Archive for May, 2012

Meat and poultry are excellent sources of protein, fat soluble vitamins such as A,D. E and K. calcium, iron, Vitamin B12 which comes only from animal sources, and many other nutrients.  The iron in the meat can be used more efficiently by the body than the iron in plants and supplements.  Meat and poultry, however, do not contain fibre and phytochemicals, the protective factors in food.

Lamb is considered the most hypoallergenic of all meats.  Allergies to beef, pork chicken and turkey are rare.  Fish, with all its wonderful health benefits is an established allergenic food.  I have, therefore, stayed away from fish and shellfish recipes.

There is a close connection between allergy and protein.  The immune system looks at protein chemistry when it decides whether certain foods are acceptable to the body or not. It is the protein in peanuts, soybeans and other foods which provokes allergic reaction.  We need to note here, that commercially raised animals are given growth hormones (synthetic proteins).  Hence it might be safer to use organically produced meat and poultry, from animals raised without hormones and antibiotics.  This could minimize the risk of allergy to artificially made protein and other substances like antibiotics.  Nutritionists tell us that Omega 3 fatty acid is present only in the milk of grass fed animals.  Grain fed animals do not yield any Omega 3 fatty acid.

Red meat is highly nutritious, but it also has a significant amount of fat.  Forty to fifty per cent of fatty acids in meat are saturated.  It is better to eat red meat in moderation, and to use mostly lean meat.  Fat in poultry is external to muscle and can be trimmed.  The skin which is rich in fat can be removed.  Poultry fat has a healthier composition than the fat in most other meats.  In the case of pork too, most of the fat can be cut off from the edges—a piece of lean pork is about the same as a piece of chicken in terms of calories.

The USDA has give some very useful guidelines for cooking and handling meat.  Harmful bacteria like E.coli and salmonella are often present in raw meat.  Raw meat and poultry must not come into contact with other foods like salads and vegetables on cutting boards and kitchen surfaces.  It is best to use separate boards and knives for meat and poultry and wash them thoroughly after use.

Cooking destroys the bacteria in meat and poultry once we follow safe cooking practices.  The USDA suggests using a cooking thermometer to ensure that–

1.  Steaks and roasts are cooked to at least 145 degrees F.

2.  All cuts of pork are cooked to 160 degrees F.

3.  All poultry is cooked to 165 degrees F.

4.  All ground beef, veal or lamb is cooked to 160 degrees F.

Ground meat, especially, needs to be well cooked because of its porous nature.  Living bacteria can make their way into the center of a patty, but not that of a steak.  The USDA considers steak to be an intact meat, where bacteria are on the surface and are easily killed by heat.

Leftovers must be immediately refrigerated.  When removed from the fridge for consumption, leftovers must be heated through and through before serving.

Commonly used ingredients/ herbs and spices, with meat and poultry

Garlic, onion, ginger, and spices like turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, thyme, basil can kill bacteria. 

Scientists claim that over 75% bacteria in food are killed by spices.  When a Kansas State University microbiologist cooked a pound of hamburger with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, he found that it had 90% fewer pathogens than meat cooked without spices.

Garlic is the most protective of all root vegetables and is particularly known for its healing properties.  It is a powerful immune system booster, and is an anti oxidant , which has the rare mineral, selenium.

Onions are great antioxidants, and have anti allergy, anti viral and anti histamine properties.  The sulphur compounds in onions help to detoxify the body, clear congestion and reduce excess mucus.

Ginger has great digestive, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It helps to clear coughs and colds and is a mild natural alternative to antihistamines.

Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, thyme, basil and others have great antioxidant, anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties.  They are rich in vitamins and minerals. They help to cleanse the blood, build tissues, prevent disease, and aid in digestion.  They contain valuable micro nutrients which are easily assimilated in the body.

Kids with food allergies and sensitivities could react to artificial preservatives and flavor enhancers. What can be better than using herbs and spices, nature’s fantastically flavorful preservatives, which are beneficial in so many ways? 

When cooking with meat and poultry, remember to Spice It Up! .

Note I will add much more on herbs and spices in the GOOD TO KNOW section of this blog—soon!   


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Nothing from the stores can match these homemade chicken nuggets.  You can be sure of the quality of poultry, and when you use boneless chunks of your choice, you know that they are not a mix of various chicken parts with skin and preservatives and what have you.  In fact, the list of ingredients is short and consists of nothing but real, safe-to-use foods.


chicken nugget


  • 1 pound boneless chicken, cubed into 1” pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed.
  • 2 heaped Tablespoons sour cream (use 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, if dairy cannot be used)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

For the batter

  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup corn-starch
  • 3/4 cup water (approximate quantity)
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes (quantity may vary depending on how coarse or finely crushed the cornflakes are)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix garlic, salt, ground black pepper and ground coriander seed into the sour cream / lemon juice to create a marinade paste.
  2. Apply marinade to chicken.
  3. Keep in refrigerator for at least two hours.
  4. If you wish to freeze some marinated chicken, follow method given at the end of the recipe.
  5. Adjust quantity of batter according to the amount of chicken you wish to use immediately for frying.
  6. Prepare batter by combining rice flour, corn-starch, salt and pepper and adding  enough water to create a thin, pancake batter-like consistency.
  7. Pour batter over marinated chicken pieces.
  8. On medium heat, place fryer / small wok with sufficient oil for frying
  9. Meanwhile, place crushed cornflakes on a platter in small quantities.
  10. Roll each piece of marinated chicken in the cornflakes, so that it is coated all over.
  11. Repeat process with each piece, adding more crushed cornflakes when required.
  12. Test  readiness of the oil by dropping 1/4 teaspoon of batter into the oil.
  13. If the batter sizzles and comes to the top the oil is ready.
  14. Remove fried batter, and gently drop chicken pieces one by one—as many as will get into the fryer without touching one another.
  15. Turn each piece over when edges begin to get golden, and fry for 2-3 minutes more till each nugget is of a rich golden brown color.
  16. Repeat process till all nuggets have been fried.

Serve warm with tomato ketchup or any dipping sauce of your choice, and watch the nuggets disappear!

To Freeze:

If you do not want to use the entire quantity,  you can freeze as much marinated chicken as you wish.  I put one or two pieces in ice cube trays and place trays in freezer.

When completely frozen, remove chicken pieces, place in Ziploc freezer bags, and return to freezer.

This way you can take out just as much as you need when hungry kids return from school.  Microwave 4-6 pieces for 15-20 seconds for an instant thaw.  (Time differs for different microwave ovens.),.

Prepare fresh batter, roll in required quantity of crushed cornflakes and fry.

Tastes fresh and delicious even out of the freezer!

Did You Know?

  • That garlic prevents bacteria formation, and is especially good to use with meat and poultry?
  • That herbs and spices are nature’s best preservatives?

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Vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly BEFORE cutting.  Some vitamins, such as the B group vitamins and Vitamin C are water soluble and will get washed away along with some other nutrients.  Nutrition loss occurs also by buying precut veggies, or from storing them for too long in the fridge

Nutrition is enhanced by leaving edible skins on vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, zucchini etc.  Minerals are found in the outer leaves, skin, and just below the skin.  Peels are natural barriers that help protect nutritional loss.

Veggies should be cooked in just enough water.  The water has nutrients too and should not be thrown away.  If you must “drain” cooking liquid, freeze it and store it for later use.  Alternately, add it to soups, sauces and gravies.

Vegetables should not be overcooked.  High heat over longer cooking time destroys vitamins and nutrients.

A good way of cooking veggies is to steam them.  Steam kills the enzymes on the exposed surface of food, but the moisture seals and preserves many of the enzymes deep inside where intense surface temperature does not reach.  This also enhances taste.  A wok with a high domed lid is good for retaining steam in the cooking process.

Microwave ovens help to keep vitamin loss to a minimum.

Salt should be added at the end—not only will you add less this way, but vitamins are better preserved

Cooking the right way makes food more digestible.  Cooking makes certain nutrients, particularly carbs and proteins more accessible to the enzymes that break them down into smaller molecules, which can be transported from the digestive tract to the blood stream.  It is important to cook veggies, especially those that have stiff cellulose walls which are difficult for enzymes to penetrate,  Heat and water cause these cells to burst open.

The Chinese ‘stir fry’ method preserves nutrients very well.  The cooking temperature is high, but cooking time is brief.  This prevents evaporation and loss of vital juices and seals the enzymes inside the vegetable.

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Vegetable Broth

Call it broth or stock, the difference is minimal.  What is important is that you create a flavor enhancer to add to soups, stews, casserole dishes, and any other recipes that you want to add further taste to, in place of just water.

Since the vegetables used are cooked over a longer period, some nutrients are lost, but the basic broth does have some nutritional benefits in the form of micronutrients.

Its great for the vegetarian palate as a substitute for chicken or meat broth in a recipe, and thickened with a little corn-starch/tapioca starch can also be used in place of dairy.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic (use double the quantity if garlic cloves are very small)
  • 2 leeks, thoroughly washed, white and light green parts only, chopped (use 2 medium onions, chopped, if leeks are not easy to obtain)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of parsley stems (use cilantro stems if parsley is not available)
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 10 cups water.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.


In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.

  1. Add garlic cloves.
  2. When garlic is slightly browned, add bay leaf and peppercorns
  3. Add leeks / onions.
  4. If using leeks, stir fry to coat with oil, then add carrots, sauté for less than a minute.
  5. When using onions, sauté for a minute or so, or till onions are soft and somewhat golden, then add carrots and sauté a little
  6. Add celery and parsley.
  7. Add cold water and bring to a boil.
  8. Add dried thyme, lower heat and allow broth to simmer for at least half an hour.
  9. Let water reduce to about 7-8 cups. (simmer a little more if required).
  10. When cool, strain and use.

Pour extra broth into ice cube trays and freeze as directed in introductory write up in “Soups” section.

Make into a soup, by adding finely cut vegetables of your choice, along with rice or any other gluten free pasta and boiling till veggies and pasta are cooked.

Thicken with corn starch or tapioca starch as desired.

Add salt and pepper if required.

Variation:  Add a 1/4 cup quinoa to 2 cups broth.

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Everyone will love this easy-to-make dessert. The recipe is just right for two hungry kids who will take an extra helping. Double it to serve the rest of the family or refrigerate for use the following day

marshmallow delight


  • 1/2 bag (5 ounces) marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cut fruit—any berries of your choices (fresh or frozen and thawed to room temperature), or peeled orange segments, diced, canned pineapple, fresh peaches, cut into bite size bits—just use your favorite fruit.
  • 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Melt butter and stir in the crushed cornflakes
  3. Press butter and cornflake mixture onto the base of a 9” round oven proof pie dish.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. While crust is in the oven, combine marshmallows and milk in a saucepan.
  7. Heat till marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
  8. Let is cool
  9. Whip cream till stiff peaks form.
  10. Fold in cream and cut fruit into mixture.
  11. Spoon mixture over cornflake crust, and refrigerate to chill and set.
  12. Serve when set.

Dairy Free Variation

Dairy Free Marsmallow Delight


  • 1/2 bag marshmallow (5 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup cut fruit
  • 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil (or any oil which does not have an intrusive flavor)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Stir oil into crushed cornflakes and press mixture onto base of oven proof 9”” pie dish.
  3. Bake 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine marshmallow and coconut milk in saucepan, and place over medium heat.
  5. Stir till marshmallow are melted and mixture is smooth.
  6. Cool and fold in cut / peeled fruit, saving some for garnish
  7. Spoon mixture over cooled cornflake crust and chill to set.


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