Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Green Mint Tea Mojito Mocktail

Well, this really isn't a mojito in the true sense, there is no alcohol. Instead, it is a refreshing twist on iced tea, if you like mojitos, and you like green tea, I think you will love this. Of course you can turn this into a cocktail by adding rum, but I haven't tried that yet. I was just looking for a refreshing midday drink and this fit the bill. This recipe makes one serving, but I recommend you quadruple it and make a pitcher, you will want to share this with friends and family.

Calories: 37 calories for the sugar version/ Only 5 calories for the stevia version.
Add about 64 calories if you add a one ounce shot of white rum.

2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
4 mint leaves
1 green mint teabag
3/4 cup boiling water
extra mint leaves and lime slice for garnish

1. Brew tea by pouring boiling water over tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes. Do not squeeze tea bag or tea will be bitter.
2. Chill tea.
3. Put sugar in bottom of tall glass, add mint leaves and lime juice and use a wooden spoon to "muddle" the ingredients. You want the sugar to dissolve and the leaves to release that wonderful minty flavor, it only takes a few minutes.
4. Fill the glass with ice, then add the chilled tea.
5. Garnish with slices of lime and mint leaves.
6. Enjoy!

I made a sugar free version using stevia drops and I liked it just as much as the real sugar version.
I tried Xylitol, but it wouldn't dissolve as well as the sugar.
According to http://www.xylitol.org Xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate, that looks and tastes just like regular table sugar. It is a natural sweetener that can be extracted from any woody fibrous plant material, Xylitol is just as sweet as table sugar (sucrose), it has about 40% fewer calories and 75% fewer carbohydrates

Friday, May 31, 2013

Korean BBQ Kogi Tacos

Are they Korean, are they Mexican? I guess you would have to call these fusion food. Whatever they are, they are FABULOUS! I feel bad for all of the vegetarians out there who will never get to experience this amazing taco. They are a perfect blend of tender grilled steak and spicy sweet coleslaw neatly contained in a soft taco shell and topped with sriracha sauce, my new favorite condiment. Sriracha is a spicy sweet chili sauce with the rooster on the bottle, you can get more info on sriracha here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huy_Fong_Foods

I saw the famous Los Angeles based Kogi Taco food truck (http://kogibbq.com/) on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” episode one weekend and couldn't wait to make them. The popular Kogi Taco truck has become an iconic symbol of LA street food, raising the standard of fast food. If you are lucky enough to live in LA, you can get one of their delicious beef tacos for a little over $2. That is if they are not sold out by the time you reach the counter, lines are long. They have a website where you can check the location and times of their trucks each day and they use Twitter to announce their locations.

Unfortunately I do not live in LA, so I had to come up with my “dejavu” version of Kogi tacos. I found a few food blogs that I used as a starting point, foodformyfamily.com and rasamalaysia.com. both had really good versions that I knew I could tweak for my family’s tastes.
So if you can’t get to LA, or just don’t want to wait on the long lines, try my version. I have made this several times for my family, and this past weekend, I made it for the first time for a large group of family and friends. None of them had ever heard of Kogi tacos, so I had to give a demonstration on assembling.

This is a great item to serve a crowd, because a little meat goes a long way when you are making tacos. I doubled the recipe for 14 people and had meat leftover.
Big success, HUGE!
I also made 2 trays of really good chicken francese and my mother in law made her famous eggplant parmesan, but it just wasn’t a fair competition, the star of the buffet were the Kogi tacos.
It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s spicy, you must try these.

My version is a little different from traditional Korean BBQ. Most recipes I found called for beef short ribs. When I made these the first time I mistakenly bought loin flap beef. It is sold next to the short ribs at Costco, and when I asked for short ribs, the butcher handed me the flap meat. A delicious mistake and at $5.99 per pound, very reasonable. I went back and bought the actual short ribs a few weeks later, and we all preferred the loin flap meat version. You can find out more about flap meat at the Serious Eats website.

Let me know if your family loves these as much as mine does. One of my nephews wants to try it with chicken, I am sure that would be great also.
Make this for your family this weekend and let me know what you think.

       Korean BBQ Steak:
 3-4 pounds loin flap steak
       Beef Marinade
       1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup mirin (sweetened sake)
6 cloves garlic
6 scallions
2 inch piece fresh peeled ginger, grated

Cilantro-Jalapeño Coleslaw :

1.5 cups red cabbage sliced
       1.5 cups white cabbage sliced
1 large sweet pepper diced any color
1 jalapeño small dice
6 scallions, diced
Bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
      Coleslaw dressing:
       1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sriracha or chili pepper sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

       Optional salad instead of coleslaw (my kids don’t like coleslaw)
       Replace the cabbage above with 1 head of chopped romaine lettuce and
       1 cup of fresh diced tomatoes
       Remainder is same as the coleslaw recipe above.

For assembly:

10-15 tortillas

1.      In a food processor combine all marinade ingredients and pulse until blended.
2.      Reserve half of marinade and pour remainder over steak in plastic bag or container and marinate for 24 hours in refrigerator.
3.      Prepare coleslaw vegetables. Whisk coleslaw dressing ingredients and  add to vegetables a few hours before serving tacos to allow the flavors to blend. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4.   Grill marinated steaks about 3 minutes per side, grill should be pretty hot. Remove to a platter to rest for ten minutes before slicing.
5.   Warm tacos on hot grill, just a few seconds per side.
6.   Heat reserved marinade on stovetop until reduced by half. Use as a sauce for the tacos.
7.   Slice steak against the grain.
8.   To assemble : Fill warmed taco shells with coleslaw or salad, top with sliced steak, reduced sauce and drizzle sriracha on top.

Note: Since the marinade has sugar in it, your grill will be a little messy after, just place clean foil on your grill and close the lid. Keep your grill on high for a few minutes. The stuck on mess should be reduced to ashes, if not, close the lid a few more minutes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Could you eat Paleo ?

You must have heard the buzz about Paleo eating, it is very popular right now. It is basically eating like a caveman did 10,000 years ago. The diet is comprised of meats, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. Anything that could have been hunted or gathered. No grains, no dairy, no legumes, no potatoes and no processed sugar or oils, because  these foods were all a result of the agricultural revolution.  You may use limited quantities of raw honey or coconut palm sugar.

The rationale behind this diet is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat like our hunter-gatherer Paleolithic ancestors. Supporters of this lifestyle argue that eliminating dairy, grains and legumes and processed oils can reduce the occurrence of chronic modern day diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and reduce inflammation, acne and even lower blood pressure.

Sounds good, but too limiting for  me.

I think you would be missing out in several nutrient rich foods by going 100% Paleo, but I do think it wouldn’t hurt to have Paleo days. Challenge yourself to come up with menus that center around lean protein and vegetables, fruit for dessert.

I recently tried a Paleo day, and the hardest part for me was having my coffee black, I love my morning cup of Joe with skim milk, so I might go with 90% Paleo days and allow myself a little milk in my coffee.  It does have Vitamin D, and we are all low in that.

What I like about Paleo eating  is that it really is challenging me to eat less processed carbs, I would normally turn to an English muffin for breakfast with my eggs or for my lunch to make a sandwich.  It is forcing me to think outside the bread. I know I could not eat like this for more than a few days, I am going to stick with one day a week for now, but  after one day it is clear that there are some positive health benefits. Mainly, it forces you to eat more fruit and vegetables. Otherwise you will starve. So I guess a cause of death for cavemen children who didn’t like their vegetables was starvation.

Here are the Paleo meals I survived on:

For breakfast I made scrambled eggs(one whole egg and 2 egg whites) with sautéed vegetable hash that included scallions, mushrooms , zucchini and tomatoes. Very filling, off to a good start, I could do Paleo. Remember, no butter, I just used a tiny bit of olive oil to sauté the veggies.
(Sorry, forgot to take photo)
I messed up on my post run smoothie/morning snack.  I thought I was being good by eliminating the yogurt and milk, I used coconut water instead, but I used one scoop of protein powder and one tablespoon of dehydrated peanut butter, neither of which are Paleo. I did add fresh picked garden baby spinach and half a banana, so it was healthy nonetheless. I will have to work on a Paleo smoothie for my Paleo day next week. A friend suggested coconut milk or almond milk. Maybe almond butter instead of the dehydrated peanut butter.

Back on Paleo track, was  an arugula salad (also fresh picked from my garden) with orange segments, red onion, grilled cod and slivered almonds (cod was precooked frozen, just had to microwave for 3 minutes, salmon or tilapia would be good also) I made a simple dressing with a splash of olive oil and really good balsamic vinegar that I purchased at the Warwick, New York  Farmer’s Market on Mother’s Day.( wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning or afternoon) Did the cavemen have balsamic? I doubt it, so another Paleo violation (this is hard!)

6oz grilled fish
Arugula (as much as you want)
Sliced red onion
1 orange segmented
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Afternoon snack:
I was pretty hungry so I had a boiled egg and a cup of black tea. I could just see those cavemen sitting around the campfire drinking tea. I am not arguing, tea is considered Paleo, I don’t make the rules, just following them.

I almost ditched the Paleo plan, I was hungry and only had ground beef in the fridge for dinner, and not a lot of time to prepare it. I decided to make burgers, quesadilla burgers, my kids love those. Similar to the one served at Applebees. I could make mine without  the cheese and no tortilla.  I made mango salsa, regular salsa, guacamole ( all Paleo friendly). It was a Paleo Party, well it felt like a party, with the 3 toppings to choose from, this was a fun meal to eat. It was so satisfying, I never missed the cheese or the tortilla. Also, I usually need a little something sweet after dinner, I did not that night, my Paleo burger  and toppings kept the sweet tooth at bay.

So, overall, I think it was a success, definitely challenging. I would do it again, might even convince my family to try. After all it’s only one day.

I will post the actual recipes for these dishes soon, sorry but it is gardening season, not too much time to post recipes, so many garden chores. The arugula and spinach photos are from my garden. I just love the spring garden! Let me know if you give Paleo a try and how you made out.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yoga for Runners

I have only taken one yoga class and I loved it! I think I enjoyed it so much because it is so different from running. It is so relaxing and you just do whatever you can, no pressure. I don't always have the time to go to a yoga class, but I am going to try and incorporate a yoga routine into my running plan a few times per week. I tried this one today found at Spark People . All you need is a mat, a chair or yoga block and a towel. You can do this for your post run stretching or, if you want to do this on your non run days, make sure you do a ten minute cardio warm up first.

According to the author Stefanie Romine who is a Certified Ashtanga Yoga Teacher:
"A breath is one full inhalation and one full exhalation through the nose. Hold each pose for five breaths, or longer if you'd like."


Greek Avgolemono Soup with Orzo

We have Greek neighbors and my kids love eating at their house when they make traditional Greek Avgolemono soup. For those of you not familiar with Avgolemono, it is a Greek egg and lemon soup, with either rice or orzo. My kids ask me all the time to make it for them. I followed my neighbors recipe, it was delicious, but it left me wanting more substance. My neighbor's recipe does not have chicken or vegetables in it, so I came up with this version so I could serve this one pot wonder as a complete meal for my family. It is a blend between traditional chicken soup and Avgolemono. What a wonderful combination! This came together in 30 minutes. I always have 2 cup portion bags of diced rotisserie chicken in my freezer for speedy dinner prep on busy weeknights. This makes 8 cups of very filling soup. Let me know if you like this as much as we do.

Greek Avgolemono Soup with Orzo
Inspired by The Makris Family and Ellie Krieger's Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes 8 one cup portions
Calories per cup: 188  Total Fat: 10g  Carbohydrate: 16g  Protein: 13.5g

·         2 teaspoons olive oil
·         2 cups cooked  diced rotisserie chicken
·         1 medium vidalia onion, diced
·         2 stalks celery, diced
·         2 medium carrots, diced
·         2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
·         6 cups chicken broth
·         2 cups cooked  diced rotisserie chicken
·         1 cup orzo pasta
·         2 large eggs
·         3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·         ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1.      In a large pot, sauté onion, celery and carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes.
2.      Add thyme and 5 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.
3.      Add the orzo and diced chicken to the larger pot  and simmer until orzo is tender, about 7-9 minutes. Turn heat down to low.
4.      Put remaining one cup of broth in a small saucepan and heat, but do not boil.
5.      In a separate bowl beat the eggs and whisk in the lemon juice.
6.      Then, gradually add the hot broth from the small saucepan into the egg-lemon mixture while continually whisking. You don’t want to scramble the eggs, you want a creamy consistency.
7.      Add this mixture to the large pot of soup and stir until soup is slightly thickened. Keep pot on low and warm but do not boil.
8.      Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and serve.