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Swiss Chard

One thing I always try to do, especially when the farmers markets are in full bloom is to try out a new fruit or vegetable that I may not be so familiar with.  This weekend I decided to give swiss chard a try since I love greens in general and have been reading a lot about it lately.  Swiss Chard is high in vitamins C, E, and K as well as Iron and Potassium in addition to a multitude of other vitamins and minerals.  Swiss Chard is known for is powerful Cancer fighting attributes, in addition to the abundance of Vitamin K which is excellent for bone health.  Since it sautés well, you can easily add to dishes for an easy way to get the kids to try something new without it being too overwhelming also!

Tips on harvesting and cooking Swiss Chard

-This vegetable can be used to prepare many delicious dishes. Using the young leaves in a salad is scrumptious as it has a nutty taste.

-Also use the whole leaf and stem, lightly steamed, so as not to lose the flavor.

-Substituting for spinach makes a subtle yet a tasty difference.

-When you harvest the leaves, it is best to snap the whole leaf and stem off from the base.

-If you cut it, the piece of stem that is left will prevent new leaves from forming. When an old plant starts to produce lots of small leaves, it is time to pull it out and get some fresh ones started.

Here is a great frittata recipe that I made this weekend using my swiss chard.  I added mushrooms to mine as well.  Enjoy!

Swiss Chard Frittata

4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/4 cup grated Swiss Cheese
1/2 bunch (6 1/2 cups) Swish Chard, washed well
1 large white onion (2 cups), sliced thin
2 tsp light butter
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, egg whites, cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Separate the stems from the leaves of the chard. Dice the stem into small pieces. Roll the leaves up and slice into thin ribbons, about an 1/8-inch thick.

4. Heat a 10-inch skillet on low heat; melt half of the butter and add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly cook the onions, stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Bring the heat up to medium and cook until the onions caramelize. Set the onions aside.

5. Increase the heat to medium-high, add remaining butter and add the chard stems. Cook about 3-4 minutes. Add the chard leaves to the pan and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Reduce heat to low; pour egg mixture into the skillet and add caramelized onions, salt and pepper and mix well to blend. Reduce heat to low and cook until the edges set, about 6-8 minutes. Once the bottom and edges set, place in the oven and bake until completely set through, about 4-5 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and place a dish over the pan; flip onto the plate. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sources:

http://www.everynutrient.com

http://www.skinnytaste.com

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Seeds- One of the smallest nutrient rich, super foods you can have!

While I am sure you have seen seeds in the market, chances are unless you have something specific that calls for them, you probably walk by them without thinking twice.  While they may seem like a tiny mindless thing in a bag, the truth is, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as antioxidants.

Oprah.com does a great job of listing the top seeds that we should be eating along with simple recipes to help you try out all of the seeds! The great thing is, most of these are readily available in markets and natural food stores.  Since a majority of seeds are sold in bulk, you can easily buy a small amount to try them out first! Enjoy!

Source:

Super Seeds

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Seared Chicken With Fresh Apricot Sauce

Yesterday we gave you some facts on why you should add apricots and today we have an amazing recipe that is easy to make and is perfect for a weeknight dinner! Enjoy!

Seared Chicken With Fresh Apricot Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed and tenders removed
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon canola oil (I used olive oil)
3/4 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock if you want to omit the wine)
1 medium shallot, minced
4 fresh apricots, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Preparation:

1. Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with a rolling pin, meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess. (Discard any leftover flour.)
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm. (If necessary, cook the chicken in two batches with an additional 1 tablespoon oil.)
3. Off the heat, add wine and shallot to the pan. Return to medium heat and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add apricots and cook until the fruit begins to break down, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in preserves, tarragon and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken to the pan and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the chicken with the sauce.  Wild rice and steamed spinach make excellent compliments to this dish.  Enjoy!!

Source:

http://www.eatingwell.com

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Apricots- The seasonal fruit you must try!!

While I’m sure we have all seen dried apricots or apricot jam in the supermarket, few have actually tried raw apricots.  They have the same texture as a peach with the slight tartness like that found in a plum. They come into season at the end of April and continue through August.

Apricots are high in vitamins C and A.  In addition they are packed with beta-carotene, even more so than carrots.  So eating a serving of apricots daily will help prevent the loss of sight.  Apricots are also full of dietary fiber so while they may be small, they will help keep you full longer!

Tips On Selecting & Preparing Apricots:

– Look for ones that are bright orange in color, avoid selecting pale or yellow apricots.

– Apricots should be a little soft, selecting ones that are too firm mean that they were picked before they were fully tree ripened.

– The apricot skins are edible, however they can be peeled off if desired.

– Since the skins can be hard to get off, place them in boiling water for 15-20 seconds then take out and put into an ice bath, repeat until the skins become easy to remove.

Easy Ways To Add Apricots To Your Diet:

– Add slices to cereal or oatmeal for breakfast.

– Add chopped apricots to fruit salad in the place of peaches.

– Add sliced apricots to salads.

– Add an apricot to your favorite smoothie.

Source:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=3

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Rhubarb- The Vegetable That You May Not Know

This week is all about fruits and veggies that are in season, so today we are talking about rhubarb.  Growing up, both my parents and grandparents had rhubarb overflowing from their gardens, so it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite comfort foods since I was a child has been my grandmother’s rhubarb crunch.  Whenever I mention rhubarb to people, most have heard of it but have never tried it or honestly have no idea what I am talking about.  Unfortunately rhubarb is not readily available in all super markets.  The best place to find it is at your local farmer’s market, however larger markets may carry it as well!

Rhubarb is a vegetable, however most consider it to be a fruit.  It is similar to cranberries in that rhubarb is extremely tart which is why you should not eat it raw and requires a bit of sugar, honey or juice to help take the acidity out.  Rhubarb is an excellent substitute for cranberries in recipes since the tartness of both are quite similar.  In the fall, I love making stuffed baked apples and have used rhubarb in them in place of the cranberries and they were amazing!  The great thing about rhubarb is that it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks(if trimmed) and can be frozen also.  It is an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin’s C and K, Calcium, and Potassium.

Rhubarb is easy to prepare, all you need to do is cut off and discard and leaves. Rinse and trim from base and tip. You may peel or cut with the skin intact. Remember to cook only in non-aluminum pots only due to the acidic nature of rhubarb.

**Important, never eat the leaves of rhubarb raw or cooked as they are extremely toxic, so if you are cooking rhubarb around children or pets, remember to dispose right away to avoid them taking the leaves.

Here is the original recipe for my grandmother’s rhubarb crunch.  You can substitute the sugar for the sauce with agave nectar and sugar if you desire.

Rhubarb Crunch

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Sauce:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop rhubarb and set aside.  Mix together the flour, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter.

2. Press one-half of crumb mixture into a buttered 7″x11″ or 8.5″x11″ baking dish.

3. Sauce: Whisk sugar, cornstarch and water together in a glass bowl.  Microwave until thick, clear, and bubbly, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove from microwave and whisk in vanilla.  Add chopped rhubarb atop pressed-in crumb mixture in the baking dish.  Pour sugar sauce evenly over rhubarb.

4. Top with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees until edges are bubbling and crumb topping is browned, about 30-40 minutes.

Source:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/rhubarb.html

 

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Eating Seasonally- The Key To Good Health

We all know that eating vegetables that are in season means that they are usually more flavorful but did you also know that eating seasonally is vital to your health as well?  Winter vegetables that are in season are usually naturally warming and built to keep us nourished.  In the summer, we typically require cooler foods that are lighter which is why most fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer are cooler by nature and have more cleansing powers.  Studies show that when we ignore choosing seasonal vegetables and fruits we may actually be doing more harm than good to our bodies.    When we eat seasonally, the properties of those foods naturally cleanse and detox our bodies, which means no need to continue doing harsh cleanses.

Natural News provided a great list for eating seasonally.  Since spring is here and summer is right around the corner we included these below.

Seasonal Spring Foods

In spring, it’s important to focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth of the season. After a long winter of eating heavier foods, it’s refreshing to cleanse and lighten our systems as the blossoms and buds of spring emerge in this season of renewal.  The greening that occurs in springtime should be represented by an abundance of greens on your plate, including arugula, chard, spinach, Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley and basil. Other beneficial spring foods that cleanse the body and prepare it for the warmer months of summer include asparagus, citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit, artichokes, leeks, mung beans, bok choy and broccoli. Healthy whole grains like amaranth, quinoa, wheat and millet should also be included. Sprouted foods – from grains to beans and nuts – are especially beneficial.

Seasonal Summer Foods

During the summer months, it is best to stick to the Chinese Medicine Model which requires light, cooling foods, especially the abundance of fresh fruit.  This includes fruits like all edible and local wild berries, mango, papaya, pineapple and watermelon; vegetables like summer squash, tomato, watercress, cucumber, bell peppers and corn; and herbs like lemongrass and fennel.  Eating more raw foods during this time keeps our bodies from becoming overheated. Avoid heavy foods like animal proteins and choose tofu, seafood and tempeh instead. Avoid overeating in general, and steer clear of dense, hard to digest foods like chocolate, coffee and sweets.

 

Source:http://www.naturalnews.com/035621_seasonal_food_health.html#ixzz1t4659kSc

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Signs of Vitamin Deficiency in Children

We all know how important it is for our children to receive all of the vitamins and minerals they need,however sometimes even with a healthy well-balanced diet, they could still be deficient in certain areas.  Below are some of the signs of 5 major vitamin deficiencies and easy ways to help increase your child’s intake.

Signs your child lacks Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency in children is a common problem. Signs that your child is not producing enough include late teething, irritability, poor growth, and muscle cramps. Seizures and breathing difficulties could also be traced back to insufficient vitamin D.

Combat vitamin D deficiency with exposure to sunlight, milk, cheese, yogurt, and egg yolks.

Signs your child lacks Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to serious vision problems. In children a vitamin A deficiency can start to show up as tiredness, hair loss, weakness, and weight loss. Other symptoms include dry eyes, scaling of the skin, and respiratory infections.

Combat vitamin A deficiency by ensuring children eat plenty of yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots, yams, and squash, as well as eggs and cheese.

Signs your child lacks vitamin B 12
Deficiencies in vitamin B 12 in children shows itself in a wide variety of ways. Specifically, vitamin B 12 greatly influences the nervous system and affects the functions of the brain and heart. Signs your child lacks the proper amount of vitamin B 12 include abdominal pain, edema, weakness, insomnia, and they may begin to lose their voice.

Signs your child lacks vitamin B 6
Manifestations of a vitamin B 6 deficiency in children include diarrhea, anemia, weakness, irritability, and seizures. Researchers have also pointed to a lack of vitamin B 6 as the culprit behind inattention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, temper tantrums, and other inappropriate behaviors.

Combat vitamin B deficiencies by offering a wide variety of meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans. Vegans and Vegetarians should look into supplementation in order to maintain a healthy amount of vitamin B.

Signs your child lacks vitamin C
Easy bruising is one sign that your child is not getting enough vitamin C. Additionally they may experience joint pain, have dry skin, and poor appetite. Frequent nose bleeds, infections, and illness can also be traced back to a vitamin C deficiency.

Combat vitamin C deficiency by providing plenty of opportunities to eat a wide variety of citrus fruit, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, and green vegetables like broccoli.

While the problems caused by vitamin deficiencies are shocking, it is important to note that excessive amounts of vitamins taken in supplement form can be toxic to the body. If you suspect any of these signs point to a deficiency, check with your physician before administering extra vitamins to your child to avoid an overdose.

Sources:

http://www.shine.yahoo.com/team-mom

http://www.medscape.com

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“Wow. These Taste Good.” (A Business Update)

Have you ever gone to someone’s house for dinner and realized after not-too-long that dinner was running late?  Maybe even hours late?  The host or hostess seemed to be stalling with “oh, and did I tell you about the 14th cousin of my neighbor” stories and trying to distract you with drinks?  When really, all you’re thinking is, “please, let’s just order a pizza.  I won’t judge you because you forgot to thaw the chicken.”
We promise.  We are NOT those hostesses.  We are not out here “just” gathering recipes and holiday tips and sharing them with our awesome fans.  We are food manufacturers.  Good ones, if we do say so ourselves (and we better!).  We promise.  There is food coming.
I realized the other day that it’s been almost 3 months since we gave you a business update.  Since then, we’ve be plenty busy.  One of the greatest pieces of news is the arrival of two interns!  Stefanie and Kathleen are amazing, high energy, and really get what we’re trying to do here.  We are excited to welcome them to the team and still a little bit in denial that we got lucky enough to find them.  (“you want to work for US?!?  Do you know how crazy it gets around here sometimes?!”)
The challenges we faced a few months ago are now sliding right into place.  It’s fun to look back when that happens.  It’s also fun to not threaten permanent residence under my bed.  Derek (food scientist extraordinaire) found us an amazing co-packer who will make our product.  No 3am commercial kitchen for these mama’s.  The craziest part of it is that the CEO of the company and I went to the same college and played basketball on the men’s team (I was on the women’s team).  Talk about a small world.  Not only are we thrilled to be working with such accomplished manufacturers of all natural and organic food, but I had a random walk down memory lane.  You never know where the road will take you.
Did I mention our latest samples?  Aside from the fact that we’ve gone through 18 rounds on one flavor to find perfection, all I have to say is wow, these taste good.  I’m serious, people.  Start lining up now.
Some challenges? Moving fast!  It’s nearly impossible, when every step of the process can take “about 6 weeks”.  Coming into this year, we hoped to launch in March, then June, then August.  Now, we’re trying to do the best with what we’ve got and stay positive, knowing it might not be happening as quickly as we want, but the progress is GOOD.
Oh, and keep an eye out for our website.  It’s coming really soon.
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Grilled Salmon With Herb Crust

Grilled Salmon With Herb Crust

Ingredients
12 ounces fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, 3/4-inch thick
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preparation
1. Thaw salmon, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Cut into two (6-ounce) pieces. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor or a mini-chopper combine oregano, cilantro, green onion, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Cover and process until chopped. (Or, use a knife to finely chop oregano, cilantro, green onion, and garlic. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Stir in lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.) Generously coat both sides of salmon with the herb mixture.
3. Cook the salmon on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals for 6 to 8 minutes or until the salmon just begins to flake easily with a fork. To serve, cut each salmon piece in half. Makes 4 servings.

Tips To Grilling Seafood To Perfection

  • Always start with fresh fish if possible. You will have a better grilling experience. Previously frozen fish will also work; it’s just harder to work with. Plan on 6-8 ounces per person for fillets and 8-12 ounces per person when buying whole fish.
  • When grilling directly on the grill it is best to use a firm fleshed fish like grouper, marlin, salmon or tuna. A special fish and vegetable grid will make grilling easier. The finer mesh will help keep your food from falling through. You may even want to use a wire grill basket, especially for those more delicate fillets. This way you can turn your fish over without worrying about it breaking apart. You can even stick lemon slices between the fish and basket, if you wish.
  • Always make sure your grill is clean and well-lubricated with oil to prevent your fish from sticking. Fish breaks apart easily. If it sticks to your grill, you will have nothing but little pieces to serve. I like to saturate a paper towel with cooking oil and wipe down my grill before putting my food on. I haven’t tried it yet, but PAM also has a cooking spray made just for grilling.
  • If your fish came with the skin on, leave it on. Always place your fish fillet flesh side down first. This will sear the flesh, locking in the flavor and moisture. Turn over one-third to halfway through the grilling.
  • Always grill your fish over a hot to medium-hot fire. To test this, hold your hand about 5 inches above your heat source. Your fire is hot if you can only hold it there for about 2 seconds. 3-4 seconds would indicate a medium-hot fire. When cooking whole fish instead of fillets, you will want a slightly lower temperature as the cooking time will be longer.
  • So how long do I leave my fish on the grill? A good rule of thumb is about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but your recipe should note this if that is the case. Fish is done when its color turns opaque and just begins to flake with a fork. A little underdone is better than overdone as your fish will continue to cook after taken off the grill.
  • Marinades are great to add additional flavor to fish. Marinade your fish for only 30-60 minutes before grilling. Because of their lack of connective tissue, fish absorbs marinades easily. Do not over marinade or the flavors may overpower the flavor of your fish.
  • Do I need to baste my fish? When grilling, baste lean fish periodically with your favorite basting liquid or olive oil. This will help keep the fish from drying out. Basting is not really necessary with fattier fish but you may wish to do so for more flavor.
  • I love to grill with skewers. Lightly marinated shrimp are great! Use fairly large shrimp for this. Chunks of fish also work well as long as they are firm fleshed. Alternate with chunks of your favorite vegetables for great kebobs. If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. This will keep them from burning up on your grill.
  • One last tip. Tired of your hands smelling like a tacklebox long after you’ve washed your hands? Try rubbing some lemon juice on your hands. Then wash with soap and water. This will also help get rid of onion or garlic odors.

Sources:

http://www.eatingwell.com

http://www.smithtownrestaurants.com/articles/grilled-seafood.php

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Peach, Basil, Mozzarella, & Balsamic Grilled Pizza

With spring here in full force, it is time to clean off those grills and start up the outdoor cooking once again!  One of the things that I have become fond of grilling is actually pizza!  You can get the kids involved by helping you get it assembled and prepped then just throw it on the grill and enjoy your time outside until it is finished. I also love making these during the cooler months as well so if you are not quite ready to grill your pizza (although you are missing out), you can always assemble on a pizza stone and bake in the oven.  This pizza is one of my favorites because it is not too heavy and uses fresh peaches which everyone loves.  Enjoy!

Peach, Basil, Mozzarella, & Balsamic Pizza

 Crust:

I usually cheat and buy Trader Joe’s whole-wheat pizza dough or frozen dough, however if you want to make your own, I like this one from Simply Recipes.  In addition, they also provide a great “how-to” on putting the pizza on the grill!

For the balsamic reduction:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Pizza toppings:

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces fresh mozzarella-sliced

4 peaches-thinly sliced

1/2 cup freshly chopped basil

Preparation:

To make the balsamic reduction:

1. While the dough is rising, make the balsamic reduction. Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to 1/4 cup. Set aside, and cool to room temperature.

To Grill Pizza:

1. After the dough has risen, cut the dough in half. Take one piece of dough and punch it down on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle.  Shape the pizza dough by flattening it with your hands on a slightly floured surface. Either use your fingers to stretch the dough out, or hold up the edges of the dough with your fingers, letting the dough hang and stretch, while working around the edges of the dough. Once you’ve stretched the dough, let it sit for 5 minutes and then push out the edges with your fingers again, until you have a nice round shape, about 12-inches in diameter. Do not make a raised rim, it will interfere with the grilling process.

2.Prepare the grill for high direct heat. Prepare a small bowl with olive oil for greasing the grill grates and for brushing the pizza. Prepare the toppings so they are ready to go on the pizza.

3. Once the grill is hot (you can hold your hands an inch over the grates for no more than 2 seconds), dip a tightly folded up paper towel in olive oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. Then place a pizza dough round on a lightly floured (or you can use cornmeal) rimless cookie sheet (or pizza peel if you have one). Let the dough slide off the cookie sheet onto the hot grill grates. Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 2 minutes.

4. After 2 minutes, open the grill and check underneath the dough to see if it is getting browned. If it is on one side, but not another, use a spatula or tongs to rotate the dough 90 degrees and cook for another minute. If it is not beginning to brown, cover the grill and continue to cook a minute at a time until the bottom has begun to brown. It should only take a couple minutes if you have a hot grill. The top of the pizza dough will start bubbling up with air pockets.

5. Once the pizza dough has browned lightly on one side, use your cookie sheet or pizza peel to remove it from the grill. Use a spatula to flip the dough over so that the grilled side is now up. Keep the grill covered so it retains its heat for the next step.

6. Paint the grilled surface of the pizza with a little olive oil, then top with mozzarella rounds, sliced peaches and basil.  Drizzle the balsamic reduction on top of pizza.

7.  Slide the topped pizza back onto the grill. If you are using a gas grill, reduce the heat. If working with a charcoal grill, close the vents on the cover almost all the way. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes more, or until the bottom begins to char and the cheese is bubbly. Pull off the grate with a spatula onto a cutting board or other flat surface and let rest for a couple minutes before cutting into slices.

Slice and serve!

Adapted From: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

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