Friday, December 04, 2015

Sharing The Spaghetti Squash Wealth

Hi everyone! Autumn harvest is my favorite time of the year due to the abundance of squash. Squash are a misunderstood breed, in my opinion. If you are like me, you were introduced to them as a kid through those frozen blocks that melted into mush. There wa nothing tasty nor delightful about them at all. No wonder many people still don't like these wonderfully nutritious gems.

Here is a recipe I developed that highlights the delicate and marvelous taste of spaghetti squash. When cooked, this squash resembles spaghetti strands, hence its name. I highly recommend steaming it to keep as many nutrients as possible. Steaming also preserves the unique texture and taste more than other cooking methods. I find that to be true, anyways.

I highly recommend either getting an electric knife or a very sharp serrated knife to cut this squash up. This suggestion actually applies to all squash types. To say you will get a good arm workout when preparing this tasty food category is an understatement. 


Herbed Spaghetti Squash & Veggies
(serves 4-6)

Medium spaghetti squash, cut into chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 broccoli stalk, peeled and cut
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
½ cup black beans, cooked
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 T Italian seasoning or rosemary, thyme, basil mixture

Place 1” of water into the bottom of a dutch oven on stove top.
Put steamer basket into pan.
Turn heat to medium level.
Place squash and veggies into steamer.
Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. 

(NOTE: Unlike many recipes found nowadays, it is true that you can enjoy squash in less than 20 minutes when using a high temperature cooking method like steaming.)

Test for doneness by poking veggies with a knife or fork.
Remove pan from heat.
Let cool until veggie temperature is easy to handle.
Remove squash and place onto cutting board.

Find a 9”x12” baking dish or other appropriate serving dish.
Remove squash flesh from peel with a spoon or fork.
Place flesh into serving vessel.
Add veggies, beans, and spices to the cooked squash.
Gently mix.
Taste. Add more spices, if desired.

Serve warm as a side or main dish.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Unique Cookery: It's The Food Police Calling.. Holiday Eating Sugg...

My Unique Cookery: It's The Food Police Calling.. Holiday Eating Sugg...: Hi everyone. It's that time of year when tons of information about what to eat and what not to eat comes to light. As anyone who reg...

It's The Food Police Calling.. Holiday Eating Suggestions

Hi everyone. It's that time of year when tons of information about what to eat and what not to eat comes to light. As anyone who regularly reads my information knows, I am a firm believer in moderation. With that being is always fun to share an article written by an anonymous author. It is bound to bring some chuckles...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and ENJOY!

I dislike certain aspects of this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it's the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds. Here are some suggestions to take to heart:
1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later then you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Use enough of it to have the gravy flowing like lava out of any active volcano. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other peoples food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Years, You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, do this: Position yourself near them, and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can't leave them behind. You're not going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day ?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean have some standards, mate.

10. And one final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.

Here's a personal note of mine....remember to bring a pair of stretch pants with you to any celebration. They will likely come in very handy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Develop These Easy Heart Healthy Habits

There seems to be a concensus that changing unhealthy habits into healthy ones is difficult. It may take a little more patience and insight than what you are used to, but you can do it.
Following a "heart healthy" diet and lifestyle is really nothing more than eating a well-balanced, nutritious meal plan that nourishes with few calories and becoming more physically active. Here are some pointers to incorporate into your daily routine.

Everywhere we turn there seems to be news about how to maintain and develop a healthy heart lifestyle. Here are some suggestions, I hope you find useful. They work for me, so there's no reason they don't work for you. They are easier to implement than you may think possible...

Get more vitamin D.

End stressful relationships.

Play with animals, get a pet.

Engage in music therapy.

Increase your potassium intake.

Eat more whole grains.

Drink more green tea.

Exercise daily.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Green Tea is More than a Beverage

Have you ever thought about using green tea as other than a refreshing, healthy beverage? Here's some insight to show its versatility. My students LOVEwhen I prepare this dish in class.  Enjoy!

There are a variety of ways to use green tea. Green tea has been used in holistic remedies for centuries. The high level of antioxidants can benefit your immune system, your eyes, your skin and your overall health.

In addition to drinking iced or hot green tea, try using it in your cooking. Here's an easy way to get extra nourishment into your diet: Steam with it. How's that?

Put some water into a cook pot, as if you were steaming. It usually only takes about an inch or two of water. Add a tablespoon of green tea leaves to the water. Place your steamer device in place. You can buy a cheap metal steamer for around $5. It's not only cheap, but long-lasting. :)

Place some fish onto the steamer. This recipe works especially well with trout, mackerel, mahi mahi (dolphin fish), or other white fishes. Cover the pan.

Turn on your stove top to medium high. Steam your fish for about 10 minutes, til tender. Poke with a fork to test for doneness. Your fish should easily flake when it is done. Turn heat off and remove pan from burner.

Remove your fish and enjoy!

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Bountiful Barley

This issue’s featured grain is the often pidgeon-holed barley. Usually, we think of barley as belonging in soups or stews. Even though it can be excellent used this way, it is much more versatile than those two uses. Let us learn more about this diversified grain.

With a history dating back to Asia thousands of years ago, barley was also known for its medicinal purposes in Egypt and Greece. It is believed to have been brought to the United States during Christopher Columbus’s journey to the New World. Currently barley is the one of the top five grains produced in our country with uses ranging from feed for animals to malt beverages for human consumption. 


And, according to various reputable sources, about 1% of its production is used for food consumption by us humans. A very small percentage, indeed, for the powerhouse of nutrients it provides us with. The Pacific Northwest proudly is one of the two largest producers of this grain cereal, along with the Northern Plains states.

Nutritionally, barley contains several vitamins and minerals including niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper. It also is high in antioxidants which are shown to be important for good health. Another added benefit is the fact that barley contains phytoestrogens, a plant based estrogen.

Studies have recently revealed the fact that phytochemicals may decrease the risk for certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. More research, however, is needed before anything about phytochemicals can be finalized. In addition, barley is known to be cholesterol free and low in fat.

Barley is a unique high fiber grain when compared to other grains. When most grains are processed, the outer layer (or bran) is removed thereby removing the majority of the fiber content. Barley, on the other hand, has fiber throughout the kernel. This means that even with processing, barley will have at least 50% more fiber than its counterparts. As with any grain, fiber fills us up and helps us to lose weight since we are not as hungry as when eating ‘empty calories’.
To cook barley, use three parts liquid to one part grain. (Three cups water to one cup pearl barley, i.e.)

Start enjoying the wonders of barley today!

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Marie Buckner, owner of My Unique Cookery, has over 20 years experience in natural foods education and is a published author, speaker, and instructor. She has a series of cookbooks involving grains, fruit sweeteners, soyfoods, baby foods, and organic cooking. She currently teaches cooking classes at the Port Townsend Co-Op. Sign up for a class today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Butter Versus Margarine Debate

Greetings everyone! Apparently there is a heated debate over which is healthier - butter or margarine. At least, that's what the "health-oriented" emails are telling me. Anyways...I find that this is also a common topic in real life. So, I thought it would be fun to discuss it here....

I find it very interesting that when one is diagnosed with heart disease, or high levels of harmful cholesterol levels, that margarine is designated as being the preferred topping when compared to butter. Have you read the ingredients in margarine? I don't care how "healthy" this product is supposed to's not. It contains so many additives, preservatives, chemicals and other nonsense that there is no way someone is going to convince me of its "health benefits". Also...trans fat is a huge NO NO for those afflicted with high LDL levels. Read the fine print on any of these "healthy" foods and notice that the ingredients usually contain the wording "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils". In other words....TRANS FATS.

Also, the FDA does not require a food manufacturer to label TRANS FATS as being a component of a product that contains less than .5mg per serving of this fat. Did you know that? Probably's a well-hidden fact that I found out only upon doing an extensive research article for a notable publication. I'm certain other health-conscious individuals who are attuned to the food industry also know about this. And, yet....heart patients are told that margarine is "healthier" than butter. Spare me....

I firmly believe that the food manufacturers of margarine are funded by Conagra..or large food conglomerates functioning with profits as their main concern...not human health. Once again, read the label and find out who the food manufacturer is.

Read the ingredients of butter, in comparison. It contains cream, maybe salt. Unsalted varieties strictly contain cream. That is it. Yes, cream is high in saturated fat and calories. However, butter - like any food - is to be eaten in moderation. There is ZERO trans fat in butter.

So, as far as the butter versus margarine debate....there is none, in my opinion. I don't trust margarine. Never have, never will. I don't care how much the food industry promotes it as being healthy and good for me.

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