Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday- A Healthy Choice

The “Meatless Monday” campaign has received a lot of recognition lately and it’s a great way to make changes slowly to your diet: start by planning a meatless meal once a week.

The 2011 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diets and move toward a plant-based diet. Although some people have always avoided animal products, the many benefits of a vegetarian diet have become more apparent in recent years as studies have shown that diets high in total fat and saturated fat increase the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many Americans are beginning to follow a “flexitarian diet” based on plant foods, but also including meat, dairy, poultry, eggs and fish. 

Here's an easy recipe that is one of my favorites for "Meatless Mondays".

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup 

Rinsing the beans thoroughly removes a significant amount of sodium. Using low sodium chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth also reduces sodium. For a second meal, I like to serve the soup over rice instead of adding the sherry but I still garnish with sour cream and cilantro. This soup also freezes well but the spiciness intensifies. Chile peppers en adobo keep well in the refrigerator and can be added to meats and stews for a smoky heat.

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 (15 3/4 ounces) cans vegetable broth

2 (15 ounces) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14 ounces) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 chipotle pepper en adobo, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup dry sherry, if desired

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

 Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds stirring constantly.

Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, chile and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Remove about 2 cups of the soup. Using an immersion blender or blender puree the remaining soup. Add the reserved soup to the puree. Stir in a little water if the soup is too thick.

Stir 1 tablespoon sherry into each serving. Garnish each with sour cream and cilantro.

 Tip: Remove the seeds from the chipotle chile to reduce the heat if desired.  Or add another pepper if you like it smokin’ hot.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apples and Pears- a perfect autumn pair!

There's a good reason apples and pears ripen together in the fall. Both are sturdy fruits that suit the season of crisps and cobblers. Crisps, cobblers and crumbles belong in a category called American fruit desserts. This designation evolved from colonial days where the housewife created desserts from what was available at the time- she "cobbled" fruits and toppings as seasonal treats.

Choose apples that are good for baking such as honeycrisp (the new national favorite developed at the University of MN)), gala, harelson or braeburn. Granny Smith is a tart apple that holds its shape well when baked, but is very juicy so it is better in crisps than in cakes.

My favorite pear is the Anjou which arrives late in October or early November. Bartletts are the first available but I find their texture too soft. Allow pears to ripen at room temperature for a few days. I place them in a paper bag and check each day for ripeness. Press gently on the stem end. It should yield a little. Because pears ripen from the inside out, soft sides often indicate mushy insides. Bosc pears are also good for cooking.

Combine apples and pears in a cinnamony crisp or try different varieties. It's time for fall baking!

Apple Crisp

Makes 8 servings

                        6     cups peeled sliced apples (6 to 8 medium)

                      1/2 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar

                      1/4 cup all-purpose flour

                      1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or pinch of ground nutmeg

                        1 tablespoon lemon juice

                      1/2     cup caramel sauce


                      1/2           cup old-fashioned oats

                      1/2 cup all-purpose flour

                      1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

                      1/4 cup cold butter, cut-up

                          Vanilla ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle.

Combine apples, dark brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, and lemon juice in large bowl. Stir until fruit is well coated.

Spoon apple mixture into 2-quart casserole or 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Heat caramel sauce slightly and drizzle it over the fruit.


Combine oats, flour, and light brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Crumble over the fruit.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until bubbling all over and apples are fork-tender. Cool slightly and serve with ice cream.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Fruits on KARE 11 Today

I appeared on KARE 11 Today on Monday
morning to promote Scandinavian Classic Baking. Since they had already has some guests doing apple desserts I added the Apple Pear Chutney. It great to have in the fridge! Both recipes are posted with the link below.