Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate-Berry Sorbet


Sorbet shown in gluten-free cone

This heavenly dessert is for everyone out there without an ice cream maker (and with a dairy allergy)!  I wanted an easy to make, quick dessert that was dairy free… I have been experimenting with the ingredients and proportions and so far this is the best combo for a rich and creamy texture with the right amount of chocolate decadence.  

You can feel good about indulging in this chocolaty dessert without all the calories and fat that comes with standard chocolate ice cream.  The wonderful thing about using cocoa powder is you get the entire flavor that is divine about chocolate without all the added sugar. 

The almond butter is a key component of this recipe as it adds some great creaminess.

I paired it with a gluten-free ice cream cone my husband found for me at Whole Foods the other day (pictured). 

Serves 1

Ingredients
Delicious gluten-free ice cream cones

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (frozen cherries work well too)
  • 2 tbsp raw almond butter (Trader Joe’s almond butter is my favorite)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Trader Joe’s makes a great one and so does Ghirardelli)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1-2 packets of Stevia or your favorite sweetener

Preparation
  1. Place all ingredients in blender or mini food processor and mix on the lowest setting for 1 minute (if ingredients are not blending then wait 3-5 minutes for berries to soften a bit)
  2. Optional: Feel free to experiment with adding vanilla extract or cinnamon for different flavors
  3. Place mixture in bowl and cover with plastic wrap
  4. Let sit in freezer for at least 10 minutes
  5. Serve in bowl or ice cream cone


Shown in a bowl with Enjoy Life mini dark chocolate chips.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mayo-Free Coleslaw

This healthy side dish is a great alternative to salad.  Cabbage is an inexpensive veggie and full of fiber, vitamin C & K and other important antioxidants.

Rather than the typical mayo-based dressing, this recipe uses a light dressing loaded with herbs.  Adding the nectar, granny smith apple, pistachios and avocado takes coleslaw from basic to extraordinary (and mildly sweet).

Serves 6

Slaw Ingredients
  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded into slaw
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
  • ½ English cucumber, skinned & diced
  • ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • ½ granny smith apple, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 spring onions, diced
  • 1 nectar, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced
Dressing
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp canola
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp agave nectar light
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro

Preparation
  1. Combine all slaw ingredients in large mixing bowl
  2. Put all dressing ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until incorporated
  3. Pour dressing on slaw and mix
  4. Chill well before serving 
Pair with a flavorful entree or enjoy by itself.

Health Benefits
Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C (1 serving which is ½ cup has 30% DV of vitamin C).  The American Dietetic Association (ADA), reminds us that cabbage is touted for its potential cancer-fighting properties, along with other vegetables in the cruciferous family.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should avoid slicing or shredding cabbage in advance. This will cause it to lose some of its vitamin C content.  The ADA recommends that once cut, cover the cabbage with plastic wrap to slow the loss of vitamins.

Bobby Flay’s Spanish Spice Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Parsley-Mint Sauce




I recently met the world famous Bobby Flay in Baltimore City!  He was in town checking up on his new restaurant, Bobby’s Burgers Palace, in Arundel Mills’ Maryland Casino Live.  I spotted him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East at a new hot Japanese Restaurant, Pabu.

As a huge Food Network fan I introduced myself and was impressed at how friendly and kind the food legend was to me as I babbled about how much I enjoyed his Sixteen Spiced Chicken dish at MESA grill while on vacation almost 3 years ago (I still remember it as the best chicken I have ever had).
This amazing celebrity run-in reminded me of how truly delicious chicken can be if prepared with the right spices and flavors.  So, in honor of my recent Bobby Flay run-in, I cooked another fantastically flavorful chicken dish that was recently aired on the Food Network (All-Star Grillfest: South Beach [originally filmed in 2007]).  In this segment, Bobby Flay shares his "Spanish Spice Rubbed Chicken Breast with Parsley-Mint Sauce" (full recipe).

The chicken rub is so much fun and every bite is full of smoky, spicy, earthy flavor.  He brilliantly pairs the chicken with a spicy and “herbaceous” pesto-like sauce.  It takes chicken from bland to BAM! 

Couple of tips from Bobby:
  1. Add salt and pepper to the chicken before the oil and the spice rub
  2. Always oil the chicken and not the grill
  3. Don’t overpower the chicken: put the spice rub on one-side only
  4. Brush oil on chicken after you flip (the non-rub side)
  5. Drizzle the parsley-mint sauce rustically on top of the chicken
I serve with my light and sweet mayo-free coleslaw salad.  This cold and refreshing salad offsets the heat and spice from Bobby’s chicken.

Cold Mint Pea Soup


This recipe is inspired by a past colleague of mine who keeps a health blog with fitness tips and nutritious recipes.  Her version of the recipe can be found here.  Thanks, Monica!

This cold soup is super easy and quick to make (definitely under 5 minutes).

I slightly modified it by adding spinach to the blender and pistachios as garnish for a bit of crunch.  The classic mint/pea combo is beyond refreshing on a hot summer day.  It makes for a quick and healthy snack or even can be served as a side during lunch. 

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Small handful of fresh mint
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Preparation
  1. Add all ingredients (except the pistachios) to blender and puree
  2. Serve immediately and garnish with pistachios and fresh mint leaves

Health Benefits
This recipe gets bonus healthy points for mixing peas (an excellent source of vitamins A and C) with raw spinach.  As I mentioned in my last post, when you combine vitamin C with raw spinach your body is able to absorb its iron and calcium.

Plus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, peas are a good low calorie source of protein.  1 serving of this recipe contains more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter.  And, unlike eggs, 1 serving of peas has less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tropical Green Smoothie


I have been hearing buzz lately about green smoothies so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and give one a try.  Raw green smoothies are great for absorbing key ingredients from plant foods such as iron and calcium which are not highly absorbed by the body when the greens are cooked.  For example, spinach contains a chemical called oxalic acid, which binds with iron and calcium and reduces the absorption of these important minerals.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spinach should be eaten with vitamin C-rich foods to improve iron absorption.  This recipe pairs raw spinach with fruits high in vitamin C (kiwi and mango) to help with the absorption process.

Color: I wanted to create something that looked good since we eat with our eyes first.  Most green smoothies end up brownish so I selected mostly green ingredients for a bright green, vibrant smoothie.

Flavor: The frozen mango overpowers the flavor of the spinach so you won’t taste any gritty spinach.  Plus, the tartness of the granny smith apple and kiwi and sweetness of the honeydew make it extra delicious. 

Taste Test: I tried this one out on my husband and he was so surprised at how much he loved it.  He wanted more after he downed his first glass… A great way to sneak raw spinach into your diet!  Great in the morning for breakfast or as a post-workout/mid-day snack.

Health Benefits: Spinach has a high nutritional value and luckily fresh spinach is available all year. Not only is spinach low in calories, it is also a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamin A (which keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections) as well as vitamin C (which helps heal cuts and wounds and keep teeth and gums healthy).

Ingredients in blender before pureed
Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 cup fresh honeydew melon
  • ½ granny smith apple
  • 2-3 cups of organic spinach
  • ½ cup almond milk

Preparation
  1. Add ingredients to blender in the order listed above
  2. Puree in blender until fully incorporated (add ice if desired).
  3. To make it thicker, add more frozen mango (or to thin it out add more almond milk or even water) 
  4. Enjoy immediately
Health Benefits of Spinach – More Details
One serving of raw spinach (1/2 cup) has only 5 calories and contains calcium and iron plus 60% of your daily vitamin A and 15% of your daily vitamin C.  This recipe has 4-6 times the amount of raw spinach in one serving (depending on how much spinach you use and how many servings you consume).

Spinach Storage Tip
Fresh spinach should be dried and packed loosely in a cellophane or plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator crisper. If stored properly, it should last 3 or 4 days.