Get the Most from Turmeric: A ‘Spice for Life’

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation DrinkUsed for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the healing powers of turmeric are now gaining mainstream awareness. Turmeric and curcumin, the most active constituent of the spice, have been the subject of thousands of studies, revealing the following: Continue reading “Get the Most from Turmeric: A ‘Spice for Life’” »

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International Food Blogger’s Conference: A Rookie’s Perspective

IFBC Seattle 2014I’ve attended more than my share of conferences ranging from technology, science, dietetics and integrative healthcare. But, those weren’t on my dime. So, in considering IFBC, I questioned if attending as a non-professional and relatively inexperienced blogger would be worth the investment. Indeed, it was. Continue reading “International Food Blogger’s Conference: A Rookie’s Perspective” »

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Basic Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock IngredientsEvery poultry-eating cook needs a go-to stock recipe. I never had one until recently as the yield from my single roasted chicken didn’t seem worth the effort. But, now I can’t imagine wasting a single carcass and simply wait until I have two of them. After all the meat has been eaten, I throw the bones  into a freezer bag, along with any kitchen scraps collected from juicing and cooking during the week (mostly carrot, celery, leek and onion ends). I also save onion skins, as they impart a pleasant caramel color to the stock. Continue reading “Basic Chicken Stock” »

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Radicchio: The Other ‘Green’.

RadicchioWith tightly bound, magenta leaves, radicchio is a striking vegetable. But, at the market, it often receives an admiring gaze, then is passed over for the more familiar, less bitter and less intimidating bins of greens. While radicchio (pronounced similar to Pinocchio), looks like a small cabbage, it is actually a member of the chicory family, cousins of lettuces and dandelions. Also known as Italian or Red Chicory, radicchio is very versatile to use, nutritious and is as simple to prepare as your usual green suspects. Radicchio is nutritionally rich, but has several distinguishing health benefits, which set it apart from typical salad greens. Check out this impressive red-head!

Digestive Health: Chicories, like radicchio, contain inulin, a non-digestible carbohydrate [1]. Through fermentation, inulin acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the intestine. Inulin also helps regulate blood sugar levels [2]. In addition, the bitter quality of radicchio increases bile salts, which can improve digestion.

Bone and Neurological Health: Radicchio is uniquely rich in vitamin K, with 100 grams providing 212% of daily recommended values. Vitamin K promotes the formation and strengthening of bone. Further, research shows adequate dietary vitamin K may limit naturally occurring neuron damage in the brain. As such, vitamin K has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s [3]. 

Visual Health: Radicchio’s vibrant red color is an eye-pleaser, in more ways than one. The brightly colored leaves are an excellent source of phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds protect eyes from age-related macular disease (ARMD) by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays [4]. Sunscreen for your eyes!

When selecting radicchio, look for compact, bright-colored heads with prominent ribs, free of bruises and brown or withered leaves. The smaller, younger heads will be less bitter. Store the heads refrigerated, but eat as quickly as possible as they will become more bitter with time. To reduce the bitterness, soak the leaves or quarters in cold water for 10 to 30 minutes.

Radicchio Leaves Soaking

Substitute radicchio in recipes calling for chicory or endive. Using radicchio raw, tear or chop the leaves into small pieces, and combine it with other salad greens for a flavor, color and texture accent. The individual leaves can also be used as elegant and low-carb serving cups or wrappers for appetizers. Cored, but not quartered, the sturdy leaves are excellent grilled or roasted. Radicchio pairs especially well with balsamic vinegar. Try tossing the soaked and dried leaves with a balsamic vinaigrette, with an optional topping of shaved parmesan. Balsamic vinegar also combines well with grilled or roasted radicchio. Following is an adaptation of Michael Ruhlman’s Grilled Radiccchio recipe.

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4-8.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium heads radicchio, quartered lengthwise, core intact
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette

Radicchio Quarters

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place radicchio wedges in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Place each wedge, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast the wedges, turning once, until the leaves are wilted and just slightly charred, about 12-15 minutes.
  6. Season both sides of the wedges with salt and pepper.
  7. Before serving, drizzle balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette over the top of each wedge.

REFERENCES:

[1] The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia – Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating, by Rebecca Wood
[2] Niness (1 July 1999). “Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?”Journal of Nutrition. 129 (7): 1402 (7): 1402. PMID 10395607. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
[3] USDA National Nutrient data base
[4] nutritionandyou.com – Radicchio

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Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash

 

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower MashTemperatures are atypically hovering around 70 degrees. While I’m ready for fall, I’m not quite ready for my favorite fall recipes such as cauliflower mash, aka faux mashed potatoes -a quintessential comfort food fake.

But, cauliflower is in season -now! As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower is a true ‘super food’. While over-used, cauliflower is actually worthy of this term. Rich in sulforaphane, indoles and isothiocyanates, cauliflower supports multiple body systems; detoxification, antioxidant, and the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system [1].

Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C, with one serving providing 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C [2].  It is also high in fiber, and pretty much all the nutrients as it’s more popular and colorful cousin, broccoli. That is, of course, except chlorophyl. But, cauliflower has an edge over broccoli inside its cell walls, pectin. Just as pectin in apples provides thickening and gelling properties to applesauce, the pectin in cauliflower makes it creamy when cooked.

I love this recipe for its seasonal-neutral contrast of light citrus and subtle heat from the pepper flakes. The recipe is simple and quick to prepare, can be served warm or at room temperature and the texture is the same the next day. You can enjoy this and other cauliflower mash recipes year-round as the preparation works equally well with fresh or frozen cauliflower. However, keep in mind that while still nutritious, commercially packaged frozen cruciferous vegetables may lose many of the health benefits found in their fresh counterparts [3].

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, chopped into florets (or 1 pound frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil or butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 head roasted garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest (optional)

Steaming Cauliflower

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place chopped cauliflower into a steamer insert inside of a saucepan or stock pot with an inch or two of water.
  2. Cover and steam until very soft when pierced with a fork. For fresh cauliflower, this will take 10-12 minutes. Frozen cauliflower will take less time.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the heat.
  4. Allow the cauliflower to rest in the steamer for another five minutes.
  5. Transfer steamed cauliflower into a food processor or blender.
  6. Add all other ingredients, except the zest to the blender and process until smooth.
  7. Add rice or almond milk, if needed for a smooth texture.
  8. Readjust seasoning to taste, if needed. 
  9. Top with lemon zest and serve.

REFERENCES:

[1] Nation Cancer Institute
[
2] World’s Healthiest Foods, Cauliflower
[
3] nutritionfacts.org – Video

What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower? Let me know!

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Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Drink

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation TonicThis anti-inflammation beverage is more than just a drink it is a true tonic. Definitions of the word range from ‘a medicine that invigorates or strengthens’ to anything invigorating physically, mentally, or morally’. Both are apt descriptions for this drink, inspired by a similar commercial beverage, Tumeric Elixir of Life. Continue reading “Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Drink” »

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Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad

Quinoa Black Bean SaladIt’s not easy to love a minimum wage job at a mall. But, I loved my part-time job at Pasta & Co. In the 80′s, fresh pasta was a retail novelty. While Pasta & Co was one of Seattle’s first retailers to offer fresh pasta, it was their specialty sauces and prepared foods which captured my imagination. The owner, Marcella Rosene put a creative twist on everything in that store, from selecting unique and defining recipe ingredients, such as black sesame oil to her beautifully hand scripted product labels. In her stores, something as simple as croutons were memorable. Pasta & Co. The Cookbook, the first cookbook I ever bought myself, is still with me today, dog-eared and splattered. The book is now out of print. But, I noticed a few new copies available on Amazon for $215! Continue reading “Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad” »

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Healthy Fudgsicles

Healthy FudgsiclesIt’s not summer without the occasional nostalgic, cool treat. Fudgsicles were a childhood favorite of mine. There was something about the way they slowly morphed from a frozen solid into creamy, chocolate pudding. Unfortunately, three of the top six ingredients in those fudgsicles are sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. Keep reading the label and you will find other goodies, such as cellulose gum and polysorbate 80. Continue reading “Healthy Fudgsicles” »

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Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean BrowniesA gluten-free, grain-free, vegan brownie? You might wonder – why bother?! The Minimalist Baker convinced me otherwise. Here, I have adapted her black bean brownie recipe to make it sugar-free as well.

Beans, being a magical fruit in more ways than one, make a healthy brownie possible. Here, beans replace flour with pure vanilla and raw cacao camouflaging the bean flavor. Date paste replaces sugar. The result is a firm outside encasing a moist, dense and rich chocolate pudding-like texture inside. Only slightly sweet, this is an adult-style brownie. Think flourless chocolate cake, but healthier and antioxidant rich. Continue reading “Black Bean Brownies” »

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