Caprese Salad…so fresh and oh so good!

Summer is here and there is nothing I love more than a melt in your mouth Caprese Salad. Even better when the ingredients are coming from my own back yard!

Caprese Salad

One can say the Caprese salad is reminiscent of Italy’s tricolored flag with the sumptuous red of garden fresh tomatoes, vibrant greens of basil leaves hand picked from the herb garden, all off set by the pillowy white of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. The salad is named after the island of Capri, but is now enjoyed the world over.

Basil from the garden

So simple to make, the flavours of the Caprese Salad are enhanced by only using the freshest of ingredients.  It is sure to steal the show at any summer bbq!

Ingredients

  • fresh ripe tomatoes
  • large basil leaves
  • buffalo mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • optional – I love the zing of a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt to taste

Directions are really not required – slice and layer as desired.  Personally, I place a slice of tomato, followed by a basil leaf and a slice of the buffalo mozzarella which has been warmed ever so slightly in the toaster over.  Top with another slice of tomato.  Drizzle olive oil and a splash of balsamic.  Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt et voila – summer perfection on a plate!  For best results, let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavours to mingle and enjoy!

fresh tomatoes

For a dinner party, fan the layers out on a plate rather than in a stack and wow your guests.  It’s a success every time.

Indonesian Sate adapted from Vegetarian for Dummies

One of my favourite Asian food flavours – sate!  I have made the original version of this recipe a zillion times, but for something quick and easy, I prefer my adapted version.

Indonesian Sate stir fry

Sate Sauce:

  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • * I like to spice it up with 2 – 3 thai chillis

vegetarian Indonesian Sate

  • Assorted chopped veggies
  • drained and rinsed can of chick peas
  • garnish: peanut pieces, fresh coriander
  • prepared rice

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, oil, honey, soy sauce, cayenne pepper and ground ginger.  Mix well and add boiling water.  Mix until smooth.

Indonesian sate sauce

Super easy.  Chop up assorted veggies and saute for a few minutes.  I usually start with onions and garlic, progressively adding veggies starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook (carrots, cauliflower), add in peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and green beans.  Add canned chick peas and sate sauce.  Saute until desired tenderness (or crunchiness).  Garnish with peanut pieces and/or fresh coriander.  Serve over rice.

vegetarian recipe

I paired my sate with a bottle of medium dry riesling from Huff Estates in Prince Edward County.  The crisp acidity of the riesling made for a perfect compliment with the spice of the sate!  I picked this bottle up when writing about Wine Tasting in Prince Edward County.

Chef in the kitchen?   www.nutritionallyyours.wordpress.comPerfect on a cold winter’s night!

 

Beans, Beans, Beans

Full of beans….we describe kids that are brimming with energy as being full of beans.  Loaded with energy.  Don’t most of us wish we had the energy of kids.  They run and play all day, energy galore!

Red and white kidney beans

The cornerstone to a healthy diet is is a diet full of vitamins, minerals and fibre…all of which the humble bean has is spades!  Do they play a hearty role in your diet?

I generally have the intentions of eating more beans, but somewhere along the way….it doesn’t always happen!  I use more canned beans…little forethought is required.  The only problem with the canning process is that it does rob some of the nutrients.  There also tends to be a higher sodium content in the can (a good rinsing will help here).  While eating canned beans is better than no beans….I often forget to soak my beans the night before!  To speed up the process, you can place the beans in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat off and leave them to soak for an hour.  To cook – bring the beans and soaking liquid to a boil in a large pot, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender.  Time will vary based on type of bean.

Benefits of Beans

Virtually fat free, beans are loaded with high doses of folate, B vitamins and iron.  Basically, your vitality nutrients loaded up in a neat little package.  They are also a brilliant source of non-animal protein.

Heart healthy – beans have benefits for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Beans contain lignans – phytoestrogens that may reduce the risk of estrogen related cancers.  Recent studies also show benefits in curbing pancreatic and colon cancers.

Loaded with fibre (soluble and insoluble) – beans are extremely beneficial for colon health, normalizing blood sugar levels and feeling full…a huge benefit for those watching their weight!

Beans are a great source of complex carbohydrates – essential to our well being.

Are you getting enough beans in your diet?

bags of beans at Namche Bazaar

I tend to find it very easy to eat kidney and garbanzo beans (chick peas).  Red lentils are a staple in my fall and winter soup armamentarium…but what about some of the others?

Have you heard of Aduki beans?  I first heard of them when I bought Gillian McKeith‘s “You are what you eat” book.  I became her fan when her show appeared on tv here in Canada.  While her tactics can be shocking at times, I appreciate some of the messages she puts forth…predominantly focusing on a healthy, natural diet and lifestyle.  Simple changes incorporated into our daily life can have an important positive impact on our quality of life….and these changes can actually cost us less.  Beans are a very economical choice in the pantry!

Green lentils

So, in an attempt to introduce a great variety of beans to my diet, I will be adding Aduki and Mung Beans.

Aduki beans are high in nutrients but low in calories.  The Japanese recognize these beans for their healing qualities.  They are touted as being beneficial for kidney and bladder infections…but I have limited information in this regard.  They are exceptionally high in fibre, B vitamins and minerals (iron, manganese and zinc), act as a natural diuretic and are brilliant for weight loss.

Mung Beans – believed to be beneficial in detoxifying the body, mung beans possess all the benefits of their fellow beans – heart healthy, brilliant for diabetics and blood sugar regulation.  They are also said to have benefits for post menopause due to the variety of isoflavone nutrients they possess.  Mung beans are said to be estrogenic in nature due to their phytoestrogen content.

Dried beans, if stored in a dry, air tight contain, are good for a year in the panty.  Don’t mix old and new as the older the bean, the longer they need to cook.  Cooking times do vary for beans – a basic guideline taken from What’s Cooking America shows:

Beans (soaked)

Saucepan

Pressure Cooker
at 15 Lb. Pressure

Black Beans 1 to 1½ hours
5 to 8 Min.
Garbanzo Beans 1 to 1½ hours 5 to 7 Min.
Great Northerns 1 to 1½ hours 5 to 7 Min.
Lima Beans, Large 45 to 60 minutes Not Recommended
Lima Beans, Baby
1 hour Not Recommended
Navy or Small Whites 1 to 1½ hours 5 to 8 Min.
Pink Beans 1 to 1½ hours 6 to 8 Min.
Pinto Beans 1 to 1½ hours 5 to 7 Min.
Red Beans 1 to 1½ hours 6 to 8 Min.
Red Kidney Beans 1 to 1½ hours 5 to 8 Min.
Soybeans 3 hours 12 to 15 Min.
     
Beans (not soaked) Saucepan Pressure Cooker*
Black-Eyed Peas 1 to 1½ hours Not Recommended
Lentils 30 to 45 minutes Not Recommended
Split Peas, Green 30 to 45 minutes Not Recommended

Beans are so versatile….great in soups, salads and stews.  They are also brilliant made into a healthy dip for veggies…so what are you waiting for?

benefits of beans and lentils

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Colourful Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata

Inspired by all the tortilla I had in Spain, when I came across this colourful sweet potato and kale frittata, I knew I had to give it a go.  Loaded with good nutrition (both kale and sweet potatoes are considered super foods…more on that later), the magazine photo had my mouth watering!

ready to cook

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (approx 1 cup)
  • 4 large curly kale leaves, ribs removed, torn into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goats cheese

food prep

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Steam sweet potato cubes until soft.
  2. Whisk eggs, mustard and vinegar together.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Coat large oven proof skillet with cooking spray (makes removing the frittata considerable easier).  Add oil and place over medium-high heat.  Saute onions (3 minutes).
  4. Add kale and saute for another 2 minutes, until wilted.
  5. Add sweet potato and toss to blend, arranging vegetables over bottom of skillet.
  6. Carefully pour eggs over vegetables without displacing.  Cook on stovetop for 3 minutes, until bottom is set.
  7. Transfer skillet to oven.  Bake for 10 minutes or until set in centre.
  8. (I added goat cheese here and put back in oven for another minute)
  9. Using a heat proof spatula, loosen frittata from skillet and slide onto platter.

Nutritional breakdown based on 4 servings:  298 calories, 18g protein, 16g total fat (6g sat fat), 21g carbohydrate, 379 mg cholesterol, 318 mg sodium, 3g fibre, 6g sugars

vegetarian frittata

So colourful and tasty – how could you go wrong?