Katherine’s Crepe-Style Swedish Waffles with Succulent Strawberries

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This week’s strawberries were especially sweet and succulent. I experienced a very decadent way of enjoying them while relaxing during a recent respite in the Pennsylvania countryside, with my friend, Anna: Smothering heart-shaped Swedish waffles. These aren’t ordinary waffles; they’re crepe-thin, crispy, buttery, and simply divine. Traditionally served on “Waffle Day,” in Sweden, celebrating “Our Lady’s Day,” on March 25th, 9 months before Christmas (also known as the Christian holiday of “Annunciation”). Enjoy…

Katherine & Anna’s Scrumptious and Luxurious Swedish Waffles with Strawberries

Serves… You decide the number!

3 eggs
1 dl (3.4 ounces) Flour
6 dl (2.4 cups) Whole Milk (or 1% Milk)
1/4 cup melted, cooled Butter (or Canola Oil or Walnut Oil for a nutty flavor)
Pinch of Salt, Sugar, or Vanilla (optional)

Topping:
1/2 cup (or more) Plain Yogurt or Whipped Cream
1 cup (or more) Strawberries
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup
A sprinkling of chopped Roasted Nuts (optional)
1 sprig of fresh Mint (optional)

Whisk the ingredients together in a pitcher. Grease the waffle iron with butter or oil for the first waffle. Since butter (or oil) is in the recipe, the waffle iron will not need to be greased again.

Pour a small amount of the mixture into the Euro Cuisine Eco Friendly Heart Shaped Waffle Maker per product instructions. When golden brown, carefully lift the waffle and place in the center of your plate (smother in butter if you’re being especially care-free and decadent). Place the yogurt, berries and roasted chopped nuts, if you wish, on the waffle. Drizzle maple syrup on top. Finish with a sprig of mint.

NOTE: Using butter and whole milk are occasional treats, I recommend using them sparingly. When Anna and I prepared them last weekend, we used 2% milk and butter in the recipe. I topped my waffle with Chobani nonfat plain yogurt with a little maple syrup drizzled on top. Anna used whipped cream!

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Strawberry and Rhubarb Soup

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbe (photo by Alison Eaves)

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbe (photo by Alison Eaves)

At your farmers market, you’ll find strawberries and rhubarb picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition. You’re also helping save the environment  when you buy at a local farmers market.

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbe
(Strawberry and Rhubarb Soup)

excerpted from Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tablespoons Canola Oil
3 stalks Rhubarb, pealed and cut into 1.4 inch chunks
2 cups hulled and sliced fresh Strawberries
4 ounces fresh Orange Juice
1/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Nonfat or Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
4 fresh Mint Leaves

Procedure:

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Use a pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add the rhubarb and saute about a minute. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the strawberries, orange juice, sugar and 1/2 cup of the yogurt and blend with an immersible hand blender (I like the Cuisinart Smart Stick). Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or until it is well chilled.

Presentation:

Pour the soup into four small chilled bowls. Place a 1 Tablespoon dollop of yogurt and a fresh mint leaf on each bowl.

Did you know that there are 200 seeds on each strawberry?

Strawberries are members of the Rose family and there are over 600 different varieties. Choose freshly picked, ripe berries, as they will be the tastiest and will have the most nutrients. “Look for berries fully formed, bright red, without bruising or soft spots and with fresh-looking green caps,” says Janie Hibler in “The Berry Bible.”

Strawberries are considered a “superfood.” They have one of the highest antioxidant and nutrient contents of all foods, yet they are low in calories, so you can eat them in unlimited quantities. In fact, for your health, the more the better! “A serving of eight strawberries contains more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries are also rich in folate, potassium, and fiber. They’re especially high in cancer- and heart-disease-fighting phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) called flavonoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechin, and kaempferol.

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbeis adapted from “The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking” (Rodale Press, 1998), one of my favorite cookbooks, which I highly recommend!

For more of my fantastic spring recipes…

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Springtime Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

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Strawberries are finally here! The Farmers Markets are brimming with them. The first fruit of spring, strawberries signify new beginnings and everything that’s good. Of course, the easiest way to eat them is right off the vine. But you can use them creatively in recipes  – not only in desserts, but in savories, too. The following salad, from my good friend Mike Gardner, can be served as a side dish or a main course.
Mike Gardner’s Springtime Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad
This is a great salad for a hot day.  Let the strawberries sit long enough to absorb the balsamic vinegar flavor while you take time to catch up with friends and enjoy the summer day.
Ingredients
For the strawberries:
1 pint of ripe strawberries, if they are large, cut them in half
1/2-3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
For the salad:
Baby spinach
Baby arugula
Goat cheese crumbles
1 small red onion, sliced
1 ounce of toasted almonds
For the dressing:
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Prepare the strawberries by placing them into a bowl and add the vinegar.  Let them sit for a while to absorb the flavor of the vinegar- an hour or better.  This can be done at room temperature.
In a separate bowl. make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Slowly stream in the olive oil, tasting for flavor balance.  If necessary, add additional mustard to taste.
When ready to serve, combine equal parts of baby spinach and arugula.  Add in the sliced red onion, and lightly toss the salad with a small amount of dressing, adding more as necessary slowly dressing the salad as to not drench it all at once.  Add the goat cheese crumbles and almonds.  Lastly, plate the salad onto a chilled serving plate.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the strawberries from the vinegar and place them on top of the greens.  Finally, top with fresh ground pepper and serve.

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Four Tips for Choosing the RIGHT Olive Oil

Photo from Georgetown Olive Oil Co.

Photo from Georgetown Olive Oil Co.

My clients regularly ask me how important using olive oil is. Of course, we have all heard about olive oil’s health benefits. But there is still understandable confusion. I’m regularly asked, “How does olive oil compare to other oils? How does it work? What kind of olive oil is best? How much should I use?” My answer: It depends…

These are important questions as more and more science is finding that the nutrients in olive oil, called “polyphenols,” are responsible for its superior health benefits. Increased longevity, reductions in cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and various cancers, are among the benefits, confirmed a 2015 review of studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition. But olive oils can vary significantly in their polyphenol content. There are four times more phenolic compounds in high quality extra virgin olive oil versus low quality or refined olive oil – 232 mg vs 62 mg per kilogram of oil – so it is important you choose the right olive oil.

“99 percent of olive oil’s health benefits are related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” said Nasir Malik, NIH Scientist.  “And without the polyphenols, you might as well use the less expensive canola oil.”

Surprisingly, when tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, polyphenols were low in most commercially available olive oils. They also didn’t live up to international quality standards defining extra virgin olive oil. These standards require an acidic pH, necessary to protect the nutrients. And the olive oils’ pH had degraded – even in the highest end gourmet shops – according to studies conducted at the University of California at Davis Olive Center.

That’s because olive oil’s polyphenol content diminishes, and its acidic pH degrades over time, as days, weeks, and months go by after harvest. Other factors play a role, too: the harvesting methods, the age of the trees, the ripeness of the olives, the processing, and the storage. Since time, heat, and light affect polyphenol content, choose olive oil that:

  • Is no more than one year old (look for the harvest date on the label),
  • Is in an air-tight, dark glass, or tin container,
  • Is stored in a cool environment, and
  • Smells and tastes like olives, which could be fruity, grassy, or peppery.

Is olive oil better for your health than other oils? The answer is yes, according to a new study in Nutrition & Diabetes. For one, “The risk of type 2 diabetes reduced by 13% with increasing intake of olive oil up to 15 to 20 grams per day (3 to 4 teaspoons),” according to the study.  When refined olive oil, or other oils, were compared, fresh extra virgin olive oil was more beneficial for the prevention and management of diabetes. It was associated with lower fasting blood glucose, and Hemoglobin A1C, a three-month average of blood glucose and an important marker for diabetic complications.

Other studies have found high polyphenol olive oil improves health in many ways:

  • Increasing levels of good cholesterol (which helps clear artery-clogging fat from the bloodstream),
  • Improving artery wall health and functioning (important for healthy blood pressure, blood flow, reducing blood clots, and the risk of cardiovascular disease), and
  • Reducing oxidation and inflammation processes involved in many diseases from infections to cancer.

To take full advantage of your olive oil’s flavor and health benefits, save your recently harvested, high quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on vegetables, salads, or anything! When cooking with high heat, i.e., stir frying, use canola oil or nut oils instead, as they can be less expensive, and have higher smoking points so can tolerate higher temperatures without burning.

My favorite vinaigrette: Mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 or 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. The proportion of olive oil to lemon juice depends on how tart you like your vinaigrette. You can also add a smidge of mustard or herbs. Serve!

One shop in Georgetown which consistently sells high quality olive oils is Georgetown Olive Oil company. It is locally owned and operated at 1524 Wisconsin Avenue. The shop displays rare-to-find information, such as the oils’ date of harvest, provenance, and detailed descriptions. And you can taste any of the oils at any time. I highly recommend this cozy and friendly specialty shop where they clearly understand what makes a great olive oil!

For more detailed information on olive oil, read my Washington Post article: “Most Olive Oil is not as Healthful as You Think” 

Georgetown Olive Oil's Varietals EVOO-2016 CRUSH (olive oil color is determined by the olive from which it is made)

Georgetown Olive Oil’s Varietals EVOO-2016 CRUSH (olive oil color is determined by the olive from which it is made)

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My Favorite Asparagus Recipes

Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon prepared and photographed by Mark Indre

Spring has always seemed more like the new year to me than January first. Perhaps my inspiration comes from longer, warmer, sunlit days, delicate vegetables and fruits, like asparagus and strawberries, finally popping up, flowers blooming everywhere. Neighbors begin venturing out of winter hibernation with their first happy greetings of the year, with sounds of their children playing in the street. Celebrations are occurring all over the city showing off our beauty and splendor to the tourists. In fact, I think I’ll make my New Year’s Resolution today! And it’ll be easy – preparing batches of veggie salads – or soups, at least weekly, to help me and my friends shed some of our winter “padding.” Making delicious veggies your main course at dinners (lunches, too) helps manage your weight easily. Asparagus is one of my major harbingers of spring. Here I’d like to share some of my favorite asparagus recipes excerpted from my book, Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook In Season!, where you’ll find dozens of other seasonal recipes:

Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette

Salad of New Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony Garlic Herb Mayonnaise

Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

Asparagus Salad in a Vietnamese-Style Dressing

Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Chef Janis McLean’s Asparagus Frittata

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Fresh Kale and Summer Peach Salad with Toasted Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale Peach Salad - bestThe local peaches at this year’s farmers’ markets are exceptional: sweet, juicy, flavorful. This recipe is a perfect way to feature them at any gathering. And it’s always a favorite! Excerpted from my book: Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!

Serves 6

 Vinaigrette:
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Salad Ingredients:
6 Handfuls of fresh Kale (or other greens), washed, tough stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 Cups Fresh Sliced Summer Peaches and/or any seasonal Berries
2 Ounces toasted slivered Almonds
½ Sweet Onion, peeled and sliced

In a large bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk together. Add the kale, onion, almonds, and peaches and toss together. Serve immediately.

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A Creamy Peach & Ginger Surprise

Peaches & Cream

Peaches & Cream

Fresh, juicy peaches are in season and I have a new peach recipe you’ll love. Surprise: It’s made with Greek Yogurt (though it tastes like cream). Try it and your taste buds will zing! This amazing recipe was developed by the CHOBANI Company’s French-trained chefs, and I got a chance to watch a demonstration with a tasting. This is a lovely dessert containing all the health benefits of yogurt and peaches! Your family and guests will be delighted!

CHOBANI

Peach + Ginger

Yields four, 4 oz servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tsp. candied ginger, small dice 4 tbsp. toasted almonds, sliced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, picked
2 tbsp. honey
1 cup Peach and Ginger Compote

PEACH AND GINGER COMPOTE INGREDIENTS

4 yellow peaches, peeled, cored, small dice
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

METHOD

  1. Cook peaches, ginger, lemon juice, and sugar for 20 minutes or until tender. Let cool completely.
  2. Scoop 1/2 cup of yogurt into each of 4 bowls. Top each bowl of yogurt with 1/4 cup peach
    and ginger compote, 1/2 tsp candied ginger, 1 tbsp toasted almonds and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp of honey. Garnish with thyme.110 calories per serving, 0 Fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 8 grams protein

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Prenatal Fruit Intake Boosts Cognition in Infants + Springtime Strawberry Salad

Photo by Swedish Embassy

Photo by Swedish Embassy

Some of the most interesting nutrition studies I’ve read have to do with the prenatal diet and subsequent effects in children. The subject is vast and the outcomes amazing. Did you know that when pregnant moms drink high amounts of carrot juice during pregnancy, their toddlers are more likely to choose carrots over other vegetables? Or, that the more varied a pregnant mom’s diet, the more her child will choose and enjoy a wider variety of foods? All proven by science!

So it’s no surprise that a new study published in The Lancet found that prenatal fruit consumption is correlated with superior cognition in the mothers’ one-year-old infants – though there was no effect if fruit was only fed to the child during the year after birth. So, what may explain this finding?

Evolution may explain, in part, this advantage of fruit-eating. During the neolithic (stone age) period about 12,000 years ago and for thousands of years thereafter, we subsisted mainly on fruits and vegetables; which comprised about 65% of our calories, according to S. Boyd Eaton, from the department of Anthropology at Emory University in an interview and in his essay, “Evolution, Diet and Health.” That may mean that brain development is still dependent on the same high level of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other positive nutrients that kind of diet would provide. And this could help explain why, even today, a high fruit diet is correlated with so many positive health benefits: reduced incidence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, eye disease, and other conditions. Keep in mind, too, that the health-giving Mediterranean Diet had 12 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and it’s known as one of the healthiest diets on the planet.

Fruit is so easy to eat every day, and the local fruit season is just beginning to get exciting. I was most fortunate to receive one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever eaten this weekend when my friend and neighbor, Mike Gardner, brought me his salad:

Mike Gardner’s Springtime Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad
This is a great salad for a hot day.  Let the strawberries sit long enough to absorb the balsamic vinegar flavor while you take time to catch up with friends and enjoy the summer day.
Ingredients
For the strawberries:
1 pint of ripe strawberries, if they are large, cut them in half
1/2-3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
For the salad:
Baby spinach
Baby arugula
Goat cheese crumbles
1 small red onion, sliced
For the dressing:
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Prepare the strawberries by placing them into a bowl and add the vinegar.  Let them sit for a while to absorb the flavor of the vinegar- an hour or better.  This can be done at room temperature.
In a separate bowl. make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Slowly stream in the olive oil, tasting for flavor balance.  If necessary, add additional mustard to taste.
When ready to serve, combine equal parts of baby spinach and arugula.  Add in the sliced red onion, and lightly toss the salad with a small amount of dressing, adding more as necessary slowly dressing the salad as to not drench it all at once.  Add the goat cheese crumbles.  Lastly, plate the salad onto a chilled serving plate.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the strawberries from the vinegar and place them on top of the greens.  Finally, top with fresh ground pepper and serve.

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Kale! Kale! Everywhere!

Leafy greens are everywhere this time of year! (photo by wikipedia.org)

Leafy greens are everywhere this time of year! (photo by wikipedia.org)

Kale and Spinach Gratin with Garlic, Rosemary, and Thyme
(excerpted from Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes)

Serves 6

1 pound Kale, cleaned and stems removed
2 pounds Spinach, cleaned and stems removed
1 Tablespoon Olive or Canola Oil
1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dry)
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves, chopped (or ½ tsp dry)
1 recipe Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce (see recipe)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the Kale and Spinach and remove the tough stems. Chop roughly. Heat the oil in a large iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just begins to color. Add the greens, the rosemary, and thyme to the pan, and let cook a couple of more minutes while stirring until the greens are wilted.

Stir the Bechamel sauce into the greens. Add salt and pepper. Pour into an oiled 2-quart soufflé or heat resistant glass dish and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is just beginning to brown. 

Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce

This is a classic French white sauce, but using healthy olive oil instead of butter.

Makes 2.5 cups

3 Cups 1% Milk
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Flour
Salt and Ground Pepper to taste
Pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)

Simmer the milk in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add a bit of flour, and when it sizzles, add the rest. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk over medium heat. Do not brown. Whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the heat, stirring until the sauce thickens. Reduce to low making sure it does not burn. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Deep Green Leafy Vegetables have the highest antioxidant content of all vegetables. High in fiber, they are rich in minerals, B-vitamins, beta-carotene, and lutein, a compound which may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of preventable blindness) and other eye diseases such as cataracts. Absorption of carotenoids, such as lutein, in your body is increased by cooking and by the presence of fat (so cook in a little healthy olive or canola oil!).

 

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Eat Soup and Lose Weight!

Cauliflower Soup

Soup. Nothing warms the body or soul like it. And studies show, eating it helps you lose weight. My clients who make batches of soup this time of year do – as do I. That’s great news because during this time of year, we all crave hearty, satisfying dishes, which are almost always fattening –  with most soup being the exception…

Classic studies have found that as long as the volume of the food is high, even if the volume is just water with no added calories, people can feel full with fewer calories. In one study, researchers varied the amount of water in a food eaten as a first course to study this effect. Subjects were fed one of three contitions: either chicken rice casserole, chicken rice casserole served with a glass of water or chicken rice soup. The subjects who ate the soup consumed 26 percent fewer calories at the main course compared to the other conditions.

In another study, the researchers served salads of various sizes and calorie levels before a main course to determine the effect on the calorie intake of the whole meal. They found that people consumed the fewest overall calories—100 calories fewer—when they were served the largest, lowest-calorie salad before a meal. Vegetables are foods that have a naturally high water content. The higher a food’s water content, the higher its volume, but the lower its calorie density.

Researchers surmise that a large food volume caused by water or air, even without added calories, influences satiety in a variety of ways. When the water is incorporated into the food (as opposed to just a glass of water), it causes stomach stretching and slows stomach emptying, stimulating the nerves and hormones that signal feelings of fullness. Also, visually seeing a large volume of food can increase your ability to feel satisfied by it. Finally, the larger a meal and the longer a meal goes on, studies show, your satisfaction declines and you lose interest in completing it. Water is the component in food which has the largest influence on how much you eat. These studies show eating a high-water-content, low-calorie first course enhances satiety and reduces calorie intake at the next course. This effect persists over time.

One of my favorites found in my new book: “Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!” is featured in the photo above, Cauliflower Vichyssoise…

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