26 July, 2015

Green Avocado Smoothie


I can imagine what you are thinking: she must be living under a rock. The world has been drinking green smoothies for about a decade, and now she's coming up with a recipe...yawn!!!

I won't blame you. I do live under a rock in many respects. Although I was aware of the whole green smoothie movement. I have always lived by the rule that you shouldn't drink your calories (red wine is the big exception here). Your satiety senses would be fooled by drinking a meal, as the drink would go down much quicker as EATING the same foods with fork & knife or spoon.

Several things happened that changed my mind. Recently, I read a lot about alkaline and acidic foods and their reactions on the body. Acid-forming foods are very pro-inflammatory and might be responsible for chronic inflammation in the body which then sets the stage for many lifestyle diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes or cancer. These foods include animal protein, grains (for their phytic acid content), fruit (for their sugar content), dairy, coffee, and needless to say,  all processed foods, sweets, and alcohol.

Alkaline forming foods will be non-starchy vegetables, green leaves, nuts and seeds. Which would be a vegan diet without the fruit and grains. That leaves you with not much to eat. And if you have a day job, a family or a very energy-consuming hobby like my running you won't have time to think about foods all day long.

My conclusion is a diet consisting of mainly vegetables and healthy plant fats coming from olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds combined with moderate amounts of animal protein and small amounts of fruit and dairy to keep the balance on the alkaline side.

You should have vegetables for each of the three main meals. So guess what comes in handy here? Yes, the smoothie. For me personally, a smoothie is not enough to be a whole meal. Due to my running, I need something more of the size of 500-600 calories to make it a main meal. My green avocado smoothie has around 200 calories.  Just good enough for a snack, with spinach/parsley, cucumbers, avocado and flax seeds being very alkaline forming. with a large part of the energy coming from healthy fats. Coconut water is my favorite natural electrolyte. I have it religiously after each of my training runs to replace lost minerals.

Last but not least there is another reason for me making smoothies: my new kitchen machine. When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I definitely live under a rock, and happily so. Anything that comes with a manual is too much work to sift through.
Now I got this Kenwood MultiOne kitchen machine, which I happily stuffed into the kitchen cupboard upon its arrival. To be used later. Soon. On the weekend. Surprisingly, once I got it out to make my smoothies, it never made it back into the cupboard. As it's being used daily now. Didn't have to read the manual, it's easy to clean and it makes nice smoothies. Sometimes it's good to come out from under the rocks.
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GREEN AVOCADO SMOOTHIE 

(Print Recipe)

1 ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small cucumber, roughly chopped
2 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped (or half parsley, half spinach)

1 ripe banana, peeled and roughly chopped
330ml coconut water
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Serves 2-3
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Combine all ingredients in a high speed food processor and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. 
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18 May, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala


I am lagging behind with a lot of recipes that I have been cooking lately, as the other grown-up family member in our house decided to go starch and sugar free as of 1 March. That was good bye to many easy dishes that we/he had on a regular basis: no more pasta, rice or potatoes, even if it was just on the side...Bye bye to you-eat-a-sandwich-I-just-have-a-salad.

The transition was easier than I thought. Determination and and open mind to new foods helped a lot to introduce cauliflower rice, paleo wraps, boiled eggs, eggs in any form, and rich cream-based main dishes.

I kept saying that it would be going the wrong direction if one ever felt overly hungry between meals. That would be the trap when you tend to grab sugary and starchy snacks. In order to avoid that, the main meals must be filling enough. What's the point of having a healthy salad if you are hungry again an hour later? Then what would you eat? Rich main meals are the answer. If I ever eat salad, I have 2-3 boiled eggs with it. Or a decent sized salmon fillet. Or a steak.

This curry has become one of our new staples. I got a bit tired of the coconut milk-based Chicken Curry. A tomato based curry is so much fresher.
I am a sucker for any ideas/recipes that reduce the time that I have to spend in the kitchen. Now here comes the best part of this recipe:
It is worth cooking huge amounts of this sauce, and keep them in portioned containers. As the Masala is cooked separately, the dish is easily made into a Fish or Prawn Masala. If you drop peeled prawns or fish cubes into the ready sauce and cook them through, you have a different dish altogether. It saves you a lot of cooking time on several evenings. I love that. Bon appetit!
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CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

(Print Recipe)

1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
500g boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 red chili, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala

1 can chopped peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons seas alt
2 cups water

1/2 cup cream

Serves 2-3
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In a bowl, mix yogurt with ginger and garlic, salt and pepper and chicken thighs. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and set aside.

In a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and chili and sauté until lightly browned.

Add chicken thighs and sauté until browned, around 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add tomato paste, garam masala and paprika and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in tomatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down the heat to let simmer for 20 minutes.
Let cool a little before blending the sauce in a mixer until smooth.

Pour sauce back into the pan. Bring sauce to a boil, add chicken and cook until cooked through, around 8-10 minutes. Stir in cream. Serve garnished with fresh coriander.

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07 February, 2015

Chicken Liver Pate

Surprise, surprise: I am still alive. Alive and kicking and cooking. It's been a while since the last post, about three months. Let me explain.

You may have noticed that my recipe posts got less frequent recently. I can't even remember when I last posted on a weekly basis. Fact is, that I came up with something new on a weekly basis for 5 years or so. This blog was intended to be my public journal of a journey with foods and dishes that would make me healthier and more energetic.

It started off by eliminating processed sugar and processed flour. That was my breakthrough. I experimented with gluten-free dishes which didn't do so much for me. I then ventured into the realms of a grain-free diet, which was a lower-carb diet in disguise. Now that was the true revelation for me. There were raw, vegan  and paleo side paths which I appreciate for what they are. However, they never made it to be the main form of my diet as I find them too restrictive and/or time-consuming to follow.

What's my diet now? I still eat everything apart from processed sugar. Grains only occasionally. After phases of spending lots of time in the kitchen to cook up sophisticated healthy meals, I am going back to even less processed foods: raw salads, boiled eggs, grilled salmon or steaks. Raw nuts and pieces of raw fruit for snacks. Seed crackers and grilled vegetables I make in big batches that will last us through a few days.

My food journey has come to a standstill. I feel like I have reached my destination. I am happy with my diet. I figured out what's good for me. As a result, I read less other food blogs (honestly, almost none). I don't research the latest nutrition discoveries anymore, and I am less excited when the next "super food" is being announced.

My motto has always been to "eat to live" rather than "live to eat". I cannot help but keep myself busy with new challenges. This has increasingly been running and running coaching with my running club. I have started to accept web design assignments, I am doing freelance picture researching for a local publishing house. And I take on the occasional photography assignment. I am also obsessed with the idea of being able to do a pull-up before I turn 40. Which is in about two months time. I never managed one in my whole life. My upper body strength is close to zero, and even though I have been doing strength training for quite some time, I find my upper body is not very susceptive to training. I'll try anyway!

Despite all those new directions that keep me busy, I feel hesitant to stop food blogging completely. I still pride myself of throwing BBQ parties where every single food is made from scratch. Even the vanilla ice cream that comes with the dessert (a recipe that I owe you).

I still cook and eat, but I don't feel the need to try out something new every week. Therefore, I will change the format and style of my blog. So it doesn't look as embarrassing when I don't post for three months. It should rather be an online recipe book that gets updates on a regular or irregular basis. I don't know when this will be completed. Until then, everything stays as it is.
I have never come across as the chattiest person through my blog. But rest assured: I am here, and any feedback, questions and suggestions are welcome at any time.

I'll leave you today with a recipe of chicken liver pate. As a German, liver pate used to be part of my staple diet. While the store-bought ones are full with preservatives and chemicals, this recipe is the easiest and quickest to cook. You cannot mess it up, I promise. Just a warning: It's so more-ish, that it comes with the risk of overdosing after a few weeks. Bon appetit!
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CHICKEN LIVER PATE

(Print Recipe)

1 cup milk
1 pound/500g fresh chicken livers

6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup brandy or whiskey

1/2 cup butter, melted

Serves 6-8
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Place livers and milk in a bowl and soak for 2 hours. Drain well.

In a large saute pan or skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Cook chopped onions until softened, around 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. 
Add drained chicken livers, bay leaves, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until livers are browned on the outside but pink inside, about 5 minutes. Add brandy/whiskey and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the livers are cooked through but still tender.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Discard bay leaves.

In a food processor, puree the liver mixture. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in pieces and pulse to blend. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Fill liver pate into ramekins. Top with melted butter until completely covered. Refrigerate until firm, around 2 hours. 
Serve with crackers or veggie sticks.
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