GABBY COOKS – chicken & corn soup

I’m sure I could spend the rest of my life eating Grandma’s chicken and corn soup and be a completely satisfied man.  She always used dark meat chicken for more flavor, but it is equally delicious using chicken breast.  This main course soup is a budget stretcher which complements any shopping list.  Add some chopped escarole and you’ve created a health dynamo.  If escarole is not available at your grocery, curly endive, a cousin of escarole, will work just as well.

Escarole has no fat.  One and one-half cups of chopped escarole has only 15 calories, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates.  It adds 5.2% to 8% of your recommended daily consumption of fiber which is a critical component of bowel health decreasing risk of constipation, diarrhea and diverticulitis.  We all know that adequate fiber will satisfy hunger with fewer calories, but to avoid bloating and gas work up slowly to an amount of 25 to 38 grams daily.

But wait, there’s more.  This one serving of 1 1/2 cups of escarole supplies 30% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 4% of your DRV of iron and calcium.  A shortage of iron may cause you to feel tired, dizzy and headachy.  We all know the importance of calcium, don’t we?  Yeah, strong teeth and bones.  healthfully.com

here are the ingredients
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 chicken legs and thighs or 2 breasts ( or a combination of dark and white meat, it’s up to you whether to use the skin in cooking, I believe it adds additional flavor, but also calories and fat)
  • about 4 cups chopped escarole (Grandma never used greens other than fresh parsley and it was just as delicious)
  • 3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
directions
  1. heat the olive oil in a stew pot or Dutch oven
  2. add the onions and garlic
  3. cook until translucent being careful not to scorch the garlic
  4. remove from the pot and reserve for later
  5. add the chicken legs, thighs, breast
  6. saute in the oil until lightly golden
  7. add enough broth to cover the chicken pieces and bring to boil
  8. immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot
  9. cook on low heat about 30-45 minutes adding more broth if needed
  10. remove chicken from pot, set in bowl to cool
  11. add the greens, herbs, corn, and rest of the broth
  12. bring to a boil
  13. reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot
  14. cook about 15 minutes
  15. while that is cooking, skin and debone the chicken pieces
  16. tear meat into bite-sized pieces
  17. add the chicken and reserved onions and garlic to the soup
  18. add more broth or hot water if necessary to keep it soup
  19. season with salt and pepper
  20. ladle into bowls and top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs

GABBY COOKS – fresh beets

A dear friend of mine is an exercise freak.  When she’s not cooking a scrumptious omelet or mixing a Greek salad, she is jogging or working out at the gym.  I asked her, ” Why the strenuous activity and attention to a healthy diet?”

“When I die,” she responded, “I am being cremated.  I don’t want to be a grease fire.”

Okay, okay, you’ve heard it before.  I just couldn’t let that little snippet pass without sharing it with you guys.  But, it is a great bit of advice to heed.  Obesity is becoming a leading health concern in the United States.

I’ve been enjoying fresh red beets ever since my boyhood days on the farm.  The sweetness surpasses anything that comes in a can with a beet label.  When I bought a few at the market today, my friend said he loved beets but did not know how to cook them.  I’m sure most of you know what to do with beets, but for the few who don’t, this post is for you.

The beetroot is the taproot of the beet plant known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or golden beet.  It is a cultivated variety of Beta vulgaris.  They are a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K, and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, pantothenic acid and folate.  They are also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.  Additionally, beets contain important phytonutrients and dietary fiber.

Beets are not recognized as a super food as much as kale or blueberries, but these roots can hold their ground against the best of super foods.  Check the link

your wellness guide

for all the great health benefits available.  And if you are not yet convinced, BEETS ARE CONSIDERED AN APHRODISIAC.  Yeah, I can see those busy little fingers tapping on the keyboard now.  The high content of boron boosts sex hormone production and the nitrates increase blood flow to the organs.  Guys, y’all know what that means.  Hey, I’m just passing along information available on the great link I provided above.

There is a simple method to cooking those great roots.  I learned it from my grandma who pulled bushels of red beets from the garden and canned them.

ingredients

red beets

directions
  • If you are lucky enough to buy beets with the tops, cut the tops off about 1 ” above the root.  DO NOT CUT INTO THE ROOT.  The tops are delicious cooked or in salad.
  • Scrub, scrub, scrub the roots
  • Place in a pot large enough to cover them with cold water
  • Cook for about an hour.  It depends on the size of the beet
  • Refrain from piercing the roots until you think they have cooked long enough
  • Pierce one beet for tenderness
  • Remove from the heat and run cold water over them
  • When cool enough to handle slip the skins off.  You will be amazed how easy they skin
  • The top and the root ends will have a coarse texture.  Slice them off

Now you have fresh, cooked beets ready to prepare according to your favorite recipe.  Honestly, I keep a bowl full in the refrigerator and eat them like snack candy.  They are that sweet.

GABBY COOKS – porcupines & mushroom sauce

There are no quills in this dish about which to be concerned.  It’s just simple, down-home cooking that combines pork, rice, and mushrooms in a one pot, stove top meal.  For many years pork was the bad boy in the health-conscious diet.  Those ribs, chops, sausages, and bacon were attributed with ailments from cardio-vascular disease to bad skin.  Baby, times have changed.

We don’t eat pork 5 nights a week nor do we have BLTs  at every lunch.  But, in moderation, chops, ribs, cutlets, sausages are a wonderful alternative to beef and chicken.  Remember – pork is the other white meat.

Here are some pork facts:

  • pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus)
  • it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide
  • pig husbandry dates back to 5000 B.C.
  • pork is the most popular meat in Eastern and Southeastern Asia
  • Asia cuisines prize it for its fat content and texture
  • it is forbidden by Jewish, Muslim, and Rastafarian dietary law for religious reasons

A three and one-half ounce serving of lean pork contains the following nutritional value:

  • 13.92 grams fat
  • 27.32 grams protein
  • 36% DV of Vitamin B-6
  • 29% DV of Vitamin B-12
  • 35% DV phosphorous
  • 25% DV zinc

Add this meat to the wholesome goodness of mushrooms and rice – voila – heaven in a Dutch cooker.

here are the ingredients

 

 

  1. 1 cup cooked white rice
  2. 1 LB ground pork
  3. 2 cloves chopped garlic
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tsp dried basil or 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
  6. 1 tsp dried parsley or 1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
  9. 1 cup chicken broth
  10. 2 TBS flour
  11. 2 TBS butter
  12. 2 TBS oil, olive or canola

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the rice according to directions
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the pork, garlic, herbs, salt & pepper, egg and mix well
  3. Reserve a small portion of the herbs to add to the mushroom sauce
  4. Add the cooked rice which has cooled and mix well
  5. Shape in balls just like meatballs, place on plate and chill for an hour
  6. After an hour’s chill, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid
  7. Brown the porcupines in the oil
  8. Remove them from the pot
  9. Add the butter to the pot and another TBS oil
  10. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat evenly with melted butter and oil
  11. After about 3 minutes sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms
  12. Cook the flour to a light brown, don’t burn it, stirring as it cooks
  13. Add the chicken broth and stir to mix with the mushrooms
  14. Stir constantly until the broth thickens into a creamy sauce
  15. Add the reserved pinch of basil and parsley
  16. Return the porcupines, cover and simmer about 1/2 hour

This dish is complete in itself, but sometimes I like to serve it in a bowl over hot noodles.

CABBAGE, anyone?

bright-cabbage-color-134877

OK, I don’t want to hear any bellyaching about cabbage, “Ohhhh, it gives me gas,” or “I just don’t like cabbage or anything that smells like cabbage,” or “it stinks up my house when I cook it.”  Get over it!  Cabbage is wonderful.

My heritage is Pennsylvania Dutch.  Born and raised in Dutch country with traditional Dutch cooking, our New Year’s Day supper was always pork and sauerkraut.  Loved it!  But, I’ll cover that in another post sharing with you memories of cabbage fermenting in 5 gallon crocks in the cellar.  Mmmmm.

There are hundreds of ways to eat this vegetable, but one of our favorites happens to be a cole slaw recipe which I will gladly share with you after I trumpet the benefits of including this wonderfully nutritious vegetable in your diet – daily is not too often.  Sautéed and mixed with your morning scrambled eggs, simmered in a light lunch soup with garlic and tomatoes, or a robust stew with pasta for suppertime are just a few of the amazing ways to pack your diet with this delicious member of the brassica family.

First, let’s talk about the cousins of cabbage.  Yes, I’m sure you are familiar with most of them.  Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy (a friend begs my shrimp/bok choy/noodle bowl when constipation is a problem), broccoli, and last but not least, the famous sweetheart of super foods, kale.  So many ways to enjoy this treasure of the vegetable world that nobody should go through life lacking its benefits.

And those benefits are numerous indeed.  I’ll cover the highlights here for you, but check out the website nutrition-and-you.com for greater detail. These are percentages of RDA per gram of cabbage.  A small, one pound head of cabbage is 454 grams, so a person would consume several grams in one helping.

  • folates                                 13%
  • niacin                                  1.5 %
  • pantothenic acid               4%
  • pyridoxine                          10%
  • riboflavin                            3%
  • thiamin                                5%
  • vitamin A                             3%
  • vitamin C                              61%
  • vitamin K                              63% 
  • a host of minerals including potassium (helps control heart rate and blood pressure), manganese (used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase), iron, and magnesium.

Cabbage also packs phytochemicals, potent antioxidants known to protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers.  Additionally they help reduce LDL, the “bad cholesterol” in the blood.

(Medical disclaimer)  Cabbage family members contain “goitrogens”, a compound that can cause swelling of the thyroid gland in people with thyroid dysfunction.

Now, that you are absolutely sold on the greatness of cabbage, here’s my favorite cole slaw recipe.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS

  • about 1 pound of shredded cabbage (a small head)
  • up to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (adjust this to your taste)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS 

Nothing fancy here – place the cabbage in a large bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients in a smaller bowl, taste it and adjust the dressing to your liking, mix well with the shredded cabbage, chill before serving.

 

GABBY COOKS – chili kale & beans

Clean & serene living means learning healthy habits and good eating.  And I love recipes that are quick and simple.  Here’s one of my new favorites.  It serves 2.

All the experts tell us about the nutritional values of kale.  But, I’m tired of kale in my salads and white bean & kale soup.  And good Lord, who can get past the visual of kale juice in an eight ounce juice glass.  Here’s a new twist on healthy eating.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family Brassica oleracea.  Of all the super healthy greens, kale is acclaimed as king.  Some of the beneficial compounds in kale have powerful medicinal properties.

A single cup of raw kale ( 2.4 ounces) contains:

  • 206% of DV of vitamin A (daily required value)
  • 684% of DV of vitamin K
  • 134% of vitamin C
  • 9% of vitamin B-6
  • 26% of manganese
  • 9% of calcium
  • 10% of copper
  • 9% of potassium
  • 6% of magnesium

This 2.4 ounces also contains 3% or more of DV for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorous.  This nutrient dense green contains very little fat, but that fat is mostly the healthy omega-3.  And it pumps another 3 grams of protein into your diet.

Red beans, also known as Mexican red beans,  are nutrition dynamos.  They are rich in antioxidants and packed with protein, folate, minerals, and fiber including resistant starch.  Resistant starch boosts the body’s ability to burn fat, aids the full feeling, and controls blood sugar.  A 1/2 cup serving will provide 90 calories and 7 grams of protein.

Great Northern beans per 1/2 cup serving contain 104 calories, and provide 6.2 grams or 25% of fiber DV plus a little over 7 grams of protein.  They are rich in vitamin B-6 and are dense in minerals and amino acids.

I love using dry beans in cooking.  They have a better flavor and are much less expensive.  The process of a soak is easily manageable when planned ahead of time.  My favorite soak method is to place the desired amount of beans in a heavy cookpot, cover with water, bring to a boil for one minute, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to sit for at least an hour.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse, and cover with plenty of water or broth (at least 2 inches over the beans).  Cook on slow simmer for an hour or until tender.

here are the ingredients

 

  1. 1/2 cup dry Mexican red beans
  2. 1/2 cup dry great northern beans
  3. 4 cups rinsed and chopped kale center ribs removed
  4. 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  5. 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. up to 1 TBSP chili powder
  8. 1 tsp dried oregano
  9. salt
directions
  1. place the beans in a heavy cookpot, cover with water and bring to a boil
  2. allow to boil for 1 minute and turn off heat, cover pot, soak for 1 hour
  3. drain and rinse the beans, return to the pot
  4. add the quart of broth or stock
  5. add the bay leaf and dried oregano
  6. bring to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 1 hour
  7. add water during cooking to keep beans covered with liquid
  8. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  9. meanwhile, rinse the kale leaves, cut out the center rib
  10. chop into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl
  11. add the olive oil and toss with kale to evenly coat
  12. sprinkle salt and desired amount of chili powder on the kale
  13. toss again to evenly coat
  14. spread the kale on a baking sheet and place in the oven
  15. allow about 10-15 minutes in the oven until the leaves wilt and slightly brown on the edges
  16. when the beans are tender, add the kale and stir to mix
  17. simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors

I love this served atop a baked potato ( microwave will work) with a dollop of sour cream.  Sharp cheddar sounds good, too.  This is a power-packed dish that takes a little time to prepare, but is very simple with only a few ingredients.