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Treats

My Daily Kitchen

Decadent Pesto Pâté

September 13, 2015

I could eat Pesto sauce all day long, but I tire of having it on wheaty, fattening pasta. So I am always trying to come up with other ways to give my food the delicious taste of pesto sauce, such as tossing it with vegetables (try cauliflower or zucchini) or using it as a sandwich spread on wraps or break. But as I said, this gets boring.

I am a hedonist; I do not do well with deprivation.  I wanted be able to eat something rich and smooth, something I could enjoy in the same way I used to savor a silky liver pâté, or dig a petite knife into a ripened, warm, gooey, pungent  Brie, but without the meat or dairy.  In other words, I want a low-carb Pesto decadence and I found a way to have it!

I came up with this delicious and satisfying Pesto Pâté, good enough to serve to company.

Here is how I prepare it.

Dedadent Pesto Pâté

In a food processor (mine is only a tine $10 food chopper) add:

  • 2 Cups fresh basil, tightly packed (or 3 cups loose leaves)
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality
  • 3 Garlic teeth/cloves (or 3, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic from the jar)
  • 1  Tsp freshly squeezed lemon or citrus
  • 1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 Tsp salt

Process the above by pulsing until reduced … but not puréed!
Fancy food processors might mince too finely, so go bit by bit.  You do not want this to be soupy, but rather you want it chunky while still spreadable. Think about cutting hair; once cut, you can’t put it back,  but you can always cut more. So take your time and before you think your are there…
… This is when you want to add:

1 Cup whole, salted cashew nuts (if using unsalted, you’ll need to add more sale to the mix)
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese (Vegan? Use a cheese substitute).

  • Process until the mixture is chunky but still spreadable. 
  • Taste it. If you want a tad more lemon, or cheese, or salt, just adjust until your taste buds are dancing.
  • Now, pack your mixture into any container and either freeze this…  or chill.

SERVING:
If frozen, just set the container on the counter for a few hours counter until you can tip it, intact, onto your platter.

If refrigerated, tip & scoop onto your serving platter. Don’t worry if the shape comes out goofy because this mix is malleable and easily sculpted after it is on the plate.
Keep refrigerated on the platter until you are ready to serve. Then place your crackers at the last minute.

TIPS:

  • If you are Vegan, omit the Parmesan and replace with a vegan option.
  • Gluten Free? Just find a good rice cracker in place of wheat.
  • Slice large pieces of tomato or zucchini and use these in place of crackers for spreading.

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Breakfast

Sneaky Pinks… A Healthy Treat!

August 29, 2015

A dangerous thing has happened to me. And it’s personal.

Directly across from my bedroom & kitchen windows, making a visual & olfactory bee line for my eyes and nose,  is a Donut Factory.

Their kitchen is soin such close to mine that we busy cooks can wave to each other, the warm smells from our respective work spaces wafting out to blend & mix in the middle airspace between my apartment and  the Donut Factory.

What’s a grain-free, gluten-free, low-sugar gal to do?

Here’s what. Try the recipe below. It provides a sneaky way to give yourself & your family a donut-like treat that is full of nutrition, very low on sugar, and zero of gluten & bad fats!

SNEAKY PINKS

Into a mixing bowl, add

  • 2 Free-roaming eggs
  • 2 Tsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 5 Drops liquid Stevia (or 4 packets if you don’t have liquid)
  • 1/3 Cup good quality sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups Pureed Cooked (fresh or from a can) Beets
  • 1-1/2 cups Gluten-Free Pancake mix (See my photo)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Baking power
  • Pinch of salt

image

Blend on high with a hand mixer or hand blender until completely incorporated.

Coat your favorite frying pan with Cocout Oil or Butter or Good Earth Butter sub.

(I used a tiny pan, the kind one would use to make an individual egg for a McMuffin type sandwich. But… you can use a larger pan and just made small rounds, dropping in each PINK  ROUNDwith a spoon.)

When your pan is nice and hot, drop in your pink batter, any size you like.

Immediately lower the head to medium-low. Allow to cook on one side until you see the top batter bubbling and the cake is firm enough to flip without spilling.  Then cook another minute  and remove from pan.

Arrange on a plate any way you like, and dust with powdered sugar. They are surprisingly moist and sweetly satisfying.

imageimage

 

 

 

 

My Daily Kitchen

Crave This? I Have Something Better!

August 19, 2015

Real Advice & Help from a Bona Fide Sugar Addict

Before you reach for that chocolate bar, the bag of caramels, a piece of cake or whatever you have handy to satisfy a desperate and uncontrollable desire for something sugary,  take just a few minutes to prepare this. Then, it up in a pretty dish, and eat it lovingly, savoring every satisfying spoonful. It will fullfil your sweet tooth comletely, and you won’t find yourself making false promises about doing better with your diet…tomorrow.

I crave all things super sweet. Not only that, they have to be satisfyingly sweet. A yogurt doesn’t quite cut it for me. Not enough substance. I’d prefer two chocolate puddings, preferably with  tapioca. When I eat ice cream, I crumble cookies or candy into my scoop for added sweet and texture.  I love f licorice, and white and mild chocolate. I learned at an early age how to boil up a can of condensed, Evaporated milk to make “cajeta” or caramel, which I could then eat by the spoonful, or, still warm, pour over Angel food cake.  I like anything sweet but especially sweets that are really and truly bad, the kind of bad that will make my blood sugar shoot to the moon.
And oh the cravings. I crave sugar every single day, and when I want it, I have to have it. No white knuckling it for this gal. I’ve been know to say I’d step over my own baby to get to a bag of candied orange slices. I especially want a sweet treat after a good meal, or when hours have slipped without eating. I want sugar any time of day that I happen to feel bored, sad, or happy. If I’m watching the Food Channel on television, I muster up continual cravings for any sweet dish that comes up on my screen.

I hope from this you can trust that I would not recommend a recipe to satisfy a genuine sweet tooth unless I meant business. While the recipe below is sweet, for sure, it is also nutrient rich and… there is no added sugar!

TIP: Try a healthy sweet treat like this around 2pm or 3pm to steady your appetite until dinner. Better yet, have it for dessert instead of cookies and ice cream! You won’t be disappoinged.

SWEET TOOTH SMOOTHIE

imagePut these ingredients in a blender, lightly chopped to ease the processing:

1/2 cup Sweet Plantain
1/2 cup Ripe Avacodo
2 slices  of Fresh or Canned (no sugar added) Pineapple
1/2 cup light or regular Coconut milk
2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice (or lime)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 packet of good quality Stevia
Blend-to-puree well, then pour into your favorite glass.  Now,  lace the top with a layer of Coconut Milk and eat slowly … with a spoon…savoring every sweet drop.

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HOT TIPS for a COLDER TREAT:

  1. Better than serving on ice, or adding ice cubes to the mix, which will only result in a watered down version, freeze lemon juice or coconut milk in a ice cube tray and use these for your smoothie.
  2. Freeze portions nearly all the way for an icy treat;
  3. Freeze in paper cup w/stick for home-made ice pops.

 

Comfort Food

Sweet Tooth, Vegan Style!

August 18, 2015

I’m addicted to sugar. And I mean just that — addicted.

I can pass up a glass of wine or a a tall, cold martini, but if I were in the throes of a serious sugar craving, I’d probably step over my first born child to get to the candy corn.

So anytime I can find a healthy way to satisfy my craving for sweet, I share it.
The trick is to be prepared.
Always, always have Stevia on hand. (You can grow it, but it is not as easy to process as some say. And you can purchase it in handy droplets.)
And something citrus, like lemon, lime, calamandron, mandarin or orange.
Finally, keep handy a good flavor essence, such as vanilla or lemon or coconut extract on hand.

DREAMY PLANTAIN & AVACADO TREAT

Into a large bowl, toss:

  • One large, sweet Plantain, or two medium Bananas, finely chopped
  • Add finely cubed, ripe Avacado, about 1/3 of the amount of your Plantains
  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Add drops or packets of Stevia, to taste
  • Squeeze in 1/4 of a lemon, checking to see that it isn’t making your dish too tart
  • Mix all the above ingredients up, tossing well to fully coat with sweet, sour and vanilla
  • Spoon into a dish and douse with Coconut Milk
  • Garnish (not shown) with some fresh mint

FUN ALTERNATIVES:

Exchange Lemon for Lime, or Mandarin or any citrus of your choice.
Exchange Vanilla Extract for Lemon Extract for a really lemony taste… plus add some pretty zest!

For kids, blend everything together and spoon into individual dishes.
Chill, and then sprinkle with Coconut Flakes.
Voila! Banana/Avacado Pudding!

 

 

 

Breakfast

Healthy Craving Fixer

May 10, 2015

imageAs a little girl, no trip to “the city”, a.k.a, New York City was complete until, at my mother’s pleading, my dad pulled the car over at 86th and 3rd, to fullfil her craving for the then exotic fruit, slightly odd tasting fruit, papaya,  always available at the now historical Papaya King.   She adored this gorgeously colored fruit which, to my young palette tasted a bit, well, off. Still,  I loved anything coconut, and a trip to Papaya King meant a coconut treat for me!

As I grew up and traveled some,  my taste buds came on board. In the Southern Philippines, I learned to stab a slice of fresh papaya with my fork, and then fill the tiny rows of holes with fresh squeezed Calamansi, a kind of citrus, not quite like a lemon or a lime, but these will do.

calamansiIt was here that I also learned  to love crisp, tart, unripe, green papaya, sliced into sticks, then dipped in vinegar and spicy salt. Later, in New York City, I learned you can julienne green papaya to add to salads and savory dishes.

 

Calamansi

green papayaIn Mexico and in Panama, I came to love thick fruit smoothies, either alone or paired with bananas or pineapple or strawberries.  I cut the papaya into cubes and store it in bags in the freezer. This way my smoothies are cold and fruity, undiluted by water or ice cubes.

Today,  I enjoy teaming my papaya up with the taste of coconut, which I still adore.

But when I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic (I have corrected this with my diet), I steered away from sweets, including fruits in general, since sugar is sugar… isn’t it?

With a Glycemic Index value of 59, Papaya is generally considered a “medium” sugar threat.  And now for the good news: On the Glycemic Load Index, papaya measures at a low 10.

The Glycemic Load refers to the body’s response to sugars by taking into account both the quantity of carbohydrates as well as the type of carbohydrates. For a detailed explanation of glycemic values and how they are calculatedClick Here.  In short, this means that eating papaya occasionally, especially if paired with other foods, doesn’t necessarily cause blood sugars to spike.

When I have a true craving for something sweet, I make this delicious treat using only four healthy ingredients.

1 Cup papaya, diced.
2 Heaping tablespoons coconut milk (I like to spoon it on, chilled)
1 Tablespoon crushed flax seeds (easy to crush up in a coffee grinder!)
1 Slice of Lemon or Lime

TIP:  Keep papaya cubes cold and handy by freezing them. Then, use the same above ingredients to blend into a  fresh smoothie, and, if you are feeling festive, add and ounce and a half of rum! 

My Daily Kitchen

Two Bests!

March 23, 2015

I won’t be shy. I make the best Guacamole and the best Pico-de-Gallo, salsas.
Why are they so good? Well, for four reasons:

  1. The flavors are clean and simple.
  2. The sauces look pretty and appetizing.
  3. They’re very versatile.
  4. And they’re healthy!

Versatility: When I co-owned Big Daddy’s Grill in Boquete, my “Pico” recipe was a favorite addition to our Fish Tacos and also delicious over Quesadillas or dumped into a serving of Mr. Big Daddy’s famous Rice & Black Beans.

My son likes to eat either sauce straight from the bowl, with a spoon. No snack healthier than this!

Keep a container full of the Pico de Gallo in your fridge for the week. Add it along side eggs or in rice. Toss some into a soup or onto a burger. Spoon it onto a cracker or mix it right into your green salad. This is a great way to stave off evil cravings that set your good eating habitts off course.

Tip: The Guacamole dish won’t last as long because of the brown tinge it gets from oxidation. However, if you store it in a plastic baggie and suck the air out, it will keep longer!

for the Pico de Gallo:image

Chop the following ingredients:
2 Cups of ripe tomatoes, keeping in the seeds
1/3 Cup sweet, white onion
1/3 Cup red onion
1/3 Cup Cilantro (or Culantro)
1 Cup ripe mango

Now squeeze in the juice of 1 Lime or 1 Lemon. Any tart citrus will do.
Sprinkle in just a dash of Cayenne (Omit if serving to children.)
Salt to taste. I sometimes use a seasoned salt, but plain old salt will do.
Remember: there is no pepper and no garlic in this recipe. Keep it simple.

imagefor the Guacamole:

Chop the following ingredients:
3 Ripe Avacadoes
3/4 Cup Ripe mango
1/2 Cup of ripe tomatoes, seeds removed
1/4 Cup sweet, white onion
1/4 Cup Cilantro (or Culantro)

Squeeze in the juice of 1 Lime or Lemon.
If you have a 1/2 ounce of fresh Mandarin or Orange Juice around, add a dash!
Salt to taste. I like to toss in a bit of seasoned salt but it is not necessary.
If not serving to children, add a dash of Cayenne.

Tip: Store Avacado mixes in a plastic baggie, removing as much air as possible to avoid browing.