Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nutrition bombs!

   We are really digging this new healthy lifestyle with no meat and no processed food (well, with less processed food). Believe it or not, but after two weeks of doing that, we really feel better and lighter. We eat mostly veggies, lots of grains and seeds, try to avoid sugars, and bad fat. Today, I put few of the healthiest ingredients together to make some nutrition-bomb-style burgers! Quinoa, oats, flax and chia seeds... you get the point! It doesn't get any healthier than that! If you are waiting for me to tell you that they taste exactly the same as real beef burgers and you won't even notice the difference, don't wait. They definitely taste like veggie burgers, but they are still delicious and satisfying. My recipe makes 12 gigantic burgers, so if you don't like to repeat your meals, cut the ingredients in half. 


*  1 cup dry red quinoa
*  2 cups old fashion oats
*  2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
*  1/4 cup chia seeds
*  1/4 cup flax seeds
*  1/2 red onion, finely chopped
*  1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
*  1 tbsp ground cumin
*  1 tsp garlic powder
*  1 tbsp burger seasoning
*  salt and pepper

*  thin buns (I used whole grain and flax seeds)

*  1 15oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
*  1 cup Greek yogurt
*  salt and pepper


1. Cover quinoa with 3-4 cups of water, bring to boil and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Mix chia seeds with 1/2 cup of warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes. It will become gel-like.
3. In a food processor grind the flax seeds into a meal, mix with 1/2 cup warm water and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. It will act as a binder, so no need for eggs.
4. Put oats in a food processor and puls couple of times to break down the oats without turning them into flour.
5. Place drained black beans in a deep bowl and smash with potato masher.
6. Add all other remaining ingredients to the beans (except buns!), season with salt and pepper (if needed), and get your hands dirty... mixing everything together.
7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (it will help to form patties).
8. Form large patties and place them onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375F for 12 minutes on each side.
9. To make aioli sauce, drain fire roasted tomatoes (to get rid of all the liquid), mix with Greek yogurt, salt and pepper and blend in a food processor until smooth.
10. Build your burger as you like it. I like mine simple with fresh baby arugula and fire roasted tomato aioli.

   I told you they were big! If you like a little tang in your food, addition of pickled banana peppers is just great here. I think it's the first time when eating a "burger" makes me feel good about my diet!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Light and smooth!

   Soup anybody? Winter is almost over, so if you are one of those people that eat soup only when it's cold outside, you don't have much time left to enjoy one. It doesn't really affect me, because I enjoy a nice bowl of soup any time of a year and any time of a day, but I do tend to eat more of it during the cold months. Well, this one is not only easy and delicious, but also super cheap. As the title says, light and delicious, split pea soup, perfect for this time of the year. Here is the recipe, serves about 6-8 (depending how big of a soup lover are you).


*  1 lb dried green split pea
*  3 carrots, chopped
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  2 garlic cloves, minced
*  1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
*  1 tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
*  2 tbsp butter
*  2 tbsp fat-free sour cream
*  2 vegetable bullion cubes
*  salt and pepper


1. Wash green peas under cold water, cover with water (at least 2-3 inches above peas) and let it soak for about 1 hour.
2. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute onions and carrots (for about 4-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute (don't let it burn).
3. Add drained split peas, bullion cubs and dill. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add water to cover the vegetables (about 3 inches above the veggies), reduce the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the peas are falling apart. Make sure you add a little bit of water as it cooks down.
4. Turn of the heat and using a hand blender, blend everything together until smooth.
5. Add sour cream, lime juice, salt and pepper (if needed) and mix to combine.

   Very thick and very delicious. Don't add too much water while cooking, you can always adjust it afterwards if you think it's too dense. I like mine to have some "body" so that I can have it for lunch or dinner. Even Justin agreed this one counts as a meal on it's own... well on it's own, but accompanied by bunch of crackers or a sandwich!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Polish Spring!

   It's cold outside, people all around are getting sick and everybody wants Spring to already be here! I have no influence on the weather or the flu, but I can definitely bring some spring into the kitchen! There is nothing more "Springy" that a sandwich with fresh farmer's cheese, radishes, and chives... and it's so Polish too! And I'm not talking about any farmer's cheese, but a home made one. You can't really get it here and even if you do, it just doesn't taste the same. Ever since I can remember, my grandmas always made a delicious and fresh cheese using sour milk (absolutely amazing), but since I don't have sour milk here, I took a shortcut and made my own version of farmer's cheese using lemon juice. Put it on a piece of fresh rustic bread with some chives and radishes and I you've got yourself Spring time on a plate... a Polish Spring.


*  1 gallon 1% milk
*  1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

*  2 tbsp chopped chives
*  2 tbsp plain yogurt
*  sliced radishes
*  salt and pepper


1. Heat the milk until almost boiling (don't let it boil), add lemon juice, turn off the heat and let is stand for 5 minutes, mixing gently. You should see cheese curds forming.
2. Pour it through a small mesh strainer, put it over a deep bowl (so that the liquid doesn't touch the bottom of the strainer) and let it stand in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to drain.
3. When the cheese is drained and cooled, transfer it to the bowl and mix it with yogurt, chives, salt and pepper.
4. It's the best when served on a rustic bread with radishes (or any other veggie you like).

   If that doesn't scream Polish Spring, I don't know what does! You can substitute radishes with tomatoes and it will be equally delicious. I think Justin was impressed that such a simple dish could be so amazing... and he agreed that it does scream Polish Spring!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Scientific challenge.

   Recently Justin and I watched a bunch of documentaries about healthy lifestyle and healthy eating, and almost all of them talked about the benefits of a plants-based diet. People switching from an unhealthy, fat, meat and fast food loaded diet to a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and going on and on about how it changed their health and performance. They all said: "...try it for few weeks and you will see how much better you will feel". I usually don't easily believe in things like that, but I got so intrigued about it and the scientist in me really wanted to find out if it's true. So we decided to accept the challenge and perform a 6-week experiment (it reminds me of mice-feeding experiments). We are going vegetarian (vegan is way too far for us) and we will see if we feel better, look better, and have more energy. Don't get me wrong, we love meat and we're planning to go back to it, but we are just curious if it makes a difference. So for the next 6 weeks you will see only vegetarian recipes on my blog (unless we fail and attack a pig!).
   To begin the change in our lifestyle, we purchased a juicer and we start our day with  a glass of fresh vegetable/fruit juice, that cleanses our body, gives us energy, and makes us feel better about our diet. It's a great breakfast option! Each day we try a different combinations of fruit and veggies and here is one of them, green, healthy, and refreshing.


*  1 large cucumber
*  1 large apple
*  2 large kale leaves
*  3 large stalks of celery
*  1 kiwi
*  1 lime


1. Cut cucumbers, celery and apple into pieces (remove apple seeds).
2. Using electric juicer, juice cucumber, apple, kale, celery and kiwi. Add freshly squeezed lime juice and it's ready to drink.
3. Try not to store it for more then 30 minutes in room temp, or more then a few hours in the fridge. The enzymes lose their activity pretty fast!

   How easy is that? I think that lime juice is essential, it makes every juice much better. I know it sounds scary, but trust me they are really good and REALLY healthy!
   Let the vegetarian challenge begin!

Good luck,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fat Tuesday specials.

   Fat Tuesday Polish specials I should say... no, wait... Fat Thursday Polish specials! In Poland we celebrate Fat Thursday rather than Fat Tuesday (like in the US) and that day is filled with paczki (fried, yeast doughnuts filled with rose jam), and faworki, also know as "chrust" (also fried). You know they are bad for you, you know you will have a sugar/fat coma as soon as you finish your 5th piece, but because it's one of the biggest traditions, you'll do it anyways! As a real Polish gal, I would never break such a great (and delicious) tradition, so I made whole bunch of faworki and enjoyed them the entire day (to avoid diabetes I gave away most of them!). Here is the recipe:


*  2 cups all purpose flour
*  3 yolks
*  1 egg
*  1 tbsp sugar
*  pinch of salt
*  2 tsp vinegar
*  2 tbsp sour cream

*  oil for frying
*  powdered sugar for decoration


1. Place all ingredients (without oil and powdered sugar) into a bowl and knead the dough until smooth and not sticky. If it is too dry add a little bit of sour cream.
2. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.
3. Split the dough into smaller parts and roll it very thin.
4.  Cut the rolled dough into rectangles 2-inches long and 1-cm wide.
5. Cut a slit in the middle of every rectangle and pull one end through the slit.
6. Heat the oil to a high temperature and fry them on each side until golden (about 1-2 minutes per side).
7. Drain the oil on a kitchen towel, dust generously with powdered sugar and enjoy.

   You don't even know how happy they made me... and I'm not talking about eating, but making them. It took me right back to my grandma's kitchen, where I used to watch her make them every year... such a great memory!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sanwdich for dinner.

   Justin thinks that soup (which I love) is not really a dinner dish, and I think that sandwich (which Justin loves) is not really a dinner either! But as any other married couples, we compromise and he eats a little bit of soup and I sometimes eat sandwich for dinners. The advantage for me is that I usually make dinners, so I can "customize" it and make any sandwich into a delicious and more dinner-like dish. Check out these reconstructed, open-face tuna melts loaded with herbs and vegetables. It's a perfect example of a compromise dish that makes both of us happy! It makes 6 servings, so we usually have it for 3 dinners, but if you are not crazy about eating the same time every day just cut the recipe in half.


*  6 kaiser buns
*  12 slices tomatoes
*  1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
*  2 12oz cans of tuna in water, drained
*  1 cup frozen corn, thawed
*  1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
*  1/3 red onion, finely chopped
*  1/4 cup pickle relish
*  1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
*  1/3 cup fat-free mayo
*  2 tbsp honey mustard
*  salt and pepper


1. In a bowl, combine tuna with corn, bell pepper, onions, and parsley. Add pickle relish, mayo, mustard, season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Slice the buns in half, cover generously with tuna mixture, top with tomato slices and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400F for about 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted and a bun is crispy.
3. Keep the tuna mixture in the fridge and prepare freshly baked sandwiches just before serving each day. 

   Such a delicious sandwich. Hot, crispy and satisfying. I hate to admit it, but my husband was right... you can have a sandwich for dinner and be happy with it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


   So the Super Bowl 2013 is behind us and as always it was a lot of fun, a lot of emotions, and a lot of food... bad food. To make things even worse, I decided to make manly, "footbowly" appetizers... no fresh veggies, no bright colors, no nutritional value, but instead lots of flavor and attitude! A mix of unorthodox spices paired with ginger caramelized onions makes these sliders irresistible, so make sure you make more than you think you will need!


*  15 mini sourdough buns (it was a party!!!)
*  2 lbs lean ground beef
*  2 tbsp gourmet burger seasoning (my favorite is Weber)
*  1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
*  1 tsp cumin
*  1/2 tsp garlic powder
*  1/4 tsp cinnamon
*  horse radish sauce
*  15 slices pickles 

*  3 large onions, very thinly sliced
*  1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 tbsp butter
*  1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1/2 lime
*  salt


1. In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil, add onions, ginger, salt and Worcestershire sauce and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes until onions are caramelized. Add lime juice, mix everything together, and set aside.
2. Combine ground beef with burger seasoning, ginger, cumin, garlic powder, and cinnamon. Using your hands, mix everything together and form small, flat patties (makes about 15).
3. Heat iron cast skillet to a high temperature and cook patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
4. To assemble sliders, cut buns in half, spread a little bit of horse radish sauce on one half, and top with a teaspoon of caramelized onions, burger, and a pickle slice.

   Like I said... not too many fresh ingredients, but it's so good, that you won't even miss them! I thought that making sliders rather then regular burgers will save us some calories, but we just ate twice as many, so no savings here! And guess what... I don't regret a thing, it was all worth it!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Healthy doesn't mean boring!

   Are you trying to eat healthy, but you are running out of ideas for new and exciting dishes? Here is something you might be interested in... chicken and spinach wraps with Greek yogurt sauce! No mayo, no fatty ingredients, no chips on the side... just fresh veggies and a lean chicken breast. We usually make a big batch of it, store it in the fridge, and eat it after jogging. It's a great, protein-rich meal that will satisfy you without feeling guilty! Here is the recipe (serves 6):


*  2 chicken breast, cooked and cubed
*  5 celery sticks, chopped
*  1 red bell pepper, chopped
*  1/2 cup dried cranberries
*  1 bag baby spinach leaves

*  1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
*  1/2 cup honey mustard
*  2 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
*  salt and pepper

*  6 large whole wheat spinach tortillas


 1. In a large bowl combine chicken, celery, bell pepper and cranberries. Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the chicken.
2. In a separate bowl combine yogurt, mustard, agave nectar and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Add dressing to chicken salad and mix everything together.
4. Place a big spoonful on a spinach tortilla (or any kind you like), wrap the filling inside, cut in half and enjoy.

   I can't think of anything easier than that if you want a delicious and nutritious lunch (or dinner). Packed with vitamins and proteins, its the perfect meal after a hard workout ... or in front of TV, your choice!