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Tag Archives: healthy eating

Homemade Hummus Is Easy

Homemade Hummus Is Easy

healthy-hummus-recipes  This is such a delicious hummus you’ll want to eat it plain with a spoon, or at least lick your fingers taking out of the blender. We did1 (Watch those blades though!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (or even better, dried chick peas, aka garbanzos. If you use dried soak them over night, or at least 12 hours and then cook up before use) – about 2 c
  • ½ c of good quality extra virgin olive oil (always, but always use extra virgin, first cold pressed, and if possible organic – this is worth the extra expenditure.)
  • Juice of 2 organic lemons
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (4 is very garlicy, I use 2 smaller cloves and 2 big cloves)
  • Sea salt – a few grinds, can be pink Himalayan sea salt for best nutrients
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • Sprinkle a shake of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Splash (1 tbs at most) of apple cider vinegar – (The best and most healthful is Braggs organic unfiltered raw with the mother). A bit unconventional I know, but just a splash gives a nice enhancing dimension.

Directions:

Rinse the chick peas well in a strainer, make sure they are all good and there are no stones. If you don’t rinse them in cold water before you use them they tend to give you gas.

Put all of these ingredients into a blender and pulse until blended, and we like it a little chunky. If you prefer totally smooth, you may need to open the blender up and give a stir or two before you finish the blending.

Then, I like to add a finishing drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and enjoy with your favorite raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers, celery. Other great accompaniments – olives, nice toast, pita triangles, whatever you prefer!

Bon appetite!

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Soup’s On – Vegan or Not

Sweet Potato Cilantro Onion Soup

Sweet Potato Cilantro Onion Soup

2 pre-baked sweet potatoes – sliced in semi-circle rounds

1 small onion (Vidalia) – chopped roughly (or ½ a medium one)

2-3 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 c – cilantro leaves removed from the stems

1 c – chicken broth or vegetable broth

3 c – filtered water

4 tb coconut oil

½ c of walnuts

½ c of Daiya chedder cheese

1 tsp of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-bake your sweet potatoes at 350 for an hour (can be done the night before).

Sautee chopped onion in 2 tb of coconut oil. When translucent and fragrant, add in the garlic and continue sautéing for another minute or so.

Add 1-3/4 of the sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly to coat with coconut oil and sautéed onion garlic mixture for 3 minutes on medium heat. (Save the ¼ sweet potato to add to final bowl)

Add 1 c of broth and bring to a boil.  In the meantime grind the walnuts and cheese in a food processor or Vitamix blender until they become blended crumbs.

When boiling turn down heat to low and add the cilantro (reserve a few leaves to chop and use for garnish), 3 cups of water, black pepper, and walnut cheese crumbs. Stir to combine thoroughly and cook on low for another 5 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and return to the blender, blend until smooth. Add a slice of the sweet potato remaining to each bowl, and chopped cilantro to garnish. 

Bon appétit! 

My Take On Borsht

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My take on borscht ~ With ages old Russian heritage on my side, my improvisation was pretty tasty if I do say so  myself.  It can be vegan or not, up to you.

Ingredients:

  • Onion – ½ medium yellow onion
  • Garlic – 2-3 cloves chopped
  • Celery – 2-3 stalks chopped
  • Olive oil – 2 tbs
  • Chicken broth (I do part broth and part h2O, or all water if vegan) 5 cups
  • Basil (dried ok) – ¼ tsp
  • Oregano (dried ok) ¼ tsp
  • Sea salt and pepper (a few grinds of each)
  • Beets (peel and chop into med. chunks) (about 3 small beets)
  • Carrots (peel and slice into med. chunks) (2 carrots)
  • Sweet potato (peel and chop into med. chunks) (1 potato)
  • Kale bunch of leaves, washed and sliced thinly
  • Cilantro bunch of leaves, separate from stems and chop
  • Parsley, bunch of leaves, separate from stems and chop
  • Lemon – optional (squeeze juice from half a lemon into soup before serving)

Directions:

Cook down the onion, garlic, and celery in some olive oil, when translucent stir in basil and oregano and heat for a moment before adding liquid.

Add water or chicken broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil.

Add chopped beets, carrots and sweet potato, and turn down heat to med-low.

Simmer for 30 mins. (check after 30 and if all root veggies are fork tender – add the kale and cilantro.)

Simmer for another 3-5 mins. Can serve with a squeeze of lemon and add parsley and a little more salt and pepper to taste.

Bon appétit! Or the Russian equivalent, Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnovo appetita!)

Satisfies every time smoothie

My love affair with smoothies really started when I had my personal training studio with my ex-husband in Soho, NYC. We eventually made our way into a fabulous 5,000 sq. ft. store front studio. It was elevated a little from the sidewalk, and had floor to ceiling windows that opened sideways, so that the front of the studio was open to the street and passersby. What does this have to do with smoothies you’re wondering? I saw this setting was the ideal space to create an organic juice bar and cafe! I was on a mission from our opening to fulfill my vision… and for what better reason than I wanted to drink ’em myself. There were no smoothie or fresh juicing shops in the Hudson Square/Soho/West Village intersecting quadrant of downtown Manhattan. How this could be I had no clue.

It took some time, both to build out the bar by my handy husband, and then to enroll the best barista around to come over from Lifethyme Grocery. Needless to say when all of these pieces finally came together I was a happy camper and so were our clients, as well as many of the neighbors. We did a lot of fun experimenting, so I was able to have a smoothie and/or juice every day. I’ll share one of my all time fav’s here:

Blueberry smoothie (serves 1)
Place in a blender the following:
1 cup blueberries (I get frozen organic, wild blueberries also good)
1 banana (can be frozen ahead, if you do, remember to peel it first)
1 cup almond milk, or soy milk (I choose unsweetened because the fruit is sweet enough for me, but if you prefer, vanilla is nice too)
1 rounded tb of natural unsweetened peanut butter (or if you prefer, almond butter, but it changes the taste)
USUALLY I ADD SUPERFOODS FOR HEALTH & VARIETY:
1 tb maca powder
1 tb cacao powder
1 tb lucuma powder
(it’s ok to add any combination of superfoods thereof. I’ve even added noni or spirulina to this combo – just be careful not too much of those potent powders). Then blend gradually up to high (10) for a minute until all is smooth. You may need to open it up to stir if it seems not moving, or add a tad bit more milk. I like them thicker and eating my smoothie with a spoon or drinking with a straw.

Blueberries promote digestive health as they are rich in soluble fiber. The tannins in blueberries reduce inflammation in the digestive system, and the polyphenols have been shown to have rich anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. What does this mean? They are great for digestion, brain health and for lowering risk for cardio-vascular disease!

Stay tuned for my Green smoothie, this is great way to better bones, help for your heart and an improved immune system!

Invigorating U,
Valerie

www.InvigorateU.com

Delicious Guacamus (Homemade Guacamole & Hummus)

I never know whether I love guacamole or hummus more, but I do know that when you put either one in front of me I can’t stop eating them!! 

The nice thing is that avocados are good fat, which we need some of in our bodies.  Bad fats increase your cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases, while good fats have the opposite effect, protecting your heart and supporting overall health. In fact, good fats—such as omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, play a huge role in helping your brain function– they manage your moods, keep you on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.  These fats are absolutely essential not only to your physical health but your emotional well-being.  And hummus, well… chick peas are a very tastey source of protein for vegans, (tahini is excellent nutrient density too, however, it’s not included/needed in this recipe).

Recently, one of my clients has had a financial setback so he’s taken to feeding me after our sessions – not a bad trade off, particularly when your client is a good healthful chef.  I was reminded how easy it is to whip up homemade hummus and so I’ve concocted this variation on some of his specialties.  The name “guacamus,” which is combining ingredients from guacamole and hummus, is coined by a good HS buddy who is very clever and a superb cook himself.

These are estimates on the proportions I used which feed 2 a nice sized portion, (these are also flexible to your taste):

1/3 of a ripe Florida avocado,

1/2 a box of organic chickpeas (rinsed) = 1 cup

1/4-1/3 cup of olive oil,

1/2 a large shallot,

a few pinches sea salt, cayenne, tumeric, black pepper + BLEND. 

Although I didn’t use lemon in this recipe, it would be a great addition – for the above proportions I’d add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil on top, a few shallot slices, and a parsley leaf. 

Enjoy–an invigorating snack on its own with veggies or other healthful pita/cracker combo, condiment for gourmet sandwiches, accompaniment to salads!

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Fabulous Frittata!

Everyone has memories of the distinctions in relaxation of the “weekend” growing up. I sure do. The long awaited luscious “TGIF” with its visions of– Yayyy, I’m allowed to play all day! Now my philosophy has evolved to “TGIT” which stands for “Thank God It’s Today,” a wonderful acronym coined, and book written, by a good friend and mentor of mine. Grateful for every day, I find ways to play daily. Life is too short not to enjoy the Now.

Weekend food was always a bit different, more special somehow. The easy pace of Saturday and Sunday mornings meant there were always eggs in whatever formation my heart desired – sunny side up, scrambled, an omelette, or frittata. Often my mom would lovingly prepare fresh squeezed orange juice or make me a grapefruit soup, essentially the grapefruit sections taken out individually and swimming in a bowl of the grapefruit’s juice. While she was cooking, I’d run out down Bleecker St. to Zitos for a fresh baked loaf of Italian bread. Ahhh, the loaves were always warm – a perfectly crunchy crust on the outside, and soft but with density, airy and with texture on the inside – the most wonderful bread. It always smelled incredible in that store, and Mr. Zito himself was there behind the counter making sure all the customers were happy.

The frittata is one of my favorite foods for sure. It’s simple to make with gently layered tastes sure to please even the most fussy of palates, (that is if they eat eggs of course). You may sub and customize combinations of many options for frittata ingredients – veggies, meats, cheeses. Here I’m going to share the recipe for one of my vegetarian favorites.

Frittata with Organic tomato, vidalia onion, zucchini and baby spinach
Serves 2
eggs (4)
1/4 or 1/8 of a medium size vidalia onion
grape tomatoes (use about 8-10), if you buy a regular tomato use 1/2
1/2 a medium zucchini
2 handfuls of baby spinach
EVOO
tumeric powder (preferable, not required)
oregano (dried or fresh if possible)
cayenne (optional, very little used)
sea salt and black pepper
(Other options: cheese -vegan or dairy, thinly sliced virgina ham or smoked turkey, other veggies.)

Use organic where possible. I choose vidalia onion, but red or yellow will work, as will shallots. (You can also sub scallions, but it will be different.)
1. Take out all of your ingredients, wash where applicable – 1st slice 1/4 of a medium size vidalia onion relatively thinly, so you have 1/2 circle thin slices.
2. Dice your tomatoes, if you buy grape tomatoes (use about 8-10) it saves time – then you just slice them in thirds (Less labor). If you buy a regular tomato use 1/2 and chop.
3. Slice your zucchini in 1/2 length-wise, and then relatively thin slices across-wise. So you’ll have a pile of 1/2 circles. (Use 1/2 a zucchini)
4. IF you do use some ham or turkey, take each piece of meat and roll it up in a tube, then slice it in rounds.
5. IF you do use some cheese, it’s best grated, or if it’s in slices then slice further into thin rectangles.

-Once you have everything sliced and diced, start a non-stick frying pan heating with 1-2 tb. of olive oil (I always use cold pressed extra virgin.) Put in your onions with a medium heat 4ish on electric stove.

-Take out your eggs – (Use 2 per person). I buy organic free range, vegetarian fed eggs. Whisk those in a small bowl while the onion is heating. You can use a whisk or fork to make sure the yolks and whites are nicely combined. When this is done,
-Add the zucchini slices, and sprinkle of sea salt and a sprinkle of tumeric powder, and a VERY small sprinkle of cayenne if you like – stir around with a spatula.
-Leave cooking for 2 minutes, stir occasionally.
– Add your tomatoes. You may add another pinch of sea salt. Possibly a drizzle more of olive oil at this point and some oregano (a sprinkle or two if dried, if fresh 3 stalks worth of just the leaves – Give them a chop to release the flavors), stirring occasionally.
– A few more minutes, you want the onions very soft, the tomatoes cooked down, and the zucchini starting to get wrinkley. These 3 ingredients should look like the flavors have melded. It’s ok and favorable if a little browning starts to happen.
– If using sliced virgina ham or smoked turkey here – add now, stir around a bit, doesn’t need cooking just combine.
– Give the eggs another whisk, and add them to the pan. pick up the pan and move it around so the eggs are evenly coating the bottom. Then use the spatula and quickly stir around the ingredients across the eggs, so that the veggies and flavors are evenly distributed across the eggs.
-You should see the eggs starting to coagulate along the sides of the pan, this is good. Take your spatula and move the eggs away from the edge, and tip the pan so the remaining egg liquid goes into the small area you moved it away from the side. This is gentle. You’re just ensuring a)the eggs don’t stick to the side, and b) that the eggs cook in layers and get some air into them. You may do this a few times, as they are cooking. Keep moving the edges away from the sides of the pan, and moving the liquid around into those edges to cook.
– When the eggs look like they’re glossy on top if you want shredded or slices of cheese, sprinkle across top of eggs. Do the same with your baby spinach leaves, and then gently move the spatula under 1/2 the eggs in the fry pan, and carefully quickly fold over. If it doesn’t fold perfectly that’s ok. Immediately add a few tbs of filtered/bottled water and put a lid on the pan. – Let steam for a few minutes, til water is gone.

-Peek under lid, and check. It’ll puff up a bit with the steam. When you cut the eggs in 1/2 with your spatula so now you have 2 triangles, you should see eggs, not runny, cheese melted, and spinach wilted. It should still be moist while cooked through.
– Take your spatula and lift out onto 2 plates. Sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste. If you have fresh parsley can garnish with a bit.
– Serve with toast of your choice, or on a heated wrap, tortilla, atop quinoa, with a side salad, some potatoes – OR – a frittata is fabulous just on it’s own!

Bon Appetite!
Invigorating U,
Valerie