Swiss Chard and Pasta with Feta

Swiss Chard and Pasta with Feta

I’ve been on a vegetarian kick recently. With so much fresh produce available this time of year, who needs meat? While pursuing the stalls at our local farmer’s market last week, I got inspired to make this dish. It had been a long time since I’d cooked it, so I was excited to make it again. Chard is one of my favorite vegetables, and this recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare it. The original recipe comes from an American Heart Association cookbook, though I’ve modified it quite a bit to better suit my tastes. The feta adds a bit of a creamy consistency, and I love the crunch that the walnuts (or pecans) provide.

Swiss Chard and Pasta with Feta

Ingredients:

2 quarts water

1 large bunch of Swiss chard, (stems included, if desired) cut into strips

6 ounces dry angel hair pasta or spaghetti

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt


IMG_5878 IMG_5881

Pecans

Directions

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, and stir in the angel hair pasta or spaghetti. Cook 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the chard, and continue cooking until both the chard and the pasta are tender. Pour into a colander, and drain well.

3. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, and stir to blend well.

4. Return the chard and pasta mixture to the pot, and add the cheese mixture. Stir until the cheese starts to melt, and the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Swiss Chard with Pasta and Feta

5. Ladle into bowls, and serve hot. Serves 4.

Swiss Chard and Pasta with Feta

Ingredients:

2 quarts water

1 large bunch of Swiss chard,  (stems included, if desired) cut into strips

6 ounces dry angel hair pasta or spaghetti

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, and stir in the angel hair pasta or spaghetti. Cook 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the chard, and continue cooking until both the chard and the pasta are tender. Pour into a colander, and drain well.

3. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, and stir to blend well.

4. Return the chard and pasta mixture to the pot, and add the cheese mixture. Stir until the cheese starts to melt, and the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5. Ladle into bowls, and serve hot. Serves 4.

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Fried Rice with Mixed Veggies

Fried Rice with Mixed Veggies

Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry

Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry

Veggie quesadillas

Veggie Quesadillas

Slow Cooker Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

chicken-sausage-and-kale-soup

This soup is tasty, nutritious, and popular with all of the members of my family. And it’s so easy to make, too. After about 10 minutes of prep, the ingredients are ready to put into the slow cooker.


Slow Cooker Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. chicken sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and torn into small pieces
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 2 14.5 oz. can Cannellini beans, thoroughly rinses and drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 tsp. diced garlic
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

You might also like…

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

 

Easy Shrimp Gumbo

shrimp-gumbo

This simplified version of Shrimp Gumbo has become a family favorite recently. I’m not sure that our kids would ever eat plain okra (I’m not sure that I would either, to be honest), but they’ll eat it in gumbo. This recipe has quite a few steps, but they all go pretty quickly, making it a meal that’s easy to put together even on busy weeknights.

Shrimp Gumbo

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

2 cups water

1 Tbsp. butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup chopped frozen okra

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

1 lb. raw shrimp

Directions

1. Bring the water to a boil, and cook the rice according to the package directions.

2. While the rice is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the onions, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the okra, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Onions and Okra

5. Add the garlic and thyme, and stir. Then add the tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (I’ve used both; it just depends on whether you want the gumbo to be a little smoother or chunkier).

6. Turn the heat to low, and let the vegetables continue to simmer.

7. Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil, and add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

8. Remove the shrimp from the heat, and strain them in a colander. Run cool water over them to prevent them from cooking any further.

Cooked Shrimp

9. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and devein them. Cut the shrimp into smaller pieces (if desired); then add them to the vegetables.

10. Stir to mix the shrimp and vegetables, and serve over the rice immediately.


Shrimp Gumbo

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

2 cups water

1 Tbsp. butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup chopped frozen okra

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

1 lb. raw shrimp

Directions

1. Bring the water to a boil, and cook the rice according to the package directions.

2. While the rice is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the onions, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the okra, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

5. Add the garlic and thyme, and stir. Then add the tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (I’ve used both; it just depends on whether you want the gumbo to be a little smoother or chunkier).

6. Turn the heat to low, and let the vegetables continue to simmer.

7. Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil, and add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

8. Remove the shrimp from the heat, and strain them in a colander. Run cool water over them to prevent them from cooking any further.

9. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and devein them. Cut the shrimp into smaller pieces (if desired); then add them to the vegetables.

10. Stir to mix the shrimp and vegetables, and serve over the rice immediately.

10 Delicious Gluten Free Dinners

10 Delicious Gluten Free Dinners

I prepare a lot of gluten free dinners for our family. Several years ago I became more aware of the high amount of gluten present in the typical American diet. As I started to look more at what our family was eating, it became clear to me that we were consuming a lot of gluten, too. So I began to look at ways that we could reduce the amount of gluten in our diet. We don’t eat entirely gluten free, but I now strive for a low gluten diet.

When I first started preparing gluten free meals, I found it was very helpful to focus on the things that are naturally gluten free, rather than thinking about things that should be cut. When you start to think about it, there are many foods that fall into the first category: fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, dairy products, nuts and seeds, beans, rice, quinoa, and oatmeal (if it is specifically labeled gluten free), to name some of them. It required a bit of a mental shift, but I began to plan dinner around these types of food, rather than thinking about how hard it would be to replace the pasta that was featured in so many of our meals. With a bit of practice, it became much easier to make gluten free meals.

I have compiled here some of our family’s favorite gluten free dinners. Some of these recipes are mine, while some were developed by others. Just about all of them are great with a green salad on the side, which is, of course, gluten free, too. I hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as our family does!

Green Salad

Vegetarian

Broccoli and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Butternut Squash Risotto

Fried Rice with Mixed Veggies

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Tomato Soup with Quinoa

Butternut Squash Risotto

Fish and Seafood

Salmon with Avocado and Green Beans

Shrimp Fajitas– be sure to use gluten free tortillas

Pork and Poultry

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Quinoa Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

What’s your favorite gluten free meal?

Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Pork and Broccoli Stir-FryI try, as much as possible, not to waste food. We do our best to use fresh produce soon after we buy it and to get creative with the odds and ends that we have in the fridge. I actually really enjoy the challenge of finding ways to use up the odds and ends that inevitably wind up in our refrigerator. Recently we had some pork left over. We also had half a bag of frozen broccoli and some mushrooms. So I whipped up pork and broccoli stir-fry, which turned out to be very yummy. You could also add bell pepper slices; we just didn’t have any on hand at the time. Here’s the recipe. Measurements and cooking times are approximate. Like I said, I just used what we had.

Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 cups frozen broccoli
5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. cooked pork
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water

Directions:

1. Bring the water and rice to a boil, then turn the heat down, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, and rice is soft.

2. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil on low in a medium or large skillet. (I’ve seen conflicting information about whether or not sesame seed oil can be cooked at high heats, so I err on the side of caution and use low heat only.)

3. Add the onion and ginger, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Onions and Ginger4. Add the broccoli, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Broccoli and Onions5. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes more. Toss in the pork, and cook until it is warmed through. Serve over rice.


Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 cups frozen broccoli
5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. cooked pork
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water

Directions:

1. Bring the water and rice to a boil, then turn the heat down, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, and rice is soft.

2. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil on low in a medium or large skillet. (I’ve seen conflicting information about whether or not sesame seed oil can be cooked at high heats, so I err on the side of caution and use low heat only.)

3. Add the onion and ginger, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the broccoli, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

5. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes more. Toss in the pork, and cook until it is warmed through. Serve over rice.

You might also like…

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry

Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Cleansing Foods You Probably Already Eat

Cleansing Foods

The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and Christmas isn’t far behind. The holidays are a wonderful time of year. But they can also be rough on your body. With so many sweet and rich foods around, there are some years that I feel like I’m ready for a cleanse and a fresh start by mid-December.

Fortunately, there are many foods that can help support the body’s cleansing processes, which means that fasting or a hard core cleanse aren’t necessarily required. These foods can of course be eaten anytime, giving your body a “mini cleanse” whenever you need it. And there’s more great news: there’s a good chance you’re already eating many of these “cleansing foods.” All of these foods are plant foods, which underscores the value of a plant-based diet. So here we go, 10 Cleansing Foods You Probably Already Eat:

Apples

These fruits are high in a type of fiber called pectin. Pectin binds heavy metals in the digestive tract and helps remove them from the body. Apple pectin is concentrated in the core and peels of the fruit, so be sure to leave the skin on. Try to eat organic apples whenever possible, as conventional ones are often heavily sprayed and are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.

Avocados

Avocados contain the antioxidant glutathione, which blocks around 30 different carcinogens as well as aids the liver in detoxifying synthetic chemicals. They also provide high levels of fiber, which cleanses the colon.

Cabbage

Cabbage helps the liver to break down excess hormones and also supports its detoxification functions.

Cranberries

Cranberries help to rid the urinary tract of bacteria that can cause infections. They do so by preventing these bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract.

Flax Seeds

Like avocados, flax seeds are a good source of fiber, which helps to remove toxins. For more on some of the other health benefits of flax, see my post on Yogurt and Fruit.

Garlic

Garlic has natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal compounds. It can also help cleanse the respiratory tract by removing mucous from it. Fresh garlic, not the powdered kind, is the best way to reap these benefits.

Grapefruit

As with apples, grapefruit contains the fiber pectin, which binds heavy metals and helps to remove them. Grapefruit has anti-viral compounds as well, so it helps rid the body of viruses.

Kale

Kale is high in antioxidants, which help protect cells and tissues from free radicals produced as a result of everyday metabolic functions. Like cabbage, kale also contains compounds that help cleanse the liver.

Lemons

Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Vitamin C is also needed in order to make another antioxidant, glutathione. As mentioned above, glutathione is used to help detoxify the liver. To get the benefits of lemons, add fresh squeezed lemon juice to water. I sometimes like to sweeten it up with a little bit of stevia.

Onions

Onions are high in certain amino acids that contain sulfur. These amino acids are useful in cleansing the liver.

Eating these cleansing foods year round can help support your body’s natural detoxification systems, and some of them also boost immune health– an added benefit during the winter months. Eating a few extra helpings during the holidays can keep you from feeling like you need a major cleanse when they’re over.

To incorporate some of these foods into your diet, try some of these recipes:

Berry Smoothie with Strawberries

Gluten Free, Diary Free Berry Smoothie

Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt Parfait

Cranberry Pumpkin Granola

Cranberry Pumpkin Granola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrimp Fajitas

Shrimp Fajitas

Tomato Soup with Quinoa

Tomato Soup with Quinoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Bourdeau, Annette. “Detox Foods: 15 Most Powerful Detoxifying Foods.” Huffington Post. 15 July 2013. Web. 7 January 2014.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/25/15-detox-foods_n_2950173.html#slide=2262877

Schoffro Cook, Michelle. “Top 15 Cleansing Foods.” Care2. 4 August 2011. Web. 7 January 2014.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/top-15-cleansing-foods.html?page=1

Do you do regular cleanses?