Archive | December 26, 2019

Superfood of the Month: Leeks

Leeks resemble large green onions, but they have a stronger, more earthy taste. Health benefits range from lowering blood pressure to weight loss to helping your skin. This vegetable can add great flavor to stir-fry, salads, braised meat dishes and soups.

Eye Health
Leeks are rich in vitamin A and loaded with antioxidants that help combat environmental pollutants or allergens.

Healthy Skin
Antioxidants in leeks combat aging and can make skin cleaner, healthier and more glowing. Leeks also contain allicin, an antibacterial agent.

Heart Health
Leeks contain kaempferol, which protects blood vessels. They also contain small amounts of nitric oxide, which helps dilate and relax blood vessels.

Blood Pressure
The potassium in leeks helps regulate tension in blood vessels to keep a steady flow of blood streaming through the veins and arteries.

Bone Health
Leeks contain vitamin K, which is needed to produce the protein osteocalcin successfully. Osteocalcin is essential for good bone health and wards off osteoporosis.

Leeks are natural diuretics. They facilitate the natural process of expelling sodium and water as urine. Diuretics help preserve kidney function. The lower the sodium in the body, the less tension in blood vessels and the lower the blood pressure.

Type 2 Diabetes
Leeks are low in calories with very little residual glucose. They inhibit a-amylase activity, controlling insulin levels and preventing dramatic spikes in glucose. Leeks also contain allicin, which helps avert neuropathy or nerve damage often associated with diabetes.

Baked Chicken with Onions and Leeks
Serves 6

2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup thinly sliced and washed leek, white and light green part only
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp salt

2½-3 lb bone-in chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts), skin removed, trimmed
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced shallot
1½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
¾ tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Toss onions, leeks, garlic, 2 tablespoons of oil, thyme and salt in a large bowl until the vegetables are well coated. Spread the mixture in a non-reactive 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place chicken on the vegetables. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Whisk mustard, shallot, rosemary, soy sauce and pepper in a small bowl; gradually whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
4. After 10 minutes, brush the chicken with the mustard glaze. Continue baking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a leg or breast (without touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 30 to 45 minutes more. Serve chicken with vegetables.

• When using a combination of thighs, drumsticks and breasts, cut each breast in half crosswise to make pieces about the size of an average chicken thigh. If you buy whole legs, separate the drumsticks and thighs. When all pieces are about the same size, they’ll cook at the same rate.
• A non-reactive bowl or pan—stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking acidic foods to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or alter flavor.
• People with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity should use soy sauces labeled “gluten-free,” as soy sauce may contain wheat or other gluten-containing sweeteners and flavors.