Endive, and Pine Nuts, and Parmesan, Oh My

Visiting downtown Geyserville, CA is like stepping back in time.  There’s Bosworth & Son General Store for hardware, paint, tack, feed and western wear, a few other small shops and Diavola Pizzeria.  Blink, and you’ll miss it.  If you’re lucky enough to be passing through, try to make it at mealtime with a stop at Diavola.  The food here is delicious. They make incredible pizza’s, pasta, and salads, and the best cheesesteak I have ever eaten.

This is my take on a radicchio and endive salad I had the last time I ate at Diavola.  The salad is heart healthy, and it tastes great with that steak and cheese sandwich!

Ingredients
1 medium head radicchio
4 medium heads Belgian endive
4 TB pine nuts
15 cherry tomatoes
2 TB chopped parsley
¼ cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
4 TB rice wine vinegar
6 TB extra-virgin olive oil

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a saute pan over low heat, stirring often.  Let cool.

Quarter radicchio and remove core from each quarter.  Slice each quarter crosswise into ½” strips.  Place in large mixing bowl.

Remove any blemished leaves from the outside of the endive and cut into ½” slices.  Add to radicchio.

Slice cherry tomatoes in half and add to bowl, along with parsley.

Drizzle with olive oil, then toss.  Add rice wine vinegar and toss again.  Taste, and add more of either if needed.

Coarsely grind the toasted pine nuts.  This can be done in a mortar and pestle, if you have one, or with a plastic bag and a rolling pin.

Add pine nuts and Parmesan to salad, and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.

Fresh corn is a great addition, when in season.

Why this recipe is good for you…..

Endive and radicchio are loaded with vitamins!  One head of endive provides 1481% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin K, which is essential to proper blood clotting. Both are also very good sources of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.  Who knew!

Pine nuts contain heart-friendly monounsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.  Pine nuts are also a very good source of B complex vitamins, Vitamins D and C, and iron which is essential to a healthy nervous and circulatory system.  Extremely high in antioxidants, pine nuts are also packed with protein and magnesium, a great source of energy.

Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad with Pistachios

When one thinks of food in New Orleans, the word healthy rarely comes to mind.  The Crescent City has a long history of serving rich, fried, and often over-the-top food combinations.  On a recent visit, between beignets and etouffees, I ordered a beet and quinoa salad at La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street.  It was delicious, and healthy by any cities standard.  Here’s my recreation.

Ingredients

3 medium heirloom beets
Olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
1 cucumber
2 stalks celery with leaves
¼ cup shelled pistachios
Sriracha mayonnaise (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper

Dressing

3 TB lemon juice
2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Wash and dry beets.  Rub each beet with a small amount of olive oil.  Wrap in foil, and roast for 1 hour.  Cool, then peel the beets.  Cut each beet into 8 wedges and place in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add approximately 2 qt of water to a 3 qt sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water.  Drain very well, and place in a separate medium size mixing bowl.

Peel and seed the cucumber.  Dice cucumber and celery with leaves.  Add to the bowl with quinoa.

Toss beets with 4-5 tablespoons of dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Toss quinoa mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange beets in a row down the middle of a large serving bowl or plate.  Spoon quinoa mixture along each side.  Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise.

Sriracha Mayonnaise:  
Mix 1 cup mayo with 4-5 tablespoons sriracha, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Why this recipe is good for you…

Quinoa is full of fiber.  Fiber helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and diabetes.  Quinoa contains iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin and manganese.   All are essential to healthy blood and tissue cells.

Beets help to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and are packed with essential nutrients and fiber.

Pistachios have fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than any other nut.  They also contain 1-arginine, which helps make the lining of your arteries more flexible and less likely to develop clots.

And, of course, the sriracha mayonnaise may not be the healthiest ingredient… but it sure tastes good.

Spice Up Your Dinner With This Recipe!

Say goodbye to boring, bland dinners with this Chicken Fajita recipe! The best part about this dish is that it only takes about 18 minutes to whip up. Here’s how you make it:

chicken fajita recipe

STEP 1:

Start by slicing one onion and the bell pepper into thin strips, then sauté in a frying pan. While the vegetables cook, slice the chicken into thin strips and place it into the pan as soon as it’s cut. Add some spices to your dish for flavor.

chicken fajita spices

 

I chose coarse ground black pepper, cilantro, paprika, crushed red pepper and chipotle sea salt. You could also add cumin, a tablespoon of soy sauce or cayenne pepper on top.

STEP 2:

As the chicken is cooking, dice the second half of the onion, three tomatoes and the jalapeño pepper. Add salt, lemon and pepper to taste. Once the dish is done cooking, shred the lettuce into thin strips and place over top.

chicken fajita recipe ingredients

 

Did you know? Tomatoes are good for the heart, eyes and can help to prevent certain types of cancer? Onions help to regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Boost your Vitamin C intake with jalepeños, each one contains ~17 mgs.

STEP 3:

Top your delicious fajita dish with the shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, cheese, guacamole or whatever combination you like. Serve with flour tortillas, corn, beans or rice.

fajita dinner recipe

Credit for this tasty dish goes to Positive Wellness, an awesome resource for recipes, fitness tips and healthy living.

Have a Happy, Healthy Fourth of July!

Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and fainting, which is the last thing you want to happen right before fireworks. During the summer months, it is extremely important to take care of your body, especially when you’re getting blasted with the heat from the grill or running around with the kids.  Here are a couple of delicious Fourth of July inspired drinks and foods to keep you and your family happy and healthy.

bb7440_6fbed6e909dd992004f242e0d3f5ee40.jpg_srb_p_630_945_75_22_0.50_1.20_0It’s not the Fourth of July without watermelon!! This delicious fruit is 92% water, which is extremely important during the summer to avoid dehydration.  Some other foods that are great for hydration are celery, cucumber and iceberg lettuce. You can get dehydrated from not consuming enough water, eating foods high in sodium and running around in the heat for a long time. To keep your body in check, make yourself some Fourth of July inspired fruit infused water.  Add pineapple, strawberries and blueberries for a fun Fourth of July drink that everyone will love.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Go ahead and indulge!!! Chocolate has been scientifically proven to have cardiovascular benefits and can help prevent heart attacks.  According to a study from the University of Aberdeen, “Researchers discovered that those people who had a higher intake of chocolate were 11-percent less likely to suffer a heart attack than people who ate no chocolate at all. People who regularly consumed chocolate were also 25-percent less likely to die from a heart issue and 23-percent less likely to suffer a stroke.”

DON’T: It’s only natural to cheat on your diet a little bit on the weekend or when you’re on vacation, but the important part is making smart choices. According to a new study, eating a lot of trans fats can negatively affect your memory. Trans fats are known for raising the levels of  “bad cholesterol” and lowering the “good cholesterol” in your body. If that’s not enough to curb your cravings, trans facts may even cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to problems with memory loss. “The researchers discovered a fascinating link between trans fats and memory: for every gram of trans fats consumed on a daily basis, the memory performance of the men dropped significantly. In fact, men whose diet included a lot of trans fats (16-grams or more) were able to recall 12 fewer words than men who ate less trans fats.”

Make sure not to overhydrate your body, especially if you are playing sports.  exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), or overhydration, prevents the kidneys from producing enough sodium, which results in the cells swelling. Although it is rare, some athletes have died from overhydration, yet no one has died on the field from dehydration. For the athletes in your life, make a dish with cabbage, artichokes, Brussels sprouts or turnips. They are great to boost cell renewal, aid in bone health, regulate blood pressure and for muscle performance.

red-white-blueberry-smoothie-550-3

For a real breakfast of champions, make a Firecracker Smoothie with bananas, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries to get tons of nutrients in a quick and easy breakfast that tastes amazing. Bananas have lots of Vitamin C and Potassium, which are good for managing your blood pressure and for your muscles. Blueberries help with memory loss, eyesight, and help relieve dry skin. Strawberries are filled with Vitamin C and are great for strengthening your immune system. Raspberries are also a great source of Vitamin C and fiber and are beneficial for diabetes management because they help to keep your blood sugar stable.

Have a happy Fourth of July!!

What You Can Eat To Prevent Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can be caused by sitting or standing for long periods of time, or from running or lifting weights. This condition can be hereditary, or triggered by your lifestyle. There are a couple of things you can do to prevent varicose veins and spider veins, including wearing compression socks, taking walks, and even incorporating certain foods into your diet.

Avocados contain a high concentration of glutathione, which helps to protect your heart, veins and arteries from oxidant damage. Glutathione is a tripeptide molecule that also ensures that Vitamin C and Vitamin E are functioning properly. If you have varicose veins, it is important to incorporate lots of foods with these vitamins into your diet. Vitamin C helps to increase circulation and keep your veins strong. Vitamin E helps to enhance the effects of Vitamin C.

Blueberries are great for your heart and also help to improve your memory, fight aging, help you digest, improve skin health and enhance weight loss. Blueberries also help to prevent varicose veins because they repair damaged proteins in the blood vessel walls and promote the overall health of the vascular system.  They also are a great source of fiber and Vitamin E. It is important to drink a lot of water throughout the day to avoid constipation, which puts pressure on your veins. Try to avoid any coffee, tea or alcohol, as to not dehydrate your body. Instead, try something rich in fiber, such as apples, berries, flaxseed, oats, carrots, peas, beans or barley.

Watercress, or the “cure of cures” according to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, benefits anyone with varicose veins. It is available year round and goes great in a salad. Ginger is also frequently used to treat varicose veins because it can dissolve fibrin in the blood vessels, which can be difficult for someone with varicose veins to break down. Fibrin causes your veins to get hard and lumpy, so it is important to dissolve it. Like ginger, rosemary also helps to improve circulation. Rosemary helps to strengthen the capillaries and protect tissues from damage. You can add rosemary to fish, fruits and meats, but it is also commonly found in skin care products that are used to treat varicose veins.

Those green vegetables your mom always force fed you when you were younger really pay off in the long run. Asparagus strengthens your veins and capillaries to keep them from rupturing and helps to prevent varicose veins. You can also eat beets to significantly reduce your homocysteine levels. This amino acid can damage your blood vessels, so make sure you eat your beets! The tops of the beets can be cooked and eaten just like spinach. Lastly, buckwheat is also great for vascular health because it is high in protein and helps with tissue repair. Buckwheat is one of the best natural sources for rutin, which may be a reason for varicose veins and spider veins developing if you do not consume enough of it.

By reducing the amount of calories you consume, you can help to reduce your risk of varicose veins, or improve the appearance of varicose veins. According to www.healwithfood.org, “a high energy intake is associated with an increased risk of varicose veins because it can contribute to the development of obesity and excess body weight.” If you are overweight and have varicose veins, you should eat five to six small meals throughout the day to boost and maintain your metabolism, while crushing the temptation to eat sweets.

Varicose veins can be prevented or treated simply by changing your diet. This condition affects up to 60% of people. Check out some of the recipes below to keep your body happy and healthy. You don’t have to give up all of the foods you love either. There are tons of different recipes to choose from, including zucchini noodles, tomato soup, chocolate cake and more. You can’t help but find a delicious meal that promotes strong, healthy veins.

Resources

Breakfast Recipes

Salad Recipes

Soup Recipes

Dinner Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Drink Recipes

Varicose Veins & Diet

Are You At Risk For Varicose Veins?

Blueberry-Watermelon Smoothie Recipe

Blueberry Watermelon SmoothieSummer in DC means it’s hot, hot, hot. But it also means we get an influx of fresh fruit, which I love to integrate into my diet. Another thing I love? Cooling off in the sweltering heat with a cold smoothie.

I recently read an article in Women’s Health about how effective watermelon is in reducing muscle soreness after a hard workout. According to the article, “Watermelon contains an amino acid called L-citrulline, which boosts blood flow—so drinking it may help your muscles get more oxygen, which means they can repair themselves faster.” Basically, eating watermelon or drinking watermelon juice before exercising means you’ll recover faster!

I personally love eating watermelon, but I can never finish an entire melon by eating it only as chunks. I started looking for other ways to consume this healthy fruit and came across this super easy and tasty smoothie recipe from AddAPinch.com. What’s great about this recipe is that it also includes blueberries – another wonder-fruit for our legs. Blueberries contain antioxidants that help strengthen and protect the walls of our capillaries and larger blood vessels, and they can be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of varicose veins, spider veins, swelling, edema and more. So, basically your legs and circulatory system are both gonna love this smoothie.

Blueberry Watermelon SmoothieBlueberry-Watermelon Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients
3 Cups Blueberries
3 Cups Watermelon, cubed
1.5 cups Ice
1 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions
Add fruit to a blender and blend on high. Add ice and yogurt (if desired) and blend until smooth.

Recipe from AddAPinch.com

 

 

Penne with Chicken, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Lemon

pasta with chicken, mushrooms and asparagus

This delicious dinner features asparagus, which is a vegetable packed with nutrients (Vitamins A, C, E and K) and antioxidants. Asparagus is also rich with glutathione, which helps break down harmful carcinogens and helps protect us against certain forms of cancer.

This meal can be completed in 30 minutes or less.  The amounts below make enough for two hearty portions, and enough leftovers for one lunch.  If you want, add some grated Parmesan cheese at the end, but it’s not necessary.

½ box dried Penne pasta
2 chicken cutlets, about ¾ lb.
1 small bunch asparagus
8 fresh cremini or white button mushrooms
1 medium shallot
Juice of ½ lemon
Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil

Fill a 3-5 quart sauce pan with water, add about 1 t. salt, and heat on high.  Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add 2 T olive oil.

Dry the cutlets with paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and fry until lightly browned on both sides.  About 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut into ¼” slices.

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard (or save for vegetable stock, along with the mushroom stems).   Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces, about 1 inch.  Mince the shallot.

Add the sliced mushrooms and asparagus to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally.  If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil.  After 3-4 minutes, add the shallots.

Cook the pasta as directed.

When the mushrooms have given up their moisture, and the pan is almost dry, add about ¾ cup pasta water to the pan, stir, and continue to cook.

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the water.

Add the lemon juice to the mushroom, asparagus mixture.  Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken, accumulated juices, and pasta to the pan, stir, and cook for 1 more minute.  If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.

Remove pan from the heat.  Add cheese if desired and/or drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Healthy Legs Recipe: Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

Roasted Vegetables RecipeToday’s recipe comes from Scott. Last night, he roasted up some winter vegetables from the local farmer’s market. He reports that this recipe is super easy and delicious (must be because I didn’t get to try any leftovers today!). And, all the vegetables he used are vein super-foods: beets, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Eating beets regularly can reduce blood pressure, increase circulation and prevent varicose veins.  Beets are rich with a compound called Betacyanin. Betacyanin naturally reduces homocysteine levels in the blood – homocysteine is an amino acid known to damage blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.

We all know that carrots are great for your eyes, but did you know that eating carrots can help improve your vein health too?  Carrots are rich in Vitamin C, which helps produce elastin and collagen, which in turn keep veins strong and toned.

Lastly – sweet potatoes can help with almost any ailment, from preventing arthritis, to regulating blood sugar, to aiding digestion. Vein doctors support regularly eating sweet potatoes because they are so rich in fiber. A healthy digestive system means less pressure on the vascular system.

Ingredients

  • 2 large size beets, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 a large sweet potato or 1 small one, cubed
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut vegetables. Make sure to cut the sweet potatoes larger than the beets. Sweet potatoes cook faster than beets, so this will ensure that all the vegetables will be done at the same time.
  3. In a large bowl, add diced vegetables, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until vegetables are all evenly coated.
  4. Add spiced vegetable mixture to a large roasting pan. Leave uncovered.
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  5. Place pan in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes. Stir halfway through. Vegetables will be done when you can easily put a fork through the carrots. Don’t be surprised if everything looks a bit pink in the end – the color from the beets will spread to the other veggies.
    roasted vegetables3
Recipe adapted from Healthy Connections. Pictures taken by Chef Scott.