Veggie Coconut Curry

IMG_4392.JPG

I crave coconut curry all the time and luckily for me, I have a restaurant just down the street that can satisfy my craving.  But that was before I realized how easy coconut curry is to make.  I pretty much thought about all the vegetables that would taste good smothered in coconut milk (so like, everything) and added in rice to make one of my favorite meals. The other exciting news?  Follow this recipe and enjoy leftovers for days.

Ingredients

-1 small cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces (or use 1/2 a large cauliflower)

-1 German butterball potato, cut into small pieces

-1/2 green bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch slices

-1/2 onion, diced

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-1 tablespoon ginger, minced

-1 tablespoons coconut oil

-1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)

-1 can coconut milk (full-fat)

-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (found in a can in ethnic/Thai section at store)

-1 tablespoon tamari

-1 tablespoon rice vinegar

-optional: cilantro or basil for garnish

 

Instructions

1. Make a pot of jasmine rice.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add potato, salt, and pepper and cook for five minutes.  Add about 1/4 cup water and place a lid on the pan to steam.  Add more oil if necessary. When the water has evaporated, add more water and allow to steam.  Add cauliflower. Continue to add water and steam until potatoes are slightly tender.

3. Add carrots to the pan and add more salt and pepper. Add more oil if necessary.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until slightly softened and add the peppers, onions, garlic, and ginger. Add more salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until you can pierce the peppers with a fork.

4. Add the red Thai curry paste to the pan and mix it in with the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and sprinkle coconut sugar. Stir to combine over medium heat.  Maintain a gentle simmer (reducing heat if need be) and cook long enough until everything is tender to your liking, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and rice vinegar.  Serve over rice and add fresh herbs for garnish.

 

Smoky Bacon Potato Leek Soup

Dear bacon lovers,

I have found your new favorite soup.  This dish is one I will long for all Spring and Summer as I wait for the return of soup season. The combination of seasonal vegetables with the smoky spices and bacon create a heavenly aroma that’s equally as delicious.  I guarantee you’ll be hooked.  Serve to your whole family or dinner guests this holiday season.

Ingredients

fullsizerender-12

-3 pieces bacon, chopped

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into medium-size pieces

-1 large leek or two small leeks, tops removed, white parts sliced width-wise

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-2 dried bay leaves

-1-2 teaspoons paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika (I eyeball it)

-1-2 teaspoons salt and pepper

-1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon thyme leaves

-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

-1 tablespoon heavy cream

-chives for garnish (optional)

-croutons or crushed cheesy crackers for garnish (optional)

FullSizeRender (11).jpg

I crumbled these on top and they were delicious

Instructions

  1. Heat large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil.  When hot, add onions and bacon, and cook until browned. Add some paprika, smoked paprika, and pepper.

fullsizerender-9

 

2. Add the leeks, potato, garlic and thyme.  Sprinkle with more paprika, smoked paprika, pepper, and this time some salt.  Cook five minutes.

 

fullsizerender-8

 

3. Pour broth into the pot and add bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until  the vegetables are soft.  Remove the bay leaves and let the soup cool for at five minutes.

 

fullsizerender-7

 

4. Transfer to a blender (in batches if necessary) and add the cream.  Blend until smooth. Serve in bowls and garnish.

 

Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

You can roll your eyes at the bone broth trend all you want, but the truth is, there’s a reason bone broth restaurants are popping up in major cities and making headlines. While I enjoy bone broth, it feels silly paying $5 for a cup of straight broth, and truth told, with this recipe I can make it better myself at home (and it’s not hard!).

Why drink bone broth?

Bone broth is essentially an anti-aging tonic.  It’s full of pure nutrients and minerals straight from the bones of animals, like chickens, beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, simmered for hours with water and roasted vegetables.  Unlike regular broth which is made with just the bones of animals, bone broth usually calls for some meat on the bones during the cooking process. Grandmothers have been making it for ages, swearing that its healing properties aid the body’s immune system and gut, alleviate inflammation and joint pain, and make skin soft and hair shiny. It makes perfect sense considering bone broth is rich in many important nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, protein, collagen, gelatin and glycine.  Drink it regularly to aid your body in good health!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Making bone broth is easy enough. It’s recommended to use a mix of bones with and without meat, and choose bones from organically-raised animals only.  You don’t want to extract any potentially harmful additives that could’ve been given to the animals. Same goes for the rest of the ingredients in the broth.  This recipe is for beef bone broth, but you’d essentially do the same thing with this recipe as you’d do if you were using bones from a different animal.  If you so desire, which I highly recommend, you can add your favorite herbs or spices to the broth too to make it more flavorful.

Ingredients

-4 bones beef bones (aim for a mix of bones, some with a little meat and some without)

-1 yellow onion, quartered

-1 leek, chopped

-2 medium carrots, chopped

-2 celery stocks, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

-2 bay leaves

-2 tablespoons peppercorns

-1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic into a roasting pan along with the beef bones.  Roast for 15 minutes, take out and toss the veggies, then roast for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

2- Fill a large stockpot with about 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, apple cider vinegar, and roasted vegetables and bones with any juices and scrapings from the roasting pan.  Add more water to the pot if the water doesn’t cover the bones all the way. Optional- add herbs or spices.  I added a mix of Italian herbs.

3- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, and cook with the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours, occasionally skimming the foam and excess fat from the top with a spoon or lettuce leaf, if you have one. The longer you let the broth sit, the more flavorful it will be.

*Note- do not leave the house with the stove on or leave it on overnight while you sleep. You can always continue to simmer it the next day.

4- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Discard the bones and vegetables by straining the broth with a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. I then transferred the broth to a glass mason jar and made sure to skim the rest of the fat off the top.

Store the broth in the fridge for up to five days and up to six months in the freezer.

Cheers to good health!

 

 

 

 

 

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

IMG_0585

I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

Spiced Chicken With Parsley Mint Sauce

056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497.jpg

I can’t pretend I watch a lot of basketball, but I sure do follow NBA superstar Steph Curry’s wife, Ayesha Curry. Ayesha Curry is the bomb. Not only does she have the most adorable family and AMAZING kitchen, but she’s an excellent cook.  I happened to catch her on the Cooking Channel preparing this spiced chicken dish. It’s very easy to replicate and tastes so damn good, especially when paired with coconut rice. YUM.

For the Chicken:

-2 organic, skinless chicken breasts

-2 tablespoons paprika

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon cumin

-salt and pepper

For the Parsley Mint Sauce:

-1 1/2 cup parsley

-handful fresh mint leaves

-2 scallions, chopped

-3/4 cup olive oil

-1/4 cup white wine or water

-juice of one lemon

-4 cloves garlic

For the Rice 

-1 can organic coconut milk

-2 cups white jasmine rice

-1 1/4 cups water

-scallions, chopped

-2 pinches of salt

Instructions:

  1. Place rice in a medium saucepan with the water, salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Leave the lid on and remove from heat for about 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and mixing in the chopped scallions.
  2. For the chicken, combine all spices in a bowl. Rub the chicken in the spice mixture until evenly coated. Heat a large skillet or grill pan with some oil and/or a little butter to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides, about 6-8 minutes per side.
  3. For the sauce, place the herbs, white wine or water, lemon, honey, garlic and scallions in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve the chicken over the rice, then drizzle on the parsley mint sauce and add a vegetable side if desired.

 

Healthy Holiday Appetizers

I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year and tried to select appetizers that were both healthy and delicious.  Since we are still in a holiday month, I thought it would be nice to share some healthy appetizer ideas to try at your own holiday party.

  1. Shrimp with cocktail sauce
  2. Vegetables with homemade cucumber dip
  3. Soup shots

While cheese and crackers are tasty, there’s such an overload of unhealthy options at parties and events during the holidays that I think it’s nice to serve your guests some healthier, homemade options that are easy to make and are total crowd pleasers.

  1. Shrimp with cocktail sauce is definitely a crowd pleaser. At my Thanksgiving I sautéed the defrosted shrimp for five minutes or so in a skillet with olive oil over medium heat until the shrimp turned pink. Meanwhile, mix the cocktail sauce in a little bowl. For cocktail sauce all you need is ketchup,Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and a squeeze of lemon. These condiments should all be gluten-free, but may depend on the brand you buy. Mix about 1/2 cup ketchup with 2 tablespoons horseradish, a squeeze of lemon and dash of Worcestershire. I honestly played around with my measurements and just got a bit creative until it tasted perfect. To serve place the small bowl of sauce in the middle of a large plate with the shrimp surrounding the bowl on the plate.
  2. Chopped veggies with dip is simple and easy for guests to munch on. Select your vegetables and chop them the day before your party to take one thing off your plate the day of the event. For my homemade cucumber dip, simply combine 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with finely diced cucumber, chopped fresh dill, chopped green onions and some salt. Mix these ingredients together and serve with the vegetables. Such a healthy alternative to store-bought dip!Tzatziki-700x350_zqqnc9.jpg
  3. I love Pinterest. Lately I’ve been seeing soup served in shot glasses with cut up grilled cheeses as appetizers. I think this idea is super cute, and soup is a great thing to serve guests during these chilly months. Depending on the soup, soup can be pretty simple to make, and can also be made a day or two before your event. Try my roasted carrot soup recipe. It’s so yummy and can be served with cut up panini or grilled cheese.tomato-soup-grilled-cheese-I-howsweeteats.com-8

 

Home Remedies

urlI love using spices, herbs, and pantry items to make home remedies and beauty products.  There’s no need to feel guilty about spending $20 for a nice bottle of olive oil or coconut oil anymore, because that olive oil doubles as face cleanser and that coconut oil can be used for just about anything.  Using what’s probably in your kitchen or fridge already, here are a few simple recipes for home beauty and cleaning products:

Bathroom Freshener

-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

-1 1/2 cups water

-10-15 drops essential oils (cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, or any other pure essential oils)

Mix ingredients in a glass hair with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep some of the spray in a spray bottle in the bathroom and label “air freshener.”

Most commercial shampoo and conditioners create soft, gorgeous hair on the outside, but actually are a risk to your health. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient in most commercial shampoos, dries out hair and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.  Commercial products also contain gluten.

apple-cider-vinegar-uses-hair

Organic apple cider vinegar restores hair’s natural pH and helps remove dead skin cells from the scalp.

Rinse Away Dandruff

-1 cup organic apple cider vinegar

-10 drops clove essential oil

Combine ingredients and shake.  Apply 1/4 cup of the mixture to shampooed hair.  Towel dry, working well into the scalp. Wait 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Deep Conditioning Mask for Damaged Hair

-1/2 cup Honey

-1 tsp olive oil

Mix ingredients and massage into clean, damp hair.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Rinse well with warm water.  Wash hair with a natural shampoo and dry.

Making body scrubs is simple.  Whatever isn’t already in your home, like essential oils, you may be able to pick up at a health food store.  Experiment with different scents and combinations of ingredients.  Your skin will be moist and soft after, especially if you use the scrub after a shower, because it’s easier to exfoliate dead skin cells.  It’s also great to use a scrub before shaving, and should result in a smoother shave.

You only need to scrub your skin once a week.  Avoid certain essential oils, because they can irritate the skin when mixed with hot water.  These oils include: basil, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and bay.

Salt Scrub

-1 cup sea salt

-1/2 cup grapeseed oil or almond oil

-1/4 cup avocado or olive oil

-1 vitamin E capsule

-10-15 drops essential oils (blending is ok)

Mix the oils, vitamin E, and essential oils in a small bowl.  Add the salt and mix well.  Store in a container with an airtight lid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sugar Scrub

-1/2 cup white sugar

-enough olive oil to completely moisten the sugar, but not enough to make it runny with oil

-Squeeze of lemon

Stir sugar in with olive oil.  Squeeze lemon.  Use your fingers to scoop the mixture and rub on your face.

Source: National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies

Shepard’s Pie

Shepard’s Pie is such a comforting winter dish and makes for great leftovers.  It’ a classic, traditional recipe, although this was my first time trying the dish with lamb and not beef.  The meat and vegetables were so satisfying and flavorful on their own that I can even recommend this dish sans potatoes.

Some of the equipment you’ll need you should already have stocked in your kitchen, and if not, consider buying the following things:

Mixing bowls            Potato masher or food mill          Large ovenproof casserole dish

Cutting board           Large pot                                          Spatula

Kinfe                           Saute pan                                         Microplane or other zester

For the filling:

-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 Spanish onion, diced

-2 stalks celery, small diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 whole celery root, peeled and medium diced

-1 lb ground lamb

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-1/2 cup red wine

-2 tbsp fresh mined rosemary

-2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced

-1 tsp whole mustard seed

-1 tsp coriander seed

-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the mashed potatoes:

-2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

-3 tbsp kosher salt

-2 bay leaves

-1 dried chili pepper

-2 tbsp unsalted butter

-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

-2 tbsp grated horseradish, preferably fresh

-zest of 1 lemon

-salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel potatoes and cut them into quarters.  In a large pot, add chilies, bay leaves, salt, and potatoes.  Add enough water to fully cover the potatoes and cover the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid removed for about 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.  Strain and discard bay leaves and chilies.

sp7

Place cubed potatoes in pot with chilies, salt, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover all the potatoes.

2. Prepare onion, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  Place all diced vegetables and herbs in a dish, leaving garlic on the side.

sp1

Cut both the carrots and celery into thirds first

sp2

Dice carrots

sp3

Peel the celery root

sp5

Medium dice the celery root spears

sp6

Diced carrots, diced celery, diced onion, diced celery root. Leave garlic on the side, since that’ll be the last thing to go into the pan with the meat.

3.  In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb and brown.  Add mustard seed and coriander seed.  Add onions, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and combine with a spatula.

sp8

4.  When vegetables have cooked slightly, add garlic and tomato paste and mix.  Add red wine.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

5. After potatoes have cooked and drained, use a masher or food mill to mash potatoes.  Add butter, lemon zest, olive oil, and horseradish.  Add grated cheddar cheese.  Transfer lamb mixture to a deep ovenproof baking dish and spread evenly.  Adjust seasoning.  Spread a layer of potatoes over the lamb mixture and run a fork over the top, creating ridges.  Bake until potatoes are golden and the lamb is hot, about 15-20 minutes.

6.  While the dish is baking, prepare the mint and parsley to garnish.  When potatoes are done, remove and sprinkle the mint and parsley over the potatoes.  Drizzle some olive oil and serve!

sp9

Chicken Parmesan

chicken p 2I lived in New York for four years and never had chicken parmesan better than my own.  Chicken Parmesan is an Italian favorite, definitely one of my man’s favorites, and just seems to be a crowd pleaser.  This dish goes great with pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles), vegetables, or a side salad.  I like to make extras and have it available to eat throughout the week, using the leftovers to make chicken parm sandwiches.

Personally, I prefer homemade breadcrumbs, but some people still prefer store bought seasoned or plain breadcrumbs.  If you decide to make your own breadcrumbs, it’s easy.  All you need is some day old bread or defrosted bread broken into bite-sized pieces.  Throw the pieces in a food processor or blender and blend until you have crumbs.  I season my breadcrumbs with some dried basil and dried oregano, but that’s also optional.  When using herbs, crush and rub the herbs between your hands, because this will release more flavor.chicken p 3

For the sauce, I admit, I buy this freshly made red sauce I love from the store because I’m a little particular about my sauce. Most bottled sauces, like Prego, are filled with sugar, so I recommend either buying fresh sauce or making it from scratch.

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts

-1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

-1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese + 3 tbsp for topping

-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced

-Salt and pepper

-2 large eggs, well beaten

-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed

-8 ounces fresh mozzarella, 1/4 inch thick slices

-3-4 cups marinara sauce of choice

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Wash chicken and pat dry.  Place chicken breasts in large plastic ziplock bag or between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper.  Pound chicken with a mallet or hammer chicken with your fists (my own solution to not owning a mallet) on a flat surface until chicken breasts are about 1/2 inch thick.

3. On a dinner plate, add the bread crumbs, 1/2 the Romano cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper.  In a shallow bowl large enough to fit the chicken breasts, add eggs and 1 tbsp water, then beat with a fork.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil.

5. Dip each chicken breast into the eggs and then into the breadcrumb mixture, coating each side. When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the pan and cook each side for about 3 minutes, or until lightly brown and not quite cooked.  Add any remaining breadcrumbs to the pan and fry, adding more olive oil as needed and keeping the bottom of the pan filled with 1/4 inch of oil.

6. In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, cover the bottom of the dish with a 1 inch layer of red sauce.  Remove chicken and fried breadcrumbs from the skillet and arrange in the baking dish.  Pour another layer of sauce over the top of the chicken.  Cook chicken uncovered in the oven for 10 minutes.

chicken p 5

Layer red sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place cutlets and fried breadcrumbs in dish and layer more red sauce on top.

7. Remove chicken and top the chicken with the mozzarella and remaining Romano.  Place back in the oven uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, or until sauce bubbles and the mozzarella melts.

chicken p 1

Remove dish from oven after 10 minutes and cover with cheese. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

chicken p 9

Nom nom, melted, cheesy goodness 🙂