Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mama chia!!

Have you heard about the Chia seed? This ancient super food was used by Aztecs warriors and Indians. Known as the running seeds, they would eat it on long journeys for energy endurance, and apparently, as little as one full teaspoon was enough for a 24 hr forced march. That is super food alright!
My new friend, John, from the Herb and Spice store in Enterprise, AL told me about it. I'm sure everyone of you came across that little clay animal covered in sprouts...well, that's it! That's the Chia seed..but there is much more to it than the little clay animal covered in sprouts...
Mix 1 part of Chia seeds and 9 parts of water in a bowl and leave it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the seeds have melted and transformed into a gelatin, that is due to the solid fiber in the Chia. When you eat the seeds, same thing happens in you stomach. If you are dieting, the Chia seeds are wonderful because if you eat only 2 tblsp it will transform into approximately 1 1/2 cup in your stomach making you feel full.
The gel creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that breaks them down, slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Therefore, it release sugar in your blood stream in a much more stable manner. For this reason it's a great food for diabetics but also it's hydrophilic properties having the ability to absorb more then 12 times it's weight in water prolong hydration, retains moisture and regulate.
It's also a muscle and tissue builder and an energizer of endurance with extensive hydrating properties. It offers a better assimilation of food that supports and enhanced nutritional absorption and on top of that, it's a great source of Omega-3 & Omega-6 (it's apparently the best source of Omega-3, better then Flax), it's also high in fiber, calcium and protein...
There's a lot more to write about it, but I just wanted to plant a seed, a Chia seed in your mind, so you get curious and Google it.
It's great in shakes, it makes them nice and smooth! An hour before I go to the gym I make a Chia seed shake (the gelatin will keep in your fridge for two weeks). In my blender I put 3/4 cup of Chia gelatin, some almond milk, one banana, 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract, a bit of agave syrup and I'm good to go!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Exotic carrot salad

Simple and fast, this salad it great on it's own or with any kind of meat or fish

3 carrots, ribboned with a potato peeler and blanched for 30 seconds (for those of you who aren't yet familiar with cooking techniques, blanching means; boiling briefly in salted water to soften the produce and add extra rich color -the salt is responsible for the deep color-. Immediately after the carrots are blanched, transfer them to a bath of ice water so they stop cooking, strain and place on paper towel to dry)
2 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of half a small lemon
1 tsp agave syrup (if you don't have agave syrup you can use: maple syrup, honey, stevia or even white sugar)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
Pinch of Garam Masala powder
Pinch of Coriander powder
Pinch of Cumin powder or seeds
Pinch of red crushed pepper
1/3 cup of almond slivers, toasted on medium heat for approx 2-3 minutes or until they start to turn nice and gold, tossing regularly
1/2 cup fresh flat parsley leaves
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for the toasted almonds and the fresh parsley and marinate for a little bit (about 10-15 minutes). The almonds and parsley should be added only at the last minute so they don't loose their crunch.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lentil Salad

This is one of my favorite salad. It's simple, fast and delicious, it's definitely a winner!

2 cups cooked lentils
1/4 cup olive oil
1 big bunch of fresh cilantro
1 medium size garlic clove
1/4 tsp red crushed chili pepper
1 tsp cumin
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

Place lentils in a mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients in your food processor and pulse 4-5 times until all ingredients are minced, add to lentils, mix well, adjust seasoning and enjoy!