Friday, June 28, 2013

Kale Coconut Water Drink

The kale in Tom's vegetable bins is exploding!  The pure taste of tender, fresh kale is undeniably one of my favorite pleasures.  With the abundance of kale, I have the opportunity to try many new ways of exploring it's full potential.  Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, rich in calcium and cancer-fighting compounds.   It contains sulforaphane, which is a well studied phytochemical that may inhibit cancer-causing substances, according to Rebecca Katz, author of one of my favorite cookbooks, One Bite at a Time

I have been sharing some of the kale with my friend, Tahirih, who made a juice of kale, grapes and coconut water.  I had never tried coconut water, but was convinced by her that it's slightly sweet flavor was a great compliment to the kale. So I purchased a small container  (11.2 oz) of VitaCoco coconut water and put it with fresh kale and an apple into my VitaMix.  If you have never made a kale drink, this would be an excellent one to introduce yourself to this nutrition packed green drink. I am unfamiliar with the nutritional merits of coconut water, but will explore that another day.  All I know for sure is that this beverage was true summer Pzazz as I sipped it on the deck yesterday in hot, sizzling summer weather! 

Kale in raised garden bin

1 cup loosely packed chopped kale  (destem it first)
165 grams (just less than 3/4 cup) coconut water  (that's half of the small container I purchased)
1 small apple ( I used a braeburn apple)

Put it all in the VitaMix and watch it whirl.  Delicious and pure!

Servings per recipe: 1
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup                    
Calories: 126
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 49 mg
Total Carbs: 30 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 2 g

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kale Power Drink

Kale Power Drink

Tom's early optimism about gardening when he seeded nearly 1000 plants in March has yielded kale that is ready to harvest. He also built raised beds to extend our gardening space and make weeding easier.  They look a bit like 3 over sized caskets in our back yard, but they are definitely filled with life! In the bin with the kale, there are also seeded beets that have started to poke through the soil. Gardening Pzazz!  The type of kale I prefer most is lacinato kale, also known as Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale. The deep blue-green color of the dimpled leaves is quite stunning. 


About 2 cups chopped fresh baby kale
2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
1 tart apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup or more fresh parsley
1/2 cup water, if needed to start the VitaMix
1/2" slice of fresh ginger, peeled  (optional)

Throw it all in the VitaMix and watch it whirl!
Drink with gusto or sip with pleasure, knowing you are being filled with life-giving nutrients!

Lacinato Kale

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 2
Parsley in the deck pot
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup                                                
Calories: 104
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  76 mg
Total Carbs: 24 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 4 g

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mint Pea Soup

This recipe originated from BonAppetit.  Peas with mint are a traditional combination, but this soup takes it to a whole new delectable level!  Vibrant spring green soup with mint and parsley made it perfect for lunch on the deck.  On May 17, I posted Quick Chilled Pea Soup that also had mint with peas, but additionally it included spinach and garlic.  Both soups are great, with this one being a bit more sweet.

My Lebanese mint is finally making a breakthrough in the herb garden.  It was given to me by a friend who received it from a relative in Lebanon. She warned me that, like all mints, it is highly invasive, so I planted it in a pot in the herb garden to keep from spreading too much.  

Lebanese Mint
And the chive plants just keep getting bigger and more abundant in the herb garden. The parsley is in a pot with cilantro and dill on the deck and all are thriving well in the finally warm weather of Duluth!

Chives on June 11

Of course, I needed to make some modifications to the original recipe to meet my needs.  I used coconut oil rather than butter and I used non-fat Greek Fage yogurt rather than the sour cream and heavy cream that the original recipe mixed together and swirled into the soup.

On a side-note, at one of my medical appointments this week, I had more lab work done, including LDL levels. LDL is the "bad cholesterol", and the optimal level is below 100.   Since I started using coconut oil about 4 years ago, my LDL has consistently been coming down.  This time it was 85!  Pzazz Hurray for coconut oil!  

2 Tablespoons coconut oil 
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
6 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 6 pounds pods) or frozen peas, thawed (I used 6 cups frozen peas)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground pepper  

1/4 non-fat Greek Fage
Chopped fresh chives 

Melt oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add peas, reduce heat, and simmer gently until tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas, about 2 minutes for frozen.

Remove pot from heat. Add parsley, mint, and remaining 2 cups broth to pot. Purée soup in a blender or with an immersion blender, thinning with water if soup is too thick, until smooth. Season soup with salt and pepper. (I didn't add any additional salt, as I thought it was fine without it.) 

Serve warm soup topped with chives mixed with Greek yogurt. I had the soup cold for lunch one day this week and it was just as delicious!                                       

Nutrition per serving:                        
Servings per recipe: 6
Chives on May 16
Serving Size: generous 1 cup  
Calories:  173
Total Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0  mg
Sodium:  213 mg
Total Carbs: 22 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 10 g

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Super Soft Turkey Meatloaf with Spicy Sauce

This recipe was given to me by my friend, Julie.  She is another great cook!  Hmmmm.  I see a trend. Like my friend who gave me the recipe for the Turkish Lentil Soup I posted a couple of days ago, many of my friends enjoy cooking nutritious food as much as I do. This particular entree originally included a layer of cheese in the middle, which I omitted as I don't tolerate the fat in cheese very well.  It also used cracker crumbs rather than the oats that I used. The resulting product is so incredibly soft, yet tasty. 

I tried substituting Egg Beaters for the eggs one time, but the taste was inferior and there was only 1 gram less of fat, so I decided to use the real eggs.  Real is almost always better than artificial, and if a small amount is used in a large batch, it doesn't seem to have negative effects on my digestive system. 

The sauce has just the right amount of tang to make this turkey meatloaf incredibly delicious! I had two pieces for my lunch today, along with some roasted sweet potatoes.  

The way I roast sweet potatoes makes them soft enough to "squeeze through a tube of toothpaste for sure" which was my gastroenterologist's recommendation for me for over 4 years.  My son, Sam, thought the sweet potatoes were "mushy" so he fried his on the stove top before he ate them, to dry them out a bit.  Mushy works great for me, however.  What was most astounding was that he washed the pan and put it away after he finished!  Yes, I think living with other guys last year taught him about the importance of cleaning up after himself.  Now that is true PZAZZ!

    2/3 cup quick-cook dry oats  (or I have used crushed Sage dressing and then omitted the sage listed later)  (oats is what I used for nutritional analysis) 
    3/4 cup low-fat milk
    20 oz. ground lean turkey
    2 eggs, slightly beaten
    1/4 cup finely grated onion
    1 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp ground sage

    3 Tablespoons brown sugar
    1/4 cup catsup
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine oats, milk, turkey, eggs, onion and seasonings and mix well. Place in a 5 x 9 lightly oiled loaf pan.  Combine sauce ingredients and spread on the turkey loaf.  Bake for 1 hour. 

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 8 slices
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 173
Total Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 92 mg
Sodium: 166 mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 18 g

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

This recipe was given to me by my friend, Denise, whose reputation as a superior cook was confirmed by this tasty and easy soup.   Thanks Denise!  And yes, even though the temperatures have warmed somewhat here in Duluth, many chilly days persist and a warm soup still tastes great. 

    2 Tablespoons coconut oil (original recipe used olive oil)
    1 red onion, diced
    2 medium carrots, diced
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    2 Tablespoons tomato paste
    1 cup red lentils
    2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
    6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    Greek style yogurt (not included in nutritional analysis)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and ginger and cook, stirring, for one minute. ** Add tomato paste, lentils, tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender in batches and process until smooth or use a VitaMix or use stick blender to puree right in the pan. Serve in individual bowls topped with a dollop of yogurt. 

If you want to make this in a slow cooker, follow the steps until the asterisk above. Place the spices/onion/carrot mixture into the crock pot and add the tomato paste, lentils, tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper,  and set crock pot to low. After 6 - 8 hours, transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender right in the pot to puree the soup until smooth. Serve with a dollop of yogurt as listed above.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 9
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 159
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 637 mg
Total Carbs: 25 g
Dietary Fiber: 10 g
Protein: 8 g

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tofu Burgers (Patties)

Our daughter-in-love (that's our name for the most delightful and beloved woman who married our son) is vegetarian and gave this recipe to me.  It isn't pureed, but it is soft enough that I easily tolerate it, even with very small sesame seeds in it. Wheat germ can be used in place of the sesame seeds if your digestive system doesn't handle seeds well.  The patties make a great "burger" or a quick,  wholesome snack, either cold or heated.  

The basil is from the abundant plants on our deck that Tom started from seed in the greenhouse a few months ago.  Herbal Pzazz!

    1 lb firm tofu, mashed (use the type of tofu that is packed in water) 
    1 cup quick rolled oats
    1/2 cup sesame seeds (or wheat germ) [Nutritional analysis used sesame seeds]
    2 Tablespoons onion powder (or one small onion, finely chopped)
    2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground basil (or finely chopped fresh basil) 
    1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Drain the tofu well by placing it in a strainer, and then weighting it down by placing a plate on it and then putting a canned good on top of the plate.  Allow it to drain for about 30 minutes.  Then mash the tofu in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix all ingredients together. Knead for a few minutes with your hands in the bowl. Shape into 16 small patties (or make 8 big ones and adjust nutritional analysis accordingly.) Bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. You might want to flip them once during the baking time. 

These vegetarian "burgers" appeal to many people, and can be served with lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrot, pickles, and a bun for those who tolerate solid foods.    

Nutrition per serving :
Servings per recipe: 16
Serving Size: 1 patty
Calories: 78
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 15 mg
Total Carbs: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 5 g