Organic Vegetable Fritters- The Huffington Post

Organic Vegetable Fritters

Provided by: TASTE

30 mins total 15 mins prep

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound organic potato, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 pound organic baby zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 organic egg
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, for frying

Directions

  • Rinse the grated vegetables in a colander, then squeeze dry in a tea towel. Lightly beat the egg with the seasoning then add the cheese and vegetables, and mix. Place the mixture in a colander to drain any excess moisture.
  • Drop dessert-sized spoonfuls of the mixture into shallow medium-hot oil then gently fry until golden, crisp and cooked through.

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The health benefits of tofu | Healthy Eating | Eat Well | Best Health

Want to go meatless more often? Tofu is a great low-fat option that’s also packed with protein. Here’s why it’s great and how to prepare it
By Nettie Cronish The health benefits of tofu

Made from soybeans, tofu is a great protein source that is low in fat. (Eight ounces [240 g] of firm tofu provide the same protein as eating 2½ ounces [75 g] of steak or three ounces [90 g] of ground beef). And it’s low in calories and high in calcium: A four-ounce (½ cup) serving of extra-firm tofu contains only 120 calories and as much calcium as an eight-ounce (1 cup) serving of cow’s milk. Bonus: It contains isoflavones that may help ease the symptoms of menopause.

When it comes to cooking, tofu is versatile. Yes, its taste is bland, but the porous texture of firm tofu means it easily absorbs whatever flavours it’s cooked with (blend soft tofu with chocolate to make a dessert, or with garlic, lemon juice and basil to make a dip). It can
be added to recipes in a number of ways. Try it crumbled, mashed, sliced, braised, baked, poached, fried, puréed or diced. You can also buy it baked, smoked, fermented or fried.

How it’s made

Tofu is made in a similar way to simple cheeses, such as ricotta. A mineral salt- or acid-based coagulant is stirred into heated soy liquid. The liquid separates into curds and whey. The curds are then pressed into a block; the longer it’s pressed, the firmer it becomes.

What to look for when buying

You will find tofu in supermarkets, in either the produce section or the refrigerated food cases. It’s sold immersed in water and you’ll need to rinse it before you cook with it. Here are the textures you’ll find and the meals most suited for each:

Firm (or regular) tofu

This is an all-purpose tofu. It’s not as smooth as silken tofu or as grainy as extra-firm. When fried, it is creamy on the inside. Use it as a topping on pizza, or in chili and tacos.

Extra-Firm tofu

This is tofu that was pressed the longest; it won’t fall apart during cooking. There are many ways to enjoy extra-firm tofu: Marinate it, grill it, or crumble it up to make it resemble ground hamburger.

Silken tofu

This is soft and silky with a custard-like texture. (Silken comes in soft, firm and extra-firm, but they’re all soft tofus.) Use it in salad dressings, pie fillings, puddings and smoothies.

Storage tips

To store unused firm, extra-firm or silken tofu, put it in a container filled with cold water, then cover and refrigerate for up to seven days —but be sure to change the water daily to keep it fresh.

Leftover firm or extra-firm tofu can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to five months. But be aware that freezing tofu changes its texture and colour, making it chewy and turning its colour from white to amber. To defrost, remove the plastic wrap and place the tofu in a deep bowl. Cover it with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Before using, press it firmly between your palms and squeeze out excess water.

This article was originally titled “Tofu, anyone?” in the September 2012 issue of Best Health.

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Garden turning brown from the heat? Here’s how you can save it | MNN – Mother Nature Network

It seems like summer is finally here. Finally! I don’t know about you, but I am ready, and this year, it feels like the weather isn’t waiting. Much of the country is already experiencing extreme heat. It’s a nice respite from the dark and the damp of winter, at least if you’re a human.

watering garden in summer

But if you’re a plant? Maybe not so much.

Like the good gardener that I am, I had my seedlings going way back in the earliest days of spring. Starts were in the ground as soon as the final frost had come and gone. My precious little plants, nurtured by my own hands, have been slowly and steadily soaking up sun and rain ever since. And through spring they thrived. You should see the height on my sunflowers!

But then, summer set in. We had a couple of scorcher days, and my poor plants begin to wilt. And we DIY home improvers in San Diego haven’t even had it as bad as other parts of the country. I was chatting with a friend from Baton Rouge the other day, who sadly laughed as she told the story of her poor arugula, which fought so hard for three weeks in record temperatures before, as she said “The arugula was finally just like ‘nope, I’m over it’ and collapsed in a little pile of surrender.”

If you’re battling this same sunny demon in your own garden, I’ve got a few tips that just may help you keep your plants from withering away into lifeless straw. Don’t give up before you give these a shot!

2. Water not only often, but deeply. For garden beds and in-ground plants, it’s important that the water penetrate deep into the earth to encourage the roots to continue to extend down. It’s cooler down there and the deeper the roots, the more likely your plant will survive extreme heat. So water often but more importantly, water for extended periods, to fully saturate the soil.

3. Don’t fertilize! In extreme heat, water is taken up very quickly by plants. This is great for thirsty plants, but it can be dangerous if you try to fertilize — which you may be tempted to do if your plants seem to be dying. Remember that fertilizer is also taken in very fast when it’s hot, so plants are easily burned in this weather. Focus on water; save the fertilizer for after the heat wave passes.

mulch summer garden

4. Mulch is your BFF. Mulch will have your back, for reals. A thick layer (a few inches at least) of organic mulch over your garden will greatly reduce moisture loss, as well as help to regulate soil temperature. It’s also an awesome stand-in for the fertilizer you’ll be forgoing, and will help return some much-needed nutrients to the plants. So don’t skip it — mulch is a life saver!

5. Try a little shade. You can build little tents or umbrellas (or better yet have a carpenter build a garden structure) to shade your tender greens and lettuces, which will help to delay bolting. They will bolt no matter what in extreme heat, but shade may give you a little more time to maximize your yield.

If you can implement all these tips, then you can probably save your garden from certain death in the summer sun. Now get out there and enjoy the heat!

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Who invented guacamole? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

There may be no more perfect food than the avocado, at once utterly decadent but decidedly healthy; an opinion backed by the fact that 1.6 billion avocados were consumed in the United States in 2012.

During the Super Bowl alone, 12 million pounds of avocados were transformed into guacamole; Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day see even more of the chunky green dip being devoured. We have become a nation of guacamole lovers.

Most of us first experienced guacamole in the context of Mexican food; but where did it actually originate?

Appropriately enough, Mexico. We can thank the Aztecs, the native American people who dominated central Mexico from the 14th to 16th centuries. Although dog, grasshopper, and worms were food staples in Aztec culture, they also indulged in things more culturally palatable to us, namely chocolate and guacamole.

The avocado (Persea americana) – savory like a vegetable, but botanically a fruit – dates to between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C., and is native to south-central Mexico. Archeological evidence shows avocado trees were cultivated as early as 750 B.C.

By the time the Spaniards came upon the Aztec empire in the 1500s, the locals were making a sauce called “ahuaca-mulli,” meaning “avocado-mixture.” The word “avocado” comes from the ancient Aztec word “ahuacatl,” meaning “testicles” (an association we may not have come up with on our own, but now the aphrodisiac bit makes sense). The Spanish turned “ahuacatl” into “aguacate,” which we in turn turned into “avocado” ­­– “ahuaca-mulli” became “guacamole.”

The first English-language mention of avocado was by Sir Henry Sloane in 1696, and in 1871, avocado trees were successfully introduced to California. By the 1900s growers there were foreseeing a great commercial crop, by the 1950s, some 25 different varieties of avocados were being grown in The Golden State. In the 1930s, the king of avocados, the Hass, was discovered; it remains the most popular (and, quite frankly, the most dreamy and delicious) of all. And perfect for making guacamole.

By most accounts, the ancient version of the dish was originally made with mashed avocados, chili peppers, tomatoes, white onions, and salt. Typical recipes nowadays include lime and cilantro, though any number of variations exist; just be sure to start with ripe avocados and a tip of the hat to the Aztecs.

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Red Bean and Green Bean Salad – NYTimes.com

Red Bean and Green Bean Salad

The first time I made this, I used some delicious small red beans that my housekeeper, Ana, brought from El Salvador. I also tested it with canned beans; of course I liked the Salvadoran red beans better, but not having them shouldn’t deter you from making this substantial salad.

1 cup small red beans or red kidney beans, washed, picked over and soaked for 6 hours or overnight

1/2 onion

3 garlic cloves, 2 of them unpeeled and crushed, 1 of them minced or puréed

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

3/4 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt or broth from the beans

Freshly ground pepper

Optional: 1 to 2 ounces crumbled feta

1. Drain the beans, rinse and place in a heavy saucepan with the onion, the crushed whole cloves of garlic, the bay leaf and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste and continue to simmer for an hour to an hour and a half more, until the beans are tender but intact. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the onion, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Place a strainer over a bowl and drain the beans. Transfer the beans to a salad bowl.

Note: You can substitute canned beans, but make sure to rinse them and to season them well. You will need 2 1/3 cups beans.

2. While the beans are simmering, blanch the green beans in salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, or steam them. They should be tender but still have some snap to them. Cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces.

3. Toss together the red beans and the herbs. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil and 3 tablespoons broth from the beans (or yogurt, if you used canned beans). If you have time, allow the mixture to marinate, in or out of the refrigerator, for 30 minutes before adding the green beans and serving. Add the green beans and toss again just before serving.

Yield: 4 generous servings

Advance preparation: This will keep for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator, but the green beans will lose their bright color.

Nutritional information per serving: 267 calories; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 milligram cholesterol; 33 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams dietary fiber; 70 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 13 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

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THE PERFECT SUMMER SALAD – A House In The Hills

Summer Salad

our amazing and talented friends juan and farra helped with the food for lou’s birthday party (god i love them!). and when i was in panic mode and couldn’t come up with an idea for a salad to serve with tacos they suggested a watermelon, watercress, pepita and cotija salad with a lime cilantro vinaigrette. genius, right? i left out the cotija to keep it dairy free but it’s amazing with or without. light, refreshing, healthy, full of flavor and so easy to throw together! what else could you want from a summer salad? hope you love as much as i do. more after the jump! xx- sarah

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch watercress

2 cups cubed watermelon

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/8 cup grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/2 lime

METHOD:

– if possible make the dressing in advance by combining the grapeseed oil, lime juice, sea salt, cilantro, and maple syrup. i added one extra solid pinch of salt at the end too, but taste and season to your preference!

– rinse and dry the watercress, combine in a large serving bowl with the watermelon and toss with the dressing.

– in a skillet toast the pepitas over medium heat with the juice of 1/2 lime and a solid pinch of salt

– add pepitas to salad and serve!

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A Humble Lentil Dish Not Just for Hippies – NYTimes.com

The menu at the Lebanese restaurant didn’t do the dish any favors. “Vegetarian brown lentils and rice cooked with onions,” the description read. It sounded like a dreary incarnation of 1960s hippie cuisine: salubrious, drab, bland.

But we were in need of a meatless main course, so we ordered it anyway. And that’s when I fell in love with mujadara.

The menu’s description of the dish was technically correct. But the lentils and rice were headily perfumed with cumin and allspice. The onions were fried in olive oil until burnished and crackling, adding texture and a gentle sweetness to the mix. We all devoured it, vegetarians and omnivores alike.

Cookbooks will tell you that, in the Middle East, mujadara is the essence of comfort food, a humble dish made from pantry staples. To that I will add how easy it is to make.

The only part that needs some attention is the frying of the onions (or in this case, leeks). To get them crisp, you have to cook them until they are deeply brown and darker than you might be comfortable with. But without the deep color, you don’t get the crunch. Just make sure to take them off the heat before they burn. You want the majority to be mahogany, not black (though a few black strands would be O.K.).

While a pot full of mujadara is satisfying enough to be a whole meal, I always yearn for vegetables alongside to round it out. A leafy salad, maybe one adorned with orange segments and olives, often fills that void.

But when I made mujadara recently, I took another tack and added an entire bunch of spring mustard greens directly to the pot. The greens were tender things, delicate enough to eat raw. I very coarsely chopped them up, and then, during the last five minutes of cooking, added them to the pot. They wilted in the steam while the mujadara finished cooking.

The mustard greens lightened the rice and lentils and turned the dish into a one-pot meal rich in vegetable matter. You could use any tender greens: spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens. Kale would work, too, though you might want to chop it more finely if it seems tough.

The greens also help the visual appeal of the dish, which may still be healthful but could never be bland.

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Where Corn Is King, a New Regard for Grass-Fed Beef – NYTimes.com

Where Corn Is King, a New Regard for Grass-Fed Beef

BASSETT, Neb. — Isolation comes with the territory in the Sandhills of Nebraska, where grassy dunes laced with wet meadows undulate above the Ogallala Aquifer, and the thinning towns are few and far between.

In the four years since he settled here, Prescott Frost has found himself set apart more than most. In a state where corn is king, he is on a quest to breed a better cow for the grass-fed beef industry — one that can thrive without chemical pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and, the clincher, grain — and to market his own brand of artisanal meat.

A great-grandson of the poet Robert Frost, who tended Ayrshire cattle in Vermont, the Connecticut-born Mr. Frost has spent a lifetime taking the road less traveled by. He put down roots on 7,000 acres in what he calls the Napa Valley of ranchland, home to more than 700 species of native grasses and forbs: bluestem, buffalo, reed canary, brome — the salad bar on which grass-fed beef is raised.

“If change is going to come to the cattle industry, it’s got to come from educated people from the outside,” Mr. Frost said, quoting from Allan Nation, the publisher of The Stockman Grass Farmer, considered the grazier’s bible.

Change comes slowly closer to the 100th meridian, the line of longitude bisecting East from West, where the average annual rainfall drops to less than 20 inches, acreage is measured in the thousands and the big city can be a day’s drive away. Where the great cattle herds once roamed, grass finishing — an intricate and lengthy ballet involving the balance of protein and energy derived from the stalk, with the flavor rendered by earth, plants and even stress — is a nearly lost art. Recent tradition dictates that animals be fattened for the slaughterhouse as quickly and as profitably as possible, on average between 14 and 18 months of age with the help of grain. These unconventional ranchers, their cattle idling in pastures for two or more years before reaching maturity, elicit cocked eyebrows.

“There’s a cultural kind of fear-mongering that is involved,” said Fred Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and the president of the board of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. “The attitude out there is that grass-fed is for the crazies.”

In late April, Mr. Frost was attending the Slow Money National Gathering in Boulder, Colo., where food producers trawled for investors, when he found himself at lunch with Tom Lasater of the storied Colorado and Texas ranching family. Dining on burgers and kale salad, the men could have been mistaken for oenophiles as they debated the nuances of dry aging and terroir, or how various grasses and soil conditions affect the taste of meat.

“When the wine industry started out in California, nobody had a language for what a bouquet was,” Mr. Frost, 55, said. “Vintners had to come up with a way an audience could have a conversation about hints of raspberries, of camomile. And that’s what we have to do with beef.”

The next week, Mr. Lasater, 42, who in 2009 settled in Denver to run his family’s beef-marketing business, paid Mr. Frost a visit to discuss a possible collaboration.

“He’s a fellow maverick,” Mr. Lasater said. “Finding someone like Prescott is like finding a needle in a haystack.”

The connection was easy to understand. Each had been educated at Eastern boarding schools (Mr. Frost at the Putney School in Vermont; Mr. Lasater at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire), had lived abroad (Mr. Frost in Paris and Rome; Mr. Lasater in China and Hong Kong) and had spent time in California (Mr. Frost as a stockbroker and decorative painter in Los Angeles; Mr. Lasater as an Internet entrepreneur in Silicon Valley).

And though Mr. Frost took up farming in 2003 after inheriting land in Illinois while Mr. Lasater grew up in the saddle, each was focused on addressing the distribution imbalance between the heartland and the coasts, and on increasing name recognition of their brands.

<img src=”http://meter-svc.nytimes.com/meter.gif“/>

“The intrigue and the interest in eating grass-fed beef is more in the areas of urban concentration, and where you have the cheaper land is more in the rural Midwest areas,” Mr. Kirschenmann said. “In New York, land is so expensive that farmers can’t afford to raise animals from birth to butcher on grass.”

After beef samples sent to food writers received enthusiastic reviews, Mr. Frost created a monthly Internet club, at PrescottFrost.com, that offers organic, grass-fed ground beef and hot dogs, with steaks as a bonus for subscribers. All the meat, his own and that of other producers, relies on the genetics masterminded by his partner, Rick Calvo, who fine-tunes their ranch’s two herds: Mr. Frost’s Murray Greys and Mr. Calvo’s Red Angus.

“You want a minimum-input type cow, with more depth of body, more thickness, good udder structure and a good disposition,” Mr. Calvo said. “An angry cow is not a very good eating experience.”

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Lasater’s father, Dale Lasater, whose holistic management techniques have been chronicled in National Geographic and the documentary “Food, Inc.,” decided to market the Beefmaster, his family’s breed.

“We learned that just because we liked our beef didn’t mean that anyone else in the world did, or even really cared what grass-fed beef was,” Tom Lasater said. “For the first 10 years it was a real uphill battle.”

Lasater Grasslands Beef sells about 75 percent of its product through retailers like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers, with the remaining 25 percent online.

“Grass-fed beef is getting to a point where it’s almost an interesting business,” Mr. Lasater said the afternoon before heading to California to speak with investors. “It sounds fairly simple, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of raising the beef and trying to supply people on a timely basis — what they want, when they want it and how they want it — it’s actually complicated, because you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

A month ago, the Lasater Ranch in Matheson — some 30,000 acres of shortgrass prairie 70 miles southeast of Denver that runs along the cottonwood-lined Big Sandy Creek, now dry — received its first rain in more than a year.

“The grass is very green and the ranch looks great, but six weeks ago we were wondering what happens if we have to move cattle off,” Mr. Lasater said. “Whole Foods doesn’t suddenly stop wanting cattle, and all of your other customers don’t suddenly disappear.”

Recently, Mr. Frost was recuperating after a harried drive back to Nebraska from New York and Connecticut, where he, too, had tried to drum up investors.

“How lucky am I?” he asked as the rush of a flow-well broke the early morning silence. “It’s amazing to be part of something that has the potential to be so huge in terms of the planet and sustainability. I say it’s revolutionary.”

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Broiled Tofu with Miso Glaze and Asparagus | Serious Eats : Recipes

20130610-255599-dinner-tonight-miso-glazed-tofu-asparagus-primary.jpg

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Broiled Tofu with Miso Glaze and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons white miso (or Korean miso)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (19-ounce) package of firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon canola
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Procedures

  1. Heat miso, gochujang, apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and cook until mixture reduces to a thick glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, dry tofu, wrap in paper towels, and weigh down with a plate. After 10 minutes, discard paper towels, cut tofu into 2-inch by 1-inch pieces. Toss with canola oil on a foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Arrange top oven rack to 6 inches below the heating element and preheat broiler to high. Set the baking sheet under the broiler and cook until tofu pieces are lightly browned on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pieces and brown lightly on the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven.
  4. Brush the tofu pieces on both sides with the miso glaze. Set back underneath the broiler and cook until glaze has browned, 2 to 3 minutes a side.
  5. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain asparagus.
  6. Divide the tofu and asparagus between four plates. Drizzle any extra of the glaze over the asparagus. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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