Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spicy Cauliflower

Thanksgiving this year, as in every year past, was fantastic.  It was filled with family, friends, laughs and of course, too much food.  When the preparation responsibilities were divvied up,  I was assigned the obligatory task of preparing "healthy" sides. I was determined to prepare vegetables that upstaged even those dishes covered in cream sauce and marshmallows.  I wanted to prove a point. Vegetables are just as tasty, exciting and essential to a holiday spread as any other dish.
What makes this bite better?
If you are going to prepare a spicy dish to compliment any meal, it should be Thanksgiving.  A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that adding red pepper to a meal significantly decreased subsequent calorie intake- a real benefit on a day when calorie counts are through the roof!  The researchers also found that chili may stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our bodies internal processes including digestion. The benefits of chili pepper were further highlighted in an article published in a Harvard Health Letter that showed adding chili to a meal reduces appetite, increases metabolism, speeds up fat oxidation and regulates insulin levels.  On a day like Thanksgiving, when our bodies can absolutely use a little help in digestion, limiting calorie intake and controlling blood sugar, spice it up!  Keep this recipe on hand for the days of heavy eating that lie ahead.

Spicy Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower
2 red chili peppers 
3-4 large pieces of garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Parmigiano reggiano cheese

Clean and cut the cauliflower into bit size pieces.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and toss the cauliflower lightly in olive oil.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Toss frequently to cook evenly on all sides.  Cut the chili pepper and garlic and place in a bowl. Add the crushed red pepper chili flakes and cover in olive oil.  Once the cauliflower is cooked through and has a nice browning, remove from the oven and heat a sauté pan over medium on the stove. Heat the olive oil mixture and then add the cauliflower.  Add the juice from one half a fresh lemon.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the flavors to blend and adjust spice to preference by adding more chili flakes.  Remove from heat and finish with parmigiano reggiano cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Apple Chips

In order get in the spirit of fall, my best friend Kate and I went to a farm in upstate New York to drink apple cider, sample local wine and pick all the apples we could carry.  We lugged home bags upon bags of apples.  While pies and crumbles were on our list of treats to make, we just did not have enough time or enough recipes to make use of all our apples.  Making apple chips was a great way to turn the remainder of fall fresh apples into an easy, healthy snack.  The cinnamon adds a nice spice and they fill the house with an amazing aroma; an ideal treat for the approaching holidays!

What makes this bite better?
Apparently scientitsts have decided the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has some validity.  Recent research on apples has given these fruits, traditionally reserved for the teacher's desk, a more prominent place in the diet.  Other fruits and vegetables, such as berries and dark leafy greens, usually get all the credit in disease prevention.  However, a recent study published in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association, has shown that a higher intake of white fruits and vegetables, such as apples, was inversely associated with risk of stroke.  Risk was further reduced as intake increased.  Fruits from the other color groups did not show the same association. 
Apple Chips
Sugar (optional)
Cinnamon (optional)

Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Squeeze one half of a fresh lemon into the water.  Clean and slice the apples using a mandolin.  Remove all seeds and immediately place the apple slices in the water bath to prevent browning.  Set the oven to 200 degrees.  Dry the apples slices and place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Mix equal parts cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the apples, if desired.  Bake at 200 degrees until the apples are completely dehydrated, approximately 2 hours. Enjoy :)