Olive Oil Taste Testing

If you’re looking for a new way to season your vegetables, spice up your fish, marinate your meats, or just create a great dip, then olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings might be for you.

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Olive oil is a staple in most Mediterranean diets and has become popular in Western cooking in the recent decades. Many may not know this, but there are over 20 different types of olive oils, infused with various herbs and spices. When paired with infused balsamic vinegars, the flavor combination possibilities are endless.

Generally when it comes to taste testings wine might come to mind, maybe even cheese or coffee, but never oil. The best way to taste test the quality of olive oil is to place a small amount in a glass, and take a sniff. It should smell fresh. If it smells slightly musty or like cardboard the oil is not pure or has gone bad. Don’t worry if you’re a newbie to all of this, the expert doing the tasting will guide you. And if guzzling a little oil by itself sounds unappetizing, you can always pair the oil with a balsamic vinegar or dip in some bread.

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Eating my way through D.C.

Ever want to just get up and go somewhere you’ve never been? Or maybe it’s a place you’ve already gone to but wanted to revisit? Instead of course, you do the more practical thing and brush that day dream under the rug because, well—life. For once I did that—I needed a break. Mostly, I needed a season change–Florida heat can make anyone go a little crazy. So I asked Boss Lady for two weeks off, which she gladly gave me  because she’s an angel, called up my friend in Washington, DC, cousin in New York, and college roommate/bestie who had just moved to Brooklyn and told them I was coming up. My mission: to go anywhere and everywhere there was food.

Founding Farmer’s “Quality and natural ingredients”

Tip:

Make reservations the day before

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Why I Love It

Their ingredients come from sustainable American family farms, and taste incredibly fresh. It’s clear Founding Farmer’s takes their holistic approach very seriously. Plus the founder has an obvious sense of humor for puns; being in the capitol city, it only made sense to fashion the name of this establishment after  the nation’s Founding Father’s.

Something you might not know

As we sat down to eat our waiter told us the one time they had a tomato shortage in their kitchen, all they had to do was call up the local farmer who distributed them their tomatoes and have him bring in a new supply that day!

They have an open floor layout downstairs as well as a quieter intimate level upstairsIMG_1999
Catch up on your farming and food know-how in the reading section while you waitIMG_2000

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To accommodate for my wheat allergy, the server substituted the biscuits that came with the platter for fruits

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Pitango Gelato

Their specialty

Gelato, sorbets, and coffee-espressos. They use organic grass-fed milk, cream, and free-range eggs. For you vegans or lactose-intolerants, their sorbets are dairy free.

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Why I love it

Pitango’s gelato and sorbets are free of artificial ingredients, colorings, flavorings and chemicals, and low on fat and sugar content.

There’s always something new to try

Aside from the classics, they have exotic flavors like mojito, rhubarb, and passion fruit.

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I tried the NEW flavor CAFFE ESPRESSO

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Oyamel Concina Mexicana

Vibe: Vibrant, ambient, modern, artsy

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Specialty

They’re a tapas style restaurant. Everything comes out in small plates and is meant to be shared. It becomes a little pricey as you add on more platters. Don’t expect to leave on a full stomach from their portions.

Why I like them

They have a diverse allergy-friendly menu that not too many restaurants have and it is color coded at the top. Gluten, vegetarian, vegan, shellfish, nuts, & dairy. Plus their GUACAMOLE IS BOMB.

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Why I won’t be going back

They still made their ingredients with Soy. Having a soy allergy is probably the number one reason it’s difficult for me to eat out at restaurants, but I just ended up being creative and picked the one item on the menu which was soy-free and added some salsa and guacamole on top. Did I mention how good their guacamole was?!

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Protein Bar

Vibe: Modern

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Why I LOVE them

Aside from the fresh, great taste, Protein Bar is considered a Fast Food restaurant AND healthy — huhwut?! You can go in and place your order at the counter just like any usual fast food restaurant and have a smoothie, green juice, salad, wrap, quinoa bowl, or chili ready for you in less than 5 minutes.

Why I think there should be more

Protein Bar is an expanding franchise but it is still very very new–you can count the number of stores they have on two hands. I’m pretty sure if there were more franchises like this available in every local community, it would be less tempting to eat poorly when looking for a quick bite to eat. If Chipotle could do it, I think Protein Bar can do it too.

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 So that was my food adventures around D.C. in a nutshell, give or take a few that weren’t worth mentioning. 

Snack Find: Coconut Milk Almond Chocolate Ice Cream

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been on an ice cream craving binge lately from the last picture I posted.

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Even looking at it right now make me want to hop out of bed as I write this, go downstairs to the freezer and take one out of the wrapper. No! Self-control Rakhi. You’ve already had a bowl of Coconut Bliss Madagascar Vanilla. Mmm Vanilla..

Soo why I love So Delicious Coconut Milk Almond Chocolate Ice Cream Bars

  • Creamy, smooth, perfectly sweet, but not overly rich or sugary
  • Quality ingredients (organic)
  • Soy free
  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free (I’m not allergic to dairy, but for anyone who is, this is the perfect alternative)
  • Tastes just like a CRUNCH Ice Cream bar
  • I feel guilt-free

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 So Delicious right now has a printable coupon offer on their site, $0.55 off  http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/get-coupons

As for my self-control…I’m going in for another bite.

 

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Healthy Glazed Peaches Recipe

As promised from yesterday’s post  A Peachy Sunday Morning here is the recipe for Glazed Peaches. It’s dairy free, gluten free, naturally soy free, and sugar free. For the pancake recipe check out Almond-Oat Flour Pancakes. Enjoy, share, and let me know what you think. Happy Monday! 

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In a sauce pan on medium heat mix for 3 minutes:

  • Melt 2 Tablespoons of Coconut oil
  • Add sliced peaches
  • 1 teaspoon stevia

Add the next ingredient in and stir for 1 minute:

  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Add remaining ingredients and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes:

  • ¼ cup Orange Juice
  • 1/3 cup Water

Remove from heat and let cool so the sauce can thicken.

*Optional

For a slightly thicker sauce you can add ¼ teaspoon Xantham Gum 

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How to Cook Juicy Pork Tenderloin in Under an Hour

The key to making a juicy pork tenderloin lies in the technique, and the steps are really simple.

For a 2lb. Pork Tenderloin:

  • Sear for ~ 10 minutes
  • Bake for ~ 40 minutes

* ~ approximate, depending on the heat range of your stove

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1) You’ll want to set your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and your stovetop to medium-high heat.

2) Season your pork tenderloin as you usually would and coat with oil.

3) Sear all sides of your pork tenderloin in a deep pan for 10 minutes or until it achieves a nice color to it. Add a little water to the pan to keep the meat from sticking and to prevent it from over drying.

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4) Place into your oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the internal temperature of your tenderloin is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to add in onions, potatoes and 1/8-1/4 cup of water to keep the pork moist in the oven.

The key to a juicy pork tenderloin is to not overcook the meat or it will dry out. If your pork is just a hint of pink that is fine. If pink doesn’t sit well with you, you can leave the tenderloin in the oven for an extra 10 minutes.

5) Take out the pork and let it rest with aluminum foil over the top.

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I like to pair my pork with glazed peaches and Weber’s Barbecue Sauce. It’s gluten-free and has no high fructose corn syrup.

Banana Fig Pudding

I’ve been craving pudding like nobody’s business, which is weird for me to say since I’ve never been a fan of anything mushy or slimy but this pudding is quite the contrary. I’m a big fan of bananas, just not overly ripe ones. This pudding tastes best when the bananas are still slightly green at the stem and what’s great about this recipe is that it’s also dairy and sugar free.

Pudding Base

  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 cup chopped Figs
  • 1/3 cup Almonds (blanched)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Coconut Whip Cream

  • 1 1/2 cup Full Fat Organic Coconut milk (canned, should be solid when shaken not milky)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons of Stevia (or to taste)

Directions for Pudding

1. Blend almonds in food processor for a few seconds until it reaches a meal consistency

2. Add in other ingredients

Directions for Coconut Whip Cream

3. Pour out the cream from the can and throw out the liquid part that usually sits on top

4. Add the stevia and vanilla and whisk to blend ingredients together

You can let these chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge or overnight until ready to serve. Lasts in the fridge for 2 days.

Cured on a Film Set?

Earlier this past week I was filming on set for a short which explains my lack of posts since Monday. But I’m back.

In the film world, as they say, early is on time, on time is late. Filming is a perpetual game of ‘hurry up and wait’. Setting up, breaking down set, moving camera equipment, and multiple takes later you’re still running out of time…and film. So back to my ‘cure’.

Behind the scenes

 I have an on-going list of food allergies so I basically eat clean and am very careful with what I put in my body. When craft services asked me about my food allergies on set, I didn’t want to burden anyone and list out my ridiculous list, so I just stated the major ones like peanuts and seafood. I figured I would just bring my own snacks and cross my fingers that the day’s catered lunch wasn’t going to make me sick or cause me to break out in hives.

My first day on set my skin was slightly broken out in eczema so I was careful with how I ate. The three days of shooting after that I ended up leaving my snacks at home and started eating the food on set just to see if my immunity had improved since I had been avoiding those foods for so long. Not only did my skin NOT break out, but it cleared up completely. The only reasoning I can think of why my skin healed and why I didn’t get sick was because my stress levels were virtually non-existent. I was doing what I loved. Outside of acting, I work a traditional corporate job and with it comes a large amount of stress. Stress I didn’t realize was affecting my autoimmune disease until this week. So I’m starting to think stress has more to do with my food allergies than the foods itself. It’s an important revelation that’ll help me continue healing on my journey. Just goes to show your mind is much stronger than your body.

This post is a part of Fiesta Friday on The Novice Gardener

Egg Burrito

I’m not a big morning person. I’ll usually set my alarm a good two hours before I have to leave the house for work, because that’s literally how long it takes for me to stop wrestling with my sheets and get myself ready. And when I am up, I’m frantically trying to make up for the time I spent under the covers. One thing I make sure I never do is skip breakfast. I need my eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, fruits, and nuts ALWAYS. Eggs are sometimes hard to take on the go, but not unless it’s a burrito.

The best way I’ve found to make a egg burrito is to cook the omelet, which will become the ‘tortilla’ on medium-low heat and about half way through cover the pan with a lid so the steam cooks the top of the omelet. When the top isn’t as runny anymore just flip to cook both sides evenly. Wrap in parchment paper or aluminum foil and you’re good to go.

Egg burrito, spinach, onions, tomatoes, red bell peppers, crushed red peppers, homemade hashed potatoes, natural cheese

Egg burrito, spinach, onions, tomatoes, red bell peppers, crushed red peppers, homemade hashed potatoes, natural cheese

Really That’s How Raspberries Actually Taste?

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I’ve never been the type to hop on a health craze bandwagon, organics included. As long as I know something is as natural as possible without being too genetically modified then I’ll buy it. You can’t even trust labels nowadays, everything is a dupe. I picked up some organic raspberries for the first time to have in my daily morning oatmeal and honestly I didn’t know raspberries could taste so—good! I’ve always liked raspberries, but organic raspberries are taste like another breed. Well, I guess they technically are. They’re firm, not mushy, have a great subtle sweetness to them rather than being too tart. It’s safe to say, I don’t think I’ll be going back to ‘regular’ raspberries anytime soon. Makes me wonder, what else have I been eating that’s not suppose to taste how I’m used to it tasting.

Happy Monday!

Allergic to Chocolate?

When I was younger, my mother swore that I was allergic to chocolate. I’d break out into hives and it just wasn’t pretty, so she banned me from eating any form of it. No Halloween candy as a kid. It was a rough life. As I got older, the hives stopped coming and I started feeding my chocolate indulgence again. Life was great and I couldn’t be happier until a year ago the hives returned. I chalked it up to other things I was eating, mainly because I was in denial. Not being able to eat chocolate might as well mean not living, right?

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So before I went into full panic attack mode in fetal position and started crying,I asked my nutritionist at the time to test me for Cocoa on my MRT (Mediator Release Test). The results came back and showed I WASN’T ALLERGIC!

Green: Non-reactive Yellow: Moderately Reactive Red: Reactive

Green: Non-reactive Yellow: Moderately Reactive Red: Reactive

So I naturally did what anyone would do, I went to town and bought CHOCOLATE.

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And then of course the next day, I broke out again. I felt betrayed. Were my test results wrong?

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I looked at the back of the packaging on all my chocolate bars and realized all the added fillers like SOY, which I’m highly allergic to, and other weird things I couldn’t pronounce were on the ingredients list. So I hadn’t been eating real chocolate this whole time, I felt duped by the chocolate companies, and a little relieved. And it turns out after buying organic choclate, things were alright after that. The End.

Moral of the story is that if something isn’t working out for you, try to find another solution. There’s always another way around. If you feel like your skin wreaks havoc after eating chocolate, maybe try picking up the organic kind. These are some of my favorites:

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Tastes just like a CRUNCH bar

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This post is a part of The Daily Post Daily Prompt: Happy Endings