Eating Healthy in Winter (with a recipe for vegan Tom Kha Soup inside, pescetarian version optional)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe adaption by Lori Jo

Soup photo is from the Vegetarian Skinny BlogSpot
Lemon Grass photo by Lori Jo

Today is the winter solstice here in Argentina which means the first day of winter for us here in South America. We all know as the weather cools our cravings for comfort foods grow. Comfort food needs to be hot, filling, and full of flavor. This article is about a lovely, spicy, aromatic, and flavorful soup of Thai origins called Tom Kha. Like most Thai or Vietnamese foods the flavors are strong and full of all the possible flavors that exist to us; sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The coconut milk also adds a creamy component which completes the sensation we crave when looking for a comfort food. Contrary to popular belief, comfort food does not have to be fried or particularly heavy to comfort you. This soup is full of healthy ingredients and sure to satisfy you even on the coldest of winter days. Another thing this soup does is cheer you up because of the zesty components and we could all use that on the shorter, darker days of winter.

Aside from being delicious, comforting and mood elevating, here are some other health promoting properties of this soup:

  • Chile boosts the immune system, burns fat and is great for clearing a stuffy nose
  • Coconut milk is high in the medium-chain fatty acids that stimulate the metabolism
  • Ginger is a pain reliever and has anti-nausea properties
  • Lemon juice works as a liver stimulant and detoxifying agent
  • More than half the medium-chain fatty-acids found in coconut milk are Lauric acid which is an immune-boosting anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial

I recommend serving this soup with a steaming hot bowl of brown jasmine rice. The jasmine rice is long grain and has a nutty and flowery aroma which is typically eaten in Thailand. The brown version is healthier because it is higher in fiber. White jasmine rice is starchy and refined and thus temporarily raises insulin and blood sugar levels.

Tom Kha – Spicy Lemongrass Soup with Coconut Milk

Tom Kha soup photo is from the Vegetarian Skinny BlogSpot

Tom Kha soup photo is from the Vegetarian Skinny BlogSpot

Some recipes call for shrimp to be added in the last minute or two of cooking. You can add this for a non-vegetarian or pescetarian version.

Pescetarian version:  Be creative here if you wish and add other shellfish that you love, like muscles, scallops or just stick with the shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 2, 13 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 inch piece of galangal, grated *
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled, and grated
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, bruised and coarsely chopped*
  • 8-10 kaffir lime leaves *
  • 1 lb. straw mushrooms, sliced*
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce or vegetarian fish sauce.  If you use fish sauce the recipe will be Pescetarian rather than vegan. If you use the vegetarian substitute then this recipe will be vegan because there are no animal products used *
  • 1-2 tsp. brown sugar (add more if you like to balance out the taste)
  • 1- 2 tsp. red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp. sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes or the fried chilies(small Thai chili peppers)  broken up into flakes with your hands or 1 fresh red chili (remove the amount of seeds you want according to taste and degree of hotness you prefer)*
  • Red chili powder to taste for medium or hot
  • Small bunch fresh cilantro, washed, rinsed, dried and chopped. Discard the lower part of the stems and roots

*A note about galangal: Galangal (galanga, blue ginger, laos) is in the ginger family and although related to ginger the taste is very different and much stronger. It tastes more like pepper and ginger combined. This is a common ingredient in Thai foods and Tom Kha Gai soup.

*Note on lemongrass: You should be able to find this in your Asian grocery store fresh or frozen. Lemongrass freezes well so check both. It also sprouts easily and is easily grown. The plants are large and beautiful and ward off mosquitoes in your garden or balcony. I have two sprouts now out on my balcony that I saved the last time I made this dish.

My sprouted lemongrass stalks that are currently growing in my balcony

My sprouted lemongrass stalks that are currently growing in my balcony

Citronella photo is from the One Kings Lane website.

Citronella photo is from the One Kings Lane website.

When buying look for stalks that are green and fresh, turning to yellow near the bulb. If they look dry or brown do not buy them because a lot of the flavor and fragrance will not be there and this is very important for your dish. After washing your stalk, remove the tough outer leaves as these parts are not what you want to use. You want the softer, fresher parts underneath. These will be pale yellow in color. Remove the bulb by cutting about two inches from the end. Don’t forget to sprout it! Now just slice thin slices going up the stalk like you would a green onion up to about 2/3 of the stalk where it starts to not be so soft and pale yellow. These greener, harder ends you want to reserve for soups and curries. In the case of this soup, go ahead and slice it up or put it in the freezer. Keep the two different parts separate so you can pick and choose what you will need for future recipes. When you have separated what you will be using, bruise and soften it up a bit with a mortar and pestle because they are very fibrous. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, toss them into a food processor and blend on high for a minute. When the lemongrass appears as fine, pale yellow and green flakes they are ready to use and soft enough (after cooking or boiling for at least 5 minutes) so your guests do not end up spitting them out.

*Note about kaffir lime leaves (makrut):  The leaves look similar to a regular lime or lemon leaf and they are used whole in cooking to add their flavor and aroma and discarded after cooking. This is unless you remove the tough spine in the middle and slice them into very thin slivers. For this soup, use the leaf whole, fold in half lengthwise and make little tears into the leaf towards the center spine. This will release all its goodness. Toss into the soup and let it cook away, releasing all it’s delicious essential oils. When the soup is done just remove and discard.

*Note about mushrooms: You can use the straw or the shitake, depending on what you can find and which you prefer. The straw is the most widely used in Thai cooking and considered the tastiest. The shitake is most widely used in Chinese cooking. If you have to use these dried, soak before cooking.

*Note about chilies: There are a variety of chilies you can use, fresh, the little dried Thai, etc. Please see below and use what you think will be best for you and your guests. Be sure and put this on the table as well if your guests have different taste preferences and they can self-adjust the hotness at the table using these as condiments.

  • Dried Whole Thai Red Chili Peppers (prikhaeng). These are an integral ingredient in Thai cooking. You can pound these chilies in a mortar and pestle to make homemade curry paste or break them up in your hands easily to add as a condiment.  Dried chilies may be deseeded, to decrease the heat, by cutting off the end at the stem crosswise, and then rolling the pod to loosen the seeds and then shaking the seeds out. In dishes calling for whole fresh chilies, when not available, substitute dried whole chilies soaked in hot water for several minutes. Store dried chilies in a tightly sealed glass container for up to one year.
  • Small fresh Thai chili peppers (prikkeenoo).  Perhaps the most famous ingredient in Thai cuisine. The translation of this means ‘mouse dropping chili’.
  • Prikcheefah is a larger-sized chili pepper and not as spicy. It means ‘chili pointing at the sky’, because the chilies grow on the bush pointing upwards. It is a less spicy chili and is often used for garnish.
  • Red pepper flakes are dried and ground Thai red chilies. Just two teaspoons are equal to 10-15 dried chilies.
  • Small, fresh red chili peppers, the common kind you find in the supermarket, really, any kind will do.

Substitutions

  • Fish sauce:  Vegetarian fish sauce bought at your health food or Vietnamese food store or golden mountain sauce (found in Thai food stores) or just soy sauce .
  • Galangal: Replace with double the amount of ginger.
  • Kaffir lime leaves:  Look for these in your local Asian food store. If you can’t find replace with 6 fresh basil leaves torn or 1/2 small bay leaf, 1/4 tsp. lime zest, and 1/8 tsp. fresh lemon thyme.
  • Lemongrass: Zest from one lemon equals 2 stalks of lemongrass.
  • Straw mushrooms: Shitake preferably and if not plain button mushrooms.
  • Thai chili peppers:  Little fresh red chilies, the kind you find in your local supermarket.

Method

  1. In a large pot, bring the coconut milk and 2 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer.
  2. Add the galangal, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir.
  3. Simmer about 10 minutes, then strain coconut milk into a clean pan.
  4. Discard the seasonings.
  5. Simmer shitake mushrooms in coconut milk for about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar.
  7. Add curry powder to taste.
  8. Ladle into serving bowls very hot.
  9. Garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes.
  10. Note: If some of your guests prefer a spicier soup, add more chili powder at that moment with the garnish or put it on the table so they can adjust the spiciness according to their personal preferences.

 

Sources:

 

Urban Biking for Health, Fitness, and Fun (with recipe for Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe by Lori J. de Bucarey

Urban Bike Lane

Urban Bike Lane

Each May is National Bike Month and May 21 is National Bike to Work Day. Although this is not May I was inspired to write an article related to all the positive reasons you should try urban biking. Some of the obvious reasons are helping the environment, saving money, physical fitness and mental fitness. Biking targets the gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, which are very important areas for a nice physique, especially the buttocks. It is also an excellent way to commute to work (or school).  Biking is a sport enjoyed just as easily alone or with family and friends. This is what makes it so versatile. You do not necessarily have to be a super jock to bike either.  There are many levels of difficulty and one only has to choose what is best for them.

More than 27 percent of Americans regularly use their bikes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Biking burns about 500 calories an hour and you can imagine the gas money it can save you. Who is not for slimming down the body and fattening up the wallet? The Bicycle Commuter Act entitles you to $20 a month to help offset expenses related to biking to work.  Ask your benefits department or human resources manager to supply vouchers from AccorServicesUSA.com. This makes a wonderful addition to any worksite wellness program.

Important tips on safety:

  • Use the interactive map on the League of American Bicyclists website and read up on your local laws for bike riders. Just like driving a car, you have to abide by the laws of the road, traffic lights, etc.
  • If possible, try riding in a group, single file and wear a bright color.
  • Be careful of car doors. These are one of the biggest dangers to watch out for, keep a distance of 3 feet between you and them.
  • Be careful at intersections where many accidents occur. You must yield to traffic that has the right of way.

Technique tips from pro triathlete Katya Meyers:

  • Adjust your seat high so when you the bike, the ball of your foot is on the ground with your knee slightly bent. The same goes when your foot is at the bottom of your petal stroke.
  • As with any exercise, keep your shoulders relaxed and low – do not tense up. Keep your elbows loose; this will keep pressure off your wrists.
  • Use this stroke technique: imagine you are scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe, then pull up and make a full circle.
  • When seated on your bike, make sure your buttocks bonesare at the back, the cushiony part of your bike seat.
  • When you are making your pedal strokes, push down and pull up both, not just one or the other. This helps you generate power 360°.
Urban Bike

Urban Bike

The best bikes for urban riding and commuting are urban or commuting bikes, which come equipped with a rear rack or basket to hold cargo if not you can easily add one later. They also have fenders, lights and frame geometry that puts your body in a comfortable, upright position.Remember always wear a helmet.Finally, a big comfortable seat will allow for a much more comfortable ride. You can add this as an extra if your bike does not come equipped with one. There are many ways to customize your bike to exactly what you want or need.

In 2008, Jennifer Lopez trained for a triathlon that included an 8-mile bike ride. She trained to help get back into shape after having twins. Well it obvious worked!

Helpful bike riding links:

One of the things I really enjoy doing with family or friends is taking a nice bike ride on the weekend that ends in the park and bringing a delicious picnic along. Below is a perfect picnic idea as they do not take up much space and will stay fresh for a reasonable amount of time.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • Slices of your favorite bread – sourdough is nice or a dark whole wheat with seeds on the top
  • Smoked salmon
  • Cream cheese with or without chives, you can use light or regular cream cheese and even add the chives yourself rather than buying with chives. Simply cut the green tops of green onions into thin slices and mix in.
  • Tomato, sliced thin, remove excess liquid or seeds so the sandwich does not get soggy
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Arugula, enough to put a few on each sandwich
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Lightly toast the bread
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil on one slice of bread while on the other spread the cream cheese
  3. On the side with the olive oil place the tomato and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper
  4. On the same side put the smoked salmon slices
  5. On top of the salmon, put arugula
  6. Close the sandwich and you are good to go. Be sure and wrap it up tight so it stays fresh. Try to use an eco-friendly food wrap if possible

Enjoy!

 

Sources:

Vegetarian Winter Feast (South America)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Some recipes modified by Lori Jo

 

Note: I am posting this because it is the first day of winter here in South America. I will re-post during the first few weeks of December for North American Readers as these dishes would be perfect for a Christmas feast.

When I entertain guests in my home, I always like to show them that food can be delicious and perfectly satisfying without meat. I live in Argentina and believe me, in this meat eating country that is not an easy feat. I think I am making progress because my guests always love what I cook and they eat every drop of food off their plates. My goal is for them to go home with the new found knowledge that vegetarian food can be just as delicious as non-vegetarian food.

I saw the dishes below while looking at the BBC Good Food website and  I noticed some of them have typical Argentine ingredients such as polenta and some are typical Argentine fare such as the tart. We also eat a lot of fig, blue cheese, and couscous here (which are in some of the other recipes below) due to the mix of nationalities here and our climate. I have a fig tree in my garden now, which is full of baby figs! As soon as they are ripe, I plan to make figs in syrup to conserve them as well as eating them fresh. I plan to enjoy lots of fig (fresh or conserved), arugula, goat cheese, and candied walnut salads. I cannot wait!

After saving my favorite recipes that I thought would be nice for a colder weather Christmas, I went through the recipes and in some of them, I changed a few things, or created my own version. Some I left as is. For the tart, I changed the white flour crust for a whole-wheat flour and olive oil version. The changes were to make them healthier or tastier (to me). Do not be afraid to play around with or adjust recipes to your liking. Here our Christmases are in summer so a Southern Hemisphere Christmas is going to have a completely different menu style.

I think that putting all these dishes together will create a wonderful Christmas feast for everybody. With one appetizer, two main dishes and two side dishes, you are bound to please everybody at your table.  Some of these dishes are heavier than the ones I usually write about but I think we all agree it is okay to splurge occasionally and especially in winter. I liked this Pâté appetizer because it uses butter beans (a type of small lima bean) and Melba toast rather than using fatty ingredients with fried accompaniments.  If you have been reading my articles, you have learned that legumes are wonderful due to their nutritional content, iron, protein, and fiber.

In closing, in addition to a healthy diet, to accomplish our mission of employee wellness at Advantage Wellness Management Inc. we also recommend the following:

  • Physical Activity
  • Stress Management
  • Self-Care and Lifestyle Disease Management

From all of us at AWMI, have a wonderful, healthy and prosperous Christmas!

Butter Bean, Lemon & Herb Pâté with Melba Toast(appetizer)

Butter Bean Pâté

Butter Bean Pâté

Ingredients

  • Butter beans , soaked overnight and rinsed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • One garlic clove, finely minced
  • One small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Powdered paprika
  • Melba toast for dipping

Method

  1. Put the butter beans, lemon juice, zest, garlic, cumin and cilantro in a processor with 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  2. Season with ground cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  3. Process until smooth or pulse for a chunkier texture
  4. Drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle with a little paprika for flavor and to add color
  5. Heat the Melba toast and serve

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart (main dish)

Fig & Blue Cheese Tart

Fig & Blue Cheese Tart

This dough recipe makes enough to line an 11- to 12-inch (28- to 30-cm) tart pan.

Olive Oil Whole Wheat Tart Crust Ingredients

(If you do not feel like making the crust buy a pre-made crust but this one is probably healthier)

  • 8.8 oz. (250 g) light whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary or thyme
  • ¼-cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • ½-cup (120 ml)  cold water
  • 100 g walnuts, chopped

Olive Oil Whole Wheat Tart Crust Method

  1. If pan does not have a nonstick coating, grease with butter
  2. Combine the flour, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork Add the water, mix with the fork until it is absorbed, then knead lightly
  3. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little flour on the ball of dough and on the rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Turn the dough by 45 degrees (a quarter of a circle) every time you roll the pin and back, adding a little more flour underneath and on the dough when it seems on the verge of becoming sticky The trick is to do this in quick, assertive gestures to avoid overworking the dough
  4. Transfer the dough carefully into the prepared pan and line it neatly. Trim the excess dough (re-roll it and cut into decorative shapes to top the tart), and place the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart Filling Ingredients

  • 3 eggs and two yolks
  • 5 oz. (150 g) butter
  • 14 oz. (400 g) shallots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to decorate
  • 7 oz. (200 ml) pot crème fraîche (this may be difficult to find but worth the effort, if you cannot find it, replace with heavy cream. Try looking near the gourmet cheeses section in your grocery store rather than near the dairy products. You may also find it in Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. As a last resort, you can find recipes to make it at home online that are simple to make.)
  • 7 oz.  (200 ml)heavy cream
  • 5 oz. (140g) blue cheese – Danish Blue is a good vegetarian one
  • 3-4 figs, halved, cut, and with the sides brushed with a little olive oil

Fig and Blue Cheese Tart Filling Method

  1. Heat oven to °400
  2. Melt butter in a large pan
  3. Add the shallots and soften for 10-15 minutes, until soft and golden
  4. Stir in the thyme for 1 minute, remove from the heat
  5. Beat the eggs in medium sized bowl along with the crème fraîche and cream
  6. Crumble in the cheese and season with freshly ground pepper and a small amount of sea salt
  7. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes (that means pre bake it a little before adding the filling)
  8. After blind baking the shell reduce the oven temperature °350
  9. Add the cooled onions to the cream mixture and pour into the crust
  10. Sit the fig halves on top, cut side up, sprinkle with some more thyme and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. The tart needs to be browning and with a slight wobble – the cheese middle will firm up after sitting
  11. Cool for about 15-20 minutes, and then remove from tin

Polenta & Goat Cheese with Sweet Honey Dressing (main dish)

Polenta & Goat Cheese with Sweet Honey Dressing

Polenta & Goat Cheese with Sweet Honey Dressing

Serves:  six

Ingredients

  • 30 oz. (850 g) squash, peeled. I like butternut squash
  • 5 medium beetroot , peeled
  • 12 shallots , soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, then peeled and halved
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves , smashed flat
  • 2 thyme and rosemary sprigs, plus 2 bay leaves, crumbled into small pieces with your hands, releasing their perfume
  • 1 knob of butter , for browning
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds , toasted

For The Spinach and Polenta

  • 3 x 8.08 oz. (250g) bags spinach
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock (you can make this suing vegetarian bouillon power or broth cube)
  • 12 oz. (350g) quick-cook polenta
  • 1.7 oz. (50g) butter
  • 3 oz. (85g) finely grated vegetarian-style Parmesan cheese (Vegetarian Italian style hard cheese because Italian Parmesan is made with animal rennet)
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg , freshly grated
  • 2 x 3.5 (100g) log of goat’s cheese – the kind with rind
  • Note: *Rennet is an enzyme that coagulates cow milk and turns it into cheese. The usual source of rennet is the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves*

Sweet Honey Dressing

  • 6 tbsp. Madeira (A Portuguese fortified wine from the Island of Madeira. If you cannot find substitute with dry sherry or red wine. It will lack the nutty flavor but it will add acidity)
  • 1-2 tsp. clear honey , to taste
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 2 tbsp. each olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra
  • Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley , roughly chopped

Method

  1. For the spinach, boil a kettle and put half the spinach into a colander. Pour over the hot water until it wilts, then cool completely under cold water. Tip into a clean tea towel, then wring out every drop of water you can. Repeat with the other half
  2. For the polenta, bring the stock to a boil in a large pan, then stir in the polenta in a fine, steady stream, so to avoid any lumps. Keep cooking for five minutes, stirring all the time, until thick. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, half of the spinach, the nutmeg and plenty of seasoning, then leave to cool for a few minutes
  3. Meanwhile, slice each cheese into three rounds. Tear off six pieces of cling film, about 30cm across, then, while the polenta is still soft, spoon a sixth onto each square. Nestle the slices of cheese on top, then draw the edges of the cling film around and twist, to make burger shaped polenta cakes with the cheese completely sealed in the middle. Cool and chill for up to 2 days
  4. Cut the squash and beetroot into finger-tip-wide chunks. Keeping the beetroot separate, put the squash, shallots, 2 tbsp. extra virgin oil and half of the garlic and herbs into a large bowl, then rub well and leave to marinate for 1 hr. Do the same with the beetroot, remaining herbs, garlic and 1 tbsp. oil
  5. Heat a small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the beetroot, herbs and garlic, for 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often until starting to color
  6. Tip into one end of a large roasting tin. Wipe out pan, then repeat with the squash and shallots in a little more butter, browning one-third at a time for five minutes, until tinged golden.
  7. Tip into the other end of the tin
  8. Heat oven to °375 (190C/170C fan/gas 5). Transfer the roasting tin to the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Cool the vegetables at room temperature at this stage then covered for up to 24 hours and crisped up in a hot oven for 15 minutes on the day
  9. After 40 minutes scatter the sesame seeds over the roasted vegetables, then tip the vegetables into a large bowl and keep warm. With the roasting tin over a low heat, splash in the Madeira, bubble it down to 2 tbsp., and then stir in the honey, balsamic, soy sauce and a little butter. Simmer until just starting to make a syrupy sauce, then stir in the olive oils. This can be made in advance and re-heated at the desired time
  10. Fifteen minutes before serving, heat a little oil and remaining butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Once sizzling, add the polenta cakes and fry on both sides for five minutes until golden. Fry in two batches and keep warm. Re-heat the remaining spinach in a pan for a few seconds, with a grating more nutmeg and a good pinch of seasoning
  11. Sit the polenta cakes on warmed plates, and top with some spinach. Stir parsley into the dressing. Toss the roasted vegetables with a few tsp. of the dressing, and then pile the vegetables on top of the polenta. Drizzle a little more dressing over and around, and then serve

Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous (side or main dish)

Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous

Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous

Serves: two as main dish or four as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash or other small squash , tops sliced off, or 1 butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out and brushed inside with olive oil
  • 1 teacup couscous soaked in 1 teacup of boiling water with a few saffron threads
  • 4 tbsp. pistachios
  • 3 tbsp. parsley , chopped
  • 1 tsp. harissa, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 tsp. ras-el-hanout (optional) available from seasonedpioneers.co.uk
  • Butter , melted to serve
  • 2 tbsp. dried sour cherries or dried cranberries
  • Pomegranate molasses (optional) available from Middle Eastern shops or Sainsbury’s Special Selection

Method

  1. Heat the oven to °350 (200C/fan 180C/gas 6). Roast the squash for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, stuff the squash and bake for a further 10 minutes
  2. Serve with extra melted butter and pomegranate molasses (if using) spooned over

Tip

Make ahead up to the stuffing stage then bake for 30 minutes to heat through

Pea, Tarragon, and Cream Cheese Pithivier (side dish)

Pea, Tarragon, and Cream Cheese Pithivier

Pea, Tarragon, and Cream Cheese Pithivier

Serves:  two

Ingredients

  • 1 onion , finely chopped and cooked in a knob of butter until soft
  • 5.3 oz. (150 g) frozen peas , defrosted
  • 4.4 oz. (125 g) cream cheese , beaten until soft
  • Small bunch fresh tarragon(estragon in Spanish),chopped
  • ½ lemon , zested
  • Handful fresh, flat leafed parsley , chopped
  • 17.6 oz. (500 g) pack puff pastry , rolled out and cut into 2 x 14 cm circles and 2 x 16 cm circles
  • 1 egg , beaten

Method

  1. Heat the oven to °390 (200C/fan 180C/gas 6). Mix all the ingredients together except the pastry and egg
  2. Lay the two smaller pastry circles out on a baking sheet and heap the filling in the middle, brush around the edges with egg and lay the bigger circles on top. Press the edges together with a fork, score a pattern on the top and brush with egg
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden

¡Buen provecho!

 

Sources:

  • “Butter bean, lemon & herb pâté with melba toast”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web.  November, 2006.
  •  “Butter bean, lemon & herb pâté with melba toast”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web.  November, 2006.
  • “Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust”. Chocolate&Zucchini. ClotildeDusoulier. Web. May 26, 2009.
  •  “Pea Tarragon and Cream Cheese Pithivier”. Olive Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web.  December, 2007.
  • “Polenta & goat’s cheese stacks“. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web.  January, 2010.
  • “Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web.  November, 2006.
  • Sarah Cook. “Fig & Blue Cheese Tart”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. n.d. Web.  December, 2007.

Raw Foods Trend (with recipe for Savory Mixed Salad with Pesto inside)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe by Lori Jo

Photos by Lori Jo

 

I have noticed a big trend towards various health food eating styles.  If you read blogs, surf the Internet, read health or fashion magazines or even play around in Pinterest you cannot help but notice this.  One of the most fascinating health trends is the raw (or living) foods movement.  They say you are what you eat and in this case, raw foods have a very strong case because you are eating pure living energy*.  They say after eating raw for a while your complexion takes on a healthy glow and this they call “the raw food glow”.I first noticed this glow on a fashion model during an interview while shopping in an organic food market. She was buying fresh fruits and vegetables and echoed the familiar adage to the interviewer “you are what you eat.” She added that if you eat big greasy fries, then that is what will show on the outside.  She was a perfect example of health and vitality, the result of living a healthy lifestyle. Her diet was primarily a diet of raw living foods she said.

The most important health aspect of eating raw or living foods is the enzyme preservation.  Enzymes help you digest food and act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in your body.  Cooking foods above 118° destroys their natural enzymes, which forces our bodies to generate the necessary enzymes to digest them.  Your body cannot produce the perfect enzyme mix that are naturallypresent in uncooked food which results in partially digested fats, proteins, and starches that can clog your body’s digestive track and arteries.  Raw foods experts believe that eating cooked foods depletes our finite enzyme reserve, which means that in old age you will have only one-thirteenth the enzyme activity level that you had when you were 18.

Raw food preparation includes techniques such as juicing, blending and dehydrating.There are two juicing methods, squeezing as you would oranges, or for extracting juice from vegetables such as carrots and beets in a juicing machine. The juicing machine will extract the juice, leaving the tough fibers behind in the filter. You will need a juicing machine for things like carrots, etc. Blending is for making salsas and sauces, which requires a food processor or blender. Dehydration is for making dried fruits and crunchy crackers, chips and bread-type items without cooking.  A dehydrator will remove the water but the food enzymes stay intact.

The only drawback when eating raw is it is more expensive and more time consuming, but the payoff makes it well worth it.  When eating raw, the foods must be seasonal, very fresh, and organic and of course thoroughly cleaned, rinsed and dried. As always, wash your hands thoroughly before touching any food and use a clean cutting board. If you want to clean your vegetables extra well use a little white vinegar in the water, this will help remove dirt, dust, wax, and some bacteria.

There has been some concern regarding e. coli after an outbreak in Germany caused by contaminated raw sprouts. The e. coli bacteria should always be considered prior to raw food use.  Washing will not get rid of the e. coli bacteria, only cooking will. The foods listed as high risk are as follows: undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized (raw) milk and juice, soft cheeses made from raw milk, and raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts). If you have a weakened immune system, you may want to consult with a doctor regarding raw foods.The decision on whether to include raw meat or fish into a raw food diet is a personal one. Some raw food purists say no and some are more relaxed.  As always, with raw meat and fish, one has to be very careful of parasites and taking care in how the food is prepared, cured and served.

Nuts and can be germinated or soaked before eating; again, it all depends on the person, the recipe and their raw foods beliefs. Soaking helps to stimulate germination and bring the seed to life, makes it easier to digest and increases its available energy.  This method can also enhance flavor or texture.  If you chose to soak your raw food, soak them in water a few hours or overnight before using.

I got inspired a few years ago when I ate at my first raw restaurant and had raw pizza, salad and a bit of my husband’s lasagna.  It was extremely delicious and tasty, and I did not miss the lactose products at all. The salad was so delicious and satisfying I will use it as inspiration for the salad below. I do not eat 100% raw but I have increased my raw food consumption considerably and I always feel great and look great after eating this way.

Savory Mixed Salad with Pesto

Serves:  four

Ingredients

  • 1 handful Escarole lettuce (if you cannot find it chose whatever organic, fresh, in season lettuce mix you want to use), cleaned, dried and torn up in bite sided pieces
  • 1 handful Arugula
  • Purple cabbage, sliced very thinly
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • ½ tomato, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 5 sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup blonde raisons
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 handful basil leaves, cleaned and dried
  • 2 handful walnuts or pine nuts
  • Extra virgin olive oil, enough for the vinaigrette and the pesto
  • 2 large garlic clove, chopped finely
  • Juice of 1 lemon, remove a little of the zest from the skin first and set aside, you will add both to the pesto.
  • Apple cider vinegar for the vinaigrette
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, add this to the pesto, to the salad after as well as the vinaigrette

Pesto

If you have been reading my previous articles there was one recipe called, Lemon Pesto Salmon.  This pesto is the same but we will not toast the nuts and we will not use cheese in the pesto sauce.

Pesto:

  • In a food processor, process together the garlic, basil, nuts, olive oil, lemon and lemon zest with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper and process until it is roughly processed.  You don’t want to pulverize it – leave a little texture.  If it’s too thick, add more olive oil or even more lemon juice if you like it super lemony

Vinaigrette

For salad dressings, I like to use the Jamie Oliver method with his jam jar dressings.  Use an old jam jar and the following proportions.  This is a classic one because the salad has a lot of flavors going on. But free to experiment with other salads and have fun!  You can add honey or mustard or even fruit, there are so many variations on the classic vinaigrette.

  • 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 part vinegar or lemon juice (use whatever you have on hand or prefer)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Shake

Method

  1. All you have to do to prepare is put all the ingredients into a large, non-metallic bowl.
  2. Take the pesto out with a spoon and dab dollops of it in various places over the top and mix gently
  3. Garnish with the seeds and a little of the shredded cheese
  4. Drizzle the dressing on top
  5. Add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  6. Mix one last time and serve immediately, fresh and cool

*DISCLAIMER:  The author’s is expressing the value of these foods based on current and historical studies.  All caution should be taken to fully clean food before intake.  Any medical problems should be discussed with your physician prior to eating raw food.

Raw Foods Salad

Raw Foods Salad

Sources:

Fighting the Winter Blues (With a recipe for Light and Easy Vegetarian Chipotle Bean Burritos and Guacamole, gluten free and vegan versions included)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe adaption’s, and recipes, by Lori Jo

 

Here in Argentine, the southern hemisphere, winter will be here any day now. That usually means the coming of the winter blues. I think we all get it in one form or another but usually by the start of winter, we are all a little blue and ready to get winter over with and by the end of winter we are feeling pretty bad and ready for spring. I know for me it hits hard. I am not one for cold weather, short days, grayness and being inside so much because it really dampens my mood.  The formal name for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder, better known as S.A.D., and some people suffer great depressions because of this. This article covers some of the ways to deal with S.A.D. or the end of winter blues and at the end of the article is a very cheerful recipe for chipotle burritos that are healthy and light and contain healthy carbohydrates which are recommended in cases of S.A.D. to boost your energy level and mood. Besides, Mexican food always reminds me of summer, fun, and vacations!

Fewer daylight hours are the cause of S.A.D. and the percentage of people affected grows the farther they are away from the equator. The reason for this is linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain due to shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight. The sleep inducing hormone melatonin may also be linked to S.A.D. because it is produced at night and the longer hours of darkness cause more of this hormone to be produced.   Increased melatonin causes sleepiness and low energy, which is typical in cases of S.A.D. Another way in which reduced sunlight can affect you is with a reduced level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which effects mood. In the northern hemisphere, January and February are the most difficult months for sufferers of S.A.D.

The symptoms of S.A.D. are the following:

  • Cravings for carbohydrates
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight gain

The problem with S.A.D. is there are no medical tests for this. The only way to make a diagnosis is through a complete medical history and part of this is the elimination of any possible physical causes. This may or may not include medical tests.  Some possible medical conditions that may present similar symptoms include underactive thyroid, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis and/or other viral infections. So, if you feel you may have S.A.D. please consult with a medical professional to rule out other possibilities.

There are numerous ways to help reduce S.A.D.  Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the following treatments:

  • A well balanced diet
  • B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6
  • Daily aerobic exercise (his preferred treatment)
  • Fish oil. Recent studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy emotional balance
  • Light boxes
  • Moving closer to the equator
  • SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine). Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach
  • St. John’s Wort (Do not use St. John’s Wort if you are taking any of following medications:  anti-retrovirals, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. St. John’s Wort can alter the metabolism of numerous medications; ask your physician before combining the herb with prescription medications)
  • Vitamin D supplements (Since it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is D-deficient, Dr. Weil recommends that everyone take a daily supplement of 2,000 IU but notes that higher doses of vitamin D may be needed to effectively treat SAD)

 Light and Easy Vegetarian Chipotle Bean Burritos

(With or without guacamole)

Chipotle Burrito photo is from the My Recipes website.

Chipotle Burrito photo is from the My Recipes website.

Serves 6 depending on the size of the tortillas you use. If you like guacamole, you can serve this with guacamole inside.  Below is a list of avocados that are available in late winter and or year round.

  • Fuerte (November to March)
  • Gwen (January to September)
  • Hass (year-round)
  • Pinkerton (early winter to spring)
  • Pinkerton (winter)
  • Zutano (October to February)

Guacamole is healthy, creamy and delicious. Because it is rich in Omega-3 it is very healthy for your heart and it will help you achieve beautiful, glowing skin and hair. The high folic acid content is great for metabolizing proteins, thus providing you with more energy. It is also filled with vitamin B6 and potassium which help regulate women’s thyroid glands. Guacamole is also raw which means the nutritional content is natural and pure, without being reduced from cooking or processing.

Ingredients for the Guacamole

  • 1 ripe avocado, skinned, stone removed, mashed
  • ½ lime, zest and juice
  •  ½ tomato, seeds removed, cubed
  • ¼ red onion, peeled, finely chopped
  •  1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (if you cannot find cilantro, use flat leaf parsley, save a little for garnish)
  •  A few drops Tobasco or hot chili sauce (if you cannot find, use fresh chili)
  •  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Guacamole

Guacamole photo is from the Clean Eating Chelsey Blog

Guacamole photo is from the Clean Eating Chelsey Blog

Method for the Guacamole

  • Mix all ingredients together in a nonmetallic bowl and serve immediately, you can leave it chunky or make it creamier, however you like.
  • Sprinkle powdered paprika or cayenne pepper on top, a little of the cilantro you set aside for garnish and then drizzle a little olive oil. This is now ready to add to the burritos or put on the table as a dip for chips, toasted pita bread, or whatever you choose

Note: Avocados oxidize rapidly and turn brown so make and serve the guacamole immediately before eating.  Aside from flavor, this is one of the reasons lime juice is in the guacamole. You can also put the avocado seed into the bowl with the guacamole it and this will help it from turning brown so fast, a tip my colleague Stephanie shared with me that her late aunt gave her. She made amazing Mexican food!

Ingredients for the Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo photo is from the Spark Recipes website.

Pico de Gallo photo is from the Spark Recipes website.

  • 1 ½ large tomato diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro
  • Juice of ¼ to ½ lemon (add according to consistency)
  • 1 green jalapeno chili
  • ¼ tsp. minced garlic
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Method for the Pico de Gallo

  1. Wash tomatoes and cilantro
  2. Dice tomatoes and onions, chop cilantro and jalapenos, and mince the garlic
  3. Put all the ingredients in a bowl
  4. Add garlic, lemon juice and the salt and pepper to taste, mix and set aside

Ingredients for the Burritos

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained or wash and soak the dried beans the night before and cook these
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (same as above)
  • 3 tbsp. fresh pico de gallo
  • 6 reduced-fat flour or whole wheat tortillas*
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat or regular cheddar cheese or cheddar and white cheese blend
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (about 3)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 6 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 6 tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 6 tbsp. light or regular sour cream

*If you are looking for a gluten free version replace the flour tortillas with corn but make them as tacos since the tortilla is too small to wrap. I think a large corn tortilla would fall apart and this is why you never see them.

Note:  For a vegan version, use a non-dairy vegan sour cream and cheese replacement or just eat them without.

Method for the Burritos

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chili powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork
  2. Warm tortillas according to package directions
  3. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla
  4. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tbsp. cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tbsp. green onions, 1 tbsp. red onions, 1 tbsp. sour cream, and 1 tbsp. guacamole (if using); roll up and serve

Smile and enjoy with family and friends! Salud!

 

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