Friday, January 6, 2012

Healthful Eating Series I

As we start the New Year we are bombarded with television commercials telling us how to lose weight. Ok, fine, so we did over eat just a little during the holidays. And we all know there is a growing problem with childhood obesity. As an attempt to help everyone reach their goals for the New Year we would like to give you some “baby” steps to help you begin forming good practices. We will start slowly and you will eat in a way that is good for the body, the soul and even the earth. You will eat REAL food, no powdered dehydrated form or diet food, no tricks, and no pills, nothing weird or outlandish. Just good guidelines that will help improve your health forever. We will do a whole series of healthful eating blogs and the first is about building a NATURAL pantry.

Natural has been defined many ways but to us it means whole: straight from the plant or animal: or made with whole ingredients, very little processing and as few added flavorings, and preservatives as possible. This keeps nutrients at their highest and original flavors intact. Each time you reach into the pantry for an ingredient it will be a healthy, nutritious choice that will taste good AND is good for you. You don’t have to start all at once but when it’s time to replace pantry items try a new (better) natural version. Below is a recipe for a Veggie Burger to utilize these items from the pantry.

Here is a grocery list to follow:
Fruits and Vegetables:
In-season, colorful vegetables
Frozen spinach
Sweet potatoes
Onions, shallots, & garlic
Organic citrus
Tomatoes (canned or fresh)
In-season fruits, Frozen fruit
Chile peppers

Herbs and Spices:
Dried thyme, sage, & oregano, etc.
Fresh parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro, etc.
Fresh Ginger
Cinnamon, cumin, paprika, etc.

Nuts and Oils:
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.
Organic olive oil
Canola oil

Grains, Legumes and Flours:
Quinoa, bulgur, whole-wheat cous cous
Buckwheat soba noodles
Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, navy beans
Whole-wheat pasta
Brown, or basmati rice
Oats, wheat berries, barley
Whole-wheat flour
White whole-wheat flour
Whole -wheat pastry flour
Oat flour or oats

Roasted peppers
Vinegars (balsamic, rice wine, red wine, apple cider)
Whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Sea salt
Honey, maple syrup, cane sugars
Hard cheese (Parmesan or pecorino Romano)
Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Capers, Wine (red or white), Dried fruits

Organic milk
Organic eggs
Plain, Greek-style yogurt

Organic grass-fed beef
Organic pork, chicken, tofu
Sustainable seafood

Black-Eyed Pea and Quinoa Cakes (the UG Veggie Burger)
Yield: 6, 4 ounce patties
1 can, no salt added-black-eyed peas(or other beans) drained and rinsed, about 1 ½ cups
1/4-cup heavy cream or ½ & ½
1 cup cooked quinoa* (1/4 cup dry cooked with 1/2 cup water)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped basil
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1  teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs, divided
2 eggs, beaten
Non-stick spray

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2/3rds of the peas/beans and the cream. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and fold in the rest of the peas/beans, quinoa, onion, garlic, red and green pepper, parsley, basil, cayenne, salt, ½ cup panko and eggs. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

With damp hands, form the mixture into 6, 4 ounce patties. With the panko in a shallow dish, coat each patty and place on a baking sheet and refridgerate for 30 minutes.

Heat  a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Cook the cakes for 3-4 minutes per side or until brown, and warmed through. Place on a cooling rack to cool if freezing. Once the oil becomes dark, carefully wipe the skillet with a paper towel, spray the pan and cook the remaining cakes then cool to freeze. These can also be cooked in a 375°F oven on a sheet pan srayed with non-stick spray for 30-35 minutes, spraying the top and flipping half way through cooking time. If eating right away, serve on buns and fixins as you would a burger.

Note: These can be formed into small hors d’ouvres size cakes but the cooking time will be reduced to 1-2 minutes per side.

To Freeze: Follow all instructions above through the cooking of the cakes. Allow to cool completely then wrap individually with plastic wrap and freeze until froxen solid then store in an airtight container.  

To Re-heat: In a 350°F oven, warm the cakes through, about 30-35 minutes from frozen.

* To cook quinoa: Quinoa increases 4 times it size when cooked. Using a ratio of 2:1 water to quinoa;  Rinse your quinoa first then combine in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 12-15 minutes in a covered saucepan. The quinoa will be translucent when cooked through.

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