Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fish Sticks?

I remember having so-called fish sticks maybe a couple of times in my childhood. I don't think any of the kids liked them much. But I know a lot of people like them and eat them frequently. When I got married I made a concerted effort to start liking fish. I have had some definite success, and I usually plan something with fish in our weekly dinner menu (real fish, of course, not fake fish--I liken fish sticks to chicken nuggets. Use the real stuff).

My favorite starter fish was tilapia because it's thin, white, and not too "fishy." We have tried it several ways, but our old favorite of olive oil and lemon pepper always won out. I think I may have found a new favorite. This recipe came from the "Real Food Has Curves" book. I must admit, I've found some good, and some that taste like only special foods critics and chefs that like lots of vinegar would like...but the winners have been great. Some of them take considerable effort, but these are easy!

Here are their Oven-Fried Fish Fillets:

2 large egg whites
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I used spelt, I'm sure you can use a variety of whole grain flours)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mild paprika
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Four 4-0z. skinless, white-fleshed fish fillets, like snapper or tilapia

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400.
2. Mix the egg whites and lemon juice with a whisk or a fork in a shallow soup bowl (or pie pan) until foamy and well combined.
3. Mix the cornmeal, flour, salt, paprika, dill, and pepper in a second shallow soup bowl or on a dinner plate.
4. Drizzle the oil on a large baking sheet, then use a wadded-up paper towel to smear it around.
5. Take one of the fish fillets and dip it in the egg white mixture, coating both sides. Let some of the excess run off, then dip the piece in the cornmeal mixture on both sides. Then do it all again with the same piece of fish. Place the fillet on the prepared baking sheet and do it with the other fillets.
6. Bake 9 minutes, then flip and continue baking 9 minutes more. Serve.

Not the greatest picture, but oh well. The double breading is great. Just thick enough, and crispy, with the fish perfectly flaky on the inside. I served them with some home-made oven fries and some dipping sauces of tartar sauce and ketchup. Make sure to include a nice salad, of course. Yum!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Whole Foods Holiday Treat

My brother is into whole foods, so for his birthday I made him a new treat in place of a traditional cake. I'm glad it turned out so well. Everyone liked these...unlike the new whole foods cake I tried for my son's birthday. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Never know until you try.

Chia Snowballs

1 c. peanut butter*
1/2 c. honey (raw is preferable)
1/2 c. brown rice syrup (available at health food stores)
4-5 cups brown rice cereal
3 Tbsp. chia seeds
optional: 1 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Mix all ingredients except for coconut. Roll mixture into balls and then roll the balls in coconut. If you opt for no coconut, press the mixture into an 8x8 pan. Refrigerate 1 hour, and store any leftovers in the fridge.
(If the balls get too sticky to roll, try dipping your hands in water first, or put the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes, or both.)
* natural, no sugar added--and chunky gives nice texture if you like. Also, you can use almond butter if there are food allergies.

These taste like peanut butter and honey rice krispie treats, or I heard someone say they hinted at Butterfingers. Since they had no chocolate, I'd say more like chic-o-sticks. But it's up to you--little chocolate chips (or cacao nibs), or dipping in chocolate might give a more Butterfinger-like result. Either way, these are good.

Here's some chia facts to get you excited:
Chia seeds are high in:
  • Protein;
  • Fiber;
  • Magnesium,
  • Calcium, and, best of all,
  • ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. (In fact chia seeds contain more Omega-3's than any other plant source, including flaxseed).

An ounce of chia seeds contains 137 calories, and will get you four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.

Pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easiest. Breakfast. Ever.

This one goes out to my BFF, Shayla, for her innovation and inspiration to me about the best way ever to eat steel cut oats.

I personally grew up never having had these or noticed them until rather recently in my life. To my knowledge, you can get oats in three basic states (I know you can do flours and such, but for the sake of simplicity): groats, steel-cut, and rolled. If you grew up like I did, you likely had them only rolled--oatmeal. Perhaps for some of you it was processed even further to be "quick oats."

Groats (funny word, I know) are the least processed of these--the whole grain oat. Here's a picture for your viewing pleasure:

Steel-cut are a step of processing further down the line, just the groats cut in halves or thirds or so. Like this:

Rolled oats, with which we are most familiar, are processed differently than steel cut in that they are steamed and rolled flat--still a whole grain, but more processed, and therefore (in my opinion), at least a little less beneficial than the less processed counterparts. Cooking and exposure of the insides to air speeds the loss of vitamins and minerals.

Most people say that the nutritional value does not differ between steel-cut and rolled, but they also go on to tell these comparisons:
(Steel-cut oats have:)
  • Much longer cooking time (30 minutes)
  • More cholesterol lowering soluble fiber than other oatmeal
  • Takes longer to digest so you stay fuller longer
  • Chopped with steel blades resulting in a "chewier" oatmeal
  • Steel-cut oats contain more fiber
Seems different to me. The only down side I see is the long cooking time. Who wants to wake up earlier to make a hot breakfast? Not me. Here's where Shayla comes to the rescue!

Here comes a recipe for the EASIEST whole grain breakfast ever. Plus, it has endless flavor possibilities!

Shay's Steel-Cut Oats
*4 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats

Bring water to a boil. Add in oats. Cover. Turn off heat. Leave overnight. Done.

Servings: You can make as much as you like--as long as the water to oat ratio is 4:1. I did 1 1/2 times as much and had leftovers after three adults and one child had their fill.

I put a sprinkle or two of salt in the water before it boiled and added in, as Shayla often does, some cinnamon (to taste--maybe a couple teaspoons) to flavor it overnight. In the morning I heated it and added in some real maple syrup to taste.

Other add-in possibilities are really endless.
This morning we had raisins and slivered almonds (try the almonds soaked in salt water and dehydrated again. YUM.).

My hubby had his new favorite, just some fresh pomegranate seeds (good idea from my brother John).
Once at Shayla's house we had it peaches and cream style (add peaches, cream, and sweetener to taste).
You could do apple cinnamon, bananas--anything really.
Use your favorite flavors and imagination. Plus, you could flavor each bowl to the taste of the eater, if necessary.

I love it when trying something new is easy.

*In case you still have water left in the morning, you can just cook it down and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup less water the next time.