Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Instant Pot Kale And New Potatoes
Low in Calories And Low in Fat

Potatoes and kale make an easy side dish in your Instant Pot

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Potatoes and Kale
I am starting to harvest my potatoes - see my post, How to Grow your Own Potatoes.
Since I still have lots of lovely kale in the garden, I thought I'd make a recipe using kale and my tender new potatoes.

Sliced Magic Molly and Pinto Gold new potatoes.
Studies show a link between the consumption of purple potatoes and the reduction of diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Here's a quick recipe using my Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker.               

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Instant Pot Kale and New Potatoes
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

1/2 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound de-ribbed, thinly sliced kale
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water

Place a third of the sliced kale in the Instant Pot. Place 1/2 of the sliced potatoes over the kale, spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Place another third of kale and the rest of the potatoes in the pot. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Layer the kale and potatoes

Place the remaining third of the kale in the pot and drizzle with olive oil. (Oil increases the ability to absorb the carotenoids.)

Pour the water over the kale and potatoes.

Hit the MANUAL button and set for 3 minutes. When it is done, release the pressure immediately and carefully remove the cover. Test to see if the potatoes are cooked. If not, just let the cover rest on the pot for another minute.

Serve while warm.

Per serving (6): 54 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 84 mg omega-3 and 137 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 1.6 g dietary fiber, and 18 mg sodium.

Per serving (8): 41 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 63 mg omega-3 and 103 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, and 14 mg sodium.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

10 Things To Do With Cucumbers

Raw Cucumber and Radish Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing.

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Preparing for my Cucumber Harvest
Yesterday I picked the first cucumber from my garden. I'm actually surprised that I got to eat it since my friend and neighbor, Pam, has been carefully monitoring and hovering over the plant for the last few weeks! But this is a very prolific plant so there will be lots more to come and  soon I'll be begging people to come get them.

Cucumbers are my "go to" diet food in the summer. When I need a snack, I just peel a cucumber and munch away. A small cucumber is only 16 calories and is a very good source of vitamin C and K and a good source of B vitamins such as B6, folate, and pantothenic acid as well as some important minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. It's also a good source of dietary fiber.

Here are 10 Things to do with Cucumbers

#1 Salad
The most common way to use a raw cucumber is in a salad. Here are a few recipes you can enjoy:

Italian Vegan Antipasto Salad
Crunchy and cool summer salad

#2 Sushi
Cucumbers make a great ingredient in any kind of sushi, whether it be in traditional fish sushi or one that's vegan. For a Veggie Sushi Roll recipe with Ginger-Tahini Sauce, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.

Veggie Sushi Roll from my eBook

#3 Smoothies
Raw cucumbers are great to put into a smoothie. It gives the smoothie a nice texture and provides all the dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals listed above. Try the recipe for Green Chia Seed Blast.

Green Chia Seed Blast, inspired by VegeNation

#4 Raw Soup
Cucumbers are a nice, crunchy ingredient for a raw gazpacho or Avospacho Soup

Avospacho Soup

You may also want to try this raw Creamy Vegan Garden Cucumber Soup.

Creamy Garden Cucumber Soup

#5 Pickles
I've often written about the importance of eating fermented foods. Here's a recipe for making Probiotic-Rich Fermented Pickles.

Fermented Pickles

# 6 Cucumber Tea Sandwich
Cucumber tea sandwiches are just a simple sandwich with thinly sliced English cucumbers with cream cheese and a sprinkle of fresh dill on white bread. A healthier version of this would be to use Kite Hill's Vegan Cream Cheese Style Spread made from a cultured almond milk. And you can also upgrade the bread to one with whole grain. 

Of course, thinly sliced cucumbers make a nice addition to any sandwich!

A great non-dairy substitute for cream cheese

#7 Base for Hors D'Oeuvres 
Making hors d'oeuvres? Instead of crackers, use slices of cucumber as the base. Your gluten-sensitive guests will appreciate it!

Cucumbers as a gluten-free base for hors d'oeuvres.

#8 On your Eyes
Cucumbers contain compounds that reduce the puffiness and lighten dark circles around the eyes. The classic picture of a person at the spa always includes someone relaxing with cucumber slices on their eyes.

Picture from LifeCell products

#9 Cucumber Water
For delicious, hydrating water, just throw a few slices of cucumber in your water. I drink a lot more water when it has a little flavor! And when you are serving guests, a few slices of cucumber in the water pitcher makes your water look a bit fancier.

# 10 Salsa
Cucumbers can provide a bit of crunch to your salsa. Make a simple mango salsa with 1 sliced Manila mango, a finely diced small, peeled cucumber, a diced avocado, 2 tablespoons of red onion, a chopped jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro all tossed with a tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Salt to taste and serve with healthy chips.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Growing Chamomile Tea

Grow, dry, and enjoy a cup of chamomile tea.

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Plant Tea in your Herb Garden
About 6 weeks ago, I started my herb garden. I went to the nursery and bought about a dozen different young starts. In the mix, I bought some German chamomile. It's a hardy, fast-growing plant and, if you've never grown your own tea, this would be a good one to start with.

Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita).
Its daisy-like flowers contain many
healing and therapeutic substances.

Chamomile Benefits
German chamomile contains substances that promote relaxation and decrease inflammation. As a tea, it helps reduce anxiety and many people take it at night to help them relax so that they can fall asleep. It is also used by some for digestive system issues and menstrual cramps. Chamomile is often found in creams used for skin conditions, such as eczema.

Once the little yellow and white flowers bloom, you can pinch or cut them at the very top of the stem and place them on a screen or cheese cloth and dry naturally.

I use my Excalibur Dehydrator and place the flowers on the dehydrator screen with another screen on top to keep them from blowing away. I dry the flowers on the lowest heat setting until they feel crunchy, about 10 to 12 hours. If they are still pliable, they are not ready.

Flowers on a dehydrator screen
Flowers weighted down with another screen
A bowl of dried chamomile flowers

Another way to dry them, is to just hang up a big branch. I have this pretty statue in my kitchen that holds enough to make a few cups of tea. It's quite decorative :-)

Hang a branch or the entire plant to dry.

Make tea by steeping a few teaspoons of dried flowers, or more depending on the desired strength, in boiling water for several minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Or place the dried tea in a tea filter bag and submerge the bag in boiling water. This prevents having to strain the tea.

No need to strain the tea leaves
when you use a T-Sac Filter Bag

German chamomile should be avoided by people with allergies to ragweed, daisies, and other asters. It also should be avoided for two weeks before having surgery as it may interact with anesthesia.

Although chamomile tea is good for soothing the tummy, something women in their first trimester of pregnancy would appreciate, studies as to the safety of drinking chamomile tea during pregnancy are inconclusive. So use caution and talk to your healthcare provider.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Instant Pot Zucchini And Mushrooms
Less Than 100 Calories Per Serving

A quick and easy zucchini recipe for your Instant Pot.

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And Here They Come!
The first zucchini of the season

Last year I grew way too many summer squash so I only planted 2 zucchini this year. I devoted most of the "squash real estate" to those that don't need to be eaten immediately. I planted delicata, kabocha, and butternut that have taken up a lot of space but at least I don't have the stress that zucchini brings of making sure they don't grow into baseball bats overnight or having to constantly place them into good homes.

My kabocha squash has taken up half the yard!

Yet, even with only 2 zucchini plants, I've already got a dozen in my refrigerator!

Zucchini and Instant Pots
Today's recipe uses an Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker but I have to warn you, zucchini cook very quickly so you have to pay careful attention to release pressure the moment it is done.

You can also make this recipe in a 5-quart Dutch oven, on top of the stove (recipe to follow.)

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Zucchini and Mushrooms
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[6 to 8 servings]

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker
or 5-quart Dutch oven

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced or separated depending on type of mushroom
1 large sprig fresh basil, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 medium zucchini, 1/2" slices (8 cups)
1 (15 ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes with juice

Directions for Instant Pot
Hit the Sauté button of the Instant Pot and heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the mushrooms begin to lose their moisture. 

Add the basil and stir in the salt and pepper.

Saute until mushrooms and onions soften, about 5 minutes.

Add zucchini to the pot and stir.

Pour tomatoes, with their juices, over the zucchini. Do not stir.

Leave tomatoes on top, do not stir

Hit the MANUAL button and set to LOW pressure for 1 minute.  When it is done, release the pressure immediately and remove the cover. If they are still a bit undercooked, just let the cover rest on the pot for another minute. They will soften quickly.

Serve as is or over a starch

Serve as is or over cooked rice, pasta, polenta, or baked potatoes. For a heartier meal, you can stir in a can of white beans.

Stove Top Directions
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven on medium heat and cook the onions until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for a minute and then the mushrooms. Stirring frequently, cook the mushrooms until they release their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the basil, salt, and pepper.

Stir in the zucchini and the tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally,  until the zucchini are the desired texture, 5 to 10 minutes. Add a little water if needed.

Serve as above.

Per serving (6): 95 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 102 mg omega-3 and 398 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 5 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 222 mg sodium.