Beverages · Breakfast

De-Constructed Smoothie

I am going to take an unpopular stance today.  I am well aware that everyone, from my friends and family, celebrity chefs to food magazines have embraced the smoothie craze.   Invented by sellers of blenders and diet lifestyles, the world has embraced smoothies as part of an apparently healthy and nutritious diet.

I am also aware that by now, smoothie lovers far and wide have stopped reading this post and moved on to something more supportive of their dietary choices.   To those very few of you who are still reading, thank you!!

Who doesn’t remember their first Nutri-bullet and that smug, oh-so-healthy feeling we all got from sipping that drink in our cars as we battled rush hour traffic in our morning commute?  Honestly, until Nutri-bullet came along, I had no idea that I was supposed to feel so stressed in the mornings that I needed to eat in my car.  I had been in the habit of taking 10 minutes of calm for myself at my own kitchen table to enjoy a light breakfast before the days craziness began.  But, clearly, that was incorrect, so I changed my routine  to fit society expectations.

So, like (seemingly) everyone else,  I started making smoothies, often packing an entire days worth of fruits and or veggies into a single serving.  Wow!!   I thought, thinking how health-smart I was.  After a certain length of time, I began to wonder…’I just drank a serving of yogurt, half cup of apple juice, 1 banana and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.  More  than I would have eaten at a regular breakfast, yet  I was  starving by 9:30 or 10am.   And, why haven’t I lost any weight?

I started doing some research .  Turns out, smoothies are NOT the health elixir that we have been led to believe.   In fact, they can be harmful to your health.

To quote from Colin Campbell from the Centre for Nutrition Studies   “you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food[1]. In addition, you may be changing the rate and effect of nutrient digestion in important ways.”

Of course, the occasional smoothie in your life isn’t going to harm you, but before you embark on a smoothie based weight loss plan, Fitness Magazine.com offers 8 reasons NOT to do this,  including potential digestive issues and the increased risk of developing gallstones because of your liquid diet.

If you add juice to your smoothie for “extra nutrition”,  you should know that some juices on the market contain up to 72 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams per serving. That’s comparable to about five slices of white bread—or a 20-ounce sugar-filled soda. Meanwhile, yogurt- or sherbet-heavy smoothies are little more than 600-plus-calorie messes with more carbs and sugar than you will find in not one but two candy bars.

As I continued to research this, I found that most smoothie pushers were selling something:  blenders, juicers, protein powders to give your smoothie more staying power, diet plans with tall, fit blonde models as their spokesperson and horror of horrors, even Gordon Ramsay, who was the first I heard to speak out against smoothies is now publishing recipes for them.    Sigh…whatever brings in the bucks, right?

In reality, smoothies are pre-digested food.  Once you have put all those fruits and veggies thru your blender, you have destroyed the fibre content, altered the nutrients and basically given your stomach nothing to do but forward all that sugar directly into your system.  No wonder we all feel so energized after downing one.

I could rail on for days against the smoothie, but I think you get my point:  FOOD YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHEW IS HEALTHIER.   If you are trying to loose weight, chewing your food is an excellent place to start.   For your own sake, please,  ditch your blender at least some times, and layer those ingredients into an 8 oz glass instead.

 

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De-Constructed Smoothie

1/4 cup homemade or pro-biotic yogurt (unsweetened)

3 Tablespoons coconut granola

1 Teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/2 banana, sliced

4 frozen strawberries, diced

1 teaspoon liquid honey (unfiltered if available)

Layer first 7 ingredients attractively into a glass.  Top with honey.  Sit down at your table and take 5 minutes to really taste your food.  I think you will enjoy it.

Serves 1

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Appetizers and Snacks · Breakfast · eggs

Tortilla Española with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions

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Cut into small cubes and served at room temperature, this is a Spanish Tapa.   It is also makes a pretty good breakfast .

The time it takes to caramelize the onions is time well spent.  Caramelizing brings out the sweet side of the onion and takes the flavour to a whole new level.

Makes 36 appetizers or 4 breakfast servings.

 

Tortilla Española

with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions

 

3 yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced crosswise

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 chorizo sausages, cut into 1/2″ dice

6 eggs

salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

In frying pan over medium-low heat, heat the oil and add the onions.  Cover and cook 10 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Reduce heat to very low, replace the cover and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is golden in colour and very soft, about 20 minutes more.   Transfer onions to bowl, set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Spray a 9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Add chorizo to same pan, increase heat to medium high and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often until caramelized and cooked through.  Transfer to bowl with onions to cool until cool enough to add to eggs without cooking them.

Beat the eggs until fluffy, season with salt and pepper.  Add the onions, chorizo and the chopped cilantro and mix well.

Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked in the centre.

Let sit 15 minutes before cutting.

If serving as a tapa or appetizer, cut into squares or triangles and serve at room temperature.

If serving as a breakfast item, cut into 4 pieces and serve warm.

COOKS NOTE:   For a tapas party, this can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight.  Let stand about 30 minutes to bring to room temperature before serving.

Original Source: Tapas Faciles – Tortilla de Chorizo y Cebolla Caramelizada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast · eggs

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

I seriously debated about posting this recipe.  Not because it doesn’t taste good – it does – but because of the extra steps needed to roast and peel the poblano.   (Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before, so you can have everything ready when you are ready to assemble the dish, )

Some of you want to get the cooking out of the way as quickly as possible.  Others of you don’t mind a few extra steps as long as it results in a superior dish.

So, here is the compromise:  those of you who don’t have the time to be roasting and peeling the peppers, just dice them. The dish will still be good,  but with a very forward chili flavour.   Those who do have the extra time, will be rewarded with a deeper, milder poblano flavour and a silky textured casserole that is a company-worthy brunch dish.

Serves 4, easily doubled

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

5 medium Poblano Chilis roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed

3/4  cup whole milk

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

5 eggs

1 cup grated Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese

non stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper until well blended and foamy.

Tear poblanos into 2″ wide strips.

Spray a 9 x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray and place half the poblano strips on the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle half the cheese over top.  Top with remaining poblanos, then sprinkle remaining cheese over the poblanos.

Gently pour egg mixture in.

Place the dish in 350F oven and bake about 45 minutes, until eggs are beginning to set.  Increase temperature to 400F for about 10 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked and top is beginning to brown.

Remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes before slicing.  Serves 4.

 

COOKS NOTES:

-If doubling, use a 9×13″ pan.

-Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before,

 

Breakfast · eggs · How To...

How to Poach an Egg

As much as I love poached eggs, I realized the other day that I rarely make them at home.   I don’t know why that is.  Starting today, I am going to change that. A perfectly poached egg is a beautiful thing, and can elevate your meal from plain old every day to something really special.  Life is short.  Treat yourself to the good stuff,

It doesn’t take that much effort, or time, and if you are watching your calorie intake, it costs about 60 calories less than a fried egg.

Fresh eggs are best for poaching, the whites are stronger and hold together better.

Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to poach a single egg,  and I certainly do not know more than he does on this subject, but I can cook up to 4 eggs at a time using the method below.  It is a more practical method for me.

You will need a deep sided 12″ frying pan for 4 eggs.   This video demonstrates the technique, but he does skip the step where you drain the egg on the paper towel.    The point of the video is to give you a visual guide to the written instructions below.

How to Poach an Egg

Crack each egg into its own bowl or onto a saucer.  If there is any very runny white surrounding the thicker white then tip this away.

Give the frying pan a quick spritz of Pam, or any other cooking oil spray.   You don’t need a lot.  You just want to prevent any sticking to the bottom.  This will help you with clean up later.   (if you are using non stick cook ware, you can skip this step)

 Put at least 2 inches (5cm) of water into a 12″ skillet and bring to a simmer. 

Add 1 teaspoon of plain white vinegar the simmering water

Carefully tip the eggs into the pan. 

Cook for 2 minutes then turn off the heat.  Check for done-ness.    There are LOTS of variables for cooking time: size of egg, how many in the pan, how hot your simmering water is and even altitude come into play here.  This morning, I poached 2 eggs and they were done after 2 minutes.  So, after you have turned the water off and checked for done-ness, you may want to leave the eggs the pan for a few minutes longer.  If  you have a lot of eggs in the pan, this may take 8-10 minutes.  Or maybe less.  Like I said, there are a lot of factors to consider. 

Meanwhile, place a double layer of paper towel on a plate (or a couple of plates, depending on how many eggs you are actually poaching.  Set aside

When they have reached your desired level of done-ness, lift the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels.  This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it  is very important!  It gets rid of any excess moisture clinging to the egg so you don’t end up with soggy eggs on your plate.

Gently transfer eggs from the paper towel to plates and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast

Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion and Mint

I made this for brunch this past Sunday.  The mint intrigued me, and I’m glad this caught my eye.

Probably not what you want for a 7am breakfast, but when the day has started to unfold a bit, after you have had your second cup of coffee and you are looking forward to a relaxing afternoon, this fits the bill.

The mint and just the barest spritz of fresh lemon juice keeps the goat cheese from overpowering this dish.

Serves 2

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Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese,

Tomato, Red Onion and Mint

 

1 Tablespoon butter

4 large eggs

1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped into small pieces

2 Tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled

3 Tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

3 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped (divided)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 lemon wedge

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Whisk eggs, tomato, goat cheese, red onion, and 2 Tablespoons of the mint, salt and pepper together in large bowl until well blended.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Once the butter has stopped foaming, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

Cook eggs without stirring for 2 minutes, then with a rubber spatula, gently stir and turn eggs over to complete cooking.  About 1 minute, for a softly cooked scramble.

Divide between 2 plates, spritz lightly with lemon wedge and sprinkle remaining mint over top.  Garnish the plates with the radishes and cucumber and serve.

The recipe that inspired this was originally published in Bon Appetite December 2000 and can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast

Avocado Toast

It might actually be my favourite breakfast!    Whole grain bread, avocado, a little labneh or plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive or Chile oil, depending on how spicy you like to start your day, salt, pepper, tomatoes & radishes alongside.  Maybe some fruit.  I tell you, life just feels so darn perfect when I am eating avocado toast.

 

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Breakfast

Vanilla-Scented Oatmeal with Chia and Coconut

I know, it was the stuff of nightmares for some of us as children, but as adults, we can hardly overlook the benefits of a bowl of oatmeal.  Aside from being warm and comforting on a cold winters morn, it is also low calorie, and an excellent way to help keep our cholesterol in check.

If we can dress it up a bit, so much the better.

Vanilla-Scented Oatmeal with Chia and Coconut

-Serves 2-

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

4 teaspoons chia

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup flaked coconut

milk or coconut milk and extra brown sugar for serving.

Combine rolled oats, water, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg in pot.  Stir to combine and bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in chia seeds and vanilla.  Spoon into serving bowls and top with flaked coconut.  Serve with milk and additional brown sugar.