Juicy Wednesdays: Fat-Burning Juice

So this morning I had a kitchen-sink cooking moment when I gathered everything I could find to make a nice juice, and accidentally made a juice that is perfect for anyone trying to shed a few. Please note, this juice has many other benefits aside from being a weight loss aid, it’s excellent for general detoxing, plus it’s refreshing with a nice amount of zing.

fat burning juice

Fat-Burning Juice

serves 2

1 cucumber

1 grapefruit

1 apple

1 lemon

1 thumb of ginger

Peel the cucumber, lemon, and grapefruit. Juice everything. Enjoy!

 

Benefits:

Grapefruit contains an antioxidant called naringenin that can help your liver breakdown fat. Grapefruit also has high levels of Vitamins A & C which are great for your immune system, and can beautify your skin. Lycopene, a phytochemical found in grapefruits, has powerful antioxidant properties which helps fight free-radicals in the body.

Cucumbers are full of skin-friendly minerals (magnesium, potassium, silicon). They also flush out toxins and have a soothing effect on the body.

Apples are a good source of pectin which aids in digestion. Apples are also very high in Vitamins A & C, and many other minerals. Furthermore, Apple juice is an excellent source of fiber and sufficient fiber is one of the keys to weight loss.

Ginger aids digestion and has many anti-inflammatory properties, but it works as a weight loss tool by having thermogenic effect on the body that helps activate your metabolism. Hence… the burn!

Lemon is just an all-arounder. It naturally alkalizes the body, aids in digestion, fights fluid retention, and is another Vitamin C superstar. I rarely exclude lemons from my juices.

 

xo,

Natalia

Advertisements

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

cinco de mayo

¡Hola!

It’s no secret I’m a Mexican food FANATIC, there’s just something about the fresh ingredients and the combination of cilantro, cumin, chile, and lime that really gets me excited about sitting down for a meal (well, more than usual, that is). So naturally, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday I fully acknowledge.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day (that is the 16th of September), but rather when the Mexican army beat the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (thanks Wikipedia!). We learn something new every day 🙂

Here’s a round-up of some delicious Mexican recipes from around the web:

1. Fish Tacos and Buckwheat Tortillas by yours truly! (note: there’s also a recipe for a delicious beetroot slaw and mango salad in there).

2. Restaurant-Style Salsa by the Pioneer Woman, serve with tortilla chips and guacamole for a yummy vegan starter.

3. Roasted Garlic Guacamole by Rick Bayless, this is a fun take on Guac, but a more traditional recipe can be found here by none other than Eva Longoria.

4. Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce by OhSheGlows.

5. Chicken Mole – complicated, but the traditional Cinco de Mayo dish.

6. Carne Asada for the carnivores, by Mexico in my Kitchen.

7. Vegan Mexican Street Corn by a House in the Hills

8. Tres Leches Cake, because… it’s a holiday. Thanks, Alton Brown.

9. Simple Margarita: 1 part tequila, 1 part Grand Marnier, freshly squeezed lime juice, agave to taste, all in a shaker and then poured over ice in a salt rimmed glass.

 

Mexican food is pretty forgiving so have fun today and play in the kitchen. ¡Hasta luego!

 

xo,

Natalia

DIY Juice Cleanse

In a few weeks I will be headed to the States for TWO MONTHS. This will be the longest amount of time I have spent on American soil in nearly six years. Cray. The trip will be jam-packed with celebrations as I am headed over for two of my closest friends’ weddings. So that means twice the bachelorette and wedding fun, and just to put two cherries on top of that cake: I get to be home for my birthday and the 4th of July. I can barely stand the excitement.

The first bachelorette is in New Orleans, home of jazz, hurricanes, beignets, and legal public drinking. So while I’m having crazy pre-party jitters that could use a sedative (wine)… I am also trying to stay extra healthy until I go.

A while back my friend Amy and I did a juice cleanse. This was before they were readily available in South Africa (can we just talk about the sudden juice boom in Johannesburg??? love it), so I did some research and basically designed my own juice cleanse from a combination of popular ones in the States and UK. This takes a lot of work, because you’ll be juicing a TON of produce, but it can be interesting and if you live in the States or UK, it will save you quite a bit of money. Juice cleanses are fairly inexpensive in South Africa compared to overseas, so for as long as I live here I will pay for the convenience of having someone else juice huge quantities of produce for me. However, if you have a juicer and want to save some money, here is my juice cleanse:

***note: this is an intense green juice cleanse, if you want something a little less hectic, replace the 5th juice with another root juice***

DIY juice cleanse

in-a-day:

breakfast– sweet greens 1

mid-morning– root juice

lunch– very green (no fruit)

mid-afternoon-sweet greens 2

dinner– very green (no fruit)

dessert– almond milk

 

Shopping list per day (remember to always buy organic where possible!):

5 apples

32 celery stalks

3-4 cucumbers (depending on size)

22 spinach leaves

12 kale leaves

2 heads of Romaine/Cos lettuce

3 lemons

1 beet

5 carrots

parsely, mint, ginger

24 almonds

 

The juices:

Sweet Greens 1: juice 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 cucumber, 6 spinach leaves, 3 kale leaves, sprig of mint

Root Juice: juice 5 carrots, 1 apple, 1/2 cucumber, 1 beet, 1/2 lemon

Very Green (x2): 10 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, 1 lemon, 1 head of romaine/cos, 5 spinach leaves, 3 kale leaves, bit of parsley and mint, 1 inch of ginger

Sweet Greens 2: 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 cucumber, 6 spinach leaves 2 kale leaves, 1/2 lemon, 1 inch of ginger

Almond Milk: In a high speed blender, blend 1 tsp of raw honey, 400 ml of water, 24 almonds (soaked over night), dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, pure vanilla extract, and sea salt. Squeeze through a nut milk bag. (For more detailed directions on making almond milk, see here)

Some tips:

  • You can repeat this for as many days as you’d like, but it isn’t really necessary to do more than 5 days, 3 days is my preference.
  • The second day is usually the hardest, if you’re a caffeine/sugar junkie, prepare for headaches… but they pass. I promise.
  • If you’re STARVING have a piece of fruit, or some carrot/celery sticks, half an avocado would also be fine, but try to avoid eating. The juices are giving you nutrients so you won’t feel as hungry as you might think.
  • Don’t have anything else, the idea is to cleanse, flush out toxins, and give your digestive system a break.
  • Herbal teas are fine accompaniments, but make sure they’re caffeine free and don’t add any sweeteners or milk. A squeeze of lemon is fine though.
  • Drink water.

Let me know if you give a shot! Happy juicing 🙂

 

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delight: Fish Tacos and Buckwheat Tortillas

On Wednesday we joined some friends from Joburg that were visiting the Lowveld, for lunch at Picasso’s. Being American and growing up with authentic Mexican restaurants all around me, I’m pretty picky about the Mexican fare in South Africa. For years, the Mexican restaurants I encountered tasted more like TexMex, or were spiced with things like curry (what???). Then along came El Burro in Cape Town, Perron in Johannesburg, and now Picassos’ in White River. These are all tasty restaurants, and the margaritas are top notch at all three. So, a totally random thing to find here in White River, but also totally delicious.

Anyway, this meal reminded me of the Valentine’s day meal I made for Matt. I really really love fish tacos (fortunately, so does he…) and this meal was fresh, healthy, and definitely worth making again. The menu included:

  • Broiled fish with a homemade rub
  • Raw beetroot slaw
  • Mango Salad
  • All served with Buckwheat tortillas (I used this recipe), Guacamole, and greens

fish tacos

(yes, I made the tortillas heart-shaped. don’t judge)

Fish and Fish Rub

4 fillets (around 100g each) of white fish (I used Hake)

1 tsp of chile powder

1-2 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of cumin

1 clove of garlic or 1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

salt & pepper

Mix everything together, it should be enough for the 4 small fillets. Grease a pan and bake the fish until cooked through. Remove from Oven and flake.

Raw Beetroot Slaw

2 large or 3 small beetroots

1-2 carrots

lime juice

3 TBS of Salsa Verde (I use Mrs. Renfro’s)

1 dollop of plain yogurt (Greek or Coconut, just make sure it’s nice and thick)

salt & pepper

Grate the beetroots and carrot. Mix lime juice, yogurt, and salsa verde in a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture of the grated vegetables and toss until evenly coated.

Mango Salad (this recipe was borrowed from a friend)

1 large mango, cubed

1/2 a red onion, chopped

handful of cilantro/coriander, chopped

Juice of one lime

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Let me know if you give it a shot!

xo,

Natalia

Friendly Foodie Gatherings

It’s no secret I love holidays,  and now that I’m marrying into a Greek family, I’ve discovered this little thing called Greek Easter. It is seriously a feast! Yes, I know that’s not the reason for the season, but it is certainly a highlight for me (hashtag glutton). Anyway, since my family is stateside and Greek Easter is only this coming weekend, this past Easter weekend was festive but we’re saving our selves (and room in our bellies) for the big event.

view

(gorgeous view and beautiful Easter weather)

When it comes to gatherings with friends and family, it’s always nice to offer to bring something. To me it’s a win-win, because it lessens the burden on the host while also giving you the opportunity to provide a healthy something to share. My favorites:

  • Fruit salads / platters
  • Crudites with hummus
  • Butternut Squash Croquettes (these are real crowd-pleasers)
  • A homemade meze platter with roasted vegetables, olives, nuts, etc.
  • Free-range biltong (for informal or sporty gatherings)
  • Hearty salads – this Emerald Salad is a family favorite
  • Libations! Make a healthy sangria with no added sugars, or bring a bottle of bubbly and orange juice for mimosas

On another note, Easter is always pretty special to me, as it marks the weekend I met Matt. This weekend was mine and Matt’s 4th Easter together! Crazy how time flies 🙂

Enjoy your Tuesday!

 

xo,

Natalia

St. Patty’s Day FOMO

Happy St. Patty’s Day!!!

2337785735_a2ca1630e4_o_large

I love holidays. One of the things I miss the most about living Stateside is that we go ALL OUT for holidays, and Chicago especially goes all out for St. Patrick’s day. Between the parades (yes plural, the South Side has their own), dyeing the Chicago River green (45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye are dumped into the river every year), the city practically turns into one huge day party. Since the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, the big celebrations happened over the weekend, but since today is the official day, here’s what I’m doing to “celebrate”:

 

1. This recipe, except I’ll be nixing the cheese, subbing one cup of water for coconut milk, and sprinkling a little parmesan on top. <-spinach turns the dish green, therefore making it festive.

2. Wearing green. Duh.

3. If I didn’t have to work, I’d totally be drinking this right now, but no worries, a big glass of wine awaits me.

4. On repeat.

 

Hope everyone had a fun weekend, and don’t forget to wear green today!

 

xo,

Natalia

Quick and Healthy – Aji de Gallina

My mom’s side of the family is from Lima, Peru, and while I was born in Lima, we’ve been stateside since I was nearly 2. Even though my dad is American, we grew up speaking a lot of Spanish at home (fortunately he learned), and when my mom cooked, you could be sure it was going to be a delicious Peruvian meal.

Peruvian food is amazing and my mom’s cooking definitely does it justice (the woman is talented!). Between her ceviche, empanadas, causa, PISCO SOURS… I could go on and on. But my favorite, will always be: aji de gallina. Aji is a spicy yellow pepper found in South America, and it’s pretty much in all Peruvian dishes. The flavor is unique and the color just brings a special brightness to its dishes. Aji de Gallina is a delicious creamy spicy chicken dish, and the rich sauce normally requires a range of ingredients like breadcrumbs/white bread, evaporated milk, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and more. Last night I decided to make a MUCH less complicated version that was also gluten and dairy free. It was far from traditional, but still tasty and gave me my Peruvian fix.

aji de gallina

(I know… I know… I really need to stop with iphone pics and start using the camera. Working on it!)

My Aji de Gallina

serves 3-4

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • aji amarillo paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper

1. Place the chicken breasts in a pan and cover with water. Add half of the stock cube and bring to a simmer. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. Then remove the chicken from the water and set aside to cool. Once cooled, shred the chicken into bite size pieces. This can be done ahead of time, or with leftover chicken.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic, add to the pan and saute on medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the coconut milk and aji amarillo paste – this is the tricky part because aji amarillo paste varies in potency. Use your discretion here based on how spicy your paste is. Mine was fairly mild, so I added 3 tablespoons, but I’ve had aji pastes where 1 teaspoon would have been enough.

3. Add the other half of the stock cube to the sauce and stir until well combined. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can marry. Taste and season with salt and pepper, you may even want to add more aji at this point.

4. Serve with potatoes or rice and garnish with black olives. Enjoy!

Quick and easy peasy. While my mom’s is way more traditional and complex, this was the perfect healthy weeknight dish that hit the spot and had me thinking about my family 🙂

xo,

Natalia