Tag Archives: recipes

Zucchini lasagna 

Today I found a bag of small beautiful zucchini for one dollar. Don’t ask me how it was done, this was a blessing and I don’t want to jinx it.

I had some staples cheese, tomato sauce, onion, spices and some turkey sausage so I thought… Zucchini lasagna. No pasta just thinly sliced zucchini as noodles. I put it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350° and it was so good. If you want to keep it vegetarian leave out the turkey and add mushrooms, peppers or corn.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 zucchinis, cut the tips off, slice longitudinally
Half a jar tomato sauce.
Three turkey sausages, casings removed.
One onion, diced
Spices: turmeric, Greek seasoning, garlic aoli granules, pinch hot chili flakes, S&P

Directions:

  1. Clean zucchini, cut off ends and slice longitudinally
  2. Diced onion and cook with turkey sausage under medium heat with turmeric, salt, Greek spices for ten minutes. Add tomato sauce & simmer.
  3. Coat bottom of the glass dish with tomato sauce or half a teaspoon olive oil. Lay slices of zucchini, layer the tomatoes sausage onion mixture, cheese and then another layer of zucchini the opposite way from before. Keep stacking and layering. Topped with tomato sauce and cheese on top.

Zucchini lasagna!!! It was so delicious 🤗👌🏼❤️‼️😁

xxSerena

Marinating organic chicken breasts meal prep

I finally found a pack of organic chicken breasts at Costco. 


I decided to divide the pack into three. Two chicken breasts per freezer ziplock bags. 

I washed them, dried them and marinated the first two in freshly dried basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 


Chicken breasts are versatile since you can eat them or cook them so many different ways. I will share with you the other two marinades in future blog posts.

For the basil, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar marinade I decided to pan fry the breasts after marinating for eight hours.

Then I served over chopped greens and a quinoa kale mixture.


I made an extra serving for lunch at work the next day.


It was good. Next time I will add half an avocado and a extra drizzle of balsamic for more healthy fat and flavour. 

What’s your favourite marinade for chicken breasts? Look for future blogs to see how I marinated the other two servings! 

xxSerena 

Stuffed baked portobello mushrooms recipe

I love stuffed mushrooms. Mushrooms hold stuffing really well and to be honest I love stuffed fish, stuffed cabbage, stuffed pastry, the list goes on and on. I like something delicious inside  something already delicious! Anyways I’ll stop the ramble before this gets off-topic. Back to my stuffed Portobello mushrooms.

Stuffed baked Portobello mushrooms ready to enjoy, hot out of the oven. Photography by Serena Alibhai
This recipe makes two stuffed mushrooms. For a dinner of two you can serve this as the main course along with a side of salad, pasta or potatoes.

Ingredients:

2 portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the stuffing:

2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano
Half teaspoon hemp heart seeds
Half a small red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh salsa
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Fry onion with salt and oil for five to 8 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. In a bowl combine yogurt, Parmesan, hemp seeds, salsa and cooked onions.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fill portobello mushroom caps. Place a tiny bit of olive oil under each mushroom cap before placing on cookie sheet or foil.
  5. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.

Portobello mushrooms. Photography and recipe by Serena Alibhai

Stuffed. Photography and recipe by Serena Alibhai

Stuffed and baked. Photography and recipe by Serena Alibhai

Tender, great flavor and delicious. Photography and recipe by Serena Alibhai
They were delicious. And very filling. Check out this link for some nutritional facts for portobello mushrooms:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/9170/2

Do you like mushrooms? Have you ever made stuffed mushrooms? How do you make them?

xxSerena

Healthy benefits of various starches

Starches are great for your body. Throughout the world, in for the past centuries, human beings have lived off of starch. Today many starches are over processed, removing the most healthy part of the food.

 

Plaintain at dinner. Photography by Rizwan Alvi
 
Here is a helpful chart to illustrate the healthy benefits of  starches:

Item Carbohydrate g per 100g serving Fiber g per 100g serving Carbohydrate g per 1cup serving Portion Size Notes Other Notable Nutrients
cassava 38 2 78 1c= 206g Vitamin C, Thiamin, Folate, Potassium, Manganese
taro root 35 5 46 1c= 132g Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, potassium, manganese
plantains 31 2 48 1c= 154g (slices) Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium
yam 27 4 37 1c= 136g (cubed) Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Potassium
white potato, peeled 22 1 27 1c= 122g Not much very high, some Vitamin C
sweet potato 21 3 58 1c= 328g (mashed) Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron (non-heme), Vitamin E
parsnips 17 4 27 1c= 178g (sliced) Vitamin C, Manganese.
lotus root 16 3 19 1c= 120g (sliced) Vitamin C.
acorn squash 15 4 31 1c= 205g Vitamin C.
onion 10 1 21 1c= 210g (chopped) Vitamin C, Potassium.
beets 10 2 17 1c= 170g (sliced) Folate, Manganese.
carrots 10 3 13 1c= 128g (chopped) Vitamin A, Vitamin K,
butternut squash 10  – 22 1c= 205g Vitamin A, Vitamin C
jicama (raw) 9 5 12 1c= 130g (slices) Vitamin C.
kohlrabi 7 1 12 1c = 165g Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, Manganese
spaghetti squash 6 1 9 1c= 155g Not very many. 

This table can help you eat a variety of starches. Use it to give you ideas on healthy ways to incorporate starch in your diet. It’s good for your body, fills you up and is delicious!

 

Peeled butternut squash. Photography by Serena Alibhai

 
Sweet potatoes. Photography by Rizwan Alvi

How often do you incorporate starches from this list into your diet? How do you eat them?

xxSerena 

Intermittent fasting help: “I’m too hungry to fast at night!”

Just a reminder about what intermittent fasting is: you aren’t cutting calories. You’ve already calculated your BMI and BMI so you know how many calories you need to eat every day to achieve your goal of either losing weight, maintaining it or gaining weight.

You don’t cut calories when you are doing intermittent fasting! You are simply eating your daily calories within an 8-hour window of time.

For example, if you start eating at 12 noon, you stop eating at 7 p.m. You don’t eat after 7 p.m. and when I started this was my personal schedule. I would work out at about 11 a.m., eat at noon or one and stop eating (begin my “fast”) between 7 or 8 p.m.

So for those of you who are used to late night snaking this poses a problem! What if you get WAY too hungry at night to stick to the intermittent fasting eating window and fasting times?

Here are some of my personal tips and hints to curb the appetite late at night:

  1. Drink water.

Now I know some of you will scoff at this. But try this first. Hunger is often disguised as thirst and remember, you are allowed to drink water, in fact encouraged to drink water during intermittent fasting periods.

 

Make sure you drink enough water. It’s a good idea to carry around a handy-dandy water bottle. Photography by Rizwan Alvi @rizwanalvifoto

2.  Eat nutrient dense foods during the day.

These are foods that pack a nutritional punch and fill you up. They are foods like vegetables, oatmeal, whole grains, fruit. Vegetables and fruit have skin which contains vitamins and fibre that keep the body healthy and full. Same with fruit. Whole grains contain the husk, which contains vitamins and also more fibre. This will help curb your appetite at night.

 

Choose nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables. Photography by Rizwan Alvi @rizwanalvifoto

 

Fighting directly from the farmer is best. You can also buy organic fruit & vegetables in the store. Photography by Rizwan Alvi @rizwanalvifoto

3.  Don’t forget to eat your calories!

No restrictions! Eat all of the calories you are allotted. If you want to gain an advantage, focus on making those calories good clean food, plant based foods, not processed, try and cook at home. There are so many healthy, inexpensive delicious meals that can be prepared in your own kitchen.

 

Eat enough calories and enjoy your food. photography by Rizwan Alvi @rizwanalvifoto 

Remember, giving your digestive system a rest helps the body perform other important functions like muscle repair, immunity and neuron support. Allowing time for your food to digest is healthy.

What do you think? Do you eat a lot of food at night before you go to sleep?

xxSerena

Can drinking soup help you lose weight?

Soup and salad seem to be those side foods, don’t they? We don’t take them seriously. They aren’t mains. They’re a ‘by-the-way’ kind of afterthought like that hard roll we may or may not eat. Kind of like previews to the movie. Not totally satiating but more mildly interesting – sometimes good but mostly just watery stuff that needs more salt or pepper.

I’ve been drinking various soups all week and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it.

 

Cream of cauliflower soup. Photography by Serena Alibhai

   
Certain soups, however, are high in fat-burning veggies, the broth contains the vitamins and minerals needed to help fight disease and ever notice how much soup can fill you up?

Recent research shows that eating soup can curb appetite, making you feel full faster. It’s also a good way to get in nutrient dense foods, those foods that are high in nutrients per calorie. Much different from simple foods that may be high in sugar, simple carbs like white flour, oil or salt. Those foods are high on immediate flavor but once they satisfy your tongue aren’t doing much for all the complex processes your body needs nutrients to perform.

How can you make a basic delicious vegetable soup?

Start with a base of spices and veggies to set the flavor foundation. So in a large pot cook dry spices or herbs of your choice with diced onion, carrot and celery. The spices I like are dry crushed thyme, black peppercorns, a bay leaf, a small stick of cinnamon, a couple of cloves, a couple of cardamom pods, salt, pepper, celery salt, garlic pepper or herbs de Provence. Then add about two liters of cold filtered water and a vegetable or chicken bullion (stock or flavor) cube.

Then add what veggies you like such as chopped broccoli, diced squash, cauliflower, spinach, etc. Here are some more ideas of what you can add to your nutrient dense healthy vegetable soup:

Powerhouse-Fruits-and-Veggies

The higher the nutrient density score on that list, the higher the nutrients per calorie of food. But everything on that list is super nutrient dense and if you’re eating a grapefruit a day then you’re on your way to increasing nutrient dense healthy foods into your diet! I always remember a conversation I overheard I heard once in a busy ferry station on the way to Staten Island. A very lean and muscular fitness trainer was telling the guys who worked at the snack store about healthy eating habits. I always remember he said “Oh and I do this – Eat a grapefruit every day!” A citrus fruit high in antioxidants and vitamin C, in my opinion, is a great addition to any diet.

I’ve been choosing to add more soup and salad to my diet this week and I notice how much better it makes me feel. It’s less heavy than many of the “main” options, easy to make and I notice how full I get as opposed to when I eat more sugary/doughy foods, which after eating, I feel like still eating!

Do you like soup and salad? What kinds? Would you consider having a soup or salad as a main course at least once a week or do you already eat that way?

xxSerena

Homemade burrito bowl

It’s homemade, so it feeds your body better. You know you’re using the best ingredients you can afford. 

First I made lime rice with sprouted black beans I had prepared last week. Then I added corn.

  
Then I chopped half aEdit red onion and three different colors of peppers. And marinated some jumbo shrimp in old Bay seasoning and lemon. Then fried it in butter and olive oil.

  
   
   
I served this with sour cream, grated cheese and a homemade tahini lemon sauce.

  
Have you ever made burrito bowls at home? How did it go? 

Vegan rainbow power lunch bowl 

Post workout today was a vegan potato veggie bowl. Did you know that there are plant based foods with just as much protein, less carcinogens and more antioxidants than meat?

Broccoli is delicious 🙂

The main ingredients in this lunch bowl are russet potatoes, red bell pepper and broccoli. Here are some nutrition facts before going through this super easy uber healthy lunch:

Potato nutritional facts
Potato nutritional facts
Red Bell Peppers nutritional facts
Red Bell Peppers nutritional facts
Broccoli nutritional facts
Broccoli nutritional facts

Some interesting information on the health benefits of raw vs. cooked broccoli:

Both cooked and raw broccoli have great health benefits. Just don't cook for too long!
Both cooked and raw broccoli have great health benefits. Just don’t cook for too long!

Ingredients:

4 small russet potatoes
1 small stalk broccoli
1 red bell pepper
1 green spring onion
1 tbsp Braggs amino acids
1 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Flash boil broccoli and red bell pepper for five minutes. Chop.
  2. Roughly peel potatoes. Dice.
  3. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain and add chopped bell pepper and broccoli.
  5. Add seasonings, chopped green spring onion and stir.
  6. Heat, covered, on low heat for five minutes to steam and combine flavors.
  7. Serve.
Flash boil your broccoli and red pepper for five minutes. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
Washing potatoes, broccoli and red pepper. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
After a five minute boil. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace

 

Roughly peel potatoes. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
Boil diced potatoes. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
Dice steamed veggies. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
One green spring onion about to be diced. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
I added some sprouted mung beans, optional, I had on hand to my power vegan bowl. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
Add your seasonings. Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace
Season with pepper and enjoy! Photography by Serena Alibhai @serenapeace

It was good. It was satisfying, filling, I felt great after eating it and I was happy it was totally vegan. Perfect post workout fuel!

What do you think about getting your protein from plant based foods? Would you? Do you? Have you?

xxSerena

What I brought to my office Christmas potluck

Our area was given the responsibility of “appetizers.” Easy right? I don’t know about that. There are a lot of appetizers to choose from. I didn’t have a lot of time and I was taking the train to work so I didn’t want to carry a lot with me.

So I made a batch of homemade jalapeño pimento cheese. And a package of crackers.

If you have been reading my blog the past year you know I love pimento cheese.

And I always make it fresh. And if you make it fresh too and remember: always use real, high-quality, sharp cheddar cheese. Some countries call sharp extra strong or extra old. Buy the good stuff!

Also, another tip: I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to mix these ingredients. It gives a fluffy light texture to the pimento cheese.

So delicious! The perfect spread for vegetarian sandwiches as well.

Ingredients:

One block sharp cheddar cheese, grated
One block Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
Quarter cup full fat mayonnaise
Quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper
Quarter teaspoon garlic powder
One jar drained pimentos
1 tablespoon finely chopped marinated jalapeño peppers

Directions:

  1. Take the Philadelphia cream cheese out of the fridge and place on the counter for a couple of hours to soften.
  2. Grate the cheese.
  3. Put all ingredients in the mixer and mix for five minutes.
  4. Spoon into clean containers. Refrigerate for at least two hours so flavors can blend.
  5. Serve over crackers, in sandwiches, with vegetables or stir into pasta as a sauce.

Use the best quality sharp cheddar cheese you can find. Photography by Serena Alibhai
Open and grate the cheese. This cheese is preserved in wax. Photography by Serena Alibhai
Mix cheese, jalapeño and cream cheese together.
Add pimento. Photography by Serena Alibhai
Mix well to combine flavors and texture. Photography by Serena Alibhai
After it’s made, tap the container down and refrigerate over night of if you can’t wait at least an hour! Photography by Serena Alibhai
 

I love homemade pimento cheese! I hope my coworkers enjoy it too!

Here are some pics of the actual “appetizer” portion of our potluck! 

 

“Bacon jam” with baguette. Photography by Serena Alibhai

     
Spinach dip with bread and six layer dip with chips. Photography by Serena Alibhai
  

Real McDonalds chicken McNuggets! Photography by Serena Alibhai
   
Hey, there is my pimento cheese with crackers! Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Photography by Serena Alibhai
 

What are your favorite appetizers to bring to potlucks? What did you bring to your office potluck?

xxSerena

Post workout egg skillet with potatoes, tomatoes and corn

Eat the rainbow is a good nutritious idea, and that means a wide variety of vegetables.

So for a weekend heavy with workout and activities I needed some serious substinance. And I wanted to end the week off without any meat. So eggs it was.

I started with a small chopped onion and fresh diced potatoes. I like to cook this for at least 10 minutes because I want the potatoes and onions to brown and cook.

 

Pan fry onions and potatoes in olive oil. Photography by Serena Alibhai

Then add one chopped portobello mushroom.

Add one chopped portobello mushroom to your onions and potato mixture.
Cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market
Cherry tomatoes corn potatoes and onion

Then we add the corn and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes were very sweet. I got them from the farmers market, they were delicious.

I then beat three eggs in a separate bowl. I seasoned the eggs with the sodium free garlic herb seasoning.

Then pour the eggs over your vegetables, cover and lower heat. Let the eggs cook for 5 to 10 minutes with the heat off or on low.

Egg vegetable scramble

Excellent post workout meal.

Would you make something like this? Why or why not?

Have a great week!

xxSerena