Green Apple, Green Tea Smoothie

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

Here is a healthy green smoothie that’s kids friendly packed with vitamins & minerals and they will gladly enjoy it without knowing there is spinach in it. You can make many variations of substituting other fruits in season but remember to keep it low in sugar. Berries are best as they are low in sugar and keep the milk low in fat as well. I used a tablespoon of agave and you can use that or substitute stevia or raw sugar to keep it healthy.

Chef’s notes: Stevia does not affect your blood sugar and Agave has higher sugar content but its lowGi for absorption!

green smoothie

 

Prep time 5 min                   blending time 1 min                  makes 2 smoothies

Ingredients

1 medium green apple, cored and diced

1 cup green tea (brewed earlier)

½ avocado

2 tbsp plain yogurt

2 cups milk

½ cup baby spinach leaves

1 tbsp blue agave nectar

1 tsp mint (optional)

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Divide the smoothie in two glasses and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (360 ml): Calories 260; Carb 34 g; Fibre 4 g; Fat 11 g;  Sat Fat 3g;  Protein 10 g; Sodium 135 mg; sugar 29g;  Potassium 692 mg; Calcium 228; Vitamin A 197; Vitamin C 8

 

Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes

Fighting Obesity and Diabetes in the Latin Community!  

I am excited to share the good news that I will working with a small non profit group who are part of alternative media channel for the Latin Community (Las Perlas TV) who are heading a new campaign called Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes in Toronto – where 7 Canadian-Latin American community leaders disguised as “Mexican Luchadores” (wrestlers who hide their identity behind flashy and elaborate costumes and masks) will participate in a “weight loss” competition to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks through awareness of nutritional eating habits and improvements in their lifestyle.

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Here is a link to their promo YouTube video to their kick off campaign where it’s fun and catchy and a great way to approach the topic with a culturally sensitive, positive manner.

I will be creating menus that consists of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas for the whole family. I will be posting videos, recipes and pictures of the process so you can follow our exciting campaign and spread the word to anyone who is interested in eating delicious healthy food that uses Latin ingredients and also exploring world cuisine!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasting Vegetables with Zaatar (Middel Eastern) Spices!

Roasting vegetables in the oven adds taste, saves time and you can make large quantity.  I love roasting Brussels sprouts in the oven as it has so much flavour than boiling them and you can add so much flavour by adding herbs, spices and favourite toppings like bacon and roasted nuts. The trick is once you serve roasted vegetables, your family members may never go back to boiled vegetables again. Here is a simple recipe for roasting even for picky eaters!

 Prep time 10 min                              cooking time 40 min                        serves 6

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Chef’s notes: I’ve added zaartar spice to Brussels sprouts; you can get it from any spice store or Middle Eastern store. It’s a combination of sumac, oregano/thyme and sesame seeds and it smells & taste so good and add it to any meats or vegetables. If you don’t have it, you can substitute dried oregano or Italian seasonings.

 Ingredients

 3 cups Brussels sprouts cleaned, washed and cut in half

3 tbsp canola or grape seed oil

1 tbsp zaartar spice or any dried herbs

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

 Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well with both hands
  3. In a large cookie sheet spread the sprouts mixer evenly and bake for 30 to 40 minutes
  4. Check on them often and move them around to get them roasted evenly
  5. When done, it should be crispy around the edges and moist in the middle
  6. Serve hot as a side dish

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (based on 1/2 cup): Calories 79; Carb 4 g; Fibre 2 g; Fat 7 g; Sodium 206 mg;  Potassium 171 mg

Yigandes Plaki (Bean Stew Greek Style)

Healthy Bean Stew with Vegetables, Greek Style!

My friend threw a pot luck dinner party in Greek theme and I found this recipe which is really healthy, lowGi, vegetarian and delicious – perfect for cold winter evenings as a main dish. I modified this recipe and added olives, eggplant and roasted red peppers to bring the sweet flavours of the Mediterranean area. I also used three kinds of dried beans since I couldn’t find broad beans (works great) – this recipe is great with different textures with the combination of the beans and vegetables. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as everyone in the party did, great for left over as the flavour is actually better the 2nd day.

 Prep time 20 min                              cooking time 2 hrs                           serves 8 (side dish)

Chef’s note: I used 3 kinds of beans in this recipe (kidney beans, pinto beans and navy beans). Soak dry beans with plenty of water over night or at least 8 hours and cook beans for 5 minutes and drain, and recook for no bloating or gas. IMG_5143

Ingredients

3 cups of dry beans soaked overnight or soaked 8 hours (see instruction above)

1 tsp extra light olive oil

2 small yellow onions chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 celery stocks, chopped

4 gloves of garlic, chopped

2 large bay leafs

1 large cinnamon stick

1 cup vegetable stock

1 large Italian eggplant (they are firmer)

1 can of salt reduced tomatoes and its liquid

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup olives (unpitted olives)

2 whole roasted red peppers, chopped

2 tbsp chopped thyme

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp ground black pepper

Salt for taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven in medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent and add carrots, celery for few minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf and cinnamon stick and sauté few minutes.
  2. Add beans and mix well and add stock and cover and cook for 45 minutes
  3. Add chopped tomato & its liquid, tomato paste, black pepper and mix well and cook another 30 minutes
  4. Add eggplants, red pepper, olives and mix well and add ½ cup of water if needed. Cover and cook until beans and eggplant are tender over or 30 minutes,
  5. Fold in thyme, sparsely and cook another 5 minutes and adjust taste with salt if required
  6. Serve a main dish with a side salad or as a side dish with warmed pita bread!

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (based on 1 cup): Calories 169; Carb 28 g; Fibre 8 g; Fat 3 g; Sugar 7g, Protein 9 g; Sodium 304 mg;  Potassium 717 mg

Rote Gruetze (German Red Berry Compote/Pudding)

Rote Gruetze (German Red Berry Compote/Pudding)

When I lived in Germany my friends would eat this berry compote/pudding in the summer months and fall. It’s often enjoyed solo (on its own) or eaten with waffles in Germany. People would make them or buy them by large containers and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, at least my friends did.

I love this compote/pudding for its texture as it’s velvety & thicker than compote and thinner than pudding. It also has a lovely aroma as it has citrus zest, cloves and has a delicious taste and that I enjoy it solo as well. You’ll be surprised how great it tastes and low calories and carbohydrate since its mostly berries with little sugar. I also find it fitting for Christmas with its deep red colour or for Valentine’s Day if you can get fresh fruits, why not? So here it goes, I know I can make a Rote Gruetze lover out of you! 

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Chef’s Note: Please do not use frozen berries or cherries, turns too watery and mushy!

** This recipe will yield 4 cups of compote/pudding  

 Prep time 5 min                                cooking time 20 min                        serves 16

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Ingredients

 6 cups mixed berries & cherries (I’ve included blue berries, raspberries, black berries, cranberries and cherries)

1 cup sugar

1 cup cherry or cranberry juice (use pure unsweetened juice)

1 tbsp orange zest

4 cloves

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp corn starch

5 tbsp cold water

 Method

  1. In a sauce pan mix sugar and juice until sugar is dissolved and turn the heat to medium
  2. Add fruits , zest, cloves, lemon juice and bring to a gentle boil
  3. Cook in low heat for 10 -15 minutes until cranberries have popped *Do not over mix
  4. In a small bowl mix corn starch and water and add it to the berry compote
  5. Cook another 5 minutes; the compote will thicken and do not over stir and turn off the heat
  6. The compote will thicken further
  7. Transfer compote into a sealable container and refrigerate for 24 hours
  8. Serve with waffles or ice cream or cake

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (based on ¼ cup or 60 ml ): Calories 87; Carb 22 g; Fibre 2 g; Sugar 18 g;   Vitamin C 14 g

Spanish White Bean Stew with Chorizo

Fabada – A Hearty Spanish Stew fit for the Winter!

I wanted to start the New Year with a dish from one of my favourite gastronomic countries in the world, Spain! I got married in Spain many years ago and been there almost dozen times. During the time I walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain last September, many times I was served a white bean stew with chorizo (cured Spanish sausage) called Fabada.  It comes from the province of Austurias next to Galicia where it has the coast line on Bay of Basque. Spain has a rich gastronomic history that dates back centuries ago where people traveled to certain provinces just to taste certain dishes including traveling to Burgos for their blood sausage called Morcilla - made with pork blood, rice and spices that came from Moors influence. After Christopher Columbus traveled to the new world he brought back paprika to Spain. Soon chorizo took on a different take with spices from the new world. Today Spanish chorizo can be purchased in your local supermarkets as the food scene around the world has changed, thanks to food TV shows and internet for spreading the word.

 

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I’ve seen variations of this dish either made with chorizo or clams. I fell in love with both versions as the stew made with chorizo has a smoky hearty taste due to the paprika and beef stock perfect for cold fall/winter nights sipping medium to full bodied red wines. I prefer the stew with clams for spring/summer made with chicken broth as it has a slight salty taste like the sea, perfect with sipping white wines.   

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Chef’s note:  *After soaking the beans cooking them separately  for 5 minutes, drain and using them for the recipe gives less or no gas. **I’ve also added kale to this recipe as some regions incorporates them when they are in season.

Prep time 15 min                              Cooking time 90 min                       Serves 8

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Ingredients

4 cups low salt beef stock

3 cups white beans (navy beans) soaked overnight or soaked 8 hours & cooked 5 min & drained

300g sliced chorizo or *(dry cured sausage, you’ll need to add 1 tsp paprika)

3 cups chopped, washed and drained kale

2 cups chopped yellow onions

2 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

1 large red pepper, chopped

4 gloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp grape seed oil or extra light olive oil

3 large plum tomatoes, chopped

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup red wine

1 tsp chili flakes

1 large cinnamon stick

2 bay leafs

½ tsp saffron threads (optional)

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dry thyme

1 tsp ground pepper

2 tbsp flour

Salt for tasting

Method

  1. In a small cup add saffron threads and tbsp of water and let it steep (better infusion of saffron)
  2. In a large dutch oven heat oil in medium heat and sauté the chorizo. *If you don’t have chorizo sauté dry cured sausage and add 1 tsp of smoked paprika when sautéing the onion
  3. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté few minutes and add garlic, red pepper, cinnamon, bay leafs, chili and sauté well and add cup of wine and bring to boil
  4. Add white beans and mix well and add tomatoes, tomato paste and mix well
  5. Add thyme, kale and stock and bring to a boil
  6.  Add saffron threads, ground pepper and bring it low heat
  7. Cover and cook for about 90 minutes until kale and beans are tender
  8. Add flour and mix well as it will help thicken the stew
  9. Serve hot with crusty bread
  10. Optional: * a glass of Rioja or other medium-full bodied red wine

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving = 2 cups (480 ml): Calories 375; Carb 34 g; Fibre 8 g; Fat 16 g;  Sat. F 6 g; Sugar 7 g; Protein 20 g; Sodium 780mg;  Iron 4 mg, Potassium 1165 mg; Calcium 111 mg; Vitamin C 66 mg; Vitamin A 514

Healthy Breakfast Burrito

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

This burrito is very simple and takes only few minutes to prepare and its perfect for any day! The best part of the burrito is you can take it anywhere and when you are in a rush, just wrap it and take it on the road and enjoy! So now you have no excuse to miss your breakfast so let’s get started.

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Prep time 5 min                                Cooking time 5 min                         Serves 2

Chef’s Note: Always buy a firm avocado and let it ripen in your kitchen, if you buy a ripe avocado it will be turn mushy and dark brown.

 ** Avocado is considered a superfood – even though it’s high in calories and fat – but its good fat full of folate, Vitamin E and lutein that can help protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

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Ingredients

 2 small whole grain tortillas

1 ripe avocado

2 medium eggs

6 cherry tomatoes halved

2 tbsp low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 tsp fresh herbs (optional)

Salt and pepper for taste

Method 

  1. Crack the eggs in a small bowl and whisk
  2. Spry a small frying pan with cooking oil and  heat the pan
  3. Pour the eggs and make a quick scrambled eggs by moving the edges forward with a wooden spoon until thickened to your liking
  4. On a cutting board place two tortillas down and divide the scrambled eggs between them
  5. Top each tortillas with cherry tomatoes and spoon of cottage cheese
  6. Cut the avocado with a sharp knife and twist and separate it. With a slight tap with a knife the pit will stick to the knife and remove
  7. Score inside the avocado in a diagonal pattern with a knife and scoop out each half of the avocado in each of the tortilla and sprinkle fresh herbs
  8. Season with salt and pepper if needed and wrap and secure with a took pick
  9. Or Wrap it in tin foil and take it on the go and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (based on 1 Tortilla wrap): Calories 405; Carb 38 g; Fibre 9 g; Fat 23 g;  Sat Fat 5g;  Protein 15 g; Sodium 331 mg;  Potassium 653 mg

Yogurt Parfait

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

A simple yogurt parfait with your favourite cereal, yogurt and fruit will transform your ordinary breakfast into an extraordinary breakfast. It’s so easy to prepare and portable for taking it anywhere and its kid’s friendly. With the combination of healthy carb, protein and fruits is a perfect way to rev up your body after a long night of sleep and a healthy start of a day!

 Prep time 5 min                                                        serves 2IMG_4329

 

Ingredients

 1 cup all bran bud or muesli or granola cereal

1 cup mixed fresh fruits of your choice

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

 Method

  1. In two tall serving glasses, divide the ingredients: first layer ¼ cup yogurt, followed by ¼ cup fruits, then ¼ cup of cereal of your choice, ground flax then alternate another layer with fruits on top
  2. Enjoy immediately or chill overnight

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (based on bran buds, blueberries and 2% yogurt): Calories 273; Carb 54 g; Fibre 19 g; Fat 5 g;  Sugar 26 g; Protein 13 g; Sodium 381 mg;  Potassium 815 mg

Swiss Style Bircher Muesli

Overnight Oats Muesli with fruits & nuts

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

When I lived in Germany close to Switzerland’s border during my chef training I had this style of muesli in many cafes and high end hotels and it became my favourite. This recipe was founded by Dr. Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner in Zurich early 1900’s who believed that natural ingredients “food of the sunlight” by nature was best for human health.

I made Bircher muesli all the time despite the cold months and varied the ingredients according to the season. It’s so tasty and hard to believe it’s healthy.  Similar to the traditional premade muesli you find in stores with nuts and fruits but creating your muesli with your choice of seeds, nuts and dried or fresh fruits and creating a healthier version to call your own!

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I love the portability of this muesli as it packs well where you can take it with you in the car, to the office, picnics and hikes. A healthy wholesome delicious breakfast to start your day!

 Prep time 5 min                                                Serves 6

 Chef’s Note: oats will expand after being soaked but not too much 1:1.3 ratio

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Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats (or quick oats)

½ cup sliced almonds

1 apple, graded with skin on

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup low-fat yogurt

1 cup 2% milk or milk of your choice

Method

  1. Grate the apple and add lemon juice so it doesn’t oxidize
  2. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and apple mixture mix well
  3. Transfer to a sealable container and store overnight in the fridge
  4. Divide muesli in bowls and add desired fruits or more milk or yogurt and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving = ½ cup soaked muesli, 120 ml: Calories 253; Fat 8 g; Carb 36 g; Fibre 8 g; Sugar 9 g; Protein 13 g; Potassium 461 mg; Calcium 165mg

Quinoa Porridge with dried Fruits & Pumpkin seeds

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

Quinoa has become one of the fastest health food trends behind eating whole grains – its gluten free, has protein and its delicious hot or cold. I usually make this porridge with steel cut oats but this time decided to make it gluten free, vegan and nut free. You can make the same porridge with steel cut oats, brown rice or barley or combination of all three and serve with desired milk as this breakfast is healthy wholesome delicious and perfect for a cold winter morning to start your day. It’s also suitable for people with CVD, Diabetes diet.

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Prep time 2 min                                Cooking time 20 min                       Serves 6

Chefs Note: 1 cup dry quinoa = 3 cups cooked quinoa

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Ingredients

 1 cup quinoa (soaked and washed)

2 tbsp orange zest

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 apple, graded with skin on

2 cups water

 Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small stock pot and bring it to boil and reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
  2. Serve warm porridge with almond milk or desired milk

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving = ½ cup cooked porridge, 120 ml: Calories 160; Fat 5 g; Carb 24 g; Fibre 3 g; Sugar 7g; Protein 6g; Potassium 209 mg; Calcium 17mg