Blog Archives for category Healthy Eating

Recipe – Red Curry, Coconut and Ginger-Infused Steamed Clams

Red Curry, Coconut and Ginger-infused Steamed Clams

I have not posted a recipe in quite awhile. So, when I found this recipe online from Savory Sweet Life, I thought I should share. Enjoy!

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 2-4

An Asian style steamed clam recipe featuring red curry, coconut milk, garlic, and ginger. Very flavorful and the right amount of spice.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I like Chaokoh brand)
  • 2 pounds of clams (Littlenecks or Manilla), rinsed and cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • optional 1 small lime cut into wedges

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant but not burned.
  • Add the red curry paste and the fish sauce.
  • Stir the paste until it has thinned out with the butter.
  • Pour the chicken broth and coconut milk into the pot. Stir the broth mixture for a couple seconds until well mixed.
  • Add the clams and cooked covered for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until clams have opened. Discard any clams that are still closed.
  • Add the parsley and give the pot a quick stir. Transfer clams and broth to a large serving bowl and squeeze a tablespoon of fresh lime juice over the dish.
  • Serve additional lime wedges on the site.

Enjoy!

The Case for Chocolate – New Studies Show Health Benefits

It’s not like we need a specific reason to eat chocolate, but it doesn’t hurt that studies are finding increasing health benefits associated with the popular indulgence. While chocolate is high in sugar and saturated fat, it does contain chemical compounds with proven benefits, so enjoy–in moderation–and expect to reap some of these rewards.

Improved Heart Health
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women over 70 who ate chocolate at least once a week were 35 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease during the survey period. Researchers suspect that the flavonoids found in chocolate, which are known to reduce blood pressure, likely improve overall cardiovascular health.

Reduced Liver Strain
These same flavonoids in dark chocolate that help decrease blood pressure can also reduce post-meal abdominal blood pressure spikes that strain the liver by widening and relaxing blood cells. A Spanish study of patients with end-stage liver disease showed that dark chocolate helped reduce some of the risks associated with conditions like cirrhosis.

Safer Pregnancy
Dark chocolate has been shown to help pregnant women avoid preeclampsia–a significant complication where blood pressure spikes to dangerous levels–by nearly 40 percent when consumed five times a week. Dark chocolate is especially rich in theobromine, which relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels. As an additional benefit, it also seems to improve circulation in the placenta.

Increased Endurance
Research out of the University of California, San Diego, demonstrated that mice given epicatechin, a flavonoid found in dark chocolate, could run for 50 percent longer than those who only drank water. The mice also grew new capillaries and mitochondria in their muscles, changes that explain their enhanced endurance capacity. Unfortunately, perhaps, for chocolate lovers, is that researchers say just one-sixth of 1 ounce of chocolate each day is the ideal serving size to receive this benefit.

Discover the healing properties of taking tea

The health research is enough to make you forego the latte for strong brewed tea instead. Name your color — black, white, green, even red — teas are packed with disease-preventing antioxidants (more than some fruits and vegetables) and contain vitamins, minerals, and at least half the caffeine of coffee.

Fortified with free radical-fighting polyphenols, tea drinkers have a reduced risk of many different cancers, in particular stomach, colorectal, and even skin cancer. Tea drinkers also have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol. Containing anti- inflammatory and arthritis-preventing properties, tea also helps stimulate the immune system and protect the liver against toxins.

But you have to drink up. Most research points to five or so cups of brewed tea each day to reap the health benefits. Decaf tea loses some but not much of its health punch, due to extra processing.

All traditional tea — white, green, oolong, and black — is derived from the leaves of an evergreen tree called the Camellia sinensis, and all contain the health-promoting polyphenols. White tea is made from young tea leaves, dried in the sun without fermentation or processing. Green tea is dried with hot air after picking, so it retains its color but is not fermented. Oolong tea, sometimes referred to as “brown” tea, is fermented but not processed to the point of black tea. Black tea, on the other hand, is fully fermented, which accounts for the color of the leaves and its stronger flavor.

Rooibos, or red tea, is naturally caffeine-free and from the Aspalathus linearis, a shrub that grows only at high altitude near Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Herbal teas are made from a variety of plants, roots, bark, seeds, and flowers and are technically herbal infusions rather than tea. Though they don’t contain the same antioxidants and haven’t received the same research-based accolades as traditional tea, the herbs in these infusions have certain healing properties that have been used for centuries to treat many common health issues.

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Nature’s Nutritional Wonder – Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are powerful foods that can help prevent many forms of cancer, reduce existing cancer tumors, and aid in the prevention of heart disease. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, kale, and Brussels sprouts all contain isothiocyanates–a group of chemicals that break down carcinogens in the body, helping to metabolize toxins. Studies show that people who eat two to three servings of cruciferous vegetables each week lower their risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. A National Cancer Institute study found that eating three helpings of crucifers a week dropped prostate cancer risk by 50 percent. The powerful chemicals in these veggies also reduce homocysteine levels, a known precursor to heart disease.

Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and the chromium found in these foods helps regulate blood sugar and insulin function, key factors in keeping diabetes at bay. Even with all the benefits that crucifers provide, many people refuse to eat them because of their strong taste. But a little creativity can go a long way in making these wonderful foods palatable: try cream of broccoli soup, cauliflower au gratin, stuffed cabbage, or the recipe below–the possibilities are endless.

Brussels Sprouts For the Meat-and-Potatoes Eater

• 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, washed, stems trimmed, and outer leaves removed
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Thinly slice Brussels sprouts, either in a food processor fitted with a slicing blade, or by hand. Heat a heavy, nonstick skillet. Add olive oil and butter, swirling the pan so that the butter melts. Sautee sliced Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes. Add cider vinegar and grated Parmesan, stirring briefly to incorporate. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serves four–who will all be healthier for it!

The Health Benefits of Ginger

I found this article on the website of my professional association, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals and thought I would share. I am a big proponent on the health benefits of ginger; it is a regular part of my diet, and I hope this information is helpful to you too!

Easing Nausea, Joint Pain, and Allergies

This pungent spice is found in cuisine around the globe, but ginger has also been used for more than 2,500 years for its medicinal properties. The ancient Chinese knew that it aided in the absorption of many herbal preparations and they prescribed it extensively as a digestive tonic.

A native root of southeast Asia, ginger is a potent ally in the treatment of nausea, motion sickness, and joint pain. Current research confirms ginger’s efficacy as an anti-inflammatory, GI calmative, and antihistamine. The active ingredients found in ginger — gingerols and shagoals — lower levels of prostaglandins, the chemicals responsible for pain and inflammation in joints and muscles. By reducing prostaglandins, ginger can even have a positive effect on heart health and circulation because chronic, systemic inflammation increases the risk of heart attack and blood vessel compromise.

Ginger comes in several forms. Fresh and dried ginger is available in supermarkets for use in cooking. It’s also available in capsules, an extract pill form, prepackaged tea bags, crystallized, and as a topical oil.

Recommended Uses

Motion Sickness and Nausea

Most medications for nausea and motion sickness work to calm the nervous system and can cause drowsiness and dry mouth. On the other hand, ginger calms the digestive tract directly and has been shown to reduce nausea after surgery and chemotherapy. For motion sickness, take 100 mg two hours before departure and every four hours afterwards or as needed.

Arthritis and Muscle Aches

Massage ginger oil into affected areas and/or take up to 1 g of powdered ginger daily to reduce inflammation.

Colds and Allergies

Drink up to 4 cups of ginger tea daily or enjoy authentic ginger ale (made from real ginger).

While ginger has no known side effects, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care practitioner to make sure it’s right for you.

Thai Green Curry Paste and Vegetable Curry

I love curry. I love the fragrant aroma of curry simmering on my stove top. So much so, that I spent a portion of my weekend making my own green curry paste.

Now you can purchase green, red and yellow curry paste at any quality Asian market (and even from many grocery chains). But, it’s so easy to make your own and you’ll have the satisfaction of making it yourself and knowing exactly what goes into it!

I use a green curry paste recipe that I found online, and I’ve modified it for you here. Total prep time is about 20 minutes. Total time for the vegetable curry is about 40 minutes.

Green Chili Paste Ingredients:

This recipe yields about 1 cup of curry paste. I use the entire cup in the vegetable curry recipe below.

• 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
• 3 green chilies, sliced (Thai chili, or use Serrano or Jalapeno)
• 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
• 5 cloves garlic
• 1 2-inch piece of galangal (Thai ginger), or regular ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves & stems
• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper (available in most supermarket spice aisles)
• 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
• 3 Tbsp. fish sauce or you can substitute 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
• 1 tsp. shrimp paste (available at Asian stores); Vegetarians: substitute 1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 tsp. brown sugar
• 2 Tbsp. coconut milk (just enough to blend ingredients together)

Green Chili Paste Preparation:

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, chopper, or blender.
2. Process well to form a green curry paste.
3. Taste for salt and spice. If it is too salty, add some fresh lime. To make it spicier, add more chili. This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about a week. I also freeze this and take it out whenever I need it.

This recipe yields about 1 cup of curry paste, which is enough for 1 batch of your favorite curry.

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables

You can easily add chicken or beef to this. But, this is my “meatless Monday” recipe for today.

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1-2 Tbsp. oil
2. Add 1 cup green chili paste and stir fry for about 1 minute until the spices begin to bloom and become fragrant.
3. Add chickpeas and sweet potatoes and stir for 2 minutes
4. Add the stock (or water) and coconut milk and bring to a boil
5. Reduce heat so that the curry simmers and then add the remaining vegetables.
6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are fork tender
7. Remove from heat and taste for spice. You can add more salt if you feel it is not salty enough. If it is too salty, add lime juice. If it is too spicy, you can add more coconut mi
8. Place into serving bowl and sprinkle fresh basil on top
9. Serve with Jasmine rice and sliced red chili on the side

Serves 4 (with leftovers!)

Lessons from the greatest chef in the world

If you are not a foodie, his name may be unfamiliar to you.  But, Ferran Adria is arguably the greatest chef in the world. His former restaurant, el Bulli has been named the world’s top restaurant five times.

Last night, I heard Adria speak at George Washington University. And for about 90 minutes, Adria talked about his ideas on cooking, he shared his vision of the future for el Bulli, which closed in July 2011, but will reopen as a creativity center in 2014. All interesting stuff, but what really captivated me was were his thoughts about the family meal and simple cooking. What can the man who created “culinary foam” teach us about everyday cooking. Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.

Adria has a new cookbook out called “The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adria.” Taking nearly 3 years to develop, the cookbook contains menus based on the evening staff meal at el Bulli. There are 31 menus, one for each day of the month. Each menu has 3 courses – a starter, a main, and a dessert. The requirement for the meals was that they be nutritious, cost no more than $5-$6 / person to prepare, could be prepared in 40 minutes or less (not counting cooking time), that they use easy-to-find ingredients, and that most people liked them.

I love that recipes are presented for 2 people. Adria joked last night, “I don’t understand why all cookbooks are for four when 54% of the western world is a household of 1-2 people. If you have children, they still don’t eat that much.”

I love the cookbook, and I love the notion of creating simple meals and sharing them with friends and family. It’s not about “diet.” It’s about knowing what goes into your food and preparing simple meals with largely local ingredients. Love it, love it, love it. And the book has great photos too. Rather than a written list of steps, each step in the preparation is photographed, making it incredibly easy to follow.

What are the lessons I learned?

  • Good food does not have to be complicated. These are very simple recipes.
  • Good food involves using good ingredients that are best when they are in-season
  • Good food can be affordable

Take a look at The Family Meal, in the words of Ferran Adria himself.

Simple, Healthy Eating – Fish “Tagine” Recipe

Ok, technically this dish is not a “Tagine” because I don’t prepare it in a Tagine. I prepare it in a standard 6-quart dutch over. A Tagine is a cooking vessel (and serving vessel) that is common in the cooking of northern Africa (think Morocco). Nevertheless, the spices I use are reminiscent of Moroccan cuisine. Most importantly, this is a very simple meal that can be prepared in about 30 minutes. When they are in season at the height of summer, I love to use fresh tomatoes. In this version, I use canned, diced tomatoes. If you are using fresh tomatoes, coarsely chop 3-4 medium tomatoes instead of using the 14.5 oz. can that the recipe below calls for. The chilies and sweet peppers come from my garden in the summer.

I hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch of saffron (about 10 threads)
  • 2 celery sticks coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red sweet pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno or Serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (add more if you want a spicier dish!)
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with their liquid / juice (see head note above about using fresh tomatoes)
  • 1-1/2 lbs. filet of firm white fish – you can use snapper, haddock, cod, sea bass, tilapia or any firm fish you like – cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil or parsley (or both!), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Fresh ground, black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, sweet pepper, chilies, saffron, cinnamon stick and cumin and cook until the onion is slightly caramelized and slightly soft.
  3. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots,  and tomatoes. Stir to mix and coat vegetables in the cumin and saffron.
  4. Add the 1-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes
  5. Season fish with salt and pepper.
  6. When potatoes are soft but still firm, add the fish to the stew
  7. Season with black pepper (to taste)
  8. Simmer for another 6-8 minutes until fish is cooked through but not falling apart
  9. Add the fresh herbs, lemon zest and juice just before serving

I like to serve this with a flat bread such as naan or pita.

Enjoy!!



ZEITGEIST NOLA