Taco Soup

OK, time for another recipe. Maybe I favor soups… what can I say, it’s a great way to get lots of good food in one dish. This is one of my wife’s recipes. Many variations exist, but everyone has their preference.

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 Lg Onion, chopped
  • 1 pkg Taco Seasoning
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Black beans
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Can Whole Kernel Corn
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin

 

Brown the ground turkey and onions together, adding the seasonings in the middle (you could also try shredded chicken, make it like a fajita soup). Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir for a minute. Finally add all the other cans and the bell pepper last. Let simmer for 10 min. Serves 8-10.  Garnish with Greek yogurt, chives… (anything but sour cream, right?)

Here are some variations to this recipe.  A guide to beans may be helpful, too.

I like to think this is a recipe for rainy/snowy days. This is a good meal full of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Enjoy!!

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Peanut Butter

I suppose I like comparisons.  Here’s another.

My wife has always eaten natural peanut butter. I remember my mom getting it sometimes when I was a kid, but I always just preferred JIF or Skippy or Peter Pan brands. Probably because you have to stir natural peanut butter, and it has less sugar and less of other additives. Since being married, I have consumed nothing but natural PB and I will never go back. I don’t like the other stuff. There’s my conversion story, but here are the facts:

Processed peanut butters have more fat, more preservatives and more sugar. You can check out this link for general nutrition data on this type of PB.  The huge difference between this and natural PB (like Adam’s) is the hydrogenated oils. The only ingredients in Adam’s PB are Peanuts, Peanut Oil and Salt. Given peanut oil is one of the fattiest, it still has healthy fats and omega 3s, and it is much healthier than Skippy.

This is the stuff you want. Just keep eating it and it will grow on you.

Hydrogenation means to treat with hydrogen. It basically turns trans fats into saturated fats. Read more.

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Olive Oil vs. Grapeseed Oil

I have always used olive oil in everything. From brownies to stir-fry that’s what I have always used and thought was best for me. I remember seeing grape seed oil in a friends home about a year ago and I learned it was also very healthy. I have kept that in the back of my mind since. Recently, however, learned and confirmed that olive oil is good for you when it is not fried. If cooked above a certain temperature it will become harmful to your health (follow the link, read under “Heart Health”): basically, olive oil has LDL cholesterol and if it is oxidized (by being subject to high temperatures above 320 F) it will stick  to your artery walls.  It can still be wonderful and helps protect your body against many diseases, especially heart disease.  (This website is great and compares the two oils)

Olive Oil Nutrition Value
Values per 100 g of olive oil:

  • Energy – 890 k calories
  • Saturated Fat – 14 g
  • Poly-Unsaturated – 11g
  • Mono-Unsaturated – 73 g
  • Omega-3 – more than 1.5 g
  • Omega-6 – 3.5 to 21 g
  • Vitamin E – 14mg
  • Vitamin K – 62 μg

 

Grape seed oil, on the other hand, has a much higher “smoke point” or 420 degrees F.  They have virtually the same nutritional content.

Grape Seed Oil Nutrition Value

Values per 100 g of grape seed oil:

  • Energy  – 69 calories
  • Saturated Fat – 10 g
  • Poly-Unsaturated – 73 g
  • Mono-Unsaturated -17 g
  • Omega-3 – less than 1 g
  • Omega-6 – 72 g
  • Vitamin E – 60-120 g
  • Vitamin K – 22 μg
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Cabbage Patch Stew (…not kids)

I don’t know why it’s called that, but it is one of my favorite soups. The recipe I have is an adapted family recipe, so count yourselves lucky to have access.  I didn’t take a picture of it the last time I made some, so this is just one I found.

1 lb. Ground Turkey

1 Large Onion, chopped

1 Cup Chopped Celery

2 Cups Water

2 Cans Kidney Beans

2 Cups Chopped Cabbage

2.5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp Chili Powder

2 Cans Diced Tomatoes

Salt to taste

In a medium-sized pot, brown the turkey and onion. Add all the vegetables and cook until they are tender (3-5min), stirring.  Add the water (you can substitute the water with 2 cans of tomato sauce if you like a thicker soup) and the rest of the ingredients, and let it simmer until cabbage is tender approximately 15 minutes.  This recipe will make 8-10 servings.  Also, I actually don’t ever measure the chili powder, I just add to taste.

Cabbage is sturdy and inexpensive, and a longstanding dietary staple throughout the world. It is widely cultivated to be made available throughout the year. However, it is at its best during the late fall and winter months when it is in season. In fact, fruits and vegetables are best for us in their respective seasons (D&C 89) and cheapest at the store. Here is a list of which produce are in season when.

Cabbage can help clean out your digestive tract and lower cholesterol, unless it is overcooked. The nutritional content varies slightly depending on which variety of cabbage you eat: red or green, but both are low in calories and nutrient rich especially when raw or lightly cooked. Visit this website to learn more about cabbage.

Also helpful:

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FOOD DYES

So I’ve always been suspicious of food dyes, mostly because of hearsay from friends and other people, but I found an article from the USDA.

The article mentions that we (Americans) now consume 5 times as much dye than we did in 1955. But think of how many foods have dyes in them; virtually all processed foods. I remember hearing from a friend that consumption of to much food dye can lead to cancer (yeah, too much of just about anything will cause cancer, I know now). This article elucidates that the harmful effect are especially in children, with possibilities for learning impairment, allergies, hyperactivity and more.  If you want to read it, go here.

This is another interesting article/source that contrasts two viewpoints on the issue. One study found the opposite of what I just stated above, and another supports it. Controversy!!

I think it’s cool that Britain and now much of the rest of Europe have encouraged their food manufacturers to find alternatives to artificial food dyes.  It’s difficult to where to start to find alternatives in our own diets, but it makes me think back to the basics. Everything will be better if we just eat stuff that grows out of the ground, and animals that are good to eat: produce, grains, and turkey and chicken (among many). SO…. I encourage everyone to evaluate their diet and make some changes. This isn’t just about food dyes either, lets cut out a lot of the fat and sugar we consume (me too, I love chocolate and ice cream).

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Happy Oatmeal !!

This is a classic in my family. Very simple, healthy, and tasty. (By no means the different flavored instant stuff that comes in individual packets)

Ingredients (1 serving):

  • 1/3 Cup Rolled Oats (Old Fashioned)
  • Water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp Brown sugar or Honey

Optional garnishes:

  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Milk/cream/yogurt
  • Raisins
  • Berries or other fruit

Put the oats into a microwave safe bowl and add water just until it covers the oats. Add a pinch of salt then microwave it for 1.5-2 minutes or until the amount doubles in size.  Then add your sugar/honey and other garnishes. I usually like to add at least a little almond milk because it’s pretty thick just after having come out of the microwave. Enjoy!!!

<— (These are the kind you want)

Oats are pretty resilient because they keep all their rich nutrients even after undergoing the roasting process after being harvested and cleaned. They are high in antioxidants, high in fiber, and low in cholesterol.  They also contain many other nutrients you may be interested in learning about.

Also, they can be used in many very low-cost meals.  A container this size (42 oz.) can be found at any grocery store and costs about $3.00.  One serving can be made in 3 minutes and eaten in less than 2.  Literally a 5-minute-meal. Perfect for students.

If you were to make a bowl of oatmeal every morning, this one container would last you over a month.

Just a little note about quick oats vs rolled oats:

First of all they don’t taste as good. Second they are not as nutrient-rich because they are stripped of the bran and germ of the grain.  Quick oats are to rolled oats as white rice is to brown. It’s the same with enriched bleached flour and whole wheat flour.

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Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Slow cooked shredded chicken with corn, tomatoes and black beans. Prepare the night before and cook overnight or start it in the morning to be ready that evening. Serve over brown rice with chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, fat free sour cream and/or reduced fat cheddar. Low fat.

Servings: 8 servings • Size: 1 cup
Calories: 190 • Fat: 1.5 g • Fiber: 5.6 g • Carbs: 23.1 g • Protein: 21 g

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning. Serve over brown rice.

See FAQs for more info on brown vs white rice.

This recipe is from Gina’s Recipes. Check it out for more easy crock pot recipes.

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Wisdom in Whole Wheat

Check out this information about the vitamins and minerals found in a cup of whole wheat flour. You’ll notice as you scroll down, whole wheat flour contains more than 100% of your daily intake of manganese and selenium, over half your daily intake of fiber, and notable amounts of many other minerals including magnesium, phosphorous, and thiamine. I was impressed by the amount of omega-6 and omega -3 fatty acids as well. If you can’t afford the $3-4 price per pound of quinoa then don’t worry! But, how do you incorporate whole wheat flour into your diet? Cooking with whole wheat flour is quite an art, my wife has fed me many experimental (some successful, some not) whole wheat varieties of homemade bread, cookies, muffins, tortillas etc. So, whether you are a seasoned whole wheat chef or a novice, here are some helpful websites:

Cooking for Seven

Pinch My Salt

cookinglight.com

You don’t need a baker’s thumb to enjoy the benefits of incorporating whole wheat into your diet. Just like oatmeal or quinoa you can boil cracked wheat to make a breakfast cereal. It is quite tasty with honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, milk, fruit, yogurt or whatever you like!

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Black Bean and Quinoa Tostada

1/4 cup dry quinoa

1 can black beans

4 leaves green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped

1 roma tomato, diced

1/4 cup onion, diced

2 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp ground red pepper

1 clove garlic

4-6 tostadas

garnish with grated cheddar cheese and salsa

Thoroughly rinse quinoa in water. Add the quinoa to 3/4 cups of water. Boil uncovered until the water reaches the same level as the quinoa. Turn the heat to low and cover the quinoa let it cook until the water is gone, approximately 10 minutes. In the meantime sauté the onion in your favorite cooking oil with the garlic until soft.  Add the beans, cumin, and ground red pepper to the onion and garlic. Mix cooked quinoa with the bean mixture. Top tostadas with beans and quinoa mixture, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, or your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Check out this comprehensive list of minerals found in one cup of cooked quinoa.

*Quinoa seeds have all nine necessary amino acids for a complete protein.

*Quinoa may  help to lower cholesterol levels by removing plaque build-up on artery walls. One serving of quinoa supplies 1.5 grams of omega-9 fatty acids (oleic) and 2.2 grams of omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic).

Check out this website for my source and more information about the health benefits of quinoa.

You can easily incorparate quinoa into your diet by subsituting it with rice or pasta. It makes a powerful breakfast food when cooked and added with fruit for breakfast.

Bon appetit!

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Greek Orzo-Stuffed Peppers

Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow, orange and/or red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat orzo
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, (not oil-packed), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving the stems attached. Remove the seeds and white membrane. Place the peppers cut-side down in a large microwave-safe dish. Add 1/2 inch water, cover and microwave on High until the peppers are just softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool slightly, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork, leaving some whole.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and oregano and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the orzo, chickpeas, 1/2 cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook until heated though, about 1 minute. Divide the filling among the pepper halves and sprinkle each pepper with some of the remaining 1/4 cup feta.

Prep and cook time: 40 min.

4 servings

Nutrition

Per serving: 344 calories; 11 g fat ( 5 g sat , 4 g mono ); 25 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrates; 14 g protein; 11 g fiber; 656 mg sodium; 689 mg potassium.

(1 serving = 2 pepper halves)

Some Facts (Mostly from here)

Orzo:

145 g of cooked orzo has 200 calories.  It is always preferred to have whole-wheat orzo, but it’s not readily found in grocery stores. Orzo is about 15% protein, 4.5% fat, and 80% carbohydrate.

Chickpeas:

Whether it be chickpeas boiled, in a can, or garbanzo beans, they are all the pretty much the same. 168g of any of the above has 200 Calories. They have a little more fat than orzo and less carbs (8% and 77.5% respectively).

Feta Cheese:

Cheese can be controversial, or any dairy can for that matter, because many argue it is high in protein and vitamin D, but it is also high in fat and messes up feminine hormones.  Although most are high in protein, you really only need this protein if you are a vegetarian.  Feta cheese is moderately dense in calories and same for it’s fat content. More lean alternatives would be Cottage or Ricotta Cheese.

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