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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Lettuce wraps

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We’ve got a TON of lettuce in your CSA each week. And not just those little lettuce leaves that fit nicely on a sandwich – no, these are 12″ long from base to tip and over 6″ wide. When I was cleaning them last Tuesday they were just begging for me to use them as a wrap.

I don’t know how many of you have tried lettuce wraps before, but they are just as filling as a sandwich but much healthier. You can stuff them with anything your heart desires, but be sure to always have something creamy/sticky inside to help hold them together. I usually make savory lettuce wraps and use hummus as the creamy base.

How to make lettuce wraps

  1. Wash and dry the leaves. If they are extra crunchy and you don’t want to get messy, consider leaving the in the refrigerator overnight in an open bag. This will make them less crunchy/more wilty, so they are more flexible. I am ok with being messy, so I just used mine fresh. 
  2. Spread 1 TBSP of your creamy sauce inside the leafy green part of the leaf.
  3. Add any fillings you’d like – these had caramelized onions, radishes, carrots, and feta cheese. All of the fillings should be cut into match-stick like pieces to make it easier to eat. Arrange the fillings parallel to the stem, but keep them in the leafy part (where the creamy sauce is).
  4. Once you’ve filled the leaf, carefully bend the stem up to reach the middle or top of the filling. This is the part where a wilty leaf will bend much easier.
  5. Wrap one side in and then spread a small amount of the creamy sauce on the edge that is over the middle of the wrap. Wrap the other side in (see how the creamy sauce is your glue!). You can eat them like this, with the top open, or spread a little more creamy sauce on the mid-line seam and fold the top down.
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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Best Oatmeal Cookies Around

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I posted about these cookies back in 2009. They are hands-down, the best cookies I have ever eaten. What’s even better? They are hands-down the easiest cookies I have ever made. Healthy +  Delicious + Simple – what more could you ask for??

I have an unhealthy love for dried fruit and nuts, so we don’t tend to keep them around the house. Because of that, I have started to make these cookies without the add-ins and they are just as tasty. I also thought the original recipe was a little too sweet, so I modified the sugar a bit….well, half, so not just a bit. Don’t worry, they are still very sweet (even without the add-ins)!

Delicious and Nutritious Oatmeal Cookies
Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/3 cup all purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup butter, softened
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 egg
– 1 1/2 cups oats

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs; mix well.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, beating on low. Beat until well mixed (and then place the beaters on high to get the rest off).
  5. Add oats and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet; leave about 2″ apart.
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden.
 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Freezing Fresh Strawberries

Strawberry season is in full-swing here in WI. Last Saturday I braved the stormy weather and went strawberry picking and came home with 10 pounds of juicy, ripe strawberries. After giving a few pounds to my parents (and eating a pound or two myself…), I decided to freeze the rest to enjoy later this summer or fall.

Freezing fruit and vegetables is a little more work than you’d think. While you can throw all the fruit in a freezer bag and call it a day, I prefer to individually freeze my produce so it isn’t just one big clump. I wanted to share my method if any readers are wondering how to get frozen produce that you can portion out as needed.

fresh strawberries

Washing
After soaking the berries, Washing produce is always important, but when you are going to save it for the future, it is that much more important. All those bugs would love for us to forget this step, so they have a few months to slowly grow and  multiply. After a little research online I found the best method for berries is to soak them in a water-vinegar mixture for 30 minutes. The vinegar helps kill any mold that may be on the berries.

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First I filled 1/2 the sink with water and poured the berries in. I swished them around to clean them a bit and then cut the tops off. To keep them separate, I place the cut berries into a strainer. After cutting all the tops off I drained the water in the left sink and then refilled it with a water-vinegar solution (about 1/2 cup vinegar and just enough water so the berries would be covered. I rinsed the berries in the strainer and then dumped them back into the solution to soak for 30 minutes.

After soaking the berries, I drained the solution and rinsed the berries. I lined the strainer with paper towel and placed the berries in the strainer to dry. After about 15 minutes I dumped them onto kitchen towels to finish drying.

Freezing the Berries (or any other produce)
It is very important that the berries are dry before you freeze them – otherwise they will get icy. The key to freezing produce without it clumping together is to freeze it in 2 steps. First I line baking sheets with cling wrap. Next I individually place each strawberry onto the prepared pan. I am sure to not let any berries touch each other. Place the full pan in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until they are hard. Remove the berries from the freezer and then place them into freezer bags. If you’d like, you can stop at this part and just place the freezer bags of fruit into the freezer. The berries will not stick together, so you can pull out how ever many you need at a time.

If you think you’ll keep the berries in the freezer for more than a month or two, I like to “vacuum” seal them.

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I place a straw into the freezer bag and close the bag as much as I can. I manually remove as much air as possible. Then I suck on the straw to pull out any air left in the bag. While sucking I press on the seal and remove the straw once the bag is sucked to the fruit. It takes a bit of practice, but after a few bags you get the hang of the process so you don’t let in any more air. This isn’t as good as the foodsaver vacuum sealer system, but it costs about 5 cents vs. $250.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Frittata

Girls Weekend 12

Every year 4 of my high school girlfriends and I get together for a girls’ weekend. This year I hosted and it was absolutely wonderful. We spent the weekend catching up, eating delicious meals, drinking microbrews and wine, and making homemade beauty products. We spent one night out at the infamous Cleo’s downtown, which is full-out decorated for Christmas year-round. Here’s a picture from the night – they are all so beautiful 🙂

When we decided I would host I was so excited to finally have an excuse to make some of the delicious looking recipes I had been pinning.  For breakfast I had quite the spread – crock-pot steel-cut oats with a variety of toppings, fresh fruit, fresh bread, and this tasty frittata. It was absolutely delicious and only took 10 minutes to throw together. I have made it a few more times since and it has turned out great each time.

sun dried tomato and artichoke quiche

Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata
Original Recipe – Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

  • 27 eggs* (18 whites, 9 full eggs)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 3 – 15oz jars of artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 bag of fresh spinach
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a large baking dish or corning ware dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Separate the yolk from 18 of the eggs** and place them in a large bowl. Add the remaining 9 eggs and whisk well. 
  3. Mix in the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes. Add the fresh spinach and stir well.
  4. Pour into the baking dish. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the eggs begin to pull away from the side and the center is set.
  6. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

* If you aren’t looking to limit saturated fat/calories, you can use 9 full eggs instead of 18 egg whites. 

**If you feel it is a waste to throw out the 18 yolks, you could save these for a custard. 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Avocado meets Chocolate

That’s right – avocado and chocolate, together at last. When I saw this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod I thought of the overly ripe avocado sitting in the refrigerator and new I had to make these. I had been keeping the avocado to put in my hair as a conditioning treatment, but this seemed like a much better use of those monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats. These vegan-friendly cookies are fudgy heaven and taste nothing like avocado. I would describe them as a mix between a fudge brownie and a soft cookie.  The best part of all? They are actually good for…so good for you that I give you permission to have them for breakfast 😉

I modified the original recipe, so I can’t really say how the original would turn out. My modifications included:

  • I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, which increased the baking time. This increased the fiber and lets you count your cookie as a whole grain 🙂
  • I used 1/2 cup avocado instead of 1/4 avocado and 1/4 coconut oil. I am not 100% sold on this coconut oil craze and I didn’t have any on hand. I think the entire avocado makes it healthier since it is loaded with monounsaturated fats.
  • I cut the sugar in half
  • I omitting the chocolate chips (I didn’t have any on-hand).

Below is the recipe I made.

Avocado Chocolate Cookies

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup mashed, ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray, or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa to a medium bowl. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the avocado and sugar until smooth (no gritty pieces!). Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
  4. While beating on low, add 1/2 the flour mixture. Once mixed well, add the milk and the remaining flour mixture (beating on low the entire time). Mix until the flour disappears.
  5. Using a tablespoon, form balls and place on the prepared pans. Flatten the balls slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until set on the edges.
  6. Let the cookie cool on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Let cool completely.

I found that these taste better the next day. By all means, try them fresh out of the oven, but wait to make your final judgement until the next day. Enjoy!

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Banana Bars

A few months ago I posted about the most delicious Banana Oat Muffins. Not only are they delicious, but they are probably the easiest muffins I have ever made. I think my favorite thing about these muffins is that they use those over-ripe bananas that you need to find something, anything, to do with so you don’t need to throw them in the garbage.

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We started to run low on my last batch, so last weekend I decided to make some more. I tripled the recipe, so I could keep them in the freezer for whenever we need a snack. I also wanted to try to cut the sugar and egg content. Sugar is just a sweetener in this recipe, so cutting it out shouldn’t change the texture. Eggs, on the other hand are what help keep the bars together, so it is risky to cut them out without a replacement. One option is to just use egg whites instead of the whole egg. Another option. is to substitute with some flax seed or chia seeds. I had chia seeds on hand, so I opted for the later option. After I mixed everything up I realized it would take all evening to make these one muffin tray at a time. I decided to try making these into bars and they worked great.

Super Simple Banana Bars

Bulk Recipe

Ingredients

  • 7.5 cups of old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp baking soda
  • 3 cup of fat-free plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp chia seed
  • 9 ripe bananas

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray 2 baking pans with cooking spray.
  2. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until they are very fine chunks – not quite flour, but very small pieces. Pour into a large bowl. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Mix well.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in the food processor and process until well blended.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top and edges are lightly browned (I did 25 minutes).
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer from the pan to a cooling rack. Cut into bars once cool.
  7. If you plan to  freeze them, individually wrap them with plastic cling wrap and place into a freezer bag or large plastic container.
 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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Grass Fed Beef with Roasted Tomatoes

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This winter J and I purchased 1/2 a cow from a local farmer. I am not much of a beef eater (I could eat chicken every day…or no meat at all) but I wanted to support a local farmer and give grass-fed beef a try. I am VERY happy with the beef. The flavor is different from what we used to get in the store and I actually find myself wanting to make it for dinner (vs. eating because I don’t want it to go to waste and I could use the iron, zinc, B12, B6, and protein).  I am amazed at how naturally lean the meat is as well; when I brown the beef there is less than a tbsp or two of fat for me to drain off (so I’ve stopped wasting my time draining it off – it has some healthy fats in it anyway, since they are grass-fed).

I was also impressed with the farmer. He invited us to his farm to see the cows before we decided to make the purchase. He has 7 pastures and moves the cows each day. This way the grass isn’t over-grazed and is ready for the cows when the come back in a week. Winters in WI are cold, like really cold, so in the winter, many farmers will  supplement their “grass-fed” cows with corn. Not this guy. He feeds them hay from the fields to make sure they stay grass-fed.

Last week I took a study break to throw together something quick for dinner. I used these Roasting Guidelines to decide how long to cook my roast. For the side dish, I opted for broiled tomatoes. I sliced large beef steak tomatoes in half, sprinkled with part-skim mozzarella cheese, and topped with Italian seasoning and garlic. Put them on a pan lined with foil and broil them for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts; I kept the light on in the oven so I could watch them. After I took the picture I drizzled them with balsamic vinegar.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Nutrition

 

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