Collard Greenz

Food, recipes and everything in between


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Humble Meat Pie

There are so many variations on this humble combination. Across the pond it’s a staple dish – shepard’s pie or cottage pie – that I grew to love after spending several years living in the UK. It’s a comfort food classic and always a crowd pleaser, perfect for mid-week dinners. I lightened mine up and also used flavors I grew up with – Italian sausage with greens. This dish is low carb, low glycemic and super healthy. It also packs a punch with the chili and garlic spiced sausage.
sausage pie
1.5lbs lean chicken Italian or chorizo sausage (to make this dish meat-free, I like using veggie based sausage Field Roast)
2 cups chopped kale and spinach lightly blanched
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2.5lb sweet potato (I also make this dish with roasted and pureed butternut squash instead of sweet potato, both work really well)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
Start with sweet potato – Slice into quarters and roast w skins on in 350* oven for about 45 minutes until soft.
While roasting the potatoes, prep the sausage filling for the casserole. Remove meat from casing. Sauté minced onion until soft, add garlic and sausage meat until browned. Add white wine and water to deglaze and create a sauce. Italian sausage tends to be full of flavor, spices and salt (including the meat-free varieties) so I don’t find it necessary to season the sauce.
Once potatoes are roasted, purée into a smooth paste in food processor with the skins, this adds flavor and extra nutrients. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup evoo, pinch of salt and pepper. If using butternut squash instead of sweet potato, once roasted, removed flesh from skin and roughly puree with a fork.
To assemble the casserole, place a layer on smashed sweet potatoes on the bottom, top with meat sauce, then add chopped and blanched greens, followed by a top layer of the smashed potatoes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, asiago or other hard salty cheese.
(check this recipe out for another Anglo/Italiano fusion creation).


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No more boring healthy meals

Farro risotto, roasted zucchini squash w caramelized red onions, roasted chick peas and spicy beet relish 

  Trying to convince my husband and daughter to eat more vegetables is a daily challenge, especially a meal without any meat, shock horror I know 😝

This is a very easy midweek dinner ready in about 35-40 minutes. It’s super healthy and packed with palate pleasing flavors and textures. Don’t be put off by the number of components, they are all easy to do and most can be prepped once the zucchini and onion are in the oven. 

Feeds 4

Firstly, slice 2 large zucchinis and 1 small red onion, drizzle in evoo, sprinkle w salt and pepper, roast in moderate 350* oven for about 35 minutes until soft and lightly golden. 

In a separate pan, roast 1 can pesto coated chickpeas for about 20 minutes, once veggies have been in for about 15 minutes. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy but still smooth and buttery on the inside, not hard or dried out. 

Once the vegetables are in the oven, cook 1 cup dry faro according to package instructions until al dente, I opt for whole grain fast cooking option which takes about 12 minutes. Faro is an excellent low glycemic index grain with a sweet nutty flavor that won’t spike BGL – an added health benefit for diabetics. 

While faro is cooking prep spicy beet relish. Grate 1 large beet and 2 carrots, sauté in new pan on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes with evoo, salt, pepper, 1/2tsp chili flakes, add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup ketchup and 1 cup water, let simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes. (ps if you like beet, check out my MIL’s fabulous beetroot pie)
While beets are simmering on stove and veggies finishing in oven, sauté quarter of an onion and 2 cloves garlic until soft in pan, add al dente faro along w 2tbsp pesto and zest & juice of 1/2 lemon, lightly sauté until grains are slightly caramelized which will lend an extra nutty texture, flavor and crunch.
  
To assemble the plate, place faro on bottom, top with pesto chick peas and roasted zucchini and onion, serve w warm spicy beet relish. The contrast of the nutty faro, smooth inside & crunchy outside of chickpeas along w sweet roasted veggies and spicy relish really results in a full burst of flavors and will excite skeptical palates! 


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Not all carbs are created equally

In addition to learning more about the clinical side of type 1 diabetes management each day, I am also learning loads about nutrition, particularly the impact carbohydrates have on the body and how carbs are processed. Through trial and error/experimentation we are getting much better at controlling the mid-morning post breakfast BGL spike for our LO.

The frequent misconception is to keep carbs to a minimum all day, but with a growing toddler this is virtually impossible and not advisable as part of a healthy balanced diet. Particularly for a diabetic, where both BGL lows and highs need to monitored and controlled through carefully measured consumption of carbs/insulin. The healthier option is to opt for the low glycemic index foods that allow us to maintain steady blood glucose levels throughout the day by choosing the right types of carb (low GI) foods.

High vs Low GI Foods

GI chart

A carbohydrate with a high glycemic index (high GI) breaks down quickly during digestion and therefore releases glucose into the bloodstream rapidly. Some foods with a high GI include white bread, most cereals, crackers and sugary and/or highly processed snack foods. (NB. in moderation, these types of foods are also used to treat BGL lows.) Bring on the animal crackers my toddler says, and when BGL is dropping far too quickly, that makes my toddler especially happy as it’s time for a few SKITTLES or juicebox :P !

A carbohydrate with a low glycemic index (low GI) breaks down more slowly therefore causing a much slower and more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. Foods with a low GI include oats, rye, whole grains, most fruits, vegetables, and beans. Not even all low GI foods are created equally, bananas for example seriously SPIKE my LO’s BGL level for quite a while, whereas other fruits like apple and blueberry she can have without the need of insulin. Each body processes carbs differently, even the good kinds.

Also, protein, fat and various other nutrients contained in foods often eaten at the same time with carbs can greatly affect the true glycemic index and the overall digestion/absorption of the meal that food is a part of. Despite not being perfect, the glycemic index is a useful tool to help figure out which high carb (low GI) foods in general, are best and healthiest.

To that end, I recently stumbled upon this bread from Trader Joe’s and it seems to work quite well. It doesn’t spike BGL and is great toasted with sweet or savory toppings. It’s LOW GI, whole grain, low carb, low calorie, low gluten bread that actually doesn’t taste like cardboard, hooray! For a fussy toddler that crave breads/cereals for breakfast, this is really a great option. As an added bonus, it’s also high in fiber and vitamins to help promote a healthy gut.

bread 1

bread 3

Please note I am not a nutritionist. I am simply sharing my experience and I am eager to learn about nutrition and health benefits of controlling BGL, not just for diabetics. If you have any thoughts, feedback, comments or advice, please let me know. I am learning every day would greatly appreciate it! :)


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My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

 milkshake 4I have known about the benefits of alternate milks for quite some time but never had the inclination to stop drinking cows milk as I like the taste. Cows milk, though low in carbs, seriously spikes blood sugar, something any diabetic knows, which I learned very quickly after my LO was diagnosed with T1D. Commonly, kids have milk with breakfast, it’s perfectly healthy, filling and nutritious, but when dealing with a diabetic toddler, I want to do what I can to avoid the post breakfast BGL (blood glucose level) spike… Almond and coconut milks are excellent alternatives. They have 40% more calcium than cows milk, virtually zero carbs, more protein and fiber than cow milk, and hardly any fat. The health benefits arguably outweigh those of drinking regular milk. Moreover, no BGL spike! You can make it yourself, but in terms of cost benefit analysis, you are actually better off purchasing this from the supermarket. It’s surprisingly difficult & expensive to source real raw almonds, most varieties in supermarkes have been treated and blanched. I like the brand Califia because they make varieties combining true un-tampered raw almonds with ingredients such as coconut and vanilla.
These milks don’t taste like cow milk and I am not trying to convince you otherwise (I still prefer moo milk in my coffee), but for the breakfast beverage of choice and vehicle for cereal, this is a really great alternative, especially if you are concerned about the impact on BGL and/or are lactose intolerant. The sweet nutty flavor works very well. For a growing toddler, it’s still important to have cows milk, but this is not an issue as my kid ADORES cheese. Confusingly, cows milk cheese does not spike BGL despite being made from cows milk, and it’s a ‘free snack’ ie. zero carbs!
Friday morning used to consist of a chocolate milkshake treat for my daughter (milk, chocolate syrup and small dollop of whipped cream) and I didn’t want to deprive her of this sweet treat but equally, I hated the adverse effects of giving her milk laced with chocolate syrup – a diabetic disaster – even with insulin. This milkshake recipe will convert even the most dubious and discerning consumers into at least trying alternate milk sources – I made it for my husband also, whose palette is as picky as a fussy toddler and even he enjoyed it.
Ingredients:
Almond milk
Vanilla bean paste
Cocoa powder
Coconut nectar – extremely low GI sweetener
Ice
Small spray of carb free whipped cream
milkshake 1
milkshake 2 - Copy
We still indulge in creamy milky treats like froyo and icecream on the weekend, just not first thing in the morning – the ideal window is as an afternoon treat, after which you can run around like crazy in the park or your backyard to burn off the inevitable sugar rush 😝
milkshake 3
As for soy milk, I am still not convinced.


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Healthy diet beyond folks w autoimmune conditions

  I happen to have a very manageable autoimmune condition – hypothyroidism – that simply requires taking hormonal supplements and having a balanced diet, which is a cake walk compared to likes of those that suffer from T1d or rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, when there is one, your bodies immune system is weakened and you are more susceptible to developing others as you age. 

Autoimmune conditions are one of the leading groups of diseases in the world, yet they are often ignored or overlooked.

Genetics (or generic garbage as I loving refer to it as) plays the predominant reason for developing autoimmune conditions. However, environmental triggers, diet and lifestyle play a major factor on managing autoimmune conditions. I know for example if anybody so much as sneezes near me, I get whatever ailment they have, this is why I swear by echinacea and vitamin supplements as well as eating loads of protein and iron rich greens regularly.

This article sheds some light on other vitamins we should be consuming in abundance to help boost our immune systems… Bring on the shell fish and filet mignon! Here are some of the vitamins at a quick glance:

Vitamin A rich foods:

Salmon, kale and other dark leefy greens, mango, carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash

Iron rich foods:

Red meat, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Beans,Dark green leafy vegetables, Dried fruit, Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20623/5-foods-i-recommend-for-people-struggling-with-autoimmune-diseases.html


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A greaty healthy blog!

http://athleticavocado.com/2015/07/05/paleo-dark-chocolate-chip-and-orange-cookies-thrive-market-review/

I have discovered the numerous benefits of using low carb/low GI sweeteners, here is a recipe with some great ideas for tasty cookies that won’t compromise on flavor.


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Quick Green Sauce with lean ground pork and Plov

Recently my 2.5 year old was diagnosed with the often misunderstood disease of Type 1 Diabetes. In an effort to raise awareness and clean up our eating even more (we were already a very healthy household – so I thought!) I am going to be posting healthy, yummy recipes that will make the family happy but also have relatively low glycemic index/carb count – focusing on healthy carbs that don’t tend to spike blood sugar. Having said that, everything is OK in moderation, even an occasional regular sugar cupcake or scoop of gelato. My next challenge is baking cupcakes that actually taste good with using natural, non GMO stevia/sweeteners, but more on that later.

There are certain carbs that will spike blood sugar more quickly than others, even ‘healthy carbs’. Natural, unprocessed grains tend to be better for curbing against spikes. These are also loaded with nutrients and vitamins, far healthier than your average processed, bleached refined wheat options, eg. farro, wheat berries, quinoa, whole grain couscous & rice, barley etc are all good options.

On the menu last night: Quick Green Sauce with lean ground pork and Plov

image3

Sauté 1 large bell pepper, 1 onion, 2 large carrots, 2 cloves garlic in pan, add 1 cup of tomato puree, salt & pepper to taste along with fajita style spices (cumin, coriander, cayenne, ancho chili, smoked paprika), let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and place in blender along with 3 cups of raw greens, I opted for baby kale and spinach. Blitz until relatively it’s a smooth gravy like consistency.

Meanwhile, sauté 1.5lb lean ground pork (or other lean ground meat) until golden and starting to brown on all sides. Add pureed sauce along with 2 cups of water, let simmer on low for an additional 15 minutes, cover, turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the meat is cooking, you should also prep the pilau rice. I opted for brown basmati as my daughter tends to require little to no insulin after eating rice, though this is entirely an individual reaction as each body processes carbs differently.

Brown rice in non-stick pan, add spices of choice along with 2tbp olive oil, sauté lightly until rice grains are covered in spices and oil. I used a Tajikistan ‘plov’ spice mix introduced to me by my husband & mother-in-law (of Georgian/Russian origin) and I am obsessed, it’s so delicious. Cumin, coriander, dill, pepper, basil, bayleaf, turmeric (aka curcuma), chilli flakes and barberry comprise the spice mix. The last one might be tricky to source, but the rest you mostly already have in your spice cupboard.

plof image 1

Add unsalted stock and let simmer on medium low heat until liquid is absorbed. It’s roughly a 2:1 ratio grain to liquid. Once rice in fork tender and just cooked, allow rice to slightly turn golden brown, this adds a delicious nutty texture and crunch (a trick I stumbled upon in Spain learning about Paella and Bahrain learning about traditional Persian Pilau).

Serve with meat sauce and kale sprout salad.

If you have any questions, tips comments on this recipe, any other recipe in my blog and or about T1D please share!

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