Tag Archives: vegetables

Juicing

Hi everyone!  It’s been a bit, but I’ve been crammed with school and busy learning all about nutrition and healthy eating so that I can have more to share with all of you!

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is juicing.  There are tons of juice cleanses (looking at you Blue Print Cleanse) that sound amazing and healthy, but are extremely expensive and way out of my budget as a grad student.  I’ve talked to several of my friends who use apps on their phone for juice cleanses and then there’s the research I’ve been doing online to learn what I can about the juice craze.

So what I’m trying to figure out is juicing just another fad diet?  Or do you think it has actual health benefits?  I bought a juicer (originally as a means to make fun juices for sorbets this summer-thinking about ginger especially) but I’m really liking the idea of a cleanse as we move out of winter and into spring.

So if you have an experience with juicing, I’d love to know!  Did you just do juice? Or a mixture of juice and solids?  Have you had a bad experience with juicing?  Please share!

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Vegetable Rankings

I found this on Buzzfeed and thought it was pretty cool and very relevant to everything I write about on here.  Apparently, an organization called Food Day, which does some pretty awesome things like host the annual Food Day (it’s October 24), make a ranking of the best vegetables to eat based on nutritional bang for your buck.  They considered calories, Vitamin K, Lutein, Vitamin C, Potassium and Fiber and from that, came up with a score and a rating system.  (If you’re wondering what Lutein is, its a carotenoid that’s important for your vision).  Those that scored about 150 on the Food Day scale are considered “Superstars.”

So, these are the top 5 Superstars according to Food Day:

  1. Kale
  2. Spinach, raw and cooked
  3. Collard Greens
  4. Swiss Chard
  5. Turnip Greens

These aren’t suprising, but the lesson to learn here is that eating a lot of greens is important.  You can work greens into just about every meal you’re eating whether it’s by sneaking spinach into your breakfast smoothie or your scrambled eggs, by making a salad out of baby kale or by lightly sauteing swiss chard and turnip greens with kidney beans for dinner.  Just make sure you get your greens!

And these are the least healthy vegetables according to Food Day:

  1. Onions
  2. Radishes
  3. White Button Mushrooms
  4. Shiitake Mushrooms
  5. Spaghetti Squash

The first four on this list weren’t too surprising, they’re light-colored vegetables and usually the color denotes a high nutrient content.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating them.  You just shouldn’t rely on these vegetables for all of you nutrient intake.  Spaghetti squash was a little surprising to me though.  According to Food Day’s chart, the only reason to be eating spaghetti squash is the fiber content.  It’s still a good substitute for pasta though which is very low in fiber (and calories)

So, did you see any vegetables on the list that surprised you?  Let me know!

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Vegetable Frittata with Ricotta

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Have you ever just needed to get your hands on a tub full of ricotta only to find that every store in apparently the entire Boston Metropolitan region is out of it?  I recently had to suffer through a similar experience.  I even went down to the North End (where there should be little Italian delis everywhere) only to find they too were out of ricotta.  After two hours of searching, I gave up and got on the T to come back to Harvard Station.  Turns out, what I was looking for was nearby all along!  There was a little deli right on top of the Harvard T station that had copious amounts of ricotta.  Fresh
, organic, hand-pulled.  I was smitten.  So it came home.

After playing around with some ideas for a while, I finally came up with a vegetable frittata, loaded up with ricotta.  This is easy, fast and the perfect meal for breakfast lunch or dinner, so I highly recommend making it as soon as possible.

What you need:

  • 3 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, thinly chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Combine the 3 eggs and milk in a small bowl.  Beat the mixture to blend and set aside
  2. In a small cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil.  Once the olive oil is ready, add the garlic and onion to the pan.  Cook, stirring every now and then, until the onions start to become translucent.  Add the mushrooms, broccoli and the zucchini and cook the vegetables until they’re soft.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan and place teaspoon-sized drops of ricotta evenly throughout the pan.  You can sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top if you’d like.
  4. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and the egg mixture is cooked through.  About 10 minutes.
  5. Once fully cooked, you can remove the skillet from the oven and allow it to cool on the oven.
  6. Enjoy!
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Subway: Is it really a good fast-food option?

I have to say, last week when Michelle Obama announced that she was partnering with Subway to help reduce child obesity, I had mixed feelings.  On one hand, she’s got a major fast food corporation agreeing to get kids hooked on veggies by spending $41 million over 3 years to promote vegetables as a healthier option.  Subway is going to increase fruit and vegetables options on the kids menu as well as offer lean dairy and non-sugary drink options.  Great.

But what about the adults?  What about the preservatives that go into their bread?  I mean, have you seen that ingredient list?  Their bread has like fifty ingredients.  You know what goes into bread? Wheat, yeast, salt, water, maybe some milk, maybe some seeds, maybe an egg.  So at most you have like seven ingredients?  Maybe a little bit more if you’re doing something fancy, but nothing near fifty.  Also, it wasn’t until this most recent Saturday morning that Subway announced it was going to remove a chemical from its ingredient line-up that is also frequently found in yoga mats and tennis shoes.  Excuse me?

So sure, they’re removing that chemical and apparently re-doing their bread formula, but there are still several other issues I have, the first being this Fritos sandwich they’ve been promoting during the Olympics.  You cannot both encourage children to eat vegetables and healthy meals and then encourage adults to eat garbage.  You know how kids learn to eat?  By watching their parents eat.  If their parents are eating garbage, you can bet their kids will be too.

So if Michelle Obama wants to partner with Subway and promote it as a health food, I’m going to need Subway to start encouraging all age groups to eat healthy food, not just kids, and I’m going to need them to cut the garbage from their food.  And while I’m making a wish-list, I’d love it if they’d offer organic vegetable options and increase their vegetarian options.

So what do you think?  Is this just a publicity stunt or do you think Subway has taken a turn for the better?  What would you want Subway to do to really be considered “healthy.”

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Kale, Carrot, Tofu and Quinoa Stir-fry

Quinoa Kale Stir-Fry

Being back in school, and getting a science degree, means taking a lot of lab classes.  Unfortunately most of my labs are at really inconvenient times. I have one from 5:00-7:40 and another from 5:30-9:40, so it cuts into dinner time, especially with a 40-minute commute tacked on both ends.  So I’ve had to start getting creative about meals, especially around dinner.

This meal is really easy and the various pieces can be prepared in advance so that you can just throw everything together when you get home.  It’s super simple and very healthy.  Both the kale and the carrot are great sources of Vitamins A and C, the Tofu is an excellent source of Iron, Calcium and Protein, and the Quinoa is very high in Magnesium, Iron and Protein.  The garlic in here also helps to fight infections, so eating it is a really good precaution during winter months.

Here’s what you need:

  • Package of Extra-Firm tofu
  • 2 T each of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T each of fish sauce, rice vinegar
  • 3 carrots, peeled, and cut into coins
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, cut in half and then into thin slices, reserve one small piece for the quinoa
  • 1 head of kale, removed from stems and cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 splash of olive oil (optional)
  • sriracha or other hot sauce to taste

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Meanwhile, drain the tofu, trying to press out any liquid, then wrap the tofu in paper towels, pressing out more of the liquid.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and place in a small mixing bowl along with 1 T each of fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.  Allow to marinate for about 5-10 minutes then transfer to a lightly-oiled glass baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown in color.  Remove from oven.  If making ahead of time, allow tofu to cool, then move to a container for refrigerator storage.
  3. Rinse the quinoa and then put in a pot.  Cover with at least 3 inches of water and add in the bay leaf, small piece of onion and some salt.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until quinoa is fully cooked.  Drain and remove the bay leaf.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the toasted sesame oil in a large frying pan and add in the carrot, onion and garlic.  Cook until softened, but still a little firm.  Add in the kale, tofu and the rest of the soy sauce.  Cook until kale is just wilted and stir in the quinoa.
  5. In another frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and fry the egg.  I like to leave the yolk a little runny, but it’s up to you how well-cooked you want it.
  6. Serve the egg on top of the quinoa-kale mixture and use as much sriracha or hot sauce as you want.
  7. Enjoy!
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Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

I love love love Yotam Ottolenghi.  His cookbooks are amazing and every recipe I’ve ever made is the epitome of perfection.  The pictures also happen to be gorgeous and he always provides a nice background on each recipe.  We made this recipe for the Superbowl party we attended, with some minor adjustments.  It’s incredibly healthy, very simple and should definitely be on your list of dishes to make.  The roasted garlic in this recipe is easily the best part, so I doubled the amount that Ottolenghi called for in his recipe.  Feel free to cut that amount back in half if you aren’t as big of a garlic fan as me :).

What you need:

  • 3 parsnips (1 pound), peeled and cut into sticks
  • 3 large red onions, peeled and cut into eight wedges
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in half, and then into six wedges per half
  • 50 grape tomatoes, halved
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 T small capers
  • 1/2 T agave syrup
  • 1/2 t Dijon mustard

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the onions and the parsnips in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of olive oil, the thyme and rosemary sprigs, the garlic, 1 tsp of salt and black pepper to taste.  Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan with the onions and parsnips and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Stir in the grape tomatoes and roast for an addition 5-10 minutes.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together 2 T olive oil, the lemon juice, the capers, the agave syrup and the Dijon mustard.  Serve over the vegetables.
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Comfort Food: Meatloaf and Wild Rice, Kale, and Butternut Squash Au Gratin

Meatloaf with Wild Rice Au Gratin

It’s finally fall!  I’m so excited to be sitting here wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping on freshly-brewed hot coffee.  I’m in Boston right now, so it’s a little colder than in DC, and it’s absolutely perfect.  In honor of the first gorgeous day of Fall, here’s a post on my absolute favorite types of comfort foods: ones that involve cheese and lots of veggies.

The Meatloaf

Alton Brown’s recipe is perfect.  I leave out the red peppers, use panko bread crumbs in place of croutons and make sure sriracha is the hot sauce I choose.  I also stick a hard-boiled egg in the middle (I used a saffron-pickled duck egg this time around since I had one on hand, but feel free to use just a normal one.)  The egg will pick up all of the yummy flavors and juices from the meatloaf and just taste amazing.

The Au Gratin

This is based off of a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  But here’s what I did since it’s a little different:

  • 1 onion, cut into half and then into thin slices
  • 1 clove garlic, cut into slivers
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups kale, cut into ribbons
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces and roasted until soft
  • 3 cups wild rice, cooked
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • panko bread crumbs, toasted lightly with 1 T butter
  1. Start by heating 2 T olive oil in a large cast-iron (or any other oven-safe) skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add in the onion and the garlic and cook while stirring until the onions are caramelized.
  2. Add in the kale and cook until wilted.  Then, stir in the butternut squash and the wild rice.
  3. Remove the mixture from the stove and stir in one cup of the shredded swiss cheese and the vegetable stock.
  4. Top the mixture with the remaining Swiss cheese and toasted panko bread crumbs.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are a nice golden-brown color and the cheese is bubbling.
  6. Enjoy!

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We paired our meal with this red-wine blend from Argentina.

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