In this issue:
- Featured Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Myra's Kitchen Corner: How to Prepare Summer's Favorite Zucchini Squash
- Picture Perfect Portion Sizes
- A Note from Our Chief Nutrition Advisor: Digestive Wisdom Part 2 from Kathie Swift
- Recommended Reading
Featured Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken Salad
In honor of the official start of summer, we're featuring this easy summertime favorite by Rebecca Katz, awarding-winning author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time.
Myra's Kitchen Corner: How to Prepare Summer's Favorite Zucchini Squash
I’m on a market watch – greenmarket watch that is. Several times a week, I walk through my neighborhood farmers market and survey the new arrivals and take notice of what is no longer available. This journey is how I keep up with the changes in seasonal produce, and it’s how I stay inspired in my cooking. In early summer, local markets are brimming with delicious produce; even an average supermarket has a broader than usual selection of colorful vegetables and fruits. It’s still worth going out of your way to a venue where you can speak to the growers. The abundance and variety of eatables, the enthusiasm of the farmers, and the excitement of happy people shopping prompt me to load up my cart with local delights and pile my dinner plate with a variety of fresh vegetables.
Bunches of greens beckon with large fanlike leaves; spring onions, new garlic and fragrant herbs can all be transformed into zesty flavorings. Peas and beans are neatly displayed - everything from sweet English peas and sugar snaps you can eat on the spot, to multi-colored string beans and plump fava beans. Sweet summer berries are enticing.
It’s the newly arrived summer squash that are here to stay through October. The most common variety of summer squashes, of course, are the green zucchinis, but at a farmers market you can purchase the bright daffodil-yellow ones as well. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes – from round eight balls to yellow-and-green zephyr squashes, ruffle-edged patty pans to ridged romanescos.
Even though summer squashes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you can use them interchangeably in recipes. All varieties tend to be watery. If you want to coax the most flavor out of summer squashes, it’s best to get rid of a lot of that water. After all, few delight in a soggy squash dish.
I use salt to extract the excess moisture. To sauté a pound of sliced zucchini, sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt over the pieces and let them rest for 20 minutes to half an hour. You’ll notice the zucchini start to sweat and glisten. Wipe off the surface moisture with a paper towel – which gets rid of the excess salt - and now you’re ready to sauté. Your slices will caramelize beautifully, leaving a golden color and rich flavor.
The salting technique is especially effective with grated zucchini. For each pound, mix in 1 teaspoon salt. After about twenty minutes, grab a handful at a time of the grated vegetable and start squeezing – over a bowl, of course. I’m always amazed at just how much water comes pouring out. After you’ve gone through the first round, go back and squeeze the whole lot one more time. Again, any excess salt gets squeezed out with the water and your grated zucchini is ready to be turned into delicious pancakes, frittatas, or whatever else you’re cooking.
Picture Perfect Portion Sizes
What's the right portion size to get nutrients without overeating and loading up the calories? The amount may be bigger or smaller than you think. If you do not have a scale or other measuring tools handy, a good way to guestimate the portion size is to picture it. Here are some size comparisons to every day items to help.
Vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, beans, rice, pasta cereal, yogurt shredded cheese
- ¼ cup = 1 large egg
- ½ cup = 1 small computer mouse
- 1 cup = 1 baseball
Milk and juice
- 1 cup = 8-ounce carton
- ½ cup = 4-ounce carton
Meat, poultry or fish
- 2 to 3 ounces = standard-size deck of cards
Nut butter, nuts, seeds, oils, salad dressing and spreads
- 1 tablespoon = 1 nine-volt battery
- 1 ½ ounces = 2 nine-volt batteries
- 1 small = 1 small computer mouse
- 1 medium = 1 baseball
- 1 3-inch diameter = 1 baseball
A Note from Our Chief Nutrition Advisor: Digestive Wisdom, Part 2
By Kathie Madonna Swift MS RD LDN
(Part 2 of a three-part series extracted from the upcoming book: The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, Gerard Mullin MD & Kathie Madonna Swift MS RD, Rodale July 2011)
The Multi-Tasking Inside Tract
Your digestive tract is a multi-tasking organ system working tirelessly to maintain your health. Stretched out it is a staggering 30 feet long with a vast surface area complete with an intricate communication network that senses and responds to the outside world. Three core components of the "inside tract" are especially important pillars of health and include:
1. The 2nd Brain: also referred to as the enteric nervous system, this is a power plant for gut-derived brain chemicals like serotonin. Your mood, anxiety level, and depression all have origins in the digestive tract. The nourishment you take in and the nutrients you extract from the process of digestion impact brain function. The gut's role in mental and emotional health is sorely neglected. Feeding your 2nd brain whole foods rich in neuroprotective-nutrients found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds is key to keeping the blues at bay.
2. Immune System: your body's homeland defense system, deciphering friend from foe, is centered in the inside tract. It is estimated that over 60% of the body's immune cells are located in the gut to regulate the trafficking of molecules that either support health or give rise to disease. Feeding your immune system whole foods free of potential incitants such as gluten and casein favors a balanced immune response.
3. Microflora: a host of friendly microbes that reside in the inside tract, these busy bacteria are top guns designed to keep you healthy. They synthesize vitamins, cross-talk with your immune system, regulate motility and keep nasty bugs in check. Feeding your flora whole foods rich in fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and legumes will help it flourish.
Enjoy one of the delicious MyFoodMyHealth recipes in this issue to soothe and nourish your multi-tasking Inside Tract!
My Foundation Diet Expanded Second Edition
Now with flexitarian and vegetarian recipes & meal plans
The My Foundation Diet created by Kathie in conjunction with MyFoodMyHealth is a seasonal, delicious, whole foods approach to optimizing your health and genetic potential.
Learn more about the My Foundation Diet
Learn more about Kathie
The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes
By Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN
In The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, Constance Brown-Riggs provides a wealth of information about diabetes tailored to help African Americans manage the disease for the long haul. The book takes a body/mind/spirit approach to daily diabetes self-care and is a wonderful resource for African Americans with diabetes or anyone looking to increase their understanding of the disease to better support diabetics they know.
We would like to hear from you!
Share your thoughts - email us here