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Pizza can be healthy folks!! Here is a delicious, healthy and nutritious pizza. Just use whole wheat dough, olive oil, vegetables and low fat cheese. You can lose weight eating this type of pizza. Start with 100% whole wheat pizza dough or make your own. Whole wheat dough is easy to find now and if you incorporate it slowly into your diet, I can assure you that you will never return to white flour products. Whole wheat flour products minimize glucose levels that white flour products spike leaving you tired and hungrier later. Whole wheat products keep you full longer. Whole wheat is delicious too. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and is a rich source of calcium. It is high in fiber, vitamins A, B6, C and K. The high content of Vitamin C prevents free radical damage. Broccoli also enhances the absorption of iron. When eaten abundantly, people have less risk of some cancers such as cervix, breast, colon, lung, prostate, esophagus, bladder and larynx. Portabella mushrooms surpass all produce with their high slenium content. Blood selenium levels decrease with age so we need to supplement our bodies with this cancer fighting  mineral.  Selenium is synergistic with Vit. E and helps keep our hearts healthy.  These mushrooms can lower the risk of prostate cancer. They are low in calorie and virtually fat free. Onions are loaded with bioflavonoids, proven to be a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals. One such flavonoid is quercetin which lowers the risk of heart disease by keeping blood platelets from sticking together thus reducing harmful clots. Onions contain Vitamins A, B, C, and G as well as protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folic acid and fiber. Onion also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Cheese is known for it’s high calcium content which strengthens the density of bones and is vital in other physiological activities. Cheese is a good source of protein and protects against colon and breast cancers as well as osteoporosis, migraine headaches and PMS. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a healthy and healing fat It prevents colon cancer and heart disease by controlling the LDL or bad cholesterol and raising the HDL or good cholesterol. No other oil has as high an antioxidant level. Extra virgin is the best because it comes from the first pressing of the oil. Oil becomes rancid easily. Light and heat are its enemy so store in a cool dark place. Now, let’s eat these beautiful and healthy ingredients in a scrumptious pizza.

Ingredients:

Whole wheat pizza dough

1/2 medium size yellow Onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic chopped

1 medium size Broccoli crown, cut into small pieces

3-4 large size Portabella Mushrooms sliced

8 oz. pkg. fresh mozzarella cheese or 1 pkg. of low fat/ low moisture  mozzarella cheese

1-2 T  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Put some olive oil on your hands to prevent dough from sticking to them. Spread room temperature dough in a cookie sheet or pizza pan using the plam and heal of your hand and being careful not to tear the dough. If it should tear, put cold water on your fingers and work the dough back together. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, put the oil and when hot, add the onion and cook about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they are near-done or softened.

Put the cooked vegetables on the pizza dough.

Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake @ 400 degrees for 12-15 mins. until cheese is hot and melted.

let the pizza rest for 4-5 mins. before cutting so toppings will adhere.

Mangia!!

Alternatives:

You can use a non-wheat dough such as rice crust or any gluten free type.

You can switch the cheese from dairy (cow) to goat,  sheep or vegan cheese.

Use any vegetables that you like.

After I made this pizza, I thought that it would look more appealing if I had added roasted red peppers which would add color and also blend with the other flavors.

As always you may substitute spray oil or vegetable or chicken broth when sauteing the vegetables.

If you do not like onion or garlic, you may eliminate them and still have a great tasting pizza.

This is a hearty and nutritious sandwich with carotenoid rich sweet potato, nutrient packed green apple, curative sprouts of dill and alfalfa, and hummus loaded with protein and fiber. While visiting my daughter in Boston, she took my husband and I to a wonderful coffee shop in Harvard Square named Crema Cafe. She and I split a unique and truly wonderful sandwich filled with sweet potato, green apple, red onion, goat cheese and maple vinaigrette. The following recipe is my version of it and if you are ever in Harvard Square,  do visit Crema Cafe. When at home, try this!!

Ingredients:

A wonderful whole grain bread. I used Whole Foods Pain De Campagne

1 sweet potato, a medium size will give you two sandwiches

1 green apple

Sprouts of your choice. I used dill and alfalfa sprouts.

Lemon Hummus – I used Whole Foods brand but you can use any brand you like and may want to experiment with different flavors as long as it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.

Maple Syrup – actually I used Maple Praline Syrup but either would be good

Preparation:

Bake the potato until cooked to firm, let it cool. This takes 50 mins. in the oven at 350 degrees. You can try the microwave on high for 7 mins. though the potato may be softer than you’d like. Test for doneness with a sharp knife.

When potato is cooled, carefully remove the skin and cut into 1/4 inch rounds (widthwise).

Cut two slices of bread and spread the hummus on one side of each piece.

Add sprouts to one slice of the bread with hummus.

Add slices of sweet potato.

Add thinly sliced green apple.

Drizzle with Maple Syrup

Add more sprouts if you like

Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread.

Yum Yum!!

Tips:

If I had a red onion on hand, I would have added it to this sandwich but in the end this was amazing!

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!!

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.

Spaghetti is a world wide favorite and in this recipe it is served with no-meat balls. Whole grain or whole wheat spaghetti is used because it’s nutrients remain intact. Most of wheat’s  nutrition is in the bran and germ of the wheat grain.  For years, American’s have processed wheat into white flour and grain  products and then “enriched”  them with the nutrients that the process removed.  Strange!!  In recent years, it has been discovered that leaving wheat in it’s natural state provides a wealth of nutritional value. Whole wheat contains essential B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron and many other vitamins and minerals. It is packed with fiber too. The health benefits of whole wheat are impressive. People who eat whole grains, weigh less. This may be because the body is using the nutrients from the grains and the fiber regulates digestion and elimination. Among other things, whole grains are known to lower type 2 diabetes. Also in this dish are store bought (short on time today) meatless meatballs though I can tell you roughly how to make them.  Having never been one to  measure my recipes rather cooking by intuition, eye and taste. It has been a big effort  to measure things as I go along for the purposes of this blog. I have used Nate’s Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs purchased at my local Whole Foods market. They are vegetarian, delicious, low calorie, low fat and contain lots of protein.  So, eat this healthy dish and celebrate it’s multiple benefits.

Ingredients:

1  12-16 oz. pkg. of whole wheat/whole grain spaghetti or any whole grain pasta.

Tomato sauce. See my recipe for a quick and easy tomato sauce.I am using my homemade sauce leftover from yesterday

Nate’s Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs

Optional:

Grated parmagino reggiano or pecorino romano cheese

Fresh basil

Preparation:

Cook the pasta as directed until al dente which literally means “to the tooth”. There should be a slight resistence in the center when the pasta is chewed. Cooking varies from 8-12 minutes so check frequently after 8 mins.

While pasta is cooking, heat no-meat balls in the tomato sauce. Nate’s meatless meatballs are frozen.

Strain the pasta and remove to serving bowl.

Top with sauce and no-meat balls.

Garnish with fresh basil if you like.

Serve with grated pecorino romano or parmagiano reggiano cheese

Mangia!!

Alternative:

You can make your own meatless or no-meat balls using fresh chopped mushroom, soy crumbles, any kind of bread cumbs or semolina, a wet ingredient for the “glue” such as mashed potato, glutinous cooked rice or any grain or eggs (or egg white) or egg substitute and herbs and seasonings of your choice. As with any meatball the key is the wet ingredients. You can’t go wrong if you assemble all the dry ingredients and then add the thickener gradually. Bake @ 350 degrees or saute one or two to taste test and adjust as needed.

You can substitute the whole wheat pasta with corn,  rice pasta or any of the alternatives available.

This tomato sauce is a delicious and nutritious versatile sauce. It’s most common usage is over pasta and, though as you have seen on this blog, it can be used over vegetables like eggplant and of course on pizza.  It is easy to make and full of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Tomatoes are a fruit and in the carotenoid family.They are one of few carotenoids without vitamin A. They do however have lycopene , an antioxidant, which protects cells from oxygen damage. Lycopene is said to have cancer prevention properties, particularly with prostate, colon and lung cancers. The benefits are supposedly more pronounced in advanced stages of these cancers. Add red peppers to this sauce to increase the antioxidant benefits. Go tomatoes!!

TOMATO  SAUCE:

Ingredients:


1  28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano tomatoes, but you can use any brand.

1  15 oz. can of no salt tomato sauce

2-3 T  extra virgin olive oil or vegetable spray oil or vegetable broth or water

3 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 – 1/2 of a medium onion chopped

Dried basil

Fresh basil

garlic powder

freshly ground black pepper

add a 2 inch piece of carrot for sweetness.

Preparation:

In a deep pot, add the oil on medium heat

When hot, add the onion

Add dried seasonings to your liking or 1/4 t of each ( I like more)

When onion is almost translucent, add the garlic being careful not to burn (it cooks quickly)

Add the contents of both tomato products

Nora hitting the sauce

Add more seasoning if you wish

Add a few or a small bunch of fresh leaves to the pot

Cook on low-medium heat or simmer for 20-30 minutes

remove the carrot and basil leaves

Tomato sauce  –  done!!

Tips:

You may cook this sauce longer if you wish.

When this sauce is left overnight, the flavors infuse it and it thickens as well (better for pizza then as long as you bake the crust for 5 mins.  beforehand to prevent seepage).

This sauce is great over any pasta.

If you want a meat or meatless sauce, just add ground hamburger or soy crumbles to the garlic and onions.

If you do not like garlic or onion you may omit one or use less.

I have a friend who makes her sauce in a crock pot after following the first four preparation steps.

My niece tells me to leave the pot uncovered for the best flavor. I find that she is right and that is why I use a deep pot though the sauce wipes easily from the stove.

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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