4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

delicious

Best Beets Recipe

Yep, it’s true: Beets are delicious. If your memory of beets are from the canned, mushy slices your mom served you, be prepared to have your taste buds delighted and your body rejuvenated! Beets are nutrient dense and can be prepared in a very tantalizing way. Here’s my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

Red or golden beets or a mixture of both
Blue Cheese, crumbled
Turkish apricots
Candied pecans or walnuts
Balsamic vinegar

  1. Wash and wrap beets in foil, bake at 400 for 60 minutes. Let cool completely (several hours).
  2. Wearing kitchen gloves, rub the beets gently and the skin will fall right off.
  3. Clean up the beet tips.
  4. Chop into bite sized chunks.
  5. Add crumbled blue cheese, chopped turkish apricots and (optional) just a few candied pecans.
  6. Drizzle with good quality balsamic vinaigrette (I used fig) and sprinkle a tad of salt and pepper.
  7. This dish can be eaten at room temperature or cold from the fridge in the summer. Enjoy!

A quick and delish dinner

Simple Tortilla Casserole
Prep time: 10 minutes; Baking time: 30 minutes

Purchased ingredients:                                                   Prepped ingredients:

Whole grain tortillas                                                           Grated cheddar and jack cheese
Salsa or chili sauce                                                            Chopped cilantro
Black olives, drained                                                          Chopped green and purple cabbage
Grilled peppers, canned or jar, drained
Black or pinto beans, drained

  1. Pour a bunch of salsa or chili verde sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.
  2. Place 3 tortillas on top of the salsa or sauce.
  3. Cover with ½ of the cheese.
  4. Beans next.
  5. Then peppers.
  6. Sprinkle on the cilantro and olives.
  7. Layer with more torts.
  8. Top it off with a healthy dousing of salsa or chili sauce.
  9. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 28 minutes.
  10. Remove foil, sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake 2 more minutes.
  11. Top with a lot of cabbage at the table for added zip and crunch.

This dinner is so quick, so yummy, and so simple, that you won’t even mind that it is a complete protein, high fiber, and low fat meal!

My choice is to shop at our local co-op for all canned or prepared items; I buy organic and I recommend you consider this as well—there will be no added fats, coloring, sweeteners, preservatives, etc. Having said that, the point here is to have a quick and delish dinner, you should buy whatever you think is best.

You already know that I am not a recipe user. I love free flow creativity in the kitchen. This dish can have virtually anything you want to put in it that you and your family like and that maintains the Mexican or Spanish flavor. And of course, you can leave out any of the ingredients that don’t thrill you.

Finally, I sometimes buy a bunch of rice to go with this dinner. There’s a fab little Mexican place in town, called Tortilla Grill, which uses all organic ingredients for their rice and beans. It makes me feel better to bring that kind of rice home for an easy side dish to an already simple dinner. The big box food stores sell cooked Mexican or Spanish style rice also, again your choice. Occasionally, if I am feeling really sassy, I will throw the rice into the casserole, on top of the beans to bake into the cheesy goodness!

Enjoy this meal—it is one that kids and spouses like—if you have them around the house—and either way, you’ll love it because of the ease and taste!

Simple, Spectacular, and Savory Soup Recipe

Yes! Another soup recipe being offered to you, for a quick, yummy, and healthful dinner.

Minestrone Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
28 ounce jar of diced tomatoes
15 ounce can of cannelloni beans
pasta (elbow or penne)
1 large purple onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 small zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
pepper and salt
dried basil and oregano
olive oil
a full-bodied red wine, to sip as well as to add into the soup

Directions:

  1. Place all of the chopped veggies in a glass casserole dish; toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. At 10 minutes into the roast, stir up the veggies, then finish the roast. Set aside.
  2. While the veggies are roasting, cook the pasta just to an al dente texture, and consider enjoying a glass of wine. Drain the pasta, saving the water to thin the soup stock, and set the pasta aside for a moment.
  3. In your soup pot, mix the tomatoes, beans and the roasted veggies, pour in 1/2 cup of red wine, and add the spices to meet your palate desires. Add about a cup of the pasta water.
  4. I’ve learned over the years to cook just enough pasta to put 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked into the bottom of each soup bowl, then ladle the soup on top. If the pasta is added to the soup pot, it tends to get mushy, especially when you reheat the leftovers later.
  5. Enjoy! This is a rich, high protein and fiber, delicious dinner. For an easy side dish, I saute greens with garlic in olive oil, or I’ll slice a good quality baguette, layer the slices with swiss cheese, and broil for 3 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and yummy. Or I make both side dishes!

Yum!

Split-Pea Barley Soup: One of my all time favorites!

This quick, easy, and fabulous-tasting soup is a welcome shift in cooking and eating that acknowledges the change of season, from summer to fall.

Time required: 1 hour total, but ONLY 15 minutes of your physical presence in the kitchen is required!

Ingredients:

1 cup dried split peas, rinsed
1 cup barley, rinsed
1 medium purple onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
cumin
pepper and salt to taste
olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place peas in a large pot with enough water so that the water line is 2 inches above the peas; bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes. Keep an eye on the peas after 45 minutes, so they do not become overcooked and mushy!
  2. Place barley in a different pot with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside.
  3. While the peas and barley are cooking, enjoy a glass of wine. Then sauté the onions in olive oil, on low until they are tender. Add in the garlic, carrots and celery, a tad of pepper and salt, and sauté for just a couple of minutes until the veggies start to soften but do not become overcooked.
  4. Add to the cooked peas: the cooked barley, and cooked veggies. Gently mix it all up. Sprinkle cumin—at least 1 teaspoon—but probably more to give it a divine flavor.  Add pepper and a smidge of salt to your preferred taste.

There are two types of cooks: those that measure ingredients and those that do not. Those that follow recipes and those that do not. I do not. I love being in the kitchen creating a masterpiece, and have been cooking from scratch for nearly 30 years! Eyeballing how much to add, tasting frequently to be sure that I am getting it right is part of the fun for me. If “winging it” does not feel right to you, by all means use recipes and measure away. I have to say that my husband, when eating a delicious meal that I have lovingly prepared, will often sigh and say, “well, I won’t be enjoying that meal again…”  What he means is that my meals do not taste the same way twice! Since I don’t use recipes or measure, I run the risk of not being able to recreate that fabulous meal the next time around. Life is an adventure!

1st Note: If you like soupy soup, you’ll want to have a water line remaining above the peas when they are done cooking—keep an eye on the peas while they are simmering to see if more water should added.  If you like porridge style soup, then you can let all the water slowly absorb and evaporate in the cooking.

2nd Note: This is a chunky soup, which is how my husband and I like it! If chunky is not your preference, you are welcome to put the yummy concoction into a food processor to gently blend it to your desired consistency.

3rd Note: I taste while I cook. It is important to test the consistency of the grains, legumes, beans, pastas, and veggies, as well as the flavors once you begin to add spices.

Final Note: When cooking grains such as barley, millet, rice, etc. the ratio is 1 part grain to 2 parts water. The cook time is typically 30 minutes, but not always…quinoa for instance is cooked in 12 – 15 minutes, as are oats, but polenta (coarse corn meal) takes at least 45 minutes. This is where playing around in the kitchen is recommended so that you will gain confidence, as well as practical understanding of time required to create a fabulous meal.

The Really Final Note: When combining bean or legumes and grains, as in this soup, you are ingesting an incredible amount of fiber and protein. Way to go! Think of all the possibilities in other yummy soups and casseroles in which you bring beans and grains together. I will include additional recipes of my favorites in upcoming newsletters.

Happy Eating!

"With you guiding me through the HeartMatters program, I was able to achieve a level of physical fitness that made regular and focused exercise feel more like a natural part of my day. I had slipped into a malaise that meant exercise could be ‘put aside’ for work or other important activities. Getting past this is a subtle but powerful accomplishment.

I really enjoyed playing and exercising with you outdoors (my preferred MO for our time together). The joy you bring to your work is wonderful. This flexibility put a kind of structure into my day that helped me ‘choose’ again – showed me how to take back some control of my schedule for important things like meditation and exercise.  It was also part of my journey of re-learning how to say NO to things. This represents additional forward movement for me.

Thanks Robin – I have really benefited from your work in more ways than just the obvious fitter, leaner, stronger me."

---J.E., Northern California,  Communication Consultant

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