Category Archives: Nutrition

Quinoa – The Red White and Black Of It

Native to South America, the quinoa seed comes in 3 different varieties, and I like them all – particularly together.  Sometimes its hard to find the blend though, and when I can’t I’ll settle for red.

White quinoa is the most plentiful; it is the largest and has a nutty vegetal flavor and the softest texture of the three.  Red is next in size and is crunchier because it has an outer seed coat that makes it even nuttier (any reason, you think, why this would be my fave?!?)  Black is the tiniest and the crunchies with an even thicker seed coat.

The reason I personally like to mix them is because the white explodes and is fluffiest, the red has the best flavor and texture (to me – this is personal folks!), and the black will virtually always remain crunchy.  Interesting flavors and textures always make for a more delicious meal!  Lula’s Catering makes soups and stews with quinoa as well as entrée salads and side dishes.  It’s packed with nutrition and is gluten free … a real winner!  For more tips & tidbits from Lula you can always go here – just type in your key word question and I’ll probably have some sort of answer!!  With love, Lula

You’d Better Get Used to Seaweed!

It might be a major diet component in the coming decades…but for NOW, we’re just going to discuss Kombu – a dried kelp that contains “umami” (specifically glutamic acid but what do you care?!?).  If you missed that post look it up!

Kombu is used in Japanese (and my) cooking to enhance umami in many dishes – it can be found in Asian markets and these days quite a few grocery stores in dried form.  Kombu is also a vegetarian source of the brain function enhancing Omega 3 fatty acid.

Just drop one 2×2 square per quart of liquid into soups and stews (think vegetable soup, tomato sauce) and pull it out when the liquid begins to simmer.  You don’t want to forget it-  bitter compounds form at a full boil.  But you WILL add that indefinable “what is IN this that makes it so rich and tasty?!?” vibe if you pull it out at the simmer!  If you liked this tidbit you can get one weekly here!

Pumpkin Packs a Punch!

Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.

In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging.  At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we  toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch!  This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad.  Now, drool!

Another “Brainy” Food – the PINEAPPLE!

Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke.  Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!

The Holy Grain Grail Part 2, and Watch Lula on Channel 9 at 10AM!

OK, before we get to the grain…it’s Organic Harvest Month! Tune in to ABC Channel 9 (WCPO) at 10AM today and learn different ways to celebrate from Lula!  Now…on to some MORE good stuff:

Fun, tasty other Grains that do contain some gluten:

Rye Berries – Low Gluten, one of my faves.  LOVES me some rye and pumpernickel breads!

Wheat Berries – This is the whole kernel with bran and germ intact.  Chewy, sweet, and nutty.

Barley – eat this hull-less or hulled, but not pearled – it contains more bran that way.

Farro – This is an ancient wheat grain that is great in salad and soup – you can even make “farroto” with it – in place of risotto … it’s very creamy when the starch releases!

Freekeh (or Farika)  – This is smoked or roasted under-ripe wheat that makes an EXCELLENT alternative tabbouleh.

Spelt – This is a fun one – used in ALOT of our breads.  Spelt has a smooth shiny outer layer that stays intact when cooked.  Think Sautes.

There!  Get your HEALTHY grain on!  For more tips and tidbits click here .

The Holy Grain Grail Part I

There are many grains out there to try; and not all alternatives to wheat are gluten free – here’s a primer on many of them, broken down by gluten free (a must for celiacs) and lower gluten (tolerated by many with gluten allergies) – we’ll discuss Lower Gluten next time.

GLUTEN FREE

Millet – high in fiber, mild flavor.                                                                                   Wild Rice – actually a grass found around fresh water.                                  Amaranth – A seed and a COMPLETE protein (think filet mignon!)       Sorghum – highly absorbent for sauces/dressings                                  Black/Forbidden Rice-resembles wild rice but cooks more quickly and colors broth/sauce a deep brown-red. One of Lula’s faves!                Oats – watch out that these come from a “Certified GF” mfg.                    Quinoa – another COMPLETE protein.                                                                    Teff – 1/100th the size of a kernel of wheat!                                                        Buckwheat – another of Lula’s faves…try our crepes!                                     Corn – try Silver Queen or any sweet white – amazing!

Hope this helps on your next grocery store adventure!  More tips and tidbits like this can be found if you subscribe here.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Is Cabbage the New Kale?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cabbage’s reputation has been transformed from peasant fare to superfood. It’s the new kale.    With the “fermentation rage” going on, I thought it might be a great time to prime you on the varieties of cabbage.

If you believe everything you read about the health benefits of this brassica, you should be eating it every day. For a start, it’s high in vitamins A, B, C and K, full of fiber, iron and potassium and said to have cancer-preventing benefits. If that isn’t enough, it ranks as the vegetable with the fewest amount of calories or fat (at a mere 25 calories per 3.5 ounces.) Oh, and it’s cheap.

Cabbage is extremely versatile. You can use it in stir fries, sautés and braises, with meat, poultry, fish or all on its own — think corned beef, sauerkraut, kimchi, coleslaw, soups, braises, raw, pickled and more.   You can find Lula’s tasty, beautiful appetizer (above) Brown Sugar Rubbed Pork Loin on Black Bread with Braised Cabbage and Apples here.  You can stuff cabbage leaves or use them raw as a natural container for sautéed vegetables or meat.

Cabbage Varieties To Know

Green Cabbage – Green cabbage is the most basic and common of cabbages. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or slow-cook it in soups and stews to bring out its essential sweet nature. Look for heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size,) with tightly packed, moist looking leaves. Green cabbage can be used raw in slaws and salads and holds up to all kinds of assertive, strong flavors.

Red Cabbage – Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except, well, it’s red. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than the green ones but look for tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads like slaws or can easily be cooked. The rich color of red cabbage offers a concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, as well as antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties.

The only downside to red cabbage is that it can turns an odd blue color when cooked. Add vinegar or a touch of lemon juice when cooking to avoid blue food!

Savoy Cabbage – Savoy cabbage is also known as curly cabbage. With ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves, these cabbages are gorgeous and tasty. The tender leaves tend to be more loosely layered and less tightly packed than green or red cabbage, although it can be used in much the same way — raw in salads, stir-fried, braised or added to soups and stews. Because the leaves are so tender you can use this cabbage a wrap for rice dishes or stir fried meat.

Napa Cabbage – Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage, has a different look than other cabbages. It has long light-green leaves and white stalks that appears more lettuce-like with a mild flavor that has a bit of a spicy, almost peppery kick at the end. Great for pickles, kimchi, stir fries and salads.

Bok Choy – Bok choy has a mild flavor most often used in stir fries, but is delicious braised and used in simple preparations. The cabbage flavor is subtle.

No matter what type you buy, look for cabbage heads that are firm, shiny, feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. While you don’t want bruised or beaten-up vegetables, you can peel off and discard the outer leaves, so they need not be pristine.

Cabbage will keep best refrigerated, and will last several weeks.   If you insert cabbage into your diet on a regular basis, the “rumble in your tummy” will dissipate in only a few days and the nutrition is worth it!

A Note From Chef Lori

A Valentine’s (or any other amour) appetizer – our Heart’s Afire 5-Spice Quail Breast in Puff Pastry with Wilted Winter Greens and Apricot Mustard.

Click here to visit our website!

 

A Slice of Lemon, Please

Next time you order iced tea and the waitress asks, “With Lemon?” do yourself a favor and say yes.  If you make iced tea at home, a slice of orange will do almost the same good as the lemon, with a slice of lime coming in third.

Researches at Purdue University say adding the citrus slice helps you absorb far more of the antioxidants in tea, whether it’s green tea or black.

Citrus fruit is wonderful for you in many ways.  Lula’s for Lunch… and More! Catering incorporates citrus fruit into MANY of our dishes, sometimes overtly, and sometimes you’ll never even know it’s there!

lemons'nlimes

Some Lentil Learnin’

10,000 years and counting…they must be good, right?  And they’re an absolute POWERHOUSE of nutrition!  Lentils contain the highest protein content of any vegetable other than soybeans (negligably higher)…fat free…cholesterol free…higher in folate than any other non-fortified food…and a really good source of iron (make sure you eat the lentils with Vitamin C foods so you get maximum absorbtion of the iron: tomatoes, green bell peppers, etc).

Simmer (bubbles JUST breaking the surface – I call it “smiling”) your lentils without salt – as salt toughens the skin.  Add the salt at the end to taste.  One part lentils to 3 parts liquid is a good place to start if you want maximum absorption.  The Red Chief tends to be my favorite, as it gets mushy and I like to puree it for a “fine” soup, but beware, they turn yellow, they are not red after they’re cooked!  Golden Lentils cook more quickly if you’re short on time.  French green lentils (Lentille du Puy) contain less starch so they’re firmer when they’re  cooked.  Brown lentils are cheap and easy to find.  They take alot longer to cook though – around 45 minutes because they have tougher skins.  These days, though, you can find multiple varieties of lentils in almost any grocery store!!

Sweet Potato or Yam, Ma’am?

Tis the season…and Oh, the drama! Which is it? They are NOT related and another fun fact, the sweet potato isn’t even related to the potato! First, let’s scientifically (but not TOO scientifically) differentiate:

Sweet Potato:    Originated in Central/South America.  A relative in the Morning Glory family.  Skin a plethora of colors.  Flesh a plethora of colors – the lighter the starchier.   The bad news is…you can never tell the color of the flesh until after you buy them!

Yam:        Originated (and 95% still comes from) Africa/Asia.  A member of the Lily family.   Mostly soft fleshed.  Can grow to over 100 pounds!  Sweet Potatoes are frequently mislabeled in the US because African Americans called them Yams as they resembled them.  Yams are hard to get in the US.  You’d have to go to an international market.  You WILL see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in grocery stores.  But if you look closely, they are also labeled sweet potatoes, because it’s the law.  A wonderful use of sweet potatoes, on the menu now at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering is our Roasted Sweet Potato Salad! You can order as a side with your lunch or entree at www.lulasforlunch.com  Yummy Yummy!!