Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grape Cucumber Pear Refresher

Another one of my favorite juices from the girls behind the BluePrintCleanse. This is so refreshing (hence the name) and is perfect on a hot summer's day. The flavor of this juice will vary in taste depending on how ripe the fruit is. The first time I made this, it was surprisingly sweet. You could smell the juice from the Bosc pears from the other room. The grapes popped with flavor in your mouth. The second time I made this however, the grapes weren't as ripe and it ended up still tasting great, but not as sweet - a more clean, thirst-quenching taste. If you don't like things sweet, I recommended this way. However I DO like things sweet :) and I prefer the first way where you can actually smell the juicy fruit as you take a sip.

I have thought about adding some bubbles to this (champagne bubbles that is) as a afternoon cocktail. Instead of your ordinary mimosa, I think champagne topped with this juice would taste delicious. I have not tried this yet but is a beautiful day, right? :

I will let you know how it goes ;)

1 10-ounce pint of green grapes
1/2 large cucumber
1 D'Anjou/Bosc pear
1-inch piece of ginger
Makes about 16 ounces of juice

Wash all ingredients. Run through juicer starting with the grapes first then the cucumber, ginger and then pear. (You will probably need to cut up the pear in order to fit it down the chute). Scrap off foam and serve.

For some more juicing, check out Apple Green Lemonade.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grilled Artichoke Halves with Herb Lemon Dressing

Click to enlarge.

I love these grilled artichoke halves and per my husband's request we made them last night topped with a fresh herb and lemon dressing. Different from baby artichokes, globe artichokes are best for sharing as you don't eat the actual leafs but scrape off the "meat" of each leaf with your teeth and discard each layer once your done. The fresh herb and lemon dressing is a perfect compliment and is super simple to make. Enoy!

2 whole globe artichokes
1 lemon
1 tablespoon of salt
Olive oil

1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of butter substitute (such as Earth Balance or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
2 tablespoons of chives chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cut tops off each artichoke (about 1/2 inch) and trim the bottom of each stem while removing any of the small leaf on the stems. Using scissors, snip off the thorny tips of each leaf. In a large pot, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of salt and the artichokes. Cover and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes (until the stems are easily pierced with a fork). Drain and let cool. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and remove and discard the fuzzy center. (*Side note: this part can be a bit difficult. I use a spoon with a good amount of pressure to scrape out the fuzzy part. You may need to also use a knife if you are having trouble removing it with a spoon). Brush each half with olive oil and season with salt. Grill cut-side down over medium heat for about 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and grill briefly about 1 to 2 minutes. While the artichokes are on the grill, prepare your dressing. Combine olive oil, butter substitute and the juice of 1 lemon. Whisk until combined. Add the chopped parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Whisk well. Arrange the artichokes in a bowl or platter and drizzle with the Herb Lemon Dressing.

For more artichoke love, check out my Baby Roasted Artichokes.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Why is it during the work week (Mon-Fri) when my alarm goes off at 7:30am it's absolute torture to get out of bed. It's like I'm being awaken from death. I'm confused and for about 5 seconds forget where I am/who I am/what day it is.......and THEN on the weekend, my time to finally sleep in, I wake up without any alarm at 6:30 in the morning. And can't go back to bed. Why does this happen to me? Sigh....Anyway, my husband on the other hand could sleep till 2pm everyday. So I figured I would let him sleep in. No need to be cruel today. In fact, the exact opposite. A surprise breakfast on the balcony! He will be thrilled, right? And what's on the menu? PANCAKES. (Gluten free pancakes of course).

These gluten free pancakes are fantastic. In fact, you really can't tell the difference between these and regular pancakes except these ones tend to be even more moist and flavorful due to the combination of coconut flour and almond flour which is used to make them.

A few helpful pointers (especially if you have never cooked with coconut flour and/or almond flour):

1. After combining all the ingredients, it's essential to let the batter sit for about 3-5 minutes (maybe longer depending on what kind of milk you use). This is important because you want to let the batter thicken. Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid so don't think you messed up if your batter seems to liquidy at first. Let it sit for a few minutes and then check back. (If it still looks too thin, try adding another tablespoon of almond flour).

2. On the other hand, if your batter seems too thick, just add a little bit more of the milk you used (almond, coconut or regular milk).

3. These pancakes are medium in size - about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Don't try and make gigantic size pancakes, they wont come out well.

4 eggs
1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk (I use unsweetened almond milk from Almond Breeze)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of coconut flour (for this recipe I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup of almond flour (for this recipe I used Bob's Red Mill)
5 packets of splenda or truvia or stevia
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt (the salt I use for all my recipes is Celtic Sea Salt as it's much healthier for you but any salt will do the job)
Non-stick spray or butter for greasing the pan or griddle
Makes about 6 pancakes

Blend the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract. In a separate large bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond flour, splenda, baking soda and salt. Blend wet ingredients into dry. Make sure the batter is well blended and there are no lumps. Let your batter sit for about 3-5 minutes to thicken. (*Side note: you will know when your batter is the right thickness by stirring the batter with a spoon and holding it above the bowl. The batter should drip down, but slowly in a semi-thickness.....sorry if this makes absolutely no sense to you. But if you follow the above recipe correctly, you should be fine). While your batter is setting, spray or grease your griddle (best option for pancakes) or pan. Set to medium to medium-high heat. Using a ladle, pour small circles of batter onto heated griddle or pan. (Remember, the pancakes should be about 4 to 5 inches in diameter). Let them cook on the one side and do not touch until you start to see the batter bubble slightly. Carefully check the bottom of the pancakes with a spatula and flip when they are a nice tan color. Let cook for another few minutes or until the other side is also a nice tan/brown color. Stack 'em up and serve with sugar free maple syrup, agave nectar or honey. Top with chopped nuts and fresh fruit.

I must confess....

Carlos was still sleeping....and he needs his rest....and I just couldn't resist. 

BUT I did save him half  =)

Check out some of my other favorite gluten-free pancake recipes @ Against All Grain and Elena's Pantry .

I hope you enjoy my Saturday Morning Pancakes! We both did. Have a great rest of the weekend.

- J

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mixed Berry Sorbet

It's mid-June in Miami and it's getting HOT in here. How about a refreshing mixed berry sorbet to cool you down? Yes, please. This non-fat, non-dairy, low sugar sorbet is the real deal and tastes just like any other version you would buy MINUS the sugar and calories. Did I also mention you only need 4 simple ingredients? Doesn't get much simpler than that. Go ahead and indulge because there is nothing to feel guilty about. Just beware of brain freeze.

1 12-ounce bag of frozen mixed berries (I used raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, but any combo will work. Just make sure there is no added sugar).
1/2 cup of agave nectar
3 packets of splenda or stevia (or whatever your preference is)
2 cups of water

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until combined. Turn on ice cream machine and pour in mixture. Let churn for about 20 to 30 minutes until desired thickness. Scoop and serve!

Also tastes great with chocolate chips on top:

*Side note: If you are shopping around for an ice cream maker, I highly suggest this Cuisinart version I got as a wedding present (Thank you Maria! Xx) from Williams Sonoma. It works perfectly and is super affordable. Happy ice cream making :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Curry Chicken Salad

This low fat curry chicken salad is packed with flavor and will not disappoint. The apples and grapes are a perfect compliment to the curry - a little sweet and a little spice with tons of crunch. I like serving it during a summer cookout with endive or melba toast. Although it is equally as great over a salad or between two pieces of bread for a lunchtime sandwich.

4 lean skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 medium celery stalks
1 large apple chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup of sliced red or purple grapes
2 tablespoons of fat free sour cream
1 to 2 tablespoons of light mayo substitute (I use The Ojai Cook, Lemonaise Light
2 teaspoons of agave nectar
2 splenda (or stevia) packets
1 to 2 teaspoons of curry powder (depending on preference)
1/2 cup or raisins or chopped walnuts (both optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a glass 9 x 11 baking dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brush each one (both sides) with olive oil. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes. (*side note: you can cook the chicken the night before to save time and just cover and refrigerate overnight). Let chicken cool. While the chicken is cooling, chop up the celery and add to a large mixing bowl with the apple chunks and the sliced grapes. Once the chicken is done cooling, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to the bowl and toss ingredients together. Add the sour cream and mayo substitute. Mix well until everything is incorporated and combined. Add the agave nectar, and if you prefer it a bit sweeter add 2 packets of splenda or stevia (you may decide to do this after you add the curry to balance the flavors our). Stir well. Add the curry powder (one teaspoon at a time, just in case you prefer less) and then salt and pepper to taste. This salad tastes great if you stir in raisins and/or chopped walnuts for some extra flavor and texture. Serve alone, on a salad, sandwich or even in a lettuce wrap. The choice is yours!

*side note: as mentioned above, I use The Ojai Cook, Lemonaise Light which is an all natural, no cholesterol, dairy free, sugar free, low fat, low carb mayo substitute that tastes (in my opinion) better than regular mayo. You can also use vegenaise, it just has a higher fat content.

Apple Green Lemonade

So I just finished doing a 3 day juice cleanse (about 2 weeks ago) and I am still CRAVING the juices every day. This one in particular is one of my favorites. You would think that out of all the juices, a fruit juice would be the most tasty. WRONG. This green juice is amazing. And for some reason, every juice bar I go to cannot make any green juice taste this good.

The cleanse is by the girls who created the BluePrintCleanse where you can order these juices online and have them delivered to your house each day. Which is great and convenient, but turns out to be pretty pricey. So they wrote a book called The 3-Day Cleanse where you can make the juices at home and follow the program. It's a great book filled with a plethora of information on cleansing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet. Not to mention the back half of the book is filled with great recipes. Including this Green Lemonade Apple concoction. They actually call it "Greens with Apple", but to me it tastes like a tangy and refreshing apple-lemonade.

I highly recommend this 3-day cleanse if you are into that kind of thing. I felt incredible during the whole process and afterwards. Not to mention, I lost about 6 pounds which I had packed on during our 2 week honeymoon in South Africa. (Late-night room service of champagne and cheese plates will do it to ya). 

If you are not into juice cleanses or "cleansing" in general, that's totally cool too. This juice is still a delicious and refreshing beverage to start your day. I love having one for breakfast or after a work out to fill my body with all the nutrients and vitamins that are in this one 16 ounce drink. My husband Carlos is also a fan (of course he was hesitant at first seeing that the drink is green and all) and always asks me to make double when juicing so he can enjoy too. Here he is juice-in-hand after a long run. NEON GREEN shirt and all. Matching the Apple Green Lemonade. Naturally.

1 handful of spinach
3 medium stalks of kale
2 golden delicious apples
1/2 large cucumber
1 small handful of parsley (optional)
1 lemon (yellow peel removed)
1 inch piece of ginger root
Makes one 16 ounce drink

Wash all ingredients well with water. Turn on your juicer. (The juicer you have plays a huge role in the success of your juices. I have had 3 different juicers and the Breville Ikon Juice Fountain Elite is by far the best one. Follow instructions according to your specific juicer. Since my juicer has a wide feeding tube, I usually can fit whole apples down there without cutting them in pieces prior. Makes life easier. When juicing, I like to start with the softest ingredients first. In this case the lemon. After the lemon, move onto the greens. You get the most juice from greens by rolling them up into a sort of ball like shape and then pushing them down the shoot. I do this with first the spinach, parsley and then the kale. Then I add the 1/2 cucumber. Next is the ginger root and then finally your two apples. Scape off any foam from the top, serve over ice and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Roasted Baby Artichokes

I love me some artichokes. Especially fresh artichokes. They are a lot of fun to cook with because you can do so much with them. Many people are intimidated by seeing whole artichokes in the grocery store and aren't quite sure where to start. My suggestion is to first start with the babies. They are smaller and easier to handle. This recipe is packed with flavor and is a great side dish year round!

2 pounds of baby artichokes (about 9 little guys)
2 lemons
2 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To prepare the artichokes, remove the rough outer leaves and trim the stems so there is about 1 inch left. Cut off the top third of each artichoke, removing the spiky top. Split each one in half (lengthwise). Take one of your lemons and cut in half. Rub the halves over each artichoke half to prevent browning while you prepare the dressing. Move artichokes to a large roasting dish spread out with cut-side half faced up. Mix together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon and garlic. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour over artichokes and roast for about 20 minutes or until tender. Move to a large serving bowl and season with the chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and the last lemon half. Yummy!!

*Side note: some of the outer layers of the artichokes may be a little tough. You can remove these leafs and scrape the yummy flesh off with your teeth, or just remove and discard entirely.

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Summer has arrived in Miami and that means only three things at mi casa. Beach, margaritas and lots and lots of grilling. Every meal we eat lately is on our balcony grilling out. Actually, the majority of our time is spent out there. And why not? It's a perfect place for a cold drink, great views and delicious food. 

Lots of this.....

Margarita time with brother -in-law Marcelo, and My
mother-in-law Maria Martha.

and this.....

 My best friend and favorite visitor, Kerry. Fresh squeezed
 OJ and champagne is also a regular on the good ole'
 balcony :)

Back the food. Eggplant. This recipe is great for summer (obvi.) and creating a salad with grilled eggplant, provides for a delicious healthy yet hearty side that is great with any of our usual grilling staples: fish, meat, burgers, etc. I love this as a side dish, but you could totally eat this as a main meal since eggplant is one of those veggies that will fill you up --- and personally my absolute favorite veggie :)

1 large eggplant cut into 1 inch slices
1 red onion cut into rounds
1 large hass avocado, pit removed and cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes 
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley 
The zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
olive oil
celtic sea salt

Take your eggplant slices and onion rounds and brush with olive oil on each side. Grill on medium to high heat until both are charred and eggplants are soft. Remove from the grill to a plate and let cool. Once cooled, roughly chop the eggplant and onions into cube-like shapes and add to a large serving bowl along with the tomatoes and cubed avocado. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, agave nectar and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Add olive oil as you whisk until it forms a nice dressing and the agave isn't sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and add the lemon zest and extra tablespoon of parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.