Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This past week was quite an interesting one. With one of our classes needing accommodations for limited mobility, we created a new virtual grocery store tour. We made a mock store by clipping pictures and prices from the circulars that local stores distribute. It took some creativity in order to cover all the bases- bulk section items, frozen and canned foods and cereals- but in the end we had a grocery store we could bring to the class instead of bringing the class to the grocery store! Throughout the shopping trip, our participants argued that most of the prices we had for our items were simply too high and we would be fools for buying them. They even let us in on some secrets on where to get better quality items for less money. Maybe they should have taught the class last week? In another class, we made a frittata. Well, sort of. We had a debate among the volunteers about how exactly a frittata was cooked and, with limited supplies, we ended up making more of a very veggie-heavy scrambled egg dish.
I think these two classes show how important it is to be adaptable in cooking and teaching situations. Throughout the series, the volunteers and I have had to think on our feet when something went wrong. Take for example the time we set out to make the Northwest Apple salad. Though the apples looked fine on the outside, the participants sliced into the apples and found them brown on the inside. Some quick thinking allowed us to identify carrots (an ingredient of the other recipe) as a substitute. Carrots are slightly sweet and colorful with a mild enough flavor to easily replace the disastrously rotten apples we had. I hope that all of our participants learn how to make sensible adaptations when things do not work out the way that they had hoped. Say you go shopping and your recipe calls for green beans but the ones in the store are brown and old at $3.99/lb to boot! What will you do? Buy them anyway? Or, would you look for a substitute like broccoli or frozen green beans? Being flexible allows you to spend less and to choose items that are more healthful. Even though it may seems like an “oops” moment on the part of the volunteers or staff, it can be a great learning experience for all. Recipes are a road map but individual tastes differ and sometimes not all the ingredients needed are available so some personal innovation is necessary. The resulting dish will be your own creation and there is nothing more satisfying than that.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
It feels like it’s getting warmer here in Seattle- very exciting! I’m looking forward to more gorgeous view of the mountains set against cerulean skies. The promise of summer has me thinking about summer fruits and vegetables! But first, let’s have an update on our classes. This past week, we introduced turkey tacos to one of our classes. Instead of using ground beef, which had a higher content of saturated fat, we used ground turkey. No one could tell the difference with the salsa, black beans, corn and spices we added- a great success for health. In another class, I taught, along with my nutritionist, how to cook egg burritos. That class was quite amusing as I’ve never made eggs for myself (I’ll confess I’ve always had an aversion to them) and my nutritionist only learned how to cook last year. Regardless, the class appreciated our humble skills and really enjoyed the food. One of the great things about teaching these classes is the sharing of skills and learning between the instructors and the participants. It’s a humbling experience to work with participants who know so much and want to share what they know. I often feel like I should be in the audience with the participants teaching me!
Now on to food. There are some new food items coming into farmer’s markets and grocery stores (often on sale) with the progression from spring to summer. Strawberries are finally starting to be affordable and delicious. They are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C and Manganese. Manganese is a trace mineral that’s used in many of our body’s reactions. Strawberries simply look stunning and taste just as good. You can eat them whole and fresh, cut up in fruit salads or frozen in smoothies or parfaits. There are so many options that it’s hard to choose one! Broccoli is a vegetable that is coming in to season. It’s a cruciferous vegetable which many scientists believe have the potential to prevent cancers due to the antioxidants and nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables. For non dairy eaters, broccoli is a great source of calcium. It’s fabulous steamed, stir fried or pureed. Below you’ll find a recipe for Broccoli Soup from the Cooking Matters curriculum. Enjoy!
Chef Alicia McCabe • Boston
Serves 8, 1½ cups per serving
1 large onion
1 medium potato
1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
3 broccoli crowns
1½ teaspoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 cups non-fat milk
1 (14½ ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Rinse and peel onion, potato, and carrot. Rinse celery.
2. Dice celery and onion. Slice potato and carrot into thin slices.
3. Rinse broccoli. Cut the florets of the broccoli away from the stem.
4. Slice the broccoli stems thinly.
5. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
6. Add potato, carrot, broccoli stems, bay leaf, milk, and broth. Bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
8. Remove and discard the bay leaf. If desired, purée part or all of soup in a blender.
9. Return blended soup to pot.
10. Add broccoli florets, salt, and pepper, and simmer until just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
•Try cauliflower instead of broccoli.
•Serve over rice or pasta if you like.
•Top with shredded low-fat cheddar cheese or low-fat sour cream, if desired.
•Blend hot soup carefully! Only fill the blender half full and blend in batches. If your blender lid has a removable cap, remove the small cap and then cover the lid completely with a kitchen towel for safer blending. This will allow hot steam to escape.
A M O U N T P E R S E R V I N G
Calories from fat 10
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 10g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
This week has been great so far for all of our classes. In our Cooking Matters for kids class, we prepared Chinese veggies with Brown Rice and did a taste test of Jicama, Radishes and Fennel. The kids really seemed to like the Jicama but weren't so keen on the Fennel. They also really liked how colorful and tasty the stir fry was- see, vegetables can be fun and delicious! In class tonight, we will be making the Tex Mex skillet and a dip for vegetables using plain yogurt (!) and spices. The yogurt dip is super fast and healthy but the best part is that you can make it to your own tastes, who knows what we will put in ours tonight. We have some grocery store tours being held and a breakfast lesson. It's fun to have all the class series be in different points in the series so that it's never boring.
Something exciting happened last week. The USDA came out with a new food guide called My Plate. It's great because it gives a good idea of your plate should be divided up by the different food groups. I like that it's so much easier to teach! A plate really makes sense to people and I think it's a really great model for how we should eat- especially with half of our plate filled with fruits and veggies. You can learn more here: www.choosemyplate.gov. It's a fun website to poke around and learn about the different food groups and the nutrients they provide. There are also some resources for estimating how many calories a person needs and how many calories are in certain foods. So check it out and have fun!
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I hope that everyone got to enjoy the long weekend with some time spent outdoors and with family and friends. I went to the Folk life Festival this weekend and really enjoyed the people watching. This week I’d like to focus on a food that I hope everyone has in their refrigerator- plain yogurt. Plain yogurt is so versatile, scrumptious and great for your health that it could be included in every meal! As my mother knows well, I am a voracious consumer of plain yogurt. I eat it for breakfast with almonds and berries, as a dip with spices and veggies for a snack and as a marinade for chicken for dinner. I find it to be a particularly satisfying food because it contains a balanced amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates that keeps me full for longer. I do not choose flavored yogurts because there are so many added sugars rendering the yogurt too cloyingly sweet for my taste buds and less versatile. I can use plain yogurt for both sweet and savory items but flavored yogurt can only be sweet- imagine trying to use vanilla yogurt as a replacement for sour cream, yuck! Another great thing about yogurt is that it can be digested by many people with lactose intolerance. The bacteria in yogurt help to break down the lactose naturally found in milk so that your body doesn’t have to. It’s also a fabulous source of calcium!
Here are some tips for choosing and using yogurt:
- Go for plain yogurt, you can sweeten or spice it to your liking
- Choose yogurt with Vitamin A & D
- Choose yogurt with some fat in it, in order to absorb fat soluble vitamins A & D, we need to consume it with fat
- Choose yogurts without stabilizers, pectin or gums- the yogurt will just taste better and be a whole food
- Use yogurt as a replacement for sour cream
- Use yogurt as a base for sauces, dips, soups and dressings
As per usual, Martha Shulman has come up with a great list of recipes that use plain yogurt. You can find them here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/health/nutrition/25recipehealth.html?adxnnl=1&ref=yogurt&adxnnlx=1306877991-NxhF6WCqbcsCCriRbi6JqA
This recipe, by Martha Shulman, sounds fantastic and includes another superfood, Quinoa!
Beets, Spiced Quinoa and Yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 allspice berries, ground (about 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground allspice)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
3 cloves, ground (1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
3 cups cooked quinoa (either red or regular; 3/4 cup uncooked)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 to 6 roasted beets, yellow, red or a combination; peeled and sliced
1 cup drained yogurt
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. In a medium saucepan or a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and add the spices. When they begin to sizzle, add the cooked quinoa. Stir together for one minute, and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust salt. Transfer to the baking dish, and spread in an even layer.
2. Arrange the sliced beets over the quinoa. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil, cover and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until hot. Meanwhile, place the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a generous pinch of salt, and mash to a paste. Whisk or stir into the drained yogurt.
3. Remove the quinoa and beets from the oven, and top with dollops of yogurt. Sprinkle with the walnuts, and serve.
Yield: Serves four to six.
Advance preparation: The cooked quinoa and the roasted beets will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. You can assemble the casserole without the yogurt up to a day in advance. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 370 calories; 15 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 2 milligrams cholesterol; 48 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 134 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 14 grams protein
Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 247 calories; 10 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 1 milligram cholesterol; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 89 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 9 grams protein