Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

If you love BBQ like I do, then you are going to love these recipes. One is for a basic sauce that features California Strawberries and what has become one of my favorite juices to drink as well to use as a recipe ingredient – Welch’s Farmer’s Pick 100% Juice Blackberry. The other features favorite fruit such as cantaloupe, watermelon and California Strawberries. Of course, you are free to use whatever combination of fruit you’d like in the recipe I call Shish-Ka-Booze! Yes, there is definitely an adult theme to it but the alcohol in the recipe is burned off in the grilling process.

Besides great fresh fruit flavor and fun, there is a hidden agenda to using these ingredients when barbecuing. Antioxidant-rich fruit, such as berries, have been found to benefit heart health, cognition, diabetes and may protect against certain types of cancer. But I especially like to use berries as part of marinades and sauces which may help reduce the presence of heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Also, eating antioxidant rich food in the presence of foods containing HCAs and PAHs may reduce their harmful effects. The best advice is to avoid charring your meats by using indirect cooking methods. Here’s a great link to the American Institute of Cancer Research who offers great safe grilling tips.


California Strawberry Shish-Ka-Booze
Tip: If time allows, let skewers rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours after basting to absorb mixture.
Servings: Makes six skewers
Ingredients:
1 pound California Strawberries
1 large cantaloupe
1 pound watermelon
1 tsp Nielsen Massey Tahitian Vanilla extract (or other high quality vanilla extract)
½ cup Dark rum
½ cup Maple syrup
6 Skewers

Directions:
Apply non-stick grill cooking spray to grill surface. Preheat grill at its highest setting. Cut fruit into large cubes. Alternate fruit on skewers and set aside. Mix vanilla, rum and maple syrup in bowl. Brush mixture liberally over fruit skewers. When grill is ready, place skewers on the surface and cook for a few minutes on each side or until grill marks are visible. Remove and serve when all sides are grilled.

Berry BBQ Sauce
Ingredients:
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup Welch’s Farmer’s Pick 100% Juice Blackberry
1 cup chopped California Strawberries
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly before using. Apply liberally to meat, poultry or firm fish when grilling. Store remaining sauce in the refrigerator.

Let me know how you like these yummy BBQ treats! And as always, I would love YOUR ideas for fun and healthy recipes for summertime grilling. Hit me up in the comments section. Have a great rest of the summer!

Disclosure: I am proud to be working with both California Strawberries and Welch’s to bring you today’s recipes and healthful summer tips!

Art Grotto
(That’s my almost 94-year-old dad enjoying one of his favorite purple beverages in moderation!)
David Grotto, RDN

I know you may be thinking that “seeing “red” was your only color choice when it comes to making smarter dietary choices to support heart health. Not so fast!

Though red is a wonderful color, there are more colors in the rainbow when it comes to doing what’s best for your ticker. Many of the foods that I recommend and feature in The Best Things You Can Eat for heart health actually come in red, white, tan, orange, green and even purple! Turning purple is a lot more fun and easier than holding your breath. That’s why I’m thrilled to be working with the folks at Welch’s to share the grape news about heart health.

Polyphenols are a group of plant nutrients that, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, may play a role in heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels. You’ll find polyphenols especially in purple variety foods such as grapes (think wine and 100% grape juice), cabbage, potatoes, eggplant and even non purple foods such as tea, onions and even nuts. In fact, berries (including grapes!) are a delicious way to get your daily dose of purple, and they deliver polyphenols (specifically anthocyanins) not found in many other colors of fruit.

Purple potatoes. This variety hails from South America and is rich in potassium, vitamin C in addition to polyphenols. By the way, leave the skin on. Like grapes, you’ll find polyphenols in the skins! Roast in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum!

Eggplant. Hard to believe that there was a time that this lovely vegetable was once thought to cause insanity and leprosy! Amazing! But the good news is you’ll find potassium, folate magnesium fiber and many other additional healthy nutrients in eggplant.

Purple Cabbage. Cabbage belongs to the family of veggies called Brassicas. This stinky but yummy veggie contains a healthy amount of fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Glucosinolates, another group of plant nutrients found in cabbage, may help support a healthy immune system, too!

Wine. I see the debate brewing already. “Come on Dave … wine is not a food, it’s a beverage.” Well, hold onto your grapes of wrath! Red, purple, blue and black varieties of grapes are all used to make red wine. What distinguishes red versus white wine is that red varieties are allowed to have the skin and the seeds come in contact with the grape juice as it ferments. The health benefit may be due to a group of plant nutrients called polyphenols, which are abundant in red wine varieties. As with all alcoholic beverages, wine is beneficial for your health only in moderation.

Concord Grapes. And for those who are not wine lovers or choose not to drink alcoholic beverages, dark purple Concord grapes and 100% grape juice possess many of the same polyphenols as those found in red wine. Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice helps support a healthy heart. An 8 ounce glass of Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes supplies 250 mg of polyphenols, provides an excellent source of vitamin C and counts as two servings of fruit.

Here’s a twist on the traditional tuna fish salad sandwich to include some tasty polyphenols and other healthy ingredients. Enjoy!

Grapes of Wrap
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
¾ cup Purple grapes, quartered
2 cans Tuna or chicken, drained
½ cup Celery, chopped coarse
1/3 cup Purple/red Onion, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon Dill, chopped fine
¼ cup Canola oil mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Black pepper
2 teaspoons Honey
1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Welch’s 100% Grape Juice concentrate (defrosted)
¼ teaspoon Toasted sesame oil (optional)
½ teaspoon Dry mustard powder
6 Whole-wheat tortillas

Directions:
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread some of the salad on a whole-wheat tortilla. Garnish with lettuce and tomato, hold together with a toothpick and serve.

Nutrition Highlights
Calories: 195; Total Fat: 4.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 460mg; Total Carbs: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 18g

Henrici’s Steak and Lobster Photo Courtesy of ConsumerGrouch.com

by David Grotto, RDN

When I was a young lad, about 16 years old, I had a rare opportunity to cook at the then famous Henrici’s Steak and Lobster restaurants, scattered throughout Chicago and vicinity. I basically did most of the prep work there but they did allow me behind the line to cook their wonderful beer batter-dipped onion rings, assemble huge shrimp cocktails and prepare their famous mushrooms, which usually were an accompaniment to the thick and juicy steaks they featured. The last ingredient added to the mushrooms, as they were sautéing, was a healthy splash of dry vermouth, which always flamed up for a nice show. That vermouth really added flavor and helped brown up the mushrooms, nicely.

I think you are really going to like the recipe but don’t worry about the effects of the vermouth – the alcohol burns off as you are cooking down the mushrooms so they shouldn’t be calling DCFS on you because you served them to your kids.

Lastly, the mushrooms in this recipe really have a meaty flavor which is great for my veggie-leaning daughters who love the taste of meat but would rather not eat so much of it. Besides, they are thrilled to know that mushrooms are low in calories. Mushrooms are also an excellent source of chromium, selenium and a good source of pantothenic acid, riboflavin (B-2) and niacin. They are the highest vegetarian source of vitamin D and contain good amounts substances called beta-glucans which possess immune-stimulating and cholesterol lowering benefits. Mushrooms may be a worthy opponent in the fight against dia-besity. Research has shown that swapping out high calorie dense foods for low-calorie yet filling foods like mushrooms can help aid in managing weight yet feeling satisfied after meals. Reducing weight can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Enough nutrition…

Feast your eyes on these mushrooms!
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Nice, eh?

Here’s the recipe! Very simple to make with only six ingredients.
Servings: 4

Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

24 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced 1/4″thick (crimini, button, shiitake and oyster varieties work wonderfully, too)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
4 ounces of dry Vermouth

Directions:

In a large skillet, add olive oil and butter and warm over a medium heat until butter is melted and mixture starts to bubble. Add in sliced mushrooms. Stir and cover mushrooms well with oil and butter. Raise heat to high and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms become tender and fluid from mushrooms starts forming in the pan (about 10 minutes). Add seasoning salt and pepper. Stir mixture well. Cook for another few minutes until fluid in pan starts to reduce. Add vermouth and continue to stir and cook until mushrooms are browned and liquid is well reduced. Serve.

Hope you enjoy these mushrooms as much as we do. They are terrific over eggs, fish and of course, meat. But they also make a great side dish.

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Hi all:

Hope you are enjoying all of the recipes that I have been posting lately. I realized I posted this delcious one to my Twitter and Facebook accounts but completely forgot to post it to my blog. Sorry! Anyhow, I developed the Strawberry Siracha Salmon recipe specifically for the California Strawberry folks so just click on the link here and you will be brought right to the recipe.

Important tip. Like it spicy? Leave the Siracha amount at 2 teaspoons. Want it favorable but not so spicy? Cut the Siracha down to 1 teaspoon. As always, let me know what you think in the comment section. Enjoy!

Dave

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By David Grotto, RDN

I wish I could eat my blog. I’m not sure if creating the recipes, taste testing them, taking the photos or writing about the ingredients and their health benefits is more enjoyable than the other. Yeah, right. Eating is the most enjoyable – who are we trying to kid here?

So Sharon (the wife) brought home some fingerlings to accompany some of her wonderful homemade chicken soup. I decided to pick out all of the purple ones and create a side dish that was rich in heart-healthy polyphenols. In fact, anthocyanins, the group of polyphenol plant chemicals that give these featured peruvian purple taters their color, are also responsible for giving red fruit, such as strawberries and cherries, their rich red color, too.

Research has shown that anthocyanins possess a wide range of biological functions including anti-inflammatory, germ fighting and even anti-cancer activity. Besides, they also help protect blood vessels and regulate blood components that lead to plaque formation and increase the risk of heart disease. But enough already with the healthy reason of why you should eat these taters – more importantly, they taste GREAT! So let’s get cooking!

If you can’t find the purple Peruvian variety, regular fingerlings will do. Both are pictured above. Let the fun begin!

Servings: 4

Prep and cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed, sliced width-wise, 1/4 inch-thick
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons Bleu cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×12 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, place olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic, marsala wine and potatoes together and mix well. Remove and line the casserole dish with the potato slices. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top of the slices. Place in the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven and flip over potato slices. Sprinkle bleu cheese crumbles evenly over the slices and return to the over until well-browned and the cheese has melted – about 10-15 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Hit me up in the comment section and let me know what you think!

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By David Grotto, RDN

Looks yummy, eh?
Well I must tell you. My wife Sharon and I absolutely LOVE Brussels sprouts – not only for their wonderful taste but also because they are an outstanding member of the crucifers – a group of stinky veggies that contain cancer-fighting and immune-boosting plant chemicals called glucosinolates. But unfortunately, they’ve been a bit of a hard sell to the Grotto girls. Alas! We may be on to something because when we served them to the kids last evening, they ate every last one of them and said, “I’d eat this version of Brussels sprouts, any day!” So without further ado, here’s the recipe that won the kids over.

Servings: 4

Cooking and prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 Pound Brussels Sprouts (pick smaller varieties – they tend to be sweeter and less bitter)
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 tsp McCormick Smokehouse Maple (optional. leave out if you don’t want a smokey flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tbsp real maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Wash Brussels sprouts, remove any damaged leaves and slice each sprout in half. Pat dry. Add sprouts to a medium mixing bowl with all of the other ingredients and mix well. Spray a 9×12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour sprout mixture into the baking dish and spread out over the entire bottom. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during the baking period. Brussels sprouts should be well-browned and starting to char when done. Serve.

Let me know what you think and if you have any of your own tricks to get kids to eat these cute little cabbage-like veggies!

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by David Grotto, RDN

What do you do when a polar vortex blows through Chicago on Super Bowl Sunday? Make pancakes!

I really don’t need a lame weather excuse to make pancakes for my family – it’s one of our fave breakfast meals. But today I wanted to jazz them up a bit with the latest in the line from Hooray Puree – Sweet Potato! Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and are so good for you.

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This product is 100% organic sweet potato and nothing else added. Each box contains 2 packets and each packet is equivalent to two vegetable servings. I love the “no-brainer” approach that Hooray Puree offers to increase vegetables by simply tossing it in to your favorite dishes. Pancake mix turns out to work quite well with this product.

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I love Kodiak brand pancake mix. Actually, I screwed up and bought the buttermilk pancake mix version instead of the whole grain mix. Regardless, this turned out AWESOME. But I will try it using the whole grain mix the next time we make it. It was really simple to put together and my family loved it. Then I topped off the pancakes with a delicious berry mix – it doesn’t really need maple syrup but we like adding real maple syrup to just about anything – just like Buddy the elf! Ha!

Without further ado, here is the recipe. Let me know what you think.

Servings: 2 ( A serving = 2 large pancakes)

Ingredients:

Pancakes:
1 cup water
1 packet Hooray Puree Sweet Potato
1 cup Kodiak pancake mix
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Spice mix
2 tsp. Nielsen-Massey vanilla sugar (can substitute regular sugar and add 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1 smashed, ripe banana, medium

Tuscan Triple Berry
1/2 cup Blackberries
1/2 cup Raspberries
1/2 cup POM Pomegranate Arils
2 tbsp Red wine
2 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla sugar (can substitute regular sugar and add 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)

Directions

Pancakes: Spray non-stick cooking spray onto a large skillet or griddle. Preheat over medium high heat. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth in a medium bowl. When griddle is hot, pour 1/4th on the mixture in. Cook until bubbles appear at the top. Lift pancake slightly to see if well-browned. Flip pancake over and cook until done. Add butter or Benecol light margarine, if desired

Tuscan Triple Berry: Rinse blackberries and raspberries then add to medium mixing bowl. Add POM arils to other berries. Add wine and sugar to berry mixture and fold until berries are well coated. Top pancakes with 1/2 of the mixture.

Enjoy!!

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By David Grotto, RDN, LDN, author of The Best Things You Can Eat
This post is sponsored by SILK brand soy milk.

Though I’m a father of three daughters and know how soy consumption at an early age may have breast cancer protective benefits, I’m here to say that soy is not for women only! In fact, soy offers complete protein and a variety of essential nutrients that contribute to men’s health.

Good for the heart and every other part! Soy is good for the heart because it is high in soy protein and fiber, contains heart-healthy fats, micronutrients and antioxidants called isoflavones, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. Whole soybeans are packed with fiber and healthy fats, and are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron and bone-building calcium. According to the FDA, consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Soy helps fight heart disease by research shows lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. You’ll also find that soy is one of the few plant sources of omega 3 fats, which have anti-inflammatory benefits throughout the body. Regular soybeans have soluble fiber that helps suck up cholesterol before it gets a chance to clog guys’ arteries. Fermented soy foods, like miso and tempeh, contain probiotics that have been found to be effective for lowering cholesterol, too!

Soy and testosterone. Andropause is a condition where men experience low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Contrary to popular belief, not only does soy not lower soy protein, testosterone gets a boost from added protein in the diet. Ingesting high quality protein around the time of exercising has been shown to increase androgen binding sites (which attaches to testosterone) in muscle tissue. The volume of scientific studies also support that whole soyfood intake has no negative effect on erectile function, testosterone levels, reproductive hormones, sperm motility, or sperm quality. Scientific consensus supports soy as a part of a healthful lifestyle for both genders.

Diabetes: Adult diabetes is on the rise in both women and men. But the good news is that following a healthy lifestyle and calorie-controlled diet that includes whole soyfoods may help keep diabetes at bay. A research study found men who were given a dry roasted soybeans had significantly reduced fasting glucose and triglycerides in comparison with the control group. Also, the soybean supplement group showed enhanced antioxidant activity which may help protect against free radical damage in type 2 diabetes.

Other health benefits. A Chinese study found that soybeans added to the diets of healthy volunteers improved immune and brain function. Soy is an excellent source of the b-vitamin thiamine and is also a source of vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) folate. A large study found that those with higher levels of vitamin B-2 and folate in their blood had lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Some enjoyable and popular whole soyfoods include edamame; whole cooked soybeans; tofu, tempeh and soymilk. Here’s a popular smoothie that my guy patients really enjoy.

Soy Cherry Good!

Servings: 1
Ingredients:
1/2 cup lite vanilla SILK soymilk
2 tablespoons almond or peanut butter
1 cup frozen unsweetened cherries or strawberries
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon freshly ground espresso beans
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 dash of nutmeg
1 dash of cinnamon
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on the top and serve.

References:

The Best Things You Can Eat‬: ‪For Everything from Aches to Zzzz, the Definitive Guide to the Nutrition-Packed Foods That Energize, Heal, and Help You Look Great‬. Da Capo/Life Long Books, January 2013. New York.

Yimit D, Hoxur P, Amat N, Uchikawa K, Yamaguchi N. Effects of soybean peptide on immune function, brain function, and neurochemistry in healthy volunteers.
Nutrition. 2012 Feb;28(2):154-9.

Eussen SJ et al. Plasma vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and related genetic variants as predictors of colorectal cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010
Oct;19(10):2549-61.

CMI

Photo and recipe courtesy of choosecherries.com

By David Grotto, RDN, LDN
I’m thrilled to be working with ChooseCherries.com this year in promoting the nutrition and health benefits of tart cherries. Many of my patients who I recommend tart cherries to were not aware that there is a difference between tart and sweet cherries. So I thought I would write a post to recap the difference and highlight the nutrition and health benefits of tart cherries.

Cherry interesting…
This isn’t your average drupe (fruit that contains a pit). All cherry varieties are proud members of the rose family. They either fall into one of two categories: sweet or tart. Examples of sweet cherries are the ever popular Bing and Ranier. The Montmorency cherry is one of the most popular tart varieties and is the one most often used in making cherry pie. The bulk of cherry research has been done on the tart cherry and in fact, there are now over 50 studies on the health benefits of tart cherries.

Nutrition: A one-cup serving of cherries is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Cherries contain a host of other nutrients such as boron and quercetin which can help build strong bones and may play a role in maintaining heart health. Amygdalin and perillyl alcohol are two plant nutrients that function as cancer-fighting antioxidants that may have antitumor activity. Melatonin is a hormone found both in the human body and in tart cherries that can help regulate sleep. Tart cherries are one of the richest fruits in a group of plant antioxidants called anthocyanins which also may help promote sleep and put a serious hurt on pain. Tart cherries also contain many phenolic compounds, such as gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which are potent antioxidants. Speaking of antioxidants, tart cherries rank 14th in the top 50 foods for providing highest antioxidant content per serving size.

Heart (and every other part) Health: It is believed that the plant nutrients that give cherries their bright red color, anthocyanins, are responsible for extinguishing the flames of inflammation but not of desire. In fact, cherries may help stimulate nitric oxide production in arteries allowing more blood flow to all the right places (wink, wink).
Arthritis Pain: There’s a good chunk of scientific literature that supports cherries role in helping to relieve painful inflammatory conditions such as gouty arthritis. Anthocyanins, in tart cherries, help suppress cox-2 enzymes that are responsible for causing pain and inflammation. In a study of women who ate two servings (280 grams) of tart cherries after an overnight fast, there was a 15 percent reduction in uric acid levels and the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, which are both associated with gouty arthritis.
Sleep: Three separate studies have looked at the melatonin content of tart cherries and have established that cherries as one of the top melatonin containing foods that may prove beneficial in improving sleep quality and duration.
Bad breath: Many phytonutrients in cherries help remove the odor of methyl mercaptan, the colorless gas released in decaying food particles in the mouth and from garlic. Yum!
Exercise recovery: The anthocyanins in tart cherries are known to decrease muscle soreness. In fact, red tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce muscle damage and soreness caused by intense strength workouts and running. Cherries have been found to have similar pain-reducing effects as anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming tart cherry juice before long distance running can reduce post-run muscle pain.

Here’s a great recipe that pulls all of the nutrition and health benefits of tart cherries into a delicious meal. You must try this – it’s the “cherry bomb”!
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Warm Salmon, Cherry, Arugula Salad
Serves 4. 
Prep time: 20 minutes 
Cook time: 15 minutes 



Ingredients:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

1 teaspoon ground turmeric 

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 

Salt and pepper 

6 cups loosely packed arugula (about 3 ounces) 

1/2 small head radicchio, cored and shredded 

4 salmon fillets, about 3/4-inch thick 

3 shallots, sliced 

1/2 large jalapeno (halved lengthwise), seeded and thinly sliced 

1 1/2 cups thawed frozen tart cherries 

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 

1/4 cup tart cherry juice

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, turmeric, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the arugula and radicchio and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste and divide mixture among serving plates. Set aside. 

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the salmon and cook until barely opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Arrange the salmon on top of the salads. 

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the shallots and chile, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cherries and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add the cherry juice, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the skillet, until the juice is almost entirely evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Spoon the cherry mixture over the salmon and serve. 



References:
Martin KR, Wooden A. Tart cherry juice induces differential dose-dependent
effects on apoptosis, but not cellular proliferation, in mcf-7 human breast
cancer cells. J Med Food. 2012 Nov;15(11):945-54.

Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, Kelly DS, Prior RL, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr 2003;133:1826-1829

Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of
tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep
quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16.

Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in
reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc
Sports Nutr. 2010 May 7;7:17.

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Photo courtesy of the Mushroom Council
By David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of The Best Things You Can Eat

Seems like these two food staples are an unlikely pair, at least from a culinary standpoint. But I think you’ll find the Mushroom Ris-oat-o recipe at the end of this post proof positive that they make a tasty duo. And when it comes to health, this food pairing is no slouch when it comes to delivering more than just great taste – mushrooms and oats may be the ideal food crime fighter-combo for a healthy heart.

Bad cholesterol is a weighty issue. It is estimated that 20% of all strokes and up to 50% of heart attacks may be linked to high cholesterol. Family history, smoking, inactivity and even hormonal changes can all lead to elevated cholesterol. A growing and more common reason though is being over weight – especially when that weight collects around the midsection. Oats and mushrooms added to the diet may help combat hunger and give a feeling of fullness, which can help one manage their weight better.

Getting Mushy. Animal research has demonstrated that a diet containing mushrooms helps reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, and harmful LDL-cholesterol. Several studies also have shown that mushrooms can reduce homocysteine, blood pressure, and can reduce oxidative and inflammatory damage to arteries, making them less susceptible to artery-clogging plaque. The antioxidant component of mushrooms that keep arteries healthy are largely attributed to their polyphenols– especially a substance called ergothionene, which may possess anticancer properties, as well. Mushrooms are naturally low in fat and calories and don’t contain cholesterol making them an ideal swap out for fatty meats or as a healthy extender for burgers, meatloaf, taco meat and casseroles.

Oatmeal Deal. Oats have hunger-busting qualities that can help aid in weight management. And like mushrooms, oats contain beta glucans that do a terrific job on sucking up cholesterol. There are over forty clinical studies spanning over forty years that confirm oats ability to not only lower total cholesterol but also harmful LDL cholesterol. Why? Oats contain additional heart healthy antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E and avenanthramides along with soluble and insoluble fiber that makes it quite difficult for cholesterol to hang around. Eating three grams of soluble fiber from oats, each day, along with a low fat and cholesterol diet, has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and harmful low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). Research shows that eating a fiber-rich diet and a nutritious breakfast can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Including foods such and mushrooms and oats as part of a low saturated fat, high fiber diet, is a heart-smart thing to do. Try combining them both into this tasty Mushroom Ris-oat-o side dish!

Wild Mushroom Ris-Oat-To (as featured in 101 Optimal Life Foods)

Servings: 6

Base Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of water

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup of yellow onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups Oats, Old Fashioned

1 cup of dry white wine

1 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:

To prepare Ris-Oat-To, in a sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups of water and broth to a simmer. Keep warm over medium heat.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté about two minutes until golden brown.

Add oats and toast until golden brown, stirring constantly.

Add wine, cook for a minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Stir in 1 cup of broth mixture, cook for four minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add remaining broth mixture, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next

Remove Ris-Oat-To from the heat and add in ½ cup of cheese

Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Mushroom Mixture

Ingredients:

4 cups of sliced mushrooms of your choice

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped thyme

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large non stick pan over medium high heat, add mushrooms and crushed garlic clove and sauté for about 4 minutes until golden brown and crispy. At the last second season with salt and pepper and fresh thyme.

Spoon Ris-Oat-To into 6 medium size bowls and top with crispy mushrooms, and a pinch of cheese.

Nutrition Profile

290 Calories, 12g Total Fat, 4g Sat Fat, 15mg Cholesterol, 320mg Sodium, 26g Carbs, 4g Fiber, 13g Protein

Disclosure. I am a spokesperson for the Mushroom Council.