Midweek Delicacy Time: Miso Glazed Salmon en Papillote

Miso Glazed Salmon en PapilloteEn Papillote is a make shift bag made out of parchment paper. Making food in a bag is probably one of the healthiest ways you can prepare food. Your food will come out moist, tender with little fuss. The parchment packet allows the fish and vegetables to cook in their own juices.

My favorite part about using this method is you can throw a few ingredients into the parcels and all the work is done for you. You can prep these ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Other than being pretty effortless, they look quite impressive when serving.

Serve with a ginger rice. Just add julienne-cut ginger when you add your rice to the boiling water. When I made my rice I was feeling especially adventurous and threw in some lemongrass as well. The combo with the fish was quite tasty.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

IngredientsMiso Glazed Salmon

Serves 4


1/4 cup Mirin
1/4 cup Sake
3 tablespoon White/Yellow Miso paste
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons dark Sesame Oil
4 Salmon fillets, about 6oz each
1 Bokchoy, sliced in bite size pieces, include the leaves
8 Snap Peas, cleaned whole
4 Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1.5 tablespoon Ginger, peeled and julienne-cut
2 Scallion, thinly sliced

Preparation

  1. Miso Glaze MarinadeIn a small bowl combine mirin, sake, miso paste, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil.
  2. Pat the fish fillets dry and place in baking dish skin side up. Spoon marinade over fish and turn them over a few times in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Tip: Do not go over an hour as miso is very salty.
  3. Miso Glazed Salmon en PapilloteWhile fish is marinating prep all of the vegetables.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450º.
  5. Cut 4 (15 x 24-inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each piece, with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out the heart, and open.
  6. IMG_2105Place one fillet near fold of each parchment heart. Top each fillet with 1/4 of the vegetables and ginger.  Tip: Let the excess marinade drip off the fish before placing on the parchment. The fish will release plenty of the marinade as it cooks to flavor the dish.
  7. Fold the parchment over vegetables and fish. Starting at the top of the heart begin tightly folding the open edge of the parchment, sealing edges with narrow folds. Twist the end tip to secure tightly. IMG_2113Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Place on plates; cut open. Top salmon with thinly sliced scallions. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you wish a tighter seal, brush the edges of the paper with beaten egg white.

IMG_2118

Midweek Delicacy Time: The Perfect Omelet

OmeletThere is an art to making a good omelet quickly and perfect every time. Hearing such words seems so intimidating. The truth is the process is much simpler than you think. When you prep your ingredients make sure everything is cut bite sized. Don’t over load your omelet with too many ingredients, 3 to 4 with cheese and herbs is enough.

What I love about omelets is you can serve both vegetarians and meat eaters quickly so all can eat at the same time. The ingredients listed below are proper ratio of eggs to fillers, making this recipe easily adaptable. If using only one pan, just make sure to cook the vegetarian omelets first.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 2


6 Eggs, beaten well with forkOmelet Ingrediets
1 cup Turkey Sausage, roughly chopped, divided
1 cup Broccoli florets, chopped into small bite sized pieces, divided
1/2 cup Onion, thinly sliced, divided
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped, divided
3 tablespoons Cheddar, finely shredded, divided
1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped, divided
1 1/2 tablespoon Butter, divided
Salt & Ground Black Pepper

Preparation

  1. OmeletHeat butter in an 8 to 9 inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When butter stops foaming and just begins to color, add in 1/2 the onions and garlic. Sauté until onions start to look translucent, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in 1/2 the sausage. Stirring occasionally cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  3. Then add in 1/2 the broccoli, 1/2 the parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally cook until the broccoli is a brighter green, about 3 more minutes.
  4. OmeletPour in eggs. Wait a few seconds until edges of the omelet begin to set. With the edge of a spatula, break-up the omelet in the center until slightly thickened. Tilt the pan to fill in any thin areas. Do not stir it or you will have scrambled eggs.
  5. Run your spatula around the edge of the omelet slightly lifting the edges of the omelet. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until omelet is just set but still moist on top.
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese over the omelet being sure to keep away from the edges. Cook a few more seconds to brown bottom.Omelet
  7. When top surface of eggs is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, fold omelet in half with spatula. Gently slide omelet onto plate. Sprinkle with remaining g parsley and serve.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed PeppersThis weeks recipe was inspired by Quinoa. The Say No to Food Waste bloggers had a fun dinner get together of Stuffed Peppers, both vegetarian and with ground turkey. I like to use what is available when thinking up a dish and there was quinoa to spare. I went with a hispanic twist on the filling. By swapping out the rice for quinoa they are healthier and surprisingly filling.

The ingredients and preparation process of the vegetarian and meat versions are separated below. This is to help impart the special flavors of South American cooking. Green peppers are one of the secrets to good black beans and colored peppers impart a sweetness to meats enhancing the flavor of the meat. Try both, and let us know which you preferred.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4 – 6


Meat Fill Ingredients Ingredients
4 Medium Red, Yellow, or Orange  Bell Peppers
1/2 cup Quinoa
12 oz Ground Turkey
1 medium Onion, diced – about a half a cup
3 medium Garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5oz) Whole Peeled Tomatoes, drained & dice the tomatoes – Reserve 1/4 cup of the juice
1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
2 tbl spoons Cumin
2 tbl spoons Cilantro, chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Salsa
Salt
ground Black Pepper

Stuffed PeppersVegetarian Fill Ingredients
4 medium Green Bell Peppers
1 cup Quinoa
1 medium Onion, diced – about a half a cup
3 medium Garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5oz) Whole Peeled Tomatoes, drained & dice the tomatoes – Reserve 1/4 cup of the juice
1 can (425 g) Black Beans, drained
1/2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
2 tbl spoons Cumin
2 tbl spoons Cilantro, chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Salsa
Salt
ground Black Pepper

Toppings
1 ripe Avocado, sliced
1 Lime, sliced
Cilantro, chopped
1 small Onion, slice thinly and soak in salt water for 1 hour

Meat Stuffed Peppers Preparation

  1. IMG_1751Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and place peppers cut-sides up on paper towels.
  2. Return water to boil; add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Drain quinoa and transfer to large bowl; set aside.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350° F
  4. Stuffed PeppersHeat 12 inch sauté pan over medium-hi heat until hot, add oil and coat bottom with oil. Add onions stirring occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped Serrano pepper and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add in ground turkey cooking until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes.
  7. Transfer mixture to bowl with quinoa; stir in tomatoes, 1/2 of the cheese, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. In a separate small bowl mix together salsa and reserved tomato juice.Stuffed Peppers
  9. Place peppers cut-side up in 9-inch square baking dish. Divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons of salsa mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle each with remaining cheese. Bake with pepper tops to the side until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, About 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers Preparation

  1. IMG_1731Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and
    place peppers cut-sides up on paper towels.
  2. Return water to boil; add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Drain quinoa and transfer to large bowl; set aside.
  3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350° F
  4. Heat 12 inch sauté pan over medium-hi heat until hot, add oil and coat bottom with oil. Add onions stirring occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped Serrano pepper and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Vegetarian Stuffed PeppersAdd in beans, 1/4 cup of water, and cumin. Lightly mash the beans as you mix together. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally and lightly mashing the beans as you go.
  7. In a separate small bowl mix together salsa and reserved tomato juice.
  8. Place peppers cut-side up in 9-inch square baking dish. Divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons of salsa mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle each with remaining cheese. Bake with Vegetarian Stuffed Pepperspepper tops to the side until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, About 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Garam Masala Chicken in Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce

Chicken in Cherry-Wine Pan SauceWhen looking for inspiration my favorite pastime is visiting a local farmer’s market. This past weekend I visited the farmers market in old town Kensington, MD. The cherries caught my eye, and I knew I wanted them to be the focus of my next dish. Unfortunately, they were so good I ate them all before the end of the day.

Cooking with what is in season always gives you the best value for taste, texture and nutrition. It is also another way to eat healthy and save money. Food that is in season is always cheaper and there is also the added benefit of local produce lasting longer since it doesn’t have to travel so far.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4


4 Chicken breasts (about 1-1/2lbs)Chicken in Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce
extra virgin Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala (substitute the following combined cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, coriander)
2 tablespoons Butter, divided
1 Shallot, chopped
1 cup Red wine like Cabernet
1/2 cup Chicken broth
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
12oz fresh pitted sweet cherries NOT sour cherries (if frozen, do not thaw)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Thyme
juice of 1/2 Lemon

Preparation

  1. Brush the chicken breasts on both sides with extra virgin olive oil and season with garam masala, salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter. When pan is coated evenly with melted butter, brown chicken on all sides  3-4 minutes a side. Remove to a plate then tent with foil to keep warm.Chicken in Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce
  2. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in same skillet then add shallots and saute until tender, 2 minutes. Add wine, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and fresh cherries, simmer until sauce is reduced by nearly half, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add thyme then continue to reduce sauce until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes, pressing down on cherries gently with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Return chicken to the skillet, top with cherry sauce. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20 minutes.Chicken in Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce
  5. Remove skillet from oven then add in lemon juice. Be sure to incorporate it well then serve.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Salmon Burger With Yogurt Sauce

Salmon Burger with Yogurt SauceAfter a wonderful Memorial Day weekend of grilling, friends, and seriously over eating, I started thinking of lighter summer meals. While being light on calories, this salmon burger is heart healthy, and very tasty . Don’t sacrifice important nutrients and fats for over-processed diets or low-fat ingredients. Using only whole ingredients this meal will get you bikini ready.

In the spirit of not wasting food we used up our spinach leaves which were starting to wilt. I also grilled the salmon skin until crisp making a delicious side to the burger. Salmon skins go great with the yogurt sauce.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4


Ingredients Salmon Burger1 (1-pound) Salmon fillet, skinned and chopped (reserve salmon skin)
2 cups chopped baby Spinach
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 fresh Lemon, juiced and divided
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh Ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Sesame seeds, divided
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Dill
1/2 teaspoon minced Garlic
Coconut oil cooking spray
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns

PreparationSalmon Burger

  1. Combine salmon, spinach, panko, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form mixture into 4 (3 1/2-inch) patties.
  2. Place remaining sesame seeds onto a plate, and dip one side of patties into seeds to coat.
  3. Stir together yogurt, dill, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl.
  4. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.IMG_1056
  5. Cook burgers over medium heat, turning, 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Grill buns, cut sides down, for about 2 minutes or until golden.
  7. While the buns are toasting salt and pepper the salmon skin and grill until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once.
  8. Place burgers on buns, and top with 2 tablespoons yogurt sauce.

IMG_1061

The Mediterranean Diet: What You Need to Know

When people hear the word ‘diet,’ they tend to think of temporary food restrictions and exercise regimens geared towards weight loss. However, the alternate, original definition of diet just refers to a person’s or group’s eating pattern. The duality of the word can generate a bit of confusion, especially when talking about the Mediterranean diet, whose emphasis on healthy fats might confuse those trying to slim down. The diet is not a plan for rapid weight loss but rather a lifestyle, modeled after that of Italians and Greeks, designed to improve general health – which could include shedding some extra pounds.

medit salmonMediterranean cuisine emphasizes fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats including olive oil, nuts, and fish. As the Mayo Clinic’s guidelines explain, “the focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t on limiting total fat consumption, but rather on choosing healthier types of fat.” This fat substitution means swapping butter for olive oil and red meats for seafood as well as seeking out low-fat dairy products. Olive oil and fish are the two features most commonly associated with the diet not only because they’re so prominent in it but because they respectively contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease blood clotting and regulate blood pressure. To further promote heart health, the diet discourages eating processed foods (especially meat), added sugars, refined grains and oils, and trans fats while encouraging the use of spices rather than salt to flavor meals. It even allows for moderate red wine consumption to lower risk of heart disease.

In addition to lessening the risk of heart disease, the Mediterranean diet has been recently linked to improved brain function thanks to a study published earlier this week that compared participants’ performance on a variety of cognitive tests before and after following specific diets over a few years. Participants on a low-fat diet suffered a decline in many aspects of cognitive performance, whereas those on the Mediterranean diet supplemented by healthy fats from nuts and oils improved their performances on various cognitive function and memory tests. More investigation is needed into how exactly the diet affects the brain, but the scientists have some preliminary hypotheses, such as that antioxidants might counteract stress. This study has made the rounds on several news outlets because it serves as a breakthrough in connecting heart disease prevention to brain health and suggests that diet can be used to preemptively prevent cognitive deterioration.

Courtesy of medical-reference.net, 2013
Courtesy of medical-reference.net, 2013

Of course, eating nutritious foods isn’t enough to guarantee a healthy body. For one thing, eating any foods in excess or consuming an imbalance of nutrients can be harmful, which is why the Mediterranean diet encourages eating in a social setting. While some people argue that being surrounded by fellow eaters stimulates them to consume more, the logic used by proponents of the diet is that of the slow meal: conversation distracts you from your food, allowing you to eat more slowly and your body to register its fullness. The diet also includes regular, at least moderate exercise as the vital counterpart to mindful eating in maintaining a healthy body.

Interested in trying this magical diet? Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.

Eva

Who took my lunch, Mrs. Obama?

For students who love pizza, fries and hamburgers, being told to eat salads, whole grains and less sugar, can be shocking. To some it might even seem disastrous! Enough to make a few want to film a complaint video (at the off chance that it becomes viral and grabs media attention).

Well, that’s exactly what happened to a group of students whose school was forced to phase out fat, sugar and sodium rich meals for more healthy options. It was required by the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

If you read the New York Times article by Nicholas Confessore, you’ll be surprised at how political this issue is. And when you start reading some of the historic procedures that created today’s diet problems, your jaw will swing open. Decisions made by Jimmy Carter to cut school-lunch subsidies, and Ronald Reagan’s decision to cut them even further, while also making some condiments passable for vegetables, paved a way for disaster.

And while these rules didn’t last long, the cuts and changes created a pocket of opportunity for big companies, who eagerly jumped at the offer to make more money. Fact is: “most districts required food service to earn enough revenue to cover expenses, including labor.” With less money to spend, and more mouths to feed, school officials and lunch ladies turned to cheaper calories. Pretty soon, schools in USA were making deals with McDonal’s, Chick-fil-A, and other fast food giants to start selling fast food meals directly to kids.

Legal Drugs

Sugar triggers a similar dopamine “reward” response in the brain as cocaine. (Photos: Radius-TWC)
Sugar triggers a similar dopamine “reward” response in the brain as cocaine. (Photos: Radius-TWC)

After years of eating fried, salty and sugar filled foods, cutting down this intake can give the body and the mind a shock, a withdrawal. (Sugar and cocaine light up similar parts of the brain.) But that’s not all. Replacing the menu from cheap calories, to more fresh and healthy ones, increases budget expenses. Whether or not the law was thoroughly discussed, it created a mess.

Students and many lunch ladies were not happy with new ‘healthy’ options. But the government, who sees the devastating effects fast food diets have on people, were surprised by the wave of criticism. Most of this criticism, unfairly, was geared at Michelle Obama. First Lady, mother of two and an intelligent woman, who wanted to clean up the culinary mess previous presidents left in school kitchens.

Sadly, there was one thing that corporations got right, that Mrs. Obama didn’t – they knew how to make us addicted. And have poured millions of dollars into research and advertisement to make sure we buy and crave their unhealthy products.

The Human Factor

Summer_kids_eat_lunch_saynotofoodwaste_healthy_food_students_-_Flickr_-_USDAgovSince fat, sugar and salt are difficult to find in nature, big corporations began piling ingredient like substances into our food to make them irresistible and cheap to produce. The result, we consume more sugar and salt than ever imagined. This is ruining our health! Things are so bad that a new military report said Americans are too fat to fight for their country.

But, we can use our humans nature to benefit us. People are social creatures, we mimic the behavior of people we like. We also shift our behaviors to adapt to larger groups. It means that, while new changes in school lunches have rubbed big corporations, lunch ladies and students the wrong way, with time, we can reap benefits from this law.

Recommendations

There are four recommendations I want to suggest to governments and schools faced with above mentioned dilemmas.

1. Use Celebrity Endorsements

Get famous individuals, local heroes or young actors to talk about healthy eating. It will encourage school kids to approach ‘healthy options’ with a more positive outlook if the people they look up to tell them it’s not a bad choice. When acknowledging mass advertisement campaigns kids see on TV and around shopping malls, encouraging them to grab a sugary and processed meal, we quickly realize that ‘healthy’ is up against a big, fat giant, and will need more than truth and facts to win.

2. Gather student input

No individual likes to be told what to do. It’s especially true of students who in the midst of identity crisis and power rebellions hate to see schools involved in their diet choices. Imagine how it would feel to have government tell you what you can or can’t eat. Instead of giving top-down instructions, it is best to give students back their voices and hear their feedback about these changes. Through surveys and interviews, we can learn what they hate the most, what they might like and where we can find a middle ground with food. Hearing their views will open up a dialogue, enriching the decision making process. This is part of the Collective Impact philosophy, which highlights that long-lasting change occur when all stakeholders have a say.

3. Make healthy fun!

School Breakfast and School Lunch at Washington-Lee High School Arlington, Virginia, saynotofoodwaste, eat healthy, sustainable, happyFood really impacts our behavior. Seeing a colorful plate of greens and veggies energizes the body. Truth is, we are visual creatures. We eat with our eyes first and assess quality long before we bite into something. A valuable thing to consider when serving food is the plate presentation. Adding color, shape and volume to served food will make students more eager to consume what’s given. Every lunch can become an adventure and a discovery of something new for the palate.

4. Educate students about food

Many people fear what they don’t know. Sadly, many parents stopped cooking at home due to time constraints. This means children are losing their knowledge about food. Without shopping for food, many don’t learn vegetables names, or how they need to be prepared and stored. They also don’t know what they taste like, unless served as processed food. It’s time to change the diets and the minds of youth, by expanding their knowledge of produce. Humans love to learn and share information. Where better to share this wealth of knowledge than at school cafeterias, with everyone gathered for a meal?

I look forward to seeing more thoughts and feedback from students, government officials and parents on this issue.

Healthy eating to all!
Hokuma