Recent Posts for the 'Kitchen Nutrition' Category

Gingery Green Beans for St. Patrick’s Day

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

I wanted to call this “Cooking String Beans by the Strings of your Apron,”  but it was too long to use as a title. Nevertheless, I did want to introduce the idea of putting together a dish without explicit amounts, especially dishes with a lot of leeway, that is, a little more of something or a little less of something else does not hurt the results. Coincidentally, I did not measure the ingredients for this recipe until I made it a second time before going away, so it is a perfect choice for me to introduce the concept and be able to back it up with the actual list of ingredients.

First, while string beans may not be on the 10 heart-healthy food list on my Home Page, green beans contain nutrients worth mentioning.  I would not consider them a super-food, but they have a place in my recipes because they are quick cooking, flavorful, and can be used hot or cold.

Below the recipe is a listing* I found from typing the “nutritional value of green beans” in my address bar.

Gingery Green Beans 

Utensils: Cutting board and knife, strainer, pot for cooking (with a steamer, optional), bowl and serving platter
Prep. Time: About 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5-7 minutes
Categories: Vegan (V), Gluten-Free (GF), No Sugar Added (NSA)

About 8 oz. of green beans
Fresh ginger slices
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water or stock (aboput 1/2 inch in pot)
About 2 tsp. Olive oil
Sesame seeds

1. Wash the green beans and drain in the strainer. Then cut off stem tips, the ends attached to the plant, not the pointed tips, and cut beans into thirds or halves, depending on how long they are.

2. Place cut beans in a large pot with 2″ of water or stock, either in a steamer rack or  directly in about the 2″ of water or stock. (To cut down prep time, bring water to a boil while you are preparing the beans.) Add ginger slices to water/stock.

3. Cook beans about 5-7 minutes, depending on how thick they are and how crunchy tender you like them. They should keep their dark green color and not change to an olive-green shade.

4. Drain and place in a bowl with  2 tsp. olive oil (or other oil of your choice) and toss, adding salt and pepper to taste. (Feel free to keep the ginger slices with the beans, or not.)
5. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Serves 4-6, depending on what you have for a main course and if you have salad.
Note: Any leftover green beans can be refrigerated and added to a cold salad or stew or soup the next day.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

* Nutrition Facts

Amount Per
Calories 31
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 6 mg 0%
Potassium 209 mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 7 g 2%
Dietary fiber 3.4 g 13%
Protein 1.8 g 3%
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 27%
Calcium 3% Iron 5%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 6%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

I love soup. So when I saw an article about this new book, Soup Swap, I sent for a review copy and received it almost immediately! (It isn’t always this easy.) As the inside flap on this paper-bound, colorful 8″X9″ cookbook with many beautiful photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden states:

“Homemade soup — comforting, flavorful, and nutritious  — is made for sharing.”  I agree! In fact, the sub-title says just that: “Comforting Recipes to Make and Share.”

The Introduction explains how soup swapping came about and how you can create your own soup swap party with any number of people, keeping in mind that you may have only four burners on your stove top, although crock pots and ovenware can also be used to keep soups hot.

Author Kathy Dunst notes in the Intro that there were some unexpected “gifts” from this concept. Winter seemed shorter as well as exciting, the challenge of becoming a “soup master” gave a new dimension to the long, cold winters in New England where Kathy lives (southern Maine). And for some of the participants, creating soups from scratch led to a more healthful diet. (I like this “gift” the best!)

The next section is very important for those of us who feel this idea has merit, because author Dunst provides clear-cut suggestions in this section, entitled “The Basics of Hosting a Soup Swap.” This includes coding the recipes as to their content: dairy-free, gluten-free, etc., marked with colored circles and letters like DF for Dairy Free. These demarcations are important since so many people are on special diets. (See coding symbols under the recipe title below.) There is one more code for soups that can be served cold (a blue circle with the letter C inside it), but the recipe below doesn’t have that code.

This section also covers Portions, Toppings, Side Dishes, No Spills, Drinks, Leftovers, etc. and mouth-watering colored photos of soups and fixings to add to the soups before serving. Everything looks delicious!

The section on Foundations does just that; it gives recipes for making your own soup stock, which is easier than you think. (I posted my recipe on stock from scratch some time ago. Here is the link: I plan to make the recipe for Pea Broth, since it is something new for me, using shells from English peas. (See recipe below.)

The main part of the book is, of course, the soup recipes divided into: Vegetable Soups, Chicken and Turkey Soups, Meat Soups, Fish & Seafood Soups & Chowders, Side Dishes, Garnishes and Toppings.
Because I don’t eat meat, the recipes I looked at are meatless, but because there are many soup recipes without meat (25) as well as in the Side Dishes and Garnishes & Toppings, the book is still very useful for vegetarians.

Below is the recipe for (meatless) Pea Broth, followed later this month by the Escarole and White Bean Soup. (I definitely plan to make this before reviewing it, since I enjoyed this soup recently at an Italian restaurant in Florida and planned to look up a recipe for this soup anyway.)

Soup Swap, released in 2016, by Kathy Gunst with wonderful photos by  Yvonne Duivenvoorden is published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco and costs $24.95. (Check out Amazon, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, and eBay for new and used copies. Mine get marked up anyway, so I look for used copies when I can’t obtain a review copy. )



Makes about 8 cups (2 L)+

(Explained in the text above, these stand for
Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegetarian & Vegan)

The time to make this sweet pea broth is late spring/early summer, when fresh peas are plentiful. As you shell the peas for soup or salad, be sure to keep the shells to make this broth. It offers an exceptionally pure, subtly sweet flavor. This broth is the base of Late-Spring Pea and Lettuce Soup (page 53), but it can be used as a vegetable broth in virtually any recipe.

4 lb. [1.8 kg] shells from shelling peas (also called English peas)
or from sugar snap peas
1 onion, chopped
Dark green leaves from 1 large leek (optional)
6 peppercorns
1/2 cup [30 g] packed chopped fresh parsley with stems
1/3 cup [20 g] packed chopped fresh chives
Sea Salt*
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, combine the pea shells, onion, leek leaves (if using), peppercorns, parsley, and chives and season with salt.* Add enough cold water to just barely cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.Taste the broth. If the flavor is weak, remove the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the flavors have bloomed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and more salt if needed. Strain the stock, pressing down on the pea shells to release all the juice, and let cool.
  1. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

*On the previous page, the author writes about salt and pepper. She likes to use sea salt and does not give specific amounts, since you may be using a canned or box stock instead of water and some are high in sodium, others not. She notes that the homemade stocks need a lot less salt. If you use kosher salt, an option, kosher salt is a good choice, and you will need even less than sea salt, “because kosher salt has larger and lighter crystals. Gunst also recommends buying a pepper grinder as a worthwhile investment, because grinding your own fresh peppercorns “makes a world of difference in cooking.”

+ Metric system demarcations for Canadians buying this book. (The photographer is from Canada.)