Pass the pasta

Pasta has gotten a lot of bad raps lately for being a carbohydrate.  Thing is, our body survives because of carbohydrates.  The metabolism of our cells is started by a molecule of glucose.  Which is why, as many may have experienced, when you get rid of ALL carbs (including good ones) you feel a little loopy and drained. 

The amount and quality of carbohydrates are what make the difference.  The USDA recommends  6-7 servings of grains a day, with at least half of them being whole grains.  Whole grains are things like brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oats and bulgur. 

Pasta has changed a lot more recently with the increase of whole wheat being added to products.  Please note, however, that if the package does not say “100% Whole Wheat”, you could still be eating “enriched wheat flour” – which is essentially just white flour and has been stripped of almost all nutrients.  Multi-grain and whole wheat products may have more whole grains than white bread, but they are not the real McCoy.  When I look for pasta, I look for “100% whole durum”, usually it is listed as the only ingredient – ding! ding! ding!  We have a winner! 

Why whole grains?  Your colon will thank you and treat you kindly!!  Whole grains contain all the nutrients that help your body function, including B vitamins and fiber.  However, some people are sensitive to gluten, so the whole grains must be altered in the diet to avoid wheat. 

This recipe is surprisingly easy and so delicious!! You can roast peppers on your own if you like the flavor better, but I find the jarred variety to be a comparable shortcut. This recipe is perfect for two, but can be double for more! The dried shiitake mushrooms, spinach and roasted peppers add some great flavor!

Poached Salmon in Orzo Broth

From Betty Crocker’s Cooking for Two Cookbook

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

6 dried shiitake mushrooms (1/2 ounce)

2 cups chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons uncooked orzo (rosamarina) pasta

1/2 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut into to pieces

1/4 cup sliced, drained roasted red bell peppers

1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

2 medium green onions, sliced diagonally

Shredded Parmesan cheese, as desired

In medium bowl, pour hot water over mushrooms. Let stand about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Rinse with warm water; drain. Squeeze excess moisture from mushrooms. Remove and discard stems; cut caps into 1/2-inch strips.

 Strain mushroom liquid through fine wire mesh sieve or coffee filter into 4-quart Dutch oven. Stir in broth and garlic. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo; reduce heat. Add salmon. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Carefully remove salmon with slotted spatula; keep warm.

Stir mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, basil and onions into broth mixture. Cook about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted and orzo is tender.

 Place a piece of salmon in each individual bowl; spoon vegetable-orzo broth over top. Sprinkle with cheese.

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Here – fishy, fishy, fishy!!

This past weekend it was extraordinarily nice and so I wanted to make a meal that suited the weather.  Of course, at the moment, it is only 30-some degrees out and there was a dusting of snow on the deck this morning.  Gotta love  Denver weather!!

The meal is a perfect remedy for those warm nights when you want to grill something, but are tired of hamburgers or chicken.  A cool Corona Light is a perfect partner for this slightly spicy, Mexican inspired dish.

Fish – the chicken of the sea.  Fish is so good for you in many ways – it contains a lot of protein, most varieties are low in fat and contain a generous amount of essential amino acids.*  For this recipe, tilapia can be used, which is great as tilapia is usually the least expensive to buy.  For about a three ounce serving, tilapia provides 26g of protein and 2g of fat.  It is a flaky fish and can be substituted by halibut or mahi-mahi, which are both much more expensive (in my neighborhood at least). 

Fish contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are essential for brain, heart and nervous system function.  They also contain the nutrient DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which is especially vital for our brains as adults and has been purported to lead to healthier brains in young children as well.  In fact, DHA has gotten a lot more attention recently and it is being suggested that pregnant or breast-feeding women add it to their diet in the form of a supplement.  These items are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many beneficial ways fish can lead to a healthy body.

 

 

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

By Ellie Krieger, Food Network.com

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Fish:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound white flaky fish fillet, like tilapia or halibut

Chipotle cream:

  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper, in adobo sauce

 

  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage or lettuce
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the fish fillets and let marinate for 20 minutes. Put the yogurt into a strainer lined with apaper towel and place over a bowl to drain and thicken for 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the marinade and grill on a preheated grill or nonstick grill pan over a medium-high heat until cooked thorough, about 3 minutes per side. Set the fish aside on a plate for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the thickened yogurt, mayonnaise, and chipotle pepper.

Heat the tortillas on the grill or grill pan for 30 seconds on each side.

Flake the fish with a fork. Top each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the chipotle cream. Top with fish, cabbage, corn and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.