Saturday, January 28, 2012

Healthier School Lunches on the Way @USDANutrition @theIOM @letsmove @Fruits_Veggies

USDA Ruling Now Official for
Healthier School Meals
The new USDA nutrition standards for our national school lunch and school breakfast programs will benefit the nutrition and health of 32 million school-age kids nationwide.The final ruling was announced this past week on January 26, 2012 by the US Department of Agriculture. The revisions update the meal patterns and nutrition standards in school food service to better align the foods provided with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Most schools will be required to increase their availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and to provide fat-free and low-fat milk. The levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals will also have to be reduced. School meals will also have to meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements. 

The improvements to the school meal programs were largely based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The new rules take effect March 26, 2012. Schools will have until July 1, 2012 to comply.

Related Links: USDA Nutrition Standards for School Meals 
IOM School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children
USDA Healthy Meals and Healthy Kids 
The National School Lunch Program

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reduced Sodium, Low Fat Lentil Chicken Noodle 'n Veggie Soup #recipe #GardenCuizine

Reduced Sodium
Low Fat, High Fiber
Lentil Chicken Noodle
'n Veggies Soup

Harry got invited to the Philadelphia Flyers hockey game the other night. He doesn't like lentils, so guess what we had for dinner while he was gone? Something quick and easy with lentils of course! What could be easier than a pot of hearty soup on a cold winter night?

Making your own soup is so easy; extra soup can be refrigerated or frozen for another meal too. Homemade soups generally provide a lot more nutrients than store-bought canned soups, not-to-mention that they can be made using a fraction of the salt. For example, this recipe contains less than half of the sodium found in Progresso reduced sodium chicken noodle soup, and has 75% more Vitamin A and 18% more dietary Fiber. 

You can be creative and create a soup using ingredients you have available. Here is the recipe I concocted for the Lentil Chicken Noodle Veggie soup. It made a great one-pot meal served with a side of fresh bread. I made it for just two of us and refrigerated the extra for healthy hot lunches the following days.
After working in the industry making large commercial broth batches that required using ingredients that you would never use at home such as, sodium hydroxide to adjust pH and dextrose - I rarely use store-bought broths in soups. Water works just fine and is plenty flavorful after adding in all the veggies and aromatics.
Serves 16 

2-3 (~224g) boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders cut in bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon (14g) olive oil 
1 medium-large onion (~118g) diced
hot pepper (as desired; I used minced dried hot peppers from our garden)
1 extra large sweet potato (~458g) peeled and diced
2 teaspoons (6g) minced garlic
1 tablespoon (6g) minced ginger
2 teaspoons (4g) sweet curry powder

10 cups water
1 cup (~180g) dry lentils rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
2 tomatoes (~304g) diced
1/4 teaspoon (1g) dried thyme leaves
pinch ground black pepper

1 cup (~150g) dry tubetti pasta 
Putting it all together
  • In the stock pot you plan on making the soup in, over medium high heat; add olive oil. Saute and partially cook chicken pieces. Remove and set aside when lightly browned.
  • Add onion, hot pepper and potato to the pot; stir. Let cook 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and ginger, stir again.
  • Stir in curry powder.
  • Add water, lentils, bay leaves and remaining ingredients; stir.
  • Cover and simmer on low until potatoes are firm/tender (the lentils will be cooked by then too)
  • While waiting for the potatoes to cook; heat a smaller pot of boiling water and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and stir the noodles into soup.
  • Heat thoroughly and serve with a side of fresh bread and Parmesan cheese.
Buon Appetito!
GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis: Calculated using USDA Nutrition data
Excellent Source: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Folate 
Good Source: Iron, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus, Manganese 

Serving size 1/16 of recipe; about 1cup (247g): Calories 162, total fat 3g, saturated fat 1g, Omega-3 42.5mg, Sodium 172mg, carbohydrates 26g (2 CHO exchanges), dietary Fiber 5.6g (22%DV), Protein 7.2g, Vitamin A 4936IU (99%DV), Vitamin C 5.5mg (9%DV), Thiamin .3mg (17%DV), Niacin 2.0mg (10%DV), Folate 23.2mcg (22%DV), Iron 1.8mg (10%DV), Phosphorus 109mg (11%DV), Manganese .3mg (16%DV)
Photos and Blog Post Copyright ©2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

National Soup Month Cream of Butternut Squash Soup #GardenCuizine

~ Low Fat, Vegan/Vegetarian ~
Cream of
Butternut Squash Soup

National Soup Month starts the New Year off on a warm and comforting note. My first homemade soups were always large batches made for a crowd back in the Garden of Eden days (my health food store and restaurant). This nutritious squash soup recipe was inspired from one of my favorite "go to" cookbooks - The Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook by Julie Jordan. Jordan's recipes were always delicious and allowed the flavors of the vegetables and herbs to shine through. They were always popular with our customers.

No Need for Chicken Stock
Soup recipes featuring butternut, broccoli or split peas, all can definitely hold their own and be outstanding - if not even better - without using chicken stock. Chicken stock is so often over-used, especially in soup recipes. For soups where a vegetable is the star, using chicken stock can overpower the flavor. 

Squash Soup Cooking Tips
  • Squash flesh can be cubed and cooked right in the soup pot with the potatoes; however, roasting the squash first makes it easier to scoop out the seeds and enhances the flavor.
  • For special occasions, garnish the soup with snipped chives and a swirl of thinned out yogurt or creme fresh.
  • Ingredient measurements do not have to be exact when making soup. Use what you have available and season to your taste.
Yields: 12-15,  6 oz servings
1 Butternut Squash ~2 lb, 14oz (~1322g)
1 Tablespoon (14g) Olive oil

1 Sweet Onion ~8.8oz (~250g)
1/2 optional Hot Chile or Red Pepper (Peppers are easy to grow and dry. We keep jars full and always have them for use as spice)

1 Tablespoon (~10g) minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon (1g) sweet Curry 

1/8 cup Cream Sherry (optional) 

3 Potatoes ~1lb, 6 oz (~636g)
2 Carrots (~155g) 
2 Bay leaves
few sprigs fresh Parsley(~3g)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
4 cups (946ml) water

2  teaspoons (4g) minced ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons (3g) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon (6g) salt

4 cups (946ml) soy milk (we used vanilla Silk)
Putting it all together
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Wash the squash and potatoes. 

  • Carefully cut the squash in half; rub olive oil on the part that will be face down on the foil lined baking sheet
  • Bake about 90 minutes or until soft and you notice some areas starting to turn light golden brown*
  • When the squash is cooked well, use a spatula and turn the squash over to let cool.
  • Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds
* While the squash is roasting, 
chop the onion and optional hot or red pepper
  • Add olive oil to a large soup pot and heat on medium 
  • Add chopped onion and red pepper. Cook until onion is translucent. Try not to caramelize the onion or it will make the soup brown in color.*
*While the onion is cooking, mince the garlic and peel 
and chop the potatoes and carrots
  • Add the minced garlic to the onions; stir in sweet curry
  • Add optional Sherry and stir
  • Add potato, carrots, bay leaves, parsley sprigs, black pepper and water. Stir, cover and simmer until all the veggies are very soft
  • Remove the bay leaves and add the remaining seasonings: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt 

  • Puree (hand held mixers work great because you can keep the soup right in the soup pot and not transfer it to a blender or food processor)
  • Add the soymilk, mix well
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve hot. Garnish as desired.
Buon Appetito! 
GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis: Calculated using USDA Nutrition Data
Good Source: dietary Fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, Potassium, Manganese 
Excellent Source: Vitamin A and Vitamin C

Serving size 6oz (1/15th of recipe): Calories 123, carbohydrates 24g, dietary Fiber 3.9g (16%DV), total Fat 2.4g (4%DV), Protein 3.5g (7%DV), Vitamin A 6181IU (124%DV wow!), Vitamin C 21mg (35%DV), Vitamin D 32IU (8%DV), Vitamin E 1.4mg (7%DV), Vitamin K 13 mcg (16%DV), Vitamin B6 .5mg (23%DV), Vitamin B12 .8mcg (13%DV), Calcium 127mg (13%DV), Potassium 492mg (14%DV), Manganese .3mg (16%DV), phytosterols 4.7mg
Related Links: 
Winter Squash Varieties and Nutrition
Winter Squash Growing and Bread Recipe
Espelette Pepper Warms Up Your Recipes by Diana Wind RD
Photos and Blog Post Copyright ©2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 "Healthy You" New Year's Resolutions #GardenCuizine @MyPlate @Fruits_Veggies @CookingMatters @letsmove

New Year's Resolutions
for a Healthier You
Enjoy Life and give back to others: Help a Charity, Help a friend in Need, Help a Stranger, Help the Hungry, Help Kids Cook, Help the Environment, Help Feral Cats, Help ________ "You fill in the blank on what would be meaningful to you." 
Best Wishes for a 
Happy and Healthy New Year! 
And, thanks for following GardenCuizineTM
Related Links: Healthy New Year's Resolutions 
Photo courtesy of Vojta Jahoda, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Eat Right Get Your Plate in Shape artwork Copyright 2012 The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. All Rights Reserved.

Nutritious New Year Kiwifruit Smoothies #GardenCuizine @CalKiwiTweet @ZESPRIkiwifruit

Low fat, Low Sodium
New Year's 
Kiwifruit Smoothies
Yields: 5-6 cups

32 oz Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
3 Kiwifruits
1 frozen Banana
1/3 cup Orange Juice

splash Lime Juice
sweeten to taste with sugar, agave nectar or honey

Optional: Cocoa powder. Believe it or not, chocolate tastes really good with Kiwi!

   Putting it all together
Smoothies don't really need a specific recipe. This is a chance for you to be creative and use whatever ingredients and proportions you desire. Put everything in a blender and mix until combined. You can't really go wrong. We usually save and freeze ripe bananas in their peels for use in smoothies, baked goods or for the birds in the spring and summer. Catbirds love bananas!

Read about Kiwis History and Growing Kiwifruit Vines: Check out my
Kiwifruit article published on Dave's Garden
Happy New Year!

GardenCuizine Kiwi Smoothie Nutrition: calculated from USDA nutrient values
Excellent Source: Vitamin C, Riboflavin
Good Source: Protein, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Selenium

1/6 of recipe (238g): calories 187, total fat 2g (4%DV), sodium 110mg, carbohydrate 34g (2 CHO exchanges), dietary fiber 2g (7%DV), protein 9g (18%DV), Vitamin C 39mg (64% WOW!), Calcium 292mg (29%), Magnesium 45mg (11%), Potassium 585mg (17%), Riboflavin 0.4mg (21%DV), Omega-3 24mg, Vitamin B12 0.9mcg (14%), Selenium 8.2mcg (12%)
Photos and Blog post Copyright ©2012 Wind. All rights reserved.
Facts label image courtesy of