adding parsley

simple things to do today for a healthier and happier tomorrow

Category: savory nutrition

how carrots will help you stay young

I have a book called, 100 Foods to Stay Young, that I love.  It includes foods that I would expect, such as avocados and broccoli, and others that come as a nice surprise, such as molasses and pepper.  It of course also supports some of my intentional indulgences, including dark chocolate and red wine.  What I like about the book, aside from knowing what foods will help me stay young, is that it explains why and how to extract the most benefit out of each food.  It also highlights what foods have been shown to benefit specific health situations, such as fighting diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s, and supporting goals such as increasing fertility and sleep.  Every now and then, I’ll pick a food from this book, read what it has to say, and do my best to remember the points that mean the most to me.  Today’s food is carrots.

You probably already know that carrots are good for you, but do you know why?  Here are a few things I learned:

  • Carrots provide a chemical called falcarinol that has been shown to have strong skin-protecting antioxidant activity.
  • The fiber in carrots, pectin, detoxifies heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium and other aging toxins.
  • Carrots are a source of the flavonoid rutin, which helps prevent varicose veins, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • A raw carrot provides 3 percent beta-carotene, compared to 39 percent if the carrot has been steamed, juiced, or cooked in oil (your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, benefiting eyesight and aiding in detoxification).
  • Carrots are also high in vitamin A that doesn’t need converting, making it a good source of the vitamin regardless of how it is prepared.

What you do with this information is up to you.  Now that I know though…I’m going to think twice before passing on a helping or snack of carrots and will incorporate more carrots that have been steamed, juiced, or cooked in oil into my family’s meals.

One of my favorite recipes that includes lightly cooked carrots is this one for carrot & zucchini muffins from the blog Gimme Some Oven.  To make these muffins even more nutritious, I usually replace half of the oil with an equal part of applesauce.  (You don’t want to replace all of the oil, since it is necessary for increasing the beta-carotene.)  They are quick, inexpensive and easy to make, and are clearly filled with nutrition – including nutrition that will help us stay young.  And best of all…my son and I both love them.  I hope you and yours do too.

goat cheese, parsley and pecans (three combinations)

Last weekend was no exception to my overambitious meal planning.  I was away for a couple of days with some of my closest friends, staying in a cottage that had a cute little kitchen, equipped with basic cooking supplies.  We had a wonderful stay planned of pretty much nothing, including not having to leave the cottage unless we felt inclined, so we decided it would be conducive to make a grocery run to the local Piggly Wiggly.

To no ones surprise, I offered to plan a few meals in preparation of our shopping trip, not bothering to conceal my excitement of a full 48 hours worth of meals that needed to be made.  My friends made it known that they would be content with nothing more extravagant than frozen pizza for the weekend, however, also knew it was in their best interest to let me take on the task if they didn’t want to listen to me make comments such as “Do you now what would have been perfect to make this weekend?” or “…what would taste soooo good right now?” and so on, so they agreed.

Now, you could say I prefer one night stands when it comes to picking recipes, because I rarely go back to the same one.  I love searching for new recipes, evaluating each ingredient, picking apart each step, and reading review after review, eventually picking the most appealing ones to dabble with.  And then doing it all over again.   Even if I end up loving the dish that a recipe leads to, I often never make it again (to my husband’s disappointment) because there are just too many other appealing ones out there.  If I do make a recipe more than once, I’ll typically make slight adjustments based on my first experience with it, in attempt to perfect any possible flaws.  Therefore, keeping with my usual self, I found several recipes to make last weekend, only one of which I’d made before.

Also keeping with my usual self, I over planned.  For a combination of reasons (such as enjoying our conversation and mojitos too much to notice our appetites), we only ended up making one of the recipes.  To our credit, it was at least one really good one.  (You won’t regret making “cucumber – at it’s best – salsa” to see for yourself).

In effort not to waste the remaining groceries, I offered to take them home and proceeded to make two of the other recipes, sending snapshots to my friends as though they would appreciate seeing what they missed out on tasting.  To make the most of the groceries, I spruced up one of the dishes by adding some of the ingredients from the other and created a third dish using the same ingredients.  Each dish turned out delicious and was deceivingly packed with nutrition, so I’d like to share the recipes with you.

The common ingredients intended for these dishes were goat cheese, parsley and pecans.  I say intended, because I ended up using all of the goat cheese before making the third dish, however, that was the dish I had made before (one of my few long term relationships) so I can tell you from experience that while it is worth making regardless, with goat cheese, it is divine.  So if you are like me in that you love the stuff, buy two packages if needed.

By the way, did you know that pecans are widely considered the most nutrient dense nut?  They are packed with over 19 vitamins and minerals that are known to reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.  Pecans are also believed to play a role in reducing cholesterol.  And if you read the meaning behind the name Adding Parsley under About, I will assume you remember that the herb is not only a garnish, but also packed with nutrition.  Therefore, I hope you find yourself savoring these dishes not only for their wonderful taste, but also for the wonderful benefits they will provide for your tomorrow.

honey pecan spread

(a healthy alternative to honey walnut cream cheese)

5 oz package goat cheese, softened

1 tablespoon honey

2-3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients and spread on melba rounds or cracker of your choice.  Serve and enjoy.

nutty goat brussels sprout salad

(pictured with parsley roasted potatoes – again, getting more use out of each ingredient!)

10 ounces brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped

3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

course salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat butter in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and mustard seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and onions are translucent (approximately 1 minute).  Add oil and brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until brussels sprouts are tender and beginning to brown (8-10 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.  Top with goat cheese and pecans.  Serve immediately and enjoy.

sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese

(from smitten kitchen, a must read recipe blog, pictured without goat cheese)

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into 3/4-inch coins

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup toasted and cooled pecan halves

 2 tiny or 1 small shallot, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried cranberries, minced

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

course salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat a large baking sheet with olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons.  Lay sweet potatoes in one layer on the oiled sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast, without disturbing, for 15-20 minutes.  Carefully flip each piece (the undersides should be blistery and browned).  Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and roast for another 10 minutes or until the undersides match the tops.

Meanwhile, prepare your salad by combing pecans, shallot, celery, parsley, and cranberries.  In a small dish, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, red wine vinegar and mustard.  Add half of the dressing to the salad.

Transfer sweet potatoes to a serving platter and top with salad, goat cheese and remaining dressing.  Serve immediately and enjoy.