04 October 2010

Pesto Pizza

For as long as I've been against grains, I've been against dairy. The hormones given to dairy cows and the processing and pasteurization of milk products have long been reason enough for me to avoid the food group all together.

While I don't plan on recanting everything I've ever said about milk, I do want to take a minute to refine it. Recently, I've become more open to the idea that maybe it isn't all so bad after all, but with one caveat. You won't find me preaching the organic gospel much, but if there is any food group that I personally recommend choosing (...and paying...) for organic, it's dairy. All the talk currently about precocious puberty due to milk hormones does seem unfounded, but I think that you'd just better be safe than sorry.

Cheese in particular has been a recent object of my experimentation. (Real cheese. Not the kind that comes in a resealable pouch.) The bacterial cultures (similar to yogurt) and minimal amounts of additives (completely unlike most yogurts) are something I can easily get along with. In my Pear Salad post last week, you got your first glimpse at my new found appreciation of cheese. Here's something else I'd like to share with you using the pesto from last week's post.

I hope you all are enjoying the redesigned website. I'm still tinkering with the layout and features so expect more to come.

Pesto Pizza

2 slices of flax foccocia bread
2 tblsp. walnut pesto
3-4 sundried tomatoes (chopped)
1 oz. fresh, organic mozzarella
3-4 oz. grilled chicken (chopped)
1 pinch of red pepper flakes

Spread a tablespoon of pesto on each piece of foccocia bread then top with sundried tomato, chicken, and cheese. Toast for about 8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with red pepper flakes.

27 September 2010

Walnut Pesto

I'm afraid fall is here in Boone. We won't be seeing the mercury rise above 68F (or the sun rise for that matter) all this week. This also means the beginning of the end of my summer of herb growing. I cut a mixing bowl full of basil the other day and had to come up with something to do with it, so that's where this pesto came from.

Not so fast. I'm not letting you get away without a quick nutrition lesson today.

I'm a big fan of nuts as you should be too for their awesome protein, fat, and mineral content, but walnuts especially. Walnuts have the highest content of omega-3 fatty acid of any of the nuts in the form of alpha linolenic acid (the plant form of omega 3's). This plant form is absorbed in much smaller quantities compared to the animal forms (EPA and DHA), but if you find it difficult to incorporate the fatty fishes into your diet twice a week, then a handful of walnuts a day will certainly help your case.

Walnut Pesto

2 C basil (fresh, whole, packed)

1/2 C walnuts

1/4 C olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a grainy consistency is achieved.

Look out for next post on how I actually used this awesome spread...

17 September 2010

A Quick Word On Mayo (w/ Honey Cole Slaw Recipe)

It seems lately there has been a lot of experimenting going on in my kitchen. After a couple of different interpretations of cole slaw, this is the one that has stuck around.

I always get a lot of questions about my use of mayonnaise. In reality, mayo is really a pretty wholesome food that unfortunately just happens to have been mucked up by modernization and food production techniques. In it's most basic form, it is just eggs, oil, and vinegar. We can get along with that right? Sadly, most you see on the shelves in a jar are made with soybean oil and preservatives. Even mayos boasting about their use of olive oil are usually made with primarily soybean oil. The Spectrum brand as seen in the photo is the kind I use. It is made with 100% canola oil which, while it isn't a spectacular choice, is much better than any soybean version. As always, if you have the time and means to make it yourself, please do, but for the rest of us... the Spectrum version will do in a pinch.

Honey Cole Slaw

1 package of slaw mix*
4 heaping tblsp. mayonnaise
2 tblsp. honey
2 tblsp. apple cider vinegar
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

*I seem to prefer the tricolor slaw as seen in the picture above (green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots), but this should work equally well with just green cabbage or broccoli slaw.*

That's all there is to it! Try it with some steamed shrimp or grilled pork.

13 September 2010

Pear Salad

Hello all!

It's been a long 8 months since I last dropped a new nutrition knowledge bomb on you and a lot has changed for me in that time. Another spring semester and a summer full of classes has really helped further shaped my thoughts on food, health, and life. I've just entered my junior year of college at Appalachian State and am continuing work on an research projects they'll let me jump on.

As hinted at just before, some of my recent courses and experiences at Appalachian have further refined my ideas abut food (...and even changed a few). You'll be hearing about these shortly.

Until then, I want to welcome everyone back with one of my new favorite salad recipes.

Pear Salad

1/2 pear (diced)
2 strips of bacon (cooked, crumbled)
8-10 raspberries
1 tblsp. raisins
1/2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
1/2 oz. pecans (chopped)
A few rings of red onion
1 pinch or two of sunflower seeds
2 oz. baby spinach
2 oz. assorted baby greens

Combine all ingredients together in a large salad bowl with your favorite balsamic dressing and, if you like, grilled chicken (for a filling dinner). Enjoy!

I'm hoping to be back to the blog for good this time. Recipes, nutrition thoughts and tips, book reviews... I won't promise an update every other day, and I don't want to predict a schedule for fear of another burn out. However, just know, I'm thinking about you and still have plenty of information to share to keep you coming back. I hope that you'll stick with me on this journey.

15 January 2010

Sesame & Tamari Tuna

I trust you have all had as great a holiday season as I have. I am now back at Appalachian and classes are in full swing. This semester is going to be quite a busy one, but I am really looking forward to it. I'll be working with Dr. Martin Root and a group of ASU students on a semester long study that hopes to show the effects of omega-3 supplementation in conjunction with exercise on women over 55. I'll be keeping you updated as progress is made.

Now, I'd like to get on with the post. Today, I'm giving you a recipe for tuna steak I tried the other night that turned out fantastic.

Sesame & Tamari Tuna

2 6oz. tuna steaks
2 tblsp. tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tblsp. avocado oil
1 pinch of dried ground ginger
1 pinch of garlic powder
juice from 1/2 a lime
2 tblsp. sesame seeds

Marinate tuna in tamari, oil, ginger, garlic, and lime juice for 30 minutes. Pour sesame seeds onto a clean plate and begin to heat a non-stick skillet to about medium-high heat. Place tuna steaks in sesame seeds to coat one side. Place in the dry pan, sesame seed side down, for about 3 minutes and then flip. Allow an additional 3 or 4 minutes on the opposite side for rare tuna and about 6 or 7 minutes for a more well done fish.

That's it! I had mine with some stir fried vegetables (zuchini, mushrooms, and yellow onion). Don't forget that you can click the thumbnail picture for a better view.

Enjoy the recipe. I'm looking forward to a great year!

09 December 2009

All about gluten

Just recently, I've been asked a lot of questions about gluten. What is it? Why is it bad? What does it do? This made me realize that I've never actually explained it on my blog and that many of you may have the same exact questions.

First of all, the main problem with wheat flours, rice, and other grains is the high-sugar/low-nutrient content compared to other sources of carbohydrates, and not gluten. Let's make that clear. However, gluten isn't something to shrug off. It is estimated that 1 in 30 Americans have intolerances to gluten without ever knowing it, not to mention the many suffering from celiac disease and other vitamin malabsorbtion diseases. One study even shows that 1 in 3 may have issues digesting it. The "gluten free" market is the fastest growing market in the food industry today with pastries at Starbucks and cake mixes from Betty Crocker boasting their lack of our friend gluten.

So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein formed when water is added to flours from wheat, rye, barley, etc. Glutenin and gliadin are proteins in these flours that combine when they become wet and help form pastey dough for breads and give structure to cakes and muffins.

Why is it bad and what does it do? Well, it binds to vitamins in your intestines and prevents them from being absorbed. Most notably, it does this to vitamin D and calcium... Remember I said if you don't eat a high sugar diet (and in effect, a high gluten diet), then you don't need quite as much vitamin D and calcium in your diet?

02 December 2009

Eating Seasonally

Though it may be nice to have tomatoes, peaches, and pineapple available in the middle of December, it isn't exactly the greatest thing to be doing for our environment or the cost of food. As Americans, we want what we want and we want it right now. This mentality has certainly helped earn us a place as the most powerful nation in the world, but it has also caused a few problems.

What is eating seasonally? It is choosing to purchase fruits and vegetables based on their natural growing and harvesting times (read: when they are the freshest). Why is this important? There's an awful lot of labor, money, and oil required to ship a bunch of asparagus from Peru to your dinner table in February. That money is largely going to overseas farmers and is more often than not much more than you would pay in May to a farmer in your own state. The oil to get that vegetable here on that plane or that ship was also quite expensive to say the least and doesn't do much good for the quality of the air we breathe. Again, this reduces the demand for food (and the certain waste created by shipping food 5,000 miles across the world). Reducing the demand for food ultimately lowers the cost. Eating seasonally also pretty much directly coincides with eating locally. This keeps your dollars in your city and state and also allows you to come face to face with the hand that feeds you at your local farmer's market. I can also guarantee that it will taste better.

So how can you do it? Well... Instead of buying peaches, cantaloupe, and eggplant during the winter months, try apples, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Take a look at the lists below that I've compiled for you to help next time you are at the market. As you can see, there is some overlap, and plenty of other options that I didn't list here.

Eating seasonally isn't always convenient. I'll admit that it is certainly nice to be able to enjoy a strawberry today as if it were late May and I certainly can't live without bell peppers year round. However, I would just encourage you to make an effort to make it a priority. Seasons eatings!

Apples, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Cabbage, Collards, Kale, Pumpkin, Radishes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Onion

Spring: Asparagus, Celery, Kale, Spinach, Strawberries, Bell Peppers

Artichokes, Apples, Blueberries, Blackberries, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale, Okra, Melons, Onions, Peppers, Peaches, Squash, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Strawberries, Spinach, Raspberries, Lettuce

Apples, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Melons, Onions, Peppers, Pears, Pumpkin, Zucchini


On another note, I told you a few weeks ago that I would keep you updated on the feedback I received from my letter. In addition to a very personal response from Rep. Virginia Foxx, I recently received a phone call from a woman in D.C. representing Senator Richard Burr. She left a very nice voicemail message for me with a lot of political nonsense, but at least it's getting read, right?