Tag Archives: health

21 August 2018: Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad

2018-Aug-16_Fournightsaweek_2602The July/August 2018 issue of Eating Well has, as you might expect, some terrific recipes taking advantage of summer harvests. This recipe from Julia Clancy, a recipe developer from EatingWell,  is a perfect example. Is there anything better than a hot-off-the-vine tomato? I don’t think so.  

I’ve been intimidated by making my own polenta for a while. This week, finally, I gave this recipe a try, and I have to admit the difference is amazing! I’ll be hard-pressed to buy the ready-made products from now on. 

The only “downside” to this recipe is that it takes quite a while to complete – the polenta cooking and cooling period is about 3 hours total.  I made the polenta ahead of time, marinated the salad together in the refrigerator and, since we were having one of those unpredictable dinner times, assembled everything in about 20 minutes. This is definitely a great meal to prep ahead of time and put together later.

Served with a crisp, dry rose, this was a terrific mid-summer vegetarian meal.

Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad by Julia Clancy

Ingredients

For the Polenta:

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (please, not the canned dust!)
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Salad

  • 2 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, halved & seeded
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 TBSP red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP chopped FRESH herbs (basil, mint and/or tarragon)

Method:

  1. To prepare polenta: Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is creamy and reduce to about 4 cups (50 or 60 minutes). If the mixture is too stiff, loosen with 2 TBSP water.
  2. Add corn, Parmesan, butter, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the corn is tender – about 5 minutes. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the polenta and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm – about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. To prepare the salad: Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Place peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet (I lined with foil). Broil, rotating the pan once, until softened and charred – 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Rub off blistered skin and coarsely chop the peppers. Combine with tomatoes, 2 TBSP oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Cut the polenta into 12 squares and place on baking sheet. Brush both sides of the polenta with the remaining 1 TBSP oil. Broil, turning once until golden brown – 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. To serve: Arrange the polenta and tomato salad on a large serving platter and top with herbs.

To make ahead: Prepare up to Step 4; refrigerate polenta and salad separately for up to 1 day. Serve salad at room temperature.

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02 April 2017 Yogi Tea

2017-Apr-02_FourNightsAWeek_0583I’ve become a huge fan of the site, Find What Feels Good and Yoga With Adriene over the winter months. If you haven’t discovered Adriene Mishler and her YouTube videos, I think you are really missing out on a great way to build a home yoga practice.  Adriene also shares “off the mat” tips and this morning her recipe for Yogi Tea popped up.  

While I enjoy an occasional cup of Chai, I like to forego the milk (or milk substitute) products and cut out sugars.  In my opinion, this tea was totally enjoyable as is without adding either milk or sweeteners. And it filled our home with a warm and spicy aroma. In the YouTube video, the explanation of why each ingredient was selected and how it might affect digestion is shared, but I just enjoyed the warmth and comfort from the brew.  I hope you do, too.

This recipe is the one I played with. It was posted on Organic Authority and adapted from Yoga Yoga. After you play with the recipe a bit, you can tweak the ingredient amounts suggested to suit your own taste.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamom pods (split the pods first)
  • 8 ginger slices (1/4 inch thick, no need to peel)
  • ½ teaspoon organic black tea leaves (I used 1 teabag)
  • Milk (dairy or non-dairy) to taste (my preference – didn’t use)
  • Honey to taste (my preference – didn’t use)

Method

  1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil.
  2. Add cloves and boil for one minute.
  3. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Cover and boil for 30 minutes (or longer).
  4. When ready, remove from heat, add black tea and let cool. Strain tea. (I added the teabag after boiling the spices together for about 3 minutes and then added the teabag, and steeped the tea at a low simmer for about 30 minutes).
  5. Add milk and honey to taste.

23 Feb. 2017: Quinoa Bowl with Tahini Dressing

2017-feb-23_fournightsaweek_0439I happened on Martha Stewart’s PBS cooking show recently, and was impressed that the recipe she prepared was not so ridiculously complicated that it required a team of sous chefs to get it to table.  So as I was searching for something to cook this week, I migrated over to her website and found this Quinoa Bowl.  Delicious and not difficult for home cooking!  Thanks to Wendy at Tutto Bene for the Barista Pinotage recommendation.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of broccoli, florets with tender stems (halved if large) 2017-feb-23_fournightsaweek_0451
  • 1 red onion (8 oz) cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 cups packed mint leaves, plus more for serving/garnish
  • sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, and lightly toasted sliced almonds for serving

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss broccoli and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping vegetables once, until golden brown and tender (about 25 minutes).
  2. In a small pot, bring quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 14 minutes. Turn of heat and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Combine tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and mint in a blender. Blend until smooth; add 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  4. Serve quinoa topped with roasted vegetables, avocado, and cucumber and sprinkle with almonds and mint with dressing on the side. (Serves 4)

 


Changes, changes

This blog has been in hibernation for more months than I want to admit, partly due to schedule demands and partly due to a major shift in eating.

About 6 months ago I started to notice how s-l-o-w my metabolism had become and how little energy I had. Substitute sources for proteins in our mostly vegetarian diet were no longer easily digested.

One change that I made was to join a fitness and training facility, SLS Fitness. Right across the street from the school in which I work, I no longer had an excuse about “getting to the gym” and with several colleagues also going, there was strength in number. The day Sherri Sarrouf came to talk to us about starting an exercise program was one of the best days of my life – everything she described made perfectly logical sense. Using rest-based training (Metabolic Effect), over the last six months my energy levels have been climbing and I am building more muscle.

Stage II of the process involved working with Susan Kirby, a trainer and nutrition coach at SLS.  And here is where we’ve made some major changes to what and how we eat.

While I no longer am strictly vegetarian, I am careful to eat lean proteins: chicken, turkey, lean fish.  I am using olive and coconut oils and eat so that at least half of my plate is vegetable.

I compute hormonal carbs (carbohydrates – fiber – protein) and try to keep that number around 15 while I keep fats to 10 or less each meal.  I eat something about every 3-4 hours using the principles of Metabolic Effect as a guide. This is helping me keep insulin levels more level. Given that I was able to do this with very little trouble while on vacation, I think it’s a eating lifestyle I can deal with.

We still cook and prepare meals at least 4 nights each week and eat very few prepared foods. So while this blog of collected recipes will no longer be strictly vegetarian, there still will be lots of ideas for home cooks who are vested in healthy eating.

Enjoy!


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