Cottage Cheese Pancakes With Berry Reduction Sauce– ALL SUGAR-FREE!

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Move over Aunt Jemima. I got this.

I don’t often eat “normal” breakfast food (like sugary cereals, waffles,  muffins, toast, etc.), but today I had a particular craving for pancakes. If you know anything about me by now you’ll know I’m not one to forbid myself any foods (because, really, who wants to live life like that?) and so I set out to try a better option to the traditional breakfast food.

Regular pancakes are such a trap. Not only are you downing a helluva lot o’ flour, chemicals and sugar in the pancake mix itself, but then add to it the gross amounts of high-fructose corn syrup, more chemicals and even more sugar in the syrup and you have me weeping for humanity. No thank you.

So I made a sugar-free syrup to go with it. And it was good.

 

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I really liked them. Twenty-two month old Era really liked them. Like… really, really liked them (I may have fought her for the last bite). But my hubby wasn’t too impressed. He thought the texture was too mushy, so feel free to play around with the quantities of each ingredient until you find what tickles your taste buds.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes 

2/3 C rolled oats (no instant or 1-minute things. Just regular rolled oats. Use gluten free oats if necessary for you.)

1/3 cottage cheese

2 eggs

1/2 banana

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs. almond milk, or any milk of your preference

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until well mixed, about half a minute. Seriously, that’s all. Lightly butter a pan and cook as regular pancakes.

 

Berry Reduction Sauce

1/2 C of frozen berries. I used strawberries and blueberries

1 Tbs. raw honey

Place in a saucepan in medium-low heat. Berries will become mushy, the honey will melt, and everything will simmer together. The berries will release water from having been frozen. Let the mixture reduce until it’s syrupy and as thick or runny as you like it. And yes, I’m aware of the irony in heating up raw honey, but it’s the only type I buy, use and recommend, even if I’m going to end up heating it for some recipes.

 

For those times when pancakes are a must this high protein, sugar free and fiber-rich recipe will do!

 

Lentil Sunflower Dip

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A nice mid-day snack full of fiber, protein, with no added fats, and offering the perfect chance to get in some more veggies. This is my version of the health.com recipe.

You’ll probably want to make it easy on yourself and grab a can of lentils. But, in full disclosure, I’ll have you know that as a Certified Mexican™ I’m a total bean snob and always cook my own from scratch. (Note: Just now in that last sentence I accidentally typed cock instead of cook. I thought you should know.)

But yeah, I totally get it that cooking beans can be daunting and intimidating*

So, fresh from the stove or straight from a can, have your lentils ready and give this dip a try.

 

*No I don’t. It’s easy.

 

Lentil Sunflower Dip

 

 

Lentil Sunflower Dip

-1 can (or 1 C fresh) brown lentils

-1 Tbs. lime juice

-Sea salt and pepper, to taste

-1 to 2 Tbs. sunflower seeds

-Chives

 

If using canned lentils, drain and rinse well. Blend everything together except the sunflower seeds and chives. Mix them in at the end. Can’t get any easier!

 

Now don’t go ruining this shit by downing along a bag of pita chips or some other similar crap. Eat your damn veggies, alright?

 

Curried Coconut Chicken

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Creamy, hearty, thick, delicious, and seriously easy to make. Too good not to share.

curry coconut chicken

 

Ingredients:

3 skinless chicken breasts, cubed

3 diced tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

1 minced onion

1 minced garlic clove

2 Tbs tomato paste

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

curry powder, to taste

sea salt to taste

pepper, to taste

 

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan at medium heat. Once it’s warm sautee the onion and garlic, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder (I used about 1/2 Tbs) and cook it for about 1 minute. Once it’s done add the cubed chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add the coconut milk and dissolve the tomato paste in it. Bring to a boil, throw in the diced tomatoes, and bring temperature down to low. Let it simmer to reduce the liquid, add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

The No-Human-Power-Can-Make-Me-Leave-The-House-Today Workout

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-20 Celsius. Enough said.

Here’s what to do when the prospect of stepping out and having your nose fall off is just too much to bear.

 

Warmup:

100 jumping jacks

Active stretching

 

Workout:

1st Set:

-10 burpees

-10 squats (I went for full range of motion variation, or Ass to Grass, as they’re commonly known)

Rest 30 seconds

 

2nd Set:

-20 burpees

-20 squats

Rest 45 sec.

 

3rd Set:

-30 burpees

-30 squats

Rest 1 min.

 

THE ASS TO GRASS SQUAT:

Baby squats

Squat, baby, squat. No baby required, though.

 

... and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

… and come back up strong, engaging glutes and core.

 

2 sets each of:

-30 side lunges (15 reps each side)

-20 glute bridge

Rest 30 sec. in between

 

THE SIDE LUNGE:

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Side lunge: Feet about shoulder width apart.

Bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don't allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position.

… then bend one knee and come down pushing your butt back. Keep your spine neutral, don’t allow it to round. With a strong push through the heel, use your bent leg to push yourself back to standing position. Repeat 15x with the same leg, then switch.

 

THE GLUTE BRIDGE:

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

Glute bridge: Start laying on the floor, with your heels close to your butt.

 

 

... then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps-- it's just a dynamic up-and-down.

… then push your hips up. Way up. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, then slowly bring down and repeat. Note the hips do not rest entirely on the floor again in between reps– it’s just a dynamic up-and-down.

To finish:

- 3 sets of 1 minute planks.

Rest 30 sec. in between each

 

Plank: Don't arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

Plank: Don’t arch your back or allow your hips to collapse down.

 

Stretch.

 

And there you have a full body exercise (albeit with a bit more emphasis on lower body, which is the way I like it) that doesn’t even require any equipment. This works endurance and strength. Extra points if you use your baby, your fat cat, or any other creative prop for additional resistance.

I really don’t want to say this but I have to say it because YEAH. If you’re exercising with your baby (or your cat for that matter) use common sense and if something feels unsafe/off/too tough put the child down. Put. the child. down. But you’re smart peeps and you know this already, right? Right.

Humble Hummus– The All-Natural Way

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Ah, simple, docile, gentle hummus.

Even in all its modesty there is a reason why this Middle Eastern mix of mashed chickpeas is so famous worldwide. See, this extremely easy and dirt cheap dip is crammed protein, dietary fiber, iron and Vitamin C.

Hummus is very versatile and can be used in a number of ways: as an appetizer, a dip for veggies and flat bread, a spread on sandwiches and wraps, and on top of salads.

I’m a huge supporter of hummus being used as a staple in kids’ diets as well… it is so much better than any ranch dip they could smother their baby carrots in, my god.

This is the most basic, easy, no-nonsense all natural hummus recipe you could hope for. Of course you could use canned chickpeas, and darling, if that helps you  actually make hummus and eat it instead of a package of Oreos, then go for it! I chose to showcase here how I make it myself while cooking my own chickpeas to clear up any confusion people may have about that process. Hint: It’s actually super easy ;) Besides, like any Certified Mexican™ can tell you, there is no comparing the flavor of canned beans to that of a delicious pot of freshly cooked ones. Dreamy.

Ideally you will begin the process the night before by leaving the chickpeas to soak, though I sometimes skip this step if I happen to forget.

Also, be warned I like to cook chickpeas in big batches because once cooked they freeze beautifully and can be used in the future for new hummus batches, or soups and stews, side dishes, on salads, etc. WIN.

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All-Natural Hummus

-3 C dry chickpeas

-1 Tbs. Tahini (sesame seed butter, available in most supermarkets or health food stores)

-1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

-1/2 lime

-1 garlic clove

-sea salt, to taste

Chickpea cooking instructions:

Place the 3 C uncooked chickpeas in a large bowl and add water making sure the water covers them over by one inch, and leave soaking overnight. The following day drain the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas. Pass them to a saucepan and cover in water. Bring water to a boil.

Once it begins boiling, cover the saucepan and bring the heat down to low. Leave them cooking for about 20 minutes, always making sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate (add more if needed). Chickpeas will be cooked when they’re tender but firm, with no indications of tough or gritty centers.

There! Now you have fresh chickpeas, free of preservatives or chemicals. Yeah! Freeze the leftovers in 1 cup batches and they will be ready for next time.

To make the hummus:

Place 1 C of cooked chickpeas in the blender. Add 1 Tbs of Tahini, the juice of 1/2 lime, 1 Tbs of olive oil, 1 small garlic clove, and sea salt to taste. Blend it all into the desired consistency (add more olive oil or water from where you cooked the chickpeas if you need to make it less dense) and that. is. all.  See? Blend. Wham. You’re done.

Take a bow, baby. You did it.

Songs To Make You Move

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salsadance

Every so often my students will ask the names of songs or artists we use in class, so here you go! A list of some of the songs (new and old) with direct links to their videos in YouTube. WHO LOVES YOU?

Watch Out For This (Bumaye),  Major Lazer ft. Daddy Yankee

Dancando, Ivete Sangalo ft. Shakira

El Swing, El Gran Combo

Con To Lo Cascabeles, El Alfa

Que Viva La Vida, Wisin

Vivir Mi Vida, Marc Anthony

Dutty Love, Don Omar ft. Natti Natasha

Wrecking Ball, Katanah

Caliente, Jay Santos

E Dificil- Chorando Se Foi, Ivete Sangalo

Salsa Dura, La Excelencia

Prisioneira, Bonde Do Tigrao

Quizas, Toby Love ft. Yuridia

El Gato Boogaloo, La Sonora Carruseles

Que Bueno Baila Usted, Tito Puente

BEHOLD. The Super Soup.

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Has it really been since December that I last wrote here? All you need to know is I’m full of ideas and projects, which can only be a good thing for you, my dear reader. Alrighty then, on to business. Of the munchy kind.

“I’m too busy to eat right.”

“Hey, I’m lucky I even get to sit down and eat.”

“I just grab whatever because I’m always on a rush.”

And so on. I’ve heard it all, and dude, I’ve said it all. And you know what I say now? Bull to the shit.

Making healthier food choices can be easy– if you make it easy on yourself.

Listen, I’m no different than you and if I’m rushing to get things done and the baby has decided that she will shrill-scream to the top of her lungs lest she’s held with both arms and bounced like a human trampoline, but I’m starving and on one side there’s a salad to be chopped, assembled and dressed, and on the other side there’s a bunch of ready to eat Oreos, then fuck it and damn straight I’m stuffing those Oreos in my mouth– except I’m kissing them first for being the lifesavers they are.

Been there. Done that. Learned from it. 

It doesn’t mean I’m failing as a human being for not being able to do it all at once. It doesn’t mean my baby is a demanding tyrant who won’t let me eat. It just means I have to make things easier on myself.

What this means to me is that on the weekends, when hubs’ work load may be lighter and older sisi Anna is around to help hold the baby I go on a two hour cooking and prepping rampage. If you give it even a little bit of thought you will find a pocket of time here or there where your life situation will allow for you to do the same. And there’s no shame in asking for help. Think about it: if eating is something you have to do every single day, isn’t it worth your while to give yourself the best chance of success by using a bit of time to set up a few healthy meals? I sure think so.

And here is a recipe ideal for this purpose: a truly super soup. Full of protein and nutrition, this is a meal you won’t regret. I made a HUGE batch of it, and am I ever thankful because it has made for a healthy lunch the last three days as I’ve been squeezed for time to cook. Store it, freeze it, keep it handy. Make it easier on yourself. 

quinoa vegetable soup

The Super Soup

4 C vegetable broth

1 C uncooked quinoa

1/4 C dry lentils

1/4 C dry split peas

1/4 C cooked chickpeas (you can used canned, but what I do is I cook dry chickpeas and freeze them in batches for cases like this)

1 onion, diced

1/3 C mixed veggies (I used frozen: green beans, corn, peas and carrot mix)

salt & pepper to taste

mustard powder

dry parsley

bay leaves

cilantro for garnish

goat cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring your veggie stock to a boil and add the quinoa, lentils, split peas, and bay leaves. After 15 minutes, add the onion, chickpeas and frozen veggies. Let it all simmer together at low heat for about 10 minutes more, add salt and pepper to taste, a bit of mustard powder, and sprinkle with dry parsley. Donezo. Seriously, that’s it peeps. Just remember to remove the bay leaves when serving.

To serve you can add goat, feta or panela cheese, or skip those to keep things vegan. Do not, however, skip out on the fresh cilantro. It makes things sooooooo good.

I love this kind of soup because it’s so easily transformed into something different. Add or remove any ingredients you want. Is it too bland? Add paprika. In the mood for zing? Ginger powder! Feeling daring? Chipotle powder (or adobo, omg yum). See? Now I’m hungry all over again just thinking of the possibilities. ENJOY.