Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Twelve for $40: The Mediterranean diet is quite compatible with Yolo County

From page A5 | March 20, 2013 | Leave Comment

A Spanish medical study released in late February links the Mediterranean diet to a dramatically lower risk of strokes. That’s good medical news and great dining news, especially if you’re already a fan of eating local — the climate in Davis lends itself beautifully to the Mediterranean diet.

The Davis Food Co-op will be offering a cooking course on the Mediterranean diet on April 2 (visit for registration and details) but there’s really no need to wait — there are several easy steps you can take right now to improve your diet.

* Switch your fat to olive oil. Not just for salad dressings, but all cooking, bread dipping and even cake baking! While some reports recommended consuming up to 4 tablespoons a day, don’t think you have to drink it — you’ll get plenty in your normal diet.
* Fill your plate with vegetables. All the vegetables, really, but dark, leafy greens are inexpensive and plentiful right now.
* Eat nuts. Almonds, walnuts and pistachios are all local and delicious. It’s better to choose unroasted, unsalted nuts, which work best in cooking anyway.
* Choose fish. Once or twice a week is ideal. (For the record, fried fish is a no-go as a “health” choice.)
* Get your sugar from fruit. Easy to do with spring just around the corner!

Since the Mediterranean diet takes advantage of local seasonal produce, it’s very compatible with our 12 for $40 program.
Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days’ worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40. These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cookbook. Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals,” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list.

Sweet Potato Fritters
Green beans
In the fridge for future meals: lemon, green beans
Tip: Cook up all the green beans and refrigerate what’s needed for the other recipes

Simple Split Pea Soup
green salad
whole grain rolls
In the fridge for future meals: salad greens, whole grain rolls
Tip: Serve soup with a splash of vinegar

Curried Chickpeas with Almonds
Brown rice
In the fridge for future meals: cooked rice, cilantro
Tip: You can skip the cilantro all week if you don’t like it — substitute parsley if you prefer

Chicken and Rice Salad
In the fridge for future meals: green onions
Tip: Vegetarians could substitute mushrooms for the chicken

Broiled Sardines
Green salad
Whole grain rolls
Tip: Sardines are delicious and a “green” fish

Roasted pepper sandwiches with cheese
Carrot sticks
Tip: Roasted peppers, any bits and bobs (onion, cilantro?) and a bit of really good cheese make a nice supper sandwich.

*(Everybody needs to go out, or share potluck with friends, or otherwise enjoy life once a week!)
Shopping and recipes
Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household.
We shopped this list at the Co-op on March 15. We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we’d use at home – the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $40.57

In the pantry:
olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
baking soda
bay leaf
soy sauce
curry powder
hot sauce

cilantro, 1 bunch
bell pepper, 1
sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
carrots, 3
lettuce, 1
onions, 2
fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon
green beans, 1 pound
green onions, 1 bunch

Dairy and cheese:
cheese, 2 ounces
egg, 1
plain yogurt, 6 ounces

whole grain rolls, 8 (we used Vital Vittles)
diced tomatoes, 1 15-ounce can
chickpeas, 1 15-ounce can
Brisling Sardines in Water, 1 can

chicken stir fry, 1/4 pound

golden raisins, 1/4 cup (2 ounces)
bread crumbs,1 cup (2.25 ounces)
split peas, dried, 1 cup (8 ounces)
vegetable broth powder
sliced almonds, 1 cup (4 ounces)
brown rice, 3 cups (1.25 pounds)

The recipes
Sweet Potato Fritters
The ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
1/2 an onion, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 egg
4-6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
pinch salt
olive oil

Putting it together:
Roast sweet potatoes until tender. Scrape from skin and puree. Mix all the ingredients except the olive oil, reserving part of the flour to see if it’s needed. Add just enough olive oil to coat to heavy frying pan. Drop fritter batter by the teaspoonful into hot pan. Cook over medium heat until golden brown (about 4 minutes). Turn and cook other side until brown, 2-3 minutes. Repeat, adding more oil to pan, until all fritters are cooked.

Simple Split Pea Soup
The ingredients:
1/2 an onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup (8 ounces) dried split peas
1 carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3-4 cups vegetable broth
Sort peas and discard debris. Rinse and drain. Cook onion in oil until limp, about 5 minutes. Add garlic. Add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer. Cook until peas are tender to the bite, 45-60 minutes. If you like a creamy soup, puree all or part of the mixture with a stick blender.

Curried Chickpeas with Almonds
The ingredients:
2 ounces sliced almonds
1 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/4 pounds green beans
1 15 ounces can diced tomatoes
1 15 ounces can chickpeas
6 ounces plain yogurt
salt to taste
(chopped cilantro)

Putting it together:
Toast almonds in pan 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan, add oil and cook onions 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat. Add ginger and spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and green beans. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and reserved almonds. Turn off heat and stir in yogurt. Serve over rice.

Chicken and Rice Salad
The ingredients:
1/4 pound chicken stir fry
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup cooked green beans
1/4 cup golden raisins
4 green onions, sliced

Putting it together:
Cook chicken in a bit of oil until just done. Season and reserve. Place vinegar, soy sauce and crushed garlic in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil a little at a time to form a dressing. Mix rice, green beans, green onions, chicken, almonds and raisins. Add dressing a little at a time.

Broiled Sardines with Lemon and Cilantro Vinaigrette (recipe courtesy of Crown Prince)
The ingredients:
1 can sardines, drained
1 green onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
zested rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste

Putting it together:
In a medium bowl, combine all vinaigrette ingredients and mix well. Set aside. Arrange sardines in a single layer in a baking dish. Top sardines with vinaigrette and broil for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.


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