Thursday, May 27, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Americans spend about ninety percent of their food budget on processed foods, which, unlike whole foods, have been treated in some way after being harvested or butchered.1Almost all of these processed foods contain additives, substances intended to change the food in some way before it is sold to consumers. Additives include flavorings that change a food's taste, preservatives that extend its shelf life, colorings that change the way it looks, and dietary additives, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other supplements. Packaging is considered an indirect food additive and, in fact, many kinds of packaging actually add substances to the food they enclose.
|By eating fresh, unprocessed foods grown by local farmers, you avoid preservatives and additives because these foods are not transported thousands of miles. Photo by Jason Houston.|
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has approved more than 3,000 food additives for use in the United States.2 However, while approved for human consumption, food additives may still threaten our health. This is one of many reasons why it is better to purchase whole foods, or those that have been minimally processed and treated.
Regulation and Categories of Food Additives
The FDA regulates all food additives, breaking them into three categories. "Indirect Food Additives" include packaging materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard and glue that come into contact with food.3 "Direct Food Additives" include preservatives, nutritional supplements, flavors and texturizers that are added to food. "Color Additives" are used to alter color.
Monday, May 17, 2010
This is an easy and healthy meal that takes less then 30 minutes to prep and prepare. It came into being one summer when my garden was overflowing with wonderful vegetables and we needed a quick dinner option. And nothing cooks more quickly than couscous! It recently made another blogger's "Top 25 in under 20 minutes" meal list. This is a versatile dish and can easily be tweaked to fit your taste preferences!
- 1 box of any Couscous (Optional - preparing the couscous with chicken or vegetable stock to add flavor)
- 3 cups of cut up vegetables – whatever you have laying around that you need to use up. I like to use onions, green and yellow zucchini/squash, and red peppers – great color, but great flavor too!
- 3/4 cup frozen, shelled edamame
- 1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
- olive oil
- 3-4 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
Lightly toast Pine Nuts in toaster oven or in a dry skillet
Slice up your vegetables and set aside. Prepare Couscous by bringing water to a boil WITH your frozen edamame in the pot. Add CousCous (And flavor packet if there is one. If not, add 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder if you have some) and stir. Pull off the heat and allow it to sit covered for the instructed amount of time.
Pre-heat a large skillet with about a TBSP of olive oil. Add your sliced vegetables, cover, and turn heat to low for about 3 minutes. This allows your vegetable to steam lightly. Uncover and finish stir-frying the vegetables on medium heat. Uncover and stir your Couscous and place into a large serving bowl (Optional: an extra drizzle of olive oil helps the couscous from sticking together in big clumps). Top with your stir-fried veggies, toasted pine nuts, and grated parmesan cheese.
**This is also a wonderful dish served cold, as a picnic dish or a side salad to a main dish. It can be made “vegan” by leaving out the parmesan cheese. You could also substitute the Couscous with wonderful, healthy Quinoa, or even a wheat pasta if you don’t keep Couscous in the pantry!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 2 TBSP Olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp honey or raw sugar
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- Some corn meal for the bottom of the pizza (optional, but authentic!)
- Olive oil
- Sauce, about 1/4 cup - use can use tomato, or if your are making a white pizza, use dollops of ricotta and minced garlic. I like using organic strained tomato sauce that comes in a jar. It allows me to add my own spices to the crust prior to putting the sauce on.
- Cheese - about 1 1/2 cups, shredded. Or sliced, if you are having pizza margherita.
- Any other toppings you like on your pizza!
- Stand Mixer w/ dough hook
- Parchment paper
- Rolling pin
- Pizza Stone. You can also used unglazed terra cotta tiles to cover the baking rack and give you a larger baking surface. OR in a pinch, use a large flat cookie sheet.
- Place pizza stone on a low or middle rack of your oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let the oven preheat for at least 45 minutes prior to putting your pizza in the oven. This allows the stone to get nice and hot - which will give you a crisper crust to hold all those lovely toppings.
- Place all above ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer. With dough hook attachment, mix on low until dough comes together. Then switch to "2" and mix for another 8-10 minutes. This allows the gluten to build up in the pizza dough. Don't worry if the dough "hugs" the hook the entire time - it is still getting a work out!
- When finished mixing, coat the dough lightly in olive oil and allow it to rest in the bowl (covered) for 10-30 minutes. I've used the dough after resting only 10 minutes, and it still works really well!
- Cut the dough in half. If you won't be making both pizzas immediately, then refrigerate the second piece in a sealed container or plastic bag.
- Lightly flour a clean surface. Press the dough into a large flat circle with your hands. Let rest for 5 minutes while you get all of your toppings and spices out.
- Take a large square of parchment paper and sprinkle with corn meal. Place your dough on the paper and begin to roll - working from the middle of the dough, outwards, and turning the paper/dough while you work. If it sticks at all, lightly flour your rolling pin as you work. I like to leave the dough slightly thicker at the edges so that the crust puffs up nicely. (If you want a thicker, dough-ier crust, then simply stretch the dough with your hands, let it rest, and stretch/press some more. The pie won't be as big, but it will be that much more filling per slice!)
- Use a little olive oil to brush over the crust - especially coating the outside edge.
- Add spices to your crust if desired. I like to use dried basil and oregano, and sometimes some garlic salt.
- Add sauce to the crust and spread around with the back of a spoon. Don't use too much, or the crust may not crisp up as much as you desire it to. About 1/4 cup should be plenty.
- Sprinkle on toppings and cheese.
- Slide the parchment and pizza onto a pizza peal or the back of a cookie sheet to help transfer to the oven. (YES - bake the pizza right on the parchment paper - it won't burn if you are baking for this short amount of time, and it makes the dough easier to transfer in and out of the oven.)
- Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 3-4 minutes before slicing!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
- 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
- 1/4 Cup popcorn
- 1 TBSP sugar (I like the brown "raw" sugar)
Monday, May 10, 2010
My family and I have been frequenting our indoor farmer's market on the weekends. It has such a wonderful selection of locally grown/made items, including; (often organic) vegetables, leafy greens, meats, cheeses, eggs, and sometimes even ice-cream! We've been lucky to find a local source for free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free hen-laid eggs. You open the cartons to find eggs in such a beautiful and varying array of colors and sizes! I often buy two dozen at a time just to keep up with all the home baking and cooking we've been doing. If I get to the end of a week and have a lot of eggs left over, I'll sometimes make a quiche. It makes the perfect quick-fix for a dinner or lunch, and you can basically put anything you like (or have leftover) into the quiche!
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/4 cups of Half and Half
- 1/4 tsp salt, dash of pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 Cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
- 1 pound turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled/chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I like to use a mix of swiss and cheddar)
- 1 (9 inch) pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch pie plate (*read more on this at the bottom of recipe)
Sunday, May 9, 2010
- 8 TBSP of Butter
- 2 lbs of Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1" square (or buy prepackaged fresh cut squash)
- 2 TBSP of Sugar
- 1/2 cup of Chicken Broth (or vegetable broth to keep this a vegetarian dish)
- 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 medium Onion, diced
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 TBSP minced fresh sage (or 1/2 TBSP dried)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 TBSP minced fresh parsley (1 TBSP dried)
- 1, 12 oz package of fresh pasta sheets, cut into 1" ribbons (I used "lasagna sheets")
- fresh parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
For those of you not familiar with this wonderful rice and pasta alternative, Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is a grain-like plant grown for it's edible seeds. Quinoa originated in South America where it had been an important part of the Inca diet 6,000 years ago. It is prized for it's high-protein content, which makes it a great staple for the vegetarian diet. It is also gluten-free, for those dealing with wheat sensitivities. So many reasons to love this stuff! It also has a wonderful nutty flavor and can be mixed with so many different things... it can serve as a side dish, main dish, or even as a breakfast cereal mixed with honey, almonds, and milk! Yum!
- 1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, rinsed (or buy a 12 oz box of pre-rinsed)
- 1 Can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 Cup dried Cherries
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
- 1 TBSP honey
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- ---top just before serving----
- 4 oz of goat cheese, crumbled (you could use feta, if preferred)
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Fine Cooking 2008
Nonstick cooking spray
7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt
Tip: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 oz.) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.
Spray a 9-1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray.
In a food processor, briefly pulse the flour and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until incorporated and the mixture is sandy and uniform. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan with your fingers. There will be some loose crumbs around the edges, but most of the dough should be solid and compact. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Using the tines of a fork, dock the dough evenly all over. Bake the shortbread until golden in the center, 40 to 45 minutes.
Heat the honey in the microwave until warm and liquid but not boiling, about 10 seconds. Pour the honey over the shortbread and spread with a pastry brush over the entire surface. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the honey. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 3 minutes more.
Transfer the pan to a rack and let the shortbread cool slightly, about 15 minutes. While still warm, remove the tart pan ring and cut the shortbread into 12 wedges with a sharp knife. Cool completely before serving or storing. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
Serve with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I always knew that when I finally got around to blogging that my first post would be about bread. Bread is my favorite comfort food. There is nothing better than fresh warm bread with butter and honey - I could eat it for dessert! And no lie, when it bakes it makes your entire house smell heavenly. Recently, I've become intent on making all of our own bread at home... Sandwich bread, artisanal loaves, tortilla wraps, and rolls. It started with the realization that I couldn't walk down the grocery bread aisle and find any products without High Fructose Corn Syrup, and loaded with other "shelf life" preservatives. Next time you are in the same aisle, I dare you to try! There is the possibility that you will find some without the HFCS in some organic aisles, but have you TRIED that bread? It is rarely soft and is often dry and tasteless.
- 1 Cup warm water, plus 1 TBSP (plus 2 more TBSP if you choose to try all whole wheat)
- 3 TBSP Honey
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1/4 Cup (solid) Coconut Oil
- 1 Cup Unbleached Whole Wheat flour
- 2 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose or Bread flour
- 1 tsp salt (plus 1/2 tsp if making all whole wheat)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water, honey, and yeast. Gently stir with a wisk to help break up the yeast. No need to set a time for proofing if you are using the right yeast (see note below). Add your Coconut Oil - I use a dry measuring cup for this since it is a solid oil. Measure and add flours and salt (Don't add the salt until after the flour is measured and added. Salt can kill the yeast before it's had it's moment to "come alive" with the warm water and honey.)
- Place under your stand mixer with the bread hook attachment. Mix on low speed ("stir") until all materials are well combined, about 3 or 4 minutes. Even if your dough starts to "crawl" up the hook , allow it to mix for the whole time so that the gluten can begin to build up.
- Turn off the mixer, release the dough from the hook, and allow dough to rise for one hour in the mixing bowl - covered with plastic wrap, and set someplace free of cold drafts.
- After the first hour has passed (or until your dough has doubled in size): Preheat oven to 375. Spray your loaf pan with cooking spray. Uncover your bread dough - it should be about twice the size as what you started with. At this point, simply give the bread a really brief knead... no more than 15 seconds. Try not to add extra flour if possible, but work on a wooden cutting board to avoid the dough from sticking. Or honestly, use a "gluten cloak" by gently stretching the dough from the top of the ball to the bottom on all sides a few times, turning the ball a quarter turn as you go - it will do the job just as well! Place the dough into your loaf pan and allow it to rise another 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
- At the end of the last 30 minute rise, remove the plastic wrap and place in the center of your oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. I find that exactly 30 minutes works for me with my oven, my ratio of wheat/white flour, and with baking only one loaf at a time. You may need to play with the time a bit for your own oven to figure out what works right for you! The bread should have a nice golden color to it, and feel "sturdy" on the top - Not crispy, but not so soft that you leave an indentation when you touch it either. Allow the bread to rest in the pan for 15 minutes before running a knife around the sides and turning it out to cool on a rack. Allow bread to cool for another 20-30 minutes before slicing. Allowing it to rest that long will improve the overall texture of the bread!
- If you can't find coconut oil, you can use vegetable oil.
- You can also use sugar instead of honey (but honey works really well and is not highly refined like sugar is!).
- And although we choose to use King Arthur brand unbleached flours, that the recipe will work with regular all-purpose flour.