Sunday, November 19, 2017

Buena Comida! A Taste of Latin America Book Review

The recipes are full of colorful vegetables-with whole grains, eggs and a variety of meats.  Many of the foods include a onion, garlic, peppers saute with a spice mix of cumin, oregano, cilantro and olives.  The book is colorful too.  Each recipe includes a full page photo listing serving size and level of difficulty.  Each chapter is based on the specific country and region of Latin America, complete with maps and photos from Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and all of South America.  While there are similarities (they are all tropical and most speak Spanish), there are differences in availability of foods. This book examines each country.

Colombia is known for thick corn cakes, known as "arepas".   These are stuffed with meats and cheeses. These tortilla style beads are featured below with seasoned chicken.  Columbia offers both a temperate and a tropical climate, where tubers and root vegetables grow year-round.  The "Sopa de habas y cerbada" (Barley and bean soup) has potatoes, chickpeas, limas and carrots.

Beef is more popular in Cuba than seafood.  Rice and beans is a mainstay.  This Ropa Vieja with shredded steak, served with rice and beans, was an easy main dish for dinner.  The "Frijoles Cubanos" (Cuban beans) had a tasty sauce that worked great with the leftovers from dinner for a next day lunch soup.  

I combined foods from Puerto Rica and Venezuela in this meal featuring "Pollo Al Jerez" (Chicken in Sherry)  with "Bollo Picante Vegetariano" (Cornmeal Roll in Banana Leaf).   

Chicken in Sherry

(Serves 2)

Season chicken with salt, pepper and thyme.  Heat oil in an iron skillet.  Add chicken pieces ans sear on all sides.  Remove chicken.
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 drumsticks
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper

In same skillet, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add chicken, potatoes, broth and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minces
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieaces
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves

Add sherry.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Sprinkle with cilantro.
1/2 cup sherry
2 tablespoon snipped cilantro 

An anytime go to meal, "Huevos Rancheros"  (Mexican Style Eggs) is perhaps my favorite.  Broken eggs, baked in a fresh tomato and sauce skillet with cheese-served with corn tortillas is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The recipes are made with whole foods, with a nice assortment of vegetables, beans and whole grains.  I like that!  I cut back on the amount of meat (and even the variety) in most recipes.  Most of the ingredients are easy to obtain.  

As you plan your holiday gift giving list, this 2017 cookbook will be in in time for Christmas.

"Acclaimed chef Patricia Cartin cooks with Latin America’s history and traditions in every recipe. Ten Latin American countries are represented, including Patricia’s native Costa Rica, with dishes that are savory, sweet, spicy, mild, and everything in between. Tempting options for main dishes, vegetables, sides, and desserts, everyone can get creative in the kitchen with flavorful recipes for every part of a successful meal. Food is the perfect gateway to gaining an understanding of cultures and breaking bread with the people of the world."  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

All Season Cobbler

I first gave a fruit cobbler demo during the peak of summer when fresh local peaches were in season.  The demo was for the Tri-Towns Senior Center.  I brought a large baked cobbler for dessert, then did my demo in a family size baking dish.  I finished baking the second cobbler at my Moms' house.  

I wanted the cobbler to be made of ingredients found in most homes and did not specify what kind of fruit, juice, flour, milk or sugar.  It works with any!  This recipes can be made in any type of pan with any amount of fruit.  It is easy to make and allows for quick mixing and panning.  Measurements do not have to be perfect.

For added fiber and nutrients, use whole grain flours.  Mine has 1/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 whole grain corn meal and 1/3 all purpose flour.

There is no fat in the cobbler alone.  My plan to serve with ice cream added some fat and calcium to the whole grain and fruit dessert.  

The wild berries we picked along our hillside and froze made for a delicious late autumn dessert in November.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

True Grit at the Community Farmers Market

"Real food is food we trust to nourish our bodies our farmers and our planet."  This was the theme of Kimbal Musk's keynote address at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2017.  

In many communities, the local farmers market is the place to find real food.  Today was the last outdoor market ending our third season of monthly farm fresh samplings.  We prepared and served over 200 samplings of Beef Apple Chili with Cheesy Polenta Bites to inspire enthusiastic customers.  Our sampling featured fresh sliced sirloin from our sponsor-Working H Farms  -with cheese and produce donations from other market vendors.  Adding the apples to a chili was a challenge from the local orchard vendor and made for a mild and tasty flavor profile.  The cheese in the polenta bites added still another gold star to the mix.

For 220 samples, I made 4 times the recipe for chili and 9 times the recipe for the polenta bites.

Today we had the assistance of a distance dietetic intern who lives in our community.  She met many people and local RDNs, and I'm sure she appreciates the dedicated customers and vendors.

We look forward to the first Saturday in May 2018 when we'll be sharing recipes to create with real food we trust to nourish our bodies, our farmers and our planet!"


Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Grandma Ate is What I Eat

At the Food and Nutrition Centennial, several presentations covered links to healthy eating patterns then and now.  I really enjoyed John Coupland's presentations where he discussed social and technological causes on changes in our diet. I'm fortunate to interview my Mother, now in her 10th decade, about her meals as a child.

As a young child, Mom's Dad had a dairy, where milk was homogenized and bottled.  When she only 3, he opened a grocery store. There was no school lunch, so the kids walked home to eat the mid day meal, then walked back to school.  Many times she ate lunch at her Grandmother's house, which was closer to school. 

Breakfast was oatmeal with milk. Lunch was often a soup with vegetables or potato soup, prepared by Grandad Mullan.  There were always Saltine crackers. Grandad Mullan had a big garden and canned many vegetables and fruit.  After his death, when they sold the house, there was a whole cellar full of these home canned treasures.  Mom enjoyed the pickled beets and canned pears. 

Mom's mother cooked a full meal with meat and vegetables.  The store had 2 ice boxes.  Ice was delivered twice a week to keep the meat fresh.  McIntyres Bakery was just across the street.  The bread was at first purchased as whole unsliced loaves until the innovation of a machine that sliced the bread.  Every Sunday, Grandma served chicken with 3 kinds of potatoes-sweet, white and potato salad. As the Depression ended, Grandma sold the store.  They never went hungry and never let any one else go hungry.  The neighbors needed help with food and they were there.  In later years, the family found carbide cans of bills that were owed by people that could never pay.

The lunch and dinner traditions continued when I was a child.  Though we ate school lunch during the week, we were served mostly vegetable meals with perhaps a little meat on off days.  I recall big pots of cabbage and potatoes, with a can of corned beef on top.  We ate beans and ham, homemade chicken noodle soup, and vegetable soup.  In summers, we ate fried squash and tomatoes.

Mom always served a full dinner,  The table was set and we enjoyed a meat, often grilled, and accompanying vegetables.   Sunday meals were shared with my Grandparents, who lived next store.  My Grandfather had a big garden and a root cellar with potatoes. Grandma taught me how to make potato salad, with a cooked dressing. Grandma had an addition built onto their house with a kitchen for canning. For my girl scout cooking badge, Mom taught me how to make meatloaf.  These days my brother makes my Mom a full plate of homemade foods.

When we stayed at the lake during the summer, my sister and I fished, catching small perch and sunfish that Grandma and Mom cleaned and fed us several a day.  Breakfast at the lake was fresh caught fried fish.  I had a special green plate that was all mine.

Even though I sometimes ate too many packaged cookies between meals, I always ate a good My Plate kind of meal.  I loved the melons and tomatoes that were available in the summer.    

We are real people who eat real food.  I'm fortunate, like my Grandmother, to have farm friends who raise and process the fresh meat I eat today. I buy sustainable frozen seafood at the grocery store.  I also purchase many vegetables from the farmers market.

My link to a healthy meal pattern also influenced my career and hobbies.  I'm fortunate to have this exposure.  

A prayer said at the dinner table when Mom was a child:

"A little head, a little heart
Bowed down in simple prayer
Thank the Lord for food and drink
And loving daily care."      

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bread of the Prophet

Ezekiel Bread, made with 4 grains and 4 beans, is a complete protein bread on which a Biblical prophet was able to survive for almost a year.  (Ezekiel also drank water)  The recipe was a delight for this home miller.  The cookbook was my ultimate find at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, celebrating the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics centennial year.  

in her book, Sue Becker share 100 pages of information on grains and milling, then over 100 recipes to make with the whole grain flours produced.  After almost a year experimenting with my home mill, I now have many tried and true recipes to make and enjoy.  

Ezekiel Bread

(1 9X5 inch loaf-about 12 slices)

Combine and mill grains and beans.
3/4 cup 1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon wheat berries
1/2 cup spelt berries
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon hulled barley (not pearled)
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon millet
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon red and black lentils
2 teaspoon northern beans
4 teaspoon assorted heirloom dried beans

With paddle in place, mix water, oil, honey and salt in bowl of electric mixer.
1 1/2 cup hot water (130 F)
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add 1 2/3 cup flour to bowl and combine.

Sprinkle yeast on top of batter and combine.
2 teaspoon quick rising yeast

Add remaining flour.  Mix on low speed for 5 minutes.

Pour into loaf pan greased with olive oil spray.  Cover with cloth and allow to rise for about 30 minutes, until dough is about 1/4 inch from top.

Bake at 400 F for 40 minutes.

Unlike Ezekiel, I am not fasting.  We enjoyed our bread with Shepherds Pie, a grapefruit half and a glass of milk.

The pie is made with lean ground beef, carrots, onions, red pepper, celery and wine, then topped with fresh cooked potatoes, hand mashed with Greek yogurt, black pepper and celery leaves.   

My meals follow a pattern consisting of lean protein, colorful vegetables and fruit, whole grains and low fat dairy. I have been following this pattern for meal planning over 40 years.  A concurring theme at the conference was not to promote individual foods, rather a meal pattern like this one.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Flaky Tiers

I'll admit that my love of whole grains and selected fats have sometimes led me to create hard crust.  (I rarely follow a recipe to the tee).

I like this technique, called "laminating" which calls for folding and rolling chilled dough.  This is outlined in The Local Palate October issue.  I also watched a 'Biscuit Queen' on Public Broadcasting do the same technique.  

I used vegan buttery sticks for the fat.  These were cut in small squares and placed in the mixing bowl with the flour.  I chilled the bowl, then mixed slightly with the paddle blade before adding the liquid.  I did not overmix, rather just enough to press together a dough ball-placing it in saran wrap and refrigerating it again. 

The chilled dough bowl is rolled into a rectangle on a floured pastry cloth.  The rectangle is folded into thirds and rolled again.  At this point the dough can be wrapped and chilled again, repeating the folding and rolling again.

For biscuits, I cut the rolled dough into sizes that fit in a muffin tin, baked some and froze some dough rounds to be baked at a later time.  The thawed dough rounds bake in 10 minutes.  The frozen dough rounds bake in 20 minutes.

The Barley Biscuit recipe is from Martha Stewart.  I cut the added salt in half.  By cutting the dough in rounds, the servings yield was 12-14 ( 3 biscuits each) rather than the 9 (original recipe) cut in squares.

I simply love the whole grain puff pastry recipe from the Local Palate which details the laminating technique.  My tomato tart has a pesto base and toasted ground pepitas sprinkled on the pastry edges.

I still have some perfecting to do. . . but I'm liking the results I'm getting!



Sunday, October 8, 2017

Farm Fresh Sampling Nurture City

Farmers markets may be the best venue to unite folks wanting fresh, local, whole foods to nurture their families. At our monthly culinary samplings we provide tastes of meats and vegetables prepared with these seasonal foods. Today we're promoting pre-orders of Thanksgiving turkeys and an assortment of fall produce in a vegetable soup.

The soup recipe, while calling for a total volume of assorted produce, does not specify which vegetables.  Do you ever know exactly what volume of diced butternut squash you get from one squash?  Last week market vendors donated one cabbage, one head of celery, two butternut squash, and two large sweet potatoes, along with a few onions and garlic heads to use in the soup.  I bought a pie pumpkin elsewhere.  The seasoning in this recipe defines fall and a unique taste that may be unfamiliar to some.  

The turkey tenderloins were roasted the day before, sliced and served cold on top the cup of soup.  Turkey tenderloins are the inside of the breast-white meat- and take only an hour or so to roast (internal temperature of 165F).  These are perfect size for one family meal or a few days of deli turkey.

We served 175 customers in 3 hours.

My time is volunteered.  WorkingHFarms provides the meat and facility to prepare, along with paying for our table space.  Mountain Harvest Farms, who coordinate a CSA with WorkingHFarms, provide on-going produce.  The other farm vendors (this week DeBerry, Charm Farm and Lee Farms) also donated produce this week and seem to love the sampling.  We certainly love the camaraderie.     


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fit Fare Furnishings

In this class for life long learners we reviewed more than a dozen pieces of common equipment found in many kitchens and things to make in them.  The goal was to encourage making something new.  The equipment included:
When I asked for help on social media, I gathered more responses than ever.  In the three weeks prior to the class, I tried many of the suggested recipes.  I enjoyed the challenge!  

My favorite (new) recipes included bread stuffing baked in muffin tins.

My gluten free colleague suggested making Black Bean Brownies in a muffin tin to control crumbling.  These little muffins were good and very inexpensive!

I really enjoyed the yeast batter pizza waffles.

To make these I first placed 2 tablespoons of batter on each square.  We added our choice of pizza toppings.  I finished by topping each square with 2 more tablespoons of batter.  When the lid was pressed down, the waffles got crisp and brown and were delicious dipped in a warm marinara sauce.

What's was the most popular item of the class participants?  Applesauce!  (I took hot applesauce for all to try.)  Mine is simply made with peeled chunks of apples, cinnamon and nutmeg cooked on low for 3-4 hours in a slow cooker.  The conclusion of classmates:  one really doesn't need to add sugar to applesauce!

We all loved the dehydrated pineapple samples I dried overnight and took to class.  Mine was still moist, but so yummy!

In all the testing I've done in the past few weeks, I had some waste.  For my next class, I think I'll focus on cooking for one or two.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"It's Just Better. . . " (Book Review)

Debra Abeling's recipe for healthy eating is as simple as her recipe for a life of purpose, relationships, exercise and savings.  The ingredients include whole foods, chemical free, without unnecessary fats and sugars.  The meal plan is familiar with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins, dairy and healthy fats.

The author emphasizes 100% whole grains, full fat dairy, grass fed meats and wild caught seafood.  There is emphasis on planning, first for protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables- then picking out recipes, shopping and some chopping and cooking ahead.  The equipment is simple.

Why serve in a bowl?
  • It stimulates appetitie when food is beautifully crafted.
  • It's less messy.
  • There are fewer dishes to wash
  • It keeps the food hotter.
There are guidelines for full meal bowls and recipes for side dishes.  I quickly picked out recipes to test.

 Autumn Slow Cooked Apples and Beans

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

Millet Fruit Porridge 

Red Potato Salad

Brown Rice Pudding

 Main Dish Salad Bowl

 Slow Cooker Apple Cherry Oat Bowl

Pictured at top is Soba Noodle Bowl.

All recipes tested were tasty.  The instructions were clear.  The time necessary to prepare was minimal.  Ingredients were familiar and readily available.  

The servings sizes were large for this petite senior citizen.  I had some waste and would produce less of the stews, porridge and stew recipes in the future.  The salad bowls prevent waste, as ingredients can be used in many dishes.

The book was easy to navigate, taking about 2 hours to study and pick out recipes to try. Thank you Life Rich Publishing for the review copy.


Chef and author Debra Abeling shares her nutritious and delicious recipes for healthier cooking in "It's Just a Bowl!"

FONTANA, Calif. –  Eating meals out of a bowl comes with many benefits such as aiding in portion control, easier to create balanced nutritious meals, and is comforting to eat from. Author and chef, Debra Abeling, has released her latest cookbook, “It’s Just Better…in a Bowl – Cooking Real Food for a Healthier You,” that not only provides wholesome and tasty recipes, but also includes information on what real food is, why use a bowl, and how to stock a healthy kitchen.
Abeling, also an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, utilizes her expertise by teaching readers about healthy substitutions, ingredients for building a healthy bowl, along with meal prepping ideas. There are many recipes using simple real ingredients to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert bowls.
“Cooking real food has many health benefits for the entire family and it’s just better when eaten out of a bowl,” said Abeling. “Choosing better and eating better will make you feel, think, and perform better.”
Replacing processed packaged foods with fresh wholesome nutritious foods is not about dieting but about making a lifestyle change, and this easy-to-follow cookbook will educate readers how to do it one step at a time.
Debra Abeling
“It’s Just Better…In a Bowl! Cooking Real Food for a Healthier You”
ISBN: 978-1-4897-1226-4 (Softcover), 978-1-4897-1227-1 (Hardcover),
978-1-4897-1225-7 (ebook)
Available at LifeRich Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
About the author
Debra Abeling has an extensive background in the culinary and nutrition world. She is the author of several cookbooks, has owned and operated a catering business, completed a chef’s training program from Westlake Culinary Institute, and worked as a personal and corporate chef. Abeling completed a year-long Health Coach program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a two year-long life coaching program with Cloud-Townsend Resources. She has a passion for cooking, creating good simple dishes made with real food, and a desire to pass this on to others. Abeling resides in Fontana, California with her husband Michael and is a mother of three wonderful daughters. To learn more please visit

General Inquiries and Review Copies:
LAVIDGE – Phoenix                                                                                     
Lauren Dickerson                                                                                        

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Power Cooker Rice Pudding

The multi-functions of the counter top pressure cooker proved to be a perfect vessel for making rice pudding.  This one, made with whole grain rice, skim milk, raisins, local cage free eggs and just a little local maple syrup prooves to be a nutrient dense dish perfect for breakfast or dessert.  

Brown Rice Pudding

6 Servings

Combine rice and water in pressure cooker pot.  Tighten lid and close pressure gauge.  Press rice and time 20 minutes.  After the count down is complete, allow pressure to release naturally.  After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure and remove lid.
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup long grain brown rice

Stir in 1 cup milk, maple syrup and buttery spread.
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon buttery spread

Whisk together eggs, remaining milk and vanilla.  Add to cooker bowl.  Saute;  when boiling begins cook 2 minutes, stirring continually.  Remove bowl from cooker and turn off.
2 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in lemon, cinnamon and raisins.  Cool and refrigerate.
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins

Serve with yogurt and a teaspoon of maple syrup.

The recipe is based on Debra Abeling's "It's Just Better. . . in a Bowl!".  


Monday, September 18, 2017

"The Organic Heart" (Book Review)

Breeana Pooler's cookbook is full of nutrient dense and appetizing recipes.  Each full page recipe has an adjourning full page photo with easy to follow instructions.  The photo often includes the entire meal with accompaniments.  The recipes include readily available seasonings and ingredients found in many homes.  Some recipes are low in calories;  all are nutrient dense.  The recipes are not expensive and even the price of the hardback cookbook is reasonable  ($19.99).

I love the use of eggs as the protein source.  Neither the egg in acorn squash slices nor the egg in hash brown cups were hard to make.  These recipes would be good at any meal.

The meatloaf with mashed potatoes and the sloppy joe in baked potato meals make great family meals.  Neither require much preparation.

The spring rolls with shrimp required more preparation and were not as filling.  I fell in love with the peanut sauce, which was also a sauce in this Thai Chicken Pizza.
I eat all grains and do not follow a gluten free diet.  I have a flour mill and experiment with many different whole grains when making bread.  For this yummy pizza, I followed The Candid RD's oat flour crust.  Breanna's Peanut Sauce, Chicken, Mung Bean Sprout Pizza was very creative and very tasty.

Breeana's husbands diet prescription was designed for him by his health care team.  It is not necessary for everyone to follow a gluten free, dairy free diet.  I do agree that it's best for all to use whole foods found in their natural state for meal preparation.  The more fresh, locally grown foods with lots of variety, the better.   

The meal pictured at the top of the page was for Blackened Halibut Tacos.  The seasoning for the fish is one I want to remember:  1/2 teaspoon each paprika, chili powder and garlic powder with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and fresh ground sea salt.

An Inspiring Story Combined with Easy, Healthy Recipes That Prove Food Can Truly Save Your Life
A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Clean Food Cookbook
By Breeana Pooler

At the age of twenty-six, Breeana’s husband, Jason, was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with severe heart failure. Following his diagnosis, she set out to regain his health—which she succeeded in doing by completely revamping their diets. In these pages is the story of how Breeana cured her husband, and seventy-five of the clean and delicious gluten- and dairy-free recipes that helped her do so. Recipes include:
• Sweet Potato Breakfast Sliders
• BBQ Chicken Zucchini Noodle Bowl
• Mango-Mint Salsa with Cucumber Chips
• Honey Cornbread with JalapeƱos
• Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Hummus Dip
• Shrimp and Kale Fettuccine in a Cauliflower Cream Sauce
• Sloppy Joe Stuffed Baked Potatoes

The first step was to throw out everything in the refrigerator, go grocery shopping, and dedicate 100 percent of her time, energy, and passion. She wanted to create healthy, nutrient-filled recipes to heal her husband’s heart but that would also taste gourmet and savory. She created an Instagram account to document their journey and share with others who might be struggling with their own healthy issues—it was then Breeana realized she could turn what some would consider a tragedy into something truly positive.

Flash forward one year and her husband not only no longer needs a heart transplant, but also is healthier than he has been in his entire life, and his heart is within normal range—the results are tried and true! Food had truly saved his life.

About the Authors:
Breeana Pooler is the creator of the popular Instagram account @the_organic_heart and the food blog, She combined her love for food and culinary skills to create healing, healthy, and delicious recipes that aided her husband in a complete recovery after being diagnosed with heart failure. It is Breeana’s mission to show others the importance of using food as medicine and how easy it is to create healthy meals so you never have to feel deprived. She and her husband Jason reside with their fur-babies Dexter and Sansa in Fullerton, California.
James LaValle is a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, board-certified clinical nutritionist, founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc., educator, and industry consultant in the field of integrative health care. He is the author of twenty books and hundreds of articles, and American Druggist magazine named him one of the “50 Most Influential Pharmacists.” He resides in California.