Healthy Recipes
Healthy Recipes
Healthy Recipes
Low Fat Lifestyle.com
Low Fat Recipes
Keep boullion and some flavorfull dried soup bases on hand for a quick soup base.
Keep fresh fruit in the refrigerator at all times for those sweet attacks. The fresh fruit will satisfy as well.
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Week of October 29, 2010

Steaming Vegetables
You don't have to use just plain water to steam vegetables. You may add some lemon juice, wine, soy sauce, or other liquids to the water to add flavor to the vegetables or add a fresh sprig of thyme, rosemary, or other herb to the liquid. A slice of onion or garlic also adds a soft aroma and flavor to the dish.

You may use an electric steamer, a metal steamer pot, bamboo steamers or a metal steamer insert. Make sure to use one with a handle that can be attached at the top of the colander for easy removal. Remember that the water should almost reaches the very bottom of the colander but does not actually touch the vegetables. It should be close enough for the steam to cook the vegetables. Food is at least one inch above the water at a rolling boil. The liquid never should boil dry and the steam must be able to circulate freely. It is useful to have a kettle of boiling water handy when steam something for a long period, to replenish the water as needed.

Almost any vegetable or vegetable mixture can be steamed. Steaming times will depend on the type of vegetable and the size of the vegetable. When you are steaming mixtures of vegetables, make sure to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces if it requires longer cooking times you may place vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and other firm vegetables to the mixture first so they can cook a little before adding tender vegetables like green beans that take less time. Add greens like spinach last as they take just a short time to cook.

There are several easy ways to tell when a vegetable is cooked. If it is a green vegetable, look for a vibrant color change. When the color intensifies the vegetable is done. It should still be quite crispy, but is tender. This should take at the most about three minutes. In the case of leafy greens like spinach it can take only a minute. For non leafy green vegetables like broccoli and green beans, it can take as long as 8 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the vegetables and how tender you like the vegetables. Obviously the way that you prepare and cut the vegetables greatly effects their cooking times. A whole carrot may take over 30 minutes to steam, while thinly sliced carrots can take only a few minutes.

DANGER: Steam can cause severe burns. Be careful to always open a steaming pan away from you to let the steam escape away from you.

Week of October 22, 2010

After you carve that Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween, don't throw out the pumpkin seeds. They make great snacks that are rich in fiber as well as vitamins B and E. The toasted seeds have a wonderful nutty flavor and are also great on salads. Kids really love them. Pumkin seeds taste great roasted with only salt as a seasoning, but they're also wonderful flavored with sweet and savory spices.

Directions on How to Toast Pumpkin Seeds:

Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (Do this before the pulp and strings dry out)

Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat or lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt (and other savory spices if desired). Bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Let cool before eating. Store in an airtight container.

Per Serving - 1 ounce, about 85 seeds (toasted and salted): 126 Calories; 5g Fat (37.6% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 5g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 163mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.

Week of October 15, 2010

Exactly what makes a product Organic?

No doubt you have seen a surge of products at your grocery store (not just your health food store) that are labeled organic.

  • To be able to use the term organic, fruits and vegetables must be grown in soil that hasn't been treated with toxic chemicals like synthetic pesticides or fungicides for at a period of at least three years.
  • Dairy products and meat product can only be termed organic if animals that produce the milk or are used for meat are raised without hormones or antibiotics and fed nothing but organic feed.
  • All crops are exposed to agricultural chemicals that are already found in the environment in rain and in groundwater. But organic produce is "grown without pesticides." Organic farming practices rely on crop rotation to improve fertility of the soil and to deter pests as well as natural pesticides like soap and botanical compounds.
  • If a product is labeled "certified organic", this means that the farmer, rancher or producer has been examined by an outside agency to ensure that that it is truly organic.

If the term "natural" is used, that generally means that no added coloring or preservatives have been added but there are no guideline standards set at this time.

Another term that you might see used in your meat and poultry department is "Free-range". This means the farm animals have access to the outdoors (not cooped up). All organic animals are free-range, but not necessarily are they organic. Look for the "certified organic" stamp.

If you see the term "no genetically engineered ingredients" on some of the organic food you buy, meaning that it is not agenetically modified product.

Both non-organic foods and organic foods have the same nutritional value. However most people that prefer orangic products usually feel that the products taste better and are less toxic kinder to the earth.


Week of October 8, 2010

What is Brining?

Brining, or soaking in salt water, is an easy way to make moister poultry or pork. Typically a ratio of 16 parts water to 1 part salt is used (e.g. 1 quart water to 1/4 cup salt). Note that brining does not add salt to the meat; it makes the meat moist through osmosis which brings water out of cells.

Brining increases the temperature (from 140 to 160 degrees) at which meat dries out (i.e. the cells burst and lose their water).

Brining originally used to preserve food (strong salt solution); now it can be used to flavor meat (medium salt solution).

The meat's cells have a concentration of salt in them. Brine has a higher concentration of salt than the meat. The osmosis process will balance the concentration of salt between the cell and the brine so in order to increase the concentration of salt (note salt is not adding to the meat) in the cells, the water in the cell moves from the cell (passes through the cell's wall) to the space surrounding the cell.

The temperature that causes the cell to burst (and dry out the meat) has been raised from 140 deg to 160 degrees (due to higher concentration of salt in the cell)
.

By all means other ingredients may be added for flavor: sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, fruit juices, beer, liquor, bay leaves, pickling spices, cloves, garlic, onion, chilies, citrus fruits, peppercorns, and other herbs and spices. Many recipes call for bringing the ingredients to a boil to dissolve the sugars and bring out the flavor of herbs, then cooling the mixture to below 40°F before use.

Here is a recipe for a basic flavorful brine that can be used on chicken, turkey and pork:

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups water
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup kosher salt

This recipe makes one quart. If you need more for submerging larger birds or cuts, make additional amounts of brine as needed.

Stir ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place meat or poultry in a food safe plastic bag inside another container just in case it leaks. (oven roasting bags are a good choice - please do not use garbage bags).

Pour cooled brine into bag with meat or poultry, and squeeze out as much air as possible and seal with a twistie tie.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours for 3 pounds meat (such as pork ribs), 5-6 hours for a nice roasting hen, or 12 - 24 hours for a turkey, 12 hours being for a small one and the longer time for those turkeys around 20+ pounds.

Discard brine before using and pat meat dry.

If using poultry, you may want to add citrus fruit such as oranges or lemons, additional fresh herbs, or cloves of garlic into the cavity.

Prepare meat as desired by roasting, grilling, baking, etc.

Week of October 1, 2010

Using Infustions to Add Flavor

An infusion is a simple technique for extracting the essence of an ingredient, such as vanilla beans, tea leaves, or cinnamon sticks, to flavor a liquid. You can use infusions to flavor puddings, savory sauces, sorbets and beverages.

Dried fruit, nuts, herbs and spices can used to make infusions. They are steeped in a liquid and then strained out, leaving their flavor and sometimes their color, behind.

Combine the liquid, whether it's milk, sugar syrup, or soup stock, with the flavoring ingredient over moderate heat. When the liquid almost come to a boil, remove the pan from heat and tightly cover. Let the mixture steep until the liquid is richly flavored, usually 30 minutes to an hour. Strain out the flavorings and press on them in the strainer to extract all the liquid and to get out every flavorful bit. Then use the flavored liquid as directed in your recipe.

Making flavored oils is easy, and the end product can add a lot of flavor to your cooking. Infused oils make great bases for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.

There are two simple methods for doing an infusion — hot and cold. Be sure to begin with a light, tasteless oil, like safflower or canola. Olive oil makes a good infusion base for some herbs, but tends to go rancid more quickly than other oils. Keep your infused oils refrigerated. Olive oil will last about a month; other oils will stay fresh for about two months.

For herb oils, use whole, fresh leaves. For spiced oils, either whole or ground will do. If you choose ground spices, strain the oil through a cheesecloth before bottling it. Whole spices and herbs can be left in the oil for decoration. They will keep strengthening the flavor over time.

Some items that make good infusions: basil, fresh lavender, rosemary, or sprigs of thyme, tarragon and roasted garlic, star anise, lemongrass, dried chiles, fresh mint, orange zest, grated ginger, crushed coffee beans, toasted pistachios, lemon zest, fennel seeds.


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