Arugula salad with blue cheese, walnuts, and warm peaches with balsamic glaze

Recently, whenever I go to the grocery store or farmer’s market I’ve been seeing a variety of local peaches–and they’ve usually been on sale (an added bonus!)  This is a quick and delicious salad that is perfect to have for lunch or as a side at dinner now that summer is coming to a close.

Arugula is not only a great source of folic acid and Vitamins A, C and K, it is one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin K which provides a boost for bone and brain health.  Arugula also has a higher level of iron than spinach and according to the Dole Nutrition website, arugula is lower in oxalates than spinach and certain other leafy greens. (Oxalate is found in many leafy greens and can reduce the absorption of calcium).

I love topping salads with nuts, it gives me the crunch that I like and is a healthier alternative than croutons or fried tortilla strips.  One ounce of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA, the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acid, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, as well as 10% of your daily value of magnesium and phosphorus.

Finally, I absolutely love pairing balsamic vinegar with peaches.  The tartness of the vinegar balances out the slight sweetness of the soft, cooked peaches.  A peach contains 10 different kinds of vitamins, specifically, A, C, E, K and six of the B complex vitamins. Vitamin A and beta carotene helps you achieve optimal vision, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that is helpful to your immune system.  One medium peach also contains roughly 2g of fiber and 285mg of potassium (8% of DV) [Nutrition into from Calorieking.com].  Adult men under 50 need 38g of fiber a day and adult women under 50 need about 25g of fiber a day.  (Men over 50 require 30g of fiber a day and women over 50 need roughly 21g of fiber).

I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious salad as much as I do!  Below are the ingredients, directions, and pictures for how to make the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (or more) fresh arugula
  • 2 TBS blue cheese (I used Mountain gorgonzola), cut into small pieces
  • 2 TBS (about 1 ounce, or 12-14 walnut halves) unsalted walnuts, whole or chopped
  • 1 or 2 fresh peaches, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a small sauté pan over medium/low heat.  Add peaches and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, until soft.  Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 15-30 more seconds, coating the peaches with the balsamic.  Remove from heat.  Place the arugula on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and then lightly sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper.  Top the arugula with the warm peaches, blue cheese, and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

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Copyright: All images copyright Amy Eisinger

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Greek yogurt with honey, almonds, blueberries, and granola

I start every day by making myself a greek yogurt ‘parfait’ with non-fat plain greek yogurt, honey, granola, nuts, and either fresh or frozen berries.  6 oz. of Fage Total 0% greek yogurt has 18g of protein which helps keep me full and 6 oz. also provides me with 20% of my DV of calcium–important for me since osteoporosis runs in my family.

20-25 almonds (approximately one ounce) also contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk, which is one reason why I add them to my morning breakfast.  One ounce of almonds also contains 12% of your daily allowance of protein and 25% of your daily alliance of vitamin E.  As an added bonus, most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated, also known as the “good” fat. 

If I have a busy morning, I’ll also eat an additional piece of fruit, like a banana or apple, or quickly cook up two egg whites, to help keep me full the whole morning.

Here are the ingredients, followed by the recipe in photos:

Ingredients:

  • About 6 oz (a little less than a cup or 1 container) 0% plain greek yogurt (I use the Fage brand)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 TBS (1 ounce) unsalted dry almonds
  • 1/4 cup (or, about a small handful) granola (I use Nature’s Path Flax plus vanilla almond granola)
  • Fresh blueberries, or other berries that are in season (fresh or frozen)

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Copyright: All images copyright Amy Eisinger

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese, Capers, Dill, Red Onion, and Lemon Juice on Mini Whole Wheat Toasts

This is always my ‘go-to’ recipe when I need to make an appetizer for a gathering with friends or family.  The cream cheese mixture is also great on bagels topped with smoked salmon when you want an ‘elegant’ lunch.  Another twist on this recipe is to substitute the mini toasts for fresh cucumber slices (cut about 1/4 inch thick).

The smoked salmon is a bit of a splurge but buying a brand that is mild in flavor will help appeal to people who refuse to eat fish because they don’t like its ‘fishy flavor.’  Additionally, smoked salmon is a great source of protein, Vitamin E (an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals), Vitamin-B12 (helps in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of the central nervous system), and omega-3 fatty acids.  So go ahead, indulge yourself without the guilt!

Time:  10-15 Minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. (one block or small container) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 TBS capers, chopped
  • 2 TBS fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 TBS red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 package whole wheat toasts (can be found with the cheese at Whole Foods), alternatively use whole wheat crackers
  • 4 oz smoked salmon (Whole Foods ‘Whole Catch’ wild smoked salmon is about $5.99 a package and has a nice mild flavor and is a beautiful red color)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Lay out toasts on a large plate.  Spoon about 1 TBS (small spoonful) of cream cheese on each toast and top with about 1 inch of salmon on each toast.  Serve immediately.

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Copyright: All images copyright Amy Eisinger

Low-fat Ranch Dip

Every one of my family members loves dips, whether it be cheese dip, salsa, or guacamole. Having just read an article on UsaToday about healthy snacks for kids, I was inspired to create a lower fat ranch dip that kids and adults of all ages could enjoy. The fresh herbs and creaminess of the dip pairs perfectly with any vegetable it’s served with. Enjoy this as a guilt-free afternoon or late-night snack! Read the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/15/back-to-school-healthy-snacks/2662529/

Ingredients:
1/2 cup 0% Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1 TBS french lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 TBS fresh dill, chopped
1 TBS fresh chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with your favorite vegetables, such as tomatoes, celery, or carrots. Refrigerate leftovers.

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Pan Seared Coho Salmon over Rice with Sautéed Red Cabbage, Zucchini, and Carrots

Yesterday I bought a pound of Wild Coho Salmon that was on sale at Whole Foods and a variety of vegetables including zucchini, red cabbage, and carrots at my local farmer’s market down the street. I immediately thought about combining all of the ingredients together into a rice bowl for dinner and tying all of the ingredients together with a little Thai peanut sauce and lime juice.

All types of salmon provide a good source of high quality protein and the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce portion of Wild Coho Salmon has about 6g of fat and 23g of protein (Nutrition Data). Coho Salmon is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B12 and Selenium (Nutrition Data).

I used white basmati rice in this dish because it cooks faster than brown rice. However, as a Dietetic Intern, I would highly recommend using brown rice in this dish, not only because brown rice has more fiber than white rice, but also because brown rice has more amounts of nutrients such as magnesium, manganese and zinc.

Using a variety of colorful vegetables brightens up the dish and pairs perfectly with the bright pink mild Coho salmon. This is a perfect, quick dish to make for one or for an entire family and a great way to get a large dose of your recommended daily vitamins and nutrients. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did!

Servings: 1 or 2
Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb of center cut good quality Wild Coho Salmon, rinsed under cold water, patted dry, pin bones removed with pliers and skin removed, cut into two pieces (serve both pieces if cooking for 2 or save one to have the next night if cooking for one)
1/2 small green or yellow zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
1/4 cup red cabbage, cut into 1/4 matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 14 inch matchsticks
1 Cup Rice, cooked according to box instructions (The brand I used–Alter Eco– took 15 minutes to cook)
1/2 lime
1 or 2 TBS Thai peanut sauce (I used the Annie Chung’s brand)
1 TBS to 2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook the rice according to package directions in a 3.5 quart non-stick saucepan.

While the rice is cooking, heat 1 TBS of olive-oil in a 10 or 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until starting to soften, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the zucchini start to become translucent. Add the cabbage and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a dash of pepper and salt to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the vegetables to a small bowl.

Add an additional 0.5 to 1 TBS of olive oil and heat the same pan over medium/high heat. While the oil is heating, salt and pepper each side of the salmon. When the oil is hot, add the salmon and cook about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 3 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.

When the rice is cooked, spoon the rice onto a plate or bowl and top with the vegetables mixture. Add 1 or 2 TBS of peanut sauce onto the rice and vegetables. Place the salmon fillet on top and squeeze half a lime over the entire dish. Serve immediately.

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The Aerogarden

  

I want take some time to profile a plant system called the Aerogarden.  I bought my first aerogarden (a 7 pod one) about 3 years ago because even though my dad has a whole garden bed full of herbs, I thought it would be neat to be able to grow my own herbs in the kitchen, year-round.  According to the Aerogarden website, the AeroGarden uses high yield aeroponic technology and built in grow lights to create a self watering, self feeding, fully automated indoor garden that grows plants faster and healthier than plants grown in soil.  If a seed pod doesn’t grow, you can just e-mail the Aerogarden customer service and they’ll send you a new pod, free of charge.

When I moved to NYC, I left my 7 pod aerogarden with my dad and bought a small, bright yellow 3-pod aerogarden.  I had plenty of room for it despite my brother saying that I wouldn’t.  Not only is it really nice to be able to make pasta and top it with fresh basil or buy smoked salmon, put it on a bagel, and trim off a stem of dill as a garnish, it’s also nice to look at something ‘green’ in a city where all you see in concrete.

Yes, the aerogarden is a bit of an investment.  On the Aerogarden website the 7-pod gardens are about $130 and the 3 pod gardens are about $70.  Seed kits range from $13 (for 3-pod seed kits) to $20 (for custom seed kits) and grow lights cost about $25 for a pair of 2 lights (1 is used for the 3 pod, 2 are used for the 7 pod aerogardens).  But, I recommend shopping around for aerogardens.  I bought my 3 pod aerogarden on QVC for a lot less, and they currently have the 3 pod aerogarden at a clearance price of $45.  Also, the Aerogarden frequently has sales, free shipping discounts, and seed kit discounts.  The herbs will last about 4-5 months at which point you will need to order a new seed kit and replace the grow lights.  The aerogarden will need to be watered about every 3-4 days and every other week a nutrient packet will need to be added (these come included with the seeds).  You can also buy kits to grow salad greens, peppers, or tomatoes as well!

I recommend the Aerogarden if you cook with a lot of herbs, live in a place where there isn’t a lot of greenery or you are unable to grow herbs (NYC), or if you’re interested in learning how to garden.  I’ve really enjoyed having herbs right at my finger tips when I cook and my dad has as well.  It’s nice not spending $3 on a little box of herbs and only using a few sprigs and throwing the rest out!

Broiled Salmon with Herb Mustard Glaze

This is an extremely easy, flavorfully salmon dish that is great to make any time during the year.  Make sure you buy quality salmon that is preferably wild caught.  Farm raised salmon is not only lighter in color than wild salmon, antibiotics are fed to farm raised salmon to help fight disease outbreaks, therefore, antibiotic residues can be passed to humans who consume farm raised salmon.  Research has also shown that the fat content of farmed salmon is higher than wild salmon and the composition of this fat is less healthy than the fat of wild salmon.  The herb mustard glaze compliments the salmon nicely, without overpowering the fish.  Serve this dish with sautéed swiss chard cooked with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and farro on the side (recipe follows.)

Servings: 3

Time: 20 Minutes

From: Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1.25 lb of center cut good quality salmon, preferably wild caught, rinsed under cold water, patted dry, pin bones removed with pliers and cut into 3 pieces (you can leave the skin on)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS dry white white
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS dijon mustard
  • 2 TBS whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine garlic, herbs, wine, olive oil, dijon and whole grain mustard.  Stir and set aside.  If you want a smoother texture, combine all the ingredients in a food processor except 1 TBS of the whole grain mustard.  Pulse until smooth, transfer to a bowl and then stir in remaining 1 TBS whole grain mustard.

Preheat the broiler on low.  Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Arrange the salmon on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Broil for 4 minutes.  Spoon the mustard sauce on the fillets.  Continue broiling until the fillets flake with a fork and the mustard sauce is golden brown on top, another 4 to 5 minutes.   Take a spatula and transfer the fillets to a plate intact with the skin, or, place the spatula in between the fillet and skin and transfer the fillet to the plate, leaving the skin left stuck to the foil.

Note:  Broilers vary, therefore, if you have really thin fillets, they may take less time to cook.  Or, if you don’t let your broiler heat up enough before you place the fillets in the oven, the fillets may take a few minutes longer to cook.  Just make sure the fillets flake with a fork before serving.