Ingredient Substitutions

Happy Monday, folks! I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods today, but in my area of west Alabama, it is an extremely rainy Monday. One thing that I hate about rain is that it doesn’t exactly get me in the mood to run to the grocery store to get the ingredients I may need for a particular recipe. Clients always ask me about recipe substitutions not only for a healthier alternative but sometimes because they just don’t have certain staple ingredients in the pantry. Have no fear, friends! The good folks at MyRecipes.com is here to save the day. You may remember me mentioning the site’s nutrition search last summer which is another very helpful tool.

recipe substitutionsAs you can see, this site has quite the variety of ingredient substitution possibilities for those days you just don’t have time to run to the store. Check out this resource for yourself and let me know what you think. What are the most common things that you substitute when cooking your favorite recipes? Let’s chat!

 


Tips for Using Spices and Herbs for Low Sodium Cooking

herbs-spices

Hello lovelies!

In honor of the last day of National Nutrition Month, I thought we’d send off this year’s theme of “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” with some tips for using spices and herbs. Early in my career, I worked in a hospital setting and frequently provided diet counseling for those with congestive heart failure (CHF). With CHF and other heart-related conditions such as hypertension, reducing sodium intake is a must. Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with taste buds that can adapt to a tapering of salt/sodium. Check out my tips below!

 

  • Conversion: 1 tbsp fresh herb =  ½ tsp dry = ¼ tsp powdered.
  • Use sparingly – ¼ teaspoon per pound of meat or pint of sauce. You can always add more.
  • When doubling a recipe, add only 50 percent more seasoning.
  • “Freshen” herbs by crushing or rubbing between your fingers before adding to recipe.
  • In dishes requiring long cooking times such as stews, add herbs toward the end of cooking.
  • In chilled foods such as dips, salads and dressings, add herbs several hours ahead.
  • For maximum freshness, purchase in small quantities, keep in airtight containers.

Seasoning suggestions for Meat 

Beef                 Bay leaf, dry mustard, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme

Chicken           Dill, mushrooms, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme

Fish                 Bay leaf, curry, dry mustard, lemon juice, paprika

Lamb               Mint, mint jelly, garlic, rosemary

Pork                Garlic, onion, sage

 

Vegetables

Asparagus       Lemon juice, toasted sesame seeds

Broccoli           Lemon juice, oregano

Cabbage          Dill, caraway seeds, savory

Carrots            Mint, nutmeg, parsley

Cauliflower     Nutmeg, tarragon

Corn                Chives, green pepper, tomatoes

Green Beans   Dill, lemon juice, marjoram, nutmeg, unsalted French dressing

Potatoes          Chopped green pepper, mace, onion, parsley

Squash             Ginger, mace, nutmeg

Tomatoes         Basil, green pepper, onion, oregano, sage

 

Ethnic dishes

Indian              Cardamom, cayenne, coriander, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger,mustard seeds, turmeric

Italian              Basil, bay leaf, cayenne, garlic, onions, oregano, thyme

Mexican           Cayenne, chili powder, chorizo, coriander, cumin, fresh chilies – green and red, garlic, oregano

Oriental           Cayenne, cumin, garlic, ginger, green pepper, sesame, sherry

 

Soups

Creamed         Bay leaf, dill, marjoram, paprika, peppercorns, tarragon

Vegetable        Basil, bay leaf, curry, dill, garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, wine

 NOTE: Tomatoes and mushrooms used for seasonings should be fresh or unsalted canned. Also always make sure to use something listed as a powder versus a salt such as garlic powder instead of garlic salt.

What are your favorite herb/food combinations? Let’s chat!


The Best Roasted Vegetables EVER | Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right During National Nutrition Month

Hello folks! And a happy Wednesday to all of you! Since the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” I thought I’d share a delicious roasted vegetable recipe. If you Google “roasted vegetable recipes” and one of the first things that pops up is a link to a recipe called “The Best Roasted Vegetables Ever” then curiosity makes you want to find out if these are truly the best roasted vegetables ever 🙂 Today’s recipe is from The Wednesday Chef. I invite you to check out her blog; it has some pretty delicious looking goodies!

Happy veggies

Now I’m going to be honest. I love my vegetables, and I sure do love roasting them. But, I’ve got to come clear about why I hopped on the vegetable train last night. I get in the habit of calling my husband on the dot at 4 p.m. every day to get a game plan for dinner. Typically we decide if we’re doing leftovers, takeout, or one of us is cooking. After my husband told me we had the leftover pork and some deer meat he cooked last night, I knew that wouldn’t suffice for a well-rounded meal.
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There’s something about veggies that just makes me giddy. I really think it’s the variety of colors. I veered away from the original recipe just a bit with the addition of a small sweet potato. I love my beta-carotene, but I REALLY love a little bit of starch.IMG_1964I decided to use the beautiful dish my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas this year from Sur La Table. This picture doesn’t give this piece justice but let me just say, IN.LOVE.

IMG_1971Veggies are chopped up and ready for a mixing with herbs and olive oil.

IMG_1984Gorgeous, beautiful color!

IMG_2006And here’s a close up of the veggies post roast. DE.LISH,US!

And here’s the recipe!

Roasted Vegetables
The Wednesday Chef
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 medium onion
1 medium or 2 small carrots
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
2 small potatoes
5 small tomatoes
1 red or yellow pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, wild fennel are all good choices – either individually or combined in some form)
4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C). Quarter and slice the onion thinly. Dice all the vegetables into pieces that are approximately the same size (no larger than 1/2 inch). Pile the vegetables into a baking dish so that the vegetables lie a few inches thick. Season with salt, pepper and herbs to taste and then pour the olive oil over the vegetables. Mix thoroughly but gently – you don’t want to destroy the tomatoes before the dish goes into the oven. Now check the vegetables to make sure they are well-coated and glistening with oil. If need be, add more oil.

2. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the cooking process, remove the dish from the oven and very gently stir the vegetables so that the ones at the bottom come to the top. Towards the end of the cooking process, stir a second time. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Check for seasoning and serve.

Now, if you’re a newbie at roasting vegetables and want to try other roasted veggie combinations, some of the best tips and tricks can be found from 100 Days of Real Food so please check it out!

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I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month


Oven Roasted Corn and Okra Salad

oven roasted corn and okra salad

Okay clearly I have been on an okra kick lately! I’m not sure what’s gotten into me, but ever since buying some okra a few weeks ago at the farmer’s market, I haven’t been able to stop myself from purchasing this amazing vegetable another time.  I am happy to say that this recipe was inspired by this recipe from Cook Up a Story Blog that I am so happy was shared in the comments to my Sauteed Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon dish from a few weeks ago. I love both corn and okra so when it was suggested to me to try them together, I could not resist. The delicious flavor of the roasted okra was well paired with the contrasting sweetness of the corn that I roasted in the oven, off the cob. If I had to make this recipe again I’d likely use a little less okra (I bought 2 lbs and used all of it) so that I could roast the corn and the okra on the same cookie sheet.

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Ah take a look at this beautiful okra from the farmers market!!

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After I washed up the okra, I chopped it up, only omitting the heads and placed them on a cookie sheet.

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After coating the okra, I seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, ground sea salt, and a little sprinkle of some garlic powder. After seasoning, I put the okra in the oven pre-heated to 425 degrees then started to work on prepping my corn. I knew that I’d have to use a separate cookie sheet for the corn and from the recipes I saw on the internet, it looked like the corn wouldn’t need as much time to roast but would need an oven temperature adjustment (~475 degrees).

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Picked up this package of corn from Publix grocery in my city.

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I feel like I made a mess during this process but was still able to avoid not losing too many kernels. Next time I am going to plan to use this technique with a bundt pan.  🙂

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All 4 ears of corn with the kernels removed raw off the cob. I did the same light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder as I did with the okra. About 8 minutes into the okra cooking I raised the oven temperature to about 475 degrees. At the 10 minute mark I added the corn in the bottom rack of the oven and roasted both the okra and corn for an additional 15 minutes with an additional 5 minutes at the end rotating the corn and okra to the top rack to broil on low for a little teeny extra browning 🙂

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Okra out of the oven!!

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After the veggies finished roasting, I added an additional drizzle of olive oil, some extra salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder (although I think that minced garlic would be really nice with this too) and a few shakes of red pepper flakes to give it some kick.

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We ended up pairing this concoction with some steaks off the grill. I apologize for the blurry picture; I honestly didn’t want my husband to catch me “again” taking pictures of my food before eating it….and I was pretty anxious to get to try all these yummy flavors in my mouth 🙂

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And without further ado, here is my recipe:

Oven Roasted Corn and Okra Salad

Ingredients
1-2 lbs okra, washed and chopped
4 medium ears corn
sea salt or kosher salt grinder
freshly ground black pepper
garlic powder (or minced garlic if available)
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions
Begin by preheating oven to 425 degrees. Wash okra, chop into 1 inch or so sections, removing the “head” but leaving the tails. Place chopped okra on a cookie sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and using a brush or hands, make sure okra is lightly coated. Next add 1 tsp or so of sea salt or kosher salt followed by black pepper and garlic powder as desired. Place in oven and set timer for 10 minutes. While okra is cooking, wash raw corn and remove kernels from cob; place raw corn on a separate cookie sheet and oil and season in the same way the okra was prepared. At the 8 minute mark on the oven timer, increase your oven temperature to 475 degrees. When the timer goes off at ten minutes, add corn to your bottom rack of the oven and roast both okra and corn for an additional 15 minutes. If you’d like to get some additional browning on your okra or corn, alternate the vegetables to the top rack and broil on low for about 5 minutes total or as desired. After roasting and broiling is complete, add cooked vegetables to a mixing bowl and mix together, adding an additional drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder (or 1 tsp minced garlic) along with a few shakes of dried red pepper if you want it spicy. Serve warm.

There really is no specific way to make this dish and you may find yourself wanting to experiment with the oven temperatures a bit. The next time I try this recipe I will likely heat the oven to 475 from the get go and also use a tiny bit less olive oil on my okra to yield a slightly crispier texture. If you try out this recipe, please let me know how you like it and if you had some additions so that I know some things to try next time!! 🙂


My Recipes Nutrition Search

myrecipes search

Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or any other chronic health condition that makes you more conscious of the calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, etc. in the foods that you eat? If you do, I invite you to check out the awesome nutrition search at www.myrecipes.com. Just click on the nutrition search as seen below and this will take you to this nifty page. You can search for recipes based on your health needs and set parameters for calories, fat, fiber, cholesterol, etc. How cool is that? ANNNDDD….many of these recipes are pulled from Cooking Light and tested by their very own registered dietitians.  Have any of you ever used this before?


Balsamic Basil Summer Pasta Salad

balsamic basil summer pasta salad

Today I’m going to share a recipe of one of my most favorite pasta salads. I originally got this recipe from a close family friend after she brought it to my parents’ house for a family get together.  If I’m ever tasked with bringing something to a potluck, especially on short notice, this is my go-to item. Any of my friends, family, or co-workers that have been to a potluck function with me have likely tasted this at some point in time. Some of the things I love most about this salad is how well the basil enhances the taste of the pasta along with the sweet and salty tones of grape tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives. Overall however, I really like how this dish is so quick and easy to make!  P.S. this would be totally great dish to bring to an upcoming 4th of July get together 😉 😉 😉

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When I headed to Publix to pick up the ingredients, I spent a good bit of time trying to decide which pasta to pick up. I noticed that Dreamfields pasta that boasts 5 grams digestible carbs/serving (still very questionable on this) had a penne rigate, but since I had tried their pasta before with some sundried tomato chicken sausage, I figured I’d go with something else.

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I noticed the Barilla Plus pasta had a decent bit of protein per serving but not necessarily as much fiber. Though the Dreamfields contained less sodium as well, I found myself going with the Barilla, since I was accounting for cost as well 🙂

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$1.19 vs. $3.79 per box sounded like a great deal to me!  The Barilla also had about an ounce more in the box compared to Dreamfields.

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Getting all my ingredients together: fresh spinach (on sale!), Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (sale!), Barilla pasta, fresh basil, 1 container grape tomatoes, slided olives, and crumbled feta cheese (yuuummmm)

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You want to start by cooking your pasta per package directions— I always like my pasta al dente.

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While your pasta is on the stove, start prepping your other ingredients. Wash your grape tomatoes thoroughly, slice length-wise and set aside.

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Next you’ll want to grab your basil- wash it down and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. I like to get the basil leaves, put them in a little stack and roll them up for quick cut as you see below. Fancy folks like to call this technique, chiffonade.

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You can place your chopped up basil in the same bowl as your tomatoes.

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You’ll do the same chiffonade technique with the spinach. I personally like to remove the stems from the spinach leaves. I bought a 9oz bag and ended up using about 1/3-1/2 of the bag. It’s more so personal preference as to how much spinach you want in there. You are also more than welcome to add more than one package of basil, or enhance the flavor by adding dried basil in addition to the fresh that has been chopped up. I used a good bit of spinach simply because I wanted me and my husband to get a good serving of veggies from this dish 🙂

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Once your pasta is done cooking, drain and let cool.

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I only waited about five minutes before I decided to proceed with the pasta. You’ll put your pasta in a large bowl (you want something big enough so that you get mix up the ingredients pretty well) and add your balsamic vinaigrette…I only use about 1/2 of the bottle so that the other 1/2 can be saved to add to the pasta the next day if needed. Don’t worry about seeing some of the dressing towards the bottom of the bowl or the pasta not appearing to absorb it; once you add your other ingredients, everything tends to mix pretty well.

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Next you’ll add your feta cheese— you can use plain crumbled feta cheese but sometimes i like going with the flavored ones like basil and tomato. I bought two 4 oz cartons and ended up using about 1 1/2 cartons. Again, it depends on your preference for how much cheese you want in there. Letting your pasta cool down can also be helpful in preventing the feta from getting “mushy” in your pasta. *I should have waited for my pasta to cool a little bit longer. Oh well, c’est la vie.

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Next you’ll add your bowl of chopped of veggie/herb goodies and mix well.

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Drain your olives and add those in too.

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I decided to do a little bit of fresh ground black pepper and mixed again

So there you have it! I used Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette simply because that’s what the original recipe that was given to me called for. I’ve used the Publix brand tangy balsamic before and was really just not a fan. If you have a personal favorite balsamic or like to get fancy and make your own (I wasn’t feeling too motivated when I made this dish to get fancy with it) then I’m sure that would be super delicious too! I primarily made this dish this past week per my husband’s request… he told me he noticed that I don’t make a lot of the things I used to whenever I was “pursuing him”/dating him, which included this pasta salad…hahaha. I”ve included the recipe below for your use. If you make it, please let me know how you like it or anything you did to enhance it. I’m always looking for tips 😀

Balsamic Basil Summer Pasta Salad

Ingredients
1- 14 oz box penne pasta (or whichever you prefer)
1 package fresh basil 2/3-1 oz)
4 oz fresh spinach (I bought a 9 oz bag from the grocery store and used about 1/3-1/2 the bag)
4-6 oz crumbled feta
1 small can black olives
16 oz bottle Newmans Own Balsamic Vinaigrette (or any other brand you like)
1 container grape tomatoes
ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Cook pasta per package directions, drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, prepare other ingredients: slice grape tomatoes length-wise and set aside, chiffonade entire package of basil and about 4 oz of spinach (or as much as you’d like), set aside with tomatoes. In a large mixing bowl, add pasta and about 6-8 oz vinaigrette. Next add feta cheese, mix, then add remaining ingredients and mix well.

The pasta usually tastes best after chilling in the fridge overnight so the flavors can meld. The leftover dressing can be mixed in just prior to serving  as needed.


Delicious, Nutritious, {Roasted} BROCCOLI!!

roasted broccoli

Shout out to my broccoli lovers in the house! I consider broccoli to be on my personal list of super foods. Why? Need some fiber? Bam, here’s your broccoli! Need water soluble vitamin C or fat soluble vitamin A? Get some broccoli. Or maybe you need some calcium and folic acid…yep, broccoli is there to the rescue. Maybe you’d just like some nice phytochemicals to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases—bring out the broccoli.

For some people however, broccoli can be a daunting task to eat. I used to relish the opportunity to put raw broccoli florets in my salads at work until I realized how sensitive my tummy was to raw broccoli. If you didn’t know, broccoli is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables (which includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy) which has been known to provide stomach discomforts to some people in its raw form due to the fiber content, providing subsequent bloating from the gases that are formed in the stomach during digestion. Doesn’t sound too fun huh? Though broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have their best health benefits in the raw form, cooking broccoli appropriately (avoiding overcooking) can help diminish these negative tummy effects while also keeping the nutritional integrity of the veggie.

Most people steam their broccoli but yesterday I found a fantastic recipe for oven roasted broccoli at The Gingered Whisk. She has some incredibly delicious recipes! Last night I thought I’d put her recipe to the test right after pinning this bad boy on Pinterest.  This recipe was originally from The Amateur Gourmet who adapted it from the wonderful Ina Garten.

20130604_182133Get out the delicious broccoli…

20130604_182504Chop into florets to arrange on a foil lined baking sheet

20130604_182855Aren’t they so cute and delicious looking?!

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Pull out your seasonings…I didn’t have any kosher salt so ended up using some sea salt; I also pulled out the garlic powder to supplement with the minced garlic I ended up using

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Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425

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Add your lemon juice and Parmesan cheese…I had some leftover Sargento in the fridge

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YUUUUMMMMMM!!!!

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Ingredients
4-5 pounds of broccoli
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
zest and juice from 1 lemon

Directions
Preheat your oven to 425
Take 2 large bunches of broccoli and cut it into florets.
Wash them and dry them super thoroughly.
Put some tin foil on a lined cookie sheet.
Place your broccoli on the cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, sprinkle with kosher salt and some black pepper to taste.
Slice 4 heads of garlic and place these on the cookie sheet, too.
Now toss it all together.
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli is crisp tender and getting a bit brown on the tips.
Remove the pan from the oven and zest a lemon over the broccoli, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice.
Drizzle a little more olive oil on top, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and toss.
Enjoy!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to eat broccoli any other way. The lemon juice and zest really enhance the flavor of this dish. My husband and I paired the broccoli with some roasted chicken. If you try this recipe, please tell what you think! 🙂

P.S. Next up this week will be my tasting of some bacon and cheese flavored crickets I picked up at the market in Charleston. Video will be included so you don’t want to miss 🙂