Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lentil & Black Rice Summer Salad

Happy Monday! I've been a nomad these past few weeks, but I'm back...for now at least :)

One of my favorite things about summer is the large array of summer salads that restaurants offer. In attempts to recreate my obsession of a salad from a vegetarian restaurant back in Shanghai, this dish actually became something else and became my very own...and it's better (shh I still love the other one though).

The great thing about salad making is that you are able to use what you have on hand. Mixing and matching various ingredients eventually allows you to find a favorite combination that you'll stick to for a long, long time. 

If you haven't got anything planned for Independence Day, this would be a great option!

1/4 cup black rice, dry
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup lentils, cooked
1/3 zucchini, about 3 inches from tip
1/3 cucumber
1 small carrot
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of paprika
1/2 clove garlic, minced
salt, to taste
1/8 cup crumbled feta for topping

  1. Rinse the black rice thoroughly, until the water does not turn purple anymore. Bring the rice, salt, and water to a boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the water is gone. Remove from heat. Take the lid off and place a clean dish towel over the pot. Let the rice sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the rice and lentils. Place the bowl in a refrigerator
  3. Cut the zucchini and cucumber into 1/2 inch coins. Cut those coin pieces into fourths. Place the cucumber pieces into a mid-sized bowl. Put aside. Prepare a stove top grill for the zucchini pieces. Be sure to grill the zucchini pieces until a fork easily pokes through.
  4. As the zucchini is grilling, julienne the small carrot. Place the julienned carrot into the bowl with the cucumber. Take the grilled zucchini pieces and also place them into bowl with cucumber.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, garlic, and salt. 
  6. The rice and lentil mixture should now be cold. Take the bowl out of the refrigerator and mix the cucumber mixture with the rice mixture. Take the garlic dressing and mix it into the cucumber-rice mixture. Top with feta. Refrigerate until served.
- This recipe serves 3-4 as a side dish.
- Do not over-grill the zucchini; the slight crunch makes it a bit more interesting
- My zucchini and cucumber were about 8 inches from tip to tip.

With love,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Hello, hello. Let's talk about being healthy for a bit, okay? As I was scrolling through my past posts, I realized I wasn't really fulfilling my slogan of "an attempt at healthy living". It was time to live it up. As summer began, my diet became a little cray cray and I completely disregarded exercise. I'm beginning to develop a summer routine though. This post will be a bit of a lecture, so if you're rolling your eyes, please just skip down to the recipe! :) 
Flourless cookies? Damn straight, homies. I swear this isn't some sort of BS. Now, the lecturing is about to begin. I'll go through why flour and gluten were cut out of my diet; benefits of honey (yes these are sugar free); and a little bit of my recent exercise routine, HIIT. 

A few months ago, I began cutting all wheat/gluten products out of my diet because I had stumbled across an article about gluten sensitivity, which I boldly self-diagnosed as a problem in my life. Since I stopped my gluten intake, my overall energy levels have increase and my stomach no longer hurts from the wretched bloating. Now, there are mixed professional beliefs out there; some believe taking gluten out of a diet is more detrimental than keeping it in the diet, while others believe that cutting gluten out can improve overall energy levels and health. I'm no professional, but from my experiences I do believe that cutting as much gluten as possible out of your life will help with fatigue, headaches, and bloating. With that being said, you can freely enjoy these cookies, that is, unless you've got peanut allergies.

Now we're onto the benefits of honey. While there are many uses of honey, I'll be focusing on my favorite benefit.

I am one of those people who is allergic to everything outside, basically most of nature-- anything from grasses to hamsters. Lucky me, right? What I'm trying to say is that honey can potentially ease your agonizing allergies (it would be great if honey could fully get rid of allergies though!). How this works is through suppression immunotherapy, which is a method of alleviating allergies through gradually introducing allergens to your body system. Normally, when your body is exposed to allergens, an allergic reaction occurs. 

Let's say a little speck of pollen, or antigen, enters your body through your nostril. This antigen triggers your white blood cells to produce antibodies that help defend your body from the antigen, or the "invader". What then happens is an allergic reaction; the antibody destroys the antigen through promoting the production of chemicals that kill off the antigen. As this is happening, you are experiencing an allergic reaction. For many of us, the luckier ones (let's attempt to be positive, shall we?), we only have irritating reactions that include but are not limited to: watery eyes, itchy throat, runny noses. Others who have it worse can often experience life-threatening consequences. 

Okay, so now that I've given a little bit of an explanation of what an allergic reaction is, I'll very briefly go over how honey reduces allergic reactions through suppression immunotherapy. By introducing local pollens to your body through local honey, allergic reactions eventually become less severe and more tolerable. This method is most commonly known through shot treatments from allergologists, but eating small increments of honey each day can also result with the same effect.

Despite the many benefits of honey, there can be complications as well. For more information on this sweetener, click here.

If you're a true peanut butter lover, I know you'll love these. They're so incredibly soft in the middle, with a little crispy outer edge. Mmm, enjoy!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe: makes 16, adapted from myrecipes
1 cup all natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Stir together the peanut butter, honey, baking soda, and salt. Add the egg and incorporate until smooth. Drop by the Tablespoons, two inches apart on the lined baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cookie edges brown. 
  4. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about 15 minutes. Cookies best eaten within 2 days.
- I used 1/2 cup creamy and 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter for more of a crunch ;)
- If using all natural peanut butter/homemade , make sure the peanuts were roasted/toasted
- Feel free to add in 2/3 cup chocolate chips!

With Love,

Works Cited:
"Allergic Reaction Causes and Triggers: Foods, Medicine, and More." WebMD.com. Ed. Laura J.  
       Martin. WebMD, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide
Gardner, Karen. "What Are the Benefits of Honey Made Where You Live?" Livestrong.com
       Livestrong, 27 June 2011. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/479702-
News Medical Staff. "Suppression Immunotherapies." News-medical.net. News Medical, n.d. Web. 
       17 June 2013. <http://www.news-medical.net/health/Suppression-Immunotherapies.aspx>.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Almond Butter

I've been on this almond craze lately and just can't get enough of it...hand me a jar of almond butter and a spoon, all of it will disappear. Why hadn't I thought of making this earlier? Taking in a big spoonful of this almond butter brings me down Memory Lane. mmm the good ol' days.

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my days now too, but there's been this exponential increase in responsibility that I'm not sure I'm ready to face. C'mon schools, what you should be teaching us should include things such as: paying taxes and bills, buying and renting property, renewing passports... perhaps even a bit of home ec. education? Thank you very much. 

Life skills, becoming street smart, using sharp knives... 

Back to almond butter though. With all this summer free time in my hands, I've been able to get bunches of cardio into my schedule. This almond butter has been by far, my favorite post-workout snack. There's just something oh-so-special about homemade nut butters! 

After I toasted the raw almonds, our home was filled with the warmest nutty aroma evahhh! Look at those cute little cracks in the nuts.

Let me just briefly explain each step: 
  1. Unprocessed state.
  2. Chopped almonds.
  3. Oils starting to come out.
  4. Almonds taking on its butter/liquid-y form.
  5. Down below is the beautiful butter created after that massive load of hard work. ha ha
I really do hope you enjoy your homemade almond butter!

Ingredients: yields approximately 1 1/2 cups
2 cups raw or toasted whole almonds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon (opt.)

  1. If using raw almonds, toast over the stove for about 15 minutes on low fire, or until your home is filled with a nutty aroma and the nuts begin to split. If using pre-toasted almonds, go ahead and skip to step 2.
  2. In a food processor, process the whole almonds until the desired consistency. Do not be discouraged at any point if your almonds are taking a while to get to its liquid state--just keep processing! 
  3. Once the almonds are almost in its butter form, add in the salt and continue processing until salt is thoroughly incorporated into the almond butter.
- If you desire to sweeten your almond butter, add some honey. However, this will dry out your almond butter, so you will need to add some oil.
- You can always make raw almond butter, although I find that it is not as tasty as the toasted almond version.
- Do not over toast the almonds; it will result with a more bitter butter.
- My almonds did not become almond butter until about 20 minutes later. Your processor may result with varying times. 

With love,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dark Chocolate Bark


I've recently been on this chocolate crave. Within the past week, I've adopted at least five different brands of dark chocolate (now that school is over, all I do is eat and sleep) into my home. As I've cut refined sugars out of my life as much as possible, the darkest chocolates have slowly become sweet. Most days, I'll be perfectly content with solely dark cocoa powder in my oatmeal -- no sweeteners.

So let me now introduce you to my new favorite chocolate bark. Spicy mama, meet my lovely reader. When I took my first nibble of the bark, my taste buds were pleasantly surprised. 

Chili and bittersweet chocolate is a relatively new concept in the western world, albeit it is well-known to many South American cultures. To many people, bittersweet and dark chocolate is too...bitter (for lack of a better word). With the delightful heat however, the chocolate becomes somewhat intriguing. 

My favorite part about the bark is that the chili is undetectable while you're indulging and then BAM!  It reveals itself after you go nomnomnom.

 Anyways, enjoy!

Recipe: serves 6
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup pistachios
7 apricots, chopped into 4ths
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Combine pistachios, apricots, chili powder, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. With a double boiler, melt the chocolate (or melt in the microwave with 30 second increments, stirring between each increment). Stir in the pistachio mixture.
  3. Pour the pistachio-chocolate mixture onto the lined baking pan. Use a spatula to even out. Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate until hard, and then break into pieces.
- My entire batch was about 250g
- Store in an airtight container
- If you are feeling ballsy, up the chili powder to 1/2 tsp cinnamon

With love,

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