Homemade froyo…

In a few weeks my husband I will have been married 2 years. That’s a reminder to me that I have now had an untouched Cuisinart ice cream maker collecting dust for two years. I’m always tempted to pull it out but fear gluttonous homemade ice cream always in the freezer. Here are some tricks to lower fat, healthier froyo curtesy of the Bay Area Bites blog that I plan on putting to use soon – once I get the ingredients.

Frozen yogurt is going through a bit of a makeover. Soft serve that tastes like ice cream is out while creamy swirls that burst with the flavor of real yogurt are in. Shops serving cups of froyo that burst with yogurt’s innate natural tartness are opening everywhere. Forget my favorite college flavor of orange, which tasted more like creamy ice cream that had been melded with baby aspirin. Today’s frozen yogurt highlights sweet fruit flavors and is enticingly tangy.

After a few trips to some yogurt shops where four servings cost around $20 — because let’s face it, the new frozen yogurt chains are more expensive than the old ones — I decided to try making my own concoctions. I found that if you have an ice-cream maker (the kind where you pre-freeze the canister), frozen yogurt is remarkably easy to make. It’s also nice to be able to control your own ingredients. You can choose to use organic and nonfat yogurt, or luxuriate in a treat made with creamy whole milk. You can also opt to sweeten your dessert with sugar, or go for a healthier alternative like fruit juice or honey — it’s all up to you. Continue reading

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Gluten free treats for your pup!

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This story begins with my poor little boy’s feet going bald and red. The vet said it was a major sign of allergies – and that most dogs allergies are food based. Skip a month ahead and my poor little jack is now on special salmon and sweet potato limited ingredient food and the bald patches are getting larger. Limited ingredient products are pricey and then wait…  shouldn’t I put all of these things I’m learning about nutrition to good use?

Dog’s largest allergies are to gluten and chicken – who knew? And guess what major ingredients are in most of their dog food – wheat and chicken.

So the standard treats, with a good 30 ingredients in them, are now being pushed to the back of the shelf. In front – Rusty’s new and improved, gluten free Oatmeal and peanut butter biscuits! (Apparently oats do have similar characteristics as those found in wheat, but they do not bother 90% of people (at the very least) with gluten intolerances. So I’m starting there first.)

If you’d like to give it a go – if just to reduce all the wonky chemicals added to our furry kids diets – the recipe is below!

First I purchased these small treat sized cookie cutters from this seller on amazon.

1. preheat oven to 375

2. Grease a baking tray/pizza tray

3. Add half a cup of oats, 2 cups oat flour and a tablespoon baking powder and mix

4. Add a cup of milk and a cup of smooth peanut butter. This part’s a bit tricky. TG for hand blenders (and cleaning spray…)

5. sprinkle flour on your countertop, plop out dough and knead it. Roll it to about a half an inch thick (this being my first baking experience in this home, a wine bottle was subbed for a rolling pin..)

6. Cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters or you can make squares or strips with a pizza cutter. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. The original recipe I read was obviously for bigger treats and the first batch is a bit.. er… black.. 😉

7. Let cool and feed to your pup!

My next adventure has to be making health treats for the hubbie (so these don’t get eaten by the humans in the house.)

Winter Lentil Soup | Real Simple Recipes

I really want to try this recipe soon. It’s a new way for me to mix in a few things I love to try to eat. What do you think?

Serves 6| Hands-On Time: 20m| Total Time: 1hr 00m

Ingredients

1  tablespoon  olive oil

4  leeks (white and light green parts), cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons

1  28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained

2  sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1  bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1/2  cup  brown lentils

1  tablespoon  fresh thyme

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/4  cup  grated Parmesan (1 ounce; optional)

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.

Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with the Parmesan, if using.

via Winter Lentil Soup | Real Simple Recipes.

Summer Fruit Recipes and Vegetable Ideas – Prevention.com

Get em’ while they’re still here!!

Summer Fruit Recipes and Vegetable Ideas – Prevention.com.

When the sun is at its peak, so are the luscious fruits and vegetables that really scream summer. We’ve rounded up our favorite  produce recipes that feature succulent summer fare: start cooking now before they’re out of season!

 

 

The Top 10 Best Cooking Oils …

We were talking about cooking oils and which ones are best before. I was just eyeing up some almond oil I bought and thought – hey … Can I cook with this? Some googling later and I found this. I think it’s a great list because instead of just saying “____ has a low smoking point”, it actually tells you the temperature that happens so you can work with it.

If you like to be a chef every once and a while, you may be confused about what cooking oils to use. (Especially, if you are on a diet). With so many skeptics and critics analyzing this oil and that, one of our leading dietitians, Christy, and one of our chefs, Chef Krishna, are telling you which oils to use while you cook and which ones to avoid completely.

10. Grapeseed Oil

Christy: “This oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and is low in saturated fat, making it very heart healthy.”

Chef K: “Grapeseed oil is very versatile, and can be used to add a very mild, nutty flavor to almost any dish. It’s great for salads, and can make for a nice drizzle over toasted bread.”

9. Sunflower Oil

Christy: “Sunflower oil is also heart healthy, and contains polyunsaturated fats and is low in saturated fats. It’s definitely a good ‘all purpose’ oil.”

Chef K: “Sunflower oil has a high smoke point of about 460 degrees F. This oil is great for high-heat cooking like sautéing. It’s actually great for sautéing vegetables.”

8. Safflower Oil

Christy: “Also low in saturated fat, using safflower oil to cook with can help lower your cholesterol. A lower cholesterol also means a reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases.”

Chef K: “Safflower oil also has a high smoke point of about 450 degrees F. This makes it good for high-heat cooking, like sautéing or frying. It has such a distinct flavor and it’s great for cooking foods like chicken and pasta.”

7. Avocado Oil

Christy: “Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and vitamin E. It’s a great oil to use if you are on a diet, or if you are diabetic. In certain studies, monounsaturated fats have been shown to help control insulin levels and blood sugar.”

Chef K: “Avocado oil also has a high smoke point of about 510 degrees F. This makes it a good oil for high heat cooking, like sautéing and frying. It’s great in salads, and can be used to add a little extra flavor to chicken, beef, pork or fish.”

6. Peanut Oil

Christy: “Peanut oil also contains monounsaturated fats, and is low in saturated fat, making it a heart healthy option.”

Chef K: “Peanut oil has a medium smoke point of about 350 degrees F. This is a good oil for light sautéing and frying. It’s great to use in Thai and Asian recipes, and is a great addition to sauces and salad dressings.”

5. Almond Oil

Christy: “Almond oil also contains monounsaturated fats, which makes it good for your cholesterol. It’s also an ideal cooking choice if you are diabetic.”

Chef K: “Almond oil has a high smoke point of about 495 degrees F, and is good for high heat cooking, like sautéing. It’s great flavor also works well as a healthier substitute in dessert recipes, like whipped cream.”

4. Olive Oil

Christy: “Olive oil is healthy because it contains monounsaturated fats, which makes it very heart healthy—it’s a great oil to use if you are diabetic, or if you have high cholesterol.”

Chef K: “Olive oil has a medium smoke point of about 350 degrees F. It’s a great, flavorful oil for foods like pesto sauce and salad dressings. It’s also great for sautéing vegetables, and is a great choice for cooking chicken.”

3. Flaxseed Oil

Christy: “Flaxseed oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and has a good source of omega-3’s. Omega 3 fatty acids help improve brain function and promote heart health.”

Chef K: “Flaxseed oil has a low smoke point of about 225 degrees F, so it should not be used for cooking over heat. Instead, it’s great for mixing into meals after heating, or it can be added to salad dressings or used in certain smoothies.”

2. Walnut Oil

Christy: “Walnut oil contains polyunsaturated fats, and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. This is a very heart-healthy oil, and is a great cooking oil to use if you are diabetic.”

Chef K: “Walnut oil has a very high smoke point of about 400 degrees F, which makes it a great oil to use for baking. It’s also great for sautéing at low-medium heat. It can also make your salad pop, simply by drizzling it over the top.”

1. Canola Oil

Christy: “As far as healthy nutrition goes, canola oil is probably the best. It has monounsaturated fats, which makes it heart healthy, and is appropriate for someone with diabetes,or who is on a diet.”

Chef K: “Canola oil has a medium-high smoke point of about 425 degrees F. It is great for sautéing, baking, and stir-fry. Of all the oils, it can be used to create the most variety of recipes.”

via The Top 10 Best Cooking Oils | BistroMD.

Kale Recipes: 5 Ways to Make Kale Less Boring | Women’s Health Food Blog: Get easy recipes, healthy food swaps, and cooking products

I thought today’s article from Women’s health was funny as last night I tried to give my husband a baby kale salad and he picked at the cucumbers from it and tossed the kale. I don’t mind the taste, but here are some recipes for those who do!

Kale is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The leafy green is very low in calories (36 calories per cup) and is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K. It’s also a good source of fiber and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron.

Problem is, kale isn’t the sexiest veggie in town. If you’re like me, you routinely toss a bunch of it into your grocery basket, but don’t quite know what to do with it once you’re home. Because of its bitter taste and a texture that requires a learned appreciation, kale’s not first on my list of go-to salad ingredients. Luckily, there are countless (meat-free!) ways to doctor up this good-for-you green. Try these five kale recipes and learn how to incorporate it into your next breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.

Healthy High C Smoothie Kale for breakfast? You bet. With a powerful blender and sweet ingredients like kiwis and orange juice, you won’t notice kale’s taste or texture, but you’ll still reap all the nutritional benefits.

Cheese and Kale Quesadillas Put a healthy spin on a typically bad-for-you dish opting for whole-wheat tortillas, a small amount of feta cheese, and kale.

Kale and Lentil Salad With so much flavor from ingredients like bell peppers, tomatoes, and sunflower seeds, this salad doesn’t even need dressing. Try it with some chopped seasonal fruits such as apples, grapes, strawberries, or blueberries.

Creamy Potato, Kale, and Leek Soup Use late summer and early fall to perfect the hearty soup recipes you’ll enjoy all winter long.

Roasted Kale Chips Health food disguised as junk food? We’ll take it. Try this brilliant snack idea from chef Tyler Florence.

via Kale Recipes: 5 Ways to Make Kale Less Boring | Women’s Health Food Blog: Get easy recipes, healthy food swaps, and cooking products.

Experimentation time! Beets…

20120801-111050.jpgSo in honor of finally making it to my local green market, I decided to pick up a vegetable I’d never prepared before – but love – beets.

Apparently they’re one of those “power” foods. Here’s why:

  • high in vitamin C, potassium, niacin, pantothenic acid, and B-6.
  • Raw beets are high in folates
  • low in calories
  • contain phytonutrients which provide antioxidants and help inflammation
  • recent studies have shown regularly consuming them can shrink tumors
  • some great other facts found here
  • Also their greens have great nutrition too! (next step for me will be figuring out what to do with those…)

So since I’m new to cooking beets I decided to go easy!

  • I cut off the tops of the beets, coated with olive oil and tossed into the oven at 425 for 40 minutes or until tender. (I had no idea what that meant, so I poked mine with a knife and it went in easily.)
  • Let cool, rub off skin (I used latex gloves. Don’t need red hands at my shoot tomorrow…)
  • and chop into cubes. Voila!  From there I’ve seen recipes saying to splash with lemon juice or toss in some goat cheese or feta. Have fun with it. (yeah I really just said to have fun with beets…)
  • Ps – it’s jack russell approved. 

Mmm.. ratatouille!

I recently went to visit my grandma. She’s taken over the last few years to making this loose ratatouille recipe and I think it’s delicious! When I went to the farm stand the other day she helped me pick out the ingredients.

I think this is a get way to eat some summer veggies. I threw mine in the crockpot as I had to head to a casting, but she uses a pot on the stove. Simply chop up all the veggies and throw in! Here’s what’s in it:

  • one eggplant (I left the skin on because I like some texture, but you can remove)
  • diced tomatoes or a can of them (I cheated. The raccoon ate my tomatoes..)
  • two large zucchini. I used one yellow and one green
  • one large onion
  • a red and green pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • basil and parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

I like to sprinkle with a little parm. Last night I laid it out under a filet of salmon. Or mix in with some pasta and use it as a veggie sauce. So many ways to mix this in with things!

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Simple tips: move that olive oil away from the stove!

We went over saturated versus unsaturated fats.

Today let’s look at their stability.

Fats spoil when exposed to oxygen. Saturated fats are more resistant to this, but the polyunsaturated fats you store next to your stove to cook with are very receptacle to spoilage due to all of their less stable double bonds.

Here are some tips to keep your oil from spoiling and to keep it as healthy for you as possible:

  • Store it somewhere cool dark place away from light and heat – like a cabinet away from your oven
  • Do not keep it stored in plastic bottles. Chemicals from the bottle my leach into it.
  • Keep it sealed tightly
  • If your oil is being used to cook and you don’t care about the taste as much you can refrigerate it. It may turn cloudy and be harder to pour but it’s fine to use.
  • If you are using the oil for dipping, salad dressings, etc – things you really want to taste the oil in, you should buy in smaller amounts, store in a cool place, and use relatively quickly- about three months.

This applies to other great oils, like flax and grapeseed oil. You’ll notice flaxseed oil is sold at stores in the refridgerated section in dark, UV proof bottles.

Hope this tip helps a bit! I always kept a glass bottle with a spout of oil next to the stove till I learned it defeated the purpose.

Mmm … Pesto!

My awesome friend just shared with me how to make pesto! We’re about to chow down on some baked pesto crusted chicken in a few.

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The very loose recipe was a large bowl full of basil – stems and all, olive oil, garlic cloves, parm cheese and pine nuts. Put into a food processor and add oil and pine nuts till its the right color and consistency. It’s delicious! And a surprisingly easy way to eat a lot of good for for you olive oil, herbs and nuts. Yeah all that cheese and oil isn’t the lowest fat option out there but gotta live a little 😉

Off to enjoy!

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