Tag Archives: cilantro

The 411 on Eggs & Cholesterol (feat. Huevos Rancheros)

21 Feb

Egg lovers, rejoice! The US government released their latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans last month and one of the most controversial changes was their decision to remove limits on dietary cholesterol. Historically people have been advised to limit their cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day in order to reduce the risk for heart disease. Since one large egg contains 186 milligrams of cholesterol, eating anything more than one egg per day was frowned upon.

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Why the new recommendation, you ask? Over the past several years, evidence has emerged to suggest that cholesterol in our diet is not the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats—most commonly found in fatty meat, full-fat dairy, and packaged and processed foods made with hydrogenated oils—have more of an impact on blood cholesterol levels, and the US government continues to recommend that we limit our intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of our total calories. For the average person, this amounts to no more than 20 to 30 grams of saturated fat per day.

Before you go hog-wild on eggs, there are a few other things that you should know. Studies have shown that eating up to 1 egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease or stroke in the general population; however, people with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease if they eat 1 egg (or more) per day.  In people without diabetes, one whole egg per day—or 7 per week—is probably not going to do you any harm. Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, and folate—and most of the egg’s nutrition is in the yolk. If you already have high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes, be cautious about the number of egg yolks you eat and take into account other sources of saturated fat in your diet. Egg whites can be incorporated into scrambled eggs, omelettes, and quiches in place of some of the whole eggs for similar flavour and texture with much less saturated fat and cholesterol.

With all of this talk of eggs, I’ve had a major craving for my favourite brunch dish: huevos rancheros. It’s hard to beat Mexican flavours for breakfast, plus it happens to be a perfect gluten-free brunch dish when family or friends with celiac disease come to visit. I found this recipe following a search for beanless huevos rancheros, since legumes and my tummy don’t always get along. The simple yet spectacular chipotle salsa is top notch with its mild heat and smokiness, but the true star of the dish is the corn tortillas. We have the luxury of living 10 minutes away from a tortilla factory, but you can usually find them at specialty food shops or in the refrigerated or frozen section of your grocery store.

¡Buen Provecho! (the Spanish version of “Bon Appetit”)

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Huevos Rancheros
(adapted from Epicurious.com)

6 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably no-salt-added)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 tsp which tasted good, but E thought a bit more salt would be best)
8 large eggs
1 avocado, sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. For the sauce, purée tomatoes with their juice, onion, cilantro, chipotle, garlic, and salt in a blender until very smooth. Set aside.
  2. To warm the tortillas, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stack 2 tortillas in skillet and cook 30 seconds, then flip stack over with tongs and cook 30 seconds more. While second tortilla cooks on bottom, turn top tortilla over with tongs, keeping tortillas stacked. Flip stack again and cook in same manner, turning over top tortilla and flipping stack again so that both tortillas are softened and both sides puff slightly, then deflate (do not let them become browned or crisp). Wrap tortillas loosely in foil and keep warm in oven. Cook remaining tortillas in the same manner, adding 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet for each batch.
  3. Once tortillas have been warmed (and are resting in the oven), add tomato purée carefully to the hot skillet (it may splatter) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salsa is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a separate pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 12-inch heavy non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then crack 4 eggs into skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, or to desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered, then cook remaining 4 eggs in remaining teaspoon of oil in same manner. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, spoon 1/4 cup salsa onto each plate and top with 2 tortillas, slightly overlapping them. Transfer 2 eggs to tortillas on each plate and top with some of remaining salsa. Divide avocado between 4 plates. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 405 kcal, 24 g fat (4.4 g saturated), 33 g carbohydrate, 6.3 g fibre, 17 g protein, 495 mg sodium.

 

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A Hearty Moroccan Stew to Satisfy your New Year’s Resolutions

1 Jan

Happy 2013!  Do you have a resolution for the New Year?  The surplus of Weight Watchers commercials on TV yesterday served as a reminder that weight loss is one of the most common goals set by individuals at the start of a new year.  According to a recent study, 38% of resolutions are weight-related.  Unfortunately, only 8% of all people are successful in achieving their resolutions—and this number is not limited to those who strive for weight loss.

Soups and stews are the perfect vehicle for New Year’s resolutions that revolve around any of the following:  to lose weight, to eat more vegetables, to cook more often, and the list goes on.

The liquid in soups make them filling, meaning less room in your stomach for more calorie dense foods.  Research has shown that when individuals consume a low-energy soup before a meal (e.g. broth-based vegetable soup), they eat 20% fewer total calories at that sitting.  This can translate to weight loss of half a pound every two weeks if soup is eaten before a single meal each day.  Soups are also an easy way to meet your vegetable quota for the day: coarsely chop what you have in the fridge and throw into a pot. The more colourful, the better.  Canada’s Food Guide recommends that most adults eat a minimum of 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (preferably more vegetables than fruits).  One serving is ½ cup cooked vegetables. Finally, soups are easy. Even the least skilled home cook can ‘wing it’ and end up with a tasty meal. Bonus: no fancy knife skills needed.

Up until now, I didn’t plan on making a resolution.  But as I sit here and write, I’ve decided that my resolution will be to cook more soups and stews. Partly because I haven’t been cooking as often as I’d like to and partly because I find them warm and comforting, particularly as we enter the depths of the cold winter months.  Since any goal must be SMART to be successful, my goal will be to cook a large soup or stew with a variety of vegetables and at least one good source of protein once a week (ideally Sunday) for the next 6 weeks. As a bonus, this will provide me with ample inspiration for upcoming blog posts.

The recipe below is for a hearty, one-pot Moroccan stew that I made over the holidays for a ‘chili/stew cook-off’ between several families.  Chickpeas, sweet potato, peanut butter, and earthy spices (cumin, coriander, curry powder) are truly a match made in heaven!  I tend to use generous amounts of onion, pepper, and celery to boost the veggie content.  Next time I’d like to try substituting squash for the sweet potato.  Or adding several handfuls of spinach or kale.  The possibilities are endless…

Soup’s on!

Moroccan Stew sans cilantro thanks to my sister J

Moroccan Stew (sans cilantro, thanks to my sister J)

 

Rockin’ Moroccan Stew
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each diced celery and chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated ginger root
1 tsp each ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander and chili powder
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp each light peanut butter and minced fresh cilantro

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add ginger root, cumin, curry powder, coriander and chili powder. Cook for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Mix well. Simmer for five more minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 253 calories, 5.3 g fat, (0.8 g saturated fat), 8 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6.9 g fiber, 355 mg sodium.

Jicama: Fresh, Flavourful, and Full of Fibre!

21 Sep

Today I bring you another installment of my adventures with jicama. Did you know that the slightly sweet taste of jicama is due to its high inulin content? Neither did I. Inulin is a dietary fibre with several documented health benefits. Studies have shown that inulin can reduce blood triglycerides. It also acts as a prebiotic— food for the healthy ‘probiotic’ bacteria in your gut.

With its high fibre content, jicama may increase satiety and assist with weight control. One cup of sliced jicama contains a whopping 6 grams of fibre and only 48 calories. A healthy diet should contain 25 to 38 grams of fibre daily; unfortunately, the average Canadian only consumes 14 grams of fibre each day. If you consider yourself to be an average Canadian, add two cups of jicama to your day and ta-da! You’ve met your fibre requirements.

Enough about my nutrition ramblings… onto the food! I stumbled across this recipe for Jicama with Peanut Sriracha Dip while browsing at Indigo one evening. It comes from the cookbook ‘Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables.’ Ripe is the type of cookbook that you could proudly display on your coffee table yet it could just as easily live on your kitchen counter, full of stains and dog ears. The photos are works of art and the recipes look delectable. Of all its reviews, this one from the Portland Press Herald is my favourite…

“Open the cover and let the fruits and vegetables seduce you. From beets with bedroom eyes to come-hither coconuts, the new cookbook “Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables” reads like a love letter to produce…”

The dip combines two of my favourite flavours: coconut and peanut. It was pretty good as a dip but could have used more acidity to cut the creaminess of the coconut milk and peanut butter. We had lots of extra dip so E and I used the leftovers as a sauce for a shrimp and tofu stir-fry. It was heavenly!

Jicama Spears with Sriracha Peanut Dip

 

Jicama with Peanut Sriracha Dip
(from Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables)

Sriracha, affectionately known as “Rooster sauce” is a Thai hot sauce made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt.  It can be found in the Asian food section of most major grocery stores.  Add as much Sriracha as you can handle.  The heat intensifies as the dip chills.

2/3 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
3/4 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp Sriracha sauce, or more, to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped, unsalted, roasted peanuts (optional)
2 medium jicama

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cilantro, chopped peanuts, and jicama.  Whisk gently over low heat until smooth and warm, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro.  Cool to room temperature.  Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours or overnight to allow the flavours to blend.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the jicama with a sharp paring knife.  Cut into sticks roughly 1/2 inch wide.  Cover and refrigerate the sticks so that they’re nice and cold.
  3. When ready to serve, taste the dip with a jicama spear to check for heat and balance.  Because the jicama is sweet, tasting them together is important.  Add additional Sriracha, one squeeze at a time, to achieve your desired heat level.  Top with chopped peanuts before serving.

Makes 1 cup dip and 30-40 jicama spears.  Per 2 tbsp dip (without chopped peanuts): 80 kcal, 4 g CHO, 0.8 g fibre, 6.3 g fat (1.7 g saturated), 2.5 g protein, 54 mg sodium.

 

Black Bean, Corn and Mango Salad

7 Apr

I’ve been on a bit of a Looneyspoons kick lately.  Aside from the healthy ingredients and the humour, part of the attraction lies in the reliability of each recipe.  Rarely have Janet and Greta let me down.  If you’re anything like me, you can understand my disappointment when the sweat and tears that go into making a dish yield only mediocre results.  And by tears, I mean tears… those pesky onions get me every time!

My most recent Looneyspoons endeavour was a black bean, corn, and mango salad.  The addition of the mango was the highlight of this dish– the burst of fruity sweetness was irresistible!  Add in some red from the pepper and grape tomatoes… some green from the onion, avocado, and cilantro… and volia!  An incredibly colourful and downright scrumptious salad.

Black Bean, Corn, and Mango Salad. YUM.

 

Corn, Black Bean and Mango Fandango
(from the Looneyspoons Collection)

1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (14 oz) whole kernel corn, drained   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp each ground cumin and chili powder
1 cup diced avocado (add to the salad just before serving!)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Serve immediately or chill before serving.

Janet and Greta say they prefer this salad at room temperature, and as with most dishes containing avocado, it tastes best when eaten the day it’s made.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 236 kcal, 10 g fat, 10 g fibre