Lowest Fat Superfoods: Mussels

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A lot of people are dont like seafood. This generally happens in areas with no sea shore where the access to them is generally not so easy and they are not part of the traditional way of eating. Big Mistake!

It also normally means that they are quite expensive since they are not readily available and if you haven’t seen them in your family as a standard food while growing up, the changes that you would consider eaten them when you are older is less.

Travelling is great to open your eyes to new foods, some are good and some are not so good. The first time I ate pizza I think I must have been 10 or 12 years old!! I had Thai food first time 5 years ago and for a while there I didn’t like peppers or aubergine.

We all go through bad food stages, especially when we are in our early teens, “don’t like this don’t like that” generally the no-go foods are the ones our mums say are healthy. I think it is the rebellious spirit manifesting itself. Fish and broccoli generally fall under this category, and mussels do as well. They are ugly little things, you have to admit, and they smell really strong of sea water when they are uncooked, and I get that it is not everybody’s piece of cake.

One the things we can do to try mussels without having to go through the pain of preparing them is to order them when we are eating out. They come in a pot, already made and they provide long entertainment through the meal, with plenty of opportunities for chatting.

The reason why it is worth giving them a go is because as most seafood, they are almost purely protein and they are incredibly nutrient rich.

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They provide a very good amount of B12 vitamin (340% of your daily recommended intake) in only a 80gr portion, but they are also rich in the other B vitamins group.They are also an important source of: Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc.  Selenium plays a very important role in your thyroid function and manganese is involved in bone structure and the metabolism of energy.

When it comes to protein, around 15 mussels provide you with the same amount of protein that a 170 gr steak of beef, with a much lower fat content, so if you are trying to lose weight, mussels are the way to go. The have less than 2% of fat and it is all Omega 3, which helps protect your heart and arteries.

If this was not reason enough, they are a really high in Iodine which keeps your nails and hair strong and shiny! So what is there not to like about them??

I encourage you to try them if you haven’t done and expand your food horizons. Your waistline will thank you and your general health too.

If I have convince you, here is a little recipe, super easy, that you can do in less than 15 minutes!

 

Ingredients (serves 2):

750gr of mussels with their shells

2 garlic cloves

1 stalk of celery

1 bunch of fresh parsley

½ a small glass of white wine

Extra virgin olive oil

 

In a high pot (you will need the space) heat up one tablespoon of olive oil. Peel the garlic and mash it and chop the celery stick in small slices. Chop the parsley and when the oil is hot, add the garlic and celery. Add most of the parsley but reserve a little bit to garnish at the end.

The mussels should be clean (they sell them clean too, so that would help) and drained from all liquid. The best way to keep them is in water with some salt in the fridge and cook them in the 24 to 48h after buying them. When you are ready to cook them, drain them from the water and add them to the pot. Put the lid on!! This is very important because the mussels cook in the hot steam, and the lid will make the open easier and cook faster, leave them there for 2 to 5 minutes until open, add the white wine and let it boil for another couple of minutes.

Taste the flavour, but they should be salty enough as it is.

Serve immediately in the same pot (if it’s nice) or in a deep serving tray that allows the sauce to come with them garnished with the rest of the parsley, and set a bowl next to you for the empty shells.

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Enjoy!

 

190 Calorie Super Smoothie

FullSizeRender (2)I have been bad.. really bad, and Christmas hasn’t even started! I have been travelling a lot for work and this normally means total nutrition chaos.

I am sure it has happened to you, it is normal. The moment you step out of your routine, and you don’t get access to the food you normally eat, or a kitchen, it spirals out of control and from one little spoonful of chocolate pudding we end up ordering our own dessert at every meal.

The problem with these binge eating comes mainly when we are following a restrictive diet the rest of the time, a bit of cake is worse for someone on an Atkins or ketogenic diet that for someone that is just overeating but eats a varied diet, it leads to the yoyo effect, and worse than that, it leads to your metabolism becoming “reinforced” against such behaviour. This means that the more times you try and fail a restrictive diet, the less effect it will have, so all that suffering for nothing!!

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Unfortunately, that is life. You get social, you have friends, you have a celebratory meal… that is all well and good, the key is to practice balance!! If you know you are going to have a big dinner, I suggest a really healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and light afternoon snack, it would be terrible to get to that dinner to hungry and eat enough to give you a tummy ache! Then the next morning, leave the leftovers for someone else and stick to some fat free yogurt and fruits!!

I have never too keen on social media but about a month ago, I opened an Instagram account, I am not 80 years old, I am just a bit too busy for that!! But since I do love photography and food I thought it could be fun (you can follow me if you want for daily foodinspiration and nutritional advice at cook_yourself_slim) Anyway so in Instagram, I found the smoothie bowl fever. All those pieces of art that look sooo pretty and sooo delicious!! I couldn’t just not do anything about it!

The problem I saw with many of them is that they were very calorie and carb heavy, full of “natural” goodness but not good for someone trying to shred some fat (like me) so I looked for the lightest, most nutritional alternative available, and I am LOVING the results.

I have to confess that I will have this breakfast for dinner tonight as part of my post Spanish food overload last week, as a detox.

 

This smoothies are dead easy to make and quick too.

Take note!!

 

Ingredients:

1 pot of fat free Greek yogurt (I use Fage, 170gr and the best protein profile out there)

½ a cup of frozen blueberries

½ cup of frozen strawberries

A pinch of non-caloric sweetener

100 ml of milk (I use soy milk but you take your pick)

½ banana

1 tbsp. sliced toasted almonds.

 

Literally put everything in a blender, blend, and pour in a bowl. Add ½ a banana and some toasted sliced almonds as decoration, some chia seeds for extra protein if you wish and enjoy.

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It tastes like ice cream!!!

And it has around 190 calories, which is pretty impressive for something that tastes sooo good.

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You can change the toppings according to your personal preferences and whatever fruit you have laying around.

 

I am on holidays from tomorrow, so I might leave you alone for a while, but I will come back with a post xmas exercise and detox diet for the new year resolutions.

Stay tuned!!

Bulimia & Other diets

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I haven’t posted for a few days because I have been travelling, specifically to Tokyo and the time difference and the workload haven’t allowed me to dedicate the time I wanted to my side activities like this blog, which I love to write. So sorry everyone!

Those of you who have ever flown long haul probably know that there are very few things to do on a plane, and one of them is watching movies. Since I don’t get much spare time to watch anything on my daily life, I always take this chances to catch-up with all the films I have missed in the last months.

One of the movies I watched on the way back was Amy, a documentary about the life and tragic death of the British Singer Amy Winehouse, you probably know the story as I did (unless you have watched the documentary) a young Jewish girl with a great talent for singing and song writing, out of a lower class suburb in north London made it to stardom only to fall into a deep hole of drug and alcohol abuse that lead to her dead at the age of 27. Sad story, not the first one of this kind, the 27 club is a highly populated one, filled with some unforgettable figures from the music scene since the 60s.

 

The reason why I am mentioning it, is that actually, Amy did not overdose, she died of alcohol poisoning on a very weakened body. This weakened body was in such state because she had been suffering from bulimia from the age of 15, a condition that went untreated and everybody in her environment overlooked as the least of her problems, but that did cause in the end her death. Looking for some information about this subject, I found one of the best articles I have read about eating disorders using this documentary and this particular case as an example. For those of you who might be interested, this is the link to it:untitled

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/861-we-need-to-talk-about-amy-winehouses-eating-disorder-and-its-role-in-her-death

 

I will not go in depth into this issue because the article featured if you follow the link already said it all better than I ever could, I would like instead to talk about the part of the education and the family support of Amy Winehouse (or the lack of it) that led to her holding on to her eating disorder and how this situation is much more common that we think, with thousands of women and some men falling at a very young age into this trap.

 

Bulimia and Anorexia are the extreme psychological conditions, the end game that can start with any of the other diets that are out there that could actually also be considered eating disorders because they, well, “disorder” our eating. You name it, the intermittent fasting, the juice detox, the Atkins method, the paleo method, the Dukan diet, the zone, weight watchers, low carb, low fat, the cayenne pepper and syrup diet… the list is endless and all of them have something in common, they work when followed, they don’t when not.

The problem is that these are all based on extreme restrictions or suppressions of entire food groups leaving our bodies shaking.

 

Simples!!

It is amazing to read on press continuous claims saying things like “traditional diets” don’t work, we must find another way to tackle weight loss since obesity has become the new plague of our time. In this article in particular they were talking about genetically tailored diets, the new hive, trying to find a new personalised diet that will once and for all adjust our food intakes to keep us healthy and slim. Sounds like a miracle? Yet the problem is that genetically we will probably not be supposed to eat doughnuts all day long.

It is a great idea in principle to use our genetic imprint to achieve the best possible nutritional plan and use it to create our diet. A lot of people will be willing to spend a lot of money in something like this, and it might be really useful for us to get a diet profile from our childhoods to learn to eat according to our body’s specific needs but it will not give us a free pass to eat whatever we want, potentially chocolate will still be off limits for 98% of the people if your gold is trying to stay fit and healthy. It should be something to be consumed occasionally. Traditional diets say so, and genetically tailored made ones will say exactly the same thing. Though luck!!

 

What the media seems to fail to explain when they say “ Traditional Diets” fail, is that it is not the diet that actually fails, but the dieters. Let me explain this, if you are overweight buy a significant amount of kilos, let’s say 15 for the sake of discussion, how did you get there? Did they appear in your belly and hips overnight? Most probably not. They are the result a of a lifetime of nutritional errors and a bad diet (as in how you eat every day) and a lack of an active lifestyle (namely sports) that has taken you to this point. If you change your diet in order to lose weight, and you manage to lose 12 kilos, and then you go back to your sedentary pre diet eating habits, guess what, your 12 kilos will come back with them and probably will bring friends!! It is the law of nature, old habits, old body!!

The key to a successful weight loss, whichever diet you choose, is to make it a lifestyle, lifetime long sustainable change. It doesn’t make any sense to put your body in a state of deprivation, which could potentially compromise your metabolism not to mention your mental stability. Some of the well-known effects of a low carb diet sustained in time can be lack of energy apathy and depression, intermittent fasting can lead to drowsiness, but the worst is the feeling that you cannot eat something, because this is exactly what you will be longing for all day long.

So back to your diet, and the weight you have lost and the hunger you have developed for the things that you haven’t been eating… what happens? Well you start eating everything and bang, the dreaded yo yo effect will come and kick you in the ass. Metaphorically and physically.

The more restrictive your diet is the worse will be the bounce effect to normal. If you are not prepared to life on a low carb diet the rest of your life, simply do not start a low carb diet.

Each person is different, in this, the media and papers are correct, and there is not one correct nutritional approach that fits all. Each one of us needs to take a long honest look at one selves and make a commitment to our diet for the rest of our lives. Am I going to be a low carb? Am I going to be a low fat? Am I going to fast? Or am I going to eat less amount of food, try to keep the fat and carbs under control and increase my physical activity?? Whatever you think it will work for you in the LONG TERM is the answer to you.

Finally I would like to also put out there, that having some flesh over the bone is totally healthy and beautiful. As long as you have an active lifestyle and your BMI is between 20 and 25 you are a healthy individual. The rest is AESTHETICS, and they are not necessary. So if you think or think that you are a bit chubby, but you are healthy, and you struggle to diet and you start and finish a fad diet every week, please do yourself a favour and stop!! Accept who you are and accept the beauty of your body and enjoy the food you love, because if you want to lose weight you need to love being skinny more than you love chocolate ice cream.

And Chocolate ice cream is amazing 😉

The Ultimate SUPERFOOD Salad

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Maybe I should actually say superfoods, given the fact that there is not one but several highly nutritious foods in a plate of this beautiful and colourful salad.

Broccoli which we already talked about it the past, salmon, a powerful source of Omega 3 fatty acids to protect your arteries, spinach, full of protein and vitamin c and iron, feta cheese, low in fat but high in protein and calcium and edamame beans, which have all the benefits from the soy and all the benefits of a bean, making you fuller for longer and helping your digestive system with their high fiber content.

Salads a wonderful thing, they exist in an infinite possible combination, some of them more successful than others and very easy to adapt to one’s personal taste by swapping ingredients for something that you might like more.

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This recipe is very high is protein and good fats and has a small amount of low GI slow burning carbs that can be increased depending on your macronutrient needs. As you will see it is a pretty simple thing, with only a slightly different dressing that makes all the difference by bringing the flavours together and make this a salad that is better than the sum of its parts.

Ingredients (serves 2)

200 grams. poached salmon

50 grams. low fat Feta cheese

2 tbsp. of pine nuts

2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 cups of steamed broccoli

1 tbsp. edamame beans (loose from the pod)

For the dressing

2 pinches of Salt

1/2 a tbsp. Dijon mustard in grain

1 tbsp. White wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Soja sauce

4 drops of Sweetener

Lay the spinach on a plate to make the base of the salad, scatter the broccoli evenly over it, then the poached salmon in flakes, sprinkle with fetal cheese and pine nuts.

I buy my pine nuts raw so I toast them myself on a pan with no oil whatsoever, just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

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Mix the dressing well and dress the salad with it and serve immediately. This particular mix of ingredients is meant to give it a slight Asian touch, which goes very well with the salmon and the edamame but of course you can avoid this just by removing the sweetener and soy sauce from the mixture.

Enjoy!

 

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Slim-Waist-OK Moussaka

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The Greek traditional recipe for Moussaka is not complex but as with many traditional dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine, is very high in fat and quite time consuming. A bit of history of nutrition here that explains why these dishes are generally so highly energetic, they originated in a time of our development when most of our Jobs happened in the fields or taking care of cattle. The energy needs of the peasants and housewives in the old days, were likely to be twice as high as the one of us, sedentary human beings of today.

When you need to find a way to consume 5000 calories a day, a plate of moussaka dripping in oil providing 1000 calories per portion, was actually very good news for our body!! This is the reason why we are programmed, as a race, to rejoice in hyper caloric meals such as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a full McDonald meal with French fries and a Sundae. Our caveman brain loves it!! The brain doesn’t know that we don’t have to go to the forest to cut logs for the next 5 hours to prepare for the winter, but to watch Netflix for 6 hours instead while laying on a sofa, and so when we eat such a high amount of nutrients it produces a kick of happy hormones, endorphins, dopamine… Not good!!

We are the only race that eat for emotional reasons and these sneaky hormones might just be the reason for it. I feel sad, I eat chocolate ice cream, I feel better! Magic? No. The problem is that we also the only race with the capacity of abstraction and suffering related to body image issues.

Moussaka and the likes of it, are absolutely delicious scrumptious recipes that we should keep enjoying, however, I prefer to adapt the recipe to make it more fit the needs of our bodies, and I have come up with a low carb, low fat alternative to the traditional one, that tastes really really well and takes significantly less time that the original one.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250 gr. Ground Beef under 5% fat content

500 gr. Canned tomatoes

½ onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Fresh or dried thyme/oregano/basil

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

Salt & pepper to taste

4 drops of sweeter

1 Eggplant

40 gr of grated cheese

100 gr of 0% Greek yogurt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To prepare this recipe I use two small over proof non sticky plates, each one serves 2 and I freeze one.

First of all, turn on the over at 150 C degrees and let it warm up. Wash the eggplant and cut it in slices, ½ a cm thick. Cover an oven tray with baking paper and spread the aubergine slices evenly. Sprinkle with salt and leave them “sweat” for 5 to 10 minutes while the over gets to the right temperature.

In the meantime, chop the onion very finely and poach it in 1 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat. Add the 2 cloves of garlic & salt and when they are all transparent and soft, add the canned tomatoes.

By now the oven should be hot, put the aubergine in the middle and let it roast for 10 minutes while you finish the tomato sauce.

Add the spices to the tomato sauce, the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, sweetener and herbs, smashing the tomatoes to pieces with a fork. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the eggplants around and let them cook for another 5 minutes.

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Take the aubergines out of oven but don’t turn it off.

Now, we are not using any white sauce or oil to cover the base of the plate but some of the tomato sauce instead so reserve one or two tablespoons. Then add the ground meat to the remaining tomato sauce and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, and correct the salt and pepper.

Once you have the aubergines, the meat with the tomato and the plain tomato, is time to build up the moussaka!

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Put the plain tomato on the base of the plate, then line it up with roasted aubergine. It might look a bit dry, and considerably drier than if you would have fried it in oil, but once in the oven all the juices will mix and they will be soft and melty. Set a layer of meat over the aubergine and then drop 3 or 4 hazel sized dollops of 0% fat Greek yogurt, on it, this substitutes the white sauce and it will add a creamy taste to the dish without any added fat and with lots of protein instead. Then add another layer of aubergine pressing down to make sure everything is nice and tight and if your dish is full, sprinkle with the grated cheese for the gratin.

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If you have a higher dish or a larger one, you might want to have 2 layers of meat and aubergine, in any case is the same!

One is ready, just cook in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with a green salad.

Enjoy!

Chicken & Quinoa Superfood Stir Fry

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Today I would like to talk about “food prep” which is a widely known concept in the bodybuilding community and it is not a new concept at all, but a modern way of calling the good “lunch box” that most have taken to school at some point or another.

It does take a bit of planning and effort to start doing it, but the benefits are many.

I know that there is an endless supply of possibilities to grab lunch for most of us, since canteens, take always and local delis abound and it is just too tempting to skip the hassle and just buy something off the shelves. While this is all well and good, eating like that every single way of the week can be taxing. Even if you are the person with the best intentions in the world, there are only so many healthy alternatives one can choose from, and the chances of ending up having a white bread sandwich or a BTL are just too big.

Even if you think you are going for a healthy alternative, you might be stepping into the dangers of not knowing how this particular food has been cooked.

For example, if a salad get added a sugary dressing, all the goodness of it might be compromised, and believe me, do yourselves a favour and read the ingredients of the labels to really be aware of what they are selling you as a “light” alternative, because most of the time, the reduced fat alternatives are loaded with sugars that are actually worse than the original oil content.

A simple olive oil, vinegar and salt dressing, is the best alternative if you can find it.

Same thing can be said for the fat content in two ways, the first one and more obvious is the sauces. A Thai curry sauce adds a huge amount of fat and carbohydrates to a meal and you may be thinking that what you are eating is “rice and chicken” when effectively there are about 300 calories of sugar and fat that you hadn’t taken into consideration, same goes for sweet wine reductions, caramelized things and satay sauces, but the list is truly long. The second is the way in which foods are cooked. Anything that has a coating, and has been fried is an obvious no go, doesn’t matter how light the coating may look to you, it adds a few undesirable grams of fat to your meal. Even if you are trying to control your weight, this additional fat constitutes a risk because in most cases, restaurants do not use extra virgin olive oil or other healthy fats, but cheaper alternatives that can affect your cholesterol and jeopardize your arteries and heart.

In a nutshell, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, a homemade meal is almost always a better alternative to a store bought one.

Later on this week I will be giving tips on what and how to prepare your food without too much hassle at all, with just a few easy tricks you will be able to improve the quality of your nutrition, save some money and maybe even loose a few pounds.

Today I would like to share with you a Chicken and Quinoa Stir fry, it is one of my favorite options to bring to the office because it contains everything that my body requires, it fills you up with slow releasing energy, with healthy fats, tons of protein and low GI carbs. Low fat, low carb, high protein, unprocessed and very high in fiber. What is there not to love!

Ingredients (serves 3)

450 grams of chicken breast

120 gr. Of quinoa

½ red pepper

½ green pepper

½ yellow pepper

1 red onion

3 mini bok choy

A bunch of green asparagus

A handful of snow peas

2 handfuls of Kale

5 fresh coriander stalks

1 red chili

1 green chili

1 tsp. of mustard seeds

1 tbs. crushed garlic

A little sesame oil

I have prepared a visual guide on how to add the ingredients but it is so easy that you may not actually need it.

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First boil the quinoa in water with a touch of salt, follow the packaging instructions but it should normally take 16 minutes at low heat (to keep simmering).

Once the quinoa is ready, chop all the ingredients (check picture) and heat up a little bit of sesame oil in a wok. Add fist the garlic, then the seeded mustard and then the chicken. Allow the chicken to get a bit golden and then add the rest of the vegetables except the bok choy and kale, that will be added at the end.

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Once all the veggies have been incorporated add the soy sauce, mix well to allow the flavours to mix and add the quinoa. Finally sprinkle with the juice of a lime.

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Enjoy!

Easiest Healthiest Green Stir Fry

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It happens every now and then that I buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies and then something comes up. A dinner an unexpected lunch a trip… all of them getting in my carefully planned meals to use all the fresh food and once messed up, I have bits and pieces, leftovers of different things that by themselves do not constitute a meal, but sometimes, can be put together to become a nice last minute dinner.

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It fills me with pride to open the fridge and hear that little voice saying “there is nothing” and start bringing out things like half a pepper, half an onion, a sad fennel bulb that has been there for a couple of weeks and in 5 minutes, I have in my hands the ingredients for a really nice improvised…STIR FRY!!

Pretty much anything can become a stir fry. It is one of the easiest ways of utilizing what is lying around in your kitchen. You just need to stock up on a few basics so they are ready in your kitchen when the time comes (sesame oil, soy sauce & fish sauce) and I would also recommend having some ginger since it lasts for a long time in the fridge and it does add a very nice flavour to it.

Today’s recipe is a full green stir fry that could serve as a side dish to any fish, meat or tofu of your choice and it can be cooked in 10 minutes.

This recipe is a weight loss dream, low fat, low carb, no sugars, high fibre, packed with vitamins and the goodness of the non processed green ingredients, so enjoy as much and as often as you wish.

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Ingredients (flexible, whatever fresh or semi fresh veggie would work)

1/2 green pepper

1 fennel bulb

½ Onion

5 asparagus spears

Half a bowl of cauliflower florets

1 clove of garlic

1 Bok Choi

A dash of sesame oil

A pinch of grated ginger

1 tbsp soy sauce

A dash of fish sauce (or vegetarian equivalent)

Heat up the sesame oil in a wok and then pan fry the garlic, cut in very little pieces, when golden, add the onion and then the rest of the vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes, add the fish sauce, cook for another

2 minutes, add the soy sauce and turn the heat off. Leave rest for one or two minutes more and serve.

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Serving suggestion: sprinkle with cashew nuts and peanuts.