Monday, September 15, 2014

Running on empty

For the few readers that I still have: you may have noticed a drop in the frequency of my posts. I've had this blog since 2009 and it was quite robust for a few years. Then one of my best feeder blogs -- by the dining critic for our local newspaper -- deleted links to other local food blogs on her website. My readership dropped way off, as in half what it used to be.
Not having readers takes the joy out of maintaining a blog. Not to mention I do have a day job as a journalism professor, which keeps me very busy.
So I'm going to take a break from this for a while. If and when my interest and energy revive, I'll start up again sometime in the future.
It's been fun........
Pama Mitchell, the Healthy Foodie

Monday, September 8, 2014

The real key(s) to health & happiness

First of all, health = happiness. Or at least bad health = unhappiness.
Therefore: safeguarding our personal health reigns supreme among life's priorities.
I don't mean that selfish regard for our own person trumps all other concerns, such as caring for our children, our aged parents, or others who need us.
But it should be evident that if the caregiver isn't well, the care given won't be adequate.

Okay so then, what are the keys to health (among the things that we can control or at least affect)?

SLEEP WELL. Hard to do? Yes but it's so important! My best advice about how to get sweet, restorative sleep happens to be another key to good health, which is EXERCISE DAILY.  While exercise is great for all kinds of outcomes -- such as weight control, stress relief, cardiovascular health and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes -- one of its less touted benefits is that you will fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully if you exercise to the point of sweating for at least a half hour each day.
And what else? Here's where the healthy foodie comes in. EAT WELL! That means don't eat junk; eat nutritious food, and make sure your daily diet includes vegetables. Potatoes do not count! Green things, preferably. Learn to love broccoli or spinach or green beans.

Finally, pay attention to your body and get all your recommended screening tests. That means having a dermatologist look you over (DON'T TAN!!), getting regular mammograms (F) or prostate exams (M), and anything else that may apply to your personal situation. And then...enjoy life!






Thursday, September 4, 2014

Best places to buy wine online

More than likely, there's plenty of good wine available in your local retail shops. But unless you live in Manhattan, NYC, the selection is not going to be truly comprehensive. If you would like to try out-of-the-ordinary wines -- many of which can give you great bang for the buck -- or sample small-batch, boutique bottles, online wine shops offer wonderful options.

I've always liked winelibrary.com, but thanks to a recent article in Food & Wine magazine, I've learned about a few other really interesting sources for Internet shopping.
Check out, for instance, lastbottlewines.com, based in Napa Valley, which offers one terrific bottle per day at eye-popping discounts. Or bottlerocket.com includes all kinds of info about their wines, including suggestions for food pairing--which you can do in reverse, by typing in the food you want to serve and you'll get just a few specific suggestions (not something generic like cabernet sauvignon with steak). Winebid.com earns kudos for its user-friendly navigation system.
To see Food & Wine's article about online wine shopping, click here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A perfect recipe for late summer

This is the time to make a big pot of GUMBO. All the veggies you need for this recipe are bounteously available at your local farm market or farm stand.


 
Shrimp, chicken and sausage gumbo

Seafood and Chicken Gumbo
Fresh okra is seasonal (late spring until first freeze), but you can also use frozen okra in this recipe. If so, eliminate step 1 below and add frozen okra in step 3.
(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:
1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced (about 4 cups)
4 T canola oil or butter, or a mix, divided
2 andouille sausages, made from pork or chicken (optional), sliced
1 medium green pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 T flour
4 cups chicken stock, heated
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 T each chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried) and parsley
1 large bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 lb. uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined), crabmeat, or chicken (boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces), or a combination
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Tabasco or other hot sauce, ore more to taste
Instructions:
1.      Heat 2T oil/butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add okra and sauté, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes until “roping” (thin strands of white substance) subsides. Set aside.
2.      Heat remaining oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage, if using, and cook until just beginning to brown. Stir in pepper, garlic and onion and sauté until veggies turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
3.      Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, herbs, salt, and reserved okra.
4.      Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
5.      Stir in shrimp, chicken and/or crabmeat, cover and cook another 5-10 minutes until meat is tender. Be careful not to overcook shrimp.
6.      Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf, stir in lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Add more salt if necessary.
7.      Ladle into bowls over white or brown rice. Pass more hot sauce at the table.

Without sausage, a lighter dish

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer treats, continued: Bell Peppers

Like most cooks these days, I rarely pick up a green bell pepper, preferring instead the other colors. My favorite, at least to eat raw, is the orange pepper. But there's one dish in my repertoire where only a tangy green pepper will do: gumbo.
I'm about to make a batch of gumbo -- with shrimp, crabmeat, chicken and andouille sausage -- and will post that recipe soon. But today there's an article in the Food/Dining section of the New York Times extolling the virtues of the green pepper.
Here is one of the recipes accompanying the story. It's a Basque dish that the author says can be used as a side, a main (perhaps with the addition of some meat) or a condiment.
Peppers and tomatoes: Piperade



RECIPE: Piperade
Makes about 3 cups


Ingredients:
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped, about 2 cups
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, stem, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (or substitute hot paprika) 
NOTE: You also can mix red/yellow/orange peppers with the green, which makes a colorful presentation

Instructions:
1.
Cut a small X into bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add tomatoes and cook until skin begins to wrinkle and peel at the edges of the cuts, about 30 seconds. Drain, rinse with cool water and peel off skin with your fingers. Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.
2.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add onions, peppers and salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and peppers have started to lighten in spots, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 more minute.
3.
Stir in tomatoes, sugar and piment d’Espelette, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until tomatoes are starting to fall apart and peppers are soft but still hold their shape, about 15 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens like a slightly runny relish, about 5 minutes more. Adjust salt.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Healthy breakfast recipes: something a little different

Tired of the same old breakfast every day? As with anything else in life, the saying about variety ("the spice of life") holds true for the morning meal. The following excerpts an article from Eating Well about 5-Ingredient breakfasts.
Here's one of the recipes. Otherwise, go here for the article and the remaining ideas, which range from granola bars to other ways to incorporate protein-rich eggs when starting your day.



Recipe: Quick Breakfast Tacos
(Makes 2)

Ingredients:
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon salsa
  • 2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters (or go with whole eggs, if you prefer)
Instructions:
  1. Top tortillas with salsa and cheese. Heat in the microwave until the cheese is melted, about 30 seconds.
  2. Meanwhile coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat, add egg substitute (or eggs) and cook, stirring, until the eggs are cooked through, about 90 seconds. Divide the scrambled egg between the tacos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Restaurant Review: Ruth's Parkside Cafe

This Northside lunch and dinner place -- open every day but Sunday -- has been quite a hit. Lately the lines for a table have been so long that we've left and gone elsewhere, so I've learned not to show up in prime time. That means lunch at 1 instead of 12, or dinner before 6:30 or after 8:00.
It's a neighborhood place, populated mostly by people 40+, and so the main crowds are relatively early.
Lovely setting for RUTH'S
Ruth's takes up part of the ground level of a newly renovated and redone canning factory on Blue Rock Road. Upstairs are spacious condos; there are a couple of other businesses on the ground floor as well as a garage for residents. There's also plenty of parking for restaurant patrons. Ruth's opened in October 2013.

The first thing that greets you is this bar, and you'll also be impressed by the fanciful light fixtures (which the host calls pendants), sculptures, and paintings by local artists.
Fanciful decor, including the bar

The menu has lots of healthy choices, which always makes me happy. At lunch, I usually get either one  of their house-made soups with a half-sandwich or a vegetable/spinach stir-fry with feta cheese over brown rice.
A newer addition is this short cocktail list. Their wine choices are limited but they had a couple of yummy wine specials that we really liked.
Cocktail list
My dinner choice here is the "airline chicken breast" with a lemony sauce, some sauteed kale and white beans, along with a few roasted potatoes. This time the chicken was a bit overcooked, kind of disappointing, but usually it's a delicious flavor combo. (No photo)
My husband usually gets the grilled salmon, which he liked just as well as always this time.
Grilled salmon
The homemade pies and other desserts are a treat here, but we passed. My favorite is the two-crust raspberry pie -- hard to resist!