Pork Medallions with Mushrooms

IMG_3189Today’s recipe is simple enough for any weeknight dinner but it’s presentation and wine glaze is fancy enough for a dinner party.  And, I’ve paired this deliciousness with Parsnip Mash.

Parsnips are root vegetables resembling cream colored carrots.  They are available year round but their growing season is fall to spring.  When cooked and ‘mashed’, they develop a creamy, sweet flavor and deliver a good source of fiber, vitamin C and some B-vitamins.  Savor the flavor of eating right!  Enjoy!

Pork Medallions with Mushrooms and Madeira Glaze (serves 6)

1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup Madeira wine (dry port, sherry or Marsala wines can be substituted)

1 cup chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Parsley, for garnish

Cut tenderloin into generous1 inch medallions. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauce pan over high heat. Sear meat until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat browning on other side. Transfer pork to a plate.

Add remaining oil to pan and heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden while scraping any browned bits from pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until most of liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with flour and add the Madeira. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add pork and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook in simmering sauce for 5-8 minutes, flipping once, until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Serve medallions on top of parsnip mash* and garnish with parsley.

*Parsnip Mash

3 pounds* parsnips, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and ground white pepper

2 teaspoons butter or Earth Balance

2 tablespoons milk (more, if needed, for desired consistency)

Place parsnips in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a gentle boil until parsnips are easily pierced with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

Put parsnips in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add butter and milk.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

*If purchasing young parsnips, only 2 pounds needed since they have tender cores and do not need to be cored.

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Savor the Flavor of Eating Right!

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March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’.  I believe that’s what we do everyday at Myplate2yours and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Start with real, whole food.
  2. Create a dish that suits your palate.
  3. Slow down to enjoy your meal and the people you are eating with!

What I love about eating right is the array of colors and the sheer beauty of many of these dishes … and this one is no exception!  This is the salad I made for a family birthday celebration this weekend.  I searched for the recipe on my blog, but I was surprised to find I have never shared it with you.  Well, here it is today….enjoy!!

Citrus Salad with Baby Greens, Cucumber and Avocado (serves 6)

4 cups baby arugula, spinach and/or romaine

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup (about 1 large) English cucumber, diced

3 clementine oranges, sectioned

1 pink grapefruit, sectioned with knife

1 ripe avocado, diced

2 tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seeds

Dressing: Mix together 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey. Whisk in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Season with dash cayenne pepper; salt and pepper to taste.

Spread greens on a serving platter. Top with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado. Arrange orange and grapefruit sections on top.   When ready to serve, toss salad with dressing and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

NEW Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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Last month, the Obama administration released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are revised every 5 years with the purpose of helping us make healthy food and beverage choices and to serve as the foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs throughout the U.S. If you are interested in learning more, here is a link to the Executive Summary http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/executive-summary/

After sifting through the report, I have prepared some noteworthy points to highlight. Let’s start with how healthy eating is defined by the Guidelines:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the color groups–dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and others.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese and or fortified soy beverages), fat free or low fat
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy products
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower.

This healthy eating plan is nothing new, it models the USDA MyPlate.  But keep in mind, many people with a goal of ‘healthy eating’ may have cut dairy foods from their diets.  These dairy foods are recommended to help meet the calcium, vitamin D and potassium needs for everyone— these are the nutrients we are not getting enough of. The Guidelines recommend 3 servings of dairy daily for everyone 9 years and older. One serving equals 1 cup milk or yogurt and 1-1/2 ounce of cheese.

Next, let’s look at what the guidelines suggest we limit in our eating. You may have already heard the big news: cut down on sugar and sodium and keep saturated fat intake ‘in check’. Saturated fat is found mostly in animal protein foods. By purchasing and preparing lean cuts of meat and varying your protein choices to include legumes and fish, this recommendation is manageable.

The sugar recommendation includes any sugar added to foods but does not include the natural sugar found in foods like fruit and dairy. The recommendation is to cap added sugar to about 12-1/2 teaspoons (50 grams) daily (that is, 10% of calories for a 2,000 calorie diet). This can add up quickly if you enjoy sweet desserts and sugared beverages. But please know that hidden sugar counts, too. Common sources include jarred pasta sauces, energy drinks, canned fruit, and breakfast cereals. Food labels are a valuable resource to determine the sugar content of packaged foods.

For sodium, the cap is 2,300 mg daily. This amount of sodium is found in a teaspoon of salt. To meet these guidelines, it does help to avoid the salt shaker at the table, but unfortunately a major part of the sodium in American diets (80%) comes from processed and packaged foods. These foods include: frozen meals, canned or pickled foods, snack foods, condiments, and soda. Cutting sodium from your diet may make foods suddenly taste bland. But over time, your taste for salt will adapt and you will be able to use less for the same flavor. It will also be important to rely on herbs and other seasonings to bring more flavor to your palette. That is how many recipes on this blog are seasoned!

Reading labels for both sodium and sugar content is the only way to know what you’re eating. However, eating foods without labels is the best kind of eating! The less processed, the better. Making small changes that stick with you over time is the best strategy for tackling these latest recommendations. As stated in the Guidelines, “A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes… it is one of the most powerful tools we have”.

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seeds are a new ingredient in my kitchen.  What first intrigued me was their unique  nutritional profile.  Just 2 tablespoons provide 5 grams of fiber and 4500 mg of alpha-linoileic acid (omega 3’s) along with protein, calcium, vitamins and other minerals.  When these seeds are hydrated in liquid, they form a gel and suspend in that liquid.  They add texture to smoothies and are the gelling agent in this pudding recipe.  If you are a veteran user of chia seeds, please share your favorite way to use them.  If you are new to them, this recipe is a great place to start!

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding (serves 4)

1 cup of low fat milk

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1/2 orange

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup Chia seeds

Toppings: orange sections and shredded coconut

In a small bowl, mix together milk and maple syrup. Add Chia seeds and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight), stirring again after first hour. When ready to serve, stir in orange juice, zest and yogurt, and thoroughly combine.

Pour into individual serving bowls and top with orange sections and shredded coconut. Enjoy!

My 10 Reasons to Love Dairy!

June_Dairy_Month_LogoJune is Dairy Month. What makes 2015 so special is the 100th year celebration of the National Dairy Council. It isn’t a surprise that we use a dairy term every time we want others to smile… “CHEESE!”. Today, I want to make you smile as I share my 10 reasons to love dairy.

Love dairy for its taste:

1.  Dairy is a great ‘grab and go’ food. Simply grab a cheese stick, a glass of milk or a container of your favorite yogurt. In our busy lives, this makes getting the nutrition we need super easy!

2.  Creamy yogurt is in my diet daily.  I enjoy pairing it with fruit or granola, or enjoy it plain. Everyday!

3.  Milk is yummy in my morning coffee or oatmeal and I use it to dip my graham crackers when I snack.

4.  Cheese adds a perfect addition to any sandwich, salad, pasta, taco and egg dish.

5.  Dairy is a key ingredient in many of my favorite recipes including Roasted Asparagus with Yogurt Ranch DressingCheddar Chicken and Potato PacketsCreamy Avocado Soup, and Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Love dairy for its source:

6.  It takes less than 48 hours for fresh milk to get from the farm to the grocer’s dairy case…now that’s farm to table!

7.  Milk is produced by farmers who care about their animals and their land.  I have had the unique privilege to meet many dairy farmers in the Midwest and I am awed by their commitment to produce safe, wholesome milk.

Love dairy for its nutrition:

8.  Dairy has a unique nutritional profile with 9 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

9.  Delicious chocolate milk has just the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins for muscle recovery and makes a fantastic post work-out drink.

10.  Smoothies made with milk or yogurt are a perfect snack or light meal for my active kids. Some of our favorites are: Chocolate Monkey, Strawberrylicious, and Dreamsicle smoothies.

Celebrate milk because it is one of a kind: it is often imitated but it’s hard to duplicate with its taste, source, and nutritional profile.  The reasons to love dairy don’t end here. Check out more from Midwest Dairy Council and SMILE!

Go for Color!

Go for Color!

The color we see around us in the springtime should remind us of the colors we need to regularly eat as fruits and vegetables: green, orange, yellow, red, and purple. Color is an indicator of the nutritional content, specifically, the phytonutrients that are unique to plant foods.  Phytonutrients offer a variety of health benefits including protection from heart disease and cancer.  Many of these phytonutrients work as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from damage.

The USDA’s ChooseMyPlate recommends we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables everyday. Finding easy ways to color our diet is key and having the right ingredients on hand can make a significant nutritional impact. Here are a few tips for adding quick color to your plate (PLEASE NOTE: Colors from artificially colored breakfast cereals, ‘fruit’ gummies, and sports drinks do not count!):

Shredded carrots- Purchase ready-made or shred whole carrots in a food processor and store in the fridge. These add crunch and sweetness to salads, wraps, skillet dishes and tacos.

Baby spinach- These tender leaves are easy to add fresh to any salad, sandwich, and wrap. Throw in a handful at the end of cooking a stir-fry, soup, or egg dish.

Bell peppers- Choose yellow, red, orange or green, cut into strips and store in the fridge. Munch on at snack time, add to a wrap, and use for any stir fry, skillet or salad.

Sugar snap peas- Slice for salads, steam for a side, or enjoy ‘as is’ for snack time. Their crunchy sweetness is hard to resist.

Red and purple grapes- Use in green salads, grain salads and chicken salads. Freeze a bunch to enjoy as a warm weather snack.

Broccoli slaw- Find this slightly nutty and crunchy slaw in a grocer’s salad section. Enjoy the flavor and texture it adds to salads and wraps. Try it on its own with a light dressing as a yummy side.

This list of ideas can continue!  Please share your favorite, easy ways to ‘Go for Color’ with fruits and vegetables.

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle!

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March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle. Many of you, friends who read and follow this blog, already bite into a healthy lifestyle everyday! Here is what that looks like:

Your day starts with breakfast.  Food at breakfast is used as fuel for your brain, better than any morning latte could do!

Half of your plate is fruits and vegetables.  Over the course of 3 meals and 1-2 snacks, you consume at least 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables. The more color on your plate, the richer in health promoting phytonutrients you consume.

Half of all the grains you eat are whole.  There is great nutrition- fiber, minerals, phytonutrients- in the bran layer of grains that gets lost when grains are refined.  You reap whole grain nutrition with three servings of whole grain everyday.

You enjoy three servings of dairy foods (or calcium-rich substitute) everyday.  With dairy foods– milk, yogurt, cheese- you consume the nutrients calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, that are most often lacking in American diets.

You choose to be active everyday by walking, running, stairclimbing, dancing, biking (the list is endless).  You reap the many benefits like weight management; protection from the chronic diseases diabetes and heart disease; strengthening of bones and muscles; and improved mental health.

Celebrate the steps you’ve taken toward a healthy lifestyle!  Good health- your health- is worth every bite!

Milk Truth

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Have you been confused lately about the facts and the health benefits of milk? You are not alone. Science has been misconstrued by the media and special interest groups.  As a result, many people are confused and may be turning away from one of the most nutrient-rich, affordable and available sources of high-quality protein and 8 other nutrients, many of which are lacking in American diets.

‘Milk Truth’ means using the support of science to uncover the facts.  The information below is from an information campaign to share the truth about milk.  It is science-based and links are provided for all the references.  I welcome questions and comments on this topic.  Please share!

Milk Truth:

MILK IS A NUTRIENT POWERHOUSE.

Milk isn’t just for kids – although it’s especially important for growing kids who need the nourishment that milk provides. Milk is an affordable, convenient and easily accessible source of essential nutrients for all family members. Milk is America’s top food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium – three nutrients that are most often lacking in our diet. Milk is also a good source of high-quality protein (casein and whey). Each 8-ounce glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein – compared to a large egg, which has 6 grams of protein.

MILK PROVIDES VALUABLE NUTRIENTS WITHOUT EXCESS FAT OR CALORIES.

No matter what you choose – fat free, low fat, organic – dairy milk provides 9 essential nutrients. Fat-free milk contains just 80 calories per cup, and all the nutrients are still intact. Rest assured, the milk is not diluted. If you prefer whole, full-fat milk, it’s actually 3.25% milkfat by weight – which is not as much as many people think. Since milk is highly regulated, you can feel good about its safety. Every batch is carefully tested for antibiotics, and any milk testing positive for antibiotics is discarded before it reaches the dairy case. So you can feel confident your milk is safe and wholesome.

MILK OFFERS A RANGE OF HEALTH BENEFITS, BACKED BY
DECADES OF RESEARCH.

Skeptics may claim that milk isn’t necessary, but a large body of scientific research suggests otherwise. Studies repeatedly show the benefits of drinking two to three glasses of milk a day. Milk helps build and maintain bone strength, and has been found to boost muscle growth and support healthy weight. An extensive body of research suggests far-reaching health benefits of milk – ranging from “reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and with lower blood pressure in adults,” according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Milk and milk products are valuable foods that nourish people around the world and play a valuable role in global public health.

MILK IS NOT EASILY REPLACED

It’s hard to get nutrients you need without milk in your diet. Studies with adults and kids have shown just how tough that is, and how missing those nutrients can have a negative health impact. The truth is, not all non-dairy milks have the same nutrients as real milk, so it’s important to know what you are getting in each glass. For instance, dairy milk has 8 times the protein of almond and rice milks – which contain a long list of ingredients, including added sugar, syrups, salt, thickeners and stabilizers. Real milk’s ingredient list is short and simple, with only ingredients you know.

MILK IS REAL, WHOLESOME AND LOCAL

Milk is one of the original local, farm-to-table foods. It’s a product from farm families that care about their cows. In fact, 97% of dairy farms are still family-owned and operated – passed down from generation to generation. Little handling is done from farm to fridge – primarily just pasteurization, a simple heat-treated process that ensures the milk you buy at the store is safe to drink, but does not reduce the nutrients inside. Milk is a whole, naturally nutrient-rich food.

Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato

Potatoes au Gratin

There were two pounds of leftover cooked potatoes in my fridge.  Every few months, I set aside a day to develop new recipes and yesterday’s work on a potato salad left me with extra.  What to do with 2 pounds of leftover cooked potatoes in June?  Think ‘dairy’ and use fat-free milk and cheese to make potato au gratin!

June is dairy month.  Most of us only get 2 of the 3 servings of dairy that are recommended daily.  Unfortunately, this causes us to miss out on milk’s powerful nutrient package of calcium and eight other essential nutrients which nourishes our body and promotes bone health.  Check out ‘30 days of dairy‘, a tip sheet developed by the National Dairy Council with great ideas for adding that extra serving in your family’s diet.  You can also try some Myplate2yours dairy favorites like Chocolate Monkey Smoothies, Barley & Apple Breakfast Bake, and Cheddar Chicken and Potato Packets.  Here’s the new favorite- Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato- adapted from Cooking Light 2000.  Happy Dairy Month!

Potato au Gratin with Sun Dried Tomato (serves 6)

2 pounds cooked* red or Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into slices

2 ounces sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chop coarsely

1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread or butter

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon each- salt and pepper

3 tablespoons flour (easy to make gluten free, just use brown rice flour instead)

2 cups skim milk

1-1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer potatoes on bottom of dish.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add onion and cook until tender (about 3 minutes).  Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over pan and while stirring continuously, cook for one minute. Slowly add milk and stir or whisk until blended and mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add cheese, stir to combine melted cheese.  Pour sauce over potatoes.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until golden.  Enjoy!

*To cook potatoes, place in pot with boiling water and cook until tender 20-30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Dining Out with Food Allergies

Dining out is meant to be enjoyable, but for families with food allergies, it can be very stressful.  I know this too well!  First, you must choose the right restaurant, then ask the server to communicate the allergy information to the kitchen, and finally, you must trust the kitchen staff to safely prepare the food, allergen-free.  The good news is that dining out with food allergies has gotten a little easier thanks to the people at FARE- Food Allergy Research & Education.  They just launched SafeFARE, a national public awareness campaign to help make dining out safer for individuals with food allergies.  Check out the new website with helpful resources like a list of questions to use when calling a restaurant ahead of time and a chef card to present to the restaurant when you arrive.  Those are just two of the resources available from SafeFARE to help make eating out enjoyable for ALL!

They are also establishing a restaurant database and will provide online training for participating restaurants.  Help spread the word!  Encourage your favorite restaurant to sign up for an allergen training course and be listed in the SafeFARE database.