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This crunchy carrot cake is light and lovely and since its wheat/gluten-free it is Kosher for Passover!

For best results, wrap the cake tightly in plastic after it cools and serve it the next day. It will keep for five days in the refrigerator if wrapped airtight.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) unsalted toasted almonds
1/4 cup raw brown (turbinado) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1/3 cup organic white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots (about 10 ounces or 3-4 large carrots)*
*It’s important to grate the carrots on the fine holes of your grater, or else they’ll remain too crunchy.

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch pan, (ideally springform lined with parchment).

2. Combine the almonds & brown sugar in a food processor and blend until almonds are finely ground. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & lemon zest, and pulse together.

3. Beat the eggs until thick in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with an electric beater. Add white sugar, continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Add the almond mixture and the carrots in three alternating additions, and slowly beat or fold in each time.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place in the oven, and bake one hour until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic.

Yield: Serves 10 to 12.

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Nutritional information per serving (10 servings): 209 calories; 13 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 85 grams cholesterol; 18 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 135 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 7 grams protein

Recipe from the New York Times by Martha Rose Shulman.

Print a copy here (or in resources).

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I taught this to my “Healthy Living” class last month as a way to show off the gorgeous Butter Lettuce they were growing in their Community Garden.

I love the idea of wrapping up all sorts of yummyness in a crunchy green leaf of lettuce (or cabbage) and you can either serve these as finger food at a party, serve as an appetizer or pack up a few for lunch.

Lettuce Wraps with Shiitake Mushrooms

lettucewraps_png

Ingredients

Makes 4 servings

1 8 oz. package ready-to-eat, seasoned tofu (Soy Boy’s Tofu Lin works well)
salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste
soy sauce to taste
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
bean sprouts
carrot cut into fine strips
1 head lettuce, use large leaves
1/2 lemon

Directions

Stir fry chopped garlic, ginger and carrot with some water in wok for a few minutes until soft.

Add the shiitakes, soy sauce, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Cook about another 5-10 minutes, then add the dried tofu and finish up the cooking, about 2-5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce/cabbage leaves, add a few drops of lemon juice, and roll them up!

Recipe from PCRM

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So Northern California hasn’t been quite as blazing hot as the rest of the country, ok to be honest, here in the Bay Area it has hardly been hot at all….BUT…I was still craving a summer dish to serve at an impromptu brunch for my family from out of town.

Saw some gorgeous quartered watermelon pieces at Whole Foods and was inspired to serve a summer favorite, Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad.

Sometimes I just serve the watermelon, mint and feta version but since I knew I had 8 or so people coming I wanted to bulk the salad up with arugula.  It was a hit and most of my aunt’s and uncles had never tried the lovely combination of slightly salty feta and sweet watermelon.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish or for a main meal serves 4

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 large orange

Juice of 2 small lemons

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon of honey (ideally local!)

1/4 Cup of good quality olive oil

1/4 of a medium perfectly ripe watermelon (look for a deep red color and seedless makes it easy),

8-10 oz of good quality feta cheese (you can get low or no fat feta but for the real flavor kick go full fat, especially if the rest of the meal is light)

1 small bunch of mint

1 bag/6 cups of Arugula (washed and spun dry)

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Chop up the watermelon into bite-sized chunks about 1″ squares

2. Cut the feta into bite-sized chunks about 1/2″ squares

3. Pluck the mint leaves from the branches and rinse, then roll into mini cigar shapes and slice into thin strips

4. Whisk or vigorously mix the citrus,honey, shallot, salt & pepper and olive oil to make the dressing which can be set aside until ready to serve

(I often use less than the full amount of dressing but this depends on your taste, extra dressing can be refrigerated for upto 3 days).

5. When ready to serve, toss the mint, arugula, watermelon and feta with the dressing

Isn’t that pretty!

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Since spring is playing peek-a-boo with us….its time to get ready for an easy spring salad!  I like to add no-fat feta from Trader Joe’s for a protein kick in there as well.

From the American Institute of Cancer Research.

A versatile salad like this one is perfect for those who want to add cancer-protective foods to their diet, but are just starting to transition from a meat-based plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion make an excellent side salad or use them as a meal base by adding a lean protein like low-fat cheese or chicken.  An added bonus: tomatoes are rich in the phytochemical, lycopene, which scientists believe may play a role in protecting against prostate cancer.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Parsley and Mint
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley and mint. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and mustard. Add to tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 60 calories, 3 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 45 mg sodium.

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As promised in last week’s Healthy Meal Planning post, here is the White Bean & Kale Ragout recipe that is one of our meal-time staples.   You can do it with the sausage or not, with the zucchini or not and I like to serve mine with a sprinkle of parmesan on top.  Remember to make extra and pack it for lunch or freeze!

Serves 4 (serving size 1 ¾ C each)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ C Chopped Onion
2 (4 oz) links of chicken/turkey sausage, cut into ½ inch slices*  (OPTIONAL)
1 Zucchini, quartered and cut into ½ inch slices (about 2 cups)
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
6 Cups chopped trimmed kale (about ½ pound)
½ C Water or Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock (good for flavor if omitting sausage)
2 (16 oz) cans Cannellini/White beans, rinsed & drained or 4 cups pre-cooked homemade
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes (low sodium, or NO salt), undrained
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Sauté onion and sausage 4 minutes or until sausage is browned.

3. Add zucchini and garlic, cook 2 minutes.

4. Add kale and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 467 calories, 10.2g fat (6.5g if no sausage), 28.5g protein (with sausage), 15.4g fiber
764 mg sodium

Cooking Light, January 2005

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Finally a vegetarian dish you will be proud to bring to the party!  This nutritious dish is packed with protein and iron from the Quinoa (an ancient grain that is great for everyone from the gluten sensitive to the picky toddler).

Serves 8ish

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Butternut Squash (about 1.5 lbs), peeled, halved crosswise, and de-seeded
18 Fresh Sage Leaves, plus 1 tsp finely chopped sage
½ Onion, cute into ¼” dice (about 3/4C)
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 C Quinoa
2 C low sodium Vegetable Stock
1 ½ Ounces Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
1 tsp Coarse Salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Vegetable Oil cooking spray

Directions:
1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with 1 tsp oil.
2.    Cut five ¼” thick rings of butternut squash, dice remainder of squash into ¼” pieces. Toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Place squash rings on one sheet and diced pieces on the other sheet. Sprinkle all squash with 12 sage leaves. Bake until tender and just golden, 15-20 minutes.  Let cool completely. Keep oven on.
3.    Heat remaining teaspoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add quinoa and stock and bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat. Simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat. Let stand covered for 2 minutes.
4.    Stir together quinoa, diced squash, chopped sage, parmesan, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
5.    Coat a 9” plate pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange 6 sage leaves face down in plate; top with squash rings. Press quinoa mixture on top.
6.    Bake 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. Serve wedges warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from Martha Stewart.

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I was inspired by my last post on fiber to make this warm hearty soup with roasted carrots and onions and green lentils.  It is from the cookbook “Love Soup” by Anna Thomas and is fairly straight forward.  Green lentils (aka “Le Puy”) get tender in under half an hour but keep their shape and are still firm to the bite. Don’t forget to make enough to have for a few days.  You can also freeze this soup.

Did you know…a  cup of lentils have about 15 grams of fiber (~half your daily rec) and about 18grams of protein.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs carrots

1 1/2 onions

4 Tbs Olive Oil

1 1/2 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

freshly ground pepper

1 generous cup French green lentils (1/2 lb)

4 Cups vegetable broth

1 generous Tbs chopped fresh mint (or 1 1/2 tsp dried mint)

1-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1-2 tsp Harissa/Chipotle Sauce or red chile salsa

Garnishes (optional): feta cheese or light sour cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut the carrots and onions into 1/2-1″ pieces, toss in 1 Tbsp of olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper and lay on two separate baking sheets/ pyrex dishes and roast till tender and browning, about an hour.  Onions will likely be ready before carrots. When ready, allow to cool and chop coarsely.

3. Meanwhile, combine the washed lentils in a large soup pot with 4 cups broth and a tsp on salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender but still firm.

4. Add the chopped roasted vegetables, mint, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and harissa/chipotle/salsa to taste a small amount at a time for a little kick but not so much as to overwhelm the other flavors. If you want a more soupy soup add water or more broth, otherwise this should be a rather hearty stew.

5. Simmer stew for about 10 minutes to marry the flavors then taste and adjust as necessary (more lemon? salt? spice?)

6. Serve with garnish of your choice and thick slabs of crusty whole wheat bread.

To download this recipe go here or my resource section. For more recipes from Anna check out her website.

I added Romanesco to the roast pan to serve as a side

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