Archive | April 2014

Coconut Vegetable Curry

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Quick curries are not only one of the most effective ways to use up leftover vegetables, but they can also be one of the healthiest meals you eat all week. While the benefits of increasing vegetable intake is nothing new, some might be surprised to hear about the other nutritional advantages to cooking those vegetables into a curry. The spices that go into most curry powders generally include turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, chili, and cumin (just to name a few). The benefits of these few spices could fill up a whole page, but some of the more important ones include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and immune-boosting properties. Spices such as ginger and cardamom can also help promote digestion and heal stomach issues such as constipation and dysentery, while the onions and garlic used in most curries are powerful detoxifiers.

The light coconut milk in this recipe provides a sweet, creamy taste without so much of the saturated fat for which it is known. While coconut milk often gets a bad rap for being high in fat, it is important to note that recent studies have shown it to have many benefits. Research has shown the saturated fat in coconut milk to metabolize much faster than in other foods, and it has also been proven to contain some anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Enjoy this recipe by itself in a bowl or serve over brown rice or couscous. I have also found it to go great over quinoa when I’m trying to keep an eye on my diet. However, my favorite is pairing it up with some buttery naan bread on the days that I’m cheating. The recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sirracha (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion at medium-high heat until it becomes light and translucent. Add the curry powder, garlic and ginger and continue sautéing for 1 minute. Add the other vegetables and continue sautéing for another minute.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook slowly for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning if additional flavor and/or heat is desired. Serve over brown rice, couscous or quinoa.

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 220 / Fat: 12g / Saturated Fat: 2g / Carbohydrates: 21g / Fiber: 9g / Protein: 12g

 

Mixed Salad with Honey Roasted Pear, Feta Cheese and Dijon Herb Vinaigrette

Pear Salad

There is no reason why a salad, whether eaten as a main course or as a starter, has to be boring. A few flavorful ingredients not only can make a salad erupt with flavor, but it can also add a substantial amount of nutritional quality to the diet when done right. This recipe not only tastes great but also covers many of the dietary bases as well. An added bonus with this one is that it looks really nice on the plate, so it presents well if you need to impress some dinner guests. I usually do it as a starter, but it makes for a great lunch or side salad.

Ingredients:

– 8 oz. baby spring mix

– 2 medium carrots, diced

– 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

– 1 English cucumber, diced

– 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

– 1 pear, cored and diced

– 1 tablespoon honey

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– ½ teaspoon dried thyme

– ½ teaspoon salt

– ½ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

1. Toss the diced pear in the honey, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Lay flat in a shallow baking dish and roast at 400 degrees for 5–8 minutes or until it begins to soften and caramelize. Remove from the oven and cool down immediately.

2. Mix the (cooled) pear with the rest of the ingredients and toss with the dressing.

This makes 8 servings as a side salad.

 

Dressing:

– ½ shallot, finely chopped

– 1 small clove garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

– 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

– 1 tablespoon honey

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon pepper

– ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary (optional)

– 1 teaspoon fresh parsley (optional)

1. Add all ingredients in order and whisk together. Whisk again right before adding to the salad.

 

 

 

Low Country Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw

Despite having been raised in the South, where some of my earliest memories include being fed Carolina barbeque since I was old enough to chew food, I have never been able to tolerate the taste of any traditional coleslaw. However, that all changed last summer when my good friend Lt. Col. John Robinson fixed this recipe for me after we both competed in the Charleston Air Force Base Triathlon in August. Not only was I able to force it down during our post-race barbeque, but I actually enjoyed it so much that my attitude toward coleslaw has changed completely. This recipe is nice and light with a pleasant balance of pungent flavors that makes a great addition to a summer menu whether you are grilling out or not. It makes 8–12 servings.

Ingredients:

1 Head of cabbage

1 onion

1 bunch of cilantro

2 carrots

1 Jalapeño pepper diced (or pepper of you choice)

1/2 cup of white vinegar

1/8 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Chop the cabbage, add chopped onion, jalapeño pepper, and grated carrots. Add chopped cilantro to taste (1 cup, half a bunch . . . whatever you like!). Then add salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil, mayo, white vinegar, and mix it all up. Let it sit in the fridge and marry up for an hour or so and serve.

 

Vanilla Blueberry Banana Oatmeal

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If you are like me, then it is quite rare that you ever start the day without a bowl of oatmeal. While people have been eating it for centuries, interest in oatmeal has increased in recent years because of its many health benefits. Numerous studies have suggested that oats can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, it’s high content of complex carbohydrates and  water-soluble fiber encourages slow digestion and helps stabilize blood-glucose levels. Oats are also a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and iron.

Unfortunately, many people are still afraid of the plainness of oatmeal, while others over-compensate for its blandness by adding too much sugar. Those sugar-filled, overly processed instant packets are pretty popular these days, but they do not have to be the only answer to someone looking to make oatmeal a part of their daily breakfast routine. The different possibilities for oatmeal recipes are endless, and there is absolutely no reason why a bowl of it has to be boring and bland.

This month’s recipe is what I personally eat for breakfast almost every morning. I got the idea from a buddy of mine that served me a similar concoction as our pre-race meal before a triathlon a couple of years ago. The combo of the oats, milk, yogurt, fruit, nuts and flax seed result in a very balanced meal full of fiber, protein, and calcium. The probiotics in the yogurt and the antioxidants in the berries is an added bonus. This recipe doesn’t have to be strictly for breakfast either. It is a great source of energy for a long workout, no matter what time you may be exercising during the day.

 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of dried oats
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 small banana sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon chopped almonds

Preparation

  1. Cook the oats in the milk and water, either on the stove top until the liquid is almost completely evaporated or in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
  2. I like to simply add the next 6 ingredients and mix together. The heat of the oatmeal thaws the blueberries, and the added yogurt gives the temperature and consistency of a parfait. It can almost trick you into thinking that you are having ice cream for breakfast. However, if you prefer a warmer, more blended porridge, then you can cook the banana and blueberries in the oats during step one.
  3. Garnish with cranberries and chopped almonds.

 

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

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This recipe is not only light and refreshing, but it is also chocked full of nutrients. A cup of this soup can be sufficient fuel when used as a pre-workout snack, but it can also make for a great recovery meal after a day out on the pedals or a long run on the trail. It can be a nice addition to a multicourse meal as well, if you happen to be entertaining friends and family. The recipe serves 8.
Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (peeled and diced)
  • 1 pear (peeled and diced)
  • 1 red onion (peeled and diced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup cream sherry
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Saute the butternut squash, pear, and onion with the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until soft. About 5–10 minutes at medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sherry and continue stirring for 1 min.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, reduce heat to low-medium and allow to simmer for 20–30 minutes.
  4. Puree soup in a blender and return to the pot to reheat.
  5. Add additional stock or water for a thinner consistency or continue simmering/reducing for a thicker consistency.
  6. Adjust seasoning to your preference.

 

Moroccan Lentil Stew

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 medium white potatoes, cubed in ½ inch pieces
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 whole tomatoes diced
  • ¼ head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1.5 qts vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ bunch chopped parsley

Preparation:

  1. Saute the onion, potatoes and carrots with the olive oil in a stock pot at medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly for 1 more minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, spices, lentils, white wine and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove lid, squeeze the juice of one lemon, adjust the seasoning if needed and add the parsley.
  4. Note: The stew can be served after the lentils are fully cooked (about 30-45 minutes). However, if you leave it on the stove at a very low temperature (stirring occasionally) for 1-2 hours more, then the spices will continue to build and develop, allowing for a more intense flavor.

Nutritional Value:
Serving Size: 1 Cup
186 Calories / 4.5g Fat / 0.5g Saturated Fat / 27g Carbohydrates / 2g Fiber / 12g Protein


Red Pepper and Sage Risotto

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Most people think of risotto as a treat eaten only rarely, at nice restaurants. However, it is fairly easy to make at home, and it is hearty enough to have as a main course at meal time. The possibilities with risotto are endless, but it can be perfected with just a few simple ingredients. Enjoy this with a salad or some fresh vegetables; I recommend grilled asparagus. This recipe makes 12 servings.

Ingredients:
1 red pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
6-8 cups vegetable stock
5 sage leaves, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:
1. Saute the pepper and onion in the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pot at medium-high heat until it begins to become clear and and translucent. Then add the garlic and continue stirring for 1 minute before adding the rice. Stir the rice around the pot to coat it in the fat and then add the white wine and stir until most of it has evaporated. Meanwhile, have the stock heating up in another pan nearby on the stove.
2. Add a couple of ladles of the stock to the rice. Stir constantly, continuously adding the stock 1 ladle at a time as it disappears in the rice and/or evaporates. Adjust heat so that it is not cooking too rapidly, but a good, quick simmer is desirable. Continue this method for about 15-20 minutes, until all of the stock is gone.
3. Lower the heat or briefly remove from the stove and test whether the risotto is done by spooning up a grain of rice and biting into it. It should be tender, but not mushy; if it is still crunchy and tastes a bit starchy, then it needs to be cooked more. Simply heat up 2-3 more cups of stock. Don’t freak out if you have run out. Hot water will work fine.
4. Once finished, the risotto will have a creamy consistency, somewhat similar to oatmeal. Now, generously add salt, pepper, butter, Parmesan cheese, and the sage. Serve immediately in warm bowls with a little extra Parmesan and sage as a garnish.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 180 / Fat: 5g / Saturated Fat: 2g / Carbohydrates: 41g / Fiber: 3g / Protein: 3g

Enjoy with Asparagus:

Asparagus is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K, heart-healthy folate, vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and bone-building copper. It is also a very good source of energy-producing vitamin B2 and B3 as well as phosphorus; heart-healthy potassium, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber; antioxidant-promoting vitamin E and manganese; and muscle-building protein.

Look for rounded asparagus stalks that are neither fat nor twisted. Look for firm, thin stems with deep green or purplish closed tips. The cut ends should not be too woody, although a little woodiness at the base prevents the stalk from drying out. Use asparagus within a day or two after purchasing for best flavor and texture. You can store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel.