Sunday, April 22, 2012

Three recipes using carrots

The magazine I get from Lifetime Fitness has been publishing some real yummy recipes in the last few issues.  This month they focus on carrots.  I'm going to be passing the magazine on to my friend Donna so posting these here will assure that I have them on hand when I need them.  

This first one is for carrot soup which I just finished making and can say that it tastes wonderful.  The nutmeg is my addition; tasting it after it was done left my taste buds yearning for something to tie all the flavors together and nutmeg is what it called for.  I will say - it makes the soup perfect!

I used bagged organic carrots because I wasn't at Whole Foods to be able to get organic bunched carrots with the greens still attached.  I'm looking forward to making this soup again with carrots I get from the farmer's market, grown locally, organic, and different varieties.

Curried Carrot Soup

1 T. ghee or coconut oil (I used a bit more)
1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
2 T. minced gingerroot
2 T. curry powder
(1/4 t. nutmeg - my addition)
1 can coconut milk (about 14 oz.)
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 t. salt, or to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan and saute the onion, celery, and carrots until just tender.  Add the gingerroot, curry powder, and nutmeg and saute for another five minutes until aromatic.  Add coconut milk and vegetable stock, simmer until vegetables are tender.  Blend the soup with a stick blender or in small batches in a regular blender until smooth.  Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and freshly cracked black pepper.

This next recipe is one I will try out soon.  Sounds equally yummy!

Shredded Carrot and Currant Salad

4 cups carrots, peeled, shredded with a grater and packed
¼ cup dried currants
½ tsp. orange flower water (available at a Middle Eastern or gourmet market, as well as online)
2 oranges, juiced and zested
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toss the grated carrots with the currants in a medium salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange flower water (omit if it’s not readily available), orange juice and zest, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil. Toss dressing with the currants and carrots. Store salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Keeps well for two to three days.

Side note: for those living in the Royal Oak, MI area - you can find orange blossom water at Holiday Market on Main St. near I696. For those not living around my area, look for a Middle East store.

And here is one more carrot recipe.

Carrot Fritters

Makes about 16 small fritters; serves four

4 cups grated carrots, packed
¼ cup rice flour, coconut flour, or whole-wheat flour
½ tsp. baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbs. grated fresh gingerroot
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil for frying

Toss the carrots with the flour and baking powder. Mix in beaten eggs, gingerroot, salt and pepper. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Shape about a tablespoon of the carrot mixture into flat patties and carefully lower into the hot oil. After one to two minutes, gently turn each latke over to brown the other side (about another minute). Keep the latkes on a baking sheet in a warm oven while you fry the remaining carrot mixture. Garnish with chopped fresh chives and Greek yogurt or sour cream, if you’d like.

Happy carrot-cooking!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I tried this recipe from Lifetime Fitness magazine because I thought it fit perfectly with my new way of eating. I'm trying to eat more like a 'hunter/gatherer' with much more kale, spinach, collard greens, cauliflower, and broccoli in my diet along with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and protein. Basically, it's as little grain as possible with NO white: no white flour products, no sugar (I may cheat a little here because there's always sugar in chocolate, even the dark chocolate I limit myself to), no regular pasta, no white rice, etc. When I do eat grains I try to keep it to whole grains.

It is extremely hard to make the change because there is 'enriched wheat flour' (translation: white flour) in so many products that call themselves 'whole grain.' If a loaf of bread, for example, doesn't say '100% Whole Grain' then it most likely has white flour in it. And sugar is a tough one to stay away from in bread. It makes the yeast happy with great, yummy results but it's just so bad for you!

New research has shown that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease and that without inflammation in the artery wall there is no way for cholesterol to accumulate. With repeated injury to our arteries by eating the wrong food, food that our bodies were never intended to process, the result is chronic inflammation. According to an article by Dr. Dwight Lundell: "What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods."

If you are interested in reading the full article, you can find it here. It will be an eye-opener for you because it poo-poos the common thought that fats are our problem.

Back to the soup. It tastes good and healthy! I added tomato as you will read below.

Italian Wedding Soup

With Chicken Meatballs and Parsley

For the soup base:

1 T. olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 cups chicken stock

1 bunch broccoli rabe (also called rapini)(about 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, to garnish

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground chicken (I used ground thigh meat)

1 egg

1/4 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 t. salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil (I used more than 1 T.) and saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until al dente. Add chicken stock and simmer until vegetables are tender.

While stock is simmering, make the meatballs by mixing the ground chicken with the egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Shape into small balls with a teaspoon or a small scoop and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Add to the simmering soup.

Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and cannellini beans and simmer five minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.

A few hints: along with using more olive oil than what they call for, I added a can of diced tomatoes. And I also cooked the soup longer than five minutes so that the broccoli rabe stalks would soften more. When I make this soup again in the future, I won't use the bottom, thicker stalks of the rabe; I will use the leaves and little broccoli flowers from the tops of the plants.