Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Two Way Lasagna

Tomato or creamy, meatless or seafood? The choices are many!  Here's a chance to use lots of vegetables and any cheese on hand.

First assemble the individual layers. For both versions of lasagna, I used the same filling.

Ricotta Lasagna Filling

(Serves 8)

Combine cheeses, egg and herbs.
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 teaspoon herbs 
I also added 2 sauteed mini sweet peppers, diced.

Marinara & Vegetable Sauce

(Serves 3-4)

  • Chop vegetables in food processor. Saute in olive oil. Mine has onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, parsley and spinach. Saute the onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms first, then add the broccoli, parsley and spinach. Drain on a clean absorbent cloth, squeezing to remove excess moisture.

2 cups assorted chopped vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil 
Mix vegetables into marinara. Add salt.
2 cups marinara sauce 
1/8 teaspoon salt

Seafood Sauce

(Serves 3-4)

Bring water and shrimp shells and tails to a boil. (I freeze the shells and tails from peeled raw shrimp to use for seafood base). Remove shells by draining through a colander. Return liquid to pan.
1 cup water
Shrimp shells and tails

Mix flour and milk. (I did this in my food processor). Add to seafood liquid in pan.
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup skim milk
Mix in grated cheese and salt.
2 tablespoon grated cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt

Chop vegetables in food processor. Saute in olive oil. Mine has onions, garlic, fennel, mushrooms, broccoli, parsley and spinach. Saute the onions, garlic, fennel and mushrooms first, then add the broccoli, parsley and spinach. Mix into sauce in pan and heat only until thickening.
2 cups assorted chopped vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil


Layer in 8 X 6 baking dish greased with olive oil spray.

Layer 1:
Noodles, whole grain
Ricotta filling

Repeat sauce, noodles, ricotta filling.

End with remaining sauce.
Top with grated cheese.

Cover with greased foil. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 15 minutes more. Move to cooling rack and sit for 20 minutes.

Seafood Lasagna
 For the seafood lasagna, I add 4 ounce of crab meat above the ricotta filling. (2 ounce crab above each of the two ricotta layers)

Marinara & Vegetable Lasagna
My noodles are made from scratch. Lasagna noodles are surprisingly easy to make. They don't have to be perfect. The thinner the better. (I use a pasta roller attachment on my mixer). Use the thick pieces for soups.

Because pasta making is labor intensive, I dehydrate 1/2 the batch and freeze for later use. The fresh noodles were not cooked for the first batch of lasagna. The dehydrated noodles do require cooking slightly before assembly. The pasta is hazardous and requires refrigeration.

Dehydrated Noodles


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Plan Seasonal Meals with Ideas from Magazines

Every weekend I plan Monday-Sunday's menu. I did it for a living at work and a smaller one for our family. Now retired, I look for different recipes to try at home. I keep a file of many recipes on my blog for the ones I will make again and some I just want to remember the time and place.

While I have my framework for planning, and I check my inventory to use items on hand-I use current magazines for seasonal ideas. As I flip through the magazines, I keep a post it note of recipes we might like. The current magazines often use seasonal product now available in our stores.

Today's picnic menu includes Asparagus Soup (idea from Food Network), Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs (from Eating Well) and Sourdough Onion Cornbread. For the onion bread, I marked a recipe for Onion Biscuits, but instead used my own successful recipe for Sourdough Whole Grain Cornbread, substituting onion for the red peppers and yogurt for the buttermilk.  

For the "Cream of Asparagus Soup" , I did not add the cream (or any dairy products) because I wanted to get the soup really hot (boiling) to transport on our picnic. Dairy products probably would have curdled. 

I liked this recipe as I had much less waste than I do when preparing other dishes with asparagus.  (The asparagus is trimmed, cooked and blended so the fibrous parts are eatable!)

Asparagus Soup 

(Serves 2)

Saute onion and garlic in buttery spread for 5 minutes.
1/3 cup sweet onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minces
1 tablespoon buttery spread

 Add asparagus, broth and salt. Simmer 8 minutes.
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut in pieces
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Serve with fresh chives.

To transport, I first heat a soup thermos by pouring boiling water into it and tightening the lid. When soup is hot, empty the thermos and fill with the soup. The soup stays hot for 2 hours.

Our picnic today was at Oglebay Park in Wheeling West Virginia where it was easy to practice social distancing and we got some vital rays.  


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thumbs Up for the Countertop Flour Mill

My #1 reason for investing in my home flour mill was to prevent waste. I had one cupboard full of an assortment of grains, and another cupboard full of various flours. I now have one cupboard with an assortment of grains-and many days of making and eating recipes with a rainbow of grains.  

Grinding your own flour encourages diversity of grains and nutrients. It increases freshness.  It saves money. (My home ground flour is cheaper than buying already ground). I've been able to purchase some local grown grains. I know the source of grains I buy. The bottom line is that I've had so much enjoyment learning and creating foods made with diverse grains.

Whole grains, like vegetables, present unique nutrient profiles. Why eat a variety? Just as spinach offers different nutrients than cauliflower, oats afford different nutrients than popcorn. Variety is good!

Care and Use of the Flour Mill

Before grinding grains, check for foreign objects and remove any stems. 

Small grains, like millet, mill quickly. Turn the grain feed rate to the left.

Large legumes mill slowly. Turn the grain feed rate to the right.

The separator cup collects the finest flour. It is usable. Empty each use.
Shake the flour that collects in the filter into the bowl.  Do not wash the filter.
Hand wash the bowl.
Before placing the lid onto the bowl, spray cooking spray on a paper towel, then lubricate the gasket using the paper towel.

Do not mill rolled or steel cut oats, seeds, nuts, coffee beans and spices.
(My mill actually came with a small countertop seed grinder)

Make sure the grains are dry.

Know the source of the grain. 

Make sure sprouted grains are thoroughly dry and that sprouts are small.

Rotate the grains and store in separate containers with lids.
Recipes for baking with the assortment of flours are everywhere.  When substituting, remember that gluten forms the structure in shaped breads. Gluten free flours work best in batter breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes.

My favorite source for recipes made with home ground flour mill is from Sue Becker. She lists appropriate substitutes for gluten free versions of many recipes.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sourdough Whole Grain Cornbread

This skillet cornbread has sweet peppers, more corn, fresh ground whole wheat berries and whole corn flour, making a perfect flavor combination.  This recipe is made in a 7-inch iron skillet.

Sourdough Whole Grain Cornbread

(Serves 8)

Saute peppers in buttery spread in 7-inch iron skillet. Set aside.
2 mini sweet peppers, diced
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread

In a separate bowl, mix ground corn, flour, baking powder, salt and soda.
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon ground corn
6 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a larger bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, honey, buttery spread and sourdough starter discard.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon buttery spread, melted
1/2 cup sourdough starter discard

Add corn and sauteed peppers to liquid ingredients, then stir in dry ingredients. Stir only until mixed.
1/2 cup corn off the cob, chopped in food processor
Sauteed peppers

Grease skillet with buttery spread. Pour batter into skillet. 
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread

Bake at 425 F for 25 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack.

The cornbread was served with lentil soup and turmeric eggs. (turmeric eggs has the dry spice mixed with yogurt and egg yolk).


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Whole Grains Make Champion Cupboard Stand-Ins

Any grain, when cooked, is the starting point for grain bowls or stir fries. Grains serve as the chewy component in soups. Cooked whole grains offer unique tastes and textures in hot and cold dishes. 

Don't have a certain grain or bean-substitute another! Out of one vegetable-substitute another! 

Try these base suggestions for warm grain bowls, stews or soups:


Saute vegetables in olive oil.
3 tablespoon onion, diced
3 tablespoon celery, diced
3 tablespoon peppers, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Add seasonings.
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch white pepper
Pinch cayenne
Pinch dried thyme
Pinch dried oregano

Add water and grain of choice.  Cook until grains begins to soften. Add other vegetables, meat or seafood as desired.


Combine all ingredients, including grain, dried peas, beans or lentils.  Cook on low in crock pot 8 hours.
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 peppers, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Try this salad dressing for a cold meal or side:

3 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoon orange juice

1 ½ teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon grated ginger

½ teaspoon lemon zest

¼ teaspoon black pepper

A squeeze of citrus and olive oil may do!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Take a Bite Out of Food Waste

The noon and home delivered meals served to seniors by the HRDC (human resources development commission) and the agency on aging are planned according to nutrition standards for older adults. To assist with hydration, meals are served with both a milk and a juice. Seniors drink milk with the meal and some take the juice home. One often ends up with a stockpile of juices. Here's some ideas for using those juices in recipes served at home. 

V8 Chili 

This recipe is high in fiber and full of vitamins and minerals.

(4 cups)

3-6 ounce cans low sodium V8
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 mini sweet peppers, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon coriander
1 1/2 cup black beans, cooked and drained (1/2 cup dry)
1 1/2 cup corn

Saute peppers and onions in olive oil for a few minutes. Add juice, cumin and coriander.  Bring to a simmer.  Add beans and corn and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Grape Juice Chicken

The baked product makes a flavorful broth good mixed with brown rice, quinoa or other grain berry. Extra chicken can be frozen and easily heated for a later meal.

(8 Servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon oregano
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-6 ounce can grape juice
2 # chicken tenders

Place olive oil in a 9 X 13 inch pan, then add vinegar, spices, sugar and juice.
Place chicken tenders in juice. Turn to coat. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, turning midway.

Mulled Apples

Simmer apple halves or pieces in apple juice flavored with spices and enjoy the fruit and juice with a meal or snack. The cooking juices are also good mixed with yogurt, or served over ice cream.

(Serves 6)

16 ounce apple juice
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Dash ground cloves
2 Star Anise pods
2 wide strips orange peel
1 nutmeg bean
Combine in a pot;  bring to a simmer.

4 apples
Peel and half.  Scoop out the cores.  Poach the apples in the cider mixture until tender, turning midway, about 30 minutes. 

Fruit Smoothie 

Mix equal parts of yogurt, milk and fruit in juice for a snack, dessert or with a whole grain muffin at breakfast.

(Serves 2)

1 cup yogurt
1 cup milk
1 cup cut up fruit
1 6 ounce can pineapple juice

Place all ingredients in a blender. Process until mixture is smooth.

Orange Juice Chocolate Cake 

This cake with glaze uses 5 of the 1/2 cup orange juices. It's made with 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 the sugar in the original recipe.

2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon of 100% cacao unsweetened cocoa (not the Dutch processed kind)
Mix the softened butter and cocoa to make a thick paste. Grease and flour the inside of the pan with this paste, using a brush.

1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
Combine flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa. Stir in orange zest.

2 cups orange juice

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the orange juice, mayonnaise, vinegar and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix only until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350F. until pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleaned.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. 

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoon cocoa
2 tablespoon orange juice
Sift together sugar and cocoa.  Whisk in the orange juice.  Drizzle glaze over cake.

Based on a recipe by Trisha Yearwood.









Tuesday, March 10, 2020

78 Years of West Virginia Dietitians

When West Virginia Dietitians affiliated in 1942, the United States had entered a world war. The small group of hospital dietitians did their part by teaching Red Cross nutrition courses.

In the 1950s, the project of WVDA (West Virginia Dietetic Association) was to standardize the diabetic diet. Members helped form Camp Kno Koma, West Virginia's free diabetic camp for children.

In the 1960s, the group worked with vocational programs.

And in the 1970s, the scholarship program began. Journal clubs were formed for the purpose of obtaining continuing education. (The picture above is from the journal club at Charleston General Hospital). Many hospitals created traineeships to provide an American Dietetic Association approved route to membership.

In the 1980s, a state practice group for consulting dietitians in long term care was formed with more than 25 members. The first dietetic internship began.

Entering the 21st century, WVDA sponsored two state-wide programs:  "Run Obesity Out of West Virginia" and the childhood obesity essay contest. Dietitians in academia presented their research at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. 

In the decade that began in 2010, medical nutrition therapy reimbursement created many clinical jobs. A distance dietetic internship program, combined with three dietetic internships, provided opportunities for many more dietitians to be.

Dietitians assisted with the Cooperative Extensions' Rethink Your Drink campaign. The Marshall University Nutrition Education Program employed dietitians to go to public schools and teach nutrition, growing, making and eating nutrition foods. Dietitians volunteered in food banks, farmers markets and agricultural programs. 

Dietians continue to work in the Women, Infants and Children program, Child Nutrition Programs and Cooperative Extension.

Roles may be more specialized, yet all dietitians strive to fulfill the original mission of improving the nutritional status of the people in our state.