Thursday, February 21, 2013

Start Your Day With a Smile: Banana and Coconut Milk Smoothie

Did you know that bananas contain tryptophan that our bodies convert into serotonin? In other words, bananas can make you relax, feel happier and really improve your mood! 
I love to start my day with this mood-uplifter smoothie! Its creamy texture and delicious taste guarantee a satisfaction beyond words!
I prefer to use either the small Greek bananas, a variety that is cultivated in the island of Crete or organic ones. The large, perfect-looking commercial bananas are usually full of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and nematocides, such as Aldicarb (a chemical that is really-really toxic). So if you want to put a smile on your face... better do it in the right way!!!
Coconut milk again can be full of preservatives that you can just avoid if you choose an organic one and preferably not one in a can.
Cinnamon is pretty far as I know!!!

So here is the recipe:

2 small or 1 regular banana (you may freeze it ahead for a more ice-cream/milk shake effect)
350 ml coconut milk
1 full teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon honey (optional) 

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend really well. You may also blend it with a bit ice if you like.
Enjoy right away and keep smiling!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk and Coriander

An easy-going dish that everybody loves (well...except those of you that hate coriander, but that goes on top anyway so you may skip it or replace it with parsley). Sometimes I add carrots along with the pumpkin, but that really isn't necessary. If you've got the vegetable broth ready, then it really takes 15 minutes to make. It's worth the try!

So here is the recipe:

1 kg pumpkin (or squash), peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
2 onions, cut into chunks
A 2 cm piece ginger root, peeled and roughly choped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you may also use olive oil if you prefer)
700 ml vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
250 ml coconut milk (or more if you like it creamier)
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and genlty cook the onions and ginger until soft. Add The pumpkin and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly soft. Add the turmeric and stir well and then add the vegetable stock, some salt and pepper. Put the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is really soft. Purée with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Mix in the coconut milk and serve with chopped coriander on top.

Friday, February 8, 2013

An Onion Remedy for Fever

The onion (Allium cepa) was highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the many-layered universe. They saw eternal life in the anatomy of the onion because of its circle-within-a-circle structure. Depictions of onions appear on the walls of the pyramids and in the tombs of both the Old and New Kingdom. Not only did they use them as a currency to pay the workers who built the pyramids, but they also placed them in the tombs of kings as a symbol of eternity.

Two unfinished depictions from "The Bird Tomb" of Neferherenptah at Saqqara, which have been sketched out in red orchre and finished in charcoal. The first one depicts  the watering of onions and the second one the harvesting of onions. 

Onions have been aknowledged for thousands of years for their medicinal value. The physicians of ancient Egypt prescribed onions in various diseases, they numbered over 8000 onion-alleviated ailments. Hippocrates prescribed onions as a diuretic, wound healer and pneumonia fighter in the 5th century BC and gave a comprehensive description of its medicinal properties. The ancient Greeks also used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic Games. Before competition, athletes would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions on their bodies. They ate large quantities of onion because they believed it lightened the balance of blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onion to firm up their muscles.  In India as early as the sixth century BC, the medical treatise Charaka - Sanhita acknowledged the onion as a diuretic, good for digestion, the heart, the eyes and joints. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts. Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements and erections, and also to relieve headaches, coughs,snakebite and hair loss.

A natural way to reduce a fever without the use of any medication is to drink an onion juice mixed with honey. The way to make it is really simple:
Put a large onion in a preheated oven and let it bake for about 40 minutes. When ready and soft, press it thoroughly through a sieve to collect all its juices and, then, mix in the juice about two tablespoons of good quality honey. Drink 2 teaspoons of this every 2-3 hours until the fever goes down.
It also recommended to put sliced onions in a bowl by the bed. As they have pacity to absorb viruses! The drawing of infection, congestion and colds out of the ear is also remarkable. 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Liver-Boost Winter Salad Recipe

This tasteful salad is a great way to tone your liver. A blend of beautiful seasonal vegetables - all raw -, flaxseeds, and a simple turmeric dressing! I try to eat it daily or as often as I can. Full of antioxidant vitamines A, E and C, rich in folic acid - necessary for pregnant women or women that plan to get pregnant -, it also contains iron, potassium, selenium, sulfur, chlorophyll, organic calcium, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, omega 3, fiber, lignants, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, manganese, copper and magnesium! Great, right?! I often add a couple of hard boiled organic eggs on top of it and just get everything I need for the day and it's delicious, I promise!
Feel free to improvise and add any other seasonal vegetable you fancy!


A small banch of fresh spinach leaves 
4-5 lettuce leaves
A small banch of dandelion leaves
A small banch of swiss chard leaves
A small banch of beetroot leaves
A small banch of arugula leaves
3 spring onions, cut lenghtwise and roughly chopped
3-4 stalks of celery with their leaves, roughly chopped 
A banch of fresh parsley
A banch of cilantro leaves
1/2 cup sliced fennel root
4-5 radishes, sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and grated
a thick piece of kohlrabi, peeled and grated
3-4 beetroots, peeled and grated
4-5 Greek-style black wrinckled olives (throumbes
2 tablespoons flaxseeds (can be replaced with sesame or other seeds, or you can use a mix of seeds)

For the dressing:
1 small lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small garlic clove mashed (optional)
Approximately 1/4 cup olive oil (might take a bit more, depending on how sour you like your dressing)
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Wash all your vegetables really well and let them dry. I use my hands or a pair of seasors to roughly cut all the leafy vegetables. Don't try to chop them, as you will lose most their their nutritional value. In a separate bowl prepare your dressing. Add first the lemon juice, vinegar, turmeric and garlic (if using) and whisk well. Gradually add in the olive oil, while stirring, and season with salt and pepper.
Place the leafy vegetables with the spring onions, the sliced fennel root and radishes in a large salad bowl and mix in most of the dressing. Spoon the grated kohlrabi, carrots and beetroots on top. Sprinkle with flaxseeds, add the olives and pour the remaining dressing on top!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

Why buy a ready-made curry paste when it's so easy to make it yourself?! I was recently asked to give a lesson on how to prepare a home-made Thai-style curry paste and yuuum (...!!!) it reminded me of how much I love Thai cuisine and it's main ingredients; fresh lemongrass, galangal root, ginger, corriander, kaffir lime leaves, spicy chilies, limes, coconut milk... so aromatic and tasteful! 
Curry is a blend of spices and is primarily used in the South and Southeast Asian cooking. The spices included vary from region to region and you can always give your own twist to it according to your mood and taste. Curry paste in particular is most often associated with Thai cuisine and there are three types of curry pastes: yellow, red, and green. Their differerence has to do with certain key ingredients. Green curry paste includes fresh corriander, kaffir lime leaves and those really spicy small green chilies, which actually makes it the hottest choice of the three. Red curry paste, also quite spicy, depending on the variety of red chilies used in it, includes a lot of chili powder as well and tastes great with seafood (especially shrimps). Yellow curry paste, which is usually the mildest one, may include yellow chilies (although I use red, as it is quite hard to get hold of the yellow ones) and turmeric.

So here is my recipe, but please feel free to experiment with your curry pastes and, why not share them with us!

4-7 yellow or red chilies (if you like it less spicy you may remove the seeds)
140 gr shallots (you may use red onion if you can’t get hold of shallots), cut into chunks
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced crossways and chopped
5 garlic cloves (if small, use 10)
2 ½ cm ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
1 thick slice galangal root, peeled
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons curry
1 tablespoon grounded cumin
1 tablespoon grounded coriander
½ teaspoon grounded cinnamon
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice

If you are using dried chilies, soak them in 5 tablespoons water for 1-2 hours and preserve the water as you will need it for the curry paste (the fresh ones don't need soaking!).
In a food processor (alternatively you may use a mortar and pestle) add the first 4 ingredients listed with half the chili water and process really well (if later on your curry paste turns out dry you may add the rest of the chili water, so put it aside). Add the ginger and galangal and process again. Now add all the spices and process once more until it forms a thick paste. Last, add the sugar (if using), fish sauce and lime juice and blend well for another couple of minutes. If too dry add the chili water or a couple of tablespoons chicken stock. Curry pastes last long both in the fridge and freezer, so you can make quite a lot of it a store it for later use.