Tag Archives: Calcium

New Food Friday Flash – Lasagna with Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

19 Dec Tall Lasagna Slice

There are a lot of lasagna recipes out there and many of them have spinach as an ingredient. I didn’t have spinach on hand but I did have mustard greens growing in my vegetable garden as of November 1, 2014. The question was would their strong, peppery, mustard flavor overpower my lasagna? I was up for the challenge. My lasagna with mustard greens is the New Food Friday Flash recipe for this month. They may not be new foods, but they are a new combination! Its red and green colors make for a festive holiday dish!

 

Lasagna is a great dish loved by all and there are many versions of it such as lasagna with sausage, with zucchini, with precooked noodles, with spinach noodles, with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese, with meatballs, and the list goes on. The problem with a basic lasagna recipe is that there is little fiber in it. Vegetable lasagnas help Americans who eat little fiber. I wanted to create lasagna with a good amount of fiber.

 

I had two jars of tomato meat sauce with garbanzos in it in my freezer. The reason I put garbanzos in the sauce was for when I got tired of putting the sauce on pasta. By just adding a few tablespoons of chili spice I could easily make a chili out of the garbanzo meat sauce! I did and it was wonderful! I had plans for the two remaining 8 oz jars of meat sauce with the garbanzos. They were going into my lasagna!

 

I went out into my vegetable garden after we had a mild frost and picked a bowl of all the baby-sized mustard greens. They looked good! I rinsed them carefully and put them in a pan with about ½ cup of water and cooked them until the water evaporated. Then I minced them. I gave them a taste expecting a strong flavor. To my surprise, there was hardly any flavor! Maybe the frost had something to do with the lack of flavor, maybe because the leaves I picked were all small, maybe my taste buds went on strike – who knows? I knew the mustard greens wouldn’t overpower my lasagna. The combination of garbanzos and mustard greens added a good amount of fiber to this dish. All the cheeses added a good amount of calcium.

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

 

Ingredients

8 oz of regular cooked lasagna noodles (1/2 box)

16 oz ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup minced mustard greens

1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced

2 8 oz jars of tomato meat sauce

1 cup (8 oz) tomato sauce (for bottom and top of dish)

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ricotta, minced mustard greens, egg and spices until smooth.

 

Pour ½ cup of the 1 cup tomato sauce on bottom of an 8” x 8” baking pan. Cover sauce with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles; a layer of the ricotta mixture; a layer of the sliced mozzarella (about 9 thin slices); a layer of the meat-garbanzo sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. The top layer should be your remaining ½ cup of the 1 cup of tomato sauce and the parmesan cheese. This makes a 5-layer lasagna. It weighs a ton! Bake 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes for easier serving. This dish stays hot for about an hour and stays warm for several hours. It slices better the next day. It serves 6.

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

 

Meat Sauce Recipe

My meat sauce recipe is never the same so I can only give you a basic recipe. I use two 32 oz cans of Dei Fratelli tomato puree. If there is a sale on Carmelina San Marzano canned tomatoes, I will substitute it with one of the Dei Fratelli cans. You can taste the difference. I don’t eat beef and instead use ground turkey and brown it the same way you would beef in a little olive oil. Sometimes I add diced carrots, celery, onions, sometime not. Usually I add one clove of minced garlic. Sometimes I add bay leaves, or dried basil leaves and/or dried oregano. Sometimes I add thyme from my garden. If I have red wine on hand, I will add ½ cup to deglaze the browned meat. Usually I add a teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and a dash or two of cayenne. Sometimes I add a chopped Serrano pepper. The main difference this time was that I added a can of rinsed garbanzo beans. They don’t add any flavor but they are creamy in texture and high in fiber.

 

Note to novice cooks: I once went to a potluck where a man brought homemade lasagna. He didn’t know that there was such a thing as pre-cooked lasagna noodles and regular noodles. He bought the regular noodles and didn’t boil them first. He put them in the lasagna dish and needless to say, it ruined the dish. The noodles were hard and the dish was inedible although some did their best to eat it so as not to hurt his feelings. I wasn’t one of them! Make sure you look at the packaging. The pre-cooked  noodles are less work, but you have to make sure you have a lot of sauce (extra) on hand because they absorb more liquid than regular lasagna noodles. The regular noodles have to be boiled and are slippery to work with. Sometimes they stick together so be sure to stir the pot often when they are boiling. I drained them and then rinsed them with cold water and left about ¼ cup water in the pot. I had no problems with sticking. I didn’t add any oil. I’ve used both types of noodles for lasagnas and don’t have a preference.

 

I divided the lasagna in portions and put three of them in the freezer for future meals. It freezes well and makes all the effort and pots worth it!

Tall Lasagna Slice

Tall Lasagna Slice or, The Leaning Tower of Lasagna

 

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Tags: cooking, recipes,baking , vegetables, mustard greens, garbanzo beans, fiber, calcium, lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pie From a Pie Pumpkin (with Bourbon)

6 Nov Pumpkin Pie

Pie pumpkins were running amuck at my local Meijer but I was too busy to make a pie. About a week later, I had time to make a pie but I couldn’t find any pie pumpkins! Luckily, I spied three in the squash area next to the Butternut squash. I picked one of the three but they each looked good. I began wondering how I cooked pumpkin the last time I bought a pie pumpkin. I couldn’t remember.

 

I was watching P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table program and he suggested roasting a pie pumpkin by first piercing it all over with a fork. I used a knife instead and roasted it for 45 minutes in my convection toaster oven. When it cooled, it was so easy to peel the skin off! I’ll have to remember the technique for when I bake Butternut squash which I do often. I had been peeling it with a paring knife. It’s a miracle I still have all my digits! By the way, this is an easy pie to prepare. I suggest you take out all your ingredients and place them on your counter so you don’t forget to add one. There are a lot of them!

 

But back to the pumpkin. I made a pumpkin pie from a recipe in my Good Housekeeping Cookbook called Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie that I followed loosely. The original recipe had no Bourbon. I used the crust recipe from my Cake that Thinks it’s a Pie recipe. I defrosted my dough completely before lining my pie pan.

 

Ingredients

1 9-inch unbaked piecrust

1 pie pumpkin (2 cups)

1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

2 eggs

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 ounce bourbon

 

Directions

Wash then cook the pumpkin in your preferred way. Then break apart or cube the pumpkin in a large bowl beating the pumpkin with a mixer at medium speed with next 11 ingredients. Pour into pie crust. I find that every time I make this recipe, I have extra pie mixture. This time I froze the leftover. There is enough for a small pie. It will give me a chance to add more spices that I mention below.

 

The photo shows pumpkin pie and a Butternut squash because you can also make this pie using Butternut squash in case you can’t find pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie

You Can Use Butternut Squash in Place of Pumpkin

Butternut squash is always available. Both are high in fiber. This recipe is helpful if you are trying to get your calcium requirements for the day; note the evaporated milk ingredient.

 

I was very generous with all the spices in this recipe. I didn’t level off anything because I wanted it to be a bit spicy. It was very flavorful, but I still wanted more spice! I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen while they were making gingersnap cookies. I love gingersnaps but, you know how it is, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to! ATK made the cookies with black pepper, cayenne pepper, two tablespoons ginger and two tablespoons grated, fresh ginger! Wow! That’ll wake you up! I wish I had seen ATK before I made my pie. I’ll  include more ginger and maybe some pepper too in my small pie! This pie keeps well in the refrigerator.

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

15 Aug

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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My Nutrition College Course and a Follow-up Website

4 Jun sxc.hu michtur

When I was in college, I took the course Nutrition 304. This was no light course. I was the only non-nursing student in the class at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

University of Evansville Rick Lewallen 2005

University of Evansville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The year was 1985 and I was 5’8″ tall and 148 lbs. Sigh! I’m still 5’8″ but I’m not 148 lbs.!

I know my exact weight at that time because in this class we had to do a dietary project which consisted of logging information on data sheets recording our mood when we ate, the place where we ate, with whom, the times, the food and amount, and our observation.

Fruit basket (sxc.hu michaelaw)

Fruit basket (sxc.hu michaelaw)

If that wasn’t enough, there were also calculations that we had to do such as percentage of calories from fiber, fat, carbs, etc.  This was an 8-page project of instructions and forms which included an evaluation form where I had to make recommendations to myself for improving my eating habits and diet. It was thorough and tedious!

In case you’re wondering, I don’t remember all of this from memory, I stumbled upon the dietary project today tucked into my Nutrition Concepts and Controversies 3rd Edition soft cover text book (133 pages) that I’ve kept on my bookshelf all these years because it is excellent. I paid $27.95 for it. You can now purchase the 13th paperback edition (864 pages) on Amazon for $177.49! YIKES!

My project required that I record my food intake over the course of five days. My findings were that I rushed when I ate and needed to try to relax more before and during a meal. I was low on calcium, iron, and too high on fats. I improved my fiber intake and my carb intake during the project. 

Bell Peppers (sxc.hu ivanmarn )

Bell Peppers (sxc.hu ivanmarn )

It’s interesting that I notated that I felt bloated when I drank milk. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pursue that because even though I was low in calcium, I’m sure the bloating feeling influenced the amount of calcium I consumed. If I didn’t work out so much and lift weights, I wonder if I would have had a broken bone or two by now because throughout the years, I really didn’t improve my calcium intake enough.

asparagus-and-tomatoes-sxc-hu-muffet1

Asparagus and Tomatoes (sxc-hu-muffet1)

In those days, I drank soda. My poison of choice was Dr. Pepper. It was shortly after this course that I gave up all soda. I also gave up beef. Many years later, I gave up ketchup (too much sugar). 

I received an “A” for the project and ultimately a “B” for the course. I was SO close to getting an “A” –  missed it by that much! 

Part of the reason that I bring all this  up is because I stumbled upon a website where you can log your food choices and activity level. It is an outstanding website: caloriecount.about.com

I had been logging my foods and activity previously on WebMD but it isn’t as detailed as caloriecount.about.com. There are over 250,000 foods listed in their database! There are over 5 million members. You can chose to keep all your records private, or you can share with the other members. 

One of the things I love about this website is that it is very detailed, and you know me, I love details! I can click a button and find out how many carbs I ate in a day and which foods had the carbs and the percentage of carbs in each of those foods! The same is true for sugar and other nutrients/vitamins. I learned I have been eating too much sugar without even realizing it! I don’t even add sugar to my coffee or my tea, yet I was getting too much sugar from the foods I ate. 

You get a nutrition report at the end of the day that shows whether you are too low, good, or too high for each nutrient/vitamin. This is very helpful because you can check how you are doing any time of the day and if you notice that you are too low in, let’s say calcium, you have the opportunity to correct that by drinking some milk, or eating some yogurt or consuming any food that contains calcium. I love this feature!

One of the great things about this website is that I have finally been able to get my needed amount of calcium each day. I am ecstatic over that!

One of the down sides to the site is that it takes a while to learn. I’ve been using it for two weeks now and I still don’t know everything about the site.  So, if you plan to use it, expect it to take some time until you get the hang of it. Keeping track of the foods you eat is the best way to lose weight. It’s been proven. 

Not only can you keep track of your foods and activity levels but when you mouse over words like sodium or potassium, you can click the link and it will take you to a page that explains all about it, listing the foods that are high in these nutrients. This website is like a continuation of my college nutrition course and it’s free!

There are two other levels to joining caloriecount.about.com. One is a Premium level for $3.33 per month. (One day free trial). The other includes a Dietitian service for $24.99 per month (Seven day free trial). I’m not pushing either, I’m just explaining what is available.

For the free service, you also have access to over 400,000 recipes, nutrition articles, a goal-setting page, and much more. I haven’t even scratched the surface myself.

So far I haven’t been able to lose any weight. I’ve been too busy trying to squeeze in all the vitamins and minerals that I need. Calcium, fiber, and potassium take a great deal of effort and planning for me.  I also made the mistake of buying bagels without reading the label. They contain over 700mg of sodium per bagel! They’re blueberry bagels so I don’t want to throw them out. Every day that I eat one, I’m over my limit for sodium.  They are also high in sugar. This is why I preach reading the labels. I don’t know why I forgot to do it for these bagels. Maybe because they looked so good!

It takes perseverance to meet your daily requirements but it’s worth it. I hope you will take a look at the caloriecount website. It might save you a broken bone!

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

9 Aug

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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