Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quick 10 minute lunch

Quick 10 minute lunch...

Open refrigerator. Zucchini. Carrots. Red cabbage. Red bell pepper.

Chop: the smaller the chop, the faster the cook.

Sauté pan. Extra virgin olive oil.

Chopped red bell pepper red cabbage, carrots, zucchini.

Lemon juice. Smoked sea salt. Cayenne pepper.

TASTE!

Cook 5 minutes. Stir.

Second sauté pan. Extra Virgin Olive oil.

Crack an organic egg. Careful.

Medium heat. Slow. Patience. Passion.

Sunny-side up. 3-4 minutes.

Remove off heat. Cut with a ring mold.

Plate. Pile veggies. Top with egg. Sprinkle with hemp seeds.

Dot with balsamic vinaigrette.

Live it. Love it.

Joy of cooking.

Love y'all! 

Zucchini pasta


Zucchini pasta

Fresh, healthy, vibrant in color… one way to create a "faux" pasta is through your own creativity and ingenuity.

Zucchini: stage left. Sharp chef's knife: stage right.

#dual

As I recently demonstrated with the peeling of a carrot, use the same technique in order to make thick zucchini "ribbons." In order to create more of a "spaghetti," simply cut thin strips from the long ribbons. Easy as pie.

In terms of flavors… keep it fresh. "Summer is here!" beckons our swimsuits. "Keep me healthy!" chimes in our hearts. "Don't abandon my palate!" pleads our mouths. When trying to do TOO much, cuisine transforms from "organized chaos," into absolute pandaemonium.

1 shallot - small dice
1 large zucchini - peel into ribbons, then cut into "spaghetti"
1/4 cup roasted cashews
1 bunch fresh basil
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
Smoked sea salt - to taste
Cayenne pepper - pinch
2 tsp Cajun seasoning - I used "Smack Yo Mamma"

Begin by sautéing diced shallots in almond oil on a sauté pan. Allow the shallot to "sweat" for about 5 minutes (until translucent and no longer crunchy. At this point, I added the zucchini, lemon juice and white wine, as well as cayenne pepper and cajun seasoning. I allowed all of the liquid to reduce (until dry). At this point, the zucchini was cooked (it should be slightly al dente - so a "bite" or small "crunch"). A sprinkle of smoked sea salt, then removed the dish from the heat. After cooking, I added the roasted cashews, fresh basil and pomegranate seeds.

Brilliant as a side-dish to a plethora of proteins or eggs… you may even choose to scoop up the "pasta" and carefully wrap in a fresh pita or wrap. Whatever tickles your fancy. But definitely one manner of incorporating more vegetables into your diet, without you even knowing!

#mindblown #thatjusthappened

"Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food." -Mary Catherine Bateson

Love y'all dearly! 
 

Veggie Noddles


Veggie Noddles

Excuse me? Would you like to try that again?

Ok... As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of juicing. Ergo, a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables litter my refrigerator, creating their own cascading rainbow of vibrant colors.

So allowing that creative mind to shine... one can easily throw vegetables into a sauté pan, cook and pile onto a plate. From a health point of view, I applaud you for choosing healthy food and actually cooking! It is my job to teach you not only technique, but presentation as well! The ART of cuisine.

Enter... a peeler. Small, often tossed in the drawer and forgotten... except when peeling the occasional carrot or potato. But when given the chance... can create gorgeous food. I simply peeled away the outer peel of the carrot (and discarded), then carefully "peeled" thin ribbons (essentially noodles). I peeled noodles for both carrots and zucchini.

Quick lunch... chopped asparagus, veggies noodles, chives, red bell pepper and purple cabbage... into a sauté pan with extra virgin olive oil. To season, I simply sprinkled with smoked sea salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, drizzle of lemon juice and dried oregano. Since the veggies were all cut small, they cooked quickly (only a few minutes). To compliment the dish, I cracked an organic egg on a medium-warm sauté pan... and allowed to cook slowly. After the egg white was a vibrant white and the yolk was a beaming yellow, I removed the sauté pan from the heat and allowed to cool slightly. Using a ring mold (you can also use cookie cutters - get your children involved in order to cut fun shapes!), I simply created a perfectly round sunny-side up. Using a spatula, I simply plated the veggies on the center of the white plate (building up volume by making a large pile), then slip the egg atop the veggie-mound. A sprinkle of hemp-seeds added a slight crunch, as well as drizzle of balsamic and final edible flower.

#suchagirl #foodart

A side of gluten-free bread and glass of freshly squeezed kale/spinach/cucumber/ginger juice... heaven.

"When baking follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste." - Laiko Bahrs

Love y'all dearly!! 
 

Grand Livre de Cuisine

So incredibly thankful for my gift of cuisine from a dear friend who lives in Monaco! "To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible!" Merci vraiment, Thierry! C'est magnifique... J'adore apprender tous les jours! 

Tomatillos


Tomate Verde. Tomatillos. Green tomatoes.

Tomatillos are actually related to the tomato family, growing everywhere in the Western Hemisphere - specifically common in Texas gardens.

#dontmess

How are they different from the "common tomato?" The inside of the green skin is white and "meatier" than a tomato. They actually grow to maturity inside of a thin husk; however, said husk is inedible and should be discarded. Choose small tomatillos when purchasing, as they are sweeter than their larger counterparts.

Quick, Healthy Tomatillo Salsa:
1 pound fresh tomatillos
1 large red onion - diced into small chunks
3 garlic cloves
2 bunches cilantro (I love cilantro, so I common use more than most!) - remove seeds and discard stems
1/2 jalapeño - if you want to to be spicy, then use the seeds; discard the seeds for a more mild salsa
1/2 lime juice
1/2 lemon juice
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper

First, remove the husks from the tomatillos and allow them to soak in cool water, until they are no longer sticky (just a few minutes). Chop into quarters, then place in a food processor. Add the onion, garlic, lemon and lime juice... pulse until smooth. Add the cilantro and jalapeño and pulse again until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and season with salt and cayenne pepper (remember - cayenne is powerful - a little goes a long way!)

At this point, you can do one of two things... either place in the refrigerator in order to cool, or place in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to a simmer and place a lid atop the sauce pan. Allow to reduce - so the salsa will thicken (most of the liquid will "boil off"). Allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, then cool. Place in the refrigerator in order to thicken even more.

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week. If refrigerated, taste before serving (you may have to add more salt after a few days).

I love adding salsa to eggs and toast. One of my favorite breads that I have found recently is a gluten-free bread by udi's. Millet-Chia bread is packed with ancient grains and has a "hearty" texture... as bread should! I prefer this bread, as it does not "taste" like gluten-free.

#partyinyourmouth

Toast, tomatillo salsa and sunny-side egg. Basic, easy-to-do... you got this!

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked."
-Bernard Meltzer

Love y'all dearly!! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Black Cod and... Chocolate?!

Black Cod and... Chocolate?!

What?!

Sometimes that sweet/savory combination just works... it may "seem" impossible... but the unlikely pairing enhances flavors on the palate.

Work with me here...

I had some extra quinoa - loaded with fresh vegetables - that I made a few days ago. In order to boost the protein level, I decided to sauté black cod. Ok... quinoa with veggies and fish. Nothing eccentric or exotic about that.

Dark chocolate is often added to red-wine reductions in order to create a slightly bitter, but necessary, flavor element. I had a small dark chocolate bar in my refrigerator - near the quinoa - and I figured... well... why not? I'll never know unless I try! So after sautéing the fish, I lightly grated a few thin strips of dark chocolate to "decorate" the top of the black cod (with a paprika-cayenne crust). A few toasted filberts (fancy name for hazelnuts) added a much needed crunch to the dish.

Why "filberts?" The feast day of St. Philbert, a French saint, falls on August 20th - which is the peak harvest time for hazelnuts (traditionally mature in late August). Thus - people started applying the saint's name to the nuts that were in season on his feast day. And now you know... the rest of the story.

#paulharvey

Why did the dark chocolate work? The 80% cacao provided enough bitterness to be a perfect compliment to the paprika/cayenne black cod. The final touch, to essential "marry" the entire dish together? Reduced balsamic vinaigrette. This mild sweetness provided that "wow" factor that allowed the palate to crave more.

You never know in the kitchen... much less, in life! Sometimes the most "uncommon" or "unrealistic" situations/pairings can actually... work. Not only work, but be brilliant.

Allow yourself to shine. Take chances, learn from your past... embrace your beautiful, God-made spirit. You can do anything that you set your mind to.

Love y'all dearly!! 

Sunny-side Up Egg

Sunny-side up eggs

First of all... have always loved the name.

Second... the brilliance lies within the yolk. Now granted, yes - too many yolks and you will boost your cholesterol in spades. However, an occasional yolk every now and again will not do your body harm.

When cooking sunny-side up eggs, I will generally only use a medium-heat. Why? The egg white portion of an egg cooks incredibly quickly. If on a high-heat, the egg white will cook immediately, leaving the yolk completely raw.

Gooey mess.

More often than not, I will drizzle a small amount of olive oil on a sauté pan, then gently smear it around the bottom of the pan with a paper towel... leaving enough of the oil to prevent the egg from stcking to the bottom. On a medium heat, carefully crack the egg and allow to gently flow from the shell to the pan. At this point, your job is almost finished. Simply allow the egg to cook slowly. You will see the egg white turn from translucent to a bright white - as well as the yolk begin to firm and radiate a vibrant yellow. The egg will be ready only after a few mintutes. If you carefully shake the sauté pan, the yolk will wiggle, but remain in tact. You may then remove the sauté pan off the heat, while keeping the egg on the pan (it is still cooking from the "carry-over" heat - until you are ready to plate.

A brilliant combination? I had some left-over split pea soup that I warmed on the stove. Because I kept the consistency quite thick, it was easy to plate as a "sauce" because it kept its shape on the plate. I also added fresh avocado, green onions, left-carrot/caramazled onions and a slice of gluten-free bread... and edible flowers...

#shocker

Back to the egg yolk... the first incision of the fork and knife allow the yolk to cascade a natural "sauce" - engulfing the entire dish. Because it is only one yolk, it is not overpowering - but rather, complimentary to the entire breakfast.

Do it... you know you want to!

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” - C.S. Lewis

Love y'all dearly! 

Tomato Foam

Foams

What… am I taking a bubble bath?

Ok… if you are accustomed to "fine dining," you will often see entrees possessing frothy, delicate flavored bubbles cascading from the main protein. This, my friends, is known as a "foam."

Now granted, making foams is known to the culinary world as "molecular gastronomy…" essentially needing a chart of the periodic table in order to achieve such a wonder. Lecithin, gelatin, dairy fats…

#glossyeyes #lostmyaudience #mindwondering

I have been playing and experimenting with foams… trying to create a manner of achieving said result with an easy-to-follow recipe/technique that the "at home cook" can execute and master.

Well… I think I found one? At least, it worked for my large, yet feminine, man-hands…

1 lb tomatoes
3 basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons oregano
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (I prefer the gelatin sheets, but those are difficult to find sometimes)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Simple… using a blender, chop the tomatoes until they are mashed… a little chunky. Add the herbs, sugar, salt, lemon and bring to a boil on the stove top. Place a kitchen-cloth in a strainer (sieve) and allow the tomato juice to drip (it will be white-ish). I generally will allow this to drip for about an hour. Once the liquid has been extracted, warm the clear/white liquid on the stove to a medium heat. Add the gelatin and vinegar, then transfer the liquid to a medium bowl. Place 2 cups of ice in a large bowl, then place the medium bowl atop the ice. With a whisk or an emersion blender, beat the tomato juice until frothy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks… then stir in the beaten heavy cream to the frothy tomato liquid. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour…

Why did I use tomatoes? They are an inexpensive way to experiment with foams… and quite frankly, I enjoy the taste of tomatoes.

I simply paired my foam with roasted tomatoes and herb-Greek yogurt (I added basil, oregano, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to 0% Plain Greek Yogurt).

Simple presentation… I used some of the tomato juice as a "decorative sauce," then plated the roasted tomatoes in a diagonal line on the plate. A dollop of the Greek yogurt, then just a drizzle of the tomato foam. To finish? Edible flowers.

I know… shocker.

“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Love y'all dearly!! 

Packing your Heathy Lunch

Essential to eat every few hours... Even on days of photo shoots... I am a model and guess what- I eat! Incorporating healthy fats is absolutely essential to every diet! Even when bringing your lunch to work, on the go, or preparing at home... Remember, the more vibrant colors, the better! Avocados, broccoli, hemp and chia seeds, almonds, tomatoes, cucumbers and olive oil/lemon juice with fresh carrot juice... Does a body good. Love y'all dearly! Xo 

Photoshoot with Milind and Chris... Thankful!

Photoshoot with Milind and Chris... Thankful! 

"Just an Egg"

I was a little hungry, so I wanted to make an egg... Of course, couldn't make "just an egg..." #typical#creativitycurse #midnightsnack #shakingmyhead... Photo shoot in the am! Night and love y'all! Xo 

Miss Global 2013

Hey y'all! If you could please take a few minutes to register and vote for me in the upcoming Miss Global competition... I would truly appreciate your support! You may vote once per day... THANK YOU for taking the time to show some love! xo ♥ ♥ ♥

http://missglobal.com/index.php?p=detail&id=720

BE RAW

Love this gluten-free, organic cafe in Dallas... Be Raw. Fresh, healthy, organic... Enjoyed an enormous kale salad... Tossed in olive oil, avocado, cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and sesame seeds... I asked for a few additional avocado slices, as it is rich in healthy omega-3 fat. So good! Check it out! Much love y'all! Xo

Researching


I know... I should be watching the game... But I'm home researching recipes, health benefits of produce/supplements/juicing, creating cooking class curriculum and lesson plans... Why? To share with y'all!! And in the kitchen, of course... #grateful #thankful#motivated #JOYofteaching!!! Love y'all dearly!! Xo 

Perfectly-seared Scallop

How to achieve a perfectly-seared scallop...

Scallops are by far one of my favorite foods. Buttery and sweet in nature, a scallop can be comparable to a stunning woman: natural "makeup" applied to enhance it's beauty... but not overly "done-up" or manipulated.

First, scallops have a muscle that is used to attach to their shell. This must be removed before cooking, as the muscle - though small in nature - is tough and rubbery. When purchasing scallops from a market, often the muscle has been removed. If not, simply find the excess "tab" of skin and pull away gently. Discard, as the small segment (usually about an inch in size - depending on the size of the scallop) cannot be used or cooked. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.

Sprinkle both sides of the scallop with sea salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a splash of lemon juice. The acid in the lemon will help to brighten and enhance the scallop... but will not leave the scallop exuding a lemon-flavor. The purpose is simply to aid in bringing fourth the natural sweetness of the scallop.

In a sauté pan - preferable cast iron - heat ghee (clarified butter) and a touch of almond/hazelnut/walnut butter on high heat. I prefer ghee to regular butter, as it is richer in flavor and less likely to burn. I combine a small drizzle of oil in order to prevent the ghee from burning. How much? Allow the bottom of the sauté pan to be lightly coated in the ghee/butter combination. Too much and the scallops will boil, as opposed to searing... too little and the scallops will stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the ghee beings to boil and change to light brown ("beurre noisette"), then place the scallops in the high-heated pan. They should begin to sizzle immediately...

It will sound as if the scallops are applauding you...#patyourselfontheback

Do not touch the scallops after placing on the heated pan. Allow them to sear on their own terms. For medium-sized scallops, I generally allow them to sear for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds... then flip. Before flipping, gently wiggle the pan to loosen the scallops... then flip with tongs. On the second side, again - do not touch... but allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. At this point, I will generally turn the heat off and allow the scallops to remain on the hot sauté pan for another 30 seconds - 1 minute.

This technique will allow you to achieve a golden, crispy outer skin, while leaving the inside creamy and tender. Lightly poke the scallops with the tip of your finger... if it is mushy, it needs to be cooked for an additional minute or two... it should posses a bit of resistance and bounce.

I tend to pair my scallops with vegetables or purees, as opposed to heavy pastas. Why? Since scallops are soft in texture, I like to compose the dish with a crunchy element as well. Mushrooms, asparagus, "cucumber noodles," zucchini... allow the scallop to be the star of the show. Since I had roasted butternut squash/parsnip/rutabaga puree left over from yesterday, as well as roasted butternut squash, I simply paired these root vegetables with the scallops... as well as reduced balsamic vinaigrette. A few slices of a granny-smith apple helped to provide a natural sweetness to balance the butternut squash.

"Know how to garnish food so that it is more appealing to the eye and even more flavorful than before." - Marilyn vos Savant

Love y'all dearly!! 

Carrots

Do carrots truly help improve one's vision?

Well... yes and no.

The association between carrots and vision - particularly night vision - grew into fruition during World War II. The British Royal Air Force published a story that said skilled fighter pilot John "Cats' Eyes" Cunningham could thank a steady diet of carrots for his night vision flying prowess.

#jumponthebandwagon #trends #propaganda

Why was this story released? Well... in reality, the Royal Air Force was actually using radar to locate Luftwaffe bombers during the night... but concealing the reality with a tribute to carrots.

As a result? Many British citizens began to grow and eat more carrots.

That's one way to get your kids to eat more vegetables.

Be that as it may... I have noticed that when I consume both carrots and beets, my eyes "clear." Not necessarily better vision, but they seem to shine from the vitamins and minerals found in these two vegetables particularly. I know, it "sounds" weird... but when people tell me that my eyes are "shining," I know it is due in part to my diet.

Easy juice:
1 medium beet, 2 medium carrots, 1 cup purple cabbage, 1 inch knob ginger, 1/2 cucumber

If you have no yet started juicing/blending - I would very much encourage you to do so. It's worth the change in diet and overall lifestyle.

"Carrots are devine...You get a dozen for a dime, It's maaaa-gic!" - Bugs Bunny

Love y'all dearly! 

Root Vegetables with Scallops

Perfectly seared scallop.

#heavenonaplate

I love eating heathy. I know... shocker. Why? Because not only do I feel better, but I am so incredibly thankful to be able to create food that is aesthetically beautiful, complex in nature... yet simply executed.

As a chef, it can be easy to fall into the temptation of "trying to do too much." Too many ingredients, too many sauces, purees, decorations, etc.

Root vegetables are often overlooked. Many individuals are not familiar with rutabaga, parsnips, butternut squash... why? It's easy to overlook an item that is not typically "exciting" to consume. I had a butternut squash that needed to be used... so I decided to prepare it in three manners: soup, puree and roasted.

First peel the butternut squash... I will often use gloves when peeling, as the inside skin can be sticky/slimy. After peeled, cut into two (this can be tricky, so be careful - can be hard to cut through with your knife). After split in two, discard the seeds by using a spoon to remove from the flesh. I then carefully cut the squash into thin rectangle shapes. I also had rutabaga and parsnips... peel and cut into small pieces. You can cut the squash in whatever shapes that you so choose... I just simply wanted the rectangle in terms of presentation. Toss the pieces in olive oil, smoked sea salt, dried oregano, lemon juice, cajun seasoning and herbs de provence. Wrap in aluminum foil, then allow to roast for 30 minutes (until tender). At this point, the roasted rectangles are ready to be consumed...

Remove a few of the butternut squash rectangles, then use the remaining roasted shapes for your soup/puree. I paired caramelized onions with my roasted butternut squash, parsnips and rutabaga... simply combined all of the roasted vegetables/onions and added into the VitaMix... and hit blend. Now, I added a few roasted cashews in order to give it a nutty bite, and allowed the VitaMix to blend to a chunky puree. At this stage, I removed about 1 cup of the puree... then continued to blend until smooth. In order to thin the consistency, I added chicken stock.

Simple, healthy... nothing fancy to that!

Combined the puree with roasted carrots and perfectly seared scallops... I also dusted the plate with ground chia seeds.

"Eat well, laugh often, love much."

Love y'all dearly! 

Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds

Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds... What?

Chia Seeds - 

Chia seeds are actually favorites for long-distance runners. Why? The chia seed is bursting with fiber - 5 g in one tablespoon. When combined with water, the chia seed swells and forms a "chia gel," which provides hydration for the body. Whether swallowed or consumed raw, the chia seed will keep you feeling full longer (since they absorb 10 times their weight in water). Interesting as well - they can be used as egg substitutes in a plethora of baked goods (1 Tbsp chia gel to replace 1 large egg).

Chia seeds help in slowing down the rate at which our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars - indicating that they help regulate blood sugar. Since they are easy to digest, they do not have to be ground (like flax seeds). Use to top off salads, in puddings/yogurt/smoothies/soups, and add to bake goods to replace flaxseed meal/poppy seeds. The mild, nutty flavor pairs well with sweet and savory dishes. Sometimes I will even sprinkle on fish or chicken.

Hemp Seeds -

Hemp is actually a high protein seed - containing all 9 amino acids. Because it is easy to digest, it is not as stressful to your system... (many people do not have gas problems since it is easy to digest - unlike some protein shakes/whey, etc.) It is actually the richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids that our bodies actually need. I love to use it when cooking because the taste resembles a pine nut! Again - sprinkle on salads, puddings, soups, yogurts, smoothies... a great little crunch - full of protein and omega-3s.

At the end of the day...
I consume both chia and hemp seeds everyday. Again, I enjoy the little "crunch" that they provide - especially when consuming fresh salads, soups, yogurt with fruit and oatmeal. Why do I eat these? Both are high in protein, as well as high in healthy fat. We need to incorporate more healthy fats into our diets... and start eliminating toxins that can hurt our bodies.

Recently I have been experimenting and creating a plethora of recipes - small portions as my mind is filled with ideas! But - I baked a gluten-free rosemary olive oil bread, then cut into thin rectangles (almost like a "thick cracker"). Topping off... 0% Greek yogurt - mixed with rosemary/lemon juice/cayenne pepper... smoked salmon... avocado... hemp and chia seeds. Butternut squash puree to act as a sauce... and topped with arugula. Yep, it worked. Healthy too.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim Rohn

Love y'all dearly! 

Price Photography Photoshoot

Thankful for a great shoot with Price Photography today! Definitely the juicing and healthy eating help with clear skin... Keep on cooking, y'all! Love

Hard-boiled Egg

Hard-boiled organic egg.

#letsplaydressup

Many people simply do not know how to hard-boil an egg. Fret not... you're here to learn!

Simple steps that will produce a brilliantly boiled egg each time:

1) Place fresh eggs in an empty pot - large enough so that they do not bounce around and crack into each other. We are not trying to recreate humpty-dumpty here.

How do I know if an egg is fresh? First place it in a bowl of salt water... if it is fresh, it will float. #loveit

2) To prevent the eggs from cracking further, place cheese cloth on the bottom of the pot (simply to cushion the bottom... although not necessary). If you do happen to have a broken egg casulty, fret not. Simply add a little salt and/or vinegar to the water... this may encourage the proteins in the egg white to coagulate faster (essentially acting like a "seal" in the cracked shell).

3) Fill the pot with enough COLD water to cover the eggs completely (about 1 inch of water over the eggs). Why cold water? It will help keep the eggs from overcooking, as it slowly heats. Do not place cold eggs in a pot of hot water... the shells will crack immediately and spew forth... #hotmess

4) Place a pinch of salt in the water - this will help the eggs when peeling the shell away after cooked. Why? Salt helps the proteins coagulate (the egg white) and become firm... making it easier to separate the egg white from the shell.

5) Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat off. Keep the pot on the warm stove, but place a lid to keep the heat within the pan. Leave the eggs in the hot water... I generally set a times for 12 minutes. Sometimes I let it sit for 15 minutes... but that is the maximum amount... too much time and the eggs will be discolored and permeate the room with a nice stench. #sogross

6) How do I know if it's hard or soft-boiled? Whirl it FAST on a table. If it turns fast, it is hard boiled - slow turns is an indicator that it is soft-boiled. Chill the eggs by placing them under cold running water (or even ice water). Immediately remove them from the cold water and store in the refrigerator. Chilling the eggs actually helps to separate the egg shell from the egg.

7) When they are cool enough to handle, peel under cold, running water. I generally tap the egg lightly on the counter, then transfer under the sink... allowing the cold water to help aid in the peeling process. Eat within 5 days.

Dress up with cooked rutabega, fresh micro-greens, hazelnuts, and delicate frisee salad. Just a way to take something ordinary... and make it extraordinary.

“Tis hatched and shall be so” - Shakespeare 'The Taming of the Shrew'

Love y'all dearly!

Probiotics

You want me to eat... what? Live bacteria and yeast?

#peaceout

Ok... probiotics. I know that y'all have heard of this term before... but what exactly are probiotics and what benefit do they serve in regards to human health?

While probiotics are still being studied, research has proven thus far that some digestive disorders occur when the balance of "friendly" bacteria in the intestines becomes disrupted.

#soconfused

More often than not, this will occur after suffering from some type of infection/sickness/after consuming antibiotics. If the lining of the intestines has been damaged, probiotics may also help in repairing your internal functions.

Studies also show that in societies with good hygiene, the immune system is not being changed or challenged by unwanted pathogenic organisms. Basically - when introducing healthy probiotics into your system, your body is challenged in a healthy manner. Think about it as friendly competition... healthy probiotics are used to ultimately increase the performance of your overall body.

“People in cultures around the world have been eating yogurt, cheeses, and other foods containing live cultures for centuries,” says Martin Floch, MD, a professor of gastroenterology at Yale University, co-author of Probiotics: A Clinical Guide, and a consultant for the Dannon Company.

Probiotics are not recommended for people with weakened immune systems or serious illnesses - I just started taking inner-ēco... dairy-free, probiotic kiefir. I'll let you know what I think... but so far, so good!

Juice this morning - 1 medium beet, 1 bunch broccoli rabe, few green onions, 1 inch knob ginger, wheat grass and 1 cup purple cabbage... yum!

"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity."- Hippocrates

Love y'all dearly! 

Duck

Lean meat.

Well... duck doesn't really come to mind... considering that it is a "fatty protein."

Be that as it may... just because a food has natural fat in its composition (I'm not talking about added fried fat or heavy creams/salad dressings), does not mean that it is necessarily "bad for you." Simply, remember portion control.

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped by Sprouts today in order to purchase a plethora of fresh produce. I'm surprised that my shopping cart did not automatically create a "pot 'o gold," as a rainbow of colors was cascading from the fresh produce.

#theyarealwaysaftermeluckycharms

As I was perusing the meats, I found duck breast... which I have not consumed in quite some time. I figured - why not? It's been awhile. Now here is where the plate composition comes into play. Just because I prepare duck, doesn't necessarily mean that I have to pair it with a heavy potato, starch or cream sauce. Rather, I chose fresh figs and arugula. Simply prepared, yet perfectly executed:

When cooking duck breast, no additional oil is needed to begin the cooking process. Why? When cooking, do not remove the duck skin on the breast. To begin, heat a sauté pan to high heat. Season the duck on both sides with smoked sea salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Once the sauté pan is hot, place the duck breast, skin-side down, on the pan. Do not touch the duck breast at this point... allow it to sauté for about 5 minutes. As it is cooking, you will see the breast begin to render its own fat - meaning that it is releasing its own fat and liquids onto the pan. After about 5 minutes, begin to "baste" the breast... with a spoon, gently ladle the rendered fat onto the top of the breast. After another 2 minutes, flip the duck breast over and continue to ladle the rendered fat - this time, on the skin. The skin should be nice and crisp from the initial sear. After 2 minutes of basting the second side, check the temperature of the duck. 125 is rare, and 130 rides the border between rare and medium-rare. If wanting to serve rare, remove the duck at 122-123 degrees and loosely wrap in aluminum foil, in a warm part of the kitchen. This will allow the "carry-over" cooking to reach 125 by the time it is ready to be served. If 130 is the desired temperature to consume, then remove at 127-128 degrees.

As far as flavor enhancements? While the duck is resting (after been cooked, but waiting for the proteins to absorb the internal juices), simply toss the fresh figs in the rendered duck fat. Season with a sprinkle of smoked sea salt and cayenne pepper. Allow to cook until tender- almost falling apart.

For the greens, toss the arugula in a combination of lemon juice, olive oil and light dusting of Himalayan sea salt. This will help to brighten the dish, as well as provide a "nutty" bite."

To serve, thinly slice the duck breast and "fan out" on the bed of arugula. Top with the freshly cooked figs.

"Everything in moderation…including moderation." - Julia Child

Love y'all dearly!

Juicing v. Blending

Juicing v. Blending

Enormous benefits to both... but first, let's understand the difference between the two techniques:

Juicing - when you juice fruits, vegetables and herbs, you are simply extracting the water and nutrients from the fresh produce, while discarding the indigestible fiber.

But I thought fiber was good for me? Isn't that why people add prunes and high fiber foods to their diet? To ahem... "clear them out?"

Absolutely, yes. BUT, that is one reason to both juice and blend: without the fiber, your digestive system does not hard to work nearly as hard to break down the food and absorb the nutrients. This can be particularly helpful if you were born with a sensitive digestive system or suffer from an illness that prevents you from absorbing fiber. The fiber actually slows down the digestive process and provides a steady, equal release of nutrients into the blood stream. Juicing actually makes the nutrients more readily available to your body- and in a much larger quantity - than if you were to eat the entire fruit/vegetable. Think about it - you can easily juice: 1 medium beet, 2 medium carrots, 1 bunch of kale, 1/2 cucumber, 1 cup purple cabbage, 1 inch knob ginger... much easier to juice that to actually eat that same quantity.

Fresh juices - composed of both fruits and vegetables - are often associated with and form a part of most healing/detox programs. Why? Due to their nutrient rich, nourish-providing and restoration level of cells within our bodies.

As I have mentioned before, every single person reacts differently to different types of food. Since I am boarder-line hypoglycemic I have to refrain from large amounts of sugar - otherwise my blood sugar spikes, then comes to a crash... not a good feeling... when I was younger, I would burst into tears... my parents knew that I had snuck candy at that point
#pinocchiosnose

I only mention this as a form of caution to those who cannot consume large quantities of sugar: when you remove the fiber from produce, the liquid then is able to be absorbed into your blood stream immediately. If you are ONLY juicing fruits, this would cause a rapid spike in blood sugar (causing mood swings, energy loss, memory problems, etc.) Fruit has natural sugars - that is not a problem. My intention is only to recommend juicing both fruits and vegetables together.

Ok... juicing down... next topic - blending.

Blending fruits and vegetables consists of produce in its entirety: skin, seeds and fiber. Now, the blending process actually breaks the fiber apart (making it easier to digest) - but since the fiber is still present, it slows the release of nutrients into the blood stream and avoids blood sugar spikes. Think of fiber as a janitorial service... it slowly sweeps the nutrients through your body... and out.

#wontcrosstheline

Smoothies are brilliant, as they tend to be more filling that juices... why? Simple... they still possess the fiber and skin of the produce. Smoothies are great breakfast items, as they are fast to make, will energize your body with healthy nutrients, will keep you full longer with the healthy fiber, as well as repair your body day by day. Soups act in the same manner.


Do try your best to drink juices and smoothies immediately... after about 15 minutes both light and air contribute to nutrient destruction.

As far as equipment - invest in a quality juicer and blender. Since I juice and blend everyday, I have to quality products: Breville Elite and VitaMix. As far as quality - there are a plethora of great juicers and blenders on the market. The very best (and definitely a costly product) juicer is the Norwalk 280. As far as blenders, I am a huge VitaMix fan.

If I had to choose one over the other - I would recommend beginning with a blender. Why? With the VitaMix, you can make smoothies, soups, baby food, purees... even ice cream. There is a plethora of possibilities. Remember, the only main difference between juicing and blending - the fiber issue.

I truly hope this helps! I know, it can be confusing! However, I cannot even remotely begin to express how much better I feel - having been juicing every morning, as well as making soups for lunch/dinners. Also, incorporating healthy fats into my diet... avocados, olive oils, flax/hemp/sesame seed, etc. More to come!

“Juices of fruits and vegetables are pure gifts from Mother Nature and the most natural way to heal your body and make yourself whole again.” - Farnoosh Brock

Love y'all dearly!

Dehydration!

Dehydration!

"I'm so thirsty!!"

#toolate

Unfortunately, thirst is not always a reliable gauge of the body's innate need for water. Often times, if you find yourself craving some thirst-quenching substance... you are already dehydrated. Now granted, there are many levels of dehydration. Mild or moderate dehydration can usually be treated by drinking fluids (water, Sports drinks), as well as taking a refreshing shower. The cool water will aid in dropping your core body temperature, but the fluid will help with rehydration. One indication whether you are dehydrated? If your urine is clear or light in color, then you are good to go! If it is dark yellow or cloudy... be sure to take in more fluid... even if not craving water.

With severe signs - think extreme thirst, lack of urination, dizziness, confusion, shriveled skin, fainting... seek medical assistance immediately! Nothing to mess around with... by any means!

I was walking/running the Katy trail earlier - very hot and humid in Dallas - and thankful that I carried water with me during my hike. I know water bottles may be a pain to keep track of when working out, but trust me - your health comes first! Enjoy the sunshine and stay hydrated!

Love y'all dearly!

Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Pork Belly & Strawberries

Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Pork Belly and Strawberries

While I love eating healthy (I feel so much better) - from time to time by body craves red meat, pork belly/bacon and cheeses.

#portioncontrol

I stopped by Sprouts today (LOVE that grocery store!) and piled my grocery cart full of organic fruits, vegetables, eggs and whole grains. Colors galore. I found a sliver of ahi tuna that was marked to go, so I figured I would purchase it and create a small dish, to accompany a kale salad, for lunch.

1 filet of ahi tuna (3-4oz) (be absolutely certain that it is sushi-grade if you are going to prepare it raw)
1/2 medium avocado
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp 0% Greek Yogurt
1 tsp ground chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp hemp seeds (optional)
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp Turmeric (optional)
1 pinch coarse sea salt or smoked sea salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 small piece of pork belly (about 3 inches long)
4 strawberries

To begin, heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat, then place the pork belly (like bacon) on the pan. Allow the pork belly to render its own fat - meaning that you will see its own juices and oils dispersing into the pan. Flip the pork every few minutes - allowing each side to become crispy. Once crispy and cooked, remove the sauté pan from the heat and place the pork belly on a paper towel (will absorb the excess oil). Do not discard the rendered fat that remains in the sauté pan! Instead, hull the strawberries (chop off and discard their green leaf tops), then cute into quarters. Lightly sprinkle with salt, then place in the sauté pan to be coated with the pork belly fat. This will be a brilliant compliment to the sweet/savory component of this dish.

For the ahi tuna - In a medium bowl, smash the avocado with a fork, until it is mushy and soft. Add the Greek Yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper, turmeric, chia seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds. I add the seeds and Turmeric for health benefits (not too much of an added flavor - will explain more about the benefits in a following post!) Mix well, the add tuna (finely diced). Again, mix all ingredients. You may also drizzle a little of the rendered pork belly fat into the mixture, if you so choose... would be a nice compliment if you chose to use the smoked sea salt to season!

Refrigerate the tuna mixture for at least 20 minutes... best when served cold.

Presentation-wise... use a medium ring-mold in order to shape the tuna... then top with the pork belly and strawberries. I cut my pork belly into small squares in order to make not only more presentable, but easier to consume as well. Top with micro-greens... they give it a presentable, delicate touch.

“Cooks are in some ways very much like actors; they must be fit and strong, since acting and cooking are two of the most exacting professions. They must be blessed – or cursed, whichever way you care to look at it – with what is called the artistic temperament, which means that if they are to act or cook at all well, it cannot be for duds or dummies.” - Andre Simon

Love y'all dearly!

Left-over veggies

Gorgeous storms engulfing Dallas, TX!

As many of you know, I have been on a juice-kick (I cannot even begin to describe to y'all how much better I am feeling- I know, you won't believe me until you actually try it yourself!)

Quick word on the juice I created this morning, dropping each vegetable into the juicer as the ominous storms encroached upon downtown Dallas...

Question. How many times do you actually peruse through your refrigerator and arrange/rearrange/organize, etc. For those who actually cook, most of the time we simply grab what we need and toss the extra back into the ice-box. Wrap it back in the plastic produce bag that we purchased it in at the grocery store... sound familiar?

#spoilagewilloccurfaster

Properly storing your produce will indeed increase its shelf life - saving you money (not having to discard food), as well as time (not having to go to the grocery store as often).

In terms of fresh herbs, wrap the bundles in a paper towel, then damped lightly with water. Store in a ziplock bag and label/date (in order to know what the herb is without having to open and unwrap). Tupperware and other air-tight containers function the best in terms of keeping salad, vegetables and fruits fresh. With nuts and seeds, I will generally roast pine nuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc., then store them in the freezer. You may purchase them already roasted, but in order to save money, simply roast them at 400 degrees in the oven, or on the stove top in a sauté pan - moving constantly in order to prevent burning... only takes about 5 minutes).

Proteins - I generally will try to go to purchase the uncooked meats/fish the same day or day-after purchasing. In terms of chicken, I generally keep lean chicken breast in my freezer - just as a "safe-haven," back-up reserve.

Be sure to store your uncooked, raw proteins in a separate area and shelf - away from your fresh produce. Easy to cross-contaminate. Safety first.

Back to the juice. I know... "squirrel."

In my refrigerator sat purple asparagus, broccoli rabe and cilantro (fresh) that I purchased several days ago. Both items were on their "last legs." Past the point of cooking, but not quite needing to be composed. Ergo... into the juicer they transformed into liquid gold.

My point being - asparagus is an expensive food item. It would have pained me to have had to simply throw away. Instead I combined the following:

3 large purple asparagus
1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe
1/2 bunch of spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1 inch knob of ginger
2 medium carrots
1 cup purple cabbage

Not going to lie - it was delicious.

From a palate-point of view - juicing can be incredibly creative in flavors. Sometimes I follow a general recipes (basic - carrots and ginger combo) - however, more often than not - I simply grab a few items and toss them in... changing the flavors each and every time. Not only am I able to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet, but a larger variety of colored-healthiness as well.

#clarity #glowingskin #energy #rehydrate #rejuvenate #restore #YUM

"To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life." - William London

I may even venture to add: love dearly.

More to come! Love y'all... dearly