Healthy foods

Burgers & Peppers, Grilling Perfection

Here I am again…..busy summer for sure. Always something to do and somewhere to go.
Still, trying to make quick, healthy and satisfying lunch as often as I can. Nothing can beat homemade meal.

This time I whip up some all beef burgers 4% fat and I used light feta cheese to add goodness. For the extra flavor and kids friendly version, spring onions were in, paprika, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Great combination for juicy and super tasty burgers.
I will share with you a secret. When making burgers at home, try to prepare them in advance, let them sit in the fridge for few hours or even overnight, flavor will be fantastic when grilled.
For the side, grilled sweet mini peppers. Colorful and full of vitamins. I like to sprinkled them with drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, grated garlic and spritz of balsamic vinegar.
That’s a perfect grilled lunch…..
How can I forget? Piece of rustic crusted olive bread will add the magic to the bite…..yum:)

Salsa Verde, Tomatillos & Green Tomato

Since it is very hot outside these days, I don’t have big appetite and bit of a crunchy seeded squares with homemade fresh and flavorful salsa sounds like a perfect mid day snack.

Never made this type of salsa before but my jalapeno peppers were just ready to be picked so yesterday I decided to make salsa verde.

Last Thursday my kids and I were visiting our local farmers market in El Segundo so we bought beautiful basket of tomatillos and green tomatoes.

Jose from Gama Farms has always very nice selection of fruits and veggies and variety of onions.

Very friendly people and good quality produce grown locally, outside of Bakersfield.
http://www.gamafarms.com

Here is my recipe for delicious fresh salsa:

Salsa Verde

Ingredients

1/2 lb tomatillos
1 green tomato, ripe, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
cilantro leaves, small bunch
half of fresh lemon, juice
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil, drizzle


Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Place tomatillos, garlic, onions, cilantro, green tomato, olive oil in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season with salt and squeeze fresh lemon, season to taste.
Add chopped jalapeno pepper.

Transfers to serving bowl, cover well and cool in refrigerator till ready to be served.

Serve with chips and enjoy your afternoon:)

Tomatillos are the fruits average about 1 -2″ wide and have a papery outer skin.
Tomatillos are good source of vitamin C. In Mexico a concoction made of the flower calyces is used to treat Diabetes. The fruits are also used as a remedy for fever.


Tomatillo Information

Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry

Summer is in the full swing and it is always nice to have something refreshing and sweet during the day. I usually have on my mind quick to make and good for you treat, like low calorie and low sugar dessert.
Chocolate is usually not considered a diet food but cocoa itself has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. It is usually the other ingredients added to chocolate that makes it big no to consume. This recipe uses 70% cocoa chocolate that contains much less fat and sugar then a basic chocolate bar. This recipe is also gluten free.
The Glycemic Index is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response, their conversion to glucose within the human body. Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100 with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.
Glycemic index of 55 or below are considered low and 70 or above are considered high.
Glycemic Index for Strawberry is 40, which makes it low glycemic index fruit on the chart.


Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry

Ingredients

1 cup 70% cocoa chocolate chips
2 egg whites, from fresh eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons plain non fat yogurt
4 medium strawberries

Pour chocolate chips into a sauce pan and gently heat it over another saucepan filled with water. When the chocolate is fully melted take the smaller dish out of the saucepan and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Using electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites. Add the sugar to the whites and whisk until they become firm and form soft peaks.
Add the chocolate to the yogurt and mix them together well.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate yogurt and then spoon the mixture into glasses. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours to allow it to set.
Just before serving arrange the strawberries.
Irresistible good dessert, light and perfect for everybody who has an eye on their diet and waist. You can’t go wrong with combination of chocolate and strawberry, it is always delicious:)

Nutritional Information

Calories: 140
Protein: 5g
Fat: 5g
Carbohydrate: 13g
Sugars: 10g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 52mg

W.A.T.E.R. Youth Program, Riley’s Farm and Mighty Peanut Butter Smoothie

Wow, it’s been a busy last few days of the school year. Kids had two fantastic field trips. My oldest visited Riley’s Farm and took pictures by herself. She asked me if we can post them on My Wandering Spoon.

Riley’s Farm is located in Oak Glen, CA and it is a living history adventure tour and much more than a field trip, it’s a chance to experience a first-hand glimpse of America’s past.

” Whether you are churning butter in our summer kitchen, observing the pewter-smith at work, or being taught the manual of arms by Civil or Revolutionary War soldiers, you and your family, students, and friends will be inspired by the sights and sounds of history in the re-making!”

http://www.rileysfarm.com

At Riley Farm kids can learn all about chickens and had chance to see fresh eggs.

Beautiful fields of strawberries.

It’s been a great adventure and fantastic field trip to the Riley’s Farm for the 5th graders….they are ready for the new adventure, Middle School:)
My future first grader had an amazing field trip.

L.A. County Lifeguards made it possible and did fantastic job learning kindergarteners about water safety

surfing and kayaking.

All the stuff and the lifeguards did amazing job, big Thank You!

The Junior Guard Program is offered to all boys and girls in Los Angeles County. The program is designed to instruct youth (ages 9 through 17) in beach and ocean skills. The five week program provides instruction in water safety, swimming, body surfing, surfing, physical conditioning, competition skills, first aid, lifesaving, rescue techniques, CPR and the use of professional Lifesaving equipment.
Locations:
Northern
Zuma JG’s
Central
Will Rogers JG’s
Santa Monica JG’s
Venice JG’s
Southern
El Segundo
Manhattan Beach JG’s
North Hermosa (14th St.)
South Hermosa (Tim Kelly)
Redondo JG’s
Torrance JG’s
Cabrillo JG’s
Santa Catalina
Avalon
For more info please visit:

http://www.watchthewater.org/jg/

You can imagine after day like this, kids were hungry!!
Lunch was still in the oven so I made quick and healthy snack.
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 medium bananas, ripe
2 tablespoons natural reduced fat peanut butter
1 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup ice cubes
1/2 cup non-fat soy milk
Purée all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Delicious, healthy smoothie, it will adjust your energy in no time.
Have a healthy and happy summer break:)

Nutritional info:
Fat: 8g
Carbohydrates: 25g
Calories: 190
Protein: 10g

Almond Orange Cake, Happy Father’s Day!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
When I’m preparing dessert for my husband or my dad, I noticed that they are happiest if dessert is light, with just few ingredients, simple. Same way the kids like desserts to be:) Pudding or mousse are great choices but I wanted to make a cake, refreshing and flavorful.
Since my pantry is well stocked with almonds I decided to make almond cake. Our orange tree is beautiful with ready oranges to be picked and used so idea was there….

Almond & Orange Cake

2 medium oranges
4 eggs
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup corn flour

For the syrup
2 oranges
1/2 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line round or cake pan with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites on the high speed till frothy. Set aside. In the other bowl beat yolks and sugar with an electric beater until thick and pale. Add butter, orange juice, almond meal, flour. Fold to combine with egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes or until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean.
Zest the whole orange, then juice. Boil the zest for 5 minutes in a saucepan to soften, then drain and return to the pan. Add the orange juice and honey and heat on low stirring constantly for several minutes till mixture becomes syrupy.
Gently poke holes all over the top of the hot cake with a knife and then spoon over the syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature. Benefit of this dessert is that is light without extra flour and starch.
Cake is wonderful, moist and flavorful.
No leftover crumbs on the plates:)

As always kids were crafty at school and did amazing job….my husband received beautiful cards….so cute:)

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Tahini Beef, Protein Power

Today I decided to make real power lunch. Yesterday I bought good looking Portobello mushrooms and wanted to stuffed them with ground meat but then new idea came….instead of ground to use lean stew beef with nice seasonings and spices.

Result was delicious and very healthy power lunch.
Since we got the new grill with side burner I am trying to cook outdoor as much as I can. Love the “Summer kitchen”. It is so convenient to prepare everything outside and than eat too, while birds are chirping, kids are running outside and sunshine lightens the whole table. Nature is beautiful.

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and are great grilled.
One cup of sliced portobello mushrooms, approximately 121 g, makes up a single serving and has only 42 calories. There is 1 g of fat and 5 g of protein in a cup of sliced portobello mushrooms. The total carbohydrate content of a serving of portobello mushrooms is 6 g, of which 3 g is fiber. There are only 12 mg of sodium in a cup of portobello mushrooms, so it is considered a low-sodium food.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Tahini Beef

Serves 4

4 portobello mushrooms
1 pound lean stew beef
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon tahini
1 cup chicken stock, low sodium
sea salt, for taste
fresh ground pepper, for taste
1 teaspoon dry marjoram
1 package spring baby salad
2 spring onions, chopped
juice from lemon
olive oil, for taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat with the olive oil.
While the pan is heating, season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
Saute the onion and garlic. When nicely brown add the beef, paprika, dry herb, tahini and chicken stock. Cook for an hour on low heat till beef is tender and sauce is nice and creamy.

Using outdoor grill, grill the mushrooms till well done and juicy.
To make a quick salad, wash and dry well baby greens, sprinkle with chopped spring onions, sea salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Toss nicely and serve.
Plate and eat the whole meal while hot.
On the top of the mushroom add beef stew and finish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Very tasty lunch which will keep you energetic for a good part of the day.
Enjoy!

Tahini or sesame butter contains good amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One tablespoon of the paste contains 85 calories, of which fats represent 65 calories. It contains 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of dietary fiber. The paste is a good source of vitamin B1, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. These nutrients promote good health in various ways.

Portabella Mushrooms

Detox, Lifestyle and more….

Today instead of recipes I decided to write different kind of post. I hope everybody who read the post will find it beneficial and helpful.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification is process of either clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them and hence clearing excess congestion. Fats free radicals and other irritating substances act as toxins.Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce the intake of toxins. The avoidance of chemicals from food or other sources like, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco….helps minimize the toxin load. Drinking extra water and increasing fiber are essential steps.

If you think, just a water in the glass but so important for us to drink every day.
The body will not function properly without enough water and can’t metabolize stored fat efficiently. Drinking water is essential to our system and body.

Why Detox?
To prevent disease, reduce symptoms, cleanse body, rejuvenate, weight loss, clear skin and enhance overall senses.

When NOT not to Detox
– During pregnancy
– If you suffer from major heart disease
– If you are over seventy-five or under twelve
– When you are on prescribed medication (check with your doctor)
– If you are under extreme pressure physically (training for sports competition)
– If you are significantly underweight
It is necessary to consult your doctor or physician if you plan to start detox plan or diet.

Seaweed is super food. Today we can find little packages of seaweed in almost every supermarket. Seaweed can help to boosts the immune system, to help protect against thyroid cancer and other cancers, to helps decrease high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, to detoxifies the body from heavy metals, radioactive elements, free radicals and toxins and boosts weight loss.

Chamomile Tea is a well-known herbal tea commonly considered to possess a relaxing and soothing influence. As well as being consumed as a tea by itself, chamomile is a typical component in herbal tea varieties. It is made use of both as a beverage and as an herbal remedy.
Chamomile tea has a deep background of application in herbal medicine and is typically risk-free to utilize as a drink. Even without health advantages it can certainly be valued as a relaxing drink which get rid of toxins.
Other benefits are: Improves the function of the gastro-intestinal tract, improves the structure of hair and nails and help them to grow, help to detoxify smokers from strontium and cadmium.

Pineapple is a tropical fruit that has bromelain, a natural enzyme that can detoxify your system starting with your colon. Eat only fresh pineapple to get super benefits from this fruit. It is high in Vitamin C a volatile substance that is easily destroyed by cooking. Pineapple salad made with mango, grated carrots a touch of mint and lemon juice is nice detox for your whole body.
Recently I was part of the wonderful grilling presentation class at the William-Sonoma store. The class was very nice experience. I was really impressed with pineapple easy slicer gadget. So easy to use, really helpful kitchen tool.
“Transform a prickly pineapple into a stack of juicy rings in seconds with the aid of this cleverly designed slicer. Simply insert the shaft into the top of a trimmed pineapple, apply light pressure and twist the handle.Cores and rings a pineapple with a simple twisting motion.Maximizes the amount of usable fruit.Rings come out with no eyes or bits of peel attached.Leaves the core and empty shell behind.Heavy-duty stainless-steel cutting shaft.Dishwasher safe.”
You can find pineapple easy slicer at William-Sonoma stores near you for $19.95.

Today while my kids attended sport practices I spotted this cute goats right in the middle of the field at city of Torrance in Los Angeles. They looked happy and relaxed, peacefully eating grass and making soothing sounds. Goat cheese and milk are fantastic and have many health benefits. Goat’s milk is a very good source of calcium and the amino acid tryptophan. It is also a good source of protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium.
My point is, if we look around us a little bit and accept solutions that can really make big positive influence on our overall health and lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be so hard. Drinking more water, eating fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, exercising and sometimes switch to different kind of foods will have fantastic results and we will feel better and much more energetic.

Sunny Granola & Dry Papaya Bars

Every time when I found myself in the supermarket isle with “healthy”bars, I am looking at the products and prices at the same time….keep thinking why not to try and make them at home and put favorite ingredients that would taste amazing in home crafted bars? Yes, I will do that….and I did.
After nice shopping with my kids in bulk section for dry goods and yummy grains (they love to put labels with numbers and food codes) we ended up with very nice combination for the bars.
For the base bar recipe I decided to go with Katie’s recipe from Running Times. Love the recipe but I added different fruit, nut, seeds and chocolate off course:)

Sunny Granola Bars with Dry Papaya

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup dry papaya, cut in cubes
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chip
1/4 cup dry pepitas, sunflower kernels

Preheat oven to 325F.
Combine oats, coconut, wheat germ and any nuts and seeds you wish to toast for the bars in the pan. Toast for 20 minutes mixing and turning at least once during toast time so they are all evenly toasted.
While the oats toast, combine butter, sugar and honey in a small saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Add the peanut butter at this time and stir thoroughly.

Put the toasted oat mixture into the large mixing bowl. Add dry fruit and chocolate. Drizzle the syrup over oats and sir until they are evenly coated. Return everything to the pan and press mixture in to the form square mass.
Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or longer if you like crispier bars.
Remove pan from the oven and let it cool completely before cutting. Bars will keep for a week in a nice storage container.

Wonderful tasty, crunchy and nutritious snack. Lovely with coffee, tea or glass of cold milk. So convenient.
Enjoy.

Homemade Mint Hummus with Mint & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

With the usual mid afternoon snack craving I was inspired to create and make healthy snack with a twist. Browsing through the foodbuzz.com and reading interesting posts from my blogger friends I spotted FOOD FRENZY RECIPE challenge.
“Recipe Challenge is a monthly contest to find the best recipe that includes a specific ingredient. The concept is simple, but the creativity is limitless, it just depends on your imagination. You must create a recipe that includes the selected recipe challenge ingredient. May’s Recipe Challenge Ingredient: MINT.”

I made Homemade Mint Hummus with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Mint & Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

I love to grill vegetables, it adds amazing flavor to the dish.

Mint Hummus Recipe

1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup of fresh mint
1/2 cup mini tomatoes, fire roasted
1 clove of garlic, fire roasted
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
juice and zest from one orange


Using food processor combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then grate the orange zest and squeeze orange juice to add liquid.
Season with sea salt and pepper, mix and transfer to the serving dish.
Serve with homemade mint tortilla chips. Mint hummus has wonderful aroma. Lovely fire roasted tomatoes and mint are great, refreshing combo.

To make this amazing chips, you need just a few ingredients, cooking tongs and your grill.
Drizzle flour tortillas with olive oil, sea salt and chopped mint. Grill the tortilla on the hot grill for few minutes turning once.
Brake them with your hands to pieces, dip and enjoy!

Mint contains a number of vitamins and minerals, which are vital to maintain a healthy body. Mint is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2.
Mint has always been used medicinally to aid digestion and relieve indigestion. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, drinking a cup of peppermint tea after your meal may help.

Mint

Manhattan Beach Farmers Market, Homemade Carrot Soup, Kumquats & Bagel Shop

Tuesday was busy but really nice, pleasant day. Spring break is on, so kids and I decided to visit local Farmers market and take a walk at the ocean boardwalk. We were lucky to meet few wonderful and generous people that day. Afternoon was sweet filled with cooking, tasting and happy eating:)
Manhattan Beach Farmers Market was a real surprise.

This market has vendors who have great selection of produce and products to offer to customers.

Fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies, flowers, plants, organic produce, dry fruits, nuts, hot and prepared artisan foods.

Every Tuesday rain or shine from 11-4pm.
http://www.mbfarmersmarket.com
At the market I met Secil, helpful lady from Arnett Farms.

For an astonishing 103 years the Arnett Family has been operating one of the best farms in California that specializes in oranges.
Arnett Farms, located in Fresno, grows over 200 different varieties of stone fruits, citrus, and berries, as well as apples and persimmons.
We decided to buy Kumquats, tiny looking like oranges and make something special- Canded Kumquats.
Market offers organic section too where I found lovely red carrots and later made beautiful creamy carrot soup.

On the way back from the market kids needed a little snack so we stop at the local Noah’s Bagel shop.

I am personally big fan of power bagels and new bagelthins.

” Noah’s® is a neighborhood based, deli inspired restaurant that serves a variety of signature sandwiches, fresh baked breads, home-style soups, tempting sweets and our award winning bagels.” As usual kids had toasted Asiago with cream cheese when friendly team member Felton approach us with a hot from the oven Apple cinnamon coffee cake and politely said that it was for us to share.

How sweet and kind! I was really surprised and I asked him if it’s all right if I put few pictures on my blog. He said that he would love that. So there it is, sweet delight, fresh and tasty. Brilliant with cup of coffee. Thank you.
http://www.noahs.com

Candied Kumquats Recipe

- 4 cups roughly chopped kumquats
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup brown sugar
– fresh mint

With a pairing knife roughly chop the kumquats.

Discard any seeds you can that are easy to get too, but they’re edible so don’t worry if some get chopped up or stay in the fruit. Feel free to leave any small kumquats whole. Heat the water and sugar over high heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the kumquats and simmer for 20 minutes. Add fresh chopped mint.

Cool at the room temperature before transferring into the glass vacuum seal jar.

Can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigirator. This recipe is gluten free.
Great addition to the fresh made waffles or any recipe that calls for dry fruits.
Like citrus fruits, kumquats also low in calories. 100 g of fresh fruit provide only 71 calories. Nevertheless, they are incredibly rich sources of health benefiting dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely to our health and wellness.

Cream of Carrots Soup

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 bunch of fresh red and orange carrots
1 pear
1 red onion, broiled
Italian parsley
sea salt, for taste
freshly ground pepper corns for the taste
1/2 cup non fat sour cream, gluten free
1 cup broth (from cooked carrots)

Wash and cut carrots, coarse ends.
Peal the onion and put it in the broiler till grilled texture is visible and aroma fill in the kitchen:)
Using medium sauce pan add: carrots, pear, onion, pepper and little salt.

Boil for 30 minutes.
Using blender pour the ingredients slowly, add sour cream, season with salt and pepper.

Blend on medium, gradually adding broth till desired consistency.
Serve warm with homemade crackers.

Carrot soup recipe is also gluten free.
I was on the roll that day and really in the mood to prepare and cook lovely things so I also made beautiful homemade crackers. Recipe and more at the next post:)

Carrots do stand out for their higher fiber content, so if you’re looking to increase your daily intake up higher, that’s the first big benefit that they will offer. Carrots are also very well known for their Vitamin C content, but that’s not all they’ll provide. They are also a rich source of Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, as well as copper.
Much higher than their vitamin C content, carrots are finally an extremely good source of Vitamin A with a hundred grams supplying you with 276% of your total daily value.