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Fig Facts from the Farmer’s Market

22 Jul

Fig Facts from the Farmer’s Market

Figs are a fruit-lover’s fickle friend. They make a brief appearance in market from June-July, with a second showing again in August-October.

On the whole, fig season is a short one – but it’s worth catching these high fiber fruits while you can.

A one-half cup serving (roughly 3-4 whole figs) contains 120 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and is a good source of potassium (10% daily value).

Fig Fun Facts

If you find yourself needing more fig facts, here are some interesting tidbits from California Figs…and they should know, with California being home to 90% of the US fig farming operation:

  • If you like fashion, thank figs: a fig tree was responsible for the first clothing in the Bible, from which Adam & Eve drew fig leaves from to fashion clothing
  • Because of their high alkalinity, figs are beneficial for people looking to stop smoking
  • Figs aren’t fruits – but rather flowers that have inverted onto themselves; the fig seeds are the real fruits (or drupes)
  • Figs are the only fruits (self-inverted flowers?) to ripen and semi-dry on the tree
  • The word sycophant (essentially – a self-seeking, servile suckup) derives from the Greek word meaning “one who informs against another for exporting figs” – figs were so revered that ancient Greek law forbade the exporting of high quality figs.

Fixing up Figs

So what do you do with figs? Personally I love to eat them whole – with a penchant for black Mission figs.

But figs aren’t just delicious and nutritious – they’re nice to look at too. Figs are gorgeous when sliced.

Add this appealing appetizer to your pre-party repertoire:

  • Spread 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese on a high fiber cracker
  • Top with a slice of fig
  • Finish off with a dollop of real honey

Are you fretting about not finding figs year round? Check out this interesting story from NPR about more frequent fig availability from advances in growing techniques…and a little fig farmer trickery.

Feeding Healthy Family Finds

22 May

Feeding Healthy Family Finds

No matter what stage of life you’re in, nutrition information is notoriously confusing.

What do you eat when you’re pregnant? And what should you feed your kids?

Well here are 3 fabulous finds that can help you divulge the secrets to feeding a healthy family:

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Nutrient needs go through the roof when you’re pregnant. But you might not realize one of the most nutritious foods is something that 95% of Americans already have in their pantry: peanut butter.

  • Folate – folate helps cells divide and prevent neural tube defects. Folate needs increase by 50% during pregnancy and peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of folate.
  • Protein – protein needs go up by 25 grams per day in pregnancy. Peanuts have more protein than any other nut. Two tablespoons of peanut butter gives you 8 grams protein.
  • Allergen Averted – don’t worry about avoiding peanuts during pregnancy. A recent study showed eating peanuts while pregnant may actually reduce allergen risk.

You can explore some great kid-friendly recipes for kids courtesy of the National Peanut Board at: http://nationalpeanutboard.org/recipe/kid-friendly/.

Avocados

You can’t deny that pregnant ladies and little kids have one thing in common: they are always hungry! Enter avocados!

  • Good Fats – avocados are packed with good fats, and those fats help promote satiety, or the feeling of fullness. The more full you are, the less you are to overeat next time.
  • Skip the Sodium & Sugar – avocados are naturally sodium and sugar free, making them great options for growing bodies, both during pregnancy and childhood.
  • First Foods – renowned pediatricians Drs. Bill & Jim Sears rank avocados #1 on their list of kids fruits since avocados are so nutrient dense, with over 20 vitamins and minerals.

California Avocados are in peak season right now – and the California Avocado Commission website is a great place to find healthy recipes.

You can learn more about incorporating avocados in homemade baby food by visiting http://www.californiaavocado.com/homemade-avocado-baby-food/.

good2grow

The USDA says that kids age 6-19 eat only about half the amount of fruits and vegetables they need.

Any why is that? Many parents struggle with innovative ways to get their kids to eat healthy produce. Well good2grow is a product that’s working to solve this problem.

  • Good2grow is a new line of nutritious children’s beverages in tasty & healthy flavors kids love, packaged in spill-proof character bottle toppers that parents feel good about serving.
  • These fruit juices and fruit and veggie blends have no added sugars, are non-GMO and have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. All packaging is BPA-free.
  • You can find good2grow in your area by searching their online store finder at: http://good2grow.com/store-locator

For more information on Feeding Healthy Families, check out my segment on Wake Up San Diego this morning.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored blog post.

Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margarita

1 May

Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margarita

A typical restaurant margarita can be more than 400 calories!

This Cinco de Mayo, treat your guests to a lighter take on this classic Mexican cocktail by mixing up some Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margaritas.

Arctic Zero is a fat free, gluten free frozen dessert that is also lactose intolerant friendly. One pint has just 150 calories: about a quarter of what your typical ice cream packs.

On top of its low-calorie profile, one pint of Arctic Zero has 8 grams dietary fiber and 12 grams protein – 2 important nutrients that help promote satiety, the feeling of fullness.

Thanks to samples provided by Arctic Zero, I concocted this Low-Cal Coconut Margarita using the Coconut flavor frozen dessert. One cup of this margarita has just 85 calories, but all of the flavor and fun of the traditional tipple!

Arctic Zero Low-Cal Coconut Margaritas

Servings: 4 margaritas

  • 1/2 cup Arctic Zero frozen dessert, Coconut flavor
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup light beer
  • 1/2 cup diet lemon-lime soda
  • 2 cups ice

Blend all ingredients together. Rim glass with salt, garnish with lime, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) prepared without salt rim

  • Calories: 85
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 5g
  • Dietary Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 5mg

To learn more about Arctic Zero and where you can purchase their line of frozen desserts, check out www.arcticzero.com.

And for more tips on Lightening up your Cinco de Mayo party offerings, check out my TV segment clip from Channel 6 San Diego here.

 

 

 

Dandelion Green Fettucini

22 Apr

Dandelion Green Fettucini

When Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food…” he may well have been talking about dandelion.

Dandelion has been used in many traditional medicine systems as a remedy for liver, kidney, and spleen diseases. Today, dandelion gets a nod in its role as a diuretic or treatment for minor digestive problems.

While the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says that there’s no compelling scientific evidence to using dandelion as a treatment for any medical condition, you might consider dandelion greens solely for their nutritional value.

These bitter weeds has some serious nutritional bite. Two cups of chopped, raw dandelion greens has:

  • 50 calories
  • 4 grams of dietary fiber
  • More than 100% daily value for vitamin A

But how do you use dandelion greens? If you try to cook them like spinach, the result is often bitter and unpalatable. Offset the bitter bite by sauteeing in high quality oil, and cook for a bit longer than you would other greens.

I recently experimented with a unique use of dandelion greens – incorporating them into pasta. This recipe is adapted from the Cook’s Garden Catalog Spring/Summer 1989 issue:

Dandelion Green Fettucini

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Dandelion greens
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  • Process dandelion greens and eggs in a blender until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add salt and start adding flour while beating with a spoon. Keep adding until dough is stiff.
  • Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes).
  • Roll out with rolling pin to 1/8″-1/4″ thickness.
  • Allow to stand and dry 1 hour, then cut into strips.
  • Drop into boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes.

While most everyone can – and should! – enjoy these delicious greens, people who take Coumadin (warfarin), should avoid large doses of dandelion greens, because they are a very rich source of vitamin K which can interfere with the anti-clotting effects of your drug therapy.

 

A Squash for All Seasons

21 Feb

A Squash for All Seasons

Despite the 75 degree weather we’ve been having here in sunny San Diego – it’s technically still winter.

And in honor of winter, we will celebrate the winter squash.

But did you know the terms “winter” and “summer” squash are actually misleading? Summer squash is available all winter, and winter squash come into harvest in late summer, fall, and extend into winter.

Whatever the weather – one of the most well known winter squashes is the acorn squash. Notable for its acorn-like shape, acorn squash is a nutritional powerhouse.

One acorn squash (4-inch diameter) has 172 calories and 6.5 grams of dietary fiber.

While most acorn squash recipes call for slicing the squash in half, stuffing it, and baking it…I prefer slicing my acorn squash in rings.

To ring it out, cut your acorn squash into 1/2 or 3/4-inch slices, scoop out the seeds, and lay rings flat on a cookie sheet. Spoon in your squash filling of choice (currently a mushroom/sausage/brie cheese mixture for me), and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

The result? A decadent and evenly cooked acorn squash that looks as good as its tastes!