17 Mar 2013
in children, family, food, holidays, recipes, stories
Tags: bananas, cabbage, carbohydrates, fruit, nutrition, potatoes, tea, vegetables
I've never tried reblogging before, but thought I'd give it a try this 17th of March. It's St. Paddy's day! Vinny's Irish tea party from last year has lots of great links to recipes, songs and stories to help you celebrate the day with your family. Erin go bragh!
31 Dec 2012
in food, health, holidays, humor, reviews
Tags: art, avoiding sugar, awards, baking, carbohydrates, desserts, fruit, goals, mood, New Years, snacks, sugar, treats
Sculpture by Salvador Dali, Dali Museum-Theatre, Figueres, Spain. Photo by me!
If, like me, you’ve found yourself drowning in a tsunami of baked goodies this holiday season, perhaps you’ll want to make a New Year’s resolution.
Repeat with me: In 2013, I promise to choose fruit instead of baked sweets for treats, snacks, and dessert.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
2012 is going out of here with a bang!
My thank you goes to Fae’s Twist and Tango for nominating Cook Up a Story for Blog of the Year 2012. The honor arrived just under the wire, December 31.
Fae’s blog is the work of a storyteller, like Vinny’s! She publishes articles about travel, food and recipes, with a twist and tango — fun to read. Fae has posted many good recipes, but one that’s caught my eye is borscht, a soup we love with lots of beety goodness.
To pay it back, I nominate three extraordinary blogs in turn. These great food blogs highlight what I value most: good writing, wholesome foods and family traditions.
Local Kitchen – When explaining why she promotes cooking “local,” Kaela says, “I’m too poor to be elitist and too foul-mouthed to be holier than thou, so really: taste was my only option. Come join the conversation and discover how wonderful local food can be.” You won’t be disappointed when you visit her site.
My French Heaven – “We must feed our minds and spirit with the things that we love the most,” says Stéphane Gabart. “Mine are food (mostly eating it), hospitality, and design. So here is my little blog. I will try to make it more than just food and pretty pictures. I have a lot to share about what I think it means to feed/nourish oneself and others.” Check this out for the gorgeous photos and stay for the ideas!
This Lunch Rox. Healthy lunches made fun – Lots of ideas for getting a picky kid to eat the good food in his (or her) lunch box! Jamie says, “Over time I developed a passion for healthy cooking. Preparing wholesome food for me and my family brings me more joy than I ever dreamed possible and the lunch boxes are an extension of that. Long story short… I am mama to two beautiful boys who inspire me to create lunches that make healthy eating fun!”
Wishing everyone, everywhere, a healthy and happy year as we head into 2013!
From Vinny et al.
25 Dec 2012
in family, food, health, holidays, recipes
Tags: additives, antioxidants, apricots, avoiding sugar, blood sugar, calories, christmas, custard, desserts, digestion, eggs, eyes, fiber, fruit, ginger, immunity, mood, presentation, Stevia, Tom Lehrer, vitamins
Tell us to go out and buy!
So says Tom Lehrer, mathematician, teacher, lyricist, pianist, composer, singer/songwriter and all round great guy. He wasn’t much impressed with the consumerism that Christmas often embodies. His little holiday ditty from the 1960s is just as relevant today as it was when he penned it:
Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.
This year we’re trying to fill our cups and plates, not with folly, but with great-tasting foods that feed our bodies and minds with goodness. Our host of angels are made from a low-sugar, low-fat biscuit recipe that kids can roll out and cut into fun Christmas shapes. I used these little darlings, decorated in inert gold leaf, to brighten up my apricot trifle.
The good: Apricots are nutritious. They are a source of lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) to boost our disease fighters, dietary fiber to aid digestion and control blood sugar, and vitamin A to protect our eyes.
The bad: A lot of the calories in apricots come from sugars.
The good: There aren’t that many calories, really, in the grand scheme of things, and we need a little sweetness this time of year.
Dried apricots have an even higher concentration of vitamins and nutrients, but are also slightly higher in carbs. Dried apricots are usually treated with sulfites in order to help preserve their shelf life and bright coloring. Untreated dried apricots are much darker in color, and can be found more easily in health food and nutrition stores. Your choice.
Vinny’s apricot trifle
I’ve linked to the original recipe for an apricot tart, by Thom & Aimee. My version is a bit different. I used a thin slice of angel food cake for the crust. I don’t like a pastry crust and the nut crust I tried instead was a disaster. I made my custard with evaporated skim milk, not cream. I used stevia to sweeten the cream and only 80 grams of sugar to sweeten the paste. The result was plenty sweet enough. What else. Oh yes, I used ground dried apricots and candied ginger to flavor the paste, not ground almonds. My technique was a little less demanding, too.
The ginger was terrific and even my picky eater liked it… although he did ask what I ADDED to the custard while forking through a piece of it. I smiled and said nothing. I decorated the top with canned apricots (with the syrup rinsed off), as well as the golden angels. The apricots were too much for the little guy. They were left on the side of the plate. Maybe next time?
Hark, the Herald Tribune sings
Advertising wondrous things
God rest ye merry merchants
May ye make the Yuletide pay
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and try
Try new nutritious foods and ways of cooking, that is…
Merry Christmas everyone! Peace and love to all __So says Vinny Grette
PS – If you are interested in having me post the exact recipe, let me know. I could do it up some time soon in the new year.
11 Sep 2012
in children, family, food, health, recipes, science, stories
Tags: aging, antioxidants, biology, cancer, carrots, color, fats, free radicals, fruit, heart, immunity, nutrition, nuts, oxygen, pollution, seeds, soup, squash, tomatoes, vegetables, vitamins
Auntie Oxidant is hitch-hiking in your veggies. Give her a ride with this delicious creamed soup!
Auntie Oxidant is a kid’s best friend. Who wouldn’t want to have a powerful protector like her on their side? She’s a real fighter who guards our cells and disarms invaders that cause disease… good to have around.
Auntie O lounges about in fruits and veggies. You probably know some of her family already. Meet:
- Vitamin A – hiding in ORANGE fruits and veggies, like carrots and sweet potatoes
- Lycopene – swimming in cooked tomato dishes, like catchup
- Vitamin E – holding hands with vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds
- Anthocyanin – showing off in RED or BLUE foods, like beets and red carrots
Known in the science world as antioxidants, these nutrients protect cells from free radicals.
”The amount of antioxidants in your body is directly proportional to how long you will live.”
- Dr. Richard Cutler, former Director of the National Institute of Aging, Washington
Free radicals are trouble-makers – formed when oxygen molecules are ripped apart.
Oxygen comes into our bodies in the air we breath. It arrives in pairs of oxygen atoms, with each pair bound tightly into a molecule. We can’t do without the oxygen twins for more than a few seconds. They are essential to life.
But the twins have some powerful enemies. Smoking, alcohol, air pollution, infection, sunlight, radiation… all these things tear at the oxygen molecules, breaking the twins apart.
The separated oxygen atoms are freed at a price – they each lose one electron. The deprived oxygen atoms go on a rampage… stealing electrons from other molecules and damaging cells. Cancer, stroke, sunburn and even aging itself are triggered this way.
Antioxidants ride to the rescue. They use their own electrons to rope those crazy radicals in and tie them up before they can do harm. Without Auntie O, we sort of rust away, from the inside out… or in the case of sunburn, from the outside in!
The Bottom Line
Scientists agree that eating lots of fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. A diet rich in veggies and fruit keeps you healthy, through and through.
If your kids won’t eat their veggies in chunks, try them on a delicious pureed soup. Why not start with Auntie O’s favorite, adapted from Cooking up a storm, dish by dish.
Get shopping, preferably at a farmers’ market
Auntie O’s Soup of the Day
CREAM OF ORANGE AND RED VEGGIES
Makes 14 cups
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 red (or orange) carrots,* cut into cubes (about 1 pound or 450 grams)
1 butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded, and cut into cubes (about 1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams)
1 red onion, cut and diced (about 10 ounces or 300 grams)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes, diced (about 1 pound or 450 grams)
1 litre chicken stock
a little salt and paprika to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or to taste, depending on acid in tomatoes
pumpkin seeds and basil to garnish
- Wash, peel, chop and measure the veggies. Tip: Slice the squash into one-inch rounds, then slice off the hard skin and take out the seeds. Now cut it into cubes.
- In a soup pot on medium heat, stir fry the carrots for 10-15 minutes in the oil. My red carrots turned the soup a beautiful burgundy!
- Add the butternut squash, together with the onions and the garlic, and stir fry for 10 minutes longer
- Add the tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes more
- Add the chicken stock – bring to a boil
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the veggies are squishy
- Switch off the stove – let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes
- Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, or use a hand blender right in the pot on the stove top (the easiest)
- Serve warm, topped with basil and pumpkin seeds, if you like
* Red carrots have been grown in Turkey for centuries. Their color remains stable and adds a lovely burgundy glow to your soup. You can find them at farmers markets or veggies stores, sold as heritage carrots. They are even healthier than orange carrots because of the special antioxidant they contain, anthocyanin. If you can’t find any red carrots, orange ones work too.
13 Aug 2012
in children, family, food, health
Tags: anticeptic, antioxidants, currents, fiber, fruit, grains, grapes, nutrition, nuts, raisins, seeds, snacks, sugar, sultana
A whole bunch of raisins!
Once upon a time there was a bunch of grapes. They spent way too long in the sun and ended up as raisins. Did you know? Raisins are just dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. You can eat raisins raw or use them in cooking, baking and brewing.
Raisins are usually dried in the sun. But they can also be dipped in water or put into driers that suck the air out of them. “Golden raisins” are Sultanas, which are a type of white grape. They’re treated with a gas called sulfur dioxide, and dried under a flame to give them their lovely yellow color.
Kids like raisins because they are naturally sweet. Yet they fight the bacteria in the mouth that make holes in your teeth!
Use raisins with whole grain cereals for added goodness. Throw them into a mix with nuts and seeds and other dried fruit for a wholesome snack. Or eat them by the handful, all by themselves.
Keep reading for everything you ever wanted to know about the amazing raisin, a good “reason to be”… healthy!
All about raisins
- Raisins come in a rainbow of colors, including green, black, blue, purple, and yellow.
- Seedless varieties include the Sultana (also known as Thompson Seedless in the USA) and Flame grapes.
- Currants are miniature raisins that are dark in color (nearly black) and have a tart, tangy flavor.
- Several varieties of raisins are produced in Asia and, in the West, are only available at ethnic specialty grocers. Check them out! Green raisins are produced in Iran.
- In the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada the word “raisin” is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with “sultana” being a dried large white grape, and “currant” being a dried small Black Corinth grape.
- Raisins range from about 67% to 72% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose and glucose.
- They also contain about 3% protein and 3.5% dietary fiber.
- Raisins, like prunes and apricots, are also high in certain antioxidants, but have a lower vitamin C content than fresh grapes.
- Raisins are low in sodium and contain no cholesterol.
- New research has shown, despite having a high concentration of sugars, raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.
Eat raisins and live happily ever after! The end.
Credits: Photo is courtesy of Foodimentary!
17 Jul 2012
in children, family, food, health, recipes
Tags: acorns, calories, chocolate, dried fruit, fats, fruit, Lone Ranger, Native American, nuts, pemmican, Roy Rogers, safety, seeds, snacks, tannin, traditions, trail mix
Ke-mo-sah-bee! “Trusted friend”
In a recent blog we talked about the goodness of hazel nuts. We even used hazelnuts to make some reasonably healthy homemade Nutella! If you think about it, Hazelnut and Acorn could be twins.
The Nut twins: Acorn…
And his sister Hazel Nut
If an acorn has enough power under its little cap to sprout a giant oak tree, just think what if could do for you if you were to eat it! It’s not a secret. Even as long ago as the early days of the wild west, folks knew the power inside those tough little shells. Cowboys like the Lone Ranger, taught by his Native American partner Tonto, grew strong on acorns. They used acorn meal as flour, as an ingredient in mush, or pounded with meat, fat, and berries to make pemmican.
But there’s a catch. All the goodness of acorns is hidden behind an enemy known as Tannin. Our forefathers put their crop of dried, shelled and ground acorns in bags and left them for days in a swift-running stream. This process washed the harmful tannins away. A faster way is to boil the nuts, toss the darkened water containing the tannins away, replace it with fresh water, and continue until the water remains clear. Tannins can ruin your kidneys if you’re not careful.
Maybe that’s why acorns are not so popular these days. They’re just too much trouble, when there are lots of other great-tasting nuts around for the taking. Acorn’s twin, Hazel Nut, is a good example.
Nothing’s like freshly ground nut butter
But there are so many more. Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, and even the lowly peanuts are only a few of the delicious and healthy nuts we can find by going to our neighborhood grocery store. There we can get them in the shell or out, plain or roasted, salted or spiced, whole, sliced or ground, or, best of all… made into nut butter.
Did you know? Breaking news… Nuts and seeds are one of nature’s belly fat killers. Adding these to your diet is a great strategy.
Hi Ho Silver… Away! Who WAS that masked man?
Just remember… all good things in moderation. Nuts pack lots of nutrients but at the same time provide a lot of calories ounce for ounce. I say keep the serving size down to a handful a day, and live long and prosper.
Happy Trails Snack Mix (Listen to the song while you mix this up )
Good cowboys and cowgirls need a little something to tide them over as they ride the range. Trail mix is much better for you than dastardly useless chips (or “crisps” as they’re known in the UK). For those times when hunger pangs strike, mix together 1/4 cup of any of these things you have in your pantry:
dried apricots, dates and/or mangos, chopped
any other nut, seed, or dried fruit you have in your cupboard…
For every five ingredients, you can add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, if you really have to. It’s probably better to leave them out, but if you use them, choose DARK chocolate. The dark stuff contains antioxidants (cancer fighters). You may as well get some benefit from your sugar hit.
Eat a handful whenever you feel weak from hunger and your next meal is more than a half hour away.
Happy trails to you, and may we meet again!
22 Jun 2012
in books, children, family, food, recipes, reviews, stories
Tags: British, casseroles, custard, desserts, drinks, eggs, fruit, gooseberries, leeks, mint, potatoes, Redwall Cookbook, shrimp, tea, traditions, turnip, vegetables
Cooking up stories from Redwall Abbey
Create and EAT all the dishes found behind the walls of Redwall Abbey. Try Greatwall gooseberry fool, shrimp and hotroot soup, and Mole’s favorite deeper than ever turnip ‘n tater beetroot pie, all washed down with Summer strawberry fizz.
These traditional recipes were born during the scarce years of the Second World War… but many probably go back much farther than that, handed down by mothers and mother’s mothers in Britain ever since they began to grow potatoes and cabbages.
Don’t worry, though. All these recipes taste great. And even better, they are good for you. All are made from seasonally fresh foods from scratch and most of them feature many fruits and veggies. Because sugar was rationed during the war, sweets are at a minimum.
Best of all you can read along, about the adventures of Mole and Badger in the Mossflower woods.
See if you can find The Redwall Cookbook at your library. This cheery little book, by Brian Jacques and illustrated by Christopher Denise, is sure to turn inexperienced Dibbuns into seasoned chefs. Dig in!
To get you started, try these:
Crispy cheese and onion hogbake
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup milk (Vinny suggests using skim)
1 ½ cup cornflakes (Vinny says try bran flakes instead)
4 tomatoes, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Place onions in a large casserole. Sprinkle the cheese over the onions; pour in the beaten egg and milk and season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the cereal flakes over all and arrange the tomatoes to cover.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot.
OR HOW ABOUT…..
Leeks, ready to eat!
Gourmet garrison grilled leeks
1 ½ pound (about 4 medium) leeks, cleaned and chopped into 1 ½ inch lengths
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Preheat the broiler.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Boil the leeks for 10 minutes.
- Drain and transfer the leeks to a shallow oven-proof dish.
- In a bowl cream the butter, mustard and cheese and spread over the leaks.
- Broil until golden, about 3 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
Caffeine-free hot mint tea
(Vinny’s recipe, based on Redwall’s - what would a British meal be without tea?)
1 tablespoon Roibus tea leaves (or other caffeine-free tea)
1 small bunch of mint leaves (a nice handful)
honey, to taste
- Put the tea and mint leaves into a teapot large enough to hold six cups.
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and pour over the leaves.
- Let it rest (steep) for 5 minutes.
- Strain into four mugs and sweeten with honey, as you like it.
And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some tea
Still delicious after all these years!
Greathall gooseberry fool
1 pound gooseberries (you can use any kind of berries but then, you must change the name…)
½ cup sugar (use less if you are using a sweet berry instead of gooseberries)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons plus ½ c milk (Vinny uses skim)
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
Grated chocolate to garnish
- Cook the gooseberries in a saucepan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons water, about 10 minutes, until the berries are soft.
- Press the fruit through a sieve over a bowl.
- Let the fruit puree cool.
Make the custard
- Mix the cornstarch and sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk.
- Bring another ½ cup of milk to a boil and pour it slowly over the cornstarch mix, stirring to blend well.
- Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring until thickened, about 4 minutes.
- Let cool, stirring occasionally.
- Fold the custard, then the whipped cream into the berry puree.
- Cover and chill at least an hour.
- Serve the fool in four pretty glasses and sprinkle with grated chocolate.
12 Apr 2012
in family, food, health, recipes
Tags: British, custard, desserts, eggs, fats, fruit, rhymes, shortening, steamed pudding, suet, traditions
“Skinny” Spotted Dick, a steamed pudding à la Vinny
Flour of England, fruit of Spain,
Met together in a shower of rain;
Put in a bag tied round with a string;
If you’ll tell me this riddle,
I’ll give you a ring.
The answer to this little riddle is, ta-da, steamed pudding! Once upon a long time ago, all puddings in England were steamed. Spotted dick is one such pudding. First mentioned here in my previous post, it turns up on school menus all across the UK. Here in Canada, we see steamed puddings mostly at Christmas . So this recipe link for spotted dick should appeal to folks on my side of the pond who’d like to try something different. But beware: this artery-clogging dish, made with beef suet and bathed in eggs, should really only be eaten once in a while.
Beef suet – What’s that?
Beef suet is fat that comes from around a cow’s kidneys. It’s the hardest fat we have for cooking… which means it’s loaded with the kind of fat we shouldn’t eat much of… the saturated kind. Rendered suet isn’t available at my local grocery store. You probably have to get suet from the butcher and render it yourself.
Put the suet in a frying pan on low heat until it melts, then pour off the clear liquid fat. This is what you keep. Congratulations! You’ve just rendered the suet. Chill it in the fridge till it’s hard and white. Easy peasy! Now you can make your suet dough.
The fruit gives the pudding its spots. Currents, which are dried small black grapes, are used most often. But other raisins (dried red grapes), sultanas (dried white grapes), and other dried fruit (think dates, cranberries and apricots) are also used.
I can’t leave a recipe alone, though. For my skinny vegetarian version, substitute all ingredients for Brussels sprouts and prunes. Hahaha – just wanted to see if you were paying attention! My skinny pudding is currently (pardon the pun) upstairs steaming away. I made it with mostly unsaturated fat instead of suet. So it still remains to be seen whether or not it will taste any good.
How to make Vinny’s “skinny” spotted dick
Get your steamer ready. Use a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. It must be large enough to hold a small, deep heat-resistant pudding bowl. Put three metal cookie cutters in the pot to hold the bowl off the bottom. Fill the pot with four inches of water. Heat the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Make the pudding: Measure 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup oat bran (to up the fiber), 1 tablespoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse them in a food processor until blended.
To reduce the saturated fat, I used Crisco vegetable shortening rather than suet. Still, 2% of the fat is trans fat, also bad. It’s just a little… but there’s no getting around the fat problem in this dessert! So… cut 1 cup chilled shortening into small cubes and add them to the food processor. Pulse six times, just until the shortening is crumbed with the flour.
Dump the contents into a mixing bowl. Work 6 tablespoons of milk into the mix with a fork. Knead until the dough’s slightly sticky. I couldn’t “knead” very much because my dough was way too sticky. I had used 8 tablespoons of milk, so try 6 T for a more doughy dough. This dessert ends up with a feel somewhere between a sticky cake and a bread. It isn’t like any “pudding” we might be used to in Canada.
A do-it-yourself steamer
Add 1/2 cup (total) of dried cranberries and finely chopped dried apricot plus 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest. Knead just enough to work the fruit through the dough. Form into a round ball and put it into a round heat-resistant, well-buttered bowl. Cut a round of waxed paper to fit the bowl. Butter it and put buttered side down on the pudding. Press the ball flat. Cover the bowl with heavy-duty aluminum foil and pinch around the edge to seal.
Put the covered dish into your steamer (use an oven glove) and steam gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The pudding should be firm and golden through out. Use a cake tester.
Let the pudding cool in it’s bowl on a rack for 5 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the edge, turn the pudding upside down on your serving plate, and take the bowl off. Serve a small scoop of pudding in a cup with a dab of stirred custard sauce.
Steamed pudding served in tea cups with homemade vanilla custard (the stirred sort)
Directions for the stirred custard are given in Vinny’s post, “Custard fight.”
Would Harry Potter have liked my “skinny” version? I served it to a former British school boy and he said it was yummy! I liked it hot rather than cold, but I found it quite rich. Tasty, but a little goes a long way. Easy to make, but some of the steps are unfamiliar. Easier the second time .
yield: 6 servings
active time: 40 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr
27 Mar 2012
in children, family, food, health
Tags: antioxidants, cactus fruit, dessert, dragon fruit, fiber, fruit, minerals, nutrition, presentation, snack, tasting, vitamins
Great bowls of fire!
There’s a strange new animal stalking the aisles of the produce section of our grocery store these days. It’s beautiful and a little dangerous looking… with long over-lapping scales tipped in green overlying a glossy, red, leathery skin. It’s almost as if it’s breathing flames at you… or getting ready to stab you with poison darts!
Oh No! It’s Dragon Fruit… Hide!
Of course it’s not an animal at all. It’s a delicious but sinisterly attractive food called the Dragon Fruit. I say ‘sinister’ because you do have to be a little careful. First of all, look them over closely in the store. Choose one with green tips (not brown and withered). And eat it only once the flesh gives slightly when pressed. You don’t want one that is too mushy or too firm. Like most fruits (and porridge), it tastes best when it is ‘just right.’
Let it soak for a few minutes in fresh water, like you would any fruit. After all, it came to you from a long distance. You never know how a food is treated on its journey. This is not one of those foods that has been grown just down the road, after all… that is, unless (unlike me sitting here in chilly old Ottawa, Canada) you live in Mexico and places further south, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Hawaii, Israel, Palestine, Australia (north), or China (south)… . What all these exotic places have in common is heat. And heat is just what the dragon-fruit-bearing Hylocereus cactuses love.
It seems there are several species of this cactus, with variations on the color of the skin and the fruit they bear. But the one we’ve seen popping up in Canada has red skin and a creamy fruit studded with tiny black seeds, rather like a kiwi.
Eating this fruit is a piece of cake. Just take a sharp knife and slice it lengthwise. It cuts like butter. Then take a large spoon with a sharp edge (if you have one like that) and try to scoop out the soft flesh in one large piece.
Trim off any hint of the red skin from the flesh and throw it away. I’ve seen some references that say the skin is a good source of fiber. But I’ve seen others that say it can contain toxins! If anyone has an authoritative source on this matter, I’d love to know about it.
I like to cube the edible flesh and pile it back into the bowl made from taking the flesh out of the dragon fruit in the first place. The flesh tastes delicious.. sweet, mild, soft like a kiwi but not as tart, and gently perfumed. There is nothing unusual about it that you would have to get used to. In fact, you might want to serve it with a yogurt dip to zap it up a notch.
Of course, I wouldn’t be mentioning the dragon fruit if it wasn’t good for you. Dragon fruit is low in calories and is a good source of vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, plus fiber and antioxidants. It’s said to be good for lowering cholesterol and in the management of diabetes. So there. The next time you spot dragon fruit in the fresh foods section of the supermarket, don’t pass it by. See if you can slay a couple of them! Then serve them to Firefox and any other of your friends (or your friends’ pets). They’re also good in a fruit salad. Stay tuned for a recipe another day. And so, here ends another adventure in good food, brought to you by your pal, Vinny Grette.
18 May 2011
in books, children, food, health, recipes, reviews
Tags: drinks, fruit, limes, snacks, Star Wars
What a lovely limey shade! (Yoda image from Tim Ketzer, as used in Star Wars)
Here’s a recipe kids might like—great for the hot weather (should it ever arrive…). Yoda Soda is as lovely a shade of lime green as Yoda’s complexion!
Here’s Yoda soda dressed up for a crowd at Christmas
To make a single serving, take ¼ c fresh lime juice (squeeze 2 or 3 limes into a tall glass). Add a couple of spoons of fine sugar and mix well to dissolve it. Put a couple of ice cubes in the glass, then fill three-quarters full with soda water. Taste and add more sugar if you want. Drink immediately, or add a scoop of sorbet. Lime or lemon flavor makes a good choice for this summer-time treat. For an adult version, try this recipe from Savory Simple.
Adults can enjoy Yoda Soda (on the right), too!
Yoda soda is only one recipe in a fleet of fun cooking ideas for explorers of man’s last frontier, from The Star Wars Cook Book. You can probably adapt many of the recipes to reduce the amount of fat and sugar in each serving. Some of the recipes in The Star Wars Cook Book, though, sound delicious and would make healthy eating just as they are – like Greedo’s Burritos made with lean ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce and black beans, or Wampa snow cones from the ice planet Hoth, which features the super-food blueberries.
Like any cookbook, you have to pick and choose to stay on the path to healthy meals. But The Star Wars Cook Book makes food reading fun and offers lots of suggestions for happy eating. May the force bless your table!
The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes
Chronicle Books 1998
PS – Photo is from Ketzer.com.
05 May 2011
in books, children, food, stories
Tags: cleaning up, fruit, mood, prunes, song
Sing along with Frank Crumit!
The words for the Prune Song appear in Cook Up A Story, so Vinny thought you might like to hear the tune, here. Granny learned The Prune Song at camp when she was a girl. She would sing it whenever we washed a load of dishes together. I loved it (and Granny!).
The Prune Song, by the Countdown Kids in 2009, sounds like this. But it goes back a lot farther than that. Here is the original recording, by Frank Crumit in 1928. And this one is fun too, by The Six Jumping Jacks… from the same period, but a lot clearer and jazzier. Tra lalalala.
Cook Up A Story. See main menu for more about the book. Click pic to order.
It was over 80 years ago that this song first came out on the old 78 rpm records. Read some of the comments on You-tube. They’ll fly you back in time. Fun! I love You-tube, don’t you? Have you got any oldies you’d like to share with us? Are they funny? Do they have anything to do with food? How about posting them for us here!
16 Jan 2011
in family, food, science
Tags: apples, chemistry, dates, fruit, leafy vegetables, meat, minerals, mood, nutrition, potatoes, vegetables
Roast turkey cheers us up for the holidays!
Which foods do you turn to when you need cheering up? Donuts, maybe? Better think again. Scientists say no play time along with too many sweets can leave a kid feeling pretty low.
But wait… There are some foods that can actually make you feel better when you’re down. And I’m not talking medicine here. Sweet potatoes for one. They have a mineral that helps fight the blues. Same with apple juice. And dates!
Dark green veggies have another mineral that works with oxygen to help calm your breathing and heartbeat.
And meat is made up of molecules that turn on your happiness centers!
Cook Up A Story has a whole chapter devoted to mood foods. Isn’t it amazing? Eat a bunch of fruits, veggies and protein and see how your moods improve.
08 Jan 2011
in books, children, education, family, humor, recipes, reviews
Tags: bread, desserts, fruit, meat, salad, vegetables
Just finished thumbing through two recent books from the library. Both are on cooking for children. Thumbs up on one, and as for the other, I’m still shaking my head.
OK, I’ll get the silliness over with first—How to cook children, a grisly recipe book. The drawings are fabulous, full of fun. And the words are completely wacky, with lots of twists. But the recipes… It’s the main ingredient that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Children! That’s just… I know, it’s all tongue in cheek. And it’s pretty clever. But kids (and moms) could be plain scared at the thought of popping tender kiddies into the pot, like they were plucked chickens or something. But if you think you can handle that, go for it! It’s silly FUN!
Cooking with children is another matter. It has a serious, old-fashioned feel about it. It was published in 1995. But it’s full of really great tips for teaching kids 7 and older exactly how to cook. So if you’re a kid and you get the urge to start cooking, or if you’re an adult with a kid who maybe wants to learn to cook, I say get your hands on this one. It starts off right—with healthy salads… even has tips for great vinaigrette! How can you go wrong? Detailed instructions for soup, hamburgers, tea biscuits, and fruit cups, among other healthy basics, make this a wonderful resource for kids just getting tuned into cooking. So if you feel turned on to kitchen fun from reading Cook Up a Story, then let’s get cooking… with this good recipe book for kids as a starter course!