Monday, June 28, 2010

Barbara's Contest

Have you ever had Barbara's Cereal?  When I could eat gluten, I loved the Shredded Spoonfuls.  My husband and I used to eat them every day.  Nowadays I don't eat cereal and it's not just because I don't eat gluten.  Cereal is expensive so we stopped buying it when money got tight and we never went back.  Now I eat eggs and oatmeal and amaranth and potatoes.  Simple whole foods.  But, I still love cereal and every so often, I buy a box just for a treat.

Do you eat cereal?  What kind do you like?

Barbara's is currently doing a company makeover and wants to offer your family the same opportunity.  Part of their package is a consultation with Cheryl Forberg, RD, one of the the great nutrition experts of our time.  If you enter this contest, consider the trip to California a perk and the real prize that you get to work with Cheryl.

Interested in entering?  Click here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Perfect Potato Salad

Last Friday was my husband’s last day of teaching for the quarter and I wanted to make a special lunch.  Mind you, I decided to make this special lunch half an hour before he got home, without the ability to go to the store.  I suppose I COULD have gone to the store, but, like so many people today, we are on a budget and doing our best to follow a weekly menu and only go grocery shopping once per week.  I’ll admit, that last item almost never happens. 

Back to my lunch.  During the week we did a spectacular job of using up most of our food and all of our meat except one lonely package of Skagit River Ranch bacon, the best bacon on earth.  As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t in good conscience serve a meal entirely of bacon (though I’m sure it would have tasted fantastic!)  What else did I have in my fridge?

Why, potatoes and eggs!

I always have potatoes and eggs.  Always.  Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins and cholesterol.  Yes Virginia, you do need cholesterol, and despite popular belief, eating cholesterol does not substantially raise blood cholesterol levels.  If you purchase eggs from the farmer's market, eggs that come from chickens allowed to dig in the soil and eat bugs, your eggs will be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D.  I consider eggs nearly the perfect food because they are a cheap source of complete protein, plus vitamins and minerals. 

As for my special lunch, I suppose I could have done scrambled eggs with fried potatoes and bacon, but does that sound very special?

No.  No it doesn’t.

How about "Frittata"?

Yes, that sounds downright fancy!  So I whipped up a quick frittata with whatever was in the fridge.  I ended up with eggs, potatoes, goat cheese, and left-over artichokes.  I fried up some bacon and then sautéed some kale, fresh from the garden, in the left-over bacon grease.  Voila!  A celebratory lunch made from the remnants of other meals.

What else can you do with potatoes and eggs?  Well, on a Thursday when you are due to go to a potluck, you can whip up a tasty potato salad!  What I love about potato salad is that everyone has their own recipe and can tweak it any which way they please.  There are no rules!

Potatoes are another of those foods that have gotten a bad rap in the last few years.  Thank you, Atkins.  Potatoes come in too many varieties and colors to mention here, but nutritionally they are about equivalent.  All potatoes are a good sourse of potassium, B6, vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid and fiber (if you eat the skin).  Potatoes contain some protein and are actually moderately low in calories, with a medium size potato weighting in at a slim 115 kcals!

This recipe for potato salad contains only what I had in the fridge at the end of the week and is exactly how I like it, with lots of mustard and a hint of sweet.  I also like to taste the individual ingredients in my salad, so my potatoes are cut a little larger and I have a bit less dressing.  Feel free to add, change, subtract and otherwise modify this recipe!

Autumn’s Perfect Potato Salad

Add what you like.  Traditional potato salad ingredients include radishes and celery.

5 medium red potatoes
5 eggs
4 green onions
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp yellow mustard
½ tsp salt or to taste
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1)   Wash, slice and boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until they're soft but not breaking apart.  Chill them completely.
2)   Place the eggs in a pan and just cover them with water.  Keep it all at a simmering boil for 10 minutes.  Then, run the eggs under cold water and refrigerate them until completely cold.
3)   Once the potatoes and eggs are chilled, peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs.  Place them in a bowl with the cooked potatoes.
4)   Slice the white and light green parts of the green onion and add them to the bowl.  Chop the dark green portion of the onion too, and reserve it for garnish.
5)   Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, sugar and vinegar.  Adjust the seasonings according to your taste.
6)   Refrigerate.  Serve garnished with paprika and green onion.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of those foods I associate with summer.  I’ve always loved the texture and the fresh taste, and it was completely delicious eaten straight from the fridge on a hot mid-west day.  Now, I have to admit that I’d never actually made tabbouleh from scratch until after I became gluten-free.  It contains strange, mysterious grains, what looks to be a lot of herbs, and a name that spell-check doesn’t recognize, so I’ve always stuck to the boxed version.  Until now.

Cous-cous, a “grain” made from semolina flour, is the traditional starch base for tabbouleh but that just won’t do for us GF types.  Quinoa, on the other hand, is gluten-free, a good source of magnesium, B-vitamins, fiber, and one of the highest protein grains you will find.  And it’s just the right size.  You can find it in all sorts of colors, and you’ll notice from the pictures that I used a mixture of red and yellow quinoa.  I tend to think the colored quinoa makes a more beautiful tabbouleh.

The other major ingredients in tabbouleh (lemon juice, parsley, tomatoes, scallions and mint) are chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Olive oil has some nice, heart-healthy fats and lots of vitamin E.  Together, they all combine to make a filling, cancer-fighting side dish or snack to be enjoyed at any time of day.

Don’t take my word for it, make it yourself!

As a side note, you may have noticed something strange about my mint.  It’s got a smoother leaf and a darker look, and that’s because it’s chocolate mint.  No, no, it doesn’t actually taste like chocolate, but the smell is delicious.  And it just so happens to be the type of mint I have in my garden, so when it comes to making tabbouleh, chocolate mint is what I get.  You can use whatever type is in your garden, at your farmers market, or in the grocery store, and your tabbouleh should turn out just fine.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

These measurements are estimates, so pay attention to how you want the dish to look and taste.  Feel free to add cucumber or a bit more spice!

1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups minced parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
3 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
Salt to taste

1.       1Rinse the quinoa and place in a medium saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down the heat to    simmer for ~15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Chill until completely cold.
2.       2Either by hand or in a food processor, chop the parsley, mint and scallions.
3.        3In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
4.      4Mix together quinoa, tomatoes, mint, parsley, scallions and dressing and chill. 
5.       5 Serve with beef, chicken, or fish, or as part of a cold picnic.