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8 Vegetables You Have Never Eaten (and May Never Want to Try) – New Food Friday Flash

15 Aug Farm in Minnesota

I’ve covered some of the fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of in the last two New Food Friday Flashes and I could do more. Maybe I’ll come back to fruits in the future. Today I’m covering vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of.  It’s good for your health to eat your vegetables but in some of the vegetables listed below, it might be better for your health if you avoided these vegetables!

Also, I couldn’t find a photo of any of these vegetables but I found a nice photo of what is a “forgotten farm in Minnesota” according to the photographer and selected it for my featured image.

 

Ackee

The alternate name for Ackee is vegetable brains. Is that because if you eat it you will get smarter? Unfortunately not. It’s because it looks like brains. Does it taste like brains? No. How do I know? I’ve eaten a brain sandwich at a country fair once. It was fried pork brains. It had a mild flavor and was served on a bun with either mustard or ketchup. I asked for one side mustard and the other ketchup. But I digress. Vegetable brains, (Ackee) tastes like scrambled eggs according to some. Looking at a photo of Ackee as it is ripening on an evergreen tree, totally creeps me out. It can only be picked when it has turned completely red, has been split open showing it’s “smile” revealing two black seeds that look like eyes. Anything other than the creamy yellow pulp cannot be eaten nor can the unripened fruit because it is fatal! Yipes! You can find this vegetable in the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa. Served with salt cod, it is Jamaica’s national dish! Canned Ackee is available around the world and completely safe. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

 

Celtuce

You would think that Celtuce is a cross between celery and lettuce but it isn’t. It is sometimes called Chinese lettuce as it originated in China. It is grown mainly for its thick, tender stem, but its leaves can also be eaten. In China, the stems are broiled or boiled, added to soups, and used in stir-fries with meat, poultry, or fish. It is grown mostly in home gardens and is not widely known. When cooked, the stem tastes like a cross between squash and artichoke which means that I would like it a lot!

 

Marsh Samphire

This vegetable is shaped like miniature Arizona cacti but flourishes in the mud of salt marshes around the coastlines of England and France. Collecting and cleaning it is messy and time-consuming. Marsh Samphire is also known as glasswort and was once used in glassmaking! Today, however, it and its relatives are seen as plants of the future because they will grow in salty conditions. To cook, blanch without salt (because it is salty) and add butter. It is served in salads and on trout. Cultivated varieties can be imported from Israel and the Gulf. Its nickname is sea asparagus.

 

Angelica

The healing powers of Angelica, according to the people in France’s marshy Poitou-Charente region where Angelica has grown for centuries, have used it as an antidote to poisons. Hmmm, possibly good to eat after you eat Ackee (above)? Angelica is a member of the parsley family and also grown in Italy, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and parts of North America. It can withstand the temperatures of Iceland and Greenland. The leaves can be shredded in salads and used in omelets and fish dishes. The stems are often stewed with rhubarb or made into preserves and jams. Today, it is most commonly used as a candied confection for cakes, sweet breads, and cheesecakes. The leaves and stems taste like licorice.

 

Golden Needle

One of the least familiar ingredients to the Western world is golden needles also known as tiger buds. That is, unless you’ve heard of the folk song, “Silver threads, golden needles can’t unbend this heart of mine….” Sound familiar? These buds range in color from pale gold or orange to dark amber in its dried version. They are often added to noodles and meats prepared over high heat. Their sweet, musky flavors complement woodears, enokitake, and misos and appear together in recipes across China and Japan.

 

Ratte Potato

Unlike other vegetables or fruits with names that mislead you to believe their taste, shape, or lineage is why they were so named, this particular vegetable actually was named Ratte Potato because it, alas, looks like a rat!  Eeeeks! Leave it to the French to take care of that problem: they called it Quenelles de Lyon. Ratte’s texture is dense, firm, resistant to breaking down, and yet smooth. They have a nutty taste similar to chestnuts.

 

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is also known as corn smut. Part of its name is the Aztec word for dung. I’m not making this up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction. It is a naturally occurring fungus that disfigures growing corn. I’m surprised I never heard of it, considering that Indiana is a corn-growing state. We (we?) must call it something else. The corn kernels swell and mutate into distorted silvery blue lumps with black interiors. How divine. It has a mushroom-like flavor with hints of corn and licorice. It is usually sautéed with garlic and onion and used to flavor traditional Mexican dishes. It can be difficult to find fresh huitlacoche outside of Mexico, but specialty food stores in the US and Canada often stock flash-frozen or canned versions in the event you are dying to try this.

 

Stinky Tofu

Known as ch’ou doufu in Mandarin, it has a mild, faintly sour, beany flavor which is far surpassed by its gargantuan aroma. As you might have guessed, it is a fermented concoction made with vegetables, herbs, shrimp and sometimes other seafood items. There are many, many fermented vegetables served around the world but I chose this one because it is often eaten as street food in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong where you might encounter it in your travels. It is deep-fried until crusty then dressed with spicy sauces, and topped with chili oil and garlic in Hunan. How will you know it? Your nose knows.

 

Based on some of the description of these vegetables, is it any wonder kids don’t eat their vegetables? Poison? Used in glassmaking? Rats? Dung, and Stinky? Those are hardly enticing descriptions. Consider yourself lucky. You didn’t have to look at the photos of these vegetables as I did when doing the research! On the other hand, don’t little boys love gross things? The grosser the better? Maybe you can tempt your non-veggie eater with a plate of Ratte Potato or Ackee!

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An Additional 10 Fruits You Never Heard Of

18 Jul Basket of Fruits

This was supposed to publish automatically on the 18th since I set it for that but for some reason, it didn’t.  Anyway, the middle of the month comes around so fast! Where does the time go?

Recently, on last month’s New Food Friday Flash, I wrote a post and a Yahoo article about 10 fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of. Since that peaked several readers interest, I decided to do another post about 10 additional fruits that you’ve most likely never heard of.

NOTE: At the time of this writing, Yahoo articles will not be accepting freelance writing anymore. So, until I find another website that I enjoy submitting articles to, I will be posting the more in-depth information here on my blog instead of including a link to a separate article.

Sometimes we are all so caught up in our own little world that we don’t stop to think what other fruits might be available in other countries. Since we are such a mobile society, we have the opportunity to try these fruits when we travel for business or pleasure. But first, it helps to know that they exist! When I listed these fruits, I began to think that their names reminded me of other names. For your amusement, I also included some of the names they reminded me of in parentheses.

 

Pitanga

The Pitanga fruit grows wild in Latin America and can range in colors from scarlet to near black. This is a very fragile fruit that is very sweet and barely larger than a cherry. It is also known as a Surinam cherry, a Brazilian cherry, a Cayenne cherry, and a Florida cherry. Its grown in gardens and orchards only across the world because of its delicate skin. You can find it in juices, ice creams, jams, and chutneys.

 

Illawarra Plum

This plum belongs to an ancient species and is a southern hemisphere conifer found along Australia’s east coast. The tree itself is a prolific producer. Most supplies of this fruit come from wild harvest and are used in sweet and savory dishes. They are most often enjoyed in preserves, fruit compotes, baking and sauces.

 

Cashew Apple

We’re all familiar with the cashew nut but are you familiar with the apple that is attached to the nut? It is one of Brazil’s fruits found along the coast of the northeast region. Cashew apples range in color from pale yellow to vermilion. Ancient tribes used it to make a wine called mocororo. Today it is one of Brazil’s most popular fruit juices. It is also used as a base in a juice called cajuina. You can find it in ice creams,  mousses, trifles, jams, and chutneys. When set on low heat for several hours, it produces a syrup known as cashew honey.

Cashew Apple

Cashew Apple

 

Lucuma

The lucuma is found mostly in Peru but also in Chile, Brazil, and Ecuador. It’s not likely that you will find it fresh in any other countries. It is an indigenous crop once known to the Incas. It resembles a small mango, first green, then turning red. The flesh is gold colored and fragrant. One tree can produce up to 500 fruits in one year. It can be eaten out of hand, and used as a drink. It’s powdered form is used in ice creams and sweets. Lucuma is rich in iron and niacin and an excellent source of beta-carotene. Gluten-intolerant folks can use it in place of wheat and it can also be used as a low-glycemic sweetener.

 

Red Mombin  (Reminds me of a snake. There’s a black momba snake, I’m not sure there’s a red momba)

The Red Mombin has many names: jocote, ciruela, Spanish plum, and siniguelas. It is grown in Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. The tree is easy to propagate and is fast growing and therefore it may transition from being a wild fruit to a cultivated fruit. It has a sweet flavor and a citric fragrance and comes in many colors. It can be eaten raw or produced into a refreshing juice, a base for ice creams, a preserve, and eaten green before ripening seasoned with salt. The fruit is small, only 1 – 2 inches with a delicate skin.

 

Ambarella (Reminds me of the movie, Barbarella with Jane Fonda)

As you have seen, many of these fruits are known by many different names. The Ambarella is one of them. Other monikers are: golden apple, pomme cythere, Otaheite apple, Tahitian quince, hog plum, Brazil plum, Polynesian plum, and Jew plum. I wouldn’t want to get into an argument over its name! It was originally native to the society Islands of the South Pacific but now grown in tropical and subtropical areas such as Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Venezuela. Many people enjoy the fruit when unripe for its tangy sourness and crisp texture. It is often mixed with other fruit juices for a cold drink. It can be stewed to make a sauce accompanying meat or made into preserves, pickles, chutneys, jams and relishes. It is a popular street snack served sliced and dipped in salt and cayenne.

  

Wampee (Reminds me of Native American Indian words: cross between wampum and teepee)

The Wampee tree is native to southern China but also grows in greenhouses in England. You can find the fruits in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. It is a distant cousin to the orange. Each fruit has five segments of soft jellylike flesh varying from sweet and tangy to sharp and almost sour. They are thirst quenching and refreshing. In Vietnam and China, the halved, sun-dried, immature fruit is used as a cough remedy. It can be eaten as a preserve, a jam, and made into pies, and drinks, including an aperitif. Wampee can be eaten fresh when fully ripe. The Chinese prize the fruit as a digestive aid.

 

Mirabelle (Reminds me of Clarabelle, Buffalo Bob’s cow. Wow, how old was I, 5 ? Anybody remember Buffalo Bob?)

There are two varieties of Mirabelle, which is a honey-sweet plum grown in orchards: the smaller is the Mirabelle de Nancy and the other, the Mirabelle de Metz. They have been most closely identified with the region of Lorraine, France. Travelers in France or persons of French extraction may be familiar with the dessert tarte aux mirabelles. Mirabelle can also be made into jams, jellies, and preserves. If you have the opportunity to taste the tarte, don’t pass it up or you will regret it!

 

Salak (Reminds me of words I’ve heard regarding Iraq)

Native to Indonesia although also grown in Thailand and Malaysia, Salak is known as snakeskin fruit because it has a leathery scaly skin. The best Salak are grown in Bali. The taste is a cross between a pineapple and a Granny Smith apple. Once you peel away the reddish brown skin, the three white segments  resemble peeled cloves of garlic but on a larger scale. Salak can be eaten fresh, but are also pickled or canned in syrup. They can be cooked in desserts and are often added to pies and puddings.

 

Duku (Reminds me of a city in western Asia?)

The flesh of the Duku can be either white or pink. These fruits are round like golf balls, their outer shell is a bland tan color. However, their segments are juicy and sweet. This is another fruit with many names and is found across Southeast Asia. Another variety of this fruit is called langsat but it is smaller and egg-shaped with a thinner skin. It is also more tart than duki. In Thailand it is known as longkong. In the Philippines it is called lanzones where they might preserve the fruit in syrup. Filipinos dry the skins which when burned produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes. Anything that repels mosquitoes is A-OK in my book.

 

Do these names remind you of other names?

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New Food Friday Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!

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New Food Friday – Kasha, Groats, Buckwheat

18 Apr Kasha (sxc.hu - yirsh)

I had never tried Kasha until an Internet friend said that she loved it and would eat it for breakfast everyday. So, I bought a box of Wolff’s Kasha at my local Meijer.

Box of Kasha

Box of Kasha

Kasha is buckwheat and it comes in several granulations. I chose medium. This particular box had a small cellophane window so you could see the product inside (which I ignored), and put the box in my cart. When I got home, I placed the box in my pantry. When it was time for me to try the Kasha, I opened the box and began pouring the Kasha into a bowl. Out poured contents that contained Kasha, caraway seeds, and some other type of seeds. I recognized caraway seeds when I saw them and I didn’t think they were supposed to be in this box!

After doing some research, I realized that seeds were not supposed to be part of Kasha! I contacted the company and told them about it. I received a nice letter of thanks for letting them know from the vice president of Birkett Mills. He said they use the most efficient and sophisticated cleaning machinery known in the dry grain processing industry and that rarely even the most advanced technology can be fooled. (Well, we all know how I feel about technology as per my last post, now don’t we!)

In a show of their appreciation, they sent me two more boxes of Kasha (without seeds) and a whole bunch of information about Kasha. I kept one box and gave the other to my son, the other health enthusiast in the family.

Rather than let the box with the seeds go to waste, I used the caraway seeds from the “bad” box of Kasha for my Russian Rye Bread recipe! As you know, the loaves turned out great! To be honest though, I’m not crazy about Kasha for breakfast even though I know how good it is for you and how popular it is in Russia and throughout the Balkan region of Europe.

Map of Europe (sxc.hu - vygnyo)

Map of Europe (sxc.hu – vygnyo)

However, a recipe I found among all the recipes they sent, sounded good and good for your health too, so that I had to chose it for this New Food Friday.

The following information was provided to me from Birkett Mills, established in 1797. (Yes, that date is correct, 1797.) Read the eye-opening information that I have written by clicking this link.

If, after you have clicked the link and read the material you are now convinced that you need buckwheat in your diet, Birkett Mills offers a cookbook with over 50 recipes, many with full color illustrations, for $2.50. Write to: Pocono Buckwheat Cookbook, P.O. Box 440 PC, Penn Yan, NY 14527

Here is one of their recipes that caught my eye.

Grilled Portobello Caps with Kasha Pilaf
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Kasha
salt to taste
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
Olive oil
1 1/4 cup grated hearty cheese (such as aged Gruyere or aged Gouda)

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda

Prepare the Kasha Mixture First
In a 2-qt saucepan on medium-high heat, combine celery, onion, water and 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Cook until liquid is very hot, but not quite boiling. (Or, you can microwave it.)

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

While the liquid mixture is heating, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil add remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning and the Kasha. Stir Kasha until it is hot and slightly toasted.

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Reduce heat to low. Carefully add hot liquid mixture and cover pan tightly. Simmer about 10 minutes until kernels are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat and “fluff” with a fork. Season to taste with salt. This may be used immediately to stuff mushrooms or refrigerated for up to two days (or frozen for up to 1 month.) Makes nearly 4 cups.

Prepare medium-hot grill fire. Discard mushroom stems, clean gills with soft brush, and wipe caps with damp paper towel. Brush top of caps with olive oil.

Mushrooms (sxc.hu - mzacha)

Mushrooms (sxc.hu – mzacha)

Grill mushrooms gill-side down for a couple minutes. (I didn’t grill mine, I used my skillet.) Use tongs to flip caps top-side up and move them away from the heat while you fill the caps with the Kasha mixture.

Stuffed Portobello Muchroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Return caps to the heat and continue grilling, with grill lid down for 3-4 minutes. Top each cap with a scant 1/4 cup grated cheese. Lower grill lid and heat until cheese melts.

My mushrooms were not very large so I had left-over Kasha. I used it in another meal and added diced chicken and peas.

This mushroom recipe is good for when you crank up the barbecue. It would go well with my recipe for hot dogs with Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. Add a salad,  corn on the cob, 

Sangria (sxc.hu - matthijs_v)

Sangria (sxc.hu – matthijs_v)

a pitcher of Sangria, and you could invite the neighbors!

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New Food Friday – News Flash!

13 Apr Flash Drive (sxc.hu - mrceviz)

I thought of a way I could keep my New Food Fridays going while reducing the amount of time it takes me to do them. Introducing the New Food Friday Flash. The difference between the regular New Food Friday and the new New Food Friday Flash is that the New Food Friday Flash would be shorter and with less photos. Taking photos and finding good ones on the Internet takes up a lot of time for me when putting together New Food Friday.

I still have one more New Food Friday post ready for April’s post, but then after that, New Food Friday Flash will take its place until further notice. The bones of it will stay the same: 3rd Friday of the month, informative, hopefully entertaining, just shorter and sweeter. A food flash in a pan, in a manner of speaking minus the negative connotation! I think you will enjoy it!

*One more thing; if you’re wondering how things are working out now that I’ve canceled my AT&T Internet service, I don’t miss them one bit! I put my posts and any work I need to do at home on my Flash Drive or what some call a USB Memory Stick. The library computers are fast, much faster than my computer, and accept Flash Drives so I can transfer my work from the Flash Drive to the library computer and into my blog. This is working out great! I wish I had done this sooner! You may want to follow suit!

 

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New Food Friday – Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

21 Mar Grilled Meat 854255

You know how I love to try new foods. I slowly scan the ethnic aisles at my local Meijer or Kroger supermarkets until I find something interesting that I might like to try. I also get ideas from cooking shows, cookbooks, and recipe websites. For this New Food Friday I found Chipotle in Adobo Sauce on the shelf at Meijer and decided to pick up a can.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

I had no idea what they were used for or how they would taste. Once home, I couldn’t wait to open up the can and try one!

Chipotle Peppers in sauce

Chipotle Peppers in sauce

I grabbed a fork and popped one in my mouth. Duh! Warning: don’t do that! These peppers are full of hot seeds and the peppers and sauce are HOT!

Chipotle with seeds

Chipotle with seeds

Ingredients

Chipotle Peppers, Tomato Puree, Vinegar, Onions, Sunflower Seed Oil, Sugar, Salt, Paprika and Garlic.

2 Tablespoons (serving size) contains:

sodium 200mg

sugar 2g

Vitamin C 6%

Vitamin A 10%

Fiber 1g

A Chipotle is a smoked, dried, jalapeño. These chipotle peppers keep well in the fridge in a jar. Don’t leave them in the can.

My challenge was to find out how I could use these peppers. Yes, they are popular in Mexican dishes, but I wanted to see if there were other ways I could use them.

I cut up a pepper and poured some of the adobo sauce over a jar of garbanzo beans. I let them marinate a couple of days. Then I spread the beans out on a pan lined with parchment paper, poured a little bit of olive oil on them, sprinkled some sea salt over them and put them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400°. (Watch carefully so they don’t burn.) They were good! I like them as a snack. They are low in calories and high in fiber.

The next thing I tried was to scrape off the seeds, dice a pepper, and then put it in a homemade tomato sauce to pour over pasta.

Chipotle chopped in pan

Chipotle chopped in pan

I sprinkled a generous amount of Asiago cheese on top. Tasty!

My favorite though was to add a pepper on top of a hot dog. My choice of hot dog is one made with chicken, turkey, and pork. I don’t eat beef. The chipotle was in place of the usual ketchup or mustard. This was spicy and very good!

Chipotle on a hot dog

Chipotle on a hot dog

While I don’t recommend you eat hot dogs often, once in a while won’t hurt you. They’re better if you don’t douse them in ketchup which is full of sugar, or mustard which is full of sodium. You can always buy low sodium hot dogs if you’re watching your sodium intake. I put my dog on a whole grain bun. It was darn good!

Since the weather is warming up (I was wondering if it ever would again) you could put your hot dogs on the grill! These chipotle peppers would go well with grilled chicken, steak, and burgers too.  You can put them in a chili or how about on a hero sandwich? The possibilities are limited to your imagination.

Don’t forget to serve some vanilla ice cream for dessert to cool your mouth!

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New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi

21 Feb Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried Bok Choy, you don’t know what you’re missing! Bok Choy is my choice for this New Food Friday.

This Asian staple is full of vitamin A, C, and is high in calcium and many other nutrients.  It resembles celery but doesn’t taste like it and it’s juicy like celery, maybe even juicer. I like to munch on it raw while I’m preparing it for a stir-fry or a soup. Bok Choy is in the cabbage family but it doesn’t taste like cabbage either. Its taste reminds me of escarole except that Bok Choy is mildly sweet and has a slight peppery bite at the end.

The leaves of Bok Choy are very dark green but the stalks are very white.

Bok Choy Stalks

Bok Choy Leaves

It’s a beautiful vegetable! The Chinese have been cultivating it for over 5,000 years.

Recently, my local Meijer had Bok Choy on sale for 88 cents a pound. Oh happy day! I bought 1.75 pounds of it!

Bunch of Bok Choy

Bundled Bok Choy – 1.75 pounds

There are two versions of Bok Choy in this country: there is the Baby Bok Choy and the regular Bok Choy. I’ve purchased both in the past and they taste the same to me. It may be more convenient to cook the Baby Bok Choy because you can cook it whole.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy or Pak Choi (sxc.hu – MeiTeng)

You couldn’t cook the regular Bok Choy whole because you wouldn’t have a pan large enough! I like the larger version which can sometimes be quite large! Ginormous, in fact, so you can expect more prep time with it. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Bok Choy stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge.

In my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that Bok Choy falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables. As you may well know, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) contain anti-cancer compounds. All the more reason to try, buy, stir-fry Bok Choy!

Cooking Bok Choy

I typically cook all greens the same way when I use them for a side dish: olive oil, garlic, a few tablespoons of water or broth, cover and cook in my large fry pan. Bok Choy is good this way. But I decided to do a stir-fry with chicken. I found two recipes online that I liked and I combined them and tweaked them too. The results were delicious. I’m posting the recipe for you below. Since one recipe was Chinese and the other was Thai, I’m calling it:

Chinese-Thai Almond Chicken Stir-Fry

1 Tablespoon oil (peanut or coconut, I used olive oil)

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

8 oz (more or less) rinsed Bok Choy cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tablespoons Chicken broth if pan seems dry

You can add mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, or whatever you like to this. I added 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped celery.

To thicken gravy

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

Stir together then pour into pan at the end of cooking until gravy thickens. (I did not do this step. See below.)

Directions

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Stir the mixture well to melt the sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok and add the almonds and heat on medium-high heat until golden about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Remove from pan.

Stir-fry thinly sliced chicken breast in same pan for 2-3 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, then the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, or whatever you like and spoon 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture over it; stir and cook 2 minutes. (Cook longer and cover if you prefer your veggies less crispy.) Add a few tablespoons of broth if the mixture seems dry. Taste. If you like it spicier and saltier, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture. If you have any leftover, you can use it to baste most meats. I reserved my leftover for my next Bok Choy meal using the same recipe but substituting bay scallops in place of the chicken. (It wasn’t as good as the chicken.)

Serve with the sprinkled almonds on top. This is a very nutritious dish, low in calories, high in fiber, high in calcium, but also high in sodium which is why I suggested you taste the dish before adding all the soy sauce mixture. If you’re watching your sodium intake you may not want to use all the soy sauce mixture.

This dish is great served over rice and is the typical way it would be served. I wanted to try something different. I already had a pan of polenta that I had made the day before and feeling adventurous, I decided to try it in place of the rice.

Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

Polenta with Bok Choy

It was just as good! In fact, it thickened the gravy without using the cornstarch mixture. I liked this recipe so much that I decided to make it again, this time with brown rice.

Bok Choy dish

Bok Choy with a drizzle of sweet & sour sauce and mustard

 

Whichever way you try it, be sure you do try it! It’s delicious!

qǐng màn yòng!

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New Food Friday – Za’atar Focaccia Bread

18 Oct Slice of Za'atar Focaccia Bread

As much as I love physical exercise, sometimes I want an easy to make bread recipe that requires NO KNEADING! I don’t remember how I stumbled across the original recipe but if you want some background on Za’atar Focaccia Bread (it’s a different recipe but similar), click here.

I’ve made Za’atar Focaccia twice now and probably by the time you read this, three times. I absolutely love it!

Za'atar Focaccia Bread Ready to be Sliced

Za’atar Focaccia Bread

The only down side to this recipe is that you have to let the dough rise/ferment for 18 – 24 hours. This delicious, healthful bread recipe is in the spotlight for this New Food Friday.

As is typical of me, I altered the recipe. It calls for black sesame seeds. I used black poppy seeds which are more readily available in my grocery store. It also calls for Sumac and I couldn’t find that but one of my favorite chefs, Kary Osmond from the LiveWell Network, says you can use Turmeric in place of Sumac. I love Turmeric so that was no problem for me. Also, in order to make the bread more nutritious, I added 1/2 cup of White Whole Wheat flour.

Special Note: When I followed one of the recipes, the dough was way too soupy so I added an additional cup of flour.  You should be able to press your fingers into the dough after letting it rise the 18-24 hours and the imprint of your fingers should remain.  I added more flour after it had risen and the results were still excellent. So, don’t be afraid to play around with this dough as it is very forgiving.

DOUGH

1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 ounces dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water
Za’atar Spice Mix (see below)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.

    Flour Mix

    Flour Mix

  2. Add the water and olive oil, and mix everything together until you have a uniform dough. 
  3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for 18-24 hours to rise.

    Dough Mixture

    Dough Mixture Covered in Plastic Wrap

  4. Once the dough has risen, you can either make one giant focaccia with all the dough, or split it up and bake smaller focaccia.  If you keep some of the dough for later, just cover it back up and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  5. To use the dough, turn it out onto a pan and press the dough out  towards the edges with your fingers making dimples in the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 tablespoons olive oil, in a small bowl
2 teaspoons ground toasted black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Maldon (or other coarse) sea salt
The Za’atar in this focaccia bread recipe is the combination of spices that you sprinkle on top of the bread. It gives it a nice color and great flavor. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that can be sprinkled on bread, meats, fish, or vegetables as a seasoning. It can even be used as a dip. I didn’t have coarse sea salt, I only had fine sea salt on hand so I decided to use coarse kosher salt instead.
Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seeds or Use Black Sesame Seeds

Add Turmeric

Add Turmeric

Oregano

Add Oregano

Add Thyme

Add Thyme (I freeze mine from my garden)

Add Coarse Salt

Add Coarse Salt (Sea Salt if you have it)

Spread the Za’atar Spice Mix on the focaccia after it has risen. Then bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes. I didn’t mix the olive oil with the spice mix. I spread the olive oil on the dough first, then distributed the spice mix over all.

Za’atar focaccia bread is great as a snack, as a substitute for your usual bread that you eat with a meal, and is great for dunking in soups and stews.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Za’atar Focaccia Bread

You can reheat the focaccia the next day and it still tastes wonderful. It is also great for mopping up salad vinaigrette after you’ve eaten the salad! Let me know if you come up with other ways to use it!

If you’re not in the mood to bake bread, you can sprinkle the Za’atar Spice Mix on meats and/or vegetables. Buon appetito!

Za'atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

Za’atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

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New Food Friday – Harira

20 Sep sxc.hu - lamb - iubitzoaia- 1030219

Harira. It sounds like something you would say to your dentist when he has his hands in your mouth.

There are many versions of Harira. In fact, I created my own version when I departed from the recipe I was following. Harira is a soup – stew. It is a Moroccan dish that is eaten often, but particularly at the end of Ramadan, a religious holiday. I was attracted to the recipe because it calls for Turmeric which is a spice I have grown to love. Now you know why I have selected this recipe for New Food Friday.

A lot of attention has been given to Turmeric lately. More research is needed, but some studies show that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help fight cancer and it may protect against certain diseases. Read more here.

I like to add Turmeric to a chicken dish that I make. I shake it on the potatoes, carrots, and/or onions that I add to my baking dish. It is also great on a Focaccia bread recipe I love. More about that in next month’s New Food Friday.

Another reason I was looking forward to making Harira is that it also calls for cilantro. I grew my own cilantro this year and within the last few days it started to bolt. I grew it from seed. It grew in a hanging planter

Cilantro

Cilantro growing in a planter. See my rose bush in the background?

and it also grew in my vegetable garden. It would have continued to grow in my vegetable garden if a rabbit didn’t also like it a lot and chewed it to the quick! (Which is why I ended up growing it in a hanging pot.) But really, it is so easy to grow! And the fragrance! It smells wonderful! You have to try it!

Here is the recipe for the Harira. I substituted ground turkey for the lamb. (You can also use beef or chicken.) I also substituted the vermicelli noodles for brown rice. Many recipes say to add flour to thicken the soup. I didn’t want to use flour which is why I added raw rice. It helped thicken the soup. The longer you cook it, the more it thickens. Also, I used a no sodium tomato sauce.

Ingredients

6 – 8 oz lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 celery stalks chopped
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 16-ounce can of low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 fresh tomato chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 cups water, divided
1/4 cup dry lentils, picked over and washed (I forgot to wash mine! I guess that means you won’t be dining over at my house anytime soon?)
3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed into 1 cup of water
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes again since I have so many of them this year.)
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown rice

Optional Thickener:
1 cup flour
2 cups water

Instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the meat and any meat bones if you have them and cook for a few minutes, stirring to brown the meat.
  2. Add the chopped cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and turmeric.
  3. Stir in 3 cups of water. Heat over high heat bringing mixture to a light boil.
  4. Add the lentils, rice, tomato paste mixture, canned (or fresh) tomatoes, and tomato sauce and 3 cups of water.
  5. Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat to bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, simmering for 45 minutes with the lid ajar to help condense the soup. Stir occasionally.
  6. Taste soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if needed.
  7. If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add the flour water mixture after cooking 45 minutes. But I think adding it will dull the flavor and add empty calories.

Serves 6

Harira

Chopping Cilantro for my Harira

I wanted to use my Heirloom tomatoes for this dish but they weren’t ripe enough. Since I had plenty of cherry tomatoes, I used them instead.

Let the Harira come to a light boil.

Boiling Harira

Boiling Harira after all ingredients are added

After 45 minutes of cooking, the Harira thickens.

Thickened Harira

Thickened Harira after cooking 45 minutes

I enjoyed two bowls full of the Harira with my Focaccia bread.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Focaccia Bread

They went well together! This was good and I expect that tomorrow it will be even better. Next time I will use lamb for this dish. Harira is high in protein and fiber. With all the tomatoes, fresh and canned, it contains a lot of lycopene which contains antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. Read more about it  here.

To your good health!

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Inner Peace Award

23 Aug Inner Peace Award

I’ve been awarded the Inner Peace Award by Samina and I’m finally getting around to posting it!

Inner Peace Award

Inner Peace Award

Samina and I have had some interesting conversations about law enforcement. I know, not what you’d expect from me, is it. I had an incident to tell her about a few months ago when I accidentally locked myself out of my car with the keys on the front seat! I was helping a Lowes employee put my brand new lawnmower in my car which is how the keys ended up on the seat.

I went back into Lowes and told the customer service people what happened. They gave me their phone and dialed the Avon, Indiana police department. I really wasn’t exactly sure what was happening here because I was in a tizzy and stressing out about my car keys! I told the woman at the police station what had happened and she dispatched a police car to the store. I waited in the parking lot and within 10 minutes, the car arrived with a nice young police officer who had several gadgets to “break into my car!”

The first didn’t work. My heart sank. The second gadget elicited a “click” from my car door and voila! the door opened. I thanked him so profusely until he practically started laughing. I couldn’t help myself, what can I say. I left him there with all his gadgets, my car keys in my pocket, and ran back into the store because I had more shopping to do! LOL!

Needless to say, I didn’t have any inner peace that day so it’s ironic that I received this Inner Peace Award following my initial conversation with Samina! Once I got home, I had a heck of a time getting the gigantic box with my new lawnmower inside it, out of the back seat of my car! Then I dragged it through my garage and into my house to figure out how to put the thing together.  I bet I burned more than a few calories that day!

Fortunately, most of my days aren’t as exciting as that day. Most days I do have inner peace.  I get inner peace from exercising, writing, gardening, cooking, baking, working on my house, and helping others.

Thank you Samina for this award. My favorite thing about this award is that it has no rules. That’s my kind of award! And again, I find it ironic that this award has no rules – in effect we are breaking the rules (similar to breaking the law!) Maybe it’s just me and the way I look at things!

Peace out!

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New Food Friday – Gnudi

16 Aug sxc.hu 536766 stylesr1

In order to make this dish, you have to remove all your clothes. Just kidding! The dish being discussed today is called gnudi. They are a form of dumpling and it’s pronounced just like a sunbather who basks in the nude: a nudi! (Or a nudist?) I watched with interest as Martha Stewart made these on her cooking show. See here. She says they are a naked ravioli; a filling without the pasta casing. I am a big fan of ravioli but these were new to me and when I saw her boiling then basting them in browned butter with sage leaves, I knew I had to post them for a New Food Friday.

sxc.hu Gnu Barbara Schneider

This is a Gnu (sxc.hu Barbara Schneider)

First, go to your butcher shop and ask for a fillet of Gnu. Just kidding! There is no meat in this recipe!

Assemble your ingredients as it shows in the Martha Stewart video. I like to use paper plates when I want to roll foods in flour.

Knudi rolled in flour

Knudi rolled in flour

Using paper plates makes cleanup a breeze. I just throw the paper plate in the trash when I’m done.

I filled another paper plate with semolina flour and let the gnudi rest until I finished making all of them.

Knudi sitting on semolina

Knudi sitting on semolina

Then they went into the fridge for 1 hour.

Variations:

I had some leftover crab meat so I included it in my recipe. In my second batch, I added some boiled russet potato.

These gnudi were fun to make and easy! Your children might like to get involved. Since these are boiled, it’s a lot like boiling pasta and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making pasta.

Knudi ready to be boiled

Knudi ready to be boiled

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve never made pasta but I know one of these days I will because it’s on my mental to do list! Here are the sage leaves straight from my garden.

Sage drying on a paper towel

Sage drying on a paper towel

Here are the chiffonaded sage leaves in browned butter.

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

These were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. I hope you try them!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

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Update On My Weight Loss Using The CalorieCount Website

29 Jun Fashion Model Silhouette

In a recent post I wrote about the website called caloriecount.about.com. I mentioned that it wasn’t very easy to learn (it wasn’t). However, I stuck with it and so far have lost 4 lbs. I attribute this weight loss to cutting back on fats, sodium, and over-sized portions. I also increased my activity level.

My goal is to lose 10 lbs so that my BMI will be in the healthy range.

The caloriecount website notified me that I had a sedentary lifestyle. Boy, my feathers bristled at that one! If MY lifestyle was sedentary, what was the lifestyle of people who didn’t work out and were couch potatoes?

Other than calorie logging, the website also allows you to enter activities you do each day. They would include: showering, driving, sitting at a computer, weight lifting, gardening, throwing out the trash, preparing meals, grocery shopping, aerobics, stretching, circuit training – the list is almost endless. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming until you get the hang of it. I now have a clearer picture of my daily activity level and although I still don’t agree with them about having a sedentary lifestyle, I have to admit that losing 4 lbs without starving myself does say something.

I began entering my foods and activities May 29.  Today is June 29.  That’s about a pound per week of weight loss.

The website (and you) calculate what you want your ultimate weight to be and that determines what your calorie count should be each day. Mine is 1600 calories per day.  

I had the hardest time reaching my minimum daily values for potassium (4,700 mg).  Once I began to realize that sweet potatoes and butternut squash (two of my favorite vegetables) were high in potassium, I incorporated them into more meals and now reach my potassium level more often. Other Potassium rich foods: prunes, bananas, spinach.) Potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of too much salt.

I knew that processed foods contained salt but I wasn’t aware that natural foods like white potatoes, spinach (yes, spinach), and fish contained high amounts of sodium! By themselves, you probably won’t go over your daily limit. But when you salt your foods or forget to read food labels as I did when I bought some blueberry bagels, each one having over 700 mg of sodium, you can quickly go over your daily limit of 2300 mg or 1 teaspoon of salt.

I was also heavy handed with olive oil and butter. Now, I measure by tablespoon what I put over my salads or my roasted veggies. Lately, I skip olive oil altogether and sprinkle my own homemade chicken stock when making my roasted veggies. It tastes just as good, maybe better.

I expect to use the caloriecount website until I imprint in my mind what portion sizes I need so that I can eventually forego the use of measuring spoons and cups. Yes, I’ve been weighing my foods like walnuts, golden raisins (another good source of potassium), and edamame (also potassium rich).

About a week ago, I decided that I didn’t need to enter my activities into the website any longer. I have a good idea in my mind how active I have to be each day.  Today I worked out AND I did the laundry. Usually I save laundry day just by itself but my stamina has increased and now to do both in one day doesn’t phase me.

The caloriecount website allows you to have snacks and I juggle my food entries to allow me snacking pleasure in the evening when I watch tv. Usually I have edamame, or frozen tart cherries, or grapes for a snack. Sometimes 1/2 slice of rye bread spread with blue cheese if I’ve gone light on the sodium intake earlier in the day.

I only had one evening when I was still hungry and went over my daily 1600 calorie limit by about 300 calories. I still ate smart though: 1/2 can of tuna, 1 cup brown rice, 1/2 tablespoon peach preserves, 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (My own concoction that tastes Asian to me). When this wasn’t enough, I cooked a cup of mixed vegetables. Finally, I was satisfied. I must have been very active that day to still be that hungry!

Some days I felt stuffed and I didn’t want to eat my evening snacks…..but I had to in order to meet my daily requirements.  For example, sometimes I saved my almond milk (calcium) for my evening snack along with 1/2 oz of walnuts and maybe some fruit. Well, a couple of times I had to force myself to eat the snack because I am determined to meet my calcium requirements everyday! One particular night this week, I was so stuffed that I couldn’t stand the thought of a snack and skipped it altogether, to heck with not meeting my DV! (It wasn’t a calcium snack though. I eventually decided to get my calcium for breakfast every morning – OJ and almond milk.) I don’t intend to skip my snacks often.

Once I lose the rest of the weight, I won’t be limited to 1600 calories a day. I don’t know that I will continue to use the caloriecount website because I should have a good idea in my mind what I need to watch: sodium, fats, sugars and portion size. On the other hand, I do like seeing their graph showing that I met my iron, calcium, fiber, sodium, fats, saturated fats, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, Vitamin A, and cholesterol limits. (I think I named them all.) The graph shows if you’ve gone over or are under or are good.

If you need to lose weight, I highly recommend this weight loss website. Also, I should mention that I previously checked out other weight loss websites and none of them compared to caloriecount. It’s more thorough and contains more helpful information. It is worth the time you have to spend learning it. And, who knows, you may find it easier to navigate than I did!

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New Food Friday – Ataulfo Mango Curd

21 Jun Mango Curd2

I’m a fan of chef Rachel Allen and recently she prepared a dish called Lemon Curd on her PBS show.  It looked delicious and as I tried to google the recipe, I came across someone else’s recipe for Mango curd. Since I already had a couple of mangoes in the house, I decided to make the mango curd instead. And that’s what led me to this Friday’s New Food Friday.

Mango Trees

Mango Trees (sxc.hu/asifthebes)

I think the more popular mangos are the pretty red and green ones but my local Meijer also stocks the smaller, yellow Ataulfo mangoes. Don’t overlook these because they are small. In actuality, there is more meat to pit ratio. In my experience there is no taste difference and they ripen better.

Mango Branch sxc.hu sonnyleon 482816

Mango Branch (sxc.hu sonnyleon )

This is what the finished curd looks like. It’s a pretty yellow color and creamy. To me, the curd tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a lemon cream.

Mango Curd3

Mango Curd

It keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

Mango Curd Closeup

Mango Curd Closeup

I like mango curd on blueberry bagels for breakfast but you can spread it on toast, English muffins, scones, the possibilities are endless.

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Mango Curd on Blueberry Bagel

Store bought lemon or mango curd is expensive and they don’t always have the best ingredients in them. I’ve seen some jars go for over $7.00.  Some jar ingredients don’t even contain egg yolks, a key ingredient in mango curd or most curds. The egg yolk is what helps to make the curd a good, nutritious breakfast food.

As with most recipes, the ingredients can vary. Some people add lime juice. I made mine with lemon juice.

2 ripe Ataulfo mangoes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

pinch salt (if you are using salted butter, omit salt)

Wash then peel the mangoes  cut into pieces and scrape all the fruit off the pit using every last drop. Add the lemon juice, the sugar, the salt if you are using it, and blend in a food processor. I used my immersion blender and the carafe it came with. Puree. 

Now add the egg yolks and purée 15 seconds longer. The recipe I used (from Epicurious) said to strain the ingredients through a sieve. I didn’t see any need for this but it’s up to you.

Pour pureed ingredients into a bowl and place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. DON’T LET THE WATER TOUCH THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL. Wisk or stir (I stirred) until thickened, about 10 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 170 F degrees. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in butter, one piece at a time.

You can cover the curd with plastic wrap so a “skin” doesn’t form on top. I let mine cool and then poured it into a jar, let it cool some more, then screwed a lid on and put in the fridge. When it cooled, some water had formed on the lid and I wiped the water off. 

I saved my egg whites in canning jars and froze them. I will use them for baking breads to give them a nice shine. If you do this, allow the egg whites to defrost completely in the fridge. You could also make a white omelet with the egg whites.

I hope you try this.  You use fresh fruit, fresh egg yolks, and fresh butter. It’s delicious, nutritious, and avoids all the preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients in store-bought curd. 

Once you try this, you will want to make other curds. I know I do!

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New Food Friday – Chayote

4 Jan Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Although they’re spelled and pronounced similarly, Chayote and Coyote are two different animals. In fact, Chayote is a fruit! You already know what a Coyote looks like

and that is why I’m posting Chayote as the new food for New Food Friday.

Chayote, pronounced Cha-i-O-tee, is a fruit that is used like a vegetable.  It is originally native to Mexico or Central America.ChayoteIt is a very pretty pale green and the easiest produce I have ever peeled, fruit or vegetable! My paring knife just glides and therefore it is a pleasure to prepare.

As far as texture, it is like a cucumber or pickle: juicy and crunchy. But it doesn’t taste like a cucumber or pickle. It’s one of those fruits that has a taste that is hard to describe. It’s a pleasant taste, and mild flavored. I thought I detected a slightly peppery aftertaste on my first bite which was raw. It can be eaten raw in salads but I chose to roast it along with a medley of other vegetables. 

Chayote with Mixed Veggies

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

When I roast vegetables, I usually roast them with chicken. I didn’t have any chicken on hand this time but that’s OK.  Roasted vegetables are very good on their own. If you can call all the spices I put on them “on their own”!

Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Chayote on the Vine – wikipedia – Thuydaonguyen

I drizzled olive oil on cut brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and piled the Chayote pieces on top. Everything got a spattering of salt and pepper. One side of the pan got dill, the other side got some other spice. The sweet potatoes got dashes of cinnamon, and since I had fresh mint on hand, I tore up some mint leaves and sprinkled them over top too. I also had fresh tarragon and sprinkled those leaves over top too. I shook some cayenne pepper over everything.

This is how I usually prepare roasted veggies with chicken: I line the pan with parchment paper, add a mixture of spices, whatever strikes my fancy, and roast them at 425F for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are charred and the chicken skin is crispy and to my liking. This is a very healthful way to eat vegetables.

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Spices & Herbs

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices Roasted

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, & Spices Roasted

I did this batch with my new convection toaster oven which cooks 25% quicker. I’m still getting used to it. The results were delicious! So, what tasted the best? Here are the results in order of preference:

1. The brussels sprouts (mmm, very good!)

2. The Chayote

3. The sweet potatoes

4. The russet potatoes

5. The carrots

Usually, I also add an onion quartered but as you can see from the photos, I had no room! Sometimes I add an apple, other times a quartered tomato.

I paid $.99/lb for my Chayote at Meijer or $.52 since it was a small one.

Chayote has a small soft seed which is edible but I removed it.

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Nutritional Facts (from USDA)

Serving Size: 3.5 oz

Calories: 19

Sodium: 2mg

Carbs:  5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 1g

Vitamin C: 1%

Calcium: 2%

Iron: 2%

Vitamin B6: 4%

Folate: 23%

Manganese: 9%

To see a further breakdown of nutrients, go to this USDA webpage. 

Chayote has a pleasing texture and a mild taste. It is low in calories and very versatile because it can be added raw to a salad, made into a soup, or stuffed and baked. Chayote is worth trying.

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New Food Friday – Ugli Fruit

28 Dec Ugli Fruit in Bowl

The song goes like this: “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. So, from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you!” That was just a little musical intro to today’s New Food Friday which is: Ugli Fruit.

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit comes in a few colors: green, greenish-yellow, yellow, and orange. They range in size from 4 inches in diameter to 6 inches. This fruit is a tangelo that is a variety of citrus fruit grown exclusively in Jamaica where it was discovered over 80 years ago growing wild. Ugli is believed to be a hybrid of the Seville orange, the grapefruit and the tangerine. To me it tastes like a cross between a grapefruit and a pineapple.

I had a heck of a time peeling this thing. I began using a knife to get it started but the skin is very thick and rather tough. At least this one was.

Ugli Fruit Top Cut

Ugli Fruit Top Cut

It reminds me of alligator skin! Here’s what it looks like partially peeled.

Ugli Fruit Partially Peeled

Ugli Fruit Partially Peeled

You can see that the bowl is filled with all the thick skin peelings once it is completely peeled!

Ugli Fruit Peelings

Ugli Fruit Peelings

Once I removed all the skin, I separated the slices of half the Ugli Fruit and had them for breakfast.

Ugli Fruit Slices

Ugli Fruit Slices

The membrane of the segments was tough too but it was fairly easy to remove the pulp from the membrane. It was juicy and I barely lost a drop!

I bought my Ugli Fruit at Meijer for $1.69. 

Ugli Fruit is harvested and sent to market after they have ripened on the tree so when you purchase it at the store, it is already ripe even if it is green.

Nutritional Facts

Serving size: 1/2 Ugli Fruit

Calories: 45

Fiber: 2g

Total Carb: 11g

Protein: 1g

Sugars: 8g

Calcium: 2%

Vitamin C: 70%

Ugli Fruit is ugly, but it will not interact with medicines the way grapefruits do!

Some people make ice cream out of the juice or put the segments into a salad (like a Sicilian salad which is very good). You can squeeze the juice of the Ugli Fruit and combine it with rum to make an Ugli Hot Toddy. What a way to welcome in the New Year!

Or, you can mix the juice of the Ugli with Cointreau and pour it over roasted duckling.

Duck-roasted

Duck-roasted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At which time you will have: Ugli Duckling! Get it? 

Happy New Year Everyone! (I haven’t even started drinking yet.)

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New Food Friday – Escarole

21 Dec Escarole Head

Escarole is a vegetable that many Italians are familiar with but because I am so fond of it, I wanted to feature it on this New Food Friday for the folks who haven’t tried it. I’m always having to explain what it is to the supermarket cashiers when I buy it! 

Escarole Head

Beautiful Escarole Head

In fact, the cashiers think it’s lettuce. I tell them it’s escarole and they can never find it in their computer.  I go through the same conversation with them every time! But I don’t care as long as they keep stocking escarole.

One of the first things I’d like to mention about this vegetable is that it’s beautiful to look at! I’m not kidding. A head of escarole is a thing of beauty like a bouquet of flowers. Some say to stop and smell the roses. I say, stop and admire the escarole.

It is beautiful enough to be thrown by a bride at a wedding except that you can eat the escarole bouquet!

Bouquet

                             Bride throwing inedible bouquet                                    sxc.hu kathalpha

The second thing I like about escarole is that you can eat it uncooked in a salad, or if you prefer, you can cook it and serve it hot. How many vegetables can you say that about? Ok, carrots.  Sure, celery. Yes, bell peppers. OK, never mind. Forget I asked. Here I’ve torn it into pieces.

Escarole

Escarole torn pieces in skillet

 

I like to put it raw in a sandwich and use it just like lettuce.

I never see anyone else buying escarole. I think they must order it just for me. Sometimes they get heads that are so big I can hardly fit them in the plastic bag! (The escarole, not the supermarket people.) These are grown locally and boy, they must have a good strain of them because they are delicious besides being beautiful. Escarole is also reasonably priced: $1.99 a pound. Wow! I just realized it’s gone up in price. But then, what hasn’t!

The only down side is that sometimes it is sandy. I usually leave it in the plastic bag that I stuffed it in at the store and run the kitchen cold tap water in it a few times and rinse the worst of it out.  Then I put it in my Tupperware-like large green plastic bowl (see photo below) and fill that with water a few times and drain it. That usually takes care of all the sand and dirt.

Escarole

Escarole soaking in water

Escarole is a slightly bitter green but when you cook it or braise it, it loses it’s bitterness and develops a sweetness. Lately, I’ve been steaming it in a large frying pan with a few tablespoons of water. (Of course I chop up a garlic clove, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and a few flakes of red pepper to the pan.) This cooks covered for about 20 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Then I remove the cover, continue cooking it, and let most of the water evaporate.

Escarole

Escarole braised with garlic

If some of the leaves get slightly browned, that A-OK to me! Don’t forget to add salt to taste. I serve it with chicken, or a pasta dish. It goes well with most meat dishes.

Italian Wedding soup

                  Italian Wedding Soup                     flickr: devlyn 

However, I love escarole so much that I have been known to stuff it inside a piece of Italian or French bread and enjoy a nice cooked “green” sandwich for lunch! A seeded roll will work equally as well. In a pinch I will also put it on rye bread.

Another thing about escarole is that many people chop it and add it to soups, like the well-known Italian Wedding Soup.

Escarole is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive.  It is very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a great source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

I can’t promise that someone will propose to you and you will get married if you eat escarole, but who knows?

Beautiful Bride

Beautiful Bride sxc.hu papaleguas http://www.fernandoweberich.com

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New Food Friday – Daikon Radish

7 Dec Roasted Daikon and Vegetables

When I think of radishes, I think of small, round, red radishes.

Radieschen - Raphanus sativus - Marktware

Red Radishes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why I was surprised to find this long, white, Daikon radish in my supermarket. It is exactly why it’s on the menu for today’s New Food Friday.

English: Picture of a pile of Daikon (giant wh...
Daikon (giant white radish)  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daikon radish is very low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol free, and a good source of vitamin C. It’s milder than regular radishes and a little sweeter.

According to fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org there are many ways to prepare this radish. Already that is a big difference from the small red radishes that we know which typically get sliced into a salad!

They list 10 ways to enjoy it, but I decided to try it two ways:

Raw with peanut butter. I used Smuckers Natural peanut butter. Daikon Radishes are another option for people who like to nibble on raw veggies with a dip.

Daikon Peanut Butter Sticks

Daikon Peanut Butter Sticks

  Or,

Roasted and slow cooked with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, olive oil, salt and pepper and whatever other seasonings you like. I omitted the seasonings except for the salt and pepper. You can do a lot of variations on this roasted dish. Add sweet potatoes or squash or whatever vegetable you have in the fridge.

This turned out great! It was delicious. The Daikon Radish became more peppery. I took some photos and then tasted it. I decided I wanted it browned a bit and put it under the broiler. I had roasted it for 45 minutes in an aluminum foil packet. I really liked this dish and will be making it again.

Roasted Daikon and Vegetables

Roasted Daikon and Vegetables

I think it would also be great raw in a cole slaw dish or salad.

Daikon Salad with Sashimi - Horoki

Daikon Salad with Sashimi – Horoki (Photo credit: flickr – avlxyz)

It’s good in an antipasto dish too.

If you are the adventurous type, you can even make a cake out of it!

Daikon Cake - pre made

Daikon Cake  (Photo credit: Mr & Mrs Stickyfingers)

I paid $.79 per pound and my Daikon Radish was under two pounds. Daikon RadishLet me know if you try this.  I was pleasantly surprised at the results when it was cooked.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

22 Nov Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

I am thankful for my followers, for all your comments, and for your “likes.”

I hope all of you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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New Food Friday – Plantains

19 Oct Plantains, red bananas, apple bananas, cavendish banana

I like to experiment trying new foods every now and then and sometimes trying new combinations of foods. So, I decided I would share my experiences with you and write a post about it every Friday. Each New Food Friday will be about a food or foods that are good for your health. I will also provide nutritional data.

This Friday’s new food are plantains.  Have you ever tried them?

Plantain plant

You know what they look like – they look just like a banana.

But they don’t taste anything like a banana. In fact, their flavor is difficult to describe.

Some people say they taste like squash. I don’t know if I would agree with that. Their flavor is very mild though. I prepared my plantain by slicing and frying the pieces in canola oil.

Plantain Frying

I like canola oil because it has no flavor. In this type of preparation, the plantains have the look and the consistency of French fries. There isn’t much difference.

This was my first plantain experience. The plantain I bought was slightly green on the ends and I waited until it turned yellow before I fried it. Some people like to mash plantains like mashed potatoes. You boil them like potatoes and mash them like potatoes. I haven’t tried them that way yet.

Plantains slowly turn from green, to yellow, to black, just like a banana. They also go from very firm and starchy, to soft like a banana and they get sweeter as they ripen just like a banana but that is where their similarity ends.  Their skin is thicker than a banana which makes them a bit difficult to peel when they are green. Plantains are inexpensive. I paid all of $.43 for my first big plantain.  As you can see from the photos, I fried mine then drained the slices on paper towels and salted them. They ripen very slowly and they fry very quickly!

In fact, I slightly burned one side of my plantain slices with the first batch I made. I only fried up half the plantain because I wanted to wait until the other half ripened more to see what it tasted like.

Plantain Half

Even though I slightly burned some of the slices which gave them a slightly bitter note, I still enjoyed them.

About a week later, I fried up the other half of the plantain and watched it more carefully when I fried them up. No bitter note. They stay nice and hot so be careful you don’t burn your mouth when you eat them. I didn’t notice any change in taste when I fried the second half even though it had a streak of brown on the skin which means it was getting sweeter.

I bought a second plantain and fried it up the same way and enjoyed it. I haven’t had the patience to wait until it turned brown to see the difference in taste. Once they turn brown or black, they can be used in dessert recipes.

Americans think of plantains as being used for Mexican or Latin dishes. According to Wikipedia, plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world. They fruit all year round. Africa is the largest plantain-producing continent. Northern California is a minor producer of plantains. India, Indonesia, Venezuela, Cuba, Australia, and many other countries produce plantains.  

Plantains, red bananas, apple bananas, and the cavendish banana (the one you put on your corn flakes)

The uses for this fruit are mind-boggling. Every part of the fruit can be used for something it seems. The skin can be made into a drink, the fruit can be made into a flour, the plantain flower is used in soups and gravies, the leaves are used to make tamales or they’re used as plates since they are stronger than banana leaves. The plantain shoots can be used as a salad. Juice from the stem and the peel have been used as first aid for burns and minor abrasions. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Plantains are a good source of Vitamin A, C, B6, and potassium.  Plantains have 890 mg of potassium while bananas have 422 mg ! Potassium stimulates your muscles, nerves and brain cells, and can also help reduce blood pressure and risk of stroke. Plantains are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. Recipes for plantains are endless! I will leave the recipes (other than the simple one I mention in this post) for the food/recipe blogging gals and guys out there.

I give plantains a thumb’s up! You should give them a try if you are new to them.

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Calcium, Vitamin D and Panne Cotta: All Important to Good Health

9 Aug MILK IS GOOD FOR A BABY CALF TOO

Vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin

Ever since we were young, our moms told us to drink our milk. So we drank it. As we got older, we learned that we needed even more calcium, up to 1200 mg of calcium for those of us over 50. But nature plays a cruel trick on us because as we age, we become more lactose intolerant making it difficult to accomplish the goal of 1200 mg of calcium a day. It isn’t fair!

Fortunately, there are other ways to get that calcium beside drinking milk.

Plus, we also need to be concerned about our body absorbing the calcium. Certain medications and foods make our bodies expel calcium. How do we know what foods help our bodies to absorb calcium? And, what about Vitamin D? How do we get this essential vitamin? I answer these questions and more in this article link.

Did you hear what Marcella said? Why no! Tell me, what did she say?

Panne Cotta – a delicious way to get more calcium

Here is an Italian recipe called Panne Cotta. It means “cooked cream.” I got the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Great Taste – Low Fat Italian Cooking.” Their version is a lowfat version so they don’t use cream. They called their recipe, “Latte Cotta” which means “cooked milk.”  Sprinkled on the top of the dessert is crushed amaretti cookies. I did one better. Why use sweet cookies that contain sugar and are added useless calories? Instead I crushed walnuts as a topping which contains omega-3, an important necessary nutrient and tastes delicious in this dessert.

Then, on top of the nuts I thinly sliced bananas, which are high in potassium – good for your heart. I substituted milk too with powdered milk. Yes, powdered milk. It’s just as good if not better than regular bottled milk. Why is it better? It’s better because you can add an extra tablespoon of the powered milk and not notice the difference. This is one trick to help you get more calcium.

But nutrition aside, this is a dessert to die for! I wasn’t expecting it to taste so good. It’s excellent if I do say so myself and I’m pretty critical of my own cooking. It’s good enough for company. It looks like pudding but has the consistency of a gelatin (Jello) dessert. When you pile the thinly sliced bananas on top, they look like whipped cream topping as you can see from the photo. I highly recommend this dessert.

CHOCOLATE PANNE COTTA

Ingredients

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 ¼ cups low-fat (1%) milk (or, use my suggestion: powdered milk. Follow instructions on the box.)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup boiling water

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown)

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

chopped walnuts for sprinkling

bananas for slicing

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of the milk and let stand until softened, about 3 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Gradually add the boiling water to the cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups milk, the brown sugar, and salt. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, whisk in the gelatin mixture, and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.

Divide the mixture among four 6-ounce dessert dishes. (I used large wine glasses.) Chill until set, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Slice bananas on top when ready to serve.

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