Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes

April 30, 2013

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet PotatoesI was on the fence about posting this recipe. Certainly you don’t need me to tell you how to make roasted sweet potatoes. You might need me tell you how to make stuffed whole wheat focaccia or why planks are better than crunches. Roasted sweet potatoes though, I think you can handle it on your own.
However (bear with me, I’m about to make my point) what you might need is for me to tell you that there’s a better way to make roasted sweet potatoes and it involves virgin coconut oil.
Yes, roasting sweet potatoes in coconut oil changes everything. It takes this dish to a whole new level. The crazy-awesome-delicious level.
Let’s be completely real with ourselves: everybody loves roasted sweet potatoes, but coconut oil roasted sweet potatoes are THE REAL DEAL. No brainer.

Breakfast Like A King, Lunch Like A Prince, Dinner Like A Pauper

April 29, 2013

Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, Dinner like a Pauper” this adage by Adelle Davis (which is also rule #54 in Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”) delivers some valuable advice to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 
It stresses out the importance of front-loading the calories at the beginning of the day and decrease the intake as the hours goes by.
The rationale behind is that the human metabolism slows down as the day progresses and - furthermore - the chances of burning calories are fewer as nighttime approaches. 
Accordingly, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day and dinner the smallest.
Dinner like a King, Lunch like a Prince, Dinner like a Pauper

Kale Pesto

April 23, 2013

Kale Pesto

I’m dealing with a kale jungle kinda situation right now. It’s my undying love for kale that brought me to this “emergency”. You see, back in September I bought a packet of kale seeds at the farmer’s market. I was very excited at the idea of growing kale on my balcony. Too excited. In that state I didn’t care for reading the instructions printed on the back of the packet (1st mistake) and planted ALL the seeds in a large pot.
After a couple of weeks ALL of the seeds sprouted nicely. ALL of them. I definitely put a generous pinch of seeds in each hole rather than the required 1-3 per hole (2nd mistake). So there were LOTS of sprouts. LOTS.
Instead of thin them to one main sprout I just left them be (3rd mistake).
Then winter came; the sprouts stopped growing and I almost forgot about them. Better yet, I thought that they were never gonna make it through winter (4th mistake).
Oh man, I was wrong. As soon as spring began (like a month ago) the little sprouts started growing and grew, grew, grew, greeeeew. Like the magic bean in “Jack and the Beanstalk”.
Fortunately some of the sprouts died (they suffocated each other or something) but there is still a huge amount of kale growing a few inches everyday: the kale jungle.
To give you an idea, I’m harvesting a good ½ pound of it daily. Which is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. I’m saving loads of money and loving it.
The flip side is that I need to eat kale every day and need to be creative in kitchen in order to put this kale bonanza to good use (a kale salad won’t do it!)

Whole Wheat Focaccia With Cherry Tomatoes and Oregano

April 21, 2013

Turn of spring can only mean one thing…triathlon race season! There used to be a time, not too long ago, when triathlon race season didn't kick-off until the end of May. With the continued growth of triathlon, you can find a race pretty much any weekend of the year. But spring and summer is when the real action is.
Race season means, among other aspects, food boredom. Something very common for triathletes.
With a strict training and working schedule, food becomes little more than a source of fuel, and sticking to the same menu each and every day makes planning easier. Chicken, tuna, salmon, broccoli, greens, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal...the same thing over and over again.
I can’t do it anymore. I need options and that’s why I learned to cook and create new recipes.
Whole wheat focaccia has definitely become my favorite source of complex carbs. Breakfast or lunch, if I need to carb-it-up, focaccia is what I crave.

Whole Wheat Focaccia With Cherry Tomatoes and Oregano

Hot And Sour Shredded Salad

April 19, 2013

Hot And Sour Shredded Salad

Whether you share an apartment with roomies, or live in your own house with friends coming over for brunch Sunday morning looking for something to eat, this Hot and Sour Shredded Salad is a quick and easy recipe to win over any guest you have. Seriously, any guest. Whether vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, primal or (more likely) omnivore. This salad accommodates everybody. No-brainer.

Are You Exercising Too Much?

April 16, 2013

Exercising too much, is that possible? Yes, exercise overload is just as much a problem as not exercising at all. 
It is in fact well documented that doing a load of exercise can easily do more harm than good. If regular exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, taking it to the extreme may cause severe health issues. 
For the majority of people, who struggle to exercise, the thought of doing too much may seem ludicrous. However, overtraining is much more common than one could assume. At the beginning, it may be simple enthusiasm, but then the idea that you can’t take a break from exercising creeps into your mind and before you know it you’ll find yourself falling into exercise overload. The problem arises when you feel the need to exercise beyond normal level, or better yet, beyond your normal level. 
Here are some of the most common signs that you might exercising too much. Exercise Overload

15-Minute Chicken Cacciatore

April 14, 2013

15-Minute Chicken Cacciatore

I was in dire need for some good chicken, but not grilled chicken, I’m talking about tasty chicken. You see, I’m good at planning meals but not really when it comes to chicken.
In my mind chicken is a last-minute food, which means that when I’m clueless on what to eat (and have limited amount of time) I resort to chicken. A pan, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of herbs and voila’ grilled chicken is served. Boring, I know.
15-Minute Chicken Cacciatore

Socca Wraps with Spinach and Stracchino Cheese

April 11, 2013

Socca Wraps with Spinach and Stracchino Cheese

Let’s talk about socca. If you’re not familiar with this food, let me give you some facts about it. Socca is an unleavened pancake (or crepe) originally made using chickpea flour, water and olive oil; cooked in an open oven and seasoned with salt and pepper. Of course, it originated in Italy. All good things come from Italy. It’s usually sold in bakeries and pizzerias and cut into irregularly shaped triangular slices. However, contrary to most popular Italian fare, it’s naturally gluten-free (woot woot!)
I love it. I really do. That’s why I thought it was a genius idea to create a wrap made of socca. For a moment I felt like a rocket scientist, or Nobel Prize winner or something. Alas, that lasted only for a couple of minutes as a quick trip on the internet brought me back to reality as I discovered that socca wraps are a common street-food in the South of France. Pff....Frenchies, always cramping my style.

Green Pie With Ricotta

April 9, 2013

Green Pie with Ricotta
I’m sitting here in front of my laptop attempting to write about this green pie. I’m also IM-ing with my teammates about Sunday’s race, which is a bit distracting (a lot, actually).
In other words, I don’t have much faith in what I’m about to write and I have the feeling it would take me about an hour to draft two lame paragraphs to convey the following basic concepts.
This is a salty pie. Made with an olive oil crust to die for. It’s packed (literally packed) with greens (2 full pounds). A couple of free-range eggs and some fresh ricotta cheese. That simple.
But let’s take a step back. How about I tell you why I like this green pie?
First off it’s uber easy to make. It seems like a lot of work but it’s not. From the crust to the filling even my 10 year old niece can master this recipe.
I like that with just one slice you’re eating two serving of greens. Greens are good for you and this pie is loaded with them.
I also like that it’s a complete dish, in that it has all the nutrients you need. Which takes me to the next point, a slice of this pie and a couple of raw veggies on the side and lunch/dinner is served.
I now rest my case, but I’m sure there are a number of other valid points I can make, I just can’t seem to remember them right now. When I do, I’ll let you know.

Green Pie With Ricotta

Quitting Is Out Of The Question

April 7, 2013

There are only two things that may stop you from running: injury and attitude. The former is something that is (most of the time) beyond one’s control, but what about the latter? What about that voice between your ears that is telling you to stop, to give up?
You see, mental attitude is a huge factor in running; it’s the determination that makes you keep going when you feel you want to stop, to throw in the towel. In fact, a positive mental attitude is one of the most important things a runner needs.
We all have days when we wonder if it’s really worth it, and when we’re feeling so miserable that all we want to do is quit.
It’s precisely in those moments that you have to remind yourself of the importance of pushing forward.
Credit: Image courtesy of

Running is a lot about self-belief. It might be after your first step or at mile 3, but at some point you’ll need to tell yourself “Damn, I can do it!” and not give in to doubt.
One of the biggest challenges in running is the gradual buildup of mental tiredness. When it hits you, that’s exactly when you need to keep focused and don’t let the negative thoughts cloud your brain, ignore them and keep going. It’s when things seem worst that you should not quit.
Mental toughness in running comes with experience and you need to work at it. Once you master it, it stands you in good stead to handle anything that comes your way, especially when you feel like quitting.
If you just started, it’s important that you set realistic goals.You need targets that challenge you, but don’t break you.
Feed your motivation by attaining constant incremental successes. It boosts your confidence and makes you feel that you’re moving in the right direction.
Also, it doesn’t help to be overly critical about how fast or how far you’ve run. Stay positive and look at every run as a new opportunity that was given you to become better at it.
Rest if you must, but don’t quit, Remember that success is failure turned inside.
Michael Jordan once said:
I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded.
So keep at it, even when you feel that you have taken three steps back. Failing is part of the process but when you’re out there running, quitting is out of the question!

Red and Black Quinoa Tabbouleh

April 5, 2013

Red and Black Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tabouleh is a simple salad which hails from the part of the Middle East that covers Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
It’s usually made with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. There are endless variations to bulgur, the most notorious one is subbing bulgur with couscous. Yotam Ottolenghi describes in his cookbook how during his career he has come across a million bastardised versions of this simple dish. Some of which were way out of line. The most common issue has to do with proportions. In this dish parsley has to be the star of the show alongside with mint (not the grains nor the veggies). Also, herbs need to be chopped very thinly (and with a knife not a food processor) so that they can properly release their flavors and volatile oils.

Running Is Only About You

April 4, 2013

Last weekend I went for a run in Central Park, something I never do. I prefer to stay downtown, cross the East River on the Williamsburg bridge and go from there.
For this one time, however, I went uptown on the Hudson River Park and entered CP from Columbus Circle @59th st.
“Whoa!” was my reaction as I entered the park and saw that tsunami of runners hitting the pavement. It was tad overwhelming, to be honest.
It was actually so jam-packed that I had to dart between people. A bumper-to-bumper situation, without the bumpers, of course.
As I was making my way through this massive wave of runners I noticed that there was a good amount of beginners. Which is cool, people hitting the road to get healthier. I like that.
However, I saw that most of them spent their time (and energy) twisting their heads looking at other runners instead of concentrating on their own run. As if they were under constant scrutiny by more experienced/faster runners. Which is such a stupid thing to do in the first place.
Being an experienced runner I feel like I need to share this secret: we (i.e., faster/experienced runners) do not give a “fat rat ass” about other runners; all we care about is our pace, heart rate, time and the distance we’re covering. Simple as that.
You run slower? We don’t care. Actually is not that we don’t care, we are just concentrating on our own run and we can’t be bothered to look around. That’s about it. We might get angry if you get in our way (well, really angry), but unless that happens, we’re cool.

Credit: Image courtesy of

Stuffed Focaccia with Arugula, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

April 2, 2013

Stuffed Whole Wheat Focaccia with Arugula, Feta and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Focaccia is an astronomically popular flat oven-baked bread, which can be topped with herbs or other ingredients. It’s very popular in Italy. If you happen to walk during lunchtime in the streets of Milan, Florence, Venice or Rome everybody is munching on focaccia. Well, almost everybody. You guys know that I tend to exaggerate.
It is usually seasoned with olive oil and salt, sometimes herbs, and may be topped with onion, cheese or vegetables.
Or, or, or, or it can be stuffed. Yes, it can be stuffed. The most popular stuffed focaccia has to be the “Focaccia di Recco” a focaccia with cheese that melts into your mouth and just makes your life better.