Spinach Pistachio-Almond Pesto!

Behaving. Yes, I’m behaving. It’s the first day of the month, and after attending a “Brain Optimization” seminar yesterday afternoon, where we were serenaded with the many benefits of healthy eating by David Arguez, C.N.C., CEO and Founder of 365 Wellness Solutions, as well as by Dr. Jay Torres, I found myself driving to Publix for a few ingredients.

It’s just never a good idea to go to a grocery store when you are hungry, but I wanted to stock up on the BAPPs for my breakfast (got it, right? That’s banana, avocado, pineapple and papaya smoothie). I made one from what I had in my fridge this am, so it was a papaya, pineapple, blueberries with almond milk smoothie, and I admit it was pretty good and it was also quite filling.

But I had to walk by the bakery to get to the cash registers….and there was a Publix employee with a tray of sliced bread…..need I say more?  I had to ask what it was and was told it was Sundried Tomato Bread, and it was on sale for just $1.59, so I had a slice…and me, oh my. Delish.  The next thing I knew, I was in the veggie section, getting basil, spinach, additional greens….and as soon as I came home, I ended up making a somewhat different version of the spinach pesto that I normally make.

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Thinking “uber green healthy,” I used a pound of spinach, 2 zested lemons and their juice, 2 large heaping tablespoons of minced garlic (ran out of fresh garlic, so this would have to do), about 8 oz. of fresh organic basil, a dash of sea salt, a couple of twists of freshly grated black peppercorn, extra virgin olive oil, just 1/2 a handful of freshly grated parmesan (not much), and a few pistachios and almonds, and I added about 2 tablespoons of MCT oil. That was the twist to the base recipe I came up with….and yes, I will tell you. Very light, delicious, and if I think about it, I have felt a spurt of energy after having my superbly healthy dinner of baked chicken over greens, 3 large spoonfulls of tabouleh, and a healthy portion of the lemony spinach pesto. Cleaned up my plate with the sundried tomato bread. Such a great meal…..can’t wait to have leftovers tomorrow!

 

Amazingly Decadently Delicious Black Bean Chocolate Brownie Recipe!

I see you drooling! Yes, and I did as well when I took out of the oven after only 18 minutes to absolutely revel in the amazing aroma of deep dark rich chocolate brownies….made from, yes, that’s right BLACK BEANS!

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I have my moments when I want something delicious and decadent…..but not highly caloric. Yes, you can have your brownie and eat it too, without having large amounts of sugar……I was amazed how delicious this came out, as I used Stevia instead.

As a neighbor and her diabetic husband are coming over for dinner, I opted to find something that I could create that wouldn’t create a spike in his blood sugar. I wanted to have a dessert…a memorable dessert that would be yummy, without leaving an impact….and just had to go looking for the recipe, as I know that I made this before, but never with Stevia.

Here’s the adjusted recipe:

1 can of drained black beans

2 tbsp. dark cocoa – use the best quality that you can find

1/2 cup ground oats – I just used the old-fashioned oats I had in the cupboard and ground them

6 packets of Stevia – the small single serve kind – this works out to be about 2 tbs. of Stevia

1/2 cup coconut oil – I buy mine at Trader Joe’s

2 tsp. vanilla – aka, “un chorrito” – get the best kind you can find and afford

1 tsp. baking powder – use the kind without aluminum

1 cup or as many chocolate chips as you like – preferably the darkest chocolate

Take all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, and process them in a food processor until well integrated.   I added in about 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips at the end and pulsed till they were well incorporated.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a small l 8 x 8 Pyrex dish and then spread out the mix , with the remaining chocolate chips on top.  Place the Pyrex in a 350 degree oven for a measly 18 minutes, and then wait, yes, WAIT until it is at room temperature.  You will enjoy the amazing aroma of the chocolate wafting through your home and the anticipation until you take that very first bite….

You can dress it up or leave as is….for those that are not diabetic, you can create your own Brownie go to town dessert, serving vanilla ice cream over an inch of brownie….or marinade some fruit and then pour the fruit over the brownie….even macerated strawberries and grapes on top of this brownie would go well to freshen it up a bit. You can create your own edible masterpiece, combining any fruit to this uberly delicious dessert.  Just remember to leave some for tomorrow……

 

“Wine and Write” Events in South Florida

Last Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my very first Wine & Write. I did not know what to expect, but was seriously surprised with the amazing outcome and participation of everyone in attendance. About 20 of us graced Yolande Clark Jackson’s meeting room amongst a very colorful ambiance in Coconut Grove this past Thursday night, a group of all ages. The invitation read from 7 to 9:30pm. All I can say is that I did not want to leave….it was that Great!

It was a social and writing event, with a wide variety of appetizers and bubblies to share, as well as the amazing Groveade Lemonade, a fresh and light delightful drink created by Courtney Omega, Coconut Grove’s Councilwoman. You too can share in this wonderful drink by making an online purchase through http://www.groveadelemonade.com

The evening began by our creation of a haiku. Having not approached this form of poetry in countless years, I found myself counting syllables, attempting to cohesively put a thought together in just a few lines. I surprised myself – yes, I actually wrote something that wasn’t all that bad, though I passed on the notion of sharing my personal creation when we were given the opportunity. Then we introduced ourselves.

I enjoyed meeting the wonderful ladies at my table. Varied conversations, from the spectrum of our tasty appetizers, to modern day art, acting, writing, music and festivals; you name it, we touched base on it! Courtney Omega sat to my left; we could have talked all night long about food, as I’m an avid foodie. Right across from me sat Lakeisha, a violinist, and to my right, up and coming actress and director Analia Tamariz. It just can’t be more creative than that….or can it?

Yolande approached us with 3 minute writing spurts, which definitely  encouraged me to write to my hearts desire, though all we had was paper and pen. If only I had taken my laptop, I would certainly have written much more. Having been given the prompt of “The Record,” we were to first write about what just came to mind. I did a mini version of the main character’s path in The Overcomer, the Kendrick Brother’s movie which just debuted in August. The main character, a young 15 year old, has asthma but feels compelled to run, and run a race against tough competition. In 3 minutes, I delved into the character, pumping my legs and arms to the beat as I climbed another hill before hitting the last stretch towards the Finish Line, thereby beating my own “record.” The second 3 minute writing really took my imagination to town, where a group of instruments came to life, as they composed a dozen songs for a record.

We were given a break, and then we had a writing time of 15 minutes. Here my mind went into overdrive, as Helen and Larry spoke about their relationship and their feelings over a large group of records that had fallen and broken into shards gracing their living room floor.

At the end, we were given strips of paper and each table received a directive to write a couple of sentences that began with different variations which included “the record.”
I was amazed and inspired. Those in attendance wrote thought provoking comments that when joined together, actually made sense!

The 2 1/2 hours – almost 3, went by way too quickly. I could have stayed all night long in such a wonderful creative event which joined the main things that make me happy: people, fellowship, food, writing and creative minds sharing their hearts, openly and without judgement. It truly was a memorable night.

I can’t wait to participate in the next event that Yolande has put together; put October 12th and 18th on your calendars and stay tuned!

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October 12th, 2019, Coconut Grove

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/flow-writing-pose-and-prose-tickets-73680788221

October 18th, 2019 Friday, 6pm at Hotel Arya

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wine-down-and-write-arya-tickets-73703431949

What’s that, you ask? Why it’s my Spinach-Onion-Green Pea dip!

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In my excitement to attend my very first Wine & Write event this past Thursday, I wanted to create a vegetarian green appetizer…..so off I went to the fridge to see what I could find. Out came a 1 lb. fresh package of spinach, a frozen bag of green peas, 8 oz of cream cheese and fresh parmesan cheese.  First I sautéed two large white onions, sprinkled them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then placed the spinach in the pan and allowed it to cook down.  Then I placed the cream cheese in the pan for just 2 minutes to it would come to room temperature faster.

I drained part of the liquid the onions generated, took out the onion, spinach and cream cheese with a slotted spoon, and pulsed the mix in a food processor, while the frozen peas cooked for just 2 to 3 minutes in the remaining liquid in the pan.  Added the peas into the mix as well as half a cup of fresh parmesan cheese and pulsed until it was creamy, and Voila! It became a highlight at the event.  You could definitely add different ingredients to elevate the “greenness” of this dip – such as add kale or any other greens you have available, or for those that adore bacon, add just a few dried pieces of bacon.

You could add this on top of your couscous or quinoa, to rice, to chicken for a creamy chicken casserole, or just enjoy with pita chips or water crackers. So many choices…..

Stay tuned because I was thinking this would make an absolutely delicious stuffing for handmade raviolis!

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Healthy Green Lunch to start the Month Right!

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Had to start the month right…..celebrating from the 1st to the 31st! Opted to go healthy, so sautéed broccoli and portabella mushrooms with garlic, lemon juice, and freshly grated pepper. Covered salmon with my spinach pistachio pesto and into the oven it went for a good 15 minutes, and soon had a yummy and healthy meal to enjoy the beginning of the month’s celebrations!

It’ll be a Green and Healthy 4th of July!

Sugar-free Flaxseed-Mango Bread!

What to do when it’s raining heavily with major storms outside? Why, bake, of course!

Last night a good friend gave me a dozen, yes, 12 juicy and ripe mangos that begged to be used in a new recipe, so I took to chopping early this morning 3 mangos, pureeing one of them with just a little bit of carbonated water.

In one bowl went the dry ingredients, a cup of flaxseed and one of organic coconut flour, as well as a healthy portion of powdered cinnamon and ginger, baking soda and powder, and in another bowl 2 eggs were beaten with 3/4 melted unsalted butter. Then the dry ingredients went into the bowl with the wet ingredients mixing in a third of a cup of almond milk, and last but not least, a cup of chopped mango into the mix! After 50 minutes, voila…..a lovely bread to share with friends.

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Adam’s Testament – Dove Foundation Film Winner

“Adam’s Testament” was written by Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat, a 118 page script, which took just a bit under a month to film in eight different locations in Toronto with 30 cast members. Miracle? No…..just defined and focused hard work to bring to completion a movie which showcases the spiritual war between good and evil. It makes you wonder…it makes you think…it makes you stop and realize that we live in a spiritual world, way beyond what we can conceive or physically see.

This past May at the ICFF, Jason explained to me that he had been attending the International Christian Film and Music Festival in Orlando for a few years when he realized that there was nothing quite like that in Canada. He created the Canadian International Faith and Family Film Festival in Toronto, which will take place this September 13-15, 2019 for its third consecutive year at Innis College, University of Toronto, which features two state of the art cinemas, world class cinema studies programs and learning facilities.

Put it on your calendars, as this year it will be beyond exciting!

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Banana Bread…..made with Green Banana Flour!

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There’s just something about making banana bread that makes me think of comfort food.  Decided to make this as healthy as possible, so used one cup of green banana flour and one cup of coconut flour, as well as 2 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 cup of raw turbinado sugar, 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, 8 oz. of melted unsalted butter, 1 chorrito of vanilla extract, and 2 eggs. Mashed 4 small bananas together and then mixed it all together, some dry, some wet ingredients, mixed them and did the same till all ingredients were well integrated. At the end I took two large handfuls of walnuts and mixed it in with a fork.  After spraying a pan with baking spray, in went this mix to a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes.

It came out crunchy, but real good with a hot cup of coffee with almond milk….mmmmmm

 

Baking on a Rainy Sunday – It’s Mango Bread Time!

Aldi’s had a sale on mangoes, just $.49/each, so I chose 3. So what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon? Why, bake of course! Sliced and chopped the mango into small pieces, and in one bowl went the dry ingredients, 2 cups of all purpose flour with 2 teaspoons baking soda, and a nice large teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger, with a dash of salt; and the other bowl was used to beat together 3 eggs, coconut sugar and 1/2 cup of coconut oil.  Then mixed the wet with the dry ingredients, and finally integrated the fresh mango in the mix. This went into a 355 degree oven for 50 minutes….and out came this terribly delicious mango bread….as we say in Spanish, “Un manjar!”

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20 Minute Green Lunch!

What happens when I’m hungry, want a light lunch and it needs to be healthy, green and quick?

I run to the freezer! I knew I had chicken breast strips, but also pulled out a bag of frozen spinach, riced cauliflower with garlic, and another of broccoli.

Cooked the chicken stovetop with the freshly squeezed juice of 3 lemons, cracked peppercorn and sea salt, and then mixed together the spinach, cauliflower and broccoli with 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and Voila! After chopping the chicken and allowing it to hang out with the veggies, I had my light green healthy lunch finished and ready in 20 minutes!

The great part about this meal is that it will keep well in the fridge or freezer.  If you make a larger amount, you could actually portion it out for your lunch for the week or dinners, with a nice green salad.