Friday, March 14, 2014

Cauliflower Rice

I love rice...grew up eating it everyday so trying to cut starches and empty calories has me missing rice so much. Now califlower rice is definitely not rice but it really is delicious if you add good herbs and flavors to it. This recipe is for a cilantro-lime rice but I have used sun - dried tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, fresh chopped jalapeños, lemon and dill, tarragon and it is good with a little parmasean cheese on top.  Just mix and match herbs and get creative. I still splurge every once in awhile on real rice but I make this fake rice about twice a week.

Cilantro-lime Cauliflower "Rice"
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Sea salt & pepper to taste
1 lime, juiced (throw in microwave for 10 seconds then roll on the counter before juicing to get most juice)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Grate cauliflower florets in a food processor until it resembles rice (do not over chop or it will be mushy)   Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add coconut oil, green onion and garlic and sauté about 2 minutes, or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the cauliflower "rice" to the saute pan. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes, then uncover and stir and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy and golden on the outside but tender on the inside. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and place in a bowl; toss with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

Cauliflower Rice is a delicious side dish for steak or lamb...good substitute for potatoes, too. Or mash up the mixture for the texture of mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cucumber - Tomato Salad

It's a new year and I think a lot of us are trying to be healthier and some of us are trying to even lose a few pounds. I do really well on my health kick all day until about 3:00 pm and then sometimes I get hungry again around 8:00 pm. So when I'm trying to be healthy or if I'm trying to lose a few pounds, I make a big batch of this Cucumber - Tomato Salad and keep it in the fridge to snack on when I'm needing a low calorie snack. It is also amazing as a side for grilled steak, chicken or fish. Pretty good on tacos or pita sandwiches, too.

Cucumber - Tomato Salad
1 cup diced tomatoes (depends what kind/size of tomatoes you use but about 3 romas or 2 on the vine)
2 cups diced cucumber (I really like persian cucumbers for this but English (seedless) are good also)  I use 3 persian cucumbers or 1 English seedless.
The key here is use 2x as many cucumbers as tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, cilantro, parsley, mint or green onion. You can use whatever fresh herbs you have or that you like. You can also mix a couple if you'd like.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on how much you want to use, I think it's best with 2)
Sea salt (to taste)
You can also add a couple tablespoons of balsamic, rice wine or Apple cider vinegar if you'd like. Sometimes I will drizzle some really good extra virgin olive in there too. But if I am really trying to keep it light and around 25 calories a serving, I just use the fresh herbs and lemon juice.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Stir again and taste before serving. Sometimes I will add more salt or more lemon juice if I taste after refrigeration and feel it needs more. You can make a big batch and it tastes even better the next day or two. It keeps fine for up to 3 days.

The cucumbers and lemon juice in this salad help you feel full and help with digestion and metabolism. This salad has saved me from cheating on diets so many times and it is delicious!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Broiled King Crab Legs!

Broiled King Crab Legs! Make sure legs are defrosted. I slit open the legs (make a big enough slit to expose the majority of the meat in the large part of the legs) and put small slithers of butter inside, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and sometimes a little garlic depending on my mood before broiling for 5-8 minutes (Depending on the size). Just keep on eye on them and as the butter melts and the legs start to brown a bit...they are done. They turn out amazing. Don't be afraid to make these at home. The only thing you can do is overcook them so just make sure you don't leave them under the broiler too long....and broiling them is so much better than steaming or boiling them! Around the holidays they are often on sale and so much cheaper than ordering at a restaurant.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Comfort Soup

I grew up in a Kurdish household so my mother cooked mostly Kurdish foods. Now as a kid, sometimes I got tired of eating Kurdish food all the time but now as an adult...those kinds of foods are my comfort foods. They remind me of walking in the door after a long day at school and seeing my mom in the kitchen. All the burners going at once. Rice. Beans. Soup. Chicken in the oven. She could cook 5-6 dishes at once without a sweat. She is the one who taught me about organization in the kitchen and how to make sure all your dishes were ready at the same time. She also taught me how to throw in another dish for the next day. If you're going to be in the kitchen for might as well throw in another dish so you can relax a bit the next day by serving leftovers. She often made a barley soup that we all loved and could heat up for days. She would always tell us how good it was for us...High fiber...High protein...but as kids...we just thought it tasted good...especially in those cold Ohio winters.

I make a soup that reminds me of several of her dishes, incorporating rice, lentils and barley with chicken legs because these are items she used a lot. If you have a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean market near you, you can buy a premixed package of rice, lentils and barley.  If you can't find this, you can just use equal amounts of each item to make the 2 cups necessary for the soup. I make this soup and freeze leftovers for quick hearty meals on a chilly day.

Avesta's Comfort Soup
For soup:
2 cups rice, lentil and barley mix (Rinsed)
8 cups water
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tbsp sea salt (start with 1 and add to taste)
For chicken:
2-4 chicken legs
Sprinkle each leg with salt, pepper and paprika
1/2 white onion diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups water

In a large stockpot, add water and rice, lentils and barley and seasonings. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. After boiling for a minute or two, turn heat to low, cover pot and cook chicken legs.

Heat coconut oil and add chicken legs to the pan. Allow the legs to nicely sear before turning. Once both sides are seared, add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic just until soft and slightly golden brown. Add the two cups of water and bring to a boil. You are creating a quick stock so allow to boil for just about 5 minutes then add chicken and stock to you soup pot. Stir and cover. Cook on low from 45 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring occasionally and once your rice, lentils and barley are soft, your soup is ready. Taste before serving to see if you need to add more salt. If you like it spicier add more cayenne.

I love serving this soup with fresh diced tomatoes and green onion on top. It is also great with a plop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top. This soup is low fat and very high in fiber and protein. You can skip the barley if you are on a totally gluten free diet, though barley is not high in gluten, it does contain some gluten.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gluten-Free Turkey n Brie wrap

I have a few friends who swear by a gluten - free diet so I decided to start experimenting with gluten - free wraps.

Gluten - Free Turkey and Brie wrap:
1 Gluten - Free Wrap (I used La Tortilla Factory Sonoma brand which have 180 calories per wrap and taste really good and roll easily)
4 oz organic deli roasted turkey breast
1 oz Brie
Kale Microgreens
Broccoli Sprouts
Spring Mix
1/4 Avocado (sliced)
Sliced Tomato
Organic Mayo (optional)

I spread the brie on the wrap then warm it up in an oven at 350 degrees for just a few minutes. Do not keep in the oven very long or the wrap will get hard.  You just want to warm it up, 2-3 minutes. Once your wrap is warmed up, start layering your ingredients on the wrap and roll tightly and slice in half. Adding the microgreens, broccoli sprouts and spring mix adds tons of nutrients, crunch and flavor. I added up the calories for this wrap and it came out to 565 calories. If you skip the mayo you will save about 100 calories, same with the avocado and brie...skipping any of these ingredients will save you about 100 calories each. I don't think 565 calories is a lot for a good, healthy lunch...especially one that packs so many nutrients and can be eaten on the run or packed for lunch. I have also eaten half for lunch then the other half for dinner and added a side salad or veggies on the side to cut the calorie intake. I will skip the mayo next time as with the Brie melted on the wrap and adding the avocado, I didn't need the mayo as the wrap was definitely not dry.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Supermarket Superstar

I have gotten so much response from my appearance on Lifetime TVs Supermarket Superstar last night and has been so nice to hear all the supportive and encouraging words. I am so excited to continue this journey and get my sauce company launched witjin the next few months. We have perfected the recipes as we have several great flavors and variations of our mac n cheese sauce and tested them over and over with several of our own focus groups and advice from several great chefs. I was sent this article from a friend and I have to be honest...I totally agree with this writer!

Avesta's Mac n Cheese Sauce

I am still working on getting my sauce mass produced. I have worked with a professional service to finalize the recipe and have several stores interested in carrying my sauce. Now, I am looking for investors and/or partners to help take this to the next level. I was featured on Supermarket Superstar on Lifetime TV and feel I have a great product that will do well on store shelves. I am very excited for the exposure and great feedback I have received since the show has aired!