ShakeItUp – Post-Workout Recovery Shake

Shake it Up! - Post-Workout Recovery Shake

My recent (i.e. little-under-a-year) fitness lifestyle has seen me more days in the gym (straining to) lift weights, trying to beat my personal best on the treadmill, or, more often than not, hopping cluelessly from one machine to the next trying to see which muscle to tear that day. The point is, by time I get home I am pretty exhausted, and in good fitness style, it is recommended that you eat within an hour of your workout routine. For me the quickest and easiest (and possibly tastiest) way to replenish the lost vitamins and nutrients – without gorging yourself that is – is with a hearty homemade smoothie or shake.

bananasBananas provide natural sweetness and creaminess to the shake, and are a good source of a host of nutrients: potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C. They are also high in dietary fibre and low in sodium. It’s a fact that bananas are one of the most popular go-to foods when fuel is needed.

blueberriesBlueberries are a bold addition to any shake, other than turning it a rich mauvish colour. They are noted for their brain-boosting antioxidant power, high dietary fiber content, and ability help stabilize blood sugar levels. The low-calorie, immune-boosting berries also promote a healthy metabolism and recent studies have shown to help reduce belly fat. Personally blueberries are a fave, and I recently discovered that I can source them affordably at Loshusan Supermarket at Barbican Centre (see location details here.)

oatmeal rawOatmeal is star health food, known mainly for its cholesterol lowering and energy-boosting abilities.  Oatmeal also contains high levels calcium, potassium and magnesium, coupled with Vitamin B-complex. All these vitamins and minerals are very essential for the nervous system. Especially due to its high fibre and protein content, adding oatmeal to the shake provides an extended sensation of fullness, which is an added bonus for all those watching their waist (weight).

flax seeds

flax seeds

Being the number one source of omega-3s makes flax seeds a no-brainer for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. They are also a good source of protein, fiber and B-complex vitamins, and possess notable cardiovascular benefits. Sunflower seeds also add a good crunchy texture to the shake, along with key nutrients: magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins, protein and carbohydrates.

sunflower seeds

sunflower seeds

This is just one of the many shakes I’ve whipped up in the past. You can essentially make a shake from just about any ingredient that can be blended. What would be your ideal post-workout shake?

Shake it up!

 

One love,

SC.

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MyFaves – Quotes


Here is a collection of quotes that I’ve stumbled upon. Some are inspiring, some provide insight, and some are just plain hilarious! I tried my best to cite them correctly; pardon me if I failed in any regard. The images are just an attempt at quirk and wit. No infringement of rights intended. 🙂

Feel free to share some of your favourite culinary quotes.

keep-calm-and-eat-your-vegetables-now

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

– Jim Davis

comfort-food-and-emotional-eating

“Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.”

– Ina Garten,  ‘The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook’

i love cooking with wine

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” 

― W.C. Fields

word-sell-caesar-salad

“‎When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.”

– Laiko Bahrs

olives

“Happiness is finding three olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”

– Johnny Carson

flying for dummies

“A home cook who relies too much on a recipe is sort of like a pilot who reads the plane’s instruction manual while flying.”

– Alton Brown

willcook_photo1

“It’s absolutely unfair for women to say that guys only want one thing: sex. We also want food.”

― Jarod Kintz, $3.33

woman-chocolate

“Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good.”

― Lora Brody

one-lady-dinner (1)

“What good is our best culinary creation if we have not friends to share it with?”

– Stephen Charoo, 2013

Chicken with Eggplant Casserole

By now, you should be pretty aware of my love for eggplants. Yes, that spongy, rich dark purple vegetable that is like a culinary canvas waiting to absorb any spice you throw at it. I first discovered this recipe on a vacation visit to Trinidad, during my stay in Colombia. This has since then gone down in my books as one of my favourite applications of eggplants in a non-vegetarian dish. I urge you to try this recipe, even if you are totally opposed to (afraid of?) eggplants. I promise you your taste buds will thank you.

Chicken with Eggplants Casserole Ingredients:

2 lbs seasoned chicken pieces (see below for my choice of seasonings)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 medium tomato, chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds (geera)
1 tsp. brown sugar
½ scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper (green), roughly chopped
½ tsp each dried herbs & spices: paprika, basil, oregano
1 cup vegetable stock/chicken broth
1 tsp brown sugar
Cooking spray to coat casserole dish

Method:

  1. Place sliced eggplants in a colander.
  2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let stand for at least an hour (see my previous post on this process).
  3. Bake chicken in a casserole dish (uncovered) at 360°F for 40 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Rinse eggplants thoroughly to remove excess salt, and drain. Sauté with onion, garlic, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper, bell pepper, dried herbs and spices.
  5. Add broth/stock and bring to a boil. Adjust salt as needed.
  6. Reduce heat and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add sugar at the last 2 minutes and stir to combine.
  7. Pour mixture over chicken and return to oven and bake at 360°F for 10 minutes.
  8. Cook for an additional 3 minutes under high broil.

Serves 5-6.

As for seasoning the chicken, here’s what I used: onion, garlic, thyme, cumin powder (geera), black pepper, paprika, Maggi All Purpose seasoning (one of my faves!). Refrigerate to marinate for at least one hour. Overnight is always better. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes prior to baking to bring to room temperature.

A quick tip: At the last 2 minutes or so during simmering the eggplants,  I drain the excess drippings from the chicken and allow the eggplants to soak up all this goodness.

So, what do you eat this with? My personal faves are roti (indian flat bread – whole wheat, of course), or brown jasmine rice. What would you pair this with?

One love,
S.C.

chicken and eggplants dish

Honey BBQ Chicken with Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes

Honey-BBQ Chicken w/ Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes, Blanched String Beans and Carrots

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, when most people are preoccupied with  trying to figure out what they’re going to give up for 40 long days. Me? I am home, cooking. Not for any particular reason, but just because I’m in one of those moods that require total tranquility and what better way to do that than cooking?

I opened my freezer, saw some chicken and decided to go with that. Then to my fridge and discovered some veggies that mother dearest had brought me a few days ago. Other than the fact that I am trying to incorporate more veggies into my diet, I thought that it would do me well to use these up before they go bad. (I can hear mom’s voice in my head scolding me for wasting food.)

And off we go.

Chicken (Cook time: 50 minutes)

I started with marinating the chicken. If you know me, this is usually a mental battle to decide on what spices I should use. (I have a barrage of herbs and spices in my kitchen; I’ll do a post on this some time hereafter.) This is what I decided on:

Ingredients:

six pieces of your favourite cuts of chicken (about 3 lbs)

one medium potato, cut in 1/2 inch medallions

two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

one small onion, finely chopped

1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, to taste (I recommend de-seeding these if you’re not into scorching your tongue)

1/2 tsp each of dried herbs: oregano, basil, thyme

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

Sandburst brand annatto with pimento 

Camera 360Method:

Rinse chicken with water and pat dry. Add rest of ingredients and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better. Remove from fridge 10 minutes prior to cooking time and preheat oven to 400°F.

Cover with aluminium foil and cook for 30 minutes  at 400°F then remove foil and lower heat to 350°F and cook for 20 minutes more, or until juices run clear (not pink) when a sharp knife is inserted.

I’ll explain the sauce separately (see below). After chicken is finished baking, add sauce to coat chicken and return uncovered to broiler for 3 minutes.

Serves 3.

Honey BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 cup red wine (If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup tomato paste (ketchup will do)

2 tbsp honey

1/4 tbsp dried basil

1/2 tbsp mushroom-flavoured dark soy sauce

Method:

In a saucepan add olive oil and allow to heat for a minute on medium heat. Combine tomato paste,  honey, basil and soy sauce and stir to combine. Then add red wine, stir, and allow to reduce to a third, stirring constantly to ensure sauce doesn’t burn. Reduce heat if necessary.

Herb-Infused Baked Potatoes

I love potatoes, and even more so when they’re still in their skin. I almost never remove the skins as they add colour, flavour and texture to the dish. These aromatic, tasty, soft-to-the-centre potatoes make a perfect side dish.

potatoIngredients:

3 medium-sized potatoes

3 sprigs of thyme

additional dried herbs: rosemary, basil

S&P to taste

olive oil

aluminium foil

Method:

Cut down the middle of the potato without cutting it in half. Insert sprig of thyme, sprinkle with olive oil, and add dried herbs and S&P. Wrap in foil and bake for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender to the touch. (Of course, this is done simultaneously with the chicken).

Blanched String Beans and Carrots

This is one of my fave veggie combos; it’s really yummy and simple to prepare. The hardest part is prepping string beans and carrots.

Ingredients:

1 lb string beans, de-stemmed

2-3 medium-sized carrots, peeled, cut to 1/4 inch thickness and 3 inches in length

1 tbsp olive oil

Dried herbs: basil, thyme, rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp lime juice

Large bowl with ice cubes and water to shock veggies after blanching

string beans and carrot

(Blanching: A cooking process wherein the food substance is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and usually shocked in an ice bath.

ShockingA preparation technique  that “shocks” the food item by exposing it to ice water after the food item has been blanched. The process  is undertaken to immediately stop the food from cooking and to preserve the flavor, the food color and the texture at the point when the shocking occurs.

End result: bright-green, crisp string beans as opposed to nasty, soggy, dark grey green; and bright-orange carrots that crunch to the bite).

Method:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add carrots and blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Add string beans and blanch for an additional two minutes. Remove, drain, and IMMEDIATELY add to ice bath to stop cooking.

Remove after about 2-3 minutes and set aside. Coat with olive oil and add salt, dried herbs, S&P, and lime juice. Mix to coat. Serve as a side.

The finished product looked a little like this:

Of course, what better way to wash this down than with a nice glass of Merlot. No, it is not too late to send in your Valentine’s request. I’m still open.

Looking forward to those requests 🙂

Love,

Steve.

Cheers! – Spiked Blueberry Lemonade

This cocktail came to me one Friday evening with two of my dearest friends, Nakeeta and Daenia, after our regularly monthly Friday evening dinner splurge. They decided to stop by my apartment and by means of my usual hospitality, a cocktail was born. I had a pack of frozen blueberries in the freezer and thought that this would add well to my showmanship. It did. The cocktail which would have been a usual cloudy-green from the lime juice, morphed before our eyes from bore to a ruby red wonder with the addition a few simple frozen blueberries. The choice of Appleton Genesis was the perfect spike as it added the right amount of buzz without being too harsh. Don’t underestimate its strength though…after but two drinks, Daenia was knocked out completely, and Nakeeta was about to follow suit.

Try it out and make a nice impression with your mixology skills!

Spiked Blueberry Lemonade