10 scientifically proven benefits of coffee

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I love it when I can indulge in my favourite things without any guilt!

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Coffee contains antioxidants and nutrients that can improve our health. Business Insider summarizes some of the biggest scientific proven benefits of black fragrant drink:

1. Increases the tone and makes us smarter. Coffee increases energy levels and helps to overcome fatigue. This is due to the caffeine – as used psychoactive substance . Many studies have shown that coffee improves mental functions (memory, alertness , mood, cognitive abilities) .

2 . Helps burn fat. Caffeine is contained in almost all products for burning fat. Some research suggests that caffeine may increase the metabolic rate of 11.3 %, and the other to increase the rate of fat loss from 10% to 29% depending on the weight . However, the researchers noted that these effects diminish when people regularly consume coffee .

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3 . Improving physical activity. Caffeine helps increase the levels of epinephrine (adrenaline ) in the blood , which increases…

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Zucchini Pasta with Kale Pesto

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Trying to maintain a low-carb diet, but craving something Italian?  Well you’re in luck.  Here is an alternative to pasta that’s delicious and packed full of good stuff.

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This pesto would be really good on practically anything.  I made two batches of it, so I’m thinking that sometime this week, I’ll grill some white fish and top it with this delicious pesto.

For the Pesto:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 glove of garlic (or 2 if they’re small)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

How-to:

1. Wash and take the ribs out of 1/3 of a bunch of kale.

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2. Pack as much kale as you can into the food processor.

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3. Process Kale until it it’s in little tiny pieces.

4. Toast almonds on high heat.  This doesn’t take long.  Just do it until you can smell the nuttiness and you can start to see a little colour.

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5. Peel the glove of garlic and toss it in the processor.  Add in the almonds, oil and a good amount of salt.  Blend.

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This makes a delicious, thick, flavourful pesto.

For the Pasta:

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini (4 small)
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp corriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • pesto (1 full recipe)
  • roasted red peppers (optional)
  • green onion (optional)

How-to:

1. Cut ends off zucchini.

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2. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise.  I used a mandolin for this step.

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3.  Take the thick slices, stack them and slice them into noodles.

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4. Put raw chicken on a cutting board, cover with parchment or wax paper and pound it with your fists or whatever instrument you wish until it comes out nice and uniform in thickness.  This makes it cook faster and more evenly and makes it more tender and juicy.

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5. Season the breast with the spice.  It seems like a lot, but it makes a nice coating which becomes crispy on the grill.

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6.  I used my George Foreman grill on medium low heat to grill this.  You could also pan sear it in what ever fat you like or do it on a barbeque.

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7.  When the chicken has char marks, it’s done.  Take it off the heat and let it rest for a while.

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8.  Toss the zucchini noodles with whatever low-carb veggies you like (I think roasted red peppers would be amazing) and the pesto. I don’t bother cooking the zucchini.  I think it’s pretty good as is.

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9.  Cut up the chicken and toss into the pasta.  Then eat up!  I’m looking forward to having this for my lunch, probably for most of the week.

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Caramelized Onion and Kale Frittata

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This recipe turned out so well!  I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed eating kale so much.  And there is a large quantity of kale in this dish.

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FYI – My personal trainer tells me I should be eating as many cruciferous veggies as I can.  Definitely 3 meals a day.  So this recipe helps me do this!

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup 35% cream (if you want to go easy on the fat, you could substitute milk or cream of any fat percentage)
  • salt and pepper to taste

How-to:

1. Fry bacon on the stove top.  Make sure you leave the fat in the pan!  We’re gonna use that.  You should be sure to use a pan that will be the right size for your frittata because the entire process will be done in this pan.

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2. Once cooked to your liking (I like mine crispy), let the bacon chill out on some paper towel.

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3. Chop onions and add to bacon fat in pan.  Fry onions on medium heat.

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4. Stir the onions occasionally, but the idea here is to caramelize them.  It will probably take 10 minutes for the onions to get nice and brown and soft.

5. Meanwhile, take the ribs out of the kale and chop it all up.  Once onions are where we want them, add in the kale.  It will seem like an enormous amount of veggies in the pan.  This is a good thing!  And it will reduce as the kale wilts.

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6. Stir kale with onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until kale wilts and there’s enough room in the pan to add in the eggs.

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7. Run your fingers along each sprig of thyme to get the leaves off the stem.  Add to the veggie mixture.  Thyme really adds a lot to this dish and it smells so good while you’re cooking with it.  Add some salt and pepper at this point.

8.  Beat 8 eggs and 1/3 cup 35% cream in a bowl.  Add to your pan and quickly stir it around so that the eggs get mixed evenly with the veggies.  Once mixed, crumble the bacon and sprinkle evenly over the frittata.

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9. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  You’ll know it’s ready for the next step when the frittata starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to high (500 degrees).

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10. Put the pan and its contents under the broiler (top rack in the oven).  If you are unsure about how well your pan will do under the broiler, usually wrapping the handle in tin foil will do the trick.  I keep the oven door open during this step so that I can watch because it cooks quickly!  For me, I had it under the broiler for about 3 minutes – until it started to look nice and golden and set on top.

11.  Now this is the moment of truth: time to flip over the frittata.  If you can, it’s nice to use a spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan and slide it onto the plate.  If this isn’t working out so well, you can place a serving plate on top of the pan and flip.  And hope that it’s not going to stick.  Then you can flip it onto another plate so the up-side is up.  You want to see all that bacony goodness that’s on the top of this delicious dish.

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I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

P.S. I’ve been using eggs a lot this week.  They are definitely easy and quick, which is very useful when doing this kind of diet.  Nonetheless, I intend to switch it up for next time.  Stay tuned!

Mushroom and Kale Omelette

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So I took that same mushroom ragout from my low-carb toad in the hole and I made a delicious omelette! I might like it even better this way.  It’s a tough call.

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Start with a tsp of butter in a hot pan:

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In a bowl, beat 2 eggs with a tbsp 35% whipping cream.  Whipping cream is the dairy product with the least amount of sugar.  For a low-sugar diet, it is better than any other form of dairy.

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Pour it over the melted butter in the pan and let cook.

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I only cook my omelettes on one side.  I spend a bit of time in France and while there, I really began to enjoy eggs that are soft and gooey.  That is what I’m going for with this omelette.  If you like yours hard-cooked, then perhaps reduce the temperature and cook it for longer or put it under the broiler to finish it off.

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When it reaches the above colour/texture, that’s when I layer on that flavourful ragout from my previous recipe (warmed, of course).  Then I plate it, folding over one side of the egg.  Served with some greens with lemon and olive oil, it makes a delicious breakfast.  Enjoy!

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Low-Carb Toad in the Hole

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I’m a firm believer in the idea that you eat with your eyes first.  So even the most humble of dishes should be plated with care so that they look their best.  This way you’re happy to eat it – you don’t feel like you’re eating diet food!  I know that this isn’t one of the prettiest dishes that I’ve made, but it does look like comfort food and the use of fresh herbs elevates the flavours and the look of it on the plate.  I think Jamie Oliver would agree with me when I say mushrooms and thyme are best mates.  And garlicky buttery mushrooms have always been a favourite combo of mine.  This dish serves 4.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 tbsp butter (it’s low carb, not low fat!)
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A variety of mushrooms – I went for 2 packs of mushrooms – 1 of cremini and one of portabello.  Why not let the grocery store do the work?  Thanks Metro!  Mushrooms should be cut into small-ish pieces.
  • fresh thyme
  • Baby kale and baby spinach mix – you can of course mix your own.  I used about 6 cups of it.
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter in pan on medium to high heat.
  2. Slice shallots and add to pan.
  3. Finely dice garlic. Add to pan.
  4. Add in more butter – I find these veggies just soak it up.
  5. Add in mushrooms.  Stir-fry them until they start to release liquid.
  6. Add in the spinach and kale.  Pile it in the pan until you can barely stir it because it’s so full.  It seems like we’re using a lot of veggies, but it reduces significantly.

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7.  Stir in kale and spinach until it wilts.  This will take about 5 minutes.

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8.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.

9.  Turn on the broiler to high (500 degrees).

10.  You have some options here.  For me, I was just making myself breakfast, so I took out 3/4 of the mixture to save for later.  But you can apply this step for 4 servings as well.

11. Pile up the veggies and make wholes for the number of eggs you will use.  If you’re making all 4, make 4 holes.  I made one hole for my 1 little toad in the hole.

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12. Crack the egg into the hole and let it cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat.

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13.  Put the dish under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

14.  This gave me a nice runny yolk and cooked whites.  If you like your eggs differently, adjust time/temperature accordingly.

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15.  Plate it up!  Sprinkle over some more fresh thyme.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do:)

Coconut Lime Prawns

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A low carb diet means lots of meat.  But I don’t like meat…which can be a bit of a problem.  Fortunately, there’s seafood, which is making more frequent appearances on my plate.  This one is fun.  I brought it to a party this evening as an appetizer, mainly because I would at least be able to eat this.  It ended up being the only thing there I could eat…And it disappeared.  And I was hoping for leftovers. This dish would also be good as a topping for a salad or along-side some stir-fried veggies. This recipe is adapted from Rebecca Crump’s Ezra Pound Cake blog.  I’ve made some changes.  They don’t necessarily make it better – I’m sure hers is delicious too.  My version just is more friendly to my particular diet.

Ingredients:

ingredients

  • frozen prawns
  • 1 jalepeño pepper
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • zest from 1 lime
  • juice of 3 limes
  • juice of 1 really big lemon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic

How-to:

  1. Cut the pepper in half and scoop out the seeds. Pop it into your magic bullet. Or whatever else you plan to whizz this up in.
  2. Use a microplane or box grater or whatever to get the zest from 1 lime.  Pop that in too.
  3. Squeeze all the juice you can from the citrus fruits.  Into the bullet.
  4. Melt the coconut oil.  Add.
  5. Add in everything else.
  6. Blend.
  7. Pour over frozen prawns.
  8. Leave it until the prawns are thawed out.
  9. Grill on the George Foreman or whatever else you want to use. Do it on the hottest heat possible.  You want those char marks, but you don’t want to overcook those delicate little sea creatures.  1-2 minutes per side should be good.
  10. Eat up!

Something to note:  That marinade is amazing and it would seem a shame to chuck it.  So I think I’ll try to marinade some salmon in it tomorrow.  I’m pretty certain it will be awesome.

Cilantro lime chicken salad

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This delicious salad is inspired by Mexican flavours.  I needed something to remind me of somewhere hot while I’m being tortured by this long Canadian winter.  After going for nearly two weeks with very little carbs, these sweet potatos are a welcome treat.  Only to be eaten after 4:00PM, this salad is a great dinner option.

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You’ll have to excuse the quality of the image.  I’m brand spanking new to food photography.  I’m new to any kind of photography for that matter.  But the dish itself was delicious, satisfying and helped to lift my mood because it has some feel-good carbs.  So here we go:

Ingredients and instructions:

Makes 4 servings.

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Mayo (see recipe below)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

To make: mix all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste.

Mayo:

***I don’t use store-bought mayonnaise because there’s sugar in it.  No matter which one.  I’ve looked at all the labels.  The key here, is to avoid sugar.  So here is one way to avoid sugar.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup oil (I used extra-virgin olive)
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • juice of 1 lemon

To make: blend egg, mustard and lemon in a food processor.  Keep the processor whizzing away until it’s frothy. Starting a few drops at a time, blend in oil.  Drizzle oil into the food processor very slowly!!!  Once all oil is incorporated, it should come together and look like a thick, yellow mayonnaise.  Keep the rest to make deviled eggs or to make a dip for veggies.

Chicken:

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

To make: preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a pan on the stove-top, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil. Season breasts with the remaining ingredients. Sear breasts in a very hot pan.  Once the outside is brown on both sides, put the pan into the oven (if oven proof) or transfer chicken to a pan and put in the oven until cooked through (10 minutes??).  Once completed, let rest for a bit and then slice.

Sweet Potato:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped to 2cm cubes (roughly – doesn’t have to be perfect)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

To make: preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss potatoes with the remaining ingredients. Put on a baking sheet and put into the oven for approximately 20 minutes.  When done, they should be starting to brown and they should be nice and soft in the middle.

Salad

  • 1 cup chopped coriander
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1 avocado, chopped with juice of lime squeezed over it to prevent it from turning brown

To make:  Combine all ingredients in same bowl that dressing was made in.  Coat with dressing.

Feel free to double up on all of the salad items (except avocado) if you want to have a little more bulk to the meal.

Assembly:

Plate the salad, then add in chicken and potatoes.  Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over everything.  Yummy!