Indian Style Meatballs with Roasted Garlic Cream

March 31, 2013

Indian Style Meatballs
Let's talk about ground beef... 
When buying ground beef, the rule of thumb is to buy the best quality you can afford. Organic and - if you can find it - grass-fed.
If you shop at a butcher (or a grocery store with a real butcher) you should have them grind the beef for you. Pick out a piece of sirloin or chuck (or half chuck - half sirloin) and ask the butcher to put it through their grinder. This is the only way to make sure that the ground meat you’re buying is the meat that went into the grinder.
It can be more expensive than pre-packaged ground meat, but the latter can be a hazard (food poisoning and E. coli cases resulting from bad ground meat are so frequent). On top of that you’ll know that the meat has not been sitting on the shelf for days, which guarantees freshness. Ground meat is subject to the greatest amount of handling, which increases the risk of exposure to contamination. If instead you the process happens right in front of your eyes you’ll know that how many hands have touched it. Right?

One meatballs at a time please...

Spicy Sweet Potato Burgers with Lemony Greek Yogurt and Avocado

March 28, 2013

Spicy Sweet Potato Burgers with Lemony Greek Yogurt and Avocado

Nothing get on my nerves more than hearing somebody saying “OMG, I’m such a sweet potato person, they’re so yummy and healthy!”.
What does it mean to be sweet potato person?
That if you look at yourself in the mirror you see a sweet potato? That among your peers you’re considered a sweet potato? That you eat only sweet potatoes?
In my humble experience, it usually means that you discovered recently (very recently, maybe yesterday) that sweet potatoes are a healthy food and you just need to speak it to the world. An attempt to assert that you’re a healthy person and that you know a whole lot deal about it. Bah...
For this one time you’re justified though...sweet potatoes are an awesome food so you might as well call yourself a sweet potato person. As long as you promise to really make them one of the staple food of your diet.

Spicy Sweet Potato Burgers with Lemony Greek Yogurt and Avocado

Suggested Reading: Salt Sugar Fat (How The Food Giants Hooked Us)

March 26, 2013

The food industry is a manufacturing business with just one goal in mind, design products to please consumers’ palate.
Don’t picture it in your mind as something similar to a cook, in his kitchen, trying to perfect a recipe. Think of it, instead, as more of a chemist in a laboratory performing experiments and meticulously mixing flavors in an attempt to reach that perfect balance, the “bliss point”. That perfect combination of ingredients that will send taste buds buzzing and that eventually will makes us come back for more.
As you flip through the pages of “Salt Sugar Fat” you’ll learn about how Food Giants maneuver around the boons and drawbacks of sugar, salt, and fat in order to make us consume their products, and consume them a lot. The competition for our grocery dollars affects what's in the food we eat and, as a consequence, affect our waist size and health.
Food industry’s approach is so meticulous and scientific that it has been capable of substantially altering the our desires, perceptions and expectation towards food. Without even noticing it, our taste buds have been reprogrammed to make us crave for more sugar, fat and salt.

Homemade Sourdough Bread

March 22, 2013

Homemade Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is the original "100% guaranteed" truly natural bread. There’s no commercial yeast in it, it's made only with flour, water and natural yeasts from the air.
I’ve tried several times to make sourdough bread in the past but failed on every single occasion.
I gave it a last shot two weeks ago, following Jamie Oliver’s recipe. And this one this time I’ve finally cracked it.
Baking sourdough bread has to be one of the coolest things ever. Witnessing day after day the starter coming to life through the natural fermentation of the flour. When it's baking time, the incredible aroma of bread (real bread) permeating the apt. Yes, I fell love in love with sourdough bread.
The loaf came out beautifully, crunchy on the outside, chewy and moist on the inside, as per Jamie’s words “Sourdough is the ultimate loaf.”
Sourdough bread is packed with precious nutrients. It has nothing to do with mass-produced breads that are grossly degraded in nutrients and choked with sugar, preservatives and additives.
Sourdough bread comes from the natural fermentation of gluten contained in the flour. When gluten is properly fermented it becomes healthy for human consumption. When it is not it’s potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat.
Correctly fermented wheat contain 18 amino acids, complex carbs, B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, and maltase.
Sourdough bread is the healthiest form of bread you can possibly dig your teeth into. Are you ready for journey?

Eat Food Not Edible Foodlike Substances

March 20, 2013

This is one of the my favorite quotes from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.
It focuses on the importance of eating real, whole food over any sort of junk food or food like product.
Eat Food Not Edible Foodlike Substances

Heavy processing of food - which improves shelf life and palatability - also removes nutrients, adds chemicals and makes food more readily absorbable, which might be a problem for insulin and fat metabolism.
That’s why you should try to avoid heavily processed foods, labeled by Michael Pollan as “edible foodlike substances.”
"They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted. Today much of the challenge of eating well comes down to choosing real food and avoiding these industrial novelties1."

Black-eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Cakes With Greens

March 19, 2013

Black-eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Cakes With Spinach

I bought a can of black-eyed peas a while ago and every time I would open the kitchen's cupboard I could feel them staring at me; with their judgemental look, as if they were saying “You haven’t got the slightest idea of what to do with us, that’s why we’re still here, covered with a layer of dust.
I knew that I had to take action asap. No way a bunch of canned peas was going to get at me.

Black-eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Cakes With Spinach

Getting All The Nutrients Without Consuming Too Many Calories

March 18, 2013

When trying to control calories while balancing the diet, some foods can be especially helpful. Foods that are rich in nutrients relative to their energy content.
It is well established that some foods deliver more nutrients than others do for the same amount of calories, as they have a higher nutrient density.
Those nutrient dense foods give you the "biggest bang for the buck." You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn't cost you much in terms of calories1.
Let’s take for instance ice-cream and fat-free milk. Both supply calcium, but milk is much more calcium dense than ice-cream. The latter having over 300 calories per cup versus 80 calories for a cup of milk2.

Vegetables are always the best choice

Nutrition Science Should Be Taken With A Grain Of Salt

March 17, 2013

On this little space we like to call “TheIronYou” we talk about food, nutrition and health, almost on a daily basis. We create recipes that are supposed to be good for you. We discuss about the ultimate superfood landed in grocery stores. We point out the latest researches made by scientists. Often, we just ramble about what goes through our minds.
Whatever that might be, there’s one thing we want to stress out: when we talk about nutrition science keep in mind that it's a relatively young science still surrounded by much uncertainty.
So whenever you’re reading about “this is good for you”, “this is bad for you”, “if you eat this it will kill you”, “if you eat that you will live forever”, don’t take it for granted but process it into your mind with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Science On A PlateCredit: Image courtesy of University of Aberdeen

Cauliflower Crust Cheese Pizza

March 16, 2013

Cauliflower Crust Cheese Pizza
I must come clean. I’m having too much fun making cauli crust pizza and it’s starting to become an obsession. Thing is, I’m fascinated by how well the cauliflower crust holds and how good it is.
It’s not only about the looks, I love flavor too. It’s just so delicious!
I really wonder why cauli crust pizza hasn’t become a big hit yet. Everybody seems to love it. There’s definitely room for taking up a paleo pizza business...
Plus, while you’re munching a slice you know you’re getting a full serving a cauliflower. On top of that there’s no gluten, low carbs and very few calories. Now, that’s rad!

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

March 14, 2013

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

Spices and aromatics are the very heart of Indian cooking. Flowers, leaves, roots, bark, seeds and bulbs are used in endless combination to produce an infinite variety of flavors: sweet, sharp, hot, sour, spicy, aromatic, tart, mild, fragrant or pungent. 
Masala is a term that identifies a mixture of spices, that can be either a combination of dried spices or a paste made from a mixture of spices and other ingredients.
Chicken tikka is traditionally small piece of boneless chicken baked using skewers.
Chicken tikka masala is therefore a dish of roasted chicken chunks (tikka) in a spicy sauce (masala). The sauce is creamy, spiced, orange-colored and delicious!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

March 12, 2013

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Nothing says carbs and fats quite like Mac & Cheese. If I have to picture in mind a dish that has no veggies in it, I go for Mac & Cheese.
Pizza at least has some tomato sauce, a burger has lettuce, tomatoes and it’s served with fries on the side, a hot-dog has relish and onions (that’s some veggies, ain’t it?) Mac & Cheese is just carbs and dairy fats, that’s about it.
No wonder Mac & Cheese never makes it to the healthy food list.
Too bad, because we all had our moments with a steaming hot bowl of Mac & Cheese (I’m thinking college after party...anyone?).
In other words, completely renouncing to Mac & Cheese makes life a little more miserable, certainly less tasty. I don’t know about you, but I still need/want Mac & Cheese in my life.

Spoonful of delicious Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Baked Green Rice Balls

March 10, 2013

Baked Green Rice Balls

When I cook brown rice I have a tendency to go overboard. It all begins with soaking brown rice overnight to make it germinate. A reasonable person would soak one cup (maybe two) at a time.
The road I take is far from reasonableness. I usually empty the whole 1lb brown rice bag into a bowl a cover it with water. Damage is done.
But it’s only 24 hours later, when it’s time to cook it, that I suddenly realize my mistake. You see, 1lb of uncooked brown rice turns into a full 2 lb of cooked brown rice (maybe even more?). And what the heck am I going to do with that humongous amount of cooked rice?
As much as I like brown rice, it gets boring pretty quickly. 

Fortunately, there are many uses for leftover rice. One of my fave has to be baked rice balls. A simple, quick, healthy and d’lish recipe. An absolute winner!

Baked Green Rice Balls

Spaghetti With Greens and Cherry Tomatoes

March 8, 2013

Spaghetti with Greens and Cherry Tomatoes

All spaghetti is not created equal. There is spaghetti with meatballs, spaghetti carbonara, spaghetti with alfredo sauce and there is MY RECIPE for whole wheat spaghetti with greens and cherry tomatoes.
Is there a difference? I believe there is. A huge one. Mine is better, much much better.
Not just because I made it (although that’s a big part of it), but mostly because mine it’s healthier, much healthier.
It’s actually more of a “greens and tomatoes with pasta” than “pasta with greens and tomatoes”. Which is a good thing: less carbs, more veggies. Lots of veggies.
That’s the way we roll over here, the healthy way.

Spaghetti with Greens and Cherry Tomatoes

Make Activity Part Of Your Lifestyle...

March 7, 2013

New research at Oregon State University suggests the health benefits of small amounts of activity – even as small as one- and two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes per day – can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical exercise achieved by a trip to the gym.
The nationally representative study of more than 6,000 American adults shows that an active lifestyle approach, as opposed to structured exercise, may be just as beneficial in improving health outcomes, including preventing metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University

The Importance Of Breaking A Sweat

March 6, 2013

There’s a great quote by Isak Dinesen that says “The cure for anything is salt water - tears, sweat, or the sea.”  I truly believe in it.  
If I’m in a bad mood, or I can’t seem to wrap my mind around something, breaking a sweat clears up my mind, getting rid of that negative feeling.
Going for a run, swimming my heart out, hopping on my bike, killing it in a Bikram Yoga class; whatever that might be, sweating always work (for me).
It’s not only about mental health though; sweating is a necessary part of helping maintain balance within your body. It also helps detoxification, strengthen the immune system, and boost mental awareness.
That’s why it’s so important to break a sweat from time to time, or better yet, daily.

The Importance of Breaking A Sweat

The Best Millet Cakes

March 4, 2013

Millet Cakes

I bought a package of millet a while ago and it has been sitting in my kitchen cabinet for months. I really didn’t know what to do with it.
Thing is, millet is a healthy seed. Gluten-free, highly alkaline with lots of fiber, iron, B vitamins, and precious nutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
I wanted so badly to include it in my diet but didn’t where to begin with.
Last week I finally muster up the courage and began experimenting. To make a long story short, I tried baking muffins with it but it was an utter disaster. I made some sort of porridge/oatmeal; it was so bad it nearly ruined my whole day. I made a bread with millet which was kind of good, nothing too exciting though. Yes, millet is a toughie to cook.
I was ready to throw in the towel but then I went to Cafe’ Ghia in Bushwick, Brooklyn (NYC) for brunch where I had some amazing millet cakes. I dissected them and tried to identify all the ingredients; made a mental note and went home experimenting.
It took me several attempts but in the end I aced it, or at least I think so.

Green Soup With Quinoa

March 2, 2013

Green Soup With Quinoa

I’m a big fan of one-bowl meals. If I were into politics, I would found a party that would stand for one-bowl meal. Protein, vegetables, and good fats combined altogether to make something healthy and delicious.
I don't think I'll ever get tired of one-bowl meals. Give me a bowl, a spoon, and a good mix of vegetables and protein, and it’s all going to be good.
That’s what this green soup with quinoa is all about.
Simple, quick and satisfying; a reliable go-to recipe at the end of a long day.
Lots of greens (spinach and kale to be precise), some potatoes, spices and lots of quinoa to bind everything together.