Tuna Ceviche with Homemade Plantain Chips

Tuna Ceviche with Plantain Chips

I recently went to dinner with my husband at The Blue Bamboo, Founded by Chef Dennis Chan.  I’m not sure why we haven’t been to this great restaurant before, maybe because its all the way on Southside and we are at the beach, but we are sure glad we went!  In glancing at the hip Asian menu and a being totally impressed, I was informed Chef Chan wrote a book of his favorite recipes.  Of course I jumped at the chance to buy it and Chef Chan came out to sign it for me.  Turns out he and my husband went to the same high school around the same time, go figure.  Dennis is a sweetheart to talk to and I am certain the food there has good energy!

I revised this recipe a bit, but most of it came from his cookbook called “Hip Asian Comfort Food”.

1 1/2 lbs tuna loin, diced

1/2 red pepper, 1/2 yellow pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tbsp ginger, grated

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup lime juice

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 cup corn kernels (I used 2 corn on the cob, boiled, cooled, then sliced off)

1 tbsp cumin

handful fresh chopped cilantro, (his recipe calls for chives)

Himalayan sea salt/white pepper to taste

After dicing the tuna add the juice, ginger, oil and garlic.  You only need to let it marinate for 2 hours, maybe a little less as I found. Then mix in all the other ingredients before serving.

Homemade Plantain Chips:

Slice unripened plantains about 1/2 inch thick, saute til light brown on each side using grape seed oil or canola, smash on plate flat then refry.  Dry on paper towels.  Serve with the ceviche.

Is there such a thing as healthy sausage?



Is there such a thing as fresh, healthy sausage?  To cut to the chase, not really.  Pigs are known to eat just about anything and are fed a lot of corn and grains to fatten them up.  Pork is high in saturated fat, and very high in omega 6 which tends to be inflammatory to the body. In addition,  sausages are sometimes cured, high in sodium, and usually contain nitrites which is a dangerous preservative that when eaten frequently, can increase your risk for cancer.

Now for some better news.  Besides staying away from sausages with nitrites added, you can actually find some that are quite lean, have not been cured, nor contain MSG or “spices”, (which can also mean MSG).  I have even read that some pig farmers feed their pigs flaxseed to increase the Omega 3 content in their meat, but I haven’t found any brand, nor butcher in particular that advertises this as of yet.

The place I prefer to get my sausage is at The Butcher Shoppe in Ponte Vedra.  The butchers trim the fat off the cap, add only some peppers, onions, garlic and parsley.  They are proud of the fact that there is hardly any grease when grilling or sautéing, and tout the fact that they are antibiotic, hormone, and gluten free.

My second choice would be the Fresh Market meat dept.  They have finally removed the MSG from their sausages, and from the label recently I didn’t see anything suspect.  Keep in mind though Fresh Market will change things up from time to time, so check before ordering to keep them honest as I have been tricked in the past.

And last but not least, I do get my andouille from time to time at Beachside Seafood on 3rd Street (close to Beach BLVD, across from McCancer).  It is cured, and there are nitrites, but no MSG. Unfortunately I also see the word “spices”, so I’m not too excited about that, but I mention this place because I adore Timothy who is the Manager. He is a great cook, and so helpful. Besides, they have the freshest FISH in town.  As for the sausage, Timothy says “awe don’t worry about it”. He shrugs his shoulders and I laugh.

Curry Quinoa with Carrots and Cherries

Quinoa with Cherries and Carrots!


(pronounced “keen-wa”)

First of all, let’s describe what Quinoa really is. It is not a grain actually, but a seed from the same family as spinach, beets, and swiss chard.  Known for its rich protein and omega content, it has a long list of anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation leads to disease, so its a great idea to incorporate Quinoa into the diet to combat any poor diet habits from our pasts.

The best tip I can give anyone who cooks Quinoa is to rinse it beforehand.  Some packages say it doesn’t matter but in my experience it DOES!

You see, Quinoa has an outer coating that can taste bitter as well as upset our tummies.  After rinsing, if time, saute until brown or fragrant for just a couple of minutes.  Once it is browned, add about 1 1/2 cups of liquid per 1 cup quinoa.  Most recipes call for more liquid, but I like it a little firmer and also keep in mind adding a marinade afterwards will soften it up further.  Bring to a boil, and don’t overcook…..it usually only takes 6-8 minutes of covered simmering.

The recipe shown above contains the following ingredients:

1 cup of chopped carrots, handful of chopped cilantro, 1-2 scallions, 1 handful apple juice sweetened cherries, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1-2 tsp gallberry honey, juice and zest of 1 orange, a little lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to taste

Mix well, refrigerate if desired.  I love to save the leftovers to add in wraps or salads the next day.  Yum!!

Seafood and Vegetables Grilled in Foil Wrapping

This recipe engages the whole family by allowing them to choose their own ingredients and spices.  I usually put out the following and arrange it nicely on my kitchen counter.

Fish (Salmon usually) leave skin on and cook separately.  Season with sliced lemons, sea salt, pepper, garlic, fresh or dried herb of choice.  I used fresh dill.

For Foil:

Mussels, Shrimp (keep shell on) then Sausage (cut up in slices)

Fresh cut vegetables: I used peppers, carrots, onions, kale, cabbage, and cherry tomatoes.

Arrange seasonings on countertop such as Old Bay, Paprika, various herbs, Blackening, Garlic, S/P.  Make sure you add plenty of lemons, a little water or chicken broth for steaming.

Let everyone make their own, then wrap loosely in foil and place on grill on medium heat. 20 minutes and then open slowly to let steam release, serve with rice of your choice!




Shredded pork tostadas topped with marinated cabbage and avocado

photo-30La Pentola in St. Augustine has the best shredded pork and marinated cabbage tortillas.  I love cabbages cancer preventive benefits, along with its crunch, sweetness along with spicy taste.  Not to mention its beauty!  The guacamole is packed with many essential nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here is my version in detail:

  • Oil free corn tostadas by Charras
  • Slow cooked shredded pork, chicken or beef
  • Salsa of choice (see my recipe in previous blog, or use Annie’s organic BBQ sauce
  • Marinated cabbage, use red or white wine vinegar, or brown rice vinegar, some honey or sugar, fresh squeezed lemon, sliced onions or scallions and fresh cilantro (marinate for 1 hour in fridge if possible) add s/p or crushed red pepper
  • Top with guacamole or just fresh slices of avocado

Beautiful, but can be messy.  I just crack the tortilla with a fork and use my hands, but if you have more manners than me then that’s fine too!  Bon a petit!



Eggless Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

eggless-cookiesmallFor my son’s birthday just before winter break I sent in cookies to class to celebrate. There are twins in his class that are allergic to eggs so I ventured into egg-less baking land to accommodate everyone in his class. I was pleasantly surprised how delicious the end result tasted and wanted to share with everyone my slightly modified version of this recipe from cooks.com

  • 2 sticks soft organic no-salt butter
  • 2 cups organic light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp organic baking powder
  • 1 tsp organic baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp celtic salt
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla
  • 2 cups organic quick cooking oats
  • 2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup organic raisins
  • 1 cup cane sugar (they turned out really sweet so you could probably make this 3/4 cup or try honey)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp coconut vinegar

Mix all ingredients except the baking powder, salt and vinegar. Mix the last three together and then add. Fold in raisins, roll into 2″ balls on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. They won’t look done but let them sit for 5 minutes or so and they will be chewy and delicious.

Roasted Red Pepper Chilean Sea Bass

Roasted Red Pepper Chilean Sea BassI often have a challenging time feeding fish to the kids but we have it at least once per week regardless.
This is my 8-year-old’s favorite recipe. You could use any fish but lucky for me he likes the most expensive out there which seems to be Chilean sea bass.
High in omega 3’s and adaptable to any cooking method we enjoy its mild, flaky flavor very much.

  • 1 1/2 pounds sea bass, (skinned preferably if pan searing as this recipe calls for)
  • 3-4 peppers of your choice, I use a yellow and red pepper but you could use Cubanelles, banana peppers, etc.
  • Cut peppers in 1/2 and de-seed.  Drizzle a little high heat resistant oil (maybe safflower) on cookie sheet and over peppers to broil at 500 degrees for about 5-7 minutes on each side
  • Wrap in paper towel and cool in a bag for 10 minutes, set aside (makes their roasted flavor richer)
  • Meanwhile place a cup of flour of choice on a plate (I use brown rice flour)
  • Put ingredients below in small blender:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of lemon or lime, 1 tbsp honey mustard, add an extra tsp or so of honey, 2 cloves garlic, s/p, roasted peppers
  • Once blended coat fish with roasted pepper mixture on each side then roll in flour
  • Put about 1 tbsp olive oil in med heated pan to sear on each side for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Marinade optional to drizzle over the fish:
Whisk in bowl or use small blender, a few tbsp olive oil, juice of a lemon and lime. Add in 1 tsp honey, 2 tsp honey mustard, s/p, and a couple cloves of garlic.
Basically its similar to the roasted red pepper coating but without the peppers, you can play with the ingredients

***special tip may be to cut the sea bass into equal sizes for ease in cooking time serve with brown rice and vegetables of your choice

Kale Chips

Kale Chips Recipe by Jenny Smith
Last year for Christmas I made a basket of healthy goodies for neighbors and friends. One of the foods I incorporated were what I called “Christmas kale chips”.

Loaded with tons of vitamin K, A and C, fiber and iron (the list goes on and on), proving that kale has numerous nutritional perks as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. While roasting kale at high temperatures does cause some nutritional loss, baking them around 350 keeps most of its value in tact.

My recipe is as follows:

  • Either one large bag of organic kale, already chopped and washed (hard to find but I do get lucky sometimes) or, buy 3 bunches (it cooks up to be a tiny amount so you really need quite a large amount to start with)
  • Simply strip the leaf from the stem and tear up to about 2-3″ pieces
  • Rinse and dry well, this is important…. especially the drying (I use a towel to lay them on and roll them up and squeeze a bit to speed up the process)
  • The quantity this produces is about 3 large cookie trays of chips, which reduces to the amount of what 1 tray would be after baked
  • Drizzle with a couple tbsp of olive oil, all seasonings per tray approx 1 tsp each:
    I prefer to sprinkle with Celtic salt, paprika, garlic, and maybe a little cayenne
  • Sometimes I do one tray differently to experiment, perhaps using a little curry powder or going with an Asian theme of a dash of tamari and sesame oil or seeds
  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, turning them a bit in between
  • Let cool for a few minutes and put them in a baggy to store

***Special note, if its humid in the house and they get a little soft after leaving them out in a bowl, simply put them back in the oven and re-bake for a few minutes as they will crisp right up again!

Simple Sushi Recipe

sushiI used to live in Japan and of course we ate A LOT of sushi. When I make sushi people look at me like I must be related to Buddha himself. It’s really not that hard to make sushi I swear!

Eating sushi stirs up reminders that eating elementally is very satisfying, and is achieved easily in making sushi. Eating elementally is a dietary theory birthed in Asia that incorporates the relationship between certain foods, the 5 body parts, (liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys) and the 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water).

While there is much more to it than that, the theory in a nutshell touts that choosing a variety of foods that marry with each of the 5 elements and body parts results in ultimate satisfaction after a meal. Elemental eating further promotes overall balance and health throughout all the organs in the body.

My simple sushi recipe is as follows:

  • 1 wooden sushi mat
  • 1/2 lb sushi grade tuna
  • 1 pack Nori (seaweed) sheets
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • vegetables of choice… but I used:
  • 2 carrots sliced lengthwise in fourths
  • 1 cucumber sliced lenthwise in eighths, de-seed if desired
  • 5 scallions
  • 1 package sprouts
  • avocado, sliced in 1/8″ sticks

Rinse rice well, until water runs clear. Cook according to directions in 2 cups water

**my recommendation is to use a little less water as you will be adding the vinegar/sugar mix to the rice afterwards. The rice will soak up the mixture and become sticky which is the goal.)

Coat the tuna with sesame seeds and sear it in a pan with sesame oil, just a minute or so on each side, remove from heat and slice in 1/8″ diameter “sticks.”

Cool rice, make sure it’s plenty sticky, add slowly approx 1/4 cup sushi rice seasoning. If you didn’t buy it premade, you can always make your own easily with rice wine vinegar, a little sugar and salt. Slowly fold the seasoning into rice making sure it remains sticky.

Lay nori sheet bumpy side face down on wooden mat. Pour a little vinegar mix on hands and get a handful of the rice mixture. Spread evenly onto nori sheet adding more vinegar to hands if rice sticks to them. Place vegetables and tuna lengthwise in middle of nori square. Roll wooden mat along with nori sheet tightly around center ingredients until they are covered, let go of wooden mat and continue to roll pressing only the underside of wooden mat into the roll, keep pressing while rolling, possibly adding a little vinegar to opposite end of nori sheet so it sticks together firmly upon completion. Trim ends of roll and slice in 1/2″ pieces with very sharp knife. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and dip in tamari or soy sauce if desired.

If you want to get fancy with the dip, just add some fresh grated ginger, honey, garlic, red pepper flakes, additional sesame seeds and sesame oil. You really can’t go wrong.

I usually do a more citrusy sauce using the juice of a grapefruit, orange or lemon, sesame oil, seeds, red pepper flakes, honey, vinegar, garlic and a little soy sauce.

Picture shows sushi served with pomegranates. More on the amazing nutritional value of the pomegranate coming in a future blog!

Juicing for life!

We all realize how important it is to consume enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. But for many,  it’s hard to sit down for a long meal and thoroughly chew on an entire plate of steamed, or raw fruits and vegetables.

That’s where juicing comes in handy. Juicing allows us to get several servings of vegetables and fruits very easily. Juicing also helps break down the raw food making it easier for digestion and absorption. There are many juicing appliances on the market which we can explore.

First there are some pretty inexpensive centrifugal juicers (fast spinning and often loud). The juice they produce contains less pulp. I personally do not like to give up all the fiber these juicers sacrifice. In addition to the fiber wasted, there is also controversy on the spinning aspect of the extraction process. The result of it spinning so fast may actually heat up the produce thus inactivating much of the nutrients. That is why a “slow”, or masticating juicer is more desirable for those wanting to reap the optimal output of vitamins and minerals.  A masticating juicer is also much better with greens. I personally use the Hurom and really like it, but if you really want to do a lot of greens then its best to get a juicer specifically for greens.  There is also a lot less waste with a masticating juicer than that of a centrifugal juicer.  (Keep in mind that any waste can be used in muffins or other recipes so it doesn’t get thrown out all together.)

There are opponents of  juicing believe it or not. They claim that the juice does not stay in our system long enough to reap any major benefit. My personal experience has been that juicing is filling as well as cleansing. My recommendation is that if juicing seems to have too much of a cleansing effect, it may be a sign that you may need to incorporate a good digestive enzyme into your supplement repertoire. Even organic produce lacks in enzymes as is often prematurely picked so that it can be shipped all over the country (if not the world) without rotting first.  Consider it also may wait in a warehouse,  further losing energetic value. All the more reason to buy local and eat what is in season!

So what produce is best to juice? My recommendation would be to stay away from using too many sweet fruits as a base. When incorporating fruits start with those that are lower on the glycemic index like grapefruits and apples. I add as many green leafy vegetables as possible because their chlorophyll content has been known to increase oxygen in the body. Some raw food advocates promote using celery as a base due to its powerful liver cleansing capabilities. Dandelion leaves are also a good choice for optimal liver function and detoxification. Although a juicing recipe guide is helpful, do not worry about following any specific rules. You will not always have the exact ingredients involved in the recipe so it is best to learn to improvise from the get-go. Just open the fridge and begin!

At last, I’d like to note that a blender, or Viatmix for example, will produce the most nutritious outcome. A blender uses more of the produce without as much waste. While I can see this to be a great kitchen necessity for cooking, making smoothies, nut butters, etc., I don’t really consider it a “juicer”. I do plan on buying one though someday just for the record!

Here is a simple recipe I juice often:

  • One large pink grapefruit (often stolen from our neighbors tree)
  • 2 cups kale
  • 6 celery stalks

Juice yielded, about 20 oz.