November 29, 2013

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 wanted a chocolate bark with salt and almond and goji berries and hemp seeds. Yes, all of these things in one bark and (obviously) no mass market brand made it so I made my own. Easy.

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November 27, 2013

The Amazing Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds
I’m so late to the hemp seeds party, I know. 
Better late than never though. 
It’s been over two years that I keep hearing about hemp seeds (and, in particular about their amazing health benefits) but never bothered looking into them. 
It's time to make amends...

What are hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are the seeds of Cannabis sativa. Technically a nut, hemp seeds contain over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fibers and minerals.
Hemp seeds have been documented as a source of food throughout recorded history. For instance, hemp seed oil has been used as a food/medicine in China for at least 3,000 years.

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November 25, 2013

Roasted Garlic Purple Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Purple Mashed PotatoesLet’s be completely real people, the turkey + mashed potatoes + pie combo gets a little old after the 30th year in a row. 
So this year I suggest you give your Thanksgiving table a fresh new look, adding a Lady Gaga/emo/psychedelic touch by serving purple mashed potatoes instead of regular yellow mashed potatoes.
Something that looks unusual, but tastes like the regular stuff (well, it actually tastes better.)
Because you don’t want just another Thanksgiving; this year you want an off-the-charts and always-to-be-remembered Thanksgiving.
And serving purple mashed potatoes might do it after all.
These are purple, bright purple, a tad weird purple mashed potatoes - they won't go unnoticed for sure.
And believe me when I say that these purple mashed potatoes are going to be THE showstopper; like having Gaga landing in the center of your table singing "Can't read my, can't read my. No you can't read my poker face"...that kind of weird. 
Oh, just to clear the air, Lady Gaga is not my cup of tea, I just wanted to give you an idea of what you're in for.
E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E will remember Thankgiving 2013 at your house, even years from now. Promise.

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November 24, 2013

30-Minute Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

30-Minute Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)
Oh yeah this was good. Really good.
I don’t know why, but I haven’t made this recipe in a while.
It was passed to me by my friend Namrata. She used to whip it up all the time when we were in school.
Late at night, after a long day of studying in the library; instead of ordering in, she would fire up the stove and cook this for the whole crew. With just some rice and greens on the side.
A perfect dinner.
Tasty, comforting, flavorful, full of nuances but not too strong. Everybody loved it.
Namrata’s butter chicken quickly became legendary on campus, and in no time people were showing up “in the nick of time” for dinner asking “Can I join?

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November 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Latke Turkey Burger (aka Thanksgivukkah Burger)

Sweet Potato Latke Turkey Burger (aka Thanksgivukkah Burger)
People, this year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happen on the same day.
On November 28, 2013, for the first time in a long time, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = Thanksgivukkah. (Yes, it’s like Sharknado all over again.)
To be precise, this happened once before, in 1888, and will happen at least two more times, in 2070 and 2165.
Since I’m not sure if I’ll make it to 2070, I say let’s take this once in a lifetime opportunity and cook the hell out of this 2013 Thanksgivukkah.
And eat it, A-L-L-!
I know...I get carried away by these “once in a lifetime” events.
Last year - for instance - I made a big fuss about the 12-12-12 day, but then none of my friends cared. Bummer.
But this Thanksgivukkah, I am NOT letting this one slip away.
I don’t care if I’m not Jewish, I love the idea of combining two traditions into one. If for no other reasons that it can be an awesome learning experience.

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November 19, 2013

Bacon, Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes

Bacon, Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes 
I like a good old challenge here and there.
I don’t talk about stuff like riding the back of a shark or surf a lava wave or be hurled through the air by a human catapult.
I talk about small ‘everyday’ challenges that make life less boring.
Such as making my 10-year old niece eat kale.
A once sworn enemy to any food green in color (including green M&M’s); Niece has recently started eating salad, and last summer I even convinced her to taste avocado (a beautiful love story today).
So last week, I had an epiphany:  I must coerce her to eat kale. Period.

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November 17, 2013

Mushroom Polenta Pizza

Mushroom Polenta Pizza
We eat a lot of corn, America.  
I am not talking corn on the cob rubbed with a little butter, salt and pepper, popcorn in huge tubs at the movie theater, or the occasional tortilla chips.
Corn sneaks into our diet in very unexpected ways and in very surprising amounts.
If you have read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, you know that, for instance, 93% of the hamburger meat that ends up at your table is derived from corn. Cows are fed a steady diet of grains (corn in particular) while on the farm, and they convert that corn into meat.
It’s not only through the meat that we eat corn, most of the corn we consume comes in the form high fructose corn syrup.
A sweetener that “‘hides” in most processed food, such as sodas, sauces and salad dressing, breads, breakfast cereals and bars, and processed snacks.
OK, that is not straight corn (as in kernel corn straight off the cob) but it’s still corn.
And is this bad? Well, the overwhelming majority of corn used for animal feed and corn byproducts (such as high fructose corn syrup) is field corn and it’s mostly genetically modified.
Although the body of researches supporting the notion that ‘GMO is not good for us’ is pretty slim; GMO products are banned in 26 countries around the world (including all of the European Union).
And that alone is for me enough of a reason to avoid it.
Now you’re free to ask: Why this brief lecture on GMO corn dude?
Because today we’re making polenta, and polenta is made of corn(meal) and water. Mkay?
But, but, but, the corn used to make polenta is not ‘field corn’, it’s ‘sweet corn’ and it is NOT GMO.
In other words my friends, we shall not fear eating some corn on the cob or some polenta. Sodas, candies, snack bars, breakfast cereals, etc are the sneaky ones; so watch for those (and also eat only grass-fed meat!)

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November 14, 2013

Zucchini Fritters (Low Carb & Gluten-Free)

Zucchini Fritters (Low Carb & Gluten-Free)When I’m asked why do I like to cook so much, I have but one answer ‘Because I like to eat!’
Yup, that's pretty much it.
I like to eat good food and since I want to eat what I like, I’ll make it myself. I'm in charge of the process, I know what goes in, no surprises.
I also refuse the idea of not being able to feed myself. If another human being can cook a certain dish, so can I. It's not quantum physics, it's cooking. It can be elaborate but never impossible.
I also like to cook because it feels like a challenge — taking a few ingredients that are not that special on their own, and combining them together to create something that tastes amazing. A very rewarding process.
OK, not everything comes always out as planned. At times, you try to create something and ‘try’ really is the key word, or better yet, the only thing that you’re left with.

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November 13, 2013

Baked Eggplant Fries with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Baked Eggplant FriesAre you one of the “Can I sub fries with a side salad with burger” kind of people?
I certainly am. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fries - especially sweet potatoes fries - but I consider them a “treat” food, so I order them just once in a while.
And I get my fair share of weird looks from waiters when I make such request.  
A 6’3” tall guy asking to sub fries with a salad, kind of catches them off-guard, I get it.
Sometimes, to justify my request, I add “You know, I have a hard time digesting fries!” 
But now that I’m thinking about it, this is such a lame excuse.
It basically makes me sound like an old man having heartburn. Next thing I know, they’ll be offering me an antacid chewable tab to ease my pain. Ouch!

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November 11, 2013

Classic Italian Minestrone

Classic Italian Minestrone
What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about minestrone?
Mines are gramma, heart-warming and yummy.
There are hundreds more I can think of, but those three are definitely the first ones. And gramma definitely comes first.
Because you see, my gramma used to make the best minestrone on the planet. Chock full of veggies, goodness and love.
On cold winter Saturdays when, as a kid, I used to go to her place for lunch after school, she would often serve a piping hot bowl of classic italian Minestrone with a couple of slices of toasted bread slices on the side. It would warm my heart and soul.
On special occasions, she would even serve a grilled cheese with it. Which is - to date - one of my fave meals ever.

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November 10, 2013

(Paleo) Choc Chip Cookie Sticks

(Paleo) Choc Chip Cookie Sticks
I don’t know why, but I tend to be quite active on Sundays. Maybe too active.
I feel it’s the one day of the week when I can catch-up on things like laundry, cooking and house cleaning. 
And I still have time to train — you guys know I can’t possibly skip one day of training.
There’s football to watch too, even though this year the NYGiants are not exactly giving me chills... pfff!
Good thing you can do some of these activities at the same time. Like watching football and cooking, or doing the laundry, or cleaning the house.
Basically the only activity that doesn’t allow multitasking is training; which is why I love it that much.
It’s my safe haven in this world where you’re supposed (and sometimes forced) to juggle yourself in between 100 different activities.
When I run, I run; same goes for swimming, biking and practicing yoga.
You can’t run and talk on the phone or swim and send out emails (unless you have a waterproof smartphone and if you do, you’re probably a moron...)

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November 8, 2013

Running A Marathon Is Awesome (And You Should Totally Try It!)

Last weekend was NYC marathon weekend.
On Sunday morning runners from all over the world gathered in New York to achieve one goal: Crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles.
Now before you look the other way, mumbling “Not another post about marathons please”, bear with me for a couple of minutes, and let me just explain you why I believe you should try completing a marathon - at least once in your life.

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November 7, 2013

Cauliflower Crust Pizzettes

Cauliflower Crust Pizzettes

All things cauliflower crust friends!
Yep, after the cheese pizza, pizza marinara and the worldwide famous calzones it was only a matter of time before I’d come up with something new using cauliflower crust.
This time around is mini pizzas or pizzettes. Basically finger food. Two words: Amaze-balls.
Which is in fact one word (or maybe it’s not even a word), but I like to use the hyphen and think of it as two words. It adds emphasis and drama which is what I’m trying to convey here.

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November 4, 2013

Paleo Moussaka

Paleo Moussaka 
OK guys, it’s getting freezing cold at my latitudes. I was so not prepared for that.
I got out of my building this morning ready to hit the pavement, and I was like “Whoa!” I went back in and had to put an extra layer of running gear on (including gloves). I have to admit it, the thought of calling it a day did cross my mind for a sec, but I somehow convinced myself not to be a wuss and I finally went for my run.
After 12 miles my feet were freezing (I should have worn thermic socks btw), I came home and I was so ready for a warm power breakfast.
Now, under such circumstances I’ll usually make myself a power smoothie or maybe some eggs with avocado, but today I felt different; I felt like I needed to reward myself, and reward myself I did.
It just happened that last night I made this paleo moussaka, which I meant to eat today (and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow) for lunch.
But this morning at 7am it was the right to eat. It was calling my name, and I had to respond.
So I dig into it. Hard. OMG, I was so right. This was probably dopest breakfast I had in months.
Moussaka, who knew.

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November 1, 2013

Chocolate Avocado Chia Pudding

Chocolate Avocado Chia Pudding

We’ve all been there, just home from the Farmers’ market, fresh produce in hand, then comes the tedious first-world problem of having to store everything in your fridge. 
That’s about when you realize you went overboard buying too much food. You couldn’t resist getting 2 pounds of Tuscan kale, 2 pounds of spinach, 2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, 3 cauliflower heads, apples, grapes, berries and 7 avocados (yes, 7, one for each day of the week!)
You start what feels like a big game of tetris: piling tomatoes, aligning zucchini, bending kale, and filling the gaps with onions.
But no matter how good you are, by the end of the process half of the produce is still sitting on the kitchen table, and you’ve somehow grown a disdain for your mother for not having shown you how to do it — except that she had two fridges (at least) and maybe two freezers, and she didn’t really needed any logistical skills in this department.
So now you are left with but one option, and that is start cooking. Unless - of course - you own a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle, then you can feed the animals and you’re pretty much good to go. However, most of us don’t have that option, so we’re back to square one: cooking.

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