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TIP OF THE DAY: Delicious Ways To Eat More Grains & Legumes

Grilled Vegetables On Bean Puree

Poached Egg On A Bed Of Beans

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Top: Bean purée topped with grilled vegetables and aged balsamic, as a starter or vegetarian main (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine). Center: Try poached or fried eggs on a bed of beans or lentils; here, kidney beans and diced sweet potato (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Ham with black-eyed peas and collards (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

 

Head to any fine-casual dining spot and the menu is sure to include quinoa, other whole grains (barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farrow) and often, bean and lentil dishes.

While consumers increasingly respond to these healthful alternatives when dining out, many of us still aren’t in the groove of serving them at home. Some people do their best to put nutritious meals on the table, while others have to default to convenience.

But with some easy planning, you can have both deliciousness and healthfulness: Just about every grain and legume can be prepared in an hour or two on the weekend, and heated up as needed.

Grains and legumes have also been turned into convenience. You can buy them frozen or in boil bags, and boil or microwave them. As with the frozen vegetables, enjoy the same nutrition.

And all of us should now know how to season better with herbs and spices, instead of the salt and pepper shakers of yore.
 
WHY DON’T WE EAT MORE OF THEM?

Since the dawn of personal wealth, meat has been a sign of prosperity. Diets of mostly grains, beans and vegetables were fare for the less prosperous.

Whereas in other cultures meat—especially beef—remains a luxury, the U.S. has always had enough grazing land to produce large quantities of it. Quantity drove down prices, and a result, people ate more meat. In fact, many families could eat it at every meal, starting with breakfast meats.

As a result, the grains and legumes that still comprise a major part of other cuisines were passed over in favor of meat-and-starch diet: bacon or sausage at breakfast, a ham or roast beef sandwich for lunch, beef, chicken or pork for dinner.

Our eating habits grew out of balance. Case in point:

Spaghetti and [large] meatballs that are a signature “Italian” dish are actually Italian-American. It doesn’t exist in classic Italian cuisine. Few people in the old country could afford large amounts of meat on a regular basis—but working-class immigrants to the U.S. could.
 
HOW TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM

Americans eat too much processed food (and too much meat) and not nearly enough whole food. This is one reason why we have growing rates of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and gastrointestinal disorders like constipation.

While selling the general public on whole grains and legumes as “healthful” isn’t the best marketing approach for many consumers, “delicious” usually works. And truth to tell, it is easy to make these foods taste delicious.

There’s an easy solution below. But first…

 
WHAT ARE WHOLE GRAINS?

Whole grain are cereals with that have their germ, endosperm and bran intact, in contrast to refined grains which retain only the endosperm, and thus tend to retain little nutritional value after being processed.
 
Whole grains contain far more fiber than heavily-processed grains. They also provide protein, iron and other minerals, even some trace minerals (chromium, copper, molybdenum, selenium, etc). Their valuable phytonutrients (antioxidants) are removed in the refining process.

There’s overwhelming evidence that a diet including a sufficient quantity of whole grains can result in a healthier, and therefore better, life. The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains per day. It doesn’t matter if the grains are cooked ass is or ground into flour: Corn on the cob is a whole grain food, as are cornbread and polenta, made from cornmeal (corn flour).

The choice boils down to this: Eat refined white flour and white rice, or switch to better-for-you whole grains from the chart below. You can snack on potato chips, or switch to whole grain snacks like popcorn and whole-grain pretzels. (Note: “multigrain” is not “whole grain”: It can indicate a combination of two or more refined grains.)

Here’s more about whole grains.

List Of Whole Grains

 

WHAT ARE LEGUMES?

Legumes are plants that contain their fruits in pods. They are generally low in fat, high in protein and full of fiber and other nutrients (calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, etc.).

Examples include all forms of dried seeds, beans and peas, such as chickpeas, navy beans, soybeans, black beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas.

Among other things, legumes can help prevent blood sugar spikes. They help to lower cholesterol and contribute to gastrointestinal well-being. The USDA recommends that individuals consume three servings of whole grains each day—about half of your total grain intake—and about half a cup of legumes daily.

They can be easily substituted for pasta, white rice and potatoes.

14 WAYS TO EAT MORE WHOLE GRAINS & LEGUMES, AND LOVE THEM!

In our youth, one of the women’s magazines our mother bought had a meal calendar for the month: literally, a monthly calendar page with a suggested dinner menu for every day.

The meals were very varied—beyond the meat and potatoes that were popular at the time—and the dishes easy to make. As kids, we delighted in selecting which Birdseye frozen vegetables would be served at dinner.

But the point is the planning. If you take one of the wall calendars you picked up at the bank, you can write in a whole grain and/or legume for every day of the month. Then, implementing is easy.

Here are just a few ideas that can be incorporated into your everyday meals:

  • Burgers: There are delicious veggie burgers made with beans. Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them—and serve them on whole grain buns.
  • Bread: Buy whole wheat bread or oatmeal bread, including bagels.
  • Eggs: Add beans to an omelet or a scramble, or serve a side of well-seasoned beans with the eggs.
  • Hummus: In addition to dipping and snacking, use hummus or bean purée as a bread spread instead of butter, and as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise.
  • Meat loaf: Make your meat loaf with a 3:1 ratio of ground meat to cooked whole grains or legumes. (We love Lentil Meat Loaf.)
  • Mexican/Tex-Mex: Use corn tortillas instead of white flour tortillas. The same goes for wrap sandwiches. Serve brown rice and puréed beans as rice-and-beans sides with non-Mexican mains.
  •  

    Barley Side

    Bean Tostada

    Red Rice Thai Croquettes

    Top: A side of barley, sugar snap peas and sundries tomatoes (All-Clad pot from Williams-Sonoma). Center: Make bean tostadas for lunch or snacks (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Red Rice Thai Croquettes (photo courtesy Blogspot.PhilosophersSpoon.com).

  • Oats beyond porridge: Add rolled oats to muffins, pie crusts and cookies. Instead of conventional chocolate chip cookies, make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Pan-fry leftover oatmeal and serve it plain like polenta (with maple syrup or grated cheese), or with eggs. You can also whip up a large batch of oatmeal on the weekend and heat up your daily breakfast.
  • Pasta: Use whole wheat pasta instead of refined white flour pasta. If you don’t like the more pronounced flavor, combine half whole wheat pasta and half white flour pasta.
  • Pizza: Use chickpea flour (gluten free) or whole wheat flour instead of white flour—or buy whole grain pizza dough—for homemade pizza crusts. Purée white beans—cannellini, great northern or navy beans—as a pizza topping instead of tomato sauce, and top with roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese.
  • Potatoes: Instead of potatoes on most nights, cut back to four nights a week and serve whole grains or legumes on the other nights. You may find yourself happily planning more nights of the better-for-you options.
  • Rice: Beyond brown rice, there are other good-for-you whole ready-to-heat-and-eat grains on the store shelves and in the freezer case. If you’ve never had wild rice, what a treat-well worth the extra time (and higher cost) to prepare it.
  • Salads: Add barley, beans (including edamame) or wheatberries to green salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Snacks: Substitute popcorn or roasted chickpeas for potato chips and other “empty calorie” snack foods. Buy bags of frozen edamame in the pods, microwave them and serve as them with a sprinkle of coarse salt for a yummy snack (it’s fun to squeeze the beans from the pods). And for a sophisticated snack, make bruschetta or crostini with cooked beans and/or bean purée and a garnish of fresh herbs.
  • Soups: Enjoy more bean or lentil soup, and add beans, lentils or whole grains to other soups.
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    We know you’ll have even more ideas!
     
    This article was inspired by one in the Sysco.com health newsletter.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Riced Cauliflower, Cauliflower Rice

    Cauliflower Risotto

    Cauliflower Rice

    Flavored Cauliflower Rice

    Top: No rice involved—this mushroom “risotto” was made by HealthyFellow.com from riced cauliflower. Here’s the recipe. Center: JoyLoop brand is sold at Good Eggs | San Francisco, perhaps the most wonderful food purveyor in the U.S. Bottom: In the U.K., CauliRice.com sells plain cauliflower rice, plus Indian, Mediterranean and Thai flavors.

     

    Cauliflower rice, also called cauliflower couscous, is poised for fame. There’s no actual rice involved; it’s a grain-free rice substitute made from cauliflower, that can be used in just about every rice recipe from plain boiled to fried rice to risotto.

    Cauliflower rice—cauliflower chopped in a ricer, became popular with the Paleo Diet, and it is takes time to make it from scratch.

    Fortunately, the Paleo Diet is making people more aware of it, and small producers have begun to cut and package it. It can be found minced or pulverized, fresh and frozen.

    Who invented cauliflower rice? There may be several different “inventors” who first pulverized a head of cauliflower. The Italian supplier who makes other cauliflower products for Trader Joe’s ended up with lots of leftover florets and trim. Rather than toss them, Trader Joe’s says, “We put our heads together and came up with a new product made from this extra cauliflower.”

    Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse, a “superfood,” a term that evaluates foods based on their calorie density vis-a-vis their amount/types of nutrients. A member of the Brassica family, it is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C (also an antioxidant). It is low in calories and low on the Glycemic Index (GI). But there’s more:

  • Cauliflower contains more vitamin C per 100g than an orange.
  • It has a range of protective plant compounds (the antioxidants quercetin, beta carotene and caffeic acid) that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, a key risk factor for cancer.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps to alleviate symptoms of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Its sulphur compounds support detoxification in the liver, and promote levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • As with cauliflower mashed potatoes, you can pass it off to kids and adult finicky eaters as regular rice.
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    WHERE TO BUY CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Now here’s the rub: Cauliflower rice is not yet available as widely as it should be. But it’s poised for fame and on its way: We recently spoke with a specialty food manufacturer who will be bringing it to market soon. In the interim:

     

  • Trader Joe’s imports it frozen from Italy. It was so popular that as of this writing, it is sold out and the retailer is waiting for a new shipment.
  • Joyloop Foods, in greater San Franciso, sells to some California retailers and online.
  • Paleo On The Go, a meal delivery service, packages it and sells it on Amazon.
  • You can buy Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles in a Steam In Pack. Although the crumbles are larger than riced cauliflower, you can cook them al dente and rice them.
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    And of course, you can make your own from a head of cauliflower.
     
    ______________________________
    *Brassica is the plant genus of cruciferous vegetables, nutritional powerhouses packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). They include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Cauliflower rice can be buttered, sauced or otherwise made more flavorful by adding vegetables, herbs and/or spices. This recipe, from CauliRice.com, advises that homemade versions will taste more strongly of cauliflower and less like actual rice, but we have no issue with the homemade “rice.” Light seasoning, butter, etc. will mask any subtle cauliflower flavor.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper and/or other seasonings (herbs, spices)
  • Optional: cooking oil
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Food processor with an “S” blade, or a hand grater
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the cauliflower and remove any leaves. Remove the main stem and set it aside for another purpose†. The fine stems that hold the florettes together need not be removed.

    2. CUT or break the florettes into chunks so they better fit into your food processor. Attach the ‘S’ blade and place the florettes into the processor bowl. Pulse until the cauliflower is the texture of couscous (course grains) or until all large lumps disappear. Do not over-process, as this will result in mushy cauliflower rice when cooked. If you have a particularly large cauliflower, or a small processor or hand grater, you may have to do this in batches.

    3. MICROWAVE for 3 minutes. Microwaving retains more moisture than dry-frying or oven baking, and is CauliRice’s preferred method. Place the cauliflower rice into a microwave-safe dish. Add a teaspoon of water—no more, or the cauliflower rice will become too wet. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid. Cook for 3 minutes at 900 watts.

    4. LEAVE the cauliflower rice covered, and let it stand for another 2-3 minutes. It will continue cooking in its own heat. Add seasoning to taste and serve.

     

    Cauliflower Rice

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Rice

    Top: Homemade cauliflower rice from TheKitchn.com. Here’s their recipe and a video. Bottom: Cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s.

     
    _______________________
    †You can steam and slice or purée it, finely dice or slice and add to salads, add to soups and stews, etc. You can also stick it in the freezer and decide later.

     
    TO DRY FRY

    1. HEAT a tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cauliflower bits and spread evenly across the base of the pan. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. If you prefer a less crispy cauliflower rice, add a tablespoon of water to the pan about halfway through cooking—but be sure to cook this added moisture off before serving.

    2. Add seasoning to taste, and serve.
     
    TO OVEN COOK

    Oven cooking produces a drier, crunchier cauliflower rice that some people prefer, although it gives a less rice-like effect.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Spread the cauliflower pieces evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the cauliflower every 5 minutes or so.

    2. REMOVE from the oven, add seasoning to taste and serve.

      

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    RECIPE: Creamed Spinach Without The Cream

    March 26th is National Spinach Day, honoring the most iron-rich vegetable, the reason Popeye was strong to the finish. Many people name Creamed Spinach as their favorite way to enjoy the vegetable—along with a juicy steak. It’s a steakhouse staple.

    To help tone down the richness a bit, some steakhouses are making their Creamed Spinach without cream. Chicken stock, flour and butter are substituted for the heavy cream or cream cheese.

    Executive Chef Eddie Advilyi from Angus Club Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan is one of the steakhouse chefs turning out Creamless Creamed Spinach (we’ve also had the dish at Benjamin Steakhouse). Chef Eddie shares his recipe with us:

    RECIPE: CREAMLESS CREAMED SPINACH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base*
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (substitute black pepper)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup of melted butter
  •  
    _________________________________
    *Chicken base is a highly concentrated stock available in powder or cube form.

     
    Preparation

    1. BOIL or steam the chopped spinach and drain well.

    2. ADD the other ingredients. Mix until it becomes creamy, about 5 minutes.
     
     
    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY SPINACH

  • Pxali, Georgian spinach dip with walnuts
  • Savory Spinach Bread Pudding
  • Spanakoita, Greek spinach pie
  • Spinach & Artichoke Dip
  • Spinach & Grapefruit Salad
  • 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip
  • Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip
  •  

    Creamless Creamed Spinach

    Ribeye, Creamed Spinach

    Fresh Spinach

    Top: Creamless Creamed Spinach at Benjamin Steakhouse. Center: Ribeye steak with Creamless Creamed Spinach at Angus Club Steakhouse. Bottom: Fresh spinach from Good Eggs.

     
    THE HISTORY OF SPINACH

    Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), is native to central and western Asia (think ancient Persia). It is a member of the botanical family Amaranthaceae, which also includes amaranth, beet, chard, lamb’s quarters (mache) and quinoa, plus numerous flowering house and garden plants.

    At some point, spinach was introduced to India and subsequently to Nepal. It arrived in China around 647 C.E., where it was known as “Persian vegetable.”

    It became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean, and in 827 was brought to Italy by the Saracens. It arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century, and in Germany by the 13th century.

    Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century and quickly became popular because it could be harvested in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce.

    Spinach was supposedly the favorite vegetable of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), wife of King Henry II of France. Dishes served on a bed of spinach are known as “Florentine” after her birthplace, Florence. Florentine dishes are sometimes served with Mornay sauce, a béchamel sauce with cheese (usually Gruyère and Parmesan).

      

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    PRODUCT: Boulder Canyon Potato Chips With Healthier Oils

    March 14th was National Potato Chip Day, a good time to focus on what’s new in chips. We spent the day tasting Boulder Canyon chips fried in 100% better-for-you oils: avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil:

  • Avocado Oil Chips: Canyon Cut, Jalapeno, Malt Vinegar & Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Coconut Oil Chips: Kettle Chips, Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil Chips: Canyon Cut,
  •  
    They are variously made in standard cut kettle chips or “Canyon Cut,” with ridges. The potato chips are thicker (less breakage), very crisp, much less greasy and lower in sodium. We couldn’t stop crunching away.

    Find a retailer near you.

     
    ABOUT THE OILS

    Mass-market brands use different oils to fry their chips: canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower or soybean oil, depending on price and availability. These are O.K., but are not better-for-you oils.

  • If you care about genetically modified foods, be aware that canola, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils are often made from them.
  • Sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E antioxidants, but it’s also high in inflammatory compounds.
  •  
    On the other hand, avocado, coconut and olive oils are among the healthiest oils you can use.

    Yes, some of Boulder Canyon’s other chips use sunflower and/or safflower oil, but the new specialty oil chips are for consumers who care about the difference.

    The entire Boulder Canyon line is:

  • Certified gluten free
  • Non GMO
  • No MSG
  • No Trans Fat
  • Certified Kosher (by OK)
  • No Cholesterol
  • Low Sodium
  • Vegan
  •  

    Boulder Canyon Olive Oil Chips

    Boulder Canyon Coconut Oil Chips

    Olive oil and coconut oil, two of the three better for you oils used by Boulder Canyon potato chips. Photos courtesy Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods.

     

    ABOUT BOULDER CANYON FOODS

    Since its inception in 1994, Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods has focused on premium snacks sold through the natural foods channel, where consumers were looking healthier alternatives to traditional snacks.

    The ingredients are top quality, non-GMO and minimally processed. The chips are cooked in small batches, in kettles instead of mammoth factory vats.

    A good community citizen, the company offsets 100% of its energy usage with Renewable Energy Credits. The purchase prevents as many as 3,421,989 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere annually.

    The company also participates in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, with a certification audit that the corrugated cardboard packaging used to transport and store products meets the standards of the Initiative.

    Here’s more about Boulder Canyon Foods.

      

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    RECIPE: Cabbage Slaw With Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

    Putting our money where our mouth is, our follow-up to Make Cabbage The New Kale is this recipe for an alterntive to cole slaw.

    Instead of mayonnaise, it uses a vinaigrette flavored with lime juice and cumin.

    RECIPE: CABBAGE SLAW WITH CUMIN-LIME VINAIGRETTE

    Who needs mayonnaise? This cabbage slaw recipe, from Quinciple.com, is a fresh take on the conventional cole slaw recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, cored and thin sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  •  

    Cabbage Slaw With Lime

    It’s this simple to make your own cabbage slaw. This mayo-free recipe is from Quinciple.com.

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cabbage in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients and pour the dressing over the cabbage.

    2. TOSS well to coat. If you have the time, let the slaw sit in the fridge for a half hour to allow the flavors to meld.

      

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