How to Choose Your Meat

Hi guys!  This week will cover how to pick the right meat, protein sources, and vegetarian diets.

We will start with red meat vs. lean meat.  Red meat comes from the heavier animals such as pigs, cows and lambs.  These are considered red meat because they turn red when cooked.  Whereas chicken and other poultry turn white.  We can consider poultry either lean or white meat.  Another lean meat example includes fish.

Going back to red meat, they are nutritious for us in small or moderate amounts.  Red meat is full of vitamins and minerals such as iron, creatine, zinc, phosphorus, and B-vitamins including niacin, vitamin B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.  However, they contain larger amounts of fat, sodium, and cholesterol compared to lean meat.  Many studies have concluded that an excess intake of red meat can increase the risk for overweight, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels) and some cancers.  Thus, moderation is pertinent.

While high red meat intake has some serious consequences, these complications can also occur from consuming too much lean meats.  Choosing an appropriate serving size can help us moderate our intake of meats.  Typically, I serve myself meat based on the size of my palm.  This is accurate when serving burgers, but this could also work for other meats.  One palm sized meat = 1 serving of meat.

I mentioned that lean meats are white-colored when cooked.  Examples include poultry and fish.  Salmon is particularly nutritious, but this is also due to healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  I will discuss these fats in a few weeks! Smile Other examples of lean meats include beans, nuts, peanut butter, dairy, and protein products such as Cliff bars or other sports products.  Cereals with high amounts of protein are also beneficial.

The serving size of most proteins are not typically stated on Nutrition Facts.  In other words, there is no number of grams equivalent to a certain amount of servings.  Serving size depends on the size and cut of meat, and weight.  For example, steaks can be cuts of 3 oz., 8 oz., 11 oz., 16 oz., or any size that a restaurant states on their menu.  Eight ounces of milk equals one serving of protein.  Thus, it depends on the food.  MyPlate.gov provides specific serving sizes for different foods.  I highly suggest looking it up since it would take majority of this blog post.

When shopping, there is a variety of meats that can be selected.  Other than the options of lamb, turkey, ground beef, etc., you can also choose the amount of fat contained in the product.  For example, most ground beef products come in options such as regular, 97% less fat, or 98% less fat.  The same goes for ground turkey.  Thus, be aware of what you’re buying when grocery shopping.  Labels or stickers stating the reduced amount of fat would be on the front of the package.  Fat in grams would be on the back on the Nutrition Facts Label.

The last topic we will discuss are vegetarian diets.  Many people go on this diet for different reasons such as religion, health, cost, family preference, personal preferance, or sustainability.  For me, I try to avoid red meats for healthier living but will eat them on special occasions such as BBQ parties, birthday parties, or family get-togethers.  So I mostly eat yogurt, fish, chicken, beans, peanut butter, and drink milk and smoothies for protien sources.  There are many examples of vegetarian diets.  However, I would like to write a whole blog of vegetarian diets if I could.  So I could discuss them next time.

Overall, be careful with protein sources.  Americans easily consume twice the amount than they actually need.  Everything should be eaten in moderation (yes, even chocolate and wine lol).  Even vegetarians can consume too much.  Sometimes they don’t eat enough.  Thus, consider the type of meat you’re eating, serving size, and recipes that can make protein more enjoyable.  This leads to my wonderful salmon recipes!  I hope you found this helpful and will look at my recipes!  They’re all vegetarian-based and healthy.

P.S. Don’t forget to give me feedback on my recipes and tips!  I would love to hear future suggestions, questions, even concerns.  If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask! Smile

Seeds Seize the Day

The nutrition fact for this week include the super food, seeds.  These are referred to as a super food because it is a nutrient-rich food that is considered to be beneficial for our health.  There are many types of seeds, but we will discuss only a few such as hemp, poppy, nigella, sunflower, and mustard seeds.

Hemp Seed: This seed is one of few non-meat sources of food that include all nine amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  Thus, it is full of protein!  10 grams per ounce of serving in fact.  This seed is also a good source of polyunsaturated fats, a “healthy” fat.  Hemp seeds can be used as a garnish or for making salad dressings such as vinaigrette.  I like using hemp seeds for smoothies 🙂

Poppy Seed: Can often be seen on breads or paired with lemon or beets.  Poppy seeds are rich in calcium, iron, contains 5 grams of protein, and 6 grams of dietary fiber per ounce.  A very yummy and one of my personal favorite uses for poppy seed is a Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffin.

Nigella Seed: Also known as charnushka. Common to South Asia, this seed has a dull black appearance.  This seed has the highest amount of dietary fiber (10 grams per ounce).  It has a bitter, smoky aroma and a nutty, peppery flavor.  Good to use on top of Middle Eastern, Eastern European, or Indian breads.

Sunflower Seed: Most commonly eaten seed.  This seed is found inside black and white striped hulls.  One ounce of sunflower seeds is rich in vitamin E and folate.  Sunflower seeds are the source of sunflower oil, which can be used in cooking and salad dressings.  Sunflower butter can be used as an alternative to peanut butter.  However, sunflower seeds are more commonly eaten during baseball games.

Mustard Seed: Although it is considered a seed, it is the world’s most heavily traded spice.  Mustard seeds can come in yellow, brown, or black.  One ounce of mustard seeds contain 7 grams of protein and are a rich source of selenium.  The most common use of this seed is grounded into mustard, but can also be used for pickling.  Vegetables that can be pickled include cucumbers, beets, cabbage, and peppers.

Quinoa: The “Pseudograin”

Did you know that quinoa is not a grain?  Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, it’s technically a seed.  Quinoa is a seed of a broad-leaf plant.  Grains are seeds of cereal grasses such as rice, corn, wheat, and barley.  Thousands of years ago, the Andes Mountains cultivated this “pseudograin” and cooked them in their South American meals.   Quinoa is a popular substitute for rice in soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, and breads.  For those who have never tasted quinoa, it has a faintly nutty flavor.

Quinoa has three types: white, red, and black.  White quinoa is the most popular and may appear more tan or yellow than a white appearance. Red quinoa is enjoyed for its deep red color.  This is used in salads since it holds its shape after cooking.  It can also be used to add color in numerous other dishes.  Black quinoa is the sweetest and earthier of the three.  Try adding all three types of quinoa in a burrito or burrito bowl, and note any differences!

Fun facts:

  1. Quinoa has as much protein as dairy products.  In fact, it is known as a complete protein, meaning that it offers a balance of all nine essential amino acids.
  2. If you notice a tiny white ring popping out of each seed during cooking, never fear!  This is just the germ separating from the seed, meaning that your quinoa is ready.
  3. Quinoa belongs to the same family as spinach and beets.  The plant’s green leaves can be harvested and eaten just like spinach.
  4. Quinoa is the seed of the goosefoot plant.  The leaves of this plant resemble the feet of a goose.

Prep Tip: Some varieties of quinoa have a bitter outer layer of the seeds.  Remove the outer layer before cooking but placing the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer, then rinse and rub them under cold water.

Recipe Tip: If you prefer cooking quinoa like rice, measure out a precise ratio of seeds to water and allow water to simmer until fully absorbed.  You can also cook quinoa like pasta.  Add quinoa to a large pot of boiling water and simmer until seeds are tender (10-12 minutes, or by taste), then drain and enjoy!Cool

Quinoa: The “Pseudograin”

Did you know that quinoa is not a grain?  Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, it’s technically a seed.  Quinoa is a seed of a broad-leaf plant.  Grains are seeds of cereal grasses such as rice, corn, wheat, and barley.  Thousands of years ago, the Andes Mountains cultivated this “pseudograin” and cooked them in their South American meals.   Quinoa is a popular substitute for rice in soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, and breads.  For those who have never tasted quinoa, it has a faintly nutty flavor.

Quinoa has three types: white, red, and black.  White quinoa is the most popular and may appear more tan or yellow than a white appearance. Red quinoa is enjoyed for its deep red color.  This is used in salads since it holds its shape after cooking.  It can also be used to add color in numerous other dishes.  Black quinoa is the sweetest and earthier of the three.  Try adding all three types of quinoa in a burrito or burrito bowl, and note any differences!

Fun facts:

  1. Quinoa has as much protein as dairy products.  In fact, it is known as a complete protein, meaning that it offers a balance of all nine essential amino acids.
  2. If you notice a tiny white ring popping out of each seed during cooking, never fear!  This is just the germ separating from the seed, meaning that your quinoa is ready.
  3. Quinoa belongs to the same family as spinach and beets.  The plant’s green leaves can be harvested and eaten just like spinach.
  4. Quinoa is the seed of the goosefoot plant.  The leaves of this plant resemble the feet of a goose.

Prep Tip: Some varieties of quinoa have a bitter outer layer of the seeds.  Remove the outer layer before cooking but placing the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer, then rinse and rub them under cold water.

Recipe Tip: If you prefer cooking quinoa like rice, measure out a precise ratio of seeds to water and allow water to simmer until fully absorbed.  You can also cook quinoa like pasta.  Add quinoa to a large pot of boiling water and simmer until seeds are tender (10-12 minutes, or by taste), then drain and enjoy!Cool

Egg(Plant) This Idea

Before we begin this summer, I highly encourage you to buy this seasonal special.  Eggplants are great for grilling, to use in salads, and super yummy gluten-free meals such as the common eggplant Parmesan.

Fun Facts:

  • Low in calories.  Only 57 calories per 8 oz serving
  • High in fiber.  Contains 7 g fiber per 8 oz serving
  • High in potassium.  Potassium helps muscles contract and maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Rich in antioxidants.  An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits cellular instability.  Its properties include boosting immune system and preventing disease.
  • Source of anthocyanins (the eggplant’s bluish, purple color).  The color of eggplant’s skin may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.  It may also benefit immune, eye, brain, and digestive health.

I hope this encourages you to buy more eggplant and implement them in your diet and meals.  Examples of eggplant-filled meals include stir fry, eggplant Parmesan, pasta salad, shish-ka-bobs, and many others!

Salmon w/ Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa & Jicama

Hi guys!  It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted a recipe.  I’m sorry 😦 I’ve been consumed with finals at school and am officially on break!  This recipe is perfect for hot weather.  Unfortunately, it’s only getting colder outside.  But don’t let that stop you from cooking this delicious dish!  I’ve never cooked with jicama before, so it was an interesting experience.  And this dish was amazing!  If you’ve never had jicama before, it is a crisp, white-fleshy, plant-like food from Central America.  Tomatillos are similar to tomatoes, but come with a husk and remain green when ripe.  Thus, this meal is a Latin American course paired with Alaskan salmon.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. tomatillos
  • 3/4 lb. jicama
  • 1 serrano chile (for the hot souls 😉 )
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. sumac
  • Two 6-oz. wild Alaskan salmon fillets
  • 1 avocado
  • 1-2 red radishes
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Fresh mint (can use canned seasoning)
  • Fresh cilantro (can use canned seasoning)
  • Salsa (your choice from grocery store)
  • Kosher salt (or any other salt available in your pantry)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Utensils:

  • 2 large frying or grill pans
  • Zester
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 2 cutting boards (1 for vegetables, 1 for salmon)
  • Knife

Instructions:

  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos.  Once husks are removed, warm a frying or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Add tomatillos onto the pan without oil and cook.  Turn tomatillos occasionally until charred and softened (18-20 minutes).  Transfer tomatillos to a plate to cool.  While the tomatillos are cooking, prepare the jicama salad and salmon.
  2. Peel the jicama and cut into 1/4-inch thick matchsticks.  If you want to make the dish spicy, slice the serrano chille lengthwise, remove the seeds, and finely chop the chile.  The seeds are the spiciest part of the chile, so be careful!  Don’t touch your eyes until your hands are washed.  Zest and juice the lime.  Combine jicama, sumac and serrano into a bowl.  Add the lime zest and half the juice on top.  Save the other half of the lime juice for the salsa.  Season with salt to taste.
  3. Rinse salmon under warm water until soft and pat dry on paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  In another frying or grill pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the salmon and cook until opaque and flakey (4-5 minutes on both sides).  While the salmon cooks, prepare the salsa.
  4. Remove the cores from the cooled tomatillos and coarsely chop the fruit.  Cut the avocado in half.  With your knife, knock it into the pit, twist, and pull it out.  Peel the skin off and coarsely chop the avocado.  Thinly slice the radish.  Finely chop the garlic.  Strip the mint leaves from the stems and finely chop the leaves.  Finely chop the cilantro.  If using the seasonings, sprinkle to taste.  Combine the tomatillos, avocado, radish, garlic, mint, cilantro, and salsa into a bowl.  Stir the remaining lime juice and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the cooked salmon to individual plates.  Serve with the jicama salad and tomatillo-avocado salsa.  Enjoy!

Spiced Shrimp & Pearl Couscous

This is probably one of my favorite shrimp dishes.  Then again, I love shrimp.  It’s so light.  I could eat it at every meal if I could.  Add it with pearl couscous, and it feels like I’m tasting summer.  This shrimp is spiced with ground fennel, turmeric and Aleppo pepper.  Additions to this dish are garlicky zucchini, tomato sauce, and grapes.

Makes 2 servings

Calories: ~685 per serving

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. shrimp
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Verjus Rouge
  • 1 tsp. sumer couscous spice blend (ground fennel, ground turmeric and Aleppo pepper)

Utensils:

  • Medium pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Cutting board
  • Cutting knife
  • Medium pan
  • Tablespoon
  • Teaspoon
  • Stirring spoon
  • Stove top

Instructions:

  1. Cook the couscous: Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high.  Once boiling, add the couscous and cook 6-8 minutes, or until tender.  Turn off the heat.  Reserving 1/2 cup of of the couscous cooking water, thoroughly drain the cooked couscous and return to the pot.
  2. Prepare the ingredients: While the couscous cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce.  Cut off and discard the ends of the zucchini.  Quarter the zucchini lengthwise; slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.  Peel and mince the garlic.  Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems.
  3. Cook the zucchini: While the couscous continues to cook, in a medium pan (nonstick), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2-4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.
  4. Make the sauce: Add the tomato paste to the pan of zucchini; cook, stirring frequently, 1-2 minutes, or until dark red and fragrant.  Add the verjus and 1/4 cup of water.  Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, 30-60 seconds, or until thoroughly combined; season with salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat.
  5. Add the shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer to a bowl.  Season with salt, pepper and the spice blend; toss to coat.  Add the seasoned shrimp to the part of zucchini and sauce.  Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 2-4 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through.
  6. Finish the couscous and plate your dish: Add the cooked couscous, butter and half the reserved couscous cooking water to the pan.  Cook, stirring vigorously, 1-2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined; season with salt and pepper to taste. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining couscous cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.)  Divide between 2 dishes.  Garnish with he parsley.  Enjoy!

Harissa-Rubbed Chicken w/ Seared Romaine

A lot of you might be thinking “What is harissa?”.  To be honest, I didn’t know what it was until I tried this recipe.  Harissa is a hot sauce used in North African cuisine. It is made from chili peppers, paprika, and olive oil.  And if you’ve never tried charred romaine, you’re missing out!  The lettuce caramelizes, highlighting its natural sweetness.  This is an excellent dish for grill night.

Ingredients:

  • Two 6-oz. skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • Chicken seasoning blend of harissa powder, garlic powder, sweet smoked paprika (may have to shop at African cuisine supermarket or blend ingredients to taste)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 oz. Marcona almonds
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Utensils:

  • Large frying pan
  • Sheet pan
  • Zester
  • 2 small bowls
  • Cutting board
  • Knife

If it hasn’t been emphasized in past recipes, wash produce before use.

Instructions:

  1. Defrost chicken and run under warm water until tender.  Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel.  Rub the chicken all over with the seasoning blend and season generously with salt and pepper.  Let stand while you prepare the artichoke tapenade and vinaigrette.
  2. Finely chop the garlic.  Coarsely chop the almonds.  Strip the parsley leaves from the stems and coarsely chop the leaves.  Zest and juice the lemon.  In a bowl, combine the garlic and almonds.  Alternately, add them to a food processor and pulse 2-3 times to make a coarse paste.  Stir in the parsley, lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons of oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Strip the cilantro leaves and finely chop.  In a bowl, combine the cilantro, 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Season to taste with salt.
  4. Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise.  In a pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking.  Add the chicken, skin sides down, and cook until browned and cooked through (5-7minutes per side).  Transfer to a plate to rest.  If the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon of oil and warm over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Cut sides of the romaine hearts down.  Then add the romaine hearts and cook until browned and slightly wilted (4-5 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the chicken breasts and romaine hearts to individual plates.  Garnish with the tapenade, drizzle with the cilantro vinaigrette, and serve.  Enjoy! Cool

Seared Salmon w/ Lemongrass Coconut Curry

Delicious.  Tangy.  Bold.  This Southeast Asian curry consists of seared salmon fillets in a silky coconut milk sauce with mushrooms, summer squash, and red bell pepper.  The tangy and bold sauce that covers the salmon has kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass paste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. summer squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 lime
  • Two 6-oz. wild Alaskan salmon filllets
  • Lemongrass paste (garlic, tumeric, olive oil, fresh ginger, salt)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, olive oil

Utensils

  • Zester
  • Large frying pan
  • Cuting board
  • Knife
  • Plate
  • Measuring cup

Instructions

  • Fisrst prep the vegetables
    • Trim the mushrooms so that the stems are still intact, and cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
    • Trim the squash by cutting it in half lengthwise, then diagonally into 1/4 inch thick strips
    • Remove the seeds and ribs from the red pepper by cutting the pepper into 1/4 thick strips, and then remove seeds by hand or knife
    • Tear the kaffir lime leaves in half
    • Coarsely chop the cilantro
    • Coarsely chop the basil leaves
    • Zest the lime, juice half of the lime and cut the other half into wedges
  • Defrost salmon or run under hot water until tender
  • Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper
  • In a pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablesppons of oilive oil until hot but not smoking
  • Add the mushrooms in a single layer and season with salt.  Cook until browned.  Once finished, transfer to a plate.
  • If dry, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and warm until hot but not smoking.
  • Add the salmon and cook without turning until lightly browned but only partially cooked.  The salmon will finish cooking in the sauce.  Then transfer the salmon to the plate with the mushrooms.
  • If the pan is dry again, add 2 tablespoons of oil and warm over medium-high heat.
  • Add the squash and peppers and cook until tender.
  • Stir the lemongrass paste with vegetables until fragrant.
  • Add the coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, and the kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Return the mushrooms to the pan and the salmon on top witht the seared side up.  Simmer until the fish is cooked entirely.
  • When the salmon is finally cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro, basil, lime juice, and lime zest.  Season with salt if desired.

Before eating, make sure to remove the kaffir lime leaves!  These are not edible.  Make sure you share with a friend or loved one since this recipe serves two people.  I know the instructions are long, but this is one of my favorite meals I have cooked so far.  Let me know how you like it 🙂

Gluten Free Lemon-Blueberry Scones w/ Lemon Drizzle

Yummy, yummy.  My favorite!  I love anything with lemons or berries.  Those are my two favorite fruits.  Put them into a dessert and I’m in heaven!  What’s even better is that this recipe is gluten free and vegan, so we can share with friends!

Ingredients just for our gluten-free friends:

  • 1 cup gluten free flout
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

For those who are vegan & gluten free:

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp neat egg
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon extract
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Utensils:

  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • 2 bowls
  • Whisk
  • Food processor or pastry blender
  • Parchment paper
  • Pizza cutter
  • Baking sheet

Instructions:

  1. First, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place butter in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and xanthan gum (dry ingredients) in a bowl.
  4. Whisk egg/neat egg, milk/coconut milk, lemon extract, and lemon zest (wet ingredients).  Set aside.
  5. Take butter/vegan butter and cut into dry mix until crumbly by using a food processor or a pastry blender.
  6. Combine liquid and dry ingredients in one bowl and mix until doughy.
  7. Once mixed, add blueberries.
  8. Spread the blueberry mixture onto a parchment paper and using a pizza cutter, cut into 6 pieces and place them on a baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  10. Take scones out using a hot glove and let cool.
  11. While the scones are cooling down, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar.
  12. Once cooled, drizzle lemon mixture over scones.
  13. Enjoy this sweet and sour dessert 🙂