Author Archives: Judi

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Fresh Carrots)

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Fresh Carrots)

Honey glazed carrots are simply delicious and not hard to make! Here’s an easy way to make them. See the recipe below the video demonstration. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Fresh Carrots)
Makes About 4 Servings

3-1/2 cups sliced fresh carrots (About 1 pound)
2 Tbsp butter*
2 Tbsp honey*
½ cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice*
Parsley flakes, optional garnish

Wash the carrots and cut off both ends. Peeling them is optional. Cut into slices about ¼-inch to 3/8-inch thick.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add the carrots. Stir to coat the carrots with the butter. Add ½ cup of water and cover the pan. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Drizzle the carrots with the honey; stir to combine. Cover the pan and allow the carrots to cook until almost as tender as you want them to be, adding a small amount of water if needed, so all the water does not completely evaporate. When they are almost as tender as you like, remove the lid from the skillet and allow the liquid to reduce, and form the glaze. Stir often to coat the carrots. When they are glazed and cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and drizzle the carrots with the lemon juice. It should take about 12 minutes to cook the carrots to crisp-tender. Sprinkle with dried or fresh parsley flakes, if desired. Serve.

*For a lighter, less sweet glaze, use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of honey. Also, the lemon juice can be reduced to ½ tablespoon, if desired.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Snow Peas

Snow Peas 101 – The Basics

If you want to know something about snow peas, look no further! The following article covers many aspects about the vegetables, from what they are to how to use them along with links to suggested recipes. I hope this helps!

Enjoy,
Judi

Snow Peas 101 – The Basics

About Snow Peas
Snow peas are cousins with sugar snap peas and are in the legume family. They have large flattened green pods with tiny peas inside. They may be called Holland peas in other parts of the world. Interestingly, snow peas were grown and enjoyed in Holland as early as the 1500s. They were very popular in Europe in the 1800s. From there they spread to China where they quickly became a mainstay in their cuisine.

The peak season for snow peas is spring through early summer. Both the pods and peas are edible having a sweet flavor and crisp-tender texture. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, being included in stir-fries, fried rice, and noodle dishes. Snow peas can also be a nice addition to soups, curries and meat dishes.

Nutrition Tidbits
Snow peas are extremely high in Vitamin C and low in calories. One cup of snow peas has about 67 calories. They are also good sources of fiber, folate and other B-vitamins, Vitamin K, an array of minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, and manganese, and antioxidants such as the carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Their nutrient profile helps to fight free radicals and cellular damage, lower cholesterol levels, protect our bones, fight cancers, and protect our brain from dementia.

How to Select Snow Peas
Snow peas are at their best in the spring, but they are available year-round in many grocery stores. Choose ones that look fresh, flat, and are brightly colored with little to no blemishes. Avoid those that look dry or wilted. Also, watch for cracks, bruising, and discoloration, as they are older and less desirable.

How to Store Snow Peas
Refrigerate snow peas in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer set on high-humidity. Use them as soon as possible, preferably within two or three days of buying them.

How to Freeze Snow Peas
Place washed and trimmed snow peas in boiling water for 1-1/2 minutes. Promptly transfer them to a bowl of ice water for 2 minutes, until completely cooled. Drain, then place them on a tray in the freezer for one or two hours, until frozen.* Transfer the frozen peas to a freezer container or bag. Properly prepared, they will keep frozen for about 8 months.

*Freezing them separately is not mandatory, but will prevent them from freezing into one big lump, making them hard to use without breaking them into smaller pieces.

If you opt to freeze your peas without first blanching, use them within four to six weeks because their quality will quickly deteriorate.

Raw vs Cooked
Snow peas have a mild flavor and may be eaten raw or cooked. Since both the pod and peas are edible, they can be added to salads (whole or cut up) for a nice fresh flavor and light crunch.

In Asian cuisine, they are typically cooked and added to dishes with other foods, like stir-fried vegetables and fried rice.

How to Prepare Snow Peas
Wash your snow peas in cold water and pat them dry. Remove the ends and the string along the seam, if desired, and use them whole or cut them as needed for your recipe.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Snow peas may be enjoyed raw or boiled, blanched, steamed, stir-fried, sautéed, and added to soups, stews, and curries. When cooked, they are at their best when cooked only briefly, as this retains their crispness, color and nutrients.

To steam snow peas, place them in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover with a lid and allow them to steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

Here are some ideas for using snow peas:

* Add snow peas to your favorite salad for freshness and a light crispy addition.

* When making an appetizer tray with veggies and dip, include snow peas and sugar snap peas to the options. They would make great vehicles for collecting dip!

* Add snow peas to your favorite stir-fried vegetables.

* Sauté snow peas with garlic in oil and/or butter. Top with a drizzle of lemon juice.

* Include snow peas with other vegetables when making fried rice or noodles.

* Try a stir-fried or stir-steamed medley of snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots and onions. Add some ginger and garlic for a little zing in the veggies.

* Sauté carrots and snow peas in butter, then glaze with a little honey for some sweetness. A small drizzle of lemon juice can help balance the sweetness, if desired.

* Combine your favorite cooked pasta with some butter and/or olive oil, snow peas, sun dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and some Parmesan cheese.

* Try roasting snow peas. Lightly coat washed and trimmed peas with olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Place in a 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until crispy (turn once during roasting). Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Snow Peas
Cilantro, curry paste, curry powder, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, lemongrass, mint, miso, mustard, pepper (black, Szechuan), salt, soy sauce, tarragon, Worcestershire sauce

Other Foods That Go Well With Snow Peas
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Beef, cashews, chicken, peanuts and peanut sauce, peas, pork, poultry, scallops, seafood, sesame, shrimp, tofu

Vegetables: Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, kale, mushrooms, onions, radishes, scallions, squash (summer), sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, zucchini

Fruits: Coconut, lemon, lime, orange

Grains: Noodles, rice (esp. basmati, brown, wild)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, coconut milk

Other: Chili sauce, oil (esp. peanut, sesame), soy sauce, sugar, tofu, vegetable stock, vinaigrette, vinegar (esp. rice)

Cuisines and dishes that go well with snow peas:
Asian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, salads, slaws, soups, stir-fries, Thai cuisine

Suggested Flavor Combos:
Snow peas + Asian noodles + lime + peanut sauce
Snow peas + Asian noodles + mirin (a type of Japanese rice wine)
Snow peas + bell peppers + curry powder + scallions + tofu
Snow peas + carrots + ginger
Snow peas + carrots + honey + orange
Snow peas + chiles + ginger + lemongrass
Snow peas + coconut milk + garlic + lime
Snow peas + garlic + ginger
Snow peas + garlic + peanut oil + pepper
Snow peas + ginger + scallions

Recipe Links
Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad https://smittenkitchen.com/2009/08/summer-pea-and-roasted-red-pepper-pasta-salad/

Extra Vegetable Fried Rice https://cookieandkate.com/vegetable-fried-rice-recipe/#tasty-recipes-24427

Lemon Herb Summer Linguine with Chicken, Asparagus, and Snow Peas https://www.willcookforsmiles.com/lemon-herb-summer-linguine-chicken-asparagus-snow-peas/

Brown Buttered Snow Peas https://www.livinglou.com/brown-buttered-snow-peas/

Sesame Snow Pea Salad http://www.savynaturalista.com/2014/03/11/sesame-snow-pea-salad/

Moo Goo Gai Pan https://pickledplum.com/moo-goo-gai-pan-recipe/print/41175/

One Pot Coconut Curry Shrimp https://www.platingpixels.com/one-pot-coconut-curry-shrimp/#wprm-recipe-container-9305

Thai Red Curry with Prawns and Snow Peas https://vikalinka.com/thai-red-curry-with-prawns-and-snow-peas/

Asian Beef with Snow Peas https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/15679/asian-beef-with-snow-peas/

Quick and Easy Snow Peas With Butter and Lemon https://www.thespruceeats.com/snow-peas-with-butter-and-lemon-4056256

Sesame Snow Peas in Apricot Sauce https://www.cooks.com/recipe/xq0i64so/sesame-snow-peas-in-apricot-sauce.html

Stir-Fried Chicken and Snow Peas https://www.cooks.com/recipe/6e9986lk/stir-fried-chicken-and-snow-peas.html

Mushroom Snow Pea Stir-Fry https://www.cooks.com/recipe/pj04e8hm/mushroom-snow-pea-stir-fry.html

Fettuccine with Salmon and Snow Peas https://www.cooks.com/recipe/jz9xg575/fettuccine-with-salmon-snow-peas.html

Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/shrimp-and-snow-pea-salad-recipe-1972960

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Snow_Peas_425.php

https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/snow-peas.html

https://www.nutritionix.com/food/snow-peas

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/freezing-snow-peas-and-sugar-snap-peas-96

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-freeze-fresh-peas-without-blanching/

Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Snow Peas

https://diethood.com/garlic-parmesan-sugar-snap-peas/

https://www.saveur.com/how-to-buy-cook-store-spring-peas#page-3

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash 101 – The Basics

If you’re avoiding traditional pasta for whatever reason and are missing it, have you tried spaghetti squash? It’s a nutrient-dense food that is low in calories and carbohydrates. It’s easy to cook and can be used in many dishes that call for traditional pasta noodles. Give it a try sometime! Below is a lot of information that can help as you explore this versatile food.

I hope this helps!
Judi

Spaghetti Squash 101 – The Basics

About Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash are members of the Cucurbitaceae family. They are cousins with pumpkins, zucchini, and gourds. They are also known as vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, mandarin squash, and vegetable marrow. Historians have found written records of the use of spaghetti squash in China from the early 1800s. It has since become popular around the world as a low-carbohydrate alternative to traditional spaghetti.

Spaghetti squash are small to medium in size with an oblong shape and are heavy for their size. The flesh is thick, dense and moist, and separates into long, translucent strings that look similar to pasta. When cooked, the flesh is tender and has a slight crunch and mild flavor. Spaghetti squash is often paired with marinara sauce, meatballs and Parmesan cheese, making a delicious mock spaghetti meal.

Nutrition Tidbits
Spaghetti squash is a nutrient dense food, meaning it is high in nutrients relative to its low number of calories. It is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, and Vitamin B6. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has a mere 42 calories.

Spaghetti squash is also high in antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene, known to help protect our cells from free-radical damage and ward off chronic diseases.

How to Select a Spaghetti Squash
Choose squash that are firm and free of spots and cracks. They should be heavy for their size. If possible, choose one that still has a bit of stem attached, as it can help prevent bacteria from entering the squash.

How to Store Spaghetti Squash
Store unwrapped squash in a cool, dry, and well ventilated place for up to 3 months, depending upon how old they are when you buy them. The ideal storage temperature would be 55 to 60°F. If you refrigerate them, they will keep for 1 or 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

To store cut squash, tightly wrap the cut section in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible.

How to Preserve Spaghetti Squash
Cooked spaghetti squash strands can be stored in the freezer for up to 8 months. It’s helpful to remove any excess water first. Place the baked squash in a colander over a large bowl. Cover and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This will help drain off any excess water. Then carefully place the drained strands in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air, or place them in an air-tight freezer container. Store in freezer.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash
Preparing a spaghetti squash is easy. Simply wash it, then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon. Place each half, cut side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast at 400F until fork tender. The time will vary depending upon the size of the squash.

When tender, remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly until it can be comfortably handled. Then turn it over and loosen the squash strands with a fork. Remove them to a bowl and proceed with your recipe. The squash strands can be flavored to your liking and eaten right away without further cooking, if desired.

If you prefer not to cut the squash, simply wash it then poke holes in it with a sharp knife. Roast on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or pan at 400F until fork tender. Allow to cool until it can be handled. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. With a fork, release and remove the strands and prepare as desired.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Use cooked spaghetti squash strands as if they were cooked spaghetti. Their use is only limited to your imagination!

For a decorative way to serve spaghetti squash, reserve the halved shells after removing the strands. Prepare your recipe, then use the shell halves as serving bowls.

Simple serving ideas:

* Toss the cooked squash strands with your favorite tomato sauce. Add meat of choice, if desired, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve in the shell halves for a decorative touch!

* Combine cooked squash strands with your favorite stir-fried veggies.

* Toss cooked squash strands with your favorite pesto. Top with cut grape tomatoes and your favorite cheese.

* Sauté chopped garlic in butter or olive oil. Stir in cooked spaghetti squash strands until heated. Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

* Sauté cooked squash strands in some butter or olive oil with a mixture of fresh basil, parsley and chives. A touch of garlic would be a nice addition. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

* Toss cooked squash strands with steamed broccoli, a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of lemon pepper. If desired, top with Parmesan cheese.

* Spread cooked spaghetti squash strands on an ovenproof baking pan. Top with tomato sauce and your favorite pizza toppings. Sprinkle with some oregano and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400F until the topping is hot and cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

* Incorporate cooked spaghetti squash into your favorite pasta casserole in place of the pasta.

Suggested Flavor Combos:
* Spaghetti squash + balsamic vinegar + kidney beans

* Spaghetti squash + basil + garlic

* Spaghetti squash + basil + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + brown butter + hazelnuts

* Spaghetti squash + garlic + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + mozzarella cheese + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + mushrooms + onions

The following tips for cooking spaghetti squash were provided by https://producemadesimple.ca/spaghetti-squash/

* If you roast spaghetti squash whole (not cut it half), make sure you poke a few holes in it with a fork for the steam to escape or you just may end up with a squash explosion to clean up!

* 1 pound of squash yields about 1-½ cups cooked spaghetti squash.

* Microwaving spaghetti squash will yield a softer “pasta” with shorter strands, while baking squash will yield more of an al dente bite to the squash with longer strands.

* Check the doneness of squash by pressing on the skin. It should give slightly when the squash is tender and cooked.

* If you don’t have a sharp knife for cutting the raw squash in half, you can pierce the squash a few times, the microwave it on high for 2 minutes. It will be easier to slice this way before roasting.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Spaghetti Squash
Basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cilantro, garlic, ginger, parsley, pesto, salt, rosemary, sage, soy sauce, sugar, thyme

Other Foods That Go Well With Spaghetti Squash
Proteins: Bacon, beans, eggs, lentils, pork, sausage, seafood, toasted nuts, walnuts

Dairy: Butter and browned butter, cheese, cream

Vegetables: Bok choy, broccoli, carrots, fennel, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peppers (bell and chiles), scallions, tomatoes, zucchini

Grains: Bulgur, quinoa

Other: Oil, lemon, vinegar

Recipe Links
68 Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes That Are Full of Flavor https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2682/spaghetti-squash-recipes/

23 Spaghetti Squash Recipes That Will Make You Forget You’re Eating Veggies https://www.delish.com/cooking/g3001/spaghetti-squash/

Our Top Spaghetti Squash Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/top-spaghetti-squash-recipes

50 Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash https://aggieskitchen.com/50-ways-to-cook-spaghetti-squash/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Spaghetti_Squash_4145.php

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spaghetti-squash#nutrition

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/perfect_prod_detail.asp?ppid=88

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-freeze-spaghetti-squash-1388431

https://producemadesimple.ca/?s=spaghetti+squash

https://producemadesimple.ca/goes-well-spaghetti-squash/

https://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2014/09/spaghetti-squash-with-fresh-herbs.html

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Lentils

Lentils 101 – The Basics

The whole-foods, plant-based diet is increasing in popularity. So, lentils, beans, and seeds are being enjoyed by many. Even if you’re a meat eater, having a meatless meal at least once a week is encouraged. Lentils have been around for thousands of years and many people enjoy them. Yet, many others are new to lentils and just aren’t sure what to do with them. Here’s some help for you. Below is a lot of basic information about lentils, covering what they are, the various types of lentils, the nutritional and health benefits of lentils, how to flavor them and what other foods pair well with them, recipe suggestions, and more! Let me know if you need further information about lentils and I’ll do my best to help!

Enjoy!
Judi

Lentils 101 – The Basics

About Lentils
Lentils are in the legume family. They are actually pulses, which are the edible seeds that grow in pods containing only one or two seeds per pod. They are believed to have originated in central Asia, and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are one of the first foods be cultivated. Lentil seeds dating back 8000 years have been found at archeological sites in the Middle East. Today, most lentils are grown in India, Turkey, Canada, China and Syria. There are many varieties with the most common types in American grocery stores being brown, green and red (but actually more orange in color). There are also yellow, black, and puy lentils.

The brown lentils are the variety most commonly found in American grocery stores. They have a mild, earthy flavor, and hold their shape well when cooked. Brown lentils are “universal” in the lentil family as they can be used in whatever recipe that calls for lentils. They can be mashed and used in meatless burgers, blended into soups, used in salads, and used in casseroles and literally any recipe calling for lentils. They pair well with grains.

Green lentils have a bit of a peppery flavor. This makes them particularly suitable to add to salads or any dish where a pepper flavor is welcome. They take a little longer to cook then the brown variety, but still hold their shape well while maintaining a little firmness. This type of lentil is not as commonly found in American stores as the brown lentils, and can be a little more costly.

Red lentils have a sweet, nutty flavor. They cook up faster than other varieties because they are actually split and the seed coat has been removed. This makes them soft and mushy when cooked, making them a natural thickening agent for soups, purees, and stews.

Yellow lentils are split like red lentils. They have a sweet-nutty flavor, like their red counterpart. Since they are split, they also cook up quicker than brown or green lentils, in 15 or 20 minutes. Yellow lentils are commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Black lentils are also called beluga lentils. These are the most flavorful lentils. They have a somewhat thicker skin than brown lentils, so if you want them tender, they may need to cook a little longer like the green lentils, perhaps up to 40 minutes. If you want to maintain some of their crispness, cook them for less time, about 30 minutes.

Puy (pronounced pwee) lentils come from the French region of Le Puy. They look like green lentils, but are smaller and have a peppery flavor.

Nutrition Tidbits
Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate, and a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Also, they are a good source of iron, protein, Vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and Vitamin B6. Lentils contain no fat. One cup of cooked lentils provides about 1/3 of our daily protein needs (18 grams) and 230 calories.

Lentils are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber helps to keep our cholesterol in check (by binding with bile in the digestive tract, removing it from the body and forcing the body to use cholesterol in the system to make more bile). The insoluble fiber in lentils helps to prevent constipation while reducing the risk of irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

The fiber in lentils not only helps to regulate cholesterol levels, but also regulates blood sugar. This helps in controlling diabetes, insulin resistance and hypoglycemia. Research has confirmed that eating lentils as part of a high fiber diet helps to release energy slowly and steadily, showing dramatic effects in diabetics by controlling blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels.

The fiber content, combined with its folate and magnesium content, works wonders in helping to lower the risk of heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels and improving blood flow around the body. Homocysteine is an important amino acid needed in certain metabolic reactions. When our folate level is low, homocysteine levels increase, causing damage to arterial walls and raising our risk for heart disease.

Lentils are also a good source of iron, with one cup of cooked lentils providing over a third of our daily needs. Iron is critical for carrying oxygen throughout the body in the bloodstream. Eating lentils on a regular basis can help keep our energy levels up and prevent iron deficiency.

How to Select Lentils
Most lentils available today are either found in bulk bins or are prepackaged. When buying lentils, make sure there is no sign of moisture or insect damage. Look for ones that are whole and not cracked.

How to Store Lentils
Store lentils in an airtight container in a dry, cool, dark place. They should keep for about a year.

How to Preserve Lentils
Once cooked, lentils will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. Cooked lentils can be frozen and should be used within three months.

How to Prepare Lentils
Compared to other beans or legumes, lentils are very easy to prepare since they need no presoaking. Before cooking them, check them for stones or debris and remove anything as needed. Place the dry lentils in a strainer and rinse them under cold water, then cook as desired.

How to Cook Lentils
When boiling lentils, use one part lentils to three parts water. It is not mandatory, but bringing the water to a boil first before placing the lentils in the water helps to make them more digestible. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until tender. Brown lentils usually take about 30 minutes to cook. Red lentils take about 20 minutes, and black lentils may take up to 45 minutes to cook. Some recipes call for slightly more firm lentils, requiring a little less cooking time, while other recipes call for very soft lentils, requiring a little more cooking time.

Some suggested ways to use lentils:
* Try mixing lentils with rice or another grain. The combination will make a complete and very digestible protein. Vegetables can be added to make a simple meal. Suggested vegetables include dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, or crunch vegetables like carrots or bell peppers.

* Add cooked lentils to stir-fries or casseroles.

* Use pureed cooked lentils in hummus.

* Cook lentils in your favorite broth to add more flavor to them. Add some herbs to flavor them to your liking.

* Add lentils to soups and stews for a protein boost.

* Use lentils in a curry served over rice.

* Serve chili-spiced lentils with cheese and nacho chips or use them as a taco filling.

* Stuff sweet potatoes with your favorite cooked lentils. Top with cheese.

* Try a creamy red lentil soup.

* Try a lentil salad. Many can be served warm, room temperature or cold…a perfect addition to a summer gathering (or any time for that matter!).

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lentils
Bay leaf, cardamom, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, garam masala, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Other Foods That Go Well with Lentils
Meats and other proteins: Beef, eggs, fish, lamb, sausage

Grains: Rice, pasta and any just about any grains or grain product

Vegetables: Carrots, celery, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes

Dairy: Cheese

Recipe Links
Lentils with Mushrooms and Carrots https://www.judiklee.com/2019/06/04/lentils-with-mushrooms-and-carrots/

Sweet and Savory Lentils https://www.judiklee.com/2019/05/28/sweet-and-savory-lentils/

Mexican Lentils and Rice https://www.lentils.org/recipe/mexican-lentils-rice/

Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley with Crispy Lentils https://www.lentils.org/recipe/roasted-spring-vegetable-medley-with-crispy-lentils/

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Lentils and Quinoa https://www.lentils.org/recipe/teriyaki-stirfry-with-lentils-quinoa/

Instant Pot Lentils Braised with Beets and Red Wine https://www.lentils.org/recipe/instant-pot-lentils-braised-with-beets-red-wine/

Shrimp with White Wine, Lentils and Tomatoes https://www.lentils.org/recipe/shrimp-with-white-wine-lentils-tomatoes/

Quick Pasta with Lentils https://www.lentils.org/recipe/quick-pasta-with-lentils/

25 Ways to Turn Lentils into Dinner https://www.thekitchn.com/25-ways-to-turn-lentils-into-dinner-248332

10 Delicious Ways to Eat Lentils https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/delicious-ways-to-eat-lentils/

Warm Winter Greens with Balsamic Lentils and Roasted Pears https://producemadesimple.ca/warm-winter-greens-with-balsamic-lentils-and-roasted-pears/

8 Surprisingly Fast and Delicious Lentil Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/8-surprisingly-fast-and-delicious-lentil-recipes

25 Creative Lentil Recipes That Go Way Beyond Soup https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/lentil-recipes

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/sweet-potato-and-red-lentil-curry

15 Best Lentil Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/best-lentil-recipes/

Mediterranean Lentil Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14260/mediterranean-lentil-salad/

Lentil Salad https://www.skinnytaste.com/lentil-salad/

Greek Lentil Salad https://cookieandkate.com/greek-lentil-salad-recipe/

Sexy Lentil Salad https://www.recipetineats.com/sexy-lentil-salad/

Lentil Salad https://simpleveganblog.com/lentil-salad/

Lentil and Rice Salad https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/lentil-and-rice-salad

Quinoa Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette https://www.asweetpeachef.com/quinoa-lentil-salad-lemon-vinaigrette/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52#descr

https://www.lentils.org/about-lentils/

https://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=82311&sc=3022

https://www.livestrong.com/article/528308-how-to-spice-up-lentils/

https://www.simplyhealthyfamily.org/lentils-taste/

https://kitchenbyte.com/what-do-lentils-taste-like/

https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/different-types-lentils

https://www.wideopeneats.com/5-different-types-of-lentils/

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-lentils

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lentils#types

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html

https://www.thekitchn.com/flavor-combinations-beans-herb-75364

Lentils with Mushrooms and Carrots

Lentils with Mushrooms and Carrots

Lentils are oh so good for you and very easy to cook…no soaking needed! This is a really easy and tasty lentil dish to make. Once the ingredients are added to the pot, it’s simply a matter of letting them cook until the lentils are as tender as you like, about 30 minutes. The recipe is below the video demonstration. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Lentils with Mushrooms and Carrots
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms (fresh, frozen or canned)
½ cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained*
1-1/2 cups vegetable broth or water**
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Warm a medium size pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic, and briefly sauté until aromatic. Add the lentils, broth, and seasonings. Turn the burner up to bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer on medium to medium-low heat. Cover and allow it to cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are softened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed, and serve.

This can be served as a main dish or a side dish. It would pair well with rice or another grain, potatoes, or pasta.

Cook’s Note: To add another flavor dimension to this dish, you could add some chopped fresh tomatoes at the beginning if you want them to break down, or toward the end of cooking time to keep them more intact.

* If using green lentils, they may need a little longer to cook. Just be sure the mixture doesn’t boil dry in the process.

** If you don’t have vegetable broth available, water may be used in its place. However, it won’t have as much flavor as when broth is used. You may want to increase the seasonings a bit to compensate.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes 101 – The Basics

Sweet potatoes are delicious root vegetables that we have incorporated into everything from appetizers to desserts and snacks. They are loaded with nutritional benefits and are excellent to include in a healthful diet. In the video below, I cover a wide range of information about sweet potatoes from how to choose them, store them, preserve them, to cooking with them, and more. My notes are below the video link so you use them for your personal endeavors. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Here’s how to get the most benefit from your sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potatoes 101 – The Basics

About Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that belong to the morning glory family. They are not the same thing as yams. In fact, yams are in a whole different plant family than sweet potatoes and are not commonly found in the United States (except perhaps in international markets).

There are many varieties of sweet potatoes, with skin color being white, yellow, purple, red or brown. Flesh color can be white, yellow, orange, or orange-red. They are typically grown in warmer climates and harvested in the fall.

Nutrition Tidbits
Sweet potatoes are very high in beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are one of our best food sources of beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. There are plenty of other vitamins and minerals in sweet potatoes, too, but those two are especially noteworthy. One cup of boiled, mashed sweet potato has about 250 calories.

A little fat will do ya: To get the most benefit from the beta-carotene content of sweet potatoes, it is helpful to include some fat with the meal, since sweet potatoes contain no fat. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble substance, so fat is needed for its best absorption. Note, that just a small amount of fat-containing food will do. There is NO need to slather your sweet potato with butter. A mere 3 to 5 grams of fat in a meal can be enough to aid in the absorption of the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes. For instance, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 14 grams of fat. Doing the math, a mere teaspoon of oil (providing 3-1/2 grams of total fat) per meal is enough fat to do the job. Or, instead of olive oil, only 3-1/2 walnut HALVES (that’s less than two whole walnuts) could also do the trick, providing about 4-1/2 grams of total fat. So, a little fat will go a long way in helping us to absorb the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes!

Boil or steam: Boiling with the skin on appears to retain most of the antioxidants in sweet potatoes, when compared to roasting and steaming. The skin has nearly ten times the antioxidants as the flesh, which is drastically reduced when the potatoes are baked. The glycemic index of boiled sweet potatoes is much more favorable than that of baked ones. Steaming seems to also be a good way to preserve the nutrients in sweet potatoes, following second to boiling with the peel on.

Fiber and the Glycemic index: Some people are concerned about the sugar content of sweet potatoes. Yes, they do contain some sugar. However they are very high in fiber, which gives them a low glycemic index and are very effective in stabilizing blood sugar. When tested with a group of diabetics, those who consumed an extract of white sweet potatoes every day for three months had lower blood sugar than those given placebos. It is important to note that a boiled sweet potato has a glycemic index of 46 whereas that of a baked sweet potato is 86.5. So how you cook them makes a difference.

Boost your health: When examining the diets of people who live in the Blue Zones, considered to be the world’s healthiest people, researchers found that most of their carbohydrates come from eating sweet potatoes, rice, and legumes. Fat is kept to a minimum, using mostly vegetable fats like olive oil. Among the Blue Zone populations, the Okinawans (of Okinawa, Japan) who ate their traditional diet focused on eating whole plant foods including a lot of sweet potatoes. According to Dr. Michael Greger at https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/01/11/what-do-the-longest-living-people-eat/, “If you look at the traditional diets of more than 2,000 Okinawans, it breaks down as follows: Only 1% of their diet was fish, less than 1% of their diet was other meats, and less than 1% was dairy and eggs, so it was more than 96% plant-based and more than 90% whole food plant-based as they ate few processed foods. And their diet was not just whole food plant-based; most of their diet was made up of vegetables, one vegetable in particular: sweet potatoes. The Okinawan diet was centered on purple and orange sweet potatoes.” Okinawans had 8 to 12 times fewer heart disease deaths than the United States, 2 to 3 times fewer colon cancer deaths, 7 times fewer prostate cancer deaths, and 5½ times lower risk of dying from breast cancer. It is important to state that the traditional diet of Okinawans is a thing of the past. The modern food industry has infiltrated the area and influenced people to change their ways, resulting in a far less healthy population than it once was.

So, if you’re not already eating sweet potatoes, it’s time to add them to your food list!

How to Select Sweet Potatoes
Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and without cracks, bruises or soft spots. Small to medium size sweet potatoes will tend to be sweet and creamy, whereas larger ones tend to be more starchy.

How to Store Sweet Potatoes
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, well ventilated place away from a heat source. Ideally they should be stored below 60F (but above 40F, refrigerator temperature), which would be equivalent to a root cellar. Since most of us don’t have root cellars, a cool, well ventilated place will usually suffice. Refrigeration is not recommended as it will alter the flavor.

How to Preserve Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be dehydrated, frozen or canned.

To Dehydrate Sweet Potatoes
Wash them and leave the peel on. Roast them (dry without added oil or spices on them) on a rimmed baking sheet at 375F until they are fork-tender, about 1 hour or more, depending on the size. Remove from oven and allow them to cool so they can be handled. Remove the peel and slice them about ¼- to 3/8-inches thick. Place them in a single layer on your dehydrator rack, making sure the slices do not touch each other. Follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature for drying your sweet potatoes. When finished, store them in air-tight containers.

See also my video on dehydrating sweet potatoes at https://youtu.be/SmalFyoROgU

Sweet potatoes can be frozen in a number of ways depending on how they will be used later. Here are directions for various ways to freeze sweet potatoes:

To Freeze Boiled Sliced or Diced Sweet Potatoes
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Scrub the sweet potatoes, and peel them if the way you plan to use them calls for peeling them. Otherwise, you could leave the peel on them. Slice or dice them to the preferred size. Make sure they’re all around the same size, so they cook evenly. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they just begin to get tender but are still quite firm. Remove the sweet potatoes and let them stand at room temperature until cooled. Put the sweet potatoes in freezer storage bags. Remove as much of the air from the bags as possible. Freeze for up to 12 months.

To Freeze Baked Sweet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 375F. Scrub the sweet potatoes and place them on a baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 1 hour (or more depending on their size), or until fork-tender. Let the potatoes cool. Wrap the cooled sweet potatoes in foil and transfer them to freezer bags to freeze whole. Or, freeze the baked potatoes individually on a baking sheet. Once frozen, place them in freezer bags. Freeze the sweet potatoes for up to 12 months. To reheat whole baked sweet potatoes, remove the foil (if foil was used) and rewrap them in a new sheet of foil and bake in a 350 F oven for about 25 to 35 minutes.

To Freeze Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Bake the sweet potatoes as directed above. Slip the skins off the cooled potatoes, and put the flesh in a large bowl or food processor. Beat or process the sweet potatoes until smooth. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for each pint (2 cups) of sweet potatoes, if desired. Lemon juice helps to prevent browning, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Pack the sweet potato mixture into bags and flatten the bag to remove as much air as possible. The mashed sweet potatoes can be added to casseroles, breads, puddings, cakes or cookies, and pies.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned
Sweet potatoes can be found fresh, frozen (in some grocery stores), and canned. Fresh sweet potatoes offer the most versatility, but frozen ones (if you can find them) are a great convenience. Frozen sweet potatoes can be used for just about any cooking application and save time in the kitchen. Canned sweet potatoes are a nice third option, but are usually packed with added sugars and possibly other ingredients. They may be convenient and time-saving, depending upon your intended use of them. They are a handy kitchen staple to have in the cupboard in case of emergencies or when time is running short.

How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes
Wash the sweet potatoes and peel, if desired. The peel is edible, so it is not mandatory to peel them. Sweet potatoes will darken after being cut or peeled, so use them immediately after cutting into them. If needed, they can be placed in a bowl of water to prevent oxidation, until you are ready to cook with them.
To minimize nutrient loss, it is helpful to cook them with the peel on. Then remove the peel, if desired, after they are cooked. The peel is edible and nutritious. However, they may be coated with wax or even dyed if purchased commercially. In this case it may be wise to remove the peel before eating your sweet potatoes. Eating the peel of those grown in your own garden should be no problem.

Cooking/Serving Methods
Sweet potatoes can be baked, steamed, boiled, microwaved, fried, juiced, made into soups, added to casseroles, baked into breads, muffins, cakes, cookies and pies, added to pancakes, and even eaten raw.

Steaming sweet potatoes seems to be a valuable way to enjoy them, while preserving nutrients, keeping the glycemic index low, and cooking them quickly. Steam ½-inch sweet potato slices for 7 minutes then top with a small amount of fat (or serve with a fat-containing food) to help utilize the beta-carotene in them.

One serving suggestion provided by https://whfoods.com sounds delicious… Purée cooked sweet potatoes with bananas, maple syrup and cinnamon. Top with chopped walnuts.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Sweet Potatoes
Warm herbs and spices: Chili pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, allspice, cinnamon, clove
Sweet and savory: cilantro, coconut, thyme, salt, maple sugar or syrup, honey, brown sugar

Foods That Go Well With Sweet Potatoes
Lime, onions, carrot, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, oranges, pineapple, apples, potato, butter, cream, rum, and rich meats such as pork, duck, ham, and poultry

Recipe Links
Butter Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-butter-roasted-sweet-potatoes-248389

Sweet Potato Pancakes https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-sweet-potato-pancakes-224305

7-Minute “Quick Steamed” Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=325

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=94

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Cinnamon http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=205

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon https://producemadesimple.ca/maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes-bacon/

Sweet Potato Muffins https://producemadesimple.ca/sweet-potato-muffins/

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/spicy-sweet-roasted-sweet-potatoes/

Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes https://tasty.co/recipe/rosemary-roasted-sweet-potatoes

50+ Delicious New Ways to Prepare Sweet Potatoes https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g877/sweet-potato-recipes-1009/

Glazed Sweet Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/glazed-sweet-potatoes/

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe-1946538

57 Killer Sweet Potato Recipes to Make This Fall https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/thanksgiving/g622/sweet-potato-recipes/

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter (Note this 5-star recipe has over 5,000 reviews!) https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sweet-potatoes-apple-butter

20 Diners That All Start with Sweet Potatoes https://www.thekitchn.com/15-ways-to-turn-sweet-potatoes-into-dinner-236137

6 Amazing Ways to Stuff a Sweet Potato https://www.onelovelylife.com/6-amazing-ways-to-stuff-a-baked-sweet-potato/

Honey Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes Skillet https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/honey-roasted-chicken-sweet-potatoes-skillet/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

http://www.sweetpotatoes.com/About/SweetPotatoFacts.aspx

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/sweet-potato-nutrition-benefits-recipes-more/

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-yams-and-sweet-potatoes-word-of-mouth-211176

https://nutritiouslife.com/eat-empowered/truth-about-sweet-potatoes/

https://draxe.com/sweet-potato-nutrition-facts-benefits/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14747225

https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/7-eating-habits-of-the-worlds-healthiest-populations/

https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/01/11/what-do-the-longest-living-people-eat/

https://curiouschef.com/wordpress/crisp/blog/flavors-pair-well-sweet-potato/

https://www.almanac.com/plant/sweet-potatoes#

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/food/fresh-pick-sweet-potatoes

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-freeze-sweet-potatoes-three-ways-3061558

https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/11/24/is-it-better-to-bake-boil-or-steam-sweet-potatoes/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12002680

Plantains

Plantains 101 – The Basics

Plantains are commonly used in many ethnic cuisines and are found year-round in many grocery stores. If you’ve never eaten them and are just not sure what to do with them, check out the information below. Everything is covered from what they are and their nutritional aspects, to how to freeze them, how to cook with them, what goes well with them, and more. Enjoy!

I hope this helps,
Judi

Plantains 101 – The Basics

About Plantains
Plantains are fruits in the banana family. They look like large banana and even smell like the common banana. However, the fruit of the plantain has more starch and less sugar than the common banana and should be cooked before being eaten. It is usually eaten more like a vegetable than a fruit. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. Plantains can be cooked at any stage of ripeness, but it is usually boiled or fried while green, when it contains the most starch.

Nutrition Tidbits
Since plantains are plants, they contain no cholesterol. They are low in fat and sodium, and are good sources of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. One-half cup of cooked plantains has about 80 to 90 calories.

The abundant potassium in plantains makes them an important addition to your diet when needing to control high blood pressure. The potassium also helps with smooth muscle contraction, which helps in heart function and lowers the risk of stroke and kidney disease.

The high fiber content of plantains helps to regulate bowel function warding off bowel diseases. The Vitamin C in plantains helps fight free radical damage in the body and promote tissue repair. The Vitamins A and C give our immune system a boost. The Vitamin B6 helps with brain function and hormones balanced keeping our moods stable and regulate our body’s clock. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral that affects calcium absorption and helps to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. If all this isn’t enough to convince you to at least TRY plantains, I’m not sure what will!

How to Select Plantains
Select those with the fewest blemishes, and avoid any plantains that are cracked or moldy.

How to Store Plantains
Plantains will ripen when left at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. The length of time to ripen will depend upon how ripe they are when purchased. The ripening process can be sped up by placing the plantains in a closed paper bag left at room temperature. Refrigerating plantains will stop the ripening process.

How to Preserve Plantains
Plantains may be frozen and will keep for 8 to 12 months in the freezer. Cut both ends off the plantains and remove the peel. Mash the pulp in a bowl with a fork or potato masher, with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice per fruit. Place the mashed plantain/lemon mixture into an air-tight container and store in the freezer.

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Unlike their banana cousins, plantains should be cooked before being eaten. However, some people do eat very ripe raw plantains.

How to Prepare Plantains
When preparing plantains, first wash them. With a sharp knife, cut off both ends. Slice the skin lengthwise along the ridges and remove strips of the peel with the knife. Remove any peel that remains on the pulp. From there, the plantain can be cut as needed for the intended use.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Plantains can be baked, boiled, grilled, roasted or fried. They can be mashed or chopped and added to soups and stews. They can be steamed until soft and pureed for infants or the elderly. They can be dried and ground down into flour. Plantains are often deep-fried into chips. They are also made into curries.

Green plantains have a somewhat hard pulp and the green peel may need to be removed with a knife. At this stage, they are starchy and similar to a potato. This stage is usually used like a potato and is excellent for preparing plantain chips. Green plantains pair well with assertive flavors and fatty meats.

Yellow plantains are slightly sweeter than the green variety. At this stage, they have enough sugar to caramelize a little, but enough firmness to still hold their shape. This stage has some sweet yet savory notes, and pairs well with ingredients that may have both properties, like onions and garlic. A little acid (like lemon, lime, or sour cream) is often applied to or used with yellow plantains. This variety is often fried, boiled, or grilled.

Black plantains are still quite good to eat. They are at their sweetest and softest point when the peel is black. Black plantains are usually baked and incorporated into some type of dessert. Once a plantain ripens to this point, it will quickly decay, like a black banana.

To boil green plantains: Wash and cut off ends. Keep skin on and cut into 1 inch disks, then boil over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes until the slices are fork tender and the color is an even yellow. Remove from heat and let cool enough to remove the peel, which should be released easily. These are eaten on their own or can be served with butter, oil and salt, sprinkled with cheese, or served with avocado based dips, salsas or in place of potatoes or sweet potatoes in meals. Boiled mashed green plantains are often served for breakfast with eggs.

To fry plantains: Wash and peel. Remove ends and cut into ½ inch to one inch pieces. Using enough vegetable oil to lightly cover the pan, fry over medium heat using tongs to avoid being splashed by hot oil with turning. Cook until golden about 4-6 minutes, and serve with either salt or cinnamon.

To bake or roast: Peel and bake whole in 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes until fork tender.

Plantains are also often dried and ground into a flour also known as banana flour. Where plantains are commonly enjoyed, this flour is mixed with milk and served as a first food for infants.

Tips for Using Plantains
* Plantains take longer to ripen than regular bananas, but the good news is that there are many ways of cooking them at each stage of ripening – meaning you will never be left with one that is unusable.

* Plantains are an excellent source of fiber. They are also low in fat, gluten free and cholesterol free.

* When deep-fried, ripe plantains, are enjoyed as chips and are a popular snack all over the world.

* Plantains can be fried, boiled, grilled or baked/roasted in the oven.

* When a plantain fully ripens, it quickly decays, similar to a banana.

What Goes Well With Green Plantains
Herbs/Spices: Cardamom, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, garam masala, garlic, ginger, paprika, black pepper, salt, thyme

Foods: Avocados, bacon, beans (ie black and pinto beans), butter, cheese, chicken, chickpeas, chiles, coconut and coconut cream, eggs, tropical fruits, lime, molasses, mole sauces, oils, onions, pork, rice, salsa, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, yogurt

Cuisines: African, Caribbean, Central American, Mexican, Puerto Rican

Specific Dishes: Chips, soups, stews, Tostones (fried plantains)

What Goes Well With Sweet (Yellow or Brown) Plantains
Herbs/Spices: Allspice, butter and browned butter, cardamom, chocolate, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, black pepper, salt, scallions, star anise, vanilla

Foods: Black beans, bell peppers, coconut milk, dairy, tropical fruits, honey, ice cream, lemon, lime, molasses, olive oil, red onions, orange, raisins, rice, rum, scallions, sugar

Cuisines: African, Central American, Cuban (especially desserts), Mexican

Specific Dishes: Desserts and puddings, soups, vegetable stews

Recipe Links
Fried Plantain Chips (Chifles) https://www.thespruceeats.com/chifles-fried-plantain-chips-3028864

Plantain and Coconut Pancakes https://thehealthyfoodie.com/plantain-coconut-pancakes/

Fried Plantains https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/fried-plantains-10024

Plantain Soup https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/plantain-soup-recipe-1949968

Tostones: Twice Fried Green Plantains https://producemadesimple.ca/?s=plantains

Spicy Plantain Curry https://blog.hellofresh.co.uk/plantain-curry-recipe/

Chapo (A Ripe Plantain Peruvian Beverage) http://pink-apron.com/recipes/ripe-plantain-drink/

Plantain Recipes http://www.muchogusto.com/index.php?page=plantain-recipes

Three Tasty Ways to Eat Ripe Plantains https://patijinich.com/three_ways_to_eat_ripe_plantains/

How to Cook Plantains: Two Simple and Delicious Ways https://shop.mybluprint.com/cooking/article/how-to-cook-plantains/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
https://www.thespruceeats.com/introduction-to-plantains-2137973

https://www.britannica.com/plant/plantain

https://draxe.com/plantains/

https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-preserve-plantain

https://producemadesimple.ca/plantain/

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

https://www.finecooking.com/ingredient/plantains

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/plantain-benefits-5583.html

Sweet and Savory Lentils

Sweet and Savory Lentils

If you’ve never tried lentils, this is a great recipe to start with! It’s delicious, easy to make (just dump everything into the pot, stir and cook), versatile, and can be adjusted to your taste preferences (regarding “heat”). Give it a try and let me know how you like it! The recipe is below the video demonstration. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Sweet and Savory Lentils
Makes About 8 Servings

1-1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup raisins
4 cups water (or more, if needed)
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper of choice
1 tsp garlic powder (or 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced)
Pinch dried hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp dried basil
2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, and add more water if the mixture becomes too thick before the lentils are tender. It is helpful to lower the heat as the mixture thickens, so it won’t burn and to keep it from splashing on you as it bubbles.

Serving suggestions: This can be topped with shredded cheddar cheese and served over brown rice or used as a taco or burrito filling in place of a meat mixture. It’s also wonderful topped with cheese and served with chips. Some folks even enjoy this over cooked noodles or pasta. Enjoy!

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Amaranth

Amaranth 101 – The Basics

Amaranth is a gluten-free seed that we usually treat as a grain. It has been used throughout the ages in many cultures and is increasing in popularity, especially as the need for gluten-free foods is increasing. If you’re not sure if amaranth is right for you, check the information below. Hopefully your questions will be answered!

Enjoy!
Judi

Amaranth 101 – The Basics

About Amaranth
Amaranth is among 60 different species of plants belonging to the amaranthus family. These plants are very tall with broad green leaves and brightly colored purple, red, or gold flowers. Three species are commonly grown for their edible seeds. Amaranth is a “pseudo cereal” meaning it’s not technically a cereal grain like wheat or oats, since it is in a different botanical family. However, it does have a similar nutritional profile, and the flowers of the amaranth plant have tiny grain-like starchy edible buds or seeds, which is why it is often treated as a grain.

Amaranth has been cultivated for 6,000 to 8,000 years and was a dietary mainstay for the ancient Inca, Mya, and Aztec civilizations. It has a long history in Mexico and is now grown around the world. Its flavor is described as earthy, nutty flavor, and peppery and it blends well in many dishes including cereals, breads, muffins, and pancakes. When ground into a flour, amaranth is usually blended with a grain to lighten its texture (the flour is very dense when used alone).

Nutrition Tidbits
Amaranth is gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and nutrients, particularly manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, and iron. One cup of cooked amaranth has 250 calories with about 9 grams of protein, more protein then is typically found in other grains. Also, amaranth is considered to be a complete protein because it contains the amino acid lysine, which is usually in short supply in grains.

Research has shown that people with coronary heart disease and hypertension, who were given amaranth had a significant drop in their total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

How to Select Amaranth
Amaranth is sold dried and prepackaged like rice. If purchasing amaranth from a bulk bin, the seeds should have a faintly sweet aroma or no aroma at all. If it smells musty or oily, it is old and should not be purchased.

How to Store Amaranth
When stored dry in an air-tight container, whole grain amaranth will keep for about 4 months on a cool, dry pantry shelf, and about 8 months when frozen.

Amaranth flour should be stored in a dry, air-tight container. When kept on a cool, dry pantry shelf, it will last about 2 months. In the freezer, it will keep for about 4 months.

How to Prepare Amaranth
After reviewing a lot of resources, it’s evident that some people rinse and sometimes soak amaranth before cooking it. However, rinsing and/or soaking amaranth before cooking is not mandatory. Furthermore, some resources state to bring water to a boil first, then add the seeds. Conversely, other resources state to add the seeds to the water first, then bring it to a boil. So, apparently there are a number of ways to prepare amaranth, and there is no hard and fast rule on how to cook it. However, the texture of the seeds after being cooked may differ between the various methods. Usually the inner portion of the seed will become soft with cooking, while the outer shell will remain crunchy.

Cooking/Serving Methods and Ideas
Amaranth can be popped for a crunchy snack, simmered, sprouted or steamed. The results can be quite different depending on how it is cooked, ranging from smooth and creamy to crunchy like popcorn.

Depending upon the desired outcome, the amount of water called for in a recipe will vary. To achieve an outcome where the cooked seed is more like quinoa or rice, use a LOT of water. To achieve a thick, gelatinous porridge, use less water, or as called for in the recipe.

The instructions on the container of amaranth that I purchased are as follows: In a medium sized pot, combine 1 cup of amaranth with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the amaranth rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. All the moisture should be absorbed. This makes about 2 cups of cooked amaranth. Note: This results in a cooked seed with a bit of a crunch on the outside.

Amaranth can be cooked in a similar way as pasta. Bring a lot of water to boil (ie 6 cups water to 1 cup amaranth), then add the amaranth to it. Cook and stir for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook amaranth or it will become gummy. Rinse, drain and enjoy. A lot of water is suggested because the cooking water will thicken from starch released during the cooking process. Cooked amaranth softens in the inside yet maintains some crunch on the outside.

Amaranth can be used as a thickener for sauces, soups and stews, or enjoyed as a creamy breakfast porridge. Amaranth can be used as a side dish in place of rice, couscous, risotto, or orzo pasta.

Here are some suggested ways to use amaranth, provided by https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-amaranth-64211

As a breakfast cereal. Simmered just right, amaranth has a sweetness and porridge-like consistency that makes it a delicious cereal. Use a ratio of 1-1/2 cups liquid to 1/2 cup amaranth. (Yield: 1-1/2 cups cooked.) Place amaranth and water or apple juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Keep a close eye on it towards the end and then serve it right away, as it will turn gummy and congeal if overcooked or left to sit. Add fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and/or sweetener.

Popped. Toast a tablespoon of amaranth seeds at a time in a hot, dry skillet. Continually shake or stir until the seeds pop. Eat them as a snack or use them to top soups, salads, and vegetable dishes. Popped amaranth can be used to bread tofu or meat.

Combined with other grains. When cooked with another grain, such as brown rice, amaranth doesn’t overwhelm with its sticky consistency but adds a nutty sweetness. Use a ratio of 1/4 cup amaranth to 3/4 cup other grain and cook as usual.

Added to soups and stews. Take advantage of amaranth’s gelatinous quality and use it to thicken soup. A couple of tablespoons added while the soup is cooking is usually sufficient.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Amaranth
Cardamom, chili, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, parsley, soy sauce, tamari

Other Foods That Go Well With Amaranth
Fruits and Sweets: Apples and apple juice, blueberries, chocolate, dried fruits, honey, lemon, maple syrup, orange, persimmons, raisins

Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (ie black, cannellini, pinto), chickpeas, pistachios, walnuts

Grains: Buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, wild rice

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, corn, greens, onions, scallions, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Dairy: Milk, yogurt

Other: Oil (ie olive)

Suggested Flavor Combinations
Amaranth + almonds + bulgur + herbs
Amaranth + apples + walnuts
Amaranth + black beans + sweet potatoes
Amaranth + cinnamon + maple syrup
Amaranth + corn + pinto beans + scallions
Amaranth + lemon + olive oil
Amaranth + quinoa + wild rice
Amaranth + raisins + milk

Amaranth goes particularly well in:
Baked goods (ie breads, cookies), casseroles, cereals, dishes mixed with other grains, Mexican cuisine, porridges, puddings, soups, South American cuisines, stews, veggie burgers

Recipe Links
Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/amaranth-polenta-wild-mushrooms

Oat and Amaranth-Crusted Ham and Cheese Quiche https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/oat-and-amaranth-crusted-ham-and-cheese-quiche

Popped Amaranth Crunch https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/popped-amaranth-crunch

Creamy Cannellini Bean and Amaranth Soup https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/creamy-cannellini-bean-and-amaranth-soup

Amaranth Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/grains/amaranth/amaranth-recipes#3

Amaranth Porridge with Caramelized Bananas and Pecans https://naturallyella.com/banana-pecan-amaranth-porridge/

Coriander Cauliflower Amaranth Salad https://naturallyella.com/amaranth-salad/

Amaranth Pudding with Coconut and Raisins https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/amaranth-pudding-coconut-and-raisins

Chocolate Amaranth Pudding https://cook.nourishevolution.com/2011/04/chocolate-amaranth-pudding/

Savory Amaranth Fritters https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/savory-amaranth-fritters/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/amaranth-health-benefits#section1

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/amaranth.html

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/amaranth-may-grain-month

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10640/2

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/cooking-whole-grains/storing-whole-grains

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Frozen Carrot Slices)

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Frozen Carrot Slices)

Cooking with frozen vegetables is a great way to shave some time off of food preparation. No washing, chopping, nor blanching needed! Here’s a really simple way to make honey glazed carrots using frozen carrot slices. The recipe is below the video demonstration. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!
Judi

Honey Glazed Carrots (Using Frozen Carrots)
Makes 4 Servings

1 (12 oz or 1 lb) bag of frozen carrot slices
2 Tbsp butter*
2 Tbsp honey*
1 Tbsp lemon juice*
Parsley flakes, optional garnish

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add the frozen (not thawed) carrots. Add three tablespoons of water and cover the pan. Allow the carrots to thaw and come to a boil (turning heat up if needed), then lower the heat to a simmer.

Drizzle the carrots with the honey; stir to combine. Cover the pan and allow the carrots to cook until almost as tender as you want them to be, adding more water by the tablespoon, if needed. When they are almost as tender as you like, remove the lid from the skillet and allow the glaze to form and coat the carrots, while stirring often. When the liquid is reduced and they are glazed and cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and drizzle the carrots with the lemon juice. It takes about 7 or 8 minutes total time for the carrots to become crisp-tender. Sprinkle with dried or fresh parsley flakes, if desired. Serve.

*For a lighter, less sweet glaze, use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of honey. Also, reduce the lemon juice to ½ tablespoon, if desired.