Easy brussels sprouts

Coles de bruselas cocidos al vapor

These brussels sprouts are so easy to cook and delicious. First, rinse them well and cut the bottom and discard outer leaves if they are damaged.

In this dish, sprouts are steamed in a deep pan filled with an inch of water until tender. This will take about 15 or 20 minutes. Then drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar and ground sea salt. I also added cranberries to this dish. 

My other two favorite ways to cook them is in the oven. One is wrapped in foil seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and almonds. You can also do this on the grill. Another way is roasted on a baking pan, cut them in half, drizzle olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 or even 400 degrees. My children like to add parmesan cheese on top when they are ready.

What is your favorite way to cook these brussels sprouts?

Chop, chop to make gazpacho

Gazpacho is a soup from Spain that is ideal if you are looking for a light and nutritious dish to improve your diet or lose weight. This cold soup is excellent when you have ripe tomatoes on hand.

4 ripe tomatoes, remove seeds, finely chopped
1 cucumber, remove seeds, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, remove seeds, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 green onion, minced
1 jalapeño, remove seeds, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop all vegetables. When you are cutting, turn up the radio with your favorite music! In a food processor or blender, blend and pulse half of all the chopped vegetables. Then add the tomato juice, vinegar, lemon juice and pulse one last time. Then place this mixture in a bowl with the rest of the chopped vegetables, mix well, add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. To serve, place a few ice cubes if the soup is too thick. Serve with finely chopped zucchini or croutons. Another idea is to fry some pieces of bread in a pan with some olive oil to make your own croutons. ¡Buen provecho!

Nutrition information for the entire recipe: 340 calories, 2grams of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 70 grams carbohydrates, 20grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of protein, 1500 milligrams of sodium.

Beans, lentils and peas

One of the best plant protein foods in the world is beans. They are so diverse, delicious and economical that they shouldn’t be overlooked. Let the kids sort them out for you, and then cook a pot of gold.

There are many reasons to include them daily in your diet. They are complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber. Beans helps to lower your cholesterol and to reduce your risk for developing heart disease and diabetes.

Canned beans can be used as well, especially when you don’t have a lot of free time. You can add them to soups, stews, or chili. It is important that you drain and rinse them before using them because that will help remove a large portion (about 36%) of the sodium they are cooked with.

If you experience bloating, cramps, or gas, soak the beans overnight. Make sure that you rinse them thoroughly, drain them and then add fresh, clean water before cooking. Cook them thoroughly, and then enjoy! Remember not to add salt to beans until they are soft.

A half cup of beans provides 104-120 calories, 8-9 grams of fiber, and 7 to 9 grams of protein. They also contain these important vitamins and minerals: iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and folate.

One way to spice up your beans is to make it the Latin way: add a “sofrito” after beans are made to give them flavor.

Sofrito for beans:
1 tbsp of olive oil
1-2 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 tomato, cut in quarters1/2 cup of cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 sweet bell pepper or 1 jalapeño, chopped

Sauté all ingredients in olive oil and let it simmer until all liquid is evaporated. When ready, add this to the pot of gold, ops sorry, pot of beans. Salud!

 Sources: USDA database; Bush Brothers & Company; Mayo Clinic.

I want Quinoa

Quinoa is a great dish and makes a healthy lunch. This nutritious grain is high in protein, fiber and is gluten free. The following recipe is one of many ways to prepare it. In this picture, I paired it with pickled vegetables. What a delicious dish! Do you have a favorite way to prepare quinoa?

2 cups of  quinoa white or red
3 cups of water
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1 fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tomatoes, seedless, chopped
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, sliced
1/2 cup of feta cheese

Place quinoa in boiling water for 5 minutes in a saucepan, turn heat to low and cook half way cover about 15 minutes until water is evaporated. You don’t need to stir the quinoa. Before turning off the heat, place golden raisins on top so to hydrate them and cover. Once quinoa is cooked it has to be soft but don’t let it get mushy. Place quinoa in a large platter and add the rest of the ingredients. Salud!

Question about asparagus

Irma, a student in one of the community’s nutrition classes, asked me about asparagus. She has seen this vegetable in grocery stores but needs ideas on how to cook it. I admit that I had never eaten asparagus before I moved to the United States. Have you tried it?

My favorite way to cook asparagus is to steam them just like broccoli. It gives the asparagus a great flavor and it helps to preserve the nutrients. Another simple way to prepare it is on the grill or in the oven. For either of these ways, place the asparagus on foil with some olive oil, sea salt and pepper. It is excellent if you pair it with grilled fish. Cook it until it is ‘al dente’ – soft but still crisp. You can drizzle fresh lemon juice over it, and also add it to salads and stews. What is your favorite way to cook asparagus?

Frijoles negros molidos

Here is an easy and fast recipe if you don’t have time to make beans “de la olla” (of the pot). They are a healthy and delicious food typical in Latin cooking. The seasoning used in Costa Rica is Lizano sauce but it is something I don’t have. Instead I season them with Mexican chile adobo and the result is perfect. Half a cup of black beans provides 114 calories, 8 grams protein, 0.5 total fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 7.5 grams fiber. (USDA National Nutrient Database).

1 can black beans (I use the seasoned kind because later I don’t have to add more salt)
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted (optional)
1 tomato, chopped or 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes with flavor such as fire roasted
1 chile chipotle in adobo sauce (these comes in a small can)
1-2 garlic cloves

In a skillet over medium heat, pour the beans and tomatoes and heat for about 5 minutes. Start mashing the beans with a spoon or masher. Reduce the heat if it starts to stick to the pan. Add butter, this will give it a good consistency. Keep mashing the beans and stir for another 10 minutes until most of the water has evaporated but not all. Meanwhile, take half the beans from the pan and one chipotle in adobo and garlic in a blender and pulse a few times. Return this mixture to skillet and mix well. Serve with cotija cheese and tortilla chips. That’s it!