When the better chef cooks…

Food

Black Beans and Cilantro This past week, after finals finished, I flew up as quickly as I could to New York to get some of my boy’s cooking. I believe that every girl should find a man that can cook for her, it is one of the sexiest things! During finals week, he sent me a picture of fish tacos he made that were so simple and looked delicious! I begged him to make those for me when I was up there. Last time, he made the tacos with halibut filets, which are delicious but can be pricey. This time we decided to try it with tilapia. According to him you couldn’t taste much of a difference, the tilapia itself was yummy. Sadly, he also didn’t have any ripe enough avocados, so the pictures show it sans avocado. I really love how these tacos were wrapped in lettuce leaves. It was very healthy and not Seasoned Tilapiathat heavy tasting. I had suggested that for next time we use pinto beans, since I believed they were healthier and have a better taste. Turns out I’m wrong! While similar to the nutritional value in black beans, black beans themselves are actually a little better for you than pinto beans. Next time I go to chipotle, I’m switching my beans!

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos with Tilapia, salsa verde, black beans, in a lettuce wrap.

Fish tacos with Tilapia, salsa verde, black beans, in a lettuce wrap.

Servings: 2
Ingredients
2 4-oz halibut filets
Olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper
Chili powder
1 cup black beans, no salt added, drained
1/2 avocado
Cilantro, chopped
Salsa verde
Boston lettuce leaves

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of halibut with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook until opaque, about 3 minutes per side.
Remove from pan. In a small saucepan, heat black beans and cilantro. Arrange lettuce cups on plate. Spoon bean mixture onto lettuce. Add fish, avocado slices, and salsa.

Fish Tacos Nutrition with Halibut and Avocado

Fish Tacos Nutrition with Halibut and Avocado

Workout

I have been working out, just not doing anything exciting to blog about. Although, I am writing this blog while I’m on a bicycle machine which isn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

Would my mother eat this: Oh no. She does not like any mexican style food. This is why the first time I tried mexican food was in college. I’m in love now.

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Salmon Cooking in Atlanta

Food

I always love going home to visit my mother, because ever since I introduced Whole Foods into her life, it means a trip to buy me groceries there! Of course, I love visiting my mother no matter what! Pretty salmon fillets!I’ve been wanting to try making a salmon dish recently and Whole Foods had these gorgeous looking salmon fillets that solidified this desire. I’ve never cooked with salmon before in my life, so I knew this was going to be an adventure. Luckily, it’s not that hard and the recipe I used turned out so well! The salmon cooked so well, it just tasted like butter while eating it. Another positive thing about going home is stealing fresh basil and rosemary from the herb garden my dad has. Having the fresh herbs really transforms any meal. If I was allowed to have plants on my porch in my apartment I would definitely grow herbs! Anyways, see below for the recipe to this dish that was so delicious!!!

Seared Salmon with Confetti Chickpeas

Servings: 3
Ingredients
1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Onion
1/4 teaspoon Ground Red Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Zuchhini
1 Yellow Squash
1/4 cup Carrots
15 ounces (1 can) Chickpeas
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Dry White Wine
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Rosemary Sprigs
1 Bay Leaf
3 6-oz Salmon FilletsChickpea mixture

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the ground red pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell pepper, carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, and cook until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, broth, white wine, salt, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaf.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Season Seared Salmon with Chickpea Confettithe salmon fillets with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the salmon and sear until the exterior is crisp and golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the salmon in the oven and finish cooking to medium doneness, turning once, about 4 to 6 minutes.
4. To serve, use a slotted spoon to scoop the chickpea mixture onto the plate. Place the seared salmon alongside the chickpeas and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

The freshly ground red (cayenne) pepper added a nice little kick to the chickpea mixture. I will definitely be making this dish again!Seared Salmon with Confetti Chickpea Nutritional Information

Workout

With finals week coming up I’ve been a little bad about keeping up with some of my workouts. I did attempt to go on a bike ride in Atlanta, though. I made the mistake of hoping I could just remember the route from looking at it right before I departed. I ended up going down very poor streets for riding a road bike on, which is true for many roads in downtown Atlanta. I also ended up getting lost and riding at a very slow speed, but eventually I rode down Defoors Road which was a really nice residential road that I actually saw other bikers on! The only issue is that getting there is a pain. One day I’ll figure out where to ride my bike around Atlanta.

*I just watched a great movie that inspired the title of this post, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Would my mother eat this: No, anything with peppers or spice she will not eat. Also, she is not a big fan of salmon.

Tests may dampen my spirit, but never my baking!

Food

Last week was a little crazy with 3 tests, so the blog was put on hold, but now I’m back! Of course a great way to procrastinate is baking and researching things that have absolutely nothing to with circuits or thermodynamics. One day I will find the time to educate myself on food science. Then when I make baking substitutions, I will understand why some things work so well and why some go terribly wrong. Here are some fun facts of what I did learn:

  • Gluten is used in baking because of it’s elasticity (in Latin it means glue). When the air produced by yeast or baking soda expands the dough, the elasticity of the gluten doesn’t let it break, so it stays that fluffy texture.
  • Protein is what makes everything “stick” together, so that’s why when using coconut flour you might have to add a lot of eggs for their protein, since coconut flour does not have any. Almond flour has more protein, but still without the gluten, the air escapes causing denser baked goods.
  • Celiac disease is truly terrible – the body attacks any amount of gluten with an immune response that damages the small intestine. Recent studies show that celiac disease could affect up to 1 out of 133 Americans. The less harmful version is being gluten sensitive, it has the same symptoms of celiac disease minus the harmful effects on the small intestine. There are thoughts that almost 20 million Americans are gluten sensitive!
  • Be smart if deciding to completely change your diet. When going gluten free, some people don’t get enough protein, vitamins, and eat too much fat. Know what you’re eating!

I also researched dietetics and nutrition programs at colleges…I could always be an engineer with a gig on the side or have a mid life crisis career switch. A little early to start planning that 25 years away, I guess.

Amidst the studying I did have time to bake and I enjoyed how it turned out (mainly)! I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies that are 100 calories of yum. I attempted substituting with applesauce, and I am not a big of fan of using it in baking. I had a lot of issues with consistency, so play around with the recipe I posted. Next time I bake it, I would probably just cut out the applesauce completely and use 4 egg whites. They are so close to being gluten free! I used a little bit of baking powder that killed that.Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Servings: 12Whipped Egg Whites
Ingredients

1/2 cup Almond Flour
4 tablespoons Raw Honey
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Peanut Butter (I used freshly ground)
1/4 Avocado
2 tablespoons Almond Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Egg Whites
1/4 Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter

Preparation

Pre Baking

Pre Baking

1. Preheat oven to 325°
2. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk or standing mixer.
3. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
4. Add peanut butter and the next 4 ingredients (through applesauce) to the eggs. Whisk until combined.
5. Combine the peanut butter mixture with the flour mixture. Stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Scrape the batter into a 9-inch square metal baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Place small amounts of peanut butter dispersed over the batter on top.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies have browned.

Like I said play around with the consistency a little until you are satisfied that it is dough-like enough. The brownies themselves, since not really having that much gluten in them, are a little denser than normal brownies, but are still really good! You definitely don’t need large portions. Cutting this into 12 pieces sometimes was even too much food!Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies Nutrition

This past weekend I was in New York for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. My mom’s side of the family all got together and it was a blast. Definitely filled with a lot of so bad for you, but so delicious Jewish food. Somehow my grandfather remembered places he ate at 30 years ago and we were able to find them! We went to dinner Sunday night at a really fun place in the Lower East Side and there was a bakery a few blocks away that I wanted to try. I made my mom walk briskly in the intense humidity before they closed so I could try their gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, kosher, and refined-sugar free cupcakes. Brownies and Cupcakes from BabycakesYeah…sounds too good to be true, right? Check them out, Babycakes. I got a banana cupcake with cinnamon frosting, my mom got a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, and we got half a dozen of these small bite brownies with assorted icing on top. Overall, the cupcake wasn’t bad. My mom did actually try the vanilla one, but of course I shouldn’t get my hopes up, because she didn’t like it. What turned out to be such a surprise was how amazing and delicious the brownies bites were!! I was not expecting that. Next time I would just go back for those alone!!Delicious bar!

Another fun thing I learned this weekend was about the great granola bar selection in LaGuardia! I literally stood at the counter for 15 minutes trying to decide what to get, they all looked so good! I had never heard of these Keen-Wäh bars, but it was definitely the right selection. Luckily I fly into LaGuardia often when visiting my boyfriend, so I will have time to try them all!

Would my mother eat this: No, she does not like brownies. BUT she did try the cupcakes, didn’t like it, but she tried!

Have fun food science facts to share? I’d love to know!

Successful, delicious, healthy dessert plus my 1st long bike ride!

Food

Thursday nights are my favorite time of the week. My roommate and I have started this tradition where every Thursday night one of us picks a recipe to make and the other one is the sou chef. Usually this also involves drinking a bottle of wine and watching a movie or TV show. (We just started watching House of Cards, the Netflix series with Kevin Spacey, it is so good!) This occurs on Thursdays since neither of us have class on Fridays. 4-day weekend for me every weekend! Life is hard, right?

Quinoa Crusted Chicken pre baking it

Quinoa Crusted Chicken pre baking it

This past Thursday we made a quinoa crusted chicken for dinner. It was really easy and turned out pretty good! All you do is roll the chicken in flour, then egg, then the quinoa, and bake for about 20 minutes. We added some mozzarella and basil on top and had tomato sauce on the side. The taste of it was really light, kind of like how light tasting fish is. Overall a good dinner and much healthier than breading it in bread crumbs!Quinoa Crusted Chicken

I decided to experiment for dessert plus I wanted to test an idea I had for a 4th of July dessert. I based my recipe off of a blueberry crumble recipe and made my healthy adaptations. It turned out to be delicious. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the Publix by me carries frozen yogurt. The vanilla flavored one tastes just like ice cream but is way healthier. I definitely recommend using FroYo (frozen yogurt) with this dessert.
Blueberry Crumble: serves 6-8

Blueberry Crumble with Frozen Yogurt

Blueberry Crumble with Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients
For the filling
12 ounces (about 1 pint) Fresh Blueberries
1/3 cup Agave Nectar
1/2 tablespoon Coconut Flour
1 to 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice, depending on the tartness of the blueberries
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
For the crumble
3 tablespoons Coconut Flour
1/2 cup Quick-Cooking Oats
2 2/3 tablespoons Agave Nectar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 Avocado
Frozen Vanilla Yogurt
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Make the filling: Taste the blueberries to determine how sweet or tart they are. Toss the blueberries with the agave nectar, flour, lemon juice, and salt. Transfer the berries to the pie plate.
3. Make the crumble: Stir together the flour, oats, agave nectar, vanilla, and salt. Mash the avocado with a fork so it is blend-able. Blend in the avocado with either a fork or your fingers. Crumble the topping over the berries in large clumps.
4. Bake the crunch until the berry filling is bubbling and the crunch is set and browned in places, 20-30 minutes. Let the crunch cool very slightly before serving with frozen yogurt.

Blueberry Crumble

Blueberry Crumble

For 4th of July I was thinking I would make this plus a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble. This way there is a red, white, and blue theme! Nutrition wise, this is a low calorie and low fat dessert with lots of fiber!
I’ve been trying to eat healthy consistently, but of course as I am writing, this is what I’m eating:

Bacon, Kale, Tomato, Avocado Sandwich with Cottage Cheese

Bacon, Kale, Tomato, Avocado Sandwich with Cottage Cheese

Workout

My Road Bike!!

My Road Bike!!

About a month ago I bought a road bike and I am so in love. Mainly I use it for commuting to campus, but this last Saturday I decided to take it out for my 1st long ride! I went to the Silver Comet Trail starting in Smyrna. This path is beautiful! It’s very flat, which is exactly what I needed, and runs all the way from Smyrna to the border of Alabama. Of course, I did not ride that far, but the ride itself is through a beautiful wooded area. I will definitely be coming back here to ride more often. I was sad to see how many people a lot older than me sometimes passed me. I’m young I should be better, right? Hopefully in future rides I’ll be able to keep up. I rode about 14 miles and felt wonderful. I did forget to bring sunglasses and had so many bugs fly into my eyes. Never making that mistake again!

Would my mother eat this: She said she would try the chicken!! She does not like blueberries though. Can’t win them all.

I’m new to biking, so please help me out and suggest good places to go biking around Atlanta!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Food

Remember those strange chia pets that everyone used to have? Well the things growing from their heads are actually really nutritious! About a year ago I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. First off, this book is amazing! It’s very easy to read and made me contemplate running an ultra marathon (don’t worry mom, there’s no way I actually would go through with this). The book talks about the Tarahumara tribe, who run heavy mileage all of the time. The book listed some recipes that kept the Tarahumara energized during their runs, and they involved the use of chia seeds. Chia seeds are extremely high in essential omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, have more antioxidants than blueberries, and more calcium than milk. Chia seeds are also gluten and cholesterol free. They are hydrophilic, meaning they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water! Unlike flax seeds, you do not need to grind them to get all of these benefits. Yesterday morning I decided I had to eat, or should I say drink, chia seeds! That’s right, drink! I made a Chia Fresca, a glass of water with about a tablespoon of chia seeds and a teaspoon of lemon juice (you could do lime juice instead).

Next to my lunch: kale salad with cottage cheese, leftover avocado tuna, and crunchy asian noodles.

Next to my lunch: kale salad with cottage cheese, leftover avocado tuna, and crunchy asian noodles.

Some people also add a sweetener, but I didn’t. If you let the chia sit in the water for at least 5-10 minutes, it will start to get a gel like texture. If you’re like my sister and have a huge issue with food textures, this probably isn’t for you. Everything sinks to the bottom, so you’ll have to give it a nice stir before drinking. This tasted pretty good though! I did feel like I had a lot of energy the whole day too.

They kind of look like little bugs, but it is refreshing!

They kind of look like little bugs, but it is refreshing!

I wasn’t creative for my dinner, just sautéing a spicy chicken and turkey sausage with green pepper and some cannellini and red kidney beans on the side.

This sausage is really good though.

This sausage is really good though.

I did get adventurous for dessert though. I decided to do my first experimentation of substituting ingredients into a recipe. I tried making a cheesecake. Why I say tried:

  1. Halfway into preparing, I realized I didn’t have a cupcake pan. I have a too shallow muffin pan or too deep pan where the bottoms come out, which is nice, but I didn’t make enough filling.
  2. I didn’t have any kind of vanilla wafers or crumbs to make for a base, so I just used a little bit of almond meal/flour (ground up almonds).
  3. I ran out of vanilla extract.

The final product didn’t turn out that bad though, just strange looking. I substituted pureed cottage cheese for the cream cheese.

Pureed Cottage Cheese

Pureed Cottage Cheese (aka put in the blender)

I also added plain greek yogurt, which ended up making them too tart and you could definitely taste the yogurt. In the future I might try using vanilla flavored yogurt (or just not running out of vanilla extract).

See how strange they ended up looking!

See how strange they ended up looking!

Overall it was a fun experiment to use almond flour, coconut flour, raw honey, and agave nectar for the first time.

Workout

At the beginning of the summer, my roommate and I had planned on doing Monday Night Abs (abs every monday night). That lasted about twice, I believe. I convinced her to try again with me, except now on a Wednesday. We used to do the P90X Ab Ripper X workout, which is not a bad workout for a short amount of time. This time, a recommendation from my friend, we did Jillian Michael’s Six-Pack in Six Weeks. If you have never done HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) this video is a good example of that! It was really hard and so tiring, but I loved it! Hopefully we’ll keep up the tradition of Roomie Abs on MWF.

Would my mother eat (drink) this: No way. She would think it looked like bugs and not put it near her lips.

Have any good recipes with chia or workout video recommendations? Let me know!

Avocado Everything!

Welcome everyone! From here on out I’m splitting my blog posts into sections – food and workouts. What else do you need in life?

Food

My blog is starting off a little behind the times, since I’m now realizing all of the amazing benefits of avocado! Growing up, my family never ate Mexican or Tex-Mex food so I never had that much exposure to the deliciousness of avocado. Being at Georgia Tech and living right in Atlanta has given me lots of opportunities to now be in love with Mexican food! Eating queso, chips, and guacamole makes me so happy. When I went home this past weekend, about 30 minutes outside of Atlanta, I went with my mom to the Whole Foods near my house. Since she doesn’t eat that many exciting things, she hasn’t ever shopped at a Whole Foods before. I had so much fun buying tons of fresh fruit and vegetables. Something I made sure to get were 2 nice, organic avocados! Another must-buy was the fresh ground peanut butter! They had a row of machines that made freshly ground almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter. I couldn’t resist getting some of the chocolate peanut butter too. It didn’t taste very strong of chocolate, but was still amazing.

As soon as I was back in Atlanta I began brainstorming what to use my precious avocados for. Avocados are a great substitute for butter or mayonnaise. Although if you are replacing avocado 100% for the butter in baking recipes, you might need to add more water to make it moist enough. Also, since avocados brown extremely easily and quickly when exposed to air, I would recommend lowering your oven temperature by 25 degrees and to keep an eye on the baked goods!

Tunafish is something my mom eats, and my dad makes a killer tunafish salad except it is a little heavy on the mayo. I decided to mix 2 cans of tuna with 1/2 of an avocado along with celery and freshly ground pepper. The result: tastes about the same, just slightly green colored. In the future I might add a little more avocado since I like my tuna creamy.

I also made way too much asparagus with almonds.

I also made way too much asparagus with almonds.

Half of an avocado is only around 130 calories with lots of healthy fat, 12g. It’s also loaded with potassium and fiber, packed full with about 20 vitamins and minerals, and adds no cholesterol! Even if you only used 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise this would already be 180 calories, 20g of fat (and not all the healthy ones), lots of sodium, some cholesterol, and none of the potassium, fiber, vitamins, or minerals that you would get with the avocado. Easy winner here guys.

Workout

Every Tuesday and Thursday I have a 2 hour break between classes from 10am-12pm. I usually go work out for an hour at the Campus Recreation Center (CRC), which is the most amazing place on campus. Seriously, look this gym up. I love it. After my work out, I eat some protein filled wrap and do last minute homework/studying. Tuesday is my arms workout, and Thursday is legs and butt. I based these workouts after the Victoria’s Secret ones, but add some of my own moves.

Today I had promised a friend I would go to the spin class he offers at the CRC. Last Fall I used to get up at 6:30am to go do spin class twice a week! I can’t believe it anymore. I don’t care how good of shape anyone thinks they’re in, spin class will kick your ass! It’s such an amazing work out for an hour.

Would my mother eat this dish: No way. It’s green, and tuna isn’t green.
Please share any avocado recipes you can’t live without!