Eating on Banana Leaf

Eating on a banana leaf is a tradition in countries like India, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. This past weekend I had the pleasure to try it out myself and I was able to notice some differences in comparison to eating with metal utensils and on paper plates.

Eating on banana leaf is a custom that dates back thousands of years; however, its benefits still exist. Based on my own research I have found several differences and benefits when eating in this manner.

Benefits of Eating on Banana Leaf

HEALTH: Banana leaves contain polyphenols, which help fight against free radicals and diseases. Banana leaves are hard for the human body to digest when eaten directly; however, the food eaten in the leaf absorbs the polyphenols from the leaf. There are also reasons to believe that the leaf can kill germs in the food due to anti-bacterial properties.

FLAVOR: When eating off the leaf, I found my food to be more flavorful than usual. Using metal utensils can give a somewhat metalic taste to the foods. In addition, hot foods melt the waxy coating from the leaf, introducing more flavor and even tastier food.

The banana leaf also is eco-friendly, in that it decomposes far quicker than plastic.

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Getting back into eating healthy and a workout after vacation…

This past weekend I went on vacation that ended up in a few binges and more than a few regrets. Although I was able to squeeze in a workout, avoiding sugary foods can be harder.

 The only thing that makes me feel better and motivated into getting back into a healthier routine is to remind myself that it is in the past and I can do better tomorrow. After getting home from my vacation and went straight for a run and picked up some healthy snacks. 

It is easy to get tempted over a relaxing vacation but we also have to try to remind ourselves that each indulge takes us one step back. While we can eat some treats, we should remind ourselves not to overeat. 

Salmon Wellington 

I discovered this wonderful way to make fish this past weekend….Salmon Wellington. Fish is a great source of protein and it contains less fat than other meats. This was my first time cooking with raw fish and it was not as bad as my chicken experience.

The recipe creates a spinach and dill creamy mixture that is laid on top of a salmon fillet and then baked in a puff pastry. As someone who doesn’t have much cooking experience, I was nervous going into this. However, I received many complements and “woohoos” from my family. And they are my biggest critics.

The dish is extremely filling…after 3 bites we were already feeling stuffed. Especially because the salmon dish was paired with my brother’s own Penne Pasta recipe. Enjoy the Salmon Wellington!

Salmon Wellington


INGREDIENTS

Serves 2

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ medium onion, chopped

5 ounces spinach

1 teaspoon salt (for spinach)

1 teaspoon pepper (for spinach)

⅓ cup breadcrumbs

4 ounces cream cheese

¼ cup Parmesan, shredded

2 tablespoons dill, chopped

1 sheet puff pastry, softened to room temperature

1 salmon filet

1 teaspoon salt (for salmon)

1 teaspoon pepper (for salmon)

1 egg, beaten

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a pan over medium heat, melt butter.

Add the garlic and onions, cooking until translucent.

Add the spinach, salt, and pepper, cooking until spinach is wilted.

Add the breadcrumbs, cream cheese, parmesan, and dill, stirring until mixture is evenly combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

On a cutting board, smooth out the sheet of puff pastry. Place the salmon in the middle of the pastry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Place several spoonfuls of the spinach mixture on top of the salmon, smoothing it out so that it does not spill over the sides.

Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the salmon and spinach, starting with the longer sides and then the shorter ends. Trim any excess pastry from the ends, then fold the ends on top. Flip the puff pastry-wrapped salmon over and transfer for a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the beaten egg on the top and sides of the pastry.

Score the top of the pastry with a knife, cutting shallow diagonal lines to create a crosshatch pattern.

Brush the top again with the egg wash.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.

Slice, then serve

Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Veggie Rice Bowl

Over the weekend, I dipped my fingers in raw chicken for the first time and I admit that I squealed. But all the squealing was worth it for the Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Veggie Rice Bowl that I made.

This dish is the perfect combination of protein, carbs, and veggies. While the recipe called for 4 servings, I uped mine to 5 with 2lbs of chicken. I also used par-boiled rice to substitute white rice. In addition, due to lack of experience on a grill, I used a grill pan to grill the chicken on a stovetop.

My family is my biggest critic and they haven’t loved my past dishes that much but this one earned a hearty smile and a big thumbs up. So I recommed this dish to anyone because it was absolutely delicious and cozy to have dinner a bowl.

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Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Veggie Rice Bowls

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Chicken, veggies and rice
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing grill
  • 1 1/2 lbs bonless skinless chicken breasts
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced into half moons and quartered (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots
  • 2 1/2 cups small diced broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups white or brown rice, cooked according to directions on package (I prefer short grain brown rice)
  • Sesame seeds, optional

Directions

For the teriyaki sauce:

In a small saucepan whisk together low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp of the water, the brown sugar, honey, garlic, ginger and rice vinegar. Bring mixture to a light boil over medium-high heat. Whisk together cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbsp water, then add to sauce mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat slightly and allow to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, set aside.

For the chicken:

Brush both sides of chicken with 1 1/2 Tbsp of the olive oil and season pepper (you won’t need salt since the teriyaki sauce is plenty salty). Preheat a grill over medium-high heat (to about 425 – 450 degrees). Brush grill grates lightly with oil then grill chicken until center registers 160 – 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and let rest 5 minutes then dice into cubes.

For the veggies:

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, broccoli and carrots and saute 4 – 5 minutes until crisp tender.

To assemble bowls:

Layer rice into 4 bowls then top each with 1/4 of the chicken and 1/4 of the veggies. Drizzle desired amount of teriyaki sauce over tops (you’ll have extra left over – use it for chicken or salmon the next day), sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm.

Recipe source: Cooking Classy

 

Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

Check out this post and recipe by greenflatkitchen! It may not be winter time – quite the opposite in fact – but it looks like a nice and light dish.

 

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INGREDIENTS:                                                                                       SERVING: 1 LITRE

1 cup chopped pumpkin

1 cup chopped sweet potato/kumara

1/2 cup chopped capsicum

2 clove of garlic

1/2 chopped onion

1 pc of small chille *optional

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 tsp cumin

3 cups water

METHOD:

1. Heat a pot with oil then sautee onions,garlic,ginger,cumin seeds,capsicum for 3 minutes.

2. Add water into the pot and boil until pumpkin and sweet potato is soft and mushy.

3.Remove from heat and with a stick blender, puree all the vegetables into soup consistency. Add more liquid if needed.

Serve with garnished coriander,a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and sprinkle some smoked paprika.

Breakfast in a Treat

Most people skip breakfast but it is one meal that can give us the energy and boost of nutrition to start our day out right. For those who skip breakfast either because there’s no time or because they do not enjoy breakfast foods, here’s a twist on oatmeal and muffins.

Eating plain oatmeal can get boring sometimes…I can agree with that. But this breakfast treat is an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack that is filling.

In about 45 minutes these muffins can be prepared, baked, and devoured! I recommend prepping them the night before or making them on a lazy weekend morning.

So whip ’em up:

Blueberry Granola Oatmeal Muffins

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Enjoy!! 🙂

I don’t like the word “diets”

What do you think of when you hear the word “diets”? I think of lots of salad and the frustration of not seeing results. I think of people quitting after a month..if even.

I don’t like diets because it seems like a temporary solution to something that takes a lifetime of commitment to your health and body. When I eat, I don’t eat to feel happy and healthy. I feel happy to eat.

The food choices we make shouldn’t last a few weeks or months; instead, they should be a lifestyle. I want to eat healthy foods throughout the duration of my life, not until I reach a certain number on the scale or a body structure I like.

Yes, I like sweets and desserts. I more than like them…I love them. I do have the occasional binge when I feel that crazy urge. But I also know that it happens and it is not a “mistake” to “mess up.” Even people who eat totally clean die.

So eat your oatmeal, vegetables, and fish. But also know there is nothing wrong with eating desserts. And diets aren’t always the answer for you.

Enjoy your day!

Feeling unmotivated or frustrated?

While I enjoy working out and knowing that I am working towards a goal, it gets hard to keep persisting everyday. My goal is to lose some of the fat under my arms, behind my legs, and the layer on my stomach. But not only do I want to lose the fat, I want to tone my arms, core, and lower body. So basically you can say everything! LOL!

Working out is not the only thing that matters when achieving your goals, it is making sure to eat properly. But of course, it is easier said than done. Over the past few weeks I felt motivated to reach my goals but the last two weeks I became frustrated.

Seeing results takes more than two weeks so this is where we have to remind ourselves what we are working towards. I felt frustrated because I wasn’t sure if I was working out properly. I do cardio and total body weights three times a week and a rest day for stretching. Although I know I am physically keeping up with my workout schedule, mentally I wish there were more results.

Eating healthy is probably the hardest of all because I find it difficult to know when to eat what or how much. Researching isn’t that easy also because there are so many opinions or recommendations. And having a craving for desserts is difficult to surpress without binging.

Overall, persistance is key. We can’t forget why we started working out and eating healthy. We can’t forget our end goal and get distrated and frustrated with slow progress.

 

Love Smoothies?…Try This!

If I learned anything from my dad and all the health advocates, it’s that we need veggies and veggies need to make up 50% of our meal. But the thought of raw and hard veggies grosses me out – making my taste buds cringe.

Well after being introduced to the Vitamix blender I found a way to get my veggies in while making sure the entire vegetable is used. However, what I failed to realize is that too much spinach in high quantities is really dangerous. According to Women’s Health, spinach is “high in oxalate, a compound that can lead to the formation of kidney stones.”

I do use spinach in my smoothies but I often switch it up with kale. Don’t get me wrong, while I understand the importance of vegetables and I like to put them in my smoothies, I like my smoothies to actually taste good. So I add a variety of fruits too – like bananas, apples, and dates. As for adding liquid to the smoothie, I sometimes put almond milk, coconut water, or plain ole H2O!

Here’s a smoothie that I find takes an interesting spin for smoothies:

Layered Mixed Berry Green Power Smoothie

Serves:4 servings
Prep time:10 mins
Total time:10 mins
A double-layer of mixed berry and mighty green comes together in this power-loaded smoothie that you can feel good about sipping!
Ingredients
BERRY LAYER:
  • 1 medium banana, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1-1/2 cups milk

GREEN LAYER:

  • 1 medium banana, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1 medium kiwi, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups loosely-packed spinach
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Make the berry layer: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour berry smoothie into 4 glasses, filling halfway. Set aside.
  2. Make the green layer: Clean out the blender and place all ingredients in blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Divide green smoothie between glasses, pouring on top of berry layer. Enjoy immediately!

Found on: http://wholeandheavenlyoven.com/2015/04/21/layered-mixed-berry-green-power-smoothie/

Try making this smoothie and let me know what you think!! 🙂

 

Beware of pH Levels in Your Diet- Part 2

After finding out I had acidic pH levels, I hit the internet to find out how to change my diet and what I was doing wrong.

According to my research, I found that common risks factors for acid reflux are:

  • eating large meals or lying down right after a meal
  • snacking close to bedtime
  • eating foods like tomato, garlic, onions, or spicy/fatty foods
  • drinking beverages like alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
  • smoking

So I don’t smoke or drink alcohol, coffee, or carbonated drinks, but I love tea and I would eat meals that consisted of tomatoes and spicy foods.

Acidic pH levels are 1.0 – 6.9. Alkaline pH levels are 7.1 – 14.0. And a neutral pH level is 7. My basic biology classes taught me this but I guess I didn’t realize how important it was and how it could affect my body. For example, if acid reflux is left untreated and without a change in diet or exercise, throat cancer can develop!!!

So all of this is great information but I needed to find out what I needed to do to fix my diet. Since most diets can cause unhealthy acidic pH levels, food was the first thing I needed to adjust.

Hours of research led to the understanding that vegetables had to become my best friends! Some alkaline veggies are beets, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, celery, and kale. Some alkaline fruits are banana, apples, grapes, watermelon, peach, pear, cantaloupe, and berries. HOWEVER, do not overdo the apples and peaches because they are somewhat acidic but they are okay in moderation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 1.58.09 PM.pngTwo months have past since my ER visit and I am able to eat acidic foods again but I definitely pay more attention to my intake. It was hard at first to adjust and find the right foods to eat because I relied on the college’s dining hall to feed me. However, I knew this was to help me get better and I didn’t want to feel that stomach pain again.

As for my tea, I learned that black tea is acidic but I could still drink green tea and herbal teas! 🙂 Please be aware of what you eat because it can hurt your stomach if you’re not paying attention.