January 2014 archive

HTV Pizza! (Hide the Veggies)

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Hide the veggies pizza! Pizza is the ultimate vehicle to hide vegetables, and I am thrilled to add this recipe to the HTV list. The rich tomatoey flavor combined with the melty goodness of cheese is enough to disguise Grandma wearing army boots!  This is a weekly favorite in my house.

Because I will be regularly bringing HTV back as a recurring spot on this website, it is important that I give you a few basic guidelines to follow when embarking on an HTV challenge. This may sound silly, but these rules MUST be followed in order to benefit you and your family, and allow you to maintain your position as a trustworthy cook.

HTV Guidelines

1. Only hide the vegetables from children as an absolute last resort.  HTV is aimed at grown-ups more than children. It is for those that are simply too far gone, and teaching them to love veggies requires a little more ingenuity. Children must be exposed to many fruits and vegetables as early as possible. It should not be extraordinary to see children under 5 munching on salad greens-it should just be. The more exposure children get at a young age, the less finicky they will be. Many don’t know that it may take a child ten tries to finally like a food. So parents, never give up! If they make the lemon pucker face with their spinach puree at 9 months old, try again in few weeks, and again in a few more. Now there are always those children (and husbands) that just absolutely refuse to eat their veggies after years of trying everything under the sun-that is where HTV comes in.

2. Never lie. HTV is a fun way to incorporate that extra punch of nutrients into otherwise drab meals, but it is not intended to ruin your integrity as cook- or a human being for that matter. Remember we are only going to HTV out of love, so if you don’t mention that head of cabbage tucked away in the apple pie (oh yeah…it’s possible), it is perfectly fine. However, if you are ever questioned, you MUST tell the truth! Just be nonchalant and explain that you are “adding more years to their life and more life to their years” because you love them! Who could be mad at that?! Deceiving your loved one is simply unloving, and if caught, will turn them into a Sherlock Holmes of your kitchen. Don’t do it!

3. Capitalize on the vegetables that they do eat. There are always a few veggies that your picky eater does admit to enjoying. These are weapons that should be kept in our back pocket- never to be over used, but released in full force when the time is right. When these veggies are appropriate for a recipe, go crazy. The idea is to utilize every opportunity to get those immune-boosting, disease-fighting veggie nutrients into the meal without having to constantly sneak around. Substitute hated ingredients for those that are loved, double the amount of tolerated veggies in recipes, and just be creative!

This HTV Pizza supplies 100% of your daily Vitamin C, 59% Vitamin A, and 52% daily Calcium requirements…and the best part is, your victims will never know it!  The pizza begins with a whole grain crust that is topped with a sneaky tomato sauce and kale puree. My husband would never let kale pass his lips, and for that reason I have no other choice but to hide it! That kale will never be seen again, as I then cover it with part-skim mozzarella cheese. He will tolerate peppers and onions. So I chop them up very small and sauté. By cooking them before adding to the pizza, their flavors will become milder and do not stand out as strongly as they would if I were to add them raw. Next, my husband LOVES sausage (no surprise-anything that will clog an artery is on his favorites list), so of course I had to incorporate it. The secret when using these fatty meats is to buy smaller portions of high-quality cuts. So I purchased one, quite large, uncooked hot turkey sausage link (you may want 2 links if they are on the smaller side). If you cannot purchase just one or two links, save the remainder – they freeze quite well. Another little secret is to remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into very small pieces as you add it to the peppers and onions in the sauté pan. You want very small pieces of sausage so that a small amount can be stretched to cover the entire pizza. By cooking it with the other vegetables, the peppers and onions will now take on and carry that sausage flavor throughout the pie. After adding this mixture to the pizza, the final toping is a manly portion of sliced raw mushrooms. Here is where I am capitalizing on the vegetable that is adored by my husband. As you see from the pics, I went crazy with them. Although it truly is a Veggie Lover’s Special, this pizza does not at all taste like it, trust me! It tastes like a rich ooey, gooey, sausagey delight, and returns weekly to my dinner table by popular demand!

Dough Rolling

Dough with spinach and sauce Dough with cheese and veg Close up of mushroom Close up of cookes pizza

 

Here is the full recipe:

Ingredients: Serves 4

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

12 oz (½ of 1- 25 oz Jar) Low-Sodium Pasta Sauce

5 oz Frozen Chopped Kale, thawed and drained

1 Ball of Store Bought, Whole Grain Pizza Dough -or- 1 Precooked Whole Wheat Thin Pizza Crust

2 Cups Low-Sodium Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese

1 Small Green Bell Pepper

1 Small Red or Orange Bell Pepper

1 Medium Onion

1-2 Links Hot Italian Turkey or Chicken Sausage

2 Cups Sliced Button Mushrooms

1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In this recipe, I used fresh store-bought dough from Whole Foods and rolled it out myself. I like this dough because it is a mixture of whole wheat and regular white flour. This is hard to find anywhere else. So you can make your own or for a shortcut, I recommend using a whole wheat, thin pizza crust that requires no cooking. A good example is Boboli 100% Whole Wheat crust. If you decide to use fresh dough, begin by flouring a clean surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to desired shape, it should be quite thin. I like a free-form shape. Just make sure it fits into the pan that you will use – I use a rectangular half sheet pan. To prepare your pan, apply a thin layer of olive oil so there will be no sticking, and transfer the dough to the pan. Now for the sneaky part… In most cases the next step is usually the sauce. Make sure you choose a low-sodium sauce, premade is perfectly fine. In a blender, combine 12 oz of sauce and 5 oz of chopped kale, and puree until smooth.  Spread evenly on dough, leaving ½ inch of crust. I like to add a few spoons of plain sauce (without kale) to the edges, just so this green mixture doesn’t poke out from the cheese too much. Go ahead and add the mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, sauté peppers and onion until soft. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into very small pieces as you add it to the pepper and onion mixture. Sauté until sausage is cooked through then spread evenly over pizza. Top with sliced mushrooms and oregano. Place in preheated oven and cook for 24-30 minutes. If using a pre-cooked crust, cook for 12-18 minutes.

Slice and Enjoy!

 

Nutrition Information per Serving:   518 Calories, 16 g fat (7g saturated, 1g polyunsaturated, 5 g monounsaturated), 0g Trans Fat, 813 mg sodium, 58g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 35g protein, 59% vitamin A, 108% vitamin C, 52% Calcium

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To Be, or Not to Be Gluten-Free

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Glutin Gremlin

Unless you have spent the past three years vacationing out of the galaxy, you have heard about the gluten-free diet. Maybe you’ve tried it, maybe you’re even on it. It seems like everyone is “going gluten free” these days….but why? Well, there are a variety of likely reasons. For starters, the increase in testing and diagnosing of celiac disease (a gluten intolerance) as well as increased data proving the validity of removing gluten from the diet in certain disease states. There is growing research suggesting there may be improvement in symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis when gluten is taken out of the diet. The release of popular books such as “Wheat Belly” written by William Davis in which he claims you will lose weight by removing gluten from your diet has given people reason to think twice about ingesting this demon in the bread basket. As a professional, I must evaluate all claims by turning to science, research, and evidence. I will scour medical and nutritional journals reading the latest research and scientific studies proving or disproving claims. In some cases, like coconut oil for instance, the body of evidence is simply too small to make a true conclusion as to the benefits. However, it is pretty clear the role of gluten and our health. I will explain later. gliadin glutenin gluten

For those of us who aren’t familiar with gluten, think BROW- Barley, Rye, Oats, and Wheat. These are the four grains that should be avoided on this diet. Now what exactly is gluten? It is a protein comprised of glutenin and gliadin found in the endosperm of the grain. In most plants, the endosperm supplies protein and nutrients for the plant to grow and thrive. This is essentially gluten’s job for these grains. In baking and bread making, gluten provides elasticity and structure. It gives bread its shape and assists in the rising of dough. If the gluten is overworked, it will give cakes and bread and a tougher texture. For a chewy piece of French bread, this is perfect, but you certainly don’t want a tough and chewy cupcake. Bakers are very much aware of gluten’s role and adjust their recipes accordingly. Seems reasonable and pretty innocent, right? Well, there lies the controversy.

For patients with celiac disease, gluten ingestion can be debilitating. It shortens the microvilli in the small intestine. In a normal small bowel, these finger-like projections stand tall and collect and absorb nutrients passing through. If the microvilli are shortened, many nutrients cannot be absorbed. An otherwise healthy person may end up extremely malnourished due to this disease. Doctors check for celiac disease by first taking a blood sample and testing for certain antibodies that will be present in celiac disease. Because this is not a 100% reliable method, an intestinal biopsy is needed to confirm the findings. There is also evidence of gluten sensitivity in people that experience negative symptoms when ingesting gluten, yet do not have celiac disease. By removing gluten from the diet, their overall health status is much improved.

Given the popularity of the gluten-free diet, and the controversy that it brings, much research has been conducted on this topic- here is that whole evidenced-based practice thing I mentioned earlier. Without a doubt, it is more than clear that those suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should remove gluten from their diet…But what about the rest of us? Gluten-free items are popping up in mainstream stores and selling like hotcakes. Claims of weight loss scream from the headlines. So does it work? ….Sorry peeps, but judging from scientific literature, the answer is NO. For those of us without gluten sensitivity, there is little research demonstrating that going gluten-free will improve our lifestyle or allow for weight loss. In fact, there is some evidence pointing to an increase in weight when gluten is removed from the diet. This is due to one of two possibilities. First, if the individual truly has gluten sensitivity, removing gluten from their diet allows for increased absorption of nutrients and thus increased calorie intake. The second possible reason for weight gain is the increase in consumption of gluten-free products like baked goods, cake and cookie mixes, and frozen meals that are growing in the marketplace now. When you look closely at the ingredient lists and nutrition labels, most of the time you will see these products are actually much higher in calories, fat, and/or sodium when compared to their gluteny counterparts. Many are not aware of this and have a free-for-all in the gluten-free aisle, chowing down like these baked goods are going out of style.

Now what about those that actually do lose weight? These individuals may have a sensitivity that they are not aware of or has not been diagnosed. This weight loss may be caused by a decrease in the inflammation that the individual is carrying around due to an immune response. The second possibility is that if on a gluten-free diet, he or she may simply be paying more attention to what they are eating. Sure you will lose weight if you are scarfing bagels, pancakes, French baguettes, scones and muffins for breakfast and then decide change to a slice of rice bread toast and fruit. I have found that many eat more healthfully, adding in more fruit and vegetables to their diets and less bread and baked goods when on a gluten-free diet.

The bottom line – current research demonstrates there is no reason to remove gluten from your diet if you do not have an autoimmune disease, celiac disease, gluten or wheat sensitivity. Will it hurt you to try out the gluten-free diet, just for fun? No, as long as you don’t take in more than you burn off, as that will result in weight gain.  Will you lose weight by going gluten-free? Not by that alone. You will lose weight by decreasing the smorgasbord of pastries and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. So put down the cupcake and pick up the carrot!

For questions or to request a blog topic, please email me at Bryee@TastefulWisdom.com

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Roasted Comfort Salad – BYOL

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Bring Your Own Lunch! This dish was inspired by a roasted root vegetable salad created by Chef Michelle Bernstein. I recently attended a nutrition oncology symposium in which she was the keynote speaker. If you are not familiar with her, she is a well-known Miami chef, restaurateur, television host, and celebrity in the foodie biosphere. Michelle’s objective was to demonstrate dishes rich in nutrients that would appeal to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, as they are known to have little to no appetitive. Her dish was so beautiful and brimming with healthy deliciousness, I had to bring it home and put my own spin on it.

I am, and have always been, a sucker for roasted vegetables. Certain veggies that are cooked under high heat for an extended period of time become extremely rich and deep in flavor. The sugars caramelize and form a sweet crust that will send shivers down your spine. This is what I call true comfort food. I have created this dish as a lunch on its own or with a side salad, but feel free have it in smaller portions as a side dish. When roasting vegetables, it is important to remember to cut most of the vegetables the same size to ensure that they cook at the same rate.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients: Serves 5

5  Large Carrots IMG_2601

3 Large Parsnips

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

2 Large Heads of Cauliflower

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Pepper

2 Tablespoons Rosemary, Chopped

2 Tablespoons Thyme, Chopped

5 Ounces Goat Cheese

10 Tablespoons Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)

I like the carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes sliced into sticks- not too thin and not too thick. The cauliflower cooks much faster than the other veggies, so cut into large chunks. Place cut vegetables in an extra large bowl (you may need two) and massage the olive oil, salt, pepper rosemary, and thyme into each piece. Place ingredients on roasting pans, and cook for 45-55 minutes, turning halfway through. As you can see in the photos, I roasted all the veggies together. However, the cauliflower was cooked perfectly about halfway through, so I would recommend roasting it separately and only for 25-30 minutes.

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Allow the vegetables to cool completely before removing from pan. Because this was my lunch for a week, I portioned out the recipe into 5 servings prior to refrigeration. Do what works best for you. Top with 1 oz. of goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of roasted pepitas to add a protein punch and a crunchy topping. This recipe may be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature, although I prefer it hot with cold goat cheese. Enjoy!

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Exercise – A Dirty Word

Bulldog relaxing

I don’t know about you, but after the holidays I can’t seem to get motivated at the gym! I drag myself there and aimlessly walk on the treadmill or attempt the stair climber, all while counting down the seconds in which I will be buckling that seatbelt and heading home. I have never been one of those people that can’t wait to get to the gym, or go on a run just to “let off some steam.” No thank you. Reading a good book in my PJ’s is plenty of stress relief for me. Let’s face it, for most of us there are much more exciting things to do than break a sweat. Unfortunately, the benefits of exercise are so immense, it is truly imperative that we do it.

Maybe you are in a slump like me, or maybe you have never actually set out to begin an exercise regimen. Regardless of the reason, the most important question to ask yourself is: “WHY?” Why do you want to begin a regimen or yank yourself out of that slump? WHY = MOTIVATION. Although it may be a short term goal such as a wedding, vacation, or reunion, I would like to you think more long-term. Regular exercise as a lifestyle has enormous benefits, and maybe one of them can be your “why.”

Exercise promotes: funny gym

  • Long-term weight management
  • An increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a decrease in triglycerides
  • Improved overall mood
  • Boosted energy levels (Really, it’s true!)
  • Disease prevention, such as: heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and arthritis

My “why” is the naughty BIG 3-0 that I will be facing come November. I truly want to be in the best cardiovascular shape of my life for that milestone of a birthday. I have also always wanted to be a runner. It just sounds so cool, “Oh yeah, I’m a runner, no big deal.” My endurance has never improved enough to where I could actually say that. The truth is, I have never tried hard enough to make it happen. So starting Monday, January 20th, I will begin following an app for my iPhone that should have me running a 10K in 14 weeks. I am committed and determined, and I am saying it out loud so that I will be held accountable for this one.

I can rattle off a bunch of unoriginal tips to you like, get an exercise group together, or announce your plan out loud to friends and family so that you will be held accountable (like I just did)…but you don’t need that. You don’t need a 1, 2, 3 tip list. What you do need, is to find your WHY. Set a date to start, and make it happen!! We can do this in 2014!

Tell me your WHY below, and share it with the world.

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BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch!

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I don’t know if there is a single tip I can stress more than bringing your own lunch to work with you. So often, we are pressured by our work buds to make lunch choices that we normally wouldn’t if we were dining alone. Or maybe it is the urge to get out of the office just to revel in the fresh air. I notice that just the thought of lunchtime possibilities throughout the morning hustle can be more exciting than a trip to Disney. This is simply due to our desire to escape the workplace, and truly has little to do with the meal itself. Boy, is this going to come as a blow….pull it together….make your lunch in advance, and bring it with you!!! Eat it outside, at Starbucks with a hot tea, or in your car for all I care. Just don’t waste your day’s worth of calories and fat during a lunchtime bender.

Call me crazy but a loaded pizza on a Wednesday at noon would not be happening if I was thinking sanely and had a lunch calling my name in the fridge. Then, what happens when we get home? We rejoice in the fact that the workday is over and we eat something else decadent? So commonly, this is the truth. I understand that lunch for so many is a wonderful time in the day that we detach from our duties and enjoy some deliciousness. But the fact of the matter is, we are at work. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my calories and bad choices while I’m at work. I would rather go wild at home with loved ones. After a long day of work, I’m tired and I don’t necessarily want to make good decisions all the time. So I know that if I fueled up on nutritious food at breakfast and lunch, I have room to rejoice at the end of the day. I can indulge in my favorite dessert of the week, whatever that may be – all things in moderation. Evenings are usually filled with our families and maybe even a dinner out, so I want to relax and enjoy that time. Of course, I have to add a disclaimer: Weeknight dinners are not meant for rich, decadent, fatty overloads and binge eating….but there is a bit more leeway if we have calories to spare.

  very large salad bowl II with lemon 120 x 180 cm oil/c 2008

Lunchtime tips:

  1. Go meatless. By going meatless at lunchtime, we can significantly reduce our saturated fat intake, carbon footprint, total calories, all while filling up on fresh plant-based food. This is a great tip to keep lunch affordable as well….but where will I get my protein? Simple. Add beans, nuts, and seeds and you will have plenty of protein for that meal. The best part about this tip is that you can literally eat as much as you want without feeling guilty.
  2. Prepare your weekday lunches on Sunday. Large salads (and I mean large- no wimpy salads that will leave me ready to gnaw off my arm in an hour and a half) are great to get through lunchtime. Chop all of your veggies on Sunday and portion out at least 3 of your salads for the week. They will be ready to grab and go as you roll out of bed for the next three days. Wednesday night is a good time to reevaluate your veggies. Your lettuce may look like it has seen better days, so you might want to sub a different vegetable. Now, prep the next two days. Load your salad up with anything and everything you can imagine. You can choose celery, carrots, olives, hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, raw peppers, jalapenos, avocado, banana peppers, goat cheese, feta cheese, dried cranberries, raisins, beans, nuts, seeds, and so many more. I love to make my own dressings. I will post some of my faves in the near future.
  3. Soup it up! Pile as many veggies and beans as you can think of in a pot and simply add veggie broth or water and a few veggie bouillon cubes (Make sure they are MSG-or monosodium glutamate free) and bring to a boil. You will not believe how simple it is to make veggie soups- and they are pretty hard to mess up. It is one of my go-to’s. I will make a large batch of soup on Sunday and freeze half for later lunches weeks down the road. So after that busy weekend or a weekend getaway I simply defrost the soup overnight and have plenty of soup for the week. This is a really great tip to load up on veggie goodness while eating a filling dish and still enjoying some comfort food at work.
  4.  Change it up. My previous tips have focused on preparing one basic meal in the beginning of the week and then eating that same meal for five days. I don’t mind this, because I know that most are more likely to BYOL if it is waiting in the fridge the morning of. Many weeks I am able to eat the same thing five days in a row, but not every week. When you need to switch it up, use those ingredients that you prepared on Sunday and transform them into something a little bit different and more interesting. For example, throw those already chopped veggies in a tortilla to make a delicious veggie wrap Wednesday night. Sick of meatless meals? Make a soft taco with roasted chicken breast and use the salad as the topper. Add tuna or grilled chicken to your salad. Just make sure that at least 50% of your lunch comes from plant sources. Be Creative! If you’re sick of the soup, maybe purée it and add a dollop of Greek yogurt to change it up. Delish!

It’s about experimentation. Try new things. Never had watercress? Give it a shot! Enjoy the meals that you prepare so that you look forward to eating them. But always, always BYOL!

 

 

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