Archive for March, 2009

Farfalle With Mushrooms and Spinach

This recipe comes from the 03/09 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. I made a few small changes.

6 oz dried farfalle (bow ties), or other GI friendly pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chapped
1 cup sliced portobellor or other fresh mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups spinach, thinly sliced (I used baby spinach since it is the most tender)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (I omitted)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper (I also added some salt to taste)
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese (I used more, love me some cheese)

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, stirring occassionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in spinach, thyme and pepper and cook until spinach is slightly wilted, about 1 minutes.

Toss mushroom and spinach mixture with pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Notes: Next time I make this I think I will add some feta for some creaminess and extra flavor!

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Pinto Beans

Beans are an important part of a healthy GI diet. Pinto beans have a GI index of 39 which puts them firmly in the low range. All beans and legumes (with the exceptions of refried beans and baked beans) are a good and inexpensive addition to a GI friendly meal plan.

Beans are also very easy to cook, you just have to plan ahead of time. The evening before you want to cook them, put them in a bowl and cover them with water (at least an inch or so over the top of the dried beans, they will expand and they rehydrate). The next morning rinse them very well and add them to your crockpot. These beans were flavored only with a ham bone, salt, and pepper. You can make a vegetarian option by using adobo seasoning, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and even a little liquid smoke. Let them cook on day on low and then serve. I usually serve them with cheese and either tortillas or corn bread. The agave sweet corn bread recipe was great with these beans!

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Agave Sweet Corn Bread

agave cornbread

I really like a sweeter cornbread. The cornbread I make during the holidays is a more traditional, savory cornbread baked in bacon fat. But when I’m serving beans cooked with a hambone I like a sweeter cornbread to cut the saltiness and heaviness of the beans. Many sweet cornbreads are more like corn cake with a signficant amount of sugar and way more flour than corn meal. Even many recipes for honey cornbread has only a little honey and alot of sugar. This recipe has no sugar and replaces the honey with agave nectar, which has a lower glycemic index. My family has been using agave as a honey replacement on oatmeal and the like, and even though I have purchased an agave baking book I hadn’t actually used any of the recipes from it. However, I used her principles for baking with agave and it worked really, really well and is now officially my favorite cornbread!

You will noticed that the temperature is a little lower than you normally see for cornbread. Agave bakes a little darker than honey and sugar so you need to reduce the temperature about 25 degress from normal and increase the baking time to compensate. This issue is addressed in the recipe below so you don’t have to make any further adjustments!

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup agave nectar/syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients. Beat wet ingredients together, then add to dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Pour into greased and floured 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

agave corn bread cut

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Sweet and Savory Spinach Salad

Before dressing
(before dressing and tossing)

After dressing
(after dressing and tossing)

(from the March 2009 issue of Southern Living)

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 package or bunch (about 6 ounce) of fresh baby spinach, thoroughly washed
1 cup seedless red grapes, sliced
1.4 crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup raspberry-walnut vinaigrette (Newman’s Own)

Heat pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.

Coarsley chop spinach. Toss together spinach, grapes, feta cheese, and vinaigrette in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with pine-nuts and serve immediately.

The Southern Living article on salads notes that red and purple grapes “contain flavonoids that help reduce cholesterol, protect against heart disease, and promote lung health.”

They also mention that “a small handful of nuts or seeds on your salad can make your meal more filling, helping to reduce hunger pangs and overeating throughout the day.” You may have noticed I already am a big fan of sunflower seeds in my salad. It gives me that nice crunch that I was missing when I stopped using croutons!

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