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 – 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GABBY COOKS – squash soup

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.

C’mon now, don’t wrinkle your nose until you’ve tried it.  It is velvety smooth and delicious.  I use the acorn squash, scientific name is Cucurbita pepo – turbinate.  Originating in North and Central America. historically this squash was used by the Native Americans.  It is a fruit of which the seeds were taken by European explorers and spread throughout the world.

Acorn squash is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and other B-family vitamins.  It has  a wealth of minerals including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous, and calcium.  The raw fruit is difficult to peel and I find it easiest to slice it and then steam the slices until tender, cool, and then peel.

The other nutrient-laden ingredient in this soup is the sweet potato.  This tuber is rich  in flavonoid phenolic compounds, powerful natural antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin A.  Also in sweet potatoes are vitamin B-5, B-6, B-1, niacin, and riboflavin in addition to iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

Not only is this soup good eating, it is a powerhouse of nutrients.

Here are the ingredients

 

  1. 1/2 medium size acorn squash, deep green in color, sliced and steamed until tender.
  2. 1/2 medium size sweet potato peeled and diced
  3. 1 clove garlic smashed
  4. 1/2 tsp chopped jalapeno
  5. 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  6. 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth or combination of both
  7. 4 TBSP butter
  8. salt to taste
  9. grated fresh nutmeg
directions
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add the diced sweet potato
  3. Peel the cooled acorn squash and add to the saucepan
  4. Stir, then add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno
  5. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes
  6. Add 2 cups of the broth
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the ingredients are fork tender
  8. Carefully pour the hot soup into a blender and puree
  9. Return the mixture to the cook pot, add the rest of the broth
  10. Blend well and again simmer to a smooth, velvety texture
  11. Serve in soup bowls and grate fresh nutmeg atop each serving.

If the soup cooks down too much to an overly thick consistency, just add more broth or water.