Daiya Cheese: It Melts!

Daiya Vegan CheeseIf you’ve tried dairy-free cheeses, you know delicious options exist, but few which actually melt. This can be a deal-beaker. Can you imagine nachos without melted cheese dripping, stretching and oozing across the layers? Let’s not go there. Instead, check out Daiya! Continue reading

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

I’m finally on board with the ‘vegetable pasta’ trend, especially spaghetti squash. Of course, spiralized or shredded vegetables are a very healthy dietary choice. However, calling them ‘pasta’ seems a bit of a stretch, prompting disappointment by all but the most hard-core veggie eaters. Let’s just call them shredded or spiralized vegetables —especially if it helps you eat more veggies overall. Here’s a few tricks to cook spaghetti squash.

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How to Clean and Prepare Leeks

How to Clean LeeksLeeks are not a mainstay of American cooking. Mellow in flavor and known for their subtlety, leeks are overshadowed by onions and garlic, their more assertive cousins. But, perhaps there is more to their underutilization than their demure nature. They can seem like a bit of effort. Grown in sandy soil, leeks require very thorough cleaning. But, according to David Lebovitz, culinary American-in-Paris, it is worth the effort to cook with leeks and break out of the onion routine.

“They do require a bit more preparation, but you don’t have to deal with those papery skins flying all over your kitchen, which I think is a pretty decent trade-off.”

David Lebovitz

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5 Ways to Upgrade Your Oatmeal

Oatmeal Upgrade

As we covered in “Why Are Oats an All-Star Grain?”, oats are arguably one of the most nutritious grains you can eat. Oats, oatmeal and oat bran lower cholesterol, provide cardiovascular protection and immune boosting properties. But, does the idea of a hot, steaming bowl of oats makes you want to yawn? If so, here’s five ways to upgrade your bowl of oatmeal. And the best part, these upgrades are low glycemic and will not only make the bowl more satisfying, they’ll take your breakfast nutrition to the next level. Continue reading

Why Are Oats An All-Star Grain?

Steel Cut Oats

Believe it or not, grains are not evil! Among all grains, oats are a morning comfort food all-star and can also be used extensively in baking. While oats have a similar amino acid profile as wheat, they retain more of their original nutrients than refined wheat products as only the outer inedible husk is removed during milling. According to research, it is the bran component of oats and all whole grains which contain the most important bioactive constituents. But, the nutrient-rich bran is removed during processing of most other grains. Also, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion, a feeling of satiety and appetite suppression. Continue reading

‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’ Giveaway for National Nutrition Month

TVFBWelcome to the virtual book tour for THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, by Karen Page. I am proud to take part in this event, which celebrates Registered Dietitians and National Nutrition Month. Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy of Karen’s latest masterpiece!

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a book solely for vegetarians. This is a book for anyone who wants to enjoy a greater range of plant-based whole foods, anyone who wants to improve their health, anyone who tends to go “improv” in the kitchen. It is for anyone tired of the same salad or steamed vegetables. Continue reading

How to Make Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Cubes

Turmeric Anti-Inflammation Cubes

Why do I make turmeric cubes —and will probably never again put turmeric root through a juicer again? Well, let’s go back to Juicing Vs Blending. The Plot Thickens. In this post I remarked that plant fiber is a much more interesting character than we realized. More than simply roughage or a bulking agent, fiber is a carrier for the free radical-quenching polyphenols found in many fruits, vegetables and other plants.

However, most plant polyphenols are fused to the plant fiber and can not be extracted [1,2]. So, if consumed as a whole plant or blended, the polyphenols travel through the digestive tract, then into the colon, where they are digested by friendly flora, producing short chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) [3,4]. These short chain fatty acids deliver many health benefits, from anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties to inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria and increasing mineral absorption. Some also serve as a major fuel for the cells that line the colon [5,6,7]. But, juice those same fruits or vegetables and most of these valuable polyphenol compounds are removed with the fiber. Lose the fiber. Lose the polyphenols. Continue reading

Teecchino: Life Without Coffee

Teeccino Coffee Substitute

Coffee. Love it. But, taking a break is not a big deal. However, flash back 10 years or so, and that was not the case. A Seattle native, I had developed a healthy habit with the roasted beans. It is not a coincidence Starbucks started in Seattle. Soundgarden fan or not, listen to ‘Black Hole Sun.’ You will then understand the need for comfort and relief from the pervasively dark, gray and damp days of the 47th latitude. Continue reading

Radicchio: The Other ‘Green’.

RadicchioWith tightly bound, magenta leaves, radicchio is a striking vegetable. But, at the market, it often receives an admiring gaze, then is passed over for the more familiar, less bitter and less intimidating bins of greens. While radicchio (pronounced similar to Pinocchio), looks like a small cabbage, it is actually a member of the chicory family, cousins of lettuces and dandelions. Also known as Italian or Red Chicory, radicchio is very versatile to use, nutritious and is as simple to prepare as your usual green suspects. Radicchio is nutritionally rich, but has several distinguishing health benefits, which set it apart from typical salad greens. Check out this impressive red-head!

Digestive Health: Chicories, like radicchio, contain inulin, a non-digestible carbohydrate [1]. Through fermentation, inulin acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the intestine. Inulin also helps regulate blood sugar levels [2]. In addition, the bitter quality of radicchio increases bile salts, which can improve digestion.

Bone and Neurological Health: Radicchio is uniquely rich in vitamin K, with 100 grams providing 212% of daily recommended values. Vitamin K promotes the formation and strengthening of bone. Further, research shows adequate dietary vitamin K may limit naturally occurring neuron damage in the brain. As such, vitamin K has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s [3]. 

Visual Health: Radicchio’s vibrant red color is an eye-pleaser, in more ways than one. The brightly colored leaves are an excellent source of phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds protect eyes from age-related macular disease (ARMD) by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays [4]. Sunscreen for your eyes!

When selecting radicchio, look for compact, bright-colored heads with prominent ribs, free of bruises and brown or withered leaves. The smaller, younger heads will be less bitter. Store the heads refrigerated, but eat as quickly as possible as they will become more bitter with time. To reduce the bitterness, soak the leaves or quarters in cold water for 10 to 30 minutes.

Radicchio Leaves Soaking

Substitute radicchio in recipes calling for chicory or endive. Using radicchio raw, tear or chop the leaves into small pieces, and combine it with other salad greens for a flavor, color and texture accent. The individual leaves can also be used as elegant and low-carb serving cups or wrappers for appetizers. Cored, but not quartered, the sturdy leaves are excellent grilled or roasted. Radicchio pairs especially well with balsamic vinegar. Try tossing the soaked and dried leaves with a balsamic vinaigrette, with an optional topping of shaved parmesan. Balsamic vinegar also combines well with grilled or roasted radicchio. Following is an adaptation of Michael Ruhlman’s Grilled Radiccchio recipe.

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4-8.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium heads radicchio, quartered lengthwise, core intact
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette

Radicchio Quarters

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place radicchio wedges in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Place each wedge, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast the wedges, turning once, until the leaves are wilted and just slightly charred, about 12-15 minutes.
  6. Season both sides of the wedges with salt and pepper.
  7. Before serving, drizzle balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette over the top of each wedge.

REFERENCES:

[1] The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia – Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating, by Rebecca Wood
[2] Niness (1 July 1999). “Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?”Journal of Nutrition. 129 (7): 1402 (7): 1402. PMID 10395607. Retrieved 2008-01-19.
[3] USDA National Nutrient data base
[4] nutritionandyou.com – Radicchio

How to Make and Use Date Paste

Date Paste

Date paste may be the best alternative sweetener you’re not using. Dates are naturally moist and sticky with hints of carmel, brown sugar and often vanilla flavor. These qualities make blended date paste an excellent alternative to processed sugar in smoothies baked goods, such as breads, cookies and bars or as a spread. Date paste also has more than a few health advantages over the white stuff.

Adding sweetness with dates means adding nutrition without refined sugar’s roller coaster ride. The natural sugar in dates, invert sugar, is easily absorbed and assimilated by the body. Yet, their high fiber content makes them a low-glycemic index food. So, dates or date paste, not only support healthy blood sugar levels and elimination, but also helps you stay full longer. Dates are also high in iron, calcium, are even richer in potassium than bananas. Dates are also a rich source of minerals, such as chlorine, copper, magnesium, sulphur and phosphorus. Continue reading