Food Friday: GREAT Food Tip to Save Time and Keep Foods Fresh

I buy organic produce & it spoils so quick but these mason jars are helping me so much. This is a great food tip to save time AND money! Click on the image in my instagram post to play the video from Food Network (you can access my instagram post by clicking the link below!)
Credit: Food Network

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqQ5qnCjsVK/

There are also great comments from other folks with fabulous food tips on my instagram page!

Introducing Food Friday Tutorials!! This week: Poke Bowls!

I have so many people who reach out to me asking what I eat and how I find new recipes to try. I’ve decided to share my favorite finds with a new regular blog post called FoodFriday. I will be sharing recipes that I find and actually made the previous Friday. I will definitely be giving credit information for these recipes — credit where credit is due!

So, let’s get started! Last Friday I made the amazing California Roll poke bowl that is highlighted first in the video below!

Credit: Instagram #soyummy

Fighting Fat with Fruit!

Choosing the right food can make as much of a difference in your weight loss success as how much food you eat!  Certainly the goal is to consume less calories than we take in – the trick is to do that without triggering feelings of hunger or deprivation!

Fruits can be a valuable tool in this fight against feeling deprived! Certain fruits contain healthy fibers which help curb your appetite – making you feel less hungry while eating less. Like anything – moderation is key!!  Remember that fruit is high in fructose – the sugar that your body will more easily store as fat.  And fruit DOES have calories – so it is best to take a balanced approach.

Let’s look at some good fruits to consider if weight-loss is your goal. I am focusing on fruits that are easily found in your supermarket or local farmers market –

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  • Pears – have a higher content of fiber than most of the other fruits, so it can help you feel full for longer periods of time. They also are high in Vitamin C, which is primarily known as having elements that boost your immune system.
     
  • Apples – widely considered a heart-healthy fruit, are low in calories and high in fiber.
     
  • Watermelon – is low in calories and high in water content. So you get double benefit – 100 grams of watermelon is only 30 calories and it helps you remain more hydrated.
     
  • Bananas – are a rich source of potassium and fiber. Many athletes choose bananas for an instant dose of energy rather than grabbing an energy bar (watch some of the professional tennis players!). It is an ideal post-workout food because one medium banana has just 105 calories and is high in fiber.  
     
  • Oranges – have the magic combination we have been discussing – low in calories and high in fiber. Oranges can be particularly tasty as an addition to a salad (maybe instead of a higher-calorie salad dressing!).

Other fruits that can be considered helpful for weight loss include: peaches, kiwi, grapefruit and pomegranate. As always, you should consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or adding more fruit and/or fiber to it. This will give you a great reason to start that conversation about nutrition and diet with your health professional!

Great Grilling: Salmon!

You might be surprised to learn that salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Not only is it loaded with nutrients, but it may reduce risk factors for many diseases.

Some quick facts:

  • Salmon is rich in high-quality protein, one of the essential nutrients that should be in your diet;
  • Salmon is a great source of B vitamins. Studies show that all the different B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12) work together to optimize your brain and nervous system functions.
  • Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which has several different benefits including lowering inflamation and blood pressure and reducing the risk for some cancers.

Don't take my word for it! Do a little of your own research on the "benefits of eating salmon".

It's summertime! So, let's cook our salmon on the grill!

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If you are grilling your salmon directly on the grill, choose salmon steaks or fillets. Consider buying salmon with the skin on - the skin helps hold the salmon together and minimizes sticking on the grill. No huge number of ingredients to prepare a great piece of salmon. Pat the salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. You are ready to go!

Oil the grates on your grill and then heat to medium-high before adding the salmon. If you like crispy skin, place your salmon skin side down first on the grill; otherwise, start your salmon skin side up.   

Now for the MOST IMPORTANT PART!  DON'T TOUCH THE SALMON! LET IT COOK!

Salmon sort of "lets go" of the grill when it is ready to be flipped; use a spatula to help prevent your steak or fillet from falling apart.  Expect a 1-inch piece to cook in 6-10 minutes. Flip your salmon when you are just over halfway through the expected grilling time. Complete grilling on the second side. If you see white beads collecting on the sides, then you are overcooking.

When you remove your salmon from the grill, be sure to let it rest so that it can finish cooking (tip: you should do this for ANY protein that you cook/grill). Serve with your favorite veggies and/or salad and you have a really healthy, filling meal for summer!

There are other great methods for grilling salmon, using cedar planks or in foil pouches that are placed directly on the grill.  Try different methods - you might be surprised by the difference in taste!

Give Tonight's Chicken Dinner A Little Flavor!

Your family will soon realize that when you say that you are preparing a chicken dish for dinner, that could mean a whole range of yummy options! As with most cooking experiences, you are limited only by your imagination. Here is a guideline for what spices are known for the flavor they bring to chicken dishes.

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First of all - opt for fresh herbs whenever possible. They will be more flavorful over dried herbs every time! Likewise, if you can freshly grind any whole spices right before adding them to your recipes, you will find they will taste better.  But, if you do not have access to fresh or whole herbs, then by all means, use dried herbs.  Adding some flavor is better than adding none!

These herbs are commonly used for chicken:

  • Dried herbs and spices: thyme, rosemary, coriander, marjoram, sage;
  • These are spice blends: masala (spice blend), harissa (spice blend), jerk seasoning (spice blend), dukkah (spice blend), chili powder (spice blend), herbes de provence (spice blend)
  • Fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, sage
  • Other: lemon, garlic, soy sauce, white wine, ginger, pesto, miso paste

These herbs and seasonings are a great place to start, but don't hesitate to experiment a bit. Remember to write down the combinations of any spices you use!  It would be a shame to have a dish that is just AMAZING, and then realize you don't know how to duplicate it!!

Great Grilling: Veggies!

Are you working on developing a healthy diet? Well, certainly the main component is choosing the right foods. But did you know that “how” you cook foods can have a huge impact also? Now that grilling season is upon us, there is reason to celebrate the health benefits of cooking your food on the grill rather than on the stove or in the oven.

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  1. You eat less fat because the excess fat drips off the grates while cooking. Think about it - when you grill a burger on the grill, the fat cooks off. When you cook that same burger on a cooktop, the fat has nowhere to go and tends to be re-absorbed by the meat.
     
  2. When grilling veggies, they retain more of their vitamins and minerals when grilled. Wrapping in foil or even just placing them directly on the grill can be nutritionally advantageous over frying or boiling.
     
  3. When meat is cooked over a fire, it preserves more riboflavin and thiamine, key nutrients in a healthy diet.
     
  4. Because grilled foods generally lock in more moisture, you will be less likely to reach for butter or other condiments, some of which can be very high calorie.
     
  5. You grill outdoors!! Being outdoors encourages activity – even if you are tossing a ball or throwing a frisbee while you are cooking…. An added bonus!

Tips for good veggie grilling:

  1. Know how long to cook your particular veggie. Some take a minute or two to cook while others take longer. Denser vegetables, such as potatoes, will take the longest. Don’t use too-high heat for too long or they will become charred on the outside while staying raw on the inside.
     
  2. For best results and to prevent burning, sear vegetables over high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or - precook them and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color on the outside.     
     
  3. Remember that you can use a grill basket or skewer for smaller veggies that might roll around or fall through the grate. Don’t have a grill basket? Create one by folding a 2-foot long piece of heavy duty foil in half and crimp the ends-voila!

Tuscan-Style Roasted Asparagus - Good Hot or Cold!

Ingredients

 Photo credit: Taste of home

Photo credit: Taste of home

1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. Place the asparagus, tomatoes and pine nuts on a foil-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Mix 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, salt and pepper; add to asparagus and toss to coat.

Bake 15-20 minutes or just until asparagus is tender. Drizzle with remaining oil and the lemon juice; sprinkle with cheese and lemon peel. Toss to combine. 
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Recipe yields 8 servings; Prep time: 20 minutes; Bake time: 15 minutes
Originally published Taste of Home February/March 2013

Seasonal Eatings: Asparagus

Seasonal Eatings: Asparagus

One of the best ways to add a little variety into your meals is to include produce that is currently in season! If you are trying something new - it will be at its most flavorful, plentiful (and hopefully that means more cost-effective).  Periodically, I will be posting under a Seasonal Eatings headline. When you see that header, you will know that I am lifting up a particular ingredient that is in season (or near in season --  this blog has readers all over the country and so in season in one area may be a little "less" in season in others). But, you get the point!

So, let's talk asparagus!! Why would I want to eat asparagus?  Asparagus nutrition has impressive nutritioonal value because it contains virtually no fat and remains very low in calories, with only 20 calories for five spears, yet asparagus is packed with vitamins and minerals. Most notably, asparagust is high in Vitamin K, acts as a natural diuretic and is high in fiber.

What to look for when buying asparagus: Look for firm but tender stalks with good color and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily more tender. Actually, thicker stalks are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume. Cooking for a side dish can be quick and easy: Wash in cold water and remove the bottom ends of the stalks (if the asparagus is fresh, the bottoms should snap off cleanly). It can be cooked in a pan with water, lemon and olive oil; it can be grilled over medium heat; it can be roasted in the oven or even cooked in the microwave if you are short on time. Do you feel more comfortable with an actual recipe? Well, here you go!

Garlic Asparagus (for 2-3 people)

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