Mar 13, 2012

Sausage n' Kale Fettuccine

This is a super simple easy way to make and eat pasta with boosted nutrition from the kale--if you're looking for a recipe to try out kale on.

3 T olive oil
1 lb ground sausage
1/2 lb kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
1/2 lb fettuccine
2/3 c chicken broth
1/2 c Parmesan or Feta Cheese
1 c mushrooms, chopped (opt.)

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 5 minutes.
Remove kale with a large sieve and set aside, but keep the water in the pot--to preserve nutrients fro kale.

Return cooking water in pot to a boil, then cook pasta in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
While pasta cooks, add kale to sausage in skillet and sauté, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes. (add mushrooms to sautee too, if desired)

Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined.

Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.

**I love eating this with the mushrooms, but some may not like mushrooms. This is a simple dish, but you could add milk with chicken buillon at the end, instead of the chicken broth, if you want more of a creamy feel. Or even cerate a white sauce on the side and then add that'd be great that way too, but it's so simple if you need a quick nutritional pasta dish that's more than just noodles and cream sauce. 
*originally from

Charise's FAVORITE Fruit Salad

3 c Honeydew melon, small chunks
1 c Marion berries (frozen- sold at Costco)
1 c Strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1/2 c Apples, peeled and diced
1/2 c Blueberries
1/2 c Grapes
1 c Plain Yogurt or Kefir

Sauce:  1 orange- juiced,  1/2 cup rapadura (organic whole cane sugar), and 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract. 

I blend the freshly juiced orange and the rapadura (brown sugar) together over med. heat until the sugar dissolves completely--or just use maple syrup as a substitute.  I then add the vanilla after taking it off the heat.  Cool completely if the fruit is all thawed out.  If you still have frozen fruit, I pour the warm sauce over it and stir the fruit and sauce all together.  Right before serving, add 1 cup of a good rich plain yogurt or Kefir and stir it all together.  DELICIOUS and healthy fruit I come!

Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole

6-8 Chicken Breasts, washed and pat dry
1 pkg. Bacon, fried and crumbled
3 cups Rice, cooked
1 lg. Yellow Onion, diced
3 stalks Celery
1 1/2 cups mozzarella
2 cups Spaghetti Sauce
Garlic & Herb bread crumbs
1 Egg

After cooking the bacon, remove bacon slices to a paper towel and crumble it.  Set aside.
Sautee the onions and celery in about 1/2 the bacon fat.  Set aside. 
Beat the egg and drench each chicken breast in the egg followed by the bread crumbs.  Set aside.
Combine the vegetable, rice, cheese, crumbled bacon pieces and salt and pepper.  Spread mixture into a 9x13" casserole dish and place chicken on top.  Spread the Spaghetti Sauce all over the top of the chicken and rice combination.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

Recipe by: Charise Cooley 

Mar 12, 2012

New Food Adventure: Kale

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts.

There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. The scientific name for kale is Brassica oleracea.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.

Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.

Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.

It's nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (mostly vitamins K, A, and C)
(1) antioxidant nutrients
(2) anti-inflammatory nutrients
(3) anti-cancer nutrients

You'll want to include kale as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups. Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy kale and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to be sure to enjoy the maximum nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it properly. We recommend Healthy Steaming kale for 5 minutes. To ensure quick and even cooking cut the leaves into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting qualities before steaming. See our Healthiest Way of Cooking Kale in the How to Enjoy section below.

Nutrient%Daily Value

vitamin K1327.6%

vitamin A354.1%

vitamin C88.8%









vitamin E5.5%

omega-3 fats5.4%

vitamin B25.2%


vitamin B14.6%



vitamin B33.2%

Calories (36)2%

Tips for Preparing Kale
Rinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portion into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths for quick and even cooking.

To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.

Cooking: Best to Steam Kale
Kale can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability--just not as much.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Braise chopped kale and apples. Before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
  • Combine chopped kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.
**Or try our recipes:
Zuppa Tuscana soup
Sausage Kale Fettuccine (my favorite--I also like it with lemon chicken in place of sausage)
Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale
Garlic Parmesan Kale Salad
Kale Slaw

*info from

Salad Greens Nutritional Comparison

Ever wondered which greens are really more "green" and optimal for boosting your nutrition? Or ever tried kale or swiss chard?

First let's look at the basic lettuce types, then we'll delve into other "Greens" that are more powerhouses.

As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the greater the nutritional value of lettuce.
The result in compating the greens is that iceberg gives you squat in comparison to other types of lettuce, so go have fun and try other greens. Mix it up a bit. :)

Nutritional Comparison of Salad Greens Based on a 1 Cup Serving
Salad Greens Calories Vit A (IU) Vit C(Mg) Calcium (Mg) Potassium (Mg)
Romaine 8 1456 13 20 65
Leaf Lettuce 10 1064 10 38 148
Butterhead (Bib and Boston) 7 534 4 18 141
Arugula 5 480 3 32 74
Mixed Greens 9 1495 9 30 174
Baby Spinach 7 1200 8 20
Iceberg 7 182 2 10 87

Now let's discover more about other real DARK Greens that are huge boosts:
Dark leafy greens are rich in vitamins A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, they are also good sources of calcium and and magnesium, iron, and folic acid. Greens also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are believed to help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
(So don't throw away some of these if you can find ways to cook/eat them...)

Collard Greens
One of the milder of the sturdy greens, collards are an excellent source of folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Collards are especially high in calcium.

Bok Choy
Bok Choy is a Chinese variety of cabbages. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and iron, as well as a good source of folate, vitamin B6 and calcium. Avoid buying bok choy that has brown spots on it, because it indicates some flavor has been lost.

While sweet following a light frost, kale generally has a stronger flavor than collard greens and can be quite coarse and peppery when raw. To ensure a milder texture and flavor, choose smaller kale leaves and cook them until tender. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, kale is also a good source of iron, vitamin B6, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Mustard Greens
Mustard greens have an even stronger flavor than kale, but milder varieties are grown in Asia and are sometimes available in the United States. They taste best when they are six to 12-inches long and have no seeds.

Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient that is usually only found in high-fat foods. It is also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene. To preserve its crispness and sweetness, be sure to keep it chilled.

Spinach is mild enough to be enjoyed both raw and cooked and contains carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Besides carotenoids, spinach is higher in folate than other greens. Cooking the spinach with a small amount of fat, such as olive oil, will enhance the availability of these nutrients.

Beat Greens
Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium, beet greens are often more nutritious than beets (with one exception: Beets are higher in folate). They are best for eating when young and tender.

Turnip Greens
The leafy tops of turnips are one of the bitterest greens available, so they are not often eaten raw. Like beet greens, they are best for eating when they are quite young. Although both turnips and turnip greens are nutritious, the best source of vitamins and minerals is the greens, which are high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate.

*greens info from

Bell Peppers: Nutritional Value

Bell Peppers are members of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.

Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes.
Green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while the red, orange and yellows are sweeter and almost fruity. But the longer they can ripen on the vine, the more antioxidants they will have (many green bell peppers you buy at the store are picked early and may have turned into another color if they had been left to ripen longer on the vine).

But as with anything cooked with heat, nutritional value starts to decline as you cook it. So raw is best, but you'll still get

Although peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the summer and early fall months.

The bell pepper is an excellent source of anitoxidants, including cartenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E. The level of vitamin C is at 117 milligrams per cup. (That's more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in a typical orange.)
Nutrients in 1 cup, raw bell pepper%Daily Value
vitamin C195.8%
vitamin A57.6%
vitamin B613.5%
vitamin E7.2%
vitamin K5.6%
vitamin B24.7%
vitamin B34.5%
vitamin B13.3%
vitamin B52.8%

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Add finely chopped bell peppers to tuna or chicken salad.
  • After Healthy Sautéeing chopped peppers, celery and onions, combine with tofu, chicken or seafood to make a simple Louisiana Creole dish.
  • Purée roasted and peeled peppers with Healthy Sautéed onions and zucchini to make a deliciously refreshing soup that can be served hot or cold.
  • Bell peppers are one of the best vegetables to serve in a crudité platter since not only do they add a brilliant splash of color, but their texture is also the perfect crunchy complement for dips.
Or try our feta stuffed peppers--very simple

*nutritional info from

Mar 1, 2012

English Muffin Bread

So I think this recipe tastes really similar to English Muffins (and this is the third recipe I've tried).

This recipe is pretty much the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe, which I adore and use constantly--but this one has my own tweaks and the porportions vary slightly.

However, the best part is that I rarely measure the yeast and salt exactly and it comes out fine still--same with Artisan bread. And there's no kneading or real effort involved at all. Just mix and let sit.

2 3/4 c warm water
1 1/2 T
1 T salt
1 1/2 T sugar
5 1/2 c flour (I use half white, half wheat and add 3 T vital wheat gluten also for fluffiness)

1. Mix all altogether and let rise in bowl until double. (I wait a few hours, but it varies)
2. Divide into 2 greased loaf pans and let rise until dough reaches the top of the pan.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (golden brown).
4. Brush top with butter when you pull it out, if desired. And let cool.

The best way to eat this is to toast it and use it for one of the following...or other:
- egg muffins on it
- butter/jam
- tuna/crab/chicken cheese melt
- garlic salt/buttered! (great addition to soups and main courses)

*from Shelley