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.
I know what you’re thinking. This sounds like a weird combination of produce, but trust me. You won’t be sorry you tried this seasonal salad. Watermelon and tomatoes are both excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C, potassium as well as cancer-fighting lycopene. Putting it over a bed of romaine boosts the volume and fiber (as well as pretty color) of this seasonal favorite. Add some fresh, chopped basil at the end for a little twist.
5 cups (3/4-inch) seeded watermelon cubes
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)
Cracked black pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves (1/2 cup chopped)
- Combine watermelon and tomatoes in a large bowl; sprinkle with sugar and salt, tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Stir in onion, vinegar, and oil. Cover and chill 2 hours. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves, if desired. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and chopped fresh basil to taste.
Makes 8 servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 112 calories, 6.6 grams fat, 13.3 grams carbohydrate, 1.4 grams protein, 1.7 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium.
It’s peach season! You really need to embrace this fragrant fruit of summer. Here’s a salad idea that combines high fiber bulgur with peaches, peppers and cucumbers in a simple yogurt dressing.
Bulgur, a traditional staple of Mediterranean cuisine, has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Peaches and peppers provide vitamin C and a decent source of potassium. If you’ve never tried ground lemon grass, it’s a great way to season veggies or use in stir fries. This salad does not disappoint!
2 cups dry bulger (soak for 1 hour before cooking)
2 fresh peaches
1 red or yellow bell pepper
1 cucumber- sliced and quartered
¼ cup red onion
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (non-fat)
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
3 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. lemon grass paste
Cook bulger according to directions and set aside to cool. Clean and cut peaches into chunks and add to cooled bulger. Chop bell peppers and add to bulger. Add quartered cucumbers, cilantro and onions to salad and blend.
Whisk ingredients together for dressing. Add dressing to salad and blend well.
Makes 6 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 206 calories, .9 grams fat, 7.2 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrate, 9.8 grams fiber, 1 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium.
Baby, it’s hot outside! Staying hydrated this time of year (and any time of year), improves energy, metabolism and maintains blood pressure. We consume about 80% of our fluid needs from water, juice, milk, coffee and tea and 20% from food. Combine the foods high in water below to provide close to 2 cups of water! Any type of lettuce can be used as most are at least 95% water. Choose darker, leafy greens for more beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium.
Yogurt (plain/traditional) is also high in water (approximately 85%). Greek yogurt has been strained at least 3 times, so it yields less water, but a higher protein, lower sugar product.
2 cups butter (Bibb) lettuce or Romaine
1 chopped tomato
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped radishes
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup plain/traditional yogurt (not Greek-style)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper (optional)
Clean and spin lettuce in a salad spinner. Add all other ingredients in a large salad bowl.
Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss salad with dressing prior to serving.
Makes 4 (2 cup) servings. Per serving: 86 calories, 4.2 gm fat, 9.5 gm carbohydrate, 2.3 gms fiber, 3.4 gm protein, 2 mg cholesterol, 212 mg sodium