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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 3/4/2018)

Portabello Mushrooms:

Did you know a single Portabella can contain more potassium than a banana? They’re versatile in the kitchen, too. Flip the caps over, place in a baking dish, drizzle on some olive oil, stuff with veggies (try spinach and tomatoes, with mozzarella for a spin on caprice) or cooked grains such as quinoa and bake until tender about 20 minutes at 425F. You can also slice them up and added to salad or cooked in a skillet with some onion and garlic as a yummy sautéed topping for a breakfast, lunch or dinner plate. Portabellos are a great substitute in recipes calling for steak. Seriously, ask one of your Vegan friends. ? So, get out there and eat some fungus already!

Asparagus:

Asparagus is best cooked as fresh as possible but if you need to store it for 3 to 4 days treat it like a bouquet of flowers. Trim a small amount from the bottoms of the stalks with a sharp knife and place them in a tall glass with a little water in the bottom. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator. This will keep the stalks firm and crisp until you are ready to cook them.

To prepare; the smallest spears will only need to have their very bottoms trimmed off before cooking. However, the bottom portions of larger asparagus spears can be chewy and woody; they will either need to be snapped off or peeled. To snap off the tough portion, simply grasp the stalk with both hands and bend the bottom portion until it breaks off. The asparagus will naturally break off at the point where the tender portion ends and the tough, stringy part begins.

Zucchini:

Zucchini is more often used as a cooking vegetable but is also be enjoyed raw. It makes a great addition to salad or veggie trays with dip. When sent through the spiralizer this vegetable makes a sort of noodle which is often used as a substitute in paleo diets in spaghetti or noodle soup. To cook, simply heat oil over medium heat (sauté a little onion or garlic before adding the zucchini if desired), add zucchini noodles and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. If you don’t own a spiralizer you can use a vegetable peeler and make long, flat noodles instead of round ones.

Serve as the bed to your pasta sauce and meatballs or add to your favorite vegetable soup.

 

Featured Recipe:

Portabello Baked Eggs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 large Portabello mushrooms, stem removed, wiped clean

Olive oil spray

½ teaspoon garlic powder

4 medium eggs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

4 tablespoons chopped parsley OR spinach ribbons for garnish

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

Preheat broiler to high. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet.

Spray the mushroom caps with olive oil cooking spray on both sides. Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt and pepper and ¼ teaspoon of the garlic powder. Broil 5 minutes on each side, or until just tender.

Remove mushrooms from oven. Drain any liquids. Switch oven from broil to bake, setting temperature to 400 degrees F.

Break an egg into each mushroom. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 15 minutes, until egg whites are cooked.

Sprinkle the eggs with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Garnish with parsley or spinach and serve.                                                                                                                             

 

Adapted from recipe by healthyrecipesblogs.com

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Playing with Water

We are 70% water, so it’s no mystery why it is one of the most necessary nutrients our body needs. But why is it so hard to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day? We know the endless benefits of drinking water: heart circulation, metabolism, joint health, digestive health, clearer skin, etc.

Think of a dried prune; it’s all dry and wrinkled. Now, think of a fresh prune; full of hydration, smooth and healthy. As much practical sense that this all makes, I have to admit the idea of sipping on the same thing all day long can get boring. So lately I have been experimenting with Infused Water. Spring brings us bright, beautiful, and colorful produce that can naturally enhance the flavor of water. Infused water can be any combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs and even flowers. Why infuse water? The answer is simple. By improving the flavor with a healthy option, it’s an easier way to achieve your recommended daily amounts but also include essential vitamins into this healthy drink.

Although there are many flavored waters on supermarket shelves, producing a homemade option is cost effective and far healthier. Most infused waters available at supermarkets include preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and refined sugars. All of these are bad for your short and long-term health, in addition to being an enemy of your skin health.

Everyone has their favorite fruit infused water ingredients, but some are more popular than others. Lemon, lime, strawberries, apples, and oranges are the most popular fruit ingredients, while cucumbers, mint, basil, cinnamon, and ginger are the most popular vegetable ingredients. I think it’s time to produce your own, so I’ve included a basic method to follow. Have fun with it; the rest is up to you! To make your fruit-infused water, simply wash and slice a combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Pour cold filtered water on top. Cover the jar and store in the refrigerator. The flavor will get stronger after a few hours. You can replenish the water throughout the day.

Some of my favorite infused water combinations are: Lemon with Strawberry and Cucumber, Cucumber with any Citrus, Apple with Ginger and Cinnamon, Watermelon with Mint, Pineapple and Berry…sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? Here are 3 more tips I follow to ensure I drink enough water throughout the day:

  1. Set a specific goal for the day: Mine is to drink at least 32oz a day, I am working my way to 64oz but for now, 32oz is the goal!
  2. Get a bottle you will actually use and keep it close: My bottle requirements are: absolutely no dripping, BPA free plastic and it must fit in the car cup holder.
  3. Use a straw: I notice that when I use a straw I drink more and faster.

Here’s to a more hydrated you!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

Asparagus Soup                              

Growing up we had soup as the first course almost every day, this soup made it to our family table at least once a week. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut in ½ in pieces

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek (white part) chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

¾ cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Melt butter and oil in a medium size saucepan at low heat. Add onion and leek and cook until golden brown. Add asparagus and season to taste. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until asparagus are very tender.

With an immerse blender blend mixture until creamy and soft. Return cream to pan and add milk or cream. Serve with bread croutons if desired.

Asparagus

Uncooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. The secret is to keep the vegetable cool and damp. Store spears upright in a container with the stems wading in an inch of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag. Easier still: Wrap the ends in moist paper towels and drop the bundle into a plastic bag.

Use: cooking asparagus takes only a few minutes. The goal: Preserve the bright color and delicate flavor. Broiling or roasting the spears intensifies their inherent sweetness. Steamed or boiled asparagus is great for salads.

 

If you boil, forget the fancy equipment. Just launch the spears in a skillet full of lightly salted boiling water. The pan should be large enough to fit the spears in one or two layers, so that they cook evenly and quickly. Don’t cover the skillet; otherwise the asparagus will go from bright green to army drab. Start testing for doneness after two or three minutes by piercing the ends with a knife. They should be barely tender, with a slight crunch. Asparagus will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the pan. If you like asparagus with snap, drop it into a sink full of cold water to stop the cooking.

Tips from thekitchn.com

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Why I cleanse in February

Week of February 1, 2015

It’s that time of year when everybody talks about detoxes, cleanses, diets, etc. I have to admit, I may have overindulged during the holidays, but a detox or cleanse is not the answer to overcome that guilt. I am a huge advocate of detoxing, but cleanses are more than a quick weight-loss solution. Weight management simply comes by making a habit of making better eating decisions.

I tend to avoid the fad of cleansing right after the holidays because I like to decompress and get back to my “real” routine. By mid-January the Christmas tree has served its purpose and gone to the “park” where all Christmas trees go after the holidays. The last remaining decorations have been put away and the cookies are finally gone! I have time to juice in the mornings and am once again able to think clearly.

Now is when I am finally ready for the benefits of a cleanse! But why cleanse in the first place? The only way that toxins are eliminated from the body is through the natural processes of detoxification, which occurs through the skin by perspiration, through the colon by elimination, through the kidneys by urination, and through the lungs by respiration. When the body has accumulated more toxins than it can handle, the body, in its amazing natural healing process, attempts a healing response. It must force the toxins out or the body will disease and die. I have been detoxing twice a year for four years now and the benefits I have experienced are endless. Here are just a few:

  • Increase in energy.
  • The digestive tract will rid itself of accumulated waste and bacteria.
  • Liver, kidneys and blood are purified and function more effectively.
  • The peristaltic action of the colon is strengthened. (Peristalsis are a series of muscle contractions that occur in your digestive tract.)
  • A mental clarity occurs that is not possible under the constant bombardment of chemicals and food additives.
  • Dependency on habit-forming substances such as refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs is greatly diminished. (No more cravings!)
  • Bad eating habits are broken. As you come off the program it will be easier to make wiser food choices.
  • The stomach has a chance to return to its normal size, making it easier to control the quantity of food you eat.

I was super excited when Klesick Family Farm announced their Juice Cleanse Box last year. This box contains all of the produce you need to participate in a basic juice cleanse. They even include a copy of their juice cleanse plan with all of the recipes.

After you cleanse it is important to pay attention to your body and what it needs. Your “cravings” will be different and your palate will be cleansed as well. Real fruits and vegetables will taste better, so take advantage of this situation and avoid introducing “not-so-good” food into your daily diet.

One of my go-to recipes for after a cleanse is Fresh Summer Rolls: thin rice paper stuffed with veggies, protein and rice noodles, and served with a side of lightly spicy peanut sauce.

If you’re not familiar with these little delicacies – also known as fresh spring rolls – then my, you’ve got a treat in store! Cucumber water aside, they’re just about the freshest thing I can imagine: a jumble of crunchy raw vegetables, soft, aromatic leaves and cool, squidgy noodles, all stuffed snugly into a feather light rice wrapper. In fact, summer rolls were what first hooked me on the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cooking: so much lighter and punchier than the fried snacks I was expecting. It’s a delicious Asian salad packed into an edible container.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can play around with the recipe to your heart’s content, but the guiding principle should always be to cram as many contrasts of flavor and texture into each bite as possible, while retaining the roll’s elegant appearance. And listo! Ready to enjoy!

Please Note: A juice cleanse is not for everyone. Consult your doctor to be sure a juice cleanse is right for you.

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

                  

Recipe: Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce    

 

Your choice of protein: cooked prawns, sautéed chicken or tofu

1 block of rice vermicelli noodles

4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked

4 sprigs of basil leaves (Asian or Italian)

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 red pepper, peeled and grated

¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded

4 tbsp. salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

8 rice paper wrappers

 

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Juice of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon of garlic-chili sauce

1-2 tablespoons of agave

 

Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients and place within reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with warm water, and then dunk one in the water and continue patting until it becomes pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange lettuce horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with protein in a horizontal line, then top your protein with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and red bell pepper with a few cucumber sticks, and then add a small clump of rice vermicelli noodles. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, prepare your peanut sauce. Whisk all the ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.

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How To Keep Your Greens Fresh

The key to keeping greens fresh is to pre-wash, dry and store them. Try to wash your greens the same day that yourbox of good is delivered. Try to make sure when you’re unpacking your box to set the lettuce and any other greens on the kitchen counter, so you don’t forget to wash them.

First off, fill a large bowl with some cold water and swirl the leaves around to get rid of the excess dirt. When washing kale, de-stem it as you’re washing it. That will save you time when it comes to throwing that kale salad together. Place in salad spinner, give the spinner a whirl, and spin until your greens are dry.

Spread two paper towels (still connected) on your counter and pile the dry lettuce/kale/spinach/other leaves on one end. Wrap the paper towel around your greens and then add some more leaves and continue the process until all the greens are wrapped up.  Make sure to wrap the leaves up gently but tightly, a lot like you would a sleeping bag.

Place the wrapped lettuce inside sealed plastic bags and store in your crisper drawer. The lettuce should stay good for about a week to two weeks.  Honestly, you should never keep those greens around for more than a week anyway.

Now that you have some freshly washed greens, you can make some amazing salads on the fly. Here’s to eating more greens!

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Drinking In Summer

When I think of summer, I think of long days by the beach, sandy hair, afternoon naps, cozy evenings by the bonfire, and laughter, much laughter. Summers in Peru were always filled with family, simple meals and refreshing aguas frescas.

If you never had agua fresca (Spanish for fresh water), it is a light, kid-friendly fruit drink served by street vendors, in bodegas, and at eateries throughout Central and South America. They are made by combining fresh fruits with sugar and water. Sometimes grains, seeds, and even flowers can be added.

Common fruit and vegetable versions include cantaloupe, watermelon, berries, cucumbers, and lime. The flavor of fresh fruit, by blending it with water and straining out the pulp, results in basically everything you’ve ever wanted fruit juice to be: a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink that actually tastes like fruit. Anything with melon was my favorite!

They’re perfect for this time of year because they practically beg to be sipped outside and they are very easily scaled up to make a refreshing pitcher drink. This lovely refreshing drink is the perfect alternative from the norms of ice water, lemonade and soda. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can be so good!

With this week’s box of good menu, the options for aguas frescas are endless: melon-nectarine, apple-grape, and apple-kiwi, to name a few!

Regardless of the fruits and vegetables available at the local market, our summer menus growing up always included a salad. The schedule goes: soup and entrée during fall and winter, salad and entrée during spring and summer. And to this day, it remains the same. I recently spent two months back home in Peru and was glad to see that some things never change. Meal schedules are the same, people take naps, families gather together for tea time, and going to the bakery to get fresh bread at 6:00 p.m. feels like going shopping during Black Friday.

One particular salad was always present during our summer family gatherings: grape and cabbage salad with a light creamy vinaigrette—a nice combination of sweet, salty, tart, crunchy, and creamy all in one bite. What else can you ask for from a salad? Serve it as a side with grilled meats, in tacos or tostadas, or use it in sandwiches and wraps. Crisp, fresh, delicious and easy to make!

I am always amazed how food can evoke so many memories. I hope you have time to partake of a few mementos this summer, from family favorite foods, to outdoor walks after a summer rain.
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

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Fresh Fruit Parfait

INGREDIENTS:

1 large banana, sliced
1/2 cup fresh strawberries sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup apricot sliced
2 cups nonfat frozen yogurt
1/2 cup of granola cereal

DIRECTIONS:

1. Rinse fruits delicately under water, place fruits in a bowl and toss gently.
2. Into each parfait dish, layer 1/4 of fruit mixture, 1 tablespoon granola, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup fruit mixture, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola and then garnish with a strawberry.
3. Use single blueberries, strawberries, apricot slices, or raspberries as a garnish and enjoy!

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Cucumber, Cantaloupe, & Summer Squash Salad

Looking for a creative alternative to the traditional garden salad? Try this refreshing and delicious recipe for a Cucumber, Cantaloupe and Squash Salad! Simple to make and effortless to enjoy, this will quickly become a staple for your summer get-togethers this season!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 summer squashes (about 1 pound), unpeeled
1 cucumber (about 10 ounces), unpeeled
1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 large cantaloupe, rind removed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make the dressing: Combine yogurt, lime zest and juice, salt, cumin, and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate 20 minutes.
  2. Make the salad: Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, shave squashes and cucumber into wide ribbons, stopping when you reach seeds.
  3. Toss with vinegar and salt. Cover, and refrigerate. Shave cantaloupes into ribbons and refrigerate.
  4. Just before serving, drain cucumber and squash ribbons and toss with cantaloupe. Drizzle with dressing.

Recipe courtesy of MarthaStewart.com