Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

Dance it or eat it, but either way salsa boosts your mood, makes you hot and burns extra calories. Chile peppers in salsa contain chemicals that trigger heat sensations and cause your body to expend more energy–a metabolic effect called diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). Embrace salsa as a quick condiment or ingredient to make sassier foods that give your body a metabolic boost for burning calories.

Making Salsa & How Chile Peppers for Burn Calories

Fermented salsa made from my garden serrano chile peppers

Popular in the United States as a dip, in many dishes it’s the sauce, no surprise since salsa is the Spanish word for sauce. It typically relies on savory, umami-rich tomatoes as the base, but fruits add fresh, sweet flavors that complement many dishes.

Salsa ingredients can be grilled, raw, pureed, diced or pounded out in a molcajete. The only rule to making salsa? You must include chile peppers–not spelled chili (a meaty dish).

Salsa “Burn”–Blame the Vein

Contrary to popular myth, the spicy heat from chili peppers caused by capsaicinoids, is not concentrated in the seeds, but primarily in the inner fibrous veins, or the ribs of the peppers. Chemicals in capsaicinoids, like capsaicin, induce thermogenesis causing your body to expend more energy.

Diet-induced thermogenesis occurs when specific compounds in foods (capsaicin in chile peppers) or beverages (such catechins in green tea), help the cells convert energy into heat which burns calories. Depending on the mix of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats and protein consumed at meals, diet-stimulated energy expenditure can range from 5-15% of total energy expenditures for the day.

Consider making salsa a weekly part of your menu by stocking up on:

Serrano Chile peppers and burning calories by diet-induced thermogenesis

Serrano chile peppers from my desert garden

 

  • Salsa base ingredients: Raw tomatoes, raw tomatillos or grilled, braised, roasted versions of either and canned fire-roasted tomatoes can be a nice option.
  • Chile peppers: Serranos are my favorite choice because of the size and fruity profile they have compared to jalapenos which tend towards grassier, bitter notes. Serranos have more capsaicin (3-4 times more) than jalapenos and both come in red and green but serranos also are available in orange and yellow. Gauge the amount of chile peppers by taste, but also check out the Scoville levels as a guide.
  • Aromatic or savory ingredients: Garlic, ginger, yellow onions, red onions, sweet onions, shallots, scallions, cilantro
  • Sweet ingredients: Corn, pineapple, watermelon, mangos, apples, peach, strawberries, cherries, etc.
  • Tangy ingredients: lime, grapefruit, lemon, vinegar, pickled veggies

Want to get some hot tips on handling chilies and creating fast, flavorful salsas? On my Facebook Live cooking show, I’ll demo how to make a quick canned salsa that doesn’t taste canned and a fruit salsa that is flexible for many different dishes.

Live Salsa Making on my Make Food First Cooking Show:

Facebook Live IconJoin us on Facebook Live May 23rd 1 pm PT or 4 pm ET

Where? @TheTasteWorkshop Facebook page

 


Want a beverage twist on chile peppers? Click here to get my cranberry citrus chili spritz in Food & Nutrition Magazine.

For more on how to spell Chile Peppers, Check out the Chile Pepper Institute N.W. University

For more info on Diet-Induced Thermogenesis: DIT & total energy expenditure estimates

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil pink peppercorn pateSwapping out a meat-based ingredient for a plant-based one is a balancing act of texture, taste qualities (like umami) and flavors from aromatic compounds. Particularly with liver—can you think of any plant that tastes or smells like it? Please let me know if you do.

Liver is a cheap ingredient that many cultures embrace and adore but can be an acquired taste due to its strong odors, unique and sometimes metallic flavors and texture challenges. My first whiff of liver was thanks to my childhood friend Mary whose father regularly cooked the beef version as a breakfast “treat” on his favorite cast-iron pan.

I dreaded being asked to try it, but never was asked. I didn’t taste liver until I lived in Paris, where you were expected to appreciate pâté.

Pâté commonly uses chicken liver which has distinct poultry flavors, but this umami-rich lentil version is popular at parties among traditional pâté-lovers and non-meat eaters. Walnuts and mushrooms add texture and savory notes (particularly umami from plant-based glutamate). Cornichons and lemon add brightness, cayenne gives a hint of eat, Madeira offers a soupçon of sweet and pink peppercorns surprise with complex flavors like resin.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pâté

Makes nearly 2 ¾ cups

Pate Ingredients

¾ cup dried green lentils (if using cooked about 2 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces (about 5 ounces), toasted
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
few pinches cayenne pepper (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12-14 (about 10 ounces) medium-sized cremini mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon Madeira or marsala
8-10 cornichons, diced fine (about 3 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

Prep Steps

  1. Check lentils for debris, put in pot, add 3 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 20-24 minutes or until lentils are tender (more tender than if using in a salad). Drain well in a colander to remove excess water. This can be done a day in advance.
  2. Toast walnuts in a skillet. Add walnuts, lentils, lemon juice, tamari, thyme and cayenne to a blender.
  3. Clean and dry mushrooms and cut into 1/4”-1/2” thick slices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and sprinkle with the salt. Cook without stirring until browned on one side (about 6-8 minutes), toss them and cook 4-6 more minutes. Add to blender.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet then the onions and garlic, cook 4-6 minutes. Add madeira and sweat the onions about 6 more minutes or until onions are soft and liquids have evaporated. Add to blender and process pâté until smooth.
  5. Scrape mixture into a mixing bowl. Mix in one teaspoon of peppercorns and 2 tablespoons of cornichons. Use remaining ½ teaspoon of peppercorns and tablespoon of cornichons as garnish. Refrigerate until use, keep for 7 days in the refrigerator or freeze for a couple months.

Pate Serving Options

1. Serve pâté with crostini, baguette slices, toasts, crackers or on slices of cucumber.
2.It also works as a sandwich spread or a filling to stuff cherry tomatoes.

Other Veggie-Meat Swaps

Try this other savory use of walnuts to mimic meaty-umami flavors in my walnut, mushroom ragout.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Leeks are versatile, but most often, are cooked until soft or used as an aromatic veggie in stocks. This recipe for pickled leeks lets them maintain a fresh texture and flavor. In less than 10 minutes, hands-on, you have a versatile, delicious garnish and ingredient for multiple dishes.

Many recipes for pickled leeks combine two acids, a vinegar and a citrus, typically lemon. In this recipe, lime is a perky final touch that pairs well with starch-buttery leeks. A hint of heat from garlic and mustard seed doesn’t suck either.

 Pickled leeks with lime

Ingredients

2 leeks, each about 1½ in diameter
1 cup water
3/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
½ teaspoon yellow mustard seed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (one large-sized lime)

Steps:

  1. If the leeks are not trimmed, remove outer, tougher stalks, slice the root ends off and cut each stalk lengthwise in half. Under running water, fan the leek layers under running water or swish the halves in a bowl of water. Take each half and slice into moon-shapes about 1/4-inch thick (about 4 cups leeks when done.) Add to a pickling jar, glass or ceramic container.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic and mustard seed. Bring to a boil and add thyme. Remove saucepan from heat and leave for 4-5 minutes or until you can discern a hint of thyme when tasting. Add the lime juice.
  3. Remove the thyme from the pickling juice then pour juice over leeks. Press leeks so the liquid just covers them. Add a couple tablespoons of water if needed and stir into leeks.
  4. Cool pickled leeks in the refrigerator uncovered, but cover when cooled to store. Since this is a fast pickle and not one done with long-term preserving methods, you can only keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks, but they won’t last that long!

For more information on using leeks, their most excellent nutrient profile, why they work so well in stocks and how they star on their own in a dish, check out my article in Food and Nutrition Magazine on leeks.

Pickled Leek Serving Options:

Legumes and Veggies: use as a garnish on grilled vegetables and add to bean salads
Grains: use an ingredient in grain or pasta salads to add textural interest and flavor contrasts
Poultry: use in omelets, scrambled eggs, chicken salad and to garnish roasted poultry
Cheese and sausage: serve as a condiment

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Meaty Walnut Mushroom Ragout: Flex Your Meatless Options

Meaty Walnut Mushroom Ragout: Flex Your Meatless Options

Meaty Walnut Mushroom Ragout: Flex Your Meatless Options

Walnut Mushroom Ragout (Ragoût, for zee French appetite)

This walnut mushroom ragout (pronounced like the Italian Ragù) is a veggie and meat-eater favorite that delivers a ground-meat texture and umami-meaty flavor from toasted walnuts. Walnuts are high in umami flavors from free glutamate, the amino acid primarily responsible for savory, brothy, meaty flavors. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids that most of us struggle to get into our diet in meaningful amounts and, as a nut, walnuts uniquely are an excellent source of the plant-based form alpha-linolenic acid.

walnut mushroom ragoutDon’t let the nutrient-rich profile and French name fool you into thinking this is a fancy health food; ragout is your basic comfort food. A French ragoût can have any range of vegetable or meat ingredients, but an Italian ragù, with the same sounding name and diverse applications, is traditionally meat-centric.

From the French verb ragoûter, meaning to “refresh or stimulate the appetite” (the noun goût means taste) .

Combined with common ragoût ingredients such as tomatoes and mushrooms, it’s a crave-worthy dish that complements polenta, pasta or rice and can mimic ground meat in some dishes. By making a few additions, like adding vegetables common to bolognese or spices common to sloppy joes, this dish can flex in multiple directions.

I first demonstrated this dish at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris as part of a plant-based class on using plant-based umami to make veggies more crave-worthy.  It also showcased at the national Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Chicago to highlight how to create vegan meals that omnivores, and everyone, will love.

Walnut Mushroom Ragout Ingredients

1 ½ cup (about 3.5 ounces) unsalted walnut pieces
1 pound cremini mushrooms (white button can substitute okay)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine (about 2 cups)
2 medium-sized cloves garlic, minced or grated (about 2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

Steps

1. Heat walnuts in a skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently for 3-5 minutes until toasted. Pour into a food processor and pulse or chop by hand until resembling ground meat.

walnut mushroom ragout prep

2. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt. Keep stems, but slice of any ends that may have trapped dirt or debris. Slice mushrooms ½” thick. Put in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir and microwave another two minutes.

3. Heat a large skillet over a medium-high heat and use a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms into the skillet, keep the mushroom liquid. Sprinkle on the salt and cook mushrooms without stirring. Once start to dry out (about five minutes), add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss mushrooms. When mushrooms closest to the pan surface are brown (about 8-10 minutes) stir or toss, cook 2-4 minutes longer then pour into a bowl.

4.Add to the still warm skillet the remaining tablespoon of oil and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to medium, stir to cook the paste for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the onion, garlic, smoked paprika, walnuts and mushrooms. Stir and cook 2-3 minutes. Add wine, tamari and mushroom liquid, cook until walnuts are tender and liquids are absorbed but the mixture is still moist (20-25 minutes). Stir in minced thyme. Season with salt if needed. If desired, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil for additional rich, supple textures.

walnut mushroom ragout prep | Thetasteworkshop.com

Walnut Mushroom Ragout Serving Options

 

walnut mushroom ragout

Serve with polenta, rice, pasta and baked potatoes or add as a meat substitute for stews or turn into sloppy joes by adding classic sloppy joe spices and ingredients like bell peppers.

Walnut Storage Tips:  Because of the luscious nature of walnuts (lovely fat qualities), store in the refrigerator if using soon or the freezer if they won’t be used for a month or more.

More info here at https://walnuts.org/how-to/how-to-buy-care/

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Corn and Cremini Chickpea Cauliflower “Pizza”

Corn and Cremini Chickpea Cauliflower “Pizza”

Corn and Cremini Chickpea Cauliflower “Pizza”

Cauliflower Chickpea-Flour “Pizza”

 

Cauliflower pizza corn mushroom pea

This recipe delivers a satisfying and meaty umami-ness from corn, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, but is it pizza? Gluten, scorned by carbophobic eaters and necessarily restricted by a minority of others, is a key ingredient in pizza crusts. As a carb-lover who’s selective about carbs, it feels sad to restrict gluten-based foods unnecessarily, especially with comfort foods.

Corn cremini chickpea Cauliflower pizza

Pizza’s cultural heritage hinges on the dough. Real dough with flour, full of glutenin, gliadin and other flour proteins that yield textures and flavors inspiring a bread lexicon of “crumb”, “chew”, “caramel”, “honey”, “nutty”. No cauliflower crust “pizza” will deserve such praise; it’s just not possible.

However, I accepted a challenge to prove that cauliflower crusts could yield some pizza-worthy structure (you can pick a slice up without it breaking apart since eating “pizza” with a fork feels a bit French.

Unfortunately, most cauliflower “pizza” recipes result in crumbly crusts or rely on a cheese binder. This version uses nutrient-rich chickpea flour for structure and to balance strong cauliflower flavors. Some cooking tricks create a crust that browns nicely and maintains structure.

Corn cremini chickpea Cauliflower pizza 1900 | TheTasteWorkshop.com

After much testing, and squeezing and more squeezing—really you must get the liquids out of the cauliflower—I’m happy.

I served a cauliflower crust or cauliflower tart to my pizza-loving husband purposely avoiding the description “pizza”. He took a few bites with head-nodding approval and said:

“this is great pizza”.

I gave up. Here’s my recipe for cauliflower “pizza”.

Topping Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced ½ inch
½ cup (about 6 ounces) sweet corn kernels (if using canned, drain well)
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup grated smoked mozzarella
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, diced
Optional seasonal garnish: 3-4 tablespoons fresh English peas, blanched
Optional Garnishes: red onion sliced fine, fresh thyme

Tart Ingredients:
1 medium to large whole cauliflower head, trimmed of leaves (for frozen florets, see below)
¾ cup chickpea flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
2 large eggs

Steps:

  1. To a mixing bowl, add chickpea flour, salt and spices and mix together. Rinse, dry and slice mushrooms and prepare corn kernels, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and any optional garnishes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil surface well.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-heat, add olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms slices single layer (maximizes flavor and texture). Cook undisturbed, until browning is visible, then toss and cook for even browning. When evenly cooked and nicely browned, remove from pan.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F and place oven racks at the lowest and highest levels. Cut the cauliflower in half, then chop into 2-3 inch pieces including the stem. Add to food processor (2 batches may be required) and pulse to a powdery texture (finer than “rice” granules). If you lack a food processer, grate by hand using the fine grate section. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl.
  4. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until soft and moist. Place a tea towel across a mixing bowl and pour the mash onto the center. When cooled, pull towel edges together to form a sac around the mash. Squeeze from the top and sides to remove liquid (about 1 cup) leaving about 1 cup of mash.
  5. Add mash and eggs to flour mixture and stir until well combined. Spread onto parchment paper and flatten to about ¼ inch. You can also create a border by pinching or rolling the edge inward.
  6. Bake 10-14 minutes on lowest rack or until cooked firm and crust is browned sheet side. Remove from oven, add toppings (cheese on top—cover sun-dried tomatoes or they burn), place sheet on top rack for 4-6 minutes, then turn oven to broil and move to top rack to melt cheese and brown any exposed crust area. Place “pizza” on baking rack to cool.

Preparation Notes: If using frozen cauliflower, 24 ounces is about 1 cup cooked. Defrost cauliflower per package instructions and blend in food processor. Mash will be much wetter than fresh mash.

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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