Maybe it’s the wand-like shape of a celery stalk which suggests it is imbued with magical, “negative calorie” powers. Let’s just get this out of the way up front: it’s a myth that you burn more calories digesting celery than are actually in the celery itself. And nutritionally, it’s not really a big standout – there’s a reasonable amount of water and vitamin K in each stalk, but mostly it’s just a fiber delivery system.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this relative of carrots and parsley for its other merits, like the crunchy texture and clean, distinctive flavor. Those firm green ribs stand up great to all sorts of dips and schmears, making celery a perennial favorite on the veggie-and-dip tray at parties. But there are several other ways to enjoy it, especially in crunchy salads with fruit or other veggies.
The recipe that got this all started for me was a vegan creamy celery soup in the recent issue of Vegetarian Times. But that recipe isn’t yet posted on their site, and I’m not a big fan of copyright infringement, so I can’t share it with you here. I did manage to find a very similar recipe from Pamela Goes Primal, however, linked in the recipe list at the end of this post.
For me, things like kale, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, spinach, nut butters, beans, and carrots are always top of mind. They get scribbled onto our grocery list week in and week out, and their absence in the fridge or pantry is immediately noticed. But on the other end of the spectrum is a food that rarely emerges from the recesses of my edible memory, one that when I stumble upon a recipe using it, I honestly think, “Oh, right, people eat that.”
Cauliflower doesn’t really deserve the wallflower treatment – inside those nubbly white florets are the nutrients common to the cruciferous vegetable family to which it belongs. Plants in this family are rich in sulphoraphanes (or in cauliflower’s case, precursor glucosinolates), which are associated with a lower risk of many cancers. But what finally snapped my neck in cauliflower’s direction was not the nutrition nerdery, but a simple roasted cauliflower soup:
Thick, earthy, and crunchy with the hazelnut topping, this soup from Sprouted Kitchen was all that. The mushroom-y flavor makes no sense (because there are none in there), but it is fantastic. The leftovers were nearly turned into a 10:00 am lunch, I was so eager to dive back in.
I had half a mind to hold this post until Halloween, given how scary meatloaf seems to be. On Teh Internets, there are countless “meatloaf-phobic” writers rehashing tales of weird/dry/awful meals in the past, shortly before imploring readers to “try this recipe, it’s not scary, I swear!”
It’s understandable, given how far our collective culinary mindset has swung from the 1950s. Meatloaf is one of the poster children for the Formed Meats and Space Food era (see Gallery of Regrettable Food for more).
Luckily, there are many modern takes that have brought this simple classic up to date with healthier ingredients and novel flavors. Many recipes cut the traditional beef or replace it entirely with poultry to decrease the saturated fat. Packing a meatloaf with vegetables not only provides more veggie servings, it’s also key to keeping the loaf from getting dry. There are even vegetarian “meat” loaf recipes, including (surprise!) the one pictured above.
If you’re interested in a home-cooking classic fit for our modern age, I’m pretty sure these recipes will help anyone past their meatloaf apprehension:
- Blue ribbon meatloaf from Eating Well (here)
- Black rice curried meatloaf from Eating Well (here)
- Asian style meatloaves from Cooking Light (here)
- Magical meatloaf (vegan) from Squidoo/Vegan Lunchbox (here) – Scroll down to the Magical Meatloaf recipe; that’s the one I made for this post.
- Feta-stuffed turkey meatloaf with tzatziki from A Sweet Life (here)
- Tuscan meatloaf with mushroom sauce from Simply Recipes (here)
- Cheesy turkey meatloaf bites from Weelicious (here)
Long on time but short on ideas – that describes the situation here at Eating The Week. Usually it’s the reverse, and I’m scrambling to pick from 4 or 5 themes, winnow down a list of 20 recipes, and figure out which of many dishes to photograph. This week, however, tumbleweeds were blowing through my brain as I tried to figure out what on earth to talk about.
There is a food theme at the ready (clams), but it was back-burnered. I’d already written up and shopped for this week’s home-cooking menu, and wasn’t going to buy and cook a bunch of extraneous food just to feed the blog (long on time, yes, but not that long). But then a lightbulb replaced the tumbleweeds in my head: the random menu of food we’re eating at home could be this week’s theme.
Common nutrients? Couldn’t tell you (well, I could, but let’s pretend). Similar style of dish? Not really. Featured ingredient or kitchen tool used? Nope. The only thread holding this post together is that all these dishes are appearing on the table at Chez Lynch this week.
Teh internets, how I love them. This vast series of tubes and trolls allows one to idly hunt around and find things like deer head costumes, vegetarian zombie shirts, and fascinating details about the food we eat. Today, for example, I discovered that there are wild species of pistachio plants whose nuts have a soft shell and what is described as “a strong flavor of turpentine.”
Thankfully, those are not the plants from which the sweet, semi-crunchy pistachios we buy at the store originate.
These green guys come from pistachia vera trees, and if you’ve got long, hot, dry summers and short, mild winters in your area, you could even grown your own. But if you lack a green thumb (or desert climate) and still want a decent shot of potassium, fiber, antioxidants and healthier unsaturated fats, pick up some pistachios and give this week’s recipe collection a whirl (after the jump).
Have you heard me extol vegetables’ virtues previously – colon-friendly fiber, blood-pressure-loving potassium – but haven’t yet felt compelled to consistently eat your daily recommended servings? Maybe you’re suffering from Vegetable Nutrition News Fatigue (symptoms include rolling eyes and sighing after repeated exposure to vegetable-related health-benefit messages). If that’s the case, then I clearly need to resort to the heavy artillery: chocolate.
What’s that, you say? Chocolate.
Do I have your attention now? Good, because something else yanked my attention back to the topic of produce-heavy diets: a British study found not eating enough fruits and vegetables is the 2nd greatest modifiable risk for developing cancer in men, and the 5th greatest modifiable risk in women (approximately 40% of overall cancer risk is due to modifiable/lifestyle factors). This news isn’t entirely new, since research has previously linked a lack of dietary produce with risk of many cancers. But the fact that it is second only to tobacco among modifiable risk factors in men startled me, and I realized it was time to step up the vegetable evangelism.
We now know that mushrooms are tasty little buggers, adding earthy flavor and filling texture to all kinds of recipes. Nutritional science has also revealed that they are decent sources of B vitamins, copper, and selenium, and a few varieties even boast surprisingly large amounts of vitamin D. But I sometimes wonder, before all that, who first saw a bulbous fuzzy growth atop a pile of decomposing matter and thought, “That belongs in my mouth?”
Maybe we shouldn’t think about that too much, actually; my job of extolling their dietary virtues would become more difficult if we’re fixating on terms like “gilled fungi” or “spore-bearing fruiting body” (thanks, Wikipedia). Instead, let’s focus on melty risotto, savory pancakes, and the recipe that saved my relationship with veggie burgers: pecan mushroom burgers with gorgonzola sauce.
Jacksons Michael and Janet, Gloria Estefan, Public Enemy, and many more that will really date me – there are a lot of musical references that could lead into this week’s theme. But after a week of exams and a new volunteering gig, I’ve got decision fatigue like you wouldn’t believe. Since I couldn’t pick just one, humor me and hum the “beats” related song of your choice while gazing on these:
Are beets musical? No. Good source of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and beneficial pigmented phytochemicals betalains and anthocyanins? Yes. Tasty when roasted, boiled, or even grated raw, and especially well-paired with earthy soft cheeses like brie or goat cheese? Oh, heck yes.
Here in the American northeast, it’s that time again – the trees have hints of red and orange peeking out, the mornings are cool enough to warrant a sweater (and gloves, if you’ve got Raynaud’s cadaver hands like me), and many of us are faced with the dilemma of what to do with a big bag of these:
Apples lend themselves to all sorts of sweet fall-season treats, and that’s a popular way to work through the bounty. But there are only so many slices of apple pie, dollops of apple butter, and candied apples people can eat before getting completely. sugared. out.
And the other downside to the dessert-y apple recipes is they typically leave out the phytochemical-rich peels. The entire apple contains a good amount of vitamin C and fiber, but those peels are especially interesting because they contain flavanoids that have potent anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties. While it’s not yet clear if it’s the peel, the interior, or the entire apple that confers these benefits, research has shown that higher apple consumption is associated with decreased risk of some cancers and improved cardiovascular health markers.
So what to do? Try some of the peel-saving, meal-making recipes I’ve listed for this week, including apple pizza with spinach, blue cheese and mustard sauce.
It probably won’t be found on the red carpet anytime soon, but green leafy kale certainly is a food superstar.
And we’re not talking one-hit wonder, either. Kale – a relative of cabbage – boasts a huge amount of vitamin K to help build bones and promote normal blood coagulation. It also contains good amounts of vitamins A, C, iron, and calcium. Carotenoids found in kale are essential for visual function, and some may protect against vision loss associated with aging. It provides fiber and a reasonable amount of protein, and several compounds in kale may be protective against several types of cancer.