Friday, May 29, 2009

One Grain at a Time

From the first thanksgiving to the Great Depression, State fairs to the .movies; popcorn has been around. This grain was the first “puffed” breakfast cereal. A wonderful whole grain snack food that is easy to prepare. Stay clear of the microwave varieties for the powdered butter flavorings are very harmful to your health. I prefer the use of a whirly pop with a couple teaspoons of coconut oil. Another good option is an air popper.

There are several commercial classifications of corn. Field corn (also called dent corn or cow corn) is fed to animals. Flour corn is mostly starchy center with a soft hull that allows it to be easily ground into flour or cornmeal. Sweet corn is the kind we eat at the dinner table. Flint corn is usually called Indian corn; its colorful kernels make it highly attractive, and it is used for decoration because it is tough and tasteless. Pod corn is also only used for decoration because each of its kernels has its own separate husk.

About 7 cents a serving $1.25 per lb.1 lb = 3 cups dry = 36 cups popped = 4 cups flour

To Cook:
The only way to “cook” popcorn is by popping it or baking the flour into baked goods.

To Store:
-Dry-6 months in an air tight container in a cool, dry place. Or freeze indefinitely.
If popcorn is not popping (old maids) place in a quart jar and add 1 tablespoon water, shake well and screw on lid. Shake a couple times throughout the day. On the next day dump onto a towel to absorb surface moisture and store as usual.
-Popped- one day in an airtight container.
-Flour – one week in an airtight container or freeze up to 3 months.

To Use:
- Pop for snacks, treats and to make decorations
- Use flour for cornbread.

Nutritional Value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Carbohydrates 74 g
Dietary fiber 13 g
Fat 4 g
Protein 11 g
Thiamin 0.3 mg 21%
Niacin 1.6 mg 8%
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg 14%
Folate 62 mcg 16%
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 mg 4%
Iron 3.0 mg 17%
Magnesium 123 mg 31%
Phosphorus 299 mg 30%
Potassium 274 mg 8%
Zinc 2.7 mg 18%
Copper 0.2 mg 11%
Manganese 1.0 mg 48%

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuna Melts

I think the Mom’s (not mine of coarse) of the 80’s era made their kids think nobody in their right mind could possibly like tuna. My husband still has a hard time believing he really DOES like the stuff. Every time we have tuna melts he says “This is good. Next time, remind me I really like tuna melts.” Actually, after all the reminding and making this recipe a part of our regular monthly menu, he not only remembers but request it.

The ingredient list is all things that are typically on hand, sometimes I might have to sub yellow onion for green. It is nice to have a few quick meals that can be thrown together on those days I needed to make it to the store but just didn’t.

Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea brands are not my favorite, so try some different brands to see what you like. Also, tuna can be packed in oil or water. Most of the time the oil is low quality, like soybean, if you come across some in olive oil-YUM. Otherwise, water is fine. Albacore is going to be less fishy than light tuna, but also more dry and pricey. So find your best fit and apply it here:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Herbs De Provence or dill
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cans tuna, drained
1 bunch green onions, sliced
6 slices of bread, toasted
1 ½ cup shredded cheese

Saute carrots and celery in oil 5 minutes. Add garlic seasonings and flour, combine thoroughly. Let flour cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk while stirring. Once thickened add veganaise, tuna and onions. Pile mixture in toasted bread laid out on a cookie sheet. Top with cheese and broil until melted and bubbly.

This recipe can be extended with grains like brown rice, white quinoa or millet if you need to feed a couple extra people.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sloppy Joes

Feed a crowd well at your summer get-togethers. Kid friendly food meets adult friendly flavor. Stretching the meat with grains and vegetables not only saves a buck, but makes for a more nutritionally balanced meal. Another good meat extender is beans, add in place of the grains or even the meat. I have subbed one cup carrot purée for a cup of the tomato sauce and also added a grated zucchini and with great results.

Don’t be a slave to a recipe, if something doesn’t suit you, change it up. Most of the time grains, sweeteners, herbs, spices, oils, even liquids like chicken broth and milk are all interchangeable. If you’re scared, just ask, I’ll tell you how it will turn out.

This recipe can easily be made over to be used with food storage...dried onion, garlic powder, canned meat or beans. What a treat in lean times.

1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup cooked millet
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup sucanat
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up. Combine brown sugar and seasoning. Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables. Add garlic, grains, red wine vinegar and worcestershire sauce to meat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook mixture 5-10 minutes longer or until desired consistency.

Monday, May 18, 2009


A fancy pants main dish that is intensely rich. Though very simple to make, the presentation of this savory stuffed puff pastry is spectacular. Puff pastry is a dough made by layering butter in flour. When it cooks, steam puffs the dough while the fat makes it all crispy. The end result is buttery, flaky goodness. I get my puff pastry from Trader Joe's, it is made with real butter. Other brands are made with hydrogenated soybean oil, which I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.

Now, this is not an A plus on the healthy meal scale; the pastry is made with white flour and the fat content is out of proportion, but it is made with real food. It is important, that even when indulging to keep your food real so that your body doesn't get all gunked up with toxins(hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup) and chemicals (food dyes, msg) from man-made "foods."

Chicken is a crowd pleaser, so this is what I have listed in the recipe. But salmon is divine.

2 sheets puff pastry (10x10)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 lb. chicken, cubed, cooked and drained of excess moisture
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (this is an "egg wash"

Thaw pastry sheets. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil, cook through. Add spinach, stir to wilt. Salt and set mixture aside to cool slightly. Mix cream cheese and mustard in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Working on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silicon mat, lay out 2 sheets of puff pastry. Spread chicken on half of each sheet, dividing evenly and leaving a half inch at the edges. Top chicken with vegetable mixture and spoon cheese mixture on top. Fold each pastry over, corner to corner, you may have to stretch the dough a bit. Fork around the edges to seal. Brush the dough evenly with the egg wash, gently cut 3-1 inch slits in each of the wellingtons. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut each wellington in half for 4 large servings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Green House Smoothie

After years of trying to cover up the green-ness of spinach in smoothies, I have finally decided to embrace the color that epitomizes nutrition. Smoothies are great for packing a big nutrition 1-2 punch. There are TONS of supplemental items that can hide in a nice, smooth, refreshing beverage. This is a sample recipe that even my husband enjoys. If I am making one for just me and the kids I will add a few more goodies, or add them after I have poured him a glass. Smoothies are a chance to get creative, use up what you have. Always remember to freeze produce that is about to go bad and just throw them into the next smoothie.

2 cups kefir
¼ cup flax oil
dash of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 whole kiwis
2 bananas-frozen
core of 1 pineapple-frozen
3 cups baby spinach
2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in blender for 45 seconds. Turn into “ugly smoothie” by adding frozen berries.

Other goodies:
Nutritional yeast
Hydrated chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Soaked nuts
Coconut oil
Essential oil

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Medium Pesto

Basil plants are so easy to grow and around here they last 9 months of the year. Right now is pesto season, when the leaves grow so fast there not enough time to eat them. Pesto is great to season vegetables, chicken, pizza, pasta, sandwiches or just a dip for bread. Along with a thousand different uses, this little mess of flavor has a thousand different recipes.

For pasta, you want it light, for vegetables you want it heavy. Some like it garlicky and chunky, while others like it spicy and smooth. Maybe it needs to be spread-able, or maybe dip-able. I make mine on the in between mark of all three of these scenarios.

The blender on slow makes it smooth but not too smooth. If I have time to roast some garlic, I add three cloves, but if it is raw, just one. Just enough oil to spread out onto dough, but not so much that it runs off my sandwich. Using half spinach and half basil makes pesto between mild and rich, while keeping the dip/sauce/spread/seasoning greener. Come on by, I have plenty to go around.

1 clove garlic
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated parmesean
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil

Place garlic in blender to break it up into small pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend on low speed, scrapping down as needed. A tamper is very useful in getting all the leaves into the blades.

To store, press plastic onto the surface of the pesto and keep refrigerated up to 5 days.

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Grain at a Time

With a buttery flavor, and chewy texture, this golden grain is twice the size of wheat and closely related. Unlike wheat, this grain has not been altered by modern plant breeders., resulting in a more nutritious food. Kamut is the only grain that has been trademarked with growing rights . The entire U.S. crop propagated from only a pint of seeds. So versitle to use, however, the gluten content is a bit shy to stand alone in yeasted bread. This grain is one of my favorite.

20 cents a serving at $2.00 per lb.
1 lb = 2.2 cups dry = 5 cups cooked = 3 cups flour

To Cook:
1 cup grain to 3 cups water
Simmer 45 minutes or Pressure 15 minutes on high, natural release.
Strain and rinse.

To Store:
-Whole - indefinitely in an air tight container in a cool, dry place.
For long term storage freeze for 48 hours before storing.
-Flour - up to 2 weeks in an air tight container, or freeze up to 1 year.
-Cooked - refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze up to 6 months.

To Use:
-Cooked grains can be used by adding to soups and salads.
-Crack grains in blender and cook to make a great hot breakfast cereal.
-Cooked cracked kamut adds chewy-ness to breads.
-Flour may be used in place of white flour for any non yeasted recipe.
-Substitute up to half flour in yeasted recipes or add wheat gluten to make bread.
-Flour can be used for homemade pastas.-Whole grains can be sprouted.

Nutritional Value per 100 grams (3.5 oz)
Calories 337
Total fat 2.0 g
Dietary fiber 9 g
Protein 15 g
Carbohydrate 70 g
Thiamin 0.6 mg 39%
Riboflavin 0.2 mg 10%
Niacin 6.4 mg 32%
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg 13%
Iron 4.4 mg 25%
Magnesium 134 mg 34%
Phosphorus 386 mg 39%
Potassium 446 mg 13%
Zinc 3.7 mg 25 %
Copper 0.5 mg 26%
Manganese 2.9 mg 143%
Selenium 69.3 mcg 99%

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Multi Grain Banana Bread

Sweet breads are typically white flour, laden with vegetable oil and white sugar, just because there are a couple cups of bananas or zucchini does not overcome the fact that these breads are no better than a birthday cake. With a little know how, these three major issues can be remedied.

First off, mild flavored whole grains can be used to a a whole lot of nutrition. I recommend barley, oats, kamut and soft white wheat, any combination from one to all four will give good results. To give the whole grains a lift, increase the baking powder by 1/2 teaspoon.

Next, we address vegetable oil, which is the lowest class of oil next to hydrogenated (why must they taint the glorious "V" word?) My oil of choice in this case is coconut oil, followed by light olive oil and expeller pressed canola oil. No need for a full cup, the bananas and kefir give moisture a boost, while taking care to not over bake makes a world of difference.

Lastly, the dreaded over processed white sugar. It is true that texture of, lets face it-cake, is benefited by white sugar. But surely 2 cups is over doing it. For me and my kids 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup is sweet enough to be a treat. Jarom adds a sprinkle of powdered sugar to his slices. Consider cutting back on sugar little by little, if you go too far just garnish with powdered sugar. Another trick is sprinkling a couple tablespoons on top of the batter before cooking, coarse sugars like turbinado work great for this.

Once we had banana bread for breakfast the and kids thought I was being naughty. Layne said "We did not have a very healthy breakfast today, Mom." Of coarse I argued that we did.

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons kefir or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 medium bananas
2/3 cup barley flour
2/3 cup oat flour
2/3 cup soft white wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan. Cut a 5x9 inch piece of parchment and place in the bottom of the pan.In blender place syrup, sugar and egg. Blend on low for 45 seconds. Add oil, kefir, vanilla and bananas. Blend again for 30 seconds. Place the remaining ingredients on top of mixture. Pulse until mostly combined, finish mixing with a spatula and pour into loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Be sure to check the bread a couple times in the last 10 minutes for doneness. Press gently on the middle of the loaf, firm is done. When you remove loaf from the oven, let cool 5-10 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack and peel the parchment from the bottom.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Salmon and Green Bean Pasta

Waiting for tomatoes to grow is torture, they take so long. Green beans become the perfect buffer in this gardening lull, right now these are flourishing. I love a good and fresh bean. When you look for them in the store they should be firm, air pockets mean they are over matured and will be tough. Also look for dull, crisp beans with taunt skin, wrinkles means the beans are old which makes them rubbery. If there are no acceptable beans to be found, peas are a nice alternative, but you will want to use a different shaped pasta (like elbow or rotini) to keep the peas from all migrating to the bottom of your bowl.

8 ounces pound whole wheat linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces salmon
1 pound green beans, cut in half
½ teaspoon salt
1 inch ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed
6 green onions, sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
½ cup cilantro, chopped

Cook pasta al dente. Heat oil in large pan on medium high heat, place fish skin side up in pan. Spread green beans around the fish, cover. After 3 minutes flip the fish, stir the beans, cover and reduce heat to low for 3 more minutes. Remove fish from pan, raise heat to medium and cook the garlic, ginger and onions for one minute. Mix together soy sauce, honey, lemon juice and cayenne. Add mixture to pan, combine with pasta and cilantro. Remove the skin and break up the fish with a fork, then mix in with pasta.

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