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Monthly Archives: April 2012

AWESOME PLANT PROTEIN

People are funny!  I’ve seen people eat some pretty nasty things, either on TV,  or in person, but ask them to eat a vegetable and watch the horror on their face!  Kids especially, are good at that, Hehe.  Eat a bug yes, eat broccoli and you get, ” ooooooh no way, that’s gross!!!”

I had no idea there were so many people out there as passionate about cooking and eating healthy, as I am!   This experience is quite refreshing and motivating.  Hopefully, people won’t wait till they have medical issues before they start, but even so, it’s never too late.

Its fun, to see so many different talents and tastes there are out there!  It sure  makes it  easier to think outside the box, which is what you have to do,  if you go  gluten-free .  There are so many possibilities!  Some that you see right in front of you and some that you can’t wait to create,  from just seeing a photograph or reading a recipe.  The ideas are endless, if you  have an imagination and a love for flavour.  The one thing we do share, is our love for food and the constant search for something deliciously different!

Since discovering  the  “Mighty Mung Bean”, I’ve been trying to adapt it in my home cooking.   This next recipe is a soup I make often but usually with Kidney Beans and chunks of Chicken.   If you’re not a vegetarian,  you can add the chicken for more protein and flavour.  Just follow the recipe, and before you put the lid on to cook, on low,  throw in some raw, cut up chicken and cook for the required time.   It’s that simple!

MUNG BEAN SOUP

1 cup Mung Beans, screened and rinsed 3/4 times

1 med Onion, chopped

2 cups org Celery, chopped

2 cups org Carrots, chopped  OR  1 cup org Carrots  1 cup Butternut Squash

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 1/2 cups Water or stock                          1/2 cups Tomato puree

1 tsp Turmeric                                                 1 tsp Garlic Powder

Crushed Chilies                                                Sea Salt, to taste

Olive Oil                                                              Parsley

In a small soup pot,  add Onions and Olive  Oil and turn heat to med, stir and cook till soft

Add Celery and Carrots and continue cooking for a few min

Add the Beans and stir in the Wine

Turn heat up to med high and let it come to a boil

Add the Tomato then the spices, stir and add the Water

Bring to boil, ( IF YOU ARE ADDING THE CHICKEN DO IT NOW)

Turn  heat down to low, cover and cook  for 35- 45 min (till beans are soft but not mushy)

When it’s ready to serve, drizzle with Olive Oil and throw some chopped Parsley on top.  Serve with Quinoa and dig in!  Delicious!

MY FAVOURITE SALAD

I love salads!  and this is one of my fave’s.

I put Goat Cheese and crisp up some Prosciutto in the frying pan (no oil necessary) instead of  Bacon, and throw some raw sunflower  and  pumpkin seeds in it.

 Here are the ingredients: 

Romain

cocktail Tomatoes,

Avocado,

Goat Cheese,

Prosciutto and Seeds

Olive Oil

Fresh Garlic or Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

And my special vinegar blend,

which if I told you what it is, I’d have to kill you………..Ah ha! Just joking!!!! 

I use half,  Apple Cider Vinegar and half, good quality Balsamic Vinegar

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how to put a salad together………….do I?

Until next time………………

MANGIA

HOOKED ON QUINOA

Quinoa Parfait!I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind starting my day off with this every morning!

 This is what I made for my husband for breakfast, this morning .  He was going golfing, and it’s a little chilly, actually, it’s down right freezing out there, even though the sun is shining!   I hope he dressed warm enough!  Oh well, a couple of bad shots and he’ll be peeling like a hot potato, hehehe. Anyway, this should stick to his ribs for a while!

I call it “QUINOA PARFAIT”  Have it for breakfast or dessert!

1 cup already cooked and cooled Quinoa

A handful of Walnuts

1 cup Pineapple, chopped

3/4 cup Goat Yogurt, or Cow

Org Strawberries, cut up

Org Blueberries

Real Maple Syrup, to drizzle on top

Slice off the bottom of the pineapple and then about a 1 inch thick slice, remove center and chop it up. Should be about a cup

Chop the walnuts, either by hand or blender, they don’t have to be fine

In a small bowl, blend the two together

If you are going to have this for breakfast, put some quinoa in a bowl, add the pineapple mixture, strawberries,  then, spoon some yogurt on top, garnish with blueberries and drizzle with maple syrup. YUMMM!  Lip smacking, plate licking good!

*Here’s a handy trick on  how to cut and keep your pineapple after you cut it:  Slice off the bottom end, since that’s what I notice, ripens first, then place it on a flat plate and put it in the fridge.*

You can make as much or as little as you want!  I think this would be a beautiful addition to any brunch.  Use a pretty glass bowl and layer the ingredients to make a visual statement.  Get creative with your own additions and have fun!

Don’t forget the Maple Syrup drizzle on top! 

QUINOA AND THE MIGHTY MUNG BEAN!

This is Quinoa.

It is closely related to beets and spinach, and grown primarily for its edible seeds which are perfectly balanced in amino acids, making it a complete source of protein and a great source of fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

Quinoa is gluten-free and is easy to digest.

 

 

 

IN FULL BLOOM

The Incas held this crop as sacred and considered it the Mother of all grains.  So I ask myself, why do we eat wheat?  Well, according to history and Wikipedia, during the conquest of South America, it was the Spanish colonists who looked down upon it because it was the “Indians’ food”.  The conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation and forced the Incas to grow wheat instead. 

Apparently, 2013 has been declared UN International Year of Quinoa.  Yay for Quinoa!

 

 

 I heard about Quinoa almost 20 years ago and only because my naturopath at the time suggested it as one alternative to wheat.  Well, like a lot of people, I couldn’t even get my head around something  other than wheat so I dismissed it.   There were other alternatives too like spelt and kamut which I tried, but they are not gluten-free.

I recently decided to check out Quinoa more seriously because of its high protein and fibre content. 

 What I like to do when I first try something new,  is to taste it on its own, without anything added so I can get a real sense of what it tastes like.  So, I cooked up a batch ( that was real easy, like cooking rice),  tasted it hot, then let it cool down and tasted it cold.   The first thing I thought  was…. wow, I can eat that!  It went down really easy, cold and hot.  I immediately began to think of all the things I could do with it. 

So, I am going to share with you some of the recipes I’ve made so far and will update you on the  ones I have yet to try.

First of all, Quinoa makes a fabulous cereal, hot or cold.  I’ve tried a few different ways so far with what I’ve had handy in the fridge. 

 The first time, I made it for breakfast, I didn’t have any fresh berries so I used frozen.  I put some frozen berries in a small non-stick frying pan and heated them up,  then I put my already cooked Quinoa (which I always have in the fridge now) in the pan with the berries, stirred it around and when it was all nice and warm, I put it in a bowl and topped it off with some raw sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.  It was really yummy,  I felt  great and it lasted me for hours!  Get creative!

 Simple, fast and delicious!

 This morning I made a cold cereal  by adding Almond Milk, fresh raspberries, organic strawberries and blueberries on my Quinoa and topped it off with yogurt and Hemp Hearts! YUM!!!

 

 TABBOULEH  INSPIRED  QUINOA

1 1/2  cups cooked Quinoa, cooled

3/4 cup parsley, chopped

4-6 cocktail tomatoes, cut up

2 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tbsp org olive oil

4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

 sea salt, to taste

In a bowl, combine Quinoa, parsley and green onion,  add lemon juice and toss.  Add chopped tomatoes, then garlic.  Pour on olive oil,  season with sea salt and toss well.  Let it sit for about 20 min stirring occasionally till all the flavors blend together.   Eat it for lunch, a snack or a side dish!

 

In my search for an alternate source of protein, other than meat, I found the “ALL MIGHTY MUNG BEAN”!

I bought a salad one day for lunch and I noticed there was a tiny little green, bean looking thing in it.  It  was a mung bean, of course there were many in my salad and I have to say they were quite tasty!  I wanted to learn more about this curious little bean so I googled it.  Turns out this little bean is super high in protein and fibre, vitamins and minerals etc.  I thought…………what a great marriage!  QUINOA and MUNG BEANS!

Looking for mung bean recipes on-line, to get an idea on how to use them, I discovered they are used a lot by Asian or East Indian cultures. 

I adapted this  next recipe from  a Yogi, cleanse one, I found.  Since April is a good time to cleanse the system, I thought it was and appropriate one to try.   Although the original recipe was great,  it was time-consuming and potent, so I toned it down a little and added a little Italian  into it, Hehe.  It is equally as yummy, not to take anything away from its Mother.

      MUNG BEAN STOUP, YES, STOUP

1 1/2 cups Mung Beans (screened and rinsed 3-4 times)

4 cups of  Water

1 cup ground Tomatoes

1 tbsp Coconut oil

 2 tbsp Olive oil

2 Bay Leaves

2 Basil Leaves  

2 med Onions, chopped

2 large cloves Garlic, chopped   

4 stalks org. Celery, chopped  

2 org. Carrots, chopped   

1/2 tsp ground Ginger

1 tsp crushed Red Chilies (adjust to taste)

1 heaping tsp Turmeric

1 heaping tsp Garam Masala

seeds of 5 Cardamom pods

Sea Salt to taste

2 cups of Cooked Quinoa

In a med size pot  add liquids and bring to boil.  Turn heat to med and add beans, oil and leaves, stir

Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots, stir

Add spices and salt to taste

Turn heat to low, cover and  cook  for 35 to 40 min or until beans are soft but not mushy

When cooked, add 2 cups of cooked Quinoa and stir together

Drizzle a little Olive oil on top and garnish with Parsley or a Green Vegetable

I used Baby Bok Choy and it was a nice combination.

Untill next time……………………..

MANGIA

 

” B ” FOR BEAUTIFUL NOT BORING!

Giving up gluten doesn’t mean food has to be boring!  You can create lots of delicious, visually beautiful food that’s both satisfying and easy to prepare!

 I find everyday food planning has a lot to do with what’s in your “food wardrobe” as you will.  Much like building a wardrobe, main staples like…….a little black dress, a great pair of pants, or  a jacket that can take you from casual to dressy,  it’s important to have main food staples, to build on.

Being Italian,  I’ve had to rethink the  main staple part.  No, I still eat pasta, just not wheat pasta.  I’ve found the best alternative  is “brown rice pasta”.     However,  I still try to eat less simple carbs, so most of my meals are protein based.

Once you’ve figured out what your main staples are,  you can then start building recipes based on these staples.  We eat a lot of protein, therefore I try to buy organic whenever I can.  My main staples for menu planning are chicken, lamb, beef, legumes, vegetables, then pasta.  I have had to come up with different ways to cook all of these things so I, primarily, don’t get bored!

I’m not much for having fifty million herbs and spices in my cupboard either.   I like to use what I’m familiar with and what I like, but I find the older I get the more adventurous I am in trying different things.  Especially if I read they are good for you.  My recipes reflect what I think tastes good and what I happen to have in the fridge at the time.  They have to be nutritious, beautiful to look at,  easy to make, and don’t keep me in the kitchen for hours!  I have better things to do, like EAT!

The photo above is a chicken breast recipe I came up with this summer when a friend gave me some homemade pesto.  I had just bought some fresh, mozzarella cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, so I was inspired.  hope you enjoy!

PESTO AND MOZZARELLA  STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

4 Chicken Breasts, butterflied

Pesto

Mozzarella Cheese

Toothpicks

 

 Butterfly chicken breast and open up

Spread a good amount of  pesto on both sides and add the cheese (goat cheese is also very good in this recipe)

 

 

 

Fold over and secure with toothpicks

 

 

 

 

2 tbsp Butter

1 cup Dry White Wine (one you would drink)

1 tbsp sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp Garlic powder (or 1 large clove, chopped)

Sea Salt to taste

Skillet: 

Melt butter on med heat

Add wine and turn heat to med high to bring to boil

Add sun-dried tomatoes

 

 

Place chicken breasts in liquid

Cover and turn heat to med low and simmer for 3 -4 min

Turn over and continue cooking covered for another 3- 4 min

Remove lid, turn over again and continue to cook until the liquid reduces and the cheese is oozing from the center (if the cheese is not oozing it means the chicken is not cooked in the center, in this case you may want to put the lid on for another min)

This will happen quickly, so you have to keep watch

As the chicken is getting golden from the liquid reducing, flip one more time to coat it all well.  Remove from heat.

Plate, and pour any remaining sauce on top.  Serve with your favourite steamed green vegetable.

 

My next blog will be vegetarian using Quinoa, till then……………

MANGIA!

 

 

 

GLUTEN FREE GOURMET

When I was told to give up wheat, it didn’t have the fancy title “Gluten Free”. I was just told to give it up. As difficult as you might think it is, try being in my Italian shoes. I can still remember sitting there In shock and confusion. What the heck was I supposed to eat? 
 
 
I grew up on pasta, homemade pizza and fresh-baked bread,mmmmmmm, with olive oil and fresh tomato and garlic…………oops, sorry, I had a memory.   My Mother was a fabulous cook, but pasta was a main staple and it was a sin NOT to have bread on the table at every meal.   Now that’s a lot of gluten!
 
Easter’s coming, if you’re thinking of cooking a Turkey or an oven baked Chicken, my Festive Rice Stuffing may just tickle your Gluten Free fancy!
 
 FESTIVE RICE STUFFING
 
 
 1 cup brown Basmati Rice
1/2 cup Wild Rice
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tbsp butter
Rinse and cook Rice in Chicken Stock and a tbsp of butter (instead of water, for more flavor)
Note: Do not over cook,  it will continue to cook in the bird

1/2 cup unsalted Butter
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cored
1 cup Celery, chopped
1 med Onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried Cranberries
Sea Salt
In a deep Skillet, melt butter on med low and add Celery, Onion and Apple

Saute, moving them around until they start to get soft and translucent,  3-4 min
Salt to taste
Stir in Rice and Cranberries, set aside to cool (if you are using for stuffing)
Be sure to have a taste to make sure of the desired seasoning. Perfect for a gluten-free stuffing or a beautiful side dish!
 
 ASIAN INSPIRED SOUP
 
3 cups Chicken Stock (preferably homemade)
1 large Chicken Breast,  cut into bite sized pieces 
12 med sized raw Shrimp, skin off and deveined
1 Leek, chopped and rinsed
2 baby Bok Choy, separated
8 spears of Asparagus, cut up
 
6 quart Saucepan:  Pour Stock into saucepan and bring to boil. Turn heat to med low and add Chicken, Shrimp and chopped Leek, stir and simmer covered for about 5 min.   Add Asparagus and simmer for a few more min.  Add Bok Choy, cover and remove from heat. 
Plate and serve!  Enjoy!
Serves 2-3
Do not over cook!  Vegetables will become mushy and Shrimp and Chicken will be chewy.
 
**If you need to add a starch, rice noodles, would be great in this dish! Cook them first and then add to soup.  This will also stretch it out and add to the servings.
 
 
  MANGIA!!!!!!!
 
 
 

LET’S GET STARTED!

This will be my first blog! How very exciting!
The purpose for this blog is to share with others the ups and downs of my culinary experiences, which led to my adventures in cooking and eating healthy!
Having had issues with food in the past and continue to do so if I’m not careful, I’ve come to realize whats good for me and whats not.  Just because something tastes delicious doesn’t mean my stomach will agree.  I’ve had my share of gastro-intestinal-itisses, (I know that’s not a real word, but it says it all) and a few gallbladder attacks.  One severe and many other “reminders”, shall we say, so it’s forced me to rethink the eating thing!  Fortunately I’ve been able to control my issues, with my diet!  Eating healthy can sound scary, boring and tasteless, but it can be very inspiring and challenging, in a good way!
I admit, it’s taken me years to figure this out and I’m constantly learning about healthy food, discovering new things and trying to make them fit, into my busy life. I also like to keep informed about what they are doing to our food, on every level, so I can make an informed decision of what is healthy and what is not.  Don’t get me wrong! I love food, and continue to eat things I shouldn’t, but…..I know my limits, and if I try to eat well on the whole, I feel secure enough to cheat, whenever I need to!
I would like to share my ideas and recipes with you. So…….LETS GET STARTED!

This is a smoothie I made for myself this morning. Sometimes, I just want and need to get something into my system fast and without too much effort, so I will make smoothies! What I have in the fridge usually dictates what kind I will make. I always try to keep tetra packs of Almond Milk and cans of Coconut milk in my cupboard so I have a nutritious liquid to start with.

This Smoothie was surprisingly delicious!! You would never know there was a vegetable in it, lol. and it’s a good way to get some greens into your system!

I dare you to try it! he he!

BLACKBERRIE, PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

1 cup Organic Plain Kefer (you can use plain Greek Yogurt)
1/2 cup Almond Milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup Kale (stalk removed and chopped) yes, Kale
2 tbsp Hemp Hearts
or small handful of walnuts

Blender: put your liquids in a blender, add the kale, nuts and fruit and blend until liquefied.
Pour into a glass and enjoy!

** if you use Yogurt, you may have to add more milk to loosen it up if it’s too thick**

 

 

CABBAGE CHILI

 

I call this Cabbage Chili, if you like Cabbage and you like Chili…..you’ll love my Cabbage Chili!  

This dish is great with Brown Rice on the side or on its own! 

1 lb lean ground meat (organic)
1/2 a small Cabbage, med chopped
2 med Leeks, chopped (whites only)
1 can Kidney Beans
2 cups Tomato puree
1/2 cup good White Wine
2 tsp garlic powder or chopped fresh
sea salt (to taste)
Hot Chilies
olive oil

Deep Skillet with cover :  

Brown meat on med.  Discard excessive grease.  
Rinse chopped Leeks and add to meat, stir together and add chopped Cabbage, stir.
Add Wine and bring to boil on med high,  
Add Tomato puree and bring to soft boil
Add Kidney Beans, garlic, salt and Hot Chilies
Cover and turn heat to low
Simmer for about 30 min or until Cabbage is soft

**Plate and drizzle with Olive Oil, enjoy!

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Well, that’s it for my first Blog!  Hope you enjoyed reading it and viewing my recipes.  

Thanks to my daughter Nadia and my wonderful son-in-law Derek for helping me figure out how to do this!!!

Until next time……..