Cardio Health = Egg Whites + Greens

Frittata Brand

With leftover eggs whites from making flourless chocolate cake earlier in the week, and CSA produce filling all the drawers and shelves in the fridge, the comforting solution to use these nutritious ingredients came to me: frittata! I had to purchase leeks, but they are usually available at any grocery store year-around. The egg whites last in the fridge for even more than a week, so when the night came for a fast, one-dish meal—or actually a great main plate with a seasonal side soup (Roasted Carrot and Tahini Soup with Spicy Chickpeas) in my case so I could indulge in even more homecooked masterpieces—this frittata was perfect for using my fresh produce and leftovers!

I always receive at least three bundles or bags of leafy greens in my CSA share, from bok choy to Russian kale. I also receive the whole beet and turnip plants, so I experiment cooking with these colorful and soft greens. I eat as much as possible, especially since leafy greens are an especially good source of magnesium. This mineral helps lower our risk of sudden heart failures and helps our heart maintain regular heart rhythm. At sufficient levels, blood vessel muscles relax, reducing risks of blood pressure build up. Magnesium also helps to prevent calcification in your arteries in case your intake of calcium is too high. Egg whites also help your cardio system by having zero cholesterol. So leafy greens, meet egg whites! The egg mixture for this frittata is a healthier alternative, lowering the fat content and cholesterol levels to zero.

Very Veggie Frittata

modified from: Carroll, John Phillip. “Summer savory spinach frittata.” The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma CookbookMenlo Park: Oxmoor House, 2002.

  • 7 egg whites and 2 eggs from large organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, summer savory, or chives
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 ounces fresh greens, such as beet greens, turnip greens, collards, or spinach
  • 2 leeks, white parts thinly sliced (see picture below)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 grated cheese, such as Swiss, Gruyère, or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, any color
  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, fresh herbs, and water.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the greens, leeks, peas, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pat down vegetables into an even layer. Pour in the egg mixture. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally to keep the frittata from sticking. Running a rubber scrapper around the edges of the pan will help release the frittata from the pan as well. Cook for about one minutes, then cover. Turn down heat to low and cook for about another two minutes, or until the eggs are set around the edges but soft and runny in the center.
  4. Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese and bell pepper. Cover and cook until the eggs are completely set and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes longer.
  5. To serve, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Leeks Bowls Stirfry

Wine advice for a recipe is always a bonus, right? For this frittata, as it’s quite light and savory, I recommend Spanish Verdejo or White Bourdeaux for whites, or  Chilean Carmenere or Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. So go to the wine shelf and uncork (or twist off) a bottle, to make a whole cardio package. Whole-wheat pita is another good heart healthy companion (and if you’re like me, bread is a non-negotiable with dinner). If you can’t finish the frittata during the first sitting, heat it up from breakfast the next day for a great start! Bon ap, to cardio health!

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Melatonin = Tomatoes + Walnuts

Tomatoes

I’m a night owl… at least I am now. I didn’t used to be. In college I woke up at 3:30am for ice hockey practice and other days at dawn to go take on the track or gym. My roommates were fast asleep, but I was up to get my day started right away. Not anymore! My “me time” is now at night when I can relax or check off some items on my Wunderlist. Hockey and working out comes now at night, and getting out of bed is, well, it takes time these days! Staying up late, though, because I can’t get to sleep shortens my beauty rest routinely. Shouldn’t I be able to stop thinking about my to-do’s and just hold off things until the next morning? I need to change this habit, so my choice is to turn to a natural remedy. And since food is bliss for me, I’ll make my nightly snack or dessert help me out on this challenge (and keep me away from my computer, who distracts me from my oh-so-lovely bed).

As it’s August, I’m turning to some summer bounty to befriend my efforts. Tomatoes, meet walnuts. Both of these ingredients are high on the scale in melatonin compared to all the other fish in the pond. Snatch up those orange and red and pink tomatoes, looking so ripe and full of good care and growth! So, the tomato-walnut combo can be thrown together in many different ways, but my tummy tells me that something creamy would create the perfect cloud with which to pile on slices of fresh tomato and crunchy walnuts. Ah, I made Mascarpone cheese the other day for Chicken Marsala… perfect!

You can make this thick and smooth cheese, too! All you need is heavy whipping cream and citric acid, which you can purchase online, such as at King Arthur Flour, or baking supplies stores. If you bake with sourdough, in fact, such as Sourdough Pumpernickel bread, then adding citric acid can help make your bread have a more acidic taste and smell. I purchased a cheese making kit and recipe book from Standing Stone Farms. The other ingredients in the kit are used for other recipes, including mozzarella and queso fresco. Here’s their recipe for Mascarpone:

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Very slowly, heat cream to 190°F. You will begin to see the cream get (slightly) frothy and foamy.
  2. Remove from heat and add citric acid and salt. Stir gently 3-4 times in an up and down motion. The milk will begin to split into curd and whey.
  3. Place drain bag into colander over a pot large enough to allow whey to drain. Pour in curds.
  4. Let curds rest until room temperature, about 1 hour.
  5. Cover curds in bag and colander with plastic wrap and let drip in refrigerator for 12 hours. Remove from bag and enjoy.

Now, you may not think that your cream is turning into cheese, but keep going! Trust me, it doesn’t look like what you’re used to until it’s refrigerated and complete. A candy thermometer and cheesecloth will make this recipe super-duper easy, so I suggest having those by your side to assist you in your tasks. And make room in the refrigerator for the big bowl that you’ll be setting inside. This recipe makes at least a pound of Mascarpone, so you’ll certainly have some to share and use with dried fruits, honey, etc.!

Mascarpone

Slice up some sourdough or hearty bread, slather on the Mascarpone, and top with your walnuts and then tomato slices. I stop here and then indulge, but feel free to add anything else you have around the kitchen that you think would be another great addition. Maybe that mint growing in the container on my balcony would be great, as mint is another source of melatonin. It’s a sleeping-aid party on your late night snack! Bon ap to good sleep!

Photo courtesy of Flickr member eVo photo; “Tomatoes”