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I recently cooked a duck in the oven for a little celebration. I didn’t throw away the leftover bones, I froze them to make duck bone broth. I’m so much into bone broth lately that my freezer is starting to look like a paleontologist’s collection to my toddler’s delight. Well, when I strained the broth after I made the bone broth, a lot of meat still came out from the bones and broth, so I shredded it and made this easy, delicious tacos with prune sauce.

My 4 year old loved them, he will eat anything in a flour tortilla. We had them with a simple green salad made of romaine lettuce, drizzled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. And finished with a hot cup of broth. Perfect for a cold rainy spring day.

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Duck bone broth

 

Duck tacos

serves 2 or 3

For the sauce:

1 cup water

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

10 pitted prunes

2 tbsp honey

1/4 tbsp ground ginger

1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp all- purpose flour

For the tacos:

1 cup and 1/2 duck shredded meat

flour tortillas

coconut oil

Lettuce leafs

Sauce directions

Pour the water, vinegar, prunes, ginger and cinnamon in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the prunes are soft and tender ( You can pre-soak the prunes for a few hours to make them easier to soften), 20 to 30 minutes. Add honey and stir. Combine the mixture with the flour in a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes more. The sauce will be thick now.

Tacos directions

Heat up the shredded meat in a pan, with a bit of broth or water so it doesn’t dry out. Warm up tortillas, just a tiny bit, so they are not cold and are flexible to roll out. Assemble the tacos. Cut each taco in half, so you get smaller tacos, and close them with toothpicks. When all tacos are assembled, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil in pan, and add batches, turning them when they get golden on a side. Serve when they’re golden on the other side too, over a lettuce salad and pour the prune sauce over them.

Tip: toddlers love dipping theirs in the sauce, so serve the sauce separately in a small dipping dish.

 

 

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Mornings have been pretty cold here the last weeks, but our blackberry shrub doesn’t seem to mind. He could not wait for spring, and now we are having a few homegrown blackberries every day.

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Raising an open-minded eater, a real omnivore, is important to me. Since M started to eat solids I tried to make his eating experience as adventurous as I could, and soon, around 13 months he started to love eating goat cheese omelettes, salmon with capers, olives, even raw red onions.

Around 24 months, like all toddlers, he obviously entered the phase where he was not so open anymore, although he still had some windows of accepting new foods that were strange to him. Slowly, with his help, I’ve been trying to reconstruct his open-mindedness in eating. One of my worst nightmares would be him turning into one of those people who don’t like sushi “just because”, or the kind of person that eats only at a McDonald’s while travelling to France, or China -yes, there is McDonald’s in China-, or the kind of people who won’t change “their way” of eating even if their lives depend on it. I can not imagine having a son that grows up “blind” to one of the realms of aesthetics: taste. Without an openness to “taste” experiences, I imagine life to be bland and, well, small. And I certainly don’t want that for M.

Anyway, this morning, after asking him what did he feel like having for breakfast -I usually don’t ask him, but decided to let him choose since his Christmas break vacations from Kindergarden started- and listening to his response: “Clams!!!” I froze with surprise and doubts about his election. I was thinking something like scrambled eggs with asparagus, or beet pancakes. But I immediately realized those doubts and judgements about his election were based on my fixed ideas and preconceptions of how breakfast should be like. After all, he didn’t say m&m’s, or ice cream, and I did happen to have a pound of frozen clams. And why should I be surprised if this was coming from the same little guy that once, at 2 yrs old, woke up at 5.00 am asking for a spinach salad with lemon and olive oil. I also realized that if I want to raise an open-minded eater, I have to be more adventurous and open myself.

So this morning, I became proudly aware of how open my almost 4 yr old is getting to be when it comes to eating. Now he’s even giving me lessons. And today, we had clams for breakfast.

Steamed Clams

serves 2

1 lb clams in shells

7-8 garlic cloves, chopped in slivers

1/2 cup of chicken stock (or white wine)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped ( or parsley)

Scrub clams to remove any sand. In a pot, heat oil over medium heat, add garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add cilantro, I usually use parsley, but this morning I only had cilantro. Use whichever you prefer, or have. Toss the herbs for a few seconds and add the clams, pouring the chicken stock, or wine, almost immediately. Cook until all shells open. Discard the ones that don’t. Serve and enjoy!

If you are serving them to a toddler, a big bowl to toss the empty shells is a must, they find this super fun!

 

 

 

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I know, I know, a burger is a beef patty in between two buns. But in our house we use the word “burgers” for patties. I’ve done this since M was old enough to eat meat. That way I can feed him some good protein without the big bread, and let me tell you, the minute a child tastes bread, or pasta, the kid won’t want anything else. At least that’s what happened with my 3 yr old. So if you want to delay the addiction to wheat, I’d say skip the bread buns for as long as you can when you make hamburgers home.

I guess that explains the bun-lessness of my bunny burgers recipe. But if you prefer to have a “real” burger, than just add buns to this recipe and voilá!

Where we live we do not have big organic supermarkets, and finding clean, hormone and antibiotic free beef is a challenge. One of the cleanest meats I can get here is rabbit. A lot of local ranches are breeding them. So we eat rabbit at least once every two weeks to give fish a rest.

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My toddler loves these burgers, they are really tasty and juicy. Rabbit meat is very lean and slightly sweet. I also use a lot of sweet vegetables in this recipe -onions, carrot, cabbage, celery, parsley- to make them sweeter. And the secret for super yummy sweetness is to saute the veggies before mixing them with the meat, instead of adding them raw. Since rabbit meat is quite low in fat, I use a lot of oil to cook them, and I also add some butter or avocado slices when served. Remember, fat is good for you!

Rabbit patties

makes about 25 smallish patties

400 gr ground rabbit meat

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 yellow onion

1 carrot

2 celery stalks

1 chunky piece of cabbage (about a sixth of a big cabbage)

1/3 cup of crumbled almonds

1/3 cup of puffed amaranth

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

a  few sprigs of parsley

salt and pepper

Butter or coconut oil

Finely mince the onion, carrot, celery, cabbage and part of the parsley, but save some parsley for serving later. Add some butter or coconut oil to a skillet and heat. Add all the minced vegetables and saute for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the rabbit meat with the cooked rice, the almonds and the puffed amaranth. When you finish sauteing the veggies let them cool for a bit, and then add them to the meat and stir everything together. Add the mustard and mix one last time to make it even.

Heat some more oil in a skillet. Start making your patties and cook them. Two minutes on each side will do. You can also grill them.

Serve each patty with a generous dollop of butter, or a slice of avocado. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Enjoy!

 

 

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October is my favorite month of the year, it always brings back the best memories from childhood: The sound of walking on dry leaves, the smell of the first chilly afternoons and mornings, and the warming feeling of a cup of hot cocoa after playing outside. I like it so much I wish my birthday was in October, but it’s not. I was born in July, I’m a daughter of summer, whether I like it or not.

I live in a place now where the seasons are not so different from each other. My son always asks me why the tree leaves are not turning yellow. Must be cause I talk about fall so much to him that he already has this magical idea of it in his head. Nevertheless, we are waking up to colder mornings, and our fruit trees are giving us their last gifts of the year.

Today I picked what could possibly be the last fig of the season, and realized I have to give credit to summer for this wonder: Summer fruits.

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Our trees were very generous this season. We usually get a lot of pomegranates and figs, but this year, we also had lot’s of peaches and some avocados too. All had spectacular taste. Thanks to summer, and the trees in our garden, we had full fruitbowls in our table everyday. My son ate bowls brimming with pomegranate seeds in the morning. He had fig after fig after fig in the afternoons. We had figs with goat cheese almost every other day. I made peach compote for breakfast oatmeals that was perfect with pork chops too. The delicious tiny avocados from our tree made my son fall in love again with avocado’s taste again, he had stopped eating them at some point when he turned three. A big number of my summer breakfasts were made of fig-spinach-banana smoothies, or pomegranate-cacao-flax seed oatmeals.

So even though my forever favorite season is fall, I have to thank you summer, you materialize the concept of abundance for us. Until next year!

Do you have fruit trees? What is your favorite summer fruit? What else do you eat from your garden or your trees? Please share in the comment section.

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I love fruit jams. I grew up with buttered toast with jam. Not that I have it everyday anymore, but from time to time, I do let myself enjoy the sweetness of jam, either lathered on a piece of brie, or on a slice of ezequiel bread in the good company of pastured butter or coconut oil.

My favorite is plum. I love the color, I love the smell when it’s cooking -yes, I make my own-, and I love it’s sweet, tart taste. The benefit of making your own fruit jam is that you know what’s in there. Commercial jams are seldom what they claim to be, you might buy apricot, or strawberry jam thinking it’s, well, apricot or strawberry, but it turns out they are made with carrots or other industrial byproduct, flavored with a little bit of fruit juice, and they have a ton of sugar and conservatives added. Another benefit of homemade jam is that it lets you take full responsibility of the amount of sugar in it. If you decide to make it ultra-sugary, then at least it was your decision, not somebody else’s -traditionally jam is made with the exact same volume of sugar than the volume of fruit you use, but that’s too sweet for me I like to cut the sugar amount to a third-. Finally, making your own jam gives you the possibility of adding something extra (e.g. basil or rosemary) to make it more special.

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When the plum season started in the summer, I bought a few kilos, we ate most of them fresh, but I saved one to make jam. One kilo of plums got me three jars, which is perfectly enough for about 5 months in our house. I made this batch with ginger. It added spiciness to the wonderful sweet tart of plums.

Plum Jam

1 kilo of ripe plums

300 grams of white sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

Cut previously washed plums in half and pit them. Place them in a bowl and add the sugar, stirring them with a spoon so they all get sugar coated. Add the lemon juice and stir. Let the mixture sit for an hour. Transfer to a pot and start cooking them over medium heat. Add the grated ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until it reaches the consistency you like. For a thicker jam, let the mixture cool, and repeat the process a few times. Remove from heat and pour the jam in sterilized jars. If you think they’ll last longer than two months, freeze the extra jars, and keep one in the fridge to enjoy soon.

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Apples must be one of the first images you associate to fruit as a kid. It’s the fruit that gets to star in more toddler and kid’s drawings. It’s the emblem of gravity. It is the quintessential fruit. Also identified with Paradise in biblical writings. Present in so many symbols throughout history, art, and religion, it was also very present in my house as a kid. Growing up in the northern state of Chihuahua, the equivalent apple producer in Mexico to Washington state, it was typical to grab an apple in the afternoon as a snack. The memories of the smell of apple pie baking in the oven will always be associated to my childhood.

But things have changed. Getting apples is not as easy as going to the grocery shop and buying any apple they got there. Yes, they look beautiful, they are bright red, or glowing greenish yellow. Exactly like the ones you used to draw. But that’s where the problem starts, they are too shiny, too perfect. How? They are coated with wax, and they are full of pesticides. The non profit EWG (Enviromental Working Group) has ranked apples, for a few years in a row now, number one fruit or vegetable (sometimes switching to number two to let peaches take number one) with the highest pesticide residues.

You may wonder how dangerous these pesticides could be. Well, they are associated with cancer, infertility, birth defects, neurological problems like autism or Parkinson’s, and endocrine disruption (think your hormones going crazy), among other not so pleasant conditions.

I am definitely not obsessed with buying everything organic. But with a few specific food items I do try to be very careful. Apples, with an amount of approximately 93 pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, have become part of that list. So, my neighbor’s apples may not be perfectly shaped, and they are certainly not glossy. But they are local, seasonal, and best of all, clean! We might not eat apples all year long. But when the season approaches, we are the first to knock on the door of our apple growing neighbor.

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Lately I’ve been a bit disorganized with my eating habits. There are even some days that I don’t get a bite of green in my mouth. My toddler’s daycare is closed for summer vacation. You can imagine my house. It’s a warzone. Toy cars, blocks, toy gardening tools, and a little sneaker -yes, for some reason he always takes off just one- are what make our floor level domestic landscape.

I’m trying to study everyday for an hour at least, besides taking care of M, and transforming myself to his request into something different every twenty minutes. A polar bear, a wolf, Godzilla, Santa Claus, his daycare teacher, Toothless -the dragon-, Jiro -the world famous japanese sushi cheff-, a-ha, he likes to talk and play with him too. So if I manage to construct lunch for both of us with some pan seared salmon, and sliced cucumber with olive oil, sea salt and lemon, I consider it a victory. Not everyday I have time to prepare a nice, green salad. Maybe if I’m not too tired in the evening, after the little dragon hunter is asleep,  I’ll throw some green leaves in a plate and whatever vegetable was left the day before, and munch away while my eyes are almost closed and I’m half asleep.

One thing I am keeping in stock these days is nopales (cactus). My son adores them, it’s one of his favorite veggies at the moment. So when everything else fails, steamed or boiled nopal bites with a bit of salt, oregano and olive oil come to the rescue. I keep them in the fridge cooked and cut in little squares. The other day I got the idea to make a nopal-inspired salad. It resulted in one of the tastiest salads I’ve made. I used spinach as the base green, but you can use romaine lettuce, arugula, whatever you want.

Here’s the recipe.

Nopal, goat cheese and avocado salad

1 serving

1 1/2 cup of spinach

1/2 cup of cooked nopal, cut in squares

Goat cheese, about 1/3 cup

Diced avocado

Dressing

Extra virgin olive oil

Celtic salt, or any sea salt

Crushed dried oregano

Lemon juice

Make a bed of spinach leaves. Add the nopal squares, the goat cheese and avocado cubes. Now add the sea salt, drizzle the olive oil, add the crushed oregano, and finally some lemon juice. Add these last four ingredients to suit your taste. Enjoy!

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During the week, my toddler has lunch at his daycare. While he is there, I use the time to study and see my clients. But that’s not all, I also have to clean up the house, go buy groceries, move my body at least for 15 min, i.e. exercise, cook, and have lunch myself. It’s a lot of activities to achieve in a few hours.

One thing I started to do in order not to spend hours in the kitchen is to recycle my food. I cook double, or sometimes triple batches of everything. It’s the “cook once, eat twice, or thrice” way, which saves a lot of time.

It also helps me save money by not wasting leftovers and recycling food. I’ve seen so many houses where the fridge is full of old leftovers that no one touches, and sooner or later end up in the trash can after going bad. That’s a lot of money wasted. And it’s not very nice for the environment. Actually it’s really sad.

No one should waste food anymore. It’s really easy not to. You just need to plan ahead a little. Think of what you want to eat for a week. And then, think which of those dishes or recipes you can reuse, or transform into another meal.

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Here’s an example of what I did last week: For tuesday’s lunch, I had sauteed oyster mushrooms with cilantro, steamed and lightly sauteed brussels sprouts with pecans, dried cranberries and a little maple syrup, and a romaine lettuce salad with mung bean sprouts and avocado. I cooked a double batch of oyster mushrooms, and a triple batch of brussels sprouts. I also washed enough lettuce to have with salads for three days.

On wednesday, I had some brown rice that I cooked that day, some swiss chard that was left from monday’s lunch, leftover oyster mushrooms from the day before, steamed asparagus, salmon and homemade mayonnaise (that I made the past weekend) with fresh chives for dipping the asparagus and salmon, yumm! I steamed a double batch of asparagus, and cooked three salmon portions.

With the extra cooked salmon I was able to feed my toddler dinner that day, and also have a salmon omelette for breakfast on thursday. The leftover steamed brussels sprouts were turned into another side dish with a little bit of dijon mustard, for thursday’s dinner, with some chicken. Friday’s breakfast was rice porridge made with leftover brown rice (see my Rice Porridge with Mango and Cacao recipe https://omnivorilicious.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/mango-season-part-ii/). Saturday’s breakfast was scrambled eggs with leftover asparagus cut into small pieces. And saturday’s lunch was chicken tostadas made with shredded leftover chicken from thursday’s dinner, and for dessert we had arroz-con-leche with more leftover brown rice, transformed with coconut milk, dried raisins and sprinkled powdered cinnamon and cardamom.

I hope this inspires you to start transforming your leftovers into other meals, while you save time, money and reduce your waste.

 

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Whenever anyone asks me: What is one thing I can do to start eating better and feeling better? Or to drop weight? Or to increase my energy and lower my stress? My answer is always the same: Eat more greens! Greens are good for you. Of all the foods in the world, they’re the ones that come from the earth in search of the sun’s rays of light. They open up like flowers and stare directly at the sun absorbing it’s light and all of it’s energy. This energy, it you eat them, will be yours.

Part of this energy comes from the green blood of plants: chlorophyll. Green blood is the best source of nutrition your red blood could get. It cleanses and detoxifies your blood from toxins that should not be in there but usually are, like heavy metals.

It also brings your body an abundance of oxygen. Have you ever payed attention to the leaves of spinach? You must have noticed how much their shape and nerves  resemble our respiratory system. This is nature sending us a signal, informing us that they are the most powerful food for your respiration. So, if you have asthma, or you live in a big polluted city, you better start munching on greens.

Another benefit of eating greens is their fiber content, they fill you up with a very little amount of calories, and a very big amount of nutrients: vitamins, minerals, and thousands, yes, thousands, of phytonutrients that support your body in lot’s of ways and protect you from getting ill.

A lot of people wonder how to get those most revered greens into their system. Well, there are many ways to do this. Green juices, green smoothies, yes, but let’s not forget the most classic way to eat greens: in a salad. I love salads in the summer. They’re fresh, crunchy, and if you use your imagination and creativity, they should never be boring. They also need not be complicated. With very few ingredients you can easily make an exciting salad.

Here’s an easy and tasty way to get some greens inside your body. It is one of my latest salad creations and it has become a favorite at my house. It has an oriental sweet and sour taste to it, so if you’re into thai or exotic flavors, you are surely going to love it. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

Arugula, Pineapple and Avocado Salad

serves 2

for the salad:

3 cups baby arugula

2/3 cup pineapple, diced

1 avocado, diced

black and white sesame seeds roasted with garlic

celtic salt

dressing:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp tamari or soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, toss the arugula leaves with the diced pineapple and avocado. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and some celtic salt. For the dressing, combine all liquid ingredients, mix and pour over the salad. Eat and enjoy!