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Saturday, 16 April 2016
Delicious Cruciferous Vegetables
Topic: Nutrition and food safety
Rediscover Healthy Cruciferous Vegetables
A new Spring has arrived and thanks to our excellent distribution of fresh vegetables around the country, we are already able to find a bounty of fresh broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower in our groceries. I even came across a great sale on gorgeous cauliflower heads. These early "cruciferous" vegetables have several health benefits. Their attributes include: high fiber for digestive support, low carbohydrate content, detoxifying and antioxidant properties which may contribute to the interest in possible anticancer effects and nutritional support with high amounts of vitamins C, K, folate, beta-carotene and trace minerals. They also are relatively high in protein. Cruciferous vegetables are a "pharmafood." But there are also some caveats, they contain enzymes that may interfere with iodine uptake (not a problem if you are using iodine supplemented salt). And,  the de-toxifying properties are good for helping to rid your body of toxins, like cancer causing aflatoxins that you don't want, but not good for some prescription drugs which may also become less bioavailable. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have a question about your prescription drugs. 
So while we would like to eat  more vegetables and these are among the best choices, unfortunately, they are not the most exciting vegetables to eat. Who doesn't get a bit tired of seeing broccoli and cauliflower florets on a tray with vegetable dip?  Even kale chips are getting old. Broccoli and cheese or Hollandaise sauce is still an OK go-to. But it is time to think a bit out of the box. 
Here are two suggestions to stir your own creativity:

Brussels sprouts and Cannellini Beans seasoned with Olive oil and lemon juice and Italian herb blend

Rough cut Brussel Sprouts- about 2 cups when cut up.Steam Brussel sprouts until just crisp-tender or you can boil in water and then drain. Don't let them get mushy.

In a large bowl, add cooked Brussel sprouts and 1 can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans.

Liberally sprinkle with dried Italian herb blend. Salt and ground pepper to taste.

Toss with lemon juice and olive oil.

Serve hot, room temperature, or refrigerate and use as a side salad. 



Unique Mashed Cauliflower
It looks like a yummy bowl of polenta or grits and cheese. doesn't it? I would suggest you can use this where you might have considered either one of those side dishes. Wouldn't some short ribs look nice tucked into the side of that cauliflower in a large dinner bowl? Or some grilled chicken thighs?  Yet, this is so delicious, a bowl can make its own meal--who says you can't eat vegetables for breakfast?
Here's how I made this quick dish:
Clean and cut up 1 large head of Cauliflower.
Boil pieces in water until tender.
Drain thoroughly and mash the cauliflower.
Add 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup which has been diluted with 1 can of water. (You can also try this with cram of celery or other).
Heat through.
Add extra seasonings: salt, ground pepper, thyme, onion powder and garlic powder to taste.
Add 4oz. shredded cheddar (optional, but it is in the above picture.)
Serve as a side or alone. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Honestly. this is so good you will get your elderly mother to eat her vegetables! 

Posted by Karen at 10:37 CDT
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Sunday, 6 March 2016
Red Meat is Good for You!!!
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Want a Healthy Diet? Don't give up on RED MEAT!

Sometimes the best intentioned people make mistakes. And if they have the power to influence huge numbers, those mistakes can affect entire populations. If others simply repeat the misinformation without considering the evidence for themselves, they can erroneously affect the health and well-being of others, something that's in conflict with what they intend.

Various health advisors have instructed you to avoid red meat--beef and lamb--and eggs, stating changing your diet this way will make you healthier and lower your cholesterol, so people started to eat more fruits and vegetables and avoid eggs and red meat and choose chicken. How many times have you heard it said that skinless poultry is the way to go to lose weight and drop your cholesterol levels? This advice has been going on for years and for the last decade especially, our political leaders have directly influenced the diet of Americans by actively promoting more fruit and vegetable and grain intake, even approving multiple, genetically modified foods in order to assure the market is saturated with these commodoties.

Their claim? “They're healthier.” But how are fruits and vegetables and skinless poultry deemed to be healthier? They are promoted as such because they have less saturated fat than red meat and are generally lower in calories by weight.

But the excess carbohydrates in fruits and grains have made us an obese population with diabetes, and ironically high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The response from the pundits is to double-down and blame the entire population for over-eating and not exercising . It's true we DO take is excess calories and we lead sedentary lifestyles, but the current popularly promoted diet high in fruits, vegetables, and grains isn't sufficient to make us healthy.

What are you MISSING if you stick to a diet without red meat (beef and lamb)? 

You are missing the best natural sources of B vitamins, in particular B12, something that is NOT naturally provided in fruits and vegetables or grains.

Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient for red blood cells, nerve cells and DNA in all cells. So, deficiencies of Vitamin B12 can cause anemia, peripheral neuropathies, and dementia, but it's often suspected to be involved in multiple neuropsychiatric conditions because it's needed for cell repair and regeneration. While you don't need a lot of B12 daily to avoid these consequences, a stricly vegetarian diet is clearly deficient. A vegan diet absolutely must be supplemented.

And if your only meat source is poultry—guess whatPOULTRY is a very poor source of B12.

As we age, absorption of vitamins taken orally is further diminished. Also absoprtion of B12 is limited by many commonly used drugs (like metformin and all antacids and proton pump inhibitors).

Red meat--beef and lamb--is the best natural dietary source of B12 (and other vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, B6, vitamin D). Fish is also a good source of B12, but we are often limited in our intake of fish by access and mercury levels. Milk and eggs also contain B12, though to a lesser amount.

It would be great if people felt comfortable eating red meat. So, back to the original reason people advised against red meat: saturated fat. You may want to further eliminate saturated fats and your doctor may be advising it for your personal medical conditions. And, since you probably know its only the saturated fats that are potentially of health concern, you'd possibly feel more comfortable if you could have red meat without excess saturated fat. 

It's so simple to get rid of excess saturated fat in red meat!

Saturated fat liquifies with heating, then solidifies at room temperature!

I am making an Indian stew with ground lamb today. It's loaded with healthy Indian spices, tomatoes, onions, and lamb.

So, I would like to remove excess saturated fat from the lamb for today's post.

First I browned 2 lbs. of ground lamb. It's grassfed so I am expecting proportionally less, but I want to make the point of trying to remove even more saturated fat.

After cooking the 2 lbs of red meat in a skillet, I drained all liquid into a small pyrex dish.

Saturated fat will quickly separate and harden as the liquids cools down to room temperature. Here's the dish about 45 minutes later.


Then, just take a spoon and lift the edge of the block of saturated fat and discard it. The rest of that beautiful stock, and its liquid unsaturated fats,is going right into the stew pot!



 Please reconsider your diet and learn a simple technique to remove excess saturated fat from red meat, without sacrificing all the essential B vitamins and Vitamin D you would lose if you eliminate red meat from your diet! (And if you don't include red meat in your diet, you better be taking a good source of these vitamins—AND please be sure to consult your doctor if you might have a dietary or an absoprtion problem. They're called “vitamins” because they are “vital”).



Posted by Karen at 13:37 CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2016 19:34 CST
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Friday, 5 February 2016
Turkey Burrito Casserole-low carb
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

What a good idea!--A lower carb Turkey Burrito Casserole!-4 servings


1 lb ground turkey

1 pkg  Taco seasoning mix

1 can of Rotello diced tomatoes with green chilis

4 low carb flour tortillas

6 oz shredded Mexican blend cheese

1 can refried beans, rinsed and drained 

Toppings: tomato salsa, Greek yogurt, chopped black olives


Prep a casseole dish with a little oil

Brown and throughly cook ground turkey. Poutry need to be cooked to 165 degrees remember, so use a high heat and get it browned. Add taco seasoning dry mix and water as directed on package. Add diced tomatoes,chilies and the liquid, and 1/2 of the black beans.

Layer 1 tortilla on the bottom of the casserole dish Follow with 1/3 of the meat mixture, and 1 oz. shredded cheese. Repeat for two more layers, like you are creating a lasagne.  Then top with the 4th tortilla and remaining cheese and remaining 1/2 of black beans.

You can bake the caaserole now at 350 degrees for 45 minutes . Let rest about 5 minutes, slice into 4 servings and plate with a good green salad.

OR--you can promptly cover and refrigerate and bake the next day.

IF you choose this route, then you have to remember the food safety rule for: Previously Heated Foods.

First, cover and promptly refrigerate the assembled casserole.

Second, Rehat as quickly as possible to the internal temperature of 165 degrees. (For this reason, frozen foods are often re-heated at high baking temperatures. )

Third, the internal temperature for previously heated foods is 165 degrees or greater.

So, here's a picture of the  refrigerated casserole after 45 minutes at 350 degrees. It looks "done" but see the temperature? It's not even close to 165 degrees!

I promptly closed the oven and allowed it to bake for another 15 minutes (33% longer than original baking time). And now check the temerature--

The lesson here is to remember to use your thermometer to verify the internal temperature, and do not rely only on suggested baking times, especially if you are baking from refrigerated or frozen states.

AND--remember that previously heated foods are their own category and the temperature needs to be above 165 degrees for food safety.


Posted by Karen at 10:19 CST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2016 10:54 CST
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Wednesday, 20 January 2016
The Bleak Midwinter
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

In the Bleak Midwinter...

One of my favorite Chirstmas carols, but in reality, the harshest of times on the physical self. No sun, too many carbohydrates in the food, sedentary lifestyle...

We've all gained too much weight, because of our excesses. We need to seriously look at discarding some of those excesses and, it's true, the only way you can lose fat is to eliminate carbohydrates. Meaning, we have nutritional needs that indicate we have to take in enough protein to make new cells and correct micronutirents and vitmains to permit needed biochemical reactions. But we all eat too many carbohydrates that are really only needed for immediate energy,and if immediate energy isn't called for, then the carbohydrates are efficiently stored as fat. That's an evolutionary reality.

Do you assess yourself as having too much stored fat? Is your belly bulging? When you lie down, does fat protrude above your pelivs? Or in very commensense terms—do your clothes from last year now seen—too tight? When you look in the mirror with your arms outstretched, are there fat pads hanging? Sideways, does your abdomen protrude? That's too much fat. And the only way to loose it, is to eliminate unesceassary calories that are carbohydrates.

Here's a trio of ideas for the Bleak Midwinter--that meet nutritional needs, but cut the carbohydrates a bit.

Meatloaf Stew- 4-6 servings



All the flavors of meatloaf but in a stew in the crockpot. 6 servings

Prep the crockpot with oil.

Brown 2 lbs. lean ground beef (grassfed beef preferred)

Combine with :

1 (14.5 oz) can of petite diced tomotes and 1 can of Golden Mushroom or Beefy Mushroom Soup,

2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce,

4 carrots, cut up

1 small potato, diced

4 celery sticks, chopped

2 cups frozen, chopped green beans

Mix together and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

Salmon Patties- Makes 4


Who doesn't love Salmon Patties over a Romaine lettuce salad?

Salmon Patties are made with :

1 can of Red Sockeye Salmon

2 eggs

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 Tbsp finely chopped onion

1 Tsp. dried dill or to taste

Freshly ground Pepper to taste

Dijon Mustard and/or Lemon juice for additional flavor profile, 1 Tsp 

Fresh parsley, optional

Combine above , then divide into 4 patties. Fry in olive oil. The egg will “bind” the patties, but if you favor extra “crunch”, lightly dust both sides of the patties before frying, with corn flake crumbs.

Serve over Romaine with lemon juice, drizzle with dill sauce, a little hard cheese? 

Turkey Taco Salad for 2 adults



Ridiculously simple low carb.

Brown 12-16 oz.  ground turkey, add 1 green pepper, diced and ½ small onion and cook through.

Use 1 packet of a low carb taco seasoning mix, and water as directed to prepare the turkey taco.

Meanwhile, dress Romaine lettuce with olive oil and vinegar dressing and plate.

Add the cooked turkey taco on top, dividing between the two plates

Add a bit of  shredded Mexican cheese and a dollop each Plain Yogurt and guacamole on top.

Add some chopped black olives, if desired.

Embrace the low carb and see a few pounds, depending upon your zeal, of fat disperse. To lose fat, it only requires some strict elimination of carbohydrates, NOT  elimination of essential protein and micronutrients.


Posted by Karen at 19:26 CST
Updated: Saturday, 26 March 2016 16:29 CDT
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Thursday, 31 December 2015
Holiday Food Leftovers
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Holiday Food Leftovers

You've made more than one roast turkey or roast beef this holiday season, I'm sure. And you might find yourself doing another roast with all the trimmings, making more food than you need for one meal.

Likely your refrigerator is loaded with plates of leftovers.

So, remember the rules for leftovers:

  •     always promptly refrigerate foods in covered containers, avoiding cross-contamination 
  • no more than 4 days in the refrigerator  
  • a leftover is a leftover only once
  • reheat previously heated foods to an internal temperature of 165 degrees

With holiday meals, you have quite an assortment of leftovers, right? That makes a baked casserole a likely plan.

We always plan some kind of a casserole following a turkey dinner. Here's one assembled, before baking:


 Layer stuffing, turkey pieces, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and slide a bit of cranberry sauce in between somewhere. Then cover everything with turkey gravy. Once assembled, it will look something like the picture above.

Then cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until internal temperature is 165 degrees, about 45 min to an hour depending on the thickness of your layers and size of plan. Remove to counter, remove the foil, allow to rest another 5-10 minutes and scoop generously for a pleasant casserole brunch.

Another favorite and easy recipe for leftover turkey isTurkey Enchiladas.

In the photo below, I used cubed turkey, mixed with green chilies, mild enchilada sauce, Mexican blend shredded cheese and Spanish rice. Roll into flour tortillas, top with additional enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Finally, I know you will be craving a sweet breakfast that's easy to prep and serve. A decadent recipe for Cinnamon Roll Bake has been circulating on the internet this season.

It looks fantastic, but it is way too sweet and syrup-y for most of us as the original recipe was written. The portion sizes are also too big for the New Year resolutions.

Here's my somewhat lower carb version for 4-6 servings:



Cinnamon Roll Bake -adjusted portion and carbs.

Start with 8in X 8 in baking pan, 350 degrees preheated oven.

On the bottom of the baking pan, 2 Tbsp butter, melted.

1 can of flaky Cinnamon rolls- remove and set aside the frosting. Separate the 8 rolls and cut each unbaked roll into 8 pieces. Place all pieces on the bottom of the buttered pan.

Whisk together 4 eggs and 1 Tbsp milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 Tbsp maple syrup. Pour over the dough pieces.

Bake about 45-50 minutes until the egg batter is fully set. Drizzle the reserved frosting over the top.

Cut into 4-6 pieces and serve with some spicy sausage and strong coffee.

Perfect for that January 1st "day after" brunch.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Karen at 22:03 CST
Updated: Thursday, 31 December 2015 22:09 CST
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Saturday, 5 September 2015
How to Sneak Vegetables into dinner
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Spaghetti Casserole

(OR- how to sneak vegetables into your children)

During harvest time we are overwhelmed by the amount of zucchini and tomatoes that can come out of the garden. Zucchini bread aside, it's often hard to get more fresh vegetables into your children unless they don't see it coming!

But who doesn't like Spaghetti? It's a favorite for all ages. And even gluten-free pastas are readily available in every market. The trick to making pasta healthy is in the portion control of the pasta and determining what else is being offered with the pasta.

One way is to use Spaghetti squash directly in place of the pasta noodles. That will work for adults and teenagers most of the time. But younger children and finicky eaters of all ages will reject not having the real deal spaghetti.

If that's the situation in your house, your plan will be to increase nutrition by fortifying the sauce, by planting extra vegetables (natural sources of vitamins) and meat (protein) into the sauce to supply needed nutrition.

But, portion control will still be a challenge. Spaghetti from traditional wheat flour contains about 42 grams of starch in 2 ounces. And 2 ounces of cooked Spaghetti is a small amount to serve a hungry growing teen or adult so it is most likely, they'll be filling their plates or bowls with two and three times the amount before saucing it up.

The compromise balance comes in this very simple, delicious recipe for “Spaghetti Casserole.”

This casserole favorite has been doctored up to assure there's plenty of protein with grassfed beef or ground turkey, cheese, and natural sources of vitamins with extra vegetables in the sauce. It's robust and yet the portion control of starch is curtailed. The six generous servings refers to adult portions, so children will eat less volume, but still get balanced amounts of other nutrients along with the starch. You can use your own canned tomatoes, or conveniently start with organic crushed tomatoes- and add more vegetables!

It's so good that virtually everyone's palate should be happy! It's a great casserole to make for a Saturday night casual dinner --OR--to bake and bring to a potluck dinner or a tailgate party!

Creative cooks can readily adapt this recipe to make it vegetarian.



Spaghetti Casserole

6 generous servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 13” x 9” baking pan.

Create your sauce:

Brown and cook 1 lb. of grassfed beef or ground turkey in a heavy skillet or pot.

Add :

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium carrot (or 4-6 baby carrots), diced

1 green pepper, diced

1small onion, diced

Cook these ingredients together until vegetables are no longer firm.

Add to above mixture:

1-28 oz can of crushed organic tomatoes

8 oz. tomato sauce

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

Season with Italian seasoning dried herb blend (basil, oregano,parsley)--or equivalent fresh herbs, finely chopped –amount to your tastes

Salt and garlic powder (instead of garlic powder, add fresh chopped garlic to meat when browning)-amount to your tastes

Note: this is where the personal tastes of the chef prevail—add fennel seed ? adjust amounts of everything to your tastes.)

Cook 12 oz. of Spaghetti according to instructions on package to al dente (slightly firm) stage.

Drain spaghetti.

You will also need 2 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend or shredded mozzarella

You are ready to assemble when the pasta is cooked.

Layer half of spaghetti, then half sauce, then half cheese.

Repeat with remainder of spaghetti, then remainder sauce, then remainder cheese.

Additional shaved parmesan, fresh chopped herbs, as desired--

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Allow to sit 10 minutes, then cut and serve portions with a large spatula into pasta bowls.

Maybe add a side of simply sauteed broccoli, Italian green beans, broccoli rabe or greens? Or green salad? You're done!

(I don't have a final picture because we were into devouring dinner before I remembered we missed the “after” shot!)


Posted by Karen at 14:40 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 5 September 2015 15:01 CDT
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Friday, 20 March 2015
Skillet Pizza Casserole -low carb!
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Country Skillet Pizza Casserole

(did I mention it's very low carb?)

I am infatuated with my cast iron skillet.

It's not one of those over-priced imported culinary instruments from afar.

Mine is the “best” size--10.5 inches--and is “Made in the USA.”

Definitely old school.

I think I purchased it at Walmart for under $20 and it will last me forever.

A cast iron skillet is the perfect skillet to sear meats, then finish in the oven to correct internal heat, while still retaining the “pink” insides and “seared” outsides. Miraculous! If you need a gift idea for those cooks in your life, then buy them a cast iron skillet.

Using a cast iron skillet is also the cool way to make those Skillet Meals. You know what I'm talking about. The “Skillet Breakfasts” you see on the menus in restaurants are very popular. We know it's no longer recommended to eat uncooked yolks in restaurants or even at home--unless you know the eggs have been pasteurized. Making a skillet of assorted vegetables, cooked sausage, and scrambled eggs is a savory way to eat scrambled eggs in a new form.

But most skillet food recipes still have too many carbs. If you think about it, though, you can reduce those carbs while retaining all the savory goodness.

Here's a savory skillet meal to inspire your own creativity. It's one that incorporates our favorite food flavors of all time—PIZZA! Doesn't this sound good for a Saturday night spread with a great movie?

Pizza Casserole in a Cast Iron Skillet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 10 ½ inch CAST IRON skillet, brown 2 lb ground beef thoroughly (grassfed is ALWAYS preferred).

Drain excess grease off.

Now build yourself a “pizza.”

Using a heat resistant large spoon, press the beef against the botttom and side like a shallow bowl.

Add- 1 cup of spicy pasta sauce (read the labels for a low carb version or make your own from 1 cup tomato sauce and plenty of seasoning).

Spead sauce over entire base of beef.

Add 6 oz shredded Italian cheese.

Add your favorite toppings. In this picture, I used finely chopped Portabello mushrooms, onion, and chopped kale. (But next time, I plan to use cooked and thoroughly drained chopped spinach and mushrooms. All pizza toppings are fair game!)

Add a little extra fresh herbs and grated hard cheese, to taste.

Now transfer the skillet to the oven for 30-40 minutes until completely baked.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest about 5-10 minutes. Slice into 4 servings and use a large spatula to lift into personal bowls. Accompany with additional cooked vegetables or a salad!



Posted by Karen at 18:45 CDT
Updated: Friday, 20 March 2015 18:57 CDT
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Friday, 13 March 2015
Sophisticated Low Carb
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Sophisticated Low Carbohydrate

It will come as no surprise that we all put on a few extra pounds during the Winter months. And, for me, there is only one way to lose weight—that is, to severely carbohydrate restrict my eating habits.

It's hard to do, no question. I was recently at the grocery store, reading labels on everything before the item went into my cart. Unfortunately, the carbohydrate counts have started drifting upwards again. The cereals, even “hearty whole grains,” are ridiculously high in total carbohydrates. And for weight loss, there is no differentiation between sugars and starches. The only subtraction from total carbohydrates you can make is grams of FIBER. Otherwise, every gram of carbohydrate is fair game for counting.

And it makes sense when you think about it. Starches break down into simple sugars. Sugars are utilized as energy, but if you're not burning them then they are stored as fats. And excess circulating sugars can also link onto free amino acids of tissue proteins. Diabetics are familiar with this phenomenon as it is reflected in their hemoglobin A1C. This protein glycosylation—involving sugars of all types, not just glucose—is interesting in multiple disease formation and especially the end-organ complications of diabetes.

So- excessive carbs are bad for us. Yet they are very satisfying to eat and we often refer to foods containing them as “comfort foods.” We need to re-educate ourselves and think about making our low carb foods more savory so we will enjoy them with as much zeal.

Doesn't that brunch/lunch plate look terrific? We have a baked salmon patty and wilted kale with a generous drizzle of lemon-garlic-dill aioli and a lovely easy over egg with freshly ground black pepper. You can choose other sauces for your intense savory addition—how about a very quickly made mayonnaise to which you can add some lemon juice, dillweed, finely chopped onion, salt and pepper? If no time, then open a bottle of quality Cesear's salad dressing (read the label for low carb)

The key is to intensify the flavors of otherwise somewhat bland foods—like fish and kale leaves.

Here's how I made the Seriously low carb Salmon Patties.

Combine in a bowl:

One 14.75 oz can Red Salmon, drained

1 large egg

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

  2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

Divide the mixture in the bowl, into 4 patty-equivalents.

Crush 4 Water crackers, finely, and place on a saucer. That will give you all of 3 carbs per patty.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Now heat your cast iron skillet with a little olive oil on a medium high heat.

Using your clean hands, take ¼ of the salmon mixture , form a patty and lightly pat it into your cracker dust. Place patty into the heated skillet. With no binders except egg, this is a delicate patty so keep coaxing it into shape with a heat resistant spatula. Repeat until all four patties are in the skillet. Sear the bottoms of the patties until they are somewhat browned, then flip and do the same on the other side.


Then, put the cast iron skillet into the oven and bake about 30 minutes. The patties will firm up and cook through . Note: Make sure you are wearing oven mitts or using a heavy pot holder when you are touching the handle of the cast iron skillet.



Don't forget to plate with some greens and an egg or two-- like you see in the picture above. And be sure to add a very savory sauce to the salmon patties and side veggies and pepper up that egg. 


Refrigerate covered, leftover patties promptly and they will microwave for a similar meal if used within the next four days!



Posted by Karen at 17:45 CDT
Updated: Friday, 13 March 2015 17:54 CDT
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Friday, 6 March 2015
Split Pea Soup
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

It's March , but the weather still says Winter—and that usually inspires soup.

If you haven't made that pot of split pea soup you saved the leftover ham for, this could be one of your weekends to do so. (Not being food-wasters, I know you put aside some slices of holiday ham into the freezer!)

So here's a recipe for Split Pea Soup, which I've changed a little to incorporate the multi-colored fingerling potatoes I had available. You likely have everything in the house, and that ham is in the freezer! I've also included some food safety points in the instructions.

Split Pea Soup

2 cups diced pre-cooked ham

4-6 fingerling potatoes, diced

4 carrots, cut up

1 stalk celery, chopped

½ small onion, chopped

1 lb.dried split peas

1 tsp dried soup blend herbs (basil, parsley, thyme)

1 tsp. salt

freshly ground pepper

8-10 cups of water


Take the diced ham directly from the freezer and “defrost” while cooking over medium heat in the heavy soup pot, in a bit of olive oil. If slices of ham were frozen, then cut first into smaller pieces from the frozen state with a heavy knife. Either way, the point is to bring previously cooked foods to HOT as quickly as possible- technically to 165 degrees F.

Next, you can add the vegetables and additional olive oil, toss and heat through.

Rinse and sort the dried split peas (the point here is to make sure there are no errant stones or physical contamination of the peas).

Add the peas and water and seasonings to the pot.

Bring to boil, then back the heat down to simmer and cover. Simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically to prevent vegetables and ham from sticking to the bottom. After an hour remove the cover and simmer additional hour, until the peas are very soft . Use a heat stable spoon and break-up the softened peas against the side of the pot, while stirring. Alternatively you can run the immersion blender for a couple of pulses. If you desire completely pureed soup, then continue with the immersion blender. Add more water if too thick for your tastes. Adjust seasonings as desired.





Posted by Karen at 14:04 CST
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Saturday, 14 February 2015
More Heart Healthy Food
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

In keeping with February's Heart Month, I am posting another recipe that is a family-pleaser yet is very low in saturated fat: Ground Turkey Meatloaf!

You know that we raise grassfed beef cattle and that ground beef is also lower in saturated fats and  higher in "heart-healthy" fats, but it's not readily available in all markets. This week, ground turkey seems to be on sale everywhere! Look for the 95% Lean ground Turkey and organic if possible.

I've also tried to make this recipe lower in sodium by omitting worchestershire sauce and adding herbs for flavor enhancement, lower in carbohydrates by using plain tomato sauce instead of a traditional processed catsup or BBQ sauce addition, higher in natural sources of vitamins by sneaking in finely chopped vegetables. All of these things may seem small but if you are on any restriction, they add up in the course of a day. I encourage you to look at your traditional recipes and you'll find there are often ways to improve the "healthiness", without sacrificing the convenience in preps. 

Ground Turkey Meatloaf

1 pkg. (20 0z.) lean ground turkey (95% lean, if possible)

1/4 cup bread crumbs

4 oz. plain tomato sauce 

1 large egg

1/2 red, yellow or green pepper, diced (smart you- you keep frozen strips already in the freezer, saved from last Summer!)

1/2 cup finely chopped spinach or kale leaves

1/2 small onion, finely chopped 

finely chopped fresh parsley, dried or fresh thyme leaves, freshly ground black pepper, salt

Here's a photo of the deconstructed meatloaf before mixing together. Mix these ingredients and form into a meatloaf.

Then ready to go in the oven--note: I decided to drizzle a little more tomato here, it's really a small amount of catsup when "drizzled"! And you can omit it too, but don't put any on the table when you serve--that's where people tend to overuse.  Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

And finally, plated for serving. This will make 4 servings of 5 oz ground turkey each, perfect for any diet. 

Lots more colorful veggies included--a small serving of scalloped potatoes, large serving of steamed Kale with cooked carrots and cannellini beans. I put about 4-6 oz water and about 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a large skillet, brought to simmer, then added a 1/2 bag of triple washed kale greens, cooking down until wilted (add more lemon water, if needed). Toss in some chopped garlic with the cooked greens. I cooked the carrots separately, then added them to the kale after greens were wilted and tender, and finally stirred in one can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans. Extra lemon juice and ground pepper to taste.




Posted by Karen at 08:40 CST
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2015 18:27 CST
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