Recipes worth Sharing: Wiki Taziki

Juicing can cost a pretty penny. In attempt to make that penny stretch, I decided to take the remains of the cucumber juice (see previous post) and drive its potential toward a beautiful non-runny Taziki sauce.

Taziki is one of my very favorite things to have with most foods because it is so healthy and so delicious. It also instantly transports me back to 2005 when I was hopping from Greek island to Greek island, having this spread with chips, fries, chicken, beef, etc… I think I’m overdue for a return visit! Here’s how you do it:

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Recipe:
1/8 of an onion, chopped finely (you can add more or less)
1 ½ cup of Greek yogurt
1 cup of cucumber remains
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
Salt-to-taste

1. Combine onion, yogurt, cucumber and sesame seeds in a tupper-ware type container for easy storage.
2. Add salt to taste.
3. Break a plate, and enjoy!

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Currently Trending: Blogging in Style

Been shopping for a bag to carry my iPad, and I scored this beautiful Rebecca Minkoff cross body at Belle&Clive. It’s well padded with a protective cushion but still very light weight. Super ❤ that it’s studded with style, and now I can blog on the go!

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My friend Alice just took a plunge on the new iPad yesterday, and I’m excited for her because this tablet has changed my life for the better! To start dressing the iPad, I highly recommend J.Crew’s iPad cases. They are designed for iPad 1 & 2, but still fit the new iPad just fine. I sense they might be discontinued soon…they are currently deeply discounted.

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Pressing Juice: A Cucumber Number

Cucumber is an excellent ingredient for a green juice because it is a great way to take potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K in liquid form. It also has high water content, which makes it one of the more satisfying veggies to juice. Compared to other items of similar hue, such as spinach or cilantro, the cucumber is just as green but adds a lot more bulk.

These melon-like-veggies come in many varieties, and can be categorized by their intended use–slicing or pickling. Today I propose that juicing should be a new category. The two cucumbers that should be included are the English and Persian varietals because they are both seedless and more sweet than the run-of-the-mill slicing kind.

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English cucumbers are usually sold unwaxed, but whether a fruit or veggie is waxed or unwaxed shouldn’t negatively influence your decision on its juicing potential. A little wax now and again is harmless. Budget permitting, it is more important to maintain loyalty to organically grown items. The smaller Persian cucumber is one of my favorite cucumbers to eat. It is sweet and has a really nice snap, and who doesn’t like their juice snappy?

At the end of the process, I had a gorgeous glass of green. But I’m sad to report that cucumber juice isn’t great solo. I added a pear to sweeten this drink, making it much more palatable…and if snappy were a taste…this cucumber number with the pear is it: a little sweet, a little bitter, and a lot refreshing.

Voilà, Cucumber Number à la carte:

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Voilà, Cucumber Number avec un poire:

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I siphoned a bit of the pure cucumber juice to incorporate into a salad dressing later, but stay tuned to see what I can do with the remains of the cucumber fiber!

Listful Tuesday: 5 senses and the Gluten Free Life

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20120522-110323.jpgBeing Gluten Free…
Feels: much better. I feel much better without gluten. Although I can’t say that omitting gluten on day one changed me drastically, I noticed that the opposite was true. Sneaking in a “cheat” very noticeably transforms me back into…what my sister used to call…“the fart-master 2000” and a grumpy frump.

20120522-110340.jpgGluten Free Foods….
Taste: the same as gluten-rich foods as long as you stick to a fresh food regimen. But I’ll admit that not everything tastes better. Store-bought gluten free breads can be downright awful. I refuse to buy another loaf of that stuff. It tastes like -gross- with the consistency of Styrofoam. On top of that, an average loaf does not expire for about 9 months! NINE MONTHS…um…that’s enough time to grow a baby? I know gluten may not be in that loaf…but whatever magic is preserving that bread has made some sort of pact with the devil. So, no thank you.

20120522-110346.jpgGluten Free Meals…
Smell: wonderful because I’m cooking at home more often. Test-baking gluten free recipes is not only fun, but can smell oh so good. I’ve found that the key to successful gluten free baking is: if a recipe calls for oil, use butter instead (GF foods does not equal less calories, eating less and eating smart equals less calories)…another admission: some gluten-free substitutes can have a distinct smell that really makes me cringe…but that’s the nature of the game: sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. The best description I can come up with: bad smelling gluten-free products have a similar odor to less-pungent playdoh.

20120522-110351.jpgA Gluten Free Body…
Looks: like better skin. Zit-like bumps called dermatitis herpetiformis and generalized rashes like psoriasis have been linked to gluten intolerance. Staving off the offender can improve skin quality enormously. Many wonder how being gluten free can affect their weight or figure…well the answer is: it depends…if for medical reasons related to gluten intolerance, going gluten free could make you look slimmer if your problem was bloating. On the other hand, super skinny individuals can finally begin gaining some healthy weight! When the intestines finally heal, the body no longer needs to starve because of malabsorption.

20120522-110358.jpgA Gluten Free Vow…
Sounds: like a fad. There are several reasons why it seems like the gluten free life style is gaining so much attention. It could be that a few Hollyweird celebrities and Hollywood starlettes are working the media. It could be that more doctors are doing a better job of recognizing symptoms and making quicker diagnosis more frequently. It could be that our foods contain more gluten than our bodies could tolerate—not a far-fetched idea considering that genetically modified foods are so commonplace. It could be that something triggered an autoimmune reaction in our bodies unknowingly—such as a virus that we brushed off as the common cold a while ago. For whatever reason you decided to take the vow, I am wishing you all the best!

Safety First: How to Handle the Over-Ripe Avocado

Avocados have secured a title among the firmament of great super foods because of its high content in folate, potassium, vitamins E, C and K. It serves as a good antioxidant because it is an excellent source of glutathione, a molecule primarily used by the liver to sop up free radicals. In addition, the buttery fruit is high in monounsaturated fat which helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol—it is too good, and so true.

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Avocados can be had savory or sweet, but is most commonly found in the ever-popular guacamole dip. In preparing the fruit for any purpose, most people slice the fruit in half and approach it with a spoon. I’ve found that the best way to extract the meat is to quarter the avocado and peel the skin away from it like a banana. I do this because an avocado can have bruises or be affected by plant pathogens just under the skin. If you scoop the meat out, it’s harder to assess the quality of the fruit.

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It’s unsightly….but is it still safe to eat?

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According to Christine Bruhn, an avocado expert from UC Davis, cosmetically flawed parts– browning flesh or unsightly patches under the skin–does not mean that the entire avocado needs to be sacrificed. Salvaging the unaffected portions of the avocado is perfectly acceptable practice. Plant pathogens that affect avocados, such as Botryosphaeria and Fusicoccum fungi are generally not known to cause disease in humans. However, if the fruit becomes so overly ripe that the taste morphs toward unfamiliar territory, or is obviously moldy and rotten, you’re better off tossing it. Christine also debunked the widely held belief that if you leave the seed in your guacamole it would keep the dip from browning. She explains that the browning is due to oxidization. Once the fruit has been festively mashed up, the seed doesn’t keep the meat from coming in contact with the air. It’s best to eat all your guacamole in one sitting while it’s fresh, but if you must save it, sealing the dip with plastic wrap (with the plastic making direct contact) may be used for the short-term.

Avocados are a permanent item on my grocery list so that I could incorporate it in my diet daily, but keeping them fresh can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, I only buy the fruit when it is still firm, and I allow them to ripen at home. When they appear ready to consume, storing them in the fridge extends the shelf life for up to a week. Steve Dreistadt, an agricultural expert from the University of California explained that avocados are often imported from various regions of the world; Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, and California just to name a few. Generally, these regions take turns in harvesting the fruit so that avocados are available year round. Lucky us!

GF Review: Study Snacks that Make the Grade

Not long ago, my best friend Karen was on a Lära Bar binge! So I decided to pick up a few flavors of the date-based bars to see what all the excitement was about, and to see if I could find a favorite for myself. Although I have yet to try them all, my current verdict: a toss up between the tart Apple Pie and the denser Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. In general, Lära Bars = a delicious study snack, and I will definitely be carrying these around in my white coat pocket when 3rd year rotations begin.

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I know they don’t seem aesthetically appetizing, but if you can manage to look past that, you’ve got yourself a winning bar!

Juice and Bake: Carrots!

Today I juiced a lot of carrots with Jack, and I must say: carrot juice is soooo refreshing and sweet! What makes it even sweeter is that the fiber can be recycled for baking. I was so happy with myself because I didn’t waste anything! I incorporated the carrot fiber into a gorgeous gluten free cake batter and made some top notch muffins. Here’s how I did it:

Recipe:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 ¼ cup of melted butter
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups freshly grated carrots
½ cup of vanilla-almond milk

1) Cream sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater or stand mixer. Add melted butter and beat until smooth.
2) In a separate bowl combine gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
This is a gluten free flour I picked up from Target:

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3) Stir in left over carrot fiber from juicer, and your choice of chopped nuts.

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4) Add vanilla almond milk and mix well.

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5) Spoon the batter into a lined muffin tin, filling 2/3 of the well. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes at 350ºF. Double check with toothpick test.
6) Cool.

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7) Enjoy!

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Newest obsession: Juicing!

Meet the newest addition to my kitchen armamentarium: Jack!

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Cleansing and juicing has been on the upswing lately, and the trend is based on various theories. Some say that it gives your digestive tract a break while still supplying your body with important nutrients. Some tout it to be a super effective weight-loss method. Some just find fresh juice to be simply delicious…whatever your motive, a juicer might deserve a spot on your kitchen counter.

I decided that investing in this middle-of-the-line power juicer is just right for me: affordable, efficient, and trusted. Ever since Jack’s arrival, I have been having so much fun! I have big plans for Jack, and I can’t wait to share our adventures!

The following are a few of my early concoctions. Jack is pretty much amaZING because it will juice anything!!! It might even be able to juice a blendtec….(YouTube “blendtec” if you wanna get the reference…)

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We named this one “The Incredible Hulk” loaded with: spinach, cucumber, celery, carrots, and pear.

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Ingredients: 1 pear, 2 oranges….we named this one: “A Pear of Oranges”

Medical Prescription: A Diet sans Gluten!

Turning down a decadent cupcake may seem super trendy, but many people are shunning anything made of wheat, barley, rye and oats out of medical must. Trust me, being “that girl” who can’t go with the flow and order from a regular menu is not easy—but assuming the role of a “glutard” pays off especially if you are truly gluten intolerant, gluten sensitive or have a diagnosis such as Celiac disease.

The medical symptoms can be diverse, and are due to problems in the intestines. Gluten can wreak cellular havoc by causing inflammation, and when this happens, the small intestines can’t absorb the nutrients that your body needs so dearly. Although these problems are often noticed in childhood, signs and symptoms can also develop later in life.

Mild symptoms may include: always being tired and irritable, joint pain, oral ulcers or general changes in your tongue and skin. Gut specific symptoms include: cramping, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive farting. Because malabsorption may become an issue, weight loss, anemia and signs of vitamin deficiency may be later clues that your body just can’t jibe with gluten.

More serious symptoms such as ataxia, seizure, depression, anxiety, migraines, peripheral neuropathy, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, kidney disease and heart problems may also be present. Ultimately, ignoring the signs and symptoms of an inflamed and angry belly can lead to even more serious problems such as cancer—more specifically—T-cell lymphoma of the small intestines.

There’s always room on the bandwagon if you want to test-drive a gluten free lifestyle. But it also comes with many sacrifices—so before banishing half your pantry, a medical evaluation may be in
order.