Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sangria Flora

The other night my dear friend Gerry came over for dinner and drinks. I cooked my Coconut Curry for dinner and served Sangria Flora cocktails. I came across this sangria recipe at work while Ellie was flipping though the latest Edible Jersey Magazine. This sangria features St. Germain - which
Ellie introduced me to a few years ago. St. Germain is a sweet elderflower liqueur made in France - do I need to say more!? It's perfect for mixing into wine or spritzers for a burst of flavor.  So I guess you can just blame Ellie for this not-so-healthy post.

But seriously, if your going to drink a cocktail, this one is not the worst thing you can drink... it's loaded with fresh fruits! St. Germain even made special spoon straws to make sure you eat your fruits at the end. Now that I sound like an alcoholic, heres the recipe:

Sangria Flora
Edible Jersey Magazine, Summer 2012
  • 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc or Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup St Germain
  • 1 yellow peach, diced
  • 1 white peach, diced
  • 5 fresh strawberries, diced
  • 6 fresh raspberries
  • 1 handfull fresh green grapes
Stir ingredients in a pitcher or carafe - I used a flower vase because I had neither and it worked just fine. Soak for 15 min. Ladle liquid and fruits into an ice-filled glass. ***If you don't consume alcohol, you can enjoy this beverage by replacing wine with seltzer, and the St. Germain with pomegranate juice or fruit juice of choice. Then add 1 tbsp rose water. ***

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

101 Wednesday: Jicama

This weekend I went upstate to my aunt and uncle, Eva and Payam's house. It was Eva's birthday and it was a perfect weekend to celebrate outdoors. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to shoot a quick 101 Wednesday video since they have a beautiful back yard. I asked Eva what she thought I should do my video on for this week, and she mentioned Jicama. She told me she had found a recipe for it once and didn't enjoy it. I was up for the challenge to change her mind about this delicious root vegetable.

Jicama (pronounced hi-ka-mah) is a super crisp root vegetable that has a nutty, fresh and slightly sweet taste. The texture inside is really similar to a crisp apple, but the flavor is much softer. It's so perfect to use as a substitute for chips. You can dip jicama into guacamole or your favorite dips. I also like cutting it up into tropical salads. I personally don't enjoy cooked Jicama, so that's why I'm sharing two ways to enjoy it raw.

I served the Jicama Salad and Jicama Chips to Eva and a bunch of her friends for her birthday. Everyone seemed to be happily surprised about how yummy the veggie was - and most importantly, the birthday girl changed her mind about her feelings towards jicama =)

Jicama Chips
Peel the jicama's skin using a knife, you can watch my video to learn how. Cut pieces into chip size bites and serve with fresh guacamole or your favorite dip.

by Sarah Farsh May, 27 2012
  • 3 avocados
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 3 fresh limes, juiced
Mash all ingredients together until smooth.

Jicama Salad
by Sarah Farsh May, 27 2012
  • 4 persian cucumbers, sliced
  • half bunch cilantro, diced
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • half small onion, diced
  • half jicama, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 mango, skinned and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (leave out if your a baby)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simple Green Smoothie

I don't drink smoothies as much as I used to anymore, simply because I choose to eat my fruits and veggies instead. I enjoy smoothies just when I'm in the mood for one which is usually on Saturday mornings. I eat enough fruits and veggies regularly that drinking a smoothie ends up being additional sugar I don't need. There is nothing wrong with natural sugars from pure whole fruits - but if your already eating enough fruits, you don't need to add more to your diet with smoothies. I think smoothies are still a great go-to nutrient booster when your on the go and need a quick intake of nutrients or just to enjoy for pleasure.

When I do drink smoothies, I like them to be super easy and no-fuss. This is my favorite go-to quick smoothie.

Mango Spinach Green Smoothie
• 2 cups frozen mango chunks
• 3 cups baby spinach
• 1 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (or half water and half OJ if you want less sugar)

In VitaMix or high powered blender, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Serves 2.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not So Lazy Sunday

I often talk about "pre-planning" and "prepping" my fruits and veggies, but I haven't showed you how. Prepping your fruits and veggies ahead of time makes cooking in the kitchen so much quicker and easier. It also helps you make the right choices for snacking. The main reason people tend to go for a bag of chips or cookies for a snack is because of convenience. It's much easier to open up a bag than wash, peel, and cut your fruits and veggies. Doing all this ahead of time gives you easy options to snack on. Usually on Sunday's, I head to my local grocer and do produce shopping for the week. I always try to get just the basics and things I know I'll use everyday - but sometimes I get carried away.

My basic shopping list consists of:

  • fresh berries - whatever looks fresh and in season
  • 1 bunch of bananas
  • 5 grapefruits - one for every day of my work week
  • 5 bell peppers - a mix of green, red and orange
  • 5 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch of vine tomatoes
  • 3 bunches romaine lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bag grapes
  • 2 heads of broccoli 
  • 3 avocados
  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 1 large bin of baby spinach
  • 1 squash
  • 1 pineapple and any other fruits that look good
I did pretty good today sticking to my list, just got a few additional things. Since its summer, we have a much larger selection of super sweet fruits that are in season - so I usually take advantage.  Anything I don't get to finish during the week, I just freeze in zip lock bags!

The first thing I do after I unpack my fruits and veggies, is clean and prep them. For example: I chop, and clean my romaine lettuce in a salad spinner, rinse my grapes, kale and berries - so they are ready to eat. Chop up some broccoli, bell peppers and cucumbers so they are ready to eat with dips. Peel and cut any large fruit such as pineapples and watermelon, then store the pieces into a large tupperware containers.

I also continue packing my fruits and veggies to take with me for lunch. Here I have pineapple, watermelon, and a large green salad with romaine lettuce, broccoli, bell peppers, avocados, and tomatoes. This was super easy to put together since I already prepped my fruits and veggies. You can continue to use the your prepared produce throughout your busy week for quick lunches and healthy dinners. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chipotle Chocolate Chili

I was looking online for some inspiration to help me decide on what to cook for dinner. I ran into a recipe for Quick and Easy Veggie Chili from Whole Foods Market. Reading the reviews and comments on the recipe post, one person mentioned an addition of chocolate. I totally loved that idea so I decided I would add some into mine too. If chocolate in chili sounds weird to you - fear not. You don't actually taste chocolate, the chocolate just gives the chili a creamy and rich layer of flavor.

For my recipe, I decided to go can-free and make everything from fresh ingredients. This way, I was also able to up the vegetable factor big time. Sure, it takes a little more time - but you could really taste the difference. If you are in a hurry, I think Whole Foods Market's recipe is a perfect go-to healthy chili recipe. But if you've got a little more time on your hands, you may want to give mine a shot :)

Chipotle Chocolate Chili
by Sarah Farsh May 17, 2012
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large green bell peppers, seeded and chopped into larger size pieces
  • 4 ripe vine tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 orange pepper, seeded
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch celery
  • 3 chipotle peppers plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 4 cups cooked red beans (salt free)
  • 2 jalapenos (leave out or minimize if your a baby)
  • splash of good red wine
  • 1/2 cup organic corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened chocolate powder
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
In a large pot, dry saute onions. Lower heat to medium/low and add in green bell peppers and continue sauteing. Add in splashes of vegetable stock or water if needed. Meanwhile, in a VitaMix or high powered blender, puree tomatoes, red pepper, orange pepper, garlic, carrots, lemon juice, celery and chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, **You will have to blend these ingredients in two separate batches, everything wont fit in one shot. It doesn't matter how you separate the batches as long as everything gets pureed - these ingredients act as the "crushed canned tomatoes" for the chili. Add vegetable puree mixture into pot and mix well. Add in 4 cups cooked red beans (make your own like I did, or use salt free canned beans), jalapenos, wine, corn, chocolate powder and maple syrup. Mix well and let cook on medium low heat for 15-20 min. Serve over brown rice and garnish with fresh avocado, cilantro and lime. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

I woke up this morning craving banana nut muffins, so I made some. I packed these muffins up in an air tight container and stored them in the fridge for breakfast on the go throughout my work week.

Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins
by Sarah Farsh May 14, 2012
  • 2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup steal cut oats
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups very, very ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together and mix well. Lightly spray muffin pan with coconut oil or use a nonstick muffin pan. Spoon in muffin batter into cupcake pan evenly - makes 10 muffins. Bake for 25min or until brown - use a toothpick to check if the muffins are done. Be careful not to burn.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mediterranean Veggies over Quinoa

If your just getting into "Quinoa" or have never had it before - go get yourself some! Its really adaptable, yummy and good for you. I've heard some people call it "kee-no-ah", but the correct way to pronounce it is "keen-wah". 

The consistency of quinoa is kind of like a very, very, tiny rice or super-duper tiny couscous. The flavor is pretty bland and tastes like whatever you mix it with. You can enjoy the stuff in salads, as a rice substitute, as a base for veggie burgers, as a morning porridge mixed with dried fruits and maple syrup, or just straight up. I usually cook my quinoa in advance with vegetable stock (instead of water), to give it a boost of flavor right off the bat before I even dress it up. I usually make a big bowl of the grain-like seed and keep stored in the fridge for a quick ready to use base to any meal. The great thing about quinoa is that its gluten free, a complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids, magnesium, fiber, and simply fulfilling! Give it a try - if you already cook with it then you know what I'm talking about.

The other night I wanted a hearty meal so I decided to dress up some veggies in a Mediterranean sauce and serve over quinoa, instead of rice. While I was in my produce department, I picked up Sunchokes - also known as Jerusalem Artichokes. They add a nice crisp and earthy bite to any meal. They can be enjoyed raw, sliced up and dipped into dips, or cooked into whatever you like. You just need to wash and peel them before use. I thought they would add a nice flavor and texture to my Mediterranean dish. 

Be careful when peeling the Sunchokes - Zach had a booboo.. Minou made it better.

Mediterranean Veggies over quinoa
by Sarah Farsh May 13, 2012
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, follow package instructions carefully. Substitute water for vegetable stock to add more flavor.
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 5 sunchokes, peeled, washed, chopped into coins
  • 1 cup sweet peas
  • 1 pound wild mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • baby spinach - garnish
In a large pan, dry saute onions. Add in asparagus, sunchokes, sweet peas, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and vegetable stock. Cook on low for 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package instructions. Plate vegetable mixture over quinoa and garnish with spinach.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baba's Birthday

Last night we celebrated my Baba's birthday, I think he turned 55 years old. My brother and I originally wanted to take him out to Mamouns for dinner - it's his favorite falafel joint on the planet. Baba asked if we could all come over to his house to barbecue for dinner instead. I was happy with that! I just recently got my mom a VitaMix for her birthday, so I knew I could make something using it for the barbecue.

Baba always has a pot of fresh cooked beans in the fridge. Last night he had garbanzo beans ready made, so I decide to make a huge thing of Sundried Tomato Hummus.

Since the guys were already barbecuing, I figured I could have them barbecue some veggies for my my Grilled Vegetable Salad.

I whipped up a quick Fat Free Vegan Chocolate Mousse (straight from the Engine 2 Diet Cookbook by Rip Esselstyn) for dessert with Fresh Berries, which I unfortunately don't have pictures of. I'm sorry. It's something I often make since it's so quick and easy to whip up, so look out for a photo of it soon. I tend to add more cocoa powder than he calls for... but make it to your liking.

It was a perfect night with great company and most importantly - a happy Baba =)

Sundried Tomato Hummus
by Sarah Farsh May 12, 2012

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (unsalted can beans are fine too)
  • 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful sundried tomatoes, more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (leave out if your a baby)
  • *You can add a little bit of the beans soaking liquid if you like a smoother consistency.
In a VitaMix or high powered blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add in the soaking liquid or water from the beans, little by little, if you like a smoother consisting. Garnish with fresh cilantro and chickpeas.

Grilled Vegetable Salad
by Sarah Farsh May 12, 2012
  • 4 assorted color peppers (green, yellow, orange and red)
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4-5 lemons, juiced
  • pepper to taste, salt optional.
Grill peppers, eggplants and onions whole on a barbecue. You can also broil the whole vegetables in your oven if you don't have a barbecue. Grill until skin gets dark, as shown in photo. Let veggies cool. Peel skin of barbecued veggies with hands and then rise under cold water. Cube the cooked veggies and place in a large salad bowl. Add cilantro, lemon juice and pepper. Toss together well and enjoy! This salad also taste great made ahead of time. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Down 5!

It's only my 3rd day back from Vieques, and I'm already 5 pounds down out of the 9 pounds I gained over vacation! When I stepped on the scale this morning at 7:30am, I could hardly believe it myself. I woke Zach up telling him all about it and asked him how this could be possible?! He just mumbled in his sleep and said something about it being from all our workouts in the bedroom.. Of course he thinks thats what it is...

Well I know the real reason is mostly because I'm back on my plant based lifestyle. Even though I was in tropical Puerto Rico, I didn't get to eat as much fruits and vegetables like I normally eat back at home. Actually, most of their local food is deep fried. I believe it's been so easy to loose the weight I gained on the trip because of my commitment to the plant based lifestyle as my regular day-to-day diet. The rare occasions I am off my program, my body easily readjust. Thats good news.

This morning I had a Rips Big Bowl from the Engine 2 diet cookbook, for breakfast - super yummy. I recommend making a really, really big bowl of the stuff and then packing portions out individually so that you have some ready to go for quick and easy breakfasts.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting Back On Track

This morning I stepped on the scale curious to find out the damage after my 6 day trip to Vieques. I gained a total of 9 pounds from those 6 days. That is a lot of weight gain for my size and body frame but I'm confident I'll be right back where I was before the trip by end of next week. I really thought all that walking, swimming form island to island, kayaking, and horseback riding would be enough to keep me on track. But I guess I laid on the beach a lot more than I thought I did. And maybe had a few more french fries and bigger bites of everyone else's sandwiches than I remember... 

Not only did I gain weight, but I also fell off a horse and then skidded off a wet road with my scooter. My left knee and elbow is busted and I'll be walking with a limp for a few days - this means I can't go to the gym until at least my knee heals. I think I'll be able to exercise again by next week; but for now I'm planning to preserve my time and energy for my healthy cooking and eating - my own personal detox.

I'm not beating myself up, and I'm sure as hell not going to starve myself for this. I'm going to do the complete opposite actually. I'm looking forward to eating all my delicious, nutritious veggies and food. I'm not going to punish myself by being hungry or depriving my needs. I just am going to make sure I have easy, healthy food readily available for me to enjoy for this week to get me on track. Vegetable soups and stews, fresh cut up veggies in the fridge, fresh bean dips, salads, homemade oatmeal bars, whole grains and raw nuts. 

I won't tell you that it's easy to eat healthy all the time. I work really hard to plan out my meals, shop and always have good food readily available in my apartment and at work. But when you go away and leave your regular routine, it's a little tough to build the momentum of where you left off. It's not impossible, but it doesn't happen over night. Especially when you need to unpack from your trip, do your laundry, clean up and go back to work the next day. You need to go food shopping, come up with snacks and meals, prep your food, cook your food, pack it, find the time to eat it, and in my case... blog about it.

Today's my first day back on track and I already feel great. Even though I have not yet had the chance to stock my fridge and pantry with fresh veggies, fruits, grains and legumes - I'm making due with what I have easily available. I have a freezer full of frozen veggies which I plan to do something with tonight! And I was able to get fresh oatmeal with fruit along with a green Blue Print Juice for breakfast. I look forward to sharing some new recipes with you as I get back on track!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rest. Reset. Refresh.

I just came back home from Veiques, Puerto Rico for a 6 day getaway. Veiques is a small island off of Puerto Rico - you need to take a boat or a small plane to get there. There is a WHOLE lot I can say about this trip, but I'll make a long story short. The best way I can describe the island in a nut shell is rainforest, jungle, mountain-esque, turquoise beach, peaceful, natural, magical, heaven. For most of the trip I felt like I was living on the TV show Lost. The island is so pure and rich of greens and blues. Half of the small island is a US Wildlife National Refuge. The roads to get to the beaches are all off-roading and narrow dirt road paths. When you get to the beach of your choice, most chances are you are the only one there.

I went for my dear uncle Payam's birthday, he turned 50 years young. Payam and my aunt Eva asked for everyone to meet in Veiques to celebrate. Payam and Eva are pretty much the coolest, most unique and worldly people I know. I always love being around them and their energy. Traveling with them is simply a treat, they always discover new places and seem to know all about where we are visiting on the palm of their hand. Their friends are also great which added on to the awesomeness of the trip.

There was supposed to be 12 people celebrating, but at the very last minute - Zach couldn't make it. I was devastated to say the least, so was everyone else. I promised him that we would go back again one day soon. As sad as I was to leave without him, I promised myself I would make the best out of it and have a good time. It ended up being 11 of us total and we pretty much had the whole island to ourselves. It was an incredible trip with a great travel team, just missing one person.

The thing I love most about traveling besides viewing new and beautiful scenery, is experiencing the culture. Trying food the locals eat, talking to the locals, hearing the different language and discovering underground happenings. Of course the food the locals eat isn't always the healthiest - but I usually make an acceptation to taste everything I can while I'm away even if it's just a small bite. For the most part, for this trip we cooked breakfast at our cottage, La Finca Caribe. Everyone mostly had eggs or melted cheese sandwiches for breakfast, but I tried to be good and made different peanut butter and fruit sandwiches instead. I figured I'd at least start the day's off right since I could.

After the 6 day getaway, it was very sad to come home. Having every part of my body covered in mosquito bites didn't help the fact. As hard as it was to come back to work and my regular life after such a beautiful trip - I now feel completely rested, reset and refreshed. Besides, I had these two guys to look forward to :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

101 Wednesday: Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. A lot of us skip out on breakfast because we are short on time or can't find quick healthy choices. I've mentioned the importance of breakfast here, so I wont bore you with repeating myself..

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts you can have in the morning, but not all of us have time to sit down and enjoy a bowl everyday. Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are an awesome way to squeeze in your breakfast and reap the benefits to a healthy start. You can make these easy bars at the beginning of the week, and individually wrap them for grab and go breakfast on the fly. They also make great snacks for traveling or hiking trips.

Don't be shy to get creative with these bars by adding your favorite ingredients. You can use my recipe as a base and jazz it up with various fruits, peanut butter, dried fruits or anything else you like to add into your oatmeal.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
by Sarah Farsh May 2, 2012
  • 3 cups steal cut oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
Preheat oven 350˚. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Poor oat batter into a baking dish and bake for 20min - 25min until golden brown. Let cool and cut into squares.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

The other night I made garlicky greens using Broccolini - which was delish. When I was shopping for these greens, my eyes were much bigger than my stomach and I bought four bunches of Broccolini for only two people. I ended up with about two bunches of broccolini left over.

I thought this was a great opportunity to make a new, super quick meal using leftovers. I had a pack of dry soba noodles and fresh ground peanut butter in my pantry - so I thought Peanut Noodles!

I figured I would give them a little kick of spice with some red chili flakes - hence "Spicy" Sesame Peanut Noodles. To make the peanut dressing, I used my handy-dandy Blender Bottle. This thing is so great for whisking quick dressings or taking smoothies to work. 

I decided to eat these noodles chilled for lunch at work the day after I made them - but you can enjoy these noodles warm or cold.

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles
by Sarah Farsh May 1, 2012
5 minute meal
  • 8 oz cooked soba noodles
  • 1-2 bunch steamed broccolini, or greens of choice, chopped
  • 3 tbsp freshly ground peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Cook soba noodles according to package directions, being careful not to over cook. In a Blender Bottle or bowl, whisk together peanut butter, rice vinegar, honey, chili flakes, sesame oil and tamari. In a large bowl, combine soba noodles, broccolini (or greens), peanut dressing, green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy warm or cooled.