December 28, 2012

Light Turkey Meatballs With Spicy Tomato Sauce

Light Turkey Meatballs With Spicy Tomato Sauce

I like to label some foods “Once I start, I can’t stop”. Since I was a kid, orange flavored Tic Tac make it to the top of this list. One mint after the other, until I completely empty the transparent box. It takes me about as much time as walking two NYC’s blocks to get that job done. That’s why I seldom buy them.
Oh, while we’re at it. Do you know that Tic Tac box lids have a crevice made to catch exactly one mint? A friend of mine told that yesterday.
Not that I care. Personally, I like to shake the box until either 1 mint or better 10 come out. That’s just the type of life I’ve led up until now, and no amount of common sense will persuade me otherwise.





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December 27, 2012

The Amazing Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

The herbal tea made from rooibos has been a popular drink in Southern Africa for generations. The plant, Aspalathus linearis, is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in the Western Cape province.
What is generally referred to as rooibos tea is in fact an infusion made from the oxidised leaves of the rooibos plant. Technically it’s not even a close relative of tea.
Recently,
rooibos has gained popularity in Western countries thanks to its amazing health benefits.
Its strong and pungent taste can be off putting for some. Nonetheless, its reputation has steadily continued to climb, especially among health-conscious consumers (like us!).




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December 26, 2012

Three-Vegetable Wheel



I’m going to keep things short today because I’m soon off to watch The Hobbit movie. I can’t wait.
When it comes to fantasy movies I’m a real dork. Even more so if there’s Tolkien involved.
Considering the time constraint I thought that this dish would be perfect.
An all-time
favorite in my family, this recipe is a compelling combination of a short list of ingredients that don't sound particularly exciting on the page, but come together into something more than the sum of their parts.
Fennel, cabbage, spinach, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a light drizzle of olive oil. That's it, really. Lightly boiled and then popped into the oven for a few minutes. Dead simple.
The real magic of this recipe lies not only in the fact that it’s vegan and low in calories, but mostly that even hard-core veggie haters will fall in love with it. It does happen. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It’s the real deal.





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Boxing Day? Let's Make It A Detox Day!

Today is Boxing Day. Traditionally it's the day when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their superiors. Nowadays, it's dedicated to eating leftovers and returning (unwanted) gifts to the stores.
However, after all the Christmas bonanza why don’t we just make it a detox day? Sounds like a plan?
Here are a couple of things you can do to get rid of some of the “Holidays toxins” and get back on the virtuous path asap.





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December 22, 2012

Harissa Carrots



I rarely eat carrots. I juice them all the time, but never actually munch on them. I find them to be a little bit...what’s the word I’m looking for? Dull. Yeah, carrots are dull.
Sorry Bugs Bunny, it’s nothing personal. I just hope this won’t get in the way of our friendship that dates back to kindergartner.
Fact is, I don’t really know what to do with carrots besides juices and (rarely) cake. I know, it’s limiting. For years I’ve been stuck in this carrot impasse.
Not until I came across a great recipe for carrots with harissa. An encounter that changed everything.
I believe harissa has finally solved my issues with carrots. I have new buddies, they’re called carrots, and it's all thanks to harissa.
I have some sort of weird adoration for harissa. The brick red, earthy, and (sometimes) potent North African spice paste.
I don’t want to make an ode about harissa. Let me just say that it’s really something. It replaced my piri piri sauce, my salsa picante, even (ouch) Tabasco. I put it on everything. Rice, eggs, meats, veggies and sandwiches. It hasn’t made it on my desserts yet, but knows what the future holds.





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December 21, 2012

Turnip Greens: It's A Pleasure To Meet You

Turnip greens: have you ever heard about them? I didn’t. At least not until a few weeks ago.
I was in the South of Italy visiting my friend Mariachiara in San Vito dei Normanni. An adorable little town built on limestone, in the province of Brindisi in Puglia.
A tranquil little corner of heaven, where oak and olive trees crop up everywhere and the road and the ancient stone walls that line it, run along, separating farms. It’s one of those places where you feel that time has suddenly stopped in order to preserve the beauty of the landscape.
One morning, as I was having breakfast with Mariachiara in the family’s kitchen, I noticed that her mom Anna was busy washing a leafy green vegetable which I couldn’t identify. Intrigued, I took a peak in the sink, and I saw turnip greens for the first time, in all their beauty.
Of course, I couldn’t refrain myself from subjecting Anna to a third degree about this veggie.
I found out that turnip greens are at the core of the local cuisine. Used as topping on pizza, paired with pasta or simply steamed and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
I was really excited about this new food discovery and wanted to know more. I did my fair share of research and found out that nutritionally turnip greens are a powerhouse. There’s so much more to them than just meets the eye!





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December 20, 2012

Cardoon Flan



If you’re looking for an easy and healthy recipe to impress your guests, one that will make you look like a gourmet chef, you might want to hear me out.
This cardoon flan has all the features necessary to make you stand out among your peers and rightfully own you a spot among three-stars chefs.
The fact that it’s made with a not so common vegetable - cardoon - already implies a certain level of food-sophistication on your part. The presentation it’s certainly a show stopper, and when it comes to taste, well, the delicate yet rich flavor is made to impress. Lastly, I should add that it’s gluten-free and low in calories.
I know what you’re thinking right now: I’m overselling this. I’m really not. If I am, it’s just because I really want you to give this recipe a try.


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December 17, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Watching the NY Giants being routed 34-0 is painful. Especially considering that it was since 1996 that we didn’t get a regular-season shutout. Really upsetting.
Let’s be honest, Atlanta was very, very good, and we were very, very bad. An all-day disaster.
When I’m in a bad-football-mood I resort to comfort food and good friends. I thus invited my football clique to stay over for dinner and decided to make some tasty old-fashioned chili.
As I was about to start, I realized I didn’t have any ground beef at home. That gave me a good excuse to cook a vegan chili with pumpkin.
It was a huge success. Good food, good drinks, good laughs, there’s nothing else I’d rather have. We did consoled ourselves from the tragic game.
There were no vegans last night, yet no one complained about the absence of meat. I had the impression that some of them didn’t even noticed it.
Just to say that this dish is winner (unlike the Giants).


Vegan Pumpkin Chili


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Why It's Easy To Store Fat And Hard To Lose It?

Once upon a time we were cavemen. Every single day we struggled to find food. We needed to eat what we could when it was available, storing any surplus because the next meal could be a long way off.
The
fight would start anew each day: hunting and gathering food in order to avoid starvation.
As a consequence, our bodies’ metabolism was set in a “waste not” mode: accumulating all calories that were not burned.





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December 15, 2012

Is There Anything Wrong With Ketchup?

Ketchup has to be the most popular condiment in America. Can you picture french fries, a burger or even a hot-dog without ketchup? Probably not. What about grilled or fried meats? So much better if paired with this sweet and tangy sauce, made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices.
Ketchup is also often used as a basis for other sauces such as barbecue sauce. Which we all love.
Given its widespread use, you may well ask: is ketchup good or bad for us?






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December 14, 2012

Dark Chocolate Bark With Sea Salt and Superfoods

Dark Chocolate Bark With Sea Salt and Superfoods
I’m such a sucker for dark chocolate. It’s probably the one thing I could never walk away from.
The bitter bite with the subtle sweetness is IMHO the perfect combo. Add some coarse salt, crunch and dried berries and then you’ve got me hooked.
I’ve started making my own chocolate back a couple of years ago.
I did it in frustration, because I couldn’t find on the market a bark with salt and almond and goji berries and hemp seeds. I wanted all of these things in one bark and (obviously) no mass market brand made it.

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December 13, 2012

Aerobic Exercise Boosts Brain Power

The physical benefits of regular exercise and remaining physically active, especially as we age, are well documented. However, it appears that it is not only the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too.
The evidence for this is published in a new review by Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado from the University of Otago, New Zealand, which focuses on the importance of physical activity in keeping and potentially improving cognitive function throughout life. Their review is published online in the Springer publication Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.





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December 12, 2012

Almond and Lemon Cloud Cookies (Gluten-free)



Let's
talk about healthy foods. How would you define a healthy food?
Personally, I like to stick to this definition: “A healthy food is a food organically grown, with no additives, having a balanced nutritional profile, good dietary value and capable of bringing benefit to health.”
It’s pretty good, isn’t it?
Now,
we should ask ourselves: would these Almond and Lemon Cloud Cookies fall within such definition? In order to get our answer, we must check whether they comply with the healthy food checklist.
These cookies are made with lots of almond paste, some brown sugar and two egg whites (plus some natural flavorings). No butter, oil or flour. Already a good start.
Organic? Yes (as long as you use organic ingredients).
No additives? None, it’s all natural stuff.
Balanced nutritional profile? Almonds are a superfood and egg whites are a great source of protein. There’s some sugar involved (there’s no denying that) but not a lot.
Good dietary value? With just 90 calories per cookie, I think we’re good.
Bring benefit to health? Almonds are packed with good stuff so there are definitely good things going on here.
Considering all the above, I suppose they will rightfully pass the healthy food test.





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Fatty Foods Are Addictive And May Cause Withdrawals

Even before obesity occurs, eating fatty and sugary foods causes chemical changes in the brain, meaning that going on a diet might feel similar to going through drug withdrawal, a study conducted at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine found.
"By working with mice, whose brains are in many ways comparable to our own, we discovered that the neurochemistry of the animals who had been fed a high fat, sugary diet were different from those who had been fed a healthy diet," Dr. Stephanie Fulton, leading author of the study explained. "The chemicals changed by the diet are associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of poor eating."





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December 10, 2012

Pistachios, Much More Than Just A Snack!

I love shelling pistachios. I really do. Particularly those pesky ones that are barely open. I feel like they’re looking at me saying: “You will not eat me! I’m too difficult to open”. Oh yeah? Are you challenging me? Well, let me tell you something little pistachio, once I even used a pair of pincers to open one of your “kind”, so do worry, I will eventually eat you, no matter what.
Wait, a pair of pincers to open one pistachio? I know what you’re thinking; you don’t even need to say it: it’s time for a pistachio intervention.
A pistachio intervention? Here, I’ll go first: I’m Mike, I’m a triathlete and I have a pistachio problem. If there are pistachios around, I gotta have ‘em, all. Nothing can stop me. Even if I have to resort to brutal force, so be it.
Phew...now that I got that off my chest I already feel better.
Not that my pistachio addiction is something I have to worry about. To the contrary, it’s actually very good news for me. This tiny green nut has a great nutritional profile and it’s packed with health benefits. It’s not only about a great taste; there’s so much more to it.
Everybody (athletes and less-athletes) can greatly benefit by adding pistachios to their diets. Not convinced yet? Let me tell you more about it...





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December 8, 2012

Vegan Yorkshire Gingerbread



Is there anything that says “Christmas time” more than gingerbread? I guess not.
I’m not talking about cookies, men, houses, snowflakes or stars though; I’m talking about real gingerbread. Bread made with ginger, allspice, and blackstrap molasses.
Gingerbread doesn’t simply say “Christmas time”, it literally screams it. The aroma permeating the apartment, while baking, is the most Christmassy thing ever. Isn’t it?





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December 6, 2012

Beet and Potato Gnocchi



I struggle with beets. There, I said it. My mind keeps telling me to eat them, but my taste buds are in strong disagreement. There’s something in their taste and texture that I find off-putting.
It’s a shame though; beets are that healthy and that important in a sportsman diet. They’re an incredible natural source of nitrates, capable of boosting performance.
I drink beet juice though. Well, I gobble it, not really drink it. I find no pleasure whatsoever in that. I know that I need it to drink it to perform better, so I do it. Enjoying a drink, however, it’s something different.
Notwithstanding my hatred for beets, I keep buying them and keep experimenting different recipes. Hope die last, they say.
So far, however, I ended-up in utter disappointment. I made salads, vegetarian lasagna, risotto: none worked for my taste buds. They’re picky, I know.
Last week I decided to give beets a last shot. It was a do or die moment.
As gnocchi are my favorite food, I decided to squeeze two whole beets (no, not one, I said two!) in the potatoes dough, and see what happened.
I took a lot of pleasure into squeezing the beets. It suddenly all became some sort of splatter movie scene. Beets are so bloody and red.
Anyway, the [squeezed] beets turned the gnocchi dough into a shiny pink color. I’m talking about Nicki Minaj pink, my niece’s ballerina gown pink, sugar candy pink. A tad weird.


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December 4, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Walnut Biscotti



Biscotti is a generic Italian word that refers to any type of cookie. If you travel to Italy, walk in
to a bakery, and ask for a “biscotti”, they’re going to answer (in Italian): “Which kind of biscott[o] do you want?
The same will happen if you walk into a sandwich shop and ask for a panini.
“Panini” means sandwiches, “biscotti means cookies, and “pizza” means...pizza. Ok, we got at least that right.
Biscotti is just another “lost in translation” case. Well, now that I’m thinking about it, it’s not really that. We didn’t translate anything. It’s some sort of cross-language homonym. Same spelling different meaning.
Anyway, back to “biscotti”. The name biscotti is derived from the Latin word “bis” meaning twice and the Italian word “cotto” meaning cooked or baked. It just means twice-baked or baked-twice, as you prefer.


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December 3, 2012

Does Eating Spicy Food Burn Additional Calories?

You’re eating a hot chicken Vindaloo at your fave Indian restaurant. Your tongue is on fire and you’re sweating buckets. You wonder: isn’t sweating a sign that my metabolism is speeding up and burning calories?
Well, you’re not far from the truth. There is indeed evidence that spices can increase the metabolic rate, up to three hours after finishing the meal. However, it’s not as clear-cut as it seems...





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December 2, 2012

What Is A Heirloom Food?

I bet you have encountered oddly shaped black carrots in the produce section of your supermarket before, and wondered why anyone would buy those instead of the regular, tubular, orange variety.
Heirloom foods, such as black carrots, can look dramatically different from the “regular” ones you’re used to. Different to the point that sometimes it might get “scary”.
What you shouldn’t do, however, is to look away.
Heirloom foods are a rather flavorful, colorful, and tasty version of foods you already enjoy. Chances are you’re going to like the heirloom version just as much the “regular” one, maybe even more. If that isn’t enough, heirloom foods bring diverse and precious nutrients to your table.
So you definitely shouldn’t look away; reach for them instead.





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