Sunday, 15 April 2012 11:44

A Taste Of Puerto Rico

A Taste Of Puerto Rico is a cookbook that my Mom gave me years and years ago.  I think I cracked the spine on that book once.  I felt like I knew how to cook the dishes I wanted, and what I didn't know Mom knew how to make.  When Karen and I went to Puerto Rico at the end of March for the 70.3 San Juan race I was brought back to the kitchen of my mother. The flavors exploded in my mouth and I was determined to re-create everything I ate.  This included mofongo, tofu in criollo sauce, platanos maduros, and arroz con bichuela.  Those dishes would be a fried plantain dish.  Criollo sauce is a tomato based sauce with peppers and capers.  Platanos maduros are fried plantains that are squashed and fried twice.  Arroz con habichuelas is rice and beans, typically made with pinto beans but I love black beans. For a few weeks I kept playing over and over in my head how to make any or all of these dishes in one night.  Then while at the CPR/AED course yesterday I was inspired and when I got home I knew what I was having for dinner.  Part of the inspiration came from watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network where the highlighted restaurant boiled the plantains.  This idea made it easier to make the mofongo because I would not have to fry it.  Side note I have eliminated oil from diet thanks to Engine 2 Diet and consequently have lost 3 pounds in a week effortlessly. Here are the recipes for the various pieces to the dish I made last night.  All servings are for one person.

Arroz Con Habicuelas (Rice and Beans)

This is a take off on that since I used quinoa instead of rice, but if you were to use rice I would use long grain brown rice.

Ingredients: 1/2c Quinoa (cleaned), 1 1/2c Vegetable Stock, 1/4c Black Beans (rinsed and drained), 1/4c White Onion (chopped)

Nutritional Information: 259 calories, 2.5g Fat, 60g Carbs, 17.5g Fiber, 14.6g Protein


  • In medium pot on medium-high heat add quinoa and toast for 3-5 minutes.
  • In separate pot add beans, onions and enough water to cover.  Turn heat to medium-low and cover.
  • Add vegetable stock to quinoa, cover with lid and bring to boil.
  • Lower heat to simmer.
  • Allow quinoa to absorb all the liquid.
  • When all the liquid is gone turn off heat, remove pot and set aside.
Green and Mushroom Empanadas
Ingredients: 1/2c Whole Wheat Flour, 4-6 Tbsp Warm Water, 1-1 1/2c of Greens (I used Turnip Greens, Kale, Spinach, and Cilantro), 3 Baby Bella Mushroom (chopped)
Nutritional Information: 245calories, 1.2g Fat, 46.6g Carbs, 6.8g Fiber, 14.5g Protein Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 405*
  • In food processor add flour and turn on.
  • While blade is going drizzle water in until a dough is formed.
  • Take dough out of food processor and set aside on wax paper.
  • While dough is resting bring pot of water to a boil.  Once water is boiling add all the greens.
  • Once greens have wilted remove from water and place on towel.
  • Squeeze all the excess water out, add mushrooms and combine well.
  • Roll out dough into 3" circles.  Add in green/mushroom mixture and fold dough over.
  • Pinch with work and set aside on silpat on baking tray.
Ingredients: 1 Plantain, 4 Garlic Cloves, 1/2c Vegetable Stock
Nutritional Information: 260 calories, 0.06g Fat, 68.5g Carbs, 5g Fiber, 2.8g Protein
  • Bring medium pot of water to boil.
  • Cut plantain into large pieces and add to water.
  • Allow to boil until softened.  Approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • In food processor add garlic and vegetable stock.  Once plantains have boiled add them to food processor as well.
  • Pulse the ingredients until they are well combined and somewhat sticky (that is the starch releasing from the plantain.)
  • Set ring molds on same baking sheet as the empanadas and fill to top with mixture.
  • Place in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until tops begin to brown.
  • Once tops are browning extract mofongo from the ring mold and flip over.
  • Remove empanadas from the tray and set to broil.
  • Broil the mofongo for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
Serve all the pieces together on a plate and enjoy.
Nutritional Information (entire plate): 764 calories, 4g Fat, 175g Carbs, 29g Fiber, 31g Protein
Nutritional Breakdown (entire plate): 81.4% Carbs, 14.4% Protein, 4.2% Fat
Ideally you would like more fat and one way to do that would be to add a medium avocado to the plate.  The medium avocado would add 161 calories to the dish, but bring the nutritional breakdown to 71% Carbs, 13% Protein, 16% Fat.

[flagallery gid=13 name="Puerto Rican Cuisine"]

Published in Lunch Recipes
Thursday, 08 March 2012 12:44

Vegan Enchiladas Recipe - 100% From Scratch

As you know I run a feature called the Frugal Grocer and I need to create meals based on what I have in my refrigerator or pantry and nothing else.  I can be found searching the internet for various types of meals and usually go to Food Republic on a daily basis.  From their site Food Republic is founded on the idea that guys everywhere are putting food at the center of their lives like never before. This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart. I originally found a recipe for Rigatoni ai Carciofi because I have all the ingredients except for the packed artichoke hearts.  I do have a fresh artichoke heart in the fridge and may still make it but I had wanted to do something else with it.  That is when the recipe God's smiled upon me and showed me this Spinach and Mushroom Enchilada recipe. After looking at the recipe closely I knew I had all the ingredients except for how to make the Tomato Salsa with Chipotle and Habanero Chiles.  What I did have was tomato sauce, tomato paste, chipotle sauce (no peppers) and Habanero.  I also had avocados and tomatillos and one of my favorite items to make is a homemade salsa verde.  With all of this swirling around in my head I got to work on creating my own version of their recipe. Here is my recipe for each of the portions of the meal:

Spinach And Mushroom Enchiladas Plus Vegetable Enchiladas


Ingredients: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 Tbsp Canola Oil, 5 Tbsp Water


  • In food processor add whole wheat flour and pulse to reduce the amount of flour tossing.
  • Combine water and oil in a measuring cup to make it easier to pour.
  • Drizzle in a bit of water/oil combination at first and pulse, then turn on and slowly stream in water.
  • Dough will become a ball and that is when you stop.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on a working surface and cut dough into 3 sections.
  • Roll out each section and place on separate each tortilla with wax paper and set aside.

Spicy Tomato Sauce: Ingredients: 8oz can Tomato Sauce, 6oz can Tomato Paste, 3 Habanero Chiles, 4oz Roasted Red Peppers Directions:

  • In food processor combine all ingredients and turn on until completely combined.  Approximately 2 minutes.
  • Pour into separate bowl and set aside

Spicy Tomatillo Avocado Sauce:   Ingredients: 1 Medium Jalapeno, 1 Small Avocado, 3 Small Tomatillos Directions:

  • In food processor combine all ingredients and turn on until completely combined.  Approximately 2 minutes.
  • Pour into separate bowl and set aside

Enchilada Filling: Ingredients: Filling 1: 1 bunch of spinach leaves, 1 bunch of turnip green leaves, 8 crimini mushrooms (chopped) Filling 2: 1/2c Zucchini (chopped), 10 Asparagus stalks (chopped), 1/2 Medium Green Bell Pepper (chopped), 1/2 Medium Yellow Bell Pepper (chopped) Dry Seasonings for both:  Cumin, Coriander Seed, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Chile Powder Oil: 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil separated Directions:

  • In separate medium-sized pans heat up 1 Tbsp coconut oil until melted.
  • Add the mushrooms to one pan and cook until golden brown and then add greens until they wilt down
  • In second pan add in remaining vegetables and cook until just tender.

Final Step:

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • In a baking pan cover bottom with spicy tomato sauce
  • On griddle place tortillas and cook until the firm up a bit.
  • Remove from griddle and place filling and roll up tortillas and place in baking pan.
  • Place pan in oven and cook for 10 minutes or until edges of tortillas begin to crisp up a bit.
  • Plate the enchiladas along with remaining sautéed vegetables.
  • Top enchiladas with spicy tomatillo/avocado sauce and enjoy.


Published in Lunch Recipes
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 18:36

Vega Sport Nutrition Review

[caption id="attachment_4861" align="alignright" width="230" caption="Vega Sport Sampler Pack"]vega-sport-vegan-vegetarian-sports-nutrition[/caption] Vega Sports Nutrition contacted me and asked if I would like to review their product.  As a vegetarian I was instantly interested in seeing these products first hand.  I had seen advertisements for them as well as had seen that Brendan Brazier had created the product.  Mr Brazier is a vegan professional triathlete who has an 8th place finish at Ironman Utah in 2002.  He is also the author of Thrive: A Guide to Optimal Health and Performance through a plant-based diet.  So as you can see it was not a stretch for me to not only want to know more but to try out these products. Vega was sent to me in this terrific box that opened up into 4 quadrants that showed the products broken down into its three components.  Those components consisted of Prepare, Sustain, Recover.   [caption id="attachment_4857" align="alignright" width="252" caption="Pre-Workout Energizer"]vega-sport-pre-workout-energizer[/caption] Prepare There were two flavors included in the sampler pack (lemon-lime and acai berry.)  The package states that you should mix the powder with 1 cup of cold water and consume 20 minutes prior to a workout.  Following the directions I started to shake the contents of my water bottle fully expecting to see a yellowish color and to my surprise I saw what could best be described as a murky color. Standing in front of my sink it took a few minutes to decide if I really wanted to consume this product.  As we all know we eat with our eyes first and my eyes were telling me to put it down and walk away as fast as possible.  My mind however told me to drink it and see what I thought.  As I put the water bottle to my lips I was wondering if the taste would match the color and pleasantly it did not. The flavor of lemon-lime came right through and made me forget about the color of the water I was drinking. Since I have switched to drinking my calories before a workout  this worked for me.  If you are a person who has trouble holding down food before working out I suggest you give this product a try.  If you are a vegetarian or a vegan who has been eating peanut butter on an english muffin before a race or workout I would suggest giving this a try to see how your energy is sustained.  I used the Prepare prior to a long swim set and felt strong throughout with no feeling or exhaustion.     [caption id="attachment_4858" align="alignright" width="272" caption="Vega Sport Endurance Bar"]vega-sport-endurance-bar[/caption] Sustain In the package came a Gel, a Hydrator and a Bar.  I would liken the hydrator to Nuun in that it has a subtle taste and fizz.  I did not use the Gel as none of my workouts recently have been long enough to incorporate a Gel into, but I did use the bar during a trainer ride.  This was going to be new for me because since mid-summer I have switched to all liquid nutrition while on the bike and it has suited me very well.  Since I was going to be on the trainer and not far from my house (trainer is in the garage) should I have needed to use the bathroom I would not have to worry about where to stop. I chose to use the Chocolate Mocha (it is also available in Acai Berry) about an hour into a 1.5 hour ride.  The texture of the bar was like most bars that are on the market.  It was chewy and had just enough sweetness to it to curb any cravings but not feel like it would send you into insulin shock.  The mocha flavor left a little to be desired in that I was expecting a strong coffee flavor than what I got.  As a person who loves his coffee it left me wanting that taste.  It settled well in my stomach and was not like other bars I had been using on the bike and not sit like a brick. If you are a person that eats during a bike ride I would recommend switching to these bars as they are not heavy.  As I enter into Ironman training I will experiment with consuming these bars during the first 3 hours of a ride and then switch to all liquid for the last 3 hours.  I have read other blogs and their recommendations have been to eat on the bike in the first half.  I had been eschewing this advice since none of the bars I was consuming was sitting well, but with 190 calories I can consume 2 bars in the first 3 hours along with a drink to get the necessary calories without that heavy feeling.   [caption id="attachment_4859" align="alignright" width="273" caption="Vega Sport Protein Bar"]vega-sport-protein-bar[/caption] Recover The Recover portion of Vega Sports comes with three products.  Recover Accelerator is recommended to be taken within 20 minutes of finishing exercise as it has  a 4:1 Carb:Protein ratio which will help maximize your recovery.  The Performance Protein is recommended to be consumed 30 to 90 minutes upon completion and even throughout the day.  I chose the Protein Bar after my 1.5 hour trainer ride and supplemented it with 2 egg whites on a slice of toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Bread. The bar is packed with 240 calories and comes in Chocolate Coconut and Chocolate SaviSeed.  I went with the chocolate coconut because those are two of my favorite flavors.  Unlike the Sustain bar the flavors of chocolate and coconut come through in this bar.  The bar is chewy and has a great texture.  My biggest fear is having a box of these in the house and just dipping into the box when I'm not working out it tasted that good. I typically pack a recovery smoothie with me on any training that is over two hours and supplement that with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This bar would allow me to not have to make the sandwich if I'm running out of time during preparation.  Also, since it is only 240 calories it would be the perfect recovery tool for any training that is under two hours and the need for all the calories is not necessary. Overall I think the product line is an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans as well as those that are looking for something new to try.  There are multiple flavors of each to try which should satisfy most palettes and the nutritional needs are there as well.  All of the ingredients are pronounceable and are clean.  From a pricing stand-point they are very much inline with other sports nutrition products on the market. I would like to thank Vega Sport for allowing me the opportunity to review this product on my blog.     ** I did not receive compensation and had no expectations of a positive review in return for the sample pack of Vega Sport.
Published in Product Reviews

As you have seen from my posts for Buffalo Tempeh and Black Bean, Zucchini and Olive Tacos or the Lentil Chipotle Burgers and Scallion Sweet Potato Pancakes I have been involved in a cookbook club.  This month we were asked to review Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.


The layout of the book was excellent.  The table of contents was broken down into various types of meals that it was very easy to look for what you wanted to re-create and I enjoyed that.  It was how I was able to pair the four of the recipes into the two meals above.  In addition to having a clear format the instructions were very easy to follow.  For a person like me who starts to cook before actually reading the directions I never felt lost or behind as there were no surprises (like preheat the oven or add in 1c boiling water.


One area that could have been improved upon were the photos.  There are plenty of photos in the book but not for all the recipes.  This is good and bad as when I use a cookbook and the dish I create doesn't look exactly like the picture I start to over analyze my ingredients and how I used them.  On the flip side when the dish is complete and it doesn't look that good I like to have a visual example to compare to.  In this instance the pictures that did exist for the recipes I created were in the book and they were spot on.  The dishes looked exactly as I had created and the other dishes look phenomenal and have spurred creativity to create more dishes.


This table of contents has 6 pages of recipes with each looking better than the next in my opinion.  The beauty of this cookbook is that so many of the recipes can be paired to create a great meal.  For example, how does Veggie Pot Pie Stew served with Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits sound?  Or how about Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes served with Polenta Stuffing?

One other item of note is that the recipes can be a little 'fancy' but there are also down home comfort foods in this book.  I think that is what appealed to me the most.  Some days I want to be in the kitchen whipping up a meal that would be great in a 4 star restaurant and other days I want to be the guy in the food truck.  This cookbook allows you to play both roles and be able to do so with ease as the recipes are not overly complicated.

Ingredients and supplies:

There were two items that stood out for me in the use of this cookbook.  As an endurance athlete I want to know what I am putting into my body in terms of nutritional information.  How many carbs?  What are the protein and fat amounts?  As I thumbed through the recipes I noticed that each one showed me exactly that information and it wasn't just the amount of macronutrients but also information on some of the micronutrients like iron and Vitamin A.

The second item was the idea of looking for and finding the ingredients without having to travel to multiple stores and the recipes I created allowed me to do one stop shopping.  I conducted my own experiment and went to Whole Foods for one of the meals and our local Kroger for the other.  I was able to find all the ingredients that I needed at both stores and that was a plus.  I always hear how hard it is to eat vegetarian or vegan meals because of all the special shopping that needed to be done.  I can say with honesty that you can find the ingredients to the recipes in this book at the local grocery store.


For me first trip into a Cookbook Club I was very pleased with this book.  The recipes, ingredients, pictures and additional information helped me get through the book with ease.  As I was writing this review, with the book next to me, I noticed a recipe that I must have been blind too but plan on making it tonight.  That for me is what is important.  I can keep going back to this book for not only recipes but for inspiration.  Other cookbooks I have used are just that.....books.  You read them and put them on the shelf never to be touched again.  I keep Appetite for Reduction on my kitchen counter because I am always using it as a resource of information.


If you are interested in trying out a vegetarian or vegan diet I suggest that you join this Cookbook Club even if for just one month. This book club gives you the opportunity to read what others thought of dishes before you attempt them.  You also get to see pictures of how different recipes came out and try to recreate on your own.

Click here to join the next month's cookbook review.  We will be reviewing Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin



Published in Uncategorized
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