SPOTLIGHT ON CUCUMBERS
I always have a cucumber in the refrigerator and in the summer grow them in my mini salad garden but had no idea how impressive are their attributes! Once thought to be largely devoid of nutrients, food scientists have found that cucumbers do in fact have significant amounts of nutrients, especially in their skins. For starters, they contain vitamin C and A, folic acid, iron, potassium, manganese and silica. Silica works synergistically with calcium and vitamin D to increase collagen production, promoting healthy skin and connective tissue, so go ahead and put those cucumber slices on your eyes like they did in the old movies. In addition, cucumbers are a good source of molybdenum which is not only fun to say, but is vital for many brain functions, including memory. Finally, cucumbers are one of the few vegetables that contain the amino acid tryptophan, which can convert into the neurotransmitter serotonin , and may function as a natural mood-lifter and appetite-curb. Cucumber skin contains large amounts of caffeic acid, an antioxidant that mops up free radicals and prevents cell damage. And yes, water makes up 90 percent of a cucumber’s weight making them low in calories and good for making sure you are hydrated. Source: Terra Brockman, Founder, The Land Connection (www.thelandconnection.org ).
SKIP VITAMIN C FOR COLDS
Once you already have the sniffles, there’s no evidence that taking vitamin C will reduce the time it takes to get better, usually seven to ten days. In fact, the high dose usually promoted could lead to problems beyond a runny nose and cough, including a higher risk of kidney stones, as well as painful cramps and diarrhea. According to National Institutes of Health, most nonsmoking women need only 75 milligrams and nonsmoking men need 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, an amount more than covered by eating one large orange or a cup of strawberries (male and female smokers need to get an additional 35 milligrams per day). Any vitamin C in excess will simply be excreted in your urine. Source: Consumer Reports On Health, March 2015.
FROZEN VERSUS FRESH
Rachel Stahl, RD, CDN, with Weill Cornell Medical Center reports that bagged frozen fruits and vegetables are among the greatest values in the grocery store, since they provide many of the valuable nutrients you need for optimal health. “Many people think frozen fruits and vegetables are less healthy than fresh” Stahl says. ”However, many frozen varieties are just as nutritious as fresh. They’re picked at their peak of ripeness and are flash-frozen immediately, which locks in all of their healthful nutrients.” Nutrition and cost-consciousness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “When a meal is healthy and affordable, you’re more likely to follow a good diet,” Stahl says.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2015.
MUSHROOMS AND VITAMIN D
The March issue of Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection also addresses the connection between mushrooms and vitamin D. Mushrooms are one of the few plants that contain ergosterol, a precursor to an active form of vitamin D that is converted to vitamin D when exposed to light (natural sunlight or UV rays from a light source). But mushrooms are often grown in the shade and therefore they contain no vitamin D. To counter this, manufacturers flash high-energy UV light onto the surface of the mushrooms, which converts the ergosterol in the mushrooms to vitamin D. During this process, nothing is added to the mushrooms; the only thing that changes is their vitamin D content. When shopping for mushrooms, look at the labels on the packages; those that have been exposed to light usually have a label that says so.
SAY OLÉ TO THIS!
All red spices including, paprika, ground red pepper or crushed kind, chili powder and Cajun seasoning should be refrigerated or frozen.
AN ECONOMICAL ENTRÉE
Bone-in thighs are cheaper than the boneless, skinless ones. In this recipe you’re the one who removes the skin before thighs are baked. Do choose Miller free-range chicken grown in Northeast Indiana.
MAPLE-MUSTARD-CRUSTED CHICKEN THIGHS
• 4 large bone-in Miller brand thighs, skin removed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
• 2 tablespoons grainy French mustard
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 3750F. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Combine mustard, garlic powder, oregano and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread about 1½ tablespoons on each thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a “crust.” Arrange chicken in a 3-quart glass baking dish. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened and juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Recipe makes 2 to 4 servings. Source: Adapted from Cooking Channel Ellie Krieger recipe.
“HEALTHY OBESITY” DOESN’T HOLD UP OVER TIME
The term “fat-but-fit” has been used to describe people who are obese but have normal readings for metabolic criteria, such as blood pressure, HDL, cholesterol and blood sugar. However, a recent study (Journal of the American College of Cardiology; Jan. 6/13, 2015) indicates that these “healthy obese” individuals tend to progress to “unhealthy obese” category over time. Researchers analyzed data on 2, 521 adults, ages 39 to 62, across a 20-year time span, focusing specifically on a subgroup of 389 “healthy obese.” After 10 years, 35 percent of this subgroup had developed abnormalities in measurements and metabolic function, which raised them in the category called unhealthy obese, after 15 years, the number had risen to 38 percent, and, after 20 years, 48 percent had progressed to the unhealthy level. If you are “healthy obese,” discuss weight-loss options with your doctor; chances are, you will develop weight-related problems over time if you remain obese.
Source: Weill Cornel Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2015.
ALTERNATIVE TO AVOCADOS
Although avocados are recommended when nutrient-dense foods are discussed, it’s not a favorite for some. My preference and that of many is to eat them is in guacamole. In fact in my refrigerator now are 2 avocados mashed coarsely with a fork, juice from a half lemon added and a package of Rick Bayliss Guacamole Mix stirred in. That said, Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory points out that there are other foods besides avocados rich in monounsatured fat including vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and olives. “Choose those healthy foods you enjoy. There is rarely anything unique about a single food and certainly not a reason to eat something you do not enjoy,” reports Lichtenstein. Source: Some information taken from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2015.
I’m on Pradaxa, a blood thinner for atrial fibrillation, and I don’t add anything to my diet without checking first with the doctor who prescribes my medications because there are many foods that interfere with medicines you take. Such was the case with chia seeds, one of the newest food fads. As it turns out, chia seeds thin blood even more. My advice is to check with whoever prescribes your medication before adding something like chia seeds to your diet. Pharmacists are also knowledgeable about these matters.
GLUTEN FREE OR NOT?
Those who espouse this way of eating say that it improves gut health, cures stomach problems, aids weight loss and is energizing. A recent survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 63% of Americans believe that cutting out gluten benefits physical and mental health. More than a third think it would help them slim down. The truth: For most people, there’s nothing unhealthy about gluten, proteins that are found in barley, rye and wheat. The only people who need to give up gluten are the estimated 1 percent of Americans with celiac disease or the up to 6 percent with non-gluten sensitivity. In fact, some evidence suggests that gluten may help fight heart disease by lowering levels of triglycerides (fats that circulate in your blood with cholesterol). It may also help reduce high blood pressure. When it comes to weight loss, a gluten-free diet may backfire, according to a study published in Medicinal Food. Many foods without gluten are higher in calories, fat and sugar than the wheat-baked versions. The bottom line: Don’t go gluten-free unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. If you are in either of these groups, try to focus on gluten-free foods that are fresh and unprocessed. And when you buy packaged foods, look for gluten-free products that don’t contain rice (because of the mercury), products and that are low in added sugar, salt and calories. Going gluten-free isn’t all that healthy for your wallet, either. For example, Duncan Hines regular brownie mix costs 8 cents per portion; Betty Crocker’s gluten-free version costs 28 cents per serving. Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2015.
NEVER SAW AN IMPOSSIBLE PIE I DIDN’T LIKE!
Bacon plus Swiss cheese equals breakfast, brunch or dinner in my book! If you abstain from meat on Friday during Lent replace the bacon with a drained 8-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces. When it comes to canned mushrooms I never buy any kind but Pennsylvania Dutchman brand, a product of the USA. Read labels!
IMPOSSIBLY EASY BACON PIE
• 12 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
• 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4-ounces)
• 1/3 cup chopped onion
• 3/4 cup Original Bisquick or Bisquick Heart Smart
• 1 1/2 cups milk (whatever kind you use)
• 3 large eggs
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 4000F. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in pie plate. In medium bowl beat remaining ingredients until blended; pour into pie plate. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 servings. One serving = 290 calories (160 from fat). Source: Betty Crocker recipe.
HOW NICE IS RICE?
Rice consumption is not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, concludes a recent Harvard study of more than 200,000 health professionals whose diets and health were tracked for two decades. There have been concerns about rice because it contains arsenic and because it has a relatively high glycemic (a measure of the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar). The study found no link between consumption of rice, white or brown, and cardiovascular disease, even at the highest intakes (5 or more servings per week) and regardless of ethnic background (Asian or non-Asian). Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2015.
Consumer Reports on Health food-safety experts think that it’s important to eat less of it. Exposure to one type, inorganic arsenic, can raise the risk of some cancers, heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. There is some good news, though: Their latest tests found that white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan and sushi rice from the U.S. had half the amount, on average, of most other types. Brown rice had more than white, but brown basmati from those areas had about a third less than other brown rice’s. Tests also showed that amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farro and polenta (grits) had tiny amounts of inorganic arsenic, on average. Some samples of quinoa had elevated levels, but still far less than the lowest amount in rice. Consumer Reports has been urging the Food and Drug Administration to quickly complete its assessment of arsenic in rice and set a limit. It should also address the risk to children who eat rice-based foods such as cereals, pastas and beverages by setting a standard for those foods. It also suggests that parents consider not using rice cereal as a child’s first solid food. Based on a review of the science, their experts think that the inorganic arsenic be 120 parts per billion. To reduce the arsenic in our soil and water, the FDA should withdraw approval for the animal drug nitarsone, which has arsenic and is used in poultry feed. Pesticides containing arsenic are still being used on golf courses, highway medians and sod farms. That use was supposed to be phased out in 2013 , but it still occurs. Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2015.
PS: Consumer Reports in 2014 recommended washing raw ice, then cooking 1 part rice in 6 parts water and draining excess water when rice is cooked. It removes part of the nutrients but 30 percent of the inorganic arsenic content.
COOKING FOR ONE OR TWO
The Young at Heart group at St Patrick’s Church in Bryan asked me to speak at their February meeting about cooking for one or two households. At the “git go” I said I wasn’t sure that I was the one to give them advice because I am still struggling with doing this myself. Some things I have learned by my mistakes is that a bargain isn’t a bargain if I can’t use it within a reasonable length of time, especially if it’s fresh fruits and vegetables. After sorting through my spices, I had duplicates because I didn’t take inventory before shopping. Many had long passed their “best used by” date (like 2009). Regarding canned goods, I also had too many of one kind indicating that I took advantage of too many ten for ten sales! The problem is that when I shop I still have the mentality of a mom shopping for a family of 6, a situation that’s been over for a very long time!
When everyone was living at home, I did plan menus ahead and it’s just as important to do it now. Improving with this, I do have a meatless day per week and include fish or seafood in one meal or more. Weekends give me time to make foods ahead for the following week. Early on I either served them to Bryan Chief shoppers or ate them for three days in a row. Now after eating an entrée for a day or two, the rest of the servings are frozen in one or two serving freezer containers and dated (date is mandatory) so they’ll be eaten within a reasonable length of time! Doing these things, there isn’t any reason you can’t have meals you loved as a family, soup included.
In summary, do take inventory of what you have, then plan menus and make your shopping list accordingly and stick to it! Avoid impulse purchases unless you want to allow yourself $5.00 or $10.00 to do this occasionally. If you find yourself with too much of anything in the cupboard or freezer work it into a meal ASAP! Doing just that, I recently made what I labeled “This and That Chili.” Finally, if you have gone overboard, share with a friend or invite them to lunch or dinner.
The soup served to the Young at Heart group was Southwest Cheese Soup made with only 5 ingredients plus dried cilantro flakes for garnish. Meatless, it’s a good Lenten soup.
SOUTHWEST CHEESE SOUP
• 1 lb. reduced-fat Velveeta cheese, cut in small cubes)
• 15.25-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
• 15-ounce can Bush black beans, rinsed and well drained
• 10-ounce can Rotel Tomatoes
• 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
• Dried cilantro flakes for garnish
In Dutch oven, mix all ingredients except cilantro. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker recipe.
|Customers may not be aware of it but I keep track of questions I’m asked when working and if it about something new in the produce department or the store in general, I make a note to use it as a topic in an upcoming memo. A new item is fresh organic kale pesto. Usually made with basil, pesto is Italian for pounded and originated in Genoa, Italy. Other ingredients in pesto include garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and olive oil. Today pesto’s are made with many other ingredients from cilantro to kale and mint. As for using the kale pesto in Chief’s produce department, I tossed it with angel hair pasta. I was also asked about the pomelo (pronounced pom-EH-loh) that was in Chief produce departments in late January. Often called the Chinese grapefruit, the large citrus fruit is native to Malaysia where it still grows abundantly. It’s also called shaddock after an English sea captain who introduced the seed in the West Indies. Pomelos may be used any way suitable for grapefruit.|
Source of pesto and pomelo information is from Food Lover’s Companion, Fourth Edition, by Herbst and Herbst and published by Barron.
VEGETARIAN DIETS LINKED TO BETTER HEALTH
Vegetarian dietary patterns are associated with lower body mass, lower prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus, lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its components (abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure and fasting blood sugar, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels), lower hypertension, lower all-cause mortality and in some cases, lower risk of cancer.
Between 1974 and 1988 by researchers from Loma Linda University of School of Public Health in California conducted the first Adventist Health Study (AHS-1) comprising 34,000 Seventh-day Adventists from California. AHS-2 followed from 2002 to the present, comprising a 96,000-member cohort drawn from all over the U.S. and Canada. Members were categorized according to their intake of key food items of animal origin. Self- reported results showed a 7.7 percent were vegan (exclude all animal products) 29.2 percent were lacto-ovo-vegetarian (include dairy products and eggs), 9.9 percent pesco-vegetarian (include seafood), 5.4 percent semi-vegetarian (eat animal products/seafood one or fewer times per week) and 47.7 percent non-vegetarian (eat animal products/seafood more than once a week). Notable across the spectrum was the moderate-to-large increase in consumption of a broad variety of plant foods, including legumes, soy foods and meat analogues, nuts, seeds, grains, potatoes, avocados and fruits, rather than concentrated increases in only a few groups. Overall, researchers noted, the study demonstrated that food consumption patterns among vegetarians go well beyond mere avoidance of meats and other animal foods. Specifically, the food consumption patterns are consistent with what are currently considered healthful food choices, as recommended in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines are published every five years), such as increased emphasis on fruits and vegetable consumption, decreased consumption of added sugars and solid fats and consumption of whole grains over refined grains. These choices are thought to protect against obesity and some cardio-metabolic diseases and offer overall beneficial outcomes.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, February 2014.
Daughter Mary Ann says this vegetarian chili has an excellent flavor. It has more ingredients than most of you prefer but chances are a lot of them are ones you have on hand.
QUINOA AND BLACK BEAN CHILI
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinse
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (like canola)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 bottle of beer
1 1/2 cups tomato juice or V-8 juice
1 19-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook until onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute to release the flavors. Stir in tomatoes, juice, beer, black beans, bell peppers, zucchini, jalapeño pepper, chipotle and pepper and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir in reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat corn for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Makes 10 servings.
IT’S NO MYTH …. CHICKEN SOUP IS GOOD FOR YOU!
There’s a lot of false food information but not so when it comes to chicken soup! It definitely has a therapeutic effect on what ails us this time of year, namely colds and flu. Although I am big on rotisserie chickens, cooking a range-fed stewing chicken, the kind that Miller’s in northeast Indiana raise and available at Chief, is your best bet for stewing. Broth made from fresh meat and bones is loaded with gelatin that gives it a full-bodied consistency. Believe me, there is nothing better or more nutritious than homemade chicken noodle soup!
WHAT MAKES US SAD
Humans, like animals, are affected by sunlight or the lack of it, both physically and emotionally. But some people are affected much more than others. During the shorter, darker days of late autumn and winter, especially in more northern regions, they may experience a type of clinical depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can be likened to the general winter malaise and lethargy that many of us experience but is more severe and debilitating. People with SAD feel hopeless for no evident reason, lose interest in people or things they normally enjoy, are fatigued and unproductive, have difficulty concentrating, sleep too much and find it hard to get out of bed.
How many people have SAD? The most commonly cited figure is 5 percent of Americans, on average, though the estimates range from 1 to 10 percent, depending on the populations surveyed and criteria used. At least two-thirds of sufferers are women, who are also prone to non-seasonal depression. In addition, many more people have a milder, shorter lasting form of SAD often called “winter blues.” The symptoms of SAD usually start during early adulthood and tend to decline in older age. Its incidence rises at higher altitudes, that is, with increasing distance from the equator; north and south. Thus only 1 percent of Floridians may suffer from SAD, versus 10 percent of Alaskans. SAD often runs in families, and several genetic factors have been proposed to help explain this. It also occurs more frequently in certain ethnic groups. For instance, while SAD rates are high in Scandinavia, they are low in Iceland, which is also far north. And a 2013 study focusing on the largest immigrant groups in Norway found that those from Iran had a much higher rate of wintertime SAD than those in Sri Lanka. According to the standard definition, people have SAD if they’ve had a seasonal pattern of depressive episodes for least two years, with no explanation for the mood changes and no non-seasonal episodes, and they’ve had this general pattern of depression in some previous years as well. The recommendation: Try to maximize your daylight exposure by getting up and out early, exercising outdoors, making your house brighter, sitting near windows on bright days and taking a winter vacation in a sunny locale, if possible.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2015.
STRENGTH-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN!
A single 20-minute strength-training routine might boost memory, according to a study of 46 young adults conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The participants viewed a series of photos, then half of them did leg-extension exercises. The rest had their legs moved up and down for them by researchers. Two days later, the active group remembered 10 percent more of the photos than the other group. Researchers think exercise might help the brain store memories. Other research suggests that strength training boosts memory in older adults, too.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2015.
Twice baked potatoes are a favorite food and an egg baked on top makes it a meatless entrée!
TWICE-BAKED POTATO WITH EGG ON TOP
• 2 medium russet potatoes
• 1 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 medium yellow onion, diced
• 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine (I prefer just 2 cloves)
• 1 cup low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Fresh chives (in Chief’s produce department)
• 4 small eggs
Preheat oven to 4000F. Scrub potatoes, pierce them with a fork and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until soft. In large frying pan heat oil or butter over medium-high heat. Sauté onion with garlic for about 5 minutes until soft. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop out potato flesh of each leaving about ¼ inch shell of potato flesh and skin. Add the scooped out potato flesh, shredded cheese, salt and pepper into the pan and stir to combine well. Place potato shells on baking sheet and fill them with the mixture. Press the mixture with a spoon to make space for the eggs. Sprinkle chives on top and crack an egg on top of each half potato. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until egg is set (whites should be set while yolks are a bit runny.
Source: Adapted from U.S. Potato Board Recipe.
FDA FINALIZES SWEEPING CALORIE-COUNT RULES
Ignorance may not be bliss, at least when it comes to calories, so the US Food and Drug Administration will soon require calorie counts for everything from chain restaurants to movie-theater popcorn to vending machines. The rules stemmed from the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, and were initially proposed for 2011, but the FDA delayed the final rules for three years in the face of industry opposition. Compliance will now be required by late this year, with vending machine companies getting an extra year. When the regulations were finally released, they proved much tougher than many analysts had expected. In addition to chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets, calorie counts will be required for cinema concessions, vending machines, amusement parks and prepared foods sold in supermarkets such as sandwiches and salads. Alcoholic beverages on restaurant menus, but not mixed drinks at bars, must also disclose calories.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2015.
FACTS ABOUT GARLIC YOU SHOULD KNOW
China is the largest producer of garlic in the world and floods the US market with it. Gilroy, California, is the second largest grower and processor. Fortunately, Chief sells USA grown garlic bulbs. But what about dried garlic products? If it doesn’t say California, you can’t be sure it is made with US-grown garlic. McCormick labels say California grown on their garlic products. I checked with Penzeys, a large mail order herb and spice company with retail stores throughout the country, and a representative told me they contract with “selected” Chinese growers for what they sell. It may not make any difference to you but the origin of the garlic I buy is important to me.
FIGHT THE FLU
Although many of us had flu shots this fall, the one making the rounds was not in that shot. That means additional precautions need to be taken. My list includes drinking plenty of water, eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, exchanging hand towels and kitchen towels daily and having plenty of Purell available for quick hand-sanitizing. Each person in a family should have his own tube of toothpaste and speaking of brushes, I clean mine in the dishwasher when it’s running. My hot water is almost scalding hot so I’m confident that what we refer to as “linens” are sterilized when they’re laundered. It might be a good idea to check the temperature of your water heater.
EGG CONSUMPTION PROJECTED AT EIGHT-YEAR HIGH
The “incredible, edible egg” is back ruling the roost with US consumption expected to hit an eight-year high, almost back to the level of 2006, before concerns over cholesterol caused a slump. The American Egg Board reports that consumers have added 10 eggs per capita since 2011, cracking an estimated 257.9 eggs per person per year in 2014. Overall egg production was up 3 percent over 2013. An industry spokesperson credited the “protein craze” for rising consumption. One large egg contains more than six grams of protein and noted that eggs have taken the place at breakfast left by the decline in ready-to-eat cereal purchases. Health-conscious consumers have also become aware that the dietary cholesterol in eggs, 186 milligrams in one large egg, is not the key contributor to unhealthy blood cholesterol levels. A 2013 meta-analysis found no association between greater egg consumption and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2015.
MY FRIENDS: SLOW COOKER AND FREEZER!
Many older Bryan Chief tasters tell me their cooking days are over or minimal. Because of Mary’s Memo, I do cook more than most people my age or younger. However, because I’m not a fan of convenience foods (except the rotisserie chicken), I believe that as long as I’m physically able to do it I’ll prepare meals for myself. That’s when a 5-quart slow cooker and freezer are my friends. I don’t hesitate making recipes that serve 4 or 6 because after I’ve eaten a portion or two I freeze the rest and they come in handy when I’m too busy or too tired to cook! Having a freezer also makes it possible for me to enjoy favorite foods when we were a family of 6. Regarding this week’s recipe, the sauce is elegant!
SLOW COOKED THIGHS IN CREAMY ITALIAN SAUCE
• ¼ cup melted butter
• ½ cup fat-free chicken broth
• 8-ounce container Kraft chive & onion cream cheese
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Mushroom Soup
• 1 package Italian Dressing Mix (in the condiment aisle)
• 8 boneless, skinless thighs
Whisk together until smooth all ingredients except chicken. Arrange thighs in the bottom of a 5-quart slow cooker. Pour sauce over all. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour; cook on low for an additional 6 hours. Serve on cooked angel hair pasta or noodles. Garnish with parsley if you like.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
I know from experience that no one wants recipes that cost “an arm and a leg” to make. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better, whether cooking for a family or one or two people. That said, Martha Stewart’s “One Pot: 120 East Meals for Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stock Pot and More,” published in September 2014 and now available in paperback as well as Kindle, is a must read. One of the most economical places to buy cookbooks is at Amazon.com where there’s a plethora of titles with minimum ingredients including ones focused on health problems like diabetes.
Here’s an example of a few-ingredient-recipe found on a web site that takes only 30 minutes to make, excellent for a weeknight meal!
FAST GOULASH MACARONI
• 1 box macaroni and cheese mix
• 1 pound hamburger (or ground chuck, if you prefer)
• 1 can chili, hot (I prefer Bush brand)
Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package directions, except melt the butter in the pan. Then mix in the cheese, followed by the milk. Stir until smooth, then add the macaroni and mix thoroughly. This will make creamier mac and cheese, and the cheese will be more evenly distributed. While preparing mac and cheese, brown hamburger in skillet and heat chili in saucepan. When all ingredients are prepared, mix the hamburger and chili into the mac and cheese. Serve hot. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from www.mydailymoment.com/recipe.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.
LOOKING FOR A "POWERHOUSE" VEGETABLE?
Go for watercress. This cruciferous vegetable scored a perfect 100 in a CDC (Center for Disease Control) study that ranked 47 fruits and vegetables for their nutrient density, based on 16 key nutrients and fiber. With its small, crisp, dark leaves and pungent, slightly bitter, peppery flavor, watercress is a highly underrated vegetable that can add zest to salads, sandwiches, soups and sauces. Other top rankers were Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce, collards and turnip greens. The study didn’t factor in other potentially beneficial plant compounds, however, which are abundant in many of the fruits and vegetables that scored lower, including berries and sweet potatoes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2015
HIGHER POTASSIUM CONSUMPTION LINKED WITH LOWER STROKE RISK
Research has revealed one more good reason to eat fruits and vegetables, Study results suggest that eating plenty of potassium-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of stroke and early death among postmenopausal women. According to an 11-year study published on line September 4, 2014, in the American Heart Association’s journal, Stroke, women who consumed the most potassium (an average of 3,194 milligrams or more per day) were 12 percent less likely to suffer a stroke and 10 percent less likely to die than women whose diets contained the least amount of potassium (1,925 mg per day). The study involved more than 90,000 women aged 50 to 79. The association between higher potassium levels and lower stroke risk is likely due to the interplay between potassium and sodium. Potassium also helps regulate water and mineral balances in your body. Good sources of potassium are sweet potatoes, acorn squash, spinach, russet potato, tomato puree, salmon, lima beans, broccoli, tuna, cantaloupe, banana, black beans, dried apricots, milk, kidney beans, chicken breast and raisins.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, January 2015.
A RECIPE FROM THE PAST
I don’t know about you, but I love this no-bake cookie and since the emphasis this memo is quick recipes to make, Nestle Scotcheroos come to mind.
• Nonstick cooking spray
• 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 6 cups toasted rice cereal
• 11-ounce package Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Flavored Morsels
• 1 cup (6-ounces) Nestle Semi-Sweet Morsels
Coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large saucepan combine peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Remove from heat. Add toasted rice cereal; stir until thoroughly coated. Press on bottom of prepared pan. Microwave butterscotch morsels and semi-sweet morsels in large micro-safe bowl on High for 1 minute; stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until smooth. Spread over cereal mixture. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is firm. Cut into bars. Recipe makes 2½ dozen bars. Source: Nestle recipe.
“MUST HAVE’S” WHEN THERE’S A WINTER STORM WARNING
It’s been my observation that nothing helps supermarkets’ business more than a winter storm warning. That said, there are essentials you should have on hand such as bottled water, toilet paper, a full propane tank (so you can cook on your gas grill), and a supply of different size batteries. After sitting in the dark when there wasn’t any power for an extended period of time I invested in the Spectrum/Rayovac Sportmen Area Lantern. It is far safer than burning candles. I bought mine at our local Ace Hardware but you can also purchase one at Amazon.com. It lights up a room and is bright enough to read by. Just be sure batteries are dependable at all times. Years ago someone who lived on a farm told me to fill bathtubs with water so you have it to flush toilets. If there are infants in the family be sure you have plenty of baby formula and diapers. It amazed me during the blizzard of ‘78 that there were so many parents that didn’t! Our needs are not the same but just think about what your family can’t be without and be sure you have those provisions on hand when an emergency comes along.
SANDWICHES A TOP SODIUM SOURCE
Dagwood Bumstead, the comic-strip character, might want to check his blood pressure. A new analysis of national dietary data by USDA researchers reports that sandwiches account for one fifth of average sodium intake, a key contributor to hypertension. Previous studies underestimated sandwich consumption because of the challenges posed by sandwiches’ many different ingredients; those analyses pit sandwiches’ share of sodium at only 4%. By taking a novel approach to coding responses to dietary intake questionnaires, the new study was able to count multiple ingredients consumed as a sandwich, including both eating out, take out or at home. Nearly half of Americans were found to eat a sandwich on any given day, and sandwich consumers averaged 600 milligrams more daily sodium. For adults, sandwiches alone added up to 30% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams daily maximum of sodium, and 46% of the stricter 1,500 milligrams guideline for those over 50. Sandwich eaters also ate an average 300 more calories daily. Publishing their findings in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers said the results “underscore the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients. Many sandwiches, such as burgers and franks, and common sandwiches made with yeast breads, cheese and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium but also energy in the diets of adult Americans.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.
ENCORE FOR SWEET POTATO MINESTRONE
Although one of the ingredients is chicken broth, using vegetable broth makes it vegetarian and a good Lenten recipe. I recall when I first made it that I was amazed at how good a soup it was without any added meat. The emphasis today is on more fruits and vegetables in our diet and this soup fills the bill!
SWEET POTATO MINESTRONE
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 large ribs celery, chopped
• 2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
• 2 14.5-ounce cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
• 5 cups Swanson chicken or vegetable broth without MSG
• 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
• 2 large carrots, sliced thin
• 2 cups fresh cut green beans
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, celery, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Recipe makes 6 servings and soup is freezable.
MOTHER’S WINTER SALAD
Leafy greens are more expensive in wintertime and this year not the best quality due to California weather conditions. I never had an actual recipe for what Mother called “Combination Salad” but it is cheaper to make this time of year. The components include shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped scallions, red or green bell pepper (or both for more colorful presentation), chopped seedless cucumber, halved grape tomatoes and dressed with fresh lemon juice and canola or olive oil. You can make as much or as little as you need, scaling up or down the amount of lemon juice and oil. Fresh lemon juice instead of cider vinegar in the dressing was Mother’s idea. A shortcut would be to use Cole slaw mix but Mother made this salad when no one knew there were salad mixes.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Usually someone gives me a cookbook for Christmas but not in 2014. That being the case, I broke down and bought the 15th Anniversary Edition of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. A year ago I started subscribing to the magazine as well. What I like best about Cook’s Illustrated is that in addition to recipes there is detailed information about food and equipment that they test and recommend. Although I also get Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated has additional information that as a food writer is useful to me.
For example, I’m sharing a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Glazed Salmon and how they present it. First, they explain their method of preparation followed by the recipe itself. Instead of broiling, the traditional method, Cooks Illustrated found that gently baking the fish was a better way to go. To insure the glaze stayed put, they rubbed the fish with a mixture of cornstarch, brown sugar and salt before searing.
• 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1 (1-1/2 to 2 pound) skin-on salmon fillet, about 1-1/2 inches thick
• Ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 1 recipe glaze
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300ºF. Combine the brown sugar, salt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Use a sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from the belly of the salmon and cut the fillet into 4 equal pieces. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over the top of the flesh side of the salmon, rubbing to distribute. Heat oil in a 1-inch oven safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the salmon, flesh side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip the salmon and cook the salmon on the skin side 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon glaze evenly on the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the fillets register 125ºF on an instant read thermometer (for medium rare) and are still translucent when cut into with a paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a platter or individual plates and serve.
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
• 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
Whisk the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Source: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001 to 2015.
ADD THESE LESSER-KNOWN LEGUMES TO YOUR HEALTHY PANTRY
New Year’s brings a brief boost in popularity of black-eyed peas, the key ingredient in the traditional Southern celebratory dish if Hoppin’ John. But if you’re looking for a nutritional bargain, black-eyed peas (aka cowpeas) should be a year-round staple in your pantry. So should another lesser known legume, garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). They’re the main ingredient in trendy hummus, which recently topped $1 billion in US sales. But garbanzos, like black-eyed peas, deserve a place in our healthy pantry, not just as a dip in your refrigerator. “Legumes are good sources of protein and fiber, while low in calories,” says Diane L. McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School. “Both black eyed peas and garbanzo beans are tasty ways to get your phytochemicals as well as a variety of nutrients we may fall short on, including potassium, folate, magnesium and manganese.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.
BUFFALO CHICKEN STRIKES AGAIN!
It is no secret that anything Buffalo wing flavored gets my attention (although the wings at a Buffalo Wing restaurant didn’t) so I made my version of Allrecipes’ Touchdown Pizza recently. A warning though: it’s spicy-hot and not for the “faint at heart!”
Try it before Super Bowl Sunday.
BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA
• 1 (14-ounce) pre-baked pizza crust (such as Boboli)
• 1 cup diced rotisserie chicken
• 3 tablespoons Buffalo wing sauce
• 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
• 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled blue cheese
• 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
• 1 cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend
Preheat oven to 475ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pizza crust on prepared baking sheet. Mix chicken with 3 tablespoons wing sauce. Spread half cup wing sauce on the pizza crust; top with blue cheese, chicken mixture and celery. Cover pizza with Italian blend cheese. Bake in preheated oven until pizza is cooked through and cheese is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Cool pizza about 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Maintaining an optimal acid-alkaline balance is integral to enjoying good health, yet our modern day diet often wreaks havoc with this delicate balance. Highly processed food acidify the body, as does a diet high in meat, dairy and sugar. Your body becomes overwhelmed with the acid imbalance and this leads to acidosis and this can lead to a host of problems from weight gain, gastrointestinal conditions to skin conditions, chronic fatigue and respiratory ailments. The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS & IBD by Dr. Fraser Smith, Susan Hannah and Dr. Daniel Richardson (www.robertrose.ca; October 2014, $24.95/softback) will give you all the information you need to follow an acid-alkaline balanced diet and provides current information on common gastrointestinal conditions. Also included are 175 recipes to try.
The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS or IBD is available from Amazon.com or at your favorite book store.
ALSO A BEST RECIPE FROM 2014
Since I had too many recipes on the January 5 Memo, Creamy Loaded Mashed Potatoes had to be removed but is still one from 2014.
CREAMY LOADED MASHED POTATOES
• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1-1/2 cups (6-ounces) reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy Sour Cream
• 3 green onions, finely chopped
• 6 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter 2.5-quart baking dish. In 4-quart saucepan, cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender; drain and mash with portable electric mixer. Stir in 1 cup cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and half the bacon. Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Top with reserved cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with additional chopped green onions, if desired.
Note: All but topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until time to bake.
Source: Hellmann’s website via Cooking.com.
STOCKING STUFFER GIFTS
My daughter-in-law, Kelly, had my name in our stocking gift exchange this past Christmas and she out-did herself with useful
items such as a non-mechanical ice cream dipper with a sealed in defrosting fluid. Ice cream can’t stick to it. It’s not a new gadget because her mother started married life with one. There’s a Company in the USA that makes “CRAZY BUT IT WORKS” gadgets including a Baggy Rack that holds storage bags open for easy filling and keeps your hands free to pour or fill. It adjusts to fit any size bag, has a non-slip grip on the bottom and folds flat for storage. Since Amazon.com has just about anything, I am sure both are available there.
IT’S NATIONAL SOUP MONTH
Even though Campbell’s is probably responsible for declaring it, a bowl of hot soup is welcome treat on a cold, wintery day. I could live on a hearty soup, salad and serving of fruit. How about you?
CHICKEN AND TOMATO VEGETABLE SOUP
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 head cabbage, shredded
• 1 red onion, cut in small dice
• 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
• 4 small Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
• 2 large carrots, cut in 1-inch julienne strips
• 1 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
• 2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid
• 1 pound cut-up rotisserie chicken
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 6 sprigs for garnish
Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add cabbage, onion, celery and potatoes and sauté for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, chicken broth, tomatoes and oregano. Cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken last. Serve in individual bowls garnished with sprig of oregano. Recipe makes 6 servings
Source: Kathy Thaman, Indianapolis, IN
PLANTING YOUR FAMILY TREE
One of the best gifts you can give your children or grandchildren is a record of your family’s medical tree. Putting all the information you have down on paper or a computer can also help you and your doctor evaluate your health risks, determine what steps you can take to reduce those risks and discuss whether you should have earlier and more frequent screening tests or pursue genetic testing. The medical tree should include your first-degree (parents, children, siblings) and second-degree (grandparents, aunts and uncles) relatives, listing their ages (or age at death) and the diseases they have or had (especially cause of death). If you were adopted or your parents used a sperm or egg donor, it may not be possible to obtain this information. Data on your grandparents may also be difficult to uncover because the cause of death might not have been known or misdiagnosed. State health departments can provide a copy of death certificates and if you go to hhs.gov.web site, they’ll help you create a family history portrait.
Source: Special Winter Issue 2014-15 University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter.