Friday, May 25, 2012

Veggie of the Week: Spinach

Spinach originated in Persia, modern-day Iran, and was brought to China and Spain in the 7th and 11th centuries, respectively. It began being cultivated in the United States in the early 1800's and grew in great popularity beginning 1929 with the debut of fictional character Popeye. Still today, many Americans associate the green, leafy vegetable with Popeye.

Spinach is rich in vitamins and nutrients including Vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. Researchers have found that spinach has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents, particularly in the digestive tract, slowing down division of stomach cancer cells. The vegetable has shown evidence of protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer. Spinach also helps decrease the risk of blood vessel-related problems like high blood pressure and builds strong bones. The great amount of vitamin K in spinach helps prevent excessive production of osteoclasts, cells that brake down bones. Although you will not immediately become as strong as Popeye did, your health will be maintained with the consumption of spinach.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad

Recipe courtesy of
Prep Time: 8 min   Cook Time: 5 min   Level: Easy   Serves: 4


  • Coarse salt
  • 1 package fresh mushroom or chicken prosciutto or spinach filled tortellini (recommended: Contadina or Buitoni brands) available on dairy aisle in most markets
  • 1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
  • 1 (15-ounce) can baby artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 red roasted pepper, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, cracked from skin
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the juice of 1 wedge
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a couple of splashes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves, eyeball it
  • Black pepper
  • A handful sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped


Bring 5 or 6 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Salt boiling water and add pasta. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until pasta is just tender and the tortellini are floating like buoys. Drain tortellini, then cool the cooked pasta by spreading them out on a large plate or a cookie sheet in a single layer.
Coarsely chop baby spinach. Combine with artichoke pieces, roasted red pepper and red onion. Chop garlic, then add salt to it and mash it into a paste with the flat of your knife. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar to it. Whisk in oil, thyme and pepper. Add pasta and sun-dried tomatoes to the salad. Dress salad and gently toss. Serve or refrigerate.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Recipe courtesy of

Prep Time: 10 min   Level: Easy   Serves: 4 to 6 servings



  • 1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 5 ounces baby Spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds


For the dressing:
Add 3/4 cup strawberries, white wine vinegar, basil, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

For the salad:
Toss the spinach, cheese, almonds, and remaining 1/4 cup strawberries in a large bowl and lightly drizzle with dressing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Veggie of the Week: Carrots

Nutritional value in carrots:

To present the carrot nutritional facts properly, it is worthwhile to begin with the nutritional value in these wonderful taproots. A carrot, especially the juice of carrots, supplies the human body with plenty of Pro-Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6 (Niacin, Folate). Carrot also contains plentiful magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc, copper, biotin, organic sodium and some other minerals in traces.

Phytonutrients are nature’s miraculous gifts with tremendous healing effects on several diseases afflicting mankind. Carrots are a rich source of these marvelous phytonutrients. The common phytonutrients found in carrots are lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and xanthophylls.

Carrot greens or tops are also edible as mentioned earlier. It is a rich source of protein and potassium, two very vital nutrients needed for the proper functioning of the organs of our body.

How can the nutrients in carrot benefit your health?

Carrot benefits our health in the following ways:

  • Carrot strengthens your immune system by triggering the production of white blood cells.Thus your body can fight back infections in a better way.
  • Carrot easily fixes the problem of constipation. You need to combine 5 parts of carrot juice and 1 part spinach juice and drink daily to get rid of constipation.
  • Carrot has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore it is very effective for people suffering from gout, rheumatism, arthritis and other inflammation forms.
  • The phyto-nutrients in carrot keep your optic system healthy. It will protect your eyes against cataracts, muscular degeneration and astigmatism.
  • Carrots are rich in pectin which can keep cholesterol levels under check.
  • Carrot eases nasal congestion and sinusitis by easily draining out mucus. It also clears your throat and ear of mucus and phlegm.
  • Carrot contains organic alkaline components that check blood sugar and blood acid imbalances.
  • Carrot helps in blood-building because carrot molecules replicate hemoglobin molecules.
  • Carrot juice easily disperses arterial plaque and thus lowers the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
  • Carrot has great cleansing power. It prevents acne break-outs by eliminating the toxins from your system.
  • The anti-oxidants in carrot promote respiratory health and check asthmatic tendencies.
  • New research discloses that eating 1 carrot per day significantly lowers the risk of cancers.
  • Carrot can treat diarrhea conditions effectively.
  • Carrot enhances the functioning of the adrenal glands
  • Carrot contains a nutrient called potash succinate. This nutrient is potent enough to check high blood pressure or hypertension.
  • Intake of carrot replenishes starved cells with essential nutrients. This prevents the formation of ulcers
  • The vitamins loaded carrot juice nourishes your skin thoroughly. It keeps away dark spots, blemishes from your skin, checks problems like psoriasis, dry skin.
  • Carrot juice is diuretic in nature. It prevents water retention by flushing out excess fluids from one’s body.
  • Lactating mothers should take ample carrot juice because it improves the quantity and quality of breast milk
  • Intake of carrot juice during the advanced months of pregnancy safeguards the baby from the attack of jaundice.
  • Carrot juice triggers menstrual flow and prevents menstrual cramps.
  • Carrot juice also effectively deals with infertility and low libido (sex drive) problems in both men and women.
  • Carrot juice acts like an energy tonic. It will brush aside stress and both physical & mental fatigue

Copper Pennies


  • 2 pounds carrots
  • Sweet and Sour Carrots or Copper Pennies1 can tomato soup                                         
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced


Dice carrots then cook in boiling water until tender yet crisp. Drain and allow to cool. Add all other ingredients and cook till slightly tender.

Prosciutto and Carrot Bundles

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 0
Level: Easy
Serves: 1 serving


  • 2 carrots, shredded, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 4 whole fresh basil leaves


 In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Lay out the 4 slices of prosciutto. Top each with 1/4 of the carrot mixture. Place a basil leaf on top of each and roll the prosciutto up and around the basil and carrots. Secure the bundles with toothpicks and serve.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Veggie of the Week: Apples

Apples are one of the planet’s most popular fruits, but not everyone knows about the history and benefits of this delicious and refreshing fruit.

Apples originated from Western Asia and after being grown in Europe, were brought by colonists to North America. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, growing in many countries around the world. And for good reason, too.

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C and are low in calories. Both soluble and insoluble fiber is found in apples helping to prevent cholesterol build up and regulate bowel movements. Much of the vitamin C is just underneath the skin, so make sure you think twice about peeling an apple. Research suggests that apples can help prevent certain types of cancer and help with heart disease and weight loss.

With these nutritional benefits and inexpensive cost, who wouldn’t want to eat an apple a day?

Apple Cranberry Phyllo Turnovers

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 8 servings (serving size 1 turnover)


  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 ladyfinger cookies, crushed, divided
  • Cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large nonstick pan cook the apples, cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg over medium heat stirring occasionally until the fruit is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the juices in the pan thicken. Set aside to cool.

Lay a sheet of phyllo onto a large cutting board and brush the dough with oil. Top with a second sheet and brush with oil. Sprinkle half the crushed cookies on top. Add another sheet of phyllo and brush with oil. Cut the phyllo into 4 long pieces. Put a small mound of the apple mixture about 1-inch from the bottom of 1 section and fold the phyllo over the mixture into a triangle-shaped pocket. Continue to fold to maintain the triangle shape so a turnover is formed. Repeat with the other 3 sections. Repeat the whole process again with 3 more sheets of phyllo so that you wind up with 8 turnovers. Be sure to reserve a little oil to brush the top of each turnover.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place the turnovers on the sheet, brush the tops with the remaining oil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm.

Spiced Waldorf Salad


  • 2 cups coarsely chopped apples, about 2 medium apples
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • dash allspice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


To make Waldorf salad, place chopped apple, celery and walnuts in a bowl. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, allspice and lemon juice. Toss mayonnaise mixture with apple mixture. Serve waldorf salad over salad greens if desired. Waldorf salad serves 4 to 6.