Posts Tagged ‘Side Dishes’

Is Broccoli Bad for Your Health and a Rant About Internet Research

November 17, 2015

As a writer who lives on St. Croix, I must use the Internet for the background research on the stories I write. On the negative side, much of what is published on the Internet is simply unsubstantiated personal opinions. Fortunately, I am living and working more than 300 years in the past and people have taken the trouble to electronically archive original documents and books on line.

When I find a page about pirate activity without a source for the information, I usually ignore it unless I can find a 300 year old source book with eyewitness accounts that substantiates the information. Where I find most of the worst information is when I am searching for new recipes or trying to find the nutritional value of what I eat.

 

Broccoli snack

Broccoli snack

For instance, another of my very low calorie snacks is steamed broccoli which can be done in a steamer or even a colander above a boiling pot of water. The water should not contact the broccoli, only the steam.

double boiler

double boiler

While seeking the nutritional data, I stumbled upon the paragraph I quote below.pixel period
You probably didn’t see what was so great about broccoli as a child, but the truth is that this vegetable is one of nature’s superfoods. From its stalk to its flowering head, broccoli is packed with nutrients and vitamins needed for your overall health and wellbeing. This vegetable has been around for centuries, and it has always been used and viewed as the perfect go-to food.”

pixel period
There are many superlatives in that paragraph even though it doesn’t give any really factual knowledge. For instance; Who has always used and viewed broccoli as the perfect go-to food? What is a go-to food? And how long is always? I like to give credit to the original author no matter how bad the work to confirm this was not a plagiarized post. I used two search engines (here and here) to check on the source of the sentence highlighted in bold. I found eight posted sources word for word on various health and fitness blogs all with a different authors so I have no idea who the original author was.pixel period
Interestingly enough, nobody bothered to leave a comment at any of the sites I visited so I assume that nobody really thought about what they were reading. I guess we will now have another generation of mindless mothers who will be feeding their kids broccoli because it is the go-to food full of the nutriments and vitamins needed for overall health and well being. Their kids would have been better off if Mom spent the same amount of time that she wasted surfing the Internet on taking her kids for a walk in the great outdoors or learning Arduino programming to teach to her kids.pixel period
On the other hand, Broccoli is bad for you, like, really toxic bad was written by Tim Crowe is an Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia and an accredited dietitian. He started off with a clear warning that “An alternative title I had for this blog post was: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet to do with nutrition”, but I wager this one was more effective in getting your attention.” He than published an over the top rant about the evils of broccoli before telling people that this was pseudo science, exaggerations and corruptions of scientific studies.

Professor Crowe received 158 comments many of them angry and negative because people missed or ignored the subtle warning not to believe everything you read on the net. Commenters feared that careless or unscrupulous readers might quote out of context and spread false informational about broccoli.pixel period
I decided to check and see if there was any other reuse of his article. Naturally I took one of his more outrageous sentences and searched, here and here to find other sites that contain the phrase, “And remember those thiocyanates I mentioned earlier? Well those too can cause bladder cancer in rats. We have graphic warning signs about cancer on cigarette packets, so why do health authorities continue to sit on their hands and take no action against broccoli?”pixel period
On the positive side, I found his complete article was reposted in full at FitnessReloaded.com by editor Maria Brilaki, a Stanford Engineering grad with an MBA. She helps over 100,000 monthly readers make better, healthier choices. She has a personal trainer certification and spends over 15 hours researching each article people read on her site. It’s all because she doesn’t want to fall for fads or hype anymore so searches for the truth like Tim Crowe.pixel period
Unfortunately, we are discussing Internet publishing so there is always an offsetting negative and the prize for that is Ben J. Johnson, Staff Writer for Natural Newd, a site that publishes pseudo science, deceptive science and science fiction. Of course young Ben only published the negative and avoided the part about how to tell real science from junk science as that would allow evaluation of everything published at his site.pixel period
As near as I can tell he even drops so low as to violate the terms of a free Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. He does lead with a link to the original article but lists his title as Staff Writer and notes at the end that the source is Broccoli is bad for you, like, really toxic bad by Tim Crowe.

When reposting. you must give appropriate credit to the original author of the material and indicate if changes were made. Well guess Ben is one of those people who never follows the rules.pixel period
I like broccoli, it is low in calories and I am not dead yet. I am also down to 202. Guess I’ll just keep snacking on Rabbit food and eat portion controlled meals. I would drop weight much faster if I quit drinking, I am just not ready yet.

 

Grilled Spicy Fish and Grilled Bok Choy

June 15, 2012

Grilled Spicy Fish and Bok Choy

Seems my daughter called a few weeks ago with a recipe for Tandoori Salmon which she got from a magazine called Cooking Light which promised a whole bunch of recipes involving 5 ingredients and 15 minutes. This is one of those slick magazines by the checkout counter in grocery stores published by the people at Coastal Living and Southern Living. The spice list was basic involving Ginger, Turmeric and Cumin.

I laughed and told my daughter I was starting to like and become a fairly decent Indian cook and was sure I had never cooked Tandoori because I didn’t have all the spices and this was so basic that it probably bore no resemblance to real Tandoori. She said she was OK with that because there were limits to what her daughters would eat. I checked Tandoori and I was correct, I didn’t have the spices on hand to cook that style but I could bring this basic recipe up a notch with spices traditionally used in Tandoori cooking. As a matter of fact, these spices are fairly traditional in all Asian Cooking. I used the rub with tilapia which is a fairly bland fish but could see it working with much stronger fishes like tuna.

My Spicy Fish Rub

Ingredients

1 oz ginger grated about 2 Tablespoons
1 T crushed garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 T Lemon Juice

Method:

1. The Ginger was grated and the spices and lemon juice mixed in a bowl.

Coated Bottom of Fish and Spice Mix

2. The spice mix was coated on one side of the fish.

Fish on Duck Rack with Both Sides Coated

3. The fish was placed on a duck rack for Grilling with the spicy side down. I use the duck rack because I don’t have to flip the fish or move it until it is over a platter. This prevents fish in the coals.

4. The spice mix was coated on the other side.

The Grill is set up for Bok Choy (top) and the Fish (bottom)

5. The grill is set up with areas to grill the Bok Choy and grill the fish.

Grilled Bok Choy

Grilling Bok Choy is simple and another nice and easy way to eat it. The Bok Choy is cut in half in the long direction, placed in a bowl and drizzled and tossed with Olive Oil.

The fish is placed on the grill and cooked for about 10 minutes. The Bok Choy is tossed on the vegetable area (top of grill picture) and cooked covered. Every couple of minutes toss it like stir frying. When done remove from grill and serve.

Even Better Bok Choy

April 24, 2012

Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better
and your better is best.

Cooked Bok Choy

With all the Bok Choy in my garden, I had to keep searching for a low sodium way to prepare it or else keep giving it away. I found this recipe over at allrecipes.com and there are a few differences other than it calls for no salt at all. With a cooking time of 15 minutes, it is a lot longer than any of the other stir fry recipes I had seen. It also includes capers, vinegar and lemon juice to essentially give this bland vegetable some more flavor beyond the ginger and garlic. Well of course I wasn’t going to buy red wine vinegar just to test the recipe and with a lime tree outside my kitchen door, I thought it senseless to buy a lemon when I use lime for every recipe that calls for lemon and like the taste. So with these very minor changes, the Bok Choi turned out excellent and I will be eating more of it and testing other low sodium recipes with a little longer cooking time.

Ingredients:

6 big leaves bok choy
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 T capers
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger root
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 dash fresh lime juice, or to taste

Method:

1. Remove the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Cut the stems into bite-sized chunks and shred the leaves.

2. Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat and add the stems to the pan

3. Cook the bok choy stems in the oil until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the water and chopped leaves and cook until the water is gone or about 10 more minutes.

5. Stir in the capers, garlic, and ginger and cook 1 minute more.

6. Sprinkle the vinegar and lime juice over the bok choy and remove from heat;

7. Serve immediately.

I used this as a substitute for my mid day salad and am planning a smoked turkey and Bok Choy dinner now that I find I prefer the taste of well cooked bok choy.

Bok Choy and Flowers

April 21, 2012

Flowers and Panas en Escabeche

Last week the winds brought down partially ripe breadfruit from a tree and I got 3 of them. Now breadfruit is one of those items that is best eaten in the green phase as when ripe, it gets a very sweet taste and has the consistency of custard  I am not fond of the ripe ones. Even green it is not a popular vegetable in the Virgin Islands but gets more popular in the Eastern Caribbean. When I was in St. Kitts last summer a friend prepared Breadfruit Plantains and they are fantastic.

They are essentially fried and when cooked for only five minutes they are according to my granddaughters who did not know I made a switch with regular white potatoes, the best French Fries they had ever eaten. When they are cooked for 15 minutes or so, they turn a golden brown and get very crispy like a potato chip. I like them both ways and have been know to over indulge since you start with a whole breadfruit weighing about four pounds and you can fry another batch ever 5 to 10 minutes.

Since I had three breadfruit to play with, I started searching for other recipes. It seems the first recipe I found was called “Soused Breadfruit” which I had never heard of nor could I find it anywhere on the web other than that one recipe. But in the West Indies, most souse recipes call for Vinegar and oil which is the basis for Puerto Rican Escabeche so I expanded my search for Panas en Escabeche.

Essentially, these is just like the Green Banana salad (Escabeche de Guineos) previously published. You dice the Breadfruit after pealing and discarding the seed. The breadfruit cubes are boiled for about 20- to 25 minutes which makes them soft to a fork. All of the other ingredients are added to the bowl and tossed.

This time I had green and red bell peppers so I used both. Also I had a cucumber that I wanted to use up so, I pealed it and sliced it very thin with a cheese slicer and added that to the salad. It was a pretty good salad  but not as good as “the Best French Fries ever.”

So what has this got to do with Bok Choy? My friend Gloria loves Bok Choy and at 90 pounds is not worried about salt and high blood pressure from traditional stir fried recipes which are really quite good.  Gloria Powell (www.antilleslilies.com) is a event florist on St, Croix heavily involved in working with tourists who want to get married in a St. Croix celebration.The solution, I made a trade of my excess arugula and Bok Choy for her gift of flowers. She also bought me a glass of wine.

Good Bok Choy

April 17, 2012

Bok Choy Bed

The Bok Choy in my garden is even healthier than my arugula which is so thick, I could harvest it with a Machete. To bad I’m not overly fond of Bok Choy because most recipes taste good but are heavily loaded with salt which I try to avoid. I started searching for low salt recipes and found a few and decided to move from the least complex to more sophisticated to see if I really liked any of them.

The following recipe was inspired by a recipe from steamykitchen.com where they start to build up the flavor with the addition of ginger and chicken broth with salt to taste.

Stir Fried Bok Choy

Ingredients:

4 large leaves

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T crushed garlic, finely minced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 tsp sesame seeds

4 tablespoons chicken broth

salt to taste

Method:

This is a typical stir fry with the oil, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds added to my fry pan and stir fried for a minute or two after the pan starts sizzling.

The stems are added to soften for a few minutes and then the broth and chopped leaves are added and stir fried until the leaves wilt.

Serve immediately and add salt to taste.

The Bok Choy still needed salt but at least I was in control.

Arugula Party Dip

April 15, 2012

I am not quite done with my detox but I am satisfied with the results as I am now about 5 pounds in 14 days with no suffering or exotic pills, packaged meals or special exercise. I am also nearing the completion of my book. For those who would like to follow my daily activities, I post on Facebook.

During my detox from Alcohol, I still eat and exercise and during those periods of procrastination from sitting at my desk, I seek out and cook, new meals. The only reason I don’t usually report on the recipes is that it takes even more time away from my primary goals. This recipe is simple and involves no cooking so as I return to normal on Wednesday, I am taking the time to post it.

For those who don’t know, arugula (rocket) is a peppery kind of lettuce which I happen to like. It is also another one of those green vegetables which is growing like a weed in my garden and as I was surfing the net, I stumbled upon a Spinach Dip Recipe at Eat at E’s. Since I don’t have spinach growing wild, I made note that I would probably try the recipe using Arugula.

Chef Enes said to let him know how it turns out because he likes Arugula but had worries that it might yellow with age. Well the dip never turned yellow because it was gone in two days and it was good. I am not sure if it was as good as the original as I left out the salt, was generous with the red pepper and cut back on the Mayonnaise and substituted Dijon mustard to reduce the fat content. I always modify recipes to reduce fat and salt. Some times it works, some times it doesn’t. This time it did.

I am glad I made the trip to Eat at E’s because his recipe inspired me to try this dip recipe which turned out quite well and added more flavor to my vegetable snacks.

Arugula Party Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup packed fresh devained arugula

Top of 2 green onion chopped

1/4 tsp pepper

2 T mayonnaise

2 T Dijon Mustard

2 T sour cream

1/2 tsp lime

sprinkle red pepper flakes on top

salt to taste

Method:

1. Place all ingredients in blender except for red pepper and salt.

2. Blend on low speed

3. Serve with fresh vegetable.

This is one of those recipes that should be prepare 5-6 hours in advance to smooth out the flavors.

Jeera Aloo (Cumin Potatoes) – Coffeepot Style

February 19, 2012

 

Jeera Aloo (Cumin Potatoes)

While I had been lazy in 2011, Monica has been busy Running her Dinner Club, appearing on Television and even publishing new recipes. Of course as I returned to creative cooking and eating, I was delighted to find a powerful vegan dish, Jeera Aloo or cumin potatoes and decided to adapt it to my coffeepot.

I like my food spicy and this boiled potato has eight different spices and I decided to leave out the salt. That was a poor but correctable decision as I added the salt prior to eating at the table and it perked up all the other flavors. But then, I really should have know better than trying to second guess Monica of the Spice Diary. The next time I cook this meal, I will add a piece of scotch bonnet pepper as I like the traditional Caribbean hot pepper flavor and know it will merge very well with the rest of the flavors.

Jeera Aloo (Cumin Potatoes) – Coffeepot Style

 Ingredients:

1 large or two small potatoes – I used red and didn’t bother pealing them.

1/2 tsp salt or according taste

½ tsp paprika powder

1/2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur)

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 smallonion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

pinch of asafoetida (optional)

1 T dried coriander, chopped

Instructions:

1. Put cubed bite-sized potato and a ½ tsp of salt in the coffeepot and pass water through the unit to cover the potatoes.

2. After unit is done perking, cover the pot with foil and cook until tender. (1-2 hours, test with a fork.)

3. Drain and set cooked potatoes aside.

4. Add salt, paprika, mango powder and garam masala in a plastic bag and mix well.

5. Put cooked potatoes in bag and shake until evenly coated .

Coating the potatoes with the spice blend

 

6. Heat oil in coffeepot.

7. Add cumin, mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves. When they begin to sizzle, add the onions and 2T water. Cook covered until onions glaze over.

8. Stir well and add the potatoes.

9. Mix the potatoes and add the coriander.

10. Warm for about 1 hour.

I skipped meat for the day and had the potatoes and a Tomato and Arugula Salad which is all I needed to feel full and get a good night’s sleep.

Tostones Revisited

February 13, 2012
Tostones and Mojo

Tostones and Mojo

I simply can’t resist a bargain so when I saw three green plantains for a dollar, I just had to purchase them. Now the only thing that I know how to cook are Tostones which are basically pan-Caribbean from Cuba to the Virgin Islands. I am sure other cultures do the same but the Spanish word Tostones is used where there are significant Spanish influences as the word derives from the Spanish verb tostar which means “to toast”. Actually, they are not toasted at all but fried in oil twice until a beautiful Golden color develops.

Occasionally, I still snack in the early afternoon and usually it’s air popped popcorn with no salt, oil or butter. This is not the worst choice I could make as popcorn is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Manganese. But since your mostly eating air and the 100 calories that go with it, it doest have much real nutritional value and neither does canned corn without the added sugar and salt.

Since I had already adapted to a fairly healthy diet snack with the popcorn, I decided to check on how much damage I was doing to myself by eating Tostones on two separate occasions. Regardless of the outcome, I would eat the third one as I eat everything I occasionally crave in small portions.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that plantains are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and potassium. Plantains are also high in dietary fiber and a medium sized plantain is only 200 calories. Even a dusting (1/4 tsp) of Adobo, Puerto Rican Seasoned Salt, only adds 14% or your daily requirement for salt.

Probably the worst part is the oil you fry it in and I tend to use extra virgin olive to minimize damage. However now that coconut oil is being touted as a cure for Alzheimers, I’ll probably switch, if I can remember to buy some.

Stuffed Shells, the Drag Queen of Coffeepot Mac and Cheese

January 23, 2012

Stuffed Shells, the Drag Queen of Coffeepot Mac and Cheese

My niece Cait loves to visit St. Croix and loves to cook with me. Our sharing the kitchen has been written about before when she did a guest post on making Enchiladas and when we had our Christmas Flat Bread Pizza Contest for the most artistic Pizza Pie. This trip we decided to do Stuffed Shells as a big step up from traditional Mac and Cheese that I made with my grandchildren and Great Nephew. Of course the step up is in sophisticated flavors and not complexity, but just like Mach and Cheese it is a very hardy addition to any meal and in our case it was dinner with nothing else except the salad.

Since Cait had just been to see Priscilla on stage in New York and loved it and I have a copy of the movie and love it, the name just naturally evolved. The most popular definition for “Drag Queen” at Urban Dictionary is “a man who dresses as a flamboyant woman in order to entertain others.” As Mac and Cheese goes, this hearty rendition is flamboyant and entertaining so I guess it qualifies.

Stuffed Shells Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups shells

1 tsp salt

water

8 oz Ricotta

4 oz mozzarella

2 oz Parmesan

Tomato Sauce

Directions:

  1. Place two cup of shells in the coffeepot with a teaspoon of salt. Add ten cups to the water reserve and let perk on the shells. Cook for 15 minutes on the warming plate. Do not over cook,
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in the bowl. The amount of tomatoe sause is flexible and to taste but ½ cup is a good place to start.

    All ingredients mixed until uniform

  3. Drain the pasta after it’s cooked and rinse with cold water.
  4. Add pasta to cheese mixture and mix until uniform.
  5. Return Mixture to pot and cook 2-3 hours more.

This was so delicious, that when I made it yesterday, I ate the whole pot which is really not the purpose of portion controlled coffeepot cooking. It just gets difficult scaling down below these levels so I made the same amount, I made the first time with Cait. At least when Cait was here, we shared the pot, made a salad and both had enough to eat.

Excellent Vegan Microgreen Soup – Is this a first?

September 11, 2011
microgreen soup

Microgreen Soup

When I Googled “microgreen soup” and “cooked microgreens”, I found nothing in the first category and only limited information in the second. I was searching because I stumbled across the microgreen concept and found that I could grow a crop of microgreens hydroponically without mess or much effort all year long. I could keep several tray going and have fresh greens daily.

The problem was, microgreens wouldn’t bring much added value to my life unless I could discover unique uses. I tried broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and arugula and the only salad green that was a keeper in my mind was arugula because it substituted for something I was already eating a lot of. The others were OK, but since I buy reasonably priced and hydroponically grown cucumbers, watercress, Chinese spinach, and arugula, the other microgreens don’t add much to the salad except as a garnish. Also, since I live alone, a lot of what I grew was going bad.

I love soups of all kinds and I have fond memories of the children’s story Stone Soup and have made it with magic stones with my daughter and granddaughters. I let them choose the smoothest magic stone they can find which is then washed prior to cooking.

This recipe is as close as possible to making a fantastic soup out of next to nothing and I used wilted root cellar crops that would eventually go bad. This is actually two recipes as the blended soup is excellent for lunch or a side dish. I just added the potatoes and carrots as I wanted a heartier soup for my dinner.

Excellent Vegan Microgreen Soup

Ingredients

1 T. olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

2 garlic cloves diced

2 celery stalks diced

1 oz. Rum

3 cups water

6-8 oz. microgreens (mixed broccoli and cauliflower)

1 T. Dried parsley

½ tsp. Thyme

1 tsp. salt

1 large potato cubed

2 carrots coined.

Directions

This recipe can be scaled up and made in either a Crockpot or coffeepot. Since I am cooking for one, I used my coffeepot.

  1. Add oil to pot and put on hot plate of coffeemaker.
  2. Chop onions, dice celery and garlic add to the pot
  3. Add rum
  4. Add three cups of water to the coffeemaker and let it drip into the pot. This will heat up everything quicker.
  5. When onions are soft (about 1 hour), add the microgreens and cook for 1 hour more.
  6. Add spices and salt to the pot. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Place in blender and blend until the consistency of pea soup.

Taste this soup right now! It is fantastic!.

  1. Coin carrots and add to pot.
  2. Dice potatoes into ½ inch cubes and add to pot.
  3. Cook for 4 more hours and serve.

This should have been enough for two meals but I enjoyed it so much, I only had a cup left over which wasn’t enough for a full meal. I really love this soup. It has only natural ingredients with no artificial thickeners, or bullion of unknown origin.