Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mushroom Marinara with Zucchini

Mushroom Marinara with Zucchini

Break away from the 'pasta rut' and try this 'pasta swap' of healthy zucchini with a flavorful sauce.

Healthy benefits
High in fiber, water, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium and potassium, zucchini offers an abundance of nutrients to support your health. The water and fiber help you manage your weight by providing low-calorie volume. Its vitamins and minerals boost your immune system and promote the health of your heart, skin, lungs and eyes. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.

Mushrooms actually have a surprisingly high nutritional value. They are low in calories, carbohydrates, fat and sodium. They are very high in water content (80 to 90% water) and fiber which makes them a great diet food! Mushrooms out rank bananas on the potassium chart. Potassium helps the body process sodium and lower blood pressure. 

Tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Ingredients (serves 8, 67 calories per serving)
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup red wine or water
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (button mushrooms)
One 15-oz can chopped tomatoes
One 28-oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1 large zucchini

- Braise onion for 2 minutes in wine, then add the garlic and mushrooms
- Continue cooking until the onion is soft and the mushrooms are light brown 
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings and simmer 20 to 30 minutes
- Peel zucchini lengthwise using the nutrient-rich skins
- Freeze unused portions

Note to vegan chef
I like the zucchini raw but you could steam it. If you decide to make this with pasta I recommend fettuccine. (I have tried it with spaghetti, angel hair, ziti and rotini)

Reference:  Zucchini Nutrition Facts,  The Health Benefits of Zucchini, Nutritional Value of Mushrooms, TomatoesNutrition info by LoseIt

Modified from "Food for Life" by Neal Barnard, M.D.; recipe by Jennifer Raymond, Mushroom Marinara with Pasta, p263.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hello farmer ...

Get to know your local farmer and your food. Photo taken at Orleans Community Farm.

Hello farmer …

Every time I speak with local food farmers I learn something new. As with any relationship, it naturally requires an investment in time and interest to develop a trust. But when you do invest the time and interest, the rewards are huge.

What can you learn from your farmer? Plenty. I've rounded up a few questions to help get to know your local farmers and your food better. 
  • How do you keep up with the farming trends and updates about pests and disease?
  • Where else do you sell your produce? Local restaurants?
  • When did you pick this produce?
  • How do you set your prices?
  • How is the heat (or drought) effecting your farm? (relevant to time of year)
  • How do you like to prepare or cook a particular produce?
  • Do you follow a specific method or philosophy of farming? Organically grown, permaculture farming, bio-dynamically grown?
Local farmers produce diversity, heirloom vegetables and unique species. For flavor and freshness, you can't beat locally sourced fresh food. You can taste the difference: it's not shipped, not frozen, not sprayed to preserve freshness, it has no additives, no flavor enhancers and it's not harvested weeks before it is ready. 

So don't be shy. Strike up a conversation with the Needham Community Farm or local farmer and be sure to let them know you fully appreciate the hard work they are doing.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fresh beets for dinner and dessert

These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Be in harmony with the Needham Community Farm growing season and enjoy the abundant harvest of flavorful beets.

Beets are a healthy choice because of their anti-carcinogenic properties, high fiber content, they do not contain fat, and the leaves can be a source of iron. The additional benefit form buying fresh beets is that you can use the beets and the greens giving you two different dishes from one vegetable. You gotta love that! My popular combination is Sauteed Beet Greens and Red Velvet Chocolate Coconut Muffins.

Sauteed beet greens are a delicious side dish. Prepare by sauteing 1/4 onion, a clove of garlic and a 1/2 tsp of oil. Add about six beet greens with sea salt and pepper and cook it down. I often have this as a side dish with Mushroom Marinara.

Red Velvet Chocolate Coconut Muffins are a nutritionally dense chocolate treat that's good any time of day.

Beet burgers and roasted beets are another couple of ways to enjoy beets.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Peanut Butter & Jelly with 3 Seeds Wrap

Peanut Butter & Jelly with 3 Seeds Wrap.
 More protein and fewer carbohydrates for this classic complete protein sandwich!

Healthy benefits
Peanut butter has the enviable combination of fiber (2 g per serving) and protein (8 g per serving) that fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer, so you eat less overall. 

It's packed with nutrition and is chock-full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (the good fat). A serving of peanut butter has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. Research shows that eating peanuts can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. 

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol. They are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons, which is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function.  

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. Its nutrients help prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis. Chia seeds also can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. 

Sesame seeds are a very good source of manganese and copper, and they also are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, dietary fiber and have a cholesterol-lowering effect. 
The combination of features—omega-3 fatty acids, high-lignan content, and mucilage gums—is a key factor in the unique health benefits of flaxseeds. 
Ingredients (1 serving – 297 calories per serving)
1 Whole wheat wrap
1 tbsp Peanut butter
1 tspn Vegan red raspberry preserves (jelly) or spreadable fruit
1/2 tspn Chia seeds
1/2 tspn  Flaxseeds
1/2 tspn  Sesame seeds

Peanut Butter & Jelly with 3 Seeds Wrap.

- Spread peanut butter on opened wrap
- Add seeds to cover peanut butter
- Add jelly spread to middle area
- Roll up wrap and cut in center

Note to vegan chef
Using a wrap has fewer calories than two slices of bread and the seeds adds more protein. Be sure to check the jelly label to be sure there is no gelatin (animal products) used.

Calories: 297
Total Fat: 13.7 g
     Sat. Fat: 1.8 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 394.9 mg
Carbohydrates: 36.9 g
     Fiber: 4.2 g
     Sugars: 7 g
Protein: 9.1 g

Reference: The Benefits of Peanut Butter, An Important Message about Peanuts, The Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds, Sesame Seeds, FlaxseedsLoseIt