Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sensational Summer Salads

If there's one food that really captures the essence of summer, it's salad. All kinds of beautiful, ripe produce are overflowing from gardens and orchards. When fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their season, there's no need to do anything fancy with them - they're just begging to be tumbled into a salad bowl and enjoyed in their raw, natural glory.

Extraordinary Salads Every Day
Make it a point to stop at farmer's markets and roadside produce stands all summer long. Let the vivid, fragrant rows of lettuces, squash, berries, corn, cucumbers, peppers, peas, stone fruits, melons, and, of course, tomatoes, tempt you, and take home everything that looks good. Don't worry about how you're going to use it all - you only need a salad bowl and an appetite!

The One-Bowl Meal
Turn that salad from a side dish to an entree by adding some protein. This will turn it into a nutritionally balanced meal and keep your tummy from growling again an hour after dinner. A salad is the perfect way to use up that chicken or steak left from last night's barbecue. Any kind of lunch meat is good, too - smoked turkey, ham, tuna, salami, corned beef and prosciutto are all great on salads. If you want to keep it meatless, just open up a can of beans -- kidney , cannellini , garbanzo and black beans all make tasty, satisfying salad toppers.

Try on Some New Dressing
Same old bowl of lettuce every night beginning to make you feel like you're in a salad slump? Try a different dressing! Salad dressings are something that we're used to pouring out of one of those bottles in the refrigerator door, but they are unbelievably easy to make from scratch, and one taste of homemade dressing is going to make you fall in love with salad all over again.

Tempting Toppings
Fresh raw sweet corn adds a wonderful crunch when cut off the cob and sprinkled into a salad. The vines and brambles are bursting with plump berries right now -- try sprinkling some of them into your next salad. You'll be surprised at how delicious that touch of tart sweetness is in an otherwise savory salad. Toasted nuts are all the rage in fancy restaurant salads. Make a little gourmet magic of your own by tossing some pecans, walnuts, almonds or pine nuts into a skillet and stirring over medium heat until the nuts turn a shade darker and give off an enticing aroma.

Use your Head - or Not!
It doesn't need to be leafy and green to be called a salad! Some of our favorite summertime salads have never been near a head of lettuce. Try a Greek salad of tomato wedges, sliced cucumber, white onions, bell peppers, tart olives and tangy feta mixed with a simply delicious dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and chopped oregano. Another spectacular salad for the peak of tomato season is the Insalata Caprese. This one is a gorgeous presentation consisting of rounds of garden-fresh tomatoes and sweet, creamy fresh mozzarella cheese layered on a platter underneath a crown of torn basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Don't forget to explore the world of grain and bean salads, too! Try tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern favorite with nutty, chewy bulgur wheat flecked with refreshing cucumber, tomato, green onions, and fresh mint and parsley.

Sensational Summer Salad
For a summer snack that will cleanse the kidneys and help the body to unload toxic wastes from the blood, use the following high powered recipe.
1/2 cup of watercress
1/2 cup of dandelion greens
1/2 cup of arugula
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated ginger
pinch of Sea Salt
Mix washed greens together.
Stir lemon juice and ginger.
Pour over greens.
Season with salt.

Tomato Basil & Feta Salad

This is a simple salad that requires no salad dressing.
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onions, finely chopped
2.25 ounces sliced black olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients in a medium serving bowl and toss!



4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 c. chopped green stuffed olives
1 c. chopped oil cured black olives, (pitted)
4-5 pepperonis, minced
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, chunks
1 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh parsley
large pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. each oregano and basil
2 tbsp. white wine or balsamic vinegar


1 large round loaf bread
1/3 lb. salami, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Provolone, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced in circles
1/2 lb. Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
1/3 c. Prosciutto or Capicola ham, thinly sliced

Combine ingredients for salad and allow to stand overnight so that flavors can mingle.
Slice the bread in half, slicing off the top portion (like a cap) and scoop out some of the center of loaf. Drizzle oil from salad on both top and bottom halves, using a good deal of the mixture for the bottom half.

Layer the olive salad, cold cuts, cheeses, and layer again until all ingredients are used. Top with bread top (cap). Slice into 6 wedges.

Variations: Thinly sliced pancetta may be sautéed and used in addition to other cold cuts.

A unique muffalatta-like calzone can be made by using home-made bread dough. Add 1 tablespoon crushed fennel seeds and 1/2 teaspoon each oregano, basil, and rosemary to the dough.

When preparing the salad, use 1/2 cup less olive oil.

Roll out to a 14x9 inch rectangle, brush with olive oil, layer on the salad and cold cut ingredients, sprinkle with fresh mozzarella and chunks of ricotta cheese, roll up and pinch closed. Allow dough to rise until nearly doubled and bake until golden. Don't forget to cut a vent hole in the dough to allow steam to escape.

This recipe is a nice take-along for picnics and Summer day trips.


7 ounces macaroni, * see note
1 cup fresh broccoli, florets
6 ounces shrimp, cooked
1 small tomato, chopped
1 cup spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
2 teaspoons salad supreme seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 boiled egg, grated

Prepare macaroni according to package directions, add broccoli during last two minutes of cooking time; drain. Combine macaroni and broccoli, shrimp, tomato, spinach and red onion. Blend together Italian dressing, salad supreme seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper. Toss dressing with salad mixture. Garnish with egg and sprinkle with salad supreme. Serve immediately or cover and chill. Refrigerate leftovers. 6 to 8 servings.


2 medium cucumbers
2-3 medium tomatoes
1 each yellow, red and green bell peppers
1 small onion (optional)
2 cups zesty Italian salad dressing

Peel and thinly slice cucumbers, dice remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients with salad dressing. Chill and serve


1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. slivered almonds & 3 tbsp. sugar
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 head lettuce
1/2 romaine lettuce

Melt 3 tablespoons sugar in frying pan. Throw in almonds, stir until coated. Place on plate until cooled and then separate. Mix oil, sugar, vinegar, parsley and salt. Toss dressing, almonds and oranges in lettuce. Great summer salad!


2 (3 oz.) pkgs. orange Jello
2 c. boiling water
1 c. (6 oz.) frozen orange juice, undiluted
1 c. crushed undrained pineapple
1 c. (11 oz.) can drained mandarin oranges


1 (9 oz.) Cool Whip
1 pkg. instant lemon pudding mix

Dissolve Jello in boiling water, add orange juice, pineapple and oranges. Pour into 9"x13" pan. Chill until firm. TOPPING: Fold pudding mix into Cool Whip, spread on top of firm Jello.


1 lg. cucumber (about 8 oz.)
1 bunch radishes (about 8 oz.)
2 lg. ripe tomatoes
2 scallions
1 tbsp. vegetable oil or dark Oriental sesame oil
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with teaspoon. Cut in half lengthwise again. Then slice crosswise in 1/2 inch pieces. Thinly slice radishes. Cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out seeds and juice and dice the flesh, thinly slice the white and green parts of scallions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add cucumbers and radishes and stir-fry until hot, about 1 minute. Add rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and scallions, stir-fry about 30 second or until vegetables are glazed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, makes 4 servings. Per serving: 72 calories.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Healthy People's Meat - Legumes

Various Legumes
Legumes are essentially the seeds of plants. They are a category of vegetables that include long beans, kidney beans, soybeans, chickpeas, black-eyed pes, green peas, and lenthils.

As legumes are relatively affordable and easily available as well as contain a substantial amount of protein as meat does, they are a good and cheaper alternative to meat.

They contain many important nutrients and phytochemical. Studies have also shown that diets rich in legumes help to lower cholestrol levels, control diabetics' blood glucose, and reduce the risk of many types of cancer,

Nutritional Benefits of Legumes
* Body-Building Food

Legumes are a good source of protein, which our body needs for growth and repair. Hence for adults and children who do not eat meat or fish or risk suffering deficiency in protein, legumes are an important substitute for meat.

In fact, legumes are lower in fat than meat, and contain no cholesterol. It is no wonder that, these days, legumes are better known as "Healthy people's meat".

* Good source of Vitamins

Legumes are excellent sources of the B-complex group of vitamins(except Riboflavin), which helps to protect the body from diseases and releases the energy from food, so the body can be strong and healthy.

Vitamin C can also be obtained from legumes by sprouting or germinating the seeds. Vitamin C keeps the body tissues strong, helps in healing of wounds and in the body's proper use of iron.

* Good sources of Minerals

Legumes are also high in minerals such as folate, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, all of which serve different but important health functions.

But all that Gas ... A Minor downside.

The only problem that legumes can create for the body is increased intestinal flatulence or gas. This is caused by the compounds known as oligosaccharide found in legumes.

The amount of oligosaccharide in legumes varies. Navy and lima beans contain relatively higher amounts of these compounds, which also means that they generate the most offensive odours.

However, the amount of flattence or oligosaccharide in legumes can be largely reduced through proper cooking and sprouting. One way to reduce flatulence is to add digestive aids such as Beano to the dishes you prepare.
Nutritious Legumes

Cooking Legumes Right

Dried legumes need to be soak before they are ready for cooking. Soaking them six to eight hours or overnight in water (and preferably in the refrigerator to prevent fermentation) will rehydrate them, thereby reducing cooking time dramatically, and resulting in an ideal texture and a tender creamy bite.

If time is running short and soaking long is not possible, another way to reduce cooking time is to place the legumes in water and bring to boil for two minutes. Then cover and let soak for one hour, after which the legumes are ready to cook.

Do not add, any salt or acidic seasoning such as vinegar or citrus fruits before the legumes are cooked as it will increase cooking times and result in a tough texture.

Remember though that the soaking water must be discarded as the flatulence - causing compounds would have been absorbed in it. Cook soaked legumes in a new round of water.

Try to also use the liquid in which the legumes are cooked, as nutrients such as B vitamins and folic acid would have leach into if after the legumes are cooked for more than an hour.

You can also sprout or germinate legumes as a nutritious alternatives for consumption. Soak the seeds in a shallow container and cover with a thin cloth to keep out flies and other insects. Most sprouts will grow to about one inch long. They can be eaten raw or lightly fried in oil with meat or other vegetables.

It might be healthier and more economical to cook legumes yourself, than consuming those precooked and canned. Thus, use canned beans only if time is lacking, but remember to rinse the beans to drain off salt or other additives.

How Not to "Spill the Beans" to Fussy Eaters

Legumes are generally bland in taste to be of any fancy to some of our little ones. But fortunately, they are versatile ingredients for cooking, across different cultures.

Pureed beans can be the basis for dips and spreads. Mashed beans can be hidden in meals and your kid will have no ideas he is eating them.

Add legumes to salads, or cook them in curries, stews and soups. You can also grind them into flour, them mix the flour with water to make a paste that you can cook with vegetables.

Legumes when combined with legumes will form a complete or good quality protein that is equal to that found in meat or fish. Hence, you may want to combine baked beans with bread for your kids.

Chili Bean Casserole

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes, broken up
1 can (16 ounces) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans, drained
1 package (10 ounces) frozen cut green beans, or about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon liquid red pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder, to taste

Heat oil in large skillet; saute onion, shredded carrot, and garlic until tender but not brown. Add remaining ingredients; simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Taste and add a little more salt, chili powder, and pepper, if desired. This bean casserole serves 6.

Black Bean Salad
Bean Salad

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (12 to 16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained or about 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen corn
2 small to medium red bell peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 to 3 green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
dash garlic powder
dash ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup light or fat-free Italian salad dressing (Ken's Steakhouse Lite North Italian Salad Dressing is excellent)

Combine beans, vegetables, and seasonings. Pour dressing over bean mixture; toss well. Serves 6.
A nice salad to make for a potluck. This salad can be easily doubled.

Texas Black-Eyed Pea Caviar Dip

3 cans drained black eye peas with chopped jalapeno peppers
1 purple onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
Zesty Italian Salad Dressing

After you chop all this up, add enough Zesty Italian dressing to get the consistency that you want for a dip. Add salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.

Beans, Baked w/Pineapple

4 16-ounce cans vegetarian baked beans
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup molasses
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup soy "bacon" bits
1 16-ounce can french-fried onions, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9"x13" casserole dish.

In large bowl, mix together beans, pineapple, molasses, barbecue sauce, mustard, "bacon" bits, and 1/3 of the onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle remaining crushed onions on top.

Cook in oven for 1 hour or until beans are brown and bubbly.

Curry, South Indian Chickpea
Chichpea Curry

2 tbsp. packaged shredded coconut, unsweetened if available
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped or use 1 hot green chile
1 tsp. table salt
2 tbsp. water
1 medium carrot, diced
2 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 19-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp. cumin, ground
3 tbsp. plain fat free yogurt
1 tbsp. cilantro, fresh, chopped

Place coconut, coriander seeds, jalapeno, salt and water in a blender; grind to a paste and set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add carrot, tomatoes, and chickpeas (garbanzo beans); cook until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Stir in coconut mixture, cinnamon, cumin and yogurt; reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes.

Casserole, Lentil

2 tbsp. oil
1 onion chopped
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
350g carrots, cut into chunks
1 tsp. paprika, plus a little extra for dusting
100g red lentils, washed
420g can baked beans
600ml vegetable stock
400g small new potatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a pan and saute the onion for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Add all but one tsp. of the spices and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the carrots, paprika, lentils, baked beans, stock, and seasoning. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and the sauce is thick.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain. (I microwaved a few sliced potatoes instead of the cooking the potatoes in a pot.)

Spoon the lentil mixture into a shallow, 2-liter oven-proof dish. Arrange the potatoes on top. Brush with the remaining oil, then sprinkle over the reserved spices and extra paprika.

Bake for 25 minutes in a medium oven until browned.

Chickpea Pita Pockets


1 x 16 oz / 450 g can chick peas, rinsed, drained and mashed
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 t minced onion
2 t pickle relish (or piccalilly)
2 t egg-free mayonnaise
1 t mustard
Dash of garlic powder
4 whole wheat pitas
Lettuce, tomato slices, grated carrot, etc for toppings

Place the chickpeas, celery, onion, relish, mayonnaise, mustard and garlic powder in a bowl and mix well.
Cut the pitas in half and open up into pockets. Fill each pita pocket with 1/4 of the chickpea spread, top with lettuce, tomato or other veggies and serve immediately.

Lentil Mushroom Bake


8 oz / 225 g red lentils
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mushrooms, chopped or slivered
Thyme, coriander, oregano, basil, pepper
1 T tomato paste
1 cube vegetable stock
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 375F/190C. Grease a bread pan with the margarine.
Put the lentils and stock cube in a pan, add some water and boil it all. Skim off the froth. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Drain the water.

Melt some margarine and saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft. Add the lentils, then add the spices to taste and the tomato paste. Add half of the bread crumbs and mix it all up.

Put it in the bread pan and sprinkle the rest of the bread crumbs on top. Bake for thirty minutes and eat it hot or cold.

Curried Bean Medley
Curried Beans

3 oz / 85 g shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 T vegetable oil
3 T garam masala
1 t grated ginger root
1 x 14 oz / 395 g can chopped tomatoes
12 oz / 340 g cooked mixed beans (or a can of your favourite beans)
Sea salt
Freshly milled black pepper

Combine the shallots and oil in a casserole. Cover and cook in the microwave on full power for 3-4 minutes until soft, stirring once during cooking. Stir in garam masala and grated ginger. Cover and cook on full power for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Cook uncovered on full power for 5 minutes or until mixture is thicker. Stir occasionally during cooking. Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on full power for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the beans are hot.

Moroccan Style Tagine


1 onion, finely chopped
3 or 4 small carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
Smallish handful of dates, chopped
2 pickled lemons, chopped
1 tin chick peas
1/2 carton sieved tomatoes (or use a 400 g / 14 oz tin of chopped tomatoes)
Approx. 1 T soy sauce
Dash of tabasco/chilli sauce to taste
Pinch of pepper

1. Gently fry the onion on a low heat in as little oil as possible in a large pan with the lid on for about 10 mins.
2. Meanwhile gently simmer dates and pickled lemons in a little water for 10 mins. Add to onions, along with carrots, sweet potato, chick peas and tomatoes.

3. Simmer for about 20 mins. Season with chilli, pepper and soy sauce.

Serve with rice or couscous.



1 x 15 oz / 425 g can black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 potato, cubed
400 g / 14 oz white or yellow pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 green chillies slit lengthwise
200 ml / 7 fl oz fresh or canned coconut milk
A few curry leaves

In a large saucepan, bring 450 ml / 16 fl oz of water to the boil. Add the potato and a little salt and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin and green chillies. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Lower the heat under the pan and add the coconut milk, stirring gently. Add the beans and curry leaves, mix well and allow the beans to heat through. Serve warm.

No Quesa Quesadillas
Quesadillas and Beans


2 x 16 oz / 450 g cans pinto and/or black beans (drained)
1/2 lb / 225 g tofu, extra firm
1 cup salsa
Basil or oregano (2 T dry or more -- this stuff makes the recipe)
1/4 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
10 large tortillas
1-2 small chiles, to taste
1 clove garlic
Olive oil

Cube the tofu into 1/4 inch / 6 mm chunks and mix it with the beans & salsa in a large mixing bowl.
Dice the garlic and chiles and saute in olive oil, then add to the bowl along with basil, salt, and black pepper. Stir the mixture well, then let it sit for 20 minutes so that the tofu absorbs some flavor.

Over low heat, place each tortilla in a frying pan (no oil needed) and cover half the tortilla with the stuff in the bowl (leave 1/2 inch / 19 mm or more around the edges so the filling doesn't fall out). Fold the rest of the tortilla over, and remove from the pan after a few minutes. You can attempt to flip the thing over if you're really brave, in which case you can crank up the heat a bit more. The tortillas should range from slightly crispy to golden brown when you're done.

Cutting each filled, finished, folded-over tortilla in half will make them easier to eat, though I'm pretty well convinced that there's no non-messy way to eat these things. Leftover filling makes a nice bean salad, in case you run out of tortillas or are feeling extra lazy.