Monday, May 28, 2018

Good Gut Almighty

From the largest microbiome study:  "Those who consumed more than 30 different types of plant each week had much more diverse microbiomes than those who consumed only 10 or fewer types of plant weekly."  While the study doesn't prove that's a healthy thing, those with a diverse microbiome have a lower resistance to antibiotics.  Our picnic platters today have 15 different plant foods.  Combined with antibiotic free chicken, a locally made multigrain bread and topped off with a farmers market cake, our Memorial Day picnic meal was worth remembering!  Here is the recipe and ingredients:

Turmeric and Ginger Chicken Thighs

(Serves 2)

Saute onion, carrots and garlic in olive oil 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 multi-colored carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minces
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sear chicken in pan until brown on both sides.  Season with grated spices on both sides before turning.
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 inch piece fresh turmeric, grated
1 inch piece ginger root, grated

Cover with mustard, zest and juice.  Return carrot mix to pan.  
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Zest from 1 mandarin orange
1/2 cup orange juice
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until chicken reaches 165 F.
Cool and refrigerate.  Slice chicken in thin strips to serve. 

Cook lentils in chicken broth, covered with tilted lid and simmering for 15 minutes.  Drain.
1/4 cup red lentils
1 cup low sodium chicken broth

Cook quinoa covered in broth until liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup low sodium chicken broth

In cast iron skillet with grid lines, grill zucchini in olive oil until golden brown.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced in long 1/4 inch pieces

Grind cashews.
2 tablespoon roasted cashews

Refrigerate chicken, lentils, quinoa and zucchini until service.  (To transport, we placed these in an insulated container with ice blocks).

Arranger platter ingredients and garnish with pepper, spinach, chives and mango.
1 mini sweet red pepper, seeded and sliced in rings
1/3 cup fresh spinach microgreens
1/4 cup fresh cut chives with flowers

1/2 mango, sliced 

Our picnic today was at Watters Smith (West Virginia) State Park.  There is an historic homestead from the late 1700s we always enjoy.

While we found a table under a tree. a bird landed in the tree and shook even more seeds onto our setting.




Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sumptuous Swirls

Swirling plates and swirling waters surrounded our sumptuous picnic meal today.  The menu included a delicious salad of shrimp and farmers market vegetables.  The dessert was a blueberry upside-down cake.  Here's a closer look:

The salad ingredients work together to provide a perfect seasoning and moistness without an added dressing. 

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Salad

(2 Servings)

Saute onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil.  Add shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Brown shrimp on 1 side for 3 minutes.  Turn.  Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Brown on second side for 2 minutes.
1/4 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 mini sweet peppers, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 jumbo shrimp, peeled deveined and tail removed
1 teaspoon oregano

Add potatoes, cut side down to hot pan.  Add wine.  Heat for 1-2 minutes.
1/4 cup white wine
4 new potatoes, cooked and halved

Remove from heat.  Mix in asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes and olives.  Refrigerate overnight.
4 fresh asparagus spears, microwaved for 2 minutes.
4 broccolini spears, microwaved for 2 minutes
1 roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

(Serves 6)

Grease a 7 inch springform pan with olive oil spray.  Wrap foil around bottom of pan and place it on another baking sheet.  Add berries, sugar, lemon juice and buttery spread.  Bake in 400F. oven for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven to cooling rack and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon buttery spread

In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda and lemon zest. 
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

In bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar.
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

Alternately add dry ingredients with yogurt and buttery spread.  Mix until flour is incorporated.
2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoon 1 teaspoon melted buttery spread

Spoon batter over blueberries in springform pan.  Smooth surface.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes on rack.  Release pan sides from cake and remove.  Turn cake onto a cooling rack with piece of foil on bottom to catch the dripping juices.  Remove bottom cake pan and cool.  Garnish with mascarpone cream.

Our picnic today was at Valley Falls State Park near Fairmont, West Virginia.  The falls were the highest we've ever seen.  The friendly maintenance workers gave us a ride on their all terrain vehicle to show us the hollowed out tree and took our picture.  It was a beautiful Sunday.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Real Life Dinners (Book Review)

Author Rachel Hollis sets one bar for her family meals-that they are "made with love" by this Mom of four.  Her recipes are simple yet made with whole foods and wholesome ingredients.  Rachel displays a desire to share with the people she cares most about-her husband and children.  She knows that memories often occur around food.

Planning a variety of dinners for the week with this book is easy.  Rachel includes a nice variety of proteins to choose from.  There's seafood, poultry and eggs:

 Foil Wrapped Fish

Lemon Pesto Chicken

 Twice Baked Potatoes with Eggs

Vegetables surround the protein.  The foil wrapped fish has corn and potatoes.  The lemon pesto chicken includes green beans and covered with pesto (mine is spinach pesto).  The recipes includes sides of vegetables, as in the Lemon Grilled Zucchini in the photo above.
Rachel mixes the vegetables and fruit in with some entrees.

 Meatloaf Meatballs

 Turkey Burgers

The meatballs has carrots and zucchini mixed with the ground beef.  The turkey burgers has a tasty mix of apple and mango with the ground poultry.
Cauliflower Stir Fry

The vegetarian meals include the addition of nuts.
Dried beans are included in several dishes, like in the Enchilada Soup.

There are some whole grains, as in the corn tortillas on the soup.  Quinoa, brown rice, whole grain tortilla are specified in a few recipes.

Rachel includes one page of her spice mix recipes that are she uses in many recipes.  

This Chili Rubbed Salmon is covered with the "Fiesta Blend" made with lemon zest, cumin, onion and garlic powders.

I particularly enjoyed the "breakfast for dinner" chapter and the section on table manners.  ("Napkins on the lap are required").

As the busy working professional, she uses some pre-made condiments, as in the pesto and chutney.  While some recipes can be made ahead, the recipes can be put together in 30 minutes or less.

Thank you St. Martin's Press for the complimentary review copy.  The above post and pictures are my own.  I received no other compensation for this review, other than the pleasure of creating meals and eating!

About Rachel Hollis’s new cookbook REAL LIFE DINNERS: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of The Chic Site (St. Martin’s Press; June 5, 2018):
Rachel is a mom of four, creator of The Chic Site, author and wife. Dinner has always played a pivotal role in Rachel's life while growing up and today, she loves to cook. But real life and real life commitments can often get in the way and cooking dinner can’t take hours.
Real life means there may not be the time to marinate or prep a day in advance, but that’s okay! That doesn't mean she and her family, or you and yours, can't enjoy wholesome, delicious and healthy meals.
In REAL LIFE DINNERS, Rachel takes readers inside her kitchen showcasing the fun, fresh and fast recipes she cooks for her family. Featuring over 80 recipes and photos, including: 
·         Breakfast Quesadillas
·         Toast Nine Ways
·         Freeze-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
·         Taco Tuesday
·         Crispy Sweet Potato Bake
·         Lemon-Pesto Chicken
·         Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
·         Rach's Spice Blends

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mom Loves a Picnic

The Mothers Day message read "This day is all about you."-and a picnic with my spouse is one of my favorite things.  The environment is as important as the menu, and a trip to a nearby state park provides a beautiful outside environment, with trees and the sounds of nature surrounding the picnic tables.  This park-West Virginia's Tygart Lake Park-has water to include a dam, lake and running water in public bathrooms.  The park is a 30-45 minute drive from home, so it's easy to transport cold foods in ice and after dinner coffee in a thermus.  

Many foods that we normally eat hot are equally good cold.  Today's meal, with salmon and green bean succatash is tasty served cold, and did not require a lot of prep (since I cook it the day before).  The zucchini and carrot muffins were more involved, but I cooked a batch which will last for several days.  This was a plate I'd love to see on any restaurant menu.

Seasoning for Chili Rubbed Salmon

(2 servings)

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
Mix spices together in a medium bowl.  Pat both sides of 2 salmon fillets into the fish.  Bake at 450 F. for 15 minutes.

Honey Zucchini Carrot Muffins   

(10 muffins)

Mix flour, cinnmon, baking soda, powder, salt and coconut together in a bowl.
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Pinch of salt

Grate squash and carrots in a food processor.
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrots

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs and honey.
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey

Add vegetables to the bowl.  Alternately add dry flour mix with the olive oil vanilla mix.  Mix just until combined.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Scoop 3 tablespoons each batter into muffin tin greased with olive oil spray.  Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then on wire rack.  Store in the refrigerator. 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Value Added Farm Fresh Sampling

I'm already a believer in local foods, the freshness of the products and safety in knowing the grower. Our local farmers market has built a community of growers, processors and consumers.  As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I've especially enjoyed working with a local farm family to provide one "farm fresh sampling" each month of the outdoor season.  Their grass fed meats and cage free eggs provide that center of the plate protein that exemplifies taste and nutrition.  

In supporting the other members of the farmers market association, we always include produce and other local products in our sampling.  This Italian Beef Sandwich Puff has fresh spring spinach added to the simmered beef and Italian sauce filling.  Many of the vendors sold bags of fresh spinach the this market.  The sandwiches were garnished with an aged cheddar cow cheese sold by the local creamery.

I was especially delighted when the market baker agreed to make the 3-bite size wheat puffs for the sandwiches. She ground the local wheat berries in her flour mill.

Thin sliced round steak, fresh spinach, cheddar cheese, wheat berries and eggs-all local and grown or produced by a community of artisans and growers. The value of this is close to priceless!

We gave away 220 samples of these sandwiches, made with 14# of the thin sliced round steak.  Here is the consumer size recipe: