A flower worth eating

It’s cauliflower! This cruciferous vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin C (providing ~95% of your daily value!), Vitamin K, folate and fiber.  It is also a very good source of B6, omega-3 fatty acids (the really good kind), manganese and B5. Due to its Vitamin K content, cauliflower is considered one of the main foods  to treat inflammation, along with kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts & many types of greens (collard, mustard, turnip & swiss chard). Cauliflower also contains many phytonutrients for anti-oxidant support.  This is definitely a nutrient dense flower!

Cauliflower can be added to salads, mixed with broccoli and carrots for a side dish, placed on veggie platters with a flavorful dip, added to stir-frys and soups, or eaten plain. 

This particular side dish is fairly rich for a side dish, but would go excellent with my beet salad (how I served it) or a lean protein and basic starch (like rice).

Cauliflower Gratin

(adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe, via Food Network)

  • 1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk  (skim or 1%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyère, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (make by cutting up whole wheat bread in a food processor)
  • Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm.

    Drain.

    Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyère, and the Parmesan.

    Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    Nutrition Information: (approximated) 4 servings, per serving:
    Calories: 390; Fat: 20 g ; Cholesterol: 62.2 mg; Sodium: 407 mg; Total Carbs: 32.6 g; Fiber: 5.9 g; Protein: 20 g

    More than just a fungi

    I love quiche. (Do you say key-shhh? Or ki- shhh?)  It can be made in so many different ways – sweet, savory, breakfast, dinner, brunch or mini!  Combining this variety with the fact that I love breakfast foods and often make them for dinner, this recipe was sure to be a winner in my book.

    I have made a couple of quiches before, but the crust on this one really made it.  Plus, the ability to add different vegetables, more spices and make it my own really appealed to me.  Not to mention it was healthy!

    The mushrooms take the highlight in this recipe (especially since they are part of the title).  Mushroom are fungus, but are a healthy fungus and come in various sizes and types – including some non-edible ones.  There are many types of mushrooms, but generally, they are an excellent source of selenium, various B vitamins, copper, potassium, and phosphorous.  Mushrooms are packed with phytonutrients and anti-oxidants to help you keep your immune system running well!

    Mozzarella & Mushroom Quiche

    (Source: adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

    Ingredients:

    Pie Crust:

    • 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • about 4 Tbsp. cold water, milk, or buttermilk

    Filling:

    • 1 tsp. butter or margarine
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    • 1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced or minced
    • 1/2 cup baby spinach
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • black pepper
    • a pinch of thyme
    • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
    • 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites
    • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
    • 1 tsp. hot sauce
    • 2 Tbsp. flour
    • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese
    • 1 tomato, sliced
    • paprika

    Directions:

    For the crust:

    1. Use a pastry cutter, two forks, or a food processor to cut together the butter and flour until the mixture is uniformly blended and resembles coarse cornmeal. (The food processor will do this in just a few spurts.)
    2. Add just enough liquid (water, milk, or buttermilk) to hold the dough together (add more if absolutely needed, 1 tsp. at a time). Roll out the dough and form a crust in a 9- or 10-inch pie pan. Set aside.

    For the filling:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Melt the butter in a small pan. Add onions, and saute over medium heat for a few minutes. When they begin to soften, add mushrooms, salt, pepper, thyme, and mustard. Saute about 4 minutes more. Add the spinach in for the last minute to just wilt the leaves. Remove from heat.
    3. Combine eggs, milk, hot sauce, and flour in a blender or food processor, and beat well.
    4. Spread the grated cheese over the bottom of the unbaked crust, and spread the onion-mushroom-spinach mixture on top. Pour in the egg mixture, top with the slices of tomato and sprinkle the top with paprika.
    5. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until solid in the center. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

    Sodium intake and a new recipe

    Whew, I have been BUSY!!  And in the midst of studying for finals and being out of town for a couple of days for my birthday, I neglected my blog.  So sorry blog readers!! 

    Hello??  Anyone still out there??

    A couple of weeks ago I made my own recipe!!! And it was good enough to share with you all.  The first fact alone is an accomplishment as I usually rely on recipes heavily and hardly ever branch out on my own.  But for it to be edible and worthy of posting??  BIG deal, in my own head, at least. 

    I bet there are some veteran chefs that fall across this post and scoff at my novice-ness.  Novice-ness? Is that a word?

    See how imperfect these are scraped out? Perfection is not my motto.

    See how imperfectly these are scraped out? Perfection is not my motto.

    This recipe also brings up a perfect opportunity to address the issue of sodium in one’s diet.  This was a question that many of you had when I asked you what nutrition topic you were interested in learning about most.  I did a little research on the subject as knew little about it, so I hope I can relay it in an understandable way!  If not, I have some good articles from smarter people than me that may help you understand its importance.

    Sodium is introduced into the diet in a variety of ways – through table salt, natural ingredients, and processed foods.  Processed and prepared foods contribute to a majority of the average American’s diet, constituting about 80% of our daily intake.  The recommendation for the average American is 2,300 mg of sodium.  One does need sodium in their diet for the proper fluid balance, conduction of nerves and muscle flexibility.  Excess amounts of sodium over a long period of time leads to cardiovascular and kidney failure. 

    It is important to be aware of this on a daily basis, not just if one is  susceptible to the affect of sodium on fluid balance, but also for the proper functioning of the kidneys.  The kidneys process and retain the sodium.  If there is too much sodium in the diet, they excrete it in the urine, but if there is not enough they retain it for later usage.  However, perpetually high amounts of sodium causes the kidney to retain too much sodium and go into failure.  The blood system is also affected by increasing the blood pressure and putting too much pressure on the heart. 

    The Mayo Clinic has a good article on it and even has some suggestions for how to reduce one’s intake on page 2.

     

    On that note, please be aware that there is likely a lot of sodium in this recipe as many of the items are pickled and canned. It is a fairly salty dish, but has a nice tangyness to it that both the husband and I enjoyed.  I hope you do as well!

    Broiled Mushrooms Stuffed with Greek Salsa

    Source: Nuts for Nutrition – Chef Megan 🙂

    Ingredients:

    • 4 Portobello Mushrooms, with the stems removed and the insides scraped
    • 1 Large Tomato
    • 1/4 c.  pitted Kalamata Olives, more to taste
    • 1/3 c. pitted green olives, more to taste
    • 1/4 c. chopped pepperoncini peppers
    • 1 container of reduced fat Feta Cheese

    Directions:

    Turn broiler on and set top rack about 8-10 inches underneath broiler

    Wash the tops of the mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Remove the stems and carefully scape out the innards with a spoon.  They don’t have to be perfect (see picture above). Place them top side down on a cooking sheet lined with foil.

    Prepare the salsa by chopping the tomato, olives and peppers.  Place them in a bowl to be tossed together.

    Evenly distribute the salsa amongst the mushrooms. Sprinkle the feta cheese on the tops.  Place them under the broiler for 6-7 minutes, until the feta cheese just starts to brown and soften.

    Serve with rice, rice with beans or a simple salad. 

    I hope you enjoy and would appreciate any feedback if you make this!

    To your health,

    M