• 15Oct
    Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

    Picture provided by Tasty Yummies via Flickr.com

    Bethany and I had a great response from the participants in both of our cooking demonstrations last month at Cancer Support Community/Atlanta. We presented “Simple and Gourmet Vegetable Side Dishes”. Each recipe highlighted a vegetable and a cooking technique.

    One of my favorite ways of cooking vegetable is roasting, especially during the fall and winter months. Roasting imparts a rich and intense flavor to almost any vegetable. It concentrates the flavors of the vegetable and adds sweetness through caramelization. During the class at Cancer Support Community, we demonstrated how to roast butternut squash, but there are many other types of vegetables that can be roasted. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, beets… just to name a few!

    Want to get your roast on? Try these 10 tips:

    1. Cut vegetables into even sizes to ensure that they cook at the same rate.
    2. Toss vegetables with just enough oil to coat them – you don’t want them to be swimming in oil. The oil will help the vegetables to brown evenly and protect them from drying out. If the vegetable doesn’t have enough oil it will come out dry with spotty browning.
    3. For simple seasoning, just use salt and pepper.
    4. Evaluate your oven. It’s temperature can be off by as much as 50 degrees! Vegetables that are smaller and tenderer should be roasted at higher temperatures because they will take less time to cook through. Larger and harder vegetables should be roasted at a lower temperature to prevent burning before the vegetable is cooked through. Vegetables that have high water content (like tomatoes) can be roasted at a low temperature for a long time (about 250°F).
    5. Cook vegetables on a baking sheet that is heavy and sturdy. Avoid baking sheets that are flimsy because they will warp in the oven.
    6. For easy clean-up, spread the vegetables out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
    7. Avoid overcrowding vegetables on the pan. Place them in a single layer. This will allow the steam to escape and the air to circulate.
    8. The cooking time will vary based on the type of vegetable, the size, your preference for doneness and your ovens actual temperature.
    9. Turn the vegetables if they are larger or harder and move them from the outside of the pan to the center. This will ensure even browning.
    10. To check for doneness, insert a knife or a fork into the vegetable. It should slide in and out with little resistance.

    Roasted vegetables are a great side dish. They can also be added to stews, risotto, sauces and used as a sandwich topping. What is your favorite vegetable to roast?

     

  • 22Apr

    It’s officially salad season – the time of year when the weather is warm and fresh produce is in bounty. Salads can be simple, consisting of a few ingredients, or complex and composed. The characteristics of a salad can vary depending on what’s in season, the personality of the cook, and the style of the meal. We had Salad 1 Course and Practicum this week in the chef’s training program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. During this class, we prepared a huge variety of fabulous salads.

    Here are some ideas to consider when making salads at home:

    The base (or body) of the salad. The first thing that comes to my mind when someone says salad is lettuce, but the bulk of your salad doesn’t have to be limited to traditional salad greens. Here is a list of unique salad greens and ideas for other ingredients that can be the star in your salad:

    • Salad greens: spinach, romaine, mache, green or red leaf, mesclun mix, frisee, arugula, endive, radicchio, mizuna, escarole, baby beet greens, watercress, tatsoi…
    • Grains: whole wheat pasta, wild rice, couscous, quinoa, wheatberries, bulgur, brown rice, red rice, forbidden rice…
    • Beans and Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lentils, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, cranberry beans, navy beans, red kidney beans, Lima beans, pinto beans…
    • Vegetables: carrots, potatoes, cabbage, peas, broccoli, corn, tomato, beets, green beans, cucumber, zucchini…
    • Fruit: berries, apples, pears, mango, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges, grapefruit…
    • Meat and Seafood: egg, chicken, lobster, tuna, shrimp, salmon, crab, turkey…

    Add flavor and interest with a dressing or vinaigrette:

    Do you want added ingredients?

    • You don’t have to have any additional ingredients – your salad could simply contain only a base, but it’s nice to add some interest with additional ingredients.
    • Try vegetables (onions, scallions, carrots, mushrooms, jicama…), fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon…), toasted nuts (pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, pecans, peanuts…) or cheese (Parmesan, goat, Gorgonzola, feta…).

    Hopefully, you can see how the options for different types of salads can become endless!

    My favorite salads are simple – usually fresh greens from the farmers market (such as watercress, frisee or arugula) tossed with a vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Need some inspiration? Check out Mark Bittman’s article from The New York Times titled ‘101 Simple Salads for the Season’.

    What is your favorite salad?

  • 20Feb

    For me, pizza brings back memories of Friday nights as a child.  My mom cooked most nights of the week and ordering pepperoni pizza on Friday was a treat for us, and a break from cooking for my mom.  We washed it down with pop (as we called it in the Midwest).  Pizza and pop just went hand-in-hand.

    As a kid, I ate pepperoni pizza and remember thinking, “Why would you ruin pizza and put veggies on it?”

    Well, times have changed and so have my tastes.  Don’t get me wrong – I love pepperoni but unfortunately as a dietitian, I know too much about how unhealthy processed meats can be.  Pepperoni is now a treat on occasion, but 95% of the time, I’m ordering a veggie pizza.

    So…the question remains, “Can pizza actually be healthy?”

    As with most nutrition topics, there is no black or white answer.  It all depends on the ingredients and the choices you make when ordering.  It’s not so much about where you go, but rather what you eat.  Check out my seven tips to tackle pizza shops in a healthy way:

    1. Order water. No matter what beverage you choose (if you are watching calories, unsweet tea, water, or club soda are good calorie-free choices), order a glass of water.  Drink water between each bite of food to help you feel full faster.

    2. Choose the right starter. Hot pretzels, wings, and garlic knots may taste delicious but your heart and stomach will thank you later if you pass.  Start with a salad full of veggies and mixed greens with a vinegar-based dressing for more fiber and less guilt.

    3. Go heavy on the veggie toppings. The variety of veggies offered depends on the restaurant and from my own experience, local pizza joints seem to offer more variety than large pizza chains. But no matter where you go, tomatoes, onions, garlic, spinach, mushrooms, olives, and peppers are usually options – so load up!

    4. Season with the shaker or red sauce instead of dipping sauce.  The two ounce side of blue cheese dressing, tzatziki sauce or other creamy dip will add 100-200 more calories and a dose of fat.  Choose more marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic powder or Italian seasonings for flavor without the extra calories and fat.

    5. Stop at one or two slices.  Depending how big each slice is, you may be able to stop after one piece of pizza.  Are you no longer hungry yet not uncomfortable?  You have likely eaten enough.  When in doubt, wait 15-20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach and re-evaluate.

    6. Breadsticks?  Cinnamon Apple Pizza? Leave ‘em off.  Your waistline AND your wallet will thank you.

    7. Balance it out. If you truly enjoy a savory pizza, and the veggie version with a salad simply won’t do, then eat pizza less often and keep your nutrition in balance by eating low calorie, healthy meals 5-6 nights per week.    Choosing a Good Measure Meals 5 day plan can help you do just that!

  • 16Feb

    Vegetarianism has greatly increased over the years. The reasons why people decide to become vegetarian vary greatly. Whether the choice to become vegetarian is for health reasons, environmental, compassion for animals, belief in nonviolence, religious or spiritual views, Good Measure Meals (GMM) has a great option. GMM introduced the vegetarian menu in 2009. We held a focus group of vegetarians and asked them a variety of questions including where they liked to eat out, what cuisines they liked most, what foods they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the types of meat substitutes they eat, and how often. We learned a lot! We compiled all of the feedback and developed a menu that is constantly evolving based on current customer feedback. We quickly noticed that just as there are a variety of different reasons why people chose vegetarianism there are also a variety of eating styles ranging from very strict vegetarians to flexitarians to semivegetarians. We feel that this menu is great for a lot of different types of vegetarians. We also learned that vegetarians are very health conscious and are concerned about getting the right balance of nutrients from whole, unprocessed foods. One of the major benefits of the Good Measure Meals vegetarian plan is that each day is nutritionally balanced. We have included a variety of nutrient-dense vegetarian friendly ingredients including many plant based protein sources like lentils, quinoa, a variety of beans, nuts, and seeds. Because we follow the guidelines from the American Diabetic Association, this menu is appropriate for diabetics.

    We are proud to say that this meal plan is the only one of its kind in Georgia. Watch our newest video to learn more and check out the menu online. And as always, we would love your feedback! Have more questions? Email me – aritchie@goodmeasuremals.com or leave your comments here.

  • 12Feb

    Butternut Squash deserves a shout out. I am a huge fan of this type of winter squash. The flavor is simply sweet, but it can also be used in savory dishes. It’s not very handsome on the outside but give this guy a chance!

    Butternut Squash is currently featured twice in the GMM Fall/Winter menu.

    Once for a Dinner entree – Northern Italian Raviolis of Sage Pasta stuffed with Sweet Butternut Squash topped with Genoa Style Tomato Sauce.

    &

    Once for a Lunch side dish – Black Bean Soup with Butternut Squash and Spinach

    A bit about the nutritional content of a BN squash –

    Excellent source of Vitamin A

    Very good source of Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese.

    Good source of Folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.

    You can see that the BN is packed with Vitamin A. The type of Vitamin A found in the BN Squash is in the form of Beta Carotene.

    Vitamin A does a lot of good for us:

    - Promotes healthy vision – It is probably most well known for this!

    -It’s an antioxidant in the form of caroteniods, and may reduce the risk for certain types of cancers and other diseases of aging.

    -Promotes the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout the body

    -Helps protect us from infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory, genital and urinary tract healthy.

    -Helps regulate the immune system

    Are you a fan of BN squash? What is your favorite way to eat it?