More Soup for You!

It’s no wonder that one of the coldest months of the year; January is also National Soup Month. The heated broth warms your insides!! Soup actually started as a means to preserve food for a longer period of time and later evolved with the addition of meat and vegetables as a way to keep these ingredients warm.

Now we can enjoy soup homemade in a can (Umm, umm, good Campbell’s soup has been around since 1869), frozen or even dried. We can eat it in a soup bowl, in a cup, the inside of a pumpkin or squash and even in a make-shift bread bowl. Slurping is a given!

Soup is one of those meals that you don’t really need a recipe to make it great.  Start with a veggie broth (low or regular sodium, depending on your preference) and add to it some Colorado beans and as many different kinds of vegetables as you would like from your local grocer.

Potatoes are an excellent addition!

Winter is a great time to make hearty soups with potatoes, especially since they are in-season in Colorado all year long. I recently made a recipe with several of them including; mini yams, purple sweet potatoes and Yukon golds.

Soup is a bowl of nutrition!!

The mini yams are an excellent, excellent, excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber (20% of our daily recommended amount). The natural chemicals responsible for the bright purple color in purple sweet potatoes, contains the anti-oxidant anthocyanin, which has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.

I also added a bunch of vegetables including purple kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a German word; Kohl means “cabbage” and rabi means “turnip.” These are a type of cruciferous vegetables, which means they are cancer-fighters. They also pair well with Indian spices.

One of my favorite winter comfort soups is the potato, leek and corn chowder below. If you haven’t tried leeks before, they are a “blown up” version of a green scallion. Leeks are an excellent source of Vitamin K and a great source of B6, folate, iron and Vitamin C. Plus they contain allium, the same phytonutrient found in garlic that helps boost our immune system. Make sure you include the whole leek and not just the white part as the green part contains the most active nutrients.

Potato Leak Soup

 

Potato, Leek and Corn Chowder

Serve: 6 

Ingredients: 

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, chopped (cut off ends of greens)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (to thicken soup)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (use low or no-sodium if desired)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (can use regular cream or lite coconut milk to lower fat content)
  • 1-2 limes, quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Making the recipe:  

  1. Heat olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and leeks and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add celery, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Sauté for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots and mix well.
  4. Next, stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are softer.
  7. Add corn, return to a boil then reduce heat to simmer again and cook until all vegetables are tender.
  8. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.
  9. Add the coconut milk and stir well.
  10. Blend ½ of the recipe in a blender on puree setting or use an immersion blender to combine. Add back to the remaining recipe in the pot.
  11. Serve in a bread bowl and if desired sprinkle in ¼ slice of lime.

Creamy and sweet, yum!  Plus it is an excellent source of fiber, potassium and iron!

Want more? Share your recipes below or on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

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2018 Food and Nutrition Trends Clean Meat

Now here’s a very interesting food trend – Clean meat.  When we saw this, we thought – we have to find out more! CM is made from the cells of animals, eliminates the need for animal slaughter and supposedly tastes like the “real” thing.

How are they made? They take a tiny bit of muscle fiber from an animal, isolate the cells that are the precursor to skeletal muscle and start culturing them in a lab. The cells keep dividing and growing until you have an actual muscle that is “meat” ready to eat.

What products are being tested right now? So far, they have made ground meat, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Why are they doing this? The speculation is that these foods will be better for the environment, reduce animal suffering, eliminate antibiotic use and can be mass-produced.

Companies that have already jumped on the bandwagon: Hampton Creek, the makers of “Just Mayo” (the vegan mayo), have said they will have a product to market by 2018 while MosaMeat, a ground out of the Netherlands predicts they will have something to market by 2021.

“An inspirational look into a future where the cellular agricultural revolution helps lower rates of foodborne illness, greatly improves environmental sustainability, and allows us to continue to enjoy the food we love.”

 Kathleen Sebelius – former U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services

Source: https://cleanmeat.com/praise/

We’d love to hear what you think about this new trend.  Feel free to share you thoughts below or on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnOunceofNutrition/.

STUFFED Turban Squash Shell

A great way to “dazzle” thanksgiving guests is by making a turban squash recipe. I like to stuff mine, because it just looks so beautiful when finished.

The recipe below has a few different components to it which makes it ideal for a family to make.  Each person can make a different part of the recipe and then add it all together at the end.  It is a little more complicated than some of the recipes we recommend, so is most suited for those who love to cook!

The Turban Squash is an heirloom winter squash (means its seeds originate from the originals).  It was first mentioned in a publication back in the early 1800’s in France.

The top of the squash is shaped like a “turban”, hence the name.  It comes in a variety of different colors and shapes and has a mild, nutty-like taste.

You can make so many recipes with this squash.  You can stuff it, serve in chunks, make a dip with it or puree to make a creamy soup.

The flesh is an “orange” color which means its high in Vitamin A. It also is an excellent source of Vitamin C and contains calcium and iron.

Stuffed Turban Squash Shell Recipe

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

Turban Squash

  • 1 medium-sized turban squash
  • Organic Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Cinnamon, whole and unrefined

Toasted Sourdough Bread Cubes

  • ½ cup homemade sourdough bread – I used the garlic sourdough bread from Great Harvest Bread Company in Denver, CO – such a hearty and pure tasting bread! https://www.facebook.com/greatharvestdenver/
  • Organic Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • Granulated garlic
  • Coarse ground sea salt

Candied Pecans

  • 1 cup organic American native pecans
  • Maple syrup
  • Coarse ground sea salt

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts
  • Organic Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • Coarse ground sea salt                     

Cranberries sweetened with apple juice

Directions:

Turban Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Carve out the turban part of the squash using a really sharp knife. Pop the top off and save it.
  4. Discard seeds and pulp from the top and bottom portions.
  5. Brush the flesh with olive oil. Place on baking pan, cut side down and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool for at least ½ hour.
  7. Scoop out flesh onto a cutting board using a spoon. IMPORTANT: Be sure to keep the shell!
  8. Cut into “pseudo” bite size pieces. Squash will be a little mushy.
  9. Place in medium-sized bowl. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix together.
  10. Set aside.

Toasted Sourdough Bread Cubes

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Cut sourdough bread into cubes.
  4. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle a line of olive oil around and just above the cubes (not on them).
  5. Sprinkle with granulated garlic and sea salt and mix together.
  6. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool. Set aside.

Candied Pecans

  1. Heat sauté pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Add pecans to pan.
  3. Lightly coat with maple syrup and sprinkle salt on it.
  4. Heat pecans until liquid is dissolved and pecans start to stick together.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool. Set aside.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Rinse and then cut off ends of Brussels sprouts.
  4. Add to bowl and mix together with olive oil and sea salt.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet, cut side down.
  6. Put in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check after 10 minutes if you have baby sprouts.

Assembly

  1. Add a big scoop of squash flesh to the shell.
  2. Top with a scoop of Brussels sprouts, candied pecans and a few cranberries.
  3. Continue this process until squash shell is overfilled.
  4. Dab in pieces of the sourdough cubes on top of the mixture. Serve warm.

“Vegilicious” Soup

SOUP is the ultimate winter comfort food. Curling up with a bowl of hot soup and a slice of hot bread is like heaven on a cold day.  And it’s nutritious too!

When I make soup, I love to start with a base of veggie broth and then throw in whatever vegetables are in my refrigerator. It’s fun and you can discover some incredible flavor combinations you’ve never experienced before by making it this way.

Soup’s History: It’s hard to say exactly how soup came to be because it’s been around for so long, but I suspect it was most likely for economic reasons. When food was scarce, you could certainly stretch it a lot further by making a broth and then adding pieces of chopped up food vs. having an entire meal to yourself. Plus, it was more filling to eat it this way too.

I think this kind of sums up the value of it:

In one form or another, soup has been around since 20,000 B.C. and it’s easy to see why. A handful of ingredients on their own will only feed a handful of people, but if you were to cook them with herbs and spices in water, soup can feed a whole community. https://www.gloriousfoods.co.uk/inspiration/a-brief-history-of-soup

“Nutritalicous” Veggie Soup: The recipe below has all of the ingredients you need to make a healthy, nutritious meal.  It has vegetables, protein (beans) and grains (pasta).  You can even sub out whole grain pasta for the gluten-free kind.

And here’s what I love about it!

  • It’s naturally low in calories, fat and saturated fat.
  • It’s an excellent source of fiber!
  • It’s high in protein.
  • It’s also an excellent source of iron and potassium. Two nutrients that Americans can’t ever seem to get enough of.

Most of the protein in this recipe comes from the beans. If you’ve ever heard me speak, chances are I’ve talked about how beans are the most “perfect” food.  They are naturally low in calories, fat and saturated fat and extremely high in fiber! For example, the white beans in this recipe can have up to 19 grams of fiber in a cup and the kidney beans – 16 grams.  Even if you only ate ¼ cup of each of these types of beans in your meal, you would still consume around 9 grams of fiber – still an excellent source!  Beans are also a great source of protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, folate and B6. And not to mention all of the phytonutrients or antioxidants they contain. Very healthy stuff!

This recipe not only has a savory flavor, but also has an added sweetness from the tomatoes that sneaks up on you at the end. I even added an ugly carrot to enhance the sweetness.

Vegetable Soup

Paula’s “Vegilicious” Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4-5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 zucchini – diced
  • 1 cup frozen Italian green beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) cannelloni (white kidney beans) – drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) red kidney beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 4 ounces cooked pasta – small shells (about 1 cup)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Sprinkle of pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oil in large sauce pan over med heat. Add onion and cook stirring occasional for 5 mins. Add garlic and cook 1 min.
  • Stir in broth, zucchini, corn, green beans and seasonings. Bring to boil and reduce to low, cover and simmer 10 mins until veggies are tender.
  • Stir in tomatoes with juice and drained beans. Simmer for 30 mins.
  • Add pasta to bowl and add soup on top with basil and seasonings and serve. I enjoyed this with a slice of avocado toast.  Ummm, ummm good!

A special thank you to Paula Schmelter Koszarek @wagthedogmedia for sharing this incredibly delicious vegetable soup recipe with us.

***If you have a recipe you would like to share with our teachers and students, please send it our way and if we can, we will highlight it, along with its nutritional value on one of our blog posts.

Healthy Halloween – Candy Corn Smoothie

I love candy corn at Halloween!  So when I saw this candy corn smoothie recipe online, I just had to try it – with some adaptions of course.  Adapted from: Toni Dash. It was pretty good.

The wheels are already spinning and I think that next time I will make it with lemon, orange and Greek Yogurt layers.  But still a fun recipe you can make with your students.

Please let us know if you have made this recipe and if so, what you used for the layers?

Candy Corn Smoothie

Candy Corn Taste in a Glass

Yields: 2 smoothies

Ingredients:

Yellow Layer

  • ½ cup fresh pineapple – cut and diced.
  • ½ large banana
  • 2 tablespoons water

Orange Layer

  • 1 cup fresh papaya – I used can since papaya (unsweetened) wasn’t in season and unavailable
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange (no sugar added and not from concentrate)
  • If desired: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

White Layer

  •  ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • If desired: ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

  • Place wide-rimmed martini shaped glasses in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  • While glasses are chilling, blend ingredients in a blender for the yellow layer (pineapple, banana and water).
  • Add a thin layer to the bottom of the martini glass.  Chill 15-20 minutes.
  • While yellow layer is chilling, rinse blender then blend together ingredients for the orange layer (papaya, orange juice and cinnamon).
  • Pour this layer on top of the yellow layer in a thin circular motion so that it does not mix with the yellow layer.  I chilled my yellow layer until it was almost icy, so that it would hold.
  • Chill for 15-20 minutes.
  • While orange layer is chilling, rinse blender and then blend together ingredients for the white layer (coconut milk, coconut cream, honey and vanilla).
  • Pour this layer on top of the orange layer in a thin circular motion, again making sure that it does not mix with the layers below it.
  • Serve as is or chill again and then serve.

 This recipe is a good source of fiber, iron and potassium.

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTHY Halloween – Veggie Skeleton

Are your student’s diets ghoulish?
Have them make a “scary as they want” skeleton using fresh fruits and/or veggies.
Add a healthy ranch dressing dip with:
 Ingredients:
• 1/3 cup Greek Yogurt
• 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon onion powder
• ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
• Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until well-blended. Serve with veggies from the skeleton.
This revamped ranch dressing vs. a traditional bottled ranch dressing has:
  • Less calories: 70% less calories in 2 tablespoons in this recipe
  • Less fat: 8 grams  in this one vs. 14 grams of fat in the bottled ones
  • Less saturated fat: .6 grams in this recipe vs. 2.5 grams in the bottled one
  • Less salt: 70% less salt in this one

“The Three Sisters” Squash

The word squash is derived from the Indian word askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.” Although Native Americans mostly ate it raw, we generally like to cook it.  Squash is known as one of the “Three Sisters” planted by Native Americans.  The three sisters include corn, beans and squash and were three native plants that were farmed.  This was one of the first examples of sustainable agriculture, as each plant supported the others’ growth: corn provided stalks for the beans to grow, squash vines covered the weeds on the ground, and beans provided nitrogen for all three crops to grow.

Squashes are technically classified as a fruit, but have many culinary uses as a vegetable. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors.  Some are big and round, while others are thin and short.  They can come flattened or tubular and with straight or crooked necks.  Colors range from white to yellow to orange to green – some with stripes, others that are solid.

They are classified according to when they are best harvested, in either the winter or summer. Summer squash is usually harvested during the summer. These plants have thinner skins and are smaller.  Examples include zucchini and yellow crookneck. Winter squash are harvested at maturity, usually at the end of the summer through the winter.  This type of squash generally has a harder shell, which allows them to act as storage containers for cooking their flesh along with other ingredients.  They have thick skin and hard seeds and can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.  Examples include butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash.

Squash is extremely high in carotenoids (Vitamin A) – most orange fruits and veggies are high in Vitamin A.

It is also extremely high in the following:

Vitamin C
Fiber
Potassium
Magnesium

It is rich in Lutein, a carotenoid that contributes to the dark orange color of butternut squash and pumpkin and serves as an anti-oxidant.

Squash can protect you against cancer, heart disease and cataracts.

Fun Fact: It has the same composition as a fruit, so is considered a fruit and not a vegetable. All squash is considered a fruit with edible flesh.

Parent tip for cooking with kids: Many varieties of squash contain seeds that can be toasted and eaten as a snack. Pumpkin is a member of the squash family, and its seeds can be made into a tasty Halloween treat that kids gobble up! You can toast any kind of squash seeds, including butternut and acorn squash, and then coat them with a little olive oil, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt and add them to their favorite squash soup.

CinnaSquash Muffin

CinnaSquash Muffins
A healthy take on regular old muffins.

Yields: 24 regular-sized muffins (two pans’ worth)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 banana – mashed
1 cup butternut squash – baked or boiled
2 eggs
¾ cup apple sauce
1/3rd cup turbinado sugar or sucanat (or any other less processed sugar)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cups whole wheat/white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Grease muffin pans or add muffin cake liners to pans.
• Mix together banana, squash, eggs, apple sauce, sugar and oil in a mixing bowl until  well blended. You can also use an electric mixer if this is easier.
• In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda and powder and cinnamon.
• Make a hole or well in the dry ingredients. Dump the wet ingredients into the center and then start to blend the two ingredients together to form a batter.
• Pour batter into muffin tins and sprinkle with cinnamon.
• Bake at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes.
• Let cool and then serve.

Optional: Top with a glazed cinnamon icing

Nutritional information (per muffin):

Calories 90
Carbohydrates 12 grams
Protein 2 grams
Fat 4 grams Saturated fat 1 gram
Fiber 2 grams
Vitamin A 1% of daily rec amt
Vitamin C 5% of daily rec amt Sodium 130mg – low
Calcium 1% of daily rec amt
Iron 4% of daily rec amt
Sugar 1.5 grams

Why is this recipe healthier than a usual squash muffin recipe?

  • We used bananas instead of butter for moisture and tenderness.
    • A lot of recipes call for a cup of butter, which adds 1,600 calories, 176 grams of fat and 112 grams of saturated fat to the recipe.
    • 1 ½ bananas add only 158 calories, .6 grams of fat and .15 grams of saturated fat.
  • We swapped out butter for sunflower oil.
  • We added butternut squash for a boost of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
  • We lowered the amount of sugar added to the recipe – only 1/3rd cup.
    • Some recipes call for 3 cups of sugar!
    • We swapped out the sugar with apple sauce.  You can also use fruit such as figs or dates, fruit puree or vanilla extract to cut back on sugar in a recipe.
  • We used whole wheat/white flour to add more fiber and still make it appealing to kids.
  • We added only a teaspoon of salt for 24 muffins.
  • We included cinnamon for added sweetness and flavor.

Pick a Peck of Peppers – Stuffed!

What bell pepper is the most nutritious?   Well the quick and simple answer is – it depends.

Many will say that the red are the most nutritious, because they are on the vine the longest.  A red pepper starts out green, but then the longer it is on the vine it may transition to either the color red or to white, then purple and then red. Longer vine times mean a greater amount of Vitamin C.  Plus the peppers taste sweeter!

NUTRITION BY THE COLORS:

1 large RED bell pepper provides 103% of our recommended daily amount of Vitamin A, 349% of Vitamin C, 10% potassium, 24% Vitamin B6 and is a really good source of fiber.

However, the YELLOW ones do give the red ones a run for their money.  1 large yellow pepper provides more Vitamin C (569%) and potassium (11%) and is a good source of Vit A, B6, potassium and fiber.

Don’t discount the GREEN ones yet, as 1 large one still provides 220% of our daily recommended amount of Vitamin C, 12% Vitamin A, 8% potassium, 18% Vitamin B6 and are a good source of fiber. Plus, they generally cost less as they are harvested quicker and are at less risk for spoilage in the field.

Most growers will tell you too that the nutritional content is dependent on the soil they are grown in, the varietal or type of pepper, how long they are kept on the vine before harvesting among many other factors.

Peppers come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, hotness and colors! This includes, green, orange, yellow, red, purple, pink, blue, white, black and brown and even rainbow ones (the transition stage from one color to the next). Bell peppers are great in the fall because they are most likely in season and so naturally taste sweet. And baby bells are some of student’s favorites!

Plus, they have really cool names like “Golden Summer”, “Purple Beauty”, “Chocolate Brown or Mulato.”

One of the cooking activities you can do with students is to give their typical bell pepper recipe a makeover by replacing higher calorie, fat and saturated fat ingredients with healthier ones. This recipe takes a little longer to make then most of our recipes, but well-worth the time and effort. If you don’t have enough class time to make it, you can prep the ingredients one day and make the recipe the next. Students can work in teams of 2-4 to complete it.

NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING:

Peppers by themselves are pretty low in calories. A large pepper contains less than 50 calories for the whole pepper.  Plus they are naturally low in fat and saturated fat.

However, what you stuff in it can have a huge impact on its nutritional value. For example, a typical Italian stuffed bell pepper is generally packed with meats, cheeses and salt. On average one serving contains almost 1,000 calories, 46% of your daily recommended amount of fat, 64% saturated fat and 157% of daily recommended sodium or salt.

To give it a healthy makeover, we replaced the meat with red lentils and dried green split peas (our favorite healthy protein!) and the cheese with omega-3 packed walnuts and black olives.  One serving of the recipe below contains only 389 calories, 22% of your daily recommended amount of fat, 13% saturated fat and 38% of daily recommended sodium or salt. It also is an excellent source of fiber (10 grams!), Vitamin A and C and iron, plus a great source of potassium and contains calcium.

Here’s the made-over recipe:

Bell Peppers

Italian Stuffed Peppers

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

  • 1 24-oz. jar of marinara spaghetti sauce – I like to use the spicy kind!
  • 4 large different colored bell peppers – cut off about an inch from the top and scoop out the inside flesh and wash to remove the seeds.  Keep both the tops and bottoms for baking.
  • 2/3rd cups dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1/3rd cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • Water for rice steamer
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 regular size shallot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup baby broccoli or broccolini
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 each chopped kale leaves
  • ¼ cups walnuts
  • ¼ cup whole black olives
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of no-salt granulated garlic
  • 3 each chopped Italian parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º.  Oven temperatures vary and you may need to raise or lower this temperature depending on whether or not you are in altitude.
  2. Cook wild rice, split peas and lentils together in a rice cooker until soft.
  3. Prepare peppers.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add peppers and cook for about 1 ½ minutes. Remove peppers from water and let cool.
  4. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot, celery and garlic to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Next add the baby broccoli and cook for another 3 minutes.
  6. Add in the zucchini and kale and cook for 5 minutes more until zucchini is soft and kale is wilted. Add a sprinkle of granulated garlic and another sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  7. Lastly, add the walnuts and black olives and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.
  8. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the rice and peas/lentils, ½ jar of spaghetti sauce and the chopped parsley.

Assemble the peppers: 

  1. Add a layer of the spaghetti sauce to the bottom of glass cookware or any other baking pan.  I like to also add ¼ can of fire-roasted tomatoes (drained) to the sauce, but this is optional.
  2. Place the peppers in the cookware cut-side up and then using a tablespoon, stuff the peppers with the combined mixture.
  3. Top each pepper with some spaghetti sauce, leaving some aside for serving. Add pepper top to each pepper and then cover glass cookware with lid or foil.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until peppers are tender.
  5. Serve on a plate with additional spaghetti sauce and a variety of fresh or dried Italian herbs. 

We highly suggest that you take pictures of students with their finished peppers as they are so colorful and your network will adore them.   And/or we would love it if you shared your favorite bell pepper shots on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnOunceofNutrition/ , so that other teachers can enjoy!

 

“Netted Gems”

The orange ones protect your eyes!  Yep, that’s right, the orange colored fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in our bodies to help protect our eyes. And the orange flesh-colored cantaloupes are no exception to this rule. 1 cup of cantaloupe provides 120% of our daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.

Why do we need Vitamin A? When we eat foods rich in Vitamin A, they become part of a protein known as Rhodopsin. This protein converts light into a signal that is sent to our brain to create an image, which allows us to see in dim light or at night. It also helps our eyes adjust to darkness – think dark movie theatre!

Vitamin A Deficiency: So knowing that Vitamin A helps us see in the dark, it makes perfect sense that a deficiency in this important nutrient could make it difficult for us to see at in the evening, a condition known as night blindness. This ailment makes it extremely challenging for drivers to see at night!

Vitamin A also strengthens our eyesight by nourishing our corneas and helps prevent xerophthalmia or dry eyes.

History: I like to give students a little bit of history on foods grown locally, so that they have a better idea of where their food is coming from. For example, the burpee company introduced these “netted gems” in the 1880’s and Colorado has been growing them since that time. Although cantaloupe is grown all over the state, the majority are grown in the Rocky Ford region (about an hour southeast of Pueblo). This area has been coined the “sweet melon capital of the world,” because they also grow another extremely popular summer melon – watermelon. Consider doing some research on locally grown cantaloupe in your area (if applicable) and share with your students.

Now is a great time to have students prepare recipes using these netted gems as they are in-season right now and taste so sweet and juicy – yum!

Personally, I just like to cut up cantaloupe and eat as is (I could literally eat a whole cantaloupe in one sitting – it tastes so sweet!), blend it by itself to make cantaloupe juice or even freeze it to make a cantaloupe sorbet. However if you want to introduce students to new and different ways to use cantaloupe, here are a couple of recipes to try.

Cantaloupe Creamsicle Smoothie

 Cantaloupe Creamsicle Smoothie

Image courtesy of: http://www.kitchenfrau.com/creamsicle-smoothie/

Servings:  3

Ingredients:

  • ½ medium cantaloupe
  • ¼ cup plant-powered milk (I prefer soymilk because it makes it creamier, but you can also use almond milk.)
  • ¼ cup fresh pressed orange juice – no sugar added and not from concentrate.

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry (if possible use a fruit and vegetable wash) the cantaloupe rind before cutting it. This may help reduce your risk of food poisoning.
  2. Then cut and dice your cantaloupe. This article does a good job of explaining the necessary steps to cut a cantaloupe http://www.onceuponachef.com/how-to/how-to-cut-a-melon.html.
  3. Add diced cantaloupe to a blender and then add plant milk, and orange juice. Blend until desired smoothness. Some like it smooth and even juice-like, while others like it a little thicker.

Nutrition Facts: Here is the nutrition label for this recipe.  As you can see, per serving this recipe provides 104% of your daily recommended amount for Vitamin A and as an added bonus, it provides 85% of your daily recommended amount for Vitamin C. Plus it is a good source of potassium and contains iron.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 52
Total Fat 0.6g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g 1%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 25mg 1%
Potassium 311mg 7%
Total Carb 10.9g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 9.8g
Protein 1.6g
Vitamin A 104% · Vitamin C 85%
Calcium 1% · Iron 3%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Recipe analyzed by  Very Well

If you have a little bit more time, here is another fun, simple recipe to make with students.

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Cantaloupe-Sorbet-4-527x794

Image courtesy of: http://thekitchenmccabe.com/2014/06/23/cantaloupe-melon-sorbet/

Servings:  4-5

Ingredients:

  • ½ medium cantaloupe (approximately 2 cups)
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry (if possible use a fruit and vegetable wash) the cantaloupe rind before cutting it. This may help reduce your risk of food poisoning.
  2. Then cut and dice your cantaloupe. This article does a good job of explaining the necessary steps to cut a cantaloupe http://www.onceuponachef.com/how-to/how-to-cut-a-melon.html.
  3. Place diced cantaloupe onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in freezer. Freeze for a few hours to overnight.
  4. Place frozen cantaloupe, lemon juice, honey and water into a food processor. Blend until it has a sorbet or ice-cream-like texture.
  5. Serve immediately.

I use this recipe as a starting point and then add other ingredients to make it even more spectacular. Try replacing the water with 6 ounces of blueberries or check out an additional recipe at the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/CFVGA/

 

 

Lime in the coconut – really a bellyache? The AHA thinks so!

The American Heart Association (AHA) is fighting back on the claim that “butter is back” (started by Time magazine’s cover article “Eat Butter” in 2014) by stating that saturated fat really does contribute to heart disease. And they’re taking it on in a big way – slamming coconuts! Well not coconuts really….coconut oil.

So many people, including dietitians are fired up about this statement. “What do you mean, coconuts are not healthy? Not only do I drink their milk and water and use their oils, but also put coconut creams and makeup on my face. How could this be?”

As a dietitian who reads just about every single label and nutrition fact on food, I never understood what the hoopla was about the coconuts; milk, water or oil anyways.  There really isn’t any nutrition in them – except polyphenols, which I will get to in a minute.

The point that AHA is making is that coconut oil raises your LDL or “little devils”, the not so good cholesterol. This tropical fat contains saturated fats, which have been shown to raise LDL levels. We know that saturated fats raise your not so good cholesterol levels more than anything else and are strongly connected to heart disease.

Even Dr. Esselstyn, the renowned cardiologist who promotes eating vegan to prevent heart disease, recommends against coconut oil – or for that matter all oil.

So is the AHA correct in what they are saying? Well maybe…

One of the important items that the AHA didn’t address in their report is how the coconut oil is refined. When it comes to coconut oil, I think this is a critical component to consider.  Some of the commercial brands of coconut oil are made by bleaching and deodorizing them. They may be extracted from the skin using a chemical solvent (e.g. hexane) and sodium hydroxide may be added to extend shelf life. This type of processing often kills the beneficial antioxidants in the coconut oil that help prevent heart disease and may contribute to other diseases.

I did wonder about their hasty decision to recommend other highly refined oils instead like soy or canola oil, so decided to dig a bit.  One of their panel members receives significant grant money from Ag Canada and the Canola oil council and the AHA itself just received a huge grant ($3.9 million) from the Monsanto (GMO soybean seeds) Fund to reach 120 early care centers.  I’m not saying this played a part in their recommendations, but it certainly may have contributed.

What the AHA is missing is that unrefined coconut oil contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in coconut and other oils (think olive!) that have positive effects on LDL cholesterol – they lower it. They also reduce inflammation, contain antimicrobial components (protect against disease-causing bacteria) and may even protect our bones. A number of studies have shown that when people consume diets high in phenolic compounds it actually reduces their risk of coronary heart disease.

The AHA admits that clinical trials showing a direct relationship between coconut oil and heart disease have not been reported. They are only basing it on the fact that it raises LDL levels.

My point has always been that most food is a combination of nutrients and ingredients that add pluses and minuses to our health. Our bodies do a good job of balancing these out. So focusing on one ingredient in a food (even though it is sky high!), may not be a valid approach until we have evidence that there are no other components that are working to balance it out.

So what do I recommend? As usual, my recommendation is to eat coconut in its whole form. This means coconut meat (the edible white part of a coconut). I read somewhere someone referring to it as “the other white meat.” Coconut meat is extremely high in fiber (excellent source!), and contains polyphenols, both which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. As a bonus, it’s high in iron, phosphorus, selenium and is a good source of zinc!