Monday, January 27, 2014

Eat the Rainbow

Find longevity at the end of the rainbow! The new dietary guidelines from the American Dietetic Association encourage us to color our plate with a rainbow of foods. Why?

When you eat all the colors, you are working far more disease-combating nutrients and vitamins into your meal. Eat your way to longevity by consuming the five-color spectrum every day in each food category - vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and grains.
Here are some examples for you:

This recipe is a wonderful weeknight meal that can be cooked ahead of time and assembled as needed, perfect for families that cannot sit down to the table all together or have full schedules. I love the combination of nutty black rice and quinoa combined with the spicy cumin infused chicken breast all wrapped up in a crisp slice of lettuce and topped with tart lime and yogurt. It's a great example of how to eat from the rainbow in one meal! Red coming from the tomatoes and quinoa, orange from the millet, green from the avocado, cilantro, lime and lettuce, black/purple from the black beans and rice and finally white from the garlic. 

Rainbow Tex Mex Chicken Lettuce Wraps 

-1 lb. ground chicken breast
-1 TBSP oil
-2 TBSP Sriracha (optional) or 2 TBSP tomato paste for less heat
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 garlic clove, crushed and minced well
-1 cup broth or water
-½ cup red quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup cooked black rice
-½ cup cooked millet
-½ cup thawed corn kernels
-1 avocado, cut into chunks
-1 small tomato, cut into small dice
-2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
-1 lime, sliced into wedges
-½ cup of plain Greek yogurt for garnish
-1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce 
Make ahead: Try cooking all of the grains on a different night while you make other dinner plans. This way you'll just need to mix together and serve it up when you are ready for these wraps. If you have leftover grains and rice (since you don't need to waste energy by cooking such a small amount), try mixing them together into a version of this meal: Plant Protein Pilaf

Cook quinoa, millet and black rice according to directions on package and distribute the correct amount into a large bowl. Combine in a skillet with the oil and chicken. Brown well and chop into small pieces. Add the Sriracha (or tomato paste) cumin, garlic paste and broth. Heat until the liquid has been absorbed. Add to the large bowl, the chicken mixture, corn, black beans, tomato and cilantro. Spoon about ½ to 2/3 cup into a washed and patted dry lettuce leaf. Top with a sprinkle of avocado, lime juice and yogurt.

Serving size 2 lettuce leaves filled with mixture.
Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin
Administration Director & BAC Foodie :) 
Bay Athletic Club
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Let's Move to the Beet!

Beets are one of the healthiest vegetables that you are not eating enough of. These slightly rugged looking roots are sweet but also have tons of health benefits. Under that shell, beets are just as healthful as spinach but maybe more so.

Just like Popeye's powerfood, this crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments-called betacyanins-that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

Beets are not only healthful, but they are delish. I've used them in several recipes previously published but here is a short list of what you could do with the little ruby gems:

1. Peel the outside and shred on a box grater. Add fresh and raw beets to any normal salad for a boot of flavor and health or add to a grain salad like this recipe: Late Summer Lentil Salad

2. Peel and chop into cubes. Roast in the oven, puree and add to chicken stock and ½ cup of plain yogurt, ½ cup of chopped chives for a yummy beet soup.

3. Roast in the oven, slice into thin rounds and drizzle with feta cheese, fresh thyme and balsamic vinegar.

4. Check out the recipe below and see how I "snuck" roasted beets into a weeknight dinner wrap that will satisfy the pickiest eater in your family 
I love the flavor combinations created with the tang of goat cheese, the earthy sweetness of beets and the fresh burst of herb coated chicken breast all wrapped up. I've added pomegranate seeds because I had so many left over from last week's video preparation: How to Open a Pomegranate

Roasted Beet, Three Herb Chicken and Goat Cheese Wrap 

1 large beet
1 TBSP olive oil
1 chicken breast, cooked
1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
1 TBSP chopped fresh sage
½ cup chicken stock (may substitute water)
2 TBSP fresh goat cheese
1 cup baby spinach, chopped loosely
¼ pomegranate seeds (I still have a bunch leftover!)
2 TBSP whole grain brown mustard (I had horseradish flavored and it rocked)
2 whole grain wraps

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Wash your beet (or make extra and try them in some of the methods I highlighted earlier) and place into a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 1 hour.

Meanwhile in a small skillet, toss the chicken, herbs and stock together and heat until the liquid is absorbed over medium heat. Set aside.
When the beets are roasted, carefully peel them with a normal vegetable peeler and chop into small chunks. Heat your wrap slightly and then assemble. Start by spreading ½ of the goat cheese along the middle of the wrap, then dot with mustard. 

Layer the spinach, beets, pomegranate seeds and finally chicken. Rolling away from you, fold over the end closest to you over the ingredients, tuck it under slightly, fold in both sides towards the middle and finish with one final roll away from you. Repeat the process with the other wrap and you are done! 1 wrap per person or ½ wrap for children.  
Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin
Administration Director & BAC Foodie :) 
Bay Athletic Club
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting the Seeds out of a Pomegranate and A Twisted Mexican Chopped Salad

Lately, I have featured a couple of recipes that use fresh pomegranate seeds since the little ruby gems are in season from September through January and have tons of antioxidants and vitamin C. However, I have left you to your own devices when it comes to getting the seeds out.  If you Google it, you may have found out there are many ways to try to get the seeds out without breaking or cutting them:

1. Cut in half; whack the outside shell with a wooden spoon over a bowl. This is messy and time consuming. I'll pass.
2. Quarter the fruit.  Set the fruit in a bowl of water and pluck out the seeds under water. This is fine and it works, but then you have to deal with getting the skin pieces away from the water soaked seeds, clean another bowl, etc. Not ideal.
3. The best way...cut a cone in the flower end with a paring knife. Cut the bottom flat. Score the outside peel vertically along each ridge, but not enough to enter the seed area. Peel apart by each section and enjoy the seeds. Wait, I know you're probably saying, that doesn't sound easy at all.

Check out this video and I'll show you what I mean:

See? Pretty simple. Let's put those seeds to work with my newest recipe. 
I absolutely love Mexican food and if I could, would eat it every day. Thankfully,when I make my own Mexican dish I don't have to feel as guilty about what I'm putting in my body.  It's healthier!

This was my inspiration behind this next salad recipe. This is not your typical side salad, this is a salad that will leave you feeling satisfied but not weighed down.  Plus it features a homemade dressing and numerous in season vegetables and fruit.  This meal may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it's just many ingredients that you need to chop and toss together. It should take you 30 minutes or less.

Chipotle Chopped Mexican Salad

-1 lbs. of cooked, peeled and tail free shrimp
-1 TBSP butter or olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley (optional)
-1 tsp. chipotle powder
-½ cup red quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-3 to 4 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
-1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed well
-½ cup frozen corn, thawed
-3 TBSP pomegranate seeds
-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
-4 TBSP feta cheese, crumbled
-3 TBSP pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Chipotle Grapefruit Vinaigrette
-½ large grapefruit, juiced
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1 tsp. chipotle powder
-1 tsp. fine salt
-1 tsp. black pepper
-1/3 cup taco sauce or tomato puree

In a small bowl, juice the grapefruit and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Whisk well to combine.

To a hot skillet, add the oil and garlic and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is heated through, about 2 minutes. Toss the shrimp with parsley and chipotle powder. Set aside and start to layer your salad bowl.

Start with black beans, corn, tomatoes, spinach, red quinoa, feta cheese, pepitas, pomegranate seeds and finish with a crown of shrimp. Drizzle with 2 TBSP of the well whisked vinaigrette and enjoy! Serves 2 adults.

You'll have left over seeds so try tossing them into yogurt, savory chicken dishes (to finish) or eat them as is for a snack. 
Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin
Administration Director & BAC Foodie :) 
Bay Athletic Club

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Healthful: Dried Beans and a Better Way to Cook them

This week's recipe is showing some love for the dry beans resting in your pantry shelf. If you are anything like me, you buy them since they look great, are nutritious and truly inexpensive. However, when you think of cooking with them, you have to factor in the time to soak them overnight, rinse, sort and then cook them...way too much time for a weeknight meal. 

My solution? Cook a large batch on a weekend when you have a little more time AND forget the overnight soak. It's true! You can still have fully cooked and tender beans in as little as two hours. I know it's still not extremely quick, but if you want all of the following health benefits and delish flavor, you might want to give it a try:

1. Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc.
2. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and helps with weight management.
3. How do they help with weight management? Beans are hearty, helping you feel full so you will tend to eat less. Not to mention a serving, ½ cup, of beans only has 100 calories. You'll feel so much more satisfied with 100 calories of beans versus three crackers, right? 

So, if you are ready to try the two hour bean cookery, rinse the dry beans (to remove any dirt and foreign particles), sort (to remove any larger debris like stones) and place in a large, heavy pot over the stove. Add enough water to cover the beans by three inches and turn the heat to high. Bring the beans to a boil and immediately cover, turn the heat down to very low and let them cook for the next 2 hours. Remove from the heat, rinse and set aside to be added to your next meal. Feel free to store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
What You Can Do With Beans   
  • Hummus - for a quick dip, purée a  1 and ½ cups  of chick peas, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 TBSP olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of paprika. Serve with toasted whole wheat pita triangles and fresh vegetables for dipping.
  • Add to soups, salads, stews and chili
  • Add to pasta
  • Serve as a side dish 
One of my favorite ways to work with beans is to create a hearty and healthful soup. This way I can make lunches for the week or a quick weeknight meal.  

Mixed Bean, Collard Green and Ham Soup

-2 cups of mixed beans, cooked (I used cranberry beans, mung and black eyed peas)
-1 bunch of collard greens, stems and ribs removed, chopped roughly
-2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into half moons
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 TBSP olive oil
-1 TBSP fresh sage, chopped or 1 tsp. dried and ground sage
-1 cup of ham, chopped (substitute Canadian bacon or another lean protein if you don't have any on hand)
-32 oz. vegetable or chicken broth
-10 cups of water
-1 TBSP. sea salt
-1 TBSP. black pepper
-1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

In a large pot, add the olive oil and turn heat to medium. Once the temperature is up, add the garlic, ham, carrots, sage, salt and both kinds of pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the liquids and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the flavor bits attached to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the beans and collards greens and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium for a nice simmer and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Ladle out 1 cup per serving and enjoy! This soup will also freeze nicely, so divide it up into individual servings and eat at will for up to 6 months.