Evidence is mounting on the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet – a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats. Low-fat dairy foods, lean red meats, fish, skinless poultry and eggs are also included in the diet, if desired, but in moderate amounts. This way of eating can lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes and may help prevent certain cancers as well. A recent study in Greece followed 2,500 adults for 10 years. They found that those individuals ranked in the top third as being most adherent to a Mediterranean diet had a 47% decrease in risk for developing heart disease compared to individuals that did not follow the diet (ranked in the bottom third).
Following this diet may be a complete lifestyle change for you, but small goals can help get you there. One way to increase your vegetable consumption is to start your lunch or dinner meal with a salad or vegetable soup. This pasta fagioli soup, or pasta and beans soup, with it’s savory tomato-based broth, is full of vegetables and flavor. It’s also a wonderful light meal with some carrot sticks and hummus, even though my teenage son has declared that soup is not a meal. However you enjoy this comforting soup, you’ll know it’s good for your heart.
Did you try this recipe? Do you have a favorite soup you enjoy? Please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom to leave a comment.
Alphabet Soup with Vegetables and Beans
1 sweet or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
2 yellow squash, halved, seeds scooped out with a spoon, halved again and chopped
3 carrots, sliced in half and chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced in half and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (15.5 oz.) cannelloni (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
32 oz. vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 ½ cup alphabet pasta*
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Dried parsley
½ tsp. Dried oregano
1 tsp. Basil
1 Bay leaf
Warm olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 8 minutes.
Add green and yellow squash, salt and pepper and dried herbs (except bay leaf) and sauté another 5 – 8 minutes.
Add spinach and sauté another minute until wilted.
Add beans, tomatoes, stock, water and bay leaf and increase heat to medium-high until simmering.
Once simmering, add pasta and reduce heat to medium once pasta begins to simmer. Let simmer 10 minutes until pasta is cooked through. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 more minutes. Add more water if desired. Remove bay leaf before serving.
*For chunky pasta, like elbows, cook pasta separately and add to the soup during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Recipe compliments of http://www.nourishednation.wordpress.com
If you are up to your ears in vegetables from your garden, this ratatouille should do the trick. It’s a hearty vegetable stew, also known as ratatouille, that is delicious by itself or served over whole grain pasta, cous cous, quinoa or rice. I’ve even spooned it on slices of toasted French bread and used it as a pizza topping. Feel free to adjust the recipe to include your favorite vegetables, but don’t forget the chick peas (garbanzo beans) – I love those little guys, don’t you?
CROCK POT RATATOUILLE – EGGPLANT STEW
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 cloves minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
3 small Italian eggplants, peeled and chopped
1/8 tspn. pepper
3/4 tspn. salt
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 medium zucchini, seeded and chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tspn. thyme flakes
1 1/2 tspn. basil flakes
Heat oil on med. heat and saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add eggplant and season with salt and pepper, cooking 5 more minutes. Turn heat to low and cover, cooking an additional 5 – 8 minutes or until eggplant are tender. Transfer to slow cooker and add peppers, zucchini and chick peas (garbanzo beans).
In medium bowl, combine tomatoes, basil and thyme and mix well. Pour into crock pot and stir all ingredients together. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours and high for 4 – 5 hours.
Spring has finally arrived and I just want to be outside to enjoy it. Whether it’s gardening, walking the dog or just sitting and knitting on the porch, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time indoors cooking. That’s where the crock pot comes in handy – it’s not just for hearty, winter-time fare. This eggplant tomato sauce is as warm and delicious as any cold-weather comfort food, but it’s also light and healthy, brimming with vegetables. This is an easy vegetarian dish, perfect for meatless Monday, or any day of the week when you want to let the slow cooker do the work while you are outdoors enjoying a lovely spring day. Enjoy!
What are your favorite eggplant recipes? Click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment.
Eggplant Tomato Sauce
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) petite diced tomatos, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mild or medium salsa
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbspn. balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic sliced thin
1 tspn. oregano
1/4 tspn. salt, plus extra for preparing the eggplant
2 cups jar tomato sauce
Prepare the eggplant by sprinkling salt on both sides of each slice and placing it in a colander for 1/2 hour to 1 hour. Set the colander over a plate to catch the liquid. When the time is up, use paper towels to wipe off the salt and absorb any excess moisture from the eggplant slices. Use a knife to cut away the peel from the outer edge of each slice. Then chop the slices into 1/2-inch pieces.
Mix the chopped eggplant, tomatoes with juice, onion, pepper, salsa, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano and salt in the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 7 – 8 hours on low, until vegetables are soft. Do not lift the lid or stir while cooking.
At the end of the cooking time, add your favorite tomato sauce and stir. Replace lid and allow to cook another 5 – 10 minutes until sauce is hot and ready to serve.
Enjoy over cous cous, rice or pasta.
The weather may be getting warmer, but I’m still in “soup-mode”. Soup is a meal-in-a-bowl and it can warm you on the inside unlike any UVA rays can! I’m actually good at making soup, which is why I like it so much. I often make a pot of soup after I’ve thrown one of my recipe disasters into the trash. My version of pasta fagioli soup is almost vegetarian, except for the chicken broth, which can be substituted with vegetable broth. Not only does it have my favorite beans, white beans, but it is also chock full of flavorful green beans, carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes. It’s perfect for a light lunch or dinner, or a healthy beginning to your main course.
Click on the Dinner 911 page at the top to enjoy this recipe – Note: This recipe has been removed to make room for another delicious recipe.
***What’s your favorite soup – let us know! Also, please let us know if you try this recipe. Just click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment.***
Pasta is big in our family and it’s such an easy and economical meal. I love homemade spaghetti sauce, but I don’t like feeling as though I am chained to the stove while it cooks for hours over a low burner. The crockpot is a great solution for making a decadently thick sauce that tastes good even the first time you serve it. This sauce freezes well and can be used in a variety of dishes. The carrot in the sauce adds sweetness and texture, I promise I’m not trying to “sneak in” vegetables! Any canned, strained tomatoes can be used, but I believe POMI is the best choice for making sauce.
Here’s a link if you want to learn more about POMI Tomatoes.
Click here or on the Dinner 911 page for this recipe – Enjoy!
***What dishes do you use with tomato sauce? Do you have a favorite store-bought sauce? Don’t worry, there is no shame in using a jar sauce! Click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment.***
In addition to thekidscookmonday.org, which I blogged about recently, there is another “Monday” movement for people to latch onto. You can combine the two and have a meatless, kids-cook Monday, or have a meatless Monday and cook with the kids on a different day during the week. Either way, it’s all good!
As the website name indicates, www.meatlessmonday.com is dedicated to helping people reduce their meat consumption, starting with just one day a week. The site provides nutrition and health news, recipes and cooking demos, as well as resources to help schools and organizations reduce meat consumption. So, click on over to the the Meatless Monday website and check-out their extensive library of meatless recipes. It’s a great way to get a healthy meal on the table and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time!