Foodie Tuesday: Garlicky Sautéed Greens


This is the season for dark, leafy greens – collards, mustard, beet, kale, even cabbage!  While in Northern California, we can get dark leafy greens pretty much all year-round, they grow best in cooler weather, making fall and winter the best seasons to eat them.  For today’s recipe, we were inspired by the beautiful pre-washed braising greens that we found at the Happy Boys Farm farmers’ market stands this weekend (see our first photo).

Greens are high in so many nutrients and so tasty that we can’t help featuring them often.  They are rich in both minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins (folate and other B vitamins, K, C, and E). They also provide the phytonutrients beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems. They even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

This Italian-inspired recipe would make a great addition to any Thanksgiving table, and could also be used with lightly pre-steamed broccoli.  It is one of the quickest greens recipe that we’ve published over the years.  First, it uses baby greens, which are less time-intensive.   It also uses pre-washed greens, which greatly cuts down on the prep time.  If you can’t get to a farmer’s market, consider using pre-washed bagged greens, available in many supermarkets.

Garlicky Sauteed Greens

Garlicky Sautéed Greens
Makes 6 servings
Folate per serving: between 20 – 60 mcg (5-15% RDA)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 lb. mixed, pre-washed braising greens (collards, kale, mustard, beet, turnip), cut on the short side into 1-inch strips
  • 1 TBS cooking olive oil
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, depending upon taste, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 TSP crushed red pepper, or more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock + more as needed
  • 1 – 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, to finish
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, to finish

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet until warm but not smoking.  Add minced garlic and sauté until soft and slightly browned.  Be careful not to burn the garlic – it can turn very quickly. 
  2. Add crushed red pepper and stir briefly with spoon.
  3. Add a handful of greens, stirring constantly.  Add another handful of leaves as the first batch wilts slightly – continue until all greens have been added.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in chicken stock.
  5. Steam greens in stock until chicken stock is absorbed and the greens are cooked through but still bright green and retain some shape (about 4-8 minutes, depending upon greens).
  6. Remove from heat, and stir in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  Taste and add more salt, if needed.
  7. Serve immediately.

Optional cooking additions: For a slightly nutty flavor, add 2-3 tbs. of toasted pine nuts before serving.  For a Sicilian twist, add 3-4 tbs. of raisins with the stock and then add the toasted pine nuts before serving.

Nutritional cooking tip: Greens need to be slightly cooked in order to absorb the iron they contain, but not cooked so long that the folate is destroyed.

Source of nutritional information: http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=23199

Foodie Tuesday: Halloween Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew


Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew

Just recently, as though to welcome Halloween, sugar pumpkins began to appear in farmers’ markets and the weather turned fall like.  In response, at Go Folic! our thoughts naturally turn towards hearty pumpkin soups and stews.

While not high in folate, this orange fall favorite packs many health benefits.  Pumpkin is high in fiber (good for digestion), the antioxidant beta-carotene (which may reduce the risk for cancer and reduce wrinkles), and the immune system booster, Vitamin-C.   One cup of pumpkin contains more potassium than a banana (crucial for heart and other muscle function).  When you cook pumpkin, save and roast the seeds, which are full of the mood booster, tryptophan and  phytosterols, shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Today’s recipe contains both pumpkin and folate-full white beans.  This elegant, easy-to-make vegetarian entree is a slow-cooker adaptation of a Basque recipe published in the original Greens Restaurant Cookbook by Deborah Madison.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew
Prep time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4, 160 mcg folate (33% RDA)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1.5 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tbs. virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white parts only, rinsed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Parsley, chopped (for garnish)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak beans in water overnight; drain, then place in bottom of crock pot.
  2. Toss vegetables with olive oil to coat; mix in sage, salt and pepper; place vegetables on top of beans.
  3. Pour vegetable stock over all; stock should cover all ingredients.  If not, add stock to cover.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  5. Serve topped with parsley and a  drizzle of olive oil for garnish.

Foodie Tuesday: Okra, Part 2: Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning + Cooking Tips


We love these okra dishesAs we mentioned in our post, Okra: Part 1, okra seeds were probably first brought to America hidden in the hair of enslaved West Africans, who made it a central ingredient in many well-known Creole/Cajun dishes, such as Gumbo (we love this recipe for Seafood Slowcooker Gumbo from Black America Cooks).  The mucilage that helps okra thicken stews like gumbo is the ingredient that makes it so good for slowing absorption of sugars, and so healthful for people who are concerned about Type II Diabetes.  It’s also the ingredient that turns so many people off to the vegetable.  Why?  Because when okra isn’t cooked properly, this mucilage can turn any dish into a gloopy mess!

How to Cook Okra without the Slime!

The general rule is that the longer okra is cooked, the more mucilage it releases and the slimier it gets.  This is also true for okra that’s cut into pieces – the smaller the pieces, the more mucilage is released in cooking. So, when using cut okra, the following techniques are helpful for making sure you get all that slimy goodness inside your body, but little or no slime as your eat it:

  1. Cut it into larger pieces and add it towards the end of the cooking process;
  2. Cook the whole pod, as in this easy recipe for “bhindi” (the Indian word for Okra) from AllRecipes.com;
  3. Before adding other ingredients, cook your okra over medium heat in a small amount of oil, stirring constantly until the “slime” disappears, as in this ymmy and healthful recipe for Okra, Tomatoes and Shrimp from the “Real Soul Food Recipes” website.

Certain cooking techniques that are good for reducing the slime include:

  1. Deep-frying – try this healthier recipe for Oven Fried Okra from “Alley Cat in the Kitchen;”
  2. Picklingthis version by Molly53 on Soul.Food.com serves as a great spicy accompaniment to roasted meats;
  3. Roasting!  Our recipe below!

roasted okra with creole seasoningEasy Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning

Today’s recipe, Easy Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning, uses the spice mixture featured in our “Savory, Soulful Recipes” brochure, which you can download from our website.

Creole Seasoning

Mix the following together and store in an airtight container.  Use in place of seasoning salts:

    • 3 tablespoons onion powder
    • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons ground thyme.

Roasted Okra
4 servings, 166 mcg of folate (44% RDA) per serving

    • 4 cups fresh okra (not frozen)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1-2 tablespoons creole seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the okra in a bowl or plastic ziplock bag and toss with olive oil. Arrange the okra in one layer on a foil lined baking or cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the seasoning salt.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until they turn brown and become crisp.  Enjoy!

Foodie Tuesday: Okra, Part 1 – History, Health and Beauty Benefits


Where Did Okra Come From?

this is an okra plantAmong the many vegetables that West Africans brought with them on the slave ships was okra, the seeds for which some historians believe people purposely hid in their hair.

The name for this vegetable, also known as “lady fingers” probably derives from the Niger-Congo group of languages. For instance, in the West African Twi language, okra is called nkuruma. In Louisiana, slaves taught Creoles how to use okra (called gombo in French) to thicken soups and the vegetable is an essential ingredient in the dish that is now called “gumbo.”

Okra is a vegetable with a long history. Historians believe that okra was cultivated in Ethiopia as far back as the 12th century B.C, making its way from there to West Africa. During the years of the Atlantic slave trade, it spread across the world. You’ll now see okra in African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines.

Health Benefits

okra pods - the vegetable comes in both purple and green varietiesIn Japan’s Kowchi Prefecture, where farmers specialize in growing okra, residents credit their good health and beautiful smiles to the vegetable. And no wonder! One-half cup of this superfood contains 83.6 mcg of folate, or 22% of your daily requirement. It’s also high in a number of other B vitamins, as well as vitamin C and A, iron, and calcium. Okra’s high fiber content makes it useful for digestion.  In addition, mucilage and fiber found in okra helps adjust blood sugar by regulating its absorption in the small intestine, which makes it a great food for people who are concerned about Type II Diabetes.

Beauty Benefits

Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China, both of whom were considered beautiful women, loved to eat okra for its health and beauty benefits.  Okra can become “sticky” when cooked using certain techniques; it’s this slimy quality that makes it a good thickener in soups and stews. It also makes it a good setting lotion (see this recipe from Black Hair Media), final hair rinse, natural hair gel and lice eradicator. To make a natural okra-based conditioner:

  1.  Boil horizontally sliced okra till the brew become maximally slimy.
  2. Cool it and add a few drops of lemon or your favorite natural scent.
  3. Use this as your last hair rinse for body and softness.

Okra, Part 2 – Cooking Okra w/out the Slime

Tune in next Tuesday for information on how to cook okra, including a couple of really tasty recipes that use techniques that prevent it becoming “slimy.”

Foodie Tuesday: Inauguration Celebration Hawaiian Mango Bread


MangoBreadClose-UpIt’s the day after inauguration day, and we wanted to honor President Obama.  Since the President was born and went to high school in Hawaii, we decided that this recipe for Hawaiian Mango Bread would be perfect (originally printed on Food.com)!  On the Islands, it’s traditional to make and give this tropical fruit-nut bread as a gift.

Mangos have been cultivated for a very long time, and are even mentioned in historical accounts of Alexander the Great.  Native to Southeast Asia, the mango trees can grow up to 60 feet tall.

About the Mango

Mango, considered by locals to be a Hawaiian fruit (as opposed to pineapple, which is a plantation crop) is not only high in folate.  They are also rich in fiber, other B Vitamins (think anti-stress), Vitamin A/Beta-Carotene, Vitamins C, E,
& E and in the minerals magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Mango Benefits

The B-vitamins in mangos are helpful for handling stress while its Beta-Carotene prevents sun damage to the skin.  The zinc in mangos makesthem helpful for fighting acne.  In addition, mangos have stomach soothing properties similar to the papaya and are also helpful for preventing constipation.

The Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 30
Folate per serving: 104 mcg | 26% RDA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fortified all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups peeled and diced fresh mango
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.
  1. Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon into a small bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar and mix with dry ingredients until well blended.
  4. Fold in mango, raisins, nuts and coconut.
  5. Pour into loaf pans and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes, unmold and let completely cool on baking racks.

Enjoy warm while watching this video of President Obama’s inauguration speech!


Source, Nutrition Information: Mangoes & Their Vitamins | eHow.com

Foodie Tuesday: Zucchini Muffins!


Zucchini MuffinsThese muffins went fast when we served them at the SF Black Infant Health Improvement Project‘s Open House Event on January 28, 2010 (special thanks to our favorite caterer Claudine Daggit, owner of Stiletto & Spice)!  So fast, in fact, that we decided to include them in one of our recipe brochures, Go Folic! Easy Snacks.

This recipe is so good that we decided to feature it in today’s Foodie Tuesday.  In addition to making a great on-the-go breakfast, it can also serve as a very tasty snack. It’s easy to make, too!

Mini Healthy Veggie Bio: Did you know that zucchini…

  • Is actually a fruit?
  • Was first cultivated in Central and South America over 5000 years ago?
  • Is good for your skin? Not only does it have plenty of folate and water, but it is high in vitamin C, which helps to prevent bruising.
  • Is also high in potassium, manganese, and beta caratine / vitamin A, making it good for your heart, your bones, proper functioning of thyroid and sex hormones, and regulating blood sugar?

Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins
Folate per serving: 35 mcg (9% RDA)

INGREDIENTS

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray or Butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cups roasted walnuts

PREPARATION

  1. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or coat with butter. (You can also use muffin tin liners, instead.)
  3. In a large bowl, stir together eggs, applesauce, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bow, stir together flour, salt, backing soda, cinnamon, ginger, and  cloves,
  5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until barely blended (lumps are OK!).
  6. Gently stir in zucchini, raisins and walnuts.
  7. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups.
  8. Bake 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove muffin pan from oven and let muffins sit for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove muffins from pan and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy at room temperature or warm with your favorite spread.

Beautiful Fruits: Strawberry Face Mask


Strawberries are not only a delicious fruit, they also pack a punch of nutrition in that little package!  Studies have indicated that eating a diet rich in strawberries can help protect your heart, lower your blood pressure, and prevent certain kinds of cancer.  Strawberries are also chock-full of vitamin C and antioxidants, which help keep your body happy and healthy.  Even better – strawberries are loaded with folates.  In fact, one cup of strawberries contains 40 mcg of folate.  Yes!

All those antioxidants and folates can help improve your hair, skin, and nails.  Both help your body make new cells and repair cell damage to places like your facial skin.  Strawberries also contain salicylic acid, which rids the skin of dead cells, makes your skin pores smaller and your face look brighter and shinier. They can gently refresh and exfoliate the skin, remove impurities, and reduce redness and swelling.

For more information about better health through strawberries, check out Oregon State’s Berry Health Benefits Network.

If you can stop yourself from eating this delicious-sounding strawberry mask recipe, use it on your face to promote clear skin, remove dirt and build up, and to counteract aging effects.

“Homemade Strawberry Facial Mask”

Ingredients

  • 4-5 very ripe, medium strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

  1. Rinse strawberries and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel
  2. In a small bowl, mash fruit with a fork.  Add cream and honey, mixing well.
  3. Apply immediately and wait 20 minutes.  Rinse with lots of warm water.  Pat face dry.

Some tips for making homemade facial masks:

  • Cleanse your face before applying mask, using a toner
  • Use soft water or distilled water, whenever possible
  • Apply the mask by beginning at the chin area and moving up to the cheeks and forehead. Apply the nose next, moving outward toward the cheeks. Be sure to leave space around the mouth, eyes, and eyebrows. Finally, spread the mask on your throat, moving from bottom to top.
  • Always use immediately!  Because you don’t use preservatives, the mixture can go bad and damage your skin!

Via: strawberry-recipes.com