Arugula Salad with Halibut, Pinto Beans & Veggies

I love salads. Especially when I just spent 14 days in Morocco eating bread with numerous meals (lots of healthy stuff happened, don't get me wrong, but bread is a staple over there). And yes, I ate the bread and yes, I liked it. And yes, I felt majorly bloated after the meal.

Anyway, here is a simple salad that will satisfy your tastebuds and also looks pretty nice on a plate. ;-) I used artichokes, avocado, pinto beans, olives, Persian cucumbers, but you can use whichever veggies you want - onions, tomatoes, carrots, or anything you fancy!

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 (or 2 meals for the single diner)

Ingredients: 2 frozen halibut fillets or of course you can use fresh (I buy from Whole Foods - open packs and let defrost overnight in the fridge) 1 T Olive oil ½ of lemon, squeezed Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package or as much as you want!) 5 chopped artichoke hearts 1/4 chopped avocado 1/4 cup pinto beans (strained and rinsed) 1 Persian cucumber or 1/4 cup chopped regular cucumber 6 small black olives (I used black turkish olives) 1 1/2 T Olive oil (for dressing) 1/2 T Balsamic vinegar (for dressing) 1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing) Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper - topper

Cooking & Chopping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put fish in a shallow dish and top with olive oil, white vinegar, and salt and pepper. Then place halibut on a cookie sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) Once the oven is preheated, place halibut into the oven. Set timer for 25 minutes and chop up your salad toppings. Check the fish in 25 minutes - it should flake with a fork.

Place arugula in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. Top with your veggies. When halibut is cooked, remove and separate halibut from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 5 ounces of halibut on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper. Put on a plate and eat up! Yum!

Greek(ish) Baked Mahi Mahi

Whenever I make mahi mahi I find it incredibly hard to find a recipe that I like and I'm not sure why this happens. With this recipe, I have solved my problem. This is my version of a Greek-style mahi mahi...if you add citrus fruit, olive oil and salt, you can make anything amazing. :) Cooking Time and Temp: 25 minutes at 425 degrees

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients: 2 wild mahi filets, (also, Whole Foods has a nice wild mahi in the freezer section) 1 t sea salt 1 t coarse ground pepper 10 chopped baby tomatoes 10 chopped black olives 1/4 chopped red onion lime juice of 1 lime 1/2 T olive oil 1/2 T white vinegar

Cooking & Chopping: Pre-heat oven to 425. Place tin foil on baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Place fish on top and rub with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Place in heated oven. Chop tomato, olive and onion and top with olive oil and vinegar.  Mix and set aside.

Cook fish for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with tomato mixture and cover lightly with foil. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer until opaque and flaky. Remove and put over your favorite veggie or grain (I like a combination of 1/8 cup brown rice and sauteed onion and bell pepper) - photo below. For the veggies, coarsely chop and sauté in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy!! Or if you want to get fancy, you can say it in Greek: καλή όρεξη

Toast for Breakfast

I usually eat a larger breakfast because I need it to last for a few hours, but if you are in a rush or simply don't want to spend 30 minutes preparing food, here are two options that make life easier. Both options are high in protein and healthy fats, so don't stress about eating carbs! #1: Toast with peanut butter or almond butter & banana Prep time: 3 minutes Serves: 1

Ingredients: 2 slices of Men's Bread  (freezer section of the health food store) or other whole wheat bread of your choice 1/2 banana, sliced 1 T peanut butter or almond butter (make sure ingredients are just the nut, and in some, salt) 1 t honey or maple syrup (organic is best) dash of cinnamon

Directions: Toast bread in the toaster. Spread with butter and top with half banana, honey and if you like, cinnamon. Take to go our enjoy at home!

#2: Toast with avocado, sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice Prep time: 5 minutes Serves: 1

Ingredients: 2 slices of Men's Bread or other whole wheat bread of your choice (freezer section of the health food store) 1/2 avocado, sliced 1 t sea salt 1 t pepper 1/2 t red pepper flakes, optional 1/4 lemon, optional

Directions: Toast bread in the toaster. Slice avocado thinly or smash (however you like it) and sprinkle salt, pepper and red pepper on top. You can also squeeze a little bit of lemon on top, which gives it a nice tang.

Homemade Granola Bars w/ Almond Butter & Banana

I was pondering what to make for my client gifts this year...I knew I wanted to make something and wanted it to be healthy—there are enough sweets and extra calories being consumed around this time of year. One of my girlfriends suggested granola...now, I don't really like granola, but it definitely does make for a nice gift. My first issue was that I have never made granola and my second issue with this choice was the packaging, so I figured I would go one step ahead in my culinary feat by doing granola bars...you know, to make it just a bit more complicated. :)

I began my search with vegan granola bars, gluten free granola bars and cacao granola bars. Lots of these recipes call for different natural sugars, which is fine and sometimes necessary for the binding of ingredients, but I finally stumbled upon a bar that had no added sugar! Score! In the meantime, I had emailed myself four different recipes and proceeded to spend over 100 dollars in ingredients that I might use. Ugh. I have enough nuts and seeds to feed myself through another Sandy blackout. I figured I would just mix and match the recipes (NOTE: not a good idea when you haven't already made the recipe). Once I got home, I realized that I was being crazy, and decided on the simple recipe I found with a base of banana and almond butter.

The bars were super easy to make and required very little culinary skills, so I recommend this for anyone who wants to make something new as a snack for you yourself, family or even as a gift. I've given out many bars so far and have heard good reviews, so I'm gonna give myself a 9/10 and say they were a success. Remember, when making your own, you can swap out the nuts, seeds and fruit and kind of play with the recipe as you see fit—I made them a bit differently the second time around and both batches turned out nicely.

RECIPE

Prep Time: 25-30 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond butter

2 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup whole almonds

3/4 cup dried apricots or mixture of dried fruit of your choice

½ T of cacao powder

½ T ground flaxseed

½ T ground cinnamon

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever you have on hand)

1 cup rolled oats

Cooking

Preheat oven to 350F. Line wide loaf tin or pyrex dish with parchment paper.

In a small pot, heat almond butter and mashed bananas on low. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.

In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds and dried fruit (I found that with both nuts and fruit in the processor, that it didn't chop up properly, so I did them separately). Transfer to a bowl. Mix in cacao, flaxseed, cinnamon, seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. Press the batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool for a couple hours before cutting into bars/squares. After about 30 minutes, I took the bars out and set on a cutting board to cool, then waited another hour or so.

PHOTOS

 

 

 

Chia Seed Pudding

The other night I was desperately searching for a dessert item in my kitchen, and unless I've purchased some raw dark chocolate from Organic Avenue, I typically don't have anything to find. I guess fruit is usually what I go for when craving sweets, but I was out of stock there, too. Then, I had an epiphany (ha ha) and remembered my chia seeds could be manipulated into something dessert-like, rather than their usual place in the smoothie. I searched online for a quick recipe and came across one that I liked, and then I changed it around a bit. Nutritional fun fact (taken from Andrew Weil's site): When added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar (less sugar cravings and longer satiation). Yay!

Benefits of Chia Seeds:

  • rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds (chia is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 in any food)
  • rich in antioxidants
  • rich in fiber and nutrients - (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber), calcium (18% daily value), phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc
  • high in omega-6
  • And...protein! :)

Ingredients

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 cups liquid of your choice - I used homemade cashew milk

1/2 T sweetener

Fruit, chopped (1/2 peach, 1/banana, 1 kiwi, or whatever you like)

2 t cinnamon

Directions:

Place chia seeds, water, and sweetener in a bowl that has an air-tight lid. Stir and cover. Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then stir again. The chia seeds will have become a gel. Put chopped fruit, a tad more sweetener and cinnamon and eat up! You can keep the pudding in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but if you use a homemade nut milk, it will only last about 5 days (from when you made the milk).

Cashew Nut Milk

I've been really into almond milk, but recently had a latte with cashew nut milk, so I thought I would switch things up a bit. The almond milk has a somewhat acidic and bitter taste (I don't sweeten it) and the cashew has a more nutty, creamy consistency, which is a nice change. Ingredients:

1 cup organic, raw cashews soaked in filtered water, overnight (8 hours) 4 cups filtered water 1 T agave or another organic sweetener (optional)

Directions: Drain liquid from the nuts and rinse a few times with filtered water. Drain again. Place in blender with 4 cups of water and blend until smooth, maybe 2 minutes. Pour into a container and you're all set! I usually do about half this amount of nuts because I don't drink it every day, so make it for yourself or share with friends; they will be impressed with your skills!

Salmon & Mixed Veggie Salad

Salads are usually part of my daily routine, but there is always a way to make each one different - try changing up the greens (spinach, arugula or mixed greens) and always mix and match the veggies. Sometimes I put beans for protein instead of seafood, but my favorite version includes salmon. Just an FYI: I would normally put avocado in this salad, but unfortunately I ran out at breakfast and the ones in my kitchen aren't ripe yet. :( Also, I like to make two servings of fish, so that I can make dinner with the leftovers; tonight I will pair the extra salmon with some quinoa and sautéed spinach with garlic.  If you're cooking for two, just double the salad ingredients and split the salmon in half. Easy!

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

Wild salmon fillet (I usually do about 10 ounces so that I get two portions)

1 T Olive oil

½ of lemon, squeezed

½ T white wine vinegar

Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package)

3 cremini mushrooms, chunked

½ large carrot, chopped

5 black olives, chopped

1 scallion, diced

¼ cup organic cheddar cheese (optional)

3/4 T Olive oil (for dressing)

1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing)

Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper - topper

Cooking & Chopping:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a cooking sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) and top with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Once the oven is preheated, place salmon into the oven. Set timer for 20 minutes and chop up your veggies. Place arugula and veggies in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. When salmon is cooked, remove and separate salmon from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 4 ounces of salmon on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper.

Eat and enjoy!

Kale Chips

This is my yummy kale chip recipe - great for kale lovers and also those who say they don’t even like kale. These are better than any chip you can buy in a store…I promise! Once you eat one, you will eat the entire plate - make a lot of you plan on sharing! Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cook for 10-15 minutes

  • Rinse kale, remove stems and dry completely in a salad spinner or dry off with paper towels; rip into 1-2 inch pieces
  • Put kale in a bowl and massage with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) - make sure it’s coated completely, but not drenched
  • Spread kale on a cookie sheet covered in foil (if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to wash the sheet) and make sure the pieces aren’t on top of each other
  • Top with your favorite seasonings! For me this includes sea salt, sesame seeds, garlic powder and brewers yeast, but play around with your favorites or just keep it simple with salt and pepper!
  • Pop it in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven - the first time you make these may be trial and error (the kale chips do burn, so watch them!)
  • Place on a plate on top of a paper towel to absorb some of the oil and enjoy right away! (if you plan to store them, wait an hour or two for them to cool off completely, and place into storage bins)
  • YUM!

Spaghetti with Chunky Tomato & Chickpea Sauce

With some simple ingredients and 30 minutes of your time, you've got yourself a whole new pasta sauce! Thank you to the April 2010 issue of the Vegetarian Times for this new recipe! You may ask yourself why this pasta sauce is new. Well, one of the key ingredients is chickpeas. Interesting, right? I typically use these suckers in salads and hummus and putting in a sauce would never have occurred to me. I guess I’m not as creative in the kitchen as I thought. Hmm. I don't know that a lot of people typically incorporate these beans in their recipes, but I love them! You'll be surprised by their nutty flavor and smooth texture—these little guys are a great addition to a tomato sauce. Also, with 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber (per one cup serving), they are really good for you! (This recipe serves 8.)

New Sauce 8 oz. (2 cups) sliced white or cremini mushrooms 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into chunks 1 large leek, white part cut into chunks 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic or more, minced (1 Tablespoon) 2 tablespoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes (try to buy a can with no added salt) 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained) 1/4 cup red wine 8 cups baby spinach leaves (you can get away with about 6 or less if you don't love spinach) 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (1/2 of a 1 pound package)

Place mushrooms, bell pepper, and leek in bowl of food processor. Pulse until ingredients are coarsely chopped. You can also just chop up the ingredients on a cutting board.

Heat oil in large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add mushroom mixture and garlic, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and wine, and season with sea salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach, and cook 3-5 minutes more, or until spinach has wilted.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Portion pasta into bowls and serve with sauce on top. You can also add about a half tablespoon of fresh parmesan to the top for flavor and presentation.

Rocket Salad with Balsamic & Agave Tofu (or Chicken)

If you're looking to find a great dinner salad or just a new recipe to try, this is the one! I start out with a bed of rocket (arugula) and top it with a combination of vegetables, avocado and nuts. You don't have to follow my toppings exactly, just use your favorite ingredients and every time the salad will get that much more exciting. Yes, a salad can be exciting (in my weird world) and I change it up each time by adding a new topping or trying a new dressing! I do, however, highly suggest using arugula, because the salad will not be the same without that key ingredient—if you must substitute, go with spinach or mixed greens. In less than 30 minutes, this flavor-filled dinner will not disappoint even the most discerning palates...even the saladphobes. I use tofu for this recipe, but I made chicken for my poultry-eating roommate and she loved it! Rocket is one of my favorite salad greens; not just because it's low in calories (just two calories per half cup serving) and high in vitamins A and C, but because of its strong, delicious flavor, compared to romaine, for example. This recipe serves two.

img01019-20100524-1944 Marinade 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes or 2, 4- to 6-ounce servings of chicken breasts 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 2 T soy sauce 1/2 T agave nectar 2 T extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves of garlic smashed A Pinch of fresh or dried Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, and Marjoram. (Feel free to use any of your favorite herbs or leave them out completely if you wish)

Salad 1 bag wild arugula salad 1/4 cup julienned carrots 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms 1/2 cup sliced (in halves) grape or cherry tomatoes Sliced red onions or scallions to taste 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 1/8 cup pine nuts 1/2 avocado cut into slices 2 servings of goat cheese (see package for serving size)

Salad Dressing 3 T olive oil 1 T balsamic vinegar 1 T agave (or honey) t sea salt

Directions Mix marinade in a shallow bowl or small tupperware and add tofu. Let sit for about an hour. In a medium-sized skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add tofu (with marinade) and sauté for about 10 minutes or to your liking. While the tofu is cooking, mix the olive oil, agave and sea salt in a small bowl. Put salad ingredients into a large bowl (leaving out the avocado and goat cheese), and toss. Put salad on two plates and add avocado, goat cheese and tofu to the top. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste and you've got yourself a gourmet salad!

Thailand / Spring Cleaning Detox

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand Three words: food, beer and food. Or maybe that’s two. Anyway, after a vacation in Thailand with two of my favorite people (Jodi and Mike), I decided that my body needed a rest.

I have done cleanses in the past, but this time I actually really enjoyed it. And Jodi joined me, so we cooked the meals together and shared the joys and pain of it all. It’s always nice to have a partner, whether it’s someone to work out with, go on a run with, or, to eat with. ☺ Having her on my side made it much easier to reach my goal: finishing the cleanse.

Why, you may ask, do I do these silly cleanses? The simple answer is: to give my body a rest from all the toxins (caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and hard to digest foods). Your digestive system, especially your liver (the body’s main detoxifier), works hard to rid your body of toxins, so every once in a while, it needs a little vacation, too! In preparation for your cleanse, try to eat fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats/cold water fish, grains, and fiber to prepare your body.

Some people experience headaches, nausea and fatigue with a detox-type diet, but I felt so energized this time…and I still feel good! My goal was accomplished!! I usually end my cleanse with somewhat unhealthy options, but after the three days, I continued eating detox-friendly foods (see after cleanse meal below)! Also, remember to give your body some exercise, but not TOO much - keep it simple with some yoga or low impact cardio just to get the body moving.

The last cleanse I did was a juice cleanse, but I wanted to eat some food so I went to back to my favorite, which was shown to me by my acupuncturist in NYC, Laura Kauffmann. If you go to her website, click on newsletter and then inner body cleanse – this will show you how to structure your cleanse, but I added and changed a couple things. She also has some great products (She Beauty) to use while cleansing; my favorite is the She Washing Grains - try them out!

During the cleanse, remember to: Eat plenty of veggies Drink lots of filtered water and herbal tea Steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, soda, red meat, sugar, flour, processed and refined foods, and anything artificial Move your body! Exfoliate daily Sweat it out in a sauna or steam room

Some people take part in the Master Cleanse, but drinking just lemon water, cayenne pepper and maple syrup doesn’t seem healthy to me, so I will probably never take part in that one. Because people swear by this cleanse, I decided to incorporate it into mine: for a pre-breakfast drink to wake up my system. You know what, that drink is really good, but after 10 (or even one day) days of just that? No, thank you.

Day 1 Pre-breakfast: Master Cleanse drink: 10oz of water with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, pinch of cayenne and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (grade B) Breakfast: steel cut oats with soy milk, cinnamon and agave Snack: strawberries and pineapple chucks Lunch: rice with zucchini and broccoli, topped with soy sauce, garlic and fresh scallions and tofu Snack: herbal tea and more strawberries and pineapple Dinner: rice with zucchini and broccoli, topped with soy sauce, garlic and fresh scallions and tofu

Day 2 Pre-breakfast: Master Cleanse drink Breakfast: steel cut oats with soy milk, cinnamon and agave Snack: one orange Lunch: brown rice with asparagus, garlic and onion, topped with fresh scallions Snack: strawberries and pineapple chunks Dinner: quinoa with kale and onion and steamed turnip with garlic

Day 3 Pre-breakfast: Master Cleanse drink with psyllium husk (natural fiber powder) Breakfast: quinoa with soy milk, cinnamon and agave Snack: strawberries and pineapple chunks Lunch: brown rice with zucchini, garlic and onion with a small piece of salmon Snack: apple Dinner: quinoa with kale and onion and steamed turnip with garlic with a 3oz piece of salmon

Day 4 (no longer on the cleanse!) Breakfast: regular oatmeal with soy milk, cinnamon and agave and a cup of green tea Snack: green juice from Trader Joes (celery, spinach, parsley, cucumber, kale, and romaine) Lunch: brown rice with soy, salmon and avocado, with a fresh carrot juice Snack: prunes and pear sauce (like apple sauce) Dinner: sashimi, edamame and vegetable roll

Warm Chicken Salad with Dijon Dressing

If you don't have a go-to dinner salad, I highly suggest you bring this one into your rotation. My friend introduced me to this about three months ago, and it's just so dang delish! If you are cooking dinner for your significant other or friends, this salad is quick, easy and satisfying and always a hit. As per the name, the main ingredient here is chicken, but if you don't eat meat you can always substitute another protein, e.g., tofu, salmon or beans. Whichever protein you use or other ingredients you add, I promise, you will love it and really, the it's all about the dressing! Yummy.

spinach

Ingredients (4 servings) 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders (make sure to purchase free range!) 2 T balsamic vinegar, enough to just coat the breast slices 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, or just eyeball it Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste 2 T 4 stems fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped

Salad 2 bags fresh spinach or arugula leaves 8 white mushrooms, sliced to your liking 8 cherry tomatoes 4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle 1 small avocado, sliced thinly 2 T goat cheese or other type of light cheese

Dressing 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball the amount, plus 1 tablespoon 1 large shallot, minced 3 rounded spoonfuls Dijon mustard 3 T balsamic vinegar

Coat chicken with balsamic, oil, seasoning and rosemary and set aside.

Put greens in a large salad bowl. Top with mushrooms, tomatoes, and scallions. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Then lightly coat saucepan with one tablespoon olive oil and sauté your minced shallots on medium low for three minutes. Remove oil and shallots from heat.

In a small bowl, combine mustard and balsamic vinegar. Stream in 2/3 cup oil slowly while whisking the dressing to emulsify it. Add warm shallots to the dressing and mix together.

Go to your salad bowl and add avocado and goat cheese. Toss together with the dressing to coat the ingredients evenly.

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken, four minutes on each side, in a single layer. Once cooked, slice breasts at an angle on your cutting board. Pile salad on to dinner plates. Top each salad with two sliced chicken tender pieces.

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

veganchoc Not only is this pudding healthy and delicious, it takes less than 10 minutes to make! I know the main ingredient sounds a bit odd, but after reading reviews on different blogs of children who love this recipe, I knew I had to give it a go.

Ingredients 1 medium-sized, ripe avocado (pitted and peeled) 3 heaping T of raw cocoa powder (use normal cocoa powder if can't find raw) 1/3 cup agave nectar 1/2 t sea salt 2 t alcohol-free vanilla extract (I found this at Trader Joe's) 1/2 t cinnamon 1/2 cup water (I probably used about a cup, but blend it first before adding more) Berries (blueberries and strawberries are my favorites!)

Put all of the ingredients into a blender until the pudding is really creamy. Use a spatula to get the little avocado pieces mixed in and add water as needed. Once the pudding has reached the desired creaminess, put some berries on top, and it's ready to eat! I put my pudding in four serving dishes and froze it (about 4 hours) for a gelato-like consistency. Then I added blueberries, cocoa powder and coconut! It was a huge hit!

http://beautiful-vegan.blogspot.com/

Pasta di Farro

For all of the pasta lovers out there, this quick and easy homemade pasta dish with farro (see About Farro below) is a healthy alternative to regular pasta. I learned about farro through my friend Alexi, who spent a couple years in Italy. Don't mind the spoon in the photo below, there were no forks in my office. ;) pasta1Ingredients ½ container of farro spaghetti (about 4oz) 3 T olive oil 6 garlic cloves chopped (garlic lovers: add more) ½ yellow onion, chopped 2 large on-the-vine tomatoes (or tomato of your choice), chopped 1 t sea salt Fresh black pepper (to taste) Red pepper flakes 1 T fresh basil or ½ T dried Fresh parmesan

Instructions Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add farro and cook according to instructions on package, about 6-8 minutes. While pasta is boiling, in a small saucepan, on low to medium heat, warm the olive oil (about 30 seconds) and add chopped garlic and onions. Saute for 3-4 minutes until garlic is browned and add the tomatoes and sea salt. Stir. Sprinkle the black pepper, red pepper and basil and bring mixture to a boil. Cook on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes or until sauce is to your desired thickness. Stir every couple of minutes to mix the flavors around. Serves 2-4, depending on your appetite. :)

About Farro Farro is an ancestor of modern wheat that closely resembles spelt, which has been grown throughout Europe for centuries. With the increasing interest in healthy and organic foods in the US, farro is starting to show up in more and more restaurants and grocery stores—I buy mine at a local Italian shop near my apartment: Rafetto's.

Farro is an unhybridized form of wheat that closely resembles spelt, but has a hearty and nutty flavor that last throughout the next day's leftovers. A great alternative for people who are sensitive to hybridized wheat, the type of gluten in farro is easily digested.

What is Spaghetti? "A long, thin form of pasta. Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning thin string or twine. The word spaghetti can be literally translated as little strings." - cubemarketplace.com

Thou Shalt Eat

oatmeal-blueberry I feel that breakfast is one of the most difficult meals of the day to accomplish. Maybe it’s due to lack of time to shop for breakfast foods; you’re in a  hurry or maybe you ate too much yesterday, but for me, if I don’t eat breakfast, come noon and I’m starved and ready to eat anything in sight. This is no good, my friends. Research shows that eating breakfast will help you to lose weight and will stimulate your metabolism – if you starve yourself, your body will then reserve that energy (slowing the metabolism), which can lead to weight gain.

Metabolism is a collection of chemical reactions that take place in the body’s cells. Basically, your metabolism converts the food you eat into the energy needed to carry out day-to-day activities, from moving to thinking to growing. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy having high energy and a clear mind for my workouts! :-)

A healthy breakfast helps to boost your metabolism, reduces cravings, while providing your body with energy – more energy means burning more calories. If you have no energy, let’s face it, your daily activities will move slower and you will burn fewer calories. Even if you ate the largest feast of your life last night, you still need to power up in am hours.

Some of my breakfast choices have come from trial and error. I understand that every person is different and you may disagree with picks, so just let your body tell you what feels good. If you are ravenous an hour after breakfast, this is one sign that you may need to rethink the meal or add more protein, which will keep you feeling fuller longer. I have listed 4 of my go-to choices – try them out and let me know how they work for you! Also, if you have some ideas for me to try, I’m all ears. Eat up!

Tip: If you’re in a hurry, stop by your local bodega (or grocery store) and grab a Fage Total Greek yogurt (120 calories, 9 grams of carbs) or if available, oatmeal (make sure it’s unsweetened) with fresh fruits.

go-lean-crunch1 1. Kashi Cereal: Heart to Heart or GOLEAN 1 cup of cereal with your choice of milk (I like Silk Soy Milk, plain) Sometimes I include half a banana (I usually bring a box of cereal and carton of milk to work on Monday and I am all set for 5 days of breakfast.)

2. Egg whites with cheese on whole wheat 2-3 egg whites 1 T feta or goat cheese Handful of fresh spinach leaves 1 piece whole wheat toast or a mini whole wheat pita

Scramble 2-3 egg whites in a bowl with some pepper or other spices to taste; spray pan lightly with olive oil cooking spray, sauté the spinach for 1-2 min or until almost wilted; pour in eggs and cook on medium heat until the eggs are almost cooked (2-3 min.); sprinkle the cheese on top and cook for about 1 more minute; then stick inside the pita or on the toast. (This may sound like a lot of time and effort for the morning, but you can even put the meal into some aluminum foil and take it to go…I promise, it’s worth it.)

3. Green Smoothie Either use my at-home recipe or go to your local juice place and try a new variety – one of my favorite combos is apple, carrot, beet and ginger.

kamut 4. Kamut* Flakes with Blueberries 1/2 cup Kamut flakes 1 cup water Agave (drizzle to taste) Cinnamon (sprinkle on top) 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) Optional: Almonds (try adding some of these for added protein)

Bring water to a boil and add the Kamut; boil for 3 minutes until all water is dissolved; pour into bowl with blueberries. Add agave and cinnamon to the top and mix ingredients.

*A rare non-hybrid grain offering the highest protein of any wheat; 100 percent whole grain.

Blueprint Cleanse: Day 3

After going to bed after midnight on Friday night, I ended up waking up on Saturday at around 11am and I was STARVING! I had an acupuncture facial at 12:30, so I gulped down my first juice and brought my second one for the road. It was 82 degrees out, so I decided to ride my bike from West Houston to East 56th Street -- about 5 miles round trip! The last real workout I had was on Thursday, the first morning of the cleanse, so when I was going up the slight hill in Midtown, it was a bit hard on the legs. After my facial, which was amazing (post to come), I was feeling a bit fatigued, but still had good energy! I have to admit that I'm a little sore from the ride. :P green-juiceBecause it was so nice outside, I was out and about all day, thus, not consuming enough water. At around 7pm, I went with a friend to Carerra, one of my favorite wine bars, and tortured myself while she indulged in some vino. As I was sitting there, I started to get really light headed and realized that I needed my last juice and lots of water. I rushed home to get my juice and then I went with her to Pepe Rosso, where I then watched her eat a delicious looking pasta dish. What was I thinking?! I guess it was a good test for me.

After dinner I had some tea with peppermint to calm down my body and then I went to bed early to finish off the cleanse. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the Blueprint Cleanse and I would recommend the 3-day cleanse to anyone who wants to give their digestive system a rest. Next time, I'm gonna go for the 5-day. Right now, I'm enjoying my first real meal: oatmeal.

Blueprint Cleanse: Day 2

Today was much less painful than I had anticipated and the juices gave me lots of energy -- I think tomorrow is going to be a breeze. The only hard part of this cleanse is that NYC is finally warm (82 degrees tomorrow), so the whole not eating/drinking thing is going to be a challenge for me with such fine conditions. The same as yesterday, my meals today consisted of 6 juices: Pineapple / Apple / Mint, Green Juice, Spicy lemonade, Green Juice, and Cashew Nut Milk. Yesterday I wasn't so much a fan of the last juice, but today I found it to be quite nice and filling. Compared with the usual detox I do (grains, fruits, & veggies), this cleanse has been great -- I'm just hoping that tomorrow doesn't surprise me with intense hunger...until then, I remain a happy juicer. Thank you, Blueprint!

Blueprint Cleanse: Day 1, Foundation

blueprintcleanse_logoI learned of Blueprint Cleanse through the recommendation of Fathalie, one of my best friends, who has done two cleanses with her boyfriend (he has done many). I usually eat fairly healthy, but I just wanted to give my body a little break from all the food and drink I consume on a daily basis. I don't think a cleanse should be a time to lose weight, but more of a time to rest your immune system and clear out the toxins. There are three choices of cleanses , so I picked the middle cleanse as my first time, since I wasn't really eating badly to begin with. As an addition to the cleanse, many people do colonics, but I don't think I'm ready for that. :) BPC says that the possible benefits of the cleanse are the following:

- Boosted immune system - Alleviates allergies - Improved thyroid dysfunction - Rests the digestive organs - Physical rejuvenation - Normalized weight - Normalized blood pressure - Reverses signs of aging - Elevates mood and sex drive - Alleviates symptoms of PMS - Promotes clear skin - Increases energy - Increases fertility - Combats viruses - Aids Fibromyalgia issues - Saves money you would have otherwise spent on “that new antibiotic"

bpc11

MENU

1. Green Juice 2. Pineapple, Apple, Mint (my favorite!) 3. Green Juice 4. Spicy lemonade 5. Green Juice 6. Cashew Nut Milk

Each juice is numbered in the order that you should consume them to digest the veggies/fruits properly. The idea is to drink one juice every two hours and leave about an hour in between juices, during which time you can drink herbal or green tea. Today I felt pretty good other than feeling cold and a little fatigued. I still had some energy and was able to accomplish tasks at work and my mind was clear. I went to they gym this morning, but for tomorrow and Saturday, I plan to take it easy and rest my muscles.

Wish me luck and please don't talk about food...especially cheese!

Wake-Up Call: The Green Smoothie

green-smoothie This high in fiber and vitamin-filled smoothie will start your day right! With only 10 minutes to prepare, this yummy (surprisingly sweet) and nutritious drink should be consumed immediately to capture all the essential veggies and fruits...and to avoid the congealed glob that happens after 30 minutes.

The recipe for this smoothie originated from my friend, Alexi, but I ended up doctoring the recipe just a little bit and haven't actually tried the original. Enjoy and make your own adjustments as needed!

Ingredients 1 C  - soy milk 1 banana 1  1/2 cup  - green kale (coarsely chopped) 1/4 C  chopped celery 1/4 C - English cucumber (with skin) 1/4 C - goji berries 2-4 - frozen strawberries 1/2 T - ginger root the juice of half a lemon drizzle of agave (to taste) 1/2 t - cayenne (optional)

Directions Fill blender with soy milk and banana in two pieces to the liquid. Add the kale (push it down to preserve space), celery, cucumber, goji berries, strawberries, ginger root, lemon and top it off with a drizzle of agave. If you are a little frightened of the cayenne, try it without to start and add gradually—I like the added kick to my drink.

A little on the nutritional value... Soy milk: manganese, magnesium & selenium Banana: fiber, potassium, B6 & C Kale: calcium, fiber, iron, A, B6 & C Cucumber: calcium, fiber, iron, A, B6 & C Celery: A, C & B6, calcium Goji berries: A, C, fiber & iron Strawberries: fiber, iron, manganese, potassium & C Ginger: magnesium, potassium & C Agave: natural sweetener Cayenne: A, B6 and C

Bean & Arugula Soup

About a year ago my friend Alexi and I found this yummerific bean soup recipe and since I have made it over 15 times. About 20 minutes to prepare and cook, this easy-breezy soup makes a great lunch for 4 days or you can cook it up as a nice dish for your friends; I usually do the former. You can also pair it with some garlic toast or even sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the top right before eating. Ingredients

2 large garlic cloves 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tbls extra virgin olive oil 1 (14- 15 oz) can stewed tomatoes 1 3/4 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth 2 (19 oz) cans canellini beans, rinsed and drained (3 cups) 1 package (4-5 links) of spicy sausage -- I like to get Tofurky Kielbasa 1/4 tsp black pepper to taste 1 (5 oz) bag baby arugula

soup1Cook garlic in 1/4 cup oil in a 3.5 to 4.5 quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring until golden, 1 to 2 min. Add sausage and saute for 2-5 minutes (refer to package for cook time). Coarsley cut up tomatoes in can with kitchen shears (I just leave them whole), then add (with juice) to garlic and sausage in oil. Stir in broth, beans, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in arugula and cook until wilted, 1.5 min. Serves 4.