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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 9/3/17)

StarKrimson Pears:

They are delicious just raw and out of the box, but if you are looking for something different, try sautéing them in butter with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey and serve them over almond butter toast. Or try adding them (thinly sliced) to a grilled cheese sandwich or your panini!

Patty Pan Squash:
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until it foams up, usually 1 to 2 minutes. Sauté 1 small onion (diced) in the olive oil-butter until tender and translucent. Add sliced squash and garlic; season with lemon pepper. Sauté until squash is easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 6 minutes.

Green Beans:
You can enjoy raw or cooked, in salads, soups or by themselves. My go-to meals are anything stir-fry. They are quick to make, simple, and healthy. Green beans make a delicious stir-fry, check out the recipe, below!

Chicken – Green Bean Stir Fry – by Peruvian Chick

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil, divided
6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
12 ounces green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise (about 4 cups) OR 1 lb. Patty Pan Squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
Steamed white rice and sesame seeds (for serving; optional)
Salt

Instructions:
1. Prep all of your ingredients and have them ready and handy to use. Toss chicken, cornstarch, a pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce in a medium bowl.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing until scallions are browned and softened, usually about 2 minutes. Add green beans and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until green beans are crisp, but still tender, usually about 4 minutes. Transfer green bean mixture to another bowl.
3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil in same pan over high. When oil is shimmering again, add chicken mixture and arrange slices in a single layer. Cook, until chicken is browned and caramelized on the first side. Toss and continue to cook until it is completely cooked through, usually about a minute or two longer. Pour in the soy-sauce & honey mixture along with the green bean mixture, and cook, tossing briskly until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, usually about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and taste, rectify seasoning and serve with white rice. Enjoy!

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My Cooking Identity Crisis

Interesting title, huh? Well, bear with me. Most of you know me as Peruvian Chick from Instagram or Facebook, the Peruvian Gal that loves to cook, post recipes, loves traveling and cherishes time with friends, family and dogs. What many of you don’t know is that as much as I love cooking, I love business. I first earned an engineering degree before I went on to earn a master’s degree in international business management. I currently run a successful business consulting and branding agency which I co-founded over 12 years ago and guess what? I LOVE cooking just as much!

When my parents discovered this new passion of mine was taking such a pivotal role in my life, the occasional “Oh my, all that money invested in education and all you want to do is cook?” would find its way into conversations. But then they tasted my food, started sharing my recipes and then told their friends that I was famous on “The Facebook.”

If we’re honest, the world at large still tends to be judgmental about women who don’t cook. But society can also be judgmental about women who do cook. Have you ever heard someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post: “Who has time for that?” or “I wish I had time to cook, I work.”

These types of comments took me to the unconscious (and unreal) conclusion that these two passions were mutually exclusive. For the past few years I have been living a double-life being a self-proclaimed Business Consultant by day and Peruvian Chef by night. Depending on the crowd, I would either wear my chef’s hat or my consultant hat. At times, I was embarrassed to admit I loved to cook out of fear it would make me look weak in the business world. Other times I was embarrassed to admit that I am an excellent business strategist out of fear people would not find me relatable anymore. Let’s face it, that was not only silly, it was arrogant of me.

I’ve come to believe that business, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with the culinary world. Cooking is my love language and keeps me connected to my roots. It gives me satisfaction to know where my food comes from and is my form of meditation. On the other hand, business fulfills my insatiable need for research and learning. I love doing a deep dive into a business, begin the problem-solving process and then create the strategies that lead to growth. Both cooking and business feed my creative soul. Getting seasonal fresh produce excites me as much as presenting a new marketing strategy for a client. Have you ever tried to make a meal for 12 stretch into a meal for 30? You do the math. It’s about getting the right ingredients, at the right temperature, at the right time. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences.

Ultimately, cooking or not-cooking is a choice for both men and women. There’s no right or wrong and I am not here to judge. If for any reason, (out of fear that others will think you are bragging you have hesitated to post a homemade meal you made from scratch after a hard day of work, or a full day of home-schooling and watching the kids; believe me, you are not. You are just living your truth and that is your business!

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Sara Balcazar-Greene

(a.k.a. Peruvian Chick)

peruvianchick.com

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P.S. As I write this article my thoughts and prayers go to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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Sweet, Sweet Summer!

I’m excited because – SUMMER!!! The change in season opens up a whole new world of possibilities for creativity and new summer memories!

Think about it. A new season brings forth a need for different types of activities. You also have different holidays to look forward to. The types of food and drinks we like to consume differ with the season. Ultimately, life is completely different in the summer than it is in the winter. To me, summer screams of beach, watermelon and ice cream, lots of ice cream!

Many of my favorite summer memories go back to my early childhood and teenage years. We spent every summer at the beach. My dad would drive to the city everyday so we could enjoy 3 blissful months of sand between our toes, messy hair and well, you guessed it … ice cream! I vividly remember the ice cream cart guy, Mr. Santiago. He lived by the beach year-round as a fisherman, but during the summer months he ran an ice cream cart. He had a big smile, dark skin and for some odd reason I remember his green and black flip-flops. He knew everyone’s name and was everyone’s friend.

Every house in the neighborhood had an account with him. Us (kids) had a credit limit of how many popsicles we were allowed per day; mine was 2. And, oh my, were we in trouble if we went past the limit! Every Sunday afternoon, Mom and Dad had to “settle” our account with Mr. Santiago.

He would ride his yellow cart from house to house, pulling out his little black book noted with every move we made: date, time and ice cream we had! It was there, in writing, with our “signature” next to it. It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time: “Did I stick to the agreement? Did I go overboard? Did my brother sign my name instead of his? Do I have extra credit?” The last one never happened by the way … but ultimately it didn’t matter. I looked forward to it every week. Mr. Santiago’s cart parked in front of our house meant the weekend was over, the house guests had gone back to the city and it was back to the 6 of us: Mom, Dad, my three brothers and me. And every Sunday we shared one more sunset over one more ice cream.

With love and gratitude,

Sara Balcazar-Greene

Peruvian Chick

peruvianchick.com  

instagram.com/peruvianchick

facebook.com/theperuvianchick

Sweet Summer Ice Cream Toppers

Grilled Peaches

Fruit on the grill? Yes! Preheat grill to high. Brush peach halves with oil. Grill until tender. Place 2 peach halves in each bowl and top with a scoop of ice cream (or sorbet) and coconut.

Berry Compote

Nothing says summer like fresh berries. Try this simple sundae sauce over ice cream for a scrumptious summertime treat. Puree strawberries and raspberries with sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Serve over ice cream and top with sliced strawberries and raspberries, if desired.

Sauteéd Pears

Melt butter in a small nonstick pan. Add pear slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and ginger; stir until the sugar melts. Serve over ice cream.

Kid-Friendly Bananas Foster

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp. butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise and crosswise

Vanilla ice cream

PREPARATION

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. When mixture begins to bubble, place bananas in pan. Cook until bananas are hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve at once over vanilla ice cream.

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Mother's Day

I love that we set aside a whole day to honor and celebrate the women who raised us. My mom is an amazing mother who dedicates her life to her four kids. She is selfless, strong, and the most energetic woman I’ve ever met.

Every year as Mother’s Day gets close, I get a little nostalgic that we are not closer (geographically) but then I am quickly reminded that we are close in our hearts. Being 3000 miles away is not always easy. Those are the moments I am most thankful for the technology that brings us together. I always think of the things we would be doing if were celebrating together. This holiday has so much room for thoughtfulness and personalization; making a meaningful and memorable Mother’s Day is an attainable task.

TIME:

* Giving the gift of your time can be more valuable than any material item. As we get older, our lives get busier. Plan something with mom that gives you both some quality time together.

* Brunch Basics ~ Take her to brunch at her favorite restaurant (make reservations ahead of time), or if you’re handy in the kitchen, give her the gift of a home-cooked meal.

* Live far away from your mom? Really treat her and fly her out to visit you for a few days; show her around your city!

* Can’t be there in person? Plan a video-chat dinner date with mom and share a virtual “toast” together!

GET MOM CONNECTED:

* Set your mom up on Facebook or Instagram (and patiently give her a quick tutorial). It will let her peek into your daily life and see the moments that are special to her.

* If your mom isn’t super tech-savvy, put together a small album of your favorite photos over the past year. If she’s not online, chances are she hasn’t seen those day-to-day photos of what’s going on in your life.

HANDMADE:

* Make a greeting card from scratch! The handwritten note is becoming a lost art, and it shows that you care enough to write something in your own words. Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a poet. Simply expressing a few things about what you’re thankful for will mean the world to her.

A DAY OF RELAXATION:

* Let your mom have a day to herself to relax, rest, and recharge. Give her a gift of bath salts (homemade if you have the time), and a good book. Then leave her alone while you take on some of her errands, prep dinner or do the dishes. (Mom’s should never do dishes on Mother’s Day!)

These are just a few ideas, but make it your own. Have fun with it, keep it thoughtful, and it will be a day she’ll remember for years to come!

If you are a mother too, I hope you feel loved and celebrated this Mother’s Day. And no matter what season you find yourself in, just know that you are loved and appreciated.

With love and gratitude,

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)

Peruvian Food Ambassador

peruvianchick.com

instagram.com/peruvianchick

facebook.com/theperuvianchick

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Organic. Time is Personal

I have not always been a strict organic consumer. About 6-7 years ago I started with organic eggs, mainly because they taste better. When I discovered how much better the eggs were, I figured the chicken would be too. That began my journey to slowly transitioning into more organic items, and within 2-3 years, 50% of what I was consuming was organic.

A short time later at a routine doctor’s visit, swollen lymph nodes were discovered under my arms and other parts of my body. After asking the doctor how to get them back to their normal state, I remember vividly the technician saying, “there’s nothing really you can do about them, other than just monitor them”; an answer that didn’t quite sit right with me. It was then that I began heavily researching and learning more about the organic movement, and the more I learned, the more compelled I felt to switch to an all organic diet. Everything from the extra hormones added, to the animal products available in the market, and the pesticides and chemicals added to the produce; the genetically modified foods we put in our bodies and the chemicals we put on our skin, all have an effect on us.

Switching to a 75% organic diet has been one of the best things I could have ever done. I consume hormone-free, organic eggs, meats and produce. My fridge is usually packed with organic goodness every Monday, and practically empty every Saturday…aka time to get more organic groceries. My lymphs nodes where back to normal a year later. Ironically, I had my check-up with the same technician. I brought up the fact that the swelling was gone as she was scanning my test and she repeatedly said: “it must have been an error, they just don’t go away”. Well, they did.

It’s often said that people decide to make drastic changes once they are faced with big challenges (wake up calls). I am thankful mine was not as challenging as many other people face, and equally thankful for the swollen lymph nodes. I am still not 100% organic, not because I don’t want to be, but because sometimes it’s simply not possible due to accessibility. Life happens, and I don’t beat myself up for it. But when the option is there, organic is always my first choice.

These days the word “organic” is seen everywhere. More and more menus are offering “organic greens served with organic baker’s bread and organic spread”, but one thing we have in our favor is that that the word organic (unlike other feel-good descriptions of food like “natural”), actually means something. Certification procedures in the United States and many other countries are strict. In the US, organic food must meet standards ensuring that genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, sewage and irradiation were not used in the food’s production; and that makes it a tad easier for us!

With love and gratitude,

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)

Peruvian Food Ambassador

peruvianchick.com

instagram.com/peruvianchick

facebook.com/theperuvianchick

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Have You Heard of Turmeric?

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone! Little did I know, growing up in Peru, that I ate many Peruvian dishes that use turmeric, thanks to our African influence. In its powder form we call it “palillo.” I was over-the-moon ecstatic to find out that Klesick Farms offers fresh turmeric root! Although it’s not in the Klesick boxes this week, it is an amazing product you can add to your future orders. Let’s take a look at this popular ingredient in Indian, Asian and African cuisine. Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today. Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5,600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies!

Also known as curcuma, turmeric belongs to the ginger family. It gives curry its peppery taste and characteristic yellow color. Curcuma, which is responsible for turmeric’s yellow color, is also its most active medical component. Studies show that raw turmeric contains higher curcumin content in comparison to its counterpart turmeric powder.

According to studies, turmeric contains components that are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, making it useful for treating arthritis, inflammatory conditions and possibly cancer. As a strong antioxidant, turmeric is rich with a substance believed to protect body cells from damage caused by oxidation. In promising, but very early research results, curcuma has kept several kinds of cancers from growing or spreading.

Okay, so how you can use raw turmeric? I’ve included a recipe (below), but you can also use raw turmeric to:

* Make golden milk: Heat 2 cups light unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk) with 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh turmeric and 3-4 black peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste (if desired). Great before going to bed!

* Add to curries and rice

* Add to juices and smoothies

* Add to salads and stir fries, and so on…

One newsletter is not long enough to list the many benefits of turmeric. As per how to use it, the list is endless and just limited by your imagination!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

 

Recipe: Turmeric-Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

1 2½ to 3-inch piece ginger root

1 3-inch piece turmeric

1 small shallot, peeled

2 small potatoes, diced

2-3 medium cloves garlic

½ cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (optional)

Juice of one large lemon

2 tablespoons water

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into approximately ½-inch strips

1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

2 large carrots, shredded

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 head of butter lettuce, leaves separated, cleaned and dried

Directions:

1. Using the small holes of a grater, finely grate ginger, turmeric, garlic and shallot into a large glass mixing bowl. Add soy sauce, Sriracha, lemon juice, water and whisk to incorporate.

2. Add chicken strips and toss well to coat with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally to make sure the chicken is coated.

3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add potatoes until they are cooked half way though. Add chicken and sauté in a single layer; turning pieces with a spatula as they cook. Continue stirring until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a serving dish; cover to keep warm. To serve, place 4-5 chicken strips inside a lettuce leaf.

4. Top with approximately ½ tablespoon of shredded carrots and sprinkle with a pinch of cilantro.

 

Know Your Produce: Bartlett Pears

Did you know that Bartlett Pears contain probiotic benefits that support your gut health? New research has found that pears can balance beneficial gut bacteria.

Ripened pears can be used at once or put under refrigeration until you want to use them. Refrigeration will delay further ripening, but will not stop it altogether, giving you adequate time to include fresh pears in your menu planning.

A ripe pear is a sweet pear. A little known fact about the pear is that it is one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree. The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.

Place under-ripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit, like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene and will help speed up the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces and purees!

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Enjoying the Simple Pleasure of Cooking

It’s a new year and once again many of us find ourselves with renewed goals for 2016. Many opt for the traditional resolutions of losing weight or exercising more after overindulging during the holidays. This year I have decided to take it a step further and apply a minimalist approach to my eating and lifestyle habits.

I recently read an article that alluded to the fact the minimalists like to say that they’re living more meaningfully and more deliberately, and that getting rid of most material possessions in their lives allows them to focus on what’s important: family, friends, hobbies, travel, experiences, etc. This article got me thinking on how it would apply to our everyday lives, cooking and eating.

We live in a society of the “eternal holiday.” After the New Year sale, there’s Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day… and shortly after we are back to Thanksgiving and Christmas again. For each holiday, stores have specials and themed products designed for us to over-shop and then we hold onto these things because we think they’re going to be useful in some hypothetical future that does not actually exist. Naturally, we end up with more than we need.

My curiosity led me to different blogs and articles, but one in particular grabbed my attention. Joshua Becker, from Becoming Minimalist, wrote A Simple Guide to Enjoy Cooking. “Enjoy” being the key word:

1. Clear your kitchen counters. A clean, uncluttered kitchen counter is refreshing. It communicates calm and order. It saves time and promotes cleanliness.
2. Cook healthy foods. There is a pleasant satisfaction that comes from preparing healthy food for you and your family. Its importance in the process cannot be overstated. It provides valuable motivation and incentive for cooking your own meals. And the positive benefits of cooking a healthy meal stretch far beyond the dinner table.
3. Use fresh ingredients. Replace dried spices with fresh ingredients (onion, garlic, parsley, basil, limes, lemons), the flavor of meals improve dramatically.
4. Own a sharp knife. Learn how to use it. It does not have to be expensive. And once you learn how to use it properly, preparing meals becomes significantly easier and more enjoyable.
5. Start with foods/recipes you enjoy. Begin by preparing meals you look forward to eating. And incorporate the same philosophy into cooking all new dishes at home.
6. Be confident. You can do this. Step up to the cutting board, the oven, or the stovetop with full confidence in your abilities. An anxious spirit does not enjoy creating. And unfortunately, an anxious spirit rarely succeeds. To enjoy cooking, you’ll need to convince yourself that you are able to do it. Eventually, a delicious meal and corresponding smile from your table guests will do the trick. But even before they do, believe in yourself. You will still make mistakes, but that’s okay. Just remember, the biggest mistake you can make is not believing in yourself.
7. Value presentation. There is an old saying among chefs that goes like this, “We eat with our eyes first.” Research and experience validates their claims. Food that looks good is more likely to taste good. Take some extra time to serve your food in a visually appealing presentation—even if you are eating alone. You’ll always enjoy it more.
8. Appreciate the eating. Be mindful of the cleaning. If you have a family, create the space and culture in your home that values eating together. For many families, this is not possible at every meal, but that does not mean space can’t still be created for some family meals together. You may need to establish some margin or get creative, but the more time spent together around the dinner table, the better. Appreciate the importance of sitting down long enough to enjoy your food. And likewise, learn to appreciate the act of cleaning up afterwards. It does not have to be seen as a chore if approached with the right mindset.
9. Record your favorite recipes. I store a small, index card box in our pantry. Inside, I keep all the successful recipes I have discovered over the years. And it has been an important step in increasing my enjoyment of cooking because the true value of the black box is that I have a wide selection of family-favorite recipes right at my fingertips.

Happy Cooking 2016!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

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Playing with Water

We are 70% water, so it’s no mystery why it is one of the most necessary nutrients our body needs. But why is it so hard to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day? We know the endless benefits of drinking water: heart circulation, metabolism, joint health, digestive health, clearer skin, etc.

Think of a dried prune; it’s all dry and wrinkled. Now, think of a fresh prune; full of hydration, smooth and healthy. As much practical sense that this all makes, I have to admit the idea of sipping on the same thing all day long can get boring. So lately I have been experimenting with Infused Water. Spring brings us bright, beautiful, and colorful produce that can naturally enhance the flavor of water. Infused water can be any combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs and even flowers. Why infuse water? The answer is simple. By improving the flavor with a healthy option, it’s an easier way to achieve your recommended daily amounts but also include essential vitamins into this healthy drink.

Although there are many flavored waters on supermarket shelves, producing a homemade option is cost effective and far healthier. Most infused waters available at supermarkets include preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and refined sugars. All of these are bad for your short and long-term health, in addition to being an enemy of your skin health.

Everyone has their favorite fruit infused water ingredients, but some are more popular than others. Lemon, lime, strawberries, apples, and oranges are the most popular fruit ingredients, while cucumbers, mint, basil, cinnamon, and ginger are the most popular vegetable ingredients. I think it’s time to produce your own, so I’ve included a basic method to follow. Have fun with it; the rest is up to you! To make your fruit-infused water, simply wash and slice a combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Pour cold filtered water on top. Cover the jar and store in the refrigerator. The flavor will get stronger after a few hours. You can replenish the water throughout the day.

Some of my favorite infused water combinations are: Lemon with Strawberry and Cucumber, Cucumber with any Citrus, Apple with Ginger and Cinnamon, Watermelon with Mint, Pineapple and Berry…sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? Here are 3 more tips I follow to ensure I drink enough water throughout the day:

  1. Set a specific goal for the day: Mine is to drink at least 32oz a day, I am working my way to 64oz but for now, 32oz is the goal!
  2. Get a bottle you will actually use and keep it close: My bottle requirements are: absolutely no dripping, BPA free plastic and it must fit in the car cup holder.
  3. Use a straw: I notice that when I use a straw I drink more and faster.

Here’s to a more hydrated you!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

Asparagus Soup                              

Growing up we had soup as the first course almost every day, this soup made it to our family table at least once a week. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut in ½ in pieces

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek (white part) chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

¾ cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Melt butter and oil in a medium size saucepan at low heat. Add onion and leek and cook until golden brown. Add asparagus and season to taste. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until asparagus are very tender.

With an immerse blender blend mixture until creamy and soft. Return cream to pan and add milk or cream. Serve with bread croutons if desired.

Asparagus

Uncooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. The secret is to keep the vegetable cool and damp. Store spears upright in a container with the stems wading in an inch of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag. Easier still: Wrap the ends in moist paper towels and drop the bundle into a plastic bag.

Use: cooking asparagus takes only a few minutes. The goal: Preserve the bright color and delicate flavor. Broiling or roasting the spears intensifies their inherent sweetness. Steamed or boiled asparagus is great for salads.

 

If you boil, forget the fancy equipment. Just launch the spears in a skillet full of lightly salted boiling water. The pan should be large enough to fit the spears in one or two layers, so that they cook evenly and quickly. Don’t cover the skillet; otherwise the asparagus will go from bright green to army drab. Start testing for doneness after two or three minutes by piercing the ends with a knife. They should be barely tender, with a slight crunch. Asparagus will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the pan. If you like asparagus with snap, drop it into a sink full of cold water to stop the cooking.

Tips from thekitchn.com

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Why I cleanse in February

Week of February 1, 2015

It’s that time of year when everybody talks about detoxes, cleanses, diets, etc. I have to admit, I may have overindulged during the holidays, but a detox or cleanse is not the answer to overcome that guilt. I am a huge advocate of detoxing, but cleanses are more than a quick weight-loss solution. Weight management simply comes by making a habit of making better eating decisions.

I tend to avoid the fad of cleansing right after the holidays because I like to decompress and get back to my “real” routine. By mid-January the Christmas tree has served its purpose and gone to the “park” where all Christmas trees go after the holidays. The last remaining decorations have been put away and the cookies are finally gone! I have time to juice in the mornings and am once again able to think clearly.

Now is when I am finally ready for the benefits of a cleanse! But why cleanse in the first place? The only way that toxins are eliminated from the body is through the natural processes of detoxification, which occurs through the skin by perspiration, through the colon by elimination, through the kidneys by urination, and through the lungs by respiration. When the body has accumulated more toxins than it can handle, the body, in its amazing natural healing process, attempts a healing response. It must force the toxins out or the body will disease and die. I have been detoxing twice a year for four years now and the benefits I have experienced are endless. Here are just a few:

  • Increase in energy.
  • The digestive tract will rid itself of accumulated waste and bacteria.
  • Liver, kidneys and blood are purified and function more effectively.
  • The peristaltic action of the colon is strengthened. (Peristalsis are a series of muscle contractions that occur in your digestive tract.)
  • A mental clarity occurs that is not possible under the constant bombardment of chemicals and food additives.
  • Dependency on habit-forming substances such as refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs is greatly diminished. (No more cravings!)
  • Bad eating habits are broken. As you come off the program it will be easier to make wiser food choices.
  • The stomach has a chance to return to its normal size, making it easier to control the quantity of food you eat.

I was super excited when Klesick Family Farm announced their Juice Cleanse Box last year. This box contains all of the produce you need to participate in a basic juice cleanse. They even include a copy of their juice cleanse plan with all of the recipes.

After you cleanse it is important to pay attention to your body and what it needs. Your “cravings” will be different and your palate will be cleansed as well. Real fruits and vegetables will taste better, so take advantage of this situation and avoid introducing “not-so-good” food into your daily diet.

One of my go-to recipes for after a cleanse is Fresh Summer Rolls: thin rice paper stuffed with veggies, protein and rice noodles, and served with a side of lightly spicy peanut sauce.

If you’re not familiar with these little delicacies – also known as fresh spring rolls – then my, you’ve got a treat in store! Cucumber water aside, they’re just about the freshest thing I can imagine: a jumble of crunchy raw vegetables, soft, aromatic leaves and cool, squidgy noodles, all stuffed snugly into a feather light rice wrapper. In fact, summer rolls were what first hooked me on the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cooking: so much lighter and punchier than the fried snacks I was expecting. It’s a delicious Asian salad packed into an edible container.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can play around with the recipe to your heart’s content, but the guiding principle should always be to cram as many contrasts of flavor and texture into each bite as possible, while retaining the roll’s elegant appearance. And listo! Ready to enjoy!

Please Note: A juice cleanse is not for everyone. Consult your doctor to be sure a juice cleanse is right for you.

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
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Recipe: Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce    

 

Your choice of protein: cooked prawns, sautéed chicken or tofu

1 block of rice vermicelli noodles

4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked

4 sprigs of basil leaves (Asian or Italian)

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 red pepper, peeled and grated

¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded

4 tbsp. salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

8 rice paper wrappers

 

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Juice of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon of garlic-chili sauce

1-2 tablespoons of agave

 

Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients and place within reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with warm water, and then dunk one in the water and continue patting until it becomes pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange lettuce horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with protein in a horizontal line, then top your protein with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and red bell pepper with a few cucumber sticks, and then add a small clump of rice vermicelli noodles. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, prepare your peanut sauce. Whisk all the ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.

Posted on

Simple and Beautiful Holiday Bread

Once again December is upon us. It feels like yesterday when tulips started blooming and rejoiced with their colors, summer heat gave us a good excuse to eat watermelon by the pounds (well, I did), and then the fall air became crispy enough to get us all excited about hats and scarfs. But December has done it again—it surprised us with the smell of hot cocoa and festivities everywhere we turn.

December is festive, fun, colorful, warm, traditional and giving. It gives us the opportunity to reconnect with friends, a chance to indulge on special ingredients, an excuse to get dressed up and a reason to be a little more giving than usual.

This past September my parents came to visit. I am so thankful my husband and I were able to spend almost two months with them. It was like being back home. As expected, most of the time we were in the kitchen cooking, baking, talking. My parents LOVE bread. They have it for breakfast and at tea time, every day. So that sent me into a “bread making kick.” Few things are as good as well-made, fresh bread—the initial crunch, then the softness of the inside. It’s even better when it’s warm and the smell lingers throughout the house.

Artisan bread is my favorite. It’s rustic and very forgiving. I do not own a bread-making machine and I had never made bread in my life until I discovered the 5-minute Artisan Bread. After that I was making bread every day and loving it!

Offering homemade bread is a warm, personal gesture, carrying the best sentiments of the season. Accompanying it with a jar of homemade warm apple compote makes the perfect gift! All you need is four ingredients, parchment paper and a dutch oven (recipe on back). Add fresh rosemary for a more savory flavor, fresh oregano for an Italian twist or even chocolate chips for some sweet fun! It takes almost no time to make but can be a wonderful gift for a party hostess or a neighbor. It tastes and looks good and don’t forget to package it thoughtfully.

But let’s face it, we all get busy and may not have time to make homemade bread for every occasion, but you can add a loaf of Breadfarm artisan bread to your next Klesick order. Make a big batch of apple compote (recipe on back) ahead of time, store in jars and refrigerate. Next time you are heading out to a Christmas party, wrap that pretty bread with parchment paper, grab a jar of apple compote and delight your friends with this tasty treat!

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
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ARTISAN BREAD

 

6.5 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups luke-warm water

1 tbs salt

1 tbs yeast

 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and use a wood spoon to stir together until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Dough will bubble up and rise. After dough is ready, preheat oven to 500 F. Cut half of the dough and place onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball.

Place on top of parchment paper and let rest for 45 minutes. While dough is resting, put your dutch oven into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove the dutch oven. Slice 1/4″ deep cuts into the surface of the dough. Carefully lift the dough and place, with paper and all into the preheated pot. Replace the lid and slip it back into the oven. After 15 minutes of baking, remove the lid. The dough only needs to bake in the steam for that amount of time. now it is time to add a lovely caramel color to the bread. Turn the heat down to 450°F and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. Once the loaf is nicely browned, carefully remove it from the pot with a spatula. Peel off the parchment and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Bread will be golden, crusty and delicious!

WARM APPLE COMPOTE

 

2-3 apples peeled and thinly sliced

Coconut oil

Cinnamon

Maple syrup

Apple cider

 

Sauté apples in coconut oil until slightly brown, add a pinch of cinnamon and maple syrup. Let apples caramelize. Add a splash of apple cider for a more runny consistency. Enjoy on hot toast. Spread almond butter if you’d like and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Feastingathome.com