Archive for August, 2011

Carrot Pineapple bread is one sweet treat

So Wifey recently struck a deal, and when Degens find deals we go big or go home. In this case she scored a 25-pound bag of carrots. For $4.

Needless to say, just about every dish I’ve made in the past week has included the orange roots. If I were eating any more of these things I’d grow a bushy white tale and be saying, “What’s up, Doc?” But in addition to stocking up some vegetarian friends, the surplus has also given me opportunity to experiment with the versatile veggies.

One of my more tasty uses for carrots is using them for something sweet, and it’s not cake. It’s actually in a quick-bread batter that can be used for bread or muffins.

Finely grated carrots give this bread a dash of color and a subtle crunch. I add in some crushed pineapple for extra pizazz. While I admit this recipe is more of a treat – as muffins and dessert breads usually are – I give mine a degree more of healthful properties by mixing in whole-wheat flour and using canola oil instead of butter.

Best of all, it’s a snap to make and uses the standard muffin/quick-bread method of simply mixing wet ingredients into dry, popping your chosen bakeware into an oven and, voila, half an hour later you’ve got a tasty treat that makes a fine dessert pairing with coffee or a breakfast indulgence. Hey it’s got carrots so it must be good for you, right?

You won’t need 25 pounds for this recipe. In fact just one carrot should do the trick. Guess I’m lucky that these loaves and freeze well.

Let’s bake.

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Bulk up with bulgur and try some tabbouleh

Looking for a way to gobble up your whole grains that doesn’t involve a piece of toast or a bowl and milk? Or maybe you’re over eating starchy pasta and white rice for the umpteenth time. Perhaps you just want a side dish that explodes with flavor and is as easy to make as it is filled with nutrients. If any of these apply to you, I’ve got one word for ya: bulgur.

Bulgur is nutritious. Bulgur is delicious. Bulgur is inexpensive. And bulgur is a mystery to many. Heck, it’s so little known and used here in America that even the spelling of its name is an issue. Some spell it as “bulgar,” or you might see it as “bulghur” or even “burghul.”

That’s all gonna change, starting now. Here’s the deal: Bulgur is whole-grain wheat that’s been parboiled, dried and ground. This is all good news for you because, like white rice, it cooks quickly, in less than 15 minutes. Unlike white rice, the bran has only been partially removed, meaning this stuff retains a ton of nutrients and good-for-your-body things like fiber, protein and even iron, while being low in fat, sodium and sugars. In that regard it’s like brown rice or wild rice, except it takes much less time to cook.

What’s it like? Chewy and a bit nutty in flavor, and it resembles super-size couscous when cooked. The stuff has been a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions for ages, and is used for everything from breakfast to a fried snack. In the U.S., you can find it at health-minded markets such as Sprouts and some bigger grocers, as well as online as sites like Amazon.com.

If you’ve ever had the stuff, it’s likely been in tabbouleh, a salad that’s served slightly chilled or at room temperature that, in addition to being bulked up with bulgur, is loaded with fresh tomatoes, crisp cucumber, onion, parsley and mint, tossed lightly in lemon juice and olive oil. It’s amazing on a summer day and a very satisfying way to sneak in grains to fussy kids and adults alike. Think of this nutritious side as the antithesis to those fat-laden Chinese chicken salads that so many unsuspecting diners think are healthy.

You can make this at home with just a few dollars, and with the satisfaction that comes from making such a delicious and healthful dish so quickly and easily. Let’s get started.

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