Most Americans don't eat anywhere near the amount of fiber they should. Let's change that! Fiber is critical for many organ systems from your heart to your bowels. It can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and is great for weight loss efforts. It's actually pretty easy to add into your diet. Check out the suggestions below:
1. Eat more fruits and veggies!
Try to add a piece of fruit to your breakfast routine, and choose fruit as an option for a morning snack. Make sure you inculde at least 1-2 vegetables in your lunch and evening meal. Eat the skins and peels of fruits and vegetables.
2. Choose whole grains whenever possible.
Look for "whole grains" on the packaging. If something says wheat flour, it isn;t the same as whole wheat flour. Choosing whole grains means that you get the whole or entire grain. You are getting the roughage in addition to the sweet tasty white carbohydrate parts we all love. It usually helps incorporate a fun nutty flavor.
3. Add legumes to your diet.
When making dishes look for opportunities to add in beans or lentils. I like to add black beans to enchiladas, garbanzo beans to shepards pie, kidney beans to italian soups, and hummus to sandwiches.
4. Make my recipe below to add a natural fiber mix to your oatmeal or drink it in some luke warm water right before dinner. This fiber mix will help even out your blood sugar throughout the day, improve your bowel habits and help you feel more full.
Natural Fiber Mix
Mix together equal parts of the following:
Ground Flax Seed
Ground Chia Seeds
Store in a tupperware, plastic bag or mason jar and keep in the fridge. It is good to limit the amount of air that touches (so a plastic bag is GREAT) it will limit oxidation frmo the ground flax seeds and chia seeds. I would start with just one teaspoon per day and gradually increase to two heaping tablespoons.
My favorite way to take this mix is in 6 oz of hot water about 10 minutes before dinner. I recommend having this drink right before dinner, it will help bind extra fats. It also will help you feel super full - this is great for portion control.
Saucy Saturday: Let’s Talk Bone Broth
Is this hype or truly healthy? Is it a super-food or a super-trend? Bone broth has had a place in the typical human diet for ages. It’s been in your grandma’s repertoire for health and healing and there is certainly something to be said regarding those tried and true methods to nurse us back to health. With modern scientific influence looking at components in food rather than the food as a whole item, we now know more about why certain foods (or rather, certain nutrients) are so good for us. I would conclude that bone broth is a super-food and though it is super trendy right now, it’s a bandwagon worth jumping on, and here is why:
Bone broth is very nourishing and tolerated by almost everyone. So how do you make it?
I like to save the carcass from a chicken or turkey in the freezer in a large ziplock bag until I am ready to make my broth. You don’t need to make it the same day/night or even the next day from the roast chicken you made. Save two carcasses even and make a large batch. I also like to save the extra nibs, bits and peels of vegetables over a few weeks. As I cook dinner I will store the carrot tops and ends of celery, ribs from bell peppers, etc and I throw them into a big zip lock back and let the collection grow. Once I have a nice collection of bones and vegetables I know I’m ready to start a batch of broth.
You can also go talk to your butcher and get bones that may otherwise be thrown away. It is a super cheap way to source bones to make some broth. You can use beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, venison, fish, really most bones can make bone broth. It’s good if you can source some chicken feet and neck to increase the gelatin in the broth. But beware, adding a lot of chicken feet and forgetting you put them in the pot can make for a horror movie scene when you go to check on your broth. Okay let's get started:
1: Get out a large pot for the stovetop or uncover your crockpot. Place bones in to the pot or crockpot and cover with water. If you are making a lamb or beef broth, it’s nice to brown the meat/bones before starting the broth. Throw in the vegetables you would like to add (you can also add half way through cooking) Add some extra water over the bones, to allow for evaporation. Don't worry so much about how much meat, water and veggies, just get it in the pot and add some water. You can't mess this up.
2: Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to water prior to cooking. This is so important to pull minerals and nutrients from the bones.
3: Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for at least 6 hours. Skim the fat off the top as it rises. I recommend cooking for 16-20 hours for optimal nutrients. You can cook longer, many people say low and slow… however, if you cook too long you can have high levels of glutamate which is not optimal. So low and moderately slow.
4: Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard solids and strain the remainder through a colander, I also like to strain through a cheese cloth to get all the floaty bits out.
5: Let broth cool to room temperature, cover and chill. Use within a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
You can sip this broth, but I like to also use it to cook and incorporate in meals for my whole family (not everyone is willing to sip a mug of broth every day). I like to add the broth to cook my grains like quinoa, rice, barley, and spelt. I use it as a base for soup or to make a gravy. I use it in curries and noodle bowls like a pho knock off.
Many of my clients choose oatmeal as a breakfast option every day, sometimes I hear they get bored of the spices and flavorings. There is so so much that you can do to add variety to this breakfast staple.
One of the more recent options clients have been trying is adding a tbsp or two of peanut butter in oatmeal. It's a great way of adding some protein and gives it a rich and creamy texture. If you are like me you may be missing the pie flavors from last week so check out this apple pie oatmeal for a yummy breakfast option
1 medium apple, cored and roughly chopped
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoons maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (or any nut)
Combine the apple, apple juice, vanilla, cinnamon, all spice, maple syrup, and salt in a small pot over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft and the juice has reduced by about half, 4 to 5 minutes. They should slightly caramelize.
Add the remaining ingredients — and turn the heat to medium-high. The mixture should smell great by this point.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked and the mixture is thick. Serve immediately.
At my house, the level of success on Thanksgiving is usually determined by how rich and luscious the gravy is to pour over the top of, well, EVERYTHING ELSE. Since it tops, just about everything, it better be perfect. However, perfect doesn't need to mean complicated.
There are two important components to a good gravy, a good roux and good turkey stock. You can make a turkey stock the day or two ahead of the big day(or purchase in a box). You could even make weeks ahead of time and freeze.
No Brainer Turkey Stock
3 pounds turkey wings
1 turkey neck
4 celery stalks
Fresh Rosemary and Sage
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Any giblets you have available (ask the butcher for some if your turkey didn't come with them)
Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Coarsely chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 16 cups (1 gallon) water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot; boil until reduced to 2 quarts, about 30 minutes longer.
The apple cider vinegar is very important to pull any calcium from the bones which will up the mineral and health factor of your gravy.
So once you have this incredible stock, let's talk about a perfect roux.
What is a roux? (pronounced roo) A roux is equal parts butter and flour melted over low heat.. Melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter or turkey fat(or other fat I love duck fat) in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, whisk in the flour to combine. The roux will become smooth and golden brown.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER for the perfect gravy
Once your roux is smooth, golden brown and smells slightly nutty, this is when it is ready for you to slowly pour in your turkey stock. I would add two cups with this amount of roux. You can create more roux and increase the stock. You'll want to simmer over low heat until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add other fresh herbs. For me, less is more. Let the flavors of the turkey, stuffing and other dishes elevate the meal, the gravy should be creamy and a smooth texture. If yours becomes clumpy you can push through a strainer.
If you are feeling extra decadent, you can always add a tbsp or two of heavy cream or half and half. After all, this is the holiday to take a nap after eating, right?
What do you do to make Thanksgiving special? Post a comment below or on my facebook feed!
This is a warm and delicious fall soup that will satisfy! I love to sprinkle fresh grated romano cheese before serving. I also add noodles to this soup!
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
4 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeded, and Cubed
8 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
3 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary Chopped
1 Tsp Thyme (dried)
1 Can Cannellini Beans Drained and rinsed
2 to 3 Cups Chopped Kale
Black Pepper and Salt to Taste
Noodles can be added based on your families preference, choose a whole grain option, if you choose to add.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the celery, squash, and saute another 5 minutes. Next add stock and rosemary and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add beans, kale and simmer another 4-5 minutes. Next add salt and pepper to taste.
I love to either add pasta or serve with a whole grain bread on the side.
I’d like to start a series on cooking techniques. I hope to cover information that is helpful for the home cook. How do you choose a certain knife to cut bread, versus fruit or cheese? Which pan is best to cook fish in, or an egg, or pot roast? Why would you put meatballs back in the fridge before cooking? These will be bite-size lessons that will help you refine your skills and be more confident in the kitchen.
The first topic I would like to cover is called “mise en place”. My favorite college professor and the one who taught my cooking classes Dr. Arlene Grant-Holcomb (she also joined in at my graduation party and wedding celebration – talk about an incredible teacher!) would always instruct that a good recipe always starts with mise en place. So what does it mean? It literally means “set in place”. It’s exactly what you see done on all the popular cooking shows where the ingredients and tools are all set out and ready to go. You need onions diced for the recipe? They are diced ahead of time! You need two tablespoons of chili powder, measure it first! The point is to set it all out and then when you are reading through the recipe and doing each step in order, you always have that next ingredient at the ready.
One of my favorite things about Mise en Place is pretending I am a celebraty chef, and say things like "now we will just pour in two cups chicken broth" (then I pour in the two cups of premeasure chicken broth) and I FEEL LIKE A STAR! You may be thinking I'm crazy, but try it, I know it'll put a smile on your face. Even if the dog is the only audience member in the room, he will enjoy the lesson.
As you grow and develop in your cooking skills a strict mise en place may not be as necessary because you will know that you can measure spices as your onions brown, or you will anticipate needing to put an ingredient in the oven to roast for 20 minutes which will allow ample time to measure something else, however for a less experienced cook, or one who is not as confident, setting all the items in order is a crucial first step for any dish. Many times you can even do it HOURS ahead of time or even in the morning or night before to save yourself time when you actually prepare the dish. You’ll just need to be mindful of safe storing practices. Here are some simple tips I use:
COMBINE WHERE POSSIBLE
If all the spices are added at the same time in a recipe, just combine them all in one bowl as you measure.
If you add carrots, onion and celery to a recipe at the same time (or any mixture of veggies) just throw them all in the same bowl.
PEEL, CUT, CHOP, DICE, MINCE
Rinse your fresh produce, and do whatever cutting needs to take place before the recipe.
Measure all dry ingredients, spices, etc.
Measure any liquids, oils, butters, you need.
Look at the recipe and organize your ingredients based on where in the kitchen you will use them or when in the recipe you will use them. For instance if you are prepping chili – the spices should go near the pot.
BLANCHE AHEAD OF TIME
If the recipe calls of vegetables or fruit that is already slightly cooked, make sure this is done by the time you begin the recipe, nothing will slow your groove more than having to stop an entire process to go boil and blanche some broccoli.
Preparation is key to cooking a great recipe, selecting meals for the week and getting the most bang out of your buck at the grocery store. Mise en place can make home cooking more enjoyable as you are actually preparing the dishes and way more enjoyable to eat. It can save a dish that might have been burned while you were prepping other materials, and instead turn it into the most fabulous feast!
Do you mise en place? Take a photo and post it to my facebook wall.
This week's recipe is inspired by a client of mine that has a slight aversion to meat and is looking for more ways to incorporate protein into their diet. Not technically a "sauce" but this dip is like hummus and is great as a spread on sandwiches, you can dip vegetables into it or even whole grain chips or crackers. This has a Mediterranean flare, but you could experiment with different herbs if you like. You could add basil and oregano for a more italian twist, or cilantro and a jalepeno for a more latin flare. However you choose, please give this recipe a go!
-3 cups cooked white beans (I like cannellini), you could also just use 2 - 15 ounce cans of beans, make sure to rinse in lots of water to help with the flatulence.
-1 red bell pepper, roasted (you could also use jarred if you prefer - you'll need about 1/2 cup - make sure to rinse any juice it was jarred with)
- 1/2 cup almond butter (or 1/3 cup tahini)
- juice of two lemons, or about 1/4 cup
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder, (I also like to add 2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water (you can use more if needed for desired texture)
- if you like it spicy you could add a pinch of cayenne or crushed red peppers
To roast the bell peppers, place them in a baking dish under the broiler until all the skin is charred turning frequently. Usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the baking dish, transfer to a paper bag or covered glass bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes. Remove the peppers, peel of black charred skins, cut peppers and remove the seeds.
Add all ingredients in a blender or food processor, process until smooth and creamy. Taste the bean dip to see if it needs more lemon, garlic, or salt. I like to refrigerate before serving so it is cold rather than room temperature.
Let me know when you try it! Happy Saturday!
Shepard and Cottage pies were considered meals for common people in Ireland. They generally had a meat and vegetable mixture on the bottom and a crust of mashed potatoes on top (making it an economical choice). Oft times people would even use left over meat from other meals and "repurpose it" in a meat pie. Cottage pie is traditionally made with ground beef and shepard's pie with lamb. Both will work in this recipe, or you can even leave the meat out all together and just use chickpeas instead for a vegan version. Both versions are full of Moroccan spices and warm flavors: cumin, chili, garlic, ginger, hints of cinnamon and cilantro. I've replace the more traditional white potato with sweet potatoes for a more nutrient dense meal (full of B6, vit C, magnesium, and vit A. It is also a great antifungal and antibacterial with the amount of onion, garlic and cumin in the dish. It was so good we hardly had any left overs, ENJOY!
For the bottom:
LET'S MAKE IT!
For the bottom:
I had a hungry family so I returned my dish to the oven for about ten minutes and then turned the broiler on for about 3 minutes. All the ingredients should be fully cooked at this point, so you are really just looking for some browning to happen to the potatoes. I assembled straight into my large cast iron pan for the sake of less dishes. I also didn't have currants or raisins which really bummed be out- but I chose to make it anyways, I think they only could have added to the dish, but if you don't have them around the house, the dish was AMAZING without them. If you make this, please send me pictures of yours!
For many years (too many years) people have avoided butter for fear of heart disease, clogged arteries and larger love handles. They've turned to margarine for toast and apple sauce for baking recipes. I am here to tell you a little butter won't do you harm. Personally, a little butter (in terms of flavor) provides much more satiety than the substitutes. Fat is also very essential in our diets. That said, not all butter is created equal.
Have you ever wondered why some butter is white and some butter is yellow or golden? Ever wondered why some butter is wrapped in foil and others in translucent paper? Basically it's all science. :) Before we get to this weeks sauce - practically pure butter - let's talk some more about the star of the recipe.
You are what you eat, and so are cows. Cows that are pasture fed (instead of corn or grain fed) have an abundance of flowers and fresh grass full of the yellow pigment beta carotene. These pigments because they are fat soluble get stored in the fat. This is carried over into the fat in a cows milk. You may be wondering then why does milk appear white? Well, some milk is white again due to the cows diet, but even cows raised in pasture still provide white milk. So why is it white? There is only 3% milk fat in whole milk. Even in cream it is 30 to 40% fat. There is so much more water and minerals and protein floating around, it does not appear yellow. Butter however is 80% fat, and with that high concentration, if the beta carotene is in the fat, it will be that beautiful golden yellow.
The more color in the butter, the better in terms of vitamins and minerals. So, if it's white pick a different option. The difference in butter that is covered in tin foil versus the clear wrapping is due to the salt content. If salt content is present, the butter is less susceptible to becoming rancid, so sweet cream butter (or unsalted butter) is usually what you will find in the tin foil. If you are leaving the butter on your counter and exposed to air, you are better off choosing the salted version, to avoid it becoming rancid.
The butter in European butter is often treated with some bacteria, which makes it taste even better! There is a higher concentration of the fatty acid butyrate. In some studies, higher intake of butyrate is associated with greater satiety and less overall calorie consumption. This also could just be because it comes with sources of fat, which are very satisfying. I love me some Kerrygold Irish butter. I also love a new European butter Trader Joes is making from Brittany France that is cultured and salted, yummy.
Okay, so let's talk Compound Butters. And why is this a sauce? Compound butters can be used over cooked steak, cooked chicken, corn on the cob, pork, and cooked vegetables to finish them. It is a beautiful way to serve something. And the herbs make it so delicious. The butter placed over a warm dish melts and becomes the richest most satisfying of sauces. You can really use any herbs to compliment the meal you are preparing. You could simply do chive and cilantro for a more Hispanic flare. You could use an Herbs de Provence blend with it's use of lavender for a more floral component. Check out this recipe below, it has a wide range of applications and tastes so good. Sometimes I will even add some cracked pepper or red chili flakes into the mixture for an added bite.
1 pound butter (go for the good stuff - European, salted)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh chives
1 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp sage
1 Tbsp rosemary
Chop the butter into uniform chunks (it is easier using a chilled knife). Use a food processor and add oil and chives, process until chives are finely chopped. Add remaining herbs and blend until herbs have colored the oil. If you have a stand mixer whip butter at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color. You are essentially whipping in air, which is a good thing, it will help the herbs and oil incorporate more easily.
Next add in the herb oil to the butter and beat another 2 minutes until the oil is fully incorporated. Remove butter with a spoon and place on parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. You can serve by cutting a slice of chilled compound butter and placing over the top of any meat or vegetable.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
110 N McClelland Street
Santa Maria, California 93454