By: Leanne Ely
I shared some tips with you a couple weeks ago about grilling meats but there’s more to summer barbecue season than burgers and steaks!
Why turn on the stove to cook your veggies when you have a perfectly good hot grill already prepped? Never mind the fact that grilled veggies and fruits taste like something out of Heaven — if you know how to cook them properly!
Here are some of my best produce grilling tips:
Don’t use your veggie peeler. Don’t peel your vegetables before you grill them. Another reason why you need to buy organic produce! You’ll lose the nutrients and much of the flavor if you peel your veggies before they hit the grill. You’ll also get a smokier flavor if you leave the peels on. Remember the clean fifteen list and the dirty dozen when you’re trying to decide where to invest in organic produce.
Precook. Some hardier veggies need a bit of precooking to shorten the time they must spend on the grill. These types of vegetables would include: asparagus, broccoli, beets, artichokes, parsnips, carrots, winter squash and potatoes. Steam them or blanch them until they are only slightly tender, then pat them dry and cook them on the grill. That extra step will make sure the outside and inside of those sturdy veggies are cooked evenly. Vegetables like peppers, onions, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes and summer squash can be grilled raw.
Oil them. Rub a tiny little bit of olive oil (not extra virgin) or coconut oil on your veggies before you grill them. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grill, and it will also help keep them from drying out. Just a little bit because if there’s oil dripping from the food, you’ll experience flare ups.
Soak your fruits. Before grilling fruits, try drizzling them with honey or maple syrup, or soaking them in liquor. Talk about a flavor burst! Especially if you’ll be serving grilled pineapple or pears for dessert. Yes you can grill pears! You can also grill apples, watermelon and peaches. Reach for fruit that is firm and just barely ripe for your best options in fruit grilling.
Indirect heat. When grilling fruits and veggies, you want moderately hot coals or indirect heat. You may need to move them around throughout the cooking process to make sure they cook evenly.
Stick it to them. Skewers are great tools for grilling veggies. It’s tempting to make beautiful kabobs out of meat and veggies but if you want to ensure even cooking, skewer all the same type of veggie per skewer. Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chunks of onion and pineapple are all wonderful cooked on skewers.
Use packets. Some veggies don’t lend themselves well to skewers or grill baskets. Peas, beans, sliced peppers, etc. For these lovely foods, try making a packet out of tin foil and cook them that way. This is also a good way to cook potatoes, or to cook other veggies with a sauce or topping of some sort.
There you have it.
Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add?
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
You hear all the time that you should eat your fruits and vegetables. That they contain important minerals and vitamins essential for good health. So, you probably feel that you’re doing something good when you sit down to your daily salad and whatever other vegetables you can cram into yourself and/or your family members. And you are. Don’t get me wrong! But you might be surprised to know how nutritionally deficient much of the produce we have available to us really is today.
According to the American Food Pyramid, adults need roughly 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day for optimal health. But I personally feel that this number should be higher because I don’t believe that a couple cups of today’s produce can provide us with all of the minerals we need.
One study conducted by a research team out of the University of Texas discovered that six out of thirteen nutrients in a sampling of 43 different fruits and vegetables were significantly depleted between 1950 and 2000.
In 1950, broccoli contained an average of 12.9 milligrams of calcium per gram, but in 2003, broccoli was shown to contain only 4.4 milligrams of calcium.
The soil is depleted. Farm lands have become severely depleted of minerals. Even many organic farms have soil that has been over farmed to the point where the food that’s grown in that dirt is not as nutritionally dense as you might expect it to be.
The soil simply isn’t healthy anymore. With the GMOs, the pesticides and fungicides . . . we’re lucky if the fruits and vegetables that get harvested today have any nutrition in them at all by the time they get put on store shelves.
But there’s another thing.
Travel Time. Produce loses nutritional value at a steady rate after it’s been harvested. When you’re eating fruits and vegetables that have been shipped from across the country, how much nutritional value do you suppose it has by the time it reaches your table?
So how do you get all of the nutrition you need?
Here are a couple of ideas for you.
• Eat a lot of organically grown fruits and vegetables and consider supplementing with a daily multivitamin.
• Start growing your own food and ensure that the soil you use is properly nourished with organic compost matter and safe fertilizers.
• Preserve the nutrients that are in your produce by cooking them properly. Heat can destroy 30% or more of the nutrients in raw fruits and vegetables so don’t overcook them. Steam or saute your vegetables to prevent nutrient loss or, better yet, enjoy your produce raw. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. When you cook spinach, tomatoes and carrots (not overcooked into a pile of mush, mind you), you actually increase the amount of available antioxidants found in the foods in their raw state.
• Choose fresh or frozen over canned. Canned food has little nutritional value left after all of the processing it has undergone to get to you. Frozen food, however, is generally frozen immediately after being picked and it is possibly more nutritious than the food you get fresh at the grocery store if it’s been shipped to you from half way around the world, being exposed to all kinds of heat, light, air and who knows what!
So what’s the moral of the story?
Even if you think you’re eating enough produce, chances are you’re not. I’ve written articles in the past that will help you get more veggies into your diet. This might be a good time to reflect on one such article! Read it here.
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Today’s focus is on: CELERY
I’ve done my time with celery. Those “diets” that make you eat a lot of celery because the calorie count is so low? Yeah, you did it too, admit it!
And while I don’t eat celery that way anymore (it kind of makes me cranky!), celery is a fabulous veggie. Celery is one of the 3 magical ingredients used in soups with carrots and onions. The carrot is for sweet, the onion for savory and celery is for salt. And since I try to eat soup a lot, especially when the weather cools down, celery is always a resident in my crisper.
Besides being a key soup ingredient, celery is also plenty healthy. It acts as a natural diuretic, it calms your blood pressure, and it helps your immune system too.
Now, it’s time for your Trick!
When you buy celery, only buy organic. Celery is on the Dirty Dozen list because it’s so heavily sprayed. And since most people don’t consume a whole bunch of celery at a time, here’s a bonus trick for you to avoid waste! Cut the end off the celery, wrap the celery in aluminum foil and store it in your crisper drawer. It will last for almost a month this way!
Remember I told you to cut the bottom off your celery? Don’t throw it out! Save it and place it in a glass of water on a sunny window sill. It will regrow new bright green leaves!
And your Recipe:
Chicken Kale Soup
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, or use homemade
3 teaspoons coco-aminos
1 tablespoon grass fed butter
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 overflowing cups chopped kale
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker; stir well to blend thoroughly. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours, stirring every 2 hours.
By: Leanne Ely
All sorts of nutritious edibles are being plucked from the ground across North America at this very moment. Yes, October is harvest time. Even if you haven’t grown your own vegetables this year, you should still make the most of all that great local organic produce that can be so difficult to source (depending on where you live) during the rest of the year.
Preserving produce is an excellent thing to do, but if you’re not into pickling, you should know that one of the easiest ways to hang onto those veggies is to freeze them. Freezing is a great way to lock in that nutrition without having to make too much of a mess of the kitchen. Pickling is great, but it sure is a lot of work!
The following is a handy little cheat sheet for you to use to help you make the most of those fresh veggies. I’ve included some of the most common harvest veggies that you might never have considered freezing before. You’ll notice that some vegetables need to be partially cooked before freezing. That’s because a bit of blanching is required in order to stop the enzyme activity that decays veggies.
Green and yellow beans. Simply snap the tops off the beans, rinse them under running water and cut into one-inch pieces. You can keep smaller beans in one piece if you like. Blanch them in boiling water for about 3.5 minutes, and then put the beans immediately in an ice bath for 3.5 minutes. Pop them in a freezer bag and voila!
Beets. Cook the beats until they’re fork tender, then let them cool before removing the skins (if you will be using your beets for juicing and they’re organic, you can leave the skin on). Cut the beets into chunks before packing into freezer bags.
Broccoli and Cauliflower. Method is the same for both of these veggies. Cut the heads from the stalks. You should have a diameter of roughly 1” per head. Soak in salt water to remove any dirt or insects, and then drain well. Blanch for 4 minutes and then place in an ice bath for 4 minutes before freezing.
Brussels sprouts. Wash the sprouts by soaking in salt water. Rinse before blanching for 4 minutes. Place immediately in an ice bath and chill for 4 minutes before freezing.
Carrots. Peel your carrots and slice them into coins. Before you freeze them, blanch for 3.5 minutes and chill for 3.5 minutes in an ice bath.
Pumpkin. Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin, peel it and cut it into pieces. Steam or bake until tender. Mash the pumpkin flesh or blend it until smooth. Freeze in one-cup portions.
Spinach. You can freeze raw spinach or you can blanch it for 1.5 minutes and chill in an ice bath for 2 minutes before freezing.
Sugar peas. Wash, blanch for 2.5 minutes and chill for 3 minutes in an ice bath. Then place in freezer bags.
Peppers. Wash bell peppers and cut into slices. Freeze in bags.
Zucchini. Wash the zucchini, slice it and then blanch for 2 minutes. Chill in an ice bath for 2 minutes before freezing. Alternatively, you can grate the raw zucchini into one cup portions and freeze.
Tomatoes. Freeze whole for fresh tomato sauces all winter long.
By: Leanne Ely
Have you ever wondered where apple cider vinegar comes from? Well, it comes from fermented apple cider. When apple cider ferments, sugar in that cider gets broken down by yeast and bacteria into alcohol. From there, it gets broken into vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, to be exact!
In my home, white vinegar is used primarily for cleaning while apple cider vinegar is used in cooking. That’s because it not only adds a flavorful zip to recipes calling for vinegar, but it also has quite a good nutritional profile.
Before I start telling you about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, I need to clarify that we’re talking about organic, raw apple cider vinegar here. The processed stuff does not count! And since apples are at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, it has to be organic.
Health benefits of raw apple cider vinegar:
Lower blood pressure. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help lower high blood pressure.
Lower cholesterol. Apple cider vinegar may help to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body.
Regulate blood sugar. Studies have shown that diabetics who consume two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed have significant positive changes in their blood sugar levels the next morning.
Apple cider vinegar also has many anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It can help remove toxins from the body and it can even help you to become more regular! Apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium, can aid in weight loss, is great for your skin and it may even slow the growth of cancer cells.
Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day is enough for you to experience these great health benefits. If you add some to your salad dressings and stir a bit into one of your daily servings of water, you won’t have any problem sneaking this nutritious acid into your diet.
I also use apple cider vinegar on my face! Seriously! It works magically as a toner.
There are apple cider vinegar capsules on the market (rubbing those on your face won’t do too much. ha ha!), but some apple cider vinegar diluted in water will also provide you with health benefits. Straight up apple cider vinegar is much too acidic to drink straight. It will eat the enamel off your teeth and damage your throat.