Saturday, July 28, 2012

Farro Soup: A recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Well, yesterday I made my third recipe from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day and I have to admit it was very easy and I loved it.  So far, I think it’s my favorite recipe.  It reminds me of another recipe I have for Barley Lentil (see below) soup.  I personally liked this recipe better than my own because it was simpler to make and my recipe uses red lentils instead of green.  I wasn’t able to find the black lentils, which disappointed me greatly. 

Another thing about this recipe (or recipes in general) is that you should read through all the instructions in a recipe before you attempt to make it.  I’m a very seat-of-the-pants type of cook and I often get burned.  Inevitably, I usually forget a key ingredient or I find out that something takes too long to make and I don’t have enough time.  The same was true with this recipe.  This recipe comes with an additional accompanying 2-ingredient recipe.  Two ingredients, I thought would be relatively simple, but I was mistaken.  First, I realized I didn’t have a thermometer (which you need to make sure the mixture doesn’t go over 90 degrees) and second, it takes two days to make.  There was an alternative though, to use yogurt, which I promptly did.  So, tonight I will try this Farro soup with some homemade cream and report on that tomorrow…

On another note, the day I made this soup, I thought I was such a wonder-woman.  I had determined to make this recipe as quickly as possible so I could take my son to the spray grounds (a public water park near our home).  I got home at 6:15pm, rushed to whip this recipe together (semi-pearled Farro will save you 25minutes BTW) and we were finished eating and out the door by 7:55pm.  The spray grounds are about 5 minutes from my home and when we arrived there were still about 3-4 families there.  My son was so excited; he could hardly contain himself, not to mention the repeated professions of love for myself for being such a wonderful mother.  When my 3-year-old tried to turn the water on, to no avail, he asked me to help him.  It was at that moment we discovered that the neighborhood shuts the water off at 8pm!  Words cannot explain from what great heights my esteem plunged in a matter of seconds—to be the hero one moment and the villain the next!    
Anyway, on to the review; please read what this blog is about if you have any questions.

9 = Taste (5 from me and 4 from my husband)
4 = Ingredient Availability – I had to call around to find Farro and could find no black lentils.
5 = Prep-Time (about 60 minutes)
5 = Cost (I will work out the cost per serving later, but I know it was low)  

23 out of 25 – Excellent!

5 = Family Bonus – My children cleaned their plate and even ate leftovers!  I’m pretty sure there should be some confetti here but I didn’t know how to add it.  I took a photo of my son enjoying it (that's a thumbs up, by the way).  
Would you make this recipe again? YES
Would you recommend to friends? YES

A little note about the benefits of some of the ingredients:  Lentils have been feeding people for thousands of years and are available to people worldwide.  Besides being an ancient staple, lentils are also are very good for you.  These miniature legumes are packed full of nutrients—a single 3.5oz serving is heaping with Thiamine, Iron, Phosphorous and Zinc but when it comes to Foliate, it is off the charts (120% DRV).  Farro is an Italian grain with an interesting history.  Apparently, it is the mother of all grains and is the oldest cultivated grain in the world.  As far as the nutritional benefits of Farro, I had a hard time tracking down, as this grain isn’t wildly popular in the US (as opposed to Europe, where it’s a staple).  All I was able to discover is that it’s low in calories and fat and high in fiber.  What I can attest to is the taste, which is wonderful.  All-in-all, I can tell you that you won’t be ashamed to put this item on the table.  It’s healthy, easy to cook, and your kids will eat it up—who could ask for more?    


Barley Lentil Soup recipe - This is an old favorite recipe I use.  I must add, if I haven't said so already, that the recipe in Heidi's book is better in different ways.  Heidi's recipe is also simpler and takes less time to prepare and cook.  The only way this is similar is because it has lentils (although the wrong color - and taste) and curry powder...  It's still a good recipe.  Enjoy!

·         2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·         1 cup chopped onion
·         2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
·         1 stalk celery, chopped
·         7 cups vegetable broth, divided
·         1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
·         1 cup lentils, rinsed - I use RED lentils
·         1/2 cup pearl barley
·         1 tbsp tomato paste
·         1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
·         1 tsp curry powder
·         1 bay leaf
·         1 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
·         2 tbsp fresh lime juice
·         1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Vegan or regular)
·         1 tsp salt
·         1/2 tsp black pepper
Spray 4-quart saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sautee 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery; sautee 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
Mix in 6 cups vegetable broth, mushrooms, lentils, barley, tomato paste, thyme, curry powder and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 60 to 70 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender, but not mushy.
Blend in remaining broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf and serve. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 186 calories, 10g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 4g fat, 1092mg sodium.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Open-Faced Egg Sandwich: A recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

The other day I decided to make my second recipe from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day.   I’ve been doing the first recipe from each category and today I did the first Lunch recipe, which was Open-Faced Egg Sandwich (please read what this blog is about - I'm not here to share recipes from cookbooks, I only review them, and occasionaly share some of my own recipes).  It was very easy to make and didn’t take a lot of time.  My husband thought it was a little bland but he isn’t a big egg salad person.  I really liked it and would make it again.

I tried to get my son to eat some and he hid under the table and refused to come out (Kids=1, Parents=0).  I hope Heidi wouldn’t be offended because he does the same with Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) and Jelly sandwiches… 

My own egg salad recipe is quite simple.  However, I don’t have the ingredients exactly measured out.  I like to do equal parts of mayo and mustard, chop up a little bit of sweet onion very fine and chop a little celery.  I use this recipe for both for deviled eggs and for egg salad.  On deviled eggs I sprinkle with paprika. 

7 = Taste (4 from me and 3 from my husband)
5 = Ingredient Availability
5 = Prep-Time (about 15 minutes)
5 = Cost (I will work out the cost per serving later, but I know it was low)  

22 out of 25 – Great!

0 = Family Bonus (as of yet, my kids haven’t eaten it – will keep trying)

Would you make this recipe again? YES
Would you recommend to friends? YES

A little note about the benefits of some of the ingredients:  Eggs are one of the most under represented and misrepresented powerhouse foods you can find.  Don’t take my word for it; check out this article on Discovery Health.  Eggs provide such a diverse make up of nutrients that they are almost in a category all their own.  In addition to containing all the Essential Amino Acids humans need, they are also high in Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Choline (all at almost 50% of your daily recommended value – just from ONE egg).  Free range eggs usually have a higher nutrient and Omega 3 content but other hen eggs are still healthy.  Eggs have been found to be beneficial for your eyes, weight management, brain function, muscle strength and for pregnancy.  Yogurt and Whole Grain Bread are also both well know for their benefits in digestion health. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Muesli a recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

This is a review of the Muesli from Heidi Swanson's cookbook Super Natural Every Day.  I will not be sharing the exact recipes on here (see what this blog is about) but I am sharing a link to something similar.  I would like to note that Heidi Swanson's recipe is better in my opinion.... 

Sorry it took me so long to get around to this – I wasn’t able to get around to these recipes sooner because I had company and then my air conditioner went out!  With temperatures reaching the triple digits, my family and I sought refuge at restaurants and other friend’s houses.  Last night was no exception — we went to Cool Greens, a delicious healthy restaurant we have here in Oklahoma and then we packed up our electronics and headed to McDonalds for drinks (and play for the kiddos).  Unfortunately, I was feeling guilty about not making any of the recipes yet so when we got home, around 10pm, I decided to whip up Heidi’s Muesli recipe.

The recipe was very simple to make.  It called for one ingredient, Marcona Almonds, which I looked around for and couldn’t find.  Everything at my local shops was labeled simply, Almonds, so I may have unwittingly used them… 

I really loved this recipe and it is definitely something I would make again.  Plus, Heidi has you make more of the dry ingredients than you need, so you can have some on hand for a simple quick and healthy fix that is ready to go (although, it needs to sit for at least an hour).  I let mine set over night and it was just lovely when I ate it for breakfast this morning.  The almonds were a nice touch as they added a little bit of a crunchy texture.  It kind of reminds me of a refrigerator oatmeal recipe I used from The Yummy Life .  However, I like Heidi’s recipe better because it doesn’t call for Greek yogurt.  Even though the Greek Yogurt has more protein (which can make you feel full longer) it also has a stronger taste.  I suppose you could use Greek yogurt with Heidi’s recipe, because she has you dilute it with water, so it may still taste good.    

9.5 = Taste (5 from me and 4.5 from my husband [boo])
5 = Ingredient Availability
5 = Prep-Time (I will work out the exact prep-time later – I had to actually crack almonds from shells because that was what I had on hand)
5 = Cost (I will work out the cost per serving later, but I know it was low)   
0 = Family Bonus (as of yet, my kids haven’t eaten it – will keep trying)

24.5 out of 25 – Excellent!

Would you make this recipe again? YES
Would you recommend to friends? YES

Some notes about the benefits of some (not all) of the ingredients.  Almonds are full of vitamins and minerals (16 at my count) but exceptionally high in Magnesium, Manganese, Riboflavin, and Vitamin E).  Almonds are also a good source of protein and have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol, improve complexion and may even help prevent cancer! Rolled Oats are high in Thiamine and Phosphorus and are a great source of fiber.  They have also shown benefits to the cardiovascular system by helping reduce cholesterol.  Oats may also have some benefits for people with diabetes and help your immune system fight off bacterial infections (hooray oats)!  Wheat Germ is another healthy ingredient.  Do not confuse this ingredient with an infectious disease —this little guy packs a powerful punch in the essential nutrients category, not to mention the Essential Fatty Acids and fiber!  Make sure you refrigerate after opening.  Last but certainly not least, Yogurt.  Make sure you get a good quality yogurt (none of this “may contain live active cultures” stuff).  It’s the cultures that are important – important for a happy gut.  It’s important that we are (um, how to put this delicately… hell, I’m just going to say it) evacuating our bowels (a.k.a. pooping) regularly, almost as much as we are eating (at least 1-2x/day is considered healthy).  People that are consistently constipated are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. 

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Recipe Review Point System

I took some time and worked out my point system for rating recipes. My rating system will be as follows: 5 point each for taste (taste gets 5 points each from my husband and me), cost, ingredient availability, and prep-time, bringing the total amount of points possible to 25.  However, I wanted to add 5 additional possible points if my kids eat it and like it as a BONUS, we’ll call that the Family Bonus.  So, if a recipe gets 25 points, it’s still excellent in my book!  Sometimes my kids won’t even try a recipe, so I don’t want to hold that against the recipe because my kids are unwilling to participate.   Plus, some recipes may contain alcohol or be too spicy for children to eat and I also don’t want this to impact on the base number of points.

A few notes about ingredient availability points—to keep it simple, I have decided that if it is available at Wal-Mart (which almost everybody has everywhere), it gets 5 points.  I buy Organic when it’s available but I am on a budget so the price must be reasonable.  As I may have mentioned before, I live in Oklahoma, and until only recently, options for organic foods have been very limited.  Within the last 12 months however, we have opened a Whole Foods and a Sunflower Market.  I am still holding out hope that Trader Joes will be following suit.  All these stores have brought down the cost of organic foods considerably (thank you law of Supply and Demand).  With that being said, I still purchase the majority of my foods at Wal-Mart because they still have the best prices and I don’t like to go to multiple stores. So, each additional store I go to reduces the points. 

Some additional notes about prep-time and cost—in the future, I will become more scientific with the cost and try to modify based on a $ dollar per serving.   Just keep in mind, that these figures are very subjective.  You may be able to find the ingredients for less or you may indeed have to pay more depending on where you live.  Same with prep-time, a cook that is more experienced than myself may be able to whip up a recipe in less time than me.  Generally, each time we make these recipes (if they are indeed ones we want to make again) we should become more efficient at it.  So, since I am not an excellent cook, my prep-time I think would be based on an average person.