Living Lite

Katherine's Weekly Market Recipe: Greek Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

August 1, 2012

When I was young, one of my most vivid memories is the taste of my Grandmother’s vine-ripened tomatoes.  Every year, she would grow at least 20 tomato plants -- and only tomatoes --  in her back yard in Columbus, Ohio.  They were her favorite vegetable (though technically a fruit), and became mine too.  I’ll never forget how soft, plump, sweet and deep red they were.  Definitely not today’s traveling kind.  They were the kind you picked and ate, still warm from the day’s sun. The kind which you can only get from your own back yard - or the Farmers Market.

Today is the first of  "Katherine's Weekly Market Recipes," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

For this week's "Greek Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes," buy your tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and garlic at Wednesday's Rose Park Farmers Market or Sunday's Dupont Circle Farmers Market, which just celebrated its 15th year. Congratulations Fresh Farm Markets!
 

Greek Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
By Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D.
Author, “Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” (LifeLine Press, 2011)
www.KatherineTallmadge.com

8 servings

Ingredients: 

Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons Freshly Harvested Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (1 Lemon)
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Oregano or Basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Clove Garlic, Minced (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste (Salt is not necessary with the cheese and olives)

Vegetables:
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced into a half-moon shape
1 onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 medium yellow, purple or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, chopped into large bite-size pieces
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other Greek Olives
4 Heirloom Tomatoes, quartered, and cut into large, bite-size pieces

4 ounces Feta or Goat Cheese, broken into small bits

Instructions: 

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a large salad bowl and whisk until blended. Add the cucumbers, onion, pepper, and olives and toss into vinaigrette. Let sit for twenty minutes to marinate. Add the heirloom tomatoes and cheese when ready to serve.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the "superfoods." Men who consumed 10 or more servings of tomato products a week had a 35% decrease in risk of prostate cancer relative to those who consumed 1.5 servings or fewer per week.  This is largely attributed to “lycopene” in the tomatoes, which is also in other red fruits such as watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava.  Men with lycopene levels in the top 20% had a 46% decrease in risk of heart attack compared to those in the bottom 20%.  Lycopene is a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals. But don't expect to get it from a supplement. You must eat the tomato as you need the whole food to receive the benefits! Here's why...

If you would like to have one of your recipes highlighted by Katherine in The Georgetown Dish, please email Katherine with your recipe for testing, along with the story behind your recipe. All recipes must be heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly. Send to: Katherine@KatherineTallmadge.com


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Swedish Midsummer Magic

June 18, 2012

This time of year, I long to be in Sweden. I’ve had a life-long love affair with Sweden, its culture, cuisine, and people. I’m so grateful that finally the world has caught on that my beloved Sweden is a recognized culinary destination.

Swedish cuisine is the ultimate “nouvelle” cuisine. It is simple, fresh, and is naturally local and seasonal. It’s elegant, yet down-to-earth, which is also a perfect description of the Swedish people, and even Swedish design.

The daughter of a Swedish mother and an American father, I’ve been visiting Sweden since a little girl. During my regular visits, I soaked in every possible aspect of Swedish food and cooking. I took many fishing trips in the Baltic Sea on my Uncle Olle’s small motor boat. I received early lessons on cleaning, smoking, grilling, pickling – and any method one could name – of preparing fresh fish.

I was raised in the Swedish culinary tradition. I’ve picked wild blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms in the Swedish archipelago, then watched as my grandmother (mormor) and Aunt Ingrid prepared treats with the bounty. Growing up, I and my mother dined regularly on crepes with lingonberries and cream – one of my favorite dinners (though now I use yogurt instead of cream! Naturligtvis!). I’ve delighted in all the unique foods my family introduced me to: the grainy rye breads, the special cheeses and yogurts, the smoked reindeer meat, the delicate, sweet, and tiny Swedish shrimps, caviar, crayfish, and of course, meatballs and lingonberry sauce!

If you are not a Swede or Scandinavian, you may not know that summer is the most special time of year. For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock.

Every year, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day.

Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve.

It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop.

Learn more about Midsummer and Swedish Midsummer recipes...

 


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Seven Misunderstood Foods You Should Be Eating

June 10, 2012

Are you shying away from bad foods that are actually good for you? With all the hoopla about healthful eating, it's hard to separate fact from fiction.

As a nutrition consultant, I've come to realize there is no shortage of surprises and superstitions in the world of nutrition. As a follow-up to my article "5 So-Called Health Foods You Should Avoid." I thought it would be fun to give you reasons to enjoy some of your favorite so-called "bad" foods that are actually good for you ...

Gluten and Wheat

They are "the most demonized ingredients beyond high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil," said Melissa Abbott, culinary director at the Hartman Group, a company specializing in consumer research.

Yet decades of studies have found that gluten-containing foods, such as whole wheat, rye and barley, are vital for good health, and are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and excess weight.

"Wheat is a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals," said Joanne Slavin, nutrition professor at the University of Minnesota. She added that the confusion about gluten, a protein, has caused some people to avoid eating wheat and other grains.

Only about 1 percent of the population  - those with celiac disease or wheat allergy - cannot tolerate gluten and must eradicate it from their diet to ease abdominal pain and other symptoms, including the ability to fully absorb vitamins.

One reason wheat-free or gluten-free diets are popular is that people who don't eat wheat often end up bypassing excess calories in sweets and snack foods. Then they start feeling better, lose weight, and mistakenly attribute their success to gluten or wheat avoidance. Learn more about a gluten free diet and who may benefit from it...

Eggs

Eggs also don't deserve their bad reputation. In recent decades, their high cholesterol content has been thought to play a role in increasing LDL ("bad") cholesterol and heart disease risk. But cholesterol in food is a minor factor contributing to high blood cholesterol for most people, and studies have not confirmed a correlation between eggs and increased heart disease risk. The major determinant of LDL (bad) cholesterol is saturated fat, and while eggs are high in cholesterol - 184 milligrams in the yolk - they're relatively low in saturated fat - about 1.6 grams in the yolk.

Interestingly, some of the biggest egg eaters in the world, the Japanese, have low cholesterol and heart disease rates, in part because they eat a diet low in saturated fat. In contrast, Americans eat eggs alongside sausage, bacon, and buttered toast.

"The amount that one egg a day raises cholesterol in the blood is extremely small," says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health. "Elevations in LDL (bad) cholesterol of this small magnitude could easily be countered by other healthy aspects of eggs." Learn more about eggs...

Potatoes

Potatoes have been blamed for increasing blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, excess weight and Type 2 diabetes. A recent Harvard study that followed large populations and their disease rates linked potato eating with being overweight, blaming  it on the blood glucose rise.

But many foods, including whole-wheat bread and whole-grain cereals, cause similar spikes in blood glucose, and are correlated with superior health and lower body weights. How could the higher body weight in the Harvard study be explained? The study lumped all potato products together, including potato chips and french fries, very fattening versions of potatoes usually eaten in large portions alongside hamburgers, hot dogs, and sodas.

"It's an easy food to attack; but the meal pattern may be the culprit," said David Baer, a research leader at the Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture. "Other epidemiological studies have not verified a connection between potatoes and weight gain or any diseases, and no clinical studies have shown a connection." Learn more about the Harvard study...

Potatoes are a great source of potassium, Vitamin C and fiber that many cultures - Scandinavians, Russians, Irish, and Peruvians - relied on as a nutritious staple for centuries. And they were not fat.

Fruits

People often ask me if fruit is too high in sugar, especially for diabetics. This fear of fruit, I believe, is left over from the Atkins craze, which discouraged eating some fruits on the grounds that they are high in carbohydrates.

Avoiding fruit could actually damage your health. Study after study over many decades shows that eating fruit can reduce the risk of some cancers, heart disease, blood pressure and fruit. Lean how fruit reduces diabetes risk...

Fruit is high in water and fiber, which help you feel full with fewer calories, one reason why eating it is correlated with lower body weight. Even though they contain simple sugars, most fruits have a relatively low glycemic index. That is, when you eat fruit, your blood sugar raises only moderately, especially when compared with refined sugar or flour products.

Several health organizations, including the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Heart Association, recommend Americans eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day because of their superior health benefits.

Soy

Though popular for centuries in many Asian cuisines, soy is sometimes seen as dangerous after studies found elevated rates of breast cancer among rats when they were fed a concentrated soy derivative. But studies looking at whole soy foods in humans have not found a connection. In fact, the reverse may be true.

Soy, "when consumed in childhood or adolescence may make breast tissue less vulnerable to cancer development later in life and probably has no effect on breast cancer risk when consumption begins in adulthood," said Karen Collins, registered dietitian and nutrition adviser with the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Actually, Collins said, the evidence is so strong for protection against heart disease that the FDA allowed a health claim for labels on soy food products.

 Alcohol

Alcohol is feared because of the potential for abuse and alcoholism and complications such as liver disease, which are valid concerns.

But decades' worth of research shows that moderate alcohol consumption "can reduce deaths from most causes, particularly heart disease, and it raises HDL (good) cholesterol," the USDA's David Baer said.

Wine may have additional benefits because its grapes are filled with nutrients called polyphenols, which reduce blood-clotting, inflammation and oxidation.

The key is to drink alcohol moderately and with meals. What's moderation? One serving daily for women and two servings for men, with a serving being 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Learn more about wine...

Fried Foods

While it's true that frying food usually increases its caloric content, that doesn't necessarily make it unhealthful.

As long as food is fried in healthful oil instead of butter, shortening, or trans fat, and it's eaten in moderation, it isn't less healthy. In fact, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and heart-healthy, cancer-preventive carotenoids such as beta-carotene (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes), lycopene (e.g., tomatoes) and lutein/zeaxanthin (deep-green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale), need fat in order to be absorbed by the body.

"The consumption of certain fats, such as saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids [fats that are solid at room temperature],is associated with an . . . increased risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, the unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids [canola, safflower and olive oils] have significant metabolic benefits and are health promoting," said the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Learn more about healthy fats...

Read my Washington Post "Local Living" cover story 24 May 2012

and  Read the Washington Post Web Chat Transcript

 


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