A Cool Summer Snack

Sorry I have been so absent, but now I am back!

It is finally here in Tennessee…summer. We waited patiently through a freezing winter, and now we are hotter than hot! I have been trying to keep cool with lots of water and some cooling snacks. Plain ole watermelon is on the top of my list, but sometimes you need something different. I won’t go into my fiber spiel again, but hummus is loaded with it. It is also a great source of protein. It has olive oil to help provide those healthy fats. Eating the dip with fresh vegetables also helps cool you down by upping your water intake. I use great northern beans in hummus because it helps make it a little more creamy if you are using the blender, but you can use garbanzo beans as well. 

You have also probably heard about using essential oils for health by now, but I love them. In this recipe you can use oils or herbs. I like using the oils because you get a little extra bonus from the oils. Lemon oil can help with mood and is cleansing for the body. Rosemary oil is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.

Rosemary Lemon Hummus

1 can organic, no added salt great northern beans (drain ½ the juice)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP Tahini

Juice of half a lemon

2 drops doTERRA lemon essential oil

2 drops doTERRA rosemary essential oil (or 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary)

1 tsp salt

 Place all ingredients in the food processor or blender and process until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least prior to serving. Serve is sliced veggies or pita chips.

If you are interested in purchasing some oils, they are available at mydoterra.com/marywalkerhall. Be aware that not all essential oils are safe to ingest. Look for certified pure therapeutic grade (CPTG).

Recipe adapted from doTERRA living magazine, Spring 2014.

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A Little Fish For You Heart and Soul

I cook fish a lot… I mean a lot. I mainly cook fish because it is easy to thaw and I usually forgot to thaw meat until the day of. It is also a great protein choice because it is usually either lean or the good kind of fatty. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are anti-inflammatory. They promote heart healthy, stroke prevention and lower blood pressure. Omega-3’s are also good for brain function and are possibly protective against Alzheimer’s dementia. Arthritis prevention is another potential benefit of these fishy fats. You can also find omega-3’s in nuts and seeds, specifically walnuts, flax and chia seeds.

I usually cook salmon, but recently bought some flounder fillets in bulk. They are delicious. Usually I put a dry rub on fish because I always have some premade rubs I have made in the pantry (another post to come), but my co-worker passed on a marinade that I had to try.  I have tried it on white fish like the flounder and salmon. Both were delicious. Enjoy!

Pick Your Fish Marinade

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp salt

1 TBSP brown sugar or honey

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 TBSP fresh ground ginger

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

1 ½ tsp oil

8 fish of choice fillets (preferable sustainable, wild caught)

Mix all of the ingredients except the oil and fish until combined. Pour into a plastic bag or a shallow dish. Add fish and turn to combine. Add oil to a pan and heat. Place fish in pan when hot. Cook until browned on one side and opaque 1/3 of the way up the fish (time depends on the fish… the flounder only takes about 2 minutes per side). Flip. Cook through. If you are grilling, you can add some oil to the marinade to help prevent sticking. Enjoy!

 

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slammin-salmon/

But I Don’t Like Cooked Carrots…

I have never enjoyed cooked carrots. Soggy ole boiled cooked carrots. They taste like mush and get so water logged. Maybe I have just never had good boiled carrots, but I always try them and haven’t found one I like. So, when I had a 5 lb bag of carrots in the fridge and needed a veggie to serve when my family came over to cook out, I decided to roast them. In my opinion, everything is better roasted. It brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetable.  Also you don’t lose the nutrients you lose when you boil vegetables, and you don’t want to lose these nutrients.

Carrots are loaded with antioxidants, specifically beta-carotene like some of the other orange veggies with have discussed before. Carrots have also been shown to be protective against glaucoma and are good for overall eye health. Carrots, like many fresh vegetables, are also protective against cancer, specifically colon cancer. Carrots are also a good source of my favorite nutrient…fiber! So give carrots another chance, just not a boiled one.

Roasted Carrots

3 cups chopped carrots

1 ½ teaspoons oil of choice

Salt and pepper to taste

Ground red pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Chop carrots as uniformly as possible for even cooking. Toss carrots in oil, salt and pepper. If you want a little heat, add a pinch of ground red pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir carrots and continue to roast until golden brown around the edges. Serve warm or room temp.

In Need of Something Warm

It is supposed to be spring! It is March, and it was in the 60’s on Saturday! But today, it is in the 20’s, and all the trees and the street are covered in ice. Welcome to Tennessee weather. Snow and ice makes me want two things… snow ice cream and soup. Unfortunately we didn’t get enough snow to make snow ice cream, but I did have ingredients for soup.  I wanted something hearty and easy, so I decided to make black bean soup.

Black beans are full of my favorite nutrient (fiber). There are 7 grams of fiber per half cup. It has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps decrease gastric transit time (or decreases the amount of time it takes for food to move through your digestive tract). Basically it helps prevent constipation. Soluble fiber helps you feel full longer and helps with blood sugar control. Soluble fiber is also heart healthy because it helps to absorb some of the excess cholesterol moving through your digestive tract. Now do you see why fiber is my favorite?!?!

Black beans are also high in antioxidants. Canned tomatoes are also in this soup. When tomatoes are cooked or canned, increases the availability of the lycopene in the tomatoes. Lycopene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are used in making vitamin A. Lycopene is touted for being protective against cancer, heart disease, and blindness from macular degeneration.

Enjoy your warm and filling (and healthy) soup!

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Black Bean Soup

½ Tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 – 4 oz can diced green chilies (or more if you like it hot)

2 – 15 oz cans black beans, do not drain

1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain

2-3 cups chicken broth (more broth if you want a thinner soup)

2 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

note: Always try to use no added salt and organic when able.

Optional toppings: sour cream, Greek yogurt, lime wedges, diced onion, diced fresh jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, hot sauce

 In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until slightly soft. Add green chilies and garlic. Cook for 3 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Add back to pot. You can also use an immersion blender instead or adding soup to the blender.  Cook for 10 more minutes. Serve with desired toppings.  Can be easily frozen. 

A Cabbage Kind of Day

It is below freezing cold here in Nashville and I have jury duty tomorrow, so today I need something warm and comforting. For me that means cabbage.  I have always loved cabbage. My mom makes the best green cabbage sauteed in the iron skillet. Some of the pieces get brown and caramelized while some still have some crunch. But today I opted for red cabbage. I love the sweet and sour taste that the vinegar adds to the cabbage when it is braised, plus I bought a bushel of apples this fall and need to use them up. Red cabbage has a large amount of anthocyanin polyphenols (a type of antioxidants). Cabbages also have glucosinolates that are also protective against cancer. Too top it all off cabbage has loads of fiber. This is truly a comforting and delicious way to fill up on a cold and stressful day.

Sweet and Sour Braised Red Cabbage

1 head red cabbage
1.5 tablespoons butter or neutral flavored oil of choice
1 onion, sliced
2 sweet Apples, cored and sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pull the outer most layer of leaves off the outside of the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage while it is still whole. Quarter and core the cabbage. Then quarter the larger pieces again. Rinse the cabbage pieces in cold water and allow to drain.

Heat butter or oil in a large pot. Add apples and onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add cabbage, bay leaves, broth and salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until cabbage slightly wilted. Added vinegar and sugar. Cook with lid on for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Take lid off for last 5 minutes to allow some of liquid to evaporate. 

P.S. Whoever gets the bay leaves has to do the dishes. 

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Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/braised-red-cabbage-with-apples-recipe.html

New Year’s Day Traditions for Good Luck and Wealth

Growing up in my family, you better eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Years Day. Black-eyed peas are for good luck, and greens are for wealth. I especially love that we start the New Year with two healthy foods.

Black-eyed peas are a good source of soluble fiber. This type of fiber is beneficial for your heart.  Fiber also helps you stay full longer and helps with blood sugar control.  They are also an excellent source of thiamine (a B vitamin), which helps with neurofunction and digestion.

There are a wide variety of dark leafy green vegetables, but we usually eat turnip greens on New Years. Turnip greens are loaded with vitamin K. Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and helps prevent bone fractures. Turnip greens are also high in bone helping calcium. They have antioxidants like vitamin C, A and beta-carotene. Greens, like black-eyed peas, are also high in fiber.

Have a happy, healthy and full year!

Sautéed Turnip Greens

A large bunch of cleaned and dried Turnip Greens (or collards, kale, beet greens or mustard greens)

1-2 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbsp oil

½ tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the oil and the garlic in the pan until the garlic is fragrant. Add red pepper flakes. Add the greens in handfuls allowing each bunch to wilt slightly. Cook until the greens are tender and some of the bitterness is cooked out. Salt and pepper to taste.

Merry Christmas (and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I had a wonderful Christmas! It was full of family, good food, resting and celebrating the birth of our Savior. I made the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Christmas Eve. I could pretend that they are healthy. I could tell you about how oatmeal has soluble fiber that is good for your heart. I could tell how chocolate has flavonoids. I could tell you how it is trans fat free, but this time I won’t. I will just tell you that they are delicious.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups oatmeal

Semisweet Chocolate Chips (mini or regular), mini M&M, butterscotch chips or a mixture of the above to taste.

Cream sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Add chips after your mixture has come together.  Drop 1 Tbsp of batter onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until slightly brown.  Cool one minute and then remove to wire rack for crisper cookies. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.