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!

Strong Bones = Sunflower Seeds + Coconut

Halva BrandLooking for just a little bit of sweetness? Just a few bites at the end of the meal to satisfy the need that your sweet taste bud receptors keep sending your brain? I had vegetables, meat, bread, cheese… now, just a little sugary something! Don’t worry, I found a great fix for you (and me)!

I remember living in France with a family of farmers and herders, and they often served dessert after lunch. I was not used to this cultural culinary routine, but I asked for something light, as I didn’t want to feel weighed down for the rest of the day’s work. I have to go bail the hay and weed the fields—I just want a candied or honeyed spoonful from someone’s plate, really. Soon enough, though, they fed me halva, the sesame seed spread that is sweet and crumbly but chewy at the same time. I love it! What a discovery! Everyday, I would want to slice it in the tub like fudge, place it on my plate like a delicate piece of white cake, and eat it bit by bit, savoring the dry creaminess (if that exists), like a graham cracker crust for a pie. Now that I’m in the States and trying to eat healthy while having a 9-5, I should make my own! It’s easy to pack for lunch or eat as a small dessert after dinner before the nightly trip to the gym.

A found a gluten-free recipe in the Simply Gluten Free magazine, which is also online at Lexie’s Kitchen. She writes that her recipe is like a peanut butter spread, but after making the recipe, I found my version to be a lot more crumbly; it’s not a spread, but still a very healthy topping. The main ingredient is shredded coconut, which is rich with calcium and magnesium. If you remember from grade school, your bones store calcium. We need to keep up our calcium intake if our bones are to retain enough for itself and the rest of the body’s functions. Magnesium works in tandem with calcium in the bones, acting as a crucial force in building up mineral density levels. Let’s have a diet full of calcium and magnesium, so that our bones are healthy and strong! Sunflower seeds are another source for magnesium and other minerals that our bones cherish. So coconut, meet sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are completely and utterly moonstruck by coconut’s high calcium content, ready to unite and task our bones with building up their mineral reserves!

The base for Lexie’s Kitchen’s spread also has sunflower seeds, so I ended up following her recipe verbatim with a little less sugar to get my crumbly topping-like snack. Here’s what to do:

Coconut Halva 

Modified from “Peanut-Free ‘Almost Like Peanut Butter’ Sunflower Coconut Nut Butter Spread”

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp superfine or granulated sugar
  • 2 cups finely shredded desiccated coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Toasted Coconut

  1. In a frying pan, toast sunflower seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the majority of seeds are golden in color. Remove from heat and transfer to blender or food processor.
  2. Add sugar to sunflower seeds. Set aside.
  3. Add desiccated coconut to frying pan. Over medium heat warm coconut flakes until heated through and some of the shreds are golden in color. Stir constantly! Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Blend sunflower seeds until a fine powder forms.
  5. Add coconut oil and blend again, pausing to scrape sides as needed.
  6. Add 1/3 of the toasted coconut. Blend for about 15 seconds, pausing to scrape sides as needed.
  7. Repeat step six, adding half of the remaining toasted coconut. Then repeat with the last of the toasted coconut.
  8. Once all coconut has been incorporated, add salt and blend to achieve desired smoothness, about one minute more.

Sunflower Field

Since a diverse diet helps the body find a positive nutritious balance, I suggest storing the Coconut Halva in the fridge so that it can last for at least a week or two. Serve on rice crackers or on fruit to stick with gluten-free a dish, or spoon onto bread (as I do for a taste of France!), rice puddings, ice cream, oatmeal, or just right into your mouth! For the locavore, sprinkling over Ginger Boiled Pears from Daily In-a Kitchen makes for a lovely, fragrant dessert! Bon ap, to strong bones!

Photo courtesy of Flickr member AndyH68; “Sunflowers 1, Languedoc”