October 2011

October 2011 posts

Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce

Why buy canned or bottled sauce? If you’re on a budget or want to control additives, such as sodium and sugar, this all-purpose sauce is ready in 15 minutes. Double the batch so there’s some extra to freeze. Makes 2 cups.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sweet basil, dried, or ¼ cup fresh chopped
  • ¼ cup water or broth


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in pan, add onion and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until onion is barely translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes and basil, stir and bring to low boil for 3-5 minutes depending on desired thickness.

Per ½ cup serving: 65 calories, 2g protein, 8g carbohydrate, 4g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g mono fat, 0mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 11mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Most people think of tomato sauce as just a basic for pasta, but when you’re making your own--why be ordinary? Try adding more heat with chili flakes, sweetness with diced carrots, or a chunkier texture with mushrooms, zucchini, or white beans. Tomatoes have nutrients which are known for lowering your LDL cholesterol.

Chilled Cherry Tomato and Sweet Pepper Soup

 Tomatoes and red peppers are a dynamic duo full of carotenoids known for protecting against cancer and heart disease. Put the team to work for your health in this make ahead soup that’s a refreshing respite when served chilled on a hot summer day. Perfect as a tempting appetizer or with a side salad or sandwich. Serves 6.


  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon each sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoons champagne or sherry vinegar


  • 2 teaspoons Anaheim or Serrano chili, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil or cilantro


  1. In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup water, salt and shallots. Add tomatoes, cover pan, and heat until they pop, about 5 minutes. Be sure to keep enough water in the pan to prevent tomatoes from scorching. Add a few tablespoons of water if needed.
  2. Lower heat; add peppers and cook for 25 minutes, covered. Puree soup and chill in refrigerator.
  3. To serve: combine vinegar, chili, avocado and herbs in a bowl. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with vinegar mixture.

Per serving: 93 calories, 2g protein, 10g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 4g mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 259mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Sun Gold or Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes may need a bit more vinegar to balance the soup. You can buy jars of roasted peppers at the grocery store, but it's easy to do at home: toss them whole into a 375°F oven until the skins brown and blister (about 20 minutes). Take the peppers from the oven and put into a paper bag or covered bowl and let them steam until easy to touch, then peel away the skins.

Chicken with Red Rice and Spice

Prepare for praise, because this dish is a crowd pleaser whether you’re serving finicky eaters or the hungriest of appetites. Using brown rice gives you vital nutrients found especially in whole grains, and along with the antioxidants in sweet peppers, this meal is packed to protect against heart disease. Serves 4.


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 14-oz can low-sodium chicken broth, divided (1 cup, ⅓ cup)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup tomato sauce (½ of an 8-oz can)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, bite-sized pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Cook brown rice in 1 cup of the chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce for 40-45 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent.
  3. Add chicken, bell peppers, paprika, cayenne pepper, and oregano to skillet. Add 1/3 cup chicken broth, cover pan, and cook 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in cooked rice, adding a little more chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Stir peas into chicken and rice and cook just until peas are heated through, about two minutes longer.

Per serving: 379 calories, 27 gm protein, 52 gm carbohydrate, 6 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 7 gm fiber, 408 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Be sure to make enough for leftovers, it's great for packing as a lunch the next day.

Chef Ken's Basic Vegetable Broth



  • 6 cups of vegetables such as:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium potato, white or sweet
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 medium celery stalks with leaves
  • 1 large mushroom, halved with stem
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme


  1. Scrub well but don’t peel carrots and potatoes. Chop all veggies, place in pot, and cover with water and herbs. Water should cover the veggies by at least one inch. Adjust as necessary.
  2. Bring water to a boil and immediately turn down heat to simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes. Unlike a meat broth which benefits from a long simmering time, once the vegetables have given up their flavor, there is no need to cook any longer. Strain broth through a colander and store in fridge for up to a few days or freeze to use as needed.

Per cup: 49 calories, 1g protein, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 39mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK This basic stock can be flavored differently with chopped fresh garlic and pepper corns, or for the season with winter squash or fruit, such as an apple or pear. For a rich broth, the ratio of water to vegetables is 1 to 1. Vegetables can vary depending on what is in the refrigerator or what quantities are left from other dishes. Pieces of vegetables such as winter greens or broccoli stems and potato peels can be used, too. Just be careful not to include food that is too far gone and may not add to the desired flavor.

Lung Cancer staging

What stage is my cancer, doc?

This is often the first question we get asked when meeting with a patient newly diagnosed with lung cancer. In this blog, I would like to briefly review the notion of lung cancer staging and its implications.

Staging allows us to define the extent of a cancer and determine its best available treatment. It also allows us to statistically estimate the prognosis of the cancer. Finally, adequate staging allows us to group patients with cancers of similar extent across different institutions or even countries and evaluate the efficacy of the treatment strategies and compare with new ones.

Staging can be clinical or pathological. Clinical staging is based on the information we obtain from X-rays and scans as well as from procedures where samples (biopsies) of different tissues are obtained in an effort determine what structures may be involved with the cancer. Pathological staging is only available when the cancer has been removed by surgery: i.e. when the pathologist has measured the size of the tumor, its extent and whether or not any lymph nodes were involved with cancer. One should be aware that pathological and clinical stagings don’t always concord 100%. Sometimes clinical staging under-evaluates how extensive the cancer may be, and at times it over-evaluates it, particularly when clinical staging is based only on X-ray information. This is particularly true with the evaluation of lymph nodes that drain the area where the cancer has come from. The role of your lung cancer surgeon in adequately gathering that information to develop the best treatment plan cannot be emphasized enough.

The system we use to define a stage is called the TNM system.

Broiled Tomatoes Parmeson

Like lycopene? You should! This cardiovascular disease-fighting nutrient is found in tomatoes, along with potassium, Vitamin C and folate. Sharp, zesty Parmesan and a sprinkling of fresh basil make tomatoes truly tasty! Best in summer when tomatoes are at their peak, so grow your own or look for them at Farmers’ Markets. Serves 4.


  • 2 large, red tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon vinaigrette or bottled Italian, low fat salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Turn on oven to broil.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side up on broiling pan.
  3. Divide basil between 4 tomato halves, and drizzle with vinaigrette.
  4. Divide Parmesan cheese among 4 tomato halves covering the basil.
  5. Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and the tomatoes are softened.

Per serving: 45 calories, 2 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrate, 3 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 2 gm cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 47 mg sodium 

Braised Pork Chops with Cabbage and Apples

If you didn’t grow up with a family recipe for pork chops, well, we’re sorry. Here’s a heart-healthy version with all the elements from our childhoods: pork, apples, red cabbage, and potatoes. Sublime. Baby red potatoes make an excellent side dish. Serves 4.


  • 4 4-ounce lean pork chops without bone
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced


  1. Brown pork chops lightly in hot olive oil, about two minutes each side. Transfer to a plate, set aside.
  2. Add cabbage, thyme, cider, and broth to pan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
  4. Add apples in a single layer and top with the pork chops.
  5. Cover and cook on medium heat until the pork chops are tender but not dry, about 8-10 minutes.

Per serving: 290 calories, 25 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrate, 12 gm fat, 3 gm sat fat, 5 gm mono fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 3 gm fiber, 67 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK The secret to perfect pork chops is to start with a thicker center-cut loin chop. They are finished cooking when they are firm to the touch and their juices are slightly pink. 

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