Monday, August 09, 2010

Two Summer Salads

The last two nights we have opted for summer salads, with the main portion made on the grill, to avoid cooking in the present heat wave.   Both recipes originated with Fine Cooking magazine and were only sightly modified to fit our heart healthy goals.

Last night's Southwestern Grilled Chicken Salad with Tomato and Black Bean Salsa was a good start but needed some zing.  The chili powder, cumin, coriander and brown sugar rub seemed to lack something.  The overall recipe had great potential and we think it may be helped by using a jerk seasoning rub and some fresh peppers from the garden.  Cowhorn or poblano peppers would have really raised the ante for that Southwestern flavor.  This recipe is going back for modifications before we post it at

Tonight's dinner was a surprising combination of tomatoes, watermelon, feta cheese and shrimp. The shrimp were marinated in smoked paprika and lemon/lime juice for a great flavor that still let the shrimp taste come through.  The unexpected combination of tomatoes and watermelon was  tastier than we thought it would be.  The only thing I modified in this recipe was cutting way back on the olive oil and salt and using seasoned pepper for more flavor.

The recipes both called for frisee, which I assume is overpriced lettuce, so we used Romaine.  The slightly modified recipe will be posted at

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Summer = Corn on the Cob

Growing up in the Midwest, I was surrounded by fields of corn.  There was nothing better than having Farmer John stroll out into the field and stuff his overall pockets with sweet, fresh corn for us.  We would soak it overnight in salty brine, in the husk, and then throw it on the grill the next day.  When the shucks were burnt, we pulled it back to reveal the best sweet corn-on-the-cob ever, and then dipped it in melted butter and covered it with salt.  It still makes my mouth water.  I once ate 13 cobs in one afternoon!

This is NOT heart healthy!  No question. I'm not saying I wouldn't still love it, but we needed a better alternative.

We still put the unshucked corn on the grill. In winter, we microwave it in the shuck, 4 minutes per ear.
But we have discovered that mixing 1 tablespoon of low fat margarine, 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and 1/4 teas. chili powder yields a wonderful tasty spread for two ears of corn.  Don't even miss the salt.
This is a summer treat we can still enjoy.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Avocado Salmon Stack - Perfect for Summer

It has been so hot!! Who wants to cook and heat up the kitchen? So tonight I prepared a recipe that we have always enjoyed and gave some serious thought to how we can make it even better for us.

The basic recipe is for greens (lettuce, or arugula and radicchio) covered with diced avocado and foil wrapped skinless and boneless pink salmon.  The dressing is a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic  and minced capers. We have never made the recipe exactly as it was found, because I never make the recipes exactly as they were intended.  We leave out the red onions, because we don't like them and the minced shallots just seem extraneous.  But now that we are trying to be more heart healthy, I wonder what other improvements are possible.

The original nutritional information listed calories 530, from fat 420; fat 46g, saturated fat 7g, carbohydrates 23g; fiber 11 g; sugars 5g; protein 16g; cholesterol 25 mg; sodium 1030 mg  That's not very good. 

FAT - the first thing to address would be the olive oil.  I cut the olive oil portion of the dressing in half.
The main source of fat is the avocados but most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated -- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels.  Only 2 grams from the salmon.

SODIUM - If you should only have 2300 mgs a day, according to the American Heart Assoc., then this recipe would give you 45% of that.  The  packaged salmon has 280 mg, so one thing we could do would be to cook fresh salmon and chill it.  Processed food = sodium.  I had already left the unneeded salt out of the dressing all together.

CARBS - The high fiber content of 11 grams tends to offset the carbs.  We improved this by pairing the meal with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes as well as a toasted slice of whole grain bread.  Really raised the fiber level.

So the next time we make this recipe it will be even better for us, and still a good cool alternative on a hot day.

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