Tag Archives: dinner

Summer Veggie Tacos with Spicy Fresh Salsa & Cumin Scented Guacamole

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I think I have tried almost every Mexican restaurant here in London. The bottom line is: I can make better Mexican food at home. So why not? Salsa and guacamole are so quick and easy to make, full of fresh ingredients, each bursting with their own distinct flavor.

After having spent so much time eating Mexican food in California, I know exactly what I like and how it should taste. So through memory and trial and error, I have perfected my recipes to suit my taste buds. The amazing thing is, once you have fresh, good quality ingredients, it’s quite simple to make. Smoked chipotle peppers are key, as is fresh coriander and great tasting cumin powder. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Mexican food has to be one of my favorite cuisines. It’s perfect for summer and thanks to the tasty spices, vegetarian options are a no-brainer. Luckily I found a great little authentic Mexican grocery store right here in London. I can buy deliciously fragrant dried chipotle peppers and homemade corn tortillas. If you are in the area you can check them out. They also have a home delivery service: http://www.casamexico.co.uk

You will need a mini food processor for this. The salsa and guacamole are a one pot dish, therefore they take about 2 mins to make and clean up is a snap!

INGREDIENTS:

SALSA:

  • 3 juicy ripe tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 smoked chipotle pepper (these come dried, so you should let them sit in a bowl of boiling water for 2 min before using)
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano
  • s&p
  • the juice of 1 lime

GUACAMOLE:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • s&p
  • 1/2 handful of fresh cilantro

TORTILLAS:

  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small onion (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 6 corn tortilla shells (minimum)
  • 1 tsp each: chipotle powder, chili powder and coriander powder
  • s&p
  • drizzle of olive oil

THE FIXINGS:

  • red cabbage slaw (red cabbage shredded, olive oil, 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, s&p)
  • low-fat creme fresh, sour cream or greek yogurt
  • all natural, organic corn chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Chop the peppers and zucchini into match sticks about 3 inches long.
  2. Place in a large bowl with the minced garlic, spices and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat thoroughly.
  3. In a pan over medium high heat, sauté the veggies until al dente, about 6 min, tossing frequently.

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  1. In the food processor add all of the guacamole ingredients and blend until relatively smooth, a little bit chunky, or if you prefer creamy and smooth all the way.
  2. Give the bowl a quick rinse under hot water and repeat with the salsa ingredients. Blend until somewhat smooth, “salsa” consistency. The salsa will have a bit of liquid as the tomatoes weren’t de-seeded. I personally like it this way, but to each his own, so if you prefer less liquid simply pour the salsa into to a strainer and strain the liquid out.

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  1. In a small pan over high heat, place the tortilla shells and cook for about 30 seconds on each side. No need to oil the pan.

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Ready to build your tortillas! Creme fresh on the bottom, veggies, red cabbage slaw and a spoonful of salsa. Done. Ready to inhale – I mean “eat” 🙂

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Homemade, fresh, healthy and delicious. Why settle for less than the best at a mediocre restaurant (and pay for it) when you can simply make it yourself, exactly how you like it? Nothing can be more satisfying than that. Enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus, Barley Risotto & Sautéed Garlicky Rainbow Chard

picisto-20130808123419-418938A few weeks ago I was on a shoot with the healthiest catering I think I have ever experienced in my 20+ years of modeling. Thankfully, I never forget a dish or flavor. So tonight I’ve recreated one of the delicious sides. I adore hummus. The taste, texture and simplicity of it. It’s actually quite versatile, you can keep it original with chick peas and cumin, or you can be as creative as you like. This version is with roasted sweet potato, tahini, garlic, lemon and smoked paprika. Mmmm…

I’ve also made a healthier version of Risotto, another fav, using high fibre, high protein, Barley instead of rice. Balanced out with some sautéed super greens: Rainbow Chard.

This takes about 30 minutes to make, all you need is a mini prep or hand blender. Feeds 2 people.

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 2 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of rainbow chard (or swiss chard or kale)
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese you like- 1/4 for the sweet potato humus and 1/4 for the risotto)
  • juice of 1 lemon (divided between the humus and rainbow chard)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • vegetable stock (homemade or cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch of fresh thyme, chopped
  • good quality sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Turn oven on to about 375˚F
  2. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into one inch pieces and rinse and drain. Place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and S&P and bake for about 20 min.
  3. Rinse the barley and place in a pan with 2 cups of water/vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer, cook for about 25-30 min.
  4. Rinse and chop the rainbow chard, make sure to remove the stems as they are quite bitter in taste. NOTE: Rainbow chard is very strong in flavor, you could substitute with kale or even spinach if you prefer.
  5. In a pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds. Set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the olive oil and once hot add in the chard. Sauté for about 3 min, then add in the chopped garlic for another 2 min.
  7. Add the chard into a dish and top with pumpkin seeds, drizzle of olive oil, s&p and lemon juice. Ready to serve.
  8. Once the sweet potato is cooked, remove it from the oven and add it to a mini food prep (or bowl so you can hand blend), then add in the garlic, tahini, smoked paprika, cumin, s&p, olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan (or leave out the cheese for a vegan option). Blend until smooth. Ready to serve.
  9. Once the barley has finished cooking and has absorbed the liquid you can add in your grated parmesan cheese, s&p, thyme and garlic. If you would like it creamy you can add a bit more water/vegetable stock. Ready to serve.

Plate up! Healthy and delicious! What a combo 🙂

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Health Benefits of Barley

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Health Benefits

When the weather’s cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you’re cooking. In addition to its robust flavor, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Barley’s Fiber for Regularity, Lower Cholesterol, & Intestinal Protection

Wish you were more regular? Let barley give your intestinal health a boost. In addition to providing bulk and decreasing the transit time of fecal matter, thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids, barley’s dietary fiber also provides food for the “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine. When these helpful bacteria ferment barley’s insoluble fiber, they produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid, which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.

The propionic acid produced from barley’s insoluble fiber may also be partly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering properties of fiber. In animal studies, propionic acid has been shown to inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering the activity of this enzyme, propionic acid helps lower blood cholesterol levels. 

*From http://www.whfoods.com

 

Zucchini and Arugula Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Tangy Feta Cheese

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I had some zucchini in the fridge that I wanted for dinner but I didn’t feel like cooking it. So I decided to use my handy Mandolin (see pic) and make raw zucchini spaghetti in a creamy honey Dijon dressing with Arugula, fresh herbs, tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. This is a great way to prepare raw vegetables as it gives them a different texture.

If you don’t have a mandolin you can either julienne the zucchini (cut into match sticks) or slice the zucchini very finely by hand.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • handful of arugula
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • small handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup of organic feta cheese
  • juice of half a lemon and 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of good quality olive oil
  • s&p

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Instructions:

Wash the zucchini and either cut in half and slice finely or use the mandolin to make spaghetti like strips. Either way, you want it be as thin as possible to soak up the dressing.

In a bowl, make the dressing: mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and s&p. Toss the zucchini in the dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Set aside.

Wash the arugula and tomatoes and prepare on a large plate. Crumble the feta cheese over top. Place zucchini and dressing on top of the salad and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and grated lemon zest.

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Fresh, different and tasty! 🙂

Zucchini & Red Pepper Tacos with Creamy Tortilla Soup: low in fat and ready in 25 min



Taco & Tortilla Soup

I LOVE Mexican food. It has to be one of my favorite cuisines. It’s so fresh and expressive in its flavor. It just reminds me of summer and gives you that carefree “I’m on vacation” feeling, no matter what time of year it is.

Living in LA was a definite plus when it came to fresh and healthy food options. Mexican cuisine is obviously a major culinary heavyweight, due to the vast Mexican population and proximity to Mexico. The food is so simple thanks to the freshness of ingredients and simple cooking techniques, you don’t need to go to a 5 star restaurant to enjoy it (small, dive-joint looking places are the best anyway!) and you don’t  need to take cooking lessons to make it at home.

This is my recipe for super easy tacos and delicious creamy tortilla soup. I’ve adapted this recipe from my favorite Mexican hole in the wall in LA called Loteria. Their tacos and tortilla soup are truly incredible.

The ingredients are fairly basic, make sure to get corn tortilla’s instead of wheat (for that authentic flavor). Oh, and no Mexican meal is complete without a refreshing Mexican Beer! 😉

For 2 people

Tortilla soup ingredients

Soup Ingredients:

1 smoked, dried chipotle pepper, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 min and then chopped (if you can’t find these you can substitute with 1 tbsp of smoked chipotle powder)

1/2 cup each of diced celery, carrots and onion

1 can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

1 tsp each of Oregano, Cumin and Epazote  (Epazote has a slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of oregano. It’s used both for flavor and for its ability to reduce the flatulence associated with bean and vegetable dishes. How COOL!)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of low-fat organic yogurt, low-fat organic sour cream or soygurt

1 squeeze of agave or pinch of sugar

1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds

1 corn tortilla, cut up into slices (see photo)

a wedge of lime

Handful of fresh coriander (optional)

s&p

tortilla soup instructions

Instructions:

In a pan over medium heat add a tbsp of olive oil and the diced carrots, onions and celery. Cook for about 3 min until the onions are translucent.

Add in the garlic and spices, cook for 2 min.

Add  can of tomatoes, agave or sugar and s&p.

Chop the chipotle and add it in along with its soaking water. Cook on med-low for about 10 min.

Blend with a hand blender.

Stir in the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over high heat until they start to pop.

In a small pan heat 1 tbsp of oil and once hot, add in the tortilla strips. Fry for about 1 min until golden brown and crispy, remove to paper towel and soak up access oil right away.

Taco ingredients

 Taco Ingredients:

6 corn tortillas

1 tsp of oregano, chipotle powder and cumin powder

1 tsp of coriander or handful of fresh coriander (finely chopped)

½ a lime

2 ripe tomatoes

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick match sticks

1 bell pepper (any color will do), cut lengthwise into thick match sticks

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ a small onion, diced

½ head of small cabbage, shredded

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ cup of low-fat organic yogurt, sour cream or soygurt

s&p

(hot sauce optional)

taco instructions

Instructions:

In a medium size sauté pan over medium heat, place a tortilla. Heat for about 30 seconds on each side. Set aside on a plate, covered until ready to serve to keep warm and soft.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add in the zucchini and pepper. Cook for 2 min with lid on.

Add the spices (except coriander) and garlic. Continue to cook for about 6 min on med-low heat, covered.

If you have a mandolin (see photo) use this to shred the cabbage finely. Otherwise it can be done by hand. Place in bowl and add the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and s&p. Toss and set aside.

If you have a food processor, great! Use that to make the salsa. If not you can certainly chop everything finely by hand. Add the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and s&p to the food processor and blend until it has salsa consistency.

Add the coriander to the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.

 READY TO SERVE!!!!

Place the creamy tortilla soup in a bowl and top with a dollop of cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), place crispy tortilla strips on top and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Squeeze the lime wedge over soup and sprinkle with fresh coriander (optional) before eating.

Arrange a warmed corn tortilla on a plate, smooth on some coriander infused cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), then a helping of zucchini and peppers, a scoop of shredded cabbage slaw and finally the salsa. Some hot sauce if you want to give it some extra heat.

No, there wont be any leftovers….. 🙂

Midweek “what’s in the fridge” Curry


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It’s midweek, the fridge is half stocked, you’re tired and not feeling creative. What to make, what to make? Curry! It’s an easy one pot meal, can be ready in under 30 min, is so versatile you can use any vegetables left in the fridge and is exciting, healthy, low in fat and delicious.

This is what I made for dinner tonight after rummaging through my fridge. Enough for 4 people or 2 with leftovers.

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Curry:
1/2 head of cauliflower chopped
1 carrot diced
1 potato skin on, diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 can of drained chick peas
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup low-fat organic yogurt (or soygurt)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
S&P

Rice:
1 cup brown basmati rice (soaked in water for 15 min, rinsed twice)
4 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
Pinch of salt

Raita:
1/2 cup of low-fat organic yogurt
1/2 cucumber diced
1 tbsp cumin powder
Pinch of salt

Over medium heat in a pot, add the oil and chopped vegetables. Sauté for 3 min. Make a well in the veggies and add in the minced garlic and spices. Cook for about 2 min, until garlic is fragrant.
Add in the rinsed chick peas and canned tomatoes. Stir to incorporate all.
Turn heat down to medium low, add one cup of water and cook for 20 min.

Meanwhile make the rice. Bring to a boil, 1 3/4 cups of water. Add in the bay leaf, cardamom pods, dash of turmeric and pinch of salt. Add in the rice and turn heat to low. Cook, uncovered for 25 min.

For the Raita: incorporate all ingredients together

Check on curry so it doesn’t stick to bottom of pot, heat might be too high if that happens. Stir occasionally.

Once rice is finished cooking, remove cardamom pods and bay leaf and cover for 5-10 min until ready to serve. Fluff with a fork.

After curry has done cooking (potatoes are cooked through). Turn off heat and stir in the yogurt. It’s ready to serve over the rice.
Finish with dollop of raita and warmed pita bread or whole wheat wraps.

Creative toppings:
Raisins, shredded coconut, toasted almonds or diced apple

Filling, healthy, delicious, cheap!, quick. And (hopefully) enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch 🙂