NATIONAL MEDITERRANEAN DIET MONTH

TL MAY IS NATIONAL MEDITERRANEAN DIET MONTH

Isn’t it interesting that the words MEDICINE and MEDITERRANEAN both begin with the letters MED?  What exactly is a Mediterranean Diet?  Most of us have been exposed to some aspects of it, but few of us have embraced it completely.  One of our favorite restaurants serves an appetizer called hummus.  It’s made with chick peas, of all things!  Even five years ago we had not heard of it – but today, hummus is a popular snack here in America.

There are many Mediterranean dishes that are becoming more popular in America as time passes.  Most recipes feature olives, olive oil and bright, vibrant vegetables.  They not only look healthy – they are healthy!

This month you are invited to join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MedDietMonth.  Follow @OldwaysPT on Twitter to join the party on May 19th at 1 pm ET.

Here’s one of my favorite facebook pages, it’s filled with great snack ideas that won’t wreck your diet plan.

https://www.facebook.com/mediterranean.snacks/?fref=ts

I love food posts because that means I get to share a wonderful recipe with you!  If you have never cooked anything Mediterranean before, this is a perfect starting point.  It’s not only pretty, but tastes great too!

CONFETTI COUSCOUS (makes 4 servings – 3 1/2 WW points per serving)

Ingredients:

2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth

1 c. whole wheat couscous

2 Tbs. golden raisins

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. slivered almonds

1/4 c. fine chopped red bell pepper

2 Tbs. dried cranberries

1/4 c. sliced scallions

1/4 c. chopped dried apricots

3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Bring broth to a boil in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in couscous, raisins, cumin and salt.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes or until couscous is soft.  Uncover and fluff with fork and let cool 10 minutes.

Cook almonds in skillet over medium heat, 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Stir almonds, bell pepper, cranberries, scallions, apricots, mint, oil, lemon juice, ginger and garlic into couscous.

This is a wonderful side dish with baked chicken or fish.  It really does look like confetti in a bowl – almost too pretty to eat.  I did say…  almost.  😉

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (13)

http://beaninstitute.com/recipes/bean-reference-chart/

There are so many varieties of beans…  yes, BEANS!

Maybe it’s the rainy weather we’ve had in Wichita lately, but it’s made me want to dig out my soup recipes and start using my slow cooker.

I wonder why Navy beans have that name.  As I understand it, they have this name because they were served to sailors at sea so often.  They are small and are so compatible in most recipes.  Since it is such a “flexible” bean, it is often used by commercial baked bean manufacturers.

Navy beans are an inexpensive ingredient that provide much-needed fiber and nutrients for those of us interested in eating a healthy diet.

Just 1/2 cup serving of Navy beans pack a huge nutritional punch!  They have a mere 130 calories with 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber!  They also contain 128 mcg Folate, 2 mg Iron and 64 mg Calcium.  My favorite part is that they have less than 1% fat content and 1 mg of sodium!

Women who are getting older (I’m raising my hand) should eat foods rich in calcium and essential vitamins and minerals while limiting fat intake.  Navy beans fit the bill perfectly.

Does anyone else need to smile today???  Watch this – it’s too cute!

Even though it would be easier to open a can of manufactured baked beans, it’s better to make your own dishes with raw ingredients so you know how much sugar and fat is in it.  When I make homemade baked beans it is with sugar substitute which cuts the calories and carbohydrates in half.  Have you read the label on a can of baked beans lately?  Read one the next time you go to the grocery store – it’s a real eye-opener! 

I want to share a recipe I look forward to making this autumn:

Smoky Navy Bean Soup (slow cooker recipe)

Makes 8 servings

1 pound Navy beans, soaked overnight

2 cups, chopped smoked ham, about 8 ounces

1 large onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach

  • Coat slow cooker bowl with Pam (or use a slow cooker liner)
  • Drain beans and add to slow cooker bowl.  Stir in 6 cups water, ham, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes and thyme.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.
  • Remove 2 cups of the soup, purée (you can use a boat motor) then return to slow cooker.  Add salt and pepper; gradually add spinach and stir until wilted.

A little note – the first time I made this, I thought I’d just put my boat motor in the slow cooker to purée’ instead of taking 2 cups of soup out to purée.  That didn’t work well at all because my slow cooker liner got chopped into pieces along with the soup!  So, don’t do that!  Ladle the soup out of the slow cooker and put it in a separate bowl before you purée it.  LOL!!!

I hope this becomes one of your family favorites this autumn.  It’s economical and so very good and good for you!  Wink!  😉

NATIONAL SALSA MONTH

MAY IS NATIONAL SALSA MONTH

Homemade Salsa

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (or a combination of tomatoes and fresh peaches, nectarines, mangoes or grapes)
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Put all ingredients into a bowl, toss well and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Per Serving:Serving size: about 1/2 cup, 25 calories (0 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 1g protein

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Most condiments are either high in sugar (also known as high fructose corn syrup) or sodium.  Most of us attempt to strike a balance between those two extremes so we don’t make our blood sugar or blood pressure unhappy.

Thankfully, there is one condiment that has not affected either my blood sugar or blood pressure – salsa! 

Everyone in my realm of influence seems to like hot salsa, but I quickly admit that I can’t handle heat.  For me, it’s got to be mild salsa.  One of our favorite Mexican restaurants serves a mild salsa that is too hot for me!  They know me and know they will have to cool the salsa down – yes, they laugh at me – but I don’t care.

Because salsa is such a healthy alternative, I use it in some rather unconventional ways:

  • Baked potatoes taste so good with salsa on top instead of fattening butter
  • Mix salsa with mayo to save some serious calories before dressing up your burger
  • Try mixing salsa into your scrambled eggs
  • Salsa is a great veggie dip.  Have you read the label on your favorite dip?  It’s crazy!

We can’t have a garden where we live now, but as a kid my folks grew their own tomatoes, peppers and onions to make homemade salsa.  Of course, the most traditional pairing is tortilla chips and salsa.  There are typically quite a few carbohydrates in tortilla chips, so keep that in mind.  Beyond that, have a good time with your favorite salsa dish!  Ole’!  🙂