Category Archives: Health/Nutrition

Oatmeal Tête–À–Tête

Oatmeal for dinner -- a comfort dish even naysayers will love.

Oatmeal for dinner — a comfort dish even naysayers will love.

 

A typical day at my house:

(Rip, rustle, rustle, as I open a package that arrived in the mail, this one containing sample tins of Flahavan’s Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal.)

Me to my husband: “Oh, look, it’s oatmeal! You like oatmeal, right?”

My husband: (Snorts, shrugs.) “Eh, yeah.”

After all, he eats it for breakfast at least a couple times a week. But of course, I’m in the mood to do something different with it.

Me: “Guess what I’m going to do! I’m going to make savory oatmeal for dinner with it!”

My husband: “WHY?!?!?

Me: “You cook it like risotto. That sounds really good, doesn’t it?”

My husband: (Makes a face, shrugs, looks at me cross-eyed.) “If you must…”

Yup, that response is typical, too, whenever I want to cook up something a little different from the norm. But at least he’s a good sport about it, right? Well, sort of.

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A Tasty Visit to Planet Rice

Planet Rice Quinoa & Sprouted Rice Power Blend, raw on plate, and cooked in the bowl.

Planet Rice Quinoa & Sprouted Rice Power Blend, raw on plate, and cooked in the bowl.

 

Being Chinese-American, I grew up on white rice. And nothing but.

Black, brown, red and even bamboo-green rices were non-existent in my parents’ kitchen.

That’s why these other types intrigue me so much now. So when I had a chance to try samples of Planet Rice’s sprouted rices, I happily did so.

What is sprouted rice? Just what it sounds like: rice that has been soaked in water until the grains sprout ever so slightly.

The result is a softer texture. Not only that, but studies have shown that the sprouting increases the amount of fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium, as well as Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, an amino acid that can help lower anxiety and blood pressure, and afford deeper sleep and improved cardiovascular functions.

Who wouldn’t want more of that, right?

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Cutting Down on Salt? Kale Salad to the Rescue

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

 

When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure years ago, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

That’s because it runs in my family, unfortunately.

What was a revelation, though, was just how much sodium lurked in so many foods I’d enjoyed without a second thought.

Check the labels on things like instant oatmeal, blue cheese, and even Dijon mustard, and you’ll be astonished.

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Nowadays, I always read labels. And I wisely use flavor boosters such as good vinegars, lemon juice, herbs, spices, and toasted unsalted nuts to give extra oomph to dishes that are moderate in sodium.

That’s why I love this kale salad. I know — can you stand another kale recipe? I think you will when it’s as simple to prepare and satisfying as this one.

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The First U.S. Grown, 100 Percent Stoneground Cereal

A novel new cereal.

A novel new cereal.

 

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m in awe of the two guys behind Back to the Roots.

Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez had just graduated from the Hass School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley when they turned their backs on lucrative job offers in investment banking and business consulting. Instead, they turned their attention to starting their own business — creating DIY mushroom-growing kits using spent Peet’s coffee grounds.

That single product launched them at Whole Foods and other major retailers. Next, their Back to the Roots company devised a Water Garden, a self-cleaning fish tank that grows fresh herbs in a compact aquaponics system.

Now, they’ve set their sights on the cereal industry. The result is Organic Stoneground Flakes ($4.99 for an 11-ounce container), which bills itself as the first U.S. grown, 100 percent stoneground cereal on the market. It’s made with only three ingredients: organic, non-GMO stoneground whole wheat from California, sea salt from the San Francisco Bay, and a touch of organic cane sugar from Florida.

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Roasted Asparagus Soup to Feed the Mind and Tummy

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

 

In today’s harried world, there’s a lot to be said for eating foods that nourish our body and our brain.

Wellness chef and speaker, Rebecca Katz, certainly thinks so. Her cookbook,“The Healthy Mind Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, includes more than 120 recipes designed to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve your mood and strengthen the central nervous system. It was written with Mat Edelson, an award-winning health and science writer.

I can’t say that her “Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream” caught my attention solely for those reasons. Mostly, I was intrigued by the cream made of pistachios, broth, mint and lemon juice that gets blitzed in a blender until thick and luscious, before being stirred into this velvety soup, which is a puree of roasted asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic. Plus, in spring, I can’t get enough of asparagus. I buy it every week at the grocery store or farmers market, and enjoy every single spear until the season ends all too abruptly.

HealthyMindCookbook

Asparagus are loaded with vitamin B1, Katz writes, which boosts mood and energy levels, as well as vitamin B2, which reduces fatigue. Leeks are a good source of Vitamin K, which can improve memory. Pistachios also contain a lot of vitamin K and vitamin B thiamen, as well as folate, which may help prevent dementia.

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