Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fight Obesity * Eat Lean * Eat More Green * Exercise! * Beware of Portion Distortion @letsmove @atlanticcape

 Chefs Move to Schools
This video was a delight to watch after a long day on the job counseling adults and children in the fight against obesity. Prevention is far more desirable than having to try and regain control of an already overweight or morbidly obese body that has or may soon be at health risk for: 
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • aching knees and joints that may require knee replacement surgery
  • GERD (reflux disease)
  • diabetes
  • the list goes on...
Now in it's second year, The Chefs Move to Schools program - a major component of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative - continues to provide an opportunity for thousands of chefs (so far 3,400 chefs and 3,350 schools) around the country to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. 

Chefs Move to Schools pairs chefs with schools in their communities to make learning about fruits and vegetables fun. The program brings messages from the cafeteria to the classroom, teaching kids in an interactive way about food, nutrition and healthy cooking. 

My former Academy of Culinary Arts pastry chef/instructor Chef Chelius (known as the "Queen of Lean" in the video) adopted Mrs. Spangler's, family and consumer sciences teacher (aka the "Queen of Green") 6th grade food class from Ocean City Intermediate School in South Jersey. They share their approach to MyPlate in the classroom and how they are helping in the fight against childhood obesity in New Jersey. Enjoy the video!

Great job to all; the teacher, all the participating 6th grade students, the school - OCIS, and of course the Chef!
Related Links
Let's Move Chefs Move to Schools Sign up


Friday, March 23, 2012

Garlic lines Spring Gardens... #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Garlic for Health

Spring has sprung in South Jersey! Most people associate peas and asparagus as the harbingers of spring, but biennial and perennial herbs like parsley, thyme and rosemary along with fall planted bulbs, like garlic, get well established long before peas or asparagus even begin poking up from the earth. This season brings no exception; garden herbs and garlic are growing strong, while spring peas and asparagus are just now beginning to emerge.

There are a few distinct kinds of garlic, namely hardneck and softneck varieties. Our Italian hardneck garlic Garlic Rossa di Sulmona was special ordered direct from Italy. We can't wait to cook with and taste it. We're also growing Certified Organic Garlic Early Italian White Softneck. All garlic was planted with other kinds of bulbs last fall. 

The emerging green growing shoots sprouted up back in November. The eager growth went dormant throughout the winter months (if you want to call this winter a winter). Now, come Spring, as you can see in the photo above, the garlic is growing well! 

Cooking with Garlic
At this stage, the green growing stems can be snipped and added to foods like you would use scallion tops. During the plants maturity, hardneck varieties will send up edible scapes that bloom into flowers. When the scapes appear, I'll try to post a photo to show you what they look like. Scapes add a gourmet touch to foods.

Harvesting Garlic
Garlic becomes ready to dig up and harvest when most of the greens have died back later in the season. Garlic is best harvested after a few weeks of dry weather, according to Jodi Ferguson - organic gardener who wrote an article about growing garlic for Heirloom Gardener magazine.

Garlic for Health
Garlic is associated with health claims from being antibacterial, good for the heart, lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure - to reducing the number of tick bites. With the exception of having antimicrobial properties, science-based evidence is limited or conflicting on most of the other claims.

Garlic is full of nutrients, many that you wouldn’t expect: Vitamin C, Calcium and Vitamin B6.
You may have heard of garlic’s potent antioxidant and active component, Allicin. Allicin has antimicrobial properties that inhibit a wide range of bacteria. 

Fresh garlic has the most allicin vs pre-minced garlic in jars, which may be more important than convenience.
For maximum Allicin benefits, allow fresh
chopped garlic to "rest" for 10 minutes before cooking.
GardenCuizine Garlic Nutrition: calculated from USDA Nutrient data  
3 cloves (9g) = 13 calories, 0 calories from fat, saturated fat 0, cholesterol 0, dietary Fiber .2g (1%DV), Protein .6g (1%DV), Vitamin C 2.8mg (5%DV), Vitamin B6 .1mg (6%DV), Calcium 16mg (2%DV), Manganese .2mg (8%DV), Selenium 1.3mcg (2%DV)

Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children age 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

Health note: garlic may interfere with some drugs and is not recommended to be taken in excess or supplement form if taking anticoagulants, like Warfarin. Best to check with your doctor.

Related Links
Growing Garlic (Allium sativum)
You can find garlic bulbs from many garden suppliers. Our garlic was ordered online from
Photo Copyright (C) 2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Antioxidant-rich Shamrock Ginger-Mesquite Cookies #Recipe #GardenCuizine

St. Patty's 
~ Low Sodium, Antioxidant-rich ~
Ginger-Mesquite Cut-out
Cookies Recipe
Another GardenCuizineTM cookie jar favorite! Antioxidant-rich gingerbread cookies inspired the recipe for these tasty year-round treats made with nutrient-dense Mesquite flour. The difference from traditional gingerbread cookie dough is that they are lower in sodium, and higher in dietary fiber from the mesquite flour, which is ground from dried mesquite beans.
Read previous blog post for more information about Mesquite

Contrary to popular belief, the flavor of mesquite is not smokey. Mesquite flour is sometimes compared to carob flour. You really have to try mesquite flour and taste it for yourself. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor and appealing ginger color it adds to baked goods. My taste testers like it too. 

This recipe yields a large batch, but you don't have to bake off all of the dough at once. Like most cookie doughs, when well wrapped, the dough stores well in the fridge or freezer. 
The dough makes great gingerbread men at Christmas too!
  • Ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg mingle well with the unique natural flavor of mesquite, making these Ginger-Mesquite Cookies a new cookie favorite
  • Any shape cut-out can be used
  • Organic, fiber-rich, mesquite flour can be found from online sources, such as Casa deFruta
Yields: approximately 12 dozen 3-inch cookies
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup organic mesquite flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses 
2 eggs (cracked into a small cup and set aside)
Putting it all together
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  • Foil line a few cookie sheets and set aside
  • Sift the dry ingredients, except for the salt, into a large bowl.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt. 
  • Add molasses and beat until well combined.
  • Add eggs, scraping the bottom of the bowl if necessary.
  • Add dry ingredients. Mix (with paddle) on low until just combined.
  • Divide the dough into about 6 portions. Press the dough into 1-inch disc shapes.
  • Wrap dough in clear wrap. Label and date. Store in airtight freezer-safe baggies.
  • Keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.

  • Bring to room temperature when ready to roll out. Using about half of a disc of dough at a time, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic clear wrap. Slowly work and roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out using desired cookie cutter shapes.   
  • Bake 350°F 7-10 minutes 
Remember cookies are a treat. Enjoy in moderation!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Related Links  
Spices, Herbs and Antioxidants
Cooking with Mesquite Flour
Diana's Mesquite Apple Cake
Blog post, photo and recipe Copyright 2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Quick Meal Chili, Skillet Cornbread and Garden Salad #GardenCuizine

~ No Added Salt ~
Quick Meal Chili
and Skillet Cornbread
Chili packs in protein, dietary fiber and good nutrition, including: Vitamins A, B6, C, folate and potassium from all the garden peppers and tomatoes. Compliment chili with a side garden salad and your favorite corn bread; or serve chili over brown rice or quinoa, for a quick and easy, healthy, lunch or dinner - any time of year.

You don't need to follow a recipe for chili. Be creative with ingredients that you have on hand. Try adding seasonal garden veggies and herbs. Two-bean and Three-bean Chili recipes are always winners. If you prefer to follow a recipe, below is my chili recipe from dinner last night. 

Health tips
To keep the chili heart healthy, avoid adding any salt to the recipe when using canned diced tomatoes and canned beans. Read the food labels. Canned foods add plenty of sodium. Even after rinsing the beans, enough sodium will remain for good taste. And, keep in mind, more flavor will come from the cheese topping.
Ideally, you could grow and/or cook your own beans or purchase salt-free or reduced sodium canned goods to even better control the sodium content

Skillet Cornbread
Try your corn bread recipe cooked in a cast iron skillet. It's really good that way! In the photo shown above Harry added flaxseed and chia seeds to the cornbread for added nutrition. 

Adding minced jalapeno, corn and/or shredded cheese adds texture and taste to cornbread recipes too. I've added those ingredients both at home and in corn bread muffins when I worked at the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia. The brunch guests loved our bread baskets! 

Serves 6

1lb (~424g) Ground Beef, Turkey or Vegetarian Boca Burger Crumbles
1 medium Onion (178g) - diced or rough chopped
1 Tablespoon Garlic - minced
1 Tablespoon ground Cumin
2 teaspoons hot Chili powder
1 teaspoon Paprika or dried ground peppers from your garden
1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian Paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh Oregano
Hot peppers (in addition to ground peppers, we often add a few minced dried or fresh hot peppers)
3 (14.5 oz., 411g) cans Diced Tomatoes
2 Carrots - diced
2 cans water (use one of the empty diced tomato cans)
2 cans (15.5oz, 439g) organic Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed to remove excess sodium)

Shredded Mexican cheese (or soy cheese)
Hot sauce 
Sour cream (dairy or non-dairy)
  • Simply cook whatever amount of ground beef, turkey or Veggie burger crumbles you want to use. Cook in the same pot that you plan on cooking the chili in. Remove the protein when cooked. Drain any grease. 
  • Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Saute the chopped onion over medium-high heat. 
  • Add a generous amount of minced garlic; stir - cooking a few more minutes. 
  • Stir in seasonings (and remember NO ADDED SALT is necessary if you're using canned beans or canned diced tomatoes)
  • Stir in diced tomatoes and carrots. Add 2 cans water. Bring to simmer; cover and cook until the carrots are tender.
  • Stir in beans. Cook until beans are thoroughly heated. 
  • If you want to thicken the chili: use an immersion blender and blend a small amount, like you would when making a pureed soup, but just puree a little bit.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. Remember hot sauce can be added at the table
  • Garnish with shredded Mexican cheese and/or sour cream 
Serve with your favorite cornbread recipe 
with added chia seeds and flaxseeds
 ~ Baked in a cast iron skillet ~
Buon Appetito!
Related Links
Blog post and photo collage Copyright 2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

@PhilaFlowerShow select photos #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Flower Show 2012
Happiness is being able to attend the world's largest flower show with family and friends. Philadelphia hosted the first flower show back in 1827 - the first flower show ever in the nation, which has grown to what is now the largest indoor exhibition. I can still remember attending the show in the '90's when it was held at the Civic Center before moving to their current location at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

Looking at some of my photos taken tonight, you would never know they were taken on the last day during the last hours of the 8-day long show. 
Throughout the show we observed variegated ginger, society garlic and pineapple plants (Ananas comosus) tucked in along with the tropical foliage that lined many of the exhibit areas. Some of my favorite areas were not even Hawaiian. 
If you like historic Colonial Williamsburg, you would have especially enjoyed the Colonial Williamsburg Kitchen Gardens with oyster shell walkways and garden veggies that included lettuce, turnips, beans and asparagus. Growing veggies, herbs and fruits in kitchen gardens was common during the colonial period. 
Ever wonder what to do with old house windows? They can be made into cold frames to protect vegetables from frost and freezing temperatures. We enjoyed seeing a display of veggies growing beneath cold frames made from recycled old windows. 

Next to the cold frame display was an impressive hydroponic lettuce wall. The walkway led to another veggie garden featuring tomato plants, chard, amaranth and cabbage.

The Men's Garden Club of Philadelphia presented an impressive and inviting table setting surrounded by sacks of coffee beans and well planned landscape. 

With all the wonderful displays and even with having a floor plan, it was easy to miss some of the exhibits due to sheer volume and size of the convention center. I was hoping to, but never did, see the Camden Children's Garden and a Paw-Paw tree that was somewhere in one of the exhibits.

From what I understand, next year's Philadelphia Flower Show will be Brilliant!

Just a few more weeks until spring. Happy Gardening! 
Photographs Copyright 2012 Wind. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2012

St. Patty's Ginger-Mesquite Cookies #GardenCuizine @casadefruta

St. Patty's 
Ginger-Mesquite Cookies

Another GardenCuizineTM favorite cookie to add to your cookie jar recipe collection: Ginger-Mesquite cookies. They taste similar to gingerbread cookies with hints of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, only they are made with nutritious mesquite flour in addition to regular unbleached flour. Mesquite flour is flour ground from mesquite beans harvested from ripe pods grown on Mesquite trees. 

Mesquite Pods
Mesquite trees grow in southwestern US and in the Colorado, Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts. The drought-tolerant trees have an incredible tap root, which allows them to survive in dry areas. Mesquite trees also thrive in areas near streams and creeks and places having a supply of ground water. The ripe pods contain the beans that are dried, roasted and ground to make a fine powder called mesquite flour.

Mesquite Flour comes from a Bean
As you may have suspected, mesquite flour contains nutrients common to legumes. Mesquite provides a source of dietary fiber (about 21%) and protein (about 19%, high in lysine) plus other important nutrients, including calcium, iron and vitamin C.  

The nutrient-dense, gluten-free, flour contains anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory compounds and was historically used by Native American tribes as a medicinal food. 

Mesquite flour is not to be confused with mesquite smoke flavor that comes from burning wood from mesquite trees. You and your family will find the pleasant carob-like flavor of mesquite flour to be a healthy addition to your baked goods.
  • Check out my Low Sodium Mesquite Apple Cake recipe
  • Mesquite flour may be hard to find in grocery stores
  • Organic mesquite flour can be ordered from online sources, such as Casa deFruta
Watch for the recipe coming soon!
Related Links
Medicinal Plants of the Southwest 
Mesquite Pod Harvesting 
Honey Mesquite Tree

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Easy Baked Cod #gardencuizine #recipe

Low Fat, Low Sodium
Baked Cod

Start by purchasing fresh or frozen cod fillets. If you are buying fresh, ask to smell the fish before you buy it. Fresh fish does not have a fishy odor. Freeze and store the fish at home until ready to cook and serve. When cooked, cod fish has a delicate mouth-feel and is unanimously described as a mild tasting, moist and delicious fish. 

We used to bake fish topped with classic lemon and butter, then gradually switched to using some butter, some olive oil. Now, we bake fish using only olive oil and no butter or saturated fat. No one seems to miss the butter. Everyone loves it and benefits from the unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). 

Healthy fats
Poly and monounsaturated fats are found mostly in fish, nuts, seeds and plant oils. Healthy fats may help lower blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends keeping daily total fat intake to between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from foods like fish, nuts and veggie oils.

For a complete meal, serve cod along with a whole grain side dish and non-starchy vegetable. We served baked cod with organic quinoa black beluga lentil pilaf and roasted asparagus the night of this blog post. How do you like to cook cod fish?

GardenCuizine freestyle recipe
Diana's freestyle recipes simply mean you don't need to follow exact measurements. Use as much or as little seasoning as you prefer. Recommended serving size for fish is about 3-4 ounces per person. 

Cod fillets
Hungarian paprika (or any dried, ground, garden red pepper)
Garlic powder
Thyme (or any garden herbs)
OLD BAY® Seasoning (Old Bay contains salt and pepper - no added salt is necessary)
Olive oil

Putting it all together
  • Thaw fish. Fish can be safely thawed in the microwave
  • Place fish in a baking dish
  • Add olive oil and top with seasonings
  • Cover with foil
  • Bake 30 minutes at 350°F until fish is opaque white and flakes easily when pierced with a fork
GardenCuizine Nutrition Data: Baked Pacific Cod (without added seasonings) 3oz serving: Calories 89; total fat 1g; saturated fat: 0g; cholesterol 40mg (13%DV); Omega-3 241mg; sodium 77mg (3%DV); carbohydrates 0g; dietary fiber 0g; protein 20g (39%DV); Niacin 2.1mg (11%DV); Vitamin B6 0.4mg (20%DV); Vitamin B12 0.9mcg (15%DV); Selenium 40mcg (57%DV)

Note: differences with Baked Atlantic Cod: Omega-3 146mg; cholesterol 47mg (16%DV); Vitamin B6 0.2mg (12%DV); Selenium 32mcg (46%DV)

Related Links:
Homemade Ground Pepper Spices
 Blog post ©2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vary your Proteins for a Balanced Plate #NNM @EatRight #GardenCuizine

Cod Fish 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) recommends consuming marine and plant sources of omega-3 as part of a heart healthy, cardio-protective diet. A well-balanced diet includes a variety of protein selections. Fish contains high-quality protein and essential nutrients. Cod fish is low in saturated fat, low in mercury, and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for your heart, eyes and brain. 

Fish Oil 
Fish oil supplements may be made from cod livers, mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon or even whale or seal blubber. Fish oil supplements may also contain small amounts of vitamin E for spoilage prevention or may be combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C or D. Cod liver oil provides a source of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid - EPA and docosahexaenoic acid - DHA).

Pacific vs Atlantic Cod
Cod may be mislabeled at the grocery or fish market. Case in point - Oceana, an advocacy science-based group to protect the worlds oceans, found that Pacific cod was often mislabeled and substituted for Atlantic cod.* Both species taste similar and have similar nutrition profiles. Pacific cod is considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice, whereas Atlantic cod once plentiful for New England fisherman, has decreased in population from over fishing.

Species of Cod include:

    I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month
  1. Pacific Cod: Gadus macrocephalus
  2. Atlantic Cod: Gadus morhua
  3. Greenland Cod - Gadus ogac
Stay tuned for an easy recipe for Baked Cod in the next GardenCuizine post
Related Links
Fish Oil
Eat Seafood Twice a Week
Fish Consumption Advisories
*Seafood is Underinspected - Fraudulent findings by Oceana
Check out CHIA Super Seed Nutrition for non-fish source of Omega-3
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Hans-Petter Fjeld (CC-BY-SA)” Cod, Gadus morhua, taken thru glass at Atlanterhavsparken, Ă…lesund, Norway
 Blog post ©2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"March" into National Nutrition Month! @EatRight @kidseatright @Fruits_Veggies #gardencuizine

National Nutrition Month®

Time to "March" into National Nutrition Month® - presented by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). The Academy's goal is my goal as a registered dietitian, which includes the promotion of disease prevention and nutrition education for healthful eating along with exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Try these simple suggestions to "Get Your Plate in Shape."

"Get Your Plate in Shape" declares this years theme for National Nutrition Month. After all, if your plate is out-of-shape with oversize portions on a regular basis, it makes sense that the human body would get over nourished and therefore store the extra calories as adipose tissue (fat).

  • The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention reports that approximately 17% (12.5 million) of children and adolescents age 2 to19 are obese.
  • And, since 1980, obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled.
How can "we" get our Plates in Shape? 

Start by using the plate method for portion control. The plate method is based on imagining three sections on your serving plate. All ages have success with this method. Get your whole family educated on how to do this. 
  • Simply imagine your 9-10-inch lunch or dinner plate as being divided in half.
  • Then imagine the other half divided in half again, into quarters. A portion size the size of your clenched fist or a deck of cards should fit nicely on a quarter of your plate.
How to Portion Control your Meals
On half of your plate
  • Portion non-starchy Vegetables and Fruits on half of your plate. Many of us eat fruit whole as a separate snack before or after a meal, that is good too. 
  • Can't fill the whole half plate with veggies and fruits? No worries...
  • The point is to try and eat more Fruits and Veggies!
  • Beware of unbalanced, "out-of-shape" plate portions when eating out, such as half a plate full of french fries or potato chips.
  • Controlling portion sizes will enable you to better control and manage your body weight.
For each quarter-sized sections on the other half of your plate
  1. Portion a serving of Starch or starchy Vegetables 
  2. Portion a serving of a Protein food 
  • Starchy vegetables get a quarter-sized portion because starchy vegetables raise your blood sugar, similar to starchy foods like breads, pasta and rice. 
  • See some suggestions listed below.
    On the side
    • Serve a glass of fat-free or low-fat Milk or Soy Milk; or have a Calcium-rich food, such as yogurt or almonds as a healthy snack during the day.
    Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and vary the colors
    Vary your protein choices
    Make at least half of your grains whole grains
    Enjoy sweets and desserts in moderation
    I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month
    That's all there is 
    to getting your plate in shape!

       Non-starchy Vegetables: Amaranth, Artichokes, Asparagus, Green Beans, Wax Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chayote, Cucumber, Daikon, Eggplant, Bitter Melon, Scallions, Collards, Kale, Mustard or Turnip Greens, Turnips, Jicama, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Peppers, Radishes, Rutabaga, Spinach, Zucchini or Summer Squash, Sugar Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes,

       Proteins: Beef, Eggs, Cheeses, Fish, Lamb, Pork, Poultry, Shellfish, Beans (both a protein and a starchy vegetable, which would matter if you are diabetic), Tofu, Edamame

       Starch: Bagels, Biscuits, English Muffins, Buns, Rolls, Tortillas, Waffles, Grains (like rice, kasha, barley, bulgur, millet, quinoa), Cereals, Grits, Pasta, Cous Cous, Crackers, Matzoh, Rice Cakes

       Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, Corn, Popcorn, Pumpkin, Winter Squash (like acorn, butternut), Sweet Potatoes, Beans, Baked Beans, Lentils, Split Peas, Green Peas, Parsnips, Plantains