Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hemp Protein
As soon as I posted about Jay Robb's Unflavored whey protein powder I had an itch to come back and post about another one I discovered last year that also became a favorite: Amazing Meal Pomegranate Mango Infusion! (these by the way were the only two powders that stuck with me after my period of daily protein need - which you can read why here - and the only ones I ever bought a full canister of, the other ones I am still to share I only tried sample packets)

Omg, this is by far my favorite protein of all I have tried! Yes, I like it more than the unflavored whey protein, much, much more.
Not only because this stuff is super flavorful, but also because, besides being made with a vegetarian type protein, it is packed full of good for you nutrients. It is a greens + fruits + veggies + protein combo that offers vegetarian protein coming from Hemp and Rice plus goodies such as wheat grass, acai, blueberries, goji berries, flax, probiotics, and a delicious pomegranate mango flavor. Well, to be true I don't taste mango or pomegranate in there, but whatever it is called, it is amazingly good. No wonder it has that name!
Seriously, I don't buy stuff in canisters that often, and I did start with a sample packet of this one, but boy oh boy, I did go through a few canisters of this so far since I first tried it. One drawback is that this powder isn't cheap, as with protein powders in general, but this one is an occasional treat to me.
Many delicious smoothies were made with the Amazing Meal powder, and my favorite actually involved fruits, and guess what, the fruits I liked the most with this were strawberries and... mangoes! Yep, mangoes are gorgeous with this protein powder.

One thing I love about this powder is that it is thick, like super thick, especially when you mix with fruits. So during the colder months I could make thick smoothies the way I like and not need to add ice, sweet! As you can see on the shake above, the straw is positioned right in the middle of the smoothie and it is sticking up, not touching the glass itself, pretty thick deliciousness, no ice required.
There are also other flavors of Amazing Meal I tried:



The original was blah, the chocolate was good, but a bit uhm, grassy (?!), but I still like it. However, as much as they were good, to me the Pomegranate Mango Infusion is the very best, I really love it!!
Now, the same company that makes the amazing Amazing Meal powders is called Amazing Grass, and they have an entire line of healthy and vegetarian products that caught my attention after I sampled some of their goods. I did try a few more products and I gotta say, I liked them too!
The favorite from the other stuff I tried was the GreenSuperFood powder, which is an all natural drink powder mix of wheat grass and other greens like alfafa, spirulina, spinach, chorella, brocolli, acai, maca, carrot, green tea, acerola, flax, probiotics and more.

It may not be the most delicious thing at first, but it is one of those things where the flavor sort of "grows on you", and what got me hooked into this was that I found it to be really energizing. For some reason it gave me energy and clarity in the morning when I added it to my smoothies before I went to classes or to the gym. I was impressed at first as I didn't want to attribute this new feeling of energy to a powder from a tub, but I finally realized that yes, the greensuperfood was kinda good for me, and in more than one sense too (how can it not be with all those goodies in it?!)
So I did end up getting myself one tub of the stuff after trying the packet sample I initially got, and I never went back, a few more tubs sure followed that first one.
Now, I am not saying I drink these powders everyday, but sometimes I feel like I can go for it and it always help some.

I tried the GreenSuperFood in chocolate flavor too:

And it is good, I like this one a lot!!
And then I tried their GreenSuperFood Bars, which I totally liked too! I liked the original one a lot, the berry one was good too, but I didn't like the peanut flavor (it was too dry). And since I am a chocolate girl... the chocolate bar was definitely my favorite. It is basically the original flavor bar with a thin chocolate coating.

So here it is, my review of the Amazing Grass products I tried.
And, again I want to make it clear that I am not receiving anything to do these reviews, I am only posting about the products I tried and liked, to share my findings and as a way to keep a personal archive of foods I enjoyed.

So, is there any products you have tried lately and enjoyed?
Protein Powders, a few review posts

Last year, due to a personal issue and some exams to be performed later on, I was asked by my physician to supplement my diet with a daily protein shake for a few months. Since I am a person who eats mostly natural foods, fruits and veggies and lots of grains and beans, I wasn't familiar with protein powders in any form or nature.
However, when it comes to food I am one who loves to experiment and discover new flavors. So, knowing it would be to my benefit to incorporate said shake into my daily eats, I embarked on the medical request and went to figure out the protein world.
Little did I know that there were lots of different types of protein powders out there, many flavors, varieties and all sort of animal and plant sources they were derived from. I then decided I would little by little try some of the options and try to find one that I liked.
I found some that I liked, some I did not, and a few that I loved and ended up becoming part of my post-workout snacks and sometimes breakfast smoothies.
Some of the varieties I tried included whey protein, hemp protein, egg white protein, pea protein, brown rice protein, and even a few that had a mix of vegetarian proteins.
I was happy to find individual bags of some of them to buy so I could try before committing to buy a full tub (because protein powder ain't no cheap thing, ya' know!). Some of them didn't have said trial packets, so for a couple that I wanted to try I contacted the company asking if they offered packets or maybe sold them on their websites so I could try, and I was happy with a couple of responses I got with offers to send me in a packet or two. More than that, the two companies who sent me samples were two of the best protein powders I ended up trying!
So, during the next few posts I will be doing some reviews of some of the products I tried.
I want to make sure though that I make it clear that I am not receiving anything to do these reviews, I am only posting about the products I tried and liked, just to share my findings and as a way to keep a personal archive of foods I enjoyed.

With that said I will begin my review with the one I liked best of all: Jay Robb Unflavored Whey Protein Powder!

This one my friends is my favorite whey protein. Well, to be quite true I didn't try many, only this and the whole foods brand, which was not that good. The reason why I liked this and stuck with it was simply because it is unsweetened, unflavored, un-everything. It is just pure whey protein isolate and works wonders on any type or flavor of shake you can ever imagine. I tried this with the most varied array of fruits: berries, bananas, papaya, mangoes, you name it. Plus it is great to make chocolate shake! Add a tbsp of cocoa, a few drops of stevia (or honey, or the sweetener of your choice), a few cubes of ice and you have a thick and delicious chocolate smoothie!
I found that the trick with this one though is not adding too much water, when it is too thin it is not all that good - or at least I like my shakes on the thick side! (And who likes watery shakes anyway?)
It also makes great Protein Ice Cream, HEAB style! (Btw, this ice cream is addicting, I had many chocolate protein ice cream this summer! Soooooo good!).
Now, I tried two of Jay Robb's flavored powders - vanilla and chocolate - and I did not like them, too much stevia, way too sweet. Another one of his line I tried was the egg white protein... blech! Horrible. I love eggs, I love egg whites, egg white omeletes, fritattas, you name it, but the smell of the powder and the slimy-eggy flavor and texture of the finished shake... not for me. Sorry Jay.
Anyway, the unflavored whey was the first protein powder I ever tried, and it is the one I use when I want to have whey protein.
So, here is the first one of my protein powder posts. Bear with me, I don't want to change things around the blog, but I want to be able to share some of my new products discoveries here too besides recipes. And I promise I won't stop posting those!! (I even have a delicious and easy quiche I am coming back to share!)
See you soon!

As an aside, please don't think that I live on protein powders. It was a phase of my life that I had to go through, one that wasn't all pleasant and which took me a year to overcome, so now that I am ok with it all I decided to share some of my findings and pictures I took of the products while I went through it. (what can I say, food blogers love to take picture of foods, right?!)
I definitely like to consume my food in real food form, no powders will ever substitute a good meal for me, and it shouldn't, for anyone.
As a nutritionist to be I have my ideals of good nutritious foods and I would never chose to go on a protein powder bonanza unless I really had to, so try not to judge.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eleven years together should be celebrated, right?!
Happy Anniversary to us!

The date was yesterday (Sept. 18), and we went out to a lovely dinner. Look what our sweet server did for us when I told her it was our anniversary:

My dessert was beyond delicious and I was so happy with the cute plate with happy anniversary piped in chocolate! One of the most delicious and flavorful ice creams I have had. In this little bowl of deliciousness there were 5 flavors: Chocolate Chili, Vanilla, Peach, Thai Basil and Olive Oil.
For an ice cream lover like me this was awesomeness on a plate, couldn't think a better way to finish the amazing meal we had - which also included a very good squash and apple soup and a deliciously and velvety creamy butternut squash risotto (heaven on a plate!), and the husband had fish. Everything was so pretty and so good that we forgot to take pictures of the main dishes.
All in all a great night out, celebrating, having fun, talking, and loving, much loving from being together this past 11 years and wishes for many 11 more!
Love you Fran!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Herbs Savory Bread

Another one of Elvira’s delicious savory bread! This one I have made more than once, usually in the summer when the zucchini and herbs are plentiful. It is a nice dish for a quick weeknight meal, and you can even prepare ahead of time which makes it even better. Totally helpful to come home from soccer practice and have something delicious waiting for you, no?!!

Just as with the sun-dried tomatoes bread the combination of flavors here is delicious, plus tell me: what doesn’t taste good with goat cheese??? Goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses and here it really shines with the herbs, totally delicious!

Easy and simple to make, so much so that I am even going to keep this post short so you can go ahead and make it yourself, I am sure it is going to be fast and so rewarding that just like us you will be making this over and over, for many summers to come!



And, for my Brazilian friends, you can see the recipe in Portuguese over at Elvira's blog by clicking here!

Since we are back in school I also made some in fun shapes and froze to use in future lunchboxes! yum!

Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Herbs Savory Bread

(adapted from Elvira’s Bistro)

100 grams all purpose flour

100 grams whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

50 grams grated parmesan cheese

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

150 ml milk

100 grams goat cheese, chopped or crumbled into chunks

3 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used basil, parsley and oregano)

1 zucchini, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl mix the flours, baking powder, a bit of salt (1/3 teaspoon) and pepper. Add the eggs, olive oil and the milk and mix together until you have a smooth batter. Add the grated zucchini, grated parmesan cheese, herbs and goat cheese and mix gently with a wooden spoon until all is incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350F for about 40 to 45 minutes until golden, or until a toothpick (or the tip of a knife) inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding. Let it cool before serving.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Kale Salad

Kale is a veggie I haven’t posted much about. And I don’t even know why not because we really like these dark green leaves! Kale is one of the most nutritious green leafy vegetables around, it is packed with vitamins, calcium, iron, lots of good for us nutrients, plus it tastes really good too!

Believe it or not Matheus loves kale, in all shapes and forms. We go grocery shopping together and you might bet that there will be a bunch of kale in our cart. We like it sautéed with onions, garlic, salt pepper and olive oil, sooo good! And we love it as “kale chips” (which I will come back to post about), and now we have been venturing ourselves in the world of kale salads!

I tried a kale salad once in a cooking class I attended and I just loved the texture and taste, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try. And I did. And I have made it multiple times already since the first time we tried it. Which by the way I didn’t even get a chance to be photographed, yes, this salad it that good!

Yesterday though I made sure to get a picture as I like not only how it taste but also how it looks. The flavors in this salad are just as bright as the colors you see!

It is a very simple and easy to make recipe, and it has a bonus of being one of those salads you can (and maybe even should) make in advance. It really holds up, with dressing and all, and tastes amazing the next day.

I loved the combination of the lemony dressing with the earthiness of the kale and the sweetness of the mango chunks, plus the pepitas add just the right amount of crunchiness to make this salad even more attractive to the taste buds.

Something new and different to try!


Ps: I love those pepitas just by themselves, they are so good!!

Ps2: I made my salad mostly by tasting and adjusting the seasonings, I didn’t make the vinaigrette separate to put on top as the recipe stated as I thought it was flavorful and dressed enough after massaging it. Here I am posting the way I made mine, so if you want more specific measurements then click HERE and take a look at the original recipe.

Kale Salad

(adapted from an Aarti's Sequeira recipe)

1 bunch kale (remove and discard stalks), thinly slice the leaves

Juice of ½ lemon (more if you want)

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

About 2 teaspoons honey

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup diced mangoes

2 tablespoons toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Put sliced kale in a large bowl, add the lemon juice, a bit of salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and, using your hands, massage the seasonings into the kale leaves until the kale is softened and wilted, about 2 minutes. Taste to check the seasonings and add more lemon juice, another drizzle of olive oil and more salt and pepper, if necessary. Add mangoes and toss together with salad. Sprinkle the pepitas on top before serving.

Monday, September 06, 2010

White Beans and Tomato Salad

First and foremost I want to apologize for the picture above; it simply doesn’t do justice to the recipe I am about to post. Especially since I couldn’t find much more to say about this recipe other than that this is an amazing white bean salad!

It is flavorful and delicious not only in taste but texture wise too. The creaminess of the beans is amazing by itself, but when paired with the chunkiness of the tomatoes and the awesome flavor of the dressing it makes a remarkable dish!

I absolutely loved this dish, and so did the husband and Matheus as well. I made the full recipe, which says serves 6, but since this was the sole source of protein of our meal we managed to polish off the entire bowl of bean salad.

I served the White Bean Salad with homemade pasta (made by the husband – I need to post his pasta creations; he’s been into the noodles lately!) and a green salad made with butter lettuce, baby spinach and arugula (a favorite combo of mine). All I have to say is that the white bean salad was the star of the meal, it was the one thing we all went for seconds (maybe even thirds…!), even the pasta was left behind, which is not a common thing to happen around here with the boys, these are two guys who really like their noodles.

It is a truly delicious recipe, everyone should try!


Notes: a closer look into my picture will reveal a few white chunks in the salad, which are cooked egg whites I had in the fridge and I incorporated in the salad. It was actually a pretty good addition, not only it tasted delicious with the dressing but I used up some leftovers and upped the protein content of the salad, all at the same time! Yum!

White Beans and Tomato Salad

(Adapted from the simply recipes blog)

1 ½ cups cooked white beans (or 1 can – 15oz)

1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (roma, cherries, grape…)

1/3 cup chopped parsley

For the dressing:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

1 sprig rosemary

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon kosher salt (add more if needed)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Make the dressing first: put garlic, olive oil and rosemary sprig in a saucepan and heat until the rosemary beings to sizzle. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Discard the rosemary and add the oil and garlic to a blender together with the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest. Puree all ingredients until smooth.

In a bowl mix together the beans, tomatoes and parsley. Add the dressing and toss gently until everything is coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Passion Fruit Ice Cream (Dairy-free... or not!)

"This was the best ice cream you ever made"!
That was the husband's comment about this ice cream, so I knew I just needed to come to the blog and share the recipe!
Passion fruit is a fruit we love here at home, and one that we can't have enough when we go to Brazil. Matheus is always the first one to ask for passion fruit juice or to eat the fruit pulp right inside the shell with me (my favorite way of having this fruit!) when we go visit the family.
This is a fruit that is sweet and tart at the same time, maybe even more tart than sweet, but still, the floral notes from the passion fruit pulp and its crunchy seeds makes for an explosion of flavors and sensation in the mouth.
Passion fruit is also very refreshing when made into a cold juice, and the same happened when I made the ice cream. It was amazing how refreshing and delicious this ice cream was, the most perfect treat on a hot summer day!
We loved it, and more than that, I made it dairy free which enabled Matheus to enjoy as much as he wanted without us worrying about the dairy.
I adapted a regular recipe, but feel free to use cream in place of the soy creamer, I am sure it will be equally delicious! (if not even better!) By the way, the flavor of the soy creamer on this one was completely gone, we could not detect any soy taste at all, the passion fruit was the absolute star on this ice cream, which made it even more delightful for us.
Anything that brings us back flavors from home gets big thumbs up around here, and it wasn't any different with this recipe.
If you like passion fruit most certainly give this recipe a try, it is totally worth it!

I bought passion fruit pulp at the frozen section of a Mexican store. All I did was to defrost it and measure the 1 cup of pulp needed. Enjoy!
I am not a fan of using the soy creamer as it is a processed food. Plus I much prefer to use real local cream for its flavor, taste and texture. However, due to Matheus' issues with dairy sometimes I do experiment with dairy free versions of his favorite treats and this was one of them. It was an extremely successful recipe though, I could not have been more pleased. We were all happy and all was right with the world as we sat down together enjoying our ice cream!

Passion Fruit Ice Cream
(Adapted from epicurious.com)

2 cups soy creamer (or heavy cream)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup passion fruit pulp

In a bowl whisk together sugar and eggs. Put the soy creamer (or heavy cream) in a saucepan and heat over medium/high heat just until it gets closer to boil, when little bubbles start to form around the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and slowly pour the hot creamer over the eggs whisking the whole time - this will temper the eggs so it doesn't scramble.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens slightly (about 160F), don't let it boil.
Pour the custard through a sieve in a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the passion fruit pulp, cover and refrigerate until completely cold.
Freeze custard in ice cream maker. It will come out like soft serve, so transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hard.