Delicious, Nutritious Fruity Smoothie

Delicious, Nutritious Fruity Smoothie

I recently discovered this delicious, nutritious smoothie recipe with mango, banana pineapple, avocado and spinach.

How to prepare

Simply blend together 0.5-1 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1 cup roughly chopped mango, 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple, 1 avocado and 2-3 cups baby spinach.

What I love about this recipe

  • Packed with nutrients
  • Full of flavor
  • A great way to use up spinach that would normally be lying neglected at the bottom of the fridge
  • A hit with the whole family and a good way to include  healthy fruits and vegetables in the kids’ diet

Suggestions/Modifications

  • If you are not too keen on banana, I would reduce the amount or even eliminate it altogether because even just half a banana can overwhelm the other flavors in the smoothie
  • If you don’t have time to chop up all the fruits, try using pre-chopped frozen fruits instead (lightly thaw before blending)
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Ready to drink!
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My testers….this smoothie is “kid approved”

 

 

Delicious Coconut Shrimp Ceviche Recipe

Delicious Coconut Shrimp Ceviche Recipe

I would never have thought of combining shrimp, coconut and grapefruit in one dish but that is exactly what this coconut shrimp ceviche recipe does, and the result is divine!

I was inspired to make this recipe from the book “Simple Stunning Parties at Home: Recipes, Ideas and Inspirations for Creative Entertaining” by Karen Bussen.

I modified the recipe as shown below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound  (approximately 90-100) shrimp, peeled, cooked, with the tails removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 to 1.5 grapefruits roughly chopped into sections, peel removed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • If shrimp is frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Remove tails (if present) by gently prying off. You could also use a knife but you may lose some of the shrimp left inside the tail.
  • Extract juice from lemons (approximately 3 to 4) into a small bowl.
  • Add coconut milk to lemon juice and stir briefly to mix.
  • Cut grapefruits in half (transversely) and chop into small sections (skin removed)
  • Place shrimp in a serving dish and add grapefruit sections.
  • Pour lemon/coconut milk over the shrimp/grapefruit.
  • Chop up fresh cilantro and sprinkle over the dish.
  • Add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

What I love about this recipe:

  • Unique blend of flavors
  • Very quick and easy to make
  • Kid-friendly

Options/Modifications:

  • You can add some diced jalapenos for extra flavor.
  • You can chop up the shrimp into small pieces prior to marinading.
  • You can serve with steamed rice or on its own.
  • You can use raw shrimp and then marinade for a longer time (about 1 hour). The citrus juices of the lime/lemon will cook the shrimp.
  • Coconut milk can be quite high in saturated fat so you can select a light version with less fat if preferred.

Enjoy your delicious coconut shrimp ceviche!

 

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Coconut shrimp ceviche

 

Scrumptious Black Bean Enchiladas

Scrumptious Black Bean Enchiladas

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Image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com

I’m always on the look out for new tasty recipes, particularly ones that are kid-friendly and nutritious. Last week I stumbled upon this delicious bean enchilada recipe. It was scrumptious and very easy to make. The main ingredients are beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, grated carrots wrapped in tortillas and topped with a dollop of yogurt and grated cheese.

Now, my kids have an onion ‘radar’ second-to-none, but I was able to disguise the onions by chopping them up as small as possible and frying them in some delicious spices that the kids could not resist. (The spices were Dhana jeera and Garam masala which can be found at Indian stores and some supermarkets. If you are unable to locate these particular spices, you can whip up something similar using ground coriander, cumin, cloves and turmeric).

You can use any type of bean for this recipe (I used black beans) and even include some lentils. A green salad complements the enchiladas nicely. This recipe was a hit with the entire family and refrigerates well for a subsequent meal. I hope you enjoy your enchiladas as much as we did!

 

 

 

Cilantro and Lime Salmon

Cilantro and Lime Salmon

I am always looking for new ways to cook fish and this week, I found an absolutely mouth-watering recipe for making salmon. Since I am cooking for a family of four and time is of the essence, my goal is to make recipes that are tasty yet easy to make.

Cilantro and Lime Salmon. Photo credit: potentialdoctor.com
Cilantro and Lime Salmon. Photo credit: potentialdoctor.com

The salmon recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking consists of a simple marinade made from cilantro, lime (juice and zest), and garlic. Jalapeno chilies are an optional ingredient. I made the salmon with a side of mashed potatoes, tomato and corn salad.

What I loved about this recipe:

  • The marinade keeps the fish moist during cooking
  • Makes use of healthy ingredients such as garlic and cilantro
  • Tasty lime flavor
  • Easy and fast

Suggestions/Tips:

  • Try to avoid cooking for more than the recommended time as this will dry out the fish.
  • If you don’t have much time to marinade the salmon, then marinade for just 15 minutes prior to cooking. This will still make a difference in bringing out the tasty lime flavor.
  • To enhance the appearance of the salmon, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges

I hope you enjoy your cilantro and lime salmon dish!

Delicious Breakfast Egg Cups

Delicious Breakfast Egg Cups

I have been really enjoying trying new recipes regularly. It gives me something to look forward to in the kitchen, I get to surprise my family with something new and it is helping me to get more organized with my meal planning!

This week’s new recipe is an easy, healthy breakfast recipe courtesy of Super Healthy Kids.

It consists of eggs, spinach, red peppers and cheddar cheese baked in a muffin tray.

A freshly baked breakfast egg cup.
A freshly baked breakfast egg cup.

What I loved about this recipe:

  • Fast and easy
  • Colorful appearance from the spinach and red peppers
  • Versatile (you can vary the ingredients you include)
  • Great way to use up left-over vegetables
  • Freezes well for future meals
  • Kid-friendly (although one of my kids did pick out the red peppers!)

Suggestions/Tips:

  • Only fill the muffin tray 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up because the egg expands upon baking.

I hope you enjoy your breakfast egg cups!

Freshly baked breakfast egg cups.
Freshly baked breakfast egg cups.
Ginger Chicken Curry with Tender Peas and Basmati Rice

Ginger Chicken Curry with Tender Peas and Basmati Rice

My recent goal has been to experiment with at least one new recipe a week. The new recipe I tried this week was a delicious ginger chicken curry recipe courtesy of Once Upon A Chef.

Delicious Ginger Curry Chicken. Image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com
Delicious Ginger Chicken Curry with Peas and Basmati Rice. Image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com

What I loved about this recipe:

  • Great combination of flavour (garlic, ginger, curry powder, cilantro)
  • Easy and fast to make
  • Can be easily batch cooked
  • Uses readily available ingredients
  • Combines peas with the chicken all in one dish
  • Freezes well for a second meal
  • It was a big hit with the husband and kids

Recommended side dish:

This scrumptious chicken curry goes very well with a simple side of basmati rice.

Suggestions/Tips:

  • I have made other chicken curries before but I think what really brought out the flavour of this recipe was the freshly grated ginger and also rubbing the chicken pieces with curry powder before cooking.
  • I found that the curry tasted better without the yoghurt although this could have been because of the type of yoghurt I was using. I recommend tasting the sauce before adding the yoghurt to assess whether it’s really needed.
  • I discovered that frozen peas taste fresher than canned peas and are better for your health.
  • Adding turmeric to the basmati rice while cooking will complement the color of the chicken curry.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Building Your Cooking Confidence…New Recipe of the Week

Building Your Cooking Confidence…New Recipe of the Week

One secret to eating healthily is finding delicious and nutritious recipes that are easy to make. I have been amazed by the sheer diversity of flavor that you can find in recipes, none of which have to be complicated or time-consuming. Cooking can seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be! With time and practice, we can build our confidence in the kitchen and boost cooking skills to a new level.

Trying at least one new recipe each week is my latest goal towards eating healthily. Experimenting with new recipes is a great way to build your cooking confidence and has multiple benefits:

  • Improved cooking skills: My former roommates still tease me to this day about the ‘delicacies’ I used to prepare during our university days, namely, rice with ketchup. I really had very few cooking skills! The only way to improve was for me to roll up my sleeves, be willing to experiment and launch myself into the kitchen. Before long, I fell in love with cooking. Food is a great way to connect with people. It breaks down barriers and provides endless topics of conversation! Take your cooking one step further by learning one new recipe each week.
  • Increased confidence in hosting guests: I remember when my husband and I got married and I was nervous about having our first couple over for supper. I realized that I needed to build my confidence in the kitchen. The only way to do that was to practice! Fortunately my husband was willing to eat just about anything and was very patient as I found my way in the kitchen. The more I cooked, the more confident I felt and it wasn’t long before having a group of 30 people over to our house didn’t phase me. Keep trying something new in the kitchen. Even if it fails, you can always try again!
  • A wider variety of nutrients: I cringe when I think about how I used to eat in the past. I can remember a phase when vegetables were optional. I knew they were important but somehow I just didn’t know what to do with them. By trying a new recipe every week, this will provide the opportunity to try a wider variety of foods (vegetables included!) with a greater selection of healthy nutrients.
  • Sustained motivation: I personally am more motivated to cook when I am trying something new or tweaking an existing recipe. The same cycle of meals can be boring so keep it fresh by adding some diversity and expanding your repertoire!
  • Happy family: I have to say that when I try new recipes, the energy at our dining table is tangible. The husband and kids get excited and I feel a great sense of satisfaction in seeing them enjoy what they are eating. Make your cooking journey a shared experience where others can enjoy your new creations!

Without further ado, here is the new recipe of the week, courtesy of Closet Cooking.

Broccoli and Cheddar Quinoa Bites

A freshly baked broccoli and cheddar quinoa bite (image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com)
A freshly baked broccoli and cheddar quinoa bite (image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com)

I made a quick dip for this meal that consisted of soy-sauce, honey, dijon mustard and freshly grated ginger.

  • My review: Very simple to make, fast, nutritious and delicious.
  • Options: I used cajun spices instead of cayenne alone.
  • Kid-friendly? A resounding yes! My kids gobbled this up before I had time to sit down at the table
  • Tip 1: If you have babies or toddlers, you may want to steam the broccoli slightly before baking the mixture in the oven because the baking process does not soften the broccoli completely.
  • Tip 2: Cook a double portion of the quinoa, freeze half of it (prior to mixing with the other ingredients) and use it in subsequent meals such as salads, soups, stews etc.

If you are nervous or unsure about cooking, don’t despair! There is a wonderful world of cooking out there to discover. Take it one step at a time and soon you will have improved cooking skills and more confidence in the kitchen!

Five Tips for Living a Healthier Lifestyle

Five Tips for Living a Healthier Lifestyle

When deciding to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to know what changes to make and how. When I look back at my attempts to live more healthily, the approach that worked best for me was tackling my goals in small increments and doing the things that I truly enjoyed.

So whether your goal is to eat more healthy food, exercise more, reduce stress levels or simply have more fun, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small: our bodies and minds have learning curves and need time to adjust to new changes. It will be easier to sustain a healthier lifestyle by starting with a small goal and increasing our threshold over time. For example, if you have done no exercise lately and want to start exercising, you could begin with just a 10 minute walk 3 times a week and build up from there. You’ll be amazed how your body becomes stronger with time and soon 10 minutes will become easier and you will be able to go for longer. Although the general guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, this can be daunting for some people. It is certainly a worthy goal to eventually get to but it can help to just start small until you build up the habit.
  2. Do something you enjoy: There are many shapes and forms of exercise and it’s important to find one that you truly enjoy otherwise it can be difficult to keep up the stamina and motivation. Some people find it hard to exercise alone and need the company of others. Challenge your friends to join you for some weekly exercise! Some people have sensitive knees (like me) and cannot accommodate high impact exercise. This does not mean that there is no hope of getting fit! Even with physical limitations, there are ways to strengthen our bodies through yoga, swimming, weight training, walking, and more.
  3. Rest and refill regularly: It can be difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle if we are running on empty. It’s important to find ways to filter out the stress of daily life and to do activities that fill up our souls. This could be through our hobbies, exercise, spending time with family or friends, a change of scenery, and through getting enough sleep to rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
  4. Get creative: When it comes to eating, it can be easy to find ourselves in a rut eating the same foods over and over (this happens to me sometimes!). You don’t have to have perfect cooking skills to come up with some delicious, healthy meals. I personally had no idea how to cook until I was in my twenties and it took some experimentation and some generous ‘guinea pigs’ willing to try my food to give me some experience with cooking. My goal is to try at least one new recipe each week. Yummly, my favorite site for finding new recipes is user-friendly and recommends recipes based on your tastes, preferences and diet type. It will even populate a shopping list of ingredients based on the recipe you choose.
  5. Find a balance: Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean we have to always be on the go or never eat certain foods. It’s about finding the right balance (easier said than done sometimes!) that accommodates nutritious foods, our own tastes and that gets us active while allowing time to rest and de-stress. Every individual is different and it takes time to achieve a balance and determine what works for you.

Living a healthy lifestyle does not happen overnight. It has its challenges and victories like anything else in life. It doesn’t matter if you have fallen by the wayside on your journey to becoming more healthy. There is always a new day, a fresh start, another opportunity to try again. Your body and mind will thank you!

Image courtesy of samsung.com
Image courtesy of samsung.com
The 30-Day Challenge is Done! Congratulations!

The 30-Day Challenge is Done! Congratulations!

Congratulations! We are finally at the end of the 30-day challenge towards wholesome living physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thank you to all those who joined me for the challenge and for your support and motivation. Having others to hold you accountable and give you encouragement makes all the difference in being successful in a venture like this!

Here’s a recap of the last week:

  • Fitness: My fitness goal over the last 30 days has been to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, particularly cardiovascular exercise that would get me to break a sweat. Overall, my goal has been met with the exception of a few days break here and there due to recurring knee soreness. I had to find a balance between giving my knee adequate rest and not breaking up the momentum I had built in keeping to frequent exercise. I knew that if I stopped doing exercise for more than a few days, it would be harder to resume. This week my exercise consisted of an intermediate total body workout, yoga, upper body strength training and brisk walks outside in the beautiful sunshine with the kids. I feel myself getting stronger and fitter. It’s nice to see hard work pay off! If you don’t have time to do any formal exercise on a particular day, try to do something small for your body like going for a quick walk on lunch-break or using stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit helps!
  • Nutrition: My nutrition goals were to eat healthily, have more variety in my diet and to make sure I was eating enough calories (~2800) to maintain my weight. I was concerned that with daily exercise (particularly cardio) that I would lose weight which I did not want to do. Fortunately, with making sure I ate enough healthy calories, I maintained my weight! I did indulge in BBQ flavored chips and cheese-cake a few times, but for the most part, I met my nutrition goals. My desire to have more variety in my diet resulted in our family eating more fruits and vegetables than we normally do which is great. This week, I made delicious spinach ‘chips’ which were a big hit with our son. All you have to do is drizzle baby spinach leaves with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and a pinch of salt then spread out flat on a baking tray and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until crunchy (see pictures below). This will be a big hit with kids who may not normally like vegetables. The sesame oil-garlic powder combo also works well as a dressing if you prefer to eat the baby spinach raw. This recipe also works well with kale leaves.
Baby spinach drizzled with sesame oil, garlic powder and a pinch of salt
Baby spinach drizzled with sesame oil, garlic powder and a pinch of salt
Baby spinach laid out on baking tray.  I have no
Baby spinach laid out on a baking tray. It’s important to have only one layer to avoid sogginess.  I have no “after” pictures to show you as the spinach chips were instantly devoured by my family!
  • Spirituality: This was my favorite part of the challenge as I really felt the difference in my frame of mind and outlook in life by spending time with God daily in prayer, reading the Bible and just reflecting on the blessings in my life. This week I read some excerpts from “Our Daily Bread” and I liked the quote by Winston Churchill “Failure is not fatal”  in other words, our failures do not define us. We may fall short in many ways but God will always restore us. He is our hope and our anchor. I also enjoyed reading about the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). It reminded me that even those goals, dreams, or difficult situations that seem insurmountable can be accomplished or overcome if we just believe it’s possible. I really feel transformed by these 30 days because I feel that I have forged a stronger identity in Christ. I am constantly blown away by the fact that God loves me unconditionally, no matter what! This gives me such a reassurance, a true hope, and a fiery excitement to see what the future holds!

Congratulations once again for making it to the end of this 30-day challenge. I hope you have benefited from it as much as I have. Keep going with the good habits you have developed and continue to look for new ways to challenge your body and mind to greater heights!

Image courtesy of ponsuwan at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of ponsuwan at freedigitalphotos.net
Week 3 of the 30-Day Challenge is Done! We are almost there….

Week 3 of the 30-Day Challenge is Done! We are almost there….

Welcome back to the 30-Day Challenge! This has been a fantastic past few weeks of focusing on consistent exercise, healthy eating and daily devotional time. If you are only just joining the challenge, it’s not too late to get on board and improve the quality of your health and mind!

Here’s a recap of the past week:

  • Fitness: Although exercise has often been something I deemed important, I have not always been consistent with it in the past, and therefore this 30-day challenge has been a great way to keep me motivated towards building good habits. So far, I have managed to exercise 30 minutes a day every day for the first 2 weeks of the challenge. My sensitive right knee then started acting up and I felt under the weather so I made the difficult decision to rest from any exercise for 3 days until I felt better. I also made sure to focus on upper body exercises and moderate paced walks outside for the rest of the week to put less strain on my knee. Injuries, sickness or pain can be frustrating when you are trying to keep to a consistent exercise regimen but it’s best to give your body rest to avoid aggravating the situation. Once you are feeling better, get right back on the saddle! Keeping things fresh is important in keeping you motivated so if you are looking for some new workouts to do, here are my favorite 3 workouts from the past 3 weeks: high intensity interval training cardio-abs workout, yoga workout, and T-25 workouts which give you an invigorating cardio workout in just 25 minutes (available through Amazon).
  • Nutrition: Eating healthily has been going well. Two of my main goals are to stick with enough healthy calories to maintain my current weight and to add more variety to my diet. Since the weeks are busy, I am picking Saturday night as the meal to try a new recipe for every week. That way, when my pre-schooler asks me “what are we eating tonight mummy?”, I can actually have something to say other than “chicken, peas and potatoes”. It’s also a good opportunity to offer something new and tantalizing to guests we have over for supper.  Another added benefit is that our brains like new challenges so even trying a new recipe is good for your brain! This weekend’s new recipe was home-made pizza. (See pictures below). The sky is the limit with this because you get to be creative with the toppings: peppers, pineapple, tuna, olives, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes…whatever takes your fancy!
  • Spiritual: My time in prayer, singing and devotional reading time has been great for clearing my mind of clutter, focusing on the blessings in my life and reminding myself of God’s grace towards me. There were a few anxious moments this week about the future but I’m just reminding myself to trust in God and not worry about things. I have been enjoying digging deep into the Bible and spending more time and thought on what I am reading. I am finding such a richness of information, guidance, comfort and inspiration. One particular verse that captured me this week was the call set forth in I Peter to use our gifts and talents: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others”. I Peter 4:10. In a world that is getting increasingly competitive, we may sometimes wonder what we have to offer. But it’s important to remember (and I’m reminding myself of this too) that it’s not the scale of what we do but the heart behind it. Are we doing everything we can with what we’ve got? And are we sharing that gift with someone else in some way, shape or form?

We are now on to the last week of the 30-day challenge. Even though the goal was to be consistent for 30 days, I am looking forward to keeping up the healthy habits we have acquired well beyond the 30 days. Keep going! Allez-y!

Image courtesy of kromkathrog at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of kromkathrog at freedigitalphotos.net
My hubby kneading the home-made dough
My hubby kneading the home-made dough (adding some garlic paste to the dough will give the pizza base a delicious flavor)
Hubby spreading out the dough in the baking tray (you can use any shape of tray)
Hubby spreading out the dough in the baking tray (you can use any shape of tray). Push the dough against the edges of the tray to make the pizza base more aesthetically pleasing.
Base ready for toppings after par-broiling in the oven for ~10 minutes
Pizza base ready for toppings after par-baking in the oven at 425C for ~10 minutes (this step partially cooks the pizza base before adding the toppings so you end up with a nice crunchy base at the end.)
First layer of toppings (tomato paste or sauce, mozzarella cheese, black olive, pepperoni)
First layer of toppings (tomato paste or sauce, mozzarella cheese, black olive, pepperoni)
Second layer of toppings (green peppers, mushrooms, more mozzarella cheese)
Second layer of toppings (green peppers, mushrooms, more mozzarella cheese)
Finished product (Baked for ~15 minutes at 400C then broiled on low for a few minutes until lightly browned)
Finished product (Baked for ~15 minutes at 400C then broiled on low for a few minutes until lightly browned)
Delicious!
Delicious!