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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

Here is a delicious and nutritious recipe that can be served as is, eaten in a sandwich or put over pasta. Broccoli rabe is a member of the brassica family also know as the cabbage family. It’s flavor is somewhere between broccoli and mustard greens. Though it may look like a kinder gentler form of broccoli with its smaller flowers, this leafy green is a formidable foe of numerous health problems. The big news with broccoli rabe is its cancer fighting properties. It is a rich source of glucosinolates which our bodies convert to cancer-fighting sulforophanes. It is noted to be effective in prevention and has a curative effect on stomach, lung and colon cancers. There have also been hints that this vegetable may offer protection from breast and prostate cancers. Just 3  1/2 ounces of broccoli rabe gives you half the daily requirement of Vitamins A and C replete with antioxidants to fight off free radicals that can damage the body’s cells. It is a good source of folate to fight birth defects and heart disease. It slows the build-up of artery clogging plaque. A small serving of this powerful, healthy green provides loads of calcium, potassium and fiber. Red peppers get their antioxidant effect from carotenoids. Beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A is crucial for night vision. One small red pepper gives you enough Vitamin C to supply three times the daily requirement. Red peppers properties can bolster the immune system, protect against heart disease, stomach and colon cancers and help to heal wounds. They also promote better eyesight, protect against rheumatoid arthritis and promote lung health. Garlic another ingredient in this recipe has been touted a great deal in this blog. It provides a potent antibiotic effect as well as being an anti-viral agent. Garlic has been used for healing over the centuries by many cultures. It has been noted to protect against stomach and colon cancers, lower blood pressure and reduce the chances of infection. When these three ingredients are combined, the health benefits are huge…so eat up!

Ingredients:

1-2 red bell peppers or 1  small jar of roasted red peppers

1 bunch of broccoli rabe also known as rappini

2 c water

1-2 T extra virgin olive oil or reserved broth from the broccoli rabe

3-4 cloves of  garlic

1/4 t crushed red pepper

garlic powder

freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Directions for roasting peppers:

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees

Wash the peppers and dry them

Put the peppers in a parchment lined baking tray

Roast the peppers for 15 minutes

Turn them over once with tongs

Cook another 15 minutes

When done, put the peppers into a brown paper bag or covered bowl for 15 mins. The steam formed will allow you to remove the skins more easily.

Remove the skins when cool, peel only the skin that comes off easily and leave the rest.

Cut the peppers in half, let liquid run off, remove the core and seeds, then slice.

Once you have roasted your own peppers and have seen how easy it is, the flavor is so fresh and rich, you will never again want them from a jar.

Directions for cooking broccoli rabe:

Wash the broccoli rabe and remove the very ends of the stem which are usually dry

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl or pot

In a large dutch oven or  pot, bring 2 c of water to a slow boil

Meanwhile, chop broccoli rabe in 1 inch increments across the length

Put the broccoli rabe into the gently boiling water for 4-5 minutes

Remove the rabe with a slotted spoon

Drain in a colander and reserve the broth

Immediately transfer the broccoli rabe to the waiting ice bath until cool 1-2 mins.

Remove with slotted spoon to colander and set aside

Putting it all together:

In a large skillet, heat 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil or the reserved broccoli rabe broth (if you do not use the broth, save it for a soup base or freeze it for future use)

When the oil is hot add garlic and cook slightly (do not brown or it will be bitter)

Add the broccoli rabe to the skillet

Add the sliced roasted red peppers

Season with dashes of garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper and (optional) the 1/4 t of crushed red pepper

Cook until the flavors have blended about 3-5 minutes and let it rest a while

Remove to a serving bowl and top with grated pecorino romano cheese if desired

Serve as is, in a sandwich with aged provolone cheese on a hard Italian roll or on whole wheat ciabbatta as seen here or  over whole grain pasta or gluten free pasta.

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MOMMA ALWAYS SAID EAT YOUR VEGETABLES AND ONE OF THE MOST NUTRITIOUS WAYS TO DO THAT IS TO ROAST THEM. THIS METHOD LOCKS IN THE NUTRIENTS THAT OFTEN DISAPPEAR INTO THE WATER WHEN STEAMING OR BOILING THEM. SHOULD YOU USE THESE LATTER METHODS, BE SURE TO SAVE THE VITAMIN RICH WATER AND USE IT. VEGETABLES ARE HIGHER IN ANTIOXIDANTS THAN MEAT OR DAIRY PRODUCTS. A DIET RICH IN FRESH VEGETABLES CAN REDUCE CHOLESTEROL AND TRIGLYCERIDE LEVELS THAT CAN LEAD TO CLOGGED ARTERIES. ROASTED VEGETABLES ARE SO DELICIOUS. THE ROASTING RELEASES THEIR NATURAL SUGARS RESULTING IN A CARAMELIZED SWEETNESS THAT NO OTHER METHOD PARALLELS. YOU WILL LOVE VEGGIES MADE THIS WAY.

Ingredients:

Use any vegetables of your choosing. Here I was making a batch for Christmas eve. for about 22 people and I used:

Fennel, slice the bulb in 1/4 inch thickness

onion both yellow and red, sliced in 1/4 inch thickness

garlic bulbs, slice off the top of bulb and surround in tin foil leaving the sliced top exposed

sweet potato cut into cubes of 1/2 inch or so

new red potatoes quartered

red and yellow bell peppers sliced into small squares or lengthwise slices

broccoli, separate florettes

cauliflower,  separate florettes

eggplant cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes

Brussel sprouts quartered

Carrots sliced in 1/2 inch segments

Try to keep vegetables in similar sizes whichever you choose to use. Note that some vegetables will roast sooner than other so put similar types together or just remove those that roast sooner.

Preparation:

Toss vegetables with 1-1 1/2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

Sprinkle with garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper

Optional: add any fresh herb of your choice such as thyme for subtle flavor, rosemary for a stronger flavor (great with potatoes) or sage for moderate flavor. Cinnamon can be added to sweet potatoes or squash.

Roast vegetables on baking sheet at 400 degree for 20-25 minutes

You will be glad you did for the flavor and nutrition you will get.

Alternatives:

Try roasting root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, beets (though roast separately because their color bleeds), and any other you can think of.

Aluminum containers were used at the request of the party host for ease of clean-up and this did work well. when possible, the presentation of food in pretty platters and ceramic type bowls is preferred.

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Here is an easy, tasty, colorful side dish perfect for the holiday table. It can also be used as a main dish if served over pasta. String beans contain lots of lutein as well as beta-carotene hence they are beneficial to your eyes. String beans have recently been found to have antioxidants as well, and in fact have more than peas and other bean families. They provide absorbable amounts of the mineral silicon known to be important to bone health and the formation of healthy connective tissue. In addition, string beans have anti-inflammatory properties advantageous to diabetics and they promote cardiovascular health due to the amino acid known as alpha linolenic acid. Grape Tomatoes, like all tomatoes , are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. They contain lots of fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They have lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from oxygen damage, and is known to prevent certain cancers and heart disease. Garlic has wonderful aroma, taste and nutrition. it has been long known as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and a fighter of infection. Let garlic sit after crushing or chopping to improve its flavor and to allow its enzymes to work on behalf of your health. Garlic improves iron metabolism due to its sulfides. It is also a good source of selenium. Research suggests that garlic may help to regulate the number of fat cells in our bodies due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Obesity has been linked to a state of low grade inflammation. Garlic’s greatest attribute however, is its cardioprotection. It can lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol though moderately. It can reduce plaque formation. Garlic’s top benefit is blood cell and blood vessel protection from inflammatory and oxidative stress.

Ingredients:

1/4 to 1/2 lb. of string beans, ends snipped off

1 pt. grape tomatoes halved

3 garlic cloves chopped

1  T extra virgin olive oil, spray oil or 1/4 C vegetable broth

garlic powder

fresh ground black pepper

1/8 t of basil or Italian seasoning

Optional: 1/4 C  grated Parmagiana Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation:

Ready an ice bath (water and some ice) in a large bowl or pot.

Fill a  medium to large size pot with water and bring to a boil.

Add the string beans for 1  1/2 minutes to blanch them. When done, drain them in a colander

Immediately put the string beans in the waiting ice bath. They will cool quickly.

Drain again in a colander. This process preserves the nutrients and the bright green color.

Set the beans aside.

In a large saute pan, add the 1 T of oil and heat on moderate heat.

When hot, add the string beans, tomatoes, garlic and seasonings.

Cook until string beans are tender and tomatoes are softened, about 15 mins. The tomatoes release their liquid and with the oil and seasonings make a thin sauce for this dish.

Serve immediately as a side dish. See below for a main dish idea.

Alternatives:

For a main dish, cut string beans into smaller pieces and serve the side dish over whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta. If you need more liquid, add vegetable broth or some water but not too much. You may also choose to add some white wine instead. You may also add a small amount of oil or whipped butter to the cooked pasta.  Top with grated parmagiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese.

Delicious!!

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This is a gorgeous dish with its orange and green vegetables bursting forth amidst the tawny mushroom color that highlights them beautifully. This recipe is chock full of healthy, healing phytonutrients. Sweet potato is an all star vegetable rich with carotenoids (beta-carotene and Vit. A), vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It’s antioxidant powers are unsurpassed. Some studies have shown that sweet potatoes lower the health risks of heavy metals and oxygen radicals. It is important to have some fat at a meal with sweet potato to increase the uptake of vitamin A. Just 1 tablespoon will suffice. Shiitake mushrooms with their rich, smoky flavor give us so much for so little. This lovely mushroom with its legendary benefits is a symbol of longevity in Asia. It is a potent antioxidant and good for your heart. Its healing benefits boost the immune system and fight infections like flu and viruses as well as diseases.  Edamame (pronounced ed-a-mom-ay) is a green soybean replete with phytoestrogens. It is high in protein and fiber and low in calories, fat and sodium. Soy protein may help to reduce insulin resistance in diabetics. It reduces cholesterol especially the LDL type or “bad” cholesterol. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it can reduce menopausal symptoms. Soy protein also protects against cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato sliced

18 or so shiitake mushrooms sliced

1  C of edamame ( green soybeans sold frozen)

1/2  C chopped onion

1 Tablespoon of canola oil after this,  if vegetables get dry, add water or vegetable broth

freshly ground black pepper

1 – 2 teaspoons of sodium reduced Tamari soy sauce

Preparation:

Wash/scrub the sweet potato and wipe dry

Remove skin with vegetable peeler from the sweet potato

Cut the potato in half lengthwise then thinly slice the halves widthwise, set aside

Wipe the mushrooms with a dishtowel or paper towel. Avoid using water because mushrooms are porous and absorb it. Set them aside

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the canola oil on medium/low setting

When hot, add the chopped onion

Season with fresh gound black pepper

After about 1 minute, add the sliced sweet potato

After 2 minutes, add the sliced mushroom

When the vegetables are close to done, add the frozen edamame

Cook until all is warm and edible

Remove from heat and add 1-2 t of  reduced sodium Tamari soy sauce

You may serve as a complete meal

Alternatives:

For a more hearty dish, serve over brown rice or as I did, over a mix of brown rice and quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) for more nutrition.

Seeds of Change brand sells grain products ready-made and quick to prepare. Keep some of these on hand for when you are in a hurry.

If you are gluten sensitive, do not use the soy sauce.

If the mushroom dry out, soak them in water for 30 minutes and they will reconstitute.

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We are having our way with eggplant today. Eggplant is my daughter’s favorite vegetable. Here it is baked and made three different ways for you to enjoy: in a rich low-fat tomato sauce, as a no-bread sandwich, and with mint and feta.  Like most vegetables, eggplant has lots of phytonutrients. Minerals such as potassium, manganese, Vitamin B-6, omega’s 3 & 6, folate, magnesium and niacin are a just few of these. There is also plenty of vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that protects cells from oxygen damage. It has been touted to prevent certain cancers and heart disease. There is 20 calories per cup of eggplant which means essentially zero calories for dietary purposes. A few more reasons to eat your vegetables!!

BAKED EGGPLANT:

Ingredients:

2 medium size eggplant
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper
Dried basil

Preparation:

Wash eggplant
Leave skin on and cut off ends
Slice widthwise into 1/4 inch slices
Brush one side of the eggplant slices with the oil
Season with garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper and dried Basil
Lay the eggplant oil side down on a non-stick cookie sheet or use a regular cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silver foil
Brush the top side of the eggplant with extra virgin olive oil
Season with garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper and dries basil
Put in the pre-heated oven set at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until tender and eggplant can be pierced with a fork.
Remove from the oven

We are now ready to use this baked eggplant in a variety of ways. Here are three of my favorites.

1) Eggplant with tomato sauce:

Ingredients:

Baked eggplant

Your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or store bought). Recipe for easy homemade tomato sauce to follow.

Pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano

Preparation:

In a baking dish (size depending on the amount of eggplant you have made for this dish)

Ladle some tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking tray

Add one layer of eggplant

Cover with more sauce and grated cheese

Continue to layer – starting with eggplant and finishing with sauce and grated cheese

Bake all in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the size of the dish and the depth of the eggplant)

Remove when sauce is hot and bubbly !!

2) No-bread eggplant sandwich:

Ingredients:

Two slices of baked eggplant (per serving)

One medium sized tomato

Fresh mozzarella cheese or low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Fresh ground black pepper

Fresh basil

Preparation:

Slice the tomato into one quarter inch slices

Brush with extra virgin olive oil

Season with garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper

Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes

Take one baked eggplant round, top with the baked tomato , a slice of mozzarella cheese or substitute and fresh basil leaves.

Heat in oven or toaster oven to melt the cheese.

3) Eggplant with mint and feta cheese:

Ingredients:

Baked eggplant rounds

Feta cheese crumbles

Fresh Mint

Balsamic glaze

Preparation:

Plate the  baked eggplant rounds

Scatter Feta cheese by spoonful on eggplant in any amount that you like

Rip up the mint leaves into small pieces and drop them over the eggplant and cheese

Drizzle balsamic glaze over all in a ribbon pattern.

You may layer the eggplant in this way if you wish,  or serve as one layer

For presentation, garnish with whole mint leaves

Alternatives:

As always, vegans or lactose intolerant individuals may substitute cheese with rice or soy cheeses.

Tips:

Though eggplant has few calories, it is important to note that the ingredients  used to prepare it do have calories though as few as possible.

If you have extre eggplant, you may freeze it for later use. I put it side by side into a freezer bag.

You can also freeze any leftover eggplant in tomato sauce.

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Here is another wonderful side dish that is healthy, colorful and looks beautiful on the winter holiday table. Brussels sprouts have cholesterol lowering benefits and are full of vitamin antioxidants and more. Red cabbage likewise has antioxidants and combines the detoxifying power of cruciferous vegetables. Red cabbage flushes free radicals from our system. It also fills us up with water content which helps with weight control. Fennel is a crunchy, slightly sweet vegetable. it contains flavonoids, rutin and quercetin and reduces inflammation. Fennel is replete with vitamin C and minerals. All three of these vegetables have lots of fiber known to help with constipation and weight control.

INGREDIENTS:

18-20 Brussels sprouts

1/2 of a medium size red cabbage

1 medium size bulb of fennel with fronds on

2 T  extra virgin olive oil ( or sub. spray oil or 1/4-1/2 C of vegetable stock

garlic powder

fresh ground black pepper

PREPARATION:

Cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters.

Put the in a non-stick dutch oven or large pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes to blanch them. Then drain them in a colander .

Have an ice bath ready and plunge the brussels sprouts into the ice bath. Again, drain them in a colander. this will stop the cooking from continuing and helps to retain that bright green color. Set them aside.

Cut the red cabbage in half starting at the core end. Remove the core.

Slice the cabbage into thin slices. you will have to pull them apart and the slice sizes will vary. Set them aside.

Remove the fronds from the fennel and set them aside.

Slice the fennel bulb as you would an onion.

Put 2T  extra virgin olive oil or substitute (see ingredients) into a large non-stick saute pan.

When oil is hot, add the Brussels sprouts, red cabbage and fennel to the saute pan.

Sprinkle with garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper to your taste.

Saute for 20 mins. on medium heat or until vegetables are as you like them.

When done, plate the vegetables and garnish the plate with fennel fronds for presentation.

Now, EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!!

Tips:

If you find that the vegetables are taking to long to cook, then you may cover the pan briefly and not for more than 3-5 mins. Otherwise you will have limp vegetables devoid of color and life force. It is important not to overcook vegetables or you will be denied their healthful benefits.

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Steamed Red Swiss Chard

I just love Fall vegetables. There are wonderful squash, earthy root vegetables and deep green leafy ones. Swiss Chard comes in three varieties: green, red, and rainbow. Recent research has found that swiss chard contains 13 different polyphenol antioxidants. It is replete with flavonoid  phytonutrients and in this area ranks second to spinach. Current studies are underway and indicate that Swiss Chard may regulate blood sugar. Chard’s bitterness fades with cooking rendering it more delicate than cooked spinach. To me, Chard imparts the flavors of spinach melded with beet. It is truly healthy and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bunch of red swiss chard (or any variety) washed and cut into edible pieces

1/2 Medium onion chopped

3 Cloves garlic chopped

2T Extra virgin olive oil or spray oil to cover bottom of pan

Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic powder

The following ingredients are optional:

Crushed red pepper flakes

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic glaze

PREPARATION:

In a Dutch Oven over medium heat,

Put 2 T the olive oil, you may also use spray oil to cover bottom of pan. May also use chicken or vegetable broth or even plain water to cut calories

Saute the chopped onion and when near done,

Add the chopped garlic being careful not to burn

Season the onion and garlic with garlic powder,  ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes(optional)

Next add chopped chard, stir and cover the pot. Stir again at 2 1/2 mins.

Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes

Remove to serving platter

You may drizzle with Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic glaze

Ready to eat..Yum

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