Monday, January 28, 2013

Eat: Fat Busting Smoothie

Back in my optimal health days, I ate a grapefruit every day. There were so many great reasons to do that, and I can tell you I definitely felt a difference! You might already know that along with celery, grapefruit is one of those "negative calorie" foods, ie. it takes more caloric energy to eat it than the calories in it! There's also a flavonoid in grapefruit that helps balance out blood sugar levels and to prevent metabolic syndrome, which is when you pack on the pounds around your waist. Finally, if you start your day with a grapefruit, it actually kick starts your liver into fat-burning mode!

Now, I've discovered a way not only to get my daily grapefruit in, but also add a whole bunch of other healthy ingredients to make an optimal morning or post-workout meal. I give you:

The Fat Busting Smoothie
This smoothie has a satisfyingly tart and "healthy" taste. Packed with fibre, all sorts of nutrients and metabolism boosting goodness, it's great first thing when you wake up or after a sweaty cardio workout. For some, it might take a bit of getting used to, but before you know it, you'll be coming back for more!

Yields: 1 Serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 Grapefruit
1 orange
1 tablespoon of ground flax
1/2 frozen banana
1 tsp liquid sweetener (optional)

1. Peel your fruit. (I try to remove as much of the white fibre-y stuff off my grapefruit as possible for a smoother drink!)
2. Place all ingredients in Vitamix or similar high speed blender, and blend away.
3. Enjoy!

Now, if you're a food geek like me and you're wondering why I added these other ingredients, here's the logic:

Oranges: You know it's all about the Vitamin C! Oranges are not just anti-oxidant but also act as a super immune booster, especially good for you in the winter!

Flax Seed: So, here's history lesson of the day; in the 8th Century, King Charlemagne of France knew that flaxseed was so healthy that he actually passed a law requiring all his subjects to eat it. It's good to be king, right? I'd like to pass enforced healthy food laws...
Anyway, flaxseeds are most notorious for their high soluble and insoluble fibre content, and their source of Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat!). The great thing about the fibre in flax is that it helps clean up your digestive track to squeaky clean perfection. If you've ever soaked flax, you know that it makes a gel-like goo which works as a sponge and catches all the gunk in your GI tract on its way out. I also just learned that thanks to its lignin, flax also helps balance female hormones!

(edit: to anyone who has read this post within the hour it got posted, I sincerely apologize that my autocorrect changed the word "gunk" into rated-R swearing... I have no idea how that happened. Haha, so sorry!)

Banana: The big draw of adding banana to this smoothie is not only for creaminess but that especially after a workout it helps balance out your blood sugar. It's also obviously one of the best sources of potassium. Did you also know that bananas help you absorb calcium better?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Eat: Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Sometimes in winter, when your face feels so cold it hurts, you just want to come home to something warm. A couple night ago, that something came in the form of a warm vegan bolognese sauce poured over gluten-free brown rice linguini.

Now for your little bit of food history: Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce that originally came from... Bologna, Italy, of course! It was first documented in the late 18th century by the father of Italian cooking, Pellegrino Artusi (also the guy who penned one of the earliest recipes for minestrone, which he thought had made him fatally ill until he found out it wasn't bad minestrone, but cholera. No really, look it up.) The original recipe calls for meat, specifically veal (the cursed meat of all vegans), onions, carrots, and butter. Mushrooms were approved as a good addition. The recipe was pretty simple: nicely mince and brown everything, and then cook the whole thing in meat broth.

My vegan recipe is almost just as simple... but healthier and with less, you know, animal cruelty, butter and stuff.

Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Yields: 4 servings
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 C dried lentils, soaked for a few hours (this will roughly double the volume)
1T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
1 big clove of garlic, minced
1 T dried rosemary (and/or other herbs)
1 large carrot, halved and chopped
1/4 C red pepper, diced
1/3 C water
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 C tomato sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

1. First prep your lentils: Soak dried lentils for a few hours before cooking. This makes the cooking process take about half the time!
2. Heat your olive oil in a sauce pan, and brown your your onions and garlic for about 4-5 minutes.
3. Still over medium-high head, add in your rosemary, carrots and pepper. Cook and stir for about another 3 minutes.
4. Now add in the lentils and water and let them cook for 5 minutes, making sure the water doesn't run out.
5. Bring down to medium heat, and add the tomato sauce and apple cider vinegar. Cook until the lentils are soft, about another 10 minutes.
6. Finally, bring the heat down to low and let all the flavours seep in for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste!
7. Serve over pasta of your choice (I suggest an organic brown rice pasta)! And enjoy!