Greek Avgolemono Soup

This soup is very popular in Greece. It is simply delicious in my opinion. Tempering the eggs in step 2 gives the soup a smooth and creamy texture.

Bowl of Avgolemono Soup

Egg and Lemon Soup from Greece

Orzo is a Greek pasta shaped like rice. Any small shape will do just fine. For a Gluten Free version, use cooked rice. Very important, do not let the soup boil once the eggs have been added or it will curdle.

Ingredients:

7 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock (use high quality)

1/2 Cup Orzo Pasta

3 Eggs

Juice of 1 Large Lemon

Salt & ground Black Pepper

Lemon Slices to Garnish (optional)

 

Procedure:
1) Pour the stock into a large pan & bring to a boil. Add the pasta & cook for 5 minutes.
2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, then add the lemon juice and a tablespoon of cold water. Slowly stir in one ladleful of the hot chicken stock, then add one or two more.
3) Remove the pan from the heat, add the egg mixture and stir well.
4) Season with salt & pepper & serve immediately, garnished with lemon slices.

 

Poached Fish with Tomato & Cumin

Poached Fish food photo

Delicious Middle Eastern Fish

When Kathy came home all a glow with her latest cookbook tome, I confess that I rolled my eyes. Here was a book over 2 inches thick and 400 pages long. Will I ever really cook a significant portion of these recipes I asked myself? Nonetheless, “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Paula Wolfert has earned a permanent place on our shelf. Among the many recipes, one in particular has become a staple for us. A full menu including this dish is in my book “Mediterranean Diet Recipes for Weight Loss” on Amazon.

“Fish poached in cumin flavored tomato sauce” is described as a “simple, homespun dish for two that requires little time and only one skillet”. A key ingredient is Aleppo pepper. The Middle East is renowned for its spice bazaars were literally dozens of different ground peppers can be found. Aleppo pepper is course, gritty, dark red, earthy, and robust. The flavor is haunting. You may also see it sold under the name “Near East Pepper”. A suitable substitute can be made using three parts sweet Hungarian paprika and one part mildly hot crushed red pepper flakes.

Poaching fish is a foolproof method to make sure it comes out moist. In this dish fresh tomato is grated to form a poaching liquid. Celery and onion give the sauce body and texture. The recipe works best with mild, white fleshed fish. I have used its sole with outstanding results, though it is rarely available. Readily available and very affordable, tilapia has become the fish I rely on when preparing this dish.

The recipe is below. You can find this dish as part of a complete fabulous Mediterranean Menu in my book on Amazon, “Mediterranean Diet Recipes“.

POACHED FISH IN CUMIN-FLAVORED TOMATO SAUCE

Serves 2  (double or triple quantities as needed)

2 6-Oz. white-fleshed Fish Fillets

Sea Salt

1 Onion (large)

1 Celery Rib

1 Clove Garlic

1 tsp Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

Pinch of Aleppo Pepper

1 Ripe Tomato (grated) – Discard skin

Pinch Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Chopped Fresh Parsley for garnish

1) Rinse the fish, pat dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Let stand for 1 hour.

2) Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the onion, celery, and garlic and gently steam with the olive oil in a covered skillet 2-3 minutes.

3) Cut the tomato in half and gently rub cut side against the box grater on to a small plate. The skin will pull back and can be discarded. The remaining pulp is to be used in the recipe.

4)  Add the cumin and red pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute longer.  Add the tomato and 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3) Slip the fillets into the simmering sauce (if using very thin fillets such as Sole, fold each fillet in half), cover, and cook over medium-low heat 4-6 minutes, or until the fish is done(the time varies with the thickness of the filet). Transfer the fish to a shallow serving dish. Boil the pan juices to reduce to a thick consistency.  Pour over the fish and let stand until ready to serve. Serve warm with parsley sprinkled on top.

Poached Fish with Dandelion Greens

Spring Cleansing can help us release the excesses of winter eating habits.
Bitter flavor is important to include in our diets, especially in the springtime as we cleanse our bodies from winter excesses.

Plate of Glazed Fish

Glazed Fish over Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Greens fit the bill perfectly. Here they are simply glazed and paired with a spicy glazed fish fillet. See a cooking demo here: https://youtu.be/vFQIx4EexXU

3 Keys to making a Fresh Start with your Diet

Well it’s that time the year again when people all around the world just like you proclaim they are going to be better eaters. In fact, eating better, or losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution. So what does it take to make this time around different.? Before you attempt to make a start, you need to feel confident that you will succeed. There are three things that will help you build your confidence. The first, is to really get clear on why you want to change your eating habit’s. Next, a sound knowledge of the foods you want to include is needed. Finally, you’ll need to get comfortable with the skills that will make your time in the kitchen relaxing and enjoyable.

Colorful cooked fish fillet

Fast and Healthy Thai Fish Recipe

So why do you want to change your eating habits? Is it the ever popular lose weight? Perhaps your goal is to save money by cooking at home more often. If you’re like me, then good eating habits are as much about staying out of the doctor’s office and having the health and energy to enjoy my favorite activities. The important thing is to have a motivation that is meanigful to you. Doing anything just because you should is a recipe for failure.

 

bowl of oatmeal

Curried oatmeal with coconut and extra fiber

The reasons for losing weight are truly wide ranging. Everyone has their own goals and I won’t go into those here. Rather, some of the tactics that can be used to achieve weight loss make for a more interesting discussion. First and foremost is connecting an intention with an activity. So for example, if your intention is to balance your blood sugar and the activity is a sprinkling of cinnamon on your oatmeal, that sends a strong signal to your body of an expected outcome.

 

Another example might be the improvement of digestion by focusing on food combining. Vegetables and proteins are far more easily digested together than say, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. So if you were to choose a cooked leafy green vegetable, such as spinach, and combine that with a piece of grilled salmon and hold the intention that the meal will be easily digestible for you, then you are helping your body to more effectively absorb and utilize the nutrients in the food.

 

Once you have a specific measurable goal, such as saving money by cooking at home three nights a week, the next step is to focus on a specific foods you want to prepare. In our house, there are always leafy greens of some type in the fridge. Kale is very popular, also escarole and spinach. Other staples in the fridge include red bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, onions, ginger, and jalapeno. All of these allow for enough combinations to keep things interesting enough.

 

Indian Menu of Chana Masala Cabbage Sabzi Butternut Puree

Indian Menu of Chana Masala Cabbage Sabzi Butternut Puree

For proteins by wife and I tend to eat a lot of chicken, fish, and even beans. We might stir fry some chicken with ginger and broccoli. My wife loves a simple fish curry made with onion, turmeric, and coconut milk. I mentioned escarole earlier. This mildly bitter flavored leafy green pairs especially well with white beans.

 

Tying all of this together are the kitchen skills that make cooking fast and easy. You will need to get comfortable with an 8 inch Chef knife. This is an indispensable tool in so many ways. From slicing bell peppers to chopping onions to mincing garlic your chef’s knife will become your best friend. Learning specific cuts such as Julianne will also help you give variety to the appearance of your dishes.

Holding a knife properly helps it do the work for you.

Holding a knife properly helps it do the work for you.

Getting comfortable with a few key cooking techniques will also give you the confidence to successfully adopt new eating habits. For example, steaming vegetables is a great first step that speeds up cooking times. One of Kathy’s favorite ways to enjoy broccoli is to first lightly steam it, then sauté it in olive oil with a little bit of garlic and some julienned sun-dried tomatoes. What I really want to make her smile, I topped the dish with a few toasted pine nuts.

 

Poaching is another simple technique worth getting familiar with. It’s really just a fancy word for cooking food in liquid just below the boiling point. My favorite way to prepare fish, such as Tilapia, is to poach it over a bed of vegetables ( http://www.theconfidencediet.com/412/ ). I might start by getting some cabbage, carrot, and ginger going in a pan on the stove. Then add a splash of chicken stock, and lay the fish on top. Cover it and let it cook for about eight minutes. A splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro add a sparkling finish.

 

This year can be different for you. Arm yourself with a strong motivator, a clear idea of the foods you wish to begin including in your meals, and a few key practical skills. Maybe even enlist the help of a friend or two who share your vision, and watch how your confidence, and therefore your success, grows throughout the year.

Organic or Not: The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

The 12 Fruits and Vegetables Most Likely to Be Contaminated with Dangerous Pesticides

If you have limited availability of organics or are keeping a careful eye on foods costs, it pays to be aware of when choosing organics matters more and when it’s less critical.

Remember that eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

Here then, are the Dirty Dozen to choose organic when you can:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes

And here are the Clean Fifteen least likely to harbor harmful chemical residues:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Mangoes
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas – frozen
  • Cabbage
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados

MGH Tags:  Skin

Indian Chicken Curry

Are you craving curry? Indian cuisine can be addictive. The good news is that it is easy to make at home. A key technique in Indian cooking is to fry the spices to release their essence before adding the food ingredients. This demo shows step by step how to make a delicious chicken curry.

You will find more fantastic Indian recipes in my book  “Inspirational Indian Recipes” available on Amazon.

MGH Tags:

What is The Confidence Diet?

Healthy Fit Woman

Take a step towards the health you are meant to have.

When you eat with confidence, there is no need to count calories, or weigh portions. You will be eating real food that tastes great. You will get to eat more often. How much fun is that? You will look good and feel great. The health that you are meant to have will naturally blossom within you. Eating with confidence is about including more varieties of foods, not about making anything off limits. There is no deprivation. You choose what foods to include to support your goals. These habits make up a lifestyle that is worth striving for because it is a sustainable way to support your health.

A big part of the Confidence Diet is an awareness that your day to day experience is fully based on the way you think. As Henry Ford said, “if you think you can, you can”. If you think and believe that the regular practice of eating simple non-processed foods will make your health goals a reality, it will.  If you accept that you are able to make a habit of healthy eating, you will adopt these habits. If you believe that you will get the same results as others who do this, then you will enjoy the benefits as well. In this regard, you must know in your heart and have confidence that you will succeed when you truly put your mind to eating with confidence.Blue Fountain

Letting go of old habits can be a difficult and challenging process. We must understand what beliefs our habits are based upon. What thoughts underlie your beliefs? Where did they come from? Do you truly agree with these thoughts or do you simply accept them because they have been drilled into your head? In his book “Evolve Your Brain”, Joe Dispensa talks about thought patterns (neurons that fire together) that have become so “hard wired”, they simply happen on their own. Our challenge, Dispensa says, is to notice when these thoughts are occurring. When an old thought pattern is “running”, that is the time to break up that neural network by choosing a new thought. Ideally, the new thought would be one you wish to replace the old thought with. The directive here is to literally “think again”. In practice, any new thought will begin to break down the old network and it’s beliefs. “Neurons that no longer fire together, will no longer wire together”, says Dispensa.

It is the combination of knowledge about what good food choices are along with an awareness of the thoughts and feelings that lead us away from poor choices that sets The Confidence Diet apart. Each of us has our own personal conflicts when it comes to eating habits. Resolving these conflicts is the basis for building the confidence we need to stay on the path to great health.

The Confidence Diet is suitable for people with specific dietary needs. In fact the diet is even more important for diabetics, vegetarians, or people facing any particular chronic health issue. If you fall into this category, your body is telling you it needs careful attention.

 

Vegetable Garden

Fresh whole foods are delicious!

There are no pre-packaged foods, liquid supplements, or pills you must buy or take. There are no required monthly fees. This is about supporting your body with real, whole food that is full of life energy. The only requirement is a commitment on your part to do your best in taking control of your own health by using a common sense approach. You can do this! You have the ability!

The fast pace of the modern world leaves many of us with little time or energy to prepare fresh food. Consequently, we often skip meals, or even worse, turn to “convenience” foods to handle the time crunch. As the demand for easy to fix meals has increased, the quality of these “foods” has decreased. Read the label of any typical product and see how many ingredients you recognize, let alone can pronounce. Grocery store shelves are stocked with soups, sauces, prepared food, and frozen meals that are loaded with salt, refined sugar and fat. While there is a movement towards reducing sodium, trans-fats, and high fructose corn syrup in processed foods, they are nonetheless processed and contain very little life energy when compared with unprocessed foods.

Smart shoppers have begun to recognize this, and some have turned to restaurants for better quality food. But many times the emphasis at these eateries is on entrees dominated by meat with a mere garnish of vegetables. There is a tendency toward rich, thick, sauces based on fat and sugar. This food sells because so many people are addicted to it. Such meals can leave a person with that heavy, stuffed feeling that we all know too well.

The Confidence Diet is about knowing that eating a variety of seasonal whole foods is the surest path to health. It is about having confidence that this a life long habit worth striving for. It is about having confidence in your own ability to create this habit.

It is is no surprise that the best food to support our health is food we prepare ourselves. With some basic kitchen skills, you can easily prepare nutritious, well rounded meals. The whole, fresh foods found around the outside edges of the grocery store are very economical when used wisely and can help you save money on your food bill. Eating these foods will also give you more energy, help you think more clearly, and look your best. In today’s world, people are becoming more and more aware of what they are eating. The old saying “You are What You Eat”, has never been more appropriate.

Visit the other posts on this blog and see if they sound like a good fit for you. When your ready, download one of the free reports so you can begin to learn how to have the health you deserve.

Yours in confidence,

Tom Castrigno – Author

Photo of Tom

 

 

Food Labels de-Mystified! Free Report…

Do you want to avoid food ingredients that can drain your energy, cause possible allergic reactions, or potentially lead to chronic illness? When you read a food label does the ingredient list look like something out of a science textbook?

You need to know how to decipher the code! You want to know what these claims really mean so you can make an educated choice about whether you will eat this foods. Once you know how not to be misled, you can move toward choices that will better support your health and well being.

Use this form to get your Free Copy of
Food Labelsde-Mystified!

Supercharge Your Oatmeal Breakfast!

We all know that Oatmeal is a quick easy Breakfast food. Just look on the shelf in the grocery store to see how popular it is. Also notice that all of the flavors are of the sweet variety, a flavor all too common in American’s diets.

bowl of oatmeal

Curried oatmeal with coconut and extra fiber

Today you will learn about a way to Supercharge plain oatmeal into a real Breakfast hero! Start with plain rolled oats and prepare according to package directions (typically 1/2 cup of oats to 3/4 cup of water).

Now for the supercharge part. Stir in 1/2 tsp of curry powder. Giving the oats a savory flavor profile will not only help cut down your sugar cravings, but turmeric, the main spice in curry powder, also has anti-inflamatory properties. Next stir in some unsweetened shredded coconut. This healthy medium chain fat will help slow down the absorption rate of the oats. Also add extra fiber by opening up 2-3 Psyllium husk capsules and sprinkling them into the cooking oats.

At serving time, Stir in some honey (a sweetener that will not spike blood sugar) for it’s numerous health benefits, a bit more shredded coconut, and for crunch and a super extra fiber boost, some Uncle Sam bran flakes (pictured below).

There you have it. Fast, easy, supercharged oatmeal. Enjoy!

Uncle Sam Cereal

High Fiber Bran Ceral

Strained Yogurt – a healthy alternative

Greek yogurt has grown in popularity. You can make your own right at home with great results. Not only is it more affordable, you can control the consistancy, and also use your favorite brand of yogurt or even organic if you choose.

Photo of yogurt strainer

A Cuisinart gold toned coffee filter (center) works great

While some recipes call for layers of cheese cloth in a colander, I have found a Cuisinart coffee filter to work quite well and be easy to clean up. And bowl or container that will suspend the filter is fine. The goal is to allow space for the whey to drain out.

The yogurt will thicken considerably the longer it stands. In the first stage it will be like sour cream. At this point it is great in dips, on sandwiches instead of mayonaise or in salads. Think curried potato salad…

Scoop yogurt into strainer

Scoop yogurt into strainer

… When the yogurt reaches the consistency you like, transfer it to a clean container and store it in the fridge.

If it gets too thick, stir a bit of the whey back into it.

As it get thicker the flavor will change until it tastes like a mild cheese.

Creamed dishes such as spinach that call for dairy will be tasty with strained yogurt.

The remaining whey can be discarded.

remaining whey after straining

The liquid whey can be discarded