a silver lining

I recently received a surprise diagnoses of high blood pressure. It was a surprise because there is no family history of hypertension, and I have a good diet. Then I learned that it is not all about salt. I am going to need to be more intentional about exercise and make it a priority. And when 5 o’clock rolls around I need to grab a bottle of flavored bubble water instead of a martini, at least occasionally.And I am going to have to rethink how I cook and plate. I do have a healthy diet, few prepared foods and lots of veg, but also lots of meat, and sauce, oh how I love sauces.

My Doc recommended the DASH diet, it seems to be the goto for people who need to lower their blood pressure. The meals are full of grains I can not eat, and more importantly, is bor-ing. Nope, that is not what I am after at all. First stop, the bookstore.

Many of the “healthy” cookbooks are all about weight loss. I do need to drop some pounds, but that should happen naturally as I make other lifestyle changes. I do not want a “diet” book. And then there are the books that call themselves healthy because they use real, whole foods. Well, I have been cooking and eating real, whole foods, for ages, and look where it got me.

I dislike the word superfood. In my mind it congers up images of new-agey fads. The only reason I pulled Everyday Super Food off the shelf is because it is written by Jamie Oliver. I have cooked from his books in the past, even still own a couple after The Amazing Book Cull Of 2016, and remember watching and learning from him in the earliest days of Food Network.

Wow! Wowie, wow, wow, wow! This is exactly what I am looking for. High nutrition, with vegetables playing a major role on the plates. Big, bright flavors and textures to keep things interesting. That is what I am talking about.

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After living with, and cooking from, Everyday Super Foods, I am a convert. I started at the beginning of each section, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and began cooking each recipe. The flavors are amazing and vegetables are everywhere. The first day I made Baked Eggs in Popped Beans Cherry Tomatoes, Ricotta on Toast for breakfast that gave me two of my 5-a-Day servings, and Tasty Fish Tacos Game-Changing Kiwi, Lime & Chili Salsa For lunch that gave me three more. That meant the three I had with Bombay Chicken & Cauli Pappadams, Rice & Spinach for dinner, and the one with 100-Calorie Salad Snack Bowls for a snack were a bonus my body really needs. 9 servings of veg and fruit in one day, delicious.

 

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There is some whole wheat in the book, not much, so I substitute when I can, or just skip the recipe if I can not. And there are a few vegetables that I do not eat, cauliflower, eggplant, and beets will never again cross my lips, but again, easy enough to substitute.

Most of the recipes are designed for two people. This makes it easy for me to cut them in half and watch my portion size, or double them if I think people will be home for dinner.

There is a fair amount of effort involved in the recipes, and for people working full-time away from home, some planning will be needed. But nothing crazy, just spend an hour or so on the weekend making the sauces and salsas you will need for the week. If you are taking lunch to work, package things up separately and mix when it is time to eat.

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Everything is so good that I think I will be cooking my three meals a day from this book during the week, and then make family favorites for dinner on the weekends. If not for the hypertension diagnoses, I would not have gone looking for a book like this, and I would have missed out on this great food. A silver lining.

Do you have a favorite healthy cookbook?

one jar of pickled radishes

When talking to folks new to canning, one of the things that is most difficult for them to wrap their heads around is that canning does not have to be an all day/all night affair. Many of us have memories of our grandmothers standing in the kitchen for days putting up food from the garden. Piles of produce, towers of jars, lots of steam, and a fair amount of swearing. As more and more of us live in cities, in spaces without room for a garden or jar storage, that kind of production is not useful.

Instead, think about how your family really eats. Do you go through a jar of jam in a month? Then all you need to get you through the year are twelve little jars of jam, in an assortment of the flavors you love most. That means that you will probably only be putting up two or three jars of jam at a time. An hours work. No need to bring home a flat of berries when a pint or two will do the trick. Easy Peasy.

There was a time when I did do production canning. The house contained four kids and an army of friends. I could not keep enough jars of pickles, applesauce, or raspberry jam in the house. Now, there is just one left at home and he is not here much, so when I think about jars, it is often one or two of something. A treat for the middle of winter, or a way to make cocktails a little more special.

As I walked through the yard this morning (a small city lot) I noticed that the radishes had really taken off over the past week. So I picked a couple of handfuls and headed to the kitchen.

The first thing to do is to get a pot of water on to boil. A pot big enough to hold as many jars as you think you will need. This morning I had enough radishes for one jar and used my favorite Fourth Burner Pot.

While the water is heating, I prep my produce. Once that is done I turn my attention to heating the liquid that will be used, or I cook the food I have just prepped, depending on what I am making. There is a good chance that the pot of boiling water, and what is going to go into the jars will be done about the same time. If not, make the bed, empty the dishwasher, check Instagram…the goal is to fit canning around your life, not have it take it over.

Ta Da. A little jar that is going to make an ordinary martini, a thing of greatness.

You can find my original post about pickled radishes and the recipe here. Are you ready to try extreme small batch canning?