Friday, September 28, 2007

Power Food Broccoli Salad

Introducing the new "power food", a raw broccoli salad made sweet with fruit and nuts and tossed in a simple vinaigrette. It's a favorite with kids and grownups alike, light and fresh and fruity.

Power Food Broccoli Salad ♥, broccoli, apple, grapes, other fruit. No mayo! Low Carb. WW2.

"We took this salad to a potluck - it was a real hit!" ~ Doris
" was delicious!" ~ Tziiki

Parents know that kids really do say the darndest things.

One night, friends from the next town over nvited me to join them for supper, Mom, Dad and sons Andrew and Nate. We sat down to chicken, rice and a big platter of steamy-green broccoli. I asked if the boys’ play toys included Power Rangers. “Sure!” exclaimed detail-happy Andrew and listed off Power Ranger guys.

I conjured a dramatic voice. “Do you know,” I began, pausing for effect, “that broccoli is a power food?”

Gregarious Nate looked impressed, as if glad to learn something so important. “No, I didn’t know that!”

And hence our table conversation turned to power foods, what we eat to grow strong and healthy bodies.

Now if you look for one definitive list of power foods, good luck. Reputable sources vary. Lists include leafy greens and artichokes, tomatoes and onions; soy and peanut butter, walnuts and almonds; spices like turmeric and ginger; kidney and pinto beans; blueberries, blackberries and cranberries along with cantaloupe and watermelon and apples, apricots, bananas and figs; plus odd ones (to me) like shiitake mushrooms and russet potatoes. But broccoli, broccoli is always on the list.

So for kids whose eyes go wide and whose bodies grow strong with the simple idea of power food, this one’s for you.

ALANNA's TIPS Small bites of broccoli and fruit not only make the salad easier for small mouths to eat but also create more surface area to soak up the dressing.


Food for thought
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 7 cups
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh pepper to taste (don’t skip)
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli, mostly crown, some stem (sorry, no frozen broccoli)
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 a sweet or red onion, diced very small (or 1/2 cup chopped green onion)
  • Additions or substitutions – toasted nuts, dried apricot, grapes, fresh blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, banana chunks (add bananas just before serving)

DRESSING Whisk dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

SALAD Peel any broccoli stems, then cut stems and crown into small bites (see ALANNA’s TIPS). Drop into dressing as prepped, stirring to combine with each addition. Stir in apple, onion and other additions. Transfer to a serving dish.

SERVE May be refrigerated for several hours before serving but flavors are best eaten at room temperature.

LEFTOVERS This salad doesn't keep well so make only enough for serve on the first day.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 66 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 11g Carb; 2g Fiber; 68mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

More Broccoli Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli Casserole Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon Grilled Vegetables in Foil
~ more broccoli recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli ~
~ Broccoli Potato Cheddar Soup ~
~ Lemony Broccoli with Lemon Vinaigrette ~
~ more broccoli recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture, my food blog

More Recipes for Vegetable Salads

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Zucchini Spiral 'Noodle' Salad Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs Green Bean Garden Salad

© Copyright 2007, 2009, 2012 (repub) & 2015 Kitchen Parade

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Heartbeat of Iowa

Central Iowa, near Thornton, a prairie reclamation

Welcome to a special edition of Kitchen Parade, an introduction to Iowa 'pioneers' who are raising pork for Niman Ranch with new-but-old practices. If you like, skip straight to this week's featured recipe for Thick Chops with Mustard Crust, a 2003 column published online today for the first time.

Otherwise, prepare to meet some happy pigs ...

If there is a single place from which this country emits a steady heartbeat, it’s the swells and dales of Iowa, the state that means ‘beautiful land’ in the language of one its native tribes, the Ioway. Lub-dub, lub-dub.

The more urban our country, the further the separation from our agrarian roots. And thus we must travel farther — or stretch deeper like trees reaching for water during drought — to seek out and understand the sources of our nourishment.

Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.

In early September, Elise Bauer and I joined a group of chefs and other passionate food people in Iowa as the guests of Niman Ranch, the meat company that creates markets for beef, lamb and pork raised by independent family farms following the tenets of sustainable agriculture and good animal husbandry.

This wasn’t my first trip to Iowa. In fact, I lived in Iowa for 14 years, first in a small town overlooking the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa, then as a student at Iowa State University, then as a young professional in Des Moines, the state’s capital. Moreover, if ‘home is where your graves are,’ there are places for me all across Iowa, the towns where my father and his parents and their parents and their parents lived and many, are now buried.

“ … above the Iowa land is the sky, an ocean of sorts, constantly shifting and swirling, capable of great rage and healing calm” – Hugh Sidey

But for our group, the trip was a way of stretching to discover our food roots, even if ones we’d never before known or considered. We arrived from across the country, many of us fighting weather and planes just as westward-moving settlers fought weather and plains.

On the Friday, we made a pilgrimage, of sorts, to visit the pigs on the central-Iowa farm of Paul and Phyllis Willis, the first pastured-pork producers for Niman Ranch.

Paul Willis, Iowa farmer, Iowa visionary, Iowa pioneer

In a few hours, I came to believe that the Willises are 21st century pioneers, at once eminently old-fashioned and thoroughly modern, people who know what has gone before and believe in the future. They raise pigs that can be only described, really, as ‘happy’.

Cooling off in the mud

It’s a powerful experience to spend an hour in an open field with hundreds of pigs, sows nursing day-old babies the size of butternut squash and ‘teenage’ pigs active, curious and utterly unafraid of humans trekking through their field. Much to everyone’s surprise, the odor was earthy, almost sweet, completely pleasant.

Pasture-raised pigs at the Willis farm in central Iowa
Getting acquainted: a curious pig and an equally curious Alanna (photo by Elise Bauer)

But the Willises are not alone, in fact, they are but one of 570 family-owned farms, including many Amish family farms, that today raise livestock according to the protocols that allow the meat to be marketed under the Niman Ranch name.

On the Saturday, at Niman’s annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner, when asked, farmers would answer, “We’re producer Number 26” and “We’re producer Number 500-something”: low numbers were given special appreciation, high numbers a warm welcome.

The Blackfords are Niman producers #26 and describe farming as '50% headache and 50% backache', grinning just a bit to be sure you know they're speaking half in fun, half in seriousness

Perhaps Niman’s greatest promise — and purpose — is the choice it affords Iowa farm families. Until now, my experience with raising hogs in Iowa has been confinement barns, hogs raised in tight quarters with pools of waste collecting below — yes, being downwind on a windy day was decidedly unpleasant. At one time, confinement barns were the ‘more modern’ way to raise hogs, better for the animals than open-air hog lots because they provided weather protection and easy access to food and water.

A way of life, even for the next generation

For consumers, the promise is of superior flavor, putting 'real pork flavor' back into meat that for decades has been specially bred for leanness, sacrificing flavor. The meat is marbled – yes, think 'fat', but in your mind, conjure an old-time pork flavor, earthy, succulent and almost sweet. If Saturday’s chef-prepared meal and the chops I brought home are any indication, Niman Ranch meat is a treat to seek out.

But no, I won’t pretend to understand the whole story. My own time in Iowa was a long time ago and if memory serves, I had ready excuses to avoid the hog barns. I spent all of two days this month communing with pigs and people.

What I can say, honestly, is that the heartbeat I heard in Iowa has followed me back to Missouri. I hear it here, lub-dub, lub-dub.

And I’m listening.

“ … the spectacle of the land alone, which has its own quiet immensity, but of the intimate combinations of people and their special places settled and rooted in the grander sweep of horizon and prairie. Land grew the people and the people turned in their time to the land and they remain inseparable, fused in the design of the universe that we have chosen to call Iowa.” – Hugh Sidey


For Elise's thoughts about this Iowa odyssey, see her posts on Simply Recipes, The Meat We Eat and on Blogher, Happy Pig, Lucky Pig, also her amazing photographs.

For a fascinating account of writer Peter Kaminsky's quest for great pork, look for his latest book, Pig Perfect.

For more information about its sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry tenets, visit Niman Ranch.

[added later] A piece by John Robbins, recommended by one of Elise's readers, is the story of one Iowa farmer who struggled with the choices available for his farm. It's called The Pig Farmer and is worth a thoughtful read.

The Hugh Sidey quotes are from a lovely book of photography privately published by my employer at the time, Bankers Trust, Iowa: The American Heartland.


Elise has posted Mrs. Willis' Danish Pork Burgers, which along with heirloom tomatoes (in so many colors I mistook it for fruit salad) and homemade apple pie made up our 'farm feast' on the Willis farm. Thank you, Paul and Phyllis (and to your neighbors who cooked!) for your warm Iowa hospitality!

Ever wonder why Kitchen Parade has its own collection of great pork recipes? Now you understand!

And there's nothing like strawberry shortcake, made Iowa-style nor a recipe inspired by a small-town Iowa cafe and truckstop nor Mrs. Blackford's technique for freezing corn.

And don't forget this week's featured recipe, which just happens to call for, really, Iowa Chops. Yes, there is truly is such a cut.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

The Recipe: Oatmeal cookies with a twist, a banana twist, that is.

~Recipe updated & republished 2015 for a little weekend baking inspiration~

Banana Oatmeal Cookies ♥, oatmeal cookies with a banana twist.

"These are delicous!" ~ Mia
"... very yummy ..." ~ Becky
"I love them - a soft cookie that really feels like a treat ... whilst not being too naughty!" ~ amalissy
"... they turned out great! Love the coconut touch." ~ Susan

Long-time cooks know that the first rule of baking with banana is "Think Ahead".

The unavoidable fact is that it takes a couple of weeks for bananas to ripen enough.

You see, green bananas (as in "unripe" bananas which may have tinges of green but are often yellow) make for blah banana-baking. A banana must be really ripe — nearly all brown and even, if you want, well into "black" — to yield the luscious banana flavor in banana bread, banana cakes and here, Banana Oatmeal Cookies.

So wait for dark-brown, not yellow, skins to imbue heady banana flavor into quick breads, banana cakes, banana pancakes and here, the best oatmeal cookies, bar none, I’ve ever made – or eaten.

The freezer can help! To keep ripe bananas on hand all the time, just wash the bananas, then let them ripen naturally on the counter or in a paper bag. Once the skins turn dark, tuck the bananas into a freezer bag, right in their black jackets, and freeze. When you’re ready to bake, just thaw as many as needed in a container for an hour before using.


A couple readers have reported "sticky" cookies. It's happened to me too. I think it's caused when we measure flour by volume – there can be such variation! – but doesn't happen to everyone because smaller bananas do fine with less flour. Ohhh the vagaries of baking, some times! I've re-written the recipe to fix this and believe it improves the recipe considerably.
The truth is, I've gone extreme when it comes to ripe bananas. "Black bananas" aren't for everyone but for photographs, and just "how black" I let bananas get before baking, see Ripe Bananas for Baking: How Ripe Should Bananas Be? It might be a little shocking but boy-oh-boy, talk about heady banana richness.

Two more banana treats!

BANANA MANGO SMOOTHIE For a quick after-school snack, toss a frozen banana (skin removed, silly!) and frozen mangoes into a blender with a couple of ice cubes and skim milk. Delicious – and refreshing!

QUICK BANANA DESSERT I made this a-l-l the time when I was a kid! Just slice a barely ripe banana lengthwise. Spread each flat side with sour cream or Greek yogurt, then sprinkle with bits of brown sugar, it'll soon "melt". It's gorgeous good!


Oatmeal cookies with a banana twist
Banana ripening: 2 weeks
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes about 30 cookies, easily doubled
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 155g
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1-1/2 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick, not instant)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugars, banana, egg and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to mix thoroughly.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the oatmeal and coconut. By hand, stir the flour mixture into the mixing bowl.

Using two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, drop dough onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 11 – 14 minutes until set and golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the parchment.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cookie: 98 Cal; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 16g Carb; 1g Fiber; 58mg Sodium; 11mg Cholesterol. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2

Yes, Splenda works! Great news for dieters and diabetics, Banana Oatmeal Cookies turn out beautifully when made with "alternate" ingredients. Substitute Smart Balance for butter, Splenda for the white sugar and white whole wheat flour for the flour.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cookie: 81 Cal; 5g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 7g Carb; 2g Fiber; 60mg Sodium; 7mg Cholesterol. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2

ALANNA's TIPS Be prepared! Your kitchen is going to smell like warm banana bread! Does your brown sugar get a little clumpy in the cupboard? Mine too. I like to "work" the white and brown sugars together with the back of a spoon in the mixing bowl before adding the other wet ingredients, working out those tiny clumps which can create little pockets of dark, even burned sugar in baked goods. To produce Banana Oatmeal Cookies all the same size, I some times use a cookie scoop but then use a small spoon to gently flatten and shape the dough.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Banana Lovers Will Love These Oatmeal Cookies!

Banana Oatmeal Cookies ♥, oatmeal cookies with a banana twist.

More Great Banana Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Cheery Cherry Banana Bread Banana Streusel Muffins Banana Nut Cake with Caramel Frosting

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(for easy bookmarking and searching)
~ Banana Mango Smoothie ~
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