Collard Greenz

Food, recipes and everything in between


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Squash, Beautiful Squash

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Don’t just leave gourds for pumpkin pie or cornucopia decorations for Thanksgiving. They are extremely versatile and can easily be used in your mid-week go-to repertoire for easy, filling, seasonal, affordable meals to feed a family. Make the most of squash while it is seasonally available! Indeed, they do require some prior prep, but this can easily be tackled a few nights in advance of when you intend to consume them. Consider using Sunday to par-roast and prepare the ingredients, so mid-week all you need to do is a quick final blast in the over and PRESTO, dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes. With both recipes, you can modify by removing cheese/dairy and using meat or meatless sausage options depending on your taste, preference and dietary requirements.

Stuffed Delicata Squash

Delicata squash has a texture somewhere between sweet potato and butternut, it’s extremely buttery, smooth yet firm texture lends itself extremely well for stuffing as it will still hold its firm yet fork tender texture. The size varies but roughly it is about the size of one medium hand. Factor one full squash per adult and half squash for kiddos.

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Serves 4

4 Delicata Squash, cut in half length-wise

1 small red onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, minced

1 large celery stick, minced

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, parsley, basil

2-3 cups low or no sodium chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and pepper to taste

¾ cup feta cheese crumbled

Six pack of vegetarian sausage meat of your preference, removed from ‘skin’ and roughly chopped*

*you can use ground meat if you wish

What to prepare in advance:

Cut and roast the squash, flat side down on a parchment lined baking sheet in advance for approximately 30 minutes (or until just fork tender) in pre-heated oven at 325* F. Once squash has baked and cooled, remove stringy flesh and seeds (reserve seeds, sprinkle with sea salt and bake them for a tasty snack).

When squash is roasting, in a pan with a glug to EVOO, sauté carrots, onions, celery, until starting to turn a light golden brown, add garlic and mushrooms and sauté on medium low for additional 5 minutes. Add cut up sausage meat of your choice, sauté for additional 5-8 minutes until the sausage is lightly caramelized and cooked through, stir in dried herbs. Deglaze pan with 2-3 cups low or no sodium stock, turn heat down and let simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat until sauce thickens slightly and stock is cooked through. NB. The pre-roasted squash and filling will easily last a few days in air tight containers in the refrigerator.

What to prepare the night of:

Pre-heat oven to 325* F

Place squash skin side down on parchment lined sheet in baking tray and stuff generously with stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, cheese melted and squash hot. Serve with fresh green salad. *Unlike several squash cousins, Delicata Squash skin is very soft and edible once baked.

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash & Greens Bake

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Spaghetti Squash does not taste at all like spaghetti and has a somewhat bland and neutral taste by itself, but don’t be discouraged, it works perfectly with robust flavors to go along with it. In that respect it is like spaghetti, somewhat boring by itself, but completely transformed when paired with the right ingredients! I love using this dish as a perfect opportunity to get my family to eat their greens, no bribery required.

1 large Spaghetti Squash

3 cups steamed and roughly chopped broccoli or broccoli rabe

1 cup kale, collards or mustard greens roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, minced

2 cups low or no sodium vegetable stock

½ cup low fat cream cheese or low fat sour cream

¼ cup grated pecorino or parmigiana cheese

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

What to prepare in advance:

As above, slice the squash in half, length wise, bake in advance in pre-heated over at 325*F. This squash has a watery texture and thicker skin, so bake skin side down, flat cut side up in a casserole dish, otherwise liquid may leak and scold the oven when you are pre-baking it. Once baked and cooled, remove squash from skin and discard skin. Place baked squash back into a 2-3inch thick casserole dish. The thread like texture is reasoning for the name.

When the squash is roasting, prepare the ‘spaghetti’ sauce topping. Sauté onions until golden, add steamed broccoli, kale and garlic and sauté additional few minutes until greens wilted but still vibrant in color. Add stock, simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat, add cream cheese and stir until combined with stock vegetable mixture. Remove from heat. Place mixture on top of squash in casserole dish. Cool and cover tightly if reserving for a later night.

What to prepare the night of:

Pre-heat oven to 325* F

Sprinkle casserole with grated cheese. Bake in the over until bubbling, golden and hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Brussel Sprouts – a family favorite!

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Long gone are the days of smelly, grey boiled sprouts. It is truly one of the most underrated vegetables with a misplaced bad reputation. Here’s some simple recipes for how to get everybody at your table to eat and ENJOY sprouts! Whether this is going to adorn your Thanksgiving table or simply something to add to your repertoire of inventive ways with vegetables, these recipes will certainly not disappoint.

Sprouts roasted with garlic and fresh pomegranate

When slowly cooked and caramelized, brussel sprouts are transformed into a sweet, delicious side dish. The pungent garlic is also transformed into a smooth, sweet, velvety ingredient once roasted, that balances extremely well with the sprouts. Top it all off with zesty, sweet-yet-tart pomegranate seeds and earthy toasted pecans and this dish will be an instant crowd pleaser with a real autumnal feel.

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Serves 4

1 pint brussel sprouts (approx. 1lb)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan

5 cloves garlic, peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

About 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 medium red onion cut into 1cm thick rounds

¾ cup fresh pomegranate seeds

¾ cup lightly toasted pecan nuts, roughly chopped

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400. Trim bottom of brussel sprouts, slice each in half vertically. Heat oil in cast-iron pan (or other oven proof stir fry pan) over medium heat until it very hot but not burning; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom (about 10 minutes), transfer dish to the oven. Roast, shaking pan every so often, until sprouts golden and tender, about 10-15 minutes.

While the sprouts are roasting, slowly pan fry the red onions with little bit of olive oil over a medium-low heat until they are soft and caramelized. This will take about 10-15 minutes, stir frequently, don’t over heat or the onions will burn. Once onions are soft, golden and sweet, remove from heat.

Combine the onions and sprouts into one dish, taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in balsamic vinegar, sprinkle over pomegranate seeds, pecans and freshly chopped parsley, serve hot or room temperature.

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Sprouts with crispy pancetta

The sweet and salty combination of the pancetta and sundried tomatoes really elevates these sprouts to another level. This is ready in less than 20 minutes so can easily make it into a mid-week dinner, by serving it on top of piping hot creamy mashed potatoes or pasta.

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Serves 4

1 pint brussel sprouts, sliced thinly length wise

3 oz of chopped pancetta or lardons

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan

½ red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons roughly chopped jarred sun dried tomatoes

Handful roughly chopped parsley

Place pancetta in sauté pan over medium heat, sweat them out until they are golden and crisp. Remove meat and reserve rendered fat to sauté the sprouts. Once lightly browned, add onions and sauté for addition 5-8 minutes on medium heat until onions are soft and caramelized. Turn heat down to low/medium, add garlic, sundried tomatoes and crispy pancetta. Sauté for another couple of minutes until garlic is soft. Remove from heat, stir in fresh parsley and season to taste.

This is a great accompaniment to a pork chop or piece of chicken. You can make this into a vegetarian dinner by omitting pancetta and stirring sprout mixture into a bowl of freshly cooked pasta, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and top with grated pecorino.

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Next week – how to transform beets into a beautiful dinner table dish worthy of entertaining.

 

 

 


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Delicious Fluffy Flap Jacks (GF, dairy free, low glycemic)

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I have always been keen on healthy eating, but even more so ever since my daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2015. As a family, we have truly revamped our diets. I am forever in search of new and alternate ways to create yummy treats that are not inflammatory or glutinous. In our house Saturdays tend to be jam packed full of activities, socializing and errands, so Sunday mornings is our chance to sleep, stay in pj’s, watch cartoons & make homemade brunch. Pancakes, waffles, scones, you name it… Pancakes usually win by popular demand. These gluten free sorghum flour pancake really hit the mark! Not only is sorghum flour packed full of nutrients, it’s also extremely high in protein, fiber and calcium. The flour has a slightly sweet, nutty, earthy flavor which lends itself very well to sweet and baked goodies.

4 servings

  • ¾ cup sorghum flour
  • ¾ cup coconut or almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons hemp or chia seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut (or flaxseed) oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla bean powder (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milkflour

*you can always vary the recipe by adding your favorite flapjack ingredients – blueberries, sliced banana, grated apple & cinnamon …. even unsweetened dark mini chocolate chips for an extra indulgent treat!

**this recipe also works great in a waffle maker!

Serve with fresh fruit and low glycemic coconut or apple nectar – both syrups are naturally low glycemic, very sweet and have a neutral taste.

For those with Type 1 Diabetes – each 4in diameter pancake has approx. 15 carbs (plus additional carbs for syrup and fruit, apple nectar is only 3 carbs per teaspoon). Due to it’s low glycemic and high protein & fiber properties, sorghum flour won’t spike BG even when eating pancakes in the AM. I tend to cover it with three separate boluses, the most insulin being delivered on the third and final bolus when the carbs really start to kick in and effect BG.

Happy Brunching!

T1D Mama, fitness coach, health food lover

@ZellyBFitness


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Kicking that Sugar Habit to the Curb, Grainless Baking and other Healthful Tidbits

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I am ever the skeptic of fad dieting and trends, but I have learned that leading a relatively grain/gluten/refined sugar/dairy free diet really does leave me with a much happier gut and digestive track  and feeling overall more energetic. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy and indulge in the occasional pastry or baguette avec fromage.  However, as good as it tasted going down,the way I feel afterwards really does call into question the reason I ate it in the first place. Limiting these foods also helps maintain a low glycemic and truly beneficial diet for those with autoimmune, hormonal and metabolic conditions (between me and my daughter, we suffer from 3). This way of eating can actually even have healing properties on the digestive system as well. Aside from people with specific dietary restrictions, omitting trigger foods and having an abundance of nuts, fruits and natural fats (avocado, coconut, olive oil…) are nutritious for everyone, and consistent intake of such high quality foods can help prevent future medical issues as well. At a quick glance, eliminating sugar and processed wheat significantly reduces the risk of developing cardio vascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and liver disease and has also been linked to decreasing the risk of developing depression and Alzheimer’s Disease, to name a few.  If only it were as easy as just “eat less and move more” … like all vices and bad habits, to reverse sugar dependency and make the brain WANT to eat less, sugar has to go (nb. I am talking about the processed refined stuff, this does not include natural fruit sugar which is high in fiber and other vitamins and nutrients).

Additionally, adding more nuts into your daily diet is good for heart health and provides healthy fats, calcium, protein and other nutrients that are great for your body. I like to bake using combination of nut flours including almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews and coconuts. Each nut flour requires some ‘getting used to’ as it’s never a 1:1 substitution for traditional wheat and other grain flours, but it’s worth experimenting with as the end results are seriously tasty and naturally sweet. Often baked goodies benefit from a little sweetness and I tend to achieve this using unsweetened fruit purees and coconut sugar, a naturally low glycemic, unrefined sweetener.

I often hear that healthy eating “tastes good but it’s just too expensive to do at home regularly…” It is true that some healthy ingredients are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, eg. one pound of almond flour sets you back about $9.00, vs. a pound of the conventional white stuff is about $0.50. But also keep in mind a pound of carrots costs approximately $1.50 per lb, verses a pound of potato chips costs on average $2.99 per lb, and the cost of convenience food verses homemade requires a separate article altogether. It might seem silly to use some expensive ingredients, but there truly are immeasurable health benefits in quality foods. By choosing to eat healthy foods, we are making an investment into our health and well-being for the long term. Think of it this way, you can pay more now for healthy, nutritious and delicious foods or you can pay a doctor and pharmacist later on if you don’t feed your body well. The better foods we put in our body, the better we feel, the healthier we are, and the less likely we are to become sick and have additional medical related expenses in the future.

Also, I strongly believe that people can afford to pay more for food when budgeted appropriately which includes limiting convenience/prepared foods and eating out, as well as maintaining appropriate portion sizes. You don’t have to shop an upscale supermarkets either, I am a mama on a tight budget whenever I go food shopping. Most supermarkets, if not all, have an abundance of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and alternate gluten free grains that won’t break the bank. Lastly, quantity really is equally as important to the actual foods we put in our bellies. It does take more effort and forward planning, but well-planned and budgeted food shopping should and can include healthy ingredients resulting in a tasty end product you make yourself🙂


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Food Hacks, is this really healthy?

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After a several month blog hiatus studying for my PT Certification exams (yeah I am officially certified!), I am now back to the world of blogging.

I am forever in search of healthy low glycemic food options that are both tasty and live up to their labels, especially for breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Carbohydrates can be low glycemic and they are an absolutely essential and necessary as part of a balanced and healthy diet, but not all carbs are equal. As clichéd as it is, we are what we eat, and why fuel your body with badness when it can be fueled with goodness? Did you know that when you search for ‘healthy cereal’ in certain search engines, the first hit that comes up is Frosted Mini Wheats? We know companies pay for advertising etc to appear at the top of a search, but this seems almost unethical.

Several foods (cereals are notorious for this) boast their healthy qualities, and purchasers are enticed by labels such as ‘super food,’ ‘low glycemic,’ ‘cholesterol lowering,’ ‘trans-fat free,’ ‘natural,’ ‘non-GMO,’ ‘fat burning…’ the list goes on… but on closer examination of the ingredients list, you will often find forms of sugar, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats/oils listed among the top three ingredients. When it comes to any food you purchase, always read the ingredients list, not just the nutritional facts.

The FDA has several rules and regulations regarding the labelling of food, but to say there are gray areas is an understatement. For example, there are little to no rules regarding the use of ‘natural ingredients’ on the cover of a product. A cereal could contain certain ‘natural ingredients’ but also have loads of fat and sugar. Also, if the total fat in a food is less than 0.5grams per serving, and no claims are made about fat, fatty acids, or cholesterol content, trans fat does not even have to be listed on the nutrition facts label. In fact, products can state ‘ZERO TRANS FATS’ on the front in large letters when the product still actually contains Trans Fats (a form of unsaturated fat).

On your next trip to the supermarket, take the time to read the ingredients and if you are looking for genuinely healthy cereals, here is a tip, avoid the breakfast cereal aisle altogether, instead look for the health food aisle. If there are several words you’ve never heard of and/or cannot pronounce listed on the box, you probably should not be consuming it anyway.

PS – Here is a quick shout out to a few cereals that are truly healthy and extremely yummy as a crunchy snack in their own right or as part of a healthy breakfast – PaleoKrunch, Viki’s Granola, Simply Fiber (zero salt or sugar) and Ezekiel – all regulars in my kitchen cupboard … I am not secretly and undercover product pusher I promise!


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Chocolate & Coffee Swiss Roll 

I am thankful for so many things this year, foremost, the health of my family and loved ones….Without getting too mushy and serious though, I am also seriously thankful for stumbling across this recipe from Delicious Magazine mere days before Thanksgiving and making it a last minute substitution as one of the desserts at our table this evening!  

 
It really was the belle of the ball. Totally atypical and a not traditional turkey day sweet, but extremely popular nonetheless. I love me a bit of homemade pumpkin pie as much as any self respecting American (and baked and ate it in abundance of course). However, for those looking for a change or alternative to traditional pies over the holiday season, this one really bangs it out of the park. 
This is very much a grown up dessert with dark chocolate & espresso beans providing the primary flavor profile, but it’s also just sweet enough to appeal to the kiddos as well. 

The light airy flourless egg white chocolate sponge and cool coffee and chocolate cream filling sing with sweet simplicity and delight on the palate. I also substituted sugar with low glycemic coconut sugar. Coming in at about 10 carbs a slice it’s also relatively guilt free (recipe serves 14 in my estimation, not 10 as printed recipe suggests), more carbs and calories for stuffing and pie!
Preparation of this dessert also provided much comic relief to our crowded bustling kitchen this morning. Upon whisking the egg whites into peaks, I played the old ‘flip the bowl’ upside down trick on the kiddos and they loved it… Only to then try and impress my non baking bro-in-law with the same trick to have the egg whites fly all over his face, thus breaking all rules of logic and science.

Wishing everybody a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Zelly B.


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Goodness in Grains

There is all this buzz around grains and related intolerances. Frankly, it’s getting out of control, I cannot seem to walk down any isle in the supermarket without finding several products overtly labelled as gluten free which are gluten free ANYWAY by their nature. Why do peppercorns, fruits, vegetables or bags of mixed nuts need to be labelled as gluten-free?! It’s hardly surprising to me that we have bred (no pun intended) a society of gluten intolerance when stores offer so many ‘gluten-free’ options. It seems society has practically instilled a fear in gluten. Let’s not forget that gluten is the main protein component of wheat, rye and barley and it’s been cultivated for over 10,000 years as a staple in ANY healthy, balanced diet. As recently noted in by NY Times columnist Roger Cohen, it is “safe to say gluten has never had as hard a time as in recent years.” Whether it’s because several gluten related products are laced with toxic chemicals and insecticides remains open for debate, but the fact remains, we seem to have produced a generation of gluten-free eaters.

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This post may be gluten-free, but I most certainly am not and neither do I think it’s a good idea (unless for genuine medical reasons such as celiac disease). I am not a hippy, crunchy type (no judgement there), I like mod-cons & gluten, and like most folks, every once in a while, I indulge in treats. However, I truly cannot sing enough praise about the importance of healthy, balanced eating habits which includes eating unrefined, true grains in their natural form. Not only does this taste better, it makes you feel happy too, a win all around. My genetics have graced upon me the potential and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol & Type 2 Diabetes, just to name a few, as well as a whole host of risks associated with already having three autoimmune conditions (also genetic). To that end, it is in my best interest to stay a lean mean, fit, healthy machine…but you don’t need to have red flags in your gene pool to persuade you to eat healthily. The long term health implications are fairly self-evident in lowering the risk of a host of age related health complications, including, but not limited the aforementioned ones.

Gluten haters may wish to zone out now…natural unrefined grains are diverse in texture, taste and appearance and work well in a variety of dishes including as a hot meal grain substitute and also sprinkled into salads for added crunch and nutrients. Spelt and farro are among my favorite staples for tasty sweet and nutty grains. I also recently discovered Khorasan wheat (aka ‘Kamut’) and I think it may just top farro as my new favorite grain. Khorasan refers to a historical region in modern-day north east Iran. The grain is approximately twice the size of modern-day wheat and is known for its rich nutty flavor. Kamut is significantly higher in protein (about 40% more so than conventional modern day wheat) and contains several minerals including immune booster zinc, compared to modern processed wheat. Leading nutritional studies also repeatedly emphasize that consuming natural unprocessed, unrefined grains with little to no chemical treatment will drastically reduce total cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as lower levels of key pro-inflammatory cytokines. The protein also keeps you fuller for longer and means you can make a healthy and nutritionally balanced meal out of a simple grain dish (much to the dismay of my meat loving husband).

Lightly toast the grains in a hot non-stick pan until slightly golden and toasted, Kamut will actually pop almost like popcorn, be careful to put a metal mesh fry topper on the pan or you will have popped Kamut all over your kitchen. Once lightly toasted, add liquid and cook as instructions suggest. I like to use stock. Once the grains are just cooked through (they will be firm, nutty and slightly chewy and crunchy), drizzle a small amount of EVOO and freshly cracked S&P to taste. Sprinkle with some toasted nuts and seeds to added crunch and texture and mix with a salad. Kamut served here with a salad made of red cabbage, Brussel sprouts, radish, kale, apple, toasted mixed seeds & avocado with a poppy seed dressing.

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