Guacamole Indian Style & Mango Salad

avocadosAs VicFitLa fans know, I love food.  I love looking at it, I love making it and best of all I love eating it! And you should too.  There is no excuse for lazy or bland choices.  You don’t have to eat “boring” in order to be healthy, nor will it kill you to take five minutes to prepare something you can snack on for several days.  Plus, a healthy, balanced snack will not only fuel your system it will also help you feel more satiated. So enough lecturing and on to my recommended snack:  (I don’t have good pictures, because I was starving when I made it and didn’t take time to plate it nicely.)

Guacamole Indian Style and Mango Salad:mangoes

  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2  – 1 tsp minced Thai or Serrano Chile
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TB Veg/Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp brown mustard
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 package of pappadums
  • 1 ripe mango
  • handful of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • Cilantro, lightly chopped

*A couple of notes: 1) I didn’t have brown mustard only Coleman’s Hot English Mustard on hand.  Which is fine as a substitute but I cut down the amount to 1 tsp and lightened up on the minced Chili. 2) If you don’t like mangoes, try substituting papaya, pineapple or orange sections; the citrus will really complement the flavor of the guac. 3) Pappadums may not be the best starch choice because they are lightly fried. But they are made of rice and chick pea flours making them relatively high in protein and lower on the glycemic index. Plus, if your snack is high in nutrients and well-balanced you can splurge a little  bit to give it taste, variety and in this case crunch! Most grocery stores now carry packages of pappadums – they even come in different flavors.

pappadums

Pappadums

Step One: Blend/Mash with a fork these ingredients: Avocados through the garlic.

Step Two: Heat the oil in a skillet, then stir in the mustard for 90 seconds.  Stir in the remaining spices, remove from heat and let stand two minutes.

Step Three: Blend the avocado mixture with the spices.

Step Four: Peel and thinly slice the mango into skinny strips.  Toss the strips with a giving handful of pepitas.

Step Five: Top the guacamole and mango salad with some chopped fresh cilantro (Unless, you’re like my cousins, who think cilantro tastes like soap…that’s ok, I forgive them. To me beets taste like dirt!)

Step Six: Instead of tortillas or chips, Spoon the guacamole on to the pappadums.

Step Seven: Revel in how amazing this tastes together!

pepitas

Pepitas

Now, while you’re licking your lips I’m going to quickly explain how this is a balanced snack.  The protein lies in the pepitas (so be generous with them.) The starchy carb comes from the pappadum and the fruit comes from the mango and avocado.  When combined together it represents a balanced nutritional snack.  We don’t even need to go into the individual vitamins and minerals present – but let’s just say they are well-represented.

As for portion control – the other aspect of a good snack (150-300 cal.) – you want to use 1 pappadum (@ 176 cal.) Since they are more fragile than chips you can’t overload it with dip – so we’re looking at a 2-4 TB of guacamole and a 1/3 – 1/2 cup of mango salad.

And remember: Don’t Be Afraid of Your Food!

avocado tree

How to Make a Balanced Meal

IMG_0260In terms of general nutrition, every meal should include three parts: A protein, A starchy/complex carbohydrate and fruit/Vegetable.

And as serving sizes go, aim for each item to be about the size of your palm, excluding the fingers.  Obviously, if you’re a six foot tall man, your palm will be larger than mine, a tiny, five-fiver.  Thus, the man’s serving will be proportionally larger than mine.

What is a protein?  A protein is any meat, poultry, dairy, legume (lentils/beans) and nuts, plus, tofu, seitan and soy.

What is a complex carbohydrate? A CC is a grain that has not had all outer fiber of the sheath of the kernel removed before grinding.  It will have a lot more fiber and nutrients than a finely ground white flour.  Try this test – put a bite of white bread (w/o crust) in your mouth and count how many chews it takes to dissolve.  Now put a bite of whole grain bread on (w/o crust) in your mouth and count how many chews it takes to dissolve.  In broad terms, fibrous, nutrient rich foods take longer to chew than highly processed fatty, sugary, low nutrient foods.  If you can inhale your meal in a minute chances are it’s not that good for you.  But if you find yourself chewing awhile, you probably are eating something your body will like and need.  Examples of Complex Carbohydrates are any whole grain including, wheat, corn, bugler, oats, amaranth, quinoa, but also, pasta, bread, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The act of longer chewing actually aids digestion.  Ever eat a meal super fast and then twenty minutes later your stomach feels like it’s going to explode and you wonder, “why did I eat so much?”  Well, there is a chemical in your stomach, cholecystokinin that as food digests it is released to the brain to signal feelings of fullness and satiety.  If you eat really fast the chemical doesn’t have time to be released, so you end up eating way more than necessary.  Nutrient rich foods require you to chew them – thus they slow down your eating process and you regulate more naturally the proper portion size.

Get in the habit of identifying when you’re meal is balanced and when it is not.  Often “light options” on menus are deficient. They might be veggies and grain.  Classic example is a Portabello mushroom burger.  The bun is your starch, the mushroom is the veg…but where is the protein?  Combine that with the fact that this dish often comes with sweet potato fries.  So we’ve doubled up on the starch carb, (bun + sweet potato) and still no protein in sight.  Then we have dishes that are grilled steak with a mix of veggies.  Where now is the starchy carb?  On the other side of the spectrum are pasta dishes in a meat sauce accompanied by garlic bread.  Let’s just assume that the pasta is a real serving and not the serving for eight as it is in so many restaurants.  But again pasta + bread = 2 starchy carbs.  Meat sauce = protein. Where are the veggies?!

In the photo at the top I made a broccoli salad with apples, dried cherries and seeds tossed in a red wine or cider vinaigrette.  If I wanted to make this a main dish, I could add chicken or steak to it and serve it with whole grain flatbreads.  If I wanted to keep it vegetarian, I could add an egg or grilled tofu.  I also made a butternut squash soup.  Starchy carb but by itself it has little protein and no green veg.  So if I wanted it be my main course, I could have it with wilted spinach and a serving (12) of chopped nuts on top.  As it turns out I got fancy and combined both recipes to create balance:

I added an egg to the broccoli salad and some chopped almonds to the soup for my protein source.  I have fruit via the apples and dried cherries and I have veggies via the broccoli.  The squash/sweet potato soup was the starchy carb.

Dietary changes do not have to be drastic or dire.  Just paying attention to the balance of nutrients at each meal can help you feel better from the inside out!

Fast Feast! 20 Minute Steak Meal

IMG_0207Dinner: Step One: Put long grain rice (I used long grain basmati) rice on to cook per package instructions – Do Not Use “quick rice – it lacks all nutrients.” Seriously, how difficult is it to cook real rice?!

Step Two: Slice an Onion. I cut it into about 8 wedges. Chop up a red pepper in 2” pieces and similarly chop a couple large mushrooms.  Heat “two glugs” of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  When you start to smell the olive oil it’s ready.  Toss the onions in first and cook for a few minutes; then add the pepper and mushrooms, salt and pepper and probably a little more olive oil.

Step Three: Dice up some herbs – I used rosemary and Italian (flat-leaf) parsley. Peel a garlic clove and slice in half.  Season your steak (if thick cut, pound it with a rolling pin or a pan a couple of times to make it thinner) with salt and pepper, rub with the garlic and then rub with the olive oil.

Step Four: When the veggies are cooked to your liking – I prefer them to still have just a touch of crunch left, remove them from the pan, place in a bowl and cover to keep warm.  Put another “glug” of olive oil in the pan, allow it to heat for a minute.  Then put the steaks in and cook to your desired doneness.  Remove your steaks and let them rest.

Step Five: Take your cooked rice and put it in the pan that the steaks and veg were in just long enough for the rice to absorb all the juices and browned bits…this way you throw in a little extra flavor to your rice and no flavor gets left behind!  Squeeze a little lemon juice over the whole thing and Ta Da!  Looks fancy! Tastes Great! Easy!