Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Saute Your Meats and Vegetables

What is Sauteeing?…Sautéing uses relatively high, dry heat and motion to quickly brown meats and vegetables in a small amount of far.

Sautéing also gives food a lot of flavor in a short amount of time.

As far as meat, sautéing is a great way to cook meat because this method not only tenderizes the meat, but also takes advantage of the Maillard reaction, which is the caramelization of the sugars in food. Often this is done before continuing to cook the meat by another cooking method.

As far as veggies, sauteing is also a great way to cook veggies because this method brings out the true flavors of the food, produces a flavorful exterior with the best possible texture and color, and maintains the original flavor and texture of the veggies.

Sauteeing is very similar to two more cooking methods that we will be looking at—stir-frying and pan-frying. All three of these methods involve cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat.

However, stir-frying foods involves keeping the food in constant motion instead of letting the food rest at times during the cooking and requires higher heat….and pan-frying involves no tossing of your food, uses slightly more fat, and requires slightly lower temperatures.

So which foods can be sautéed, and which foods shouldn’t?…Virtually all foods can be sautéed, but since this is a quick cooking method, the food must be small and tender enough so that the center is done by the time the outside has browned.

This method works best with foods that are sliced thin so that they cook thoroughly without a lot of heat.

Since this is such a rapid technique, it does not offer the same tenderizing effect as some of other methods. For this reason, any food that you are going to sautee must be naturally tender.

Meat…As far as meat, sauteeing should only be used to cook the most tender cuts, those meats without a lot of tough connective tissue. If you try to sautée tough cuts of meat—such as a lamb shank or brisket—they will become even tougher because it is a dry heat method. These meats are much better suited for braising and other cooking methods that require a longer cooking time.

If you’re cooking a single serving of meat—such as a fish filet or pork chop, let the food develop the color and crust you want on one side before turning it over.

For chicken breasts or single-serving pieces of meat or fish, cook one side until golden brown, then flip over to brown the other side. This quick sear helps the food retain its natural juices.

  • Chicken…about 10min…until no longer pink and internal temperature is 170 degrees
  • Fish…about min…until golden and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork
  • Pork Chops…about 10min…to “medium” or 160
  • Steak: Cook until desired doneness—145 degrees for medium rare, 160 degrees for medium

Veggies…As far as veggies, any vegetable can be sautéed, but more tender vegetables—such as asparagus, baby artichokes, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sugar snap peas, and zucchini—are the best ones to choose.

Saute the veggies until they are al dente, meaning crisp-tender or almost “undercooked.” The veggies will continue to cooking even after you take them off the heat.

If you are going to be cooking several different vegetables together, start with those that will need a longer cooking times, and then add those that require shorter cooking times toward the end.

Overcrowding…Regardless if you are cooking veggies or meat, or a combination of the two. avoid overcrowding your skillet. Overcrowding your skillet will lower the heat of your skillet, and increase the chances that your food will be mushy and limp.

Your ingredients need enough space to move around, and any steam that is released as you cook needs enough room to escape, instead of staying in the pan in order for your food to brown, instead of steam.

Tossing and turning…You must keep the food moving as you sauté. This will make sure that your food cooks evenly keep the pan hot, and avoid food sticking to your skillet.

So often we see trained chefs on television shows, such as Iron Chef, holding the handle of the sauté pan firmly and then using a sharp elbow motion to quickly move the pan around….

And they make it look so easy. I am a normal home cook though, and my tossing and turning will never be quite the same as theirs…kinda like my pizza tossing skills…

So instead of even trying this at home, I use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to move the food around.

Just stir the food in a circular direction around the heating source. Wait a a few seconds, and then stir again.

Here are a few more things to remember…

  • Cook only one layer of food cooks in your pan at a time.
  • Do not press down on your meats and veggies while you are cooking them in order to get them brown. If your pan is hot enough and contains enough fat, doing this will only rob them of both moisture and taste.
  • If you are cooking a lot of food, cook the food in batches instead.
  • If you are cooking meat, have at least 1/2″ between each piece of meat.
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Creating a Home, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

9 More Cooking Oils to Stick Under Your Kitchen Sink Also

So we’re getting our oil ready to start cooking—finally—but as you grab under the sink, you’re met by how many choices of oil—not to mention whatever other bottles might be down there…so choose your bottle carefully.
In the last article, we looked at olive oil and almond oil as two choices…
Here are a few more oils that would be good choices…

1 Avocado Oil 

  • Benefits…Avocado oil promotes healthy cholesterol levels and enhances absorption of some nutrients.
  • Nutrition…Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Use…Avocado oil has a high smoke point and is one of the best oils for high-temperature cooking—such as stir-frying, sautéing, and searing.

2 Canola Oil

  • Benefits…Canola oil helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and stabilize blood pressure levels, The FDA agrees that 1-1/2Tbsp canola oil each day could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.
  • Nutrition…Canola oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as the alpha-linolenic acid, as well as monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that is considered healthy for diabetics. At the same time, canola oil is low in the unhealthy saturated fat that mostly come from animal products like meat and dairy.
  • Uses…Canola oil can be used safely at high temperatures because it has a higher smoke point than most other oils, but doesn’t have as much flavor as some other oils that are available and is not your best choice for certain things such as making your own salad dressing.

3 Coconut Oil

  • Benefits…Coconut oil contains minerals and vitamins that serve to lowering triglycerides levels, control levels of bad cholesterol, and help stabilize the blood pressure of the diabetics.
  • Nutrition…Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but not the same artery-clogging saturated fat found in red meat. The fat found in coconut oil is harder for the body to convert into stored fat because this fat consists of such a higher amount of medium-chain fatty acids than the normal fat found in hamburgers.
  • Use…The American Heart Association warns those with high cholesterol levels to avoid or limit their use of coconut oil because of its saturated fat content. High levels of coconut oil in your daily diet can make your diabetes worse.

Flaxseed Oil

  • Benefits…As a diabetic, flaxseed oil slows digestion, which in turn helps maintain stable blood glucose levels and improves the sensitivity of the body towards insulin. Flaxseed oil has also been shown to reduce inflammation, a fact that could lower your risk of getting cancer and reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
  • Nutrition…Flaxseed oil is a rich source of both fiber and ALA—alpha-linoleic acid—one of three omega-3 fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own.
  • Use…Flaxseed oil should not be heated..instead use as a salad dressing or add to smoothies

 

5 Grape Seed Oil

  • Nutrition…this is a rich source of both polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and is very low in saturated fat
  • Use…nutty but mild flavor that can be used for all sorts of cooking and grilling and also works well in salad dressings or drizzled over roasted veggies

6 Rice Bran Oil

  • Benefits….Rice bran oil will reduce your levels of bad cholesterol, and so is great for diabetics and those wanting to keep heart disease at bay.
  • Nutrition…Rice bran oil is rich in both monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fats.

7 Sesame Oil

  • Benefits…Sesame oil reduces levels of bad cholesterol and stabilizes blood glucose levels.
  • Nutrition…Sesame oil contains monounsaturated fats and is listed as one of the most ” heart-healthy” cooking oils by the American Heart Association.
  • Uses…Light sesame oil is often used for stir-frying. Dark sesame oil, on the other hand, is great for making dressings and sauces.

8 Sunflower Oil

  • Nutrition…Sesame oil has high levels of the “good” polyunsaturated fats and very low levels of the “bad” saturated fats.
  • Uses…Sunflower oil can be used for all cooking methods—such as sauteeing, frying, and roasting,

9 Walnut Oil

  • Benefits…Walnut oil helps maintain a good balance of triglycerides, improves the sensitivity of your body towards insulin, and reduces your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.
  • Nutrition…Walnut oil is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a good source of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Uses…Walnut oil is great for adding a nutty flavor to whatever you are cooking—such as desserts.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

Everyone seems to be studying and talking about the “Kon Mari” method of organizijng your home…and “Tidying U” has become one of the most watched things on Netflix…

But why does this matter for those who are not obsessive-comulsive…

Actually there are several reasons to take the time, thought, and effort to organize your house, mainly the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at how arranging things and keeping them into order can be beneficial, mainly in the kitchen.

Ability to Actually Get Stuff Done…Taking the time and effort to organize your kitchen will help you complete whatever needs to be done while you are in your kitchen more effectively and efficiently.

Knowing where things are will save you from having to rummage through your drawers to a certain utensil or gazing blankly in your cabinets for that one ingredient lost in the sea of glass jars and bottles.

You will be able to get dinner on the table in so much less time, and this might even make cooking dinner less of a chore and more of something that you actually look forward to. 

Finances…The other day when I was making out my grocery list, I found twelve canisters of breadcrumbs and five bottles on Blue Cheese Salad Dressing. Sad but true..,

By taking the time to organize my kitchen, I should be able to money by knowing what ingredients I already have on hand and not buying duplicates of the same thing,

Home Design/Decorating…How many times have you thought as you cook how much bigger you wish your kitchen were, when all the time your current kitchen would be just the right size if it were only decluttered and well arranged. Taking the time to declutter and rearrange will give you more space as you cook.

The kitchen is the “hub of the home” and the one room that is used most often by friends and family…Organizing this “hub” will be a great first move to creating a more attractive and inviting home altogether.

Also if you take the time to clean and organize your kitchen, other family members will know where things should go and be able to put them where they belong.

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Salad Dressing…Oh What a Blessing…

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Finally now that you’ve gotten the best salad greens and the best vegetables into your bowl, what do you have?

Just a bowl of salad greens and vegetables, right?

What makes a salad actually a salad is salad dressing.

And what makes countless other foods—such as wings, pizza, breadsticks, chicken nuggets, French fries, sandwiches, subs, and burgers.

There are countless salad dressings available, but most salad dressing fall into one of two categories—mayonnaise based salad dressing or vinaigrettes.

“Creamy” salad dressings usually use mayonnaise or some other “creamy” ingredie1nt—such as yogurt, crème fraiche or sour cream—as  the main ingredient.

The most common creamy dressing, obviously to most of us, is Ranch.

 

 

Vinaigrettes. on the other hand, are a mixture of oil, vinegar, and  other ingredients—such as hazelnut, fruit juice, mustard, spices, herbs, lemon juice, basil, parsley, and oregano.

The most common vinaigrettes include…

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dijon Vinaigrette
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Strawberry Poppyseed

But don’t limit yourself to these traditional dressings. Feel free to try other things also—such as traditional dips, guacamole, hummus, and salsas.

 

Things to Remember…

If you are making your own salad dressing, use the highest-quality ingredients that you can find.

Salad dressing can make your healthy salad just as fattening, if not even more fattening, than a Big Mac. Remember this when you are choosing your salad dressing as well as using your dressing on a salad. 

Serve the salad immediately after using the dressing. Otherwise your salad will wilt.

 

Toss your salad gently but thoroughly, making sure that you do not totally crush or ruin your leafy greens and other ingredients.,

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Here’s to a Super Bowl

Now that we’ve learned that there are way more salad greens to choose from than the ordinary iceberg lettuce, let’s talk about the good stuff that actually makes salad good.

One major difference that makes a salad that you actually enjoy eating better than the salad that you dread seating is using just as many vegetables as your do leafy greens.

Raw veggies and other add-ins will give your salad texture as well as more surface area for dressings and toppings.

Here are some of the most common choices as far as salad add-ins…

Note…I was going to be more detailed when I first started this, but decided that since one of my goals is to finish working my way through the Raw Foods yamid, thought that this would be rather redundant, and for making salads, this would be more useful instead…

Vegetables…

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Baby Carrots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Black Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn kernels
  • Cucumbers
  • Green bell pepper…
  • Green olive…
  • Heirloom Tomato…
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  •  Pickled beets
  • Portabello mushroom
  • Radishes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Apple
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Strawberries

Legumes

  • Chickpeas.
  • Kidney beans

Carbs

  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
    peanuts

    pumpkin seeds,
    Sesame seeds,
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • xsummer squash, hot peppers, possibilities are endless!

  • minced garlic,
    garlic powder,
    cayenne pepper,
  • oregano,
  • cumin,
  • paprika,
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • black beans,
  • lentils,
  • pinto beans
  • Herbs
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano

Meats

  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Ham
  • Steak
  • Turkey
  • ————————————————-
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

You Mean There Actually Are Other Leafy Greens Besides Iceberg?

  • So we’ve decided to raise the bar on our salad bar…
  • And learned that as far as nutrition goes, iceberg lettuce is at the bottom of the totem pole…
  • But what leafy green is out there lurking at the local grocery store or farmer’s market?
  • Below is a list of several varieties that you could use instead…

Arugula

  • Also called…rocket, Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola
  • Leaves…small, flat, frilly-edged leaves
  • Most Common Uses…salads, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, and Italian dishes like pesto
  • Nutrition…especially high in vitamin K
  • Originated…the Mediterranean
  • Taste…distinct peppery taste and aroma

Butterhead Lettuce

  • Also called…butter lettuce, Boston, bibb (limestone)
  • Leaves…soft and smooth like buttee

Cos Lettuce

  • Leaves…dark green, long, narrow
  • Taste…..sweet and tangy
  • Texture…crispy and crunchy texture

Cress

  • Leaves…tough, fibrous stem and small green leaves
  • Taste…peppery taste
  • Varieties…watercress, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress

Endive

  • Color…off-white center with loose, lacy, dark green outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Leaves..loose, lacy, dark green outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Uses…salads and soups

Dandelion Greens

  • Leaves…the green leaves from the so-thought-of “weeds” in your yard…stiff leaves with pointy, fine “teeth.”
  • Taste…sharp bitter flavor
  • Uses…a classic French bistro salad, salads with roasted beets

Endive

  • Leaves…unique oval shape
  • Texture…soft and satiny
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Uses…scooplike shape makes for serving small appetizers

Escarole

  • Color…various shades of green
  • Head…loose, elongated heads
  • Leaves…broad, wavy leaves with smooth edges
  • Other Names…Batavian endive, scarole, broad-leaved endive
  • Taste…darker green leaves are lightly bitter and spicy; but the paler interior leaves are milder
  • Uses…soups and beans…popular in Italian cuisine.

Frisee

  • Color…pale green
  • Leaves…feathery leaves tinged with yellow and green
  • Other Names…curly endive, chicory, chicory endive, curly chicory
  • Taste…bitter

Iceberg

  • Leaves…tightly packed leaves on dense, heavy heads
  • Water Content…contains more water than most other leafy greens

Kale

  • Nutritional Value…high in fiber
  • Taste…earthy, slightly grassy taste
  • Uses…salads, soups, pasta, and smoothies
  • Varieties…include curly, baby, and lacinato

Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dino Kale)

  • Other Names…Tuscan kale or black kale
  • Leaves…very dark blue-green or black-green leaves
  • Taste…earthy and  nutty flavor

Leaf Lettuce 

  • Color…can be either green or red
  • Leaves…large, frilly-edged
  • Taste…mildly sweet and delicate taste
  • Uses…sandwiches, burgers, popular lining for hors d’oeuvres platters

Mâche

  • Other Names…Field salad, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, fetticus
  • Taste…mild and slightly sweet flavor
  • Leaves…very small
  • Notes…expensive, very delicate, will bruise easily

Mizuna

  • Leaves…petite elongated leaves with spiky edges similar to miniature oak leaves
  • Origin…Japan
  • Other Names…Japanese greens, spider mustard, xue cai, kyona, potherb mustard, and California Peppergrass
  • Taste…peppery

Oak Leaf Lettuce

  • Color…reddish-purple
  • Leaves…very similar to leaf lettuce, but with more of an oak leaf shape
  • Taste…super-mellow, sweet

Radicchio

  • Color…burgundy-red leaves with white ribs
  • Other Names…Chioggia, red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory
  • Taste…mildly bitter with a subtle spicy undertone
  • Texture…quite firm but still tender
  • Uses…in salads, as a cooked vegetable, and grilled or roasted and mixed with other grilled vegetables

Romaine

  • Nutritional Value…particularly rich in folic acid and vitamin K
  • Taste..light, almost grassy taste
  • Texture…a satisfying crunch
  • Uses..Caesar salads, wraps

Spinach

  • Color…dark green leaves
  • Leaves…smooth, sturdy, deep green
  • Taste…mild, lightly herbal
  • Uses…salads, wraps, and smoothies

Sweet Potato Greens

  • Taste…lovely, almost sweet flavor with no discernible bitterness
  • Uses…soups or stews

Tatsoi

  • Leaves…small and rounded much like little spoons, hence its other name, spoon cabbage
  • Other Names…Tat soi, spoon cabbage, rosette bok choy
  • Taste…mildly peppery and sweet, with only the faintest hint of cabbage flavor.
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Raising the Bar at the Salad Bar

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit because you’re on a diet or a diabetic or health nut…you will very quickly get sick and tired of the average bagged salad that sits in your fridge drawer quickly forgotten until it starts smelling bad or you stumble on it when looking for something else behind the mayo and mustard.

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit, you must learn to raise the bar on your home salad bar…otherwise eating salad will become just another health food to log into your food diary.

But before we talk about all of the different leafy greens that are available, let’s learn a few basic rules that you should remember…

Nutrition…As far as nutrition goes, all leafy greens are good for you—being great sources of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and calcium…but not all leafy greens are as healthy as the rest of the family.

As a general rule, the darker the green, the healthier the green.

Kale and spinach are always better choices than iceberg lettuce or endive.

Lettuce is about 95 percent water…and gives you half as much of the recommended daily value of vitamin K and vitamin A.

Selecting Leafy Greens...Make sure that the leafy greens are buying to make your salad are fresh and crisp… not wilted, limp, and withered.

Avoid any leafy greens that have brown or yellow edges, or dark or slimy spots.

If you are buying bagged greens, always check the use-by-date.

Storing Leafy Greens..Always rinse your leafy greens before using because the folds in leafy green vegetables easily accumulate dirt.

The best way to store your leafy greens is to wash and dry them, layer the leaves in wet paper towels or a kitchen towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate in the crisper drawer.

Never store greens near fruits, such as apples or bananas, Fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and will cause the greens to develop brown spots and decay rapidly.

Drying Greens…Always make sure that the greens are bone-dry before using them in your salad. Otherwise the dressing will not cling to the leaves and you’re more likely to have a soggy salad.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Let Us Talk About Lettuce

  • Whether you are a diabetic or on a diet or a vegetarian or raw foods advocate, it might seem like you are eating salad night after night after night…not to mention for lunch also.

  • But the same old salad made the same old lettuce can get extremely boring…extremely…
  • So why not add some variety to your mandatory salad by adding more leafy greens to your instacart order?
  • There is a wide range of leafy green vegetables to choose from other than lettuce…
  • But these can seem to overwhelming, and you’ve only been eating lettuce for how long…
  • So let’s now take a look at the various leafy greens vegetables that are available—starting with the basics of selecting, storing, and using them in salads. ..as well as the nutritional value of different varieties…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sing A Ballad to the Salad

So now that we all know how to make the perfect soup…

Now what?

 

 

Well, since my goal is to work my way through the Raw Foods pyramid in an effort to learn how to cook more healthy for the sake of my newly-diagnosed diabetic husband,

and the base of the Raw Foods yramid is leafy greens…

 

It only goes to reason that eventually we’d talk about salad, right?

 

…but salad can get so very boring…especially when you are constantly eating  bagged salad night after night after night.

 

So let’s see what’s required to make a salad actually worth eating, and then sing ordinary baggad salad a farewell ballad.

In the next few posts, we’ll be taking a look at…

  • Leafy green
  • Vegetables
  • Add-ins
  • Dressing your salads
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So let’s get ready to all raise the bar on our at-home salad bar, ready?

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Spice Is Right

Now that you have created or chosen your base liquid…and sliced and diced and maybe even roasted your veggies…it’s time to add any spices and other seasonings that you might like.
The seasonings that you add to your soup at this point will honestly be a matter of personal preference, Feel free to add only one seasoning, but also experiment to find a spice combination that you and your family all enjoy.
Seasonings also can be based on what you are cooking. Good choices would be…

  • Beef soups…marjoram, rosemary, thyme
  • Chicken soups…celery seed, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and sage
  • Chilis…chili powder, cumin
  • Cream soups…parsley, thyme.
  • Meaty, hearty soups…cumin
  • Tomato-based soups…basil, oregano or fennel

Regardless what you are making or what seasonings you are adding, never use so much seasoning that it is overpowering.

 

Here are a few of the most commonly used seasonings…

 

1. Fresh herbs…You can add only one fresh herb or a combination of herbs to your soup, based on what your family likes best.

You can add the fresh herbs either with the woody stems still attached or not. It really doesn’t matter because the stems and leaves will drop off as they cook, Once your soup is finished, simply remove these can be removed with tongs or a slotted spoon before serving.

Fresh herbs will have a more intense flavor if added near the end of the cooking time.

 

 

2. Garlic…Garlic is a flavor enhance rhat brings out the flavors of the other ingredients in the soup. Garlic…Garlic is a flavor enhancer that brings out the flavors of the other ingredients in the soup. Even if a soup recipe doesn’t call for garlic, you can always add two or three cloves of garlic without worrying that your soup will have a garlicky taste.

 

.3. Ginger...Ginger is another flavor enhancer. Adding ginger to vegetable and chicken soups adds a slightly sweet taste and aromaFresh herbs…Fresh herbs provide an intense and complex flavor. Use three or four tablespoons of chopped, fresh herbs for ten to twelve cups of soup.

4. Spice Cabinet Spices…Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground spices per ten to twelve cups liquid.

Some of the most commonly used spices include…

  • allspice
  • cinnamon
  • clove
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • fennel
  • turmeric