Foodie

Final Summer Snack Attack

Well, it’s official. With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, our last days of sweet, sweet summer are numbered. I mean you might as well be spending your weekends digging out those moth-eaten sweaters because once August is over, you know its time to hunker down in your home and watch the days get shorter. Not depressed yet? You should be. All that is standing between you and a pair of long underwear is a mere 2-3 months. So this is a call to all you ‘could-be-more-tan’ people – get out there and soak up the final days of summer.

There’s a very real possibility this coming weekend could be my final trip to the beach for the season. In that spirit, I give you my summer beach snacks! Pick up a bag of ice, clean out that cooler, and load it up with some delicious, refreshing and nutritious snacks. You will be all set for hours of leisure time without ever feeling pangs of guilt or hunger. These nom noms are perfect for the beach, pool, lake, river, swamp or local watering hole.

THR’s Healthy Summer Snack Attack

  • Aged White Cheddar Pirates Booty
  • Hummus with Sea Salt Pita Chips, Carrot Sticks and Cucumber Slices
  • Watermelon Slices (leave the rind on for easier eating)
  • Pineapple (take some toothpicks for clean hands)
  • Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels
  • Mini Babybel Cheese Wheels, Light or Original (wrapped in wax, safe unrefrigerated for 2-4 hours)
  • Raw, Unsalted Nuts
Image from google.com

Image from google.com

Eggplant Cannelloni

This one is an easy dinner that’s sure to impress should you choose to have (the dreaded) company over. It’s also a great summer meal for those hot nights when you don’t want to break your back in the kitchen. Sure, the oven may be required, but the run time is short! If you’re looking for a little more protein, feel free to throw some grilled chicken, seafood, pork or beef on the side. I prefer to serve these vegetarian eggplant cannelloni’s with a fresh, roasted vegetable. Pictured below with sautéed spinach and lentils.

 

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Eggplant Cannelloni

Serves: 4 main course

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jars (12 ounces each) roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
Cooking spray
4 ounces goat cheese
5 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté   shallots and garlic until soft for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat. Cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers and juice; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool. Place in a food processor and blend until pureed . Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Meanwhile, coat eggplant slices with cooking spray and broil on a baking sheet until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine goat cheese, olives, capers and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a bowl. Place 1 tablespoon of filling at the end of each eggplant slice; roll up. Lay seam side down in dish. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Plate and enjoy!

The Nuttiness of Natural Peanut Butters: Fad or Fact?

Smuckers, Skippy and Jif – they all have ‘natural’ peanut butters, but are they really natural? What does one qualify ‘natural’ peanut butter as in the first place? Well I’m sure there is some FDA branch who has determined this definition, but I’ll tell you the simplest definition there is going. In my mind, the ingredients label should read ‘peanuts and salt’. That’s all folks.

While at a friend’s house for brunch last week, a jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter was placed on the dining table. Being the freak dietitian I am, I hustled on over and read the ingredients list. Look nothing gets this RD more excited than a bomb peanut butter just placed on a brunch spread, but the ingredients need to be right. I don’t care if it has less fat or more sodium or more freaking peanuts, the ingredients list is where it’s at people!

Now that you know, below is THR’s breakdown of ‘natural’ peanut butters hot on the market.

1. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter: FAIL

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt

The minute you see ‘oil’ in the ingredient list of any nut butter – go running. Nuts are naturally oily, that is why they are considered a fat. There is absolutely no need to add oil to an already oily product. I don’t care if that oil is ‘natural’.

2. Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter: WIN

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Peanuts and salt

3. Jif Natural Peanut Butter: FAIL

Image from Google

Image from Google

Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt, molasses
*See oil comment above.

There’s countless niche natural peanut butters out there. As a New Englander, I LOVE Teddies. Not living in my area? Hop on over to Walmart, Target or Amazon to purchase your first jar today! But seriously, feel free to experiment. Natural peanut/nut butters have come a long way in the last 5-10 years. They don’t always required heavy stirring and are far from their initial chalky prototypes. So get out there nut lovers and rediscover what it means to eat natural peanut butter!

 

Shameless Product Placement of April: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmomy

Some say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. When it comes to quinoa, I beg to differ. Quinoa is the ‘moving on up’ of whole-freaking-grains so get ready to be amazed by what THR is about to throw at your noggin!

Whole grains are obviously a hot topic of discussion here on THR. This post isn’t about to stray far from that very subject today. Quinoa is one such example of a whole grain, despite it actually being a pseudo-cereal (we’re getting to that). And for those swearing off gluten, for medical or fad purposes, it also happens to be gluten-free!

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Quinoa is a ‘pseudo-cereal’ meaning it’s a food similar to grains in how it’s cooked and eaten, as well as it’s nutrient profile. Having been harvested back nearly 4,000 years ago in the Andes region is what gives this seed its ‘ancient grain’ moniker. Us late-blooming Americans must be pretty late to the game because this protein-rich seed seems to be just now making its way into the forefront of the dietary world and current grain research. Such newbs. How late? Well, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Yeah, that late. Sure America doesn’t make up the United Nations, but you get my point. 

Grains (and their look-a-like counterparts) are often thought of as mainly carbohydrate, but quinoa bucks the traditional views of the grain world with its high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio. Whole grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and germ make up 25% of the grain’s protein content. Keeping that in mind, the germ of a quinoa seed takes up 60% of the grain’s real estate. To put this in perspective, the germ of a kernel of wheat makes up a measly 3% of the grain. Psh! What’s that wheat? I can’t hear you over quinoa’s awesomeness. 

Letmegeekoutforaminute. To dig a little deeper on this protein point for one hot second, those in the nutrition world look at protein in two categories: complete and incomplete. Sometimes it’s not just about quantity, but rather quality. The distinction between these two forms of protein lies in the number of essential amino acids the protein contains. Essential amino acids are deemed ‘essential’ because our stupid human bodies cannot make them, but are necessary for survival. Animal proteins are complete. Plant proteins? Not so much. But I’ll give you one guess as to which plant contains all nine essential amino acids. You guess it! I hope. Quinoa!

Now that you know why quinoa is so great, we are FINALLY to the Shameless Product Placement of April:

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend

Image from ancientharvest.com

Image from ancientharvest.com

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend is a combination of traditional, black and red quinoa. While I enjoy traditional quinoa, the blend is a fun way to jazz up salads, serve in place of rice or pasta and works well when manipulated into burger form. The blend retains the natural nutty flavor of traditional quinoa that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. Do not be afraid to experiment with this beautiful product.

One rule to keep in mind prior to preparing: rinse the quinoa. Yeah, I know it says it’s ‘pre washed’, but quinoa develops a natural bitter coating called saponin that fends off pests and helps it grow without the necessity of chemical pesticides. I agree with the Whole Grain Council on this one, the extra rinse may help remove any residue left on the grain. Hey, a little extra water aint’ never hurt nobody (my words, not theirs).

One quarter cup of this tri-blend quinoa (dry) contains 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 30g carbohydrate, 5g of protein. Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend is certified USDA Organic and is a non-GMO food, if you’re into that stuff. Sold in most natural foods stores, click this link to find your nearest retailer.

Come back next week for a Harmony Blend quinoa recipe!

Resources:
wholegrainscouncil.org
http://www.whfoods.com

Red Lentil Cashew Burgers

This recipe gets a mad shout out to Eating Well Magazine. I stumbled upon this recipe a few years back and while it may be a touch labor intensive, I promise you the efforts involved will be rewarded. As I mentioned in last week’s lentil post, cooking lentils can be a bit dicey. This recipe should put your mind at ease if it turns out to be your first lentil cooking experience. Why? You cook the red lentils until the point of mush – failure approved! These burgers are packed with flavor. If you don’t like curry, please select another post to read from the archive (to the right) because that little spice is a big player in this recipe. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short, but full 26 years of life it’s to never force feed people curry…or demand fortune cookies from a BBQ food truck…or start a football tailgate in the parking lot of a zoo. I suppose that’s more than one thing.

Red Lentil and Cashew Burgers are easy to prepare in advance. Frozen in patty form prior to pan searing makes them an excellent freezer staple with no pre-thawing required. I lay out how to make them in advance below the recipe in the notes section. Don’t let that little sweet heart of yours think I am leading you on.

Enjoy these burgers any time of year because no grill is required. Just fresh, honest, whole ingredients are combined to make your diet and kitchen more simplified. Got other lentil ideas? Please leave them in the comment section below.

Happy cooking!

Red Lentil Cashew Burgers

Adapted from Eating Well

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 cup peeled and diced carrots, about 3 medium carrots
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
6 whole wheat pitas
6 cups baby spinach
1 red pepper
1/2  English cucumber, sliced into 1/4 inch half-moons
Olive oil
Hummus*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 2 cups water, carrots and lentils in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Partially cover saucepan and simmer until the lentils are tender and falling apart, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain through mesh strainer pressing out any extra liquid with a spatula. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place cashews on prepared cookie sheet and bake until toasted, about 15 minutes or until golden brown. If you can remember, shake pan halfway through baking to get a good toast on the nuts. Set aside and let cool.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder and the remaining 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pulse the cashews in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the lentils and the onion mixture; pulse until mixture is combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in breadcrumbs. *See below for blending note.

Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties, using about 1/2 cup for each. Cook 2 to 4 patties at a time until evenly browned and heated through, about 4 minutes per side.

Cut tops of whole wheat pitas off; put a good healthy layer of hummus inside, followed by a cup of spinach, the red lentil cashew burger and slide in english cucumber slices and red pepper strips.

Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

Make Ahead: Prepare burgers as directed, stop before pan searing. Wrap ‘raw’ burgers in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag and store in freezer up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, remove from freezer and once unwrapped, these little guys can go straight into the searing pan! Cooking time will increase by a minute or two per side.

Blending: I only have a small food processor. To accommodate the space issue, I blend the cashews, lentil mixture and onions all separately – I place the three blended parts in a medium-size mixing bowl, add breadcrumbs and stir to combine.

Hummus: I prefer the roasted red pepper flavor for this recipe, but feel free to experiment as you like

 

Mid-Monday Pick Me Up

Good afternoon you back-on-your-daily-grind Monday minions. As a shout out to the growing efforts of The Healthy Revival (THR), I thought we’d throw it back to yesterday’s Instagram. Oh right, this little old blog is now on Instagram! See side bar to the right for you link to the account. Follow THR at ‘healthyrevival’ on Instagram for weekly posts on recipe previews from the test kitchen, what the dietitian behind the blog is eating and culinary adventures of a healthy foodie. Check it and follow!

For those of you already following THR on Instagram, you saw the glorious, yet simple brunch photo yesterday. I thought I would announce the launch of The Healthy Revival on Instagram by giving you this beauty’s recipe. Happy Monday people!

Photo Cred: Kimberly Sabada's iPhone

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada’s iPhone

 Goat Cheese Ricotta Bruschetta with Egg

Serves One:
1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
2 Tablespoons fat-free ricotta cheese
1 Tablespoon goat cheese
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole cherry tomatoes in a small baking ramekin, coat tomatoes with non-stick cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake tomatoes uncovered until bursting and juicy, about 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from ramekin and give them a quick rough chop to help cool and release more juice. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine ricotta and goat cheese. Spread cheese mixture onto whole wheat toast, top with chopped roasted tomatoes. Cook the egg however you prefer, I cooking mine sunny side up! Plate and serve.

Note: This was a brunch idea would not be a horrible weeknight dinner idea for those of you on the go.

Come back later this week for a knockout dinner recipe that’s sure to please both children and adults!