March 2014 archive

Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens

Finished Product 1

Finished Product 1 The lack of enthusiasm generated from my last post on collard greens made me wonder if it is due to the true unfamiliarity that many have with these large leaves. Being the ever-persistent little bugger that I am, I decided not to throw in the towel in hopes that all will instantly see the magic in collards. I will educate you on the versatility and deliciousness that these greens have to offer. This post kicks off the first of a three part recipe series on collard greens.

I decided to start off with Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens because the focus is not necessary on the green itself. The focus is on the delicious filling and rich tomato sauce that smothers each bundle of love. As with most of my more involved recipes, each step is unbelievably simple. So although it may seem like the recipe is complicated, just take it step by step, and you will be amazed with how simple it truly is. Like stuffed grape leaves or stuffed cabbage, these are a labor of love, so take your time and enjoy the process.

Begin with the sauce. Often canned tomatoes have a very acidic “edge” to them, almost bitter really. It is quite common for a chef to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to balance that acidic bite. However, I recommend adding one whole chopped carrot to the sauce at the start. This adds a natural sweetness as well as a nutrient kick, without being detectable by taste. You can process the carrots in the food processor if you don’t want them to be seen by the naked eye. Trust me, no one will ever know. I just roughly chopped these, as I like the chunkiness. A truly delicious sauce needs the most important ingredient: TIME. So let this sauce simmer for at least an hour, and if you aren’t busy, let it go longer.

Sauce Ingredients

The filling is very simple. With brown rice, mushrooms, and beans, it is hearty enough to skip the meat. However, ground turkey or chicken breast and lean ground beef would do well in here. I would just recommend adding some of the tomato sauce to the filling to keep it from getting too dry.

Filling Ingredients

The collards should be washed and blanched for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. I recommend leaving the stems on, as they become much easier to fish out.

Collards Unwashed

Blanching collards

Once they are cooled, cut the stems out and overlap the cut ends to ensure a sturdy wrap for our filling. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup. I like to have extra leaves to allow for error. If a leaf tears as you are rolling, just insert the whole thing into another leaf. A double leaved rollup is even better!

Placing filling

Place each little soldier in an orderly fashion in a baking dish.

Rolled Collards

Cover with sauce, then foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Rolled collards top view

Topped with sauce

Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens

Yield: 8 Stuffed Leaves

Ingredients

    Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Large Carrot, Chopped or Minced
  • 1- 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Can Cannellini Beans, Drained and Rinsed
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 6 Large Button or Crimini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms, Chopped
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 12 Intact Collard Greens, Washed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
  2. For the Sauce:
  3. Saute garlic, onion, and carrot in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes, basil, and spices.
  4. Simmer for a minimum of one hour.
  5. For the filling:
  6. Saute the garlic and mushrooms until tender.
  7. Add the rice, beans, salt and pepper, and sauté until flavors have combined and all ingredients are heated through. Set aside.
  8. Preparing the Collards:
  9. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Place the collards in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just until they are bright green and pliable.
  10. After removing from water, allow the leaves to cool slightly. Remove the stems from the center by carving them away with a knife.
  11. Completing the Rollups:
  12. Overlap the trimmed ends of the leaf to create a smooth and sturdy wrap. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup.
  13. If the leaf tears halfway through the process, simply insert it into another leaf, allowing for a double-leaved rollup.
  14. Align rollups side by side in a square baking sheet and cover with all of the tomato sauce. Wrap the top with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Notes

*If the tomato sauce is still too acidic, you may want to add 1 tablespoon if honey to round out the flavor.

**These stuffed collard greens are delicious served hot or at room temperature. Drizzle with a thin stream of extra virgin olive oil if you so desire, and enjoy!

http://tastefulwisdom.com/collards-3-ways-part-one-mediterranean-stuffed-collard-greens/
Finished product 2

 

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Are Collards the New Kale?

Collard Greens

As in pink has been the new black in my opinion for as long as I can remember now…but really, is kale taking a final bow and preparing to return to its mundane spot on the plate as a plastic-esque garnish? Not quite, but it has become apparent that people are tiring of its attention in the spotlight. Just as it has hit nearly every mainstream menu as the new trendy raw salad, it is losing its glam appeal. As the peculiar group that we are, humans in general will always tire of the conventional, the ordinary, and the not-so-secret.

If we look back to the trends of late, from arugula and avocados to coconut and dark chocolate, we find that these foods lose their hotness as soon as the market is saturated. Now this is not to say that we ditch them altogether – coconut still lines the shelves from soups, cereals, drinks, and candy (for now). We are just no longer enamored by them. We keep them in our fridges but must move on to find the next diamond in the rough…and it is usually a food or product that has been right under our noses for quite some time, reinventing itself like Madonna every decade.

And now with tiny whispers slowly growing in number, you are presented with the next super-“trendy”-food headlining this spring: The Collard Green. Like kale, it belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and is in season right now. Along with cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, collard greens bring with them powerful cancer-fighting potential. Glucosinolates can be thanked for their amazing effect. With food processing or even chewing, these compounds are broken down into isothiocyanates, potent molecules that actually aid in the programmed death of tumor cells, thus being coined anti-carcinogenic. They are thought to especially ward off lung and esophageal cancers while lowering the risk of gastrointestinal and other cancers as well.

Very high Vitamin A and Vitamin C, collards are a great source of antioxidants. When environmental toxins and pollutants enter your body, these antioxidants act as fire extinguishers by calming and suppressing their harmful volatility. The toxins, or oxidants, take part in the aging process by causing oxidative damage to all of your cells. Antioxidants help to slow this process by decreasing the oxidative stress placed on cells. Because of their high fiber content, they are thought to lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestinal tract and encouraging the excess cholesterol to be evacuated from your body. The fiber content is also very beneficial for your digestive health.

Traditionally, collard greens are cooked in a large pot for hours at a time. A ham hock is usually added for rich saltiness and of course the fatty mouth feel. However, like cabbage, cauliflower and other members of the cruciferous family, over-cooking will lead to a strong sulfur smell that is not very appetizing- and when you aren’t using a ham hock to mask these odors it is no bueno. Those magical isothiocyanates can also be leached out of the leaves if cooked for too long, so just don’t do it! Cook them as you would kale or spinach: steam alone, sauté with garlic and olive oil, use in soups, pastas, and casseroles…just give them a try!

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Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Blurred Tea with Stacked browines

Tea Blurred Brownies Stacked

You read right… Black Bean Brownies that are absolutely divine. I first must give credit to SkinnyTaste.com as this is where the recipe originated. I first tasted these babies through a fellow dietitian who brought in a sample to work. They were absolutely dreamy. I found the recipe and, of course, had to tweak it slightly to my taste. To appeal to my vegan friends, I removed the eggs and actually substituted them with a little ground flaxseed and water trick. I added some walnuts and pumpkin seeds because I love a little crunch in my brownies. I used a little less cane sugar and added in some coconut sugar for a deep brown sugar-like flavor. After a few tries, I found perfection. Surprisingly, the original recipe called for a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. I tried the recipe both with and without the vinegar and found the texture to be slightly more to my liking WITH it. The vinegar is undetectable by taste, so use it.  Stacked Brownied

Now this is not my first go at black beans in brownies…in fact, I have made them on multiple occasions. However, none of the recipes tasted as amazing as these. They have earned themselves a little spotlight in the blogosphere (and Gina from SkinnyTaste.com has as well of course!).

So not only are they rich and delicious little gems filled with fiber and protein, they are also astonishingly easy! You basically throw all ingredients except for the nuts and chocolate chips into a food processor and presto chango, you have transformed canned black beans into pure decadence!

INgredients

Instead of the two eggs that the original recipe called for, I used 8 tablespoons of water blended together with 2 tablespoons of flax seeds to create an egg substitute rich in omegas. You are welcome to use the two eggs that are called for if you so choose.

IMG_3096

 I also cut down the cane sugar and added some coconut sugar in lieu. Found in most health food stores, coconut crystals are basically just the sap from a coconut plant dried to form sugar-like crystals. Although there are many health claims swirling about this product, I am not so certain that they are all true. However, this form of sugar does have some minerals remaining from its originator and its taste is deep and- rich similar to brown-sugar. I love coconut crystals mostly for the flavor.

Coconut-Secret-Raw-Coconut-Crystals

If you do not want to go through the trouble of finding coconut crystals, just use the original 3/4 cup cane sugar. Process all ingredients except for the chocolate chips, nuts, and seeds. Then stir them into the batter, spread into an 8 x 8 inch pan, and bake!

Brownie Batter in Pan

What you are left with is nothing short of heavenly. Enjoy!

Single Brownie with tea

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce Can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Flax Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Crystals
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips or Carob Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Blend 1/2 cup water with flax seeds until smooth to make egg substitute.
  3. Add egg substitute along with remaining ingredients, except for chocolate chips, walnuts, and pepitas, to a food processor.
  4. Process until very smooth.
  5. Transfer into mixing bowl and stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and pepitas.
  6. Spread into greased 8 x 8 inch pan and bake for 28-31 minutes.
  7. Let brownies cool completely before cutting and serving.
http://tastefulwisdom.com/gluten-free-black-bean-brownies/

For the original recipe at SkinnyTaste.com click here.

 

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Asian No Rice “Fried Rice”

Cover Picture

Cover Picture

  This is a smart dish that will absolutely blow you away with both its complex flavor and nutrient profile. By substituting cauliflower for actual rice, you not only lighten up the dish but you add cancer-fighting phytonutrients. With a somewhat mild flavor and soft texture after cooking, cauliflower is the ultimate substitute for rice. I promise, you will be AMAZED! …and never miss the rice! So I will admit, there are quite a few steps to this recipe, but the end product is beyond worth it – hang in there! Each step is major easiness so there is no way to really mess this one up. This is a perfect bring your own lunch (BYOL) recipe that should last you almost the whole work week. So a little legwork on the weekend will totally pay off. Not to mention the fact that you will be the talk of the break room with your super snazzy and smart fare. You could literally call this “BOTTOMLESS Asian No Rice Fried Rice” as you can eat all you want and only gain health (alright and a little extra sodium but who will really eat the entire recipe- I guess if you really want to, cut back on the soy sauce)! My point is this is a fabulous light dish that won’t assist in packing on the pounds, but will provide nourishment at a cellular level. It is also a vegan recipe, but feel free to serve with a lean protein such as salmon or chicken breast, or keep it veg and add some marinated tofu. Serve warm or cold, as a side or a main, for lunch or dinner, just try it. For the recipe in its entirety, please see below. Begin by making the Asian sauce with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cilantro, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Then add this to your raw cauliflower that has been pulsed in the food processor.

Mise en place Cauliflower Sauce IMG_3032

 

Spread “rice” in one even layer onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3-5 minutes more. This softens the cauliflower, cooks the garlic and ginger, and adds a bit of crispness that is sinful.

 

Cauliflower Spread on baking sheet

While the “rice” is cooking in the oven, sauté shredded cabbage, onions, and carrots until tender. Carrot, onion, cabbage sautee

Mix the veggies with the rice, fresh cilantro, and roasted cashews and serve!

Finished product close up 2

Asian No Rice “Fried Rice”

Ingredients

    Sauce:
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Gluten-Free Tamari, Divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider or Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro, Finely Chopped
  • 3 Scallions, Chopped
  • Rice:
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive or Coconut Oil
  • 1Tablespoon Soy sauce
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, Core Removed and Roughly Chopped
  • ½ Head Green or Savoy Cabbage, Thinly Sliced or Shredded
  • 2 Large Carrots, Thinly Sliced or Shredded
  • 1 Large Onion, Thinly Sliced
  • ½ Cup Fresh Cilantro, Torn
  • ½ Cup Roasted Cashews, Chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wisk together all liquid ingredients for the sauce, then stir in garlic, ginger, chopped cilantro and scallions. Set aside.
  3. In batches, pulse cauliflower until it resembles grains of rice. Be careful to not over process as the cauliflower will eventually turn to a puree.
  4. Pour sauce over cauliflower rice and mix.
  5. Spread in one even layer onto baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then broil for an additional 3-5 minutes- or until golden brown with some dark, crispy bits.
  6. While the cauliflower is cooking in the oven, sauté cabbage, onions, and carrots in oil with soy sauce on medium-high heat, until tender.
  7. Mix cauliflower with sauté mixture, cilantro, and cashews. Serve and enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/asian-rice-fried-rice/

 

   

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Homemade Almond Milk

Blender seq

Almond milk….It is rich, creamy, and absolutely delicious. It is so awesome to make this milk at home, and the best part is, you know exactly what went into it!  Of course I don’t  have the time or the energy to do this always, but when I do it is my preferred method. Making almond milk at home is actually super simple, and the taste is incomparable to the store bought stuff…totally worth a try.

Why almond milk rather than cow’s milk? Well, this is a “to each his own” answer…not sure if I am ready to go down that rabbit hole, but I will say that I prefer the taste of almond milk over cow’s milk. I like drinking a plant based product that has good nutrients and lots of calcium. I like the fact that I don’t need to worry about antibiotics and hormones or how many cows contributed to my one glass of milk. And simply, I like almonds!

Almonds are rich in Biotin, Vitamin E, Calcium, and Magnesium. All of which contain numerous health benefits. The B vitamin, biotin, is notorious for strengthening and beautifying hair, skin, and nails. Although some of these effects have not been scientifically proven, we do know that it plays a major role in nerves, metabolism, and cell health.  Preliminary research suggests biotin may improve insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It promotes overall inflammation reduction and is thought to aid in immune function. It may postpone heart disease onset and age-related cognitive decline while preventing dangerous blood clots. It is important to note, that it is recommended to consume Vitamin E through food rather than supplements (unless directed by a professional) as any hazard associated with Vitamin E supplements are still unclear. Calcium is known for its role in bone health, but also may aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Like Vitamin E, taking calcium in supplement form is a little controversial. Magnesium is thought to play a role in the reduction of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even migraines. Almonds also have good protein, fat, iron, zinc, folic acid, and many other vitamins and minerals. It is always better to get your nutrition from foods because as I stated previously, experts are still unsure of the risks and benefits associated with vitamin and mineral supplements.

Okay, now for the nitty gritty…the milk itself. I purchase organic almonds and soak them overnight. Most recipes agree that they should be soaked but disagreements arise as to why  they should be soaked. I soak to soften them and remove any impurities that may be lingering on their skins. Simply blend them up with clean water, a few dates for sweetness, and strain. Viola! You have almond milk (see recipe below)! Remember this milk has NO preservatives so drink up quickly. I would give it three days in the fridge…maybe four if you’re lucky. It freezes great so if you aren’t sure how quickly you will drink it, freeze half of the batch.

The only truly tricky thing about this recipe is the straining. You have a few options. You can strain through a sieve and cheese cloth, cheese cloth alone, a fine mesh strainer, or a nut milk bag. I have tried every which way and each has pros and cons. I like the fine mesh strainer simply because I don’t always have cheese cloth lying around, but this can be time consuming. My favorite method is by far a nut milk bag. This is a super fine mesh bag that is used specifically for nut milks (but can also be used for anything that needs a good straining). It is inexpensive and completely reusable. If you enjoy making almond milk, and believe that you will continue to make it in the future, the bag is the way to go. Nut milk bags can be found here. Soaked almonds and dates

 Add almonds, dates, and water then blend away!

Blender seq  Now strain through nut milk bag…

Milk through nut milk bag

Milk next to strained bag

Chill and serve!

Finished almond milk enhanced

Homemade Almond Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Organic Almonds
  • 2-3 Medjool Dates
  • 2-3 Cups Filtered Water

Instructions

  1. Soak almonds in water overnight, changing the water at least once.
  2. Add almonds, dates, and your preferred amount of water. I like mine rich and creamy, so I usually use only 2 cups of water. If you like it thinner, use three.
  3. Blend until almost completely smooth- at least one minute.
  4. Strain through preferred straining method- see above for options.
  5. Chill and serve!

Notes

Almond milk will stay good for at least three days in the fridge...but probably won't last that long anyway!

http://tastefulwisdom.com/homemade-almond-milk/

 

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