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Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Peanuts & Lime December 29, 2011

Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Crunchy Peanuts & Fresh Lime

Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Peanuts &  Lime
with red cabbage, broccoli, carrots, & mint

Don’t get stuck in a whole-wheat pasta rut. While whole-wheat is certainly a step up from refined pasta for Italian pasta dishes (whole-grains are higher in fiber  and nutrients), Buckwheat soba noodles are a delicious alternative to use as a base for the fresh flavors of Asian cuisine. Buckwheat–despite the misleading name–isn’t actually related to wheat. (In fact, it’s more closely related to Rhubarb!) Buckwheat soba noodles high in protein, antioxidants, and are naturally gluten-free, but check labels carefully to make sure that wheat was not also added to the noodles if you have a wheat allergy.

-Buckwheat soba noodles (about 2 oz per person)
-Fresh broccoli
-1 whole large onion
-4 cloves fresh garlic
-1/4-1/3 head of fresh red cabbage shredded
-2 large carrots shredded
-2 fresh limes
-2 tbsp Terkiaki sauce (reduced sodium if possible)
-4 tbsp your favorite Peanut Sauce
-3/4 cup blanched, shelled (unsalted) peanuts- to add to taste on top of individual portions
-3 tbsp canola oil
-Fresh mint leaves (optional)
-Sesame seeds (optional)
-4 oz Protein–lean meat, tofu, or seitan– fully cooked and sliced very thin

1) Place protein in a sealed container or bag with 1-2 tbsp marinade and leave in fridge for 20-30 minutes. Cook meat or vegetarian protein (tofu or seitan work well) as desired using some of the peanut sauce or terkiaki sauce as marinade. For tofu or seitan, you can easily add these to a stir-fry pan and cook with 1 tbsp oil. For chicken, you can bake thinly cut chicken breast slices for about 30 minutes at 350°F. For beef (lean and 100% grass-fed), use stir-fry cut strips and cook in stir-fry pan the same way you would cook your tofu.

2)  Begin boiling water in large pot for pasta, following the soba noodle’s instructions on the package (cooking instructions vary by brand and number of servings). Chop onion into fine pieces and add to large stir-fry pan with canola oil. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently. Mince garlic and add to pan, reducing heat to medium.

3) Chop, shred, and slice remaining vegetables and add these to pan stirring frequently. (Add broccoli last). After approximately 5 minutes add in terkiaki and peanut sauce.

4) Once water has boiled, add pasta and cook according to directions on box. Once cooked, strain pasta and combine in large bowl with cooked vegetables. Slice 1 lime and squeeze juice into bowl. Mix well. Slice remaining lime to add a slice as an accent to each plate so that guests can enjoy as desired.

5) Serve hot. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and sesame seeds and top with 1-2 tbsp peanuts. Pairs well with green tea.


Better Bread: How to Tell the “Real” Wheat Bread from the “Fake” November 21, 2010

Look for "Whole Wheat" as a first ingredient. Breads labeled "multigrain" or "wheat" are often not really made with whole grains.

The Dish on Whole Grains
How to Spot the Real Wheat Bread from the Pretenders

It’s easier and easier to find wheat options of our favorite breads and snacks in supermarkets and restaurants as percentages of wheat bread vs. white bread consumption rise.  What appears like a major leap in whole-grain consumption however, turns out to be a bit too good to be true. Many of the wheat bread products on the market are not true whole wheat breads, making them little more nutritionally than white breads in disguise. Here’s how to spot the real whole grains from the fakes:

What to Look For
If it’s real whole-grain bread you should see “whole wheat,” “whole grain corn,” “100% rolled oats,” or other terms that clearly specify the inclusion of “whole” grain ingredients. Usually whole wheat flour is used in whole grain breads and cereals may include oats or whole grain corn. Make sure that the whole grain is the first ingredient–some cereals advertise that they are “made with whole grains” on the front of the package but when you look at the ingredients the whole grains added are low down on the ingredient list, which means that they are not added in large quantities.

The “Fakes”
“Honey Wheat,” “Country Wheat,” “Mulitgrain Bread,” or simply “Wheat Bread,” may throw in some specks of grains to appear healthier (or add some high-fructose corn syrup to help give the bread a healthful-looking brown color) but are not necessarily much different nutritionally from white bread. Some of these products may be made with whole wheat flour, but the only way to really tell is to check the ingredient list. “Enriched wheat flour” is not the same as “whole wheat flour.”

Why not? While whole grains are good sources of fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals, only a few of the vitamins lost during processing (turning whole grains into refined ones) are added back to enriched flour. None of the minerals contained in whole grain bread are added back except for iron.

Whole-Grain Bread Perks

  • A slice of whole-wheat bread usually has about 2x the fiber of a slice of enriched wheat or white bread
  • Whole-grains are good sources of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc, fiber and phytochemicals (refined grains are poor sources of these nutrients)

Want to learn more? Check out the Whole Grain Council website here.


How to Decode a Food Label November 17, 2010

Know What’s in Your Food:
How to Decode a Food Label

Learn to interpret the numbers and words on the back of the package.

Can you guess what food is in this can based on the nutrition label?

Can you guess what’s in the can on the left? This food has many health highlights as it is high in fiber (6g), protein (6g), and iron (45% DV). Other perks: the food is fat-free, low in sugar (2g), and low in calories (110). The high fiber and protein content make this a filling/sustaining food for the serving size: 1/2 cup. There is only one apparent drawback: the food is also high in sodium.

Did you guess the food? The can shown is for black beans. Canned beans are wonderful foods to stock up on: they contribute a lot of great things to a meal or a snack and will help keep you full much longer than refined foods such as chips or cookies. As for the sodium, there are two things you can do to significantly reduce the amount of sodium you consume from canned beans: 1) Buy reduced sodium versions, 2) Rinse the beans before you eat them. Note that even if you do neither of these suggestions canned beans are still pantry (and definitely dorm room) worthy.

How do you compare similar packaged foods to decide which is healthiest?
Here are a few tips:

  • Serving Size: Make sure that you take the serving size into account any time you are eating packaged foods. Most bottled fruit juices and sports drinks, for example, have a serving size of 8 oz but the bottle often contains 2.5 servings. To avoid excessive sugar intake, try to stick to the actual serving size on these bottles and be aware that if you consume the whole thing you will need to multiply the nutrient values by how many servings are in the bottle. For snack foods, it can be helpful to put the amount that you think you should eat based on your caloric and nutrient needs on a plate and then  put the rest of the package out of reach.
  • Look for Low Sodium Options: The percentages for sodium are not based on the Adequate Intake value of 1500mg/day but rather on the Daily Value of 2400 mg/day. The  Upper Limit (the maximum amount considered within a healthy range) however is 2300 mg/day. What’s wrong with this picture? If we were to stay within 100% of the DV we would still be consuming 100mg more than recommended per day.
  • Look for foods low in saturated fat and try to avoid trans fats (present anytime you see “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredient list). Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats provide health benefits and should be included in the diet.
  • Include high fiber foods and look for “whole wheat” as one of the first ingredients in most of your bread products.
  • Choose foods that are good sources of the vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the label.
  • In general, 5% or less is “low” and 20% or more “high” for each given nutrient.

For more information visit the FDA website.