Tag Archives: vegetarian

Almond Couscous And Persian Salad

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I hadn’t tried couscous until I moved to Canada and I like it because it’s a wonderful stand in for staple grains such as rice. Not in vain has it remained key to the diet of Morocco’s people, as well as in other North African countries. Make sure you get whole wheat couscous though, because like with any other grain the white version is far too refined to be recommendable. The addition of protein in the form of almonds and in combination with the Persian and green salads makes of this a full dirt cheap! meal. Alternatively, instead of almonds you can use chickpeas, cashews or black-eyes beans.

As for the Persian salad, this is one I had for the first time a year ago when an Iranian client took us to a restaurant specialized in traditional foods from his country, in Toronto. In that same place I fell in love with Basmatti rice so you can imagine it was an evening of flavorful discoveries for me. Cool and refreshing, this salad makes a perfect side dish in the hot summer months.

One thing I keep noticing over and over in my desire to eat well is that it is extremely helpful to venture out of our customs, traditions and meal preparing habits. Ethnic food offers a wide array of delicious options that have worked wonders for centuries for other civilizations, and very often they are quite easy and cheap to prepare (and if you ask me, easy, cheap and healthy are the trifecta that describes an excellent meal.)

Also –and this has to be said– when we see the global trends to discover that North America stands among the unhealthiest, largest, most inactive populations… that’s got to make things click. Something is obviously very, very wrong. Apparently today 50% of the people in the U.S. are at real risk of suffering a disease linked directly to their eating habits. That’s half the population of the entire country getting sick and/or dying just because of what they choose to put in their mouths. It’s ridiculous! I’ll pass on that thankyouverymuch, and I’ll stick to eating what people in healthier countries eat.

Almond Couscous and Persian Salad

1 C whole wheat couscous

3/4 C almonds

chopped veggies, as many as you like. I used:

Green bell pepper

Orange bell pepper

Red onion

Minced ginger root

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Turmeric, cumin, salt, cinnamon, to taste

boiling water

Green onion or cilantro, for garnish

Place the dry couscous in a glass bowl and mix in all the spices and chopped vegetables. Drizzle with the olive oil. Now add enough boiling water to cover 1 cm. over the couscous, stir a couple of times gently, cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Garnish with green onion or cilantro.

For the Persian salad you’ll need:

1 English cucumber

1 tomato

1/4 red onion

juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

Make sure the cucumber, tomato and red onion are diced very finely. Bathe in lime juice and salt to taste. It’s better if made at least 1 hour beforehand and left to chill in the fridge.

 

Thai, Japanese, Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian food… we sure have a world of flavors to discover! I’M ON IT.

 

The Perfect Hangover Breakfast. I Mean… Mexican Brunch. Yeah.

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It’s been a week of running around, fixing up the house, hosting parties, celebrating birthdays, cleaning up… and we’re not finished yet. I’m tired.

Also, I’m now officially thirty years old, which I’m sure grants me additional bitching advantages.

Even though I can’t drink, what with the baby producin’ going on in here, you can’t blame me for not thinking of those of you who can and do (you bastards), so I bring you the perfect solution for your hangover mornings. Though this is a health and fitness blog, so what I really mean to say is did you know alcohol can be a major contributing factor in trumping weight loss goals? Now you do. Hey, if I can’t enjoy a drink no one should.

Back to cooking.

Tomatoes, onion and peppers are the three staples to accompany almost any dish in Mexican cooking. This brunch isn’t the exception.

 

Use an iron skillet for additional iron in your food. That’s right, cooking in iron pots and pans increases the iron content of your yums, as explained in this article published in the Journal of Food Science. Plus iron skillets give that old time ranch, wild west, pioneer feel to your kitchen. I’m sure that enhances the flavor.

With a side of black beans an avocado this brunch is a sure powerhouse of awesomeness. Heart-protecting, fiber-giving, anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting awesomeness.

 

Mexican Brunch

2 farm eggs

1 jalapeno pepper

1 tomato

1 small onion

1/2 avocado

1 slice whole wheat bread

refried black beans

salsa

chipotle powder (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbs oil (I used coconut)

Heat the oil and saute the sliced onion and jalapeno in the skillet. After about 8 minutes, add the tomato slices. Once the veggies are cooked, crack the eggs on top of them and flavor with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the skillet if you like your yolks to cook instead of staying runny.

Toast your whole wheat bread and slice the avocado on it. Heat the beans and sprinkle with chipotle powder, if using. Take the veggies with the cooked eggs on top and pass them to your plate; cover in salsa.

 

Ideally I would have used two corn tortillas instead of the bread, but I didn’t have any at hand this time. Using corn tortillas in lieu of would also turn this into a gluten-free meal, if that’s something you need to watch.

Eat while promising yourself never to drink like that again.

 

An Exotic Korma (It’s *SO* Easy. Sshh.)

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Feeling like impressing people with a savory, enticing dish from mysterious lands? Oh you, show off you.

This is the perfect recipe to venture out of routine because it’s creamy, thick, filling and oh-so-good while remaining an extremely simple meal to prepare. And also? Way healthy, peeps.

Take a look at ginger root and try to deny that shit’s anything short of miraculous. It brings gastrointestinal relief to all sorts of ailments of the gut, including nausea and morning/ motion sickness. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory which– as we’ve discussed before– is an extremely important attribute to include in an athlete’s diet. Ginger also has immune-busting properties and promotes healthy sweating which is very helpful in fighting off colds and infection. Also, it protects against several forms of cancer, including cancer of the colon and ovaries. So, hello ginger!

And what about coconut milk and coconut oil? Read and gasp, people. I’ll tell you in a nutshell that they help ward off tons and tons of diseases and maladies, including (but not limited to) throat infections, cavities, influenza, candidiasis, athlete’s foot, osteoporosis, colitis, kidney stones, cancer, liver disease… and the list goes on and on. Very worth it, right?

So let’s get on it. Sometimes I crave texture, if that makes any sense. Like, I’ll crave something crunchy or crispy. Or I desperately want something rich and velvety without having to resort to gooploads (yes, that’s a word) of melted cheese and heavy cream. This creamy Korma is the answer to my prayers.

To be honest I have no idea how authentically Indian this meal is, which is my way of saying Indian people, please forgive me if I’m butchering a traditional meal of yours. Feel free to send me gifts of authentic Indian cookbooks, k? Don’t just stand there, educate me.

Creamy Vegetarian Korma (a.k.a. Really kickass easy to make exotique extraordinaire)

1 C basmatti rice (can use regular rice)

1 potato, diced

1 small onion, diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

1/3 C frozen peas

1 tsp ginger root, grated

2 Tbs unsalted cashews (can use unsalted peanuts)

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1 Tbs cooking oil (I used coconut)

1 C coconut milk

1/2 Tbs curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

cilantro

Cook the Basmatti rice as you would any other rice. Set aside.

Heat the oil on a skillet and cook the onions until tender, then add the garlic and ginger root; move around and lower heat so they don’t burn. Mix in the carrot, potato, cashews and red chilli flakes, flavor with salt, turmeric and curry powder. I added a tiny bit of water and covered to let the veggies cook for about 10 minutes. Once they’re done, add in the red and green peppers, peas and coconut milk and leave it at low heat for other 10 minutes. Serve over rice with cilantro on top, and enjoy!

If you’ve ever wondered if a vegetarian dish can truly leave you satisfied, try this korma. The coconut milk is so rich in dietary fiber that it really fills you up good– without that Oh God Why Did I Eat So Much Now I Want To Die feeling. Treat your exotic side today.

I Tried Thinking Of Something Less Lame Than ‘That’s A Wrap!’. But Failed.

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Some days I’m little miss overachiever and I can clean the house, prepare a meal and photograph it, study, edit entries, bake school snacks, sell items on eBay, search new music for dance class, and go to work.

And then other days…

For those days when just rolling out of bed makes me feel like I deserve a round of applause there is nothing as refreshing and comforting as fresh veggies. Because they’re ready to eat.

You don’t even have to chop them nicely. I won’t tell.

Now, I won’t insult your intelligence calling this a recipe because it isn’t; it’s more of a meal idea for times when you could be doing something way more important than cooking. Like watching Hoarders.

Also, it’s a healthy meal which means you’re totally playing the responsible adult card even when you know you have an ulterior motive called sloth. I get it. No judgment.

Just grab all and any veggies you can get your hands on and roll them up in a whole wheat wrap (mine were whole wheat and grains or something. That’s why you can see the flax seed.) I used red and yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, red onion and green onion, with a side of organic baby carrots and green salad with raw honey- ACV dressing. To your wraps you can add a yummy spread on one side so it sticks shut and doesn’t unwrap. In this case I used hummus sprinkled with paprika and cayenne, but you can also use Baba Ganouj, Tzatziki, mashed avocado, walnut sauce, etc.

Eat, feel like a champ (because it is veggies, you know) and take it easy the rest of the day. You have my permission.

Magic Fruit Cups

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No baking, no cooking, no kneading, no way to mess this up. Truly magical.

Here’s the dessert idea that takes care of the chocolate cravings without bullying your body into a wicked sugar high. Because it doesn’t have to have any.

That’s right, you can choose to be a rebel without a cause and use some semi-sweet chocolate chips, or you can step over to the dark side and use pure chocolate (maybe 75%?), which would mean your dessert would also be dairy-free.

Either way you will find a punch of flavor and sweetness from the harmonious combination of fruits with chocolate. We’ve known for a long time that chocolate and fruits mix very well (chocolate fountains, anyone?), now just kick it up a notch with this frozen, easy and portable dessert that will have you licking your fingers under the warm summer sun.

And now that I’m done using fancy words like harmonious, let me tell you this treat fucking rocks.

 

 

Chocolatey Fruit Frozen Cups

2 Tbs coconut oil (plus more if you find you need it)

1/4 C pure dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, or a combination of both

Fruits of your choosing. I used kiwi, strawberry, mango, grape, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry.

Place the coconut oil and chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 15 second increments, mixing well after every heating. Chop your fruit and line a muffin tin with paper cups.

Once the chocolate-oil mixture is melted, pour about 1 Tbs into a paper cup and add the fruit, making sure the fruit pieces touch the chocolate syrup so they ‘stick’. Please note you don’t have to fill the paper cup with chocolate– this would kind of defeat the purpose of a healthy dessert. Once you’re done preparing all the cups in your muffin tin, transfer into the freezer and allow to set for about 20 minutes.

 

The taste, the fresh coolness, the sweetness, the sound of your kid telling you this is the best dessert you’ve ever made, ever. See? Magic.

 

Food Porn

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It’s a gorgeous day outside and my daughter is off school for the day, so no recipe to share today, just some food porn.

Meet my breakfast:

 

Real food is so beautiful.

 

And, you know what? It makes you feel beautiful, too.

 

 

 

Wild and precious, indeed.

 

Are you on Pinterest? Find me there as carobl

 

Happy weekend!

 

Pack A Picnic. Like A Boss. (Three recipes)

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Last night my daughter and I went with some friends to the local beach park for an outdoor showing of The Muppets, the movie, and had a great time.

Movie-watching has little to do with fitness, but eating always has to do with health. And so I set out to find delicious yumminess to bring in lieu of movie theater candy, and judging by the obscene amount of sweetly spiced nuts I ate before we even got to the movie, I think I got it right.

And the popcorn, oh the popcorn. It has that cinema flavor without being drowned in butter, and that to me is priceless.

To top off the sweetness (and mainly to share because clearly I was in no condition to split my spicy caramel nuts with anyone) I made chocolate covered banana mini popsicles.

Let the show begin.

 

Homemade Cinema-style Popcorn

1 1/2 Tbs of Coconut oil

1 C of kernel popcorn

sea salt

This can’t get any easier: just melt the coconut oil at medium-high heat in a large pan with lid, and once hot drop in 3 kernels to see if they pop. When they do, add in the rest of the kernels making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan (you may have to split the kernels into two batches); sprinkle with sea salt. Cover and listen to the wonderful pop pop pop. When the racket slows down remove the pan from the heat to prevent burning. That’s it! Then you’ll just have to do it all over again after you wolf down the first batch in 15 seconds flat (a purely hypothetical situation. Really.)

 

Sweetly Spiced Nut Mix

2 C of mixed nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans

1/4 C turbinado sugar (raw sugar)

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs water

1 Tbs raw honey

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne

Place the nuts in a large skillet and roast them lightly at medium heat, moving them around often and making sure they don’t burn. In a small saucepan heat the honey, butter, water and turbinado sugar until it becomes like a syrup. Medium-low heat is best to prevent the sugar from burning. Add the spices to the syrup, mix it well, and drizzle all over the roasted nuts in the pan.

Once they’re all evenly covered pass them to a sheet of aluminum foil to cool down, making sure you separate them with a fork. Stop yourself from eating them all in one sitting. Seriously.

I can see how these nuts would make a great homemade house-warming or Christmas present in a pretty glass jar with a nice ribbon. See, you come here for the fitness and health but you get so much more than that. You’re welcome.

 

Chocolate Covered Banana Mini Popsicles

1/4 C of semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 Tbs coconut oil (a little bit more if you find you need it as it melts)

2 bananas, cut in 6 pieces each

Ground peanuts and/or shredded coconut (optional)

Put your 12 pieces of banana in the freezer, on wax paper, to harden. In the meanwhile, place the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a glass bowl and warm it in the microwave in 15 second increases. After every 15 seconds mix it well and heat again until completely melted.

Dip each frozen banana bit in the chocolate and then roll over the crushed peanuts or coconut, if using. Bring each piece back into the freezer to set. They’re ready after about 20 minutes. You can use popsicle sticks or even toothpicks for easier handling. Voila!

The chocolate covered bananas are typically made with a mixture of chocolate chips and Crisco (vegetable shortening), but then I learned somewhere that coconut oil works just as well because it hardens fast at low temperatures. It does work! Coconut oil beats out greasy shortening in my book any day.

I should tell you that the pictures for this post came from what is likely the fastest photo shoot this blog has ever seen. Turns out that in less than 5 minutes tiny pieces of peanuts began to mysteriously walk off the plate. Apparently ants can appreciate good food, too. I’ll take that as a compliment, you sneaky buggers.

Add an assortment of fruits and fresh veggies and you’re all set. An easy and hassle-free picnic lunch, just like I like it.

This is still junky food, so don’t get too excited making this stuff every other day. It’s way better than regular movie theater popcorn, store bought ice cream sandwiches and big manufacturer flavored nuts, but still. Food is ours to be enjoyed for sure, but it isn’t enjoyment if you eat, say, like Louis C. K does:

 

Also, I’m happy to report that my guinea pigs lovely friends seemed to quite like the goodies I made. So this means so far I have the approval of nice Canadians and ants. Your turn.