Recipes: Pasta e Fagiole Soup, Mediterranean Chopped Salad, Strawberry-Chocolate Overnight Oats
This month's theme is the Mediterranean Diet! This way of eating includes lots of plants, high-quality fats, and limited amounts of animal proteins. The Mediterranean region also encompasses a wide range of countries and flavors. I actually have shared (and will continue to) many Mediterranean-inspired recipes in these cooking demos.
Today, I prepared a longtime client favorite, Pasta e Fagiole soup. This is a hearty Italian vegetable soup with beans and pasta. This recipe is based off the version served at the Olive Garden restaurant. Preparing soup relies on basic cooking techniques and flavor balance. If you missed the session or would like a refresher, I have included a video below.
Other recipes for today included a Mediterranean chopped vegetable salad and strawberry chocolate overnight oats which work well as a breakfast, snack, or dessert!
Some culinary nutrition topics covered today included:
- Precooking starches such as pasta, potatoes, and rice and then CHILLING overnight before adding to things like soup creates RESISTANT starch which does not raise glucose levels as much PLUS provide food for good gut bacteria!
- If you do not like raw vegetables (for whatever reason), it is fine to lightly steam them BEFORE adding to your salads or other dishes calling for raw vegetables (like the broccoli in the chopped salad). In addition, instead of using raw onions in salads, meatloaf, meatballs, and other dishes, place the chopped onions along with about 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a microwave-safe container (I like to use a glass measuring cup). Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, stirring halfway through, depending on the amount and the power of your microwave. Allow the onions to cool before adding to your recipe. You will get all the BENEFITS of the onions, WITHOUT the harsh bite or indigestion from raw onions!
- ANYTIME you are purchasing canned, boxed, or packaged food items, LOOK AT THE INGREDIENT label! Choose items with the least amount of ingredients (5 or less is best), with only ingredients you would buy on their own, with limited added sugars/salt, and without chemicals and preservatives (which are usually things you can't pronounce!)
- If you have extra fresh herbs and don't want them to go bad, place in a food processor along with olive oil to create a chunky paste. Place in an ice cube tray and freeze until solid. Then remove herb cubes and place in a zip-top bag or other sealed container and store in the freezer up to about 3 months. Each cube is about 1-2 tablespoons and is perfect to add to soups, stews, salad dressings, etc. I have added a video showcasing this below.
- When purchasing plant-based milk, like almond or oat, pay attention to the labels! Many brands have added sugars, chemicals, and preservatives. You can also make your own! If you are interested in learning how, I have included videos below!
If you have any questions, let me know, and be sure to share if you make these recipes at home!