The Most Perfect Way to Start the Day - Savory "Cheezy" Oatmeal with Greens
"I adore savory breakfasts.
In the old days I loved bacon and eggs sometimes even with potatoes.
But the arteries and the waistline just won't take it anymore.
I loved the breakfasts I had in Japan and cannot recommend miso soup too highly. The first time I tasted it I had to have two refills. Yum!
Loved Scandinavian breakfasts as well, but can't have the meat and cheese anymore.
Same with Turkish breakfasts, but they always have lettuce tomato and cucumber the above. Very nice.
Here is my current favorite breakfast. Absolutely delicious and good for the arteries. Great science based health blog too, I might add: Happy Healthy Long Life"
-Posted on Mark Bittman's column, "Savory Breakfast Department," by Elephant Lover, New Mexico, February 9, 2011-
Four Powerhouse Meals You'll Want to Eat Over and Over Again
Click here to get to the web version with all the links & comments.
This is it folks. Four everyday foods that you can happily eat over and over again. At least I can.
Yes, I crave variety, and I'm always trying out new recipes--but, honestly, these four are so delicious, so nutrient-packed, so easy to prepare, so simple to change-up, that you'll want to have them in your fridge for easy breakfasts & lunches.
- Oatmeal for Breakfast: The Healthy Librarian's Savory "Cheezy" Oatmeal with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes & Greens of Your Choice. Just give it a try! It's like a gourmet risotta for breakfast--beats the fruited sweeter oatmeals hands-down! I make enough to eat for 4 days. Click here for the recipe, benefits & instructions.
- Soup that's a Meal for Lunch or Dinner: The Healthy Librarian's "Englightened & Enhanced" Arabian Nights Lentil & Rice Soup - based on Isa's Appetite for Reduction recipe.
- The Best Burger Ever for Lunch or Dinner: The Healthy Librarian's "Enlightened" Chipotle Lentil Burgers with oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries (another riff/adaptation off of Isa's Appetite for Reduction--can you tell how much I love this cookbook?)
- A Salad that's a Meal for Lunch or Dinner: Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad topped with Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette--1001 ways to make this one different everyday!
Building the Case for Savory Vegetable Oatmeal for Breakast
My curiosity got the best of me. Why were so many people visiting my "Savory Cheezy Oatmeal" post by way of Mark Bittman's New York Times article about savory breakfasts? Hmmm....
When I followed the link--I discovered that someone was recommending my oatmeal to Bittman. Yay!
And now for a little more feedback about this rather "out there" oatmeal recipe that I call--"Not Your Mother's Oatmeal! A Mega-Nitric Oxide Antioxidant Boosting Breakfast for Champions: The Healthy Librarian's Savory "Cheezy" Oatmeal with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach"-- I first posted this back on January 26, 2011--and I really would call it my own unique oatmeal creation.
Don't knock it until you've tried it. You're going to have to trust me on this one!
- I'm now totally sold on eating savory oatmeal for breakfast--and I'm currently off of the "fruited sweet" kind. It is AMAZINGLY filling--and sticks with me for about four or more hours. You can't beat that.
- I still love it with spinach--but one reader suggests using kale--because unlike spinach, it isn't high in oxalates that can lessen calcium absorption. And he's absolutely right! A cup of cooked kale will give you as much absorbable calcium as a glass of milk. Consider bok choy, broccoli, or brussles sprouts, too. The possibilities of vegetable add-ins are endless.
- When my husband finally tasted my savory oatmeal, he was totally surprised. He's a raisin- banana-rolled-oats kind of guy. "Wow! This is really fantastic! You could even eat this for lunch or dinner!"
- When one of my co-workers finally tried it, she was hooked. Her recipe twist--microwaved broccoli--instead of spinach. She now brings it to work to eat as a "brunch"--and she can't believe how quick & easy it is to make--and how filling it is.
- Here's what blog reader Tom had to say: "We've been eating the Savory "Cheezy" Breakfast Oatmeal with Shitake Mushrooms lately and really love it. I have to say that I feel much better when I have it versus what I was having before, steel cut oats with lots of dried fruits. No more enery swings or "hang overs". We have one suggestion though and that is to use kale instead of the spinach since we've always been told that spinach keeps you from absorbing the calcium. Perhaps also, the stated calcium, 17%, should be revised." He's right! Switch to kale or another green if you're looking for a calcium boost.
Why Is This a Hands-Down Nutritional Powerhouse? Let Me Count the Ways
- Steel cut oats have it all. OK--oat groats & rolled oats, too! Turns out, according to Dr. Mohsen Meydani, the "oat expert" at the USDA-Agricultural Research Vascular Biology Lab at Tufts University, the phytochemical, avenanthramide, in oats help prevent atherosclerosis by increasing artery-saving nitric oxide production in the endothelium or lining of our arteries. That's the "magic gas" that keeps the arteries relaxed and dilated. And it's a dose-response--the more avenanthramides (oatmeal) you eat, the greater the nitric oxide production. They're also loaded with both soluble fiber to whisk away cholesterol, and insoluble fiber to keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.
- Sundried tomatoes. It's all about lyopene, baby! Tomatoes are a rich source of this carotenoid that's known for its cancer-fighting properties (especially prostate cancer), for its blood pressure-lowering properties, and for preventing oxidative damage in the heart. Bonus: tomatoes also contain lutein that promotes eye & heart health; prevents macular degeneration, plus vitamins A & C.
- Shiitake Mushrooms. They've got eight essential amino acids, plus lentinan which stimulates the immune system, protects against infections--including colds--& provides cardiovascular benefits. It also contains eritadenine, which lowers cholesterol.
- Turmeric (Curcumin). This is the hands-down powerhouse spice. It's a powerful anti-oxidant, which has been championed by Dr. Bharat Aggarwal of M.D. Anderson Medical Center for its cancer-fighting properties. You're going to want to read this, this and this hot-off-the-press article from M.D. Anderson. And there's more. Like easing inflammation from arthritis, joint pain and muscle cramps, possibly preventing cataracts, improving cholesterol, and preventing Alzheimers. My husband swears that daily turmeric ended his nightly toe cramps caused by running. Definitely sounds like snake oil---but just check out the literature about turmeric on PubMed.
- The Greens. I like to add 2.5 ounces or 3 cups of spinach to my oatmeal. But you can add kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, broccoli, or collard greens. No need for me to repeat all their top-of-vegetable-heap health benefits--like their high vitamin A content, their omega-3s, and best of all, their ability to boost production of the "magic gas" known as nitric oxide that heals the endothelial linings of our blood vessels--preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and preventing cognitive dysfunction. Click here and here and here.
- Nutritional yeast. This is what gives the oatmeal its delicious mild creamy "cheezy" flavor--and it's high in both B vitamins (many varieties include B-12) and protein.
OK--enough of my savory oatmeal sales pitch! Find the recipe here
2.5 ounces of raw spinach to add to your oatmeal - about 3-4 cups
2.5 ounces of spinach "melted" in minutes in the microwave to mix into your oatmeal
Nutritional info based on 1/4 of the recipe (doesn't include the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds I always add on top of each serving)
Savory "Cheezy" Oats with Greens
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
The Healthy Librarian's "Enlightened & Enhanced" Arabian Nights Lentil & Rice Soup
Hearty Arabian Nights Lentil & Rice Soup
Another one of Isa's Appetite for Reduction creations. My daughter-in-law turned me on to this soup when she told me it was easy, delicious, and my grandson scraped up every last spoonful. Licked his plate clean. Now that's hard to resist.
When my husband & I brought this lentil soup to our couple's Friday night dinner group--even the lentil-scoffers LOVED it. You know who you are! We even fought over who was going to get the last 1/2 serving we had leftover.
Easy, quick, delicous. Great to tote to work for lunch or for a one dish meal.
Here's a little bit about why I LOVE lentils so much. Everyone thinks they need to eat turkey in order to get that calming amino acid, tryptophan. Not so. Lentils and garbanzos are loaded with the stuff.
And what's so good about tryptophan? Well, our brains need tryptophan to produce the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin--which regulates mood, appetite, hunger and sleep. But, there's a CATCH! Tryptophan cannot cross the blood-brain barrier to produce serotonin without CARBOHYDRATES! And of course, lentils happens to come "packaged" with their own carbs.
The lentil story gets even better. They're loaded with the harder to find soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar--preventing blood sugar & insulin spikes. One cup is also loaded with protein, folate, and at least 7 important minerals like manganese and iron.
The Health Librarian's Enlightened & Enhanced Arabian Nights Lentil & Rice Soup
For a copy of the recipe on one page, click here
Serves at least 6
Prep & cooking time: Total 1 hour
1 large onion, diced small
6 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 tsp salt, optional
Several pinches of greshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 cups chopped carrots (small dice)
1 cup dried RED LENTILS (which are really pale orange--you must use this kind--Bob's Red Mill carries them)
1/2 cup BROWN basmati rice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Key added spice: 1/4 to 1/2 or more Garam Masala (find at grocery stores, Spice Island brand, Indian specialty groceries, or Penzey Spices online) This is a subtle, delightful must-have Indian spice. Click here to learn more. Click here for a recipe to blend your own.
1. Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions without oil until transluscent, about 4 minutes. Keep moving them around with a spatula, and add small amounts (like 2 tablespoonsfuls) of vegetable broth or water when & if they start to stick, to nicley deglaze the pan.
2. Add the garlic, pepper, and salt and saute for another minute. Add the spices and stir coninuously for about 15 seconds to toast them a bit.
3. Add the carrots, lentils, rice, zest, and broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye on it--you don't want it to burn or stick. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are creamy (melted) and the rice is tender. Depending on the rice you use, it could be 15 minutes, more or less. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from burning at the bottom. If necessary, thin the soup with water or more broth.
4. Add the lemon juice, and the Garam Masala, in 1/4 teaspoon increments, so you can taste as you go--I like about 1/2 teaspoon of it. You may want more, or less. Adjust for other seasonings, like salt or pepper.
5. Let the soup sit for 10 minutes or so to maximize the flavors.
Nutritional Info based on 1/6 serving
Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
A Burger You'll Want to Always Keep on Hand in Your Refrigerator or Freezer
Chipotle Lentil Burgers on Alvarado Street Sprouted Burger Buns with Bone Suckin' Barbecue Sauce, French Garden Sprouts, and Cajun Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Yes, you can easily eat this cold if you pack it for lunch!
Hurray! More power-packed lentils on the menu.
Little-known factoid: Of all the legumes/beans, lentils are the least gas-producing.
I've tried lots of delicious veggie/bean burger recipes, but these just might be my new faves. They have great flavor, heft, & texture. No way will these fall apart & they actually look like "the real thing". Besides, I can't resist any recipe with chipotles.
Chipotle Lentil Burgers
for a copy of the recipe on one page, click here
Makes 7-8 big burgers
Preparation: 30 minutes prep time. 30 minutes oven-baking time
1 small red onion, cut in medium dice
1/2 pound zucchini, halved lengthwide and sliced 1/2 inch thick (it all gets processed, so no need to make them too small)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (stems & leaves!)
17.6 oz. (1 lb. 1.6 oz.) of already cooked lentils. I used Trader Joe's refrigerated vacuum packed Steamed French lentils. If this isn't available, use 2 1/2 cups of cooked or canned lentils.
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs. I prefer Ian's Whole Wheat Panko-style crumbs (you might need to use more)
1/4 cup of canned chipotles in adobo sauce, seeds removed, with adobo sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
2 teaspoons Smoked paprika (no substitutes)
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. This is the temperature that I use to bake burgers & fries in my oven. If you have a gas oven, or your oven runs hot--you may want to lower it, accordingly.
2. Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium-high. Saute the onions without oil until almost transluscent, about 3 minutes. Keep moving them around, and add small amounts (2 tablespoonsful) of vegetable broth or water when & if they start to stick, to nicely deglaze the pan.
3. Add the zucchini, garlic, cilantro, and a pinch of salt, and continue to saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until the zucchini is soft.
4. Here's the pitchkey-potchkey part--but just suck-it-up & DO IT. It's really no big deal. Transfer the veggie mixture into a food processor (not a blender). Then add ALL the other ingredients--EXCEPT FOR 1/2 cup of THE BREAD CRUMBS! Pulse until mostly smooth, but there should still be a little texture.
5. After processng transfer all of the mixture to a big mixing bowl and add the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to the burger mixture, and use a fork to combine. NOTE: We had to add more crumbs at this stage--like about 1/2 cup more--to "firm" up the mixture--it looked a little too wet for our tastes.
6. Divide the mixture into 7 or 8 burgers--and form them into nice patties.
7. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper--for 15 minutes in your 450 preheated oven. Turn & finish baking for another 15 minutes. They should be firm & brown on the outside--and soft on the inside.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature. Grilled onions on top would be fabulous! Maybe even a sliver of avocado.
Nutritional Information based on 1/8 serving. Does not include the Alvarado Street bun=140 calories, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams of protein.
Enlightened Healthy Librarian's
Chipotle Lentil Burgers
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
Isa's Everyday & Ever-Changing Whole Meal Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
Everyday Ever-Changing Chickpea-Quinoa Mix-It-Up Whole Meal Salad
Black Quinoa, Garbanzo Beans & Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette-The Key Ingredients
Want a meal in a minute that's nutrient-dense & protein packed? Have I got a recipe for you!
Just follow this Isa-inspired formulaic recipe.
At all times, keep a batch of cooked cooled quinoa in your fridge. Cooks up in just 15 minutes. Couldn't be easier.
Why is quinoa a key ingredient of this salad?
Because it's high in protein & happens to contain all nine of the necessary amino acids to make it a complete protein (7 grams per serving compared to 4 grams for brown rice). It's also high in fiber & it's a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper & phosphorus, which is why the United Nations has classified it as a "super crop". It's a big plus that it contains the amino acid lysine which is needed for tissue growth & repair. As if that isn't enough, it's gluten free and it's a breeze to cook. And Kosher for Passover!
I recommend you use Eden Organic Quinoa. They use a mechanical rubbing process to remove the protective saponin coating from the grain, rather than a water wash. This retains more flavor, fiber & nutrients. When I compared the nutrient values of Eden's with other brands, it had the highest in all categories. I found quinoa in my local grocery store, but it's also at Trader Joe's & any health food store.
I know you're all familiar with this fantastic grain/herb/seed. But if you want to learn more, and check out some of my oldie-but-goodie quinoa recipes, click here and here and be sure to ditch any fats or oils that I may have been using in those older recipes.
Everyday Ever-Changing Whole Meal Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
For a copy of the recipe on one page click here
2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa (make with 1 cup of quinoa & 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover & simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed)
1 small red onion, optional
4 cups of chopped romaine (or mesclun greens)
1 (15 ounce) can of low-sodium or no-salt garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained (or black beans, or lentils, or kidney beans)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
Optional add-ins: roasted garlic, baked tofu or tempeh, sprouts, fresh basil or cilanto, chopped Kalamata olives (my favorite), roasted corn, or any left-over cooked vegetables
1/2 cup of Isa's Balsamic Vinaigrette Click here for the recipe
In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together, add the dressing, and toss to coat.
Or, just mix up your own single serving with your favorite add-ins, and top with 2 tablespoons of the Balsamic Vinaigrette. If you're toting this to work--put the dressing in the bottom of your sealed container so the salad won't get soggy.
Nutritional Information based on 1/4 serving ( & 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving)
Isa's Appetite for Reduction
Everyday Chick-pea-Quinoa Salad
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
So there you have it folks. Four do-ahead meals that that you can enjoy all week. Easy, delicous, and nutrient-dense. Enjoy!