Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf and Red Onions

Roasted Spaghetti SquashMore spaghetti squash? Why not? It’s squash season, after all. Squash is synonymous with autumn. img_6232

Although spaghetti squash can be found from fall through the spring, there’s something comforting and pleasurable about roasting vegetables in the fall, especially squash. And since many people aren’t sure what to do with spaghetti squash, I’ve been offering some recipes. Last week, I offered Easy Spaghetti Squash Chili. This week, I have for you Roasted Maple-Bourbon Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf.

Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is a tiny little grain that is surprisingly high in protein, as well as other nutrients. One cup of raw amaranth contains 28 grams of protein, 15 milligrams of iron, and 18 milligrams of fiber, which makes it one of the most nutrient-rich grains on earth. img_6256

Amaranth is also a great source of lysine, a protein-rich amino acid. This is good news for those of us who suffer from canker and cold sores. L-lysine has been shown to shorten the life span of canker sores. I can personally attest to this because when one of those little monsters starts making itself known, I start digging into the giant bottle of lysine, and believe me, it works.

So this dish makes the perfect side dish to any autumn meal, but because of the amaranth and almonds, it also is a satisfying entree on its own. And spaghetti squash is low in calories, low in carbs, and almost fat free, so whatever diet you may be on, you can’t go wrong with this squash. You can serve it in lovely slices, or you can scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh and eat it like a pasta dish. Continue reading

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Amaranth-Dal Patties

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My pantry is stuffed to the gills with all sorts of items that the average cook with raise an eyebrow to. In fact, I’ll bet I have a few items in there that the average cook has possibly not even heard of, let alone used. If you were my neighbor and needed something for a recipe you were cooking or baking, chances are I’d have it. Anything at all. Need some flour? What kind? All-purpose? Whole wheat? Pastry? Spelt? Soy? Buckwheat? Barley? Teff? Oat? Fava bean?

Need rice? Currently, I’ve got brown, basmati, brown basmati, jasmin, Thai black, rosematta, glutinous Thai, and Japanese short grain.

Looking for grains? Choose from white and red quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, millet, and teff.

So, what am I saying here? That I am constantly looking for ways to use up all of that stuff! And so here is what I came up with to use both amaranth and some mixed dal I had. I could’ve just made a soup, but I wanted to do something different. This is what I came up with—Amaranth-Dal Patties. If you’re not familiar with amaranth, they’re tiny little grains that are gluten-free and high in iron and lysine. Here’s a link for more information.

Amaranth

Amaranth

You can season the patties with whatever herbs or spices you like, and/or dress them with any kind of sauce, from raita to salsa to piri piri (just make sure to pair the seasonings and dressing appropriately—you wouldn’t want to use garam masala as a seasoning and then dip them in Asian soy dipping sauce!). You can also substitute the flour for something that is gluten-free. Continue reading


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Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth

IMG_3431With all the greens flourishing right about now, I’ve been having a craving for bean soup with greens. Why in the world would I crave soup in the dead heat of summer, you ask. I can have soup any time of the year. I absolutely love it. Yes, it can be warm and comforting in winter, but summer also calls for comfort of a different sort.

Plus, studies have shown that eating warming dishes such as soup can actually acclimate you better to the heat by elevating your body temperature, thereby making the weather more tolerable.

Anyway, someone gave me a tiny little bunch of kale and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to make that beans-and-greens soup. I decided to add some amaranth to it—I love pasta and grains in my soup and amaranth is an exceptionally healthy choice.

Amaranth has been grown in Central and South America and consumed by the regional people for hundreds of years. It’s been an important source of protein for the indigenous people of those regions, and it is less expensive and, consequently, less controversial than quinoa.

Amaranth is a very rich source of protein, and it is more digestible than that of other grains. It’s also an excellent source of lysine, an important amino acid. Amaranth has the most calcium of any grain next to teff. It also is a better source than other grains of magnesium, iron, copper, and fiber. Amaranth is a good source of zinc, potassium, phosphorus, folate, niacin, and riboflavin, and vitamins A, C, E, K, B5, and B6, as well as antioxidants, which fight cancer. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and—don’t hold me to this—helps prevent premature graying. For carb counters, it’s lower in carbs than other grains and it’s gluten free.

So, here’s my impromptu recipe for Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth. These are approximate amounts, so use however much you like of anything. Soup is very forgiving where quantities of ingredients are concerned. Enjoy.

Kale-Bean Soup with Amaranth

Makes 4 servings.

1 small bunch kale
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water + 2 bouillon cubes)
¼ cup amaranth
1 cup cooked beans (whichever you prefer)

Wash the kale and remove thick stems. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium pot, heat oil; add onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 2 or 3 minutes.

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Add tomatoes and sauté another minute.

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Pour in broth and let it come to a boil. Add amaranth; lower heat to medium-low and simmer until is cooked, about 10 minutes.

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Add kale and beans and continue cooking until kale is tender (this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and “toughness” of the kale). Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve as is or with grated cheese and/or crusty bread.

 

 


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September is Better Breakfast Month

How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? A million times since you were a kid, right?

I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. I can’t really eat first thing in the morning. My stomach just will not accept food when I first get up. It amazes me to know that some people roll out of bed, shuffle into their kitchens, and start eating. My routine is, I go to work, have a cup of coffee, and right around 10:30 or so, I’m ready to eat a little something. I know that’s not a great way to start my day, but it’s the best I can do.

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Multigrain Morning Porridge

What I do try to do, however, is to make it a good, energy-inducing breakfast: oatmeal with walnuts or pecans; yogurt with fruit and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and flax); whole grain bread with some kind of nut butter. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of green smoothies. The point is not only to curb hunger but to give your body and brain the proper fuel to do what it needs to do throughout the day. It appalls me to see people eating doughnuts, crullers, sugary muffins, and soda for breakfast. (I think muffins are good if they have nutritional components to them, like high-protein flours, nuts, and natural sugar alternatives.)

Breakfast porridges are a great choice and can be made with any grain you like, such as steel-cut oats, quinoa, millet, and barley. Below is my recipe for multi-grain porridge. I had the original recipe for this porridge in my collection for a while but never gave it a try. Not because it didn’t appeal to me (otherwise, I wouldn’t have clipped it), but because I so rarely make homemade porridge for breakfast. During the week, I never eat breakfast at home—I prepare whatever it is I’m going to have the night before and take it to work. On the weekends, I still don’t have time and usually just grab leftovers from the fridge. But whenever I can, I’ll make some kind of porridge. IMG_0151

I made some modifications to the recipe, based on what I had on hand and my personal preferences. The good thing is that this stays well in the fridge for a few days, so I can make a big batch and just reheat it.

Clockwise from upper right: Wheat berries, grits, amaranth, oats.

Mulitgrain Morning Porridge

Adapted from “Multigrain Breakfast Porridge” by
Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, Cooking Light, Oct. 2007

½ cup wheat berries, rinsed
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup steel-cut oats
3 tablespoons regular grits
¼ cup amaranth
¾ cup coconut or almond milk
¼ maple syrup
¼ cup dried blueberries or other dried fruit
½ cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

Bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add the wheat berries and salt; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered until almost tender, 20 to 30 minutes.IMG_0153

Add the oats, grits, and amaranth and stir. Continue simmering until all grains are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in coconut milk, maple syrup, and fruit and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in nuts. Serve hot.

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This porridge will keep for several days in the refrigerator. To reheat, stir in a little more coconut milk or water until it reaches the desired consistency. Heat over medium-low heat or in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.