Monthly Archives: February 2011

Real Food Recipe: Blue Cheese and Walnut Dressing

healthy happy eaterSally Fallon Morell says that a good first step on the journey to eating nourishing real food is to learn how to make salad dressing. This advice has helped me a great deal; by making salads more tasty and interesting, I eat more of them. Most of the salad dressings at the grocery store contain oils you should stear clear of: soybean and canola.

I’ve stocked my cabinet with ingredients to make easy, delicious dressings at a moment’s notice. On the back of one of those ingredients, white wine vinegar, I found the following recipe from Marlene Sorosky Gray (cookbook author and food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 TBSP fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix oil vinegar, mustard and orange juice. Stir in blue cheese, season to taste (May store in refrigerator for a few weeks.) Stir in walnuts before serving. Makes about 1/2 cup.

This dressing can be served over cooked asparagus, broccoli or green beans. I like it on a salad, with all the leaves lightly coated with dressing:

  • wash Romaine (or your favorite) lettuce
  • dry it in an OXO Salad Spinner
  • chop it with  an OXO Lettuce Knife
  • sprinkle lettuce with real salt
  • in a large bowl, toss lettuce with just enough dressing to lightly coat
  • sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and serve

I hope you enjoy this. I’ll post more salad dressings in the future. Be well!

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Simple Real Food Recipe: Shrimp and Cheese Grits/Polenta with Bacon Tabasco Sauce

I’ve lived in the south all my life, and grits were always a breakfast dish made with white corn grits, mixed with butter and salt; yum. I have an Italian grandmother, and now an Italian husband, and yellow corn grits has always been polenta; also yum.

As contemporary American chefs get back to basic food traditions, I’m finding grits on the menu more often, and it’s not just for breakfast anymore. I was inspired to make this after a visit to Hattie’s (an American bistro with a southern low-country influence) in Dallas. Whether you call it grits or polenta, I have an easy, yummy recipe for you.

Ingredients

Cook the grits according to package directions; I use chicken stock or broth, instead of water, for flavor. The War Eagle grits have microwave instructions, Bob’s Red Mill has stove top instructions. Leave the grits mushy, there’s no need to let it set up in a bowl to cut into cakes.

Toss the shrimp with good olive oil and sea salt and pepper. Spread them in one layer on a sheet pan, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. (This great method for cooking shrimp is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook – a great resource.)

Cook the bacon until crispy, remove from pan and reserve the fat. Mix bacon fat with Tabasco Chipotle to taste.

To assemble:

  • mix the grits with cheese and butter, place on plate
  • top with shrimp
  • break bits of crispy bacon over dish
  • spoon bacon Tabasco sauce over the top

Serve hot with a big salad, a nice glass of chilled white wine and enjoy! Be well.

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Simple Real Food Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Serendipity struck in the kitchen last night: I made a delicious broccoli cheddar soup on the fly, and it was terrific! You’ll see from the picture on the left, that it’s bright green, not orangey-yellow. When you mix green broccoli with naturally white cheese, you get a beautiful bright green soup.

Mainstream cheddar is orange only because industrial food companies dye it that way. I had a lightbulb moment about this last weekend when I visited some cheese artisans at the Texas Daily Harvest farm in east Texas. I must tell you, this was a revelation to me.

My broccoli cheddar soup was serendipitous because I was making another dish, and ended up with mushy broccoli that I couldn’t use. I had meant to blanch my broccoli, and then put it in an ice bath, but I ended up letting it boil too long. This turned out to be a great thing, because it turned into a delicious, easy soup. I hope you like it.

Ingredients

I blended it for five minutes on high in my Vitamix blender*, and it came out velvety smooth and piping hot. Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil (Tutta Toscana) over the top, and enjoy! You may also want to experiment by adding a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, and maybe some toasted pine nuts. Buon appetito!

*If you don’t have a high-performance blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec, you’ll need to heat it on the stove. (Blend the broccoli with the liquid ingredients, pour it in the pot, add the shredded cheese, and heat.) I love the Vitamix; it makes hot soups, smoothies, and so much more; I use it almost every day. It has an air-cooled motor that allows it to run for long periods of time without overheating.

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Think Before You Choose the thinkThin® Protein Bar

If you think a thinkThin Bar is a healthy snack, because it’s:

  • high protein
  • sugar-free
  • gluten-free

… think again.

Check out the ingredients (the most objectionable ingredients are bold): Protein blend (calcium caseinate, soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate), glycerin, coating (maltitol, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, sodium caseinate, dairy oil, soya lecithin, natural flavors, salt), glycerin, maltitol syrup, ground peanuts, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, rice flour, calcium carbonate), water, peanuts, canola oil, peanut flour, natural flavors, tricalcium phosphate, soya lecithin, salt. Vitamins and Minerals: ascorbic acid, d-alpha tocopherol, niacinamide, zinc oxide, vitamin A palmitate, electrolytic iron, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, copper gluconate, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, vitamin B12.

Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Soy is the main protein source. Read my post about the dangers of soy. Most protein bars have soy as the main protein source; this is not good by any measure. Consider eating real food instead.
  2. Glycerin is not food.
  3. Maltitol syrup, like high-fructose corn syrup, is a processed syrup that has the same number on the glycemic index as sugar (about 60), but the body can’t process it as efficiently.
  4. There is no nutritional or culinary reason to use cheap, refined canola oil. Many other fats are superior: coconut oil, ghee, butter, olive oil …
  5. Folic acid is popular for enriching industrial foods; too much folic acid from enriched foods can mask a vitamin B-12 deficiency. You cannot get too much folic acid from food that naturally contains it (such as leafy vegetables, citrus, beans), but avoid food “enriched” with folic acid.

Want to eat a good snack? How about an organic Pink Lady apple and some organic peanut butter? If you need a bar for convenience, LaraBars  are made with whole food; these are the only ones I buy … and I still rarely eat them. Think real food, not faux food; raise your standards. Be well!

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