The snow has receded, the sun has come out, and the temperatures are headed up (this week, insanely so). These few weeks in the very earliest part of New England’s spring are the time to forget any lingering bitterness about a dreary winter and tap into a natural source of sweetness.
Tapped sugar maples just around the corner from our house
The sunny sides of sugar maples yield a sap that when boiled down (in something like a 40-to-1 ratio) creates a fantastic amber treat: maple syrup. The process is explained nicely by the Boston Globe.
Photo by Clampants (aka Mr. Eating The Week) on flickr
To celebrate this seasonal bounty, we Recipe ReDuxers are “Sticking with Maple Syrup Sweetness” for our March theme. There are myriad ways to add this natural sweetness to meals, and I already had a simple breakfast recipe that mimics the flavors of French toast using maple syrup, cooked barley and a hard-boiled egg. But I decided to add in a few more healthy ingredients – banana and walnut – to really bring it up to Recipe ReDux standards. The result: banana walnut “French toast” barley:
Ahhhhh, pullback week: a couple easy 4-milers, some yoga & cross-training, a little ok, a whole bottle of wine, and an 8-mile long run. Granted, the long run was in the snow, but even that wasn’t too big of a deal (look carefully in my hair, though).
Snow? What snow?
The easiest part of this week, oddly enough, was the recovery from last week’s 14-miler. Honestly, I’ve never bounced back from a serious long run more quickly. Is my vegetarianism helping me recover? In No Meat Athlete’s post about his laid-back approach to veggie boosterism, Matt notes that some crazy endurance runners credit their vegetarian diets with shorter recovery times. Or maybe it’s my adherence to post-workout ice baths, even though I look forward to submerging my nether regions in freezing water about as much as I do shoving an ice pick into my forehead.
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)
In the month when we celebrate love, Recipe Redux is aiming straight for your heart with chocolate.
Chocolate has a taste that has launched a thousand obsessions. But the cocoa bean – and darker, less processed chocolates – also contains flavanoids that may act as antioxidants, help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow throughout the body, and prevent abnormal blood clotting. It’s no wonder that the culinary dietitians of Recipe Redux would focus on this heart-healthy, tastebud-friendly food for February (which is National Heart Month in the U.S.).
For my contribution, I figured one superfood is great, and two would be even better. So I combined heart-healthy chocolate from local Taza with the spicy-sweet anti-inflammatory root, ginger.
The result: a rich, zesty start to your morning with double chocolate ginger scones:
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.
Fresh off our holiday trip to Texas, I was charged with devising a “fresh start” breakfast recipe for January’s Recipe Redux. Hopelessly Tex-Mex obsessed at that point, and looking for any excuse to douse things in salsa, I trained my sight on eggs Benedict. This was a perfect candidate for a healthifying Redux, what with the sticks of butter involved in the traditional sauce and noticeable absence of anything recently derived from a plant.
But simply omitting the hollandaise and adding salsa doesn’t maintain the creamy, sloppy texture that is a good part of what makes eggs Benedict awesome. Enter the magic ingredient: avocado.
By mixing up these mean, green nutrient machines with some lime and hot sauce, I got a spicy sweet sauce with that desired creamy texture, minus all the saturated fat. Combining the sauce with salsa over poached eggs and corn biscuits, I ended up with Eggs BeneMex, a great Tex-Mex take on the traditional breakfast dish.
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).
Breakfast, holidays, Tex-Mex, lunch, traveling, blogaversary, staying, going – they’re all mixed up this week, which marks a year since the first ever ETW post. We’ve come full circle to brunch again, but this time, my post is flavored by the tastes and temptations of Texas.
Tex-Mex brunch ingredients
By temptations, I don’t mean the “gentlemen’s” clubs just outside the Austin airport (I try to keep things PG-13 on ETW, after all). But I do mean the fantastically temperate winters, less-insane real estate prices, and proximity to my parents. Tim & I were feeling the pull big time while visiting for Christmas, and even more so when our flight home got substantially delayed (“What if we just don’t go back?”).
Reality intervened, however, in the form of our pets, jobs, schools and friends. But when we hosted the latter at our now-traditional New Year’s Eve brunch this past weekend, I couldn’t help sneaking a last Texas hurrah (or hey y’all?) into the menu.
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.