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Deviled Eggs

Easter just wouldn’t be the same without eggs. Although I absolutely love Cadburys eggs, I am keeping my eye on my goals this Easter and opting out for something less sweet but equally as delicious—Deviled Eggs. Below are few different variations on Deviled Eggs that I absolutely love.

The basics remain the same throughout all of these recipes. What varies are the “flavoring” ingredients that make these Deviled Eggs unlike anything that you have ever tried before.

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Rorschach says: “Eat like a bunny to look like a fox!”

A word about ingredients:

I try to use large or jumbo eggs for these recipes.

Tobiko also known as fish roe and comes in a variety of different colors. You can find tobiko in almost any Asian supermarket or health food store.

Although sardines are not usually considered “healthy” food, using them in moderation can add flavor to sauces and other dishes (deviled eggs). Make sure that you blot the sardines with a paper towel to remove access oil before adding them to the egg mixture.

Porcini mushrooms can be found fresh or dry. If you are using dry mushrooms: rehydrate the mushrooms as per instructions on the package, dry with a paper towel, and mince before adding to the egg mixture. If you are using fresh porcini: sauté the mushrooms before use.

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Sinless Deviled Eggs

The Classic

Recipe Featured in Fierce Gourmet: A Fit Foodie’s Cookbook

Ingredients:

4 Eggs
1 tsp Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Light Mayo
1 tsp Dill
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
¼ tsp Paprika

Directions:

Hard boil the eggs. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Set aside the egg whites.

Using a fork, mash the yolks, add the yogurt, mustard, mayo, dill, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Place the mixture in a pastry bag (you can use a plastic bag with one corner cut off) and pipe it into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika and dill (optional).

The Sakura

Ingredients:

4 Eggs
1 tsp Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Light Mayo
1 tsp Dill
¼ tsp Paprika
1 oz. Smoked Salmon (minced)
1 tsp Tobiko

Directions:

Hard boil the eggs. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Set aside the egg whites.

Using a fork, mash the yolks, add the yogurt, mustard, mayo, dill, and smoked salmon. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Place the mixture in a pastry bag (you can use a plastic bag with one corner cut off) and pipe it into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika (optional) and tobiko.

Captain’s Treat

Ingredients:

4 Eggs
1 tsp Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Light Mayo
1 tsp Parsley (minced)
¼ tsp Paprika
1-2 small Sardines (minced)
1 tsp Scallions (minced)

Directions:

Hard boil the eggs. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Set aside the egg whites.

Using a fork, mash the yolks, add the yogurt, mustard, mayo, parsley, and sardines. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Place the mixture in a pastry bag (you can use a plastic bag with one corner cut off) and pipe it into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika (optional) and scallions.

Taming of the Shroom

Ingredients:

4 Eggs
1 tsp Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Light Mayo
1 1/2 tsp Porcini Mushrooms (minced)
¼ tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chives (minced)

Directions:

Hard boil the eggs. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Set aside the egg whites.

Using a fork, mash the yolks, add the yogurt, mustard, mayo. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Place the mixture in a pastry bag (you can use a plastic bag with one corner cut off) and pipe it into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika (optional) and chives.

Blueberry Banana Bread

When a sweet craving hits try making this easy and satisfying recipe! You will be surprised how sinfully delicious it is and yet how good it is for you. With loads of protein, complex carbohydrates and antioxidant rich berries this treat will leave you speechless.

Blueberry Banana Bread

 

Ingredients:blueberry_banana_bread
3 ripe Bananas (mashed)
2 Eggs (room temperature)
¼ cup unrefined Coconut Oil
1 ¾ cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 scoops Chocolate Whey Protein
2/3 cup of Splenda ™
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ cup Blueberries

 

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add mashed bananas and stir until well incorporated. Add coconut oil to the mixture, stir and set aside. In another bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, add blueberries and until well incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a non-stick loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the loaf.

Eat Like You Are In Sochi

The Olympics are here! I am sure most of you are glued to your TV every night watching the events or simply setting your DVRs to record. Regardless of your methods of watching the most lavish Olympics in history, you are probably wondering how it would feel if you had an opportunity to be in Sochi for this event. Although I can’t necessarily tell you how it would feel to be in Sochi right now, a lot has changed since I last vacationed there, I can tell you about the food that you would more than likely eat if you were there.

But first, a little bit of background:

DCF 1.0The climate, terrain, and social instability had a tremendous impact on Russian cuisine. Traditionally, Russian food is fairly simple, high in calories and extremely fatty. Russian cuisine is a cuisine of necessity constantly adapting to the newest political regime and the shortages that come with it.

However, if you were in Sochi for the Olympics, you’d never know that you have left the Western world and are deep in the Russian Federation. From what I see and hear, the city has been rebuilt, cleaned up, and dressed up. Although some typical, bone-headed construction mistakes have been made, some locals pissed off, and the city lost some of its “character”, it has been turned into something that the rest of the world will be talking about for decades to come.

If you were in Sochi during these Olympic Games, here is what you would most likely find on every traditional Russian restaurant menu:

Olivier Salad

OliverThis is one of the most popular Russian dishes that makes its appearances at almost every special occasion on every Russian table regardless of which country you are in. If it is a Russian celebration of any kind – expect Olivier.

Olivier is a salad named after its creator– Lucien Olivier, a head chef at the Hermitage restaurant during the early 1860’s. Originally the salad was made with grouse (gamebird), veal tongue, caviar (red), a lettuce variety, crayfish tails, boiled potatoes, cornichon, smoked duck, capers and dressed with an house special dressing that closely resembled modern day Russian mayonnaise (yes, Russians mayo is very different). According to the rumors, the dressing consisted of French wine vinegar, mustard (probably Dijon style), and olive oil from Provencal region of France. Although the exact proportions are unknown, many chefs attempted to recreate it skyrocketing the popularity of this dish.

As the time went by and the political climate of the country changed, so did the salad. Some of the ingredients became hard to find or only accessible to a wealthy few. The salad evolved. The capers were replaced by pickles, veal tongue was replaced by the cow tongue (when available) or bologna, red caviar was replaced by carrots (the only similarity is color), lettuce was replaced by peas, and the duck and grouse were almost entirely avoided or replaced by chicken. Of course the dressing that made this salad famous was lost forever after Chef Olivier passed away and was replaced with Russian mayonnaise.

Even with the inferior ingredients, this salad still remains one of the go-to Russian comfort foods for comrades all over the world. Having grown up in the former Soviet Union, I am a big fan of this delicious dish. However, since I don’t fight bears or live in subzero temperatures, consuming thousands of calories in one sitting isn’t something that I can afford without busting out of my pants.

When I started writing Fierce Gourmet: A Fit Foodie’s Cookbook, this salad received a much needed makeover to satisfy the cravings of every fit Russian food lover without adding thousands of calories to their day.

Golubzi or Cabbage Rolls

golubtsy

Photo Credit: Maggio @ http://www.topricette.com

This dish is common to the entire Eurasian continent. In short a combination of pork, lamb, beef, and starch (usually rice or barley) is rolled inside a lightly steamed cabbage leaf. The rolls are then placed inside a pot, Dutch oven, or a pan and are baked, simmered or steamed. The dish is usually served with some variety of sauce that is largely dependent on the region where the dish is served.

If you are in Russia, one of the most common methods of preparing Golubzi is with a combination of pork, lamb, beef, rice or barley, and white onion which is tightly rolled inside a white cabbage leaf and simmered in tomato sauce for hours. The dish is usually served with a big dollop of rich sour cream, rye bread, and an ice cold shot of vodka. If you have the opportunity to savors this incredible creation, do it. You will not be disappointed.

Of course, if you are watching your calories and would still like to enjoy some traditional Russian food, I recommend substituting the red meat for a combination of ground chicken and turkey spiced with some chili powder, onion, and parsley. Instead of white rice, try brown rice or quinoa and instead of using white cabbage, try Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage leaves are easier to work with, deliver more phytonutrients than white cabbage, and look significantly better after hours of simmering in tomato sauce.

When this dish is cooked Fierce Gourmet style, it offers a wide range of necessary nutrients including vitamin C, D, A, and K, loads of lean protein, lycopene, and complex carbohydrates all wrapped up in a convenient half serving pockets of delicious joy. This is one of my favorite post run meals. In addition to being highly nutritious, this meal freezes well for those days when you just don’t have the time to cook.

So, if you are hungry and in the city of Sochi, try this dish! If you are at home at would like to eat like a Russian Olympian, email me and I’ll send you the clean eating recipe! Otherwise, look for this recipe on this blog in a few weeks.

Vinegret or Russian Beet Salad

beet_saladVinegret (not to be confused with vinaigrette) is a traditional winter salad and one of the few salads in the Russian cuisine that isn’t dressed with mayonnaise. Just like so many other Russian dishes, Venegret is a salad of necessity. It first appeared during the beginning of the communist era when fresh vegetables were hard to come by. Many chefs of that time relied on frozen or canned vegetables to produce many of their creations. The salad features beets, beans, pickles, onion, peas, potatoes, and pickled cabbage (much like sauerkraut but sweeter with a different acidic profile that is more reminiscent of rice wine vinegar). This salad hasn’t changed much over the years and much like Olivier is one of the holiday favorites.

Although not as heavy as Olivier, this is by no means a light meal. Vinegeret is traditionally dressed with unrefined sunflower oil, a highly caloric, fragrant oil. This dish is usually served as an appetizer to chase the first few shots of vodka before the meal begins.

Of course, I have created a fit version of this salad that maintains the traditional Vinegret flavor profile. Give this salad a try whether you are in Sochi or in Dallas!

Depending on who you ask, these dishes will undoubtedly make the top ten favorites on every Russian’s list. You might also hear about such dishes as: Pelmeni (veal dumplings), Piroshki (baked, portable, meat pies), Seledka pod Shyboi or “hearing in fur coat” (an immensely popular holiday fish dish), Holodez (jellied minced meat) and Katleti (“burger patties” that are eaten without buns or garden).

Despite the common misconception, Russian cuisine is incredibly flavorful and features simple but hearty ingredients. Due to the turbulent past, Russians are very good at practicing nose-to-tail eating as well as adapting their cuisine to, often times, volatile political and cultural shifts. Although the country is almost completely westernized at this point, the evolution of Russian cuisine remains to serve as a reminder of the scary past and a beacons to the brighter future.

Spud Muffins

A lot of us made New Year’s resolutions and some of us are determined to keep them come hell or high water. If one of your resolutions was to eat better and make smarter food choices, I’d like to dedicate this post to you.

I know all too well how it feels to wake up before dawn and realize that you barely have enough time to take a shower before you have to be out of the door. Breakfast? What breakfast!  Then I got to thinking, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, it sets the tone for the day. I find that if I had a decent meal in the morning I feel energized, I feel unstoppable, I am on my game. Best of all, having breakfast prevents you from being, what I call, hangry. Hangry is a sad combination of hungry and angry that causes one to make bad decisions and have virtually zero patience.

So, what’s the answer to having a healthy, well balanced breakfast that hits all your macros on the go? Portable food! Below is the recipe for the most awesome muffin that is easy to eat, has a low glycemic index, loads of protein, very little fat, and you can make them in advance! What?! Yes, your week just got that much easier!

I usually make these on Sunday evening at the end of my food prep because they tend to take a bit longer than the usual blend and go variety. Why? Because I make my Spud Muffins with meringue to insure nice and fluffy consistency. I tested other recipes of healthy, protein muffins and I noticed that all of them are dense, chewy, and taste like cardboard. I refused to have this happen to my food, this is fit gourmet, after all!

Let’s dive in! First and foremost, make sure that your eggs are at room temp. Room temperature eggs make better meringue. Also, older eggs are better suited for meringue purposes, but who has old eggs lying around?! I set my eggs out just as I am getting ready to do the rest of my food prep, that way by the time I get around to the muffins, they are nice and ready to go.

Since I pre-make my sweet potatoes for the week, having a cup of mashed sweet potato isn’t a problem. If, however, you don’t pre make yours, here’s the deal:

Peel and cut up your sweet potatoes, put them in a pot of boiling water, boil until tender. Strain the water, mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork.

I don’t add seasoning to my sweet potato ahead of time, because I refuse to commit to one single flavor in my mash for the rest of the week. I like a good variety.

Back to the eggs and the trick of the meringue… You will need to separate egg whites from egg yolks. Make sure that you take great care not to get any of the yolk into your egg whites. I recommend breaking the eggs over a separate dish, separating the whites and then adding them to the mixer bowl one at a time. That way, if you do end up with the yolks in your whites, you won’t have to scrap the whole batch and waste eggs. No, I wouldn’t recommend using egg beaters. They do not meringue well.

Please, do not attempt to be a hero and whisk the meringue by hand. It’ll take you forever!

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Ok, I think I covered the important basics of the meringue. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through our Facebook Page, Twitter, or just leave me a comment here!

Supd_Muffin
Spud Muffins

Ingredients: 

4 large eggs at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup Splenda or Stevia
1 cup almond meal flour
2 scoops vanilla whey
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp coco powder
2 ½ cups of mashed sweet potato

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Place the egg whites into a large bowl and mix on medium-high speed until the eggs are frothy. When your eggs are frothy add cream of tartar. Continue mixing on medium-high speed until the eggs are white and nearly doubled in size. At this point add Splenda or Stevia one tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing the meringue until the mixture begins to form stiff peaks in the mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Gradually fold the sweet potatoes into the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Make sure that there are no clumps of flour or protein powder.

Gently fold the sweet potato mixture into the meringue. Fold from the sides towards the center until the mixture is well incorporated. Be careful not to over mix and deflate your meringue.

Divide the batter between muffin cups. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutrition Info (1 muffin): 

Calories 119
Fat 5g
Carbs 8g
Protein 10g

3 Easy Steps to Get Fit in 2014

1381532_648223808555104_266900310_nIf you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.

We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.

What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.

The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.

Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:

1238363_644675618909923_1184660794_nLet’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.

A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.

A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.

I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.

Healthy Attitude:

quoteWe briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.

You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence,  I am yet to regret a workout that I did.

However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.

Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.

Exercising Daily:

Khloe-Kardashian-Fitness-MotivationA good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.

Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.

trustI don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.

Salmon Frittata

When I cook salmon, I always make sure that I make an extra portion just so I can make this recipe for breakfast (or brunch). It is so easy and delicious and makes such a huge portion that there are time when I feel bad for eating the whole thing! This protein packed recipe comes together with minimal effort and in no time at all. Serve this frittata with an arugula salad, a side of fresh veggies, salsa, or all of the above for an extra punch of flavor.

Salmon FrittataSalmon_Frittata

Ingredients:

200 g of Cooked Salmon (shredded)
3 Large Eggs
2 tbsp. 2% milk
½ Tomato (diced)
¼ cup Parsley (chopped)
1 tsp. Olive Oil

Directions:

Preheat the broiler. Shred the salmon, chop the parsley, and dice the tomato. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk, combine with salmon, parsley, and tomato. Whisk all of the ingredients together until incorporated.  Pour out the mixture into a nonstick, oven safe pan. Cook on the stove top until the eggs are set on the bottom. Transfer the pan into the broiler until the eggs are set on the top as well.  Serve with an arugula salad, salsa, or fresh veggies.

Vegetable of the Month: Arugula

IMG_4506_edited-2Origins:

Arugula or Eruca sativa is an annual, leafy green that belongs to the Brassicaceae family of plants. Despite its lettuce like appearance, Arugula is a close relative of cabbage, kale, mustard greens and cauliflower. This Mediterranean native has a sharp, spicy flavor profile and is a commonly found in Italian, Slovenian, Egyptian, and West Asian, Northern Indian, and Brazilian cuisines.

Medicinal Uses through History:

Arugula appears in Greek and Roman medical lore as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, and a way to restore sight. There have been some records found that indicate arugula was used to treat survey in sailors and administered to those with stomach pains and heartburn in the form of brewed tea. In ancient China arugula and dandelion were considered an effective way of detox and were said to contribute to healthy liver function.

Health Benefits:

Much like the rest of the cruciferous family, arugula is high in vitamin C, A, K, folate and potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, and other antioxidants. Some research suggests that many of the phytonutrients (indoles, thiocyanates, and iso­thiocyanates, sulforaphane) found in arugula have been linked to cancer prevention.

di-indolyl-methane (DIM) a compound derived from digestion of  indole-3- carbinol found in arugula and other cruciferous vegetables has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Some research suggests that DIM may have beneficial effects against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) of the cervix. However, the study is inconclusive at this time.

Foods rich in Vitamin C help boost immune function, lower cancer risk, improve iron absorption, and help protect cells from free radical damage. Vitamin A found in arugula functions as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent and promotes retinal, skin, mucous membrane, teeth, and skeletal health. Arugula contains a significant amount of B-complex vitamins (thiamine, niacin, B-6, riboflavin) which are crucial to cell health and proper metabolic function.  Another key nutrient found in this leafy green is Vitamin K. 100 g of arugula contains nearly 90% of daily value of Vitamin K which is important for bone health.

Choose Your Arugula:

  • Look for crispy bright green leaves
  • When picking arugula, avoid collecting from flowered plants as the leaves become bitter
  • Store in the refrigerator at relatively high levels of humidity.

Cooking With Arugula:

Arugula is best consumed raw or lightly wilted. Try arugula in a salad, on your turkey burger, or as an addition to your smoothies or juices. In some parts of Italy arugula is used as a pizza topping. It is added right after the pizza is out of the oven to prevent significant wilting.

 

Sources:

Wood R (1999). The new whole foods encyclopedia: a comprehensive resource for healthy eating. New York: Penguin/Arkana. ISBN 0-14-025032-8.
http://www.fullcircle.com/goodfoodlife/2012/05/21/why-you-should-be-eating-more-arugula/
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3025/2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassicaceae
http://www.diindolylmethane-dim.com/
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090507101824.htm
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=112

 

Cabbage Salad

I am a big fan of cabbage which is why I am constantly looking for new, easy, runner diet friendly ways to make my favorite dishes. Blow is my take on a coleslaw salad. For this recipe you can use any cabbage you like. My preference is savoy or white, but red cabbage works well too and adds a nice touch of color.  This salad is a perfect side dish for a nice, juicy turkey burger or veggie burger.

Ingredients:

4 cups Shredded Cabbage Slaw
1 cup Sliced Cucumber
1 Cup Sliced Radish

Dressing:
2 tbsp Fresh Dill (optional)
2 tbsp Light Mayo
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt

Directions:

Combine cabbage, cucumbers, and radishes in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine mayo, buttermilk, black pepper, salt, and chopped dill. Mix well and pour over the veggie mixture. Give it a good  toss and enjoy!

Vegetable of the Month: Cabbage

cabbageOrigins:

Cabbage is a leafy green, annual vegetable that is closely related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. There are a number of cabbage plant varieties, the most popular of which is the smooth-leafed, firm, green cabbage. There are two other common varieties of cabbage: red and savoy. Red cabbage is a smooth-leafed, firm, deep purple in color with a strong flavor profile. Savoy cabbage on the other hand has a “ruffled” leaf, yellow-green in color, and has a mild flavor profile and softer texture.

Throughout the centuries, cabbage has been used as food and as medicine. Cabbage plants were introduced into European cuisine around 600 B.C. by migratory Celtic tribes and became a dietary staple shortly thereafter. Currently, Russia is leading the charts with the highest consumption of cabbage per capita with Belgium, Netherlands, and Spain coming in as close seconds.

Cabbage as Medicinal Herb:

Because of its high antioxidant and fiber count, cabbage has been used as medicine by many cultures. The Ancient Greeks recommended the use of cabbage leaves as a laxative, cabbage juice to treat poisonings, and help heal bruising. The Romans and Egyptians used cabbage as an anti-hangover cure and a method to prevent drunkenness.

In the early 20th century, cabbage leaves were used to treat ulcers and abscess. Some scientific evidence suggests that certain properties found in cabbage leaves can reduce the pain of engorged breasts (during lactation), and extend the duration of breast feeding by increasing milk production. Other scientifically unsupported uses of cabbage in medicine include the treatment of rheumatism, sore throat, hoarseness, appendicitis, pneumonia, removal of warts and boils, and treatment of mild depression.

Health Benefits:

Cabbage, much like most of cruciferous vegetables, is a great source of beta-carotene (Vitamin A), vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. However, unlike most cruciferous vegetables, cabbage boasts impressive levels of polyphenols, an antioxidant in the phytonutrient category.

Phytonutrients are organic components of plants. The term itself derives from the word phyto meaning plant. Although these organic components are not necessary for a person to survive, scientists believe that consumption of phytonutrients can prevent certain cancers and help with minimizing the effects of our toxic environment.  Phytonutrients serve as very powerful antioxidants and help enhance immune response, regulate estrogen metabolism, aid in DNA repair caused by exposure to carcinogens, as well as effectively activate a detoxification enzyme (cytochrome P450 and Phase II enzyme system) to remove carcinogenic byproducts of the metabolic process.

Polyphenols are one of the major groups of phytonutrients and are found in a variety of plants such as onion, cranberries, tea, red grapes, grape juice, strawberries, apple, raspberries, blueberries, red wine, cabbage, and nuts. Polyphenols can be divided into two categories: flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids are the most extensively studied polyphenols in conjunction with metabolism and cancer prevention.

With that being said, even white cabbage has incredible high amounts of polyphenols (50 milligrams per ½ cup). Red cabbage can arguably be even more effective in terms of delivering a higher concentration of antioxidant and detoxifying nutrients per ½ cup. Red cabbage contains high concentration of flavonoids known as anthocyanins (a very powerful antioxidant that is found in blueberries, Okinawan sweet potatoes, cherries, and other purple colored fruits and vegetables). In addition to having antioxidant qualities, anthocyanins are also an extremely effective anti-inflammatory.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cabbage juice has been used for centuries to treat stomach ulcers. Recent evidence suggests that cabbage can contribute to overall health of intestinal lining and stomach by regulating bacterial population, reducing inflammation, and regulating bowl movement.

Cancer Prevention:

In addition to antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, cabbage also contains an impressive concentration of glucosinolates.

Glucosinolates are organic compounds that contain sulfur and nitrogen. Yes, glucosinolates are the reason why your house starts smelling “sulfurey” when you cook your favorite cabbage dishes. Glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanate compounds which in turn can be very effective in prevention of a number of colorectal cancers.

Different varieties of cabbage contain different amounts of glucosinolates. Savoy cabbage, for instance, contains high concentrations of sinigrin, a glucosinolates that has received a lot of attention in recent years as a cancer prevention chemical.

Although the research on cancer prevention is still on going, adding at least one serving of cabbage to your daily consumption of vegetables can prove to be beneficial for your weight loss and overall health.

Choosing the Perfect Head:

When choosing your cabbage, make sure that the head is firm, bruise free, and has bright, crispy, colorful leaves.

Avoid buying precut cabbage. Once the cabbage is cut it begins to lose some of the essential vitamins and minerals. If you have to store some of the cabbage (that you precut) you should try to use it within a couple of days.

Keep your cabbage cold by placing it in the refrigerator or in a cellar. This will help keep your cabbage fresher longer as well as slow down the breakdown of vitamin C.

Green, Red, and White cabbage will usually keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, while Savoy cabbage should be consumed within a week, and Bok Choy within a few days.

Cooking Cabbage:

According to some scientists, steaming the cabbage promotes better release of nutrient. Although that might be true, we find that steaming cabbage turns it into an awful mess and produces less than appetizing aromas. We recommend that you sauté, pickle, of consume your cabbage raw. Additionally, you can add your cabbage to soups and stir fries.

 

Sources:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/aboutus/docs.htm?docid=4142
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/57/14/3026.short
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814697001003
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10075763
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19
Kushad MM, Brown AF, Kurilich AC, et al. Variation of glucosinolates in vegetable crops of Brassica oleracea. J Agric Food Chem 1999 Apr;47(4):1541-8. 1999. PMID:13320.

 

 

Fierce Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and some of you might be biting your nails trying to figure out how to cut the calories, fats, and sugar out of the traditional meal without sacrificing flavor, color, texture and general appeal of your dishes. Although it is nearly impossible to make every traditional Thanksgiving dish light, here are a few recipes and tips that’ll help you and your family cut the unnecessary decadence without making your dinner bland.

Tips:

I try to cook using as little fat as possible which is why I invested in some incredible nonstick pans. If you don’t have a good nonstick pan, do not worry. The recipes below have measures of olive oil that are labeled “optional”. Those “optional” measures of olive oil are for those who don’t have access to a set of good nonstick pans.

If you are watching your sodium intake, you can cut the salt ratio in half for the dishes that are using lemon juice and lemon zest. Chances are you won’t miss it much. However, I would not alter the turkey brine.

If you absolutely have to use something sweet in one of your recipes, try honey or agave syrup. If your recipes call for candied nuts, try substituting toasted nuts lightly coated in honey instead or omit the honey all together. 🙂

Succulent Turkey Breast:

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the star of every dinner—the turkey. Here is my fabulously simple recipe for the most delicious and moist turkey you’ll ever eat! I have to put a disclaimer here, give yourself at least 24 hours after the turkey is fully defrosted to properly prepare and treat the bird.

Ingredients:TG_Turkey

6lb turkey breast
60ml Water
15g of Salt
3 Lemons (juiced)
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1tsp Chili Powder
1 Tangerine Orange
1 Bunch of Lemon Thyme
2 Rosemary Sprigs

Directions:

Wash and clean the turkey breast. Take care not to cut or puncture the skin. Set the bird on a wire rack of a regular roasting pan to drain. In the meantime, combine water, salt, and lemon juice and stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Fill a marinade injector with the brine. Find a few places on the breast that do not have skin and inject the brine. Usually, one 30 ml injector full of brine is enough for a 6 lb. turkey breast. Discard the leftover brine.

Combine soy sauce and chili powder. Mix well. Using a basting brush, brush the soy sauce mixture on your turkey. Set the turkey in the refrigerator, uncovered for 12-24 hours.

After the turkey spent at least 12 hours in the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 325 °F.  Stuff the cavity of your turkey with rosemary sprigs, thyme, and a halved tangerine. Cook your turkey uncovered for 2.5 hours or until the meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. You shouldn’t have to baste or treat your bird in any other way. The skin is going to be golden brown and the inside extremely juicy. After the turkey is done, cover the bird with foil and let it rest for 10-20 minutes before serving.

 Healthy Stuffing

 Ingredients:TG_Stuffing

12 slices of Whole Wheat Bread
1 tbsp olive oil + ½ tbsp. for cooking the veggies (optional)
½ tsp of salt
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
½ tsp Sage
½ Sweet Onion (diced)
3 Celery sticks (diced)
½ cup Fresh Cranberries (whole)
2 cups Baby Bella Mushrooms (diced)
¼ cup Dried Cranberries
2 cups of Chicken Broth

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Cut the bread into ½ inch squares and set aside. In a large bowl combine olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, sage, and the bread. With your hands, gently toss the bread in the mixture until all cubes are evenly coated. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the croutons are crispy. Allow to cool, pulse in a blender or a kitchen processor until the bread is about pea sized.

In a nonstick pan combine diced onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the mixture has reduced by about a quarter or until the mushrooms are gold and onions are lightly caramelized. Add the Chicken Broth and bring it to a gentle boil, add in the cranberries, wait until the broth mixture is boiling again and add in the bread. Stir gently to incorporate all of the ingredients, turn of the heat and let the mixture rest for a minute or two before serving.

Green Beans

Ingredients: TG_Green_Beans

1 lb. of Green Beans (cleaned)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
½ tsp olive oil (optional)
Freshly ground pepper

 Directions:

Combine green beans, lemon juice, pepper (optional), salt (optional), and minced garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until green beans are tender. Garnish with lemon zest and serve.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients:TG_Acorn_Squash

1 Acorn Squash (cleaned and cut into wedges)
1 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp rosemary (minced)
1tbsp Chives (minced)
Zest of ½ Lemon
Sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Wash, clean, and cut the squash into wedges. In a small bowl combine the oil, rosemary, chives, and lemon zest. Arrange your squash wedges  in a baking dish and brush them with the herb mixture, add salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender.