Recipe: Fresh tomato salad

It’s hard to beat fresh vine-ripened tomatoes from the garden.

One of my favorite ways to use them is in this sliced tomato salad with avocados and mushrooms, which is not only delicious, but chock full of good nutrition.

The salad is relatively low in the “bad” stuff like saturated fat, sodium and sugar, but rich in fiber, potassium and Vitamins A and C. Bolthouse Farms makes a delicious classic balsamic vinaigrette dressing with olive oil that only has 15 calories per tablespoon.

This side dish is also super easy-peasy to make – always a plus in my book. Just slice up the produce, toss with dressing and chill in the refrigerator. That’s all there is to it.

The recipe makes two generous-sized servings.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium-size tomatoes
  • 1 medium-size avocado
  • 6 large fresh mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Directions

Thoroughly wash produce, remove stems from tomatoes and mushrooms and peel avocado.

Thinly slice tomatoes, avocado and mushrooms.

Toss with the balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

To enhance flavor, refrigerate for a half hour or so before serving.

Nutrition Info

Calories per serving: 125 | Carbohydrates: 13 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 85 mg | Potassium: 610 mg | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 6 g | Vitamin A: 18% | Vitamin C: 31% | Calcium: 2% | Iron: 8%

Recipe: Loaded Brussels sprouts

When it comes to my daily quota of vegetable servings, a couple of my favorite restaurants have definitely succeeded in getting Brussels sprouts onto my plate.

Since I’m ALWAYS looking for ways to make veggies more enticing, I have of course sought to duplicate these delicious gussied-up sprouts at home.

As I’ve experimented, I’ve discovered a couple of secrets to making the Brussels spouts turn out crisp and caramelized rather then soggy.

First, bake at a high-enough temperature (I set my oven at 450 degrees). Second, add a small amount of cornstarch to the mixture I use to coat the sprouts.

After much tinkering with possible ingredients, I’ve finally succeeded in creating a reasonable facsimile of the delicious entree served at my favorite eateries.

Even better, the recipe is fairly easy, at least the way I make it.

Unfortunately, the “loaded” version of this recipe is not exactly calorie-free. Sorry!

But even if I leave off the bacon, french fried onion rings and sriracha mayo (or include only one of these as a garnish), the basic sprouts baked with the coating mixture are still pretty yummy.

In the plain version, most of the fat and calories come from the olive oil, which is a “good” fat, so I don’t worry about the calorie and fat content as much.

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-pound package frozen halved Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 slices crisp bacon, crumbled (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons french fried onion rings (optional)
  • Sriracha mayo to taste (optional)

Directions

Cook the bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside.

Rinse frozen Brussels sprouts in warm water to thaw slightly and remove ice crystals. Drain and place in plastic container with a lid.

Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey and cornstarch and blend well. Drizzle the mixture over the Brussels Sprouts, place the lid on the container and shake gently to thoroughly coat the Brussels Spouts.

Spread Brussels sprouts in a single layer on large cookie sheet

Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, flipping sprouts with a metal spatula every 10 minutes or so.

When Brussels sprouts are nearly browned, top with french fried onion rings and bake about 5 more minutes until onion rings are browned and crisp.

Sprinkle bacon bits evenly over Brussels sprouts and drizzle sriracha mayo over the top of everything.

If you want to reduce the fat and calorie content, use only one of the last three ingredients. Still totally yummy!

Nutrition information

Loaded version

Serving size: 3/4 cup | Calories: 240 | Carbohydrates: 11 g | Protein: 5 g | Fat: 18 g | Saturated Fat: 3.5 g | Cholesterol: 7 mg | Sodium: 256 mg | Potassium: 280 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 3.5 g | Vitamin A: 0% | Vitamin C: 0% | Calcium: 22% | Iron: .5%

Plain version (without last three ingredients)

Serving size: 3/4 cup | Calories: 135 | Carbohydrates: 9 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 44 mg | Potassium: 280 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 3.5 g | Vitamin A: 0% | Vitamin C: 0% | Calcium: 22% | Iron: .5%

Irresistible veggie recipes wanted!

“Cardiac event” was most definitely not on my To-Do list.

Following an extended pull-my-hair-out busy patch that seems to happen for at least two weeks each month despite my retirement, I was looking forward to a short stretch of downtime. Instead, I began a beautiful October weekend with a ride in the back of an ambulance.

The good news: My radiating chest pain and rapid heart rate (200-plus beats per minute) turned out not to be a heart attack. The bad news: After an overnight stay in the hospital spent hooked up to a Holter monitor, I left with a diagnosis of A-fib and “diastolic dysfunction.”

The upshot: My eagerly-awaited downtime this past couple of weeks has been supplanted by a round of follow-up doctor visits. I’ll need to add three new heart medications to my ever-expanding drug salad, and a lot more salads to my increasingly restricted diet. And veggies.

Alas, since I prefer chocolate-covered peanut butter cookie bars to celery, it is even harder for me to adhere to a healthy eating plan than it was for me to quit smoking 15 years ago. Add to that, the challenge of finding recipes my husband and I can both stand. We each have veggies we like and veggies we loathe. Problem is, the ones I like are on his “loathe list” and vice versa.

But the cardiac event that hijacked my calendar has reminded me of my need to keep “self-care” on my list of priorities – after all, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s past time to stop taking my health for granted.

So I’d love to have readers of this blog share their irresistible veggie recipes. Or yummy salad recipes. “Quick and easy to prepare” is a plus.

Count on my husband to add a bit of levity to a tense situation. While waiting for me to be released from the hospital, he and I were discussing the health issues we’ve both been experiencing this past year.

I said, “At our age, we probably need to get used to this. It’s going to be the new normal.”

To which my sweetie pie replied, “You mean the new abnormal? We were NEVER normal, my dear!”