Cumin Nature

Cumin Nature

If there’s one spice I never like to run out of, it’s cumin.  As far as spices go, it’s one of the least expensive, but most versatile spices around.  Cumin is an herb that originated from Iran and the Mediterranean and comes from the umbelliferae family.  Say that one five times fast!

 

It is used in a variety of cuisine including Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern and Latin American.  From a nutritional perspective, cumin has been used as an aid for digestive problems, diarrhea and respiratory disorders and touted for its role in promoting menstruation, urinary flow and as an aphrodisiac.

 

Personally, I just like the taste.  Its savory flavor compliments soups, stews and chili as well as chicken, beef and pork.  I use it frequently to season root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots.  Cumin goes well with sweeter spices such as cinnamon and ginger as well.  Try the recipe below for something deliciously different!

 

Ingredients:

6 regular carrots, peeled with ends cut, sliced into wedges or sticks

Pam or other non-stick spray

Ground cumin

Ground cinnamon

Season salt

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a large baking pan or sheet with non-stick spray.

Spread the carrots out on the baking sheet.

Spray the carrots with non-stick spray.

Shake cumin, cinnamon and season salt over the carrots (using approximately ¼  tsp. of each spice)

 

Makes 4 servings.  Nutrition facts per serving:  38 calories, 0 gm fat, .8 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrate, 2.2 gm fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium

Fresh corn tortillas

Fresh corn tortillas

Do you like tacos, but dislike the non-fried shells because they crack when you fold them? You’re not alone!  Once you try this simple recipe, you’ll never use them again.  As for flour tortillas, I was hooked on them, but once I tried fresh corn tortillas, I never went back.

 

These tortillas are not only simple, but very healthy.  They’re made with just 3 ingredients and are gluten and preservative-free.  You can use for tacos, enchiladas or by themselves with salsa or guacamole.  Try them at your next gathering.  Your guests will gobble them up!

 

Ingredients

1 cup corn masa (ground corn flour)

7 oz. warm water

1/8 tsp. salt

Non-stick cooking spray

 

Directions:

Place corn masa in a bowl and add salt and warm water.  Mix until dough forms a soft ball.  It will be playdough consistency.

 

Roll dough into eight, 1” balls.

 

Cut a gallon-sized plastic bag in half.

 

Place 1 ball of dough inside the bag and using a pie plate or tortilla press, press the dough into a flat tortilla.

 

Heat a large skillet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the tortilla in the skillet for ~1 minute, then flip and cook the other side.

 

Place on a plate and cover with a clean towel to steam them a bit before serving.

 

Makes 8 small tortillas.  Nutrition information per serving:  53 calories, .6 gm fat, 11 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm protein, 1.1 fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 37 mg sodium.

Camo snack mix

Camo snack mix

Need a back to school treat that’s not too high in sugar, but your kids will eat?  Here’s one that’s not only gluten and nut free (for those that need it), but also high in potassium and iron, two nutrients growing kids and teens need.  Sunflower seeds can be subbed for pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain Cheerios
  • 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ½ cup mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped dates

Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servingsNutrition facts per serving:  170 calories, 9.4 grams fat, 2.1 grams saturated fat, 19 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams sugar, 2.6 grams fiber, 5.5 grams protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 41 mg sodium.

National Family Meals Month

National Family Meals Month

With the return to school in August comes National Family Meals Month!  Who knew this was a thing?  But- it makes total sense to me.  Did you know that families that dine together have children with lower rates of depression and drug use?  Or that family meals foster better eating habits with less risk of obesity?  Meal time is about the only time in my day where I have quality time with my girls and husband, so I honestly hate to miss it.

 

Below are some tips for a healthier family dining experience:

  1. Look at your weekly calendar and carve out at least 4 out of 7 days you can dine together.  More is better, but life gets busy with work, school, sports, etc.
  2. Involve the whole family in meal prep.  This lessens the burden on you and encourages your kids that they can actively participate in meal planning.  Dad can grill, kids can wash and/or cut veggies or stir grains on the stove.  It also teaches kids cooking skills.  Win wiin!
  3. Try not to have “food fights”.  If someone isn’t wild about the dish prepared, politely ask him/her to help themselves to leftovers.  For younger children, have a healthy back up if possible.  Try to limit use of “kid food” like hot dogs, mac n cheese and chicken nuggets.  Kids eat what you feed them. Start healthy first.
  4. Don’t force feed your kids!  Making them “finish their plate” in order to have dessert only encourages overeating.  It’s like saying, “if you eat ALL of this, we’ll feed you more”!  Small servings of food are fine.
  5. Include fruit or dessert as part of the meal.  Alternate treats and fruit so kids get used to having both as their end of meal treat.
  6. Keep the chatter positive.  Limit talk about politics, family illness and gossip.  This is a time to share good news and not bring everyone down.
  7. Ask each family member about their day- name 3 positive things that happened.  It will lift everyone’s spirits.
  8. Serve water or milk at meals.  Soda and juice add more calories and sugar to everyone’s meal, which most kids and adults don’t need these days.
  9. Keep a variety of frozen veggies on hand and microwave them for simpler meal prep.
  10. “Reuse” leftovers in other dishes.  Add black beans or chicken to salads or pasta dishes.  Add leftover salad to sandwiches.  Teach your kids that food is a resource and should not be wasted.
No waste rice

No waste rice

I just returned from a lovely vacation in Florida.  It was the first time we (self, 2 girls, husband and in-laws) ate most of the food we purchased.  Fruit, yogurt, crackers- gone.  But we also made use of the restaurant leftovers. Do you wonder why restaurants don’t ask if you want big red onion rings for burgers, salads and other dishes before they serve them to you? Don’t get me wrong. They look beautiful on the plate, but I’ve yet to see anyone (especially members of my family) eat more than one ring, if any.

 

The onion is an awesome vegetable. It’s loaded with phytonutrients and inulin that fight disease and keep our guts healthy, respectively. They add flavor and color to our food as well as fiber. But they can also be a flavor bully and take over the entire dish. I love onions, but hate food waste! I find that too much of a good thing can be bad.

 

So when faced with a stack of uneaten red onions while on vacation, I take them back to my rental property like any other leftover. One man’s garbage is another man’s meal! My mother in law laughed at me, until she saw me add those pretty red onions added to some otherwise boring brown rice. Here is the recipe that emerged from those uneaten rings.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red (or other) onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano

Directions:
In a medium pot, sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until browned.
Add water, rice, cumin, oregano and salt and boil for ~ 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook rice according to directions for 30-35 minutes until rice has soaked up the water.
Add additional cumin, oregano or salt and season rice to your taste.

Makes 4, half cup servings. Nutrition information per serving: 188 calories, 2.6 grams fat, 37.3 grams carbohydrate, 3.8 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 297 mg sodium

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