Featured Ingredients

Avocados!!! One of my favorite burger, salad and burrito components, avocados smooth texture and satisfying flavor always hits the spot. Avocados are also great for making an original style guacamole recipe perfect for dipping a nice crispy tortilla chip. Last winter, I took at video production class and for my instructional video assignment, my friend Jeanna and I made a video about how to make a delicious guacamole. Check out my video on YouTube to see how it all turned out and maybe you will find it to be a great addition to your next party or game day spread!

guacamole

Versatile Grain: Barley

barleyGenerally, when people think of grains, they think of bread, pasta and rice. Or the images that fill the bottom part of the food pyramid. It’s time to change those traditional ideas because barley, quinoa and millet are starting to pop up on magazine pages and dinner tables everywhere, a refreshing flavor that offers endless possibilities.

Although barley may not be anything new, it has been recently pushed due to its health factor and variety of recipes that can be made with this unlikely grain. Not only can barley be made as a side dish to go along with a roasted chicken, but it is also a dominant ingredient in vegetarian meals.

So, what is barley? And how do you cook it? According to World’s Healthiest Foods Website, barley is “a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color.” Cooking barley may take slightly longer than rice, but the wait is well worth it. eHow will teach you the best way to cook barley, a simple process that takes only 40 minutes. Like the article mentions, I recommend cooking it with vegetable or chicken broth to heighten the flavor.

Inspired to make barley for dinner now? Here are a couple easy barley recipes: rice and barley salad and Mediterranean barley vegetable stew (pictured below).

Next time you go to the grocery store and grab for Rice-A-Roni or a box of Barilla noodles, you may want to consider that less expensive bag of barley just a couple feet down the isle.

Brussels Sprouts: History and How to Prepare

Vegetables are an important component to every balanced diet, but are often times neglected for a variety of reasons. How to incorporate them into meals, how to make them taste good or when to find time to cook or chop them are all common reasons why the lack of greens occurs. Eating vegetables can become easier if you are willing to branch out and try new methods of cooking classics like Brussels sprouts.

Most people think of those overcooked, mushy and overall unflavorful side dishes that their mom used to make them eat for dinner as a child. Recently, Brussels sprouts have become something much more than this, which make them tastier and more appealing to everyone. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, a balanced diet should “include cruciferous vegetables 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups.” Common cruciferous vegetables include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and kale.

Why are Brussels sprouts beneficial to your health? According to World’s Healthiest foods, there are a number of reasons, including: cholesterol lowering benefits, DNA and cancer protection and a higher level of glucosinolate (another possible cancer mitigator) than most other cruciferous vegetables.

brussellsAn easy and delicious way to cook Brussels sprouts is by simply sauteing them in a pan with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. An even easier method, but that takes a little bit longer, is roasting the vegetable after halving or quartering (make sure to also remove the outer leaves). If you are looking for a way to spice up these classic cooking methods, add some lemon and almonds for a tasty side dish alongside your favorite grain or protein. If you are looking for a more Italian style approach, try throwing in some fried pancetta and pine nuts (yum!).

My favorite use of this healthful vegetable is Brussels sprouts gratin. With just a little heavy cream, white cheddar and bread crumbs, this dish is both tasty and easy to make. If you are skeptical about whether or not you will like Brussels sprouts, I would try this recipe first because it is sure to get you hooked.

Finding time to incorporate vegetables into your diet may be challenging, but after you have tried these Brussels sprouts recipes, it will be well worth it.

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