Stephen’s Kale & Garbanzo Salad with Portabellini Mushrooms & Grape Tomatoes

Kale and Garbanzo salad (raw)

Looking for a delicious and super nutritious dish that’s easy to prepare and won’t leave you feeling hungry? My kale and garbanzo salad with portabellini mushrooms and grape tomatoes will surely please the palate and satisfy the stomach.

Kale and Garbanzo SaladIngredients

  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 3 large portabellini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 8-10 grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 cups kale (chopped fresh)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, dices
  • ½ cup chopped basil leaves
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • Olive oil to saute
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large skillet, sauté onion & garlic in olive oil over medium heat for five minutes or until onions soften.
  2. Add kale, mushrooms, and garbanzo beans along with paprika, salt and pepper, and sauté for an additional five minutes.
  3. Add grape tomatoes, white wine and lemon juice and deglaze the pan, allowing ingredients to simmer and liquid to be fully absorbed.
  4. Scatter chopped basil leaves, lemon zest, and adjust salt & pepper if necessary.
  5. Enjoy warm.

Kale and Garbanzo Salad (plated)

The creamy protein and fibre rich garbanzo beans work well with hearty, meat-like chunks of portabellini mushrooms to provide a satisfying bite. Add a few leaves of the world’s most nutrient-dense food on earth (read more about this here) with a few grape tomatoes for colour and taste and you’ve got a killer combo. The finishing touch of lemon juice and zest brightens the dish, increasing the intensity of flavours, and add a necessary tang to round out all the goodness colliding in this one salad. Your body and taste buds will thank you for it.

One love,

SC

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Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run + Nutrition Advice and Recipe Ideas

Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run

5K races has been a big hit in Jamaica over the past few years. Every year new charity races are formed, with many opportunities for Jamaicans to give back to a particular cause. But probably more importantly are the health and fitness trends that have emerged with this new obsession. Persons are much more concerned about their wellness, evidenced by increased sightings of joggers, yoga practitioners, and a move towards cleaner, lighter cuisines.

Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run – The Caribbean’s largest

Sagicor Sigma LogoOne race in particular has continued to attract thousands of excited participants and raise millions over the past 15 years. Since the first staging of the event in February 1999, Sagicor’s SIGMA Corporate Run has raised a total of JMD 124.5M (approx. USD 120K) towards enhancing healthcare services for Jamaicans islandwide. The Run is a 5.5 Kilometer (3.4 mile) event that is open to runners and walkers of all fitness levels and abilities. It is different from all other road races as the focus is on company teams. With over 22,200 registered participants this year, SIGMA continues to be the Caribbean largest 5K race.  This year race will kick off promptly at 7:30 a.m. on February 16 along Kingston’s hip-strip Knutsford Boulevard, and is under the patronage of Lady Patricia Allen, World and Olympic Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and season five winner of The Voice, Tessanne Chin.

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Check out Sagicor’s website for more race details. [Race photos courtesy of Sagicor]

Let’s Talk Nutrition

When it comes to runners’ nutrition, it can get pretty technical, especially for longer runs such as marathons and half marathons, but for shorter runs such as 5K and 10K races, it’s pretty simple. Good nutrition should be an integral part to any runner’s diet, but different foods are healthiest and most important at different times of the day. The key thing here is knowing what to eat, and when to eat it. Here are a few tips.

The night before:

You want dinner the night before to be somewhat carb-heavy (so as to carb-load your muscles) with a fair amount of protein to keep you from feeling ravenous in the morning. Ensure to make it regular white pasta or rice rather than brown. Even though whole wheat products should star in your usual fare, studies have shown that too much fiber causes intestinal distress while running. Many runners have complained about the need to go during a run. There surely aren’t any pit stops along the way for Sigma. Oh yea, please sleep. The 7-8 hour kind.

Reggae bow-tie pasta salad with tuna and sardine

Reggae bow-tie pasta salad with tuna and sardine

Check out this delicious bow tie pasta dish with protein, calcium and omega 3 rich sardines and tuna. Also, here’s a foolproof way to cook the perfect pasta every time.

The morning of:

For such a short distance, the body doesn’t really need much added energy. In fact, just a cup or two of black coffee will give you an extra boost needed to shave a few seconds (minutes) off your PR. However, because coffee’s energizing effect comes from it being a stimulant, you may need to supplement this with true energy calories. The best bet is a carb-rich fruit such as a banana or an apple, or a simple peanut butter sandwich (white bread, as whole wheat takes longer to digest) or a bagel. Skimp on the cream cheese though; excess fat has the unwanted effects of retarding digestion and can lead to intestinal distress during a run.

apple-mango-banana smoothie

apple-mango-banana smoothie

Smoothies are also a good choice as they deliver a rush of vitamins and nutrients without weighing you down. Blend a frozen banana with low fat milk and some of your favourite nuts. Whatever you do, do not stuff yourself in fear of becoming hungry during the race. Sad to say, I learnt this the hard way and almost threw up half way through one of my races. I’ll give you time to stop laughing and compose yourself. Good. Hydration is also key: you want to down at least 8 ounces (one glass) of water an hour before the start of the race.

This delicious Apple-Mango-Banana smoothie loaded with good carbohydrates and natural sugars will definitely fuel your run. Or this delectable bruschetta with gorgonzola cheese and coffee-flavoured honey.

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

During the race:

The only thing you should worry about during a 5K is finishing the race, and possibly mild hydration. Most runners can complete a 5K without the need to rehydrate. I surely can’t because I sweat like a farmer’s horse. There’s a proper way to hydrate. If you’re feeling thirsty during a run then you’re already dehydrated. Avoid this by making use of the water stops. There should be about 2 stops for a 5K race. You really don’t need any more than that. Sip, don’t gulp. Plain water should do the trick, but you may benefit from the added kick of electrolytes and glucose found in sport drinks. Also, room temperature is best. If you need to eat during a 5K then you should probably consider another activity. I suggest a diet.

After the race:

So, you’re on top of the world because you (hopefully) clocked your best PR. In the meantime while you wait for your buddies to cross the finish line, you want to head straight to the free food, mostly so that you can be first in line. JK. But seriously, your body is now craving all the energy, nutrients and water you’ve expended. Your best bet here are three key things: liquid, preferably a sports drink to rehydrate and to replenish lost electrolytes; carbs to restore glucose levels; and protein to rebuild muscles.

Low Fat Pak Choy Ricotta Frittata

Low Fat Pak Choy Ricotta Frittata

A good all in one is a glass of chocolate milk. Or make this quick but nutrient rich recovery shake that is sure to replenish your energy levels and kick-start your recovery process. Or, try this tasty and protein-packed low-fat frittata with ricotta cheese that will fill you up with muscle-replenishing protein.

Post-Workout Recovery Shake

Post-Workout Recovery Shake

Provided that you’ve been eating right (for the most part), you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Remember, it’s 3.1 miles, not an eternal 26.2 grueling, knee-shattering, shin-splitting, asphalt-pounding mile marathon.

All the best,

SC

FREE Smoothies + Grand Opening of Toss & Roll Salad Bar New Location

A few months ago I published a post on my experience at Toss and Roll, one of Kingston’s hottest and most recently opened salad bars. Since then I’ve received a number of great reviews from friends and colleagues who have eaten there, but the main concern was the location; it didn’t offer much seating capacity, and the limited al fresco set-up meant it only allowed for casual lunch meet ups. But that’s all about to change.

As was expected, things kicked off and the demand for more space, longer opening hours, and a more central location became pertinent. Just under nine months in, Toss and Roll will be relocating to 75 Hope Road (beside the recently opened Opa! Greek Restaurant) and will extend their hours to 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The redesigned menu will feature a variety of new dishes including a breakfast fare, assorted teas and smoothies, along with long-standing crowd favourites. 

Toss and Roll New Location2 Toss and Roll New Location3

Of course, fitness junkies and owners Keisha and Jermaine Bailey have managed to keep the menu quite clean and lean with fresh fruits and veggies, whole wheat offerings, and lean meats.

Come and check out their grand opening tomorrow Saturday, January 25 and enjoy discounts and free smoothies.

Toss and Roll Grand Opening

Eat right, live better.

SC

Low-Fat Pak Choi Ricotta Frittata

Looking for a healthy but filling dish packed with essential vitamins and nutrients? Then this low-fat, protein-rich pak choi frittata with skim ricotta is a great option. And a tasty one too.

pak choy

Frittatas are comparable to quiches, but without the crust and with eggs as the main ingredient, usually mixed with a cheese of choice and all cooked or baked in a deep pan. Some common additions include dark green leafy vegetables, usually spinach (in this case I am using pak choi, but callaloo can also be used), mushrooms, bell peppers, etc. The possibilities are endless.

seasonings - pak choy frittata

I am lover of eggs, for both their taste and versatility as a key binding and leavening agent for a host of dishes.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups chopped pak choi
  • 5 eggs
  • 1½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup diced green bell peppers
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Scotch bonnet (habanero) pepper to taste, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil to sauté
unbaked frittata mixture

unbaked frittata mixture

Method:

  1. In a skillet, sauté tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, salt and pepper for 2 minutes to begin to release their flavours.
  2. Add chopped pak choi to skillet, sautéing for an additional 2 minutes (or until pak choi just begins to wilt.)
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Whisk eggs, ricotta cheese together, adjusting salt as necessary.
  5. Combine sautéed pak choi with egg and cheese mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Spray a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and fill with mixture.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned on top and set. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, cut in wedges and serve.

finished product - low fat pak choi ricotta frittata

You can enjoy your frittata with a few slices of toast, or you can skip the extra carbs and dig straight into the protein goodness. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese gives it a salty kick with an extra nuttiness.

Low Fat Pak Choy Ricotta Frittata

This is a lighter take as I opted to use ricotta cheese which is naturally low in fat but protein-dense. If you’re looking for something creamier and richer, you can substitute the ricotta for your favourite cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

One love,

SC

Creamy Mashed Sweet Potato

The past weekend I took some time to catch up on some introspection, and what better way to do so than letting my creativity flow in the kitchen? (Well, there’s also the option of running to escape The Blerch – which I also did.) Mom had recently brought me some fresh produce and included in my care package were some good ole sweet potatoes.

sweet_potatoe

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a personal fave. Their versatility lends to an array of sweet and savory dishes, and makes it easily paired with a variety of herbs and spices. These starchy, naturally-sweet, tuberous roots can be made into a salad, side dish, main course, dessert and even a drink. Here in Jamaica, sweet potatoes are commonly enjoyed as a staple food crop, usually as a substitute for rice.

Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Elle & Vire’s premium cooking cream and butter were perfect for this recipe. You really can taste the richness of these quality ingredients. Of course you could have used evaporated milk or regular whole milk but it wouldn’t taste the same. This dish is a great accompaniment to almost any meal and remains a classic and delectable side dish.

One love,

SC

All Hail the Kale, Queen of the Greens!

curly kaleThere has been much chatter about kale. A form of cabbage with green or purple leaves, this nutritional powerhouse has much to boast about, and it makes no excuses. After a recent post incorporating kale into a smoothie, I decided to pay this leafy vegetable some overdue attention and dig deeper into its hidden secrets. And boy was I impressed! I’ve always heard about kale in many of my hours spent being hypnotized by Cooking Channel or Food Network, but never thought that kale would be available yet affordable in Jamaica. I was even more shocked when I found out that a friend of mine’s dad grew kale in his back yard in the country. 

Varieties

Also known as borecole, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties, and is hands down one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.

Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.

Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.

Health Benefits

So, what really is all the hype about? Let’s see (adapted from MindBodyGreen.com)

1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

3. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.

5. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

6. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.

7. Kale is high in Vitamin A.Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.

8. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

9. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility

10. Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

Whew, that’s a pretty big shoe to fill! For those of  you thinking about incorporating kale into your diets, here are a few suggestions:
Selecting and Storing

Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist hardy stems. Kale should be displayed in a cool environment since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt and will negatively affect its flavor. The leaves should look fresh, be unwilted, and be free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be more tender and have a more mild flavor than those with larger leaves. Kale is available throughout the year, although it is more widely available, and at its peak, from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

To store, place kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 5 days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.

Preparation Tips

Rinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portion into ½” slices and the stems into ¼” lengths for quick and even cooking.

To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.

NB: For maximum flavour and nutrition, kale is better steamed. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil chop greens. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with your choice of dressing and optional ingredients. 

I am excited to see what new recipe ideas I will come up with. I’ll be sure to post them so check back regularly. In the meanwhile, you can check here for some amazing recipes (images below) or scour the internet at your own will.

One love,

SC