Using canned beans is not only quick and easy, it is pretty much commonplace in American households. I always see dried beans in the supermarket and at specialty food stores and I, probably like many of you, passed them up for a quicker, more convenient option…canned beans. So I decided to find out for myself which of these two alternatives was: 1. better tasting, 2. better for you and 3. the most economical. I love beans, they make whatever you are eating a lot heartier and healthier, they are after all packed with fiber and iron. But let’s face it, no one is going to take the time to cook beans from scratch unless they taste better and are better for you. So lets find out…
Blueberries are at the peak of season in the summer, and while July is the official “Blueberry Month”, you can find delicious, plump, sweet blueberries from across the United States from May through August. Over the past few weeks, the blueberries in my area were not only very affordable but were packed with flavor. I picked up three pints and headed home to figure out what to make…
There was a short little article about making homemade nut butters in my local newspaper about a week or so ago. When I saw how ridiculously easy it is to make I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done this before. I was now on a mission to make my own peanut butter so I ran up to the grocery store to grab a few ingredients. The peanuts happened to be on sale BOGO (buy one get one free) and I also had two coupons – score! I was excited just about making some yummy peanut butter, but now this was going to be a lot less expensive than buying a store brand – double score! When I returned home with the ingredients, I got out my food processor and literally in minutes I had delicious and creamy, homemade peanut butter – no banana was safe at this point. The texture was not the same as store bought PB, but I actually liked this better. It just tastes so fresh and natural, not “commercial and processed”. I put the remaining peanut butter in an airtight, hinged jar, wrote the date on the bottom and popped it in the fridge. And I am happy to report, nearly three weeks later, the peanut butter is not separated or hard-as-a-rock like many store-bought natural brands I have tried. This would be a great thing to do with kids and when placed in a decorative jar, it also makes a nice little gift for someone. I brought a jar over to my mom and she loves it. Here is all you need to do to have your own fresh peanut butter in minutes…
Everyone needs a quick and delicious go-to side dish for busy weeknights, to bring to a pot-luck or for a light lunch, so you can throw together a healthy dish in a pinch. This is one of my all time favorites and I make it at least once a month. Couscous is such a wonderful blank canvas – you can make the flavor profile anything you wish. This dish comes together in minutes and is light, yet flavorful. Enjoy it as a side dish to sautéed chicken, a grilled steak or your favorite baked fish or try it for lunch: stuff the center of a large tomato and serve it with some baked pita chips and fruit.
- 1 ½ C cooked Israeli couscous; cooled
- ½ C tomatoes, chopped or sliced
- ½ C cucumber, quartered and sliced
- ¼ C black olives, chopped
- 2 Tbs red onion, diced
- 2 Tbs crumbled Feta cheese, plain or flavored
- 2 Tbs of a lite Greek vinaigrette or dressing
- Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives and onion to the cooled couscous; stir to combine.
- Mix in the Greek dressing.
- Let sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the dressing to soak in.
- Plate and then crumble feta cheese over the top to serve.
- If you are making enough so you have leftovers, divide the mixture and do not put the Greek dressing on the portion to be refrigerated, do that when ready to serve.
Something as simple as using glass storage jars instead of the traditional plastic storage containers or Ziploc bags can make a big difference in how and where you store things in your kitchen. Not only are the jars nice to look at, they also help keep your food and spices fresh longer. I use them after I open a bag of rice, a box of granola or pasta, a can of Mandarin oranges or even for left overs like rice or broccoli. A variety of smaller jars come in handy for storing easy to reach portions of seasoning blends and salts and also to keep easy-to-use portions of flour, sugar, etc on hand so there is no need to break out the big bags every time you need a teaspoon. The jars are pretty inexpensive as well. Think Homegoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. Here you will find a variety of sizes and shapes and colors at very affordable prices. When purchasing the hinged jars always check them over before buying. Look for jars that open and close smoothly and create a nice tight seal when closed. Jars with thicker wires tend to be more durable and better-looking as well. And always keep you eyes open if you go to garage or yard sales too. Look for and get a variety of sizes – you never know what you can use them for.
These colorful carrots that come in pale yellow, yellow, red, and purple are usually referred to as Rainbow Crunch Carrots. While many of these colors may seem unusual for us, the very first carrots that were grown in Afghanistan nearly 1,000 years ago were purple and yellow, not orange. They did not become orange until sometime in the 1500’s when Dutch carrot growers cross-bred pale yellow carrots with red carrots in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.1 While they all have the basic carrot taste and texture, each color has its own slightly unique taste. In comparison to your run-of-the mill orange carrot the pale yellow and yellow have a milder flavor, while in contrast the purple has an earthier flavor and the red has a very sweet, almost sweet potato-“ish” flavor and a slightly softer texture as well. A quick way to bring out these simple, yet interesting flavors is as easy as oven-roasting the carrots with some olive oil, salt and pepper for about 25 minutes at 400°. When cooked together the flavors of each of the brightly colored beauties plays off of each other to create a tasty, unique, and fun dish. Enjoy.
Fun Food Facts: Carrots!
● Did you know that there is a Carrot Museum in the United Kingdom? Ok it’s a virtual museum, but still…
● Red carrots have extra lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes and is believed to lower blood pressure and help to reduce the risk of some cancers.2
● China is the world’s top carrot producer. 2
● The World’s Heaviest Carrot recorded in 1998 was 18.985 lbs!3 See World Record page here