Monthly Archives: February 2012

Meatless Thursday’s, Irish Soda Bread and Spring!

I know, I know . . . . . It’s Meatless Monday’s!  But I had this idea and it seemed to be the perfect way to celebrate National Nutrition Month!  This years theme is, “Get Your Plate In Shape!”   

I always get excited with the arrival of March.  I think mostly because it means we’re getting closer to Spring and the Farmer’s Market I frequent will be opening in just 8 weeks!  I also get excited about National Nutrition Month –  a time to celebrate all things fresh and healthy and to try something new!     

So that’s how I got to thinking about Meatless Thursday’s.  I’ve got ton’s of new recipes calling my name and inspirations and ideas to share.  This is what I was thinking.  I’ll post a new recipe on Monday and if it speaks to you, you’ll have plenty of time to gather the ingredients and be ready by Thursday.  Or maybe even Friday with it being the Lenten Season!  

Of course I  haven’t told PK about this yet.  I’m not quite sure what he’ll think of it all, though I do have some idea (it’ll be a stretch for him).  Let’s just say my fingers are crossed! 

There are so many wonderful reasons to pull-back a bit on our consumption of meat.  The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests we limit our consumption of red meat (defined as beef, pork or lamb) to 18 ounces per week and focus instead on filling our plates (2/3rd’s full) with fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.  They also recommend we avoid processed meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs and salami, all in efforts to decrease risk of cancer and in particular, colorectal cancer.  The American Heart Association recommends too that we choose more lean meat, poultry and fish and limit total intake to no more than 6 ounces per day.  This helps decrease saturated fat intake and supports a reduced risk for heart disease. 

But perhaps equally compelling is the environmental impact our food choices make!  A plant-based diet is simply more sustainable.  According to a 2003 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1 calorie of animal protein requires ten times more fossil fuel to produce than 1 calorie of plant protein!  Healthier for bodies and for planet earth!  I love that . . . .

So officially, beginning next week (because I already have a recipe to share with you this week) the Kramers will be eating meatless on Thursdays (at least that’s what the chef will be preparing)!  I hope you’ll consider joining us!  It doesn’t have to be Thursday.  Pick any day!     

Ok there’s still one more reason I get excited about March.  
Irish Soda Bread!  Truth be told I consider this quick bread a treat!  So when I see it showing up at the market I dig out my recipe and indulge in a slice.  I substitute white whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour and add lots of plump raisins – both help increase the fiber and nutrient content!  White whole wheat flour is a whole grain flour and provides additional healthy phytochemicals.  It’s made using hard white winter wheat berries rather than traditional red wheat.   

Irish Soda Bread
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
5 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 Tbsp butter, chilled
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins         

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8-inch cake pan with non-stick spray.
2.   Combine the all purpose and white whole wheat flours, 4 Tbsp of sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and blend.  
3.   Add the chilled butter (cut into cubes) and blend with fingertips until a coarse meal forms.  Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the buttermilk.  Stir the dry ingredients into the milk to blend and mix in the raisins.

4.   Using floured hands, shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the pan.  Flatten the dough slightly and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

5.   Bake approximately 40 minutes until a knife inserted come out clean.  Cool in pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.

Recipe Adapted From,

Notes:  I used Trader Joes Jumbo Raisin Medley and sprinkled the top with Turbinado Sugar which you can substitute for the regular white (though both work just as well). 



Lemon-Herbed White Bean Salad

I don’t know if I’ve shared this before but I’m a bean pusher!  Yes, I pretty much love everything about beans including their textures and flavors and their versatility!  I spend a lot of my time cooking and eating beans and inspiring my clients and family members to do the same!  They’re a great way to fill your plate so I thought I’d see if I might nudge you to weave a few into your week! 

Both my boys love beans.  Well, PK likes beans.  Mick loves beans.  Perhaps I over did it a bit with PK when he was diagnosed with an elevated cholesterol level.  I told him I knew exactly what to do about that, and he quickly found himself eating beans for breakfast, lunch and supper.  I think he’s worked through it though!  

I asked Mick on the way to school today about his favorite way to eat beans.  He told me right out of the can!  He loves refried beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans, beans in soup and in a variety of dishes.  He did throw in that if I was going to do a post about beans I might think about warning you all of some of the possible side effects!  

I thought that was a great idea!  So here are a few of my favorite reasons for leaning into beans (though I’m not sure these are the side effects Mick was talking about)!


  • Have tons of fill-you-up fibers with approximately 6-8 grams per ½ cup serving.  As fibers help support weight loss, beans are a great choice for encouraging a healthy weight!  Try tolling vegetarian refried or black beans into a whole wheat tortilla, warm in the microwave and top with a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese and salsa!  Great for breakfast! 
  • Provide roughage for regularity and may help to decrease risk of colon cancer.  Sprinkle a few kidney or garbanzo beans on your salad! 
  • Are an excellent source of lean protein!  In fact, substituting beans and legumes for meat helps decrease overall saturated fat intake and decrease risk of heart disease.
  • Provide plenty of soluble fibers for helping lower total & LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Contain powerful phytochemicals called flavanoids that support healthy aging.    
  • Help improve diabetes control in existing Type 1 & 2 Diabetics.
  • Are a great source of B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium and zinc
  • Are an excellent source of (low-glycemic) carbohydrate (muscle fuel) for athletes!

With beans on my mind I stopped at the market this morning and picked up a few herbs and a fresh lemon.  I decided to make a bowl of one of my favorite bean salads to have for the week.  It’s great by itself or you can toss fresh spinach leaves into it or top it off with feta cheese . . . . ton’s of possibilities! 

Lemon-Herbed White Bean Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
2 cans White Cannellini Beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup diced Tomatoes
1/4 – 1/2 cup Scallions, thin sliced (according to taste)
2 tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

    1.  Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and a pinch of salt & peper and let stand 10-15 minutes.
    2.  Gently combine remaining ingredients in a medium size bowl.
    3.  Taste lemon dressing and adjust if necessary.  Pour over white bean mixture and combine gently.
    4.  Allow time for ingredient flavors to blend together. 

 Recipe Adapted From: Field to Plate, Culinary Seminar

 Note:  Two things that make a really big difference with this recipe are thyme and time.  If you can use fresh thyme – it’s worth it!  Also, allow a good 3 hours for the flavors to marinate!  Enjoy!

The Power Of One

It all happened last night over a bowl of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)!  I knew I wanted to share a grain salad with all of you so I put together what I call my Fattoush Salad.  It came out looking great.  I could hardly wait to take the picture so I could dig in! 

So there I was, in the kitchen with my bowl of quinoa.  Ohhhh my gosh this salad is awesome – sweet peppers, red onion, garbanzo beans, whole grain quinoa  and fresh parsley all tossed together in a red wine vinaigrette!  All I could think was, “my heart has got to be loving this . . . . and my cells gotta love this!”  In that very moment in my kitchen I was sounding like my mother!!  Whenever we had spinach my mom would always say, “oh this is so good, I can feel the iron just surging through my body!”  No kidding.  Every time.  It used to make me crazy – and now here I was saying (thinking) pretty much the same thing!!

Not only though am I saying it to myself I’m also thinking I can’t wait to share it!  Maybe my mom was on to something (I hope she’s reading this post).  She was connecting great tasting fresh food as a very positive choice for herself – and with how good that made her feel!  One healthy choice.  Eating spinach. 
But what you need to know is that “vibe” my mom got, kept us eating
spinach . . .  a lot!  How powerful is that!!

February is Heart Month.  A great opportunity to tune in to all that we can do to keep our hearts healthy and strong!  So in addition to sharing the Fattoush Salad I thought I’d offer up a few very simple heart healthy ideas for weaving into your days.  I hope you’ll pick one . . . . and tomorrow perhaps another . . . . and then maybe this weekend one more . . . . and so it goes. 
One healthy choice at a time!  

  1. Add walnuts to your oatmeal – This healthy choice offers a double bonus! Oats contain soluble fibers that lower cholesterol levels and walnuts contain heart healthy Omega-3-fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, fiber and antioxidants.   
  2. Grow a small herb garden – start plants now from seed and transplant in the Spring into larger pots for your deck or patio!  Herbs add powerful antioxidants and flavor so you can use less salt!  A wonderful project to do with the kids . . . mindful in so many ways! 
  3. Make a pot of bean soup over the weekend to enjoy during the week!  Beans contain soluble fibers for helping to reduce cholesterol.
  4. Snack on a handful of almonds (23 almonds = a serving) – they contain fibers to fill you up and healthy monounsaturated fats.
  5. Try edamame (soybeans) on a salad for added texture, fibers and heart health benefits!
  6. Add a piece of grilled salmon to your salad!  The American Heart Association recommends we eat fish 2x/week for heart health.  Fish tips in the “lean” direction and those higher in fats tend to contain heart healthy Omega-3-fatty acids – fatty fish include – salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, lake trout, herring and mackerel.
  7.  Enjoy a Texas Ruby Red as an afternoon snack – grapefruits contain pectin a soluble fiber for helping to lower cholesterol! Oranges and tangerines are good too!
  8. Add a cup of raw vegetables to your sandwich today!  Try jicama, sugar snap peas, red, yellow and orange sweet peppers!  Or try raw vegetables with hummus as an afternoon snack!  They’re loaded with fibers and plant chemicals that protect against inflammation  – Aim for 21/2 cups vegetables every day!
  9. Make a grain salad on Friday night and enjoy a flavorful meatless lunch on Saturday!  Try Quinoa or Bulgur Wheat!  Three servings of whole grains per day have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease by 25-36% and stroke risk by 37% over time! 
  10.  Park at the back of the parking lot, take the stairs (not the elevator) and walk the dog!  All of these activities help burn calories and support a healthy weight!  
  11. Take a 10 minute walk – and count this toward your 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise for the day!  Check out – the American Heart Associations site for starting a walking program.
  12. Indulge (on occasion) with a sweet piece of dark chocolate.  The cocoa in chocolate contains antioxidant flavonols that have been associated with helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve vascular function.  See Cinnamon Sweet Almond post! 
  13. Enjoy a sweet potato for breakfast.  They’re loaded with fibers, potassium, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals for heart health.  Potassium helps to support a healthy blood pressure! 

Here’s the Quinoa Salad.  If you’re looking to make this a main course try adding feta cheese chunks!  Oh and you can always add a handful of spinach for an extra dose of antioxidants! 
Happy Valentine’s Day – Enjoy! 

Fattoush Salad
1 small red onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 Cup Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
2-3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2-3 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
11/2 Cups Cooked Quinoa
Oregano (optional)

1.  Assemble dressing ingredients (below) and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients. 
3.  Toss with dressing until everything is combined.  Sprinkle with Oregano (optional) for added flavor.

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
11/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine vinegar & shallot and let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk in mustard.  Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly until combined.  Stir in kosher salt and pepper. 

 Dressing Adapted From:
The Sonoma Diet, Dr. Connie Guttersen, RD., PH.D.

Cinnamon Sweet Almonds

Every once in awhile I get an urge for an afternoon sweet treat.  Well . . . . that’s not all true, it actually happens to me quite often!  Frequently I’ll grab some fresh fruit, perhaps even a little yogurt to go with it.  But then there’s the days when I crave just a little something more!  Something a bit different. 
Crunchy maybe or creamy?  Hmmmm . . . .

Last week while I was brewing my afternoon cup of coffee I got to thinking about my girlfriend Christina’s cinnamon almonds.  Crunchy with just a little bit of sweet and a hint of cinnamon!  I had a bag of almonds on hand, so Friday evening I put a batch together so I’d have them for the week.  Then, right in the middle of turning the almonds so they’d roast on the opposite side (just as my house was beginning to smell nutty-cinnamony perfect) I had an idea.  Why not toss them with something chocolate?  I mean Valentine’s Day is right around the corner right?    

Nuts are often my go-to snack of choice!  They’re loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that when substituted for saturated fats in the diet, help reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.  They also contain plenty of fibers, protein and vitamins and minerals for boosting health.  In particular, almonds are a good source of Calcium for bone health, Antioxidant Vitamin E, Potassium and Magnesium!  What I especially like about nuts is how filling they are!  

Chocolate too (mostly dark) is something I might occasionally weave into my days.  The cocoa in chocolate contains antioxidant flavonols.  Flavonols have been associated with improving cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and improving vascular function.  The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the higher the flavonols within.  Chocolate containing cocoa levels at 50% and higher are considered “dark” varieties though look for those containing at least 65% or more if you really want a flavonol boost!  Just keep an eye to the portion size! 

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almonds are one of my favorites!

So I decided it might be fun to combine the two!  Once I saw (and tasted) them together I decided I better be generous and share!  I’ll definately be making more of these this week!  They’ll make the perfect deliciously sweet and simple Valentine’s Day Gift! 

Cinnamon Sweet Almonds
1 pound Raw Almonds
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg White
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Water
1/4 tsp Salt

1.   Beat the egg white with water and salt until foamy.
2.   Stir the almonds into the egg white mixture until they are coated.
3.   Add the sugar and cinnamon to the almonds and continue to stir until all ingredients are combined. 
4.   Spread almonds onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour, turning nuts every 15 minutes. 
5.   Remove from oven and cool.  Store in ziplock bags.  

That’s my favorite coffee mug – and no that’s not a “serving” of almonds! 
To keep portions in check, fill a small dish with about 23 almonds.  If you have a notion for chocolate try adding a few pieces of your favorite dark variety!  Here’s how mine turned out . . . . Enjoy!