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!
6 regular carrots, peeled with ends cut, sliced into wedges or sticks
Pam or other non-stick spray
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
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!
1 cup corn masa (ground corn flour)
7 oz. warm water
1/8 tsp. salt
Non-stick cooking spray
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.
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.
- 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) servings. Nutrition 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.
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.
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
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
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This is a favorite salad for lunch, dinner, picnics or parties. Quinoa is a ‘super grain’ from Peru that cooks up like rice. You can season it with garlic or onions or light soy sauce in a side dish. Naturally gluten free, quinoa is higher in protein and fiber than other grains and has an earthy, nutty flavor. In addition, quinoa is a decent source of iron (10% of the daily value)- a nutrient that’s tricky to obtain in vegetarian diets. Adding a food high in vitamin C (like bell peppers or tomatoes) boosts the absorption of iron from plant foods such as beans or grains. Adding a can of white beans boost protein, soluble fiber and iron to the dish. Enjoy!
1 ½ cups uncooked white quinoa
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
½ cup feta cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained and rinsed- optional
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- Prepare quinoa according to directions. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, oregano and garlic and set aside.
- Wash spinach leaves and use a salad spinner to dry. Tear the spinach leaves and place in a large bowl. Add chopped tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers.
- Add quinoa and white beans to the vegetable mixture, then add the dressing and blend well.
- Add feta cheese and olives and toss into the salad and serve.
Makes 10 (1 cup) servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 340 calories, 11 grams fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 14.8 grams protein, grams fiber, 7 mg cholesterol, 157 mg sodium, 23 % DV iron
It’s almost the weekend! Looking for a simple, guilt-free appetizer for your next party or book club? Look no further! Just 2 ingredients- you can’t go wrong. White beans offer a smoother texture than traditional chick peass and boast plenty of protein and fiber. Use Great Northern, Navy or Cannellini beans and your favorite pesto. This dip can be served with pita chips, bread or fresh veggies.
One (15 oz) can Great Northern or other white bean (drained and rinsed)
½ cup prepared/jarred pesto
- Place beans and pesto in a food processor or Kitchenade.
- Blend on pulse setting until mixture is smooth.
- Serve with bread, pretzels, crackers or fresh vegetables.
Makes 16 (2 Tbsp) servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 108 calories, 3.2 grams fat, 14.7 grams carbohydrate, 5.7 grams protein, 4.7 grams fiber, 2 mg cholesterol, 47 mg sodium.