leafy greens and broccoli was tantalizing.  It's reassuring to know that at least sometimes I really crave incredibly healthy food.  I purchased a small portion of these green jewels and brought them home and simmered them in just a bit of vegetable broth, then pureed them with an immersion blender.  I hadn't used very much broth, so a thick consistency was the result, and I refrigerated it.  The next day for lunch,  I spread it on a slice of sourdough bread and topped it with feta cheese and a squeeze of tomato paste. The added benefit of sourdough bread is that it contains healthy probiotics, besides being soft and yummy. I decided the spread would also be great a substitute for lettuce on a sandwich sometime in the future.   

If you are wondering why I can eat bread, but not raw lettuce or even cooked kale or broccoli, it's because the bread will dissolve in my gastric juices, but the greens won't. My gastroenterologist's "rule of thumb" for me is if the food won't dissolve in my gastric juices, then it needs to be able to squeeze through a tube of toothpaste.  Otherwise, it will likely create an obstruction.   See my Food Challenges tab for more information about my dietary challenges, if you haven't already looked at it.  I use coconut oil frequently because, as a medium-chain triglyceride, it doesn't require as many pancreatic enzymes to digest as most fats, which makes it a great choice for people with pancreatic insufficiency. 

When I purchased the sauteed greens, I noted the listed ingredients and the next day I called the Co-op to ask about the proportions of the ingredients.  While the Whole Foods Co-op will not share their recipes, the kitchen chef I spoke with was extraordinarily gracious and friendly and told me that they used an equal portion of kale, collards, and broccoli and sauteed them in olive oil with garlic.  Based on what the cook told me, I made my own version of this today.   This time, I used it as a base for steamed flounder, and again used a garnish of a squeeze of tomato paste from the tube. The taste contrasts were splendid.  I think this greens mixture would also be a healthy sauce for pasta.  Move over pesto!

The convenience of purchasing the cooked greens at the Co-op  last week was most helpful after a long morning of medical appointments, and also provided inspiration for new creations for me.  Yes, I do love the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op!

Steamed Flounder on Kale-Collards-Broccoli Puree

1 cup chopped kale, thick stems removed
1 cup chopped collard greens
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to desired taste            

Heat coconut oil in pan over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and saute until golden.  Add chopped vegetables and saute until tender, adding vegetable broth a bit at a time, being careful not to create a mixture that is too thin.   Puree with an immersion blender.  To use as a spread, refrigerate overnight.   To use as a base for something like fish, keep it warm. 

Nutrition: (does not include salt, pepper, feta cheese or tomato paste)
Servings per recipe: 3

Chopped greens and broccoli
Serving Size:  1/2 cup                              
Calories: 109
Total Fat: 9 g                                              
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 56 mg
Total Carbs: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 2 g