Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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If you’re busy, never cook for one meal; always cook for two or three.  Put it in the freezer, but it doesn’t have to encore in the same form.” Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Kula Black Raspberries

Kula Black Raspberries

Who knew?  Not me.  I had no idea that some nice farmer is growing black raspberries, on Maui, for our eating pleasure {in November!!!}.  My husband purchased these beauties at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  What a pleasant surprise!

Luscious Fresh Berries

Luscious Fresh Berries

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

We love fresh berries with a dribble of heavy organic cream and a flurry of powdered
sugar. . .pure bliss. 

Unlike other easier to eat berries, cranberries elicit strong opinions from those who either love them or loathe them.  We happen to enjoy cranberries, and have a few favorite ways to use them.  I should say that I am talking about fresh cranberries, not the dried ones.  We do like dried cranberries, but they are not the same healthy powerhouse as the fresh variety.

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Once the berries are dried, the sugar and calorie content skyrocket.  Fresh berries are only available a few months of the year, so if you want them year round, you will need to buy them now and squirrel them away for another day.  We like to rinse fresh cranberries in a colander, blot them dry and then put them on a parchment-lined sheet pan for a short stint in the freezer; this will prevent them from freezing into a solid block of cranberries, which will not be user friendly.  If you do not have parchment paper, a flexible cutting board works well, but I do not recommend using waxed paper, as it tears easily from being wet and it will be harder to remove the frozen berries.  Once the berries are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag and enjoy them whenever you like, in breads, cookies, hot cereal, smoothies or relish.

Ready for the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

One of our favorite cranberry recipes is for fresh cranberry orange relish.  We also like cooked cranberry relish, but this is what we make most often.  We have significantly reduced the sugar for our tastes, but you can certainly adjust it for yours.  I enjoy this relish the most on plain yogurt {yum!} with big pieces of walnuts.  It is also good to have a spoonful on a green salad, or with any traditional cranberry-friendly foods.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
adapted from Superfoods Rx.:  Fourteen Foods that will Change Your Life  {Steven Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews}
12 ounces fresh or *frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 unpeeled orange {preferably organic}, washed, cut into eighths and seeded
1/3 cup sugar {the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup}

Put the cranberries, orange slices and sugar into a food processor.  Process until everything is evenly chopped.  Chill until ready to eat.  *If you use frozen cranberries, partially thaw them before processing, or you will end up with a big cranberry orange ice ball.

The relish gets better as it sits and the flavors mingle.

Makes about 3 cups

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

We enjoyed several kale salads last week, all of them with cranberry vinaigrette.  The tart-sweet of the vinaigrette pairs perfectly with kale’s bitterness and the creaminess of fresh goat cheese.  A few other ingredients make this salad a winner.  Not to mention the fact that the dressing is a gorgeous hue of creamy cranberry pink.  It looks kind of like raspberry gelato.  I apologize for the lack of photo-we ate all the dressing.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
I made several versions of this salad recently, this being the most elaborate with the addition of canned tuna.  You can put in whatever you like, but I think the most important additions are the goat cheese {for creaminess} & the toasted walnuts {pair excellently with the goat cheese and cranberries, and for a toasty CRUNCH}.

Kale, enough for 2 salads, washed, dried well & torn into bite-size pieces
Thinly sliced sweet onion {or red}
1 avocado
1 can tuna {we use Wild Planet}; optional
Fuyu persimmon, washed and thinly sliced {I don’t peel them, but you can if you like.}
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted walnuts
Fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cranberry Vinaigrette {recipe below}

Put the kale into 2 bowls and dribble with enough dressing to moisten.  Top with onion, avocado, tuna {if using}, tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.  Put a ring of persimmon slices around the edge of the bowl.  Add a grind of salt & pepper then top with dressing.

2 servings

Cranberry Vinaigrette
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or tangerine juice)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour cooled cranberry mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the mustard and orange juice and blend.  With the motor running, stream in the olive oil.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Makes about 2 cups dressing

Did you know that. . .
Fresh cranberries:
* are low in calories {44/cup}
* are high in fiber
* are low in sugar
* aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections {UTIs} by preventing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining
* are high in phenols which are plant chemicals known to be highly protective against many health problems {i.e. toxic to cancer tumor cells}
* helps to prevent bacterial adhesion to teeth and the stomach lining, preventing dental plaque and ulcers, respectively

Information from:  The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph. D., C.N.S.}

Happy Thanksgiving & Bon Appetit!

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A Favorite Lunch

Did you know. . .
. . . that sardines packed in their own oil or extra virgin olive oil are full of good for you omega-3 fats?  It is thought that just 1/2 gram of these fats can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Avoid sardines packed in vegetable oils, as they are not healthy fats.

Anyone for anchovies?  How about sardines?  I know, I know, these are a couple fish that cause many people to turn up their noses.  Not me though; I love them both.  My intention was to write only about sardines, but I figured as long as we are on the subject of unpopular fishes, I may as well tell you how we like to eat anchovies.  Perhaps our way of eating anchovies will work for you as well, that is, if you want to give them a try.

Once upon a time, I too was among the myriad of folks who did not care for anchovies, as was my husband.  One rainy evening, we were eating pizza at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, a favorite Italian restaurant of ours in Bremerton, WA.  That is the night we learned how to eat anchovies.  The secret to liking/loving anchovies on your pizza, according to our waitress, is to order them on the side.  Wow, that really makes a difference!  The salty, fishy flavor permeates the pizza if you bake the anchovies on the pizza, but if you have a little plate of anchovies on the side, it tastes pretty good.  You get an occasional salty punch from the little bits of anchovy.  We have happily eaten anchovies on our pizza ever since!

I have been eating sardines for as long as I can remember.  We had tins of sardines in our pantry when I was growing up, and I admit that even though I ate them, I thought they looked kind of gross.  My recollection is that they were not like the nice sardine filets that we eat now, which are every bit as nice looking as a beautiful piece of fresh salmon {except they aren’t pretty pink}.

Wild Planet Sardines

One of my favorite quick lunches is a “fish cracker” and a salad.  And no, by “fish cracker,” I am not referring to those fishy-shaped crackers that you are probably familiar with. . .the ones with no redeeming nutritional value.  My idea of a “fish cracker” is a Ryvita cracker with a plump, meaty and delicious sardine on top.  Of course, there are additional toppings to make it extra tasty.  This is a favorite lunch of mine because it is quick, tasty and super healthy.

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I understand if you don’t like anchovies, and don’t want to give them a second {first} chance.  But if you like fish, and haven’t gotten into sardines, I highly recommend them.  The health benefits of sardines {& anchovies} are many:

  • They are low on the marine food chain, so toxins like mercury do not accumulate in them.
  • Anchovies and sardines are chock full of healthy omega-3 fats, which impact mood, circulation, glucose, insulin metabolism, blood pressure and heart health.
  • In particular, sardines are high in protein, B vitamins, selenium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.  Talk about a powerhouse of nutrition in one little can!  They are my idea of a great “fast food!”

Sources:

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

The Perricone Promise, Nicholas Perricone, M.D.

A simple salad of arugula {aka “rocket”} and thinly sliced onions, dressed with fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground salt and pepper, goes well with fish crackers.  It’s one of our favorite salads.

Arugula Salad with Onion and Lemon Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad with Onion and Lemon Juice & Extra Virgin Olive Oil


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“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.”  Charles Dudley Warner

Red Leaf  LettuceRed Loose-leaf Lettuce

Did you know. . .

. . . . . .that all lettuces are not created equally?  More on that in a second.

We are quickly approaching Saturday, and that means getting creative to eat all the fruits and vegetables from last week’s farmers market.  We have half of this glorious head of red leaf lettuce left.  It is happy lettuce.  Why is my lettuce happy?  We’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, a little background.  I am reading an interesting book called Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  You may think that it sounds like a book that Euell Gibbons might have penned; Gibbons was an authority on noshing on wild foods, but Robinson puts a different spin on eating “wild.”  Robinson discusses how many nutrients have been bred out of the foods we eat to make them more palatable {i.e. sweeter, less bitter}.  She also talks about which varieties are the most nutritious and how to prep, store and eat them.  It isn’t the kind of book that requires you to sit down and read it cover to cover, although you could do that.  To me, this is a great reference book that should be on the bookshelf of everyone who wants to eat food that is as healthy as possible.  And now, back to those happy leaves of lettuce.  According to Robinson, there are 2 rules of thumb for selecting lettuce with the highest phytonutrient content.  The first is color.  You may think that the deep, dark green romaine that you have been eating is the best, but indeed it is not.  Lettuces that are red, purple or reddish-brown are the richest in phytonutrients.  The second factor is even more surprising.  Would you have ever guessed that lettuces whose leaves are loosely arranged on the head would be more nutritious than those that are tightly compacted?  Not me for sure.  Well, it turns out that the leaves that are exposed to the sun’s damaging UV rays produce antioxidants, which are a kind of “sunscreen” for the plant.  Because a loose-leaf head of lettuce has many leaves exposed to the sun, more of the leaves produce the phytonutrients that are so good for us, and we benefit when we eat them.

Now that you know what to look for in a head of lettuce, I’ll tell you why my lettuce is happy.  It has been properly prepared so that it will retain and even increase its nutritional value.  Robinson states that when you get your lettuce home, you should pull the leaves off and soak them for 10 minutes in very cold water.  The leaves’ temperature will drop, which slows down the aging process.  Soaking them will help to maintain crispness.  After soaking, spin or towel dry them thoroughly {I could not live without my salad spinner}; moisture on the outside of the leaves invites decay-you want the water inside the leaves.

Red Leaf Lettuce Cleaned and Bagged

Label the pin-pricked bag and you can reuse it for the next head of lettuce.

Tear up the leaves before bagging them.  What’s that you say?  Tear up the leaves now, not when I make a salad?  Apparently, another way a plant defends itself {against gnawing animals, for instance} is by producing phytonutrients to “fend off the intruder.”  The antioxidant value of the lettuce is doubled by tearing up the leaves prior to storage {the tearing being like the animal gnawing the leaves}.  Place the greens in a Ziploc bag and prick it 10 {quart size bag}-20 {gallon size bag} times with a needle or pin.  The reason for the pinpricks is for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide; the lettuce does not stop respiring {breathing} on harvest.  If you seal it up in a bag, then it uses up all of the oxygen and the carbon dioxide level rises, and it will die from lack of oxygen.  If you leave the lettuce in the open, then it respires too quickly, and uses up its stored sugar and antioxidants, making them unavailable for you. Prepare your lettuce correctly and eat within a few days for best quality.   And enjoy that salad knowing that you have done everything you can to make it more nourishing!

Champagne vinaigrette. . .it sounds so elegant.   As a kid, I loved Girard’s Champagne Dressing; not so much now, because I don’t buy prepared salad dressings.  They are full of ingredients that aren’t necessary for good dressing and they are expensive.  Homemade salad dressings are so much better than prepared dressings, and I always have the ingredients to make some kind of dressing, even if it is just extra virgin olive oil and vinegar {or other acid}.

Salad with Grapefruit and Blue Cheese

We had this salad for dinner tonight.  The salad was composed of the red leaf lettuce, grapefruit sections {supremes to be exact}, red onion, toasted walnuts and blue cheese.  I didn’t actually whisk together a vinaigrette, but simply showered the salad with freshly ground salt and pepper, then drizzled it with Champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Yum!  It was not only beautiful but delicious as well.


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“There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.”    Louis Diat

Head of Garlic final

Did you know. . .

……… that garlic, also known as “stinking rose” has some great health benefits, if you prepare it correctly?  If you don’t, you have tasty food, but most of the health benefits are lost.  If you are going to cook the garlic, just a minor adjustment is required to preserve the benefits.  You’ve probably heard of letting meat “rest” before you cut it.  It’s the same thing for garlic, except the garlic rests before you cook it.  Prep the garlic for your dish, and then let it hang out away from heat for at least 10 minutes.  While it is resting, amazing things happen, and that is what makes garlic so good for you.

For inquiring minds who want to know, here is the science behind garlic’s health benefits.  Raw garlic contains the 2 ingredients that are required to make allicin, which is the compound that makes garlic so healthy.  These 2 components, alliinase and alliin, comingle when you crush, chew or mince the garlic, and then make allicin.  If you heat the garlic immediately after cutting it, the heat-sensitive enzyme alliinase is destroyed, and thus no allicin will be created.  Health benefits go up in smoke!

What are some of the health benefits of garlic?  I could write pages on this, but will just refer you to a few resources instead.  Here’s a list of some things that are good about garlic:

  • helps neutralize bacteria and viruses
  • inhibits growth of cancerous tumors and reduces the risk of certain cancers, particularly stomach cancers
  • reduces risk of blood clots
  • fights free radicals, inflammation and inflammatory conditions such as allergies
  • lowers blood pressure

Sources of information:

Eating on the Wild Side cover finalSuperfoods Health Style cover finalPerricone Promise cover final

A favorite recipe of mine that uses garlic comes from The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook {1980 The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc.}.  The recipe was a recipe contest entry by Julie and Gary Crites.  If you like Boursin Cheese, you will love this!

Creamy Garlic Herb Cheese

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1 pint sour cream
½ cup butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup snipped fresh chives

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor.  Chill in refrigerator for several hours.  Warm to room temperature before serving with crackers or as a dip for fresh vegetables.


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Did You Know?

Did you know. . .

………that small onions are better for you than large onions, and that the more pungent the onion the better it is for you?  According to Jo Robinson author of Eating on the Wild Side, food scientists have discovered that small onions have less water, and therefore a higher concentration of phytonutrients.  Although sweet onions are tasty & easy to eat, they do not provide the same health benefits, such as thinning the blood, as the stronger varieties do.  Slicing pungent onions super thin makes them easier to eat raw on sandwiches, salads, etc.  Eat onions & eat them often!