Cool Gluten-Free Summer Gazpacho Soup

Tomatoes are in season during the summer, and I see them everywhere at the farmers market. There are many different varieties of tomatoes all with slight different taste and texture.

Tomatoes have lots of great nutritional benefits. It is rich in antioxidants (including lycopene, zea-xanthin) that is important for your body to fight against cancer. Lycopene in particular is important for your skin and is known to have protective effect against UV rays, which can help to decrease your risk of getting skin cancer. It is a great source of vitamin C (see my previous post on vitamin C rich foods), potassium and vitamin b-complex.

I love using yellow tomatoes for gazpacho because it is less tangy and lighter in flavor. If you prefer sweet, go for cherry tomatoes, which have higher sugar content. Generally, I like to do a mix of both. This recipe can be a great either as a stand-alone dish, or as an amuse bouche. Here is my Summer Gazpacho recipe:FullSizeRender

Ingredients: (serves 2 bowls)

  • 12 yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large yellow heirloom tomato, cubed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of honeydew
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper

Directions:

  1. Add tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, honeydew and olive oil into the blender. Pulse until there are no more big chunks in the mixture.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. (I use a Vitamix so it takes about 15 seconds on high)
  3. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, place and cover it in the refrigerator x2 hours or overnight.
  4. When the gazpacho is ready to be served, add salt and pepper after plating.

-NZ

Creating a Mindset for Successful Weight Loss: Tackling Your Failure Through Behavior Change

Lifestyle changes are hard and require continuous committment. While there is a whole field on how to effectively change your lifestyle and “bad habits” using behavioral change there is a common issue I often see in my patients that I would like to share with you.

This is not a moral issue: It is a fact of life that priorities shift from week to week. Having an “I just need to get my act together” view only allows for short term gain because it makes you think of the lapse/relapse as attributed to personal weakness. In reality, unhealthy behaviors are a part of our lives for several reasons, of which determination and personal discipline are a very small part. Having a resolve is only the first step! A time will come (often sooner than you expect) when you will have a crisis (perhaps at work) and find yourself at that familiar “forbidden” place (If your goal is to eat healthy, perhaps you buy yourself a slice of pizza). Now, this is a critical moment. What do you tell yourself during this moment of relapse?

  • Scenario 1: you tell yourself “well, I already had one slice, might as well just have 2 more. And oh yeah, I’m clearly not cut out to be a skinny person.” Then followed by the fateful look at yourself in the mirror the next morning. The self-hatred, and the cycle continues. Your exciting journey full of hope just came to a crashing halt.
  • Scenario 2: you say, “well one slice isn’t too bad…everything in moderation right?” Believe it or not, this is a hotly debated word. Some might argue that one slice of pizza causes physiologic changes that cause you to crave and eat more and more. Just ask award winning journalist Michael Moss: how much of an addictive substance are you allowed to have? Regardless of how you feel about the issue, you just lost this opportunity to find a way to resolve your craving.

A helpful way to tackle the above scenario is to use Failure as a Problem Solving Opportunity. This is what health coaches do with their clients. As a health coach myself, I have seen this work over and over again. Think about the process. What led you to pick up that slice of pizza? Was it an emotion? Can you think of other ways to deal with that emotion? Do you find that each time you are in a similar situation (maybe it is that damn TPS report), you have to eat pizza to comfort yourself? Is there a way to improve your current situation? Perhaps changing your work space will help to cut the pizza eating cycle.

Remember that failure is part of the process. Tobacco is one of the most addictive substances in the world. To quit, it often takes an individual 7-10 attempts. The key is to realize that every attempt at quitting brings you closer.

– DS

3 Tips for Getting a Tan Without Damaging Your Skin

With summer in full force and everyone running outside in search of their sun-kissed tan, the risk of sunburn and skin damage is even higher. Here are some tips that can help you keep your skin healthy and young while still getting a beautiful tan.

1. Start slow 

Your tan comes from the melanin produced by your cells that gives you the skin’s dark pigmentation. It tasked time for your cells to increase melanin production, so the best way to protect your skin and get a tan is to limit your initial day of tanning to less than an hour ( or 15 minutes if you have a fair skin).

2. Protect your face and eye area

The skin on your face and around your eyes are the thinnest and most sensitive to sun damage. Be sure to wear plenty of sunblock and wear sunglasses and hats to protect your eyes. The best protection for your skin is covering and shades, rather than just using sunblock.

3. Get plenty of omega-3

We all know the importance of staying hydrated, but did you know that omega 3 is key to keeping your skin staying supple and hydrated when exposed to the sun? It also prevents your skin from developing wrinkles and irritation (such as redness). Foods such as fish and nuts are high in omega-3. You can also take fish oil or cod liver oil supplements.

Happy summer everyone!

-NZ

Product Review: Coach.me app

coach.meSocial network and community may be more important than any other factor in helping people to stick to a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t believe me, check out this inspiring TEDMED talk by Dr. Mark Hyman. For example, did you know that you are more likely to be skinny if your friends are skinny than if your spouse is skinny? – this is from a relatively famous study by Nicholas Christakis at Harvard School of Public Health.

That is the kind of information – and there are more like it out there – that prompted me to join apps that help with accountability. As someone who is trained as a health coach, I was particularly impressed with Coach.me – formerly Lift.

How it works: You sign up for goals – these can be standardized goals or even programs that people have created. You check in each day that you accomplish a goal.

Main Feature: The app has some great bells and whistles, probably the best being the ability to sign up for coaches and network with others who are trying to accomplish the same goal. There is a mini forum that becomes visible for a goal when you sign-up for it. As is the case with group-based office visits for diabetes, or even prenatal care, the best advice often comes from peers going through the same thing.

The coaches are usually people who have signed up for a goal and have been very successful. They often have checked in hundreds of time to a goal. The cost is $15.00 per week. Coaches can be very expensive, but not everyone can afford to have a coach. In order to take advantage of the app, signing up for a coach is not necessary, but they do make it tempting!

Other features:

  • Make friends
  • Set notifications to remind you to perform a goal
  • Look at stats on your check-ins
  • Available in both web and app format

Other similar apps: (Perhaps more reviews later!) – Fitocracy, PACT, Human, MyfitnessPal, LoseIt!, Sparkpeople.com

– DS

Disclaimer: I do not have an affiliation with Coach.me other than as a user. I am not receiving any financial or other kind of gift for my review.

Quick Whistling Pressure-Cooker Brown-Rice & Quinoa Kichdi

In India, whistling pressure cookers are the norm. These cookers let out lively whistles when enough pressure builds up through the opening on the top, and one uses a different number of whistles to cook different things. 4-5 for meat, 2-3 for vegetables. An internet search will bring up lots of fun reviews about whistling pressure cookers. Check out this informative post by missvickie.com.

If you want a dish to help you jump into Indian cooking, this is the post you’ve been looking for!

I have had to become an expert on quick, comforting, tasty recipes during my residency (Which I am graduating in 2 weeks from by the way – AH!). You can’t beat placing all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, hanging out on the dining table doing some work while the whistles happily increase your anticipation of the upcoming meal, and then adding some spices fried in oil to finish the job.

This recipe has creaminess from Indian daal but has some added complexity to its texture from brown-rice and quinoa as well as some of the veggies. You can use any vegetable you want, but I highly recommend you add some kale because the stems add crunchiness. The flavor is enhanced by elements that add tanginess. Tomatoes help with this, but I would also recommend one slice of lemon or a spoon of tamarind concentrate. We try to stay away from dairy on this blog, but a dollop of creamy greek yogurt mixed into a bowl of this baby really takes it up a notch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown-rice
  • 1-1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups red or yellow split daal (Masoor or Toor Daal which can be found at an Indian store or online. This can be substituted with Moong beans which are more easily found at an American grocery store, but the creaminess from the other 2 types  adds a lot to the dish
  • 1/2 cup moong daal
  • 1 bag frozen kale
  • Any other veggies you would like – I add carrots, beans, peas, okra, spinach. I’m personally not a fan of bell peppers for this dish. Butternut squash adds a nice sweetness and makes the dish milder
  • A spoon of tamarind concentrate or the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 can of preservative-free diced tomatoes not from concentrate or 3 diced or cubed tomatoes
  • Curry leaves if you have them
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 2-3 jalapenos if you would like a kick

Tempering spices:

For more information on what Indian tempering spices are, check this page out 

This is a nice youtube video explaining the process. 

For tempering in this dish, use the following:

  • Cumin
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Dried red chilis
  • fresh curry leaves
  • chana daal
  • Urad daal

If you have none of the above, no fear. Cumin alone will suffice to take the dish up a notch. 

Method:

Recipe is made for a 6.5 liter pressure cooker

  1. Place all ingredients except tempering spices in pressure cooker with water filled half way up to the top
  2. Wait for 4 whistles. They sound like this “choo choo choo choo… wheeeeee!”
  3. Turn off the stove. Wait for the whistling to completely stop before taking off the lid. Taking it off too early can be dangerous and can cause serious burns
  4. In a separate small frying pan or wok, add 3-4 table-spoons of oil. Preferrably ghee, coconut oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil or sesame oil. Olive oil has a low smoke point so is not ideal, but I am not going to lie, I use it all the time.
  5. Add your tempering spices. When they start to spatter and their fragrance is released as they are cooking, they are ready. If you are using urad daal and chana daal for your spices, they also start to turn a little golden.
  6. Add the oil and tempering to the kichdi and mix together. The oil will spatter when it comes into contact with the watery ingredients so keep your head and face far away as you add it.
  7. Serve with a dollop of yogurt as an option.

Enjoy!

– DS

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Simple Vegetarian Chawamushi (Steamed Egg Custard)

Steamed egg custard might not sound appealing, but the silky smooth egg texture, paired with savory flavors really makes it a great healthy comfort food.

Egg yolk is rich in protein, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, and even Vitamin D, but the level of these nutrients vary depending on the source…i.e. health/environmental conditions of the hens. So be sure to use eggs from organic, free-range chickens. FullSizeRender-4

I learned this recipe from my grandpa when I was 4 years old. So this entry is a tribute to him, who would make this dish for me whenever I was hungry…as it was the only dish he knew how to make. My grandpa is not one to know his way around a kitchen…so the fact that this is his signature dish speaks volumes about the delicious simplicity of steamed egg custard.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, organic eggs
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 stem of scallion/spring onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cups of enoki mushrooms (you can also use crimini or other types)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Black sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs, vegetable broth together, stir in one direction.
  2. Add the chopped scallions, mushrooms, salt and pepper into the mix and stir gently to avoid adding air bubbles. Remove any excess air bubbles on top of the mixture.
  3. Place an aluminum foil over the mixture for steaming. You can steam the bowl by placing it into a larger pot or wok that has about an inch of water. Alternatively, you can do the same thing, but place the bowl into a rice cooker (with the water) and cook it that way.
  4. Steam the egg mixture for 15 minutes in medium heat. Careful not to overcook. You can test if it is done by poking a fork thru the egg mixture…the fork should be clean of runny egg if its done.
  5. Remove the egg custard bowl from the steamer, and drizzle some sesame oil on top, and pepper for taste. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Easy Marinated Beets

I love beets! They are nutritious, filling and delicious.

Beets have natural nitrates, which lower your blood pressure and improve blood flow. They also contain high level of antioxidants and their anti-inflammatory properties make them a powerful protector against cancer. The fibers in beets (and carrots) are beneficial for our digestive track (help to fight against colon cancer) and support our cardiovascular system.

Here is a recipe for a fast and easy marinated beets dish that packs in a lot of flavor. Perfect as a side dish and great addition to a salad. Portable and chilled, this beet dish is great for pot luck or picnic as well.

Ingredients: (serving 4)

  • 4 beets, cubed
  • 1/2 of an onion, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the beets (peeled) into a saucepan filled with water, and bring it to a boil in medium heat. Once the water is boiled, turn the heat to low and let the beats simmer for another 15 minutes. Note: avoid overcooking as they will be in the skillet later.
  2. Remove the beets and cut them into cubes.
  3. In a skillet, cook the cut onion and garlic in olive oil until they become translucent. Add the cut beets, then season with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture for ~3 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, olive oil and water together, and whisk the mixture until the ingredients are properly mixed.
  5. Place the cooked beets/onion/garlic into a sealable container, and pour the vinegar mixture over it.
  6. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for ~1 hour, and it is ready!

-NZ