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Herb Roasted Root Vegetables

I have vivid memories of sitting at the table as a small child and my mom coaxing me to eat the beets on my plate.  They’ll make your blood red she’d say – they don’t, but that’s what she said.  I‘d just stare at the red, slippery round slices in disgust. I really, really didn’t like beets.  Never have – until I discovered roasted beets.  After visiting our local farmer’s market this summer I thought it was about time I try them again.  After all, it’s been some 40 odd years since I decided I didn’t like them.  And tastes change, right?  They’re also a good source of potassium, folate, and fiber.  So, I bought some and tried roasting them with other root vegetables and herbs.  They were delicious!  I’ll still probably not try beets in the slippery red sauce in which my mom prepared them, but I’ll definitely try them roasted again.  Roasting brings out wonderful flavors in root vegetables, caramelizing them just a bit. Mixed with fresh herbs, a little kosher salt, and olive oil and we have a winner.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Scrub beets well with a vegetable brush and remove stems and greens.  Don’t forget to save some of the greens!

Everything’s almost ready to go into the oven.

Looking good!

Ingredients:

6-7 small, fresh beets, washed and diced (reserve about 1 c. of the beet greens)

1/2 large sweet onion cut into wedges

5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4-5 potatoes, cut into chunks

1-2 Tbsp. fresh thyme

1-2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 c. water

Method:

Coat bottom of 9×13 in. baking dish with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Place prepared potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, kosher salt, and remaining olive oil.  Roast at 375 F for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and add 1 c. torn beet greens and 1/2 c. water.  Return to oven and roast for 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.  Remove from oven and serve.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Cooking, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. . .a perfect fall breakfast

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Breakfast is touted as the most important meal of the day. . .and sadly skipped by many people, young and old.  With September being National Breakfast Month I thought it would be appropriate to post a good, healthy breakfast recipe.  But why eat breakfast?  Do a quick Google search and you’ll find resources showing how kids do better in school if they’ve had breakfast; you’ll feel more energetic; or that you’re overall health will improve.  Personally, I find that I feel better and work more productively if I’ve had something to eat after going all night without anything.  So don’t skip.  Find something you like and fill your tank before you head out for the day.

One of my favorites is oatmeal.  It’s easy to make, doesn’t take too long, and you can easily change up the flavor by adding a variety of other food items.  In fact, you could get all the dry ingredients together the night before so all you need to do is chop an apple, add the liquid, and cook.  Even the apple could be chopped the night before if you toss it with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. This recipe is perfect for autumn, when apples are in season, and the smell of cooked apples and cinnamon leave a rich scent in the kitchen.  Health-wise, it’s great, filled with fiber, good-for-you walnuts, and low-fat too.  Enjoy – my daughter did!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 c. quick cooking oatmeal

1 c. water

1 c. skim milk

1 small apple, finely chopped

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 T. dried cranberries

Dash of salt

1 Tbsp. finely chopped walnuts

2 tsp. brown sugar

Method:

In medium-sized sauce pan mix together oatmeal, cinnamon, cranberries, salt, brown sugar, and walnuts.  Stir in chopped apple, water and milk.  Cook on medium heat, stirring continually to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes or until desired consistency.  Remove from heat and add 1 more tsp. brown sugar on top, then cover and let rest for 1 minute.  Serve warm with milk.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups ( 5 – 1/2 cup servings).

Chop the apple into small chunks. Larger pieces won’t cook as quickly.

All ingredients in the pan and ready to cook.  Stir continually to prevent scorching.

Cooked and ready for milk.

Ready to eat

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Cooking, Health, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Hunger

Today, my kids and I spent two hours packing dried food packets to send to hungry children.  We were a few of many  volunteers.  Feed My Starving Children is an organization dedicated to helping hungry and starving children worldwide.  Our boxes will be sent to Haiti.

I’ve known that hunger is a problem our world faces.  We all hear of the poor starving kids in . . .  Parents of generations past used to shame their children into eating everything on the plate because, you know, there are starving children out there who would appreciate what was on their plate.  But now, here in the USA, we’re surrounded by such an over abundance of food, that true hunger and starvation seem distant.  That’s not to say there are no hungry or starving people here in our country.  There are, I’m sure.  And they face the same hunger as others, just in a different location.

So when the opportunity came up to volunteer, and in some small way affect the lives of these children, we came on board and signed up for our two hour shift.  It was amazing!  My kids and I worked alongside other children and adults to pack 179 boxes of food.  At 32 packs per box, each pack feeding a child for a day, well that’s a lot of food. And it’s specially formulated for starving children, to sustain them and help them improve nutritionally.

Did you know that about 17,000 people die each day from hunger and starvation?  It’s a staggering number.  I’ve read many blogs lately dealing with delicious food and recipes that we can try at home to enhance our diet or taste palette.  Yet while I sit here writing, or while I’m trying to decide what to make for supper from my well stocked pantry, there are children who don’t have enough to eat.  That’s sad, really sad.  While it seems like a far away problem that I can do little about, there are groups like Feed My Starving Children who get out there and do something about it.  I’m thankful they do and thankful my kids and I could be a small part of that today.  My 9-year-old said it best when he said “Mama, we helped some starving children today, didn’t we?”

If there’s a packing location near you, won’t you consider volunteering?  Two hours are all it took.  And the time flew by.  We had fun doing it together.  You can too.  Take a look at Feed My Starving Children.  You’ll be glad you did!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Family, Health, Nutrition

 

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Birthday Dinner Salad

The Birthday Salad

It was birthday time at our house today and I usually ask the birthday person what they would like for a meal that evening.  The requested meal this time, by my husband, was salad.  I found all kinds of good stuff to put into a birthday dinner salad for him.  In his words, this was really good!

On the counter I found a day-old cinnamon raisin bagel.  I figured no one was going to eat it for breakfast, and rather than throw it out later this week I decided to make a little crostini to go with the salad.  Slice the bagel into thin pieces and lay them on a baking sheet.  One bagel  made about 27 pieces.  Melt about 2 Tbsp. of butter (yes, butter) and brush a small amount on each slice.  Top it with a slight sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and then broil for 3-4 minutes till golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven, turn the slices over, and repeat the procedure on the other side.  Broil about a minute till golden brown.  Watch closely to prevent burning.

Crostini made from a day old cinnamon raison bagel

In the freezer I found some salmon – not enough for a main dish by itself, but I thought it would make a lovely addition to our salad tonight.  So out it came.  After it defrosted I sprinkled on a little dill weed, sea salt, and fresh lime juice.

Salmon waiting to be cooked

For the salad, use a variety of lettuce and spinach, about 1 c. of golden grape tomatoes – halved.

Lettuce and tomatoes

One purple carrot from the garden – cut in small pieces

Purple carrot. Isn’t it pretty?

And 1 cucumber – peeled, halved and sliced.

Now with carrots and cucumbers

If you have red peppers you can try grilling them.  Peel, slice, and add them to the salad for a little more interest.

Peppers on the grill

To cook the salmon, wrap it loosely in foil and grill for 5-7 minutes or till done.

Lifted the foil a bit to check the salmon

To finish the salad, core and dice one apple, drizzling the pieces with lemon juice to prevent browning and add to the salad. Top it with 2-3 Tbsp. of feta cheese and salmon pieces, drizzling some fresh lime juice on top.

Almost done!

Serve with the cinnamon raisin crostini.  For dressing I let everyone choose their own.  My favorite, however, was a simple raspberry balsamic vinegar.  This made a tasty, healthy salad the whole family liked.  Hope you enjoy it as much as they did!

The Birthday Salad

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Cooking, Family, Recipes

 

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes from the garden

Tomatoes are a fantastically versatile vegetable, which is good considering the amount of ripe ones I have in the garden right now.  Ranging from marble-sized to softball-sized or larger they can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways.  There’s nothing like popping into your mouth a fresh from the garden cherry tomato, or a thick slice of a garden fresh heirloom tomato.  They can be used fresh as is, stuffed, or added to salads or sandwiches.  Cooking them just expands their usefulness.  Baked, broiled, grilled, fried, sautéed, or roasted – there are many methods to explore with this wonderful summertime fruit.

And when the crop is abundant it’s time to think of how to preserve it.  One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes for use in the winter is to take my excess cherry and grape tomatoes, roast them with some garlic and basil, and freeze it for later.  The result is delicious.

In my last batch, most of the tomatoes I used were cherry or grape, but I did add a few Roma and slicers to thin it out a bit as it can get pretty thick otherwise.  This is a healthy recipe that’s easy, fairly quick, and good tasting.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

8 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4-5 cloves garlic, or more if desired

8-10 large basil leaves

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt

4-5 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Remove stems and wash tomatoes.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and larger tomatoes in wedges.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on the foil.

Foil lined pan with olive oil

Spread out the oil and put cherry tomatoes on the foil, cut side up.  Place wedges on the foil, cut side up.

Peel garlic and place on the pan among the tomatoes.

Wash basil and add to the tomatoes, gently tearing the larger leaves.

Sprinkle the pan of tomatoes, garlic, and basil with balsamic vinegar and kosher salt.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on top.

Tomatoes and all the toppings

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are tender.

Remove from oven and blend together in a food processor till desired consistency.

In the food processor

Sauce will be thick.  Freeze in bags or  plastic freezer containers.  Makes about 3 pints.

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Homemade Concord Grape Jam

Homemade Concord Grape Jam

Mother-in-laws . . . gotta love them.  Seriously, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have the best mother-in-law ever.  She called earlier last week wanting to know if I’d like some concord grapes from the farm.  The vine was loaded, she said, and she’d be there for a couple more hours.  Call back if I want some.  Great, I thought, until I saw that she had called the day before and left the message.  Bummer – no concord grapes.

Fast forward this past weekend and I found out she went ahead and picked some for me anyway!  I’ve made jam from these grapes before and it’s always so good.  She remembered.  So I’m thankful for my thoughtful mother-in-law.  When we got back concord grape jam was on the cooking list.

This time I used a recipe from Epicurious.  It doesn’t call for any pectin, and it takes a little time to slip the skins from the grapes, but it’s well worth the effort.

Grape skins before pureeing.

Peeled grapes

Mixing the skins and grapes together.

I cooked mine a little longer this time and it’s a bit thicker than I like, but it still tastes sweet and wonderful.

It’s almost ready!

You can find the recipe here.  Enjoy – I know my family and I are.  Now I need to put a jar aside for my mother-in-law before the kids eat all of it!

Finished product – ready to eat!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes

 

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Monday Musings on a Wednesday – Balanced Eating

Balance . . . it’s about balance.  At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself the last day or so.  We spent the last weekend with family, attended a wedding and finished up at my mother-in-law’s house.  She is the best mother-in-law ever, but when we visit it’s kind of like a continuous food feast.  Add to that a wedding and travel time, and my quest for healthy eating seems to vanish. Do you have a place like that?  A place where your determination to eat healthy just disappears?  In its place is a ravenous appetite for the snacks and meals you normally don’t have at home.  You know, like wedding cake or kettle corn – two of the temptations I faced this weekend.

As I thought about it, and talked it through with my husband since he’s trying to maintain a healthy diet too, the word ‘balance’ came to mind.  Years ago, during my time as a wellness dietitian, I often encountered people who would totally avoid anything like, well, wedding cake or kettle corn . . . until they had a weekend like mine. Then they went overboard, eating everything in sight.  It was all or nothing, up or down, with no room for anything in between.  Sometimes they would come back from such a weekend and get back on track – but feeling guilty.  Many times, however, they felt like they failed and went right back to their old eating habits.  Two steps forward, three steps back – not a healthy way to eat.

So what can be done?  Is it possible to have a healthy diet when faced with temptations? Let’s think this through.  What options are there?  For our family it was important that we attend the wedding and visit my mother-in-law.  Those relationships are important, so not attending wasn’t an option.  That meant we’d be faced with all kinds of not-so-healthy, but appealing, choices.  Some we indulged in, like sharing a piece of wedding cake or having a  small brownie.  Others we didn’t, like going back for a second piece of cake.  We brought watermelon, bananas, and water for snacks during the drive – a good choice.  I also made use of the treadmill in the hotel’s workout room – another good choice.  At my mother-in-law’s we both had some of the kettle corn she offered, but didn’t go overboard.

So back to balance. While we made some choices that others would deem unhealthy, we also made some good choices.  And really, there’s much more to eating than the nutritional value of food. The food itself should be appealing to the eye and have good flavor.  The eating experience is important too, should be enjoyable, and includes the people we dine with, the conversations that occur during a meal, and celebrations that call for feasting.  And a wedding is a celebration.  Should we throw caution to the wind and eat everything in sight? No.  But we shouldn’t feel guilty either if we choose items we wouldn’t normally eat because of the sugar or fat or whatever.  The weekend was only a couple of days, not enough to throw us off our healthy lifestyle, just a curve in the road that adds a little interest to the daily drive.  If our everyday diet is a healthy one, then weekends like this won’t take us off-road.  We can turn right back, without feeling guilty, and continue our healthy lifestyle.

Now if I or my husband had to follow some type of therapeutic diet things would be a little different.  We would be more diligent in following the guidelines of the specific diet.  But that’s a post for another day.  For now, our goal is to take care of ourselves with a healthy, balanced, lifestyle.  And that sometimes includes a curve in the road.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

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