Posts tagged ‘sugar snap peas’

November 5, 2018

I Can’t Wait for Grocery Delivery!

I can’t wait for grocery delivery! Creating and testing gluten-free recipes means I can never shop at just one store. I’d rather spend my time in the kitchen than traveling to and from the grocery or walking through the aisles. Building a favorites list online will allow me to spend a minimum amount of time shopping and get all of the basics delivered right to my door. I love that idea!
carts
In preparation for the eventuality of grocery delivery, I’ve been clicking and picking up. My primary concern before I began was the quality of produce. Even when I do the shopping, it’s frequently difficult to find high quality, fresh produce in our local stores. Nonetheless, I decided to dive in.

Of course I can have nonperishables shipped from Amazon any time. I’ve previously purchased things like paper towels and G.H. Cretors popcorn from them. I didn’t enjoy the experience of having to fill a pantry box in order to get free shipping. I hated the way the items were packaged when they arrived. And I had to make sure someone was available to check my porch so the boxes didn’t disappear. That’s not the experience I’m looking for.

Subscriptions work well for some items like coffee. In fact, Jim’s Organic just started a subscription service. I signed up the minute I got an email announcing subscription availability. But coffee is something on which I can easily gauge my usage. I’m not as methodical about my consumption of paper towels or cereal.

In my market, there are two stores that offer click and pick-up service – Kroger and Wal-Mart. I chose Wal-Mart because they have a plan for $10 delivery in the near future. Each time I order from the site, I build familiarity with the product selection and add to my favorites list.

Downloading the app means I don’t have to call upon arrival. Once I receive a notice that the order is ready, I check in from my phone when I’m on the way. When I arrive, the store is notified and brings out the order.

This means that I’m allowing the app to track my location. This can be a privacy concern. If so, there’s an option to receive notification via email, drive to the store location, and call the number listed on a sign found in each parking spot in the pick-up area.
produce
Last week I added sugar snap peas to a pickup order. That evening, I popped the package open, washed a few and ate them raw. I was pleasantly surprised! The peas were crunchy, tender, and sweet. They were the freshest, tastiest produce I’ve had all year. That worry I had about the quality of produce is beginning to wane.

I’m attending a film festival out of town. There’s nothing in my refrigerator at home besides butter, jelly, and pickle relish. This week will be the perfect time to add more produce to an order and see if the peas were a fluke. I hope not. A pattern of reliably fresh produce and the deal will be sealed! Online grocery shopping will become a regular thing for me.

When grocery delivery begins…score!!! I really can’t wait!

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/what-makes-a-grocery-store-great/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 5, 2018

Make Your Salad More Salady

Instead of drenching your salad with dressing, why not make it more salady! When it comes to salads, it stands to reason that everyone would have different preferences. The question is, do those preferences make your salad more nutritious and satisfying or just more caloric?
salad
Some of us love salads. Some of us choose salads as a healthy choice on a restaurant menu. If you’re eating salad because you love it, just keep on chomping! If you’re eating salad to be healthy, it’s worth considering what’s in and on it.

While many of you were happily grilling burgers Labor Day, my friends and I were eating salad. Our holiday fare was a Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken. Okay, I guess the chicken was an homage to holiday grilling.

Anyway, one friend doesn’t really like Caesar salads. She says she prefers traditional salads with iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and cheese. Another argued that traditional salad has mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and pecans. That was laughingly characterized as a fruit salad by the hardcore traditionalists.

The great thing about serving salad at home is the components can be presented separately so that each family member can fill a bowl or plate with the combination they prefer. This presents a great opportunity for children to explore raw food, flavor combinations, crunchiness, and food groups. The dinner table is the perfect place to learn about food.
arugual
Any salad full of fresh vegetables is healthy. Adding fresh fruit, herbs, and raw nuts can be healthy too. When I eat salad, I tend to dig out the crunchy things first. If the crunch is provided by sugar snap peas, cucumbers, apples, yellow bell pepper, and carrots my bowl is healthier than if the crunch is provided by croutons, bacon, candied nuts, or fried tortilla chips.

Of course a salad can have croutons and still be healthy. The key is the proportion of raw vegetables, herbs, fruit and nuts to bacon, cheese, sweetened nuts & dried fruit, fried toppings, croutons & dressing.

Almost every pre-dressed salad has way more dressing than I prefer. And even when you order dressing on the side in a restaurant, the portion cup will most likely contain 2 to 2.5 ounces. A single serving of dressing is 1 ounce.

This double portion (and sometimes there are two of these cups on the side) may not seem like a big deal while you’re pouring it on your salad, but if you’re pouring Ranch Dressing you’re adding 290 calories to your vegetables. That’s only 10 calories less than two medium chocolate cupcakes with frosting.

To help keep calories in check, I sometimes choose cottage cheese instead of dressing or skip the dressing altogether. In a salad filled with berries and nuts, I’m often happy with no dressing at all. I’ve also been known to use vinegar and a little salt, but skip the oil. When I make dressing at home, I often start with yogurt or avocado instead of mayo or use vinegar, oil, and water in equal proportions.
peas
Once you’ve toned down the dressing, an easy way to keep the fat and calories down is to avoid any fried toppings. Some croutons are fried. If you opt for croutons, choose baked ones. If you’re gluten-free, the easiest thing to do is skip them. Substitute grilled chicken for fried chicken, and hold the bacon and fried wontons.

I’m not opposed to a wedge salad covered in bacon, bleu cheese and dressing. When properly chilled with perfectly crisp lettuce, they’re scrumptious. I just don’t think of it as a healthier alternative to a burger.

Reducing the amount of cheese in your salad can dramatically reduce the fat in your salad as well. This is why I think of making a healthy salad as keeping it more salady. The more flavor that is derived from fresh veggies and fruits instead of from things used to smother the veggies and fruits, the more salady it seems to me.

If you’re choosing salad as a meal, only vegetables and fruit with limited dressing may leave you feeling hungry soon after you eat. For a heartier salad, boiled eggs, black beans, chickpeas, avocado, tofu, and quinoa are some of my favorite additions.

Salad may be the most versatile entree that exists. The options are limited only by your imagination and the availability of ingredients. There’s a minimum of cooking required and fresh ingredients are encouraged. No wonder we love them. Now, if we can just bring ourselves to let them be more salady….

https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/generic/cake-cupcake-chocolate-with-icing-or-filling?portionid=15043&portionamount=1.000

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/salad-days/

July 5, 2016

Lighten Up A Barbecue With a Green Salad

snappy saladToday’s the perfect day to lighten up a barbecue with a green salad. For 78% of us, the 4th of July includes a barbecue. Along with the burgers, brats, hot dogs, chicken, and ribs you’re sure to find plenty of potato salad, baked beans, and corn-on-the-cob. What’s often missing from the table is something light and green. While salad may not be practical for some environments, it can work well at a back yard barbecue.

On a really hot day, cold crunchy greens aren’t just healthy, they’re refreshing. Keep the salad in the refrigerator until the burgers come off the grill, then bring it out so the chill will hold while it’s served. If the refrigerator isn’t convenient, have an ice chest dedicated to salad. Salad dressing can be stashed on ice along with the sodas or beer.

Sometimes I compose a salad in advance. Other times, I serve all the toppings separately and let the guests build their own. When I compose the salad myself, I use ingredients that don’t easily wilt so that I have a longer window to serve a perky salad outdoors.

Chopped Romaine makes a good base. Carrots, celery, onions, bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, radicchio, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, corn, black beans, pico de gallo, hard cheeses, boiled eggs and steamed asparagus all hold up well.

I like to top a salad with nuts, sunflower seeds or toasted pumpkin seeds, but I wait until serving time to add these ingredients so they don’t get soggy. Crisp bacon pieces are also a great topping added at the last minute.

arugulaStrawberries, blueberries, or blackberries are delicious additions to a green salad, but I usually reserve those for indoor meals rather than a barbecue. The same with arugula, butter lettuce, and chard. It’s easier to control the quality of delicate ingredients at an indoor party.

MIxing fresh herbs in a salad can brighten and heighten the flavor of the greens. While herbs are delicate, cutting or chopping them into small pieces lessens the possibility of a wilted bite. I use parsley, basil, and mint most often, but dill, chives and cilantro are also great choices.

It always seems special to add a homemade dressing. All you need for a vinaigrette is oil, vinegar, and some herbs and spices, citrus, or other fruit for flavor. Sometimes a drizzle of honey adds the perfect touch of sweetness. I usually add a bit of water as well.

There are flavored vinegars and oils available for extra pizazz, but plain old apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil work just fine. Balsamic vinegar pairs well with cherry or chocolate and provides a deeper more caramel note to your dressing. Mirin is light and can be used in place of other vinegars.

A creamy dressing can be made with yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream or buttermilk. Many creamy dressings use a combination of some of these ingredients. Here’s a creamy dressing I’ve been enjoying atop my salad this week:

Green Goodness Dressing
4 – 6 Servings

1 tbsp Penzey’s Green Goddess Dressing Base
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup real mayonnaise
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp basil paste
1/8 tsp salt or to taste

In small jar, combine dressing base with water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, and basil paste. Sprinkle with salt. Put lid on jar and shake until well mixed. Refrigerate.

When it’s hot and muggy outside, I love a cold salad to lighten up a barbecue or any other meal for that matter. Just talking about it is making me want one so I’ll be off to the kitchen now to chop some greens!

August 12, 2013

The Benefits of Cooking – Part 1: The Food

One of my kids recently asked why we’re called Cooking2Thrive® rather than Eating2Thrive? Given how much all of us like to eat, it’s a valid question. Not only that, but say the word cook and lots of folks want to run for the hills ’cause it sounds time consuming and difficult so why would we want that in our name?

Since the question has been posed, I’m going to answer it with a series I’ll call The Benefits of Cooking.

So here goes – The Benefits of Cooking – Part 1

The Food

I like to focus on rewards, and one of the rewards of cooking is having great tasting food to eat. When I say cooking, I am referring to the act of preparing food using basic ingredients like meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, rice, polenta, honey, herbs, spices, milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you grew up eating home-cooked meals, your mouth may start watering just thinking about Sunday dinner. It’s hard to argue that food made from fresh ingredients does not taste better than food that has been processed to stay consistent in appearance through weeks or months of transportation and shelf-life.

I grew up helping my grandmother in the garden. Every time I see a pale, hard, overly trucked tomato in the grocery store, I cringe as my memory plays the contrasting picture of a soft, dark red, full flavored tomato just plucked from the vine. You know, the kind that sends juice running down your chin when you take a bite! It’s the sort of memory that has many of us attempting to grow tomatoes on the porch when we don’t have a yard. I still miss my grandmother’s tomato juice canned in glass and sitting on a shelf in the basement. That tomato juice started with those vine-ripened tomatoes and ended up as a critical ingredient in my grandmother’s chili or sometimes disappeared as I gulped it thick and sweet from a glass when it was chilled.

Tomato-300x225.png

The juiciness of a strawberry, the brightness of a sugar snap pea, the crispness of a golden delicious apple with tender skin – all are better when ripened before picking and prepared fresh. As a child, some of my favorite dishes were corn-on-the-cob, fried okra, baked sweet potatoes, green rice, and beef & noodles. Oh, and don’t forget the lemon meringue pie. I requested it for every birthday. My sister preferred cherry pie made with bing cherries from a tree in the yard. One year my mother discovered a fresh peach pie recipe. We bought local peaches in season, peeled them, sliced them, and placed them in a sweetened gelatin atop her flaky piecrust. Topped with whipped cream, this cold pie showcased the uncooked peaches perfectly.

These days I’m quite fond of boneless skinless chicken thighs seasoned with jerk spices, seared in coconut oil, and baked in a cast iron skillet with a little chicken broth, curried pork chops and polenta, mashed butternut squash, roasted cauliflower with a hint of crushed red pepper, steamed sugar snap peas, and my own version of my grandmother’s chili. Since cooking is the easiest way to consume my favorites often, I’m happy to spend some time in the kitchen.

Not only does freshly prepared food taste better, it makes it easier to avoid flavor enhancing chemicals, high sodium content, preservatives, and excess sugars. Even if you’re a great label reader, when you purchase processed food products, you may be consuming chemicals that are not required to be listed or specified on the label. Obviously, most of these won’t kill you on the spot or people would be dropping like flies, so there’s no need to be alarmist and say never ever buy prepared convenience foods from the store or eat what a friend is serving at a party, but it is naive to believe that these chemicals do not alter your body chemistry or affect your brain’s response to food.

And it may not take a large amount of an additive to change how you feel. A study cited in the April 2010 “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” reported that runners who rinsed their mouths with a carbohydrate solution right before and every 15 minutes during an hour-long treadmill session ran faster and further than those who rinsed with a placebo. The brain senses incoming energy “which may lower the perceived effort,” says Ian Rollo, PH.D. one of the study’s authors.1 Since it appears that a little dab will do it, here in a nation with increasing amounts of chronic disease, more studies of the potential negative effects of chemicals in our diet on long-term health are direly needed. In the meantime, it is up to you to decide how much risk you’re willing to take.

Cooking from fresh ingredients is also the easiest way to avoid allergens, gluten, and lactose or limit sodium, sugar, and starchy carbs. Of course, just because you cook the food doesn’t mean these items will magically be absent, but it does mean you have control over what’s included and it can eliminate the effort of reading and rereading labels.

If the word cooking scares you, remember that many fresh ingredients require little or no enhancement. Zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, lettuce, arugula, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, bell peppers, avocados, radishes, and snow peas for instance can be eaten with just a tiny sprinkle of salt or nothing at all. Fruit may only require peeling.

Even if you purchase water-packed tuna or smoked brisket from a BBQ restaurant and only “cook” a salad to go with it, you can add a tremendous amount of fresh flavor and nutrients to your diet. If that leads you to explore new combinations of flavors and preparations, then you’ll have captured the essence of being a cook. A little curiosity, a bit of practice, and a willingness to sometimes throw the whole thing in the trash are where most great cooks start.

And we all have near disasters or major failures along the way. Most of us burn ourselves, catch a dishtowel on fire, cover the floor in flour, burn cookies, leave out the baking powder, or put too much salt in something from time to time. Often it is from those failures that we learn the most.

I’m going to let this conclude Part 1. As you can see, the benefits of cooking include: Great tasting food and easy elimination of chemicals, allergens, inflammatory foods and lots of label reading. But wait, there’s more! Next up: The Benefits of Cooking – Part 2: The Fun. If you think I’ve forgotten about baking, think again. This is a series, remember, we’ll get to that in a bit.

You’ll find the rest of the series right here at Cooking2Thrive. Look forward to having you back!

Do you experience benefits from cooking? We’d love to hear them!

Sincerely,
Cheri

1 Rollo, Ian, Matthew Cole, Richard Miller, and Clyde Williams. “Influence of Mouth Rinsing a Carbohydrate Solution on 1-h Running Performance.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2010 – Volume 42 – Issue 4 – Pp 798-804. American College of Sports Medicine, Apr. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2012..