Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rosemary and Sage Chicken Burgers with a side of Apple Slaw

Herbs add health and flavor...

Did you realize that herbs (and spices) such as rosemary, basil and sage have far greater concentrations or antioxidants and phytonutrients than most fruits or vegetables.  In fact, basil has nine times more phytonutrient power than the super food spinach!  Phytonutrients are found naturally in plants and help protect them from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats.  When we eat these plants we benefit from the power of their protective compounds.

Normal body functions produce substances called free radicals that attack healthy cells.  When these healthy cells are weakened, they are more susceptilbe to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.  Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and carotenoids, which include beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants found in rosemary help stimulate your immune system and brain function, improve circulation, digestion and protect you from cancer causing toxins.

The Recipe! 
Rosemary and sage combine their forces in this delish recipe and pack a healthy punch in the form of phytonutrients and antioxidants to kick cell damage out of the body.  Get your healthy dose of good green stuff with my Rosemary Sage Chicken Burgers.  The flavors combine to marry the grilling season of the summer and the crisp cool air of the fall.  Enjoy!

-1 lb. ground chicken
-1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
-1 TBSP chopped fresh sage
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 whole grain buns
-1 cup baby spinach leaves

Chive Dressing
-1/2 cup greek yogurt
-2 TBSP chopped fresh chives
-1 TBSP honey
-1 TBSP Dijion mustard
-2 dashes each salt and pepper

Apple Slaw
-3 green apples, peeled, cored and grated
-1 tsp fresh lemon juice
-1/4 tsp salt
Preheat grill or pan to medium high.  Combine ground chicken, rosemary sage and salt in a medium-sized bowl; form into four patties.  In a small bowl, combine chive dressing ingredients.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine slaw ingredients. Grill patties four minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  Toast the buns and spread each top with chive dressing.  Place burger on bun and top with slaw and several spinach leaves.  Serves four.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Late Summer Lentil Salad

As the last summer rays ripen the tomato vines, plump up squashes and stretch out green beans, I'm looking to use the most healthful ingredients in a filling, yet light summer salad.  Pairing lentils as my base and layering with loads of fresh crunchy beets, tangy feta cheese, earthy eggplants and super food spinach creates a summer salad that is as easily used as a side dish or vegetarian main dish.  Other than the lentils and olive oil, I purchased everything at a farmer's market. Enjoy!

-1 cup of green or brown lentils, picked through and washed
-3 to 4 cups of washed baby spinach or other mixed baby green
-1 small purple eggplant or several baby eggplants
-1 large beet, peeled or several small beets, peeled
-1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
-10 to 12 chopped kalamata olives
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 tsp fresh lemon zest
-1 juice of one lemon
-fresh cracked black pepper 
-sea salt to taste

Using a zester or the smallest option on a box grater, rub a washed lemon down to just when the white pith begins to show.  Then rotate and repeat until you have about 1 tsp of zest, which is full of flavor with the lemon oils that are in the skin opened up.  In a small bowl, add the zest, juice of the lemon, 1 tsp salt, 15 turnsof the pepper grinder and whisk in the olive oil.  Set aside.

Cut the eggplants, lengthwise, in half. Dust with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and drizzle a small amount of oil over the flesh.  Place under a broiler, skin side up for 5 minutes, flip and broil other side until the flesh is blackened slightly.  Cool and chop into medium size pieces.

In a sauce pan, fill to halfway with water and add the cup of lentils.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium, keeping the lentils at a steady simmer.  The lentils will take about 25 minutes to cook.  Taste test one or two lentils and make sure they are tender and no crunch is left. Depending on the age of your lentils, they might need a littler longer to become tender.  Be sure not to overcook and let them become mushy.  Drain the lentils and set in a large bowl.

Wearing gloves to protect your hands from staining slide the peeled beets over a box grater or cut them into thin slices. Add to the warm lentils.  Toss in the eggplant, olives, baby greens and feta and toss well with dressing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serving size is 1 cup.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Super Seasonal Salad and Upcycle Tips

Have you ever thought about using all of your vegetables?  Instead of taking those roots and throwing them in the compost or in the trash...let's upcycle. Using a little water, some potting soil and any container you have on hand, you can grow a lot more food from the roots, saving yourself a little money perhaps, but having fun with your food while doing so.

Here are a few of my favorite upcycle ideas: 

Celery - Simply cut the bottom off of the green stalks,  leaving 1-inch of stalks with the root. Peel away a few outer layers and suspend in a glass of water.  You can also transplant this into soil for even more growth. 
Green Onions - Super easy one!  Cut the bottom root part off and plant the roots in potting soil in any container or plant them outside for loads more green onions. 
Garlic and shallots - got shriveled or sprouted garlic or shallots?  Plant individual cloves in any soil and enjoy garlic or shallot greens  and you'll have yourself a new full bulb next year.
Ginger -snap off a finger and plant it in a fairly large pot. Done! Not only will you have a fantastic houseplant, you'll be able to dig up new roots for stir frys as the plant grows. 
Most herbs can grow roots by simply cutting a piece with the stem and placing them in a glass of water, after a few days when healthy white roots are showing plant them in some soil for your own herbs year-round.  This works great with basil & mint.

Great grains, quinoa and bulgur mix with crisp radishes, salty olives, and feta, dressed with olive oil and lemon, to create a salad that helps transition from the green salads of summer to the hearty dishes of winter. This salad, although still on the light side, will satisfy the most famished, but paired with a dollop of Greek yogurt it becomes a full and balanced meal. 

Great Seasons Salad
1/3 cup quinoa
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup medium bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 TBSP. chopped mix of chives, garlic shoots (if you try the upcycled gardening)
8 brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and cut into slivers
2 radishes, thinly sliced
2 oz feta, coarsely crumbled (1/2 cup)
3 cups arugula or baby spinach leaves
1 cup of Greek yogurt, divided for garnish

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve between changes of water.

Stir together quinoa, 4 cups water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, and simmer, uncovered, until quinoa is just tender and germ starts to separate from grain, about 20 minutes. Drain well in sieve, then transfer to a medium bowl.

While quinoa is simmering, cover bulgur with warm water by 2 inches and soak until tender and chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain well in a sieve, then stir into drained quinoa. Cool grains completely, about 20 minutes.

While grains cool, stir together oil, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and let stand 15 minutes, then stir into grains along with olives, radishes, feta, chive mixture and greens. Garnish with Greek Yogurt and serve immediately.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Oh My Basil!

Cooking with fresh basil is a culinary pleasure I like to indulge in as much as possible.  Thanks to its popularity, basil is readily available, even in winter months.  This time of year you'll find the leafy greens blossoming in backyard gardens, fragrant and especially delicious, so take advantage while it is abundant. Basil has many health benefits to.  I've included some tips to help you utilize the herb in ways beyond my recipe this week.

1.  According to botanist James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, basil has anti-anxiety effects.  It contains phytochemicals that studies suggest may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you're tense.  Simmer down on a hot or harried day by adding the herb to your iced tea: add 2 or 3 leaves (per serving) while your tea is steeping.  Lounge chair optional.
2.  The herb is a super source of iron with a little more than two cups of chopped
Click to watch! 
fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried providing 10 percent your daily value. That is right up there with spinach!  You could easily get your dose by subbing basil in for spinach in your salads, tossing into scrambled eggs or adding chopped basil to your vinaigrettes.
3.  Vitamin K is essential for helping blood clot and basil is full of it!  In fact, just two tablespoons of basil provides 29 percent of the daily recommended value. Practice your knife skills by chiffonading basil.  Check out this video where I'll show you how.
For best results with all these tips and suggestions, use fresh basil whenever possible.  When cooking with it, add to the dish during the last few minutes for maximum flavor.
Are you ready to do more than garnish tomatoes and salads or spike soups and sauces?  Great!  Let's use this herb at the peak of flavor and availability in a convenient and versatile sauce.  While pesto certainly highlights the bounty of fresh, summer taste, combining parmesan cheese, olive oil and nuts means it's tipping the scales at about 8 grams of fat per one tablespoon serving.  I'm going to keep the heart healthy fats from the nuts and olive oil, but substitute the parmesan to reduce the fat.  Let's get blending!

Pumped Up Pesto
-2 large bunches basil (about 5 cups fresh basil leaves)
-2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 TBSP lemon juice
-1/4 tsp fine sea salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/4 cup raw walnuts
-1/2 cup of cooked white beans (butter bean, northern beans, navy, etc).

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  You'll need some power to blend everything smoothly, so your Magic Bullet might not make the grade for this project.  I like to layer the blender in this order: walnuts, garlic pepper, sea salt, lemon juice, beans and basil.  Pulse the ingredients a few times until they begin to homogenize a bit, then transfer the power to medium speed and drizzle in the oil in a steady stream.  Blend well until the consistency is smooth.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to your taste.

Pesto can keep well in the fridge for about three days and freezes extremely well. I would recommend making a second batch.  Just'll be able to pull it out of your freezer, in the harsh cold of January and taste a little summer in your meal.
Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin

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