Eager for Spring: Fresh Omelets and Salads

“Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

IMG_0355The past few days have been hectic but for no particular reason.  Ever have those kinds of days where you do LOTS of NOTHING and by the end of the day, you’re exhausted but feel you didn’t get anything worthwhile accomplished?  Made me long for the peace and serenity of Hawaii.

I can’t wait for Spring and am tired of making the same old meals every day.  Checking the fridge I found lots of fresh veggies just calling out to me. I usually don’t buy such a variety, since it’s only the two of us now and I’m the only one who really eats vegetables.  But I’m very happy I had them on hand.

These meals were healthy, tasty, satisfying and best of all, easy to make. 

 Egg White_Spinach_Mushroom Omelet

Egg White, Spinach and Mushroom Omelet

Ingredients:

·       3 egg whites

·       1 tbsp skim milk

·       ½ tsp Italian herbs (or your choice)

·       Freshly ground black pepper

·       1 cup chopped fresh spinach

·       ¼ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

·       1 tbsp reduced-fat cheese, shredded (I used Sargento Low Fat 4-Cheese Italian; can also substitute Parmesan if desired.)

Preparation:

1.    Whisk egg whites, milk and herbs together in a small bowl.

2.    Spray small skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium heat.

3.    Add mushrooms to pan and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach.

4.    As soon as spinach begins to wilt, pour egg white mixture over vegetables.

5.    When edges of mixture begin to set, lift sides and gently tilt skillet to allow remaining liquid to flow underneath.

6.    When egg white mixture is fully cooked, sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

7.    Fold omelet in half and serve immediately.

Avocado_Tuna Salad

 Avocado and Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

·       1 avocado

·       1 can ( 5oz.) tuna in water, drained

·       2 cups romaine lettuce

·       6 grape tomatoes, halved

·       1 cup sliced, peeled cucumber

·       2 hard-boiled egg whites, sliced

·       1 peeled carrot, grated or julienned

·       ½ lemon, squeezed, juice

·       2 tbsp. lite honey mustard dressing

Preparation:

1.    Slice avocado, remove pit and scoop contents into small bowl.  Add drained tuna and blend both together with fork.

2.    Add tomatoes, cucumber, hard-boiled egg whites and carrots over lettuce. 

3.    Mound avocado and tuna mixture on top.

4.    Sprinkle lemon juice and dressing over top as desired.

 Enough for 2 servings.

I hope you try one of these for your next meal.  They’re a nice change and make me eager for Spring!  Bon Appetit!

Low Cholesterol Cooking with Rice Bran Oil

My latest research into low cholesterol meal plans led me to a new type of cooking oil.  I first heard of rice bran oil from a Dr. Oz show earlier in the year.  He again mentioned its benefit at a health symposium I attended this past June.  After further study, I discovered rice bran oil is especially versatile.  My own personal decision to use it comes from my desire to reduce cholesterol.  After using it in the preparation of several meals, I enthusiastically endorse it.

 Everyone should realize our body needs a certain amount of dietary fat for optimum health.  However, the most beneficial ones are mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Most popular cooking oils or fats, including butter, are high in saturated and trans fats.  They are also higher in calories; an important consideration if you are seeking to lose weight.  Rice bran oil contains phylosterols which help reduce cholesterol absorption, is rich in gamma oryzanol, Omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamin E and antioxidants, all of which have been shown in clinical research to help lower cholesterol and benefit overall health.

 One of the reasons I consider rice bran oil a new favorite is its high smoke point; another is its slightly nutty (almond) flavor.  I enjoy using it when stir-frying which is now becoming one of my “go to” choices for cooking.  Stir-frying enables me to pack more punch into a one-dish dinner than broiling, baking or grilling. 

 The other night, I made chicken stir-fry using rice bran oil, with a pepper, onion, carrots and broccoli.  If I had mushrooms, I would have added those too!  I chose reduced sodium chicken broth and soy sauce.  Next time, I may try the reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce to see if it makes a noticeable difference in overall flavor.  As a note, in the reduced sodium varieties, the Worcestershire has only 135 mg of sodium per tablespoon compared to 575 mg in the soy sauce (Lea & Perrins vs. Kikkoman).

My husband said he enjoyed the dish, which is important.  The basic recipe is easy.  Feel free to pick and choose a veggie or two of your own to add.

 Ingredients:

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups broccoli florets  
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce 1 green pepper (thinly sliced)  
2 tbsp. water 1/2 onion (thinly slice)  
1 tbsp. cornstarch 2 peeled carrots (thinly sliced, not shredded)  
2-3 tbsp. rice bran oil 1 pinch red pepper (dried crushed, optional)  
2 garlic cloves (chopped or diced)1/8 tsp. ground ginger or 1 TBSP grated fresh    
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves(cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips or chunks) Brown rice (hot cooked)  
   

 Directions:

  • If desired, season chicken with a salt substitute such as Nu-Salt® and pepper.
  • Whisk broth, soy sauce, water and cornstarch together until smooth.  Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until white, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add broccoli florets, pepper, onion, carrots and red pepper and continue stir-frying until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Push chicken & veggies to sides of pan and add cornstarch mixture to center.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Blend with chicken & veggies until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve over rice.

Some people have also used rice bran oil in baking as a substitute for vegetable oil.  If I want to eliminate fat in baking, I generally do so with applesauce.  But it would be fun to experiment with the rice bran oil next time.  I’m trying to watch my carbohydrate intake as well, so sweets and other high carb foods may be off my list for a while (except on Thanksgiving…and then, only in moderation!)

I hope you consider trying rice bran oil in the future.  The cold-pressed varieties are best.  If you do, good luck and Bon Appetit!  I’m looking forward to creating lots of new recipes for my upcoming low cholesterol dietary adventure; my husband, not so much…he’ll miss his C’s…chocolate and cheese!

“Tout est question d’équilibre” ~ Mireille Guiliano