Bringing you free recipes from my cookbook, “SImple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0” this last year has been fun! I know a lot of you have enjoyed the recipes and hopefully, the healthy nutrition along with them. Last month I showed the Top 4 recipes from the past 7 days and 90 days, this month, I”ll bring you the most popular recipes from the past year!
Most popular recipes from “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0”:
The First Friday Free Recipe post has been going on for almost a year now and it’s become a popular post with readers. The recipes are from my first cookbook, “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0” and came from all sections of the cookbook, from Starters to Main courses and then side dishes. Some were more popular than others, but all had quite a few views. During July I’ll countdown the popular recipes from the past 30 days and 90 days, then in August I’ll countdown the popular recipes from the past year and all-time.
From the past 30 days, the most popular recipes were:
This month’s recipe from “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0” is White Spinach Salad.
Sometimes during these hot summer months when the heat is just too much to stand over a hot range, steaming your face in an already humid environment, you want something light, refreshing and easy to serve. Salads are a great summer lunch or dinner. Salads are very forgiving and, depending on the ingredients, can withstand most anything you throw on them.
This “White Spinach Salad” was created during one of Seattle’s rare hot summer days. The thought of standing over a hot pan stirring something was so unappealing. With the heat, the appetite reduces as well, at least I’ve found it so. You want something light, filling and refreshing. The Fennel, sliced thin, is a ‘restorative’, bringing a light, tangy, licorice taste, the Jicama is crunchy, almost pear-like in taste while the Onion brings a spice and crunch as well. Spinach is meaty, light and has a filling quality about it. You could use most any greens for this salad as you have available.
White Spinach Salad
1 package or bunch Spinach
1 small bulb Jicama
1 small onion or 1/2 large
1 bulb fennel
Slice or use mandolin on jicama, onion and fennel bulb. Toss with spinach and serve with any dressing you choose.
I love soups! Soups are a best friend to diabetics and those looking to lose weight. You control what goes in, how much and what spices. Do you want a broth? A stew? Chowder or Gumbo? How about a Seafood Gazpacho? Or a good, hearty Beef and Barley stew?
Good news, you can make it!
My favorite soups, stews and gumbos have tons of healthy vegetables flavored with just a bit of some sort of meat or seafood. Spices can make a world of difference and transport you around the world of cuisine. Another staple of a good soup is the stock. I’m a big fan of homemade, crafted and cooked with a meat or poultry bone, vegetable scraps or seafood shells and exoskeletons. A great substitute for homemade stocks and broths are the low-sodium boxed and canned stocks.
What? Did you read that correctly? Yes, there are a great range of boxed and canned, healthy and low-sodium broths and stocks on the market. I have a favorite that I think is more like homemade and I’m certain you’ll find one you like as well. These can be a quick, healthy timesaver, which will enable you to make lunch or dinner in 15 minutes. Watch the Sunday Coupons and grocery store sales. It’s best if you can match sales to get the best discount and stock up!
A high quality stock or broth can make a soup outstanding and a poor quality stock can break a soup, leaving you and your guests making polite conversation about a crazy cat video. You’ve heard this a hundred times before as well: use fresh meats and vegetables! Frozen bagged vegetables are the next best thing to fresh; believe it or not, some have even more vitamins and minerals than fresh. The reason is they are flash-frozen to capture them at their peak.
Thickening soups are another matter. I use a cornstarch or flour, butter and instead of fattening milk, buttermilk or half and half, I use stock or almond- or silk milk. Using stock or broth as the base in both soups and gravies will drastically cut down on the fat, calories and carbs. That’s something we can all agree on. Using cornstarch will make a more gelatinous soup or gravy and on the other hand, using flour will make a more creamy soup or gravy. Either one is fine, in my humble opinion.
In last week’s post, I asked ‘what is health?’ and I responded it’s healthy cooking/eating and healthy exercise. Of course, that is the basic understanding. There are so many factors that go into ‘health’, that I could not possibly explain it in one little post. Taking care of oneself, to the best of their ability, such as seeing a health care provider, keeping an eye out for disease, disability, infection, obesity and so on. Another reason to seek help of a health care provider is to be referred to dietitian or nutritionist, to show what foods you can and cannot eat.
After my kidney transplant in 2003, I sat down with a dietitian/nutritionist a few times. They each explained what I could and could not have, what portions. Before the transplant, I was told what foods I should avoid (anything high potassium–it interfered with dialysis; anything high sodium, high fat, high calorie, high cholesterol, high carbohydrates). Believe me, that didn’t leave much. I found a list of low-potassium foods (which listed about 50-75) and shopped directly from that list alone. I had to be creative and I remember alot of bean sprouts and jicama.
After the transplant, I discovered “hey, food really DOES taste good!”. A year later, due to side effects of heavy medications I was on, I gained 70+ pounds and diabetes. So, I sat down with the dietitian/nutritionist after finding a few vegetarian and low-fat cookbooks. She approved them and I studied, researched and began cooking low-calorie, low-carb and low-fat. I’ve discussed the cookbook, “The little big vegetarian cookbook” in many posts here on http://brickoneil.com as well as writing a “Monday Book Review” about it on this blog as well.
In my cookbook, “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0“, I discuss my reasoning behind my cooking in the forward (which you can read for free on most any of the eretailer links under the tab). Start by replacing your cooking oil with a low-fat vegetable oil (stay away from corn oil!). Vegetable oil is healthier for your heart, doesn’t add the bad fats and has a higher cooking point, to fry, sautee and brown foods. For quick cooking, I use an Extra Virgin Olive Oil (first cold press). Try to find one from Italy, as the American ones, I’ve found, are soy oil with olive flavoring.
So, talk to your health care provider, seek out a dietitian/nutritionist and start researching healthy foods you can eat!
•Tonight’s Ratatouille! Hope you can see all the vibrant colors.
•Choose firm, shiny eggplant. Less likely to be bruised and seedy.
•Use tons of garlic! When baked or cooked, it’s sweet.
There are about as many ways to make Ratatouille as there are cooks and chefs in the world. There is baked, steamed and simmered, there is chunked, diced and carefully sliced, and there is tomato-based, broth-based and water-based. Ratatouille is one of those dishes you can really make your own. This is my own recipe and one of my favorite dishes to make. Dicing all the vegetables does take time but so well worth it in the finished dish from my cookbook, “Simple Healthy, Fresh 1.0”.
A basic Ratatouille is savory and has eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers, which is similar to a Caponata. A Caponata will have the same eggplant, onion and zucchini and a sweeter version with sugar, some version of dried fruit with red wine vinegar. Again, there will be as many Caponata recipes as there are cooks.
1 large globe eggplant, small dice (I do not salt mine, due to blood pressure and diabetes, but you can, to reduce the bitterness. I like that bitter taste).
Dice small: 1 large red onion, 4-6 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, 2 zucchini, 4 bell peppers (mix colors).
2 14 oz boxes/cans beef broth and water
Garlic–6-8 cloves or as much as you can stand, pressed, minced or sliced. Remember, garlic will sweeten when cooking or roasting.
Spices: 2 sm bay leaf or 1 large, 3-4 tsp ea. BOT, 2-3 tsp Rosemary (if you have a mortar and pestle, roughly grind or use spice grinder. If not, then rub between your palms to activate the oils and aroma when adding to dish).
Heat garlic in large deep pot in 2 tbsp EVOO until aromatic, then add diced onion. Heat until almost caramelized.
Add carrots, celery and heat until softened. Add spices at this point and heat for 30 seconds, careful not to burn spices.
Add zucchini and bell peppers, stir to heat through and coat with oil.
Add 1/8-1/4 cup EVOO and add diced eggplant and stir gently to thoroughly coat. Eggplant will ‘drink’ up the oil, so you may have to add more. Sometimes I add 8-16 oz sliced mushrooms at this point as well. It depends on what I have in my vegetable drawer in the fridge. Heat again and add stock and water until the soup comes 1″ to rim of pot.
Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes until colors are bright, broth is shimmering and silky. If wanted, add a small can of low-sodium tomato sauce for enhanced color and flavor.
What a great way to bulk up a spaghetti sauce! Use whatever ground meat or mix that you have and add the shredded carrots to either marinara, ground beef, turkey, sausage, chicken, goat, lamb, etc. I use regular ground beef. Great way to get picky adults and kids to eat healthier! Since meats are so expensive these days, I realized that by adding the shredded carrots, it looks as if the meat is three to four times the size! You still get the color/visual appeal and mouthfeel of a thick, chunky, meaty spaghetti sauce without breaking your bank account or your waistline.
Carrots add to the visual appeal plus all the extra health benefits of antioxidants, cardiovascular health, anti-cancer vitamins and minerals, and of course, visual health. If i’m hosting for a large number of people, i’ll further bulk up the sauce with 3-4 stalks of diced celery, the whole large onion-diced, grated or put through a blender/food processer, etc.. another 28 oz can of tomatoes and two more carrots. If this is an adult dinner, i’ll add a cup of a red wine to the sauce and let simmer for 30 minutes so the alcohol will dissipate and add that depth of flavor!
Since I’m diabetic, I try to cut down on my intake of pasta, especially plain white flour pasta. My body immediately turns it into sugars, which spikes my diabetes, blood pressure and turns it into fat. I look out for whole wheat pastas and pastas that have added fiber (which you can subtract from the grams of carbohydrates!).
Serve with a large, crispy, crunchy three lettuce mix salad. I like the mix of romaine, read and green leaf lettuce.
Carrot and Beef Spaghetti
From my cookbook, “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0”. To purchase, click the tab at the top of the page for links to ebookstore retailers.
1 box/bag Whole Wheat spaghetti (spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini)
1 lb Ground Beef (if using 80%, thoroughly drain after browning, then add after step 3)
4 or 5 Garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 large white or yellow Onion, diced or grated
3-4 medium to large Carrots, shredded or grated
1 28 oz can tomatoes (diced, crushed or pureed)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (First Cold Press)
Cheeses of your choice-I like 3 cheese blend of romano/parmesan/asiago or shred your favorites.
Spices: typical Italian Spices, BOT–Basil, Oregano, Thyme. Add 2-4 tsp each
If you want, add a pinch each of Cayenne and Red Pepper Flakes. I typically add both for that kick, about 1/8-1/4 tsp each.
1) Put large pot of water on to boil, when ready, add spaghetti
2) In a medium to large pan, heat garlic in EVOO until aromatic
3) Add onion until translucent and just caramelizing
4) Add grated/shredded Carrots and sauté until soft
5) Add ground beef and brown (if using lean, otherwise brown separately and drain)
6) At this point add the spices and let heat–you will smell the aromas immediately
7) Add Canned tomatoes and simmer until there is a silky and shiny sheen
8) Drain Spaghetti and add 1 tbsp EVOO to prevent sticking (if wanted).
9) Arrange Spaghetti on plate in a circular motion, add a medium ladle or two of sauce and sprinkle with cheese