Red foods always catch my eye. Maybe that’s what they are meant to do. In the book,The Color Code,” the authors write about “pigment power,” dividing foods nutritionally by color. (I found this bit of information on a terrific website: www.annieappleseedproject.org.)
So, red and purple foods include berries, purple grapes, purple cabbage, tomatoes, apples, red peppers, etc. The focus this month is on red (bell) peppers, since they are high on the list of heart healthy foods. However, I did add a sweet, chocolate treat—Coconut Kisses— to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The anthocyanins (plant pigments with health benefits-See Glossary for expanded definition)) in red foods may be as important as chlorophyll, both of which are considered important for our health. (More about chlorophyll in the March posting.)
Since this is February, “heart month,” I am featuring red food recipes. These dishes have great eye appeal, which may encourage family and friends to taste something they may not have eaten before. The recipes are also geared to your health, not just for your heart, but for your whole body. (See Health Flashes for a list of specific foods for a healthy heart.)
Phyllis’ “Roasted” Red Bell Peppers
My cousin Phyllis gave me this easy recipe for roasted peppers without the steps of burning them first and then peeling them. You can prepare peppers this way and use them in salads, as a condiment, or even added to stir fries during the last minute of cooking. (See my recipe below for pureed pepper sauce used over baked eggplant.)
P.S. My cousin also gave me the curved dish when she brought the peppers and her recipe for dinner. A bonus!
Utensils: Cutting board and knife, baking sheet
Prep Time: About 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
2 organic, red bell peppers
8-10 garlic cloves
1-2 Tbl. olive oil
1. Wash peppers; remove stems; slice lengthwise into
1/2â€ wide pieces; remove white membranes; soak in hot
water for 15 minutes; then place on cookie sheet.
2. Peel garlic cloves and add to peppers on the cookie
3. Drizzle on a small amount of olive oil and bake
about 45 minutes, until peppers are soft and
perhaps slightly crisp around the edges. Cool and
Eggplant Roll-Ups with Red Bell Pepper Sauce
(This dish takes longer than most recipes I feature, but it can be prepared in advance and baked right before serving.)
Utensils: Cutting board, knife, baking ban
Prep Time: About 20-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes if rice is already cooked
4 slices of eggplant (Slice lengthwise in 1/2″ pieces)+
salt for eggplant
cooked rice (about one cup)
garlic, scallions, herbs of your liking
red bell pepper sauce, pureed with or without the garlic
1. Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. If rice is not cooked, place one cup of water or stock to boil, add 1/2 cup washed brown rice, add to water, return to boil, cover and lower heat to simmer for about 20 minutes.
2. While rice is cooking, wash eggplant and cut off the stem. Slice lengthwise into 4 thin “slabs.” Sprinkle on a little salt and allow to “sweat” for about 10 minutes. Then rinse off eggplant and place on a slightly oiled cookie sheet to bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, softening the eggplant.
3. Remove softened eggplant and allow to cool a few minutes. In the meantime, take cooked rice and add herbs to your taste (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc.) and add some minced scallions and garlic, if you did not use the garlic from the red peppers. Also, puree the roasted peppers in the blender and set aside.
4. Place about 1/4 cup of herbed rice onto one slice of eggplant. Roll gently and secure with a toothpick. When all four eggplants are rolled, return to oven and bake about 10 more minutes, placing the oven on broil for the last 2-3 minutes, if you wish.
(You may also add the sauce to the eggplant in the oven during the last 2-3 minutes of broiling or heat the sauce separately on top of the stove.)
5. Remove cooked eggplant roll-ups from the oven. If you did not add the sauce to roll-ups while in the oven, pour a small amount of stove-top heated sauce on the roll-ups before serving.
(You may also want to remove the toothpicks, or remind those you are serving that there is a toothpick in the roll-up. Serve and enjoy.)
Yield: 4 eggplant roll-ups. If used as a main dish, two would be a serving. If used as a side dish, one should be sufficient.
Variations: 1. Right before setting the oven on broil, sprinkle on some of your favorite grated cheese.
2. Substitute red quinoa for the rice. Nice change from rice and a nice touch for Valentine’s Day. Oh, yes, and healthy, too!
+Note: Slice the rest of the eggplant, bake with a little olive oil, salt & pepper until soft; then cut into smaller pieces and add to the roasted red peppers for a side dish. Garnish with sesame seeds. (See photo below.)
(I usually don’t buy tomatoes in winter, but there were organic grape tomatoes and organic Roma tomatoes in Whole Foods, and I could not resist!)
Utensils: Cutting board and knife
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: NONE!
one cup roasted red bell peppers
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
one cup diced, organic grape tomatoes (or organic Roma tomatoes)
1/2 c. diced scallions (white section)
1 T. cilantro (optional)
small amount of hot peppers to taste ( tabasco, cayenne pepper, chiles)
salt to taste
1. Wash and dice the tomatoes and garlic. Slice the scallion.
Place in a small bowl.
2. Add hot pepper seasoning to taste. Squirt on the juice of half of lemon. Add a dash of salt and chopped cilantro, is using.
3. Toss and serve on crusty Italian bread or use as a dip with corn chips. (This dish is more chunky than creamy, which means dipping will lead to dripping, so dip with care.)
Yield: About 2 1/2 cups
Variation: Add sliced black olives to the dish
Utensils Small and medium-sized bowl
Prep TimeAbout 10 minutes
Cooking Time None, although I freeze the kisses until they are firm.
1/2 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, tahini etc.)[I like almond or tahini]
1/3-1/2 honey, brown rice syrup, or barley malt syrup
1/3- 1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
small dish of unsweetened, dried coconut
1. Place nut butter in the larger of the two bowls. Add about 1/3 cup of sweetener. (I hesitate to use as much as 1/2 cup, but you may do so. More cocoa powder may be needed if you use less sweetener.)
2. Starting with 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, add it to the bowl a little at a time, until the mixture starts to pull away from the bowl in one mass.*
3. Place unsweetened, dried coconut into a very small bowl. Wet you hands and take a ping-pong sized amount of the mixture in your hands and roll into a ball. Then place the ball in the coconut and roll it around to coat the ball.
4. Put the “kisses” on a cooking pan in the freezer and freeze until firm. Remove them a few minutes before serving to allow them to thaw slightly. They can stay in the freezer almost indefinitely (but not in my house!). Thaw-out time may just take longer.
Yield: 18-24 kisses (because I am not really sure of the actual size of a ping-pong ball)
Variation: For a more nutritious kiss, you can substitute some of the chocolate powder with a high protein powder. Also, if you dislike coconut, you can use ground up granola, sesame seeds, or any other coating of your choice.
*Note: Depending on the type of nut butter you use (some are more oily than others) and how much sweetener you use, the amount of cocoa powder will vary. Just add enough to keep the mixture together— too wet, you won’t be able to form balls; they will be flat; too dry, the coconut won’t stick. You’re looking for a slightly moist play dough consistencies.