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!!

Best Crustless Quiche

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In order to properly plan your meals, there are many different diet types out there, if someone is trying to lose weight, and slightly desperate to do so quickly, you can find a myriad of options that promise quick results all with a flat tummy as an advertising. Flat as in fitness model flat, not normal person on an empty stomach flat. This has been of some concern to me for a while, because I have been through many of these diets, recommended by friends, or advertised through a magazine, you name it, the choice is endless.

Now I am older, and I am wiser and I know better and I fight against these misconceptions on a daily basis, because some of this diets are just lies or stupid approaches to eating with minimum real impact on your body composition, but others, are straight harmful for your metabolism, your body and if sustained long term, some are life threatening.

The worst of these are the cleanser diets based on syrup and cayenne pepper. A combo that is meant to “activate your metabolism due some components on the cayenne pepper” and some other idiocies I have read. Our metabolism is not as naïve as we are, and the only thing that he is going to do in such case is slow down. All these juices, meal replacements, chemicals that people try to sell us with the promise of a beach body will certainly do something for you:

  1. Make you lose water (therefore the perceived weight loss)
  2. Muscle mass compromise: 90% of the time your body will consume your muscle mass for energy

So here is what happens: you don’t incorporate the nutrient x through your diet because you are master cleansing for a week for example, but your body needs it to keep normal bodily functions such as body temperature, structural cell maintenance, your heart beat… and it will start using the reserves that are available, this might be a bit of fat, but it will also be muscle tissue. Muscle in this case is not a priority for your body because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, this means that to sustain it, it requires additional energy to be sustained, whereas fat doesn’t. You see where I am going?

Your body will burn whatever is on hand to keep you warm and alive and when you are done with your diet you will have: a compromised metabolism that will literally jump over any calorie you give him, a few less pounds of water, a little less fat and a lot less muscle. The problem is that regaining muscle takes a lot longer that regaining the fat and the water, which will be restored within 1 or 2 weeks once the starvation period is over.

Basically, you are much better off eating a varied balanced and healthy diet, not only will respect your body, it will also keep you mentally on track without those dangerous feelings of deprivation that lead to binge eating.

Today, I would like to share with you a very easy recipe for a really tasty dish, a quiche but with no crust to make it a bit lighter. The carbohydrate content comes from the vegetables in the mixture and is literally packed with protein. It is also very pretty so if you have guests and you are trying to stay on track, it helps to cook things that even though are healthy, look like they aren’t.

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Ingredients (serves 6)

8 eggs (or 4 eggs and 12 egg whites for lower fat)

4 cubes of frozen spinach (fresh is better but I didn’t have any)

4/5 cherry tomatoes

1 small roulade of goat’s cheese

2 slices of smoked bacon

10 gr. of grated parmesan cheese to gratin

200 ml. light soy milk (or your milk of choice but low fat)

1/2 red onion cut in thin rings

Cut the bacon in strips and sauté them in a pan for a couple of minutes until the fat has dissolved. Add the spinach and stir well.

In a bowl, beat up the eggs and add the bacon and spinach and the milk. Mix well and pour into a quiche mold. Spread your onion rings over the surface then cut the goat’s cheese into thin-ish slices and place them nicely on over the surface of your quiche.

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Finally put the cherry tomatoes strategically to give it a bit of colour and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

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Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 150C.

Enjoy!!

 

 

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!

Super Light Double Chocolate Protein Puddings

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Yesterday I was thinking about making some vanilla caramel creams (I did share the recipe a while ago in the blog). They are a nice dessert if you are having a light dinner, but if there is no other source of protein in your dinner, I thought they could probably do with some more punch.

 

As a result, I came up with an adaptation, adding some chocolate flavour isolate protein powder to the mixture so they became chocolate vanilla creams.

Each one of these has 21 grams of protein 5 grams of fat and only 2 grams of carbs and 140 calories so it is a perfect snack after dinner, mid afternoon etc.

Did I mention they are pretty delicious too?

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 scoops of Lean protein isolate (chocolate flavour)

4 eggs (for the vegan version you can substitute for corn flour although it changes the macros described above)

500 ml Soy Milk

1 tbsp. of no calorie sweetener

1 tbsp. fat free raw pure cocoa powder with no added sugar

Beat the eggs and in a shaker beat the protein powder and the chocolate protein isolate until they become a shake, add the sweetener and the cocoa powder and shake again. Add to the eggs, beat until it is homogeneous and pour in 4 ramekin oven proof dishes.

Bake at 150 C for about 20 minutes au bain marie ( with water at the bottom, up until 1/3 of the ramekin dishes)

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Once they are set, sprinkle with some 70 % chocolate for decoration. ½ an ounce should be enough for 4.

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One word about the sweeteners to be used, depending on your goals, certain sweeteners just won’t cut it. For example, honey or agave syrup, which are healthy and perfectly fine sweeteners, with a low GI in the case of the Agave syrup and with other great properties in the case of honey, still are very high in carbohydrate content and calories, so in a weight loss diet, they should be avoided in favour of other non-caloric option such as stevia.

They can hamper your efforts in the gym or all the good work in the kitchen the rest of the day! In this category you can find honey, agave syrup, maple syrup and rice syrup.

Stevia does add a certain amount of flavour so I don’t like to use it unless the flavour is going to be completely hidden. Since I use very little sweetener anyway, I don’t mind using Splenda for this type of thing.

Bear in mind that 1 tbsp for 4 portions comes up at a very low dose per each one of them way below the FDA or any other organism recommendations.

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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!

The Perfect Roast Chicken (For dummies)

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It is funny how the most basic recipes are the ones that have a million variations and everyone considers theirs the best, still, it is rare to be served a perfectly roast chicken. One that is golden and crunchy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.

Whole roast chicken is easy to undercook and be raw inside (disgusting and unsafe, since chicken meat has to be cooked, it is not like red meat) or overcooked, in which case it is dry a day in the dessert with no water.

It is flavorful on its own, but it does greatly improve if seasoned properly. It accepts many types of marinade, from indian curries to piri piri but the one that bring out the best of it without masking its flavour, is the one I am sharing today.

It’s my mother’s recipe, in the years of my life, I have never ever seen anybody eat this dish and not love it, want to have a second serving, asking for the recipe, or all of the above.

From a nutritional point of view, chicken is one of the leanest meats that exist, but chicken skin is very high in fat. For this reason, I would recommend not eating the skin if you are trying to lose weight. If you are not, enjoy it by all means, but bear in mind this is the part of the chicken that has the highest amount of toxins so enjoy with great moderation.

On the other hand it is low carb, as opposed to the traditional gravy, this recipe has a sauce made of white wine so it makes it low GI, and also gluten free.

Before going on to the recipe, bear in mind that the cooking time varies depending on the SIZE of the piece that you are trying to roast and the temperature. I find that the perfect temperature in my oven is 180 degrees but it depends on the machine since it can change from one manufacturer to another, but round around that should be to avoid the chicken from burning and still cook it appropriately.

To give an easy cooking time guide:

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Around 800-900 grams : 1 hour

From 1kg to 1.2 kg : 1 hour and 15 minutes

From 1.3kg to 1.5 kg: 1:30 to 1:40 h

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Ingredients (serves 4)

1 chicken

2 tbsp. of garlic powder or 3 cloves of garlic mashed

1 tbsp. Rosemary

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tbsp. salt

250 ml. of cooking wine (white)

Optional : you can add small baking potatoes if you are cooking for your friends (avoid if you are trying to lose weight, potatoes are pure starch which works like sugar in your blood and will sabotage your efforts by creating a high sugar blood pike and turning your energy to fat to be stored, probably in your hips, tights or wherever you want it less)

Ok so it is time to get our hands dirty! Quite literally as well. Pre heat the over at 180C degrees.

Mix in a little bowl all the dry spices, add the oil and rub your little winged friend until he is completely covered in the mixture. With the rest and if you have decided to add potatoes , you can rub the potatoes, don’t worry about making more for them, the sauce will cover them and they will have plenty of flavour.

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Set the chicken in an oven proof baking tray (with some depth so the wine doesn’t spread and/or fall later on.

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Place the chicken in the middle of the oven with the fan on so the air keeps circulating and let it cook for 30 to 40 minutes and when that side is turning nice and golden turn it around with the help of two spatulas (depending on how much time you have to cook it for, if it’s a small bird turn around after half an hour).

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20 minutes before the time is up, open the over and pour the wine on top of the chicken, let it finish and have a look at it. If you like it really brown and it is not there yet, turn on the grill and give it a 5 minute notch. Bear in mind it is very easy to overdo it with the grill and burn it, so keep an eye on it while you do it.

Serve with salad, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts…

Tip: if you want a lower fat version, pour all the sauce in a bowl, let it cool down in the fridge and remove the drops of fat at the top, then reheat and incorporate.

90 Calorie Protein Punch Easy Egg Muffins

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How did I never think of this is a mystery, but we all have lots to learn, and I have learned about these beauties this weekend. I use an app called Fitocrazy to log my workouts, it provides support for fitness purposes and it’s full of people with very inspiring ideas, one of them was these egg muffins. Even though I seem to be the last one to find out about them, I thought I would give them a go.

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Before sharing the recipe, which is very very easy, I would like to stress the importance of snacking as part of a well balanced and sustainable way of eating. Most experts recommend doing 5 to 6 meals a day, smaller in size, the main advantages of these are two:

1. Keeps your metabolism active: when you eat every few hours your body keeps receiving fuel and so he keeps using it freely.

2. Avoids cravings and overeating at the main meal times. If you get to lunch starving, you will jump on literally anything, from crisps to sweets. If you eat something before hand, you will have better control over your appetite.

What should a good snack then have? Protein for starters, it is very important for satiety and muscle mass maintenance. Carbohydrate to make sure that protein is used best as possible, it should be a healthy source of carb to keep you fuller for longer and then some type of fat, ideally the least abundant component.

Between your lunch and dinner, one or two of these with a piece of fruit (an apple for example) will keep you energized and full until dinner. I have made these with full eggs, but I would recommend also to substitute a few eggs with egg whites for more protein and less fat depending on your goals.

Finally, I have made these vegetarian but they are awesome with bacon or chicken in them for additional flavor.

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Ingredients (for 6 muffins)

6 eggs

1 cube of frozen spinach

1 tomato

1/2 onion

2 tbsp. grated Grana-Padano or parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper

How to…

In a frying pan, sauté the tomato and onion with salt & pepper for 3 to 5 minutes. In he meantime, boil the spinach until is loose and then remove all the water. In a bowl, beat up the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper again and add the vegetables and one tablespoon of grated cheese.

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Mix well and pour into muffin liners, the metallic are best to avoid the egg from sticking to the paper (it does stick a lot). Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 150 C.

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They last in the fridge for around 4 to 5 days so it’s a great grab & go snack or breakfast if you are running late!

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Enjoy!

Easy Healthy Dinners: Lamb & Spinach gratin

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This is a really easy way of using leftovers, when preparing some spinach from my previous post Almost Creamed Spinach, just cook some extra and keep it in the fridge to use the following nights!

For this recipe, just pan fry in a really hot pan a 350 gr lamb fillet, then slice in half and then each half in smaller pieces (around 1 cm thick). Reheat the spinach and sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Bon appetite!

Veganism, future or illusion

“Hey, I take it you did not really want to discuss it (veganism). That is sad for the animals, and the planet, and you really.”

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I has been a couple of days since that message popped in my Facebook chat from a guy I met a while ago. He is vegan and a few weeks ago we initiated a discussion on chat about this diet and way of thinking. He sent me a couple of interesting articles, but I had to head out and I didn’t want to go back to the discussion without further analysing and reading a bit more about the subject.

This is not because I needed inspiration or copy pasting from other people’s theories or beliefs, but more because I wanted to get my facts straight before being able to verbalise my opinion on the subject. I am not trying to write a scientific paper, there is plenty of evidence out there for whoever is interested, I have read quite a bit of them and I have made up my mind, this is what this article is about, my opinion on veganism and its consequences and really it is nothing more than that, my opinion.

I have been thinking and researching about the three dimensions mentioned in the statement: the animals, the planet and myself and if you allow me, I will start with myself.

I am not sure why he thought it was sad for me, but I would assume he was talking about the health benefits of a vegan diet and I will talk about that dimension. Does a vegan diet do much for your health? And the answer is no. There is no scientific evidence that a vegan diet is better for you than a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet including plenty of vegetables, fruit, nuts and grains.

There is plenty of evidence in the opposite direction though. The human beings are omnivores by definition. This means that our genetic information and evolution and the way we process nutrients and foods it’s based on a diet that includes animal sources. This means that whoever wants to follow a vegan diet, has to include in his/her diet a huge amount of supplementation to supply the body of certain vitamins and amino acids that cannot be found in vegetable sources, or that our body is not able to process when they are found in such environment. The basic ones I have been reading repeatedly are Iron and Vitamin B12. There is plenty of Iron in lentils and spinach, and other vegetable sources, however, the human body cannot metabolise them as the animal sources counterparts unless they come together with some animal amino acids.

The truth is, the human body and its needs it so incredibly complex and affected by so many factors, that it is very hard to control the effects when we eliminate a whole group of foods, and one as significant as animal food sources. Lots of people are able to complement their nutrition with food supplements and life a relatively or plentiful healthy life depending on the cases, but this is not the case for everyone. There are lots of people out there than cannot process or tolerate this type of supplements and after a long exposure to veganism, have to retreat and go back to eating meat or food from animal sources.

This is not to mention, that personally, I am in favour natural nourishing and unprocessed foods. Anyone that follows or has read my blog should know that I love to cook my food from scratch out natural ingredients and as unprocessed as possible. I believe in the power of nature to give us all that we need and I think the vast majority of human efforts to improve this, end up not being so great. I can think now of a clear example, margarine vs. butter. The greatest invention against cholesterol and heart disease from the food industry of our century, recycled from Napoleon’s idea of finding a cheaper alternative to feed the lower classes that couldn’t afford butter.

Better than butter? There is a huge amount of proof nowadays that says this is hardly the case.

I believe in balance. Balance in what you eat, balance is how your food is sourced, in respecting your environment, in consuming locally sourced, naturally produced foods that are sustainable for the environment and for the ecosystem and also empower the economy of your region. Nothing extreme has never led to anything good when it comes to humans, we do not handle extremes well, you only have to have a look at our political history to see that. Revolution is what brings chance and for that, I admire vegan people’s resolution to call attention in something awful happening around us, something that most people are unware about and that even when pointed out, we close our eyes to, and it is the farming and dairy industrial practices, that overexploit resources and torture animals in mass.

Veganism is doing a great labour in making these issues known and raising awareness and making people think. Even though I think the solution they propose is wrong (I don’t think that they way of eating would either be sustainable for the planet if everyone was vegan) they are right about many things.

This takes me to the next subject, which is the planet.

Veganism, I am sorry, it is most definitely not the answer to healing the world.

The world has been here for millions of years and in only 250.000 years, the modern man has destroyed the rental property, if you allow me the easy comparison. We have broken the ozone layer, we have poisoned the waters, we have savaged the forests and contaminated the rivers and seas. If we were to vacate, let’s face it, we would be paying a lot to restore it to its natural condition.

We have overexploited all natural resources in the last 100 years and only now we are beginning to be aware of it, and the consequences it will have for the generations to come. I believe in conservationism as the only way forward, the respect of the ecosystems in which we live.

It is unnatural to eat mangoes and bananas in northern Europe in the middle of the winter. It is actually ridiculous. Not so long ago, when I was little, we would only be able to eat apricots and nectarines when the summer came, nowadays, we move our produce around the world shamelessly, and in Europe, we pay extortionate amounts of money for them, but we are not paying for the actual value of the fruit, but for the cost of transportation from a tropical destination in certain conditions.

To cut it short, we live in a planet that needs death to create live. This is something human beings have trouble accepting. We will all die, and our bones will go underground to feed the earth, and the cycle will begin again. This happens to everything and everyone. Nature is cruel, there is a food chain, in which the bigger animal preys on the smaller/weaker. This has brought to life the variety and beauty of animals and species we have today and it was nature who created it.

I would love to believe that vegan theorists are cleverer than nature but somehow I have my issues accepting than any human being can improve what evolution and nature, in its infinite wisdom has taken eons to create. I love animals, I love animals way more than I love people in fact. They are very rarely cruel for sake of cruelty (except my cat when he catches a bird, but I am unsure of his true intentions) and kill generally to satisfy their appetites.

Humans on the other hand, are cruel to animals, and cruel to each other. We are a despicable race.

The industrial systems we have created to supply meat and animal products to our markets are absolutely disgusting. A vegan friend of mine made me aware of how the dairy industry works recently and I nearly burst into tears. It makes one want to go vegan. It really does. Not because eating dairy is bad for you, but because the world needs to become aware of how these places operate. Vegans and ecologist and other collectives, are doing a great job at raising their voices against this practices. The world needs more vegans, or in general, more people that care.

Does this mean that humans should not consume dairy or meat or other animal products? Not in my opinion. We are still better off consuming them, the problem is the rate and amount to which we are nowadays consuming them. There is an old Spanish saying “when you become a father, you will eat eggs”. It means that when you are the responsible adult, you will get to make the decisions, but interestingly enough, it also points at the fact that eggs (as meat and other animal products), were a luxury back in the day and the consumption of them, or meat, or other animal produce was extremely limited in quantity and frequency. The availability of animal protein has improved exponentially in the last few decades, due to the industrialization of the production leading to major increases in amounts but lowering the quality the product and torturing several species in the process. It makes us happy to be able to consume this products on a daily basis, they are tasty and affordable, but also have brought some problems that our grandparents never heard about. We are what we eat and any change in this delicate balance takes a toll in our health as a society.

Traditional farming and agriculture, a system based in a more efficient way of cropping and farming, respecting animal dignity and sacrificing the industry margins and the too cheap prices, would be a more sustainable way of eating.

I have read a very interesting article from a woman today, she was a vegan activist for a long time, and then had to go back to eating meat due to severe medical issues related to her diet. She spoke about locally sourced, and sustainable agriculture and she also spoke about the fact that extensive crops of soya and other cereals, that feed vegans, had a major environmental impact in the destruction of natural ecosystems and land exhaustion. She was also talking about fertilizers from fossil sources used to feed those crops, as oppose to animal sources (bones, blood and also faecal material) from farming.

Simplistically we eat cows, we die, and we will feed the grass that the cows will eat. This is how it was designed, and it works. The problem is that there is too many of us, thinking that we are entitled to eating meat every day.

Animal sources and much of the criticism of its effects (from increased levels of cholesterol to cancer) depends on the dosage. Pretty much as everything in this world, moderation in its consumption is key. It marks the difference between medicine and poison.

Life works in a circle and death feeds life, altering the natural balance of the ecosystem results in the destruction of the same. Humans have altered the ecosystems around them, twisting them to fit their needs and causing much pain in the process, to the planet and the animals, in this, I agree with veganism, but I do think the key to our subsistence as a race lays on balance and on reintegrating ourselves in the natural circle of life and death, and in living and consuming more locally. These changes are only possible by changing people’s mind-sets and education is key. So my dear vegan friends, thank you for your work and beliefs, I do not share your view on the how to fix the world and the system, but I appreciate the intention and the compassion, and I most definitely think that the world is a better place with people that care in it as you do.

Quick Healthy Paella

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Paella, one of the most easy yet complex dishes to master.

Every home has it’s ingredient mix and particularities that make it that little bit special and just better than everyone else’s!

In the context of a low fat, low carb diet, a paella is simply an impossibility. By definition, made with round grain white rice, which behaves like pure sugar in your system, and the high amount of olive oil used to make it sweet and soft is the anti diet dish. However, as with everything, there are ways around it to achieve, with very little compromise, a low GI, low fat, high protein dish that you can enjoy whenever you want.

I have substituted the traditional white rice with the black rice alternative I mentioned some time ago, and I have reduced the amount of olive oil to the bare minimum.

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Ingredients (for 1)

60 gr. of black rice (uncooked)

100 to 120 gr. of diced chicken breast

1/3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

50 gr. finely chopped onion

50 gr. finely chopped red pepper

1/3 chicken stock cube

Salt

In a small cooking pot, heat up the olive oil and add the onion and the pepper at the same time. Let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they have started to soften. Salt the chicken and add it in, let cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add the dry rice and mix well for another minute. Then add the same volume of water as the rice occupied in its container. Add the stock cube, let simmer for 25 minutes without moving it any more.

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I like my rice a bit al dente, once cooked, check if it’s cooked to your taste and if not, add 5 more minutes. You might need to add some more water as well.

The water you add should last the full cooking time, it not, you might be cooking at too high heat, that will affect the outcome so lower heat and soft simmering is better.