Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lots About Lentils!


What is small, round, comes in a variety of colors, and is delicious in this week’s soup? Yup, lentils!
Unfortunately, despite lentils being packed with nutrients and a great addition to numerous dishes, many
people (including me) often forget about these yummy legumes. Curious why you should add these to your
diet and how? Keep reading!

Nutrients in Lentils
As stated, lentils have many nutritious qualities and contain multiple nutrients that tend to be lacking in the
average American diet. For example, lentils are rich in iron, potassium, fiber, manganese, and antioxidants.
Even more, these legumes are a great plant-based protein source, as ½ cup of lentils has ~12 grams of protein.


Types of Lentils
There are many different types of lentils, the main types are red, yellow, orange, brown, green, and black.
More often than not, you will find when purchasing lentils the colors red, yellow, and orange are sold as split
lentils. This means the husk of the lentil has been removed, and these lentils will cook faster than whole lentils,
which still have their husk. As these lentils cook faster, they will not keep their shape, making them great for
soups or stews that are pureed. In contrast, black, green, and brown lentils are typically sold as whole lentils
meaning they are firmer and will hold their shape better, so these are the ones you can throw into salads,
curries, and pasta dishes!  

How to Cook Lentils
Another great reason to eat more lentils is they are ridiculously easy to cook. When cooking lentils, start by
rinsing them off using a strainer to remove any dirt. Making preparation even easier, unlike beans, lentils do
not need to be pre-soaked so you can skip straight to cooking by adding 3 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils in
a pot. Bring this to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the lentils for about 20-30
minutes if you are using whole lentils, or 10-15 minutes for split lentils. Then you're done, easy right?

Overall, lentils are easy to cook, full of beneficial nutrients, and there are multiple varieties to experiment with.
Moreover, if you don’t feel like cooking them, you can also buy them canned. So, go buy some lentils and
get cooking!


Make it a Meal!
Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese
4 servings

8 slices whole grain bread
2 tbsp olive oil/butter 
8 oz mozzarella (or any preferred melting cheese)
1 (8 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes 
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

Spread one side of each bread slice with butter/oil of choice. Place oiled/buttered side of bread face down in a
low-heated pan. Divide cheese evenly over one slice. Apply sun dried tomatoes and basil leaves to the same
slice. Allow bread to toast for 1-2 minutes, then top with remaining bread slice. Carefully remove from heat
and cool slightly. Slice in half and serve!

Italian Lentil Soup
Yield: 2 quarts (8 servings)

1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1 cup carrots, diced
¾ cup celery, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ¼ cups vegetable broth
3 ¼ cup red lentils, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1-2 bay leaves
¼ tsp thyme
½ tsp dried basil (1 ½ tsp fresh basil)
⅛ tsp black pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper
3 oz tomato paste
2 oz frozen kale
1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar

Add oil to the pan. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery for 6-7 minutes Add garlic and sauté for an additional
1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add broth, water, red lentils, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, crushed
red pepper, and tomato paste. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils and
vegetables are tender. Remove all bay leaves. Add kale and vinegar, cook for an additional 5 minutes.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

To Salt or Not To Salt?

It’s the age-old staple at the dinner table that we all know and love so well: Salt. One simple shake of its palm sized container unleashes flavor upon any recipe. Perhaps this is why it has become the main ingredient in so many foods in our diet. But as we place that saltshaker on a pedestal, we are missing out on a world of flavor offered by other spices and herbs that are also conveniently available in one simple shake. Not all of us have fresh herbs or spices on hand all the time, but never fear! You can replace them in a recipe with the dried version at a ratio of 1:3. If it calls for one tablespoon of fresh, simply add one teaspoon instead! 

Image result for spicse instead of salt
Shifting our focus from using salt to flavor our foods to other spices and herbs can affect more than just the taste of a meal; it can save our lives! Reducing the amount of salt in our diets has major health benefits, especially when it comes to reducing blood pressure and improving heart health. It is recommended that a person’s daily salt intake should not exceed 2,300 milligrams, which is equal to one teaspoon!
Image result for salt and health
Easier said than done? It may seem that way, especially with how food is prepared and packaged. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Try starting with these simple suggestions:
  1. When shopping, look for items that are unsalted or low sodium, including limiting processed foods. 
  2. With canned items such as beans or corn, simply rinse and drain to decrease the sodium content!
  3. Taste your food before salting it. You might find it’s perfect the way it is, without the extra salt!
  4.  Experiment with new flavors like in the examples below!
Nutmeg, cinnamon
Coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper
Lemon pepper
Rosemary, thyme, oregano
Green Beans

Minestrone Soup Recipe
  • 4.5 T olive oil
  • 1200 g diced onions
  • 100 g minced garlic
  • 400 g diced carrots
  • 300 g diced celery
  • 1.25 T dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 1.25 minced basil
  • 210 g diced bell pepper
  • 350 g diced zucchini
  • 10 c vegetable broth
  • 10 c water
  • 5 c tomato puree
  • 0.75 c tomato paste
  • 3.75 c cooked garbanzo beans
  • 7.5 T dry red wine
  • 415 g chopped tomatoes
  • 1.25 c dry pasta
Cooking Directions
In a large pot, saute onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil for 10-15 minutes, or until onions are very translucent. Add celery, oregano, black pepper, salt and basil. Cover and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Add peppers, zucchini, broth, water, tomato puree, tomato paste, garbanzo beans, and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook pasta separately and add right before serving.
Make it a Meal!
Try this quinoa salad with your Minestrone Soup to make it a meal! Simply mix the ingredients together and toss with olive oil and lemon juice!
  • 2 cups cold cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 green onions sliced

Favorite Quinoa Salad Recipe

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Missing: Micronutrients

Missing: Micronutrients
Public Health Officials Concerned
Nutrition is a lot like detective work. When we see a disease or health condition, we go on a hunt for what nutrients may be involved. Through this process, many health conditions that are related to extreme micronutrient deficiencies, like scurvy, have been almost eradicated in the U.S. Nowadays, we are trying to optimize health and understand chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes and how to prevent them. Despite reducing extreme micronutrient deficiencies, many Americans are not getting enough of some micronutrients that affect our health. Vitamins and minerals that are often under-consumed include potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C. Iron is also a concern for many women. Of these micronutrients, fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D are the most concerning because of their effect on our health. Let’s talk about what these missing micronutrients do for our health and where we might go searching for them. 

Description: Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. Because it is not digested, it helps you feel full longer. It also helps regulate your bowel movements, lower your cholesterol, and help keep your blood sugar from spiking. These benefits can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, diverticular disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, and constipation. Search for 25-30 grams of fiber per day. 
Last known location: Easiest to spot in whole fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes.Fiber may also be hiding in some refined grains, juices, and cereals, but will be much harder to find.
Description: Potassium is an essential mineral that is found in all parts of the body. It has many functions in the body including cell function and fluid balance. Adequate intake will help prevent hypertension, stroke, and kidney stones and help with insulin sensitivity and maintaining strong bones. Search for 2,600 mg for women and 3,400 mg for men per day.

Last known location: Abundant in fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Try potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, oranges, apricots, beans, plain yogurt, milk, and salmon.
Vitamin D
Description: Plays an essential role in the absorption of another missing nutrient, calcium. Vitamin D is imperative for bone health, and can help prevent osteoporosis. It also helps neuromuscular health, cell growth, and immune function. 
Last known location: Fish like salmon and tuna, milk, fortified orange juice and cereals, egg yolk. Also known to be found basking in the sun.

Description: An essential mineral that necessary for strong bones and teeth, as well as for nerve function.  
Last known location: Milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli, grains


Reward: Better Health!
Here’s how we solved a previous case of missing micronutrients:

To solve the case of the missing micronutrients, we went looking for food sources that contain these vital vitamins and minerals, and made them into a meal. Hidden in the delightfully delicious ingredients of our Black bean sweet potato soup are fiber and potassium. Topping the soup with a sprinkle of cheese can also boost calcium intake. Uncovering a side salad with salmon packs an extra nutritional punch, as salmon is one of the best and only food sources with significant amounts of vitamin D, the final missing nutrient.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Kale Yes!

Image result for cruciferous vegetable food photography"
What do you call a movie about leafy greens?
A Fairy-Kale! 

Ok, ok, even though you're rolling with laughter, we promise no more bad jokes. But actually, kale doesn't belong to the leafy green family at all. It's actually considered a cruciferous vegetable. 

Crucifer- wha?

Cruciferous vegetables are a diverse group of vegetables that grow in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. They are classified together because they are members of the mustard family and consist of foods you may be familiar with such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts and, of course, kale. 
But why do we care?
Well, cruciferous vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense. Members of this veggie family are often rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamins A, C and K. These vitamins and minerals are crucial for a strong immune system and healthy cell growth.

Image result for cruciferous vegetables"

Inflammation Fighting! 

Cue Carl Douglas. 
🎶Everybody was inflammation fighting🎶
🎶That kale was fast as lightning🎶

Ok, sorry, we promised no more jokes. But one of the great things about cruciferous vegetables are the amount of phytonutrients (pronounced 'fight-o nutrients') they contain. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that have been shown to have some serious inflammation fighting power. They also reduce the risk of developing cancers and prevent damage to other cells throughout the body.

Image result for attractive kale"

Cooking with The Cruciferous
Cruciferous vegetables are known for being slightly more bitter than other vegetables. This makes a lot of us cringe when it comes to the idea of cooking with them. But fear not, there is a way to make these rancorous veggies something your family will actually enjoy getting more of. Here are a few ideas that may help: 
  • Pair with something sweet to counter the bitterness
    • For example, try adding apple, watermelon, or pears to a kale or arugula salad. 
  • Roast vegetables to bring out the flavors of the natural sugars that make them sweeter
    • Try roasting brussel sprouts and tossing them with savory flavors such as Parmesan cheese
  • Sauteing can break down the toughness these veggies tend to have, making them easier and more enjoyable to eat. 
    • Sauteing kale with some olive oil and vinegar until just slightly tender pairs well with nuts and garlic. 
  • Boil them in soups!
    • Chop up some kale, turnips or rutabagas and add to your favorite soups! 

Check out this awesome video for all the deets!

This Mediterranean soup has a healthy serving of kale and is absolutely delicious! 

Mediterranean Kale, Cannellini and Barley Stew
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 590 g Onions, dice
  • 605 g Carrots, diced
  • 586 g Celery, chopped
  • 64 g Garlic, mined
  • 20 C Vegetable broth
  • 1644 g Tomatoes, diced
  • 800 g Barley
  • 1.5 tsp Oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 500 g Kale, chopped 
  • 1644 g Cannellini beans
  • 4 Tbsp Lemon juice

Directions: Heat oil in large pot. Add carrots, onions, celery and saute' 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in vegetable broth, tomatoes, barley, oregano, bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Stir in kale, cook 10 minutes. Stir in cannellini beans, continue cooking until barley and kale are tender. Remove bay leaves. Stir in lemon juice and add additional vegetable broth or water to thin soup as desired. 

Make it a Meal
To go along with our yummy soup and cruciferous vegetables, add this tasty bruschetta to make it a complete meal. 
authentic italian bruschetta

Authentic Bruschetta 
  • 4 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Ripe Tomatoes
  • 4 slices Tuscan Bread
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Chopped Basil

Directions: Marinate the chopped tomatoes in some of the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Toast the bread slices on a grill until golden brown. This can also be done in the oven or a toaster. Gently rub cut end of bread with a raw garlic clove. Top with marinated tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt and basil leaves. Drizzle with additional oil if desired. Bon Appetit'

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Potatoe, Potahtoe?

Potatoe, Potahtoe?
A rise in sweet potato popularity has led this potato to become a superfood raved about in health culture. However, in comparison, the conventional russet potato (a.k.a the white potato) has developed a less favorable view with health-conscious consumers. But is this division in potato perception warranted? Read on to find out!
Breaking Down the Differences
Sweet potatoes and russet potatoes have surprisingly similar nutrient contents despite sweet potatoes often getting credit for being the healthier option. Sweet potatoes and russet potatoes are both great sources of important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, B6, and magnesium. The main difference between white potatoes and sweet potatoes is that the sweet potatoes are substantially higher in vitamin A, which sweet potatoes their vibrant orange color.1 This is great because vitamin A is an antioxidant, and it has been found to aid with functions including immunity and vision. However, it should be noted that many other foods are also great sources of vitamin A, so it is not a deal-breaker to choose white potatoes in a well-balanced diet.2
Despite their bad rap, white potatoes have benefits of their own that separate them from their sweet potato sisters. For instance, russet potatoes are higher in potassium and iron than sweet potatoes and lower in sugar.1 The high levels of potassium in white potatoes are especially exciting since this nutrient is effective for helping to manage blood pressure.3 Additionally, though potatoes are a plant-based source of iron, which is not as effective as iron from animal sources, any amount of iron is important to help power our red blood cells.4
Not Just French Fries
         A primary concern with potato consumption is the preparation method. Potatoes are often consumed as French fries, which requires deep-frying, but there are many other ways to cook potatoes, including boiling, roasting, and baking. These cooking methods reduce the amounts of trans fats and calories that are common as a result of deep-frying and keep any variety of potato a healthier option.5 Check out the video below to see how you can roast potatoes and still get amazing crispiness and flavor!
So What Should I Choose?
         While sweet potatoes are often deemed a better choice, white potatoes are also packed with nutrients such as iron and potassium. So don’t feel confined to sweet potatoes. Try adding a variety of potatoes to your diet! 

Check out this fun video for more Potatoes!

 Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup
Makes 2 quarts
1/2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 cups vegetable broth

  1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium-high heat. Place chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, and onion in pot. Stir and cook apples and vegetables until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir lentils, ginger, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and vegetable broth into pot with apple and vegetable mixture. Bring soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, pour soup into a blender, filling pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down lid of blender with folded kitchen towel, and carefully start blender, using a few quick pulses to get soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into clean pot. (Alternately, use a stick blender and puree soup in additional cooking pot.)
  4. Return pureed soup to cooking pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Add water as needed to thin soup to preferred consistency. Serve with yogurt or sour cream for garnish.
Nutrition Facts Panel

Make it a Meal!
Image result for cucumber chicken wrap"
Chicken Wrap
Serves 1
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 3 slices deli chicken meat
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced into rounds and halved
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup romaine, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp dressing of your choice ( we recommend an Asian-style dressing with this soup)
  • Other fun additions: avocado, cheese, other vegetables
  1. Wash and prepare all produce as instructed
  2. Spread dressing on the tortilla
  3. Add vegetables and chicken slices to the tortilla
  4. Fold tightly into a wrap shape and cut in half
  5. Serve!