Mexican Pizza

Smokey spiced meat and black beans covered in sweet red onions and melted cheddar cheese. To top it off, a homemade salsa and slices of creamy avocado.
So cilantro was on sale and I, not being one to pass up a bargain, decided that I needed to purchase unreasonable amounts of the herb. The result: I ended up having Mexican food four out of seven days last week. Am I sick of it yet? NOPE! I did my standard chicken enchiladas, but decided to get creative come Friday with some fusion food! Pizza meet burrito. So, so good.
Now, this is not one of my lightest meals. There is bread, cheese and ground beef involved here, but I don’t feel guilty in the least. Why? Because its actually pretty good for you. Beside the fresh tomato salsa you pile on every slice, which gives you some vitamin A and C, the avocado has health omega 3’s to boost heart health and brain function. Adding herbs like cilantro helps pull toxic heavy metals out of your body and the lime juice helps the liver flush out toxins. Plus, there is fiber from the beans and the protein I use is lean ground beef. Ground turkey is another great alternative or you could do shredded chicken.
If you are really looking to cut down on calories and carbs, simply replace the standard crust with my cauliflower crust recipe. Since we are piling on the toppings this time, I’d recommend cutting out or back on the tomato sauce to keep the crust slightly more firm.


Banana Nut Breakfast Bars

I’m sooo excited! I just can’t hidee it!! WWeeee!! My very first energy bar! Being one of those people who is always hungry and on the go, I’ve always been a fan of bars, but this is the first time I tried making them myself.

The idea hit me while I was home in the United States frequenting my beloved Trader Joes. That grocery store is my happy place. I could go on and on about the smell of freshly ground coffee in the air, the delicious samples, the wine and cheese tastings they do in the afternoons, and tasty treats they sell, like dark-chocolate-covered power berries and triple-ginger ginger snaps, but I’ll try to hold myself back here. What I really wanted to get at is their power bar aisle. That’s right. They basically have an aisle dedicated to energy and power bars: Cliff bars, Mojo bars, Builder bars, Balance bars, Luna bars, Think Thin bars. So many choices that your head is basically spinning.
Energy bars don’t seem to be a “thing” in Germany, though. Sure, they have sugary granola bars, you know, the kind that are essentially dipped in chocolate or yogurt. But they just don't fit the bill. They are mostly empty calories, simple carbs and sugar will just spike my blood sugar and leave me craving even more sweets about 20 minutes down the road. I wanted something that would actually stick to my ribs, keep me going and provide my body with nutrients. Plus, there is just some satisfaction that comes with actually knowing what you are eating and getting to select the ingredients yourself.
After digging around the internet for recipes and coming up with nothing, I just decided the best approach was some good ol’ trial-and-error baking. Much to my surprise, the first batch came out great! And they are oh-so good for you. I could not be happier!
What you get:
  • Fiber: From the bran, oats and whole wheat flour
  • Protein: From the assortment of nuts and seeds, oats and eggs
  • Omega 3’s: From the nuts, seeds and flax seed
  • Antioxidants: From the walnuts and almonds
  • Vitamins & Minerals: Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese, Thiamin
Health benefits:
Helps build muscle, regulate blood sugar and energy levels, lower bad cholesterol, maintain a healthy circulatory system and heart, stimulate brain function, help protect and repair the body from toxins that cause diseases, fight aging and improve the health of skin and hair.

Each bar is about 180 calories with 6 grams of protein and almost 6 grams of fiber.


Garden Pesto Couscous

Fresh summer flavors!: Juicy veggies, salty feta cheese, earthy pesto and a hint of lemon!

This is the kind meal everyone needs in their recipe collection. The kind you can throw together and have on the table in under 20 minutes. And I have to admit, I was almost unreasonably pleased with myself after I finished making this. I was so in love with my dinner, in fact, that I decided to go for seconds (read thirds) instead of dessert. That’s just unheard of.

Now until last week, I had eaten couscous at just about every potluck I went to, but never dared to cook it myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it, but somehow couscous just never ended up on my grocery list. That is, until now! And O.M.G., what have I been doing with my LIFE!? This stuff is amazing. Unlike pasta, there is no pot of water that keeps boiling over, you don’t have to intermittently fish for a piece to check if its done and there is no draining off the water in the end. You just pour hot water over it, pop a top on it and in less than 10 minutes it is done. One stir and its fluffy, glorious and read to be seasoned up.
I added lightly saut̩ed tomatoes and zucchini. My very FIRST homegrown zucchini Рa big accomplishment for a girl who hates to be near bugs and lives in a place where it seems to constantly rain. While the veggies are low in calories, they provide your body with vitamin A and C as well as potassium. To make the dish more of a meal instead of a side, I added chickpeas, which boost the fiber and protein content of the dish and in turn keep you full longer and maintain your blood sugar levels.


Green Ice Tea Detox

A brief history of my relationship with green tea

Green tea and I didn’t use to be friends – I found it to be so, so bitter. But everywhere I looked someone was gushing about its incredible health benefits: It’s packed with important antioxidants. It has cancer- and heart-disease-fighting properties. It can help burn fat while lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. It improves artery function and can help prevent diabetes and stroke. And researchers seem to agree (Harvard Health Publications, WebMD).
If I could enjoy even half of these benefits, I wanted to be on board. So I’d try time and time again to spark a lasting, loving relationship with green tea. I thought maybe I just had to get accustomed to the flavor. You know like when you have your first sip of coffee or beer and feel compelled to spew it back out. Then five years down the road, you find yourself laughing at your former, naive self and wondering how you could ever have disliked beer and all its greatness. I’d reluctantly add spoonful after spoonful of sugar or honey to my tea just to try to mask the taste then ultimately abandon my sickeningly sweet concoction about halfway through.

New beginnings

But, I’m both proud and excited to say that green tea and I are now best buds! And it’s all thanks to a colleague who showed me the light. He made me my first cup of good green tea. It was NOT bitter in the least. Apparently, I’d been brewing it all wrong. Go figure. Unlike black teas where you can dunk the tea into freshly boiled water, green tea requires cooler water. By scorching it, I was bringing out that terrible taste. You simply boil water and then let it sit for a while. My rule of thumb is more like a rule of index finger: If I can dip my finger in without pain, it’s ready for the tea. Then let the tea steep for about 3 minutes. The result is a very delicate, grassy flavor.
Having found this new friend, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate it into my life. And this green ice tea detox is one of my absolute favorite. To boost the long list of benefits, I add some lemon juice which contains vitamin C and helps flush out toxins. Depending on my mood, I’ll toss in some mint or cucumber for added flavor. And besides just drinking it over ice on a hot summer day, you can also put it in smoothies instead of milk or water. Besides the wealth of health benefits I listed above, it is low in calories and gives you a slight caffeine boost. I LOVE it in my morning smoothies! I’ll try to do a post soon with some of my favorite green tea smoothie recipes.