WHAT’S NEW AT CHIEF
The product Nutella has been around for ages but now comes Jif’s Salted Caramel Flavored Hazelnut Spread and Hershey Spreads including Chocolate with Hazelnut. Spread on bread or toast, crackers or as a dip for fresh fruit. Yummy! Because I love the salt and sweet combination, I’m partial to the Jif spread. Daughter Mary Ann preferred Hershey because it tasted natural while Jif did not.
One of the newer Dole salad mixes (at least to me) is Very Veggie. Sweet carrots, zesty radishes and pea pods add color and crunch to mild and crispy iceberg and romaine.
Chief’s already large assortment of cheese now includes Wexford Mature Irish Cheddar, a product of Ireland. It may be a getit-while-it-lasts cheese introduced for St. Patrick’s Day but surely worth trying!
WE’RE EATING BETTER, REGARDLESS OF INCOME
It’s not just the recession that’s led to improvements in the US diet, according to a new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Beyond merely cutting back for pocketbook reasons, Americans are choosing to consume fewer calories and obesity rates are leveling off. The study used sophisticated statistical tools to control for changing economic conditions over the past decade, including unemployment rate and food prices. Calories declined more in beverages than food choices, the study found, and healthier eating trends actually accelerated during the worst of the recession. The new findings align themselves with another recent study by the USDA researchers that found average daily calorie intake among working Americans had dropped 78 calories between 2005 and 2010. That report also showed people using nutrition labels more, eating better at home and eating out less.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2014.
STRENGTHENING MEMORY RETENTION
Finding ways to strengthen or compensate for shortened attention span can help cut down on frustrating memory lapses. Begin by removing barriers to concentration. It’s more difficult to commit information to memory when you’re stressed, emotionally upset, bored or in a negative mood. Physical annoyances, such as uncomfortable temperatures, noise and distractions also make the act of remembering more challenging. When trying to remember something, make an effort to focus and take in more details. Lend meaning to information by thinking about why it is important, organizing it or using visualization, association or mnemonic tricks such as rhymes, acronyms or stories to help retain it. You can also strengthen your powers of attention with games and activities. Play cards, read an article …. then test yourself on the contents or try to remember what you and your friends wore to recent party or luncheon. You can also change your habit patterns. Sit in a different chair to watch TV; take a new route home; rearrange the furniture; try a new restaurant. The trick is to keep your brain active and engaged.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.
BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES
The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has ranked blueberries as the greatest antioxidant powerhouse out of 40 fresh fruits and vegetables tested. Because of this you should never be without blueberries in some form at home.
Among my cookbook collection is one called The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang published by Adventure Publications in 2003. It is still available from Amazon.com as are Joy of Rhubarb, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Apples and Pumpkin! Joy of Blueberries features 200 recipes ranging from bars to soups to ice cream. Trust me, this cookbook is worth buying! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week’s recipe is for Food Network Patrick and Gina Neely’s Blueberry Crisp. I did add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to the recipe so blueberries would be less runny. A few tasters at the Bryan Chief asked if Minute Tapioca could replace cornstarch and I said yes. At home I added a small scoop of Edy’s reduced-fat ice cream.
• 6 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and air-dried
• 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1-1/2 tablespoons Minute
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 3/4 cup chopped pecan
• 1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss blueberries, cornstarch or tapioca, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. To make the topping combine flour, oats, sugars, spices and pecans. Add butter and pinch into chunks or use a pastry blender until crumbly. Add blueberries to a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Top evenly with crumb mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Source: Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely’s recipe.
APRIL SHOWERS BRING SAVINGS AT CHIEF!
As we get closer to Easter be looking for savings on foods of the season. I already purchased a center cut boneless pork loin when it was on sale. Some members don’t eat ham, so pork loin it is for my family. Ham will surely be on sale. I did notice a Smithfield ham in someone’s cart this past weekend. Smithfield has a distinctive taste. Unfortunately, to me at least, the Smithfield brand that originated in Smithfield, Virginia, was purchased by the Chinese in 2013. Other foods likely to be on sale are eggs and baked goods ingredients for items like hot cross buns. If you don’t want to make them yourself, look for this traditional Holy Week bread at Chief. Note that I always plan menus around sale items …. did it when we were a family of 6 and continue to do it today.
A BERRY GOOD CAKE
I can tell when a recipe is a success when Bryan Chief shoppers buy the ingredients before they leave the store. Some mentioned that it would be a good dessert for Easter brunch or dinner. I agree.
RASPBERRY BUTTERMILK CAKE
• 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup sugar plus 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
• 1 cup fresh raspberries, cleaned and air dried
Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in the middle. Butter and flour a deep 9-inch cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, and beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches. Begin and end with flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter red raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto cake plate. Recipe makes 6 servings.
I can’t tell you how many people ask me what to do with leftover buttermilk saying they end up throwing it away. Because I have had the same problem in the past, use it in mashed potatoes and twice baked potatoes instead of milk. It also makes excellent biscuits, both drop and cut-out ones. Since buttermilk lightens any baked goods, use it for pancakes or recipes such as the Red Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. Another question that you have asked is whether or not it can be frozen. People who drink it won’t like it after it’s thawed but its okay for cooking and baking. Finally we all ask dairy companies why they don’t sell it in pints instead of quart containers and none of us would have a problem as to what to do with leftover buttermilk!
A LENTEN SOUP
Although this soup calls for chicken broth, it can be replaced with vegetable broth during Lent because the other ingredients give it plenty of zip. Add a small swirl of basil pesto and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to each bowl for an Italian twist.
TOMATO POTATO FLORENTINE SOUP
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 ribs celery, sliced
• 2 medium carrots, sliced
• 1 (32-ounce) container vegetable broth
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
• 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 2 teaspoons dried basil
• Garlic salt and ground pepper to taste
• 3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
Heat oil in a large saucepan; add onion, celery and carrots and cook 5 minutes to lightly brown. Stir in stick, tomatoes, potatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender, food processor or emersion stick blender until smooth. Pour back into saucepan and stir in spinach. Cook for a minute or 2 more to wilt the spinach.
Source: Adapted recipe from Potatoes, Goodness Unearthed! (National Potato Council) www.potatogoodness.com
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Although 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis is a 2012 cookbook, it is still a go to cookbook, especially during Lent. I can’t tell you how many times a grilled cheese sandwich served with tomato soup was a Friday favorite when we were a family of six. It’s still a winning combination for me! As you know, I usually work at the Bryan Chief on Friday and Saturday and when I get home I’m hungry but in no mood to cook but I can muster enough energy to make a grilled cheese sandwich paired with (yes, I admit it) a bowl of Campbell’s Healthy Request Soup or a mug of hot V-8 juice. Chief’s cheese selection is impressive in both the deli and the dairy department. Price usually determines which department I buy it from but not always. I “jazz up” canned tomato soup with a frozen cube (about 2 tablespoons) of pesto (addition makes it seem more homemade).
Classic Grilled Two Cheese is an excellent choice for Lenten Fridays. Make in Panini grill or large skillet.
CLASSIC GRILLED TWO CHEESE
• 8 slices white or whole grain bread (1/2-inch slices)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 4-ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced
• 4-ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Brush one side of 4 bread slices with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered sides down. Top bread slices equally with Muenster and Cheddar cheeses. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press gently. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Source: Robert Rose (www.robertrose.ca); 2012, $24.95/softback. Order from Amazon.com.
IT’S OKAY TO BE IN A PICKLE
The gut is the largest component of the immune system and there is evidence that gut heath can affect inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disorders in the whole body. Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, derived mainly for the purposes of preserving foods in days when there was no refrigeration. In fermentation, bacteria or yeast feed on the natural sugars in foods, and create compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol, which helps preserve the foods. The end product is filled with “friendly” bacteria (think probiotics) and gut-friendly enzymes. The bacteria predigest certain food components, which make it easier for your gut to handle and for nutrients to be absorbed when you eat them. Common fermented foods include yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, soy sauce and tempeh. Just be sure to check the sodium content of the fermented foods you purchase.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.
ANOTHER MEATLESS RECIPE FOR LENT
I have never tasted a Betty Crocker impossible pie that I didn’t like and Impossible Easy Spinach-Parmesan Pie is no exception! NOTE: I only use Birdseye or Freshlike frozen chopped spinach because it’s grown and frozen in the USA.
IMPOSSIBLY EASY SPINACH-PARMESAN PIE
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 green onions, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 (10-ounce) package Birdseye chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
• 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
• 1/2 cup Heart Smart Bisquick mix
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in butter 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in spinach; spread mixture in pie plate. Spread on cottage cheese. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, lemon juice, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into pie plate; sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.
ABOUT SPARTAN PRODUCTS
Until St. Patrick’s Day, I have not purchased any Spartan meats except bacon when it’s been on sale. But their corned beef was specially priced before March 17th and I did buy it. The cut was very tender and as lean as any corned beef I have ever eaten. That said, I do prefer Chief’s meat but did feel I should share the experience I had about Spartan corned beef. Generally speaking, it is worthwhile to try store products before you pass judgment on them. You will like some that I don’t and vice versa. For example, I will always buy such foods as Arps milk, Bush beans, Campbell’s Healthy Request soups, V-8 juice, 50 percent less sugar Tropicana orange juice, Folgers coffee and Red Gold tomato products over Spartan no matter how much the savings by choosing the store brand. It’s all about customer choice.
EMPHASIS IS ON VEGETABLES WITH MEAT, NOT MEAT WITH VEGETABLES
According to leading health authorities, we should be thinking about meat as an additive, not the principle part of the meal. Examples include chicken or beef and noodles, pot pies, quiches, stews and soups like Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup made with only 1/2 pound of meat in a soup that serves 10!
HEARTY LENTIL AND SAUSAGE SOUP
• 1/2 pound bulk sausage
• 8 cups water
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans Swanson chicken broth
• 1 (16-ounce) package dry lentils, rinsed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 rib celery, finely chopped
• 1 cup shredded carrot
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1-1/2 cups diced cabbage
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
• Kosher sea salt, to taste
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Break sausage into chunks and put in pot; cook and stir until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer sausage to 5 to 6-quart slow cooker. Add water, chicken broth, lentils, onion, celery and carrot. Season with garlic powder, parsley, oregano, pepper, basil and rosemary. Cook on low heat until lentils are soft, about 4 hours. Only when the lentils are softened, add cabbage and diced tomatoes and continue cooking until cabbage is tender. Season with kosher or sea salt to taste. Recipe makes 10 servings. Source: Adapted from an allrecipes.com recipe.
LOWER CARDIOVASCULAR RISKS WITH DIET AND LIFESTYLE
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with exercising 40 minutes a day, are key guidelines issued recently to help reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary improvements are at the heart of the new guidelines, which specifically suggest an eating plan such as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet focuses on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, while limiting meats, fat and added sugars. “By changing to the DASH diet, you can increase your intake of foods high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, which may help lower blood pressure,” says clinical dietitian Tanya Freirich, MS, R D, with the C ardiac and Medicine Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell. “With the right approach, the DASH diet can be a very reasonable eating plan for women. You don’t need special protein bars or juice cleanses to follow the DASH diet. The components of the diet are the foods that you would find at any grocery store.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2014.
ATTENTION GOLFERS WITH SLEEP APNEA
Treating the condition may improve your game, according to a small new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It looked at middle-aged male golfers with moderate to severe sleep apnea who began C PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. Within 6 months, they reported significant improvements in sleep quality and daytime sleepiness, along with a big drop in their handicap (lower is better). The greatest golf improvement was in better players, attributed to enhanced cognitive function from CPAP. Sleep apnea, characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and premature death. The gold standard treatment is C PAP, which pumps air through a mask to keep nasal airways open but is notoriously hard to stick with. In this study, compliance was unusually high, suggesting that just the possibility of improving performance may be enough to motivate people to use it.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 2014.
THINK POTATO AND EGGS FOR A LENTEN MEAL
In 45 minutes you can have a nutritious and delicious meatless meal on the table for about $1.62 per serving! E at your heart out fast food restaurants!
POTATO AND EGG DINNER BAKE
• 3/4 pound red potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/2 cup each: chopped red pepper and zucchini
• 1/4 cup green onions
• 2 cups coarsely shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
• 8 eggs
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF. C oat an 11x7-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread potatoes, pepper, zucchini, green onions and C heddar cheese. Whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder and garlic salt. Stir in cottage cheese and pour into prepared dish; stir lightly. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are puffed, golden brown and set in the center.
Source: Potatoes Goodness U nearthed (www.potatogoodness.com).
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Definitions of healthy eating have changed quite dramatically since Judith Finlayson’s The Healthy Slow Cooker was published in 2006. In those days, it was one size fits all …. low fat, low calorie and no saturated fat. Since then there’s been a shift in thinking. Many leading experts now feel that modern diseases are directly associated with the consumption of wheat and advocate reducing carbohydrates. Another significant development is that the evidence against saturated fat has been gradually diminishing.
All the recipes are delicious, nutrient-dense and have a balanced approach that will suit a wide variety of people. An incredibly healthy meal prepared in a slow cooker is an unbeatable combination! Judith Finlayson is a bestselling author whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks. She lives in Toronto, ON. Since old man winter insists on hanging around even though spring is tapping on the door, we’re featuring the author’s New World Leek and Potato Soup.
NEW WORLD LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 large leeks, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned
and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
• 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 potatoes)
• 2 green bell peppers, diced
• 1 long chile pepper, minced (optional)
• Sea salt (optional)
• 1/2 cup whipping cream or alternative (I always replace heavy cream with evaporated milk)
• Roasted red pepper strips (optional)
• Finely snipped chives
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer to 5 or 6-quart slow cooker stoneware. Add vegetable stock. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or 3 hours on HIGH, until potatoes are tender. Add green pepper and chile pepper if using. Cover and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes until peppers are tender. Season to taste with sea salt if using. Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree in the stoneware. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with roasted red pepper strips, if using, and chives.
Source: The Healthy Slow Cooker, 2nd E dition by Judith Finlayson (www.robertrose.ca, March 2014, $24.95).
Some of us love Brussels sprouts and this recipe from a recent Penszeys catalog caught my attention while I was on vacation. The recipe is “annual Christmas sheet” quality but too good to save until then!
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• Juice of half lemon
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean sprouts, peeling off loose, outer leaves until you have tightly wrapped leaves clinging to the head. Cut off stems and slice in half. Reserving lemon juice, whisk olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs together. Toss sprout halves in mixture until all are coated. Arrange cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes (mine were tender at 20 minutes). Serve immediately after squeezing with lemon juice. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Penzeys recipe.
PIECE DE RESISTANCE
For our youngest son, Chris, baked custard was his favorite dessert and it wasn’t above me to pair it with a vegetable he didn’t like so he’d eat the required spoonful beforehand. Today’s child psychologists would never approve of my strategy but it worked for me. I used the recipe in the first Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, published in 1941 and in its 10th printing at the time I gave it to Mother in 1949. The old cookbook is in my possession now and when I make baked custard I remember how much Chris liked it!
• 3 slightly beaten eggs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups milk, scalded (whatever kind you have in the fridge)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine eggs, sugar and salt; slowly add milk and vanilla extract. Pour into 6-ounce custard cups; sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in pan of hot water in preheated 325ºF oven until mixture doesn’t adhere to knife, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens recipe.
TOMATOES AND BREAST CANCER
Research suggests that postmenopausal women who include tomatoes in their diets may help reduce their risk of breast cancer by increasing their levels of a hormone that affects fat and may help with weight management. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that raises levels of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates fat. Low levels of adiponectin are linked to an increased risk for obesity and being overweight raises the risk of breast cancer. In the study, which appeared online January 1, 2014, in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, postmenopausal women who consumed 25 milligrams (mg) or more of lycopene per day from tomatoes showed a nine percent increase in adiponectin levels. Tomato products, including tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato juice, have a much higher lycopene content than raw tomatoes. A one-half cup serving of tomato sauce provides 23.3 mg of lycopene and one cup of tomato juice provides 22 mg.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Connection, March 2014.
GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS
Although the good news about turkey and chicken sausage is that it has half the fat as regular sausage, the bad news is that it’s loaded with sodium! I pay more for Campbell’s Healthy Request soups because it doesn’t have monosodium glutamate. That doesn’t mean it is low in sodium, either. A serving of Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup has 410 milligrams. I’ll continue to buy it for casserole dishes but I do think Campbell’s should reduce the amount of salt in a serving.
LOST AND FOUND!
I do empathize with readers when they lose a Mary’s Memo recipe because I lose them, also! I spent a lot of time last week looking for a slow cooker recipe for dressing made with rotisserie chicken. I knew I had made it within the past 5 years but I could not find it anywhere. Then lo and behold I located it accidently in a basket of recipes in the kitchen. I may have served it at Chief but I’m pretty certain it hasn’t been on a memo. It is so good, I should still have reserved it for the 2014 Christmas recipe sheet but didn’t. Yesterday I made it with frozen leftover rotisserie chicken and I can’t wait to have another serving for my main meal today! For family or guests, this is a winner!
SLOW COOKER ESCALLOPED CHICKEN
• 3 cups cubed rotisserie chicken
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 13 cups white bread cubes, baked in a large loaf pan in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes
• 1 stick softened butter
• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or less if you choose)
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can Swanson chicken broth
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted
Combine cooked chicken, onion, celery, toasted bread cubes, softened butter, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. Blend chicken broth and mushroom soup together and stir into chicken mixture. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with Pam. Spoon dressing mixture into cooker. Cover and bake on High for 1 hour; reduce heat to low and continue baking for an additional 4 hours (5 total). Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.
NUTS AND PEANUTS, TOO, TO YOU!
I don’t know about you but I make a point of eating 1/4 cup of tree nuts or peanuts daily. According to a recent study conducted at Loma Linda University in California, tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Peanuts, also are included in this beneficial grouping, though technically, they are legumes. Researchers said a 1-ounce serving of tree nuts per week is associated with seven percent less risk of metabolic syndrome , while doubling this amount could potentially reduce metabolic syndrome risk by 14 percent. Metabolic syndrome is cluster of risk factors that increase risk for chronic diseases, such a cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and death. The five risk factors include having a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar level. Having three of these factors leads to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Researchers found fewer obese people among high tree nut consumers compared to low tree nut consumers.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, March 2014.
SHOULD GARLIC REST?
Health and nutrition experts believe that a beneficial substance is formed when garlic is cut or crushed and then allowed to rest before cooking. In the time the garlic is resting, a powerful phytochemical called allicin is formed. It is thought to be the compound in garlic that may prevent cancer cell growth.
Source: Weill Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2014.
ARSENIC IN FOOD: WHAT YOU MUST KNOW
The risks of arsenic in the food supply have been on our radar since tests in 2012 and 2011 found worrisome levels of the heavy metal in rice and apple juice. Now newer evidence released in the past year has increased our knowledge about possible long-term health risks of consuming arsenic. Last July researchers in the United Kingdom and India published the first study to show that frequently eating rice high in arsenic can lead to genetic damage in cells associated with cancer. (It’s not yet clear whether the findings will apply to people in the U.S., who have fewer nutritional problems than those in the study group.) Other new studies suggest that chronic exposure to the toxin, especially in utero or in early childhood, may increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory ailments. Inorganic arsenic is already known to cause cancer of the bladder, lung and skin cancer.
What to do:
Our Food Safety and Sustainability Center is pressing for federal limits on the amount of arsenic allowed in food and beverages.
To cut your risk:
Diversify your grain consumption to include grains other than rice.Rinse rice before cooking using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup of rice to cook it, draining excess water afterwards. Limit children’s consumption of apple and grape juice. Children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6-ounces a day. To learn more about our work on arsenic go to GreenerChoices.org/arsenic.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.
LIMIT FOODS THAT CAN SAP BONE STRENGTH
“High intakes of caffeine can cause calcium, as well as some of the other important bone nutrients to be lost via urine” according to Stephan Torres, RD, CDN, at New York-Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. Excess sodium consumption also has been found to cause calcium loss via urine and sweat. Moderate alcohol consumption, up to two drinks per day for men and one for women and anyone over age 65, may help protect bone health, but more than that can increase bone loss, according to Torres. He recommends getting as much vitamin D, calcium and other bone-healthy nutrients as possible from foods, including low-fat or non-fat dairy products, soy products (tofu, soybeans, soy milk), salmon and sardines, leafy green vegetables, nuts, fruits and beans. Some foods that are commonly fortified with bone-building nutrients are breakfast cereals, orange juice and rice, almond and other plant-derived milks.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2014.
THE HEALTHIEST SALMON
Some research suggests that farmed salmon may harbor higher mercury and pesticides residues and higher levels of possible carcinogens called PCBs. The risks depend on how the salmon was raised and what it was fed. So it makes sense to spring for wild salmon.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.
ARE YOUR SEASONINGS SAFE?
You can’t always tell by the package where a spice originated and what its production conditions were. To cut your risk, add spices before cooking when possible. Any bacteria are likely to be killed by the high heat. If you’re using seasonings in a dish that’s prepared cold, such as cilantro in guacamole or basil in pesto, consider buying fresh herbs. But wash them carefully in running water first: Even organic herbs can harbor bacteria such as E-coli and cyclosporine that could make you sick.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.
RAVE REVIEWS FOR THIS RECIPE!
Penne with Sausage and Fresh Asparagus was a big hit when I served it at the Bryan Chief in February.
PENNE WITH SAUSAGE AND FRESH ASPARAGUS
• 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 of 5 links of Chief Smokehouse Sweet Italian Sausage
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 cup vermouth
• 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced
• 3 level cups whole wheat penne, cooked according to package directions.
Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil in a large skillet until tender. Remove and set aside. In same skillet, brown sausage on all sides. Drain on paper towel and cut into thin slices. Add tomatoes and vermouth, stirring to dislodge any browned bits. Stir in onion-pepper mixture, sausage and seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add asparagus and cook until asparagus is crisp-cooked, stirring occasionally. Fold in cooked pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Junior League of San Diego Cookbook recipe.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
I love the concept of having a meal cooked in a mug in the microwave! Whether you’re dining solo, pressed for time, living in a dorm, traveling in an RV or eating at the office 250 Meals in a Mug, Delicious Homemade Meals in Minutes by Camilla V. Saulsbury is a must have cookbook! These individual portion-sized recipes will take you through morning breakfast to late afternoon snacks to satisfying suppers with just a quick trip to the microwave, omitting hours of stove top simmering and baking. The author has stripped away all the timeconsuming steps as well as the artificial ingredients found in boxed meals. Most of the recipes can be created from scratch in less time than it takes to defrost a processed meal. You’ll also appreciate the helpful tips she gives in addition to the recipes. For example, we’re sharing Pesto Chicken Couscous and Camilla suggests replacing 1/2 cup of canned chicken with deli chicken.
Camilla Saulsbury is a writer, recipe developer, fitness trainer, endurance athlete and creator of the healthy food blog. She also holds a PhD in sociology with specialization in food studies, health and medicine. She has been featured on the Food Network, Today, Good Morning America Health, QVC and in multiple publications including the New York Times, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Clean Eating, Cosmo Girl, Food Network Magazine and Pilates Style. A native of the San Francisco Bay area, she currently lives in Texas with her husband and son.
PESTO CHICKEN COUSCOUS
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 cup couscous
• 1/2 cup cutup cooked chicken
• 3 tablespoons basil pesto
• Salt and ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
In a 16-ounce mug, microwave water on high for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until water is boiling. Stir in couscous. Cover with a plate and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in chicken and pesto. Microwave on high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Source: 250 Best Meals in a Mug by Camilla Saulsbury (www. robertrose.ca), March 2014, $24.95. Order from Amazon.com or look for it at your favorite bookstore.
BLOG RECIPES MAY NOT BE HEALTHY
Keep an eye on the healthfulness of recipes you find on the internet. Nutritionists at Simmons College in Boston analyzed 96 random entrée recipes from six popular blogs, including SimplyRecipes.com and that the sampled recipes were generally reasonable in terms of calories (typically 650 per serving) but tended to be high in saturated fat and sodium and low in fiber. Our experts recommend scanning the ingredients for items high in saturated fat, such as butter, cheese and cream. You might be able to substitute lower-fat versions. And if the recipe calls for salt, consider cutting the amount by half or more.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2014.
SAVOR YOUR FOOD AND AVOID WEIGHT GAIN
If you slow down when you are eating, you could consume fewer calories, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics. For the study, the “slow” meal, which consumed over an average of 22 minutes, involved small bites and deliberate chewing. The “fast” meal, which was consumed in an average of nine minutes, involved large bites and quick chewing. The participants who ate slowly consumed 88 fewer calories than those who ate more rapidly. Slower eating may allow people to better sense their feelings of hunger and fullness. Slow eaters also consumed more water during their meals, adding a feeling of fullness.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March, 2014.
HAVE YOU TRIED THIS?
I have bad mouthed Johnsonville for the monosodium glutamate in their sausage products but they do have some without MSG including Johnsonville Chicken or Turkey Sausage, available with apple or cheese added. My personal favorite is Chicken Sausage with Apple.
GRILLED FRESH PINEAPPLE
Some brave souls grill outside in the wintertime but I’m not one of them! That said, I adapted an outdoor grilling recipe for indoor cooking on a Cuisinart Griddler (a George Foreman will also work or a grill that works on your range top).
GRILLED FRESH PINEAPPLE
• 1 whole fresh pineapple
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Trim, core and peel pineapple. Remove any eyes with a paring knife. Quarter pineapple, cutting skin away. Cut each quarter slice into four pieces (two pieces lengthwise and two crosswise, about three inches by one inch). Brush grids with Grill Pam. Whisk honey and lemon juice together and brush on both sides of pineapple wedges. Cook wedges four minutes on both sides, just long enough to make grill marks on the surface. Brush again with honey-lemon mixture before serving. Recipe serves 6.
Source: Adapted from recipe at WhatsCookingAmerica.net.
FROZEN PRODUCE AS GOOD AS FRESH
Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh and superior in vitamin and mineral content to fresh stored in the refrigerator for a few days. That’s the conclusion of University of Georgia researchers who compared nutrients in supermarket- purchased frozen and fresh blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, corn, spinach, cauliflower and green peas. The fresh produce was also tested after being stored in the refrigerator for five days, after which it showed losses of vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
Source: Tufts Health& Nutrition Letter, February 2014.
SIDE DISH OR QUICK APPETIZER
Although Easy Fiesta Beans is a side dish, I served it as an appetizer at the Bryan Chief before Super Bowl Sunday. The salsa that I used in the recipe was Gourmet Style Salsa available in the produce department. In addition, I cut additional calories by using reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese instead of regular.
EASY FIESTA BEAN DIP
• 1 (16-oz) can Old El Paso brand fat-free refried beans
• 1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup Gourmet Style Salsa (medium)
• 2/3 cup reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
• 4 green scallions, sliced
Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Combine refried beans, salsa and 1/3 cup of cheese in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture is hot and cheese is melted, about 6 to 8 minutes. Spray a 2-quart oblong baking dish with non-stick coating. Spoon bean mixture into dish and sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup cheese and scallions. Broil until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Source: Adapted from Eating Well Magazine recipe.
IS YOUR KITCHEN MAKING YOU FAT?
If you are struggling to eat better and maintain a healthy weight, your kitchen may be sabotaging your efforts. Researchers have studied the “food environment” for years, looking at such factors as how advertising, packaging and distraction make people eat more. More recently they’ve turned their attention to the impact of architectural design on eating behavior and how kitchens and other rooms can be laid out to be conducive to healthy eating. In particular, researchers are looking at where they store food, what they look at when they eat and other variables to determine what encourages healthy eating and what discourages it. If occupants have to get up and walk through a doorway or up steps to get their food, might they eat less? If there’s a window in the kitchen overlooking a garden, will they eat more produce? Other variables in rooms, such as the lighting, air circulation, sounds and colors can also affect what people eat. The field of designing “healthy” kitchens and even entire buildings is still in its infancy. Meantime, here are a few simple kitchen changes you can make, gleaned from preliminary research.
Keep unhealthy foods out of sight and healthy ones within easy reach. Studies have shown that the more visible and accessible a food is, the higher the consumption for better or worse. More spacious and pleasant kitchens have been linked to better food purchases and increased desire to cook (so you don’t have to rely on convenient microwave meals). You can’t change the size of your space easily but you can try rearranging appliances and utensils in ways that make the space more efficient, which makes it easier to cook and thus motivate you to prepare meals with more whole foods. To avoid overeating, don’t make the kitchen your hangout. Your kitchen chairs should be comfortable enough to sit on for the duration of a meal, but not so comfortable that you want to lounge in them all evening.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2014.
In spite of the fact that my daughter Mary Ann says gelatin salads are a “my generation thing,” I like them and there’s usually one like this week’s recipe in my refrigerator.
DILLED CUCUMBER MOUSSE
• 4 envelopes Knox Gelatin
• 1/2 cup cold water
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups Light Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
• 1 bunch scallions, sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dill weed
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
• 1 European cucumber, peeled and chopped
Soften gelatin in cold water. Add boiling water and mix until gelatin is dissolved and clear. Add mayonnaise, scallions, lemon juice, dill weed, salt and red pepper sauce; whisk together until well blended. Add chopped cucumber and spoon mixture into 2 quart oblong dish. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
My generation has seen more changes than any other but there’s still something that hasn’t changed and that’s the little conversation hearts available between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The Necco Company based in Revere, MA manufacturers eight billion of them year round under the name Sweethearts. Granted, the sayings on the candy are contemporary and there are new flavors like green apple and blue raspberry in this year’s bag, tastes I don’t recall from my childhood.
GET SLIMMER WITH DINNER
Families that eat together without the television on and stay seated until everyone has finished have children with lower weights and body mass indexes (BMIs), a recent study reported. In fact, eating anywhere other than the kitchen or dining room was related to higher body mass index in both parents and children, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, a co-author of the study. Wansink’s team compared BMIs and family rituals of 190 parents and 148 children, and concluded that strong, positive socialization during family dinners might override a child’s desire to overeat.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2014.
AVOID BOREDOM BY BAKING
There were days in January when I couldn’t leave the house and one of the things I did was test this week’s Buttermilk Drop Biscuit recipe. Original recipe said it made 7 biscuits and they were huge! Not only that, one biscuit had 273 calories including 125 from fat. Although I love biscuits, I thought they should be smaller so I made a dozen the second time and they were big enough. I also baked them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment instead of a cast iron biscuit pan (didn’t know there was such a pan) or oven-proof cast iron skillet or griddle. Done my way, they are still light and fluffy and reheat beautifully. It’s a good way to use leftover buttermilk, a problem some of you have mentioned to me.
BUTTERMILK DROP BISCUITS
• 2 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
• 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Cut cold butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork and knife method. The mixture should have a course crumb consistency. Process goes faster if butter is cut into several chunks. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just until everything is blended. Do not over-mix. Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden and cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Recipe makes 1 dozen biscuits. Serve with your favorite jelly or jam or use for shortcake or a base for creamed tuna, chicken, dried beef, etc. Recipe makes 1 dozen biscuits. Leftovers
SPOTLIGHT ON CLEMENTINES
This is the peak season for the clementine, a member of the tangerine family. They’re thin-skinned and usually seedless. For Valentine’s Day make a Chocolate Clementine Cake for family and friends.
CHOCOLATE CLEMENTINE CAKE
• 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
• 7 large eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons grated clementine zest (about 2 clementines)
• 2 medium clementines, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 3 tablespoons Triple Sec orange liqueur
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Possible garnishes: Hot Fudge Sauce, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour parchment, removing excess flour; set aside. Stir together chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until pale and thick. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until blended, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir in zest, chopped clementines, membrane removed, and orange liqueur. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl at medium-high speed until foamy. Add salt and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake in 350ºF oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. (Cracks will form on top of cake.) Remove cake to a wire rack. Use a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Cool slightly. Remove sides of springform pan. Invert cake onto serving plate and remove springform bottom and parchment paper. Serve warm with one of the suggested toppings. Recipe makes 12 to 16 servings.
Note: If you prefer, replace liqueur with orange juice.