The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘oven

Picture by sweetbeetandgreenbean

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

To me, brown rice is craveable. I eat it everyday. Whenever I cook a dish that needs to be served over something, brown rice is my number one option. There are a lot of reasons why I enjoy brown rice and here I have boiled them down into 4 main points:

Brown rice is a whole-grain option.

As a population, we overconsume refined grains and gravely underconsume whole grains. Refined grains are highly processed food products and hence, they are stripped of virtually all nutrients (even though food manufactures will enrich their final product, the added nutrients will not completely replace what has been lost). Essentially, refined grains offer nothing but empty calories.

Whole grains, on the other hand, undergo minimal processing. Much of the nutrients are retained and they act in a synergistic manner that offers many health benefits:

Heart Health – Whole grain consumption has been shown to have strong inverse correlation with heart disease risks; the ability for whole grains to help control and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) plays a strong part in contributing to this potential effect. Brown rice is also rich in magnesium; this nutrient is involved with coordinating muscle contractions and considering that our heart is a major muscle group, magnesium will have an important role in keeping the heart going.

Diabetes management – Whole grain foods often have low Glycemic Index (GI) scores because they contain a whole lot of fiber which helps to slow down digestion and prevents rapid fluctuations in blood glucose level.

Weight management – Fiber is the major player here. The indigestible fiber bulks up the whole grain foods and make them less energy-dense. Fiber will also makes you feel fuller and more satisfied; it helps to lowers the tendency for you to nibble and stack on extra calories after your meal.

There is so many good reasons to choose brown rice more often. If you’re interested in finding out the scientific evidence about how brown rice can benefit your health, I strongly encourage you to visit WHFoods: Brown rice and to take a thorough look over at the nutritional analysis of brown rice vs white rice.

Brown rice is not just a whole-grain, it is an intact grain.

Under the new FSA guidelines, “whole grain” is defined in a more elusive manner.

“Cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis – should be considered a whole grain food.”

To consumers, what this really means is that now when you see a food product that is labelled “whole grain”, you cannot be absolutely sure that it does contain the goodness of wholesome ingredients because the food processors could have easily broken down the whole grains, processed it in crazy ways and then just added back in components of whole grains to make their products fulfill the criteria to be called whole grain.

In this recent journal article, researchers looks at the impact of the new FSA guideline. They reviewed past studies that involved whole grains and tried to apply the FSA new definition  and see if the health claims of whole grains’ ability to reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases could still hold true. They found that most studies done in the past defined whole grains on broader terms. Based on only a handful of studies that fulfilled the FSA definition, the researchers were unable to find strong evidence to suggest whole grain consumption could reduce cardiovascular risks.

So, it would definitely seem to be wiser to choose whole grains that are wholesome and intact, rather than whole grain products that have been processed and packaged into a box.

The bottom line is choose intact grains, like brown rice, and pass on processed whole grains, like whole-grain pasta.

Brown rice is the ultimate substitute for white rice.

If you are a huge rice lover, brown rice is definitely the choice for you.

Don’t even think about white rice — it’s a refined grain and it is no different from dumping white sugar straight down your throat. Brown rice is a lot more nutritious for you (re-read the long list above!).

It’s really simple to kick the white rice habit. All you got to do is pick up a bag of brown rice from the grocery store today. Then, you just prepare it like you would with white rice (rice-cooker, stove-top or oven-baked, you name it). Just keep in mind that brown rice is chewier and so if you’re looking for a more soft, more mushy mouth-feel, just add more liquid and cook your rice longer.

Brown rice can replace white rice in any recipes. This exchange will not reduce your dining pleasure. In fact, it will most likely enhance your meal, making it taste more full-body, more satisfying and more deliciously healthy!

Brown rice taste good!

Let me repeat myself: it taste good! You have to believe me on this. I come from a Chinese background where I lived and breathed white rice my entire life. Considering that I’ve been fed white rice all my life, and now I say that brown rice is more tasty than white rice, then it definitely is! Period. No doubt about it.

If you say you’ve tried brown rice before and it just didn’t taste good, it’s probably because it wasn’t prepared in a way that brought out the goodness of it. Give it one more chance and bake it – it is the foolproof method for making brown rice sing.

When I first made the switch to brown rice, I prepared it with a rice cooker. It tasted similar to white rice, nothing extraordinary. Then, I tried the stove-top method using chicken stock instead of water; that method made brown rice more aromatic and gave it more flavour, but it also made it slightly too salty for me. Then, I tried the oven-baked method by Alton Brown. The method was easy; it required only water and salt and 1 hour unstirred and covered cooking time in the oven. And the result? Unnnnbelievably flavourful brown rice that was not too chewy nor too mushy, just right. This method is truly a 5-star method. Try it and you’ll love it.

Brown rice is seriously better tasting than white rice. If rice is a blank canvas that allows a dish’s flavour to shine, then brown rice is the top quality canvas that has the magical power to turn a ordinary dish into a good dish and turn a good dish into a remarkable dish. Trust me on this one! And if you are still not convinced, read what Siri has to say about brown rice!

Conclusion: Buy brown rice now and start cooking!

If the idea of eating more healthily has crossed your mind lately, then you should making brown rice the first thing on your to-do list for tomorrow! Adding brown rice to your diet or substituting it for white rice is only a small change in your diet, but it can really make a huge difference in your health!

As a bonus, here are two recipes that pair perfectly with brown rice: Ginger, Jalapeno & Coconut Cauliflower and Creamy Coconut Tofu Rice. YUM!

Advertisements

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

To celebrate the end of the school term and to reward myself for the hard work I’ve done, I decided to make a small batch of biscotti (this was really just an excuse, I just wanted to bake during the weekend!). I had lots of dark chocolate chips and peanut butter at home, so it was only right that I made the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti from Food Network.

This was my first time making biscotti and it was super easy to make. It was very fun and if you haven’t tried before, I highly recommend trying this recipe out. Simple ingredients, easy steps, exceptional flavour!

I made a few small changes to the original recipe. I added in a tablespoon of cocoa powder (gives it that extra chocolaty flavour) and substituted in walnuts instead of peanuts. The original recipe makes 3 logs, I roughly modified the amount of the ingredients to make 1 log. The recipe posted here reflects the amounts I used for my recipe.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti

Slighted modified from Food Network

What you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4/5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/5 cup sugar
  • 2/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 40g (40ml) peanut butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The butter will foam and when the foaming subsides, the butter will brown fairly quickly. When it starts to brown and develop a nutty aroma, quickly remove from heat and let cool slight. This step should take about 5 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg with an electric mixer until light and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar while beating. Then, slowly add the butter and vanilla extract until evenly mixed. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.
  • While mixing slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet, in 2 additions, mixing just until absorbed.
  • Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips (it will look like an awful lot amount when you dump it into the batter, but trust me, the amount is just right!).
  • Dump the dough onto the parchment paper. Using clean hands, shape the dough into a fat log (about 2-inches wide and 15-inches long).
  • Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cool log on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 325°F
  • Remove log from baking sheet and place onto cutting board. Cut crosswise at a 45-degree angel into 12 to 14 pieces using a long serrated knife.
  • Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes.
  • Cook them on the baking sheet. Makes 12 – 14 pieces.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Store well in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I just had a biscotti today after a long walk in the cold, chilly winter afternoon. It was SO good! Nothing can be more relaxing and heart-warming than a crunchy, chocolaty, homemade biscotti dipped in a glass of hot, frothy cocoa! SO good…

How do you like to eat biscotti?

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

I was getting tired of serving pasta with tomato sauce and so I went on Google to find new recipes to try. My mission was to find a recipe that makes a rich and creamy, yet healthy pasta sauce.

I stumbled upon Poor Girl Eats Well‘s blog and her recipe for Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham really caught my attention. I had never thought about using sweet potatoes to make a pasta sauce…this seemed like the perfect solution to my dilemma!

Unfortunately, I had no any orange flesh sweet potatoes on hand, but I did have a Kabocha squash lying around in the corner. So, instead of going out to buy sweet potatoes, I ended up using Kabocha squash as the star ingredient for my pasta sauce.

The end result? Creamy, sweet Kabocha squash sauce exploding with flavour. Delicious!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

Inspired by Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham

  • 1 small Kabocha squash (about 1 pound), scrubbed clean
  • 2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut lengthwise into four pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Milk (I used 1% milk, but any type is fine)
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Roast Kabocha squash whole. Spread bell peppers onto a baking sheet. Roast at 425°F for about 45 minutes, or until squash skin is easily pierced with fork and bell peppers nicely blackened. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet, about 15 minutes. Cut open squash and scoop out flesh. Mash with fork or potato masher until smooth and creamy (add a little milk if too dry). [You can also puree it using a food processor.]
  • Heat olive oil in nonstick pan on medium-high heat, sauté onions until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, sauté until fragrant, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add in celery and carrots, sauté for an additional 1 minute. Add in half cup water and bay leaves, let simmer on medium-low heat until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add in mashed squash and roasted pepper. Remove bay leaves.
  • Transfer 2/3 of the batch into a blender and blend until smooth. Add puree back into pan and heat to boil again. If sauce is too thick, add in water or milk to thin to desired consistency.
  • Let cool and separate into individual portions. Makes about 3.5 cups (about 7 – 8 servings).
  • Note: Sauce will thicken over time – add in milk / water / broth to thin it out before using

Bonus: Although this sauce was made to be a pasts sauce, it can easily be served as a chunky, creamy vegetable soup on a cold winter day. This would taste equally good served over rice too. The possibilities are endless — just play with the consistency!

What’s so great about this recipe?

Healthy and savory sauce disguised as a rich and creamy sauce! It’s meatless – all the flavour comes from the vegetables. Plus, most of the vegetables are pureed – creating a thick and creamy texture and helping to boost your daily vegetable intake at the same time!

Do you like Kabocha squash? What’s your favourite way to enjoy it?

roasted_crimini_mushrooms

Simple and delicious roasted crimini and portabella mushrooms.

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

This is a dish that can be assembled in no more than 10 minutes.
This is a dish that uses minimal ingredients to create itnense flavours.
This is a dish that will fill your house with a divine, mouth-watering aroma.
It is THE side dish that will spice up your ordinary dinner!

Simple Roasted Portabella and Crimini Mushrooms

Adopted from Epicurious

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 pound Cremini mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and cut lengthwise into halves
  • 1/4 pound Portabella mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and cut into thick slices
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil (I used my olive oil mister)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, stir in all the ingredients. (I gave the mushrooms 3 – 4 good long sprays with my mister.) Make sure the mushrooms are well coated with rosemary and give your black pepper grinder a few good twists! Save the salt for now, we’ll add it at the end. Try to use a large enough roasting pan so that mushrooms are on a single layer (but it’s okay if they overlap too).
  3. Roast mushrooms for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent mushrooms from sticking to the pan. The mushrooms are ready when the juices are almost all evaporated and mushrooms are nicely browned.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle on some more black pepper and just a pinch of salt to bring the flavours all together. Mix well and transfer over to bowl. Serves 4 as side (or makes 2 generous servings if you’re an mushroom addict like me! :))

Other types of mushrooms will also work well in this dish – I’m trying shitake and king oyster mushrooms next time!

Roasted mushrooms make a simple, delightful and healthy side dish. Without using calorie-dense ingredients like heavy cream or butter, this recipe utilizes herbs and spices to jazz up the flavour of the mushrooms. Light and delicious!

So what’s so great about mushrooms?

They are a great source of selenium and B vitamins. Selenium helps to reduce the level of damaging free radicals in our body by keeping our antioxidant system working properly. It can play a role in reducing the amount of cancer-causing toxins and repairing DNA. Adequate intakes of selenium has been associated with reduced cancer risks. On the other hand, B vitamins are vital co-factors in nutrient metabolism. When there is low levels of B vitamins, the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins will be compromised, leading to suboptimal health status, exposing you to a wide array of possible health problems, including anemia, depression, weakened immune system, etc.

For more in-depth information, visit World’s Healthiest Foods’s page on Crimini mushrooms.

Do you like mushrooms? How do you like to enjoy them?