Tag Archives: bake

Healthy Thanksgiving Cooking: The Turkey

Its time to start planning your Thanksgiving Holiday Feast. There are some simple things you can do to make your traditional Thanksgiving dinner lower in fat and calories, starting with the turkey. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor: If you are cooking for a small gathering, buy a turkey breast (or two) instead of a whole bird. Breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat. If you buy a whole turkey, stay away from self-basting ones as they contain added fat. Roast or smoke your turkey instead of deep frying it. When eating the turkey, remove the skin (where most of the fat is contained).

Gravy has the highest calorie count of the Thanksgiving dishes. You can make low fat broth-based or vegetarian gravy instead of gravy from turkey drippings. If you do make your gravy from turkey drippings, use a gravy separator to skim off most of the fat before you thicken it.

Another way to cut calories is to make dressing, not stuffing. Stuffing absorbs fat from the turkey as it roasts. Bake your dressing instead in a casserole dish. Avoid dressing recipes that use sausage or bacon. If your recipe calls for eggs, substitute each whole egg with two egg whites to cut calories. Dressing made with wild rice and grains will give you more nutrition than plain bread dressing.

TURKEY ROASTED WITH FRESH HERBS
1 10-12 pound turkey
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (EX: thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram)
20 whole sprigs of herbs
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups onion, apple, and lemon or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups water (plus more if needed)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Remove giblets and wash turkey inside and out. Drain. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place onion, apple, and orange/lemon pieces and half the sprigs in turkey cavity. Tuck wing tips under the turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups of water to the pan and add remaining sprigs to water. Roast the turkey until it is golden brown (about 45 minutes). Remove turkey from oven and make a two-ply cover for the breasts. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. Check roasting pan occasionally. If it dries out, tilt pan to let turkey juices out of cavity and add 1 cup of water. Turkey is done when thermometer registers 165 degrees. Transfer turkey to a platter and cover completely with foil. Let turkey rest and re-absorb juices for 20 minutes before carving.

Thanks Jody

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Gluten-Free Fad

Ten years ago no one in the United States had a problem with eating gluten in breads and other foods. Today gluten-free products are quickly going out the doors of grocery stores. Restaurants offer gluten-free dishes. Churches are even offering gluten-free Communion wafers. Americans will spend about $7 billion this year on gluten-free foods. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor: For a very small number of people gluten is a big health risk. For a few more people gluten can be an annoyance. For the majority of people who have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon it appears to be a fad; a fad that researchers are studying in trying to determine whether there is a biological basis for it, or not.

Gluten is a protein compound made of gliadin and glutelin, which are bound together by starch (a carbohydrate). In nature, gliadin is found mostly in the seeds of grasses. Edible seeds of grasses are known as grains. Grains are made up of three parts: the bran or hull, the germ, and the endosperm. Whole grains contain all three. Gluten is found in the endosperm, the part of the grain that is retained when grains are refined. And so gluten is present in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley whether they are whole or not. Genetic modifications have increased the gluten content of wheat and other grains. Modern food processing has also added more gluten to our foods. Everything from candy, to deli meats, to potato chips contain gluten, which is used as a texturizer.

Grasses are not native human food. People can’t digest the stalks and the seeds of most grasses are too small to offer any nutritional benefits. Grains entered the human diet with the advent of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent over 12,000 years ago. Domestication led to increased seed size. The large seeds of wheat and other edible grains are the product of the careful growing by humans of the grasses nature provided. One reason some people have problems consuming gluten is that it is a recently introduced nutrient. Gluten is foreign to the Stone Age diet that shaped humans’ biological adaptations. Twelve thousand years may be long enough for human selection to change grains, but it’s not enough time for natural selection to change humans.

The big health problem associated with gluten is commonly called celiac disease (or celiac sprue or non-tropical sprue). Celiac disease is diagnosed with blood testing, genetic testing, or biopsies of the small intestine. If you have celiac disease your immune system responds to gluten as if it were a dangerous invader. The inflammation from the response damages your intestinal lining and leads to malabsorption of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Symptoms from celiac disease can be severe starting with abdominal discomfort, bloating, and intermittent diarrhea to manifestations of nutrient deficiencies to an itchy rash to, eventually, increased risk of intestinal cancer. Unaddressed, the condition can be lethal. Celiac disease was once considered extremely rare in the U.S. But about 20 years ago a few scientists began to explore the disease and concluded that it was not that rare, just underdiagnosed. Recently a research team at the Mayo Clinic determined that celiac disease is actually increasing. Their research confirmed estimates that about 1 percent of U.S. adults have it today, four times more common than it was 50 years ago. Scientists believe there is more celiac disease today because people eat more processed wheat products like pastas and baked goods than before. Those processed items use wheat that has high gluten content. Gluten helps dough rise and gives baked goods structure and texture. Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Joseph Murray, head of the research, also believes it could be the changes made to the wheat itself. In the 1950s, scientists began cross-breeding wheat to make it hardier, shorter, and better-growing.

The changes made to wheat in the 1950s may have contributed to the annoying condition now known as “gluten sensitivity”. Gluten sensitivity patients suffer bloating and other celiac symptoms but don’t actually have the disease. They seem to be helped by avoiding gluten. A study in Australia asked for volunteers who had gluten sensitivity symptoms. Half were put on a gluten-free diet and half on a regular diet for six weeks. The people who did not eat gluten had fewer problems with bloating, tiredness, and irregular bowel movements. Gluten sensitivity is estimated to affect 6 percent of the U.S. population. Celiac disease can be diagnosed by tests whereas gluten sensitivity has no test. The only reliable test for gluten sensitivity is a trial elimination of gluten to determine if symptoms come and go with its intake.

The adverse health effects of gluten in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have caused a preoccupation in the public discourse with gluten. People are getting the impression that gluten is a bona fide toxin and is harmful to all. This is a false assumption. Gluten is not bad for people who can tolerate it any more than peanuts are bad for people who are not allergic to peanuts. For the vast majority of the people in the U.S., a gluten-free diet appears to be much ado about nothing. The argument supporting the fad is that going gluten-free may lead to weight loss because avoiding gluten means avoiding a lot of processed foods, lowering calorie intake. The theory that lowering calories leads to weight loss is not some new-fangled idea.

People who suffer from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are grateful for the gluten-free fad. Until a few years ago they found it hard to find gluten-free choices at grocery stores and restaurants. Gluten-free foods used to taste like cardboard. Now the shelves are filled with tasty gluten-free options.

Thanks Jody

All the Best,

Steve Victor

Summer Squash

Summer squash is a type of squash that is harvested when immature and the rind is still tender and edible. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: The name “summer squash” refers to its short storage life as opposed to the longer storage life of winter squash. Summer squashes include: cousa squash, patty pan/scallop squash, yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash, and zucchini. Summer squash can be harvested later in the season when the rind is tougher. You just have to prepare them more like a winter squash with longer cooking times.

To prepare summer squash, run it under water until the skin feels clean. Cut off and discard the ends. If the skin is tough or if the skin feels gritty after washing, peel it. Summer squash can be grated, sliced, or cut into desired pieces.

To steam summer squash, arrange the pieces in a strainer or rack over 1/2 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam just until barely tender. Drain well and toss with olive oil or your favorite sauce.

 To sauté summer squash, cook in butter or olive oil over medium-high heat until barely tender. Season with herbs of your choice, salt, and pepper. The healthiest way to sauté any vegetable is in 3 tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth or even water. Heat liquid in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add sliced squash, cover, and “healthy sauté” for 3 minutes (1 1/2 minutes on each side). Transfer to a bowl and toss with a Mediterranean dressing or any dressing of your choice.

STUFFED SUMMER SQUASH

3 medium summer squash

1 large onion, chopped

 3 tablespoons olive oil

 1/2 pound sausage

 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, divided in half

 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided in half

 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

 4 tablespoons melted butter 

 Cook squash with 4 tablespoons water in microwave on high for 7 minutes. Cool. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Remove from pan. Saute sausage until brown. Put onion/garlic back in pan and mix with 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out leaving 1/2 inch shell. Drain scooped-out squash for a few minutes then add to sausage mixture. Put squash mixture in squash shells. Make a topping with melted butter, 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake in greased pan, covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.

SUMMER SQUASH VEGETABLE MEDLEY

2 pounds yellow summer squash and/or zucchini, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped]

 Olive oil

5-6 slices jack or cheddar cheese

Basil, dry or chopped fresh

Salt and pepper

Saute squash, onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a large saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the vegetables slightly. Sprinkle with basil and stir it in. Remove from heat and add slices of cheese. Cover. In a separate frying pan, sauté tomatoes on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Juices from tomatoes should evaporate some. Add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables. Stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

SUMMER SQUASH WITH ROASTED GARLIC

 2 summer squash

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of herbs of choice

 Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut each squash lengthwise into quarters. Cut spears in half crosswise and in half again until you have 16 short spears. Toss squash in olive oil and garlic in a bowl. Place in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash until the spears and garlic begin to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Check squash after 5 minutes and add time in 2 to 3 minute intervals to avoid burning. Serves 4.

Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Great Green Tomatoes

We are nearing the last harvest for summer fruits and vegetables. Tomato vines are loaded with green tomatoes that may not ripen. It’s time to enjoy tomatoes green! I asked Jody Victor®   to tell us some of his favorite recipes.

Jody Victor®: Here you go, Steve, a few of my favorites.

Quick Fried Green Tomatoes

2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/2 to 1/3 inch thick

Prepare egg wash with one egg and 2 tablespoons of water

Mix panko bread crumbs with seasonings of choice.

Heat oil in skillet at medium-high heat.

Dip slices in egg washm then breading, then the skillet.

Cook about 2 minutes per side. Turn when edges begin to brown.

Remove slices and place on paper towel-lined plate.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with ranch dressing.

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 pound green tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and black pepper

Generous sprinkling of white pepper

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In medium bowl, season flour with salt and black and white pepper. Mis well with fork. In a second bowl, place eggs and beat well. In third bowl, mix bread crumbs, cornmeal, and Parmesan cheese. Dredge tomato slices in seasoned flour. Dip them in egg, letting excess drip back into bowl. Press slices in the breadcrumb/cornmeal/Parmesan mixture. In large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add tomatoe slices (single layer) and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp (2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side). Transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Drizzle with favorite salad dressing.

Grilled Green Tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 16-oz package fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup fresh basil, sliced thin

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add tomatoes, seal, and shake gently to coat. Chill for one hour. Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees. Remove tomatoes from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill tomatoes, grill lid down, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and grill marks appear. Arrange alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella on a large shallow platter. Drizzle with reserved marinade. Salt and pepper to taste ans sprinkle with basil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1                                                                                                                                           3 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to try these.

All the Best!

Steve Victor

 

TOMATOES TIMES 2

Our last article sounded so good, I asked Jody Victor®  if he had any more favorite recipes with tomatoes. Here’s what he told me.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Steve, it’s that time of year when home-grown tomatoes are available everywhere. Even if you don’t grow them yourself, you can get wonderful tomatoes from your local grocer, roadside stand, or Farmer’s Market in your area. Here’s some more of my favorite recipes.

Green Beans and Roasted Tomatoes

4 cups fresh tomatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 whole head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl. Spread into a 9×13 baking dish. Roast tomatoes in preheated oven until they are lightly flecked with brown spots and garlic is tender (about 45 minutes). Remove from oven after 20 minutes and mash lightly with a spatula. While tomatoes are roasting, prepare and steam green beans until just tender (about 5 minutes). Place beans in a serving dish and mix in roasted tomatoes.

Easy Tomato Foccacia Bread

1 10 oz. tube refrigerated pizza crust

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, crushed

2 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

Roll out pizza crust and place on a greased baking sheet. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp of rosemary and spread over pizza crust. Top with remaining rosemary, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Pasta with fresh Tomato and Olive Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 8 large), chopped

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 pound pasta of choice, fully cooked

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 oz.)

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

Heat olive oil in large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add olives, onion, garlic, and red pepper. Saute until onion begins to soften (about 4 min). Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until tomatoes are just warmed through (about 2 min). Mix in red wine vinegar. Add cooked pasta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and basil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large serving bowl. Top with remaining Parmesan.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to try these out!

Steve Victor