Getting juiced on juicing

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Today was the maiden voyage of my new juicer. I was going to say my new high speed juicer, but it’s not. The selling point of this appliance, which excels at extracting juice from everything from green leafy vegetables to dense pulpy fruits, is that it is low speed. While more power is the common mantra and bigger is considered way better, my Omega Vert is proud to take it slow and easy, all the better to leave the active enzymes intact for longer, and make for healthier, higher yields and nutrient packed juice; At least that’s what the sales literature and the health blogs say, and I’d like to believe it’s true.

The Omega came at a really opportune time. My garden is producing lots of kale and swiss chard and I’m mentally ready to kick off a summer juicing regimen that will get me to eat more vegetables, with the added bonus of keeping me from turning on my stove less often. The plan is to substitute juice for one meal each day. I think it’s going to be lunch.

So I started off feeding my Omega spears of my home grown dinosaur kale and big leafy chard, and added to that a green apple, carrots, a small piece of lime, a bit of orange and a half a mango. A stream of dark green juice streamed out of one spout of my machine while a thick multi-colored pulp eased out of the other. A taste test of the juicy nectar revealed it was good. Real good.

There’s no hard and fast recipe to post here. The fun of juicing is experimenting and using what you have in your frig. But the basics to stock are chard, kale, cucumbers, carrots, limes, lemons, and apples.

I’ll get back later and let you know how it’s going.

 

 

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Giving up oatmeal for quinoa: a gluten-free hot breafast cereal

If you’re gluten intolerant or have a food sensitivity to oats and cereal grains and think you have to give up hot cereal for breakfast, take heart. There are a couple work-arounds; one is brown rice and the other is quinoa. I tried both recently, adding my favorite dress-ups: apple, raisins and agave nectar. The result? I can do this…you can do this!

Things were very different in my diet before an attack of esophagitis caused by acid reflux. If I didn’t have time for oatmeal in the morning, I’d pop a granola bar in my purse and munch it along with a cup of coffee on the way to the office. My doctor put me on the Paleo Diet to help reduce inflammation and quell the gastrointestinal eruptions. She also drew blood to send off to a lab to find out what food intolerances might be contributing to my body’s faulty digestive system.

Getting used to the Paleo Diet was no small adjustment. Lean meat, poultry or fish at every meal; no cheese, bread, chocolate or tortilla chips. Having to eliminate even more foods from my diet after the blood test came back was more than disappointing. I felt deprived, especially during the first meal of the day. No more oatmeal, eggs, celery sticks slathered in peanut butter. I needed something quick and filling to get me out the door that wasn’t on my foods-to-avoid list.

Rice would have been my #1 oatmeal alternative suggestion except that it takes too long to cook and clean up after. If it’s the weekend and you have leftover rice from dinner the night before, than it’s a no-brainer. I’d suggest the short brown rice variety; it’s closer to the look of oatmeal and well…I just like the cute little short grains. They’re often found in bulk in the grocery store and are usually organic. Sometimes I do a combo of brown and white rice like jasmine or basmati.

I wouldn’t call quinoa quick–not as quick as the 4 minutes it would take to turn 1/4 cup of rolled oats into porridge–but a little quicker than 20 minutes to cook brown rice, and just as filling and satisfying with the fruit and sweetener. And it turns out these little balls pack a nutritional punch. Quinoa happens to be not a grain but a seed, mostly grown in Peru and related to spinach, swiss chard and beets. It’s considered a complete protein source unlike grains, packs a considerable level of essential fatty acids which means it’s effective in fighting inflammation, and it’s rich in antioxidants and fiber.

The first time I cooked quinoa I undercooked it. I had to add more water and put it back on the stove. I guess I expected the little seeds to quickly split open like cranberries. Get it going on a full boil and look for the creamy, translucent texture before you take it off the heat.

1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/8 cup raisins
1/4 cup diced apple
Agave nectar to taste

Rinse quinoa and drain. Put in small pot and add water. Cook on medium heat. Let it come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Take off heat when seeds open and quinoa turns translucent and water has been absorbed, about Let sit for 15 minutes.

Add raisins and apple. Lightly drizzle with agave nectar and serve.

*         31 votes

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Quick anti-Pesto

Before the grasshoppers completely devour my big beautiful basil bushes, I did some snipping and decided to add to my pesto reserve in the freezer. Pesto is so easy to prepare and gives you an instant pasta dish when you don’t feel like messing with dinner. I’m particularly fond of it on a wide noodle like fettuccine. It’s also a great sandwich spread, especially when slathered on a crusty ciabatta bread, topped with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach and heated on an indoor grill.Mmmmwwwhhha!

The basil is traditionally pounded or crushed using a mortar and pestle, along with the other ingredients. “Pestare” means “to pound” in Italian. Hence the name “pesto” as this green sauce originated in the northern region of Italy. I call this a quick pesto or anti-pounding pesto because I use a food processor. I don’t know about you, but I opt to save time and the wear and tear on my hands grinding the leaves to a fine powder. You’ll also see recipes where it is chopped using a twin curved blade called a “mezzaluna”.

A variation is to substitute walnuts for the pine nuts. Go easy on the salt–taste test it before you remove it from the processor. And you may want to add the grated Parmesan when serving if you intend to freeze it. I’ve heard that it doesn’t hurt the cheese when thawing, but I prefer serving the grated Parmesan cheese fresh atop the pasta and pesto.That also allows you to adjust the amount of cheese to the preference of your family or dinner guests.

I use small plastic freezing containers packed in a quantity I think I’ll be using for each meal. The portioned plastic packed pesto allows you to squeeze it from the bottom so it just pops easily out of the container without having to wait until it thaws.

  •  1-1/2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 Combine all ingredients except olive oil and cheese in a food processor. Pulse as you slowly pour in olive oil and achieve desired consistency.

Add grated Parmesan cheese when ready to serve.

Freeze the rest in small plastic freezing containers.

 Makes about 1/2 cup.

*         40 votes

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