Tag Archives: Nutrition

Keeping Score: Chickpea & Bread Soup

The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines were released this past week.  In the spirit of mixing business with pleasure, I used its Key Recommendations to see how this recipe for Chickpea & Bread Soup scores nutritionally:

  • Recommendation: Use oils to replace solid fats where possible (in order to increase one’s intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce heart disease risk). I used a saturated, i.e. solid, fat to saute my vegetables (butter).  -1 point.
  • Recommendation: Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages. Okay, so Muenster cheese isn’t the leanest choice in the dairy aisle.  -1 point
  • Recommendation: Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The star of this dish, chickpeas, are full of protein, folate and fiber.   +1 point
  • Recommendation: Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains. Fiber-rich whole grain bread sops up the vegetable broth and creates contrasting texture to the crunchy chickpeas. +1 point
  • Recommendation: Increase vegetable and fruit intake. As a legume, chickpeas are technically a vegetable.  Onions add flavor. +1 point
  • Recommendation: Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. I’m hitting these nutrients with the cheese, the bread, and the chickpeas.  +1 point

So it looks like I tipped the nutritional scale in my favor, striking a balance between tasty yet wholesome.  But shouldn’t I get points for buying local and ensuring the quality and treatment of ingredients?  The butter is from Maplehofe Dairy, where happy, pastured cows not subjected to hormones or antibiotics live.  Pastured cows have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) a beneficial fatty-acid(For more information on the locally acquired ingredients, please click on the ingredient hyperlinks, below.)

The Dietary Guidelines are all about balance, enjoying your food, but eating less of it.  A healthy lifestyle is all about give and take, just make sure you don’t take too much, and too often.  🙂

(For interesting commentary on the new Guidelines, check out Marion Nestle’s blog, the New York Times article, and/or the Huffington Post.)

Chickpea & Bread Soup

Adapted from Bitchin’ Camaro blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chickpeas (or one 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and well rinsed), soaked overnight
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups whole grain bread, cubed into small pieces
  • 2 – 3 oz. shredded cheese (I used Muenster cheese, but use your melted favorite. Or, omit all together.)

Directions:

  1. Set a medium heavy pot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp. of butter or olive oil.  Saute the onions for 10 minutes, or until they’re soft and almost brown. Remove the onions to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot, then the chickpeas. Toast the chickpeas until they’re golden on all sides, about 20 minutes. Resist the urge to stir them too often, or they won’t toast well. You should hear the chickpeas popping in the heat. Give them a good stir occasionally to make sure they’re not sticking, but don’t worry too much if they do.
  3. Once your chickpeas are golden and toasted, add the stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape any chickpea residue from the bottom of the pot.  Add the onions back into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the bread.
  4. Ladle the soup into oven-safe dishes or small pots. Sprinkle each one with cheese and place them under your oven’s broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned. Remove carefully and serve immediately.

(You may need to add more stock depending on your preference for the thickness of the soup.)

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Image is Everything: Celeriac Gratin

Growing up, grilled cheese sandwiches meant orange-rimmed, melted slices of Muenster cheese hugged tightly between two slices of buttered white bread.  This comfort food classic is a childhood favorite and cemented Muenster as my cheese of choice.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find Muenster cheese at a local farmer’s market or though the Philadelphia Winter Harvest buying club.  What I have found is celeriac, or celery root, a funky root vegetable with little physical resemblance to the familiar and graceful celery stalk.  But beauty is only skin-deep, and like the creepy kohlrabi that I experimented with last winter, it’s uses are plentiful and its flavor mild, warm, comforting – perfect for cold, snowy weather, no stranger to the Philadelphia region this month.

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Bean in the New Year: Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

With 2011 mere hours away, food preparation often includes black-eyed peas hoping for good luck throughout the year.  I’ve already got some soaking for tomorrow’s meal.

Consider this Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon recipe from The Kitchn a practice run.  Granted, butter beans are not peas, and peas are not beans, but they are both classified as legumes, or vegetables that produce pods which split open along a seam to reveal a row of seeds.  Despite growing up on Mom’s lentil soup at least twice a month, I feel I don’t eat beans and peas often enough these days; specifically the dried type, which require overnight soaking, an extra (albeit very easy) step that undoubtedly prevents myself and others from frequent preparation.  I actually have to think ahead? Continue reading

From Scratch: No-Knead Bread

Bread gets a bad rap.  Unfairly so.

Fad diets proclaim the dangers of carbohydrates, banishing the bread basket to the corner to sulk.  But the truth is, carbohydrates provide the body with the fuel it needs for normal organ function and physical activity.  Of course, quantity and quality deserve consideration; some kinds of carbohydrates are far better than others.  Grains intact from foods such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole oats, and lesser known gems such as quinoa and bulgur, contain B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber to help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Continue reading