Sweet, Sweet Sunday

On the Chopping Block

The first step in sauteeing your food is to cut whatever you’re going to saute into uniform, bite-size pieces…

And unless you totally want to ruin both your countertops and your knives, it is very important to invest in a decent cutting board.

As you are shopping for your new cutting board, it is important to consider several things—such as size, maintenance, material, and cost.

Size…As far as size, I have found that it is smart to have at least two different sized cutting boards—a small one for cutting up fruit and small vegetables—such as strawberries, lemons, and limes…and a larger one for everything else.

As far as the larger cutting board, a general rule of thumb is to buy a board that measures 15″x20″. 

You should be able to lay your knife diagonally on your cutting board and have at least 1″-2″ on either side of the knife.

Buying such a large board is great for several reasons, including…

  • allowing you to better control the board as well as the knife
  • being more comfortable in general
  • giving you plenty of room to work safely and effectively
  • making cutting both easier and safer
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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.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mastering Ministrone

So now that we’ve bought the perfect pot, found the perfect recie, bought the best veggies, sliced and diced, and so forth…

Now what?

1.Constantly keep an eye on your soup while it is cooking. This will allow you to  adjust the spices and cooking temperature as needed.

2. Cook on low heat. Don’t think that cooking your soup at a higher temperature will ensure that everything will actually get cooked instead of being raw or hard when you are ready to serve the soup.

Doing this will instead turn your meat into tough, hard-to-chew pieces…not to mention possibly ruining the bottom of that expensive soup pot that we all went out and bought after reading a previous article, right?

Instead bring your soup slowly to a boil and then allow the soup to simmer for the rest of the cooking time.

This will allow the ingredients to maintain their structure and integrity, while at the same time combining all of the ingredients into a flavorful soup.

3. Cover or not?…Depending on the finished product that you want,  leaving the soup uncovered or covering the soup with the lid is a matter of personal  reference. Leaving the lid off will make the soup base evaporate faster, creating a thicker and more flavorful soup.

4, Dig in Deep…There are many soup recipes out there that  require taking some of the soup as it is cooking and blending it and then adding it back into the soup in order to thicken the soup. Using an immersion blender will reduce the risk of your getting burned and make this job easier and neater.

Here is a list from Good Housekeeping of some of the most highly recommended immersion blenders available…

5. Use your brain when using grains…Pasta and grains that are called for as ingredients will often overcook. Avoid this by cooking them separately and then adding them into the soup just before serving.

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
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Roast for the Most

As far as prepping your vegetables to go into your soup there are at least four trains of thought…

You can either add them without cooking them first, boil or steam them, saute them, or roast them.

Roasting is perhaps your best opption because roasting caramelizes the vegetables’ natural sugars to bring out a delicious natural sweetness and helps emphasize the unique flavor of each vegetable.

Roasted vegetables can also be used as a flavorful side dish or meatless entree.

So which vegetables can you roast? And how do you do it?

Pretty much any and all vegetables can be roasted. There are no set rules as to which vegetables to roast. It’s more a matter of what you have on hand and what you discover that you like or don’t like.

Here are some of the most commonly roasted vegetables, as well as how to get the vegetables ready to be roasted and the time that you should roast them.

Always choose the best veggies for roasting that you can. The best raw veggies will obviously give you the best cooked veggies also.

Keep in mind that these may vary about five or ten minutes, depending on how small you cut your vegetables before roasting them.

Also keep in mind that green beans, broccoli, and other green-hued vegetables will turn an ugly olive green, and green beans tend to shrivel before becoming tender.

Flip the veggies half-way through baking time: Around the 20 minute mark of roasting these veggies, make sure to flip and stir the vegetables around a bit. This ensures an even roasting on ALL sides of ALL the veggies.

 

Prep

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Roasting vegetables at such a high temperature helps caramelize on the outside. If the oven temperature is too low, the vegetables will overcook before achieving the desired browning.

Wash your vegetables and pat them as dry as possible. The drier the vegetable, the better it will roast…

Slice and dice your veggies into bite-sized pieces.

More on this later, but for now two things to keep in mind..

  1. Uniform pieces cook more evenly.
  2. Smaller pieces cook more quickly.
  • Asparagus:…Wash and break off woody bases where spears snap easily. Leave spears whole or cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Baby leeks:…Trim and halve lengthwise. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Roast at 450°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Beets, baby or regular:…Scrub and peel beets. Trim off stem and root ends. If desired, halve or quarter them.
  • Bell peppers:…For regular-size peppers, wash, seed, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. For small peppers, if desired, roast whole, then remove stems and seeds.
  • Brussels Sprouts…Trim stems and remove any wilted outer leaves; wash. Cut any large sprouts in half lengthwise.
  • Carrots…Trim and peel or scrub baby carrots or regular carrots. Cut regular carrots into bite-size pieces or thin strips
  • Cauliflower:…Wash and remove leaves and woody stem. Break into florets
  • Eggplant:…Peel if desired. Quarter lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  • Fennel:…Trim stalks and cut a thin slice from the bottom of the bulb. Cut the bulb into thin wedges.
  • Onions:…Remove papery outer layer. Cut into thin wedges.
  • Parsnips:…Trim and peel parsnips. Cut into bite-size pieces or thin strips.
  • Potatoes…Whole tiny potatoes, quartered, work especially well for roasting. For larger potatoes, cut them into bite-size pieces. Peeling is not necessary, but scrub well before using.
  • Squash:…Baby zucchini can be roasted whole. Larger zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces or slices.
  • Sweet potatoes:,..Scrub and peel. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Tomatoes:…Wash and halve lengthwise.
  • Zucchini…Baby zucchini can be roasted whole. Larger zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces or slices

Once you’ve cut your vegetables down into bite-sized pieces, toss them a tablespoon or two of oil—such as olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. I normally do this in a huge Ziploc bag.

This will help the vegetables cook more evenly, make them crispier, and add a rich flavor.

Feel free to add whatever you want to your vegetables before you roast them. This is not necessary, but a few of the things that can be added to your veggies are…

  • balsamic vinegar
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • pomegranate syrup
  • spices—such as ginger, nutmeg, rosemary or sage

Rub the oil into the vegetables with your hands to make sure they’re evenly coated.

Spread the vegetables out on a foil-lined and sprayed rimmed baking sheet, in an oven-proof skillet, or in a baking dish. Make sure they are in a single layer with a little space in between. If they are too crowded, the vegetables will steam instead of roast.

Add more oil if the vegetables still look dry or don’t seem evenly coated.

 

 

 

Oven

Cooking times will vary depending on which vegetable or vegetables you are roasting. It is possible to roast different vegetables together, but you want to wait to add those that will require the least amount of cooking time so they won’t burn.

  • Stir the vegetables occasionally while they are cooking.
  • Cook until the vegetables are tender and brown on the edges.

10 to 15 minutes

  • asparagus
  • baby leeks
  • bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts):
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • summer squash
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

30 to 40 minutes

  • acorn squash
  • beets
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • fennel
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • potatoes
  • shallots
  • sweet potatoes
  • turnips

Roast until the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges. Those charred bits are what make roasted vegetables so good, so even if the vegetables are already tender and cooked through, keep roasting until you see the vegetables start to turn toasty around the tips and edges.

Once the vegetables have finished roasting, scrae them onto wire cooling racks to…what else, cool…

Once they have cooled, store them in airtight containers in your fridge. They will stay good for about five days.

Check and stir the vegetables every 10 to 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork or knife and they are showing crispy, charred bits at the tips and edges.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Veggie Tells—Using Vegetables in Soups

There are many ingredients that could be added to your “stone soup” to make a meal fit for a king…or a diabetic husband.

These could include…

  • Aromatic vegetables such as onions, celery and mushrooms…to  add rich flavor
  • Chiles…to give your soup a little “kick”
  • Citrus peels and juice…to brighten and lift flavor
  • Fats such as butter or olive oil and strong cheeses…to provide richness and texture
  • Nuts of all types…to act as thickeners
  • Sweeteners such as honey and brown sugar… to mellow tart ingredients

In these next few posts, we’ll look at these ingredients, the method, and the finishing touches that will help you create soups that anyone would be proud to serve.

 

Don’t throw anything away…The stems and tops from such veggies as broccoli, chard and leeks. These will become tender when cooked and provide extra nutrients and fiber.

 

Fresh is Best…One of my main goals in the last year has been to eliminate as many processed foods—those foods that contain added preservatives, flavor and color.

So it only makes sense for me to tell you to always use fresh veggies if you can get them.

Fresh vegetables will add both more flavor and nutritional value to your soups and stews.

If you must choose something other than fresh veggies, always choose frozen over canned.

 

Add the vegetables to your soup in the order of the time it take  to cook them...Here are the cooking times of some of the vegetables most commonly used in soup…

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Peass
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

Rinse canned beans before adding them to your soup. This will reduce the amount of sodium by a third….

 

Roast for the Most..Typically you would first saute your veggies in about Tbsp of some type of healthy fat, like butter or olive oil, before adding to the soup.

But another great idea to roast them instead.

Roasting your vegetables in the oven before you add them to your soup will give them a much more intense flavor.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy—The Which?

So now that we have learned more about what bok choy actually is and why bok choy can be an important food for us, how do we know that we are choosing the best bok choy that we could possibly buy?First of all, bok choy should be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle because warm temperatures cause the leaves to wilt and negatively affect its flavor.

In fact, bok choy is one of the few vegetables that, even though available throughout the year, reaches its peak availability from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Seems kind of obvious that we never want to purchase any type of produce that has wilted leaves, but what else should we look for when buying bok choy?

Leaves…The leaves of bok choy should be firm and brightly colored. Check the bok choy for any signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.

Stems…The stems of bok choy should be moist and hardy.

Organic…Buying produce that is certified organic can greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To make sure that you are buying organic produce, always look for the USDA organic logo.

Bok choy can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week if stored properly. Store bok choy in a plastic storage bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Arguments in Favor of Arugula

The first “leafy green” that we will consider adding to our grocery list as newly-nutritional-conscientious type 2 diabetics is…

ARUGULA

Arugula has been used since the first century by the ancient Romans and Egyptians  for many different purposes. Not only did ancient civilizations eat the leaves, but they also thought arugula to be an awesome aphrodisiac and used the seeds of the arugula plant to make aphrodisiac and medicinal oils and compounds.

The leaves on this “leafy green” look like oakleaves and are typically 3″ to 8″ long dark green leaves, depending on the maturity of the leaf.

The smaller, paler leaves typically have a mild flavor that is good for fresh dishes like salad and pesto…while the older, darker leaves have more zing, making them better for making soup and topping off your pizza/

 

Okay, so now that we know what “arugula” is, and the fact that it was once considered an “aphrodisiac,”…why should the over-fifty crowd be adding more aphrodisiacal argula to our diets?

Given the fact that all “Leafy Greens” are a good source of vitamins, folate, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids, minerals—such as potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium—, antioxidants, and phytochemicals…all the A’s, B’s, and C’s of general nutrition that so many of us are not even aware that we need and why we need them…why choose arugula?

 

Arugula and the “Food Label”…Let’s first look at the nutritional value of 1/2C arugula…
Calories…25
Calories from Fat…6
Total Fat…1 g…1%
Cholesterol…0 mg…0%
Sodium…27 mg…1%
Total Carbohydrates…4 g…1%
Dietary Fiber…1.6 g…6%
Sugar…2.1 g
Protein…2.6 g
Vitamin A…47%
Vitamin C…25%
Calcium…16%
Iron…8%
Agugula and the ANDI…0One of the terms that I have learned at this phase of my journey is “nutritarian.”

A “nutritarian” is a person who chooses what he or she eats based on what foods have the highest ratio of micronutrients per calorie….a person who adopts a longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.

This term was coined by Dr. Fuhrman. Furhman is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, Fuhrman specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods.

Fuhrman created a scale known as the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index that shows the nutritional density of many common foods based on 34 important nutrients, including…

  • fiber
    calcium
    iron
    magnesium
    phosphorus
    potassium
    zinc
    copper
    manganese
    selenium
    vitamin A
    beta carotene
    alpha carotene
    lycopene
    lutein
    zeaxanthin
    vitamin E
    vitamin C
    thiamin
    riboflavin
    niacin
    pantothenic acid
    vitamin B6
    folate
    vitamin B12
    choline
    vitamin K
    phytosterols
    glucosinolates
    angiogenesis inhibitors
    organosulfides
    aromatase inhibitors
    resistant starch
    resveratrol
    ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), a measurement of the antioxidant capacity of that particular food.

Nutritarians can use the ANDI Scores to compare foods and see which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense.

The foods included in this index are given a score of 1-1000, with 1 being the lowest and 1000 being the highest.

Leafy green vegetables in general score the highest on this index.

Arugula has an ANDI score of 604.

Arugula and Potassium...Two cups of arugula contain about 150mg of potassium, roughly 3% percent of the 4,700 mg of the potassium recommended for healthy adults. Although arugula isn’t a top source of potassium, it does boost your intake of the nutrient.

Arugula and Calcium…Two cups of arugula contain 6%DV of calcium.

Arugula and Flavonoids…The “flavonoids” in arugula have been shown to have anti-cancer — as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.

Arugula and Folate...Two cups of arugula contain 10%DV of folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent birth defects and also important for lowering your risk of heart disease.

Arugula and Vitamin K...Not getting enough vitamin K in your diet increases your risk of fracturing a bone because vitamin K keeps your bones healthy by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Arugula and Antioxidants…Arugula contain certain antioxidants, more specifically alpha-lipoic acid. This acid has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Arugula and Calcium...Arugula is a surprisingly good source of calcium—it has more of this bone-builder than the other greens on this list.

Arugula and Nitrates…The nitrates found in arugula are believed to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. These nitrates also can be beneficial to people with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases who find the activities of daily life are physically difficult because of lack of oxygen.

Arugula and Vitamin A…Two cups of arugula contains 19%DVof vitamin A. This is important for helping you have good vision, particularly at night or in low light environments.

Arugula and Magnesium...Two cups of arugula contain 5%DV of magnesium.

Arugula and Copper....The copper found in arugula increases your immunity to disease because it createa white blood cells.

Arugula and Vitamin C….Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage, helps prevent cancer, and maintain good health.

Arugula and Phytochemicals...Arugula contains large quantities of phytochemicalssuch as thiocyanates, sulforaphane, or indoles —that inhibit the activity of cancer-causing cells and lowers your risk of getting certain types of cancer—such as prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.

Arugula and Folates…Arugula is rich in folic acid, a fact that is important to pregnant women who want to decrease the risk of their babies being born with certain mental defects.

Arugula and Vitamin B…Arugula contains all eight of the B-Complex vitamins. These viramins are important participantes in cell function—including energy production, fat synthesis, and the production of red blood cells.

Arugula and Carotenoids…,Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids, naturally occurring pigments that improve your ability to see properly and slows down the process of macular degeneration.

Health Benefits…Finally let’s read through a list of the health benefits of earing arugula. Adding arugula to your diet is an important step in…

  • keeping the mind clear and focused
    preventing cancer
    controlling blood pressure
    reducing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise
    enhancing athletic performance
    helping reduce blood pressure
    improving blood flow to your muscles so that they can work more efficiently, especially when exercising
    helping you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight
    keeping your eyes healthy
    helping prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among older adults
    normalizing and controlling blood pressure levels
    lowering your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
    helping reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancers
    slowing the progression of cancer.
    decreasomg the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
    improving your immune system
    decreasing your odds of getting simple illnesses such as the common cold

 

Okay, I’ve just added arugula to my grocery list, but what should I do with it once I get it home…

 

First of all, how do I know which bundle of arugula to stick into my grocery cart?!

Choose arugula that is fresh and crisp, particularly at the stem. Look for plants that have dark green leaves, not yellow. Refrain from buying arugula with leaves that are wilted, have dark or slimy spots, or yellow or brown edges.

 

Next, how do I store it, and how long will it stay fresh in my food rotter?

Arugula leaves will spoil quickly, so some care must be taken to help keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Wrap the roots of the arugula in a damp paper towel, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Another option would be to place the arugula upright in a glass of water, as you would a bouquet of flowers, and then cover the leaves with a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator.

Another point to remember is to not store arugula beside pears, apples or bananas, as this will cause its leaves to decay faster.

Plan on using within a couple of days after buying them.

 

So what should I make with my arugula?

One thing to remember when deciding how to use the arugula that you have purchased, is that older and larger leaves have a more intense peppery flavor than the younger and smaller leaves.

 

The tenderness and milder taste of the younger leaves make them a great choice for salads such as this one…

Arugula, Avocado, and Olive Salad

  • 3 bunches arugula
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 1C sliced kalamata olives
  • 1/2C pine nuts

Dressing

  • 1/2C olive oil
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2Tbsp white wine vinegar

Roast the pine nuts in a shallow pan at 325 degrees F until brown. Combine the arugula, avocado, and olives. Whisk the dressing together. Pour the dressing over the salad. Top with pine nuts.

 

 

The larger, older leaves are better for steaming or using in sauces.

Arugula tends to sauté faster than kale and collard greens, and adds more flavor to a dish than spinach or Swiss chard. Often arugula is used along with milder greens such as watercress and romaine.

 

For example, try making your own version of the following pasta dish…

Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Cook and drain pasta. Combine arugula, pasta, and whatever else you choose, such as grilled chicken.

 

Pesto…great served with pasta, burgers, sandwiches, or roasted and grilled meat

Blend arugula with the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4C walnuts
  • 1/2C grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

A few more final ideas on how to use arugula…

  • Add a handful of fresh arugula to an omelet or scramble
  • Add arugula to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread
  • Throw a handful of arugula and blend into a fresh juice or smoothie
  • Top your pizza with fresh arugula…this is very popular in the Mediterranean region.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Leaves of Grass—and Bok Choy and Butterhead and Romaine

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens.

 

But now I actually enjoy eating them…(especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon, but more on that later)…

 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…

I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter…

All leafy greens are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago.

Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
    Beet Greens
    Bok Choy
    Boston (Butterhead)
    Broccoli
    Cabbage
    Collard Greens
    Edible Green Leaves
    Endive
    Iceberg
    Kale
    Microgreens
    Mustard Greens
    Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
    Romaine
    Spinach
    Swiss Chard
    Turnip Greens
    Watercress
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Senoritas with Pepitas and Margaritas

Fresh pumpkins, like fresh coconuts, can often be a “pain in the butt” and is something that most of us are going to do very rarely…like probably once a year at Halloween.

So the very few times that we do actually chop the head off and then dive into its “skull” with a metal object, let’s be sure to take full advantage of this moment.

By gathering the seeds and roasting them.

(Sure, I know you can buy pumpkin seed all year long, but we are trying to progress into a zero-waste country, so how dare you simply throw them away?)

Those pumpkin seeds that so many of us simply throw away actually make a healthy, delicious snack…not to mention a key ingredient in many gourmet entrees—especially in countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

1.Choosing Your Pumpkin…You can roast the seeds of any pumpkin, but if you’re actually going to cook with the pumpkin, be sure to read my previous posts.

2. Finding the Rest of the Stuff That You Will NeedIn addition to the obvious pumpkin, you will need a sharp knife, an ice cream scoop, a colander, and a towel..

3. Prepping the PumpkinHow you get your seeds out of your pumpkin depends on what you are planning to do with the pumpkin itself.

Attack the pumpkin from the top If you’re planning on carving your pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern. Slice the pumpkin in half if you’re planning on roasting it.

Regardless of how you dive into your pumpkin, now use an ice cream scoop to start scraping out the pumpkin guts. In order to get all of the seeds, you’re probably gonna have to actually get your hands into the gooey mess also.

Collect the seeds in a colander as you get them out.

Once you have collected all, or at least most, of the seeds, rinse your seeds under cold running water to remove any pulp and fiber.

Pat the washed seeds dry with paper towels as you are sreading them out on a ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan.

Toss the seeds with melted butter, Himalayan or other natural salt, and pepper.

If you want youtr pumpkin seeds to have more flavor, you could also sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, cinnamon, Cajun seasoning, and/or whatever else you want.

Stir to coat.

4. Prepping the Oven…Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Pre-boilingMany people boil their pumpkin seeds before roasting them in order to make them  extra crispy, but this can be skipped if you need to.

6. Baking…Roast the pumpkin seeds at about 200 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp, stirring once. You could also “roast” your pumpkin seeds in the microwave . To do this, place them in a single layer in a glass pie plate. Microwave them for about two or three  minutes, stirring after each minute, until the seeds are dry and crunchy.

7. Cooling…Cool at least ten minutes before serving.

8. Storing…Once you have roasted your pumpkin seeds and allowed them to cool, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The seeds are usually best within the first two months, even though they may stay edible for several months.