11.05.2011

Grow Your Own Wheatgrass

 

Seriously, everyone should grow their own wheatgrass...and yes, it is totally legal. In just 10 days, you can have a delicious and healthy power juice. You might be wondering, why wheatgrass? It has so many beneficial properties! Wheatgrass is packed with chlorophyll which some studies claim is a cancer preventive. It helps blood flow, aids in digestion and promotes the body's natural detoxifying process. All you needs is one small one to two ounce shot! Beware, it is an acquired taste, so for any of you newbies, have a glass of juice handy to shoot it down with!



Step by Step: Grow Your Own Wheatgrass

Morning Day 1: 
In a large bowl, immerse wheatgrass entirely in water.
Evening Day 1:  
Drain and rinse wheatgrass. Leave in colander, and place back in the large bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit over night.
Morning Day 2:
Drain and rinse wheatgrass. Leave in colander, and place back in the large bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit over night.
Evening Day 2:
Drain and rinse wheatgrass. Leave in colander, and place back in the large bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit over night.
Morning Day 3:
Drain and rinse wheatgrass. Leave in colander, and place back in the large bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit over night.
Evening Day 3:
Fill appetizer tray with water and gently place the sprouted wheatgrass in to each section. Fill a spray bottle with water and two teaspoons of baking soda. Make sure to spray the wheatgrass morning and night to avoid mold. Cover.
Morning and Evening Days 4-10:
Spray wheatgrass and remove cover when it has outgrown the container. When ready, use scissors to cut the wheatgrass. Juice and Enjoy!
 


10.01.2011

Falafel, A Taste of Heaven


Falafels are ground up, fried, garbanzo bean balls that are utterly scrumptious. They are popular throughout the Middle East and in Israel are ubiquitous street food. For my recipe, I form them into patties, as they are easier to fry this way. If you are lucky enough to have a deep fry, form them into balls. This meal is not complete without warm pita, hummus and an Israeli salad. Cheers and happy eating!




Falafel

1 lb. bag dry garbanzo beans, soaked over night
1 small onion
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup cilantro
1 1/4 tspn. ground cumin
1 tspn. coriander
1 tspn. paprika
1 tbsps. salt
1/2 tspn. pepper
1 tspn. baking powder
2 tbspns. bread crumbs
1 tspn. baking soda
4 tbsps. water
4 tbsps. flour 
safflower oil, or any other high temperature oil, for frying.


In a food processor, grind together the beans, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Make sure not to puree the mixture. We are looking for a coarse consistency. Pulse in the baking powder and bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dissolve baking soda in water and after 30 minutes add to mixture along with the flour.


Moisten your hands, and form 1 inch balls, or patties, placing them on wax paper. 


Heat at least 3 inches of oil in a deep skillet on medium heat. If the oil is too hot, it might burn the falafel and make them too crispy. You want the temperature to get to about 350 degrees. What I like to do is check the temperature of the oil by frying just one ball. Fry the balls until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels.


Serve with hot pita bread, hummus and Israeli salad.
 

9.10.2011

The things around the house...

 

Yes, using things around the house is especially delightful when you happen to have lobster tails in your freezer! These recipes are easy to make and, for the most part, with easy to find ingredients. If lobster is not easily accessible, this sauce would go great on any white fish, shrimp, or even scallops. Cheers and happy eating! 


Lobster Sauce
From My Father's Daughter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
salt
pepper


Whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, fold in the chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Lobster

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place lobster tails on a greased baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cut top of lobster all the way to the tail. Using your fingers, scoop the meat out and let it rest on the shell. Sprinkle tails with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake.


Baking times vary. I use these times, found at lobsterhelp.com


Lobster Tail Weight
Cooking Time
2 Oz.
12 minutes
4 Oz.
18 minutes
6 Oz.
22 minutes
8 Oz.
26 minutes
12 Oz.
30 minutes
14 Oz. +
35 minutes


Mashed Potatoes

4 medium baking potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sour gream
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, half and half
1 1.2 tablespoon chives
salt and pepper


Fill a large pot with cold water and place on stove set to high. Peel the potatoes, halve them, then cut them in thirds. Place the potatoes in the cool water and allow them to boil until tender. Drain. Add the remaining ingredients and mash potatoes. If they are to dry, add some more sour cream.




Honey Dijon Carrots

1 mega carrot (or 2-3 regular size carrots)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2-3 tablespoons of honey (depending on how sweet you like your carrots...I used 3, my husband would have like less)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoons of butter
salt
pepper



Peel carrots and then cut on a diagonal to about 1/4 inch thickness. Heat the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan set to medium heat. Gently toss in the carrots and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

8.17.2011

Teriyaki Salmon, Brown Rice with Kale & Greens A La Gwyneth Paltrow



*Read post to learn how you can enter to win a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook! Entries accepted through August 21, not the 18th like I say in the video! Oops...

I have been harboring a deep, dark, secret for many years. However, as I have gotten older, I realize that it is silly to let it eat me up inside the way it has for so long. It's time to confess to the world, and be proud of it at that.... I have a serious girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow. There I said it. Am I ashamed? No! Any bitch that calls her grandmother a word that rhymes with runt on national t.v., can rap "Straight Out of Compton," calls herself a lush (when it comes to drinking), and makes witty Tweets like looking for someone to "bang" in order to get an advanced copy of the Coldplay album, is cool beans in my book. And yes, I do secretly wish she would watch this video, read this post, do an adopted British laugh and then ring me up on the tele (that's with an English accent people, but most likely it would be via e-mail) and proclaim that we should be best friend and that I should immediately board her private plane and come to her London home where our kids can frolic in her yard (mine and hers are he exact same age) while we make pizza in her outdoor wood-burning pizza oven, talk about Spelt flour, sugar alternative, Global knives and of course food, and how much we both love it. We will then move in to her living room, admire her hand-painted wall paper and Darren Almond's photos, while the kids bathe in the $17,000 Antonio Lupi Baia tub she has in her bedroom, yes, I said bedroom. Hey, if I was as rich as her, I would certainly indulge in all these things! Unfortunately, if Gwynnie (I can call her that now since we are besties) did ever read this, she would likely be mortified and peg me as some wacko stalker. One can dream though, one can dream....


Ok, enough with my banter. Let's talk about the book for a quick second. A lot of people, professional chefs and foodies especially, were very skeptical when the cookbook was announced. I remember when she graced the cover of Bon Appetit magazine (she looked pretty darn cute) the editor had to defend the move vehemently to readers explaining that she "loves to cook for her friends and family...[is] comfortable and confident in her kitchen....[and] appeal[s] to the savy home cook." As a home cook, I have nothing but good things to say about the book. First of all, it is highly readable! The way she talks about family and togetherness is endearing, and her introduction, where she talks about her father, actually made me teary. Also, I never once felt like she was being preachy in the book and she makes lots of alternative suggestions for each recipe, like how to make it kid-friendly, or vegan and even how to substitute hard-to-find ingredients with ones that are readily available to most grocery stores. Just keep in mind, she most certainly is in a different socio-economic status than you, therefore obviously has things at her disposable that you don't; you can't expect her to pretend she knows what life is like on a teacher's salary. Lastly, the recipes I have tried are pretty damn good. Especially the ones I am sharing with you today!

I have featured a teriyaki fish recipe before, but not one with a home-made sauce and I must say, this rocked! And don't even get me started on the rice. It was sooooooo good! In fact, my daughter loved it so much she asked for seconds. Seeing her eat kale made my heart swoon. Now my kids didn't dig the salmon, but, as Gwynnie suggested, I made it with tofu and they ate it up.

My tofu version

Now for some exciting news! I enjoy this cookbook so much I want to share it with one of you! I will be giving away one copy of My Father's Daughter to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave me a comment and tell me what things you would like to see more of in my webisodes. Any suggestions are appreciated. Should I keep focusing on recipes? Give food prep tips? Talk about healthy food options? Give it up since I suck? I would love to hear from you, I can take it. Just make sure to leave me your e-mail address so I can contact you! (I promise I won't stalk you like I do Gwynnie.) This give-away will end Sunday, August 21 at midnight. Good luck and I can't wait to hear from you!

*Note, some of the following recipes were adapted from the book and are not exactly the recipe you might find if you purchase it. I always tend to make some variations to recipes.


Baked Salmon with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
Adapted from My Father's Daughter

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup of water
1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger
small handful of cilantro (she suggests 2 sprigs)
4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin discarded
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives, for serving

Combine the first five ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it boils, turn the heat to loe and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the saucespan from the heat and let the sauce cool down. Once it's cool, pour into a plastic bag and add the salmon. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, or you can let it sit overnight. Go back every 15 or so minutes and move the salmon around in the bag, massaging the sauce into it.

When you are ready to get the party started, preheat the oven to 420. Gwynnie suggests to broil the salmon, but I prefer to bake it.

Put the salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil paper. I sprayed the bottom with non-stick cook spray to keep the salmon from sticking. I drizzled some of the sauce on top of it. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how well-done you like it. While it's cooking, you can strain the extra sauce into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil, and let it reduce then drizzle it over the fish. I actually skipped this step and I thought the salmon was flavorful enough. Sprinkle the chives over the salmon before serving!


Sauteed Greens with Onions & Soy Sauce
Adapted from My Father's Daughter



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced (I accidentally chopped it, but I think slices would be way better!)
1 pound seasonal greens (kale, Swiss chard, etc...) stems removed and discarded, leaves washed and roughly torn
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce (Gwynnie suggests 1 1/2)
salt and pepper (Gwynnie omits these)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add half the greens and the water and allow them to wilt for a minute of two. Add the remaining greens and stir for another 3 minutes, until wilted. Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper, and cook for a few more seconds.



Friend Rice with Kale & Scallions
Adapted from My Father's Daughter

3-4 large stems of kale
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/4 inch slices, using only the white and light green parts
3 cups cooked brown rice (*Note-I use
this method to cook my rice. It is the best I have found.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Remove the kale leaves from the stem. This is VERY important is the stems are VERY bitter! Cut the leaves in half lengthwise and then cut across into very, very thin ribbons. Steam the kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant, but not browned. Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.

8.05.2011

You've Never Had a Quesadilla Like This!



Quesadillas are one of those super simple meals that are easy to put together... but, it is always fun to jazz things up. The marinade is enough to make at least 4, or 2-3 chickens. I made this for myself using shrimp, so feel free to mix it up however you like! Just one quick tip, after you have baked it, set the oven to broil and let the top brown a bit for a bit of an extra crunch! Cheers guys and happy eating!!!




Quesadilla recipe

Marinade:
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TB lime juice
3 TB red wine vinegar
2 TB honey
sprinkle of cilantro
1.5-2 tspn cumin
1.5-2 tspn chili powder
chipoltle peppers in adobe, to taste (I use at least one)
salt
pepper

Blend all ingredients in a small blender. Use half the mixture to marinade protein, reserve the other half for when you assemble your quesadilla.

Topping:
1/2 yellow onion (if you are making four, use the whole thing)

Saute in oil with adobe peppers, salt, pepper.

Quesadillas:
Tortilla shells
Mexican shredded cheese
Gruyere or Gouda Cheese
Onions
Chicken, cut into strips
Sprinkle of the marinade
Shredded Cilantro

Start with sprinkling Mexican cheese on one tortilla shells. Add the onion and chicken strips. Add about 2 tablespoons of the marinade, followed with some cilantro and lastly with a generous amount of Gruyere cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Finally, set the oven to broil and let the top brown for a minute.

8.03.2011

An Israeli Breakfast...Shakshuka




I first had shakshuka in my early twenties and for about 6 months I couldn't stop eating it; I guess I felt the need to make up for lost years. Many different cultures have their variation of this dish, which I believe originated in Libya, but this particular recipe takes me back to Israel. The longer this dish cooks, the deeper the flavors become so feel free to leave it on the stove for as long as you would like. Though I talk about it being an Israeli breakfast, it really is a serve anytime kinda meal. Let me know what you all think! Cheers and happy eating!




Shakshuka

Ingredients
a few swirls of olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (if you are sensitive to spice, use about half, and remove the seeds)
2 red peppers, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes (i don't strain them, but you certainly can)
3 teaspoons of tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/2 cup vegetable, or chicken, broth (set aside about another 1/4 cup in case the shakshuka gets too dry)
4 eggs
red pepper flakes, optional
pita bread, or a good piece of toast

Directions

In a large skillet, that has a lid, heat some olive oil on medium high heat and saute the onions until they soften, about five minutes.

Add the red peppers and jalapeno, and saute for 3 more minutes. Add the garlic, some salt and pepper and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the two cans of diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, the cumin, paprika, turmeric and some more salt and pepper. When the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable, or chicken, stock and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to low ans summer uncovered. You can leave it cooking like this for hours, but make sure to do it for at least 30-40 minutes! Make sure to come back every 5-7 minutes and stir the mixtures to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom. If the shakshuka gets dry to fast, add a little liquid. I ALWAYS have to add more liquid!

When ready to serve, gently crack four eggs into the pan making sure not to break the yolks. Cover the pan and cook the eggs till the whites solidify and the yellows JUST turn white. You want the yolks to be slightly, or over easy. On low heat, this should take 6-8 minutes.

Use a large spatula to transfer the portions onto a plate. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the eggs and some red pepper flakes if you are feeling adventurous. Serve with hummus and warm pita. DELICIOUS!!!

7.27.2011

Berry Cobbler





The real star of this recipe is the super versatile dough! Once you have this made, let your imagination run wild! Just make sure to serve this up with really good quality Vanilla Bean ice-cream. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Berry Cobbler

Dough:
2.5 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Warm Water (More if dough is too stiff)

Filling:
2 Container of Rasberries
1 Container of Blueberries
1 Container of Blackberries
3/4 Cup of Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest
1/2 a Lemon, Juiced

For the Dough:
In a food processor place the first three ingredients and begin to pulse until blended. Slowly start to add the water and continue to pulse. The dough should be stiff, but manageable. If needed, you can add a little bit of water till you get the right consistency. Basically, if you poke at the dough, you don't want it to stick to you, that is a sign that it is too moist. If this does happen, just add some more flour.

Take the dough out of the food processor, roll it into a ball, cover it in Saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 11 glass dish with cooking spray. Roll dough out to a rounded square, larger than the the glass dish you are using. Carefully place dough in glass dish making sure to press the corners down (there should be about 1.5-2 inches of dough hanging over.) Place filling on top of dough and then carefully fold over the excess dough. Make sure that you leave an opening in the center. If you have too much dough, you can simply cut some off.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes. I usually just keep an eye on it and as soon as it starts to brown a little I take it out. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.


3.20.2011

Whole Wheat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies




My original intentions were to make these cookies entirely of whole wheat flour, however, my husband felt that this was an abomination. We compromised, as all good couples do, and opted for a half-half flour mix, which was utterly delicious! Personally, I think these cookies would be delectable made entirely of whole wheat flour as well.


These cookies are chunky, yet chewy and moist! A perfect combination! I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips which taste so much more decadent than other brands. Considering that we are using whole wheat flour, I highly recommend splurging on high quality chocolate chips!


And now for a song. I remember so distinctly when I first heard "Elephant Gun," by Beirut, five years ago. I had never heard anything like it and was so moved by it. The song combined Eastern Eurpoean music, with Balkan folk, and pop. When I later found out that Zach Condon recorded it entirely himself, in his bedroom, as a mere teen, I think I fell in love with him for a brief moment.



Until next time, cheers and happy eating!

Whole Wheat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients
1 cup all-pupose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
3/4 cup, plus one tbspn, unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbspn vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. The dough will be stiff. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheet about 2-3 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

The Art of Scrambled Eggs



I am super happy that eggs are making a come-back. They were getting such a bad rap for quite some time! Once the subject of such great scrutiny, under the mantra "bad for your heart," eggs are no longer taking a beating (pun intended.) The biggest culprit for being so berated was the fat content in the yolk which does contain cholesterol. However, we are beginning to understand that there is indeed a distinction between dietary cholesterol, found in our friend the egg, and blood cholesterol, found in foods that contain saturated fat.

So why eat up your eggs? Did you know that eggs contain the highest quantity of pure-protein and that nutritionist actually use this as a comparison to measure the protein content of other whole-foods? Aside from protein, eggs contain an array of other good-for-you benefits, including vitamins A,D and E, a slew of B-vitamins (all found in the yolk), and iron, choline, potassium and calcium. Not to mention, that two eggs contain only 120 calories and close to 15 grams of protein!


For how easy scrambled eggs are to make, it is amazing how many people don't get them right. There are two secrets to perfectly fluffy eggs: milk and leaving them be while they cook! People tend to pour the eggs into a hot pan and start scrambling away as they cook, but that beats out all the fluff. You must leave the egg and then slowly, and gently, "move it around" the pan.

Now, a plea for organic cage-free eggs! Caged chickens live out their entire lives on less than a sheet of paper, making these animals the MOST confined animals in agriculture. This confinement deprives these sweet creatures of many of their natural behaviors, like nesting, and furthermore, this confinement, turns these docile creatures into hostile ones, that succumb to high levels of stress, causing them to attack (or peck) their roommate. For just a dollar more, you can support organic, cage-free farms that offer their chickens a standard of living that allows them to roam freely, spread their wings and lay eggs in nests. All this, equates to a better tasting egg with less cholesterol, less saturated fat, twice the omega-3, 3 times the vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and 4-6 times the vitamin D!. Unfortunately, this does not mean cruelty-free but organic, cage-free varieties are your best best.


Perfect Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs
3-4 tbspn of low-fat milk
salt and pepper
1 tbspn of butter

In a bowl whisk together the first three ingredients.

In a small skillet, non-stick if you have one, melt the butter. Pour the egg mixture and let it sit for a few seconds (this is key!) until the edges begin to cook. Use a spatula, scrape the cooked edges very gently, essentially moving them from the outer edge of the skillet to the center and letting the uncooked edge fill the pan. Do this 2 or 3 times until the eggs are cooked. You might have to flip the eggs once or twice. Just make sure to NOT OVERWORK THE EGGS!

3.18.2011

The Best Damn Salad Ever!




Bold statement people! Bold statement! Yes, as of now, this salad is the best damn salad I have ever made. Yes, I said damn! Such a perfect word to express utter enthusiasm! Maybe it's because of my love of all food Mexican (if you don't believe me, check out how many Mexican recipes I have posted) or maybe I am just that good...just kidding. I served this for dinner last night and my husband and I pretty much ate silently...and it's not because we have nothing to say to one another...it's because we were too busy scarfing down our food!

I served this with shrimp, but I actually think I will try mahi mahi next time, which will soak up the marinade better. You can really use any protein you would like, but baja-style equates to seafood. Also, I am going to give you the recipe for the marinade and the salad dressing, however, for the salad, I will give you a breakdown of all the ingredients I used, and you can decide how much, or how little, you would prefer for you salad creation.

And of course, a tune from a band featured in a webisode before, Good Old War...this song makes me think of summer. I mean, the song is titled "Coney Island!"



Until next time, cheers and happy eating!


Baja Salad with Cilantro-Vinaigrette

For the marinade:

2 tbspn olive oil
1 tbspn lime juice
1 1.2 tspn honey
1 tbspn chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (use a little less if you are sensitive to spice)
1/2 tspn garlic powder
1/2 tspn cumin
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Marinade protein for at least 1 hour.

For the salad dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbspn red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tbspn lime juice
1 tbspn honey
1 1/2 tspn jalapeno pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of cumin
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender. Allow salad to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour. Give it a good stir before you serve.

For the salad, I used:

Romaine lettuce, chopped
red onion, diced
red pepper, julienned
avocado
canned black beans, rinsed
canned sweet corn
crushed tortilla chips, chili or lime flavor preferably
shredded cheddar cheese

3.16.2011

Beet It


Yeah, I was totally singing a Michael Jackson song when I typed the title, but that is only because of my excitement to convert all you beet-haters into beet-lovers. For the past 29 years I have shunned away this magenta vegetable, but recently I had a "F*** it!" moment and decided it was high time I gave it another try. The truth is, I had never even tasted a beet, yet somehow was totally convinced it was the grossest thing on Earth. CRAZY! Apparently, I am not alone, as my husband is in the same boat. What is it about beets that turns so many people off? Sure, at the store it looks a little sad, but once you peel away the dirty looking layer a beautiful gift appears. A smooth, skin-staining, vibrant purple veggie that is crying for you to try him out. So have a Nike moment, and "Just Do It!" Give the beet a chance!

And for your listening pleasure, a band close to my heart, introduced to me by my hubby nine years ago when we first met. The Stars have produced countless amazing albums, yet have maintained a low-key status which gives even more integrity to the substance of their music!



Till next time! Cheers and happy eating.

Roasted Beets

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 ounce of olive oil
1 1/2 TB of honey
1 tspn of agave (optional)
3 large beets*

*Beets will stain your skin! Wear gloves if possible! If you don't have gloves, I sometime use plastic grocery bags.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the first 4 ingredients and whisk.

Trim both ends of the beets and peel away the dark, rough skin. Place in a small, glass, oven-proof container. Coat with dressing and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to stir often! Use a fork to check if the beets are tender. Serve over your favorite salad and enjoy!





3.10.2011

How I Love Thee Sweets

If you meet someone that doesn't love themselves a sweet treat here and there, they are clearly in some sort of denial! The problem with sweets though is the guilt most of us feel after we devour them! No one should ever feel guilty for taking pleasure in something. Actually, research has proven that indulging here and there will lead to successful weight loss, and a happier you. I have compiled a list of "healthy" alternatives to satisfy the craving when it comes knocking on your palate! So go ahead, cave in, and don't go crying in the corner that you did so!

Larabars come in a plethora of flavors, my favorite being chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate chip brownie. They are made of entirely whole ingredients including unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Unfortunately, with 11 grams of fat, and 220 calories, they are not exactly diet friendly. However, when you look at the ulterior, they are a much smarter option.
Another one of my favorite bars, LUNA Bar. S'mores is hands down my go-to flavor. It has a layer of chocolate goodness under a layer of graham cracker crunch. I am also partial to Dulce de Leche, which is so sweet, I sometimes have a hard time finishing it! Made with all natural ingredients and packing 9 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a list of vitamins. LUNA Bars have about 5 grams of fat and 180 calories per bar.



Though made for kids, who is to stop me from eating anything with the words peanut butter, brownie and chocolate chip? I LOVE to heat the chocolate brownie flavor in a bowl and serve it with a bowl of low-fat yogurt. Z Bars are made by Cliff and contain no high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils. This organic bar contains 3.5 grams of fat, 130 calories and has 12 essential vitamins and minerals.



All of Edy's Slow Churned ice cream flavors are outrageously good! My favorites are Chocolate Fudge Chunk, Cookie Dough, Cookies N Cream and Caramel Delight. This brand is so rich, it is hard to believe that it has 1/2 the fat of regular ice cream and 1/3 fewer calories.


thinkThin bars are an all natural, gluten free and sugar free bar. They are fairly high in fat and calories to be considered a waist-friendly snack, but with such a high protein content, 20 grams, that keeps me satisfied for hours, I use these as a meal replacement. My husband and I love these so much, we buy them by the box! Brownie crunch is divine, as is the white chocolate.



I am not exaggerating when I say this, but I had a Nutella sandwich at school every single day until I was 16! I mean EVERY DAY! The combination of things you can spread this hazelnut spread on are endless! My favorite is a graham cracker with a toasted marshmallow on top! Other healthy ideas is a slice of whole grain toast with bananas, a whole grain tortilla shell or simply dipped strawberries. There is actually an entire site dedicated to recipes featuring Nutella. Visit it by clicking here. You do have to be careful, as Nutella, when compared to peanut butter, is not the healthiest option. It has 7 times more sugar than peanut butter and no where near as much protein. This is certainly an indulgence, just be smart about what you pair this delectable spread with!

Until next time guys....cheers and happy eating!


2.27.2011

Test Drive: Beer Can Chicken

Chicken: I am not so sure about this. Are you really trying to convince me that shoving a beer can up my a** will enhance my flavor?

Me: Don't worry, this is going to keep you so moist and tender you will be the hit of the party! Isn't that what you want...to be the hit of the party?

Chicken: Yes, but this is not the party I had in mind. What am I, the star of the new Darren Aronofsky film...Requiem for the Poultry? This just isn't my scene.

Me: This is your moment to shine, you are broadening your horizon, you are going to take it, and like it upright....no lube needed...just straight in.

1 hour later....

Chicken: Oooo....ahhhhhh....it tingles....the wetness....my skin...I am glowing....I'm somebody now....everyone likes me...millions of people will see me, and eat me, and like me...I will tell them about you, and how good you were to me...
Alright, I had to much fun with personification there! I couldn't resist...this whole cooking method is just begging for inappropriate comments!

So, the hubby and I purchased the cheapest beer stand possible and tested out this whole beer can chicken cooking method. It is not a new method, but none-the-less, new to us. Happy to report, the hubby gave this two thumbs up and it was a breeze to make! P.S.-It is very diet friendly, just don't eat the dark meat!

And of course, here is what is currently on repeat in my house. "Love is All" by the Tallest Man.

Until next time folks, cheers and happy eating!



Easy Beer Can Grilled Chicken
1 whole chicken
store-bought poultry rub (you can get fancy and make your own)
olive oil (or melted butter)
can of beer

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Rub the chicken and its cavity with oil, poultry mixture, salt and pepper. Make sure to season the inside cavity too!

Pour out some of the beer, about 1/4 of it should do and place in the beer stand. Sit the chick on top of the beer can and place it in the center of the hit grill, making sure to cover. Cook the chicken for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. A good thing to use is a meat thermometer. When the chicken gets between 165 and 170 it is done. Remove from heat, cover with foil, and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.



2.25.2011

Quinua, Butternut Squash and Pesto Casserole





If this dish could speak it would say, "Look, I know I might not be the prettiest thing you have ever set your eyes on, blame the chef! She should have known better than to leave my top layer exposed! What was she thinking? I am not Jell-O, hanging about for all to see. No! I am a refined, healthy meal that must be appreciated, not judged for my looks. Please eat me! I will make your heart healthy, your bones strong, your tummy happy and give you a natural boost of energy. So yes, please excuse my cooky creator and don't judge this book by its cover. Anyway, haven't you heard? Naked is the new black. Take a bite and enjoy!"

I wish that I would have thought to top this off with a final layer of butternut squash, but it really didn't cross my mind. It is not fair, but it is true, you eat with your eyes first! Though the original dish did not have the presentation I was looking for, it received outstanding reviews for its taste! This is gluten free and packs a powerful punch of protein, beta carotene, vitamin b6, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. The recipe I am providing has been amended to make this dish appealing to the eyes!

To make things easy, I used store bought pesto. Pesto is super easy to make, so you can certainly whip some up. If you are following the Clean Program, or are on a diet in which you must avoid dairy, I have included a pesto recipe that I received with my Clean Kit.

Hope you enjoy it! Until next time, cheers and happy eating!

Quinua, Butternut Squash and Pesto Casserole
Ingredients

2 medium size butternut squash
8 ounces pesto (Clean-friendly pesto at end of recipe)
1 cup prepared quinua
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Peel the butternut squash. Cut in half and remove all the seeds and pulp. Slice squash in 1/4 inch thick slices. In a 8x8 casserole dish, layer some butternut squash on the bottom (reserving some for the remaining layers), followed by half of the pesto, then with half of the quinua. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle half of the walnuts on top and then repeat layering. Lastly, place one final layer of butternut squash.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.


Clean Pesto

2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
sea salt for seasoing

Place basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor and process on medium. Drizzle in the olive oil while the motor is running. Season with salt.


2.22.2011


My friend is on a quest to lose some weight and has enlisted the help of Weight Watchers. It has worked wonders for her as she has lost 10 pounds in less than a month! She asked me to make this recipe for her and of course I jumped at the chance to make something new. I was intrigued by the claim: low fat do-it-yourself peanut butter. Let me put it this way, I have made this four times since then and it has only been two weeks! This is so damn good I could eat the whole thing (which Weight Watchers would certainly not approve!) The best way I can describe this is a happy marriage between hummus and honey peanut butter.

And of course....I couldn't leave you without a song! A band I am currently OBSESSED with! Started out as Say Hi and have since then renamed themselves to Say Hi To Your Mom. This song comes from their debut album "Oohs and Aahs" and is titled Maurine. Enjoy!






Creamy Peanut Butter Dip
Servings:8
Points Value: 3

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup(s) canned chickpeas, loose skins removed, washed, drained
1/4 cup(s) honey roasted peanut butter*
2 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup(s) hot water

*If you don't have honey peanut butter, just add an extra tbspn of honey to the recipe!

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; blend until smooth. Allow to set up in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Yields about 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon per serving.

2.01.2011

Tilapia with Roasted Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans



Having completed 21 days of a cleanse, I must say, I am much more meticulous with reading labels and being a conscientious food shopper. I was beyond surprised when I was planning one of my "transitional" meals to read the ingredients in.....bread crumbs! I had a menu set for me and the hubby and decided that I would treat my husband to some breading on his fish (I was opting out.) To my utter astonishment, upon further examination of the bread crumbs container I was perplexed to find high fructose corn syrup, buttermilk and hydrogenated soybean oil. I quickly decided that it was high time this lil' lady started making her own bread crumbs.


I used Ezekiel sprouted bread for this. Sprouted bread has a plethora of nutrients and vitamins that are lacking in traditional wheat, or even whole wheat, bread. Sprouting even neutralizes phytic acid, which allows your body to absorb the nutrients found in the bread more efficiently. The process of making traditional bread actually requires the removal of the bran and the germ which translates to loss of fiber, loss of minerals and loss of vitamins. The vitamin content you do see on the label of your "enriched" bread were actually added back during the enriching process. If you do go with store-bought bread crumbs, go with a brand found at your natural foods store. Whole Foods sells their own brand which is great!

It is up to you whether you choose to make this dish with breading or without. Either way, it is equally delicious. If you are watching your calories, obviously opt for no breading.


Tilapia with Tomato, Cannellini Beans and White Wine

2-3 Tilapia fillets
1 cup of homemade bread crumbs (see recipe below)
1 egg
1 cup of flour
olive oil
1 carton of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
3/4 cup of white wine
1 TB thyme
prepared brown rice

Create three dipping stations in this order: flour, egg and bread crumbs. Dredge the tilapia in the flour, shake excess off. Dip the fish in the egg and then coat with bread crumbs.

In a medium pan, pour a few glugs of olive oil and pan fry the fish for about 4 minutes per side. It really depends on the thickness of the fish. I just keep an eye out for flaking. That is a sure sign it is done. (Alternatively, you can bake the fish in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.)

In a small, glass baking dish, mix the tomatoes, cannellini beans, thyme, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and wine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake mixture in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes start to prune.

To serve, scoop brown rice on a plate, place the fish on top, and spoon the tomato mixture over. Yum!

Homemade Bread Crumbs

1 pound of day old bread
1.5 TB of oregano

Cube the bread and pulse in a food processor till you get a coarse mixture.

Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Return to the food processor, add the oregano (or any spice you would like to use) and blend until you get the consistency you are looking for. I like mine on the finer side.

1.23.2011

Gluten-free Butternut Squash Pasta




***Please forgive me, but apparently corn, though perfect for anyone that has a gluten sensitivity, is NOT Clean, if you are visiting this blog looking for a Clean recipe, substitute the corn pasta for rice pasta, which would be equally delicious!***

Hands down, the hardest part on the Clean Program is giving up carbs. I am near the end and all I can seem to think of us is scarfing down a big bowl of pasta. As already mentioned, carbs are a major no-no, and so are tomatoes, pasta's
best friend. As mentioned in my previous post, the program's goal is to remove "common allergens, toxic foods and ingredients that frequently cause sensitivities from your diet to promote healthy digestive tract functioning." Gluten is one of those ingredients that is actually a high allergen, while tomatoes are nightshades. Nightshades are fruits and vegetables that contain a substance called alkaloids which can negatively affect your nerve-muscles, joint and digestive function.
While shopping at my local Whole Foods, I cruised by the pasta aisle and daydreamed of the next encounter I would have with my long, lean friend. And then....there it was, calling my name...corn spaghetti, a totally gluten-free alternative. I stood there for a while, considering whether this was a viable lunch option. I was actually torn. On the one hand, it was gluten-free and totally acceptable as far as the Elimination Diet was concerned, but on the other hand, I felt that part of me going on this cleanse was to rid myself of these cravings. I decided that I have been restricting myself enough while on this cleanse and caved in to my craving. Which wasn't even caving in, since again, it is totally gluten-free. Jeez, who would have thought the guilt a gal could have doing some gluten-free shopping!


Next hurdle, was the sauce. Tomatoes, out! Cream sauce, out! Olive oil sauce, not my favorite! I even had to imagine a sauce without the salty decadent flavor or Parmigianno Regiano. And then, it came to me...butternut squash....YES! To take care of the cream factor, almond milk. I left Whole Foods determined to make a creamy, butternut squash pasta recipe that Dr. Junger would approve of!


I have to admit, I was skeptical as to how this was going to taste, but when I took my first bite I had a sensory explosion. I called my husband into the kitchen and he agreed...this is damn good. Best of all, I was getting to eat pasta!

Some tips before you start:
- Whole Foods carries frozen butternut squash. It saved me so much time! If
you can't get your hands on it, simply use a good peeler to remove the skin
from the squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and dice up.
- Use the almond milk sparingly at first, especially when you blend. If the
sauce is still too think, add some more when you return it to the pan.
- Corn pasta breaks very easily, so don't expect to bust out your fork for
a bit of twirl dancing...this is more of a scoop-up meal.
- Taste the sauce before you add the pasta! Adjust the seasoning. I ended up
adding more salt, pepper and even nutmeg.

Clean-friendly, Corn Spaghetti with Butternut Squash Sauce

1 package of corn spaghetti (rice spaghetti if you are on the Clean program)
olive oil
1 package of peeled, cubed butternut squash (You can find this in the freezer section of health food stores, if not available, then you will need one large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup almond milk
salt and pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
handful of chopped basil
toasted walnuts (optional)

In a large skillet, warm a few glugs of olive oil in the pan. Add the onion, butternut squash and salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for another 3-4 minutes until the squash become somewhat tender. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes. You want the squash to become very soft.

Transfer the squash to a blender and add half the almond milk and a pinch of nutmeg and puree.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender. About 8-10 minutes.

Transfer the squash back to the pan and re-heat. Add basil and some more almond milk, if needed. It all depends on what kind of consistency you like your pasta sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the cooked pasta into the pan and stir together.

Serve with a sprinkle of toasted walnuts on top for an added crunch.



1.16.2011

Getting Clean





I am currently 16 days in to a 21 day cleanse. Doing a cleanse is something I have always wanted to try, but I love food so much I couldn't imagine giving it up. Before I educated myself, I had assumed that all cleanses required relinquishing your right to chew and replacing that motion with constant gulps of liquid. I pretty much only knew of the Master Cleanse which would have required me to live on water, lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper! Who the heck find that appealing? I stumbled upon The Clean Program a while back (can't quite recall how) and it seemed to be easy to follow.

The program consists of eliminating various food items that are hard on your digestion, high allergen and deplete energy. These include wheat, sugar, dairy, soy, caffeine and all processed foods. Dr. Junger and his fabulous team of wellness coaches (I love you Jenny) place an emphasis on eating whole foods which are easily digested and are therefore converted into a good old fashion pick me up. There are two options, you can follow the book version, or purchase a kit. I opted for the latter.
I chose the kit because, being a working mother, with two small children, I liked not having to worry about two of the three meals allowed on the program. The kit came pre-packaged with two meal replacements for breakfast and dinner, and included all the supplements I needed. Here is a rundown of the program, a shake for breakfast, a sensible lunch utilizing items "allowed" on the cleanse, or as Dr. Junger calls it, elimination diet-friendly, and a shake for dinner. With each meal, you take a slew of supplements which work together to aid digestions, reintroduce healthy bacteria to your gut, and help diminish cravings. I can't praise this program enough!

So why did I want to go on a cleanse. Here is a short list:

1. I really wanted to re-think how food affects me emotionally. I find that I am constantly snacking on junk just because it is sitting in front of me and I hoped to break this annoying habit.

2. Mindful eating. I certainly eat healthy already (aside from the above mentioned junk I snack on.) However, before I met my husband (I blame him) I was a vegan who was a very conscientious eater
. I wanted to get back in touch with that gal.

3. Eat more whole foods. Eating raw vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other whole foods provides your body with a plethora of vitamins and enzymes that cannot be found in processed foods. They are easier to digest, and keep you feeling full longer. Most of the junk (there it is again) that I was snacking on was processed foods laying around the office, or calling to me in my pantry (I blame the kids.) On this program I was forced to re-think the packed food following me around throughout my day and has opened my eyes to the junk my kids eat.

4. Incorporate liquid meals. In another fabulous book that I have read, Spent, Dr. Lipman makes a strong case for liquid meals, particularly for breakfast. He emphasizes that breakfast is certainly the most important meal of the day, however the type of breakfast one eats is more important. He really stresses that the morning meal is literally "breaking the fast" and that the body needs to eat something that it can easily digest, therefore preserving energy for better usage. Liquid meals will halt that afternoon sugar slump and keep you energized throughout the day. It makes total sense! If I wake up in the morning and immediately take my kids to the park and run around wild with them come noon I am a wiped out for the day. On the other hand, a morning filled with arts and crafts, tickles and board games leaves me energized for the day!

5. Alleviate my tummy problems. I have some serious stomach issues. It seems that not a day goes by that I do not have some discomfort. Now, I am mildly lactose intolerant, but even on days that I consume no dairy, the discomfort is still there.

6. Energy. I can't afford to feel like I need a nap at 2 in the afternoon....I am at work! I can't afford to feel like I am ready for bed at 6 in the evening....I have kids. I desperately was looking for more energy.

Sixteen days in, I am happy to announce that being on the Clean Program has addressed all my issues! I am nervous/excited to see how I will incorporate my new philosophy on food once I am off the program, but I know that it has seriously re-set my views on what I put in my mouth.

So today's recipe comes from 101Cookbooks, a blog that I have featured before. I made a big batch on Sunday and it fed me all week at work. It is creamy, thanks to the tahini, nutty, thanks to the brown rice and almonds, and most of all delicious. The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I opted for broccoli (which I am not entirely certain is Clean-friendly...but here's hoping.) You can substitute any hardy green you like. I also doubled the tahini dressing which I think worked out great because I poured it over all at once, rather than serve it on the side as Heidi suggest.

Until next time folks, cheers and happy eating!


Tasty Broccoli and Tahini
Adapted from 101Cookbooks

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained (I went for two)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments (or broccoli, as I used)
3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 cup almond slivers, toasted
fine grain sea salt

Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-6 tablespoons hot water ( I ended up using more.)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt


Prepare the rice ahead of time, or you can purchase frozen brown rice to make this super fast!

Make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Add a couple glugs of olive oil (roughly 3 tablespoons) to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around to coat the pan, then add the chickpeas and sprinkling of salt. Let the beans saute there for a couple minutes (I like to try to get some crusty color on them). Be careful, they seem to hiss and pop more then other beans over high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute. Stir in the asparagus with another pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens up just a bit. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers, reserving a few almonds for garnish. Taste and add more salt if needed (likely). Serve family-style in a big bowl drizzled with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing, let each person add more dressing to their tastes.