swapping out foods
As a dietitian, I counsel people through food substitutions with every patient. Nearly everyone has foods they either need to avoid, or have foods they should limit in their diet. It's helpful to be guided through options, but sometimes having a list you can periodically check can be handy. You'll see a basic list of suggestions here on TC Agenda to make necessary food substitutions. Comment below if you have any addition suggestions of food swaps or questions you'd like ask.
Let it also be known, I am all about flavor. Never would I tell you OR anyone to get rid of something in their diet...unless it's regular soda :-P. The key is moderation and to have variety in your diet.
Eat the rainbow and in moderation
....and sometimes, if you're like me, you may just not have all the ingredients on hand to make a meal you crave. Perhaps I can inspire you to start creating your own meals, like I did with this new recipe: Pea Pesto & Kale Pasta. I don't often plan my meals, so I'm constantly making food substitutions. In this particular dish, I used brown rice pasta (instead of a wheat-based pasta), pepita seeds for walnuts (I'm allergic), cilantro and mint for basil, and kale from my garden to boost the dish with extra nutrition.
vegetarian & gluten-free: pea pesto & kale pasta
Pea Pesto Ingredients
1 cup shelled peas*
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed cilantro and mint
1 lime, freshly juiced
pinch salt and pepper
2 tablespoons dukkah (optional)
*you can substitute frozen peas as well
Blanch the peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, cool, and pulse in a food processor with remaining ingredients until you reach desired consistency.
Kale Pasta Ingredients:
4 oz brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choosing)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cut into thin strips
pea pesto (see above for recipe)
1 oz Parmesan, grated
Prepare pasta according to package. Drain, add back to pan with kale, and as much pea pesto as you desire. Stir until combined and serve with Parmesan cheese.
things are growing...
Seeds are sown, the seedlings are planted, and every morning I rise to look at my plot of greens growing outside my window as I sip my morning coffee. It's easy to tend. The hardest part is waiting for my prized produce to finally appear.
As for my other garden plot one mile away, well, that's another story. That's where they feast. That's where I fight daily for the crop: Me vs the rabbits.
There's a fence around the perimeter, but that doesn't always keep them out. Can I blame them for wanting to taste the bounty? Truthfully, no, If I tasted those buttery soft leaves of tennis ball greens (lettuce varietal) once, of course I'd keep coming back for more.
And, luckily, I had the forethought to plant the majority of leafy greens at the plot growing outside my window, where less rabbits reside (at least that I know of). This week, I harvested, and indulged in, French breakfast radish and fresh arugula.
No evidence of tampering from neighboring animals noted. Woot woot!
In an earlier newsletter, I highlighted radish and the varietals subtle differences from one another, French breakfast being my favorite: It's got a perfect spicy balance from the first to last bite, and a watery crunch to wash your palate. I enjoy them most on their own with a couple granules of salt crystals and other times over an artisan slice of bread with whipped European butter. Curious? Try it for yourself, recipe as follows:
baguette aux radis
4 tablespoons European butter, unsalted at room temperature (see below)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
10 radish, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup arugula
1 tablespoons herbs like tarragon, chives, basil *optional
Slice baguette lengthwise and then into quarters. Spread the butter on one side of the bread, layer on the radish, sprinkle salt over radish, and then the arugula (option to add herbs at this point). Finish with top slice of baguette. Serve.
I'm a dietitian and diabetic educator, but that doesn't mean I don't like OR don't eat the good stuff. European style butter is made from cultured cream and slight fermentation. This results in a unique flavor with a higher fat content than what you find from most American dairy farmers. There are many to choose from including, Kerrygold, Plugra, President, and Beurre de Baratte. You can order them online or find them at specialty grocers. The object of my desire from these is the Beurre de Baratte. It's made by a young cheese master, Rodolphe Le Meunier, a genuineMeilleur Ouvrier de France making butter the old-fashioned from churning. Everyone raves about this French Normandy butter because of it's unique nutty, umami flavor. It's even wrapped in a gold foil to give you that extra posh at a fancy dinner party. Better yet, it makes an excellent gift to that ultimate foodie friend of yours.
m is for mango
Is anyone else loving this year's mountain of mango bounty? The peak of their season, typically in May, is the perfect time of year to get your fill on mangoes. While there are hundreds of varieties, here in Minnesota we typically only are exposed to maybe three or four.
When selecting mangoes, you'll want to pick by smell and feel. The fruit should smell pleasant and fragrant, with a bit of give to the skin. Ideal firmness will resemble that of a peach.
The possibilities for Mangoes are endless: Whether served over fish, or alongside other seafood, cheese, chicken, ice cream, or soup -OR- added to salsas, chutneys, or smoothies, you won't quickly run out of ways to use your mangoes.
They also offer an incredible snack just eaten plain.
I've come up with a simple mango topping/dip recipe to try below. I've been eating it over salad greens, crackers, porridge, just about anything I can find...
fresh mango mélange
1 mango, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon smoked, ground almonds*
3 tablespoons cotija, crumbled
1/2 cup cucumber, seeds removed, small dice
*omit or replace with plain almonds or another type of nut
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and salt/pepper to taste. You also have the option of drizzling in olive oil.
If you look back to the first picture, I chose to use this recipe over a salad of mixed greens with thinly sliced cauliflower. But more importantly, what will you use this recipe over? I'd love to hear from you. Share a comment below, or maybe you're favorite mango recipe that makes May such a special month for you as well.
And for a few other ideas this spring/summer, don't forget to check out the other recipes in my recipe vault.
my gardening journey
My love of food started at a young age, but I didn't start gardening until middle school when my mother felt I needed to take up a new hobby. She said having a garden to tend to daily would keep me busy and distract me from reading too many novels - I had become something of a book nerd spending much of my down time reading every book I could get my hands on, which were mostly romance novels.
Every year was the same: Grandma Dots instructed where to plant each seed while mum measured each row to precision using measuring tape and two wooden steaks. I would break up the soil and plant each seed and seedling as instructed. Together, the three of us planted each year, rows of corn, tomatoes, strawberries, green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, and cucumbers. The garden continued to expand in size until I decided there wouldn't be a garden worth tending. You see, for two years straight, the cows got out of the pasture and trampled through my garden, stomping on my lovely, ruby red tomatoes while eating all the corn. Each time it happened at the end of summer when I was ready for harvest. But instead, I watch it being devoured and abused by cattle.
It was years later when, after college, I left the city life to work on Riverbend Farm for Greg Reynolds in Delano, MN. Thirty acres of land needing constant attention was challenging, but certainly rewarding. I learned about food on an even deeper level; not something that can be learned in a classroom. Using my hands and body, I learned about the labour of love with each food grown, from digging potatoes through patches of thorns to moving irrigation lines to quench the thirst of the crops. It wasn't all about the labour either. At the end of each shift, I'd bring home produce and make some of the most amazing meals from the foods I had grown. Rapini pesto, potato dauphinois, beet zucchini bread, panzanella salad, strawberry rhubarb open lattice pie, were just a few.
As all good things, things must come to an end, however, I left Delano and went on a three-month trip to South America, mostly Brazil, and accidentally got an apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Well, it wasn't exactly accidental, but I had no intention of moving to Chicago: A big snow storm hit the city the day after I landed from São Paulo and all transportation was shut down, thus planting a seed for what-if-I-lived-here thoughts. Nearly three years went by before I had my first bit of yard space to once again tend to crops. I salvaged pallets to build myself a raised garden bed. It was absolutely brilliant! Simple design that only required me to purchase nails to hold it together (there's a facebook picture out there somewhere...). It was a bountiful year, and I had such joy getting my hands in soil again. Sadly, there was only one year of backyard gardening before I would move to a location without a place to garden...
Fast forward to today, three years later, and I've returned to Minnesota. I once again (finally) have a lovely garden plot to satiate my appetite for freshly-grown foods. This year, I'm growing pansies, nasturtiums, a variety of herbs and lettuce greens, French leeks, and various varietals of radish. Who knows if I'll stop there - it has been so long - but I will for now. Then again, there's always another garden plot nearby.
Yes, we've all been talking about the weather. It's bad. Yes, but why the long face? Instead of daydreaming about what spring should be, how the temperatures should be warmer, how the sun should be shining, maybe do something fun and productive. Maybe a bit of spring cleaning in the kitchen? Maybe a cooking or baking project you've been putting off? I did, and you know what? I now have a fantastically delicious raspberry rhubarb galette to enjoy.
My freezer, pantry (and my man) are all happy as a result. So should you be! Follow my recipe below to get started, but feel free to let those wings fly and change out the ingredients on your own. We might not be able to control the weather, but the kitchen is a whole different story.
Here are a few tips to help:
Raspberry Rhubarb Galette
120 g/1 stick butter, unsalted, cut into cubes and kept cold
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
185 g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp cider vinegar
55g/2 oz. biscotti (almond)
45g date sugar (can use granulated sugar)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
230g (1 1/2 cups) rhubarb, cut into chunks, thaw if frozen*
120g (3/4 cup) raspberries, thaw if frozen
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp zest of citrus, (I had to get clever and use 1/2 a lime and 1 cutie)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp water
1. Add cold butter to flour, cardamom, salt, and baking powder in a food processor and pulse for 60 seconds, then add the Greek yogurt with cider vinegar, and continue to process until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Remove pastry from the processor and use your hands and knuckles to press the mixture together in one piece. Cover in plastic warp, flatten into a disk shape, and put in fridge for 45 minutes (up to 2 days).
2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Base: Crush the biscotti in a bowl with sugar and flour into small pieces; set aside.
4. Filling: place all ingredients into a bowl, toss to combine, and set aside.
5. Remove pastry from fridge 10 min before you're ready to roll. Place on a large piece of parchment or silpat that has been lightly dusted. Roll evenly into a large circle, about 15" in diameter. Sprinkle base over the pastry, 4" from the outside towards the middle. Spoon the fruit filling on top of the crumbs and carefully draw the pastry border up and over the fruit with a pleated pattern. You'll leave the center, fruit-filled area exposed (see finished picture for a visual). Place the galette in the fridge for up to 1 hour before baking.
6. Glaze: Combine egg with water in a bowl and brush over the outside of the pastry, then sprinkle the lavender sugar.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool before serving.
I like to serve with Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream ... because why not? Remember, it's all about moderation.
*Reserve drained liquid to make yourself a nice simple syrup to use in a cocktail. I made a rose, rhubarb simple syrup and served it with gin, club soda and a large ice cube.