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Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Although Halloween is behind us and pumpkin spice latte might be seen as a bit played right now, pumpkin itself is still quite popular, especially with Thanksgiving on the horizon.

If you think pumpkin puree is just for pie, think again! Personally, I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie (it’s likely a texture thing), but I do enjoy using pumpkin in other dishes. Have you ever used it in chili or stew?

Why Pumpkin?

Pumpkin has got a lot of nutrition prowess. It’s a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene in addition to being a source of potassium vitamin C and fiber. Canned pumpkin is versatile, accessible, and affordable for most. I’ve never cooked a pumpkin to make pumpkin puree and honestly, don’t see this in my future. If that’s your jam, more power to you! Canned pumpkin is packed in BPA-free cans, so no need to worry about that.

Lentils offer up plenty of fiber, protein, and iron- the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. When lentils are paired with a food high in vitamin C (such as peppers, tomatoes, or hey- pumpkin), your body absorbs more iron. Bonus! They also cook up much faster than other dried beans or legumes.

I made this simple pumpkin chili in my instant pot the other night, but it could also be prepared on the stove. With a handful of ingredients, I had dinner done in roughly 20 minutes! I used chipotle chili powder which gave the chili a smoky taste. Traditional chili powder or extra cumin could be used if chipotle’s not your thing.

If you want to keep the recipe vegan, use vegetable broth. Low-sodium broth would reduce the sodium content of the soup. This is a perfect dish for a tailgate party, book club, or simple dinner with friends or family.  If it’s too spicy, add a dash of plain Greek or plant-based yogurt to cool it off. I hope you like it!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. canola or corn oil

½ white or yellow onion, diced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. chipotle pepper

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. paprika

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup red lentils

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Set the Instant pot to sautee and add the oil. Allow to heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sautee for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine.
  5. Close the lid of the Instant pot and reset the pot to “soup or stew”.
  6. All the lentils to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro (optional)

On a stovetop:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot.
  2. Sautee the onions, peppers and garlic until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin, and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine
  5. Allow the stew to simmer on low for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 190 calories, 2.1 gm fat, 9.5 gm protein, 29 gm carb, 5.6 gm fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 550 gm sodium

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Mid to late September makes me a little wistful as summer ends, but ‘eggcited’ that fall is right around the corner. I love the end of the year produce, including tomatoes, melon and squash, but look forward to apples, pears and more leafy greens. I’m also OK with using pantry staples to create simple meals.

Oatmeal is one of my favorite foods. I like overnight oats, but really prefer the taste, texture and warmth of hot oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent grain to include in your diet. In addition to being a good source of soluble fiber (which helps lower bad cholesterol) and manage blood sugar), rolled oats have been found to help reduce appetite. They’re also a source of B vitamins, and inexpensive and versatile to use.

If you’re thinking that “old fashioned oats” take too long to cook, think again. You can whip up rolled oats in the microwave in 2 minutes. If you can spare one minute on instant oats, you can certainly spend 2 minutes on rolled oats. While they may have roughly the same fiber and calorie content, rolled oats are less processed, have zero sodium and no added sugar. Those little packs of instant oats pack 3 teaspoons of sugar and up to 200 mg of sodium per pack. Hard pass!

I made the recipe below with 3 ingredients including a little something spicy. My gal pal Barbie Hahn created this overnight sensation she dubs, “That dam jam”. Like me, Barbie is a foodie and enjoys simple, delicious ingredients. Her jam is no exception. She will tell you, “It’s nothing special”, but it really is! Barbie is the quintessential host. She creates beautiful trays of goodies and charcuterie and serves her delicious pineapple jam with cream cheese as a sweet and savory spread.

Her “sweet with a little heat” jam became so popular as a holiday and housewarming gift, her friends and family urged her to launch it commercially. It’s a really versatile jam that can be used in appetizers, main dishes with meat or hey- why not breakfast?

I combined rolled oats, unsweetened coconut and “That Dam Jam” for breakfast this morning. So. Dam. Easy! I hope you enjoy it as the weather changes from summer to fall in the next few days. Feel free to adjust the recipe to make more for a crowd.

You can find That Dam Jam at several markets around Cincinnati and Kentucky: SHOP LOCAL | That Dam Jam

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

1 teaspoon unsweetened coconut flakes

1 Tablespoon That Dam Jam (pineapple habanero)

Directions

  1. Place the rolled oats, water and unsweetened coconut in a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid and cook the oats for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the oats from the microwave and stir in That Dam Jam.
  4. Allow to cool for a minute, then enjoy with gusto!

Makes 1 serving. Nutrition facts per serving: 211 calories, 37 grams carbs, 4.8 grams fiber, 4.1 grams fat, 5.6 grams protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.4 mg sodium 

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Superior Salmon with Peach Salsa

Superior Salmon with Peach Salsa

Farm-raised fish often gets a bad rap. Visions of polluted, contaminated water overflowing with crowded fish may be what you’re thinking of. It’s time to think again!

Not all fish farms are the same. I was fortunate to receive samples of seriously tasty salmon from Superior Fresh in Wisconsin. Superior Fresh is no ordinary fish farm. They use regenerative agriculture to provide the most delicious food while sparing the planet.

Superior Fresh uses soil regeneration and habitat preservation by recycling nearly 100% of the water used to grow 30 times more food per acre than traditional farms. In addition, they grown 5 pounds of salmon and an extra 25 pounds of organic vegetables for every 5 pounds of fish food. That’s a lot of food!

Their aquaponic ecosystem works in harmony. Atlantic salmon lives in water that fuel their leafy greens, which in turn purify the water and send it back to the fish. Their fish are fed an organic diet, which are non-GMO, pesticide free, hormone free, antibiotic free and delicious! On top of that, their Atlantic salmon has twice as much omega-3-fatty acids as traditional salmon.

Why Omega-3s?

I’ve been paying attention to my omega-3-fatty acid intake for a reason. Omega-3 fats are PUFAS (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that are linked with the reduction of risk of heart disease, dementia, and also depression. Sadly, no pun intended, all of these conditions run in my family. My father had diabetes which led to heart disease. My mother has dementia and suffered with depression throughout her life. Prevention is key to all of these chronic conditions.

Omega-3-fatty acids are found in fatty fish, including salmon as well as ground flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, soybean and canola oil. Most of us don’t consume enough in our diets. Fish oil supplements also provide these healthy fats- ask your doctor or dietitian if they’re right for you. While my diet may not be perfect (whose is?), I really want to keep my heart healthy and brain sharp as I age.

Superior Salmon with Peach Salsa

There are SO many tasty ways to make salmon that I got overwhelmed looking at recipes. Samon can be baked, broiled, air fried, pan fried or grilled. Summer in Cincinnati means grilling, so I opted for a simple marinade. Summer also means peach season. I was happy to have all the ingredients I needed on hand. Well, most of them.

Most fish marinades use lemon or lime juice, which makes sense. Both add refreshing flavor and help to tenderize the fish. I was out of both but did have a few mandarin oranges on hand. Problem solved. The fish can also be baked at 375 for 13 to 15 minutes.

Marinade:

1 Tbsp. avocado, olive or canola oil

Juice of 1 mandarin orange

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. salt

2 skin-on fillets of Superior Fresh salmon

Peach salsa

2 ripe peaches

1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced

1 Tbsp. diced red onion

1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Juice of 1/2 of a mandarin orange

pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the avocado oil, mandarin juice, cumin, paprika and salt. Place 2 pieces of salmon in a Ziplock bag then pour the marinade over the fish. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the peaches, jalapeno peppers, red onions, and cilantro. Drizzle mandarin juice over the mixture and toss to coat. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  3. Pre-heat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes. Grill each side for 4 to 5 minutes until desired doneness.
  4. Serve the salmon with a few tablespoons of peach salsa.

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Spinach Blueberry Salad with Ginger Lemon Vinaigrette

Spinach Blueberry Salad with Ginger Lemon Vinaigrette

June is not only Men’s Health Month, it’s also Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Some of the most common chronic conditions that impact men include prostate and colon cancer as well as heart disease. Men are also susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease, especially if they’re dealing with diabetes or high blood pressure.

It’s important to limit calorie-dense, nutritionally empty foods like processed meats, chips, pastries, ice cream and other treats while focusing on nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables to prevent chronic diseases. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 US adults don’t meet the recommended intake for fruits and vegetables. We can do better! Research supports 5 or more servings of fruits and veggies daily to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.

This crisp, summer salad is not only delicious. It’s perfect for heart, brain health AND cancer prevention.  Blueberry and spinach boast 55% of the Daily Value for vitamin C and 32% of the Daily Value for vitamin A and provide other antioxidants to support brain and heart health as well as prevent cancer.  Walnuts add anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and give the salad some crunch.

If you’re out of spinach, arugula, mixed greens, kale or butter lettuce would work well. A portion of grilled salmon or other fish would make this a great dinner salad. You can make the salad vegan by omitting the feta cheese.

I was flattered to join Cincy Lifestyle http://cincylifestyle.com/ earlier today to feature this salad. What fun to be in person again after 2+ years of Covid. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Salad:                                                                                           

1 bag baby spinach leaves

1-pint fresh blueberries- rinsed

1 cucumber- sliced and quartered

2 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles

Dressing:

1/4 cup canola oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. ginger paste

1 tsp. honey

Directions

Wash & dry spinach leaves and place in a large bowl. Add blueberries, chopped cucumbers, green onions, walnuts, and feta cheese.

Whisk the canola oil, lemon juice, sesame oil, ginger paste, and honey together for dressing.  Drizzle dressing over salad and toss right before serving.

Makes 6 servings. 

Delicious air fried ginger garlic Brussels sprouts

Delicious air fried ginger garlic Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are the blue cheese of vegetables, in my humble opinion. They’re quite polarizing. You either love them or hate them. Like blue cheese, they have a distinctive smell and taste. But when properly prepared, you’d be surprised how much you may enjoy them.

Nutritional value

For starters, Brussels sprouts are fairly low in calories, providing just 62 calories per cup. Once they’re doctored up with a little oil, the calories go up a bit. Like other cabbage family vegetables, Brussels sprouts offer vitamin C, fiber and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that may protect against heart disease and cancer. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane.

A study published in 2020 indicates that sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables (including Brussels sprouts) shows promise in reducing the risk for neurogenerative diseases such as MS, Alzheimer’s dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers believe these vegetables have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that protect against nerve damage.

How to make them delicious

If your only memory of Brussels sprouts is eating them boiled, you’re missing out on a world of deliciousness. Similar to kale, when Brussels sprouts are roasted or sauteed, they take on a whole new flavor. Roasting the tiny cabbages makes their leaves get crispy and mellows their intense flavor. Adding a few herbs or spices only sweetens the deal.

You can make these Brussels sprouts in your oven, but I used my air fryer to save time. From start to finish, it’s about 10 minutes to delicious sprouts!

Ginger garlic Brussels sprouts

One-pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned and sliced

Juice from 1/2 a lime or 1 Tbsp. lime juice

1 Tbsp. canola or corn oil

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. ginger paste or grated fresh ginger

Directions

  1. Set your air fryer to 400 degrees and heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Place the sliced Brussels sprouts in a medium sized bowl.
  3. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, canola oil, garlic salt and ginger.
  4. Pour the lime juice mixture over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat them.
  5. Spray the air fryer with non-stick spray before placing the sprouts in the fryer.
  6. Air fry the Brussels sprouts for 8 to 9 minutes until crispy.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

 

 

Ginger lime coleslaw with apples and peanuts

Ginger lime coleslaw with apples and peanuts

I often hear “I’m too busy to prep meals”. I get it. After a long day of work or being home with your kids, you may not be in the mood to chop a lot of food for dinner. With St. Patrick’s Day coming, I feel that it’s my duty to provide a simple cabbage-based recipe.

Fortunately, there’s lots of healthy short cuts you can take. For example, bagged coleslaw can be used in salads, stir fries or to top tacos. It’s already shredded and ready to go. Coleslaw is made up of two ingredients- cabbage and carrots. Both are a source of vitamin C as well as beta-carotene. Cabbage also provides vitamin K, a necessary nutrient for blood clotting and bone health. Being from the same family as broccoli, it’s also a source of phytochemicals, which help prevent cancer.

Rather than using a super sugary slaw dressing, I like to blend up citrus juice with simple ingredients like Dijon mustard, cumin or in this case, ginger paste. You’re welcome to grate fresh ginger for this slaw if you have it on hand, but I’ve gotten used to the convenience and shelf life of ginger paste. You can find it at most major grocery chains like Kroger or Aldi. If you use ground ginger, you’ll need half of what the recipe calls for as it’s a concentrated source of ginger.

I used canola oil in the recipe, but avocado oil or corn oil would work well, too. Olive oil has a distinct taste, so I don’t recommend it for this particular salad. If you don’t have limes or lime juice on hand, lemon juice or even orange juice would go well in this slaw. I add apples to mine, but if you’re concerned about carbs, you could use chopped cucumbers instead.

If you want to make the salad but have a nut allergy in your house, sunflower or pumpkin seed butter and sunflower seeds may be substituted for peanut butter and chopped peanuts. Pumpkin seeds could also be used.

This salad will last a two to three days in the fridge after making it. The vitamin C in the lime or other citrus juice keeps the apples from browning. Isn’t food science cool?

Ingredients:

1 (14 ounce) bag coleslaw mix

1 Honey Crisp, Cosmic crisp or Fuji apple, cored and chopped

2 green onions, chopped (use green and white parts)

Juice of 1 large lime

1/3 cup canola oil

1 Tablespoon ginger paste

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon peanut butter

1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Directions:

  1. Place the coleslaw, chopped apples and green onions in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, canola oil, ginger paste, honey and peanut butter to make a vinaigrette.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the coleslaw mix and toss to coat.
  4. Top with chopped peanuts, toss and serve.

Makes 6 servings

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