Thursday, February 19, 2009

What do dietitians eat? Book club menu #7

(Photo: Black bean soup, Roasted carrots with onions and garlic, and
Whole-grain corn muffins with chili peppers - recipes below)

Still going strong since July - the SOLE Sisters book club (SOLE = Sustainable, Organic, Local and/or Ethical) that I organize for my dietitian friends is one of my highlights during each month! This month we read and discussed a document prepared by The American Dietetic Association entitled "Healthy Land, Healthy People: Building a Better Understanding of Sustainable Food Systems for Food and Nutrition Professionals".

Traditionally, understanding the larger picture of food systems that begins with growing food, i.e., agricultural practices, through the multiple steps of processing leading up to consumption has not been incorporated into the education and training of dietitians. Not only is that changing with many current nutrition and dietetics students eagerly seeking out and embracing this professional thought process and personal lifestyle, many dietitians currently practicing in a wide variety of settings are also rapidly learning about, promoting, and incorporating many aspects of local and sustainable food systems into their professional responsibilities and personal lives.

One of the fastest growing practice groups within ADA is the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (HEN-DPG). If you are reading this and are an RD (or dietetics student), I highly recommend joining the HEN-DPG, learning from and collaborating with other dynamic RDs who are committed to changing our broken food system (see my prior post about some of the many problems in our current food system). We had a GREAT group discussion about many of these concerns; in fact we talked non-stop for two solid hours (in addition to enjoying our meal!).

Here is the menu for tonight:
• Spicy Lentil Mini-Patties served with plain, unflavored yogurt as an appetizer (this recipe is a variation of one previously posted but I boosted the health and taste factors by substituting sweet potatoes for white potatoes and adding kale)
• Black Bean Soup
• Roasted Carrots, Onions, Garlic
• Cornbread Muffins with Whole Corn and Green Chilis

Recipe: Spicy Lentil-Sweet Potato with Kale Patties

(Photo: cooked lentils with garlic and seasonings added, cooked sweet potato waiting to be peeled, frozen kale waiting to chop, whole grain bread crumbs)

• 2 cups (1# bag) dry green lentils (they look brown, not green)
• 2 bay leaves
• 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• 1-2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp. coriander
• 1/2 tsp. black pepper
• 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper and mixed Italian herbs (each)
• 1 large sweet potato, baked, peeled, mashed
• 1-2 cups frozen kale, thawed, drained well, chopped small
• 1/2 cup bread crumbs (make yourself from left-over bread)
• 2 tsp. olive oil or parchment paper
• Fresh Salsa or unflavored yogurt

1) Combine lentils and bay leaf in large soup pot. Add water to cover by 3 inches. Boil until lentils are very tender, about 1 hour. Drain water from lentils and discard bay leaf. Transfer lentils to a large bowl and cool.
2) Then add seasonings. Stir with lentils until well blended. Cover lentils and refrigerate overnight.
3) Bake sweet potato(s) in oven or microwave. Cool, peel, and coarsely mash. Add mashed potato to lentil mixture the next day and mix well.
4) Add chopped kale (squeeze to make as dry as possible)
5) Using a spoon or both hands, form mixture into balls. Flatten each ball into a 1/2" pattie. These can be any size (I made two dozen mini-patties plus several "burger-size"). Press breadcrumbs lightly onto patties. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 6 hours.
6) Heat in non-stick pan with small amount of olive oil or baked in oven on parchment paper until hot and crispy at 350 for 20-30 minutes (I baked mine). Flip over at the half-way point. Freeze any extras for a fast meal in the future.
7) Serve warm or room temperature with salsa or plain, unflavored yogurt (pictured at top of the blog posting)

(Photo: 24 mini spicy lentil patties ready to bake)

Two different people tasted these mini-patties before asking me what they were and independently declared that these were even better than falafel. Now that is a compliment!

(Photo: Mini spicy lentil patties with unflavored yogurt)

Recipe: Black Bean Soup

Inspired by a recipe from the classic book Bean Cuisine: a culinary guide for the ecogourmet by Beverly White, originally published in 1977. (thanks to my friend Judy for loaning me this book!)

• 3 cups dry black beans
• 12 cups vegetable broth (homemade if possible) or water
• 4-6 garlic cloves
• 2 teaspoons cumin powder
• 2 teaspoons oregano (dry)
• 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cups chopped onions
• 2 chopped roasted red peppers (fresh, frozen, or from a jar)
• 1 quart canned tomatoes

1) Sort through dry beans for stones or imperfect beans to discard. Then soak beans in water to cover generously overnight, drain.
2) Gently cook onions, garlic and red peppers in olive oil in a large soup pot until starting to soften. Be careful not to burn.
3) Add beans, broth, and seasonings to soup pot.
4) Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer gently until beans are soft. This may take 1-3 hours depending on how old (and dry) the beans are.
5) Add tomatoes to the soup
6) Put soup through a sieve or carefully puree in a blender (fill only half full - be very careful not to burn yourself)
7) Thin as desired with more broth, water, or tomato juice.
8) Adjust seasonings - add a little salt if desired (I did not add any), pepper, or more cumin to taste (I did add about another teaspoon of cumin).
9) Serve with any garnish desired. I chose a small bowl of grated Tillamook very sharp cheddar cheese for people to add if desired.

As good as this soup was the day I made it, it tasted even better the next day. Wow - I'll make this again!

Recipe: Roasted Carrots, Onions, Garlic

What to make for a winter salad without purchasing organic lettuce grown 2000 miles away in California? I was inspired by the recipe for roasted vegetables in the excellent cookbook Food for Thought: Healing Foods to Savor by Kealey, Newman, and Faerber. I was able to find some locally grown carrots, onions, and use our own home-grown garlic.

• 3# whole fresh carrots - brush clean, trim (save ends for future stock), cut into 1-1/2" pieces
• 4 medium onions - peel, cut into wedges (save peels for future stock)
• 3 heads of garlic - separate into cloves, peel individual cloves (yes, save those peels for future stock, too!) and leave the cloves whole
• 3-4 Tbsp. Vinegar (your choice - try balsamic, red wine, or a flavored vinegar - I used some of our home-made chive blossom vinegar)
• 2-3 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Dried herbs or spices of choice (try rosemary, oregano, cumin seeds or cumin powder)
• Parchment paper

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2) After cleaning, peeling, and cutting, put all vegetable pieces (not garlic yet) into a large bowl.
3) Add olive oil to vegetables and toss to evenly coat.
4) Add vinegar and any seasonings. Toss again to evenly coat.
5) Place veggies (not garlic yet) on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper (use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the bowl to the baking sheet).
6) Place in hot oven. Decrease heat to 375 degrees for first 30 minutes then increase to 425 degrees. Check vegetables every 15 minutes or so to shake and check doneness, baking an additional 30-40 minutes until vegetables are soft and starting to brown on the edges.
7) Toss garlic cloves in the remaining oil and vinegar and seasoning left in the bowl and add to the baking sheets during the last 20-30 minutes, cooking until soft and starting to brown along with the other vegetables.
8) Serve hot or at room temperature.

I served them at room temperature so that I could make them earlier in the day. They were delicious and not many were left, but the next day I added some more olive oil and vinegar and then combined them with a small amount of that expensive California lettuce (stretching my lettuce, an uncommon purchase for us during the winter, like other people stretch meat). Oh my, oh my! Wow - I'll eat that every day of the week, so I guess I'll make some more. :-)

Recipe: Cornbread Muffins with Whole Corn and Green Chilis

This recipe was inspired by one in the wonderful King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook. The most unique aspect of this recipe was that my husband used a hand-crank mill (bought for a song on Ebay) to grind the cornmeal I used. Next year we'll try to grow our own corn for this purpose and if we're lucky, we'll be able to grab a few ears for us before the raccoons gobble them up!

• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 Tbsp. sugar
• 1 Tbsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. chili powder (could use 1 teaspoon if your family likes "spicy!" food)
• 2 medium eggs
• 8 oz. unflavored soy milk
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 1 cup frozen corn (organic if available) - thaw
• 1 4-1/2 ounce can diced green chilis

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Lightly grease a muffin tin (12-14 regular size muffins or ~24-30 mini-muffins)
3) Whisk all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4) In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, milk and oil. Stir in the corn and chilis.
5) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir just until evenly mixed.
6) Scoop batter into the greased tins.
7) Bake until done (a toothpick will come out clean), ~20-25 minutes for the large muffins and ~10-15 minutes for the mini-muffins.
8) Allow to cool only 5 minutes in the tins and then loosen to remove and fully cool on a cooling rack.
Yum, yum! One of my dietitian friends said these smelled and tasted like freshly made tortillas. That must be what freshly milled corn meal smells like, especially when using whole grain corn that contains the germ, which is removed from the typical store-bought cornmeal - check how low the common brand is in fiber and although vitamin E is not on the nutritional labeling for this product, when cornmeal has been "degerminated", there will be very little of this important and essential nutrient remaining in the cornmeal.

I think we should view the widening and energizing efforts to grow more of our own food, cook more meals at home using whole foods (not just "heat and eat" highly processed food-like items), purchase as many locally grown foods as possible, and develop regional food systems as a means to "Take back our food" from the industrialized agricultural-food system that has played a role in both the development of numerous and expensive chronic health problems and the degradation of our planet's precious natural resources, most notable our soil. "Healthy soil grows healthy food. Healthy food nourishes healthy people. Healthy people form healthy communities." (Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD, from Dietitians and Sustainable Food Systems)

Just like the efforts of the "Take back the night" organization to promote a safe society free from sexual abuse and assault, RDs have an opportunity (indeed an urgent professional obligation) to be leaders and role models in their communities to "take back our food" by promoting production and consumption of foods from food systems that are ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable, and benefit human and environmental health (quoting from the ADA Primer "Healthy Land, Healthy Food").

I'd like to end with two food blessings. One is short, one is longer, one new, one old, however both give thanks for our food, those who grow our food, and indeed all those who cultivate their life to share with others.

Food -
God's love made edible.
May we be swept into
Your presence.
~~Brother Thomas, Nada Hermitage, Crestone, Colorado

The seed of God is in us
Given an intelligent
and hardworking farmer
It will thrive and grow
up into God, whose seed
it is; and accordingly its
fruits will be God-nature.
Pear seeds grow into
pear trees, nut seeds
into nut trees, and
God seeds into God.
~~Meister Eckhart (1260-1329)

Grow, cook, share, savor and enjoy good food while cultivating your own good health plus that of your community and our planet. :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these yummy recipes, and thanks too for the blessings at the end of your post. Every bit of food we have to cook is a gift.

Anonymous said...

All of those recipes look amazing! I think I'll make the spicy lentil patties for tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

What an absolutely amazing website. I definitely will be 'visiting' you often. Thank you for providing another way I can keep my family healthy!

Anonymous said...

Just found these recipes. The lentil sweet potato kale patties are just what I have been looking for...will try them this weekend! Huge ORAC score and they look tasty. Thanks!