Lentil meatball with lemon-pecan pesto sauce

PREP TIME
20 minutes
TOTAL TIME
40 minutes
YIELD
4-6 servings (about 25 meatballs)
EQUIPMENT
Soup pot Cutting board Kitchen knife Mixing bowls Measuring cups and spoons Food processor or blender Baking sheet Parchment paper
INGREDIENTS
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
2 eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup light ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2-3 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pecans
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
COOKING DIRECTIONS
In a soup pot, combine the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the water. Slightly mash the lentils with a fork until they are a chunky texture. Set them aside to cool.
In a food processor, combine the pecans, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Blend until fairly smooth. Add in the basil leaves, olive oil and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth, adding in a little more olive oil if needed to get a sauce-like consistency.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled lentils, eggs, olive oil, ricotta cheese, fennel seeds, parsley, thyme leaves, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add in the bread crumbs, and stir until combined.
Take a spoonful of the mixture and roll a 1-inch round ball in your hands. The mix should be quite moist but hold together well. If it doesn’t hold together or is runny, add in a few more bread crumbs (only a little at a time) until the mixture holds together but is still very moist.
Place the 1-inch balls onto a baking sheet, spaced a little distance apart so they aren’t touching. Place the sheet on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the lentil balls, then bake 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven.
Plate the lentil meatballs with the pesto sauce drizzled over the top, and a little extra lemon zest as garnish. Serve and enjoy!
As an alternative preparation idea, you can keep the Parmesan cheese out of the mixture, and instead spread the cheese on a plate or tray. After rolling the lentil mixture into balls, roll the balls over the grated cheese to create a crust. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the lentil balls every 5 minutes to make sure the cheesy crust is evenly browned and crispy.

Credit: Jaymi Heimbuch

 

slashing sugar from kids diet improves health in 10 days

While parents, educators and health experts continue to argue about the best ways to help children who are overweight or obese lose weight, researchers have found that just cutting back on the added sugar in diet can quickly make significant improvements to a child’s health.

Forty-three children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were considered obese participated in the study, which was designed to test whether or not it was the extra weight or the added sugar that was making children unhealthy. All of the children were black or Hispanic and had at least one or more symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and excess belly fat.

For the study, which will appear in the Journal Obesity, researchers from Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco and Touro University California removed the added sugars from participants’ diets and replaced them with other types of carbohydrates so that the kids’ caloric intake stayed the same. So, for example, if the kids were used to eating sugar-sweetened yogurt, they were asked to replace that yogurt with bagels. Kids who snacked on pastries were given baked potato chips instead.

After 10 days, the children in the study had lost little to no weight, but they showed significant improvement in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar — all important indicators of a child’s overall health.

Prior to the study, the kids’ had gotten about 27 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. Earlier this year, the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans limit their consumption of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. For the study, researchers aimed to get the kids’ diets more in line with these recommendations, but without simply cutting calories altogether.

“This paper says we can turn a child’s metabolic health around in 10 days without changing calories and without changing weight — just by taking the added sugars out of their diet,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at Benioff and the lead author of the study. “From a clinical standpoint, from a health care standpoint, that’s very important.”

Credit: Jenn Savedge

9 microgreens full of mega nutrients

You’re browsing the produce aisle, consider this: Microgreens (the young seedlings of edible veggies and herbs) might just be the best things to put in your grocery cart. Once relegated to health food stores, these nutrition-packed, delicate greens, typically harvested less than 14 days after germination, have the flavor of the grown plant but contain four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts, according to a study conducted at the University of Maryland.

“Microgreens are a definite new trend in food, and lots of chefs are incorporating microgreens into their dishes,” says Gabrielle Francis, a holistic physician in New York City for more than 33 years. The goal: By harvesting these greens before they’re fully grown and developed, you’ll end up with a health-packed plate of super-healthy greens that lend an added antioxidant and phytonutrient bonus to salads, sandwiches and sides. Read on as we explore nine of the most popular microgreens to add meganutrients to your salad bowl:

Arugula

This microgreen contains glucosinolates (GSLs), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and phenols that are believed to help fend off toxins and stave off environmental stress, says Monique Richard, RD, an adjunct professor of nutrition at East Tennessee State University. “Adding the peppery spice of arugula to sandwiches, salads, smoothies or as a colorful and edible garnish can be tasty and beneficial to your health,” she says.

 

Basil

The shoots of this tasty herb, that’s perfect in pastas or salads, have plenty of health benefits. “Basil is rich in polyphenols that drive gut health and general good health by reducing oxidation and inflammation,” says Barry Sears, Ph.D., a leading research scientist in the field of inflammation.

Broccoli

While this shoot contains few calories, broccoli is a cruciferous (sulfur-containing) powerhouse, Richard says. It’s also super-versatile. “Make a pesto with it for something different,” she says. “Or simply make a spread of crudités and hummus.”

Chia

These shoots offer endless healthy benefits. “Chia are an ideal addition to your diet thanks to their healthy unsaturated fats, fiber and satiety from the protein,” Richard says.

Clover

Known for its mild flavor, clover is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Sprinkle these shoots over any salad for a tasty crunch.

Kale

Considered the new superfood, kale is known to be a vitamin C powerhouse. “If massaged with some tahini, lemon juice, dried fruit, apple cider vinegar and apples, it can be a satisfying lunch and the bitterness will subside,” Richard says.

Pea shoots

Promising seven times the vitamin C of blueberries and eight times the folic acid of bean sprouts, pea shoot microgreens are equally delicious in a strawberry salad as well as one with radishes and pickled onion, Richard says.

Radish

With their signature peppery taste, radish microgreens contain beneficial amounts of folate and B6 and make a delightful finisher to a salad composed of watermelon and avocado.

Sunflower shoots

Known for providing essential amino acids, crunchy sprouted sunflower greens contain high levels of folate, B complex vitamins and vitamins C, E and selenium. When using them in a salad, pair them with a creamy vinaigrette.

Credit: Lambeth Hochwald

Recipe of the Week: Edamame Feta Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups shelled and cooked edamame (I boil for about 5 minutes in the micro)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn (I use frozen and set it on top of the hot edamame in the bowl and it thaws in minutes)
  • 1 cup cooked wheat berries (about 3/4 cup cooked quinoa or quick-cooking brown rice may be substituted to save time)
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced small (yellow or orange peppers may be substituted)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves with stems discarded, or to taste
  • heaping 1/2 cup crumbled feta, or more to taste (I used fat-free)
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and sliced very thin (I use entire onion from white to green)
  • 1 small/medium Roma or vine-ripened tomato diced small, optional
  • 1 small/medium Hass avocado peeled, pitted, and diced, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • generous pinch cayenne pepper (doesn’t make it spicy, makes it not bland)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To a large bowl, add all ingredients in the order listed, and toss very well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Salad may be served immediately although the flavors marry, develop, and salad tastes even better the second day. Salad will keep airtight in fridge for up to 4 days.