Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eating Out in California

One of the best things about eating out in California is the fact that most high-end restaurants get their food from local farmers and also tend to use organic produce. Veggies tasted fresh and the quality of meat was top notch. Grass-fed beef and local chickens were popular items on the menus as were a wide variety of delicious salads. Some NY restaurants do this in the summer months but the winters here in the city really limit eating fresh and locally.

A restaurant that I really liked in San Francisco was Greens. Greens is a vegetarian establishment and the dishes were created with the idea of local and fresh produce. The menu changes regularly based on available ingredients and gives patrons variety. I sometimes crave meat after eating at vegetarian restaurant but at Greens the dishes were hearty and tasty. I left satisfied and to my surprise, I wasn't craving a steak!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why I Love Slow Cookers

Slow cooker meatloaf    -- photos by Maria Q

I am not a good cook by any means but the the slow cooker has been great at helping me trick people into thinking that I know what I am doing in the kitchen. So far I have made stews, chili, soup and meat loaf. Of course there is a learning curve and some trial and error, but overall everything has been delicious and easy. Basically you just need to follow the recipe, plug in the slow cooker and select the time/heat setting.

Another thing I really love about slow cooking is that you cook and eat the food in it's own juices. This means that you get to consume all of the nutrients of the broth. Many people don't realize that boiling veggies isn't as nutritious as slow cooking them since boiling since removes the vitamins and minerals.

Here is an easy meatloaf recipe I found in Chrissy Gower's cookbook.

You will need the following ingredients:

-1/2 head of cauliflower
-1 garlic clove
-1/4 yellow onion
-1 pound of grass-feed ground beef
-1 egg
-1/2 of fire roasted salsa (I used regular salsa and it was fine)
-1 small can of Ortega fired roasted diced green chiles (I couldn't find these so I used regular diced chilis)
-1/2 cup of Ammin Nut Almond Flour (I used the same amount of brown rice flour)
2 1/2 tsps of chili powder
3/4 tsp of cumin
3/4 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of basil
5 tablespoons of organic tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste (I used none)

Step one

1. Using a food processor, finely chop the cauliflower, garlic and onion.

2. Combine the ground beef, salsa, chilis and egg in a large bowl.

3. Add the garlic, onion and cauliflower mix to the beef mixture

4. Next add the flour and spices. Use your hands to kneed it all together

5. Evenly spread the mixture in the slow cooker and top with the tomato paste spread

Step 5 before adding the tomato paste
6. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or until the internal temp of the meatloaf has reached 160ºF
Salt and pepper to taste.

**I found that the meatloaf needed just a bit longer to cook and that replacing Ammin Nut flour with brown rice flour worked fine. This dish is delicious. I served it with a big colorful salad. This recipe makes about 4-6 servings. Prep time was about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

©maria quiroga 2012
It's a new year and it seems like everyone is making resolutions for 2013. We all have good intentions but sometimes our resolutions are just too difficult or unrealistic. This year why not make a couple more reasonable resolutions. Here are a few suggestions.

- Rest more. Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every night. A little more sleep can go a long way!

-Drink more water. Just because it's not hot out doesn't mean you don't need to stay hydrated. In fact many offices and homes are quite dry from radiators blasting.

-Cut down on caffeine. Replace that second cup of coffee with a cup of decaf or herbal tea.

-Clean out your fridge and pantry and get rid of processed snacks/foods. Buy and eat more fruits and vegetables. Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts.

-Cook more! Foods prepared at home are much healthier than the majority of restaurants out there. Improve your health and waistline by eating out less.

-Move! Take the stairs over the elevator. Shovel the sidewalk. Take the dog for a longer walk. A little extra here and there adds up quick!

Every January I ask my clients to make two resolutions that will improve their quality of life. Small lasting changes can make a big difference.

Happy 2013! Let's make it the best year yet!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yummy Slow Cooker Chili

It's cold out and most of us are busy this time of year. Instead of reaching for something easy and unhealthy like fast food, here is a quick, cheap recipe for a no bean chili that can be made in a slow cooker. Prepare it in the AM and have dinner and a few meals set for the rest of the week.

olive oil
2 onions
2 (28oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
1 (6oz) tomato sauce
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 lb of grass fed ground beef
2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp of cayenne

photo: Maria Quiroga

1) Cook the beef with some olive oil and add the onions. Saute all together and add to the slow cooker.

2) Pour the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce over the meat

3) Add chopped celery and carrots (feel free to add kale or other yummy greens as well)

4) Add spices. Feel free to adjust to taste

5) Mix everything in the crock pot and set it to low for 6-8 hours

This makes about 8 servings.

Eat alone or serve over brown rice and top with a few slices of avocado. Yum!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fast Food Advertising

I was curious about how much money was spent on fast food advertisements, so I did a little research. McDonald's is at the top of the list year after year. But what can parents do? First, limit the amount of time kid's watch TV. Second, make sure that meals are eaten at the table and not in front of the TV. Third, teach your kids about food and proper nutrition. Introduce them to different foods and try to include them in the preparation of their own food.

We can't control what is advertised but we can control what kid's eat and what/how much TV they watch.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza? Yes, please!

Many people love pizza but would like an alternative to the regular flour crust. Some people are gluten-free and others just prefer to not eat flour of any kind. Whatever your reason, here is a great recipe for Cauliflower Crust Pizza that serves 4-6.

photo by Maria Q
  • 1/2-2/3 head cauliflower (about 2 cups riced)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil (optional)
  • Toppings (baby spinach, grape tomatoes, onions, kale, etc...)
Cooked Cauliflower Crust-- photo by Maria Q
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Prep a cookie sheet or pizza stone. You can grease the cookie sheet or use parchment paper or use a pizza stone or a greased round pan.
  3. Wash the cauliflower and remove the stems and leaves. Next use a fine cheese grater and grate the cauliflower. You can also use a blender or food processor but be careful not to over chop or the cauliflower will become very liquidy. The cheese grater works best in my opinion.
  4. Next sauté the shredded cauliflower in a non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook until translucent. This takes approximately 5-8 minutes. I am not a fan of the microwave but you can use the microwave instead of the stove. Put the shredded cauliflower in an uncovered microwave-safe bowl and cook for 6 minutes or so depending on your microwave.
  5. Next, in a bowl combine the cooked cauliflower with the cheese, a beaten egg and the spices. Use your hands or a spoon to mix the ingredients. It may look strange at first but keep mixing, the consistency will improve after a couple minutes.
  6. On your pizza stone, cookie sheet or pan, spread dough out asevenly as possible so that it is about ¼ of an inch thick. The pizza should be about 10 inches in diameter. Brush or drizzle the olive oil over the dough. The olive oil is optional but will brown the crust of the pizza nicely.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is crispy and lightly browned.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven and top with pizza sauce and toppings. Be sure not to add too many fresh tomatoes or heavy ingredients as this will make the pizza soggy.
  9. Broil the pizza for 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool for 2-3 minutes then cut and serve immediately.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Healthier Eating in Paris and Prague?

©maria quiroga 2012
I just got back from 2 weeks in the Czech Republic, Germany and France. The thing that struck me most walking out of Penn Station when I got back into NYC was the size of Americans. Of course I saw some overweight people during my travels, but not the size and quantity I witnessed on my walk home from the train.

I have heard people say that because Parisians walk a lot that they are thinner. Sure they walk a lot, but New Yorkers walk quite a bit as well. And per square mile I am willing to bet that NYC has more than triple the gyms than Paris and Prague combined. In this case I really don't think exercise is the culprit, it's more likely food and portions.

A few years ago a friend from Tokyo was visiting and after an afternoon of shopping we ended up at a diner in Murray Hill. We ordered some omelettes and when they arrived she took out her camera and started photographing our plates. She couldn't believe the size. I started paying more attention when I traveled and did notice that usually our portions in the US are much bigger than in other countries. I guess people want to feel that they are getting their money's worth, but are they really? Overeating leads to many health problems and in general places that serve smaller portions use higher quality ingredients. Bigger is not always better.

Real food was quite popular among the European countries that I visited as well. Soups made from scratch, warm baguettes and egg yolks that were rich orange in color. Food tasted better. Portions were smaller. Even the supermarkets in Paris and the Czech Republic seemed healthier. The largest section of the stores were real foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, eggs, dairy, fresh fish and fresh meats. The canned food isle was much smaller than in the states and the snack food aisle was a fraction of the size of the ones here. People in Paris just eat more real foods and less processed "fake" foods. By "fake" foods I am referring to items like "cheese-like" products that are popular in America.

©maria quiroga 2012

My clients can attest to my encouraging of real foods at every meal. Real food aren't always the easy choice as they usually costs more money and take more time to prepare, but with some guidance, patience and planning, real foods can become the majority of a person's regular diet. By eating real foods, cravings are diminished, energy is high and you just feel better all around. All of my clients that have started eating more real foods have lost weight, improved their complexions and have more energy. I guess what I am trying to say is that next time you are grocery shopping, maybe reach for some fresh food to cook instead of a can of over-processed ready-to-eat food. Remember to read ingredients, learn about smarter choices and enjoy real food!

**It should also be mentioned that the guidelines regarding food in these countries are stricter than the US when it comes to pesticides, GMOs, etc.. 

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