Monday, January 28, 2013

Coconut Key Lime Pie


Coconut Key Lime Pie:


Normally my first attempts at making a dish don’t always come out perfect. This one however did! This Key Lime Pie is practically a complete meal in itself, high in protein, low in carbs, gluten free, and sugar free. It’s creamy, sweet and refreshing, great for an afternoon snack or as a dessert. This came out absolutely delicious and would make this again and again! Again I apologize for the minimal pictures. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Filling:
1 cup low fat coconut milk
3 whole eggs
½ cup of Greek yogurt
1 scoop Level 1 Vanilla Ice cream protein powder
¼ cup of fat free ricotta cheese
1 cup of lime juice
1 lemon peel grated
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tbsp. chia seeds
1 cup stevia
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum or cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract

 Crust:
Ingredients:
1 cup almond or coconut flour
3 tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Combine ingredients together and press firmly into the bottom of a round baking glass. Bake at 350 for about 15 min. Pour custard on top.

In a saucepan on medium heat combine coconut milk, Greek yogurt, stevia, maple syrup, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract and whisk together stirring frequently. When the mixture becomes warm add in the xanthan gum and chia seeds, whisk together. Stir occasionally on a low flame until a pudding like mixture is formed. Add in the lemon peel, lime juice, protein powder and egg yolks and continue to stir until desired consistency (pudding) is reached. Remove from flame and allow the mixture to cool. (if thickness is not achieved add just a little bit more xanthan gum.)
Pour mixture into pie crust (see below) and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before placing in fridge overnight. Garnish with lemon and coconut flakes. 





Coconut Curry Brown Rice & Peanut Sauce


“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”
― Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld

Coconut Curry Brown Rice & Peanut Sauce



Food that is healthy and good for you doesn’t have to be boring. During competition prep we eliminate a lot of additions in our food such as sauces and dressings and eat the food very dry and plain. When I am not in prep I like to add those things back in to make my food enjoyable and extra tasty. Even though I am not prepping for a show, I still keep my cooking healthy and low in carbs and fat but still full of flavor! There are so many ways you can make your food look and taste delicious while keeping it clean and low in calories. I go through fazes on what style of food and flavors I like to eat. Recently it’s been a lot of Asian cuisine.  Sushi, Thai, and Vietnamese top my list, and one thing I am always drawn to is the ginger peanut sauces… I put it on everything! My salad, dip my sushi in it, put it over my chicken, you name it. Because I like it so much, I decided to come up with a low fat, low carb version that is guilt free and that I can enjoy as much as I like. In a typical Thai Peanut sauce the recipe will have ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, full fat peanut butter, ingredients that add up to approximately 168 calories 11 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar in a small serving. Without sacrificing flavor my recipe will have only 30 calories and 2 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar per serving. Try it, you just might like it. J
In this dish I baked the chicken in the peanut sauce and served it with a side of red coconut curry brown rice. (Will post recipe for that as well) I apologize for not having more pictures, I was not feeling good this weekend and did my meal prep rather quickly.

Peanut Sauce:
Ingredients:
¼ c. PB2 plain flavor
1 tsp. fresh ground peanut butter
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of water
2 tbsp. of ponzu sauce or low sodium soy sauce.
1 tsp. hoisin sauce
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp fresh basil leaves
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Directions: In a blender combine all the ingredients except the xanthan gum and blend until mixed thoroughly add in the xanthan gum and blend on low for about a min. Allow to settle and your sauce is done. Pour over chicken and bake at 375 for 30 min.

Coconut Curry Brown rice:
Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1 cup of low fat coconut milk
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1/8 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
 1 tbsp. of red curry paste
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp low sodium salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
2 basil leaves*
2 thyme leaves*
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 green onions finely chopped


Directions:
In a pot melt coconut oil on low flame, add in coconut flakes, onions and garlic and brown. Add in the spices except for the basil and thyme. Once ingredients are mixed pour in the water and coconut milk. Cook until boiling then reduce heat to low. Simmer on low flame until rice in cooked. Add in the fresh basil and thyme at the end. This can also be made in a rice cooker. Comes out perfect!! Enjoy! 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pecan Brownie Cupcakes




Pecan Brownie Cupcakes

As a child my parents were very good about making sure that dessert was something saved only for birthdays and very special occasions. Our cakes and desserts, when we had them, were homemade with whole wheat flour, brown sugar and were made as natural and healthy as possible. Regardless of how they were made, for us they were still a huge treat! We never had candy, sweets or any processed sugary sweets, ever; looking back now I owe a big thank you to my Mum & Dad for that. We never had them, so we didn't miss them. Now, as an adult and being exposed to all sorts of good and not so good treats I am responsible to myself to maintain a healthy diet and keep those rules that my parents had for us as children and apply it to my adult life. But, lucky for me, I have found a way to bend that rule a little bit by making my desserts even healthier and more nutritious than how I had them as a child! Now I no longer have to wait till a special occasion to indulge on a dessert, with my healthy recipes I can have a cupcake a day and not worry about it spiking my insulin, giving me cavities, or gaining unhealthy weight. Horray! These brownies, high in protein, healthy fats and fiber and low in carbs are a nutritious and delicious way to go. 
I must have been about 11 or 12 years old the first time I had brownies out of a box. I’m not going to lie,  after that I was addicted to them! Chewy, moist, chocolaty and rich… that was how I liked them. I think it's safe to say that chocolate chip brownies are in my top two of favorite desserts. I’m sure many of you share this sentiment. So, healthy cooking project time… remake those brownies in the healthiest way possible so that I can have one every day and not feel guilty. Below, is my mission accomplished! 
Nom nom… J

Ingredients:
6 egg whites, 1 whole eggs
½ cup coconut oil (melted)
½ cup almond or coconut flour
¼ cup Vital wheat Gluten (optional if you want more fluffy cupcakes)
1/3 cup sugar free maple syrup
1/4 cup powdered stevia
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup of fat free Greek Yogurt
2 scoops of Level 1 Milk Chocolate protein powder
2 tbsp vanilla extract


Topping:
½ cup of cinnamon honey toasted pecans crumbled

Directions:
Combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, egg whites, vanilla extract, and Greek yogurt in a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer or whisk. In a separate bowl combine the coconut flour, cocoa powder, protein powder, stevia, and vital wheat gluten flour (optional) in a bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until thoroughly mixed.
Spray cupcake holders with Pam and fill cupcake holder’s ¾ of the way up. Sprinkle pecans on top and bake in oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Check for done-ness, depending on oven it may take longer. Brownie cupcakes are ready to be served. J

Directions for honey toasted pecans:
Take ¼ cup of honey & 2 tbsp of cinnamon and combine in a bowl and microwave until honey is thinner and more liquid. Toss in the pecans and mix until all the pecans are covered in honey. Place the pecans on a cookie sheet pan in oven for about 15 minutes on 375. Take out of oven and allow to completely cool. Crush with a mallet or blend in food processor.

Fun facts:
I came across Vital Wheat Gluten and wanted to try cooking with it. ¼ of a cup has 120 calories, no fat, and 23 grams of protein in it. Note that if you are gluten intolerant to not use this product at all.
Gluten, Vital Wheat is the natural protein found in wheat. It contains 75% protein. A small amount added to yeast bread recipes improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. This is often used by commercial bakeries to produce light textured breads, and can easily put the home bread baker on a par with the professionals. Vital Wheat Gluten can also be used to make a meat substitute known as seitan.








Variation: Had them for breakfast with eggwhites, maple syrup and cinamon. Kinda like a  healthy McMuffin :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kale & Veggie Chunky Yogurt Dip Sauce




Kale & Veggie Chunky Yogurt Dip Sauce

One of my not so good habits is snacking… I would rather have a little bit of everything instead of just one thing, and this habit can create a problem for my waistline.  When having a house party or friends coming over it’s easy to have conversation with little bites of food rather than a huge meal in your mouth, but in excess we all know snacking is not healthy. With the Super Bowl just around the corner, table-side snacks are a popular and easy thing to have, so it's important to find ways to keep the snacks on the table clean and  healthy without sparing taste that will make everyone happy. And with a healthy substitutions like this on the snack table no one will miss the ranch dip or fattening cheese sauce. Additionally, when I am not in my final phases of competition prep I look for ways to flavor up my chicken & fish in order to make it more enjoyable and less “diet like”. A lot of times I will use salsa or mustard, but even that can become routine. 
So I created a dip/ sauce that I that is a healthy substation to the heavy creamy dressings that is great as a dip, sauce, chicken wrap dressing, you name it! Seriously, I enjoy this just by itself it’s that good! Store it in the fridge and use it as you see fit! J

Ingredients:
3 cups of fat free Greek yogurt
1 bushel of kale (about 3 cups finely chopped)
¼ cup shredded fresh green apple
½ a medium cucumber shredded
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/8 cup shredded red onion
1 small radish shredded
¼ cup chopped green apple
A few sprigs of diced dill
a few leave of fresh mint
1/8 cup water chestnuts or cashews coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
1 fresh squeezed lemon
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 clove of garlic (finely diced)
1 tsp. of Black pepper and sea salt to taste
Celery salt
2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. Agave nectar or honey




Directions:
Once you have all the veggies sliced, shredded and diced, the hard work is done! Add the spices to the Greek yogurt and mix in all the veggies. Voila, your dip is done! All the veggies are optional and you can add or remove as you wish. If you want to make the dip a little creamier add more yogurt till it’s the consistency you like. An optional choice is to add Xanthan Gum to the yogurt to bind it together to avoid water separation. Just a few teaspoons and it does the job!

Fun Facts:
Kale is low in calorie high in fiber and has zero fat and is filled with powerful antioxidants. Additionally Kale has more calcium in it than milk. 

Greek yogurts contain twice as much protein as traditional yogurts because it takes more milk to make 1 pound of Greek yogurt versus the same amount of traditional yogurt. Yet Greek yogurt is lower in sodium, carbohydrates and sugars because these nutrients are removed along with the excess whey. Protein-rich foods are satisfying, which is helpful for weight management, and fat-free Greek yogurt is a beneficial choice for those monitoring their carbohydrate, sugar or sodium intake. Similar to traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt contains live active cultures that promote digestive health. Because it is not as runny as traditional fat-free yogurt, Greek yogurt makes a suitable healthy substitute for sour cream.

Read more: 









Coconut Crumble Bars


Coconut Crumble Bars  

I came across a problem, one which I’m sure everyone does. I’ll be stuck in traffic or have a longer drive in my car, and I’m hungry! A friend of mine had introduced me to Quest bars which I absolutely love! I keep a few in my car and when I encounter hunger pangs I will eat a little of one to keep me until my next meal. These bars can be quite addicting and completely satisfying! So I decided to embark on a cooking adventure to try and create my own Quest bar. This is my test project number one, and surprisingly, even though I didn't achieve the texture of the bar, the taste was pretty phenomenal and the texture of these reminds me a lot of Halvah. (Halvah is a Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern dessert spread made of sesame seed paste, pistachio egg whites and sugar.)
And so my creation of these Coconut bars ensued, and what resulted though not a replicated success was nevertheless delightful! These easy to make no-bake bars..  high in fiber, high in protein and healthy fats, low in carbs and with only a touch of honey added are a delicious snack and or treat that will fill you up even with just the smallest of pieces. Hope you enjoy. J

Ingredients:
1 cup dried unsweetened bananas
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup walnuts or almonds
2 tbsp. of chia seeds
4 scoops Level 1 Chocolate Coconut Protein Powder
1/3 cup psyllium husk powder
1/4 cup water
1 cup coconut oil (not melted)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup honey

Directions:
In a food processor combine bananas, coconut flakes, nuts and chia seeds. Pulse until ingredients are finely ground. Add is spices, vanilla extract, and psyllium husk powder, pulse again and slowly pour in honey and water until all ingredients are blended. Place in mixing bowl  4 scoops of protein powder, add in the contents of the blender and mix together. Finally add the coconut oil to the bowl and using your hands or a large mixing spoon blend the ingredients together until a crumbly mixture has formed.
Place in a baking pan lined with tinfoil or cookie sheet and press the dough firmly into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with almonds or other nuts. Refrigerate overnight. Next morning it is ready to serve and enjoy. I keep the bars wrapped in tinfoil in a zip lock bag in my car for those times I get in a crunch. Absolutely love them!!

Fun Facts:
Psyllium husk is obtained from the seed of the psyllium plant. It contains 71 g of fiber per 1/3 cup, as opposed to oats which contain about 5 g of fiber per 1/3 cup.
Coconut oil has so many benefits to it!! My favorite being that it helps to balance out your thyroid and can lower abdominal fat in women. Coconut fats have special fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy. One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems. To read more about the benefits of coconut oil check out the link below.


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