Category Archives: Summer

Mulberries are Here!

Please enjoy another post about deliciousness and nutrition from my friend Heidi Bright :

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush so early in the morning.

-English nursery rhyme

I grew up hearing this song and assumed mulberries grew on bushes, like raspberries and blueberries.

Nope. They grow on trees. My sister and I discovered this two summers ago on Long Island, where we saw a man picking what looked like long raspberries off a tree. A tree? What was he eating?  Mulberries.

Oh, we crammed our mouths with their luscious juiciness until we couldn’t reach any more. So sweet, so ripe, and no exterior seeds.

This past week my friend Laura and I took a walk and she identified a mulberry tree. I didn’t know they grew in the Cincinnati area. We filled a bag with what we could reach.

When we met again, she arrived holding a bag filled with fresh, ripe mulberries she had picked. What a treat! And then we found more. I’m in mulberry heaven.

Fortunately, mulberries have great nutritional value. According to https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html, they can improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, decrease blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve metabolism.

That’s a pretty nice list of benefits. Makes me want to go ‘round a mulberry tree and pick more. Just need a ladder to catch those ones up high…

Thriver Soup Ingredient: To find mulberries, check your local farmers’ markets or look for dried varieties in stores. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html includes nutrition facts. Research on “Composition of anthocyanins in mulberry and their antioxidant activity” Look up effects of mulberry extracts before considering using them.

The Sodom of Sodium (get it?!?)

I don’t know about you, but my body retains more sodium (and everything else) in summer rather than the cooler months when our metabolisms run at a faster rate.  Your body NEEDS sodium – you cannot live without it.  BUT you really shouldn’t consume more than 1500 milligrams per day or it can turn into a BAD thing.  Sodium can go by a number of names, including salt, sodium benzoate, disodium or monosodium glutamate. .  Read labels and be aware!  To help you, here are some foods high in sodium, and below THAT are some alternatives.

  • Foods that are pickled (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !! like the Tarragon Sherry pickles in the pic above
  • Foods that are smoked  (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !!  like the Smoked Trout in the pic above
  • Condiments, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, cocktail sauce and ketchup
  • Prepared salad dressing (Lula’s are homemade so no worries!)
  • Foods served in a broth or with au jus
  • Some cereals
  • Meat, poultry or seafood that has been enhanced with a sodium solution (virtually ALL pre-cut, prepackaged protein)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Processed cheeses, such as American
  • Spice mixes that have salt in them

Citrus is one of my favorite ways to enhance flavor.  Also, don’t forget that many prepared foods now come in low and no sodium varieties – always buy these, and add the extra tidbit of salt you may desire, OR,  here are some more ways to use spices and herbs in place of sodium:

  • Basil: Fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails
  • Chives: Salads, sauces, soups, lean meat dishes, vegetables
  • Cinnamon: Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
  • Curry powder: Lean meats (especially lamb), veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup, mayonnaise
  • Dill: Fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, lamb, chicken, fish
  • Garlic (not garlic salt): Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Ginger: Chicken, fruits
  • Mustard (dry): Lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mayonnaise, sauces
  • Nutmeg: Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meat loaf, toast, veal, pudding, ANYTHING with cream in it – savory OR sweet
  • Onion powder (not onion salt): Lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups
  • Paprika: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Parsley: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Peppermint extract: Puddings, fruits
  • Rosemary: Chicken, veal, lean meat loaf, lean beef, lean pork, sauces, stuffings, potatoes, peas, lima beans
  • Sage: Lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions, lean pork
  • Thyme: Lean meats (especially veal and lean pork), sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads
  • Turmeric: Lean meats, fish, sauces, rice

AND…the #1 way to reduce sodium in your diet – DON’T PUT SALT ON THE DINNER TABLE!  I’ve gotta tell ya’ – NOTHING is more insulting to a cook than salting something before you’ve tasted it!

Here’s to your health, and your joy! -Lula

Which Mint is Which Mint?

Drink Minted Lemon-Limeade

When a recipe calls for mint, what kind are they talking about?  There’s peppermint, there’s water mint, there’s spearmint…you’re probably getting spearmint from your grocer and it’s fine to put into any recipe calling for mint.  Peppermint is harder to find – you may have to end up growing it if you’re a mint connoisseur and really want some. Peppermint tends to be more pungent and peppery and is a bit less “delicate”  and usually used in candies and teas.  At any rate, don’t sweat it – just use whatever they’re selling if it’s an ingredient in a savory dish.    When it comes to a Mint Julep, spearmint is what is used to make the drink.  Just sayin’.  Mint is a lovely accompaniment and refreshing element to many beverages, like Lula’s Minted Lemon-Limeade pictured here.  SIP…AHHHHH…

What’s YOUR favorite Basil?

Lula's Caprese Crostini

I tend to “decorate” with herbs…I have such a beautiful garden and it’s so easy to pluck a few varieties both flowering and non flowering.   Since it’s almost basil season I’d love to alert you to  a couple of GORGEOUS varieties of Basil that are purple instead of green!  The Purple Ruffles variety has leaves that look like a 1970’s handkerchief skirt.  The “Red Rubin variety has pink flowers!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering makes our Caprese Crostini with Genovese Pesto, garnished with Lime Basil, two OTHER varieties!

Artie Chokes 2 for a Dollar!

Zucchini and Artichoke Frittata

…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it!  Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound).  But hard?  No.  First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
  • Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol,  increase probiotic bacteria in the gut,  and help maintain a healthy liver.
  • Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
  • You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY.  Need I tell you the health benefits?

Now, let’s talk facts:

  • The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers.  See? (this one has flowered obviously)

  • A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom.  It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
  • The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.

You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them.  Do this:  choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe.  Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes.  Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side).  If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred.  Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like.  If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping.  Truly, you don’t really need anything.  Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth.  Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky.  The heart will be your final reward.  The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure.   Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know!  There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!

Cucumbers and your BRAIN!

Lomi ala Lula – Jade Pearl Rice, Crushed Wasabi Peas

Did you know that cucumbers are BRAIN FOOD?!?  And the fresher they are (as in you’re growing them right now aren’t you?!?  are they coming out of your ears?!?) the more brain boost they pack?

Cucumbers are high in potassium which helps brain cells talk to each other.   When they talk to each other they maintain healthy connections and stay lubricated.   Potassium also helps you with that sunny disposition, and lack of it contributes to depression

Cukes also contain an anti-inflammatory plant compound called fisetin, which researchers are discovering helps to delay age related nerve cell decline in the brain. You can’t get more brainy than Lula’s for Lunch,,,and More! Catering ‘s  Lomi a’la Lula  –  Salmon and Cucumber in one genius WALLOP!!

It’s SEAFOOD Time!

 

Ruby Red Trout Skin

Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:

  •  Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times.  It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
  • If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
  • Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
  • It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp.  By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm.  Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
  • If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger.  Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood!  The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )

 

A Beer Primer

Beer

I’m not a beer drinker.  There, I said it.  There are some beers that taste good to me, but in general, I don’t like the carbonation (I don’t drink pop either) and what it does to my ‘constitution”.  That being said, Cincinnati s a great beer town, and is becoming more  so every day with our new micro-breweries and pubs.  So, I thought, perhaps there are others out there who might like to know what they’re drinking, or talking about, when celebrating our city’s great tradition.  Here you go:

Beer (ALL beer – lager, ale, stout, bock, pilsener, porter, etc) is made from the same ingredients:  water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.  What makes a different taste, style, or type of beer is the addition of other ingredients, different types of yeast, and fermentation temperature.  Age also changes the flavor of beer.  So let’s touch on the 5 major “types” of beer and try and make sense of it:

ALE:    Ales are not aged, and are made with a yeast that floats to the top of the vat during fermentation.  They contain a little more alcohol than lagers.  They often have a hint of fruit in their flavor or aftertaste.  A type of ale is STOUT.  Darker and stronger than regular ale, a stout is brewed with toasted malt.

LAGER:  The yeast in lagers sinks to the bottom of the vat and is fermented slowly and at cool temperatures, and take one to six weeks to age.  Types of lager are:

PILSENER:  About a third fewer calories and about 20% less alcohol than regular lager.  Pale and golden, they are your “light” beers.

PORTER:  The stronger flavor of this lager comes from toasting the malt before brewing.  It is a  bit higher in alcohol content as well.

BOCK:  A dark German style of lager, bocks are traditionally spring beers, but these days they are brewed year round.  They are rich, and thicker (in Germany they are made by freezing the beer and taking off the top layer of ice to thicken it).  Bocks are brewed with roasted malts.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses beer in some of our recipes.  Try our Ballpark Casserole – our Brats and Metts are poached in beer before grilling.  Or, this fall, order our Cheddar-Ale Fondue, served with our Brats and Metts as well as our homemade German Salt Rye!  You can always order our Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from our Deli!  Cheers!

Tomato, ToMAHto

We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!

Eat the BLUE in that BERRY!

Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry-Floris Compote

OK, let’s get all sciency about blueberries.  Because it’s important.  Blueberries may just be the #1 Super Food…and we all need to take advantage of THAT!    Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Our bodies are incapable of producing several essential antioxidants, and you get a dose of all three of these when you eat a handful of blueberries:  Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and the mineral Manganese.
  2. Blueberries slow aging, fight disease, and provide the same bacteria blocking action that cranberries do to help prevent urinary tract infections.
  3. Compounds in blueberries help prevent all kinds of dementia.

Blueberries are available year round in the supermarket – no, they’re not as fabulous as going out and picking them yourself in July, but you have NO EXCUSE to not eat them year round and HELP YOU BE A BETTER YOU!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering utilizes blueberries in salads, barbeque sauces, and of course, desserts, to give you a few ideas…while you’re conjuring up your own please salivate to the picture of our Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry Floris Compote above!