Mexican Medley

Mexican Medley

This is one of my favorite meals for breakfast.  It requires a limited amount of time to make, can be doubled to have again another day, and keeps me going on those days that require a lot of energy.

Ingredients:

Olive Oil 1 T
Carrot, sliced thin 1
Onion, chopped 1/2 med
Zucchini, quartered lenghtwise then sliced 1/2 reg
Crookneck Squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced 1/2 reg
Reb Bell Pepper, sliced into 1″ pieces 1/2 reg
Cumin 1/2-1 tsp
Aleppo Pepper 1/2-1 tsp
Salsa 3.5 oz
Refried Beans, natural  1/2 of 16 oz can
Spinach, chiffonade 1-2 C
Egg, poached or Fresh Guacamole 1 or 2 eggs or 1 T Guacamole

Preparation:

In a med/lg saucepan add olive oil and sauté carrot, onion, zuccini, crookneck squash, bell pepper over medium heat for a few minutes. Add cumin, pepper and salsa. Cover and cook until vegetables soften; about 8 minutes on med/low. Add beans and cook an additional 5-8 minutes until heated through. Place spinach in bottom of bowl. Top with bean mixture. Place poached egg or guacamole on top. S&P to taste.  Garnish with cilantro if you like.

Serves 1-2 depending on how hungry you are!

Miraculous Magnesium

swiss chard 1.11.16

As I was harvesting some Swiss chard from my winter garden this morning, it reminded me of how often overlooked and yet valuable the mineral magnesium is.  I realize this isn’t something we think about on a regular basis yet it is not only an essential mineral in our diet but we often tend to be deficient in it.

Magnesium is such a major player in our health.  It is the single most important mineral for maintaining proper electrical balance and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

It is estimated that 60%-80% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet due to lack of vegetables, poor food choices and farming practices.  Supplementation is definitely something to consider and yet the first step really should come from our diet.  Amongst the best sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes.  Here are some of the top foods:

  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cashews
  • Summer squash like zucchini or crookneck
  • Avocados
  • Black beans

As for the benefits of magnesium, there are plenty:

  • Creates and maintains bone health
    • 50%-60% of magnesium is stored in the bone and consequently plays a significant role in bone metabolism
    • Adequate magnesium in your diet improves bone mineral density
  • Enables energy production as it is a vital component in the production of ATP, a high energy molecule found in every cell
    • Low levels of magnesium can be one of the factors in low energy or fatigue
  • Maintains a healthy nervous system by working with calcium in forming an electrical current
    • Low levels can result in anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia and confusion
  • It is a vital nutrient in the prevention of chronic inflammation as it modulates cellular events involved in inflammation
    • Studies indicate that low levels of chronic inflammation are the cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and more
  • Enhances control of blood sugars
    • Magnesium is a co-factor in over 100 enzymes involved in controlling blood sugar and glucose metabolism

Magnesium is becoming more and more recognized as a vital macro nutrient that we just don’t get enough of.  Even medical researchers are recommending increasing the RDA to almost double current amounts.

To start you in the direction of adding magnesium to your diet, here is an easy and delicious salad that will give you lots of magnesium.  Quantities are not listed as they will vary based on the number of people enjoying this delicious salad.

Dressing:

  • 3 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 part Champagne Vinegar or high quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp or more Fish Sauce*
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Place above ingredients in a jar with fitted lid.  Shake thoroughly.

Salad:

  • Swiss chard, ribs removed
  • Kale, ribs removed
  • Parsley leaves
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Red bell pepper, cut to desired shape
  • Zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Dried apricots cut into long strips

Clean and tear into bite size pieces the first 4 greens and place in salad bowl.  Drizzle salad dressing on, mix and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  Note:  Since these leafy greens are a bit tougher than regular lettuce, this will allow them time to soften and get sweeter.

After 30 minutes add the balance of the ingredients and toss salad.  Serve and enjoy!

*Fish sauce is found in most markets in the Asian section and provides the dressing with umami, a savory taste.  You don’t need to use a lot.  It will have no ‘fish’ taste and yet will give the dressing a more rounded, pleasant taste.  Try it, you‘ll love it!

This is just one way to add some wonderful healthy food sources of magnesium into your daily routine.  Be creative and see how you can start adding more to make 2016 be even a healthier year!

In health,

Julie

 

 

 

Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).

Ingredients:

1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Couscous Salad with Orange-Infused Chicken

My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook.  Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s.  Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious.  This dish is no exception.  I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!

In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts.  He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel.  You might want to check out his store here!

Great for a picnic!

Ingredients

2 ½ C              Fresh Orange Juice[1], divided

2-4                  Garlic Cloves, crushed

1                      Shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp              Dried thyme[2]

1-1 ½ #          Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole

½ C                 Chicken Broth

1 ½ C              Couscous

2                      Green Onions, finely chopped

¼ – ½ C          Dried Cranberries

1                      Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 TBSP           Rice Wine Vinegar

3 TBSP           Olive Oil, good quality

S & P              To taste

Preparation

In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken breasts.  Reserve the liquid.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil.  Remove from heat and add couscous.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper.  Mix well. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil.  Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Note:  The couscous portion can be made a day ahead.  The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.


[1] Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized.  If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost.  You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.

[2] I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden.  I used about 1+ TBSP.

Is Your Farmer’s Market All Organic?

I have been traveling a great deal to Pasadena, California to take care of my mother this year.  She has been battling cancer which I am glad to report seems to be in remission!

 

While I have been there I discovered there was a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays near where she lived.  I was so delighted to find it since I am totally addicted to our Boulder Farmer’s Market and rarely miss a Saturday during season.  I did notice when I went to the one in Pasadena that they had a big sign saying the produce was local but didn’t mention organic.  Consequently I made note of which stands specifically mentioned organic or ‘not sprayed’ as in the case of one of the strawberry stands and purchased from them.  It made me appreciate the Boulder market even more as I assumed it was totally organic. 

This week my friend Rowan Rozanski from Jay Hill Farm, where I buy all my greens every week, sent out an email on the entire organic subject.  I was sad to learn that not all is as seems, even in our Boulder Farmer’s Market.  I have asked her to share the following with you so as to better educate you about your local farmer’s market.  I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!

From Rowan…

This last bit is… well… a rant.  Feel free to skip it, but I think this is something that applies to anyone who tries to buy local and organic.  🙂   

One of our long term customers, Christine, recently asked:  

“On a completely different note, I read an article this morning about California Farmers’ Markets where the vendors are supposed to be growing their produce organically— but do not.  There’s simply not enough oversight to ensure they are meeting organic standards.  How does the Boulder Farmer’s Market ensure that all vendors are selling organic produce?”

She was referring to this article, which ran in the Huffington Post last week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/california-organic-food-s_n_640654.html

She is not the first person to ask this question.  While the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, as my father and other early board members envisioned it, was to be an organic and local vendor’s dream, much of the dream has disappeared for the sake of plentiful vegetables and fruit.  While still local, there’s very little focus on Certified Organic growers.  Many of the new vendors over the last few years have in fact been the antithesis of what my family and I stand for.  

Please understand, this is not a rant about the market, it’s a problem of perception throughout many communities in America.  Farm stands around the country have been known to prevaricate as well.  “Family”, “Local”, “Home Grown” are all phrases that mean absolutely nothing. It is ILLEGAL to claim your produce is organic unless you are certified by the USDA and the state of Colorado or unless your yearly farm income is less than $5,000 a year. 

Many of the farms at BCFM are NOT organic.  ASK! When you hear a sentence like “we don’t spray”, that means absolutely nothing.  You don’t have to spray nitrogen, miracle grow, or any other substance to add it to the soil, ground water and produce.  Once of my biggest gripes with the market was that you can only use “Organic” on your sign if you’re certified, but nothing says you have to say “not organic”  Most people simply assume it’s all good, and go for the lower priced items that are not organic.  This is unfair and harmful to those of us who are certified. Yes, our prices are higher, but there’s a reason for that! 

The organic certification process is over 60 pages of documentation, almost $1000 a year, and requires a 3-5 hour inspection by a certifier once a year.  We buy organic seed (NEVER treated) when available at a high (sometimes more than double) premium, and make sure our compost and nutrients meet federal standards.  It’s a grueling, expensive process that is necessary, and worthwhile, for your peace of mind and ours.  *sigh* 

If you would like to see what farms in Colorado ARE certified, you can check at:

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1216022437979 (click on certified organic producers). 

Please understand that this rant is not to inveigle you into buying more produce from Jay Hill Farm.  Buy wherever you want! It’s so that folks understand the difficulties faced by those of us who give our word to you and your families that we are doing our best to grow locally, sustainably, and with as much care for the earth and our fellow man as we can. 

Thanks for your understanding and time! 

Cheers, 

Rowan

April Recipe – Swiss Chard Sauté with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

I made this recipe as a one dish vegetarian meal.  It could also be great as 4 side dishes without the tofu.

Serves 2 Main Course, 4 Side Dish

Ingredients:

2+       TBSP Butter or Olive Oil or a combination, divided

4          Garlic Cloves, minced

1          Small Red Onion, chopped

1          Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 tsp  Celtic Salt

25+     Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on their size

1/3 C   White Wine

½ C     Currants

½ + C Walnuts, chopped and toasted

2          Swiss Chard batches, ribs removed and cut into 2” pieces

This is my favorite!

3 oz    Feta or Goat Cheese

1 pgk Firm Tofu, chopped into 1” squares

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil).  Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and salt.  Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes adding white wine as liquid starts to evaporate.  Add in cherry tomatoes and currants cover and continue to cook over medium/low heat for an additional 5-8 minutes.  Add chard and cover until chard is wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile in separate sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil) over medium/high heat and sear tofu. 

Combine chard mixture and tofu together.  Place on plates and top with cheese and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

January Recipe – Veggie Bean Chili with Espresso

My friend Jeff Berman is an amazing cook.  So, when I started to think about who I could consult on vegetarian, easy, healthy meals, his name came to mind first.  He generously offered me his recipe for chili.  I just made it this weekend and love the complexities of tastes.  I do have one comment… it may have been the chili powder I used, but it was HOT!  So, depending on your personal tastes, you might want to decrease the amount you put in. 

Ingredients:

½ C     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3          Onions, chopped

1          Large Red Bell Pepper, diced

¼ C     Instant Espresso Coffee

¼ C     Ground Cumin

¼ C     Chili Powder

¼ C     Dried Oregano

2          Large Cans of Diced Tomatoes[1]

½ C     Honey

6          Large Garlic Cloves, minced

5          Cans of Beans – a mix is nice – kidney, black, red

½ C     Water

1½ C   Dry Red Wine

¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)

1          Chipotle Chili in Adobo Sauce, minced

            Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Toppings (optional):

Sour Cream

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Preparation:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium/high heat.   Add the onions and red bell pepper and sauté 5-8 minutes, until they are softened.  Add the coffee, chili, cumin, oregano and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and honey.  Bring to a boil, reduce to medium/low heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the beans, water, wine, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chipotle.  Bring to boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes; stirring as needed.  Adjust seasonings as desired.

This is best if made the day before to enhance the flavors.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or some grated cheddar cheese.

Makes a big batch so great for a crowd or to freeze for additional meals.


[1] Muir Glen brand is organic and enamel coats their cans so the tomatoes does not give off BPA from the plastic!